EW's Friday Five: Katy Perry, the endless (Hot Girl) Summer, and the best songs of the week
Every Friday, EW runs down the five best songs of the week. Today’s edition features Katy Perry making “Small Talk,” Megan Thee Stallion reminding us why it’s still a “Hot Girl Summer,” and Skylar Grey going rom-com.
“Hot Girl Summer” – Megan Thee Stallion feat. Nicki Minaj
Megan Thee Stallion wasn’t going to let the summer squander without a proper finale. At midnight, the Houston MC finally dropped the long-awaited single to accompany her viral (and possibly soon-to-be trademarked) catchphrase. “Hot Girl Summer” fuses the same humor and hubris she brought to her May mixtape Fever, with Meg boasting about the confidence of her fellow hot girls — plus the number of male suitors she has at her beck and call (“Got a whole lot of options ’cause you know a b— poppin’/ I’m a hot girl, so you know ain’t s— stoppin'”). Joined by go-to hook man Ty Dolla $ign along with fellow spitfire lyricist Nicki Minaj — the collab came about after a much-discussed Instagram Live session between the two rappers — “Hot Girl Summer” ensures that this season isn’t ending any time soon. —Alex Suskind
“New Kind Of Love” – Skylar Grey
There’s huge early-2000s rom-com energy in Skylar Grey’s optimistic new tune from Mindy Kaling’s Four Weddings and a Funeral series on Hulu. With its peppy snap-and-acapella backing, it’s a fun departure for Grey — and a virtually impenetrable paragon of that sprightly Norah Jones/Colbie Caillat genre of cinematic montage that chirps along while a clumsy book editor runs through New York City looking for love… you know exactly the one. —Marc Snetiker
“Small Talk” – Katy Perry
Katy Perry’s kitchen-sink identity crisis may be nearing its end thanks to the one-two punch of “Never Really Over” and this glossy pop endeavor co-written by Charlie Puth. “Small Talk” works so well because it diverges from Perry’s tendency to throw in every whizbang gizmo from the recording studio; there’s a refreshing, effective simplicity here in both the production and the messaging itself, an “I Kissed a Girl”-level of blunt fundamentalism that lets Perry lean comfortably into her humor and lyrics at ground level without being bogged down by the reach for something loftier or more grandiose. Sometimes, smaller (talk) is better. —M.S.
“Naeem” – Bon Iver
Justin Vernon’s lyrics often feel like puzzles — musical inkblots that adjust meaning depending on who’s listening to them (or reading them on Genius). On, i,i, the latest release from his experimental indie-folk outfit Bon Iver, Vernon once again combines abstract messages with melodies that build and crash to unexpected, often exhilarating climaxes. Take the elegiac “Naeem,” which groups together piano, trumpet, choral work, and Vernon’s tender, meandering observations: “All along ’em I can hear me/ I go for the caste I fall off a bass boat/ And the concrete’s very slow” and “I can hear, I can hear crying.” Vernon feels like he’s on the precipice of a major revelation. It’s up to us to decide what that could be. —A.S.
“Dangerous” – Ra Ra Riot
What decade does Ra Ra Riot belong in? In another lifetime, the New York-bred rockers might’ve assisted the vinyl escape of a high teenager’s bedroom-floor introspection just as easily as they might’ve dropped a cassette of euphoric neon-pop underscoring a first date at the arcade. There’s something youthful in their music, something untethered, and it’s joyously all over their fifth studio album, Superbloom, to which “Dangerous” is a bubbly entry point to an unpredictable project that you’ll be similarly unable to pin down into any one pocket of period-piece nostalgia. —M.S.