EW's Friday Five: Missy Elliott goes vintage, Taylor Swift's kiss-off anthem, and The 1975 tear the roof off
Every Friday, EW runs down the five best songs of the week with Pop Shop. Today’s edition features The 1975 getting back to their rock roots, Missy Elliott in vintage form, and Taylor Swift with the perfect kiss-off.
“Throw It Back” — Missy Elliot
Roll out the hot pink carpet and break out the 808, Missy Elliott is back to remind you whose world this is. Though it doesn’t feel like anyone is really sleeping on Missy’s legacy these days, with “Throw It Back” — the lead single off Iconography, her first project in 14 (!) years — the Virginia native is here to tell anyone who might not have been listening to put some respect on her name: “Please don’t steal my style, I might cuss you out/ What you doin’ now, I did for a while,” she raps over a series of nervy high hats and bare production from co-producer/partner-in-crime Timbaland. Like most of her singles, this one comes packaged with a flashy music video (released just in time for her to accept the Video Vanguard Award at Monday’s VMAs), which features Missy dancing in eye-popping outfits and letting young girls use her lengthy braids to jump rope. There’s nothing new here, per se — “Throw It Back” isn’t quite as weird or groundbreaking as some of her best-known hits — but it’s still vintage Missy, with a mix of braggadocio, humor, and offbeat rhyming. Hopefully, it’s a taste of more to come. —Alex Suskind
“I Forgot You Existed” — Taylor Swift
It wouldn’t be a Taylor Swift album without one perfectly poppy kiss-off anthem. And could you find a better title for one than “I Forgot You Existed”? The bouncy, minimalist opener to Lover features Swift methodically and calmly kicking another loser to the curb — much to her surprised delight. “I forgot that you existed/ And I thought that it would kill me, but it didn’t/ And it was so nice/ So peaceful and quiet,” she sings over light piano and finger snaps, adding, “It isn’t love, it isn’t hate, it’s just indifference.” “Existed” is not only a world away from the candy-coated playground of her first single, “ME!” it’s also a better representation of Lover as a whole, which has Swift confidently emerging out of the darkness of the Reputation era. —A.S.
“Last Text” – Jake Miller
Songs about specific technological communication have been fairly triggering ever since “Email My Heart,” but ahead of his fall tour with Hoodie Allen, born-with-abs 26-year-old Jake Miller manages to turn in a punchy little pop ballad that sends off summer with a relatable bit of millennial resonance and even an edge to the production, particularly as the disarming bridge (and theoretically, the sending of said “last text”) takes flight. —Marc Snetiker
“People” — The 1975
Per The 1975, the best way to cope during this rainforest-burning, politically malevolent hellscape we find ourselves in now is to strap on your guitar and scream as loud as you f*cking can. On “People,” the dark and urgent new single off the British rockers’ upcoming Notes on a Conditional Form, vocalist Matty Healy gives it to us straight: “The economy’s a goner, republic’s a banana, ignore it if you wanna” and “It’s Monday morning and we’ve only got a thousand of them left.” (Yeesh.) The heavy riffs are a far cry from the bright synth-rock of 2018’s A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships. But “People” isn’t interested in playing nice and clean. Though Healy may love his one-liners (“my generation wanna f*ck Barack Obama” is this year’s “We’re f—ing in a car, shooting heroin”), with this song, he’s also fed up. The times call for it. —Alex Suskind
“I’ll Be There” – Walk Off the Earth
The homespun gang known for beachy covers and throw-pillow lyrics delivers one seriously — and, in a certain sense, surprisingly — uplifting dance bop that begs for a dramatic hit of volume. Exceptional enough on its own, the song takes on a stunning new shape with context: The group weathered tragedy with the late-2018 death of band member Mike Taylor, a multitalented jack-of-all-instruments to whom they paid tender tribute earlier this summer. But if “Mike’s Song” was crafted in softness, “I’ll Be There” is the group’s spiritual return to life, a cathartic car-roof shout to the stars that celebrates the bittersweet joys that can, with a little help from one another, be found hiding inside the most seemingly insurmountable mountains. —MS