The best new songs we heard this week: The Weeknd's disco dominatrix vibes, plus Lauryn Hill reunites with Nas
The latest Friday Five has landed.
Every Friday, EW's music team runs down the five best songs of the week. In today's edition, the Weeknd is breathless, Victoria Monét heads down the coast, Deafheaven flips the script, Jack Harlow shoots his shot with the geriatric set, and Lauryn Hill comes out of hiding.
"Take My Breath" — The Weeknd
He sank so deep into the powder-laced '80s that he couldn't feel his face, but it turns out Abel Tesfaye was just getting started. Six years later, he wants to telegraph every decade's take on excess: the gnarly Chic guitars and sexed-up Moroder synths of the '70s; MJ's criminally smooth Reagan-era vocals; visuals that evoke the S&M–lite '90s dorm-room staple The Matrix; the entire Daft Punk songbook. Does he fully deliver? He couldn't possibly. But when that dance-floor dominatrix in his new disco-noir video for "Take My Breath" tries ending his life with a gas mask and her flawless hair braid over a sky-scraping chorus, you can't help but applaud the guy. No other working top 40 pop artist is this committed and inspired — so inspired that he's willing to die and resurrect himself, again and again, for the craft. —Jason Lamphier
"Coastin'" — Victoria Monét
Feelin' lost this week? Let Victoria Monét be your guide. The Cali singer-songwriter has lent her hand to a slew of recent über-bops — Ariana Grande's "thank u, next," Fifth Harmony's "Work From Home," Chloe x Halle's "Do It" — but on "Coastin'" it's her backside offering directions. "Think of the way/The ways I wanna give you this ass/Just how you like/Feel like a Thursday how I'm throwin' it back" she coos over a big fat juicy bass line cribbed from Keni Burke's 1982 hit "Risin' to the Top," before promising to let her hips "go North, South, East, West coast." The only thing that could make this sun-kissed, groovy, bootylicious road trip any better? A regal trumpet solo, blaring out the passenger side, gliding you toward your final destination. —Jason Lamphier
"Nobody" — Nas (feat. Ms. Lauryn Hill)
Escape is a necessity few artists understand better than Lauryn Hill, who's mostly kept to herself the past 20 years. On "Nobody," she explains why: "They tried to box me out while takin' what they want from me/I spent too many years living too uncomfortably," she spits over a jazzy Hit-Boy and Corbett beat, before boldly defending her tendency to not show up to her own concerts on time. "My awareness like Keanu in The Matrix/I'm savin' souls and y'all complainin' 'bout my lateness." Nas sounds like he's ready to ditch the limelight too: "If Chappelle moved to Ghana to find his peace, then I'm rollin/Where the service always roamin', I'm packin' my bags and goin'." "Nobody" may be a cut off the Queensbridge MC's new album, but it's really a multitiered reminder from Hill: She does what she wants, and she's still one of the best damn rappers alive. —Alex Suskind
"In Blur" — Deafheaven
After a decade spent churning out ferocious, sprawling black metal, Deafheaven have flipped the script. The trio of singles off Infinite Granite, the San Francisco quintet's forthcoming fifth studio album (which they recorded with Paramore and M83 collaborator Justin Meldal-Johnsen) are tighter, leaner, hazier, and shoegazier than anything they've done. But if their melodic, watercolor-streaked latest, "In Blur," sounds like it'd feel right at home on a Slowdive record or the Cure's Disintegration, frontman George Clarke, channeling his best Peter Murphy, still heaps on his signature Sturm und Drang: "Wandering over royal yonder/Wandering over flooded ground again," he sings, trapped in his own private hell. "What does daylight look like in this chaos of cold? Solitude and falling into respites now." The result is heartbreaking and transcendent. —Jason Lamphier
"SUVs (Black on Black)" — Jack Harlow feat. Pooh Shiesty
I'm as shocked as you are that my one-time doppelganger Jack Harlow is on this list, but there's no denying the cool confidence of "SUVs (Black on Black)." The rapper brings along his usual swagger, turning a "penthouse suite into my natural habitat," "hundreds... to racks," and "brags... to facts," while showing love for ladies twice (erhm, thrice?) his age: "Ain't it hurt, main chick say I'm a flirt/Older women fall for me, I make 'em press that Life Alert." The bars are standard braggadocio, but Harlow's nonchalant execution — and a menacing guest verse from "Back in Blood" MC and Gucci Mane signee Pooh Shiesty — gives "SUVs" its backbone. —Alex Suskind