Friday Five: Leon Bridges and John Mayer slow jam the quarantine, Gorillaz go New Order
The five best songs we heard this week.
Every Friday, EW’s music team runs down the five best songs of the week. In today’s edition, Leon Bridges recruits John Mayer for his latest, Charli XCX makes a song in quarantine, Gorillaz recruit Peter Hook and Georgia, the Beths' produce a sprightly sing-along, and Chelsea Jade drops a flirty dance number.
"Inside Friend" — Leon Bridges feat. John Mayer
Leon Bridges and John Mayer are here to slow jam the quarantine with their smooth-as-velvet new single "Inside Friend." "We can be lazy, baby, embrace me," sings Bridges in a honey-sweet tenor, as Mayer's slide guitar echoes in the backdrop. "In this feeling so right/Don't think about leaving anytime tonight." Though timely, the track was actually recorded in 2019 during a jam session between Bridges and Mayer. With the world in isolation, the duo decided to dig it out of the archives to give us something "soothing and uplifting while we hole up indoors," Bridges said in a statement. His vocals, and Mayer's solo, hit both marks. —Alex Suskind
"Forever" — Charli XCX
Continuing the historical tradition of artists doing sublime work in isolation (hello, William Shakespeare wrote King Lear and Macbeth locked down during a plague!), Charli XCX has tapped into her creative well for inspiration while social-distancing. The song was written, recorded, and produced entirely from her home (and virtually via coproducers A.G. Cook and BJ Burton) during the ongoing pandemic. “Forever” lands as the first single from How I’m Feeling Now, the British pop star’s upcoming album created entirely in quarantine during the global shutdown. XCX’s soft vocals sound heavenly over the song’s glitchy, distorted production, with “Forever” serving as a metaphorical pop gem about finding solace and hope in all the chaos. —Joey Nolfi
"Aries" — Gorillaz feat. Peter Hook and Georgia
The latest from Gorillaz sounds a bit like New Order — which is fitting since the English rock band's bassist, Peter Hook, guests on it alongside British artist Georgia. Part of the animated group's Song Exploder series, "Aries" is an impressive '80s-inspired pop-rock anthem with a pulsing backbeat, surf-rock guitar, and plenty of reverb. The lyrics may read a bit like an instruction manual — "I'm a model that is uncomplicated/You can play a happy tune on me, but don't turn me off" — but that's part of the song's charm, especially when sung in a slight monotone by co-creator Damon Albarn as sparkling synthesizers pop off in the distance. —AS
"Dying to Believe" — The Beths
The New Zealand power-pop band the Beths returned this week with a magnificent new single called “Dying to Believe." Building on the sound of their 2018 debut, Future Me Hates Me, this sprightly sing-along splits the difference between pop-punk thrust and indie-pop grace. The group of jazz school graduates treat pop-rock like a science, inverting predictable “woah-oh” gang choruses into clever “ah-ah-wooo”s that are freshly irresistible. Pending our global shutdown, the Beths are set to open for the epic Weezer/Green Day/Fall Out Boy tour this summer, where they’ll surely keep those vets on the tips of their Vans. —Eli Enis
"Superfan" — Chelsea Jade
"Superfan" is a flirty electronic dance track about being into someone but giving off the opposite impression to their face. It's laced with playful, humorous lyrics that come over like self-deprecating dating app repartee (“Taurus with an ego rising”), while the choruses are punctuated by Chelsea Jade's own nervy little vocal ticks. “I’m a Superfan, I can’t wait to see you again,” she sings — a relatable sentiment right now while the only thing we can do is let our imaginations run wild over our quarantine-time crushes. This L.A.-based, New Zealander is a DIY artist who specializes in finding pop music's odder edges; certainly a comfort while we move through the upside down. —Eve Barlow