Friday Five: Jamie xx's percussive return, Norah Jones takes a cue from Dr. Seuss, and more
Every Friday, EW's music team runs down the five best songs of the week. In today's edition, Norah Jones turns to poetry for inspiration, Jamie xx releases his first solo song in five years, Rina Sawayama drops an eloquent anthem about being a bad friend, dvsn get an assist from Popcaan, and Naeem makes a statement.
"Idontknow" — Jamie xx
It's been a full week of momentous returns (see: Playboi Carti, Fiona Apple), and Jamie xx got in on the action with the knocking "Idontknow." It's the first solo song released by the English producer, who moonlights in the indie-pop trio the xx, since his 2015 album In Colour, and it manages to pack the breadth of an entire mixtape into five and a half minutes. It begins with a scrum of click-clacking percussion that skitters restlessly into a 160 BPM cascade. Jamie doesn't get cozy, though, shifting the rhythm into a flapping pattern that wobbles like a jet ski slamming across choppy waves. To say it slaps would be underselling it. —Eli Enis
"Simulation" — Naeem (feat. Swamp Dogg & Justin Vernon)
There's a pleasurable skittishness to "Simulation," the powerful lead single off Naeem's forthcoming album Startisha. Kicking off with a jazzy piano riff, the Baltimore-bred artist melds textured synths, bowl vibrations, and static with traditional hip-hop production, giving the song an evocative and unexpected jolt. Topping it off are Naeem's lyrics, which tackle everything from school shootings to income inequality ("No ice on our wrists, we eat the rich," he raps, which, yes). "Simulation" feels like a statement piece. —Alex Suskind
"Bad Friend"— Rina Sawayama
With the release of her debut album, Sawayama, the British-Japanese singer continues to carve out a space for herself in an ever-widening field of pop acts. Past her cultural identity, Sawayama eloquently breaks new ground in songwriting, pioneering concepts on her pansexuality, modern excess, and the poisonous pleasures of social media. What other artist right now could write a song about being unable to be the friend their loved ones need and turn it into an anthem that will convince people to "put your hands up if you're not good at this stuff"? —Marcus Jones
"How I Weep" — Norah Jones
Are you ready for Norah Jones: America's Next Top Poet Laureate? After poring over poetry books and taking nightly cues from the works of Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein (literary icons whose words have helped her tuck her kids into bed), the jazzy chanteuse has concocted a lyrical, atmospheric poem about personal loss as an experimental portal into her forthcoming album >Pick Me up off the Floor. On "How I Weep," the LP's second single, Jones charts her grief through a word maze that paints emotional strife as physical aguish, tracing the pain as it "creeps down my chin for the heart and the hair" and "rolls through bones till they crumble." Top it all off with plucky strings and pulsing keys, and you have a tangibly raw, textural soundscape that does full poetic justice to the song's gloomy, therapeutic message. —Joey Nolfi
"So What" — dvsn feat. Popcaan
This cut off dvsn's new album is in line with the Canadian R&B duo's usual moody, broody, minimalist slow jams — with a twist. Featuring a guest verse from Jamaican dancehall star Popcaan, "So What" is a 2 a.m. post-club shrug-off. "Too late to say I'm sober/Too drunk to play like I love you girl/That's just not in my motion," Daniel Daley sings between reverbed handclaps and an electric piano. —A.S.