Friday Five: Lil Baby shares 'The Bigger Picture,' Burt Bacharach still vital at 92, and more
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, Lil Baby gives fans "The Bigger Picture," Burt Bacharach collaborates with Daniel Tashian, the Mavericks show mighty musicianship, the late Pop Smoke gets a stunning jail phone feature from Rowdy Rebel, and Bully balances sounding raw and effortless.
"The Bigger Picture" — Lil Baby
So much music emerging right now is described as "powerful" with maybe an even chance of that claim having merit. A better description for Lil Baby's new song would be accessible. As he raps, "I'm just here to vent," the 2020 breakout artist offers testimony on his experience as a young black rapper dealing with the current uprising around police brutality without concocting easy solutions. There is comfort to be found right now in hearing a musician many kids admire admitting he doesn't have all the answers, and the best route to take may be to just listen to each other's personal experiences. —Marcus Jones
"Bells of St. Augustine" — Burt Bacharach & Daniel Tashian
This is a match made in pure pop heaven: the legendary songwriter Bacharach, still vital at 92, and Tashian, the buzzy producer of the 2019 Album of the Year Grammy winner, Kacey Mugraves' Golden Hour. Unsurprisingly, it deftly combines the melancholic elegance of Bacharach's halcyon hits with Tashian's contemporary elan. The younger man's Jackson Browne-evoking timbre strikes just the right forlorn note as he searches high and low for a missed connection. The track comes from the pair's upcoming EP Blue Umbrella, out July 31. —Sarah Rodman
"Poder Vivir" — The Mavericks
This first taste of the group's upcoming fully Spanish-language album En Español (out Aug. 21) is a typical burst of Mavericks exuberance and mighty musicianship. Frontman Raul Malo's celestial pipes bop and glide atop a folllow-the-bouncing-ball groove as accordion and horns weave in and out in an effortless dance that should get you out of your seat. The song presages an album that will combine new original tunes and and classics from the Latin American songbook. —S.R.
"Make It Rain" — Pop Smoke feat. Rowdy Rebel
It's fortunate that "Make It Rain" exists, but it's difficult to listen and not ponder what could have been. The first posthumous track from the late Pop Smoke — the Brooklyn drill icon who was fatally shot earlier this year at age 20 — is the sound of a rapper just entering his prime. Compared to previous songs like "Dior" and "Welcome to the Party," the beat remains equally hard but a little glitzier, and Pop just has a field day flexing his speed and grit. Then there's the stunning jail phone feature from elder Brooklynite Rowdy Rebel, a member of Bobby Shmurda's GS9 crew who's been serving time since 2014. Rebel is slated for release later this year, so it's particularly tough that the two didn't get the chance to collaborate in the flesh. They proved a dynamic duo. —Eli Enis
"Where to Start" — Bully
Bully's music has always rambled around grunge, punk, and power-pop without losing its way. On their latest single, "Where to Start," the Nashville band fine-tunes that impressive balancing act, delivering a song that's both ragged and tight, catchy and seething. Singer Alicia Bognanno always sounds like she's telling someone off in real time when she performs, and here she actually is. "I don't know where to start with you," she snarls on the track's biting refrain. Her voice often sounds hoarse on recordings, as if she landed on the perfect take late into an evening of tracking, at a point when frustration and exhaustion inspired that intangible it factor. Here she sounds like she roared into the studio after a lengthy fight and just one-taked the damn thing on the fly. Raw, ripping, and effortless. —E.E.