The best new songs we heard this week: Kacey Musgraves feels justified, Kendrick returns, and CL gets spicy
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, Kacey Musgraves hits the road, Caribou likes it doggy style, Baby Keem and Kendrick keep it in the family, MUNYA is loving the alien, and CL packs the hot sauce.
"Justified" — Kacey Musgraves
If "Star-Crossed," the title track and first single from Kacey Musgraves' upcoming fifth album, teases a story about "two lovers ripped at the seams," its follow-up, "Justified," drops us right in the thick of it. This is the manic aftermath of a once-healthy relationship — laughing one moment and then crying the next; missing the person in the morning, then hating their guts by the afternoon. "Moving on was feeling strong, but healing doesn't happen in a straight line," she sings, the shellac-smooth production evoking her previous, Grammy-winning record Golden Hour. But there's no calming sunset on the horizon here, only lingering doubts. —Alex Suskind
"You Can Do It" — Caribou
Electronic mastermind Dan Snaith has long demonstrated his knack for cherry-picking a slick sample and building on it, injecting countless musical elements into his canny dance cuts until they swell into something far greater than the sum of their parts. He's lifted lyrics about love and heartache from the likes of Janet Jackson and Marvin Gaye, but the title line in his new surprise single — which he dropped to announce a North American tour this fall — is his simplest and most direct yet. Like the Frisbee-catching dogs racing through picturesque landscapes in its adorable video, the track charges in right out the gate, its four-word mantra hovering above a frenzied, highly caffeinated bass line. Then come the glossy keys, whirring synths, hissing high-hats, more beats, and layers of other tricks, the vocal spinning out and morphing into an instrument of its own. As the song fades, you're left breathless and exhausted, but damn certain that, yes, you can do it. Who needs Peloton when you got Caribou? —Jason Lamphier
"Family Ties" — Baby Keem feat. Kendrick Lamar
Biblical references, Meg Thee Stallion, astrology, that long-awaited new album — like any good Kendrick verse, his appearance as alter ego Oklama on cousin Baby Keem's "Family Ties" packs enough cross-references and triplicate rhymes to make you dizzy. "I been duckin' the pandemic/I been duckin' the social gimmicks/I been duckin' the overnight activists," he raps at a clip. "I'm not a trending topic, I'm a prophet." Keem can't go toe to toe with K.Dot (who can?) but he still, impressively, holds his own, with trebly vocals reminiscing about rides to Popeyes and his days as an indie upstart: "Tongue-tied when the truth is an object/What's the pros and the cons of this next check?/Wasn't nobody 'round, I was independent." The pair manage all this over a beat that flips no less than three times, bouncing from 808s to cascading flutes and thick, stuttering percussion. It makes for a staggering listen — and, hopefully, a taste of what's to come from Kendrick's pgLang project and next record. —Alex Suskind
"Cocoa Beach" — MUNYA
Is there life on Mars? MUNYA would like to think so. The Québécois artist's forthcoming debut album, Voyage to Mars (a nod to Georges Méliès' seminal silent film Le Voyage dans la Lune), promises a constellation of funk-fueled, retro-futuristic gems like the dreamy amuse-bouche "Cocoa Beach." Its titular haven is a serene seaside Florida town near the John F. Kennedy Space Center, but when a svelte, black-hoodied extraterrestrial touches down in the track's video, it becomes much more. Rather than asking the singer (née Josie Boivin) to take them to her leader, the mysterious, strangely sexy visitor intones (in French), "I am here to help you," before the fast friends engage in a series of salubrious activities: jogging, sipping tea, building sandcastles, dancing at sunset. "We can make it together," MUNYA declares over a shuffling disco beat, a reminder that when you're in the right company, the universe feels infinite. —Jason Lamphier
"Spicy" — CL
BTS and BlackPink are ubiquitous, but it's veteran K-pop performers like CL whose shoulders they firmly stand on. Arguably the genre's most formidable rapper, the swaggering erstwhile 2NE1 member proves she really does have the sauce on "Spicy," dominating a difficult, plunking beat from Baauer (of "Harlem Shake" fame) while impressively flowing between two vastly different languages. CL had been teasing a U.S. debut for nearly a decade but recently turned her focus back on the Korean market. Coincidentally, the entire music industry now finally seems ready to embrace all she has to offer. —Marcus Jones