The best new songs we heard this week: Mitski grows up, Kylie's disco duet, Kelis' midnight cravings
Every Friday, EW's music team runs down the five best songs of the week. In today's edition, Mitski has a late-20s epiphany, Kylie Minogue and Years & Years have a dance-off, Kelis has midnight cravings, Big Thief is looking for change, and PinkPantheress can't stop playing games.
"Working for the Knife" — Mitski
Who better to help work through the mercilessness of adulthood than our foremost emotional archaeologist? "I used to think I would tell stories/But nobody cared for the stories I had about/No good guys," sings Mitski in the mid-tempo "Working for the Knife" — a nod to the destabilizing realization that all those dreams you had as a kid will never fully come to fruition, that you'll always give up something in return for a sense of joy. Her titular knife serves as a brutal metaphor for life's daily hurdles, but by the song's back half, she reaches a compromise: "Maybe at 30, I'll see a way to change" and "I always thought the choice was mine/And I was right, but I just chose wrong." For Mitski, growth only comes with the benefit of hindsight. —Alex Suskind
"Midnight Snacks" — Kelis
If "Milkshake" singer Kelis is known for anything, it's her subtlety. Just kidding! The seasoned diva whose sweet goods brought all the boys to the yard, whose album Food included songs like "Jerk Ribs" and "Biscuits n' Gravy," and whose 1999 breakthrough single about an unfaithful lover is most remembered for a chorus in which she literally screams "I hate you so much right now!!!" is back with her latest unequivocal romp, "Midnight Snacks." Fortunately, she is still hungry, still ready to loosen her belt, and still living out her indulgent, guilt-free fantasies. The track's glossy, syrup-drenched video is your personal trainer's worst nightmare, and rife with innuendo: Corks are popped, cookies are dunked, donuts are filled, the Jell-O is quivering. Once again, Kelis shows up out of nowhere with a decadent, addictive treat. We've had seconds, thirds, and then stopped counting. So will you. —Jason Lamphier
"A Second to Midnight" — Kylie Minogue and Years & Years
The first taste of Kylie Minogue's star-packed Disco: Guest List Edition, the deluxe reissue to her 2020 album, sees the Aussie icon inviting Years & Years' Olly Alexander onto her well-trodden dance floor. "I'm chasing after midnight/Show me the way to your heart/Ready for the start of my real life/To shine like a light in the dark," they sing in the track's glittery hook. While the second collaboration between the pop queen and Alexander feels familiar, it's a welcome fusion of cross-generational talent that captures both artists at their apex — old-school flair meets progressive pop that, even among Minogue's recent roster of throwback bops, thumps like a VIP. —Joey Nolfi
"Change" — Big Thief
Big Thief singer Adrianne Lenker's voice cuts straight to the bone — a warbling falsetto that weasels its way into your darkest memories, scrapes away all of the petty bull---t, and emerges with a raw yet necessary sense of clarity. On "Change," she wields that power once again, singing of new seasons and old relationships ("Could I feel happy for you/When I hear you talk with her like we used to?"), tackling questions big and small ("Would you walk forever in the light/To never learn the secret of the quiet night?"). A gentle, shuffling beat and acoustic guitar bolster the narrative, as Lenker patiently waits for these shifts to unfold. If the answers to her queries have arrived, she's keeping them to herself for now. —Alex Suskind
"PinkPantheress" — I Must Apologise
Her Tiktok profile reads "I fancy Evan Peters," but after listening to PinkPantheress' new cut, you have to wonder if he — or anyone else — could ever tie the U.K. upstart down. "I'm not able/To tell you what you need, it's a shame 'cause/They say I should be honest more," she sings over skittering breakbeats, confessing that she just can't stop lying to the lovers in her life. The frenetic production on the fifth single from her upcoming debut mixtape, To Hell With It, mirrors its narrator's proclivity for evasion and self-sabotage, its persistent sample of Crystal Waters' house classic "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless") piercing through to remind her that no matter how hard she tries, she'll never escape her intense desire to deceive. Clocking in at less than two minutes, "I Must Apologise" is fast, fleeting, and dizzying — like a hot and heavy fling that was doomed before it even started. —Jason Lamphier
Listen to our five favorite new tracks this week — and all the Friday Fives of 2021 — in the playlist below.
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