The best new songs we heard this week: Wale's booty salute, Kali Uchis' SZA collab, and Agnes' night moves
Every Friday, EW's music team runs down the five best songs of the week. In today's edition, Wale salutes butts big and small, Kali Uchis and SZA bring the luscious tones, Agnes looks for love in the dark, the Weather Station sees the light, and Tirzah pens an intimate ode to partnership and parenthood.
"Poke It Out" — Wale (feat. J. Cole)
Wale's in full-on club-grind mode on "Poke It Out," the first single from his upcoming studio album, Folarin 2 (the project, a follow-up to his 2012 mixtape, makes him the latest rapper to hop on the sequel train). "I was getting broads way before I got the money," he boasts over the bones of Q-Tip's 1999 solo debut track, "Vivrant Thing" (Tip co-produced that single with J Dilla). Later, he offers words of encouragement: "She got a little butt, so what?/Big back, she can show enough/Stick it out, poke it out." J. Cole jumps on the second verse with his own dumb-fun stunts. "Turn around, I wanna see/Do it look like how it look on IG?/Bad from every angle, she got herself a trainer." Mostly, "Poke It Up" feels like a layup — a track tailor-made for dance-floor antics. —Alex Suskind
"Beating" — Tirzah
The intimacy of Tirzah's "Beating," the high point of her new sophomore effort, Colourgrade, is striking, immediate, and disorienting — but also deeply comforting. The song begins as if it's already winding toward its conclusion; pop it on and you'll feel like you've entered a room and stumbled into the middle of a conversation you're not sure you should be a part of. Cloaked in whirring atmospherics and a hiss that practically kisses your ear, its minimal, metronomic beat anchors the English musician's Spartan message of gratitude and devotion. "Found you, found me," she sings before clearing her throat, as if nervously still pulling her thoughts together. Soon after come the sweetest lyrics of the track, raw and openhearted: "You got me/I got you/We made life/It's beating," a reference to the family she and her partner, producer Kwake Bass, have created (the album was recorded soon after the birth of their first child and shortly before the birth of their second). The world is a scary place. But sometimes the scariest part is realizing you're forever tied to someone who knows you like no other. —Jason Lamphier
"Fue Mejor" — Kali Uchis (feat. SZA)
It was a shame to see the Colombian American artist get paid dust by this year's Latin Grammy nominations, especially coming off her milestone second album, Sin Miedo (del Amor y Otros Demonios) ∞, which features the viral crossover hit "Telepatía." But Kali Uchis has powered through, refurbishing another highlight from the record by replacing its middling PartyNextDoor feature, sung in English, with a fiery new SZA verse performed in Spanish (a first for the "Good Days" singer). Both vocalists deliver luscious tones that underscore the beauty of a line like "Fue mejor volar pa' no caerme" (which translates as "It was better to fly so I wouldn't fall"), and the sparse production allows the pair to craft an intoxicating soundscape using just their distinctive voices. —Marcus Jones
"Better Now" — The Weather Station
There's a beautiful, near-manic ache to "Better Now," the latest offering from Canadian actress-singer Tamara Lindeman's side hustle the Weather Station. From the new deluxe edition of her acclaimed 2021 album, Ignorance, this previously unreleased cut tells a story about losing a love you always thought was rock solid and letting the memories, now clouded, fester and spiral. "Is it better now? I think we done quite enough talking," Lindeman wonders over thundering drum fills and a simple piano riff. "Is it better now? I never thought I'd get done with wanting to hear you out." Repetition can drive you mad, but for Lindeman it leads to salvation. "Is it better now? You know, I never thought about it till now, but it's better now," she sings later, this time with a sense of triumph, some hard lessons learned and freedom achieved. "I fall asleep so easily now." —Alex Suskind
"Here Comes the Night" — Agnes
Agnes' arrow is pointed squarely on her target audience. They're the Gaga fans, the Dua fans, the Donna fans, the big kids who believe their '80s childhoods live on forever. If that sounds like pretty much everyone, the Stockholm-based pop star — who won the Swedish reality competition show Idol when she was just 16 — knows how to achieve crossover success: cast the net wide, keep the message simple, and dial the chorus up to 11 (also, wigs). "If you wanna get lost together/In the after-dark/Here comes the night," she belts on the third single from her upcoming album, Magic Still Exists, beckoning us into a nocturnal fantasia where decades collide, love awaits decked out in glitter, and anything is possible. Of course, this anthemic moment arrives only after an "Eye of the Tiger" guitar lick ignites the track and a disco beat Slip 'N Slides us into an undeniable drop curiously reminiscent of ABBA's "Gimme Gimme Gimme!" But if Agnes wears her influences on her sleeve, she still manages to cast a spell. —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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