This week’s roundup features a smooth duet between two R&B legends, bouncy electro-pop from a Brooklyn band with a familiar frontwoman and a powerful rallying cry from the UK’s most exciting new girl group.
1.) Little Mix, “Salute”
Get ready for the takeover: UK quartet Little Mix have officially landed stateside. The “X Factor” UK-winning mini-diva troupe just dropped their second studio album, Salute, in America today — and it’s one of the strongest girl group albums in years. The opening song (and title track) alone is more than enough to sell the record, as the divas carry out the Spice Girls‘ rallying cry of “Girl Power!” for a new generation to a militant beat: “Ladies all across the world, listen up, we’re looking for recruits!” Female empowerment, hot beats and powerhouse soulful pipes to carry out the mission? Yeah, sign me up.
2.) Toni Braxton & Babyface, “Roller Coaster”
Got a Valentine this year? No? Doesn’t matter — Toni Braxton and Babyface cooked up something special for you regardless. The duo just dropped their debut duet album this week, Love, Marriage & Divorce, which spans all of the emotions in the form of slinky R&B, light disco, and broken-hearted balladry. “Roller Coaster” is just one of the many jams included in the collection, and it’s one hell of a smooth ride: “What should we do when love is like a roller coaster, always up and down?” the two soulfully lament across a jazzy midtempo beat. You put this on, and things are about to get real emotional. Just pour a bottle of red and sink to a bubble bath first.
3.) Tinashe, “Vulnerable (Gold Fields Remix)”
R&B diva on the rise Tinashe has been slowly teasing new material in advance of her upcoming RCA debut for ages now, including her ace DJ Mustard-produced lead single, “2 On.” But it’s “Vulnerable,” the slinky lead track off her incredible Black Water mixtape released late last year, that’s been seeing the remix treatment lately. Aussie outfit Gold Fields is the latest troupe to take on Tinashe’s murky masterpiece, providing the chill-inducing original with some seriously warm, sensuous disco pulsations. Light a few candles and slip into something more comfortable — this one’s perfect for a, uh, late night rendezvous.
4.) Leon Else, “Protocol (The Jane Doze Remix)”
24-year-old singer of songs Leon Else has just begun making waves with his spooky, creeping debut, “Protocol.” It’s a gorgeous production, playing like a distant cousin to Alex Clare, Sam Smith and BANKS. But if you’re not in the market for spook-hop production, fear not: NYC production duo The Jane Doze have gone ahead and added a little stomp in Else’s step, resulting in a hypnotic throbbing makeover. It’s still got those spooky echoing vocals, but with a four-to-the-floor pulse, the song is officially ready to take over the dance floor.
5.) LOLAWOLF, “Chainz”
Burgeoning Brooklyn-based synth-pop trio LOLAWOLF — which just so happens to boast Zoe Kravitz (offspring of Lenny Kravitz, ICYDK) as its lead singer, NBD! — just dropped their debut EP this week. The über-emotionally conflicted “Chainz” is just one of the sparkling gems on the solid collection, which bounces along on hazy ’80s synthesizers and drippy drum beats. “I want you to die, but I can’t go on without you being mine,” Zoe dreamily purrs, going through the motions with her not-so-perfect beau across a peppy beat. You’ll be too busy dancing to remember why these two were fighting in the first place.
Bradley Stern is a writer from New york. In his spare time, he enjoys organizing his Britney Spears CD collection in reverse chronological order and writing impassioned letters to Congress urging that Madonnalogy be taught in all public schools. But most of all, he spends his time tweeting musing daily about pop music on his blog, MuuMuse.