Friday is the day that all the new albums and singles get released, and on most Fridays, all the new albums and singles that get released are really bad. But this Friday, something magical happened — lots of famous people released albums and singles, and lots of them were good! Here are ten good songs by people whose names you have probably heard before. Next week, we will return to showcasing only obscure music.
John Maus - "Teenage Witch"
What's fun about John Maus is you can read as much into his music as you want or choose not to read into it at all, and you'll be able to enjoy it either way. On one hand, the dude makes weird and chill synth-pop; on the other, he's an academic who has lots of concerns about the state of the world and kinda-sorta expresses them discursively through his music.
King Krule - "Dum Surfer"
I was never really sold on King Krule when he first came out, but as he's made record after record, seemingly improving his craft with each release, I've totally come around on the deep-voiced, deep-thinking Brit. "Dum Surfer" emerges from a haze of noise to become a piece of warped lounge-pop, the sort of thing David Lynch would probably listen to and be all like "Yeah, OK, that's good."
Beck - "Colors"
Hey, Beck's back! And he made a power-pop album! The record is called Colors, and has one of those vibes that suggests Beck spent countless hours trying to create something that would effortlessly appeal to anyone and everyone who picked it up. The entire thing is great (even the parts where Beck raps!), but I'm kinda partial to its title track, which features pan pipes, or pan flutes, or maybe just some Pro Tools plugin, but regardless it's catchy as hell.
Wu-Tang Clan - "Lesson Learn'd (f. Inspectah Deck and Redman)"
So the new Wu-Tang Clan album is (A) the best Wu-Tang Clan album in years, and (B) technically not a Wu-Tang Clan album and instead a release by "Wu Tang," which means that the record wasn't produced by The RZA and instead by their longtime DJ Mathematics, who also happens to be the guy who drew the iconic Wu-Tang W logo.
Anyways, one time I saw the Wu-Tang Clan play at Coachella and RZA promised that a new Wu album was dropping at midnight and that never happened, so I'm just going to go ahead and count this one as a real Wu-Tang release. Plus, it turns out that Mathematics is actually kind of better at capturing the vintage Wu-Tang vibe these days than the RZA, and also Redman has sort of gotten absorbed into the group which is good because unlike certain other members of Wu-Tang he did not spend much of the mid-90s blasting his brain with angel dust.
St. Vincent - "Pills"
St. Vincent made a trap song, and you should listen to it if only so you can say that you listened to the St. Vincent trap song.
Hustle Gang - "That Bag (f. T.I., Young Dro, Young Thug, Trev Case)"
Hustle Gang is T.I.'s extended collective, and their series of mixtapes over the past few years has featured some of T.I.'s finest rapping in recent memory. The dude sounds energized when he's being pushed by his collaborators, and nowhere on Hustle Gang's new We Want Smoke is this as obvious as it is on "That Bag," which finds him, Young Dro, and Young Thug all trying to outrap each other.
Are you over 18?
Yo Gotti - "Juice"
Not gonna lie, I kind of love Yo Gotti. If you recall, he lodged a number-one hit with his song "Down in the DM's," a willfully goofy song about sexting whose appeal hinged on Gotti's playfulness and charm. Ever since, he's just kind of rapped in the same cadence that he used on "Down in the DM's," and no matter how many times he uses it, it is kind of charming and playful.
Louis Tomlinson - "Just Like You"
The One Direction Solo Era has been a mixed bag, but I'm charmed by Louis Tomlinson's determination to make a song that sounds like all of the current popular musical styles at once.
Gucci Mane - "Stunting Ain't Nothing (f. Slim Jxmmi and Young Dolph)"
Such is the influence of Gucci Mane that you can see various strains of his legacy in both Slim Jxmmi and Young Dolph, even though they themselves have completely disparate styles. Slim Jxmmi, half of the indomitable Rae Sremmurd, spends his verse indulging in the flights of lyrical fancy that defined some of Gucci's best mixtape work, while Dolph offers the straight-faced intensity that defined the rest of Gucci's best mixtape work. And then there's also Gucci Mane, whose combination of flights of lyrical fancy and straight-faced intensity defined all of… oh, you can tell where I'm going here.
Antwon - "Visine (f. Lil Peep)"
If there were any justice in this world, the rapper Antwon would be just as famous as all the other musicians on this list. He's about all you can ask for in a rapper — funny, clever, technically gifted, and never so impressed with his own skills that he lets them get in the way of songcraft. He also used to play in a hardcore band and has voracious musical tastes, and so it makes perfect sense that he'd make a track with Lil Peep, everyone's favorite teenage-dirtbag-rapper-slash-pop-punk-singer. Amazingly, Peep drops a reference to Fabolous's "You Be Killin' Em," but even more amazingly, this song sounds exactly like how being on weed feels.
Are you over 18?
Follow Drew Millard on Twitter