Newcomer Cameron Hardy calls out deception while slinging rhythmic pop melodies and smoldering boy-band looks on “I Thought You Were Lonely,” a polished and promising debut single. Extra credit for a music video that literally places Hardy in a glass case of emotion!
Beka, “Green Lights”
“Feels brighter now! We’re rising up! No hiding out! Only green lights for us,” goes the chorus to Beka’s smashing new single “Green Lights,” which is featured on her debut EP I’ll Be There. The song’s warmth nicely captures post-quarantine positivity, and the British singer’s crisp vocal delivery sparkles under its light.
City Girl feat. Tiffi, “Pack It Up Boy”
Nope, not the ascendant hip-hop duo City Girls — “Pack It Up Boy” comes from the L.A. producer City Girl, whose new project, C-Girl, is led by this subtly spectacular slice of radio-ready R&B. With Tiffi lending vocals (and chuckling about her video game obsession before the song even starts), City Girl crafts an effortlessly catchy kiss-off, seemingly out of thin air.
Jesse Gold, “Sugar Island”
“Buttery” is a fair way to describe Toronto artist Jesse Gold’s vocal tone, which melts all over a song like “Sugar Island” and fills in the empty spaces of the production. With muted handclaps and smooth strums, the song gets out of his way and lets the singer-songwriter showcase what he’ll hopefully be able to accomplish in the near future.
Alfie Templeman, “Wait, I Lied”
The 18-year-old rising singer-songwriter-producer just released a new EP, Forever Isn’t Long Enough, which includes the slinky track “Wait, I Lied.” Beyond a riff that recalls Billie Eilish’s “my strange addiction,” the U.K.-based artist makes enough one-of-a-kind production choices that help the song — and his performance — stand out.
Aly & AJ, “Personal Cathedrals”
After a long 14 years, sister duo Aly & AJ have finally returned with their independently-released A Touch of the Beat Gets You Up on Your Feet Gets You Out and Then Into the Sun. The album balances synth-pop with breezy, California-inspired pop-rock production — all of which is best heard on “Personal Cathedrals,” which features an engineered twang and intriguing storyline.
Jake Wesley Rogers, “Middle of Love”
Emerging indie-pop artist Jake Wesley Rogers recently signed to Justin Tranter’s Facet Records, in partnership with Warner, and released his debut single, the rollicking pop track “Middle of Love.” Underlined by a bit of Southern-rock-inspired instrumentation, the lyrics — which were co-written with Tranter — are brought to life by Rogers’ inviting voice.
Little Simz feat. Cleo Sol, “Woman”
Over an undeniable neo-soul groove, Little Simz spits a laid-back, confident flow about being a “Yoruba girl tougher than imperial leather” and “innovating like Donna Summer in the ’80s.” When Cleo Sol swings in to croon the Erykah Badu-esque hook, it’s the topper on this sophisticated, heady cocktail.
Joshua Bassett, “Feel Something”
Best known as the star of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series and the person who maybe inspired a No. 1 Hot 100 smash, Joshua Bassett is doing his best to establish himself as a creative voice on his own merits – and “Feel Something” goes a long way toward that goal. A sweet, wistful, propulsive pop song that brings to mind Troye Sivan’s mixture of reflective yet upbeat pop, “Feel Something” will make you do just that.
KALI, “Too Tired”
For someone who isn’t even of voting age yet, KALI’s debut EP Circles certainly sounds like the work of an artist who’s spend some time honing their craft – and sure enough, she’s been performing and taking songwriting classes throughout her youth. “Too Tired” is a woozy, irresistible swirl of obtuse guitar riffs straight out of a ’90s alt-rock haze, and sweetly multi-tracked vocals that bring to mind Jeff Lynne. Keep an eye on this one.