Friday Five: Loretta Lynn pays tribute, Steve Aoki's adult contemporary phase, and more

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Miikka Skaffari/WireImage; Bennett Raglin/Getty Images; Erika Goldring/WireImage; Scott Legato/Getty Images; Erika Goldring/FilmMagic

Every Friday, EW's music team runs down the five best songs of the week. In today's edition, Steve Aokie resurrects an adult contemporary classic, Foxing looks to communicate beyond this realm, Lil Tjay splits the difference between tuneful sing-rapping and hot-blooded spitting, Loretta Lynne gives thanks to her country contemporaries, and Jon Bastiste feels like freedom.

"Used to Be" — Steve Aoki & Kiiara feat. Wiz Khalifa

Look, when the chorus hit, I screamed. Not to oversell it — especially since Wiz Khalifa phones it in a bit — but the interpolation here of an adult contemporary staple is unexpected brilliance. It's fun to think about party-starter Steve Aoki secretly having a well of smashes from the heyday of VH1 Top 20 Video Countdown to pull out at any time and give a clever, catchy update to. —Marcus Jones

"Speak With the Dead" Foxing

There's simply no other band like Foxing. On their 2018 opus Nearer My God, the St. Louis group found an unlikely harmony between the anthemic emo of the Manchester Orchestra and the colossal indie swings of Perfume Genius and Weyes Blood. Their new single "Speak With the Dead," which was co-produced by Man-O's Andy Hull, is somehow even more majestic. The seven-minute epic features ornate trumpet blasts, avalanching drum fills, a scorching guitar solo, and a hair-raising belt from vocalist Conor Murphy, who yearns to communicate with someone from beyond this realm. With the additional bonus of guest vocals from Yoni Wolf of Why?, it's the type of song that feels like the last page of a book. —Eli Enis

"Headshot"Polo G, Fivio Foreign, and Lil Tjay

"Headshot" is technically a single from Lil Tjay's forthcoming album, but the no-hook banger functions more as a relish tray for highlighting three essential voices in the drill-adjacent landscape. Polo G has been on an aggressive streak lately, but in this formidable opening verse he splits the difference between tuneful sing-rapping and hot-blooded spitting. Fivio Foreign has been helping carry the torch for New York drill since Pop Smoke's untimely passing, and here the style's iconic bass comes surging in to prop up his husky braggadocio ("Tell her, 'Be quiet,' she told me, 'F--- me even louder'"). Lil Tjay closes out with his squeaky croon-rapping, surrounding his vocals with a halo of cerulean harmonies. —Eli Enis

"Freedom" — Jon Batiste

Though recording for We Are began in 2019, the Late Show bandleader's new album was shaped by the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, giving extra weight to its swirling melange of funk, jazz, hip-hop, and New Orleans-style brass. That approach reaches its peak on "Freedom," an exhilarating, horn-heavy celebration of independence. "When I move my body just like this, I don't know why but I feel like freeeeeedom," Batiste sings over a pulsing beat, holding the last word just a few notes extra for emphasis. —Alex Suskind

"You Ain't Woman Enough" — Loretta Lynne feat. Tanya Tucker

Loretta Lynn's new album pays tribute to her female contemporaries by reimagining old country classics — both by others and from her own catalog. The 21st century take on her iconic "You Ain't Woman Enough" loses some of its charming analog grit, but gains additional pluck with the presence of Tanya Tucker. Meanwhile, Lynn, at a spry 88, sounds as sharp and loose as ever. —Alex Suskind

More music reviews: