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Music you missed in January: What's new from Billie Eilish, Olivia Rodrigo, Jason Derulo, Weezer and more

Gary Dinges, USA TODAY
·7 min read
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When it comes to new music, January was a bit slow.

Sure, that's the case most years but in 2021, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic seems to have exacerbated things. Albums from big-name acts were few and far between and singles were sporadic as well.

Still, there were intriguing releases that had us listening on repeat. We got new tracks from singer-songwriter John Fogerty, dark pop star Billie Eilish and pop smooth operator Jason Derulo, plus new albums from rockers Weezer and former One Direction member Zayn Malik.

Here's some of the new music you may have missed in January:

Zayn Malik, 'Nobody is Listening'

The former One Direction singer – who now goes simply by Zayn – says his third album, out Jan. 15, is his "most personal project to date." It comes a little more than two years after his last release, "Icarus Falls." The 11 tracks blur the lines between pop and R&B, with a decidedly stripped-down feel – appropriate during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Weezer, 'OK Human'

Weezer was planning a new album – but this wasn't it. While many of us were sitting at home, going stir-crazy, members of the beloved rock band got busy, recording "OK Human," accompanied by a 38-member orchestra. It debuted Jan. 29, described as "a Technicolor symphonic spree that meditates on how over-and-under-connected we all are." Beach Boys album "Pet Sounds," released in 1966, served as the inspiration. The album initially slated to be up next, "Van Weezer," is a tribute to the metal bands Weezer listened to while growing up. That's now set to come out May 7.

Willie Jones, 'Right Now'

On his debut album, out Jan. 22, country singer Jones delivers an "American Dream" through his eyes. The Louisiana-raised singer-songwriter belts out lines about Colin Kaepernick, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. He began writing "American Dream" – a standout on the album – after struggling to wear red, white and blue last Fourth of July. In the wake of George Floyd's killing, as protesters marched against racial injustice, Jones balked at wearing those colors, he said. Days later, he began writing the song self-described as a "parotitic protest anthem."

Morgan Wallen, 'Dangerous: The Double Album'

Initially, "Dangerous" was just a song Wallen wrote on the fly one morning before heading out to fish. (It was inspired by a night he had just spent in downtown Nashville, Tennessee, which ended with him being arrested for public intoxication and disorderly conduct.) The country singer loved it so much he used his phone to film a quick performance, which he uploaded to Instagram. With not much else to do during the COVID-19 lockdown, "Dangerous" morphed into a 30-track double album that hit shelves Jan. 8. One track from "Dangerous: The Double Album," “7 Summers,” became his latest No. 1 hit.

Jazmine Sullivan, 'Heaux Tales'

Sullivan rose to the top of the R&B charts in 2008 after her debut album, "Fearless." She’s earned 12 Grammy nominations and written songs for Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Hudson and Monica. Her new album, “Heaux Tales,” was released Jan. 8 and debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200. Much of the album was recorded in Sullivan's Philadelphia home due to the pandemic. The R&B star is set to get some major exposure at this year's Super Bowl on Feb. 7, where she'll sing the national anthem along with country singer Eric Church.

Billie Eilish and Rosalía, 'Lo Vas a Olvidar' ('You Will Forget Her')

Superstar Eilish sings in both English and Spanish in this collaboration with singer-songwriter Rosalía. The tune, released Jan. 21, is featured on the soundtrack for a special episode of "Euphoria," HBO's gritty teen drama. “Lo Vas a Olvidar" took two years to come together because the two artists have been busy with projects aplenty, Eilish told Apple Music. The track is extra special to Eilish because her family helped craft the last verse while they were together in quarantine: "You say it to me like it's something I have any choice in // If I wasn't important, then why would you waste all your poison?"

Jason Derulo featuring Adam Levine, 'Lifestyle'

Derulo teamed with a surprise collaborator – Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine – for his latest single, "Lifestyle." It also premiered Jan. 21. Ahead of its release, Derulo told fans, "Welcome to the new era" – a potential nod at a new direction for Derulo, who hasn't been very productive due to a spat with his former record label. On Twitter, Derulo called "Lifestyle" "one of my fav songs I’ve done." The last studio album from Derulo, 31, was "Everything Is 4," which came out in 2015, although there have been a few singles since then.

John Fogerty, 'Weeping in the Promised Land'

Grammy-winning singer and former Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman Fogerty treated fans to "Weeping in the Promised Land," his first original song since 2018's "The Holy Grail," on Jan. 6. The mournful, gospel-tinged single finds Fogerty, 75, ruminating on the current state of the union, with lyrics about nurses crying and a well "poisoned with lies" that seem to reference the ongoing pandemic and the administration of former President Donald Trump, respectively. He also sings about Breonna Taylor and Floyd, Black victims of police brutality whose deaths sparked nationwide protests last summer.

Olivia Rodrigo, 'Drivers License'

The "High School Musical: The Musical: The Series" star's solo debut landed in the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The pop ballad about a lost love, out Jan. 8, broke Spotify's record for most streams of a song in a single week. Fans were quick to hypothesize who the lyrics were about, with many assuming Rodrigo was singing about a failed relationship with her "High School Musical" co-star Joshua Bassett and his new rumored love interest, actress Sabrina Carpenter. About two weeks later, Carpenter dropped "Skin," a sensual and bold bop about someone trying to get "under my skin." Internet sleuths were quick to assume the tune was a response to Rodrigo's track.

Olivia Newton-John, 'Window in the Wall'

Olivia Newton-John released this song, out Jan. 22, with daughter Chloe Rose Lattanzi. "I played the song and I started crying. It was really emotional; the song really hit me in the gut," the Australian artist told NBC's "Today." "It was just a knowingness that I had to do this song and the first person I thought of was Chloe because it was about relationships, it was about forgiveness, compassion, seeing the other side, other people's point of view, and still with love. And understanding and kindness." It's not the first time the mother-daughter duo has collaborated on a song; in 2015 they sang "You Have to Believe."

Selena Gomez, 'De Una Vez' ('At Once')

Gomez, a Texas native, paid homage to her Hispanic heritage by singing in Spanish on her latest single, "De Una Vez" ("At Once"), which dropped Jan. 14. It's the first track from the 28-year-old superstar's upcoming album, "Revelación," which is due out March 12. It'll be Gomez's first Spanish-language album. The album's name translates to English as "revelation," an act of revealing or communicating divine truth, similar to what Gomez is musically experiencing. "This is the beginning of something I’ve wanted to explore for so long," she wrote on Instagram. "I hope you love it as much as I do."

Justin Bieber, 'Anyone'

Bieber started the new year with a fresh new song. "Anyone" was officially released Jan. 1. Fans had eagerly been anticipating its debut, which the singer first teased months earlier in a Facebook Live broadcast back in April. "Anyone" was one of several songs Bieber performed during his T-Mobile New Year's Eve broadcast. It was his first live concert since 2017. In a release, Andrew Watt, who served as producer for "Anyone," described it as "a stadium-level power ballad about eternal love." It came with a "Rocky"-inspired music video. Bieber's last album, "Changes," dropped last year on Valentine's Day.

Contributing: Rasha Ali, Cydney Henderson, Patrick Ryan and Jenna Ryu, USA TODAY; Matthew Leimkuehler and Dave Paulson, Nashville Tennessean; The Associated Press

Follow Gary Dinges on Twitter @gdinges

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: January music you missed: Billie Eilish, Olivia Rodrigo, Justin Bieber