Best Songs We Heard This Week: Ariana Grande, Phoebe Ryan, Yuna + More
Happy Wednesday, PopCrush readers! While we're still recovering from the 2016 Billboard Music Awards, there are a ton of new tracks released since #NewMusicFriday to enjoy on this beautiful afternoon.
As always, the PopCrush editors have selected their top tracks of the week for your tenderly curated weekend playlists.
Have a look through our selections below, and for more playlists, keep up with us by subscribing on Apple Music.
At spots, the London-based indie-pop act’s latest is as barren as badlands -- slowly, though, piano and drums entwine and thicken for something much richer and more nurturing. Guided by WILDES’ (real name Ella Walker) dense vocals, which capture the early-‘90s thickness of Natalie Merchant or Sarah McLachlan, “Illuminate” tells the story of just how dangerous seemingly small mistakes can become. “It’s about recognizing the qualities that make us human, but can also lead to our downfall,” she told Stereogum. “The song came from the idea that we will do anything -- whether it be good or incredibly dangerous -- for the people we love and the causes we believe in.” — Matthew Donnelly
Ariana Grande, “Bad Decisions”
“Ain’t you ever seen a princess be a bad bitch?” Ariana Grande sings with newfound self-assurance on “Bad Decisions,” a standout track off her stellar release Dangerous Woman. Things kick off with bouncy pianos before Grande’s vocals up the ante, tinged with the kind of smoky R&B inflection that’s become the singer’s signature. The rest of the song — an ode to bad boys, for sure -- follows suit on Grande’s previous hits, with an infectious, indelible melody worthy of repeat listens. — Ali Szubiak
Phoebe Ryan, "Boys N Poizn"
It's already been nearly a year since we first introduced Phoebe Ryan as one of our PopCrush Presents picks. And this summer, she's about to embark on her own headlining tour with Cardiknox. (So proud!) To kick off the announcement, Phoebe's dropped a serious doozy of a tune — a floozy doozy, specifically. "Boyz N Poizn" is a lush, worldweary ode to two major vices: Dudes and booze. "All I want is boys and poison / All I do is enjoy 'em, destroy 'em until I feel what I want to feel..." Not to pull the #relatable card, but if ever there were a song destined for all of my 4 AM sad boy Instagrams, it is this one. — Bradley Stern
Ariana Grande, “Let Me Love You”
Though I still can’t get past the fact that “I just broke up with my ex” is odd phrasing, verb tense-wise (he JUST became your ex, he was not already your ex!), and as difficult as it is to imagine Lil Wayne as Ariana’s casual fling just popping up in her Snaps and hanging with her 95 dogs, I can’t stop listening to “Let Me Love You.” I suspect that’s partly due to the fact that the chorus is (heavily) reminiscent of Jeremih’s “All The Time” from 2013, which also happens to feature Lil Wayne. But it’s also because Ariana’s vocal change-ups pour themselves into every corner of the track — which is far more elegant than a late-night “U up?” text, but conveys a similar sentiment — and it’s the first time I fully ‘bought’ this new all-grown-up Ari. –Samantha Vincenty
Classixx featuring Passion Pit, “Safe Inside”
The second sampling from the LA producer-duo’s forthcoming Faraway Reach LP speaks its own language of jubilation. Featuring the reliably rose-colored vocals of Michael Angelakos, “Safe Inside” threads through a delightfully funky bassline and elastic synth-triplets for a type of brightness that only exists at cloud-level. “Baby just keep in touch / I know it must seem much / But the room is spinning and no one’s winning / Yeah, I think I’ve had enough,” Angelakos chants across a bridge that will leave you smitten. — Matthew Donnelly
Yuna, “Too Close”
Heartbreak can be powerful in its isolation, often inspiring a kind of hardness in its sufferers. We build near-impenetrable walls and frown upon vulnerability, promising ourselves never to lay victim to another end. That is, of course, until someone gets just close enough to incite a beginning, ensuring those walls grow thin. It’s a feeling that singer Yuna expounds on expertly with “Too Close,” a mid-tempo blend of shimmering pop and R&B. “Fighting this feeling like a war / And I’m too proud to fall,” she sings, knowing full well it’s only a matter of time before she does. — Ali Szubiak
Ariana Grande, "Touch It"
The thing about Ari's Dangerous Woman is that, even in its least interesting moments, it's never less than great. She's really struck gold on her third go-around, which is surely one of pop's most solid offerings this year, even if the promo and imagery for this campaign has been, uh...simple. "Touch It," one of the forty million songs she released before the album dropped on Friday, is one of the times Ariana gets it the most right Like "Into You," the tiny powerhouse performs incredibly well when presented with dark synths, static and chill-inducing coos. "Ain't nobody gonna touch it," she pledges in the shadows. A little less conversation / A little more touch it, touch it... — Bradley Stern
Kyle Woods, “Solar”
I’m guilty of letting the weather control my musical mood, and thus my picks for Best Songs o’ the Week, more than once. Today’s no exception: While it’s a cloud-free 80 degrees outside and I sit inside tethered to my desk, LA-based DJ/producer Kyle Woods’ new Yunque EP is the closest thing I’ve got to a dose of aural sunshine. The rollicking track, which brings to mind the best of Jamie xx’s UK garage moments on last year’s In Colour before reaching pure breakdown magic in the last 30 seconds, is the second song on Woods’ Yunque. He writes on his SoundCloud page that Yunque is an “homage to nature and sunlight and its goal is to convey the feeling of being outside”; message received loud and clear. – Samantha Vincenty