Here are some of the biggest and best releases of the week.

Happy April Fool’s Day! This year, all of my favorite artists decided to play a prank on me and ALL release (or announce) new music in the same week, which made for great vibes but very little sleep. As such, this week’s V’s New Music Round-Up doesn’t include a few great songs, but when you can only pick 10 to write about, hard decisions have to be be made.

Here are this week’s top picks, starting with Mr. Harry Styles (FINALLY!):

“As It Was” by Harry Styles  

Image courtesy of Columbia Records.

He’s baaaack. Harry Styles returned to the music scene with a bang(er) on Thursday night. “As It Was,” the lead single off of his upcoming album, “Harry’s House,” is a groovy, energetic tune made for summer nights. Hidden behind the high-powered 80s synth beat, Styles hits listeners with surprisingly vulnerable lyrics, such as “Harry, you’re no good alone / Why are you sitting at home on the floor? / What kind of pills are you on?” Sad songs masked by radio-friendly beats have become somewhat of a signature for Styles, and his emotional introspection on “As It Was” is no different. You’ll find me screaming this song until May 20, when his full album is released.  

“Leave You Alone” by Ella Mai  

Image courtesy of 10 Summers Records.

British R&B singer Ella Mai is following her Grammy-winning song from 2018, “Boo’d Up,” with “Leave You Alone,” which has Mai reflecting on a love that makes her “crazy.” “Leave You Alone” takes a cue from “Boo’d Up” with the synth-heavy beat, reminiscent of hit R&B songs from the 90s. With lyrics like “I just can’t stop / Falling for you / You a bad one, baby / Make this good girl crazy,” Mai’s electric vocals drip with both lust and vulnerability. “Leave You Alone” is the third single off her upcoming album, “Heart on My Sleeve.”

“These Are the Ways” by Red Hot Chili Peppers

Image courtesy of Warner Records.

Red Hot Chili Peppers returned to their California roots with their first album in 6 years, “Unlimited Love.” The biggest hit from that album is “These Are the Ways,” which highlights the raw talent of guitarist John Frusciante, who is officially back in the band. The song is high-energy and grungy, and features a long drum solo by Chad Smith. The big chorus, “These Are The Ways / When You Come From America / The Sights, The Sounds, The Smells,” will make this song a music festival favorite. 

“Sugar” by Surf Curse

Image courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corporation.

“I look like shit, but I feel even worse,” is how Surf Curse opens their new song, “Sugar.” The Los Angeles-based group has been around for nearly a decade, but TikTok recently revived their 2013 song “Freaks,” giving the band new life ahead of their upcoming fourth album. “Sugar” has the pop-guitar bones to sound like a classic coming of age song fit for a movie, with lyrics like “My god you are such a looker / Tell me you love me and give me some sugar.” The group retains some of their original sound with rock ‘n’ roll screams and a booming drumbeat.

“You – Live” by Miley Cyrus 

Image courtesy of Columbia Records.

I’ve always known that Miley Cyrus is a bona-fide rock star, but her latest album, “Attention: Miley Live,” only proves it. Featuring a curated selection of her top hits, Cyrus’ first live album showcases her raw talent. On “You – Live,” one of the new songs for the album, Cyrus’ signature rasp collides with her insane vocal range to create a power ballad that builds off of some of her earlier love songs, with lyrics like “I’m kinda crazy, ’cause that’s how you make me / I don’t need Jesus ’cause, baby, you saved me, I’m done / But only if it’s with you.” 

“Take My Hand” by 5 Seconds of Summer  

Image courtesy of BMG Rights Management.

Boyband 5 Seconds of Summer has matured past their teenage punk phase that brought them hits like “She Looks so Perfect” and “Don’t Stop.” “Take My Hand,” the second single off the quad’s soon-to-be announced 5th album, builds off their signature anthemic sound with a strong chorus and a drumbeat. I think lead singer Luke Hemmings has an achingly beautiful voice, which he flexes in the bridge, singing “Pick apart all of the pieces / While I’m running out of time / Iron out all of the creases / And just hang it out to dry.” They’ve come quite a long way from singing about American Apparel underwear.  

“Playa” by A Boogie Wit da Hoodie and H.E.R.  

Image courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corporation.

“Playa” has A Boogie Wit da Hoodie coming to terms with a relationship, growing out of his “playa” phase, as H.E.R. decides that she needs commitment and action: “You don’t wanna be a playa no more / But I don’t wanna be played with no more.” The smooth beat and lyrics situate this song squarely in between A Boogie Wit da Hoodie’s usual rap and H.E.R’s classic R&B sound.

“When You’re Gone” by Shawn Mendes  

Image courtesy of Island Records.

Newly single Shawn Mendes addresses his breakup with Camila Cabello in his newest song, “When You’re Gone.” The high-powered chorus highlights Mendes’ range, allowing him to belt out the lyrics: “I don’t wanna know what it’s like whеn you’re gone for good / You’re slipping through my fingertips / A little bit, by a little bit / I didn’t know that loving you was the happiest I’ve ever been.” The pop-rock ballad perfectly sums up what it feels like to desperately hold on to a relationship that no longer exists.

“Hot Crush Lover” by Blu DeTiger  

Image courtesy of Capitol Records.

Former NYU student and V alum Blu DeTiger (shockingly not a stage name) released a true dance number with “Hot Crush Lover.” Building off of last year’s “How Did We Get Here?” EP, “Hot Crush Lover” fuses poppy synth beats with pop-funk guitar, creating a song that was made for blasting in the car with the windows down. With lyrics like “Yeah, you’re gonna be my hot crush lover / Yeah, you wanna live it up with a stunner? / Bite down on my lips like Gushers,” this song will be on repeat all summer.

“Hurtless” by Dean Lewis  

Image courtesy of Universal Music Australia.

I can always count on Dean Lewis when I need a song to cry to. “Hurtless” finds Lewis lamenting a relationship that ended painfully: “And you stayed out that night after we had a fight / And my friends say they saw you with him / At that bar where we met while I’m here in our bed.” While “Hurtless” clearly gives Lewis space to show off his vocal prowess, it’s the lyrics that make this song stand out to me. He perfectly channels the pain of being cheated on and turns it into art in the booming chorus, singing “I hope that one night with him was worth it / But tellin’ me that it was a mistake don’t make it hurt less.”  

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