Coco Morier - "Hallucination"
Pretty much everything the Electrocute frontwoman-turned-Britney Spears songwriter par excellence-turned-groovy indie pop solo act has done thus far has been good. Morier released her first EP, Strangers May Kiss, under the new indie collective label INGRID in June, with three of the best tracks from December's self-released EP and two new ones. "Hallucination," one of the latter, is a dreamy rumination with retro-sounding yet also futuristic electronic accompaniment and lots of sighing, but it still somehow manages to be more cool than corny. Pick up the whole EP, really.
Fiona Apple - "Hot Knife"
Apple's new album is a study in avant-garde indie alternative experimentation of the best kind. But it closes with this joyful fugue around "If I'm butter, then he's a hot knife" and its inverse, "I'm a hot knife, he's a pat of butter," scoring a point for sexual equality as a bonus.
Noisettes - "Winner"
Noisettes are like Prozac. "Winner" is an unabashedly uplifting power anthem that would get Eeyore dancing and waving his severed tail like a freak flag. Looking forward to their new album.
Katy Perry - "Wide Awake"
I usually deplore ballads, but this one even the haters seem to dig. It's a goodbye not only to the Teenage Dream era but to Perry's artistic partnership with Dr. Luke. It's too bad, because those two really bring out the best in each other and made some incredibly effective, influential, and often even great music together.
Maroon 5 - "One More Night"
Maroon 5 knows how to make an irresistible pop song ("This Love," "Makes Me Wonder," "Misery") but "Payphone" is not my style at all. "One More Night," however, is. It displays the mischievous sexiness that makes Adam Levine seem so fuckable as well as some great "ooh-oohs" on the chorus and elsewhere. Hot.
Sky Ferreira - "Red Lips"
This is the first song from Ferreira I've truly enjoyed without having to try. If you think it sounds like Garbage, good ear - it was co-written by Shirley Manson. If you think it sounds like garbage, well, what DO you like?!
Kat Graham - "Heartkiller"
The best song from the Vampire Diaries star's debut EP is probably "Put Your Graffiti On Me," but the most accessibly good, and the one Graham pulls off the best, is "Heartkiller." It's an unobjectionable pop tune that doesn't push the envelope as far as "Graffiti" does, and the very new but promising new singer sounds more comfortable here and is therefore able to better deliver a solid and enjoyable track.
Dragonette - "Rocket Ship"
Dragonette is one of those acts that pop hipsters love and that is too cool for you, but at least they're not assholes about it. "Rocket Ship" is of the groovy, mildly 70s funk song that's kind of in right now. If so, it's a phase I'm not tired of. Yet.
Demi Lovato - "Give Your Heart a Break"
I was one of the few pop bloggers who didn't go gaga for Lovato's first post-rehab single "Skyscraper," and I don't envy her new job sitting next to and not being Britney Spears every week. But this earnest semi-ballad about wanting a guy who's scared of love (not that I blame him) is so full of hopeful innocence that it's hard not to like a little bit.
Diamond Rings - "I'm Just Me"
Ever wondered what Duran Duran would sound like if they came out in 2012? Here's your answer.
Justin Bieber - "Out of Town Girl"
Biebs at his best sounds like Justin Timberlake, and if JT were still singing, this might be something he could have made. It certainly takes its inspiration from FutureSex/Love Sounds, with its mix of white boy R&B/pop and a filthy/catchy beat, and it's the best thing I've heard from Bieber so far.
L2 - "Baby, I"
The sister act has done it again with a new, richly produced dance tune, only better. It's still not as catchy as "Insomnia," but it has the same menacing bass in the beat that's easy to surrender to, and the chorus is one of their best. And it goes on for a while, which, if you have a good chorus, is how you take a dance floor from "woo" to "WOOHOO!"
Ellie Goulding - "Lights"
Okay, this isn't new - it's not even recent. But we're just catching onto it here in the States and I admit I've had this song since it came out in 2010 and never listened to it until I saw it climbing our charts (it's at #6 on the Hot 100. Talk about a slow burn). What I was waiting for I can't really say, but I will say we Americans have good taste in our British imports - and the Brits don't even want her.