This week in pop music, big-name musicians returned to releasing music after the holiday. Ariana Grande and Kid Cudi shared a preview of their joint track for an upcoming film, SZA returned with a new emotional ballad, and Ed Sheeran and Elton John dropped their Christmas collaboration.
Each week, Uproxx rounds up the best new pop releases. Listen up.
Ariana Grande, Kid Cudi — “Just Look Up”
Ariana Grande is set to join the A-list cast for Netflix’s upcoming film Don’t Look Up. Not only is she playing a part in the movie, but she and Kid Cudi also recorded to soaring track “Just Look Up” for the film’s soundtrack. Contrasting the film’s title, the song sees Grande flexing her far-reaching vocals as she reminds listeners to live life to the fullest before it’s too late.
Ed Sheeran, Elton John — “Merry Christmas”
Ed Sheeran and Elton John have been fast friends ever since the two performed Sheeran’s breakout track at the 2013 Grammys. Now, nearly eight years years later, the duo are getting into the holiday spirit with the joint track “Merry Christmas.” The joyous and jingling tune is an ode to letting go of the pain and hardships over the past year in order to celebrate all the good that’s soon to come.
SZA — “I Hate U”
It’s been a while since we’ve gotten a new track from SZA, who’s fans have been begging for a follow up to her 2017 album Ctrl. While she’s dropped off a few singles, projects, and collaborations since, she’s still showing no sign of a new album any time soon. Thankfully, the singer is appeasing fans with the new heartbreak track “I Hate U.” The song gets real about the ways she was wronged by a past partner while also offering a way for SZA to flex her honeyed vocals.
Grimes — “Player Of Games”
Grimes returned this week to announce the official beginning to a new era of music with her single “Player Of Games.” The musician hasn’t said whether or not the synth-heavy song references her breakup with billionaire Elon Musk, but the lyrics do mention someone who’s more interested in jetting off to space than staying to love her and Musk did just launch a high-profile space project.
Shawn Mendes — “It’ll Be Okay”
Shawn Mendes also dropped a breakup track, but this one was a bit more brokenhearted. After calling his relationship with fellow pop star Camila Cabello quits, Mendes shared the lovelorn piano track “It’ll Be Okay.” The song both recognizes Mendes’ pain while also recognizing that moving on is the right (albeit difficult) choice.
Joshua Bassett — “Crisis”
Olivia Rodrigo’s High School Musical: The Musical: The Series co-star and former love interest Joshua Bassett is also well on his way to making a name for himself in the music sector. Following up on the popularity of his recent singles like “Feel Something” and “Lie, Lie, Lie,” Bassett gets a bit more personal with his latest track “Crisis.” The song starts off by addressing how musicians’ trauma can oftentimes be exploited by the industry for the sake of authenticity as he sings, “My label said to never waste a crisis / And here I am, guitar in my hand, in the middle of one.”
Marina — “Happy Loner”
This week, Welsh pop singer Marina followed up her recent album Ancient Dreams In A Modern Land with its deluxe version. The new release gave fans a few bonus tracks, including the song “Happy Loner.” The atmospheric tune takes things in a more downtempo direction and stands as an ode to introverts everywhere as she sings of being perfectly happy being a loner.
Kim Petras — “Coconuts”
Though winter is just around the corner, Kim Petras fired off the sunny tune “Coconuts.” The summery single sees Petras belting out lyrics about her coconuts, which is a euphemism for a certain part of her body. The carefree track is another example of Petras’ effortlessly fun songwriting and how she can turn any subject matter into a revved-up pop banger.
Bakar — “Build Me A Way”
UK artist Bakar emerged as a buzzworthy artist following his 2018 debut mixtape, and he’s been building momentum ever since. Just before heading off on a run of sold-out US shows this month, the singer dropped the inspiring new track “Build Me A Way.” The emotional track walks his listeners through the experience of wavering faith and the importance of relying on community.
Deadmau5 — “This Is Fine” Feat. Portugal The Man
— Goat lord (@deadmau5) December 2, 2021
EDM pioneer Deadmau5 teamed up with Portugal The Man this week for the inventive single “This Is Fine.” But it’s not a song you’ll be hearing on streaming services anytime soon. Rather, “This Is Fine” was released as an NFT with the hopes of it being the first-ever NFT single to become Platinum-certified. To prepare, Deadmau5 minted one million copies of “This Is Fine” on the website mintbase and each one can be downloaded for about $1.75 at the time of this writing.
Some of the artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.