Ariana Grande not only runs pop, according to Nicki Minaj, she’s opening the doors so other pop artists can run it, too.
Grande helped give birth to Social House’s success. The pop duo worked with her on most of the songs for her “Thank U, Next” album and brought them along to open up for her on tour. She recognized their genuine talent and shared her platform so the rest of the world could recognize it.
The duo’s EP, titled “Everything Changed …,” has a touch of pop, a hint of hip-hop, and a sugary coat of R&B. Their multi-track debut was beyond a job well done.
The track that took me by surprise was “Chateau (Feel Alright)” by Djo.
Djo is none other than Joe Kreery, the Newburyport-based actor who plays the beloved character Steve Harrington in Netflix’s “Stranger Things” series. It seems he is branching out into other forms of art and I am ecstatic. His music style is electrifyingly unique and his vocals are smoother than I expected.
This week’s nostalgia feelings were brought to me by auto-tune king T-Pain with his track “Girlfriend” featuring G-Eazy.
I remember listening to T-Pain when I was 8 years old and being mesmerized by his use of autotune. Then a video surfaced of him online sitting in front of a piano with no autotune and shock took over my face as I realized the guy had actual vocal skills. Then, he won last year’s first go at “The Masked Singer,” and even had the same revelation I did.
We have nostalgia. We have surprises. And we have killer vocals.
It’s time to dissect Friday’s best (and worst) releases.
“Everything Changed …” an EP by Social House
- Pop meets hip-hop meets R&B throughout the entire EP. The duo, consisting of Pittsburgh natives Michael Foster and Charles Anderson, are this year’s biggest hitmakers. There is not a track on here that I do not adore. “At Least We Can Say That We Tried” is endearing, catchy, and the anthem for every relationship nearing its end. “Haunt You” describes itself. The track is sincere and emotional, yet I can’t stop bopping my head to it. The production and engineering work on this is simply beautiful. I’m guessing “Why You Always Gotta Start Something” will be the duo’s next hit with its hard hip-hop vibe. My favorite track, and the one that’s caused my roommates to hate me because I can’t stop listening to it, is “Boyfriend” featuring none other than Ariana Grande. It’s flirty, easy to keep on repeat, and the most relatable track on the EP.
“Chateau (Feel Alright)” by Djo
- This is Kreery’s second release — the first being “Roddy,” which I overly recommend you listen to as well. He brings it right back to the 1980s with this track. Guitar strums, hitting the vocal high notes, and a soothing electronic touch. The Massachusetts native is giving me total alternative David Bowie vibes on this one. Bravo.
“If I Die” by Maggie Koerner
- This song blew me away in the first second. Koerner, whom I hadn’t heard of until now, brings us old soul with a modern twist. Her vocals are out of this world and the band behind her is killer. The Louisiana native (thank you Google) brings us Janis Joplin with a touch of Bishop Briggs and a side of Duffy. That’s why I’ve dubbed it the song of the week.
“Face To Face” by Ruel
- The Australian vocalist knows sultry, just listen to it in his vocals. If Shawn Mendes and Khalid had a vocal baby, it would grow up to be Ruel. His high and low range is hauntingly enticing, partnered up with the simple beat and guitar strumming that follows behind. The song really won me over with the saxophone solo toward the end. It’s a song about a hard crush, and what would happen if they were standing right in front of you.
“Waste My Time” by Grace VanderWaal
- VanderWaal legitimately sounds older with every new pop track she releases. She’s America’s Got Talent’s child and we’re all watching her grow up. The young pop star continues to grow edgier and I am all for it. With lyrics like, “I’m unsure of you because I know you’ll leave. You say you love me but I whisper I don’t believe,” VanderWaal tells the story of caring for someone even when you feel like you’re wasting your time. “Waste My Time” has an upbeat track, strong vocals, and lyrics that are relatable to nearly everyone.
“Warrior” by Zac Brown Band
- Modern country legends Zac Brown Band are making a statement with this new track, even though it is a little poppier than usual for them. The song tells the story of someone going overseas to fight for the country and facing the reality of being discharged home to a “bitter broken place.” The lyricists make sure to note that, even though the protagonist in the song is proud to serve their country, it doesn’t lessen the pain that comes with it. With strong vocals and an upbeat track, “Warrior” is sure to be the next military anthem.
“Girlfriend” by T-Pain featuring G-Eazy
- I felt nostalgia so hard, my headphones brought me on a trip back to the mid-2000s during this listen. T-Pain is a hitmaker, and he brought rapper G-Eazy along for the ride. While the meaning behind the song is nowhere near PG-rated — all you need to know is the artists seem to be fans of polyamorous relationships — I have to admit it’s a catchy hip-hop song.
“Rooting For You” by Alessia Cara
- Cara’s voice is forever crisp, smooth, and offers the perfect amount of rasp. “Rooting For You” starts off slow, but the beat breaks right down within the first 30 seconds. It’s funkier than anything I’ve ever heard from her since her musical debut in 2015, and I love it. It’s a song about falling for a person before you realize they aren’t actually who they say they are. It’s a story that even I’ve told one too many times.
“Coffee” by Tori Kelly
- I fell hard for this song after I heard Kelly perfectly sing the lyrics “I envy the cup of coffee that kisses you every morning.” One, I love coffee more than anything. Two, simple and genuine lyrics such as these take my music-obsessed heart by storm. Kelly, a 2010 semi-finalist on American Idol, gives off real emotion when she sings. Her simple work is her best work, and “Coffee” tops the list.
“Small Talk” by Katy Perry
- I used to love Katy Perry, in her “I Kissed A Girl” and “Hot N’ Cold” phase. Now, she annoys me, and “Small Talk” is another added reason why. Given the years-long heated beef between her and superstar Taylor Swift, it seems they’re rubbing off on each other since their reconciliation. Their recent releases sound too similar and I just want it all to stop. “Small Talk” is too poppy and I bet it took less than an hour to make. There was no effort made. Bring me back 2015 Katy Perry.
“Good Girls” by AUGUST 08 featuring Duckwrth
- Soulful R&B sounds with falsettos that will make you melt, AUGUST 08 and Duckwrth knew what they were doing on this track. It’s a collaboration engineered to make you enjoy the entire 3 minutes and 29 seconds. “Good Girls” may not drive Silverados, as described in the lyrics, but I’m sure they’re all listening to this song.