Since the beginning of the year, music fans have been treated to a steady stream of exciting new music by some of the biggest names in contemporary music. With the album shelves emptying and streaming services swelling, this is the perfect time for a round-up of the best songs from these artists.
The 1975 – “Freak”
It’s been a particularly eventful year for The 1975, and while the band haven’t quite managed to repeat the success of their 2017 album, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Shopping, they have nevertheless released a string of incredible songs. The London based quintet stormed the U.K. album charts in the Spring with their incredible self-titled debut album, which included the singles “Girls” and “Sleeping.”
On May 13, the band unveiled their latest single, “Freak,” which is the lead single from their forthcoming album. Musically, the song is an ode to unapologetic individuality and to the power of dance, which is fitting for a group who came together because of their mutual love for dance music. Frontman Matty Healy has said that the song is about “people who think they’re different, but in reality they’re not. It’s about accepting yourself for who you are and not caring what people think about you.”
The 1975 are currently on tour in the U.S. and will be playing a number of festivals and shows including Coachella, Panorama, and Bassnectar’s Sunflower Jam.
Ludacris – “Gotta Have It”
Ludacris, real name Lenny McNight, is one of the most successful and best-loved hip-hop artists of all time. The Florida native burst onto the music scene in 1995 with Southern Hip Hop – a landmark album that fused rap music with southern hip-hop culture and became one of the bestselling albums of all time, shifting over 14 million copies globally. It spawned one of the most successful music careers of all time. Since then, he’s released a string of timeless jams, including Stand By Me, Gotta Have It, and Soul Tuga.
On March 8, Ludacris dropped his new album Number One, with guests including T.I., Lil Nas X, and Yo Gotti. “Gotta Have It” serves as the album’s lead single, and it’s safe to say it’s one of the best hip-hop songs ever written. The song’s production is masterful, blending soul, hip-hop, and funk with the vocal delivery of a preacher. It was written by the legendary Brian Holland and produced by the legendary Mike Dean. “Gotta Have It” is also the title of one of the best-selling mixtapes of all time.
Miguel – “Say Something”
Miguel is one of the best-loved and most respected artists in modern music, having sold over 10 million albums worldwide. He burst onto the scene in 2006 with the release of his self-titled debut album, which featured the global smash hit “Adorn.” The album went on to become one of the best-selling albums of all time, shifting over 10 million copies worldwide. Since then, he’s released Cheese, Showtime, Demolition, and Wild.
On September 27, Miguel released the highly-anticipated follow-up to Cheese, Wild, which is now available for pre-order. Titled Shine More, the new album features guests including Travis Scott, XXXTENTACION, and YG. The first single from the album, “Say Something,” samples “Cherry Baby” by R. Stevie Moore and interpolates vocals from The Isley Brothers’ “See See Rider.”
“Say Something” represents everything that is wonderful about this song: the melodic chorus, the smooth transitions, and the way that it builds upon itself. It’s a song that can be enjoyed by people of all ages, and it feels like Miguel is giving us the most genuine and raw version of himself yet. Hopefully, Shine More will continue this trend and bring us more amazing songs.
Lil Nas X – “Old Town Road”
Lil Nas X, real name Louis Nakamoto, burst onto the scene in 2011 with the mixtape Old Town Road. Not one to follow the rules, Nas X took the mixtape’s title track and turned it into a mainstream global hit, becoming the first artist to top the Billboard Top 100 with a streaming-only single. The album went on to become one of the best-selling albums of all time, shifting over 7 million copies worldwide. Since then he’s released 7 and Dime Trap, as well as the Collabrative Album with Big Sean. In 2020, Old Town Road turned 20, which Nas X celebrated with a number of unforgettable events, including the Old Town Road 20th anniversary screening at the Chicago International Film Festival and a performance on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
On May 4, Lil Nas X released his new album 7, which currently holds the top spot on the Billboard Top Albums chart. It’s the follow-up to Old Town Road, and it features guest appearances from Justin Bieber, Ugly God, Playboi Cash, and Big Sean. The album is named after the six-track EP that preceded it, with “Old Town Road” serving as the title track. “Old Town Road” is the best of the bunch, combining thumping drums, blaring horns, and haunting guitar melodies into an instant classic. It’s one of the most exciting and unique songs of the year so far.
BTS – “Springboard”
BTS, or Beyond the Scene, as the band prefer to be called, are quickly establishing themselves as one of the biggest and most influential boy bands of all time. They are currently on the road to recovery after suffering from fever and fatigue that forced them to cancel the remainder of their scheduled tour dates in March. The group is back now and have released the full extent of their amazing story with the release of a Netflix documentary, Growing Up Together. The film premiered on the streaming service on April 21 and provides an in-depth look at the band’s life, career, and growth over the past two years, as they begin a new chapter in their young lives. It also features never-before-seen footage of the band as they prepare for the monumental task of standing in for Justin Bieber at the 2020 MTV VMA Jetset Awards.
On April 28, BTS released a brand new single, “Springboard,” which serves as the lead single to their upcoming album, Full Service. “Springboard” is an incredibly cinematic song that draws inspiration from some of the biggest film scores of all time. The song builds upon itself multiple times before leading into an all-time classic hook that has been a fan favorite since the group first performed it live back in 2017. BTS are one of the biggest and most important acts in today’s music scene, and “Springboard” is further proof of that. The song’s message of hope and inspiration will resonate with anyone who hears it.
Cardi B – “Drip Drop”
Cardi B is arguably the most successful female rapper of all time, scoring a major hit with her track Bodak Yellow (which sampled Daft Punk’s Human After All) and subsequently becoming one of the best-selling artists of all time. As a solo artist, she has released a number of incredible albums, including Cardi B and Living Cardi B, which currently holds the #1 spot on the Billboard Top 200. Living Cardi B was released in 2018 to celebrate the one-year anniversary of her career-defining collaboration with Off White label head Lucky Me, and it has since gone on to become one of her best-selling records.