Cardi B’s Gleefully Relentless ‘Up,’ and 12 More New Songs

Every Friday, pop critics for The New York Times weigh in on the week’s most notable new songs and videos. Just want the music? Listen to the Playlist on Spotify here (or find our profile: nytimes). Like what you hear? Let us know at [email protected] and sign up for our Louder newsletter, a once-a-week blast of our pop music coverage.

Cardi B, ‘Up’

On “Up,” her first solo single in several years, Cardi B’s preferred method of annihilating the haters is oxygen deprivation — her flow is so relentless that for nearly three minutes she doesn’t offer listeners a single moment to catch their breath. “Big bag bussin’ out the Bentley Bentayga/Man, Balenciaga Bardi back,” she raps with rapturous alliteration, before running that tongue twister back again, in case you didn’t catch it all the first time. “Up” is a homage to the steely Chicago drill sound that Cardi grew up on, and it also finds her reuniting with DJ SwanQo, who worked with her on the hardest-hitting song on “Invasion of Privacy,” “Get Up 10.” (He co-produced “Up” with Yung Dza.) Her tone is a bit more gleeful than the drill influence would suggest, and there are of course some classically comedic Cardi punch lines here, but the ravenous way she digs into this beat is serious business. LINDSAY ZOLADZ

SG Lewis featuring Nile Rodgers, ‘One More’

Choices, chances. SG Lewis sings about the ways an encounter at a party could go: Will it evaporate amid distractions, or will continuing the conversation for just one more song and lead to romance? Either way, it’s a dance party, and the guitar scrubbing away at complex chords over the neo-disco beat belongs to the disco and dance-pop wizard Nile Rodgers. JON PARELES

Sia and David Guetta, ‘Floating Through Space’

How far has the pandemic lowered the bar for triumph over adversity? “You made it another day, made it alive,” Sia sings over David Guetta’s echoey, synthetic adaptations of a Caribbean soca beat. It’s computerized happiness for a worldwide predicament. PARELES

Miss Grit, ‘Grow Up To’

Miss Grit is the alias of Margaret Sohn, a Michigan-born New York transplant who, like St. Vincent, is equally enamored of both textured guitar distortion and crisp, clean melody. (When Sohn was a student in NYU’s music technology program, she briefly considered a career in making effects pedals.) Miss Grit’s self-produced second EP, “Impostor,” is a confident and searching meditation on that psychological scourge Impostor Syndrome and her outsider status as a Korean-American growing up in the Midwest. But the single “Grow Up To” is more of an abstraction — albeit a hypnotically catchy one. Beneath a vocal with a hazy, deadpan cool that recalls Mary Timony, Sohn retraces the melody line with her guitar, snaking and sparking like a lit fuse. ZOLADZ

Bomba Estéreo featuring Okan and Lido Pimienta, ‘Agua’

Folklore, mysticism, nature and electronics converge in “Agua,” the first single from an album due in April by the Colombian group Bomba Estéreo, joined by Toronto-based expatriates: the Colombian singer Lido Pimienta and the Afro-Cuban vocal duo Okan. Voices harmonize to chant the four ancient elements — “Agua, tierra, aire, fuego” (“water, earth, air, fire”) — over traditional-sounding drums, handclaps and bird calls; then the synthesizers appear, blipping and arpeggiating, as Pimienta and Bomba Estéreo’s Li Saumet sing and rap about being inseparable from the natural world. PARELES

Flock of Dimes, ‘Two’

“Can I be one? Can we be two?” Jenn Wasner asks on her stirring new single “Two.” The song — and its colorful, playfully choreographed video, directed by Lola B. Pierson and Cricket Arrison — is an exploration of the simultaneous needs for individuality and intimacy within a romantic relationship, but it also reflects the multiplicity of Wasner’s musical output. With her collaborator Andy Stack, she’s one-half of the band Wye Oak, while as a solo artist she releases music under the name Flock of Dimes. “Two” is driven by an irregular beat (Wasner recently joked on Twitter about her penchant for “odd time signatures”), as if to mirror the hesitant questioning of its lyrics. Even when she’s being somber or ruminative, Wasner has a touch of gallows humor, as when she muses memorably, “We’re all just wearing bodies like a costume til we die.” ZOLADZ

Alan Braufman (Angel Bat Dawid remix), ‘Sunrise’

A slow, billowing, rafters-raising saxophone melody — distinctly in the spiritualist free-jazz tradition of Albert Ayler — becomes just one element in a digital swarm in this remix of a tune by the saxophonist Alan Braufman, from his 2020 quintet album, “The Fire Still Burns.” With the young multi-instrumentalist and composer Angel Bat Dawid at the controls, the track begins as a saxophone reflected upon itself, bouncing around the walls of an electronic prism; that leads into a steady, clipped, electronic beat, somewhere between deep house and ambient music. A veteran of New York’s jazz loft scene of the 1970s, Braufman only recently resuscitated his public career as a musician. “The Fire Still Burns,” featuring an intergenerational cast of side musicians, was a triumphant claim to artistic vitality, at age 69. This Dawid remix is another indication of what it means to stay engaged decades on, bringing the tradition ahead. GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO

Vic Mensa featuring Wyclef Jean and Chance the Rapper, ‘Shelter’

“I’ll be your shelter,” Wyclef Jean promises, sometimes in a sweet falsetto and sometimes with hoarse vehemence, over mournful, syncopated guitar chords. But the track, even with hints of hope at the end, is an elegy, and raps by Vic Mensa and Chance the Rapper matter-of-factly set out how many people aren’t sheltered from disease, poverty and racism: “Hospital workers in scrubs with no PPE/But they got money for riot gear,” Mensa observes. PARELES

H.E.R., ‘Fight for You’

How’s this for building anticipation: H.E.R.’s new song was nominated for a Golden Globe a day before it was even released! The soulful “Fight for You,” from the soundtrack of the upcoming Black Panther drama “Judas and the Black Messiah,” strikes an appropriate balance between period-pic scene-setting and up-to-date cool, as lyrics like “all the smoke in the air, feel the hate when they stare” draw unfortunate parallels between past and present. ZOLADZ

Jimmy Edgar featuring 24hrs, ‘Notice’

The producer Jimmy Edgar has far-flung connections. He has collaborated with producers including Sophie and Hudson Mohawk and rappers like Danny Brown. The Atlanta rapper 24hrs sing-raps assorted phrases in “Notice,” but all the action is in the track: viscous bass tones stopping and starting, little whistling interjections, double-time boings and swoops and tinkles. There’s a slow, determined push forward, but at any given moment, it’s impossible to predict where it will land. PARELES

Archie Shepp and Jason Moran, ‘Wise One’

You can hear history coursing both ways, future sloshing up against past, as the pianist Jason Moran and the saxophonist Archie Shepp revisit John Coltrane’s “Wise One.” When Moran pulls an arpeggiated rumble into a rhythmic flow, or splashes a fistful of high notes onto the keyboard behind Shepp’s high warbling cry, it’s almost impossible to say whether the younger pianist is guiding his elder down a new path, or following his lead. Shepp became a Coltrane apostle more than half a century ago, and it was Trane who brought Shepp to Impulse! Records, helping him build a reputation as one of the leading jazz innovators of the 1960s. Moran came up decades later, idolizing them both. Shepp and Moran’s album, “Let My People Go,” is out now — only the latest in a long history of memorable piano-sax duet albums by Shepp, including ones with Mal Waldron and Horace Parlan. RUSSONELLO

Vampire Weekend, ‘40:42’ remade by Goose and Sam Gendel

Ever conceptual, Vampire Weekend called on musician-fans to remake “2021,” a minute-and-a-half ditty about relationships and the passage of time (“Copper goes green, steel beams go rust”) from its 2019 album “Father of the Bride.” There were conditions: Each remake was to last exactly 20 minutes and 21 seconds, to be combined for an EP entitled (do the math) “40:42.” Both acts rose to the occasion. Goose, a methodical jam band from Connecticut, did a live jam, on video, with clear landmarks of Minimalistic stasis, playful crosscurrents and dramatic, attentive buildups. Sam Gendel, a saxophonist who has worked with Ry Cooder, Perfume Genius and Moses Sumney, came up with multiple, Choose-Your-Own-Adventure scenarios: breathy woodwind chorales, abstract modal drones, electronic meditations and loops, cozy fireside acoustic session, raucous jazz finale. Musicians delight in working with limited parameters and leaping beyond them. PARELES

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