8. Chloe Moriondo, ‘Fruity’
“Fruity,” like the most effective hyperpop, is an anarchic affront to refinement and restraint, an ever-escalating blast of melodic delirium and warped excess. It’s a sugar rush, it’s brain-freeze-inducing, it’s beneficial by zero out of 10 dentists. Turn it up loud.
9. Yeah Yeah Yeahs featuring Perfume Genius, ‘Spitting off the Fringe of the World’
Yeah Yeah Yeahs grow elegantly into their role as art-rock elders here, not only by slowing to a tempo as confidently glacial because the Cure’s “Plainsong,” but by placing a highlight on the existential dread of the subsequent generation. “Mama, what have you ever done?” Karen O sings, channeling the voice of a frightened child. “I trace your steps within the darkness of 1/Am I what’s left?”
10. Grace Ives, ‘Lullaby’
Grace Ives makes music of interiority, chronicling the liminal moments of her day when she’s by herself, daydreaming: “I hear the neighbors sing ‘Love Galore,’ I do a split on the kitchen floor,” goes the charming “Lullaby,” a passionately sung, welcoming invitation into her world.
11. Weyes Blood, ‘It’s Not Just Me, It’s Everybody’
The pandemic left many individuals isolated in their very own heads, questioning their perceptions, feeling disconnected from a bigger whole. The clarion-voiced Natalie Mering has written a soothing anthem for all those lost souls within the emotionally generous “It’s Not Just Me, It’s Everybody”; its title alone is an offering of solace and sanity.
12. Florence + the Machine, ‘Free’
A bass line buzzes like a live wire, snaking repeatedly through this exorcism of hysteria. “The sensation comes so fast, and I cannot control it,” Florence Welch wails as if possessed, but she eventually finds her catharsis within the music itself: “For a moment, once I’m dancing, I’m free.”
13. Ice Spice, ‘Munch (Feelin’ U)’
“I’m walking past him, he sniffing my breeze,” the rising star Ice Spice spits expeditiously on this unbothered anthem; before he may even process the insult, she’s gone.