Kelly Clarkson Starts Telling Her Story, and 7 More New Songs

Every Friday, pop critics for The New York Times weigh in on the week’s most notable new tracks. 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, and The Amplifier, a twice-weekly guide to new and old songs.

Kelly Clarkson, ‘Mine’/‘Me’

Last year, on a soulful covers EP, the eternal American Idol Kelly Clarkson channeled what certainly seemed like some post-divorce energy into a fiery rendition of Billie Eilish’s breakup anthem “Happier Than Ever.” Now, in the first two offerings from an upcoming album called “Chemistry,” Clarkson is employing a similar register to tell her own story. The biting, mid-tempo “Mine” effectively taps into anger and a desire for revenge, as Clarkson belts, “Someone’s gonna show you how a heart can be used, like you did mine.” The second single, the torchy ballad “Me,” is a slightly more familiar lane for Clarkson (albeit with a surprising writing credit from the Gen-Z pop star Gayle) but one that she nonetheless inhabits with a depth of feeling and immaculate, soaring vocals. “Don’t need to need somebody when I got me,” she concludes. To paraphrase former “Idol” judge Randy Jackson, that’s gonna be a yes from me, dawg. LINDSAY ZOLADZ

Romy, ‘Enjoy Your Life’

There’s an undercurrent of melancholy in “Enjoy Your Life,” the latest solo single from the xx’s Romy Madley Croft, that makes the bliss it achieves in its chorus that much more explosive. “I made a promise to my mother to stop running from my problems,” she sings, as the sampled voice of the influential new-age singer Beverly Glenn-Copeland croons the line from which Romy’s track takes its name: “My mother says to me, ‘enjoy your life.’” The song deftly blends wisdom and uplift, as its introspective tone suddenly transforms into dance-floor euphoria. ZOLADZ

Jorja Smith, ‘Try Me’

The beat of Jorja Smith’s “Try Me” goes back to Bo Diddley, to Cuba, to West Africa; it’s a propulsive, percussive archetype, three against two, carried across ever-changing instruments and samples by the producer Sandame. But the song is furiously personal, confronting someone who has been utterly selfish with an irrefutable assertion, mournful and righteous: “I’ve changed.” JON PARELES

Decisive Pink, ‘Ode to Boy’

Decisive Pink — a duo of the experimentally minded indie artists Kate NV and Angel Deradoorian — stretch a somewhat absurd idea into something gently sublime on “Ode to Boy,” a new single that filters Beethoven through the lens of the strangest kind of early ’70s synth-pop. “I wanna know, we wanna know,” they sing together in robotic but ethereal harmony, “until we go beyond the ordinary.” Mission accomplished. ZOLADZ

Dawn Richard, ‘Bubblegum’

Following “Pigments,” last year’s lush collaboration with the composer Spencer Zahn, the ever-evolving Dawn Richard makes another left turn on “Bubblegum,” a bold and up-tempo new single. Atop a beat that’s driving but effervescent, Richard name-checks Beyoncé and Prince and boasts, with the energy to back it up, “I’ma pop that thing like it’s bubble gum.” ZOLADZ

Speedy Ortiz, ‘Scabs’

Sadie Dupuis has reactivated her jumpy, grungy indie-rock band Speedy Ortiz for the first time since 2018. “Scabs” taunts the self-righteous and the entitled: “Who do you wanna prove you’re a big dog to?” the chorus asks. With production help from Sarah Tudzin of Illuminati Hotties, the song is a tangle of meter-shifting guitar riffs and polysyllabic verses, punctuated by a perfectly exasperated refrain: “Don’t talk to me.” PARELES

Megan Moroney, ‘Girl in the Mirror’

“I loved the boy more than the girl in the mirror,” is the line that sums up this despairing country waltz. Megan Moroney contemplates shattered self-esteem with a tearful scrape in her voice, and the arrangement doesn’t try to console or distract her: organ and pedal steel guitar sound remote, leaving her even more alone. PARELES

Dudu Tassa & Jonny Greenwood featuring Rashid Al Najjar, ‘Ashufak Shay’

Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead collaborated with Dudu Tassa, from Israel, on the coming album “Jarak Qaribak,” which translates as “Your Neighbor Is Your Friend.” They back singers from across the Middle East, who perform vintage love songs from a country not their own — like “Ashufak Shay,” by Meyhad Hamad from the United Arab Emirates, sung by Rahid Al Najjar, from Lebanon. Behind the traditionalist vocal and Middle Eastern flute and violin are plenty of Radiohead touches: bass lines, spooky piano tones and drum machine all tugging separately against the beat, heightening the tension. PARELES

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