POP AGENT: 5 Things We Learned in Pop Music (June 19)

Lorde show us why she’s a pop royal. Katy has some work to do.

1. Lorde is a Royal… ahem… Queen.

“Sober” — Lorde — (Spotify) — (3.5/4)

“Louvre” — Lorde — (Spotify) — (4/4)

Lorde is back. But now she has 20-year-old L.A. problems instead of 16-year-old Kiwi problems.

She’s no longer just “seeing cities on screens”; she’s actually traveled to those cities. And, with an L.A. address, she may want to reconsider that “postcode envy” line.

No need to be salty about the transition; Lorde’s Melodrama pays off in big ways. So big, in fact, that it makes a strong case for Best Pop Album this half of 2017. (Sorry, Katy!)

Yes, the influences of her new-found famous friends (i.e. Jack Antonoff, HAIM, that guy from Fun., T-Swizz, Jack Antonoff, etc.) may permeate the entire project, but they also help transform Pure Heroine’s iconic-but-lazy faux-minimalism into sweeping melodies and deepened lyrics.

While it would be easy to write paragraphs on this one, you should just bask in the Melodrama yourself.

2. This week, Katy Perry wants to be Gwen Stefani.

“Feels” Calvin Harris feat. Pharrell, Katy Perry, Big Sean (Spotify) — (2/4)

With Zedd and Kygo already making significant dents on pop-radio, 2017 may be the Year of the Pop-DJ. Earlier this year, Calvin Harris broke away from the pack when he dropped an R&B gem in the Frank Ocean/Migos-assisted “Slide”.

So, the music world was rightfully excited when Harris teased a track featuring Pharrell, Big Sean and Katy Perry. (That being said, the excitement waned after Perry’s abysmal reentry into the pop world last week.)

All in all, “Feels” doesn’t wind up nearly as badly as Witness, but it definitely lacks the general pizazz that set “Slide” apart from the year’s other DJ tracks. Perry yawningly imitates a No Doubt-era Gwen Stefani; Pharrell rhymes “window shopper” with “goggles” and “dollar” in his nonsensical second verse, and Big Sean just sounds freaking by his entry two-and-a-half minutes in.

Oh, Calvin! *sigh* …we just may have had our hopes too high.

3. DJ Khaled may actually have the keys to success.

“Wild Thoughts” — DJ Khaled ft. Rihanna and Bryson Tiller — (Spotify) — (3/4)

Speaking of DJ’s: DJ Khaled, man. Straight off of his criminally pieced-together “To The Max”, our favorite motivational DJ isn’t afraid to unload “another one”, as he prepares for his album to drop. This one is a straight-up banger.

Stacked with a guitar lick that should grant Carlos Santana hella royalties, “Wild Thoughts” may not be the best pop song this year, but it sure sounds different from anything else out there right now. And it has a swag-drenched performance by Rihanna. (Like, come on, she even makes a washing machine sound sexy.)

On top of that, Bryson Tiller holds down his verse enough for his first Top 10 pop hit.

Pop radio will be Grateful once this one starts making an impact.

4. Coldplay is paying penance for their song with The Chainsmokers.

“All I Can Think About Is You” — Coldplay — (Spotify) — (1.5/4)

Usually, a new Coldplay song would cause your mom to freak out. And, let’s be honest, you’d at least bat an eye… right?

This time around, however, no one really seems to care. Secretly, you’re still clandestinely bopping out to “Something Just Like This” and consequently succumbing to The Chainsmokers’ excellent business plan for world domination. On the other hand, your mom is not-so-clandestinely singing about how “Superman unrolls a suit before he lifts” and whatever other Chris Martin lyrics should have been left on the cutting room floor.

“All I Can Think About Is You” sounds less like a Coldplay single and more like the songs you skip through on U2’s “How To Dismantle An Atomic Bond” to find that epic song from Devil Wears Prada. (YAS, ANDY! THROW YOUR PHONE IN THE FOUNTAIN!)

Yes, some of your artsy-fartsy friends may rejoice in the light of Coldplay’s new ethereal headspace, but it just sounds like they’re trying to distance themselves from The Chainsmokers. If you want bands that successfully (though controversially) crossed over to these mind-palaces of nebulous clouds, may we suggest The 1975 covering Sade?

5. Hey Violet may be the next generation’s Paramore.

“Hoodie” — Hey Violet (Spotify) — (3.5/4)

“Break My Heart” — Hey Violet — (Spotify) — (3.5/4)

A slightly irreverent, mixed-gendered band with neon hair and an already-fractured history? Yeah, Hey Violet might sound a lot like another band that broke out 10 years ago. But, as Paramore transitions to the glories of 80’s pop, this LA-based five-piece swoops in to be the voice of a younger generation in the pop-rock world.

Churning out EDM-laced post-pop-punk reminiscent of All Time Low’s recent offerings, Hey Violet’s From The Outside boasts some of the strongest tracks in the genre’s catalogue. Whether she’s treasuring an ex-boyfriend’s sweatshirt or boasting about her brand-new “dance” moves, lead-singer Rena Lovelis kicks some serious butt, belting out emotions with a sly dose of sass here and there (see “F**boi”).

Already making waves with the head-turning “Guys My Age”, Hey Violet seems poised to take over the radio waves soon enough. Just give them time… and hope that they’re still together as a band by the time they hit it big.