Y/NY/N is a guide to the week’s music releases based on our highly scientific, non-subjective Yes/No rating system.  

Nice but not for me: Alessia Cara, “Growing Pains,” - Early on, I admit I was a fan of Alessia’s introversion therapy anthems, “Here” and “Wild Things,” etc., because it’s easy to fall for an artist who tries to rep for the hermits and outsiders. But now she’s doing a specific type of commercial music that I can’t quite get into but doesn’t bother me. This song, which is fine, seems to fit with her brand of ad-ready self-empowerment anthems made for whatever part of your life is stressful. In this case, she sings, “I guess the bad can get better,” about being young and stressed out. Which is true, and I’m sure Forever 21 would agree. —Clover Hope


Ehhhhhh: Nicki Minaj “Rich Sex” - If Nicki Minaj herself seems uninterested in her own material, then how am I to be interested? This is another new record of hers that I feel neither here nor there about, more a tiny (like really tiny) expected tremor than an earthquake. The motto of the story is: don’t let broke dudes into the kitty, and a verse from Lil Wayne about face cumming follows. —CH


Yes, okay?: Troye Sivan feat. Ariana Grande, “Dance to This” - Allow me to shout it from the mountain tops: I am ready to stan Troye Sivan! From his song about bottoming (“Bloom”) to, well, this Ari collabo, I’m fully aboard the Sivan Ship. “Dance to This” doesn’t ask to do much—it’s a simple pop song that I imagine will soundtrack many a teenage couple gettin’ frisky in an H&M dressing room, and that’s kind of great. Also—is Grande getting worse as enunciation? You can actually feel her doze off in this track, but it’s also kind of sexy? Minus the lyrical line about only doing some act when they’re not sober, of course. That...was unnecessary. —Maria Sherman

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Zzzzz: Maxwell, “We Never Saw It Coming” - I typically love me some Maxwell. That Ascension Don’t Ever Wonder, Get to Know Ya, This Woman’s Work and most recently Pretty Wings Maxwell. But this latest material is soulfully putting me to bed. Maybe I should look at it as meditation music? I mean, his voice is still beautiful for the most, but I need movement and sensuality on these tracks, Maxwell. Never saw this coming. —CH

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Y: 5 Seconds of Summer, “Valentine” - It’s been quite some time since we’ve heard from these lads down under, and boy, have they transformed—from pop-punk summer song wunderkids to naked Rolling Stone cover stars, to this: goth-y ’80s pop worshippers, a radio rock band for the year of our lord, 2018. They haven’t made a full transition into the 1975—“Valentine,” their new album’s standout track is much more Twenty One Pilots-esque than anything else on the radio these days, but it’s still hook-heavy, and who could deny those harmonies? Also: I’ve never heard chocolate eclairs referenced so...sensually. For a phallic baked good, they’re certainly underrepresented in pop. Until now. —MS

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Yes: Jorja Smith, “Teenage Fantasy” – With a lush ’70s soul intro that morphs into Portishead-style trip-hop, this song from 20-year-old Jorja Smith’s newly released Lost and Found was written when Smith was only 16. But it conveys the kind of learned wisdom of someone who’s had considerably more time to look back on their adolescence. The accompanying black-and-white video is also gorgeous, invoking Agnès Varda films and fitting the song’s mood perfectly. —Claire Shaffer

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Aww yeah: Dirty Projectors, “That’s a Lifestyle” – David Longstreth is back on his bullshit, which is good. After his virtually unlistenable breakup album—the first from Dirty Projectors without his former partner Amber Caufman—he and the rest of the band have returned. The second single from their upcoming album, “That’s a Lifestyle” sounds like old Dirty Projectors in sound and substance, replete with near-yelps and meditations on human existence. It’s not a protest song, but a close reading should remind you of current events and that nagging fear that, as you look around, the system is rigged. “The rules are there to hurt,” Longstreth sings, “and that’s the way it’s done.” Wake up, sheeple, in other words: The world’s been on fire and that’s by design. —Frida Garza

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Y: Low, “Quorum” - One of three tracks released this week in advance of the Duluth trio’s upcoming Double Negative album, “Quorum” really puts the core in slowcore. With white noise ripping through the track in rhythm and Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker’s vocals deteriorating at the edges, this song is uncommonly abrasive for the band. And yet, in its hypnotic starkness, “Quorum” makes sense to the ear as Low material—the band just found a new way to be itself. —Rich Juzwiak

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Y: Chaka Khan, “Like Sugar” - I’ll tell you something good: the new single from Chaka Khan is sublime. Co-produced by Major Lazer’s Switch and Sarah Ruba, the pulsating midtempo track situates the living legend at the crossroads of funk and disco, with house just around the corner. It might feel like a summation of her career in four minutes if it weren’t so wiggly and sparse and, frankly, bonkers. There is nothing “veteran act” about this song, which finds its diva living in the moment wholly, and sounding like she’s loving it. —RJ

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THROWBACK CORNER

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Y: Ariana Grande, “Bad Decisions” - This is a great, underrated song from Ariana’s last album and I, uuuuhhhh, just think it’s a really good week to revisit it? “I’ve been doing stupid things, wilder than I’ve ever been.” Yup, you have girl. —Hazel Cills