Yes, incredible: Lizzo, “Juice” (video) - I can’t help that I’m easily swayed by ’80s aesthetics, especially when it’s done with style, glamour, and Soul Glo-inspired vision. This is Lizzo’s catchy, effusive ballad for all the baddies on which she refuses to stop being great: “It ain’t my fault that I’m out here making news... Gotta blame it on my juice.” So consider it your new self-love anthem for the New Year. —Clover Hope
It’s corny as hell, but yes: Backstreet Boys, “No Place” (video) - Dadstreet’s back? The Backstreet Boys are preparing to release their ninth studio album, their first in six years, on January 25, which I just learned in preparation of this week’s Y/N. The third track from the release, “No Place,” is about as adult contemporary as it gets, as is the video, which shows each boy band man serenading his respective family. It’s nice! And sweet! (Before you ask—AJ can’t lip-sing, none of them can, really, except Brian. And it’s nice they’ve let Kevin realize his full Southern twang.) This is exactly the kind of stuff they should be making to keep their annual cruise afloat, or whatever happens to boy bands when they become man bands.
Full disclosure: I immediately recognized “No Place” from a ditty recorded in London during the filming of the 2015 documentary Backstreet Boys: Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of, but that’s only because I re-watched it last month. This is much better than what they had cooking three years ago. Congrats to them. —Maria Sherman
Y!!!!!!!: Charlotte Adigéry, “Paténipat” (video) - The last deceptively simple, wholly hypnotic track I remember loving as much as I am “Paténipat” was M.I.A.’s “Galang,” which is to say I love this song to pieces. Stylistically, it’s more aligned with house music, with a relentless four-on-the-floor beat doing the driving and almost anything else keeping out of the way, aside from the increasingly layered vocals from Belgian-Caribbean singer-songwriter Charlotte Adigéry. It is as elegantly unsparing as early Chicago house, with a momentum that eventually rolls into double time that will satisfy those hungry for a modern drop-like payoff. This earworm crawled onto my playlist at the end of 2018, and is likely to define much of my 2019. Already things are looking up for this new year. —Rich Juzwiak
Y: Noname, “Song 31" – Noname continues to be a pillar of confidence on her latest track, with a delicious refrain from Phoelix. “The only bitch actually rapping, it look like me now,” she raps at one point, and while that may or may not be true, she does sound great. This song sits with you like a tall glass of cold water on a hot day—a feeling I never though I’d desire in the middle of winter, but I’m into it. —Frida Garza