• The Star Staff

JLo and Maluma’s romantic duel, and 9 more new songs


By The New York Times


Pop critics weigh in on the week’s most notable new songs and videos.


Jennifer Lopez and Maluma, ‘Pa Ti’ and ‘Lonely’

A pair of effective new songs from Jennifer Lopez and Maluma, well-matched singers more interested in rhythm than power, more invested in melodrama than depth. “Pa Ti” is the ascent, a crisp flirtation that’s hard to argue with — both sing with sass and swing. And then “Lonely” is the collapse, a slightly more morose thumper with less steady vocals. Both songs will be included in “Marry Me,” a film due in February that stars both singers.

— JON CARAMANICA


Wizkid featuring H.E.R., ‘Smile’

Wizkid, an Afrobeats luminary from Nigeria, offers buoyant benevolence in “Smile,” a love song riding a reggae beat that has been repatriated to modern Africa. The track rises further when H.E.R. adds vocals that sound sultry, thoughtful and satisfied.

— JON PARELES


Oneohtrix Point Never, ‘Drive Time Suite’

With deliberate obscurity, Daniel Lopatin named his long-running electronic studio project, Oneohtrix Point Never, after a Boston soft-rock radio station that promotes itself as Magic 106.7. So the three-part online preview of his new album, “Magic,” as it mixes quasi-baroque keyboard filigree and string-section support, is also in a way a homecoming, though one that leads into the expensive, possibly illusory comforts of soft-rock. It starts with blurred radio station audio logos, and offers both refuge — “I know a place to go,” Lopatin sings through computers in “Auto & Allo” — and a drift into disorientation in “Long Road Home.”

— JON PARELES


Rare Essence featuring Snoop Dogg, ‘Hit the Floor’

Snoop Dogg has always rapped as if he’s slithering around a corner, seeping into whatever spaces present themselves. That strutting approach would be a natural fit for the loping funk of Washington, D.C., go-go music, a sound that has remained fiercely regional for decades. This collaboration with long-running band Rare Essence is apt proof of the thin line separating go-go from the low-end-thick funk that formed the foundation of early 1990s rap music in Los Angeles, where Snoop got his start. The band nods to the silky whine of “Gin & Juice,” and Snoop somehow both melts and bops his syllables, a happy fish with a new ocean to swim in.

— JON CARAMANICA


The Shins, ‘The Great Divide’

The Shins have traded their indie-rock guitars for grandiose synthesizers, and they unabashedly feed James Mercer’s earnest vocals through assorted effects in “The Great Divide,” a gleaming, adamantly optimistic processional that promises unity after division: “A stitch in time/Then we recombine.” The song needs every bit of sonic armor to stay so positive right now.

— JON PARELES

Bryson Tiller, ‘Always Forever’

Bryson Tiller just released the deluxe edition of his stellar debut album, “Trapsoul,” five years after its initial release. That’s one way to signal to fans that you’re revisiting the way you used to do things in advance of a new album. “Always Forever” is from Tiller’s forthcoming third album, and it may as well have appeared on “Trapsoul.” All the components are there: lithe singing in the shape of rapping, aspirated and digitally baked syllables, the angst of the lonely.

— JON CARAMANICA


Carla Morrison, ‘Ansiedad’

The music is a march, with crisply programmed drums, ascending major chords, and backup vocals that gather and multiply in support, harmonizing and repeating “mi ansiedad” like a triumphal refrain. But “Ansiedad” means “anxiety,” and that’s what Latin Grammy-winning Mexican songwriter Carla Morrison is singing about in her not-so-diffident soprano, describing all the ways her troubled mind is holding her back. It finds its strength in confessing to weakness.

— JON PARELES

La Dame Blanche, ‘La Maltratada’

The cheery tone of “La Maltradada” is a pointed act of defiance from La Dame Blanche, a cigar-puffing Cuban singer and rapper (Yaite Ramos Rodriguez) who lives in Paris, juggles traditional and current rhythms, and releases her new album, “Ella” (“Her”), on Friday. A stripped-down Latin beat and pithy flute and trombone riffs accompany her as she sings about surviving physical abuse: “Body broken, head held high.”

— JON PARELES


Logan Richardson, ‘Black Wallstreet’

Logan Richardson manages a mix of keening and complexity on “Black Wallstreet,” as his reverb-soused alto sax slides across a moving bed of cello harmonies overdubbed by Ezgi Karakus. The track is a highlight from Richardson’s latest album, “Afrofuturism,” which has the experimental drift of a mixtape: Performances like this are crushed up against full-band thrashers, with spoken interludes mixed in throughout.

— GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO


Christian McBride Big Band, ‘Road Song’

When he emulates the brushy thumb-strokes and smooth octave playing of Wes Montgomery here, guitarist Mark Whitfield is really helping Christian McBride live out a childhood fantasy. When he was a high school student in 1980s Philadelphia, the bassist and Joey DeFrancesco, then a budding organist, shared a love for the big-band albums that Montgomery had made two decades earlier with organist Jimmy Smith and arranger Oliver Nelson. On his latest album with his own big band, “For Jimmy, Wes and Oliver,” McBride decided to emulate the format and style of those 1966 recordings, letting DeFrancesco fill Smith’s chair and enlisting Whitfield for Montgomery’s. The result is a fond tribute that includes repertoire from those original recording sessions, plus some selections written by the contemporary band members.

— GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO

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