Taylor Swift’s Ode to Moving On, and 9 More New Songs

Every Friday, pop critics for The New York Times weigh in on the week’s most notable new songs and videos. 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.

Taylor Swift, ‘It’s Time to Go’

Of course Taylor Swift had even more songs recorded during the 2020 quarantine that has already yielded her albums “Folklore” and “Evermore,” which now gets a bonus track. “It’s Time to Go” — terse lines set against an insistent one-note guitar and four chords — maps romantic and workplace setbacks against her own struggle to hold onto her multiplatinum catalog: “He’s got my past frozen behind glass/But I’ve got me.” It’s advice, rationalization, a way to move on: “Sometimes giving up is the strong thing,” she sings. JON PARELES

Celeste, ‘Love Is Back’

Celeste — who, at least in Britain, has been on the verge of a breakout moment for the past few years — rang in 2021 with a performance of her new single “Love Is Back” on Jools Holland’s annual New Year’s Eve show. Amid rhythmic blasts of brass, the 26-year-old soul singer croons coolly for much of the song before a dazzling grand finale showcases the strength of her smoky voice, which recalls both Amy Winehouse and Billie Holiday. With a debut album, “Not Your Muse,” slated for release on Feb. 26, this could finally be Celeste’s year. LINDSAY ZOLADZ

Saweetie featuring Doja Cat, ‘Best Friend’

The gender warfare in pop hip-hop continues with “Best Friend,” particularly in its video version, which opens by mocking “toxic masculinity” and “another fake woke misogynist” — a bare-chested guest guy — while Saweetie and Doja Cat lounge in bikinis. A twangy two-bar loop accompanies the two women as they flatly declare financial independence and, eventually, find each other. PARELES

Rhye, ‘Come in Closer’

Ideas waft up and ripple away throughout “Come in Closer” the smoothly elusive new single from the breathy, androgynous-voiced Canadian singer and songwriter Michael Milosh, who records as Rhye. Hardly anything is stable; not the beat, not the chord changes, not the vocal melodies or instrumental countermelodies, not an arrangement that moves from churchy organ to a string-laden R&B march to eerie a cappella vocal harmonies. The only constant is yearning: “How I’d love for you to come home with me” is the song’s closest thing to a refrain. PARELES

Virgil Abloh featuring serpentwithfeet, ‘Delicate Limbs’

Virgil Abloh is best known as a designer; no wonder “Delicate Limbs” begins with fashion-conscious lyrics: “Those gray pants you love might bring you luck, but if they ever fray you can call on me.” But “Delicate Limbs” even more clearly ties in with the catalog of Abloh’s collaborator, serpentwithfeet, a.k.a. the singer and songwriter Josiah Wise. It’s an incantatory enigma, wandering among electronic drones, jazzy drum crescendos and cinematic orchestration, building extraordinary drama. PARELES

Barry Gibb featuring Dolly Parton, ‘Words’

Viewers of the recent HBO documentary “The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” will recall that it was not Dolly Parton nor Kenny Rogers who wrote their mammoth 1983 hit “Islands in the Stream,” but, actually, the Brothers Gibb. So Parton is a natural choice for a duet partner on Barry Gibb’s moving and delicately crafted new album “Greenfields — The Gibb Brothers’ Songbook Vol. 1,” on which the last surviving Bee Gee adds a little twang to some of the group’s standards and collaborates with country artists like Miranda Lambert and fellow Aussie cowboy Keith Urban. Parton joins him for a piano-driven, gently elegiac rendition of the 1968 hit “Words.” On the original single and often in concert, this was the rare Bee Gees song that Barry Gibb sang solo. Reimagining it as a duet, and especially with a voice as warm as Parton’s, makes “Words” feel less like a confession of regret and more like a prelude to reconciliation. ZOLADZ

Sun June, ‘Everything I Had’

“Everything I had, I want it back,” Sun June’s Laura Colwell sings on the Austin band’s latest single — certainly a relatable refrain for these times. It’s also a fittingly wistful sentiment for a band that playfully describes its sound as “regret pop,” blending the melodic flutter of Colwell’s voice with dreamy tempos that invite contemplation. (Its second album, “Somewhere,” will be out on Feb. 5.) The lyrics, though, conjure a certain restlessness, as Colwell considers moving all the way to Los Angeles before settling on a new apartment three doors down from where she used to live — presumably just far enough to stare longingly at the old one. ZOLADZ

John Fogerty, ‘Weeping in the Promised Land’

“Weeping in the Promised Land” is John Fogerty’s memento of 2020: pandemic, disinformation, economic crisis, Black Lives Matter. In a quasi-hymn, with bedrock piano chords and a swelling choir, he surveys the devastation overseen by a “pharaoh” who keeps “a-preaching, but he never had a plan.” It doesn’t foresee redemption. PARELES

Science Friction, ‘Heavy Mental’

The alto saxophonist Tim Berne and the trumpeter Herb Robertson circle each other like fighters getting acquainted in the first round at the start of this itchy, low-fi recording, which Berne captured at 55 Bar in Greenwich Village 17 years ago. He’s been releasing recordings from the vault on Bandcamp, and this one — which he found on a CD-R lying on his studio floor, and posted Christmas Day — is especially raw and lively. The guitarist Marc Ducret joins after a minute, adding his own wiry lines and helping outline the track’s central melodic phrase before Tom Rainey’s drums and Craig Taborn’s keyboards enter and the quintet wriggles into a long, tumbling jam. GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO

Miguel Zenón and Luis Perdomo, ‘Alma Adentro (Live)’

At the Jazz Gallery this fall, the alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón and the pianist Luis Perdomo recorded a concert of boleros (or romantic songs, from a range of Latin American traditions), and the set was so understatedly good that after streaming it on Zenón’s Facebook page, the pair decided to release it as an album. This track is a ruminative lament, written by the Puerto Rican singer and polymath Sylvia Rexach for her brother, who had died in an accident; it was the title track — and the most tender moment — on Zenón’s big band album a decade ago. On the new version, as Perdomo alone carries its downward-spiraling chord progression, the pair spends nearly 10 minutes wandering into and away from the song’s wistful melody, as if reliving a distant memory. RUSSONELLO

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