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The Playlist: Ed Sheeran’s Tender Duet, And 11 More New Songs

The Playlist: Ed Sheeran’s Tender Duet, And 11 More New Songs

Sure, U2 beat Ed Sheeran to this song’s concept with “You’re the Best Thing About Me.” But this folky testimonial to insecurities — physical and psychological — still feels sincere, with its acoustic guitar and piano and its hesitant vocal harmonies. “Best Part of Me” is from an album of Sheeran collaborations due next week. Listen to closer, and it’s clear that considerable care has been given to studio balances and overdubs all the way through, but until the big build at the end, the song feels transparent. JON PARELES

Miley Cyrus, ‘Mother’s Daughter’

Sometimes a video can turn around a song. Released on audio as part of the EP “She Is Coming” in May, “Mother’s Daughter” just felt like brand maintenance: “I’m-a free, I’m a freak,” Miley Cyrus sang over the kind of trap march that Mike Will Made-It used to provide for her. (This track was produced by Andrew Wyatt of Miike Snow and “Shallow.”) Enter the video, with Cyrus’s unflinching glare, assorted fetish wear, a determinedly inclusive cast of extras, and slogans hyperlinked to the feminist protest group, and it’s recast as an anthem to share — not all about Cyrus anymore. PARELES

Rosalía, ‘F___ Money Man’

The latest curveball from the Spanish pop phenomenon Rosalía is an ambivalent, paired romp and lament about the power of money, two songs in a two-part video. It starts with a shopping list: Rosalía itemizing (in the Catalan language) the luxury brands and other perks she’d enjoy if she were a millionaire, over a peppy computer-distilled version of a rumba Catalan beat, with a sampled English-language hook that’s unprintable here. In the video clip, she’s a giddy game-show contestant, showered in cash. But it segues immediately into the flip side, in Spanish: Rosalía encircled by flames, entreating, “God Save Us From Money” — from wanting it, seeking it, dreaming about it — with flamenco inflections over mournful chords. The renunciation sounds far more heartfelt. PARELES

Mahalia featuring Burna Boy, ‘Simmer’

Memo to the countless producers who currently limit themselves to a handful of vintage drum-machine sounds: take note of “Simmer” by the English songwriter Mahalia Burkmar. In a purposeful lilt, she advises an overeager lover to “cool down” and “take time with me,” though the guest verse from Burna Boy shows he didn’t get the message. Produced by FelixJoseph and Jonah Christian, the track’s insistent syncopations don’t just ratchet and tick in what have become trap clichés; they ping and twang, bonk and buzz over distant cloudlike chords and fleeting bits of backup vocals, giving the music extra depth. PARELES
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, ‘Swing Symphony: Movement IV. Manhattan to L.A.’
Wynton Marsalis’s third symphonic composition, “Swing Symphony” was commissioned in 2010 but arrived in album form just this week. The recordings were made during a run of performances last year, with his Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra teaming up with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. The fourth movement, “Manhattan to L.A.,” opens with a bustling passage, with heavy shades of Dizzy Gillespie’s “Bebop” — lickety-split trumpet lines giving way to dashing violins. Eventually, that leads into a more explicitly Afro-Latin section, with the classical orchestra gamely getting in on the action. GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO

Jeezy, ‘1 Time’Rick Ross featuring Swizz Beatz, ‘Big Tyme’

What’s the German word for a song made by a person past his creative prime — and even further past his popularity peak — that still somehow embodies the essence of the thing that made him so crucial in his day, and in a more democratic radio environment would have a natural home on a station that spotlights the current work of the stars of yesteryear who don’t stand a chance against the young’ uns who’ve replaced them? JON CARAMANICA

Long Beard, ‘Sweetheart’

Languidly multilayered folk-rock guitars and a steady-state drumbeat carry plaintive what-ifs in “Sweetheart” by Leslie Bear, the songwriter who records as Long Beard. “I think of you way too often,” she sings about the high school sweetheart, now married, that she hasn’t seen in 10 years. It’s pure atmosphere, with regrets that gather like the reverberating guitars. PARELES

Rhi, ‘Swagger’

“Tell me something that matters/Does your mind match the swagger?” scoffs the English singer, songwriter and producer Rhi in the supremely blasé “Swagger,” a challenge to some tattooed, brand-name-wearing poseur. Electric piano chords pulse and trickle across a logy beat; her voice is a smoky shrug. “I don’t deny an interest,” she allows in the bridge, but the burden of proof isn’t on her. PARELES

Post Malone featuring Young Thug, ‘Goodbyes’

This is the first official collaboration between Post Malone, pop music’s premier post-rap singer, and Young Thug, the most sui generis melodic innovator in hip-hop. So it’s odd that Post Malone opts for a vocal approach that’s his most Fall Out Boy — crisp, a little muscular, barely whiny at all in spite of the tragic-heartbreak subject matter. And stranger still, when Young Thug arrives, he’s at his most comprehensible. A safe and palatable collaboration for two stars who’ve risked far more. CARAMANICA

Lea Bertucci, ‘Warp & Weft (excerpt)’

The saxophonist and clarinetist Lea Bertucci recorded her forthcoming album, “Resonant Field,” in a decommissioned grain silo in Buffalo, N.Y. Inside the echoey concrete tower, which hummed with activity during Buffalo’s industrial heyday decades ago, sounds can take about 12 seconds to die out, allowing Bertucci’s droning horn to create layers upon itself, painting in Rothko strokes. The slow, oozing sounds become an expression of the empty building’s own bereavement and mourning. Bertucci happened to make this recording during a partial solar eclipse in 2017; she then worked with the experimental filmmaker Bradley Eros to pair five minutes from “Warp & Weft,” a long track off the new album, with eclipse imagery. In this video, white circles flash above the blackened moon, adding an element of silent, peppery percussion to the drone. Toward the end, a pupil appears in the middle and the orb becomes something like an eye looking back — returning your gaze, just as the building speaks back to Bertucci in the track. RUSSONELLO


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