The Playlist: Selena Gomez Chides an Ex, and Remy Ma Stomps on a Foe

Selena Gomez’s new song with Kygo is filled with dance-floor thump.

Every Friday, pop critics for The New York Times weigh in on the week’s most notable new songs and videos — and anything else that strikes them as intriguing. You can listen to this playlist on Spotify here. Like this Playlist? Let us know at theplaylist@nytimes.com, and sign up for our Louder newsletter here.

Kygo feat. Selena Gomez, ‘It Ain’t Me’

Don’t be deceived by the modest, folky guitar picking that opens this regretful but righteous kiss-off. The crescendo and dance-floor thump arrive soon, as Selena Gomez chides an ex who was drinking and partying too often (insert tabloid speculation here). “Who’s waking up to drive you home/when you’re drunk and all alone?” she sings, with choir-like reinforcements. “It ain’t me.” Kygo’s production isn’t overbearing; sometimes a fingersnap is louder than the kick drum. Nor is it repetitive. Guitars and pianos swirl in and out, and Ms. Gomez’s vocals are chopped up to join the percussion, flinging well-chosen syllables — a recurring “whiskey neat” — at the offending ex. JON PARELES

Fat Joe and Remy Ma feat. Kent Jones, ‘Swear to God’

In a post ricocheting around Twitter yesterday, @DashRomero put up four closed-captioned stills of a video interview given by the rapper couple Papoose and Remy Ma. Papoose is talking about first impressions: “She was like rude to everybody in the room. And I was like oh, I really like her.”

This pugnacity was key to Remy Ma’s appeal as a member of the Terror Squad (see her star turn on the remix of M.O.P.’s “Ante Up”) up until her arrest in 2007 on assault and weapons charges, and her subsequent prison term, which ended in 2014.

Thanks to “All the Way Up,” her hit with former Terror Squad macher Fat Joe, Remy Ma is more in the spotlight than ever. The two have just released a solid collaborative album, “Plata o Plomo,” on which she handily out-raps her partner on every track, and on “Dreamin,” the album finale, she talks about how prison didn’t calm her down, it made her more aggressive. That she still packs punch is clearest on “Swear to God,” one sock to the jaw after another, but with whimsical wordplay that shows off just how light her heavy burdens are:

Say something, said something or mentioned my name, ho
Put a bullet in the brain of the mane on your Polo
You could get this work for free, it’s pro bono
I put funds on your bundles, mad dough on your Afro
Guap on your top, green on your bean
Dubs on your mug, a new bag on your do-rag

JON CARAMANICA

Romeo Santos, ‘Héroe Favorito’

The new Romeo Santos single is bachata in its most schlocky, high-gloss form, with fits of smooth jazz mixed in for bad measure, not that it matters. His voice is as piercing as ever, with vowels fired off like tiny firecrackers. It’s sweet enough to render a song about all the superheroes you wish you could become to win over the woman you crave something more than a gimmick. Mr. Santos is also at the absurdist stage of his celebrity, when all that is left is to turn a song about wishing one were a superhero in the eyes of the woman you crave into a video in which you become a superhero — several different ones, as a matter of fact — with the power to sweep your intended off her feet, and also crawl down the outside of her building to grab a kiss. J.C.

Mary. J. Blige, ‘U + Me (Love Lesson)’

There’s blame for everyone in “U + Me (Love Lesson),” Mary J. Blige’s latest exercise in surviving love gone wrong. “Must have been crazy to think that you loved me/I saw all the signs,” she declares. In lines that tumble out so quickly they sometimes overlap, she calls out her own self-deceptions and fears of being alone as well as her ex’s lies and obliviousness. The beat is slow but the arrangement builds nervous energy with quick percussion, insistent strings and backing voices appearing from all directions. Ms. Blige, of course, will get through: “Gotta keep on pushing/And love myself through the hard times,” she resolves. J.P.

Blac Youngsta feat. Lil Yachty, ‘Hip Hopper’

For a long time, proclaiming “I’m not a rapper” was one of the most effective rap boasts possible. It implied that rapping was art, a day job, an inconvenience — the real money was being made elsewhere. The recent generation-and-age-gap Cold War essentially boils down to those who wish their rappers identified as such vs. rappers who feel no need to do so. This track by Blac Youngsta and the bête noire of traditionalists, Lil Yachty, is comic and relentless. Both are rapping well, but neither dwells on it, especially Blac Youngsta, owner of one of the most free-spirited social media presences in hip-hop who raps like he might bust out giggling at any moment. J.C.

Linkin Park feat. Kiiara, ‘Heavy’

This is an Owl City song. C’mon, Linkin Park. Circa 2000 Linkin Park would stuff this song in a locker — and circa 2000 Linkin Park was already stuffed in the locker. J.C.

Oumou Sangare, ‘Yere Faga’

Oumou Sangare emerged as a force in traditional-style Malian music, bringing the style of her home region, Wassoulou, to national and then international renown. She also took on the age-old role of the West African singer as a societal memory conscience, offering virtuous advice. Then she started collaborating with musicians worldwide, transporting the sound of Wassoulou along multiple avenues of funk. “Yere Faga” gently but urgently counsels against suicide using a groove from the great Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen, in an ancient-future mix: traditional balafons (marimbas), hearty call-and-response vocals and clouds of sustained female voices, deep bass lines and jabs of guitar noise, making the song at once rooted and unearthly. J.P.

Thundercat, ‘Friend Zone’

Funk redeems frustration in “Friend Zone,” a droll complaint from a guy who’d rather play Mortal Kombat than field another Platonic heart-to-heart late-night phone call from his unrequited crush. “The next time you call me I’m gonna sit and stare at the screen/Waiting for the call to end.” A squishy P-Funk groove, electropop arpeggios, slippery polytonal harmonies and vocals in an aggrieved-nerd falsetto add up to a song that’s funny with a grudge. J.P.

Omar Sosa and Seckou Keita, ‘Dary’

This crystalline, shimmering instrumental, at once animated and serene, comes from an international coalition: the Cuban pianist Omar Sosa, the Senegalese kora player Seckou Keita and the Venezuelan percussionist Gustavo Ovalles. (“Transparent Water,” the album it comes from, will be released next week; it also includes guests from China and Japan.) The harmonies are soothing, consonant major chords; Mr. Sosa and Mr. Keita take turns offering patterns to underpin one another’s solos. And Mr. Ovalles, on a sensitively changing series of instruments, pinpoints every shift of syncopation as the three players move through kaleidoscopic permutations of what a six-beat rhythm can do. J.P.

Dawes, ‘Roll With the Punches’

The patiently chugging roots-rock of “Roll With the Punches” is the sound of sorrow turning to numb pragmatism. It’s a song about coping with both the material and emotional aftermath of a breakup. Taylor Goldsmith, Dawes’ songwriter and singer, deploys vocabulary with precision, building verses around “symmetrical,” “collateral,” “negotiable” and other four-syllable words. “The separation was logistical/deciding what belongs to whom/how dying love manifests in a rug or a chest/the decorations of a room,” Taylor Goldsmith sings. The video has a rueful, Solomonic conceit: the way that many objects, divided precisely in half, become useless. J.P.

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