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Carly Rae Jepsen’s Latest Album is Pop Perfection

'Hold Me Closer' review: Britney Spears returns in vintage form with Elton John duet

Harry Styles’ ‘As It Was’ Scores Milestone 10th Week at No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100

Fans Choose Charlie Puth & Jungkook’s ‘Left and Right’ as This Week’s Favorite New Music

Album Review: Harry Styles - Harry’s House

Carly Rae JepsenCarly Rae Jepsen’s Latest Album is Pop Perfection

The latest album from the Canadian pop goddess delivers high-gloss pop with serious emotional punch

Dating in the 21st century might be a lonely time, but Carly Rae Jepsen has found a way to make an album around those experiences that’s as bright and hopeful as it is grounded. From the euphoric “Sideways” to the heartbreak of “Go Find Yourself or Whatever,” on her sixth studio album, “The Loneliest Time,” the 36-year-old makes one thing clear: It’s rough out there in the dating world.

While the themes of “The Loneliest Time” are timeless, there’s a specificity to the experiences that reflect the modern age. Jepsen’s second single from the album, “Beach House,” is the best example of this. The kitschy song mirrors the experience of endless scrolling on dating apps. After describing a myriad of bad dating experiences and pleading with men to not view dating as hunting season, male vocals join in with tongue-in-cheek promises that get more preposterous as they go, from “I’m probably gonna never call you” to “I’m probably gonna harvest your organs.” It’s a sure-to-be camp classic from the Canadian pop icon.

Despite what are certainly lows described on “Beach House,” Jepsen’s optimism on “Surrender My Heart” shows she hasn’t given up on love quite yet. A highlight of the album, the synth bop opener finds her embracing vulnerability.

“The Loneliest Time” is a collection of songs that encompass the highs and lows of searching for love, a journey full of second chances, mistakes and elation. It can be lonely at times, but as she articulates on the opener, her past experiences haven’t stopped her from opening her heart: “I wanna be brave enough for everything.”

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Britney and Elton'Hold Me Closer' review: Britney Spears returns in vintage form with Elton John duet

Britney Spears has made a career comeback with the help of a maestro.

Hold Me Closer, which was released on Sept. 23, has her collaborating with Elton John while blending some of his previous hits including Tiny Dancer (1971), Don’t Go Breaking My Heart (1976) and The One (1992).

It is the first song Spears has released since her 2016 album Glory.

The proceeding years found Spears's musical career taking a backseat as she battled her conservatorship, which left her father in control of all aspects of her business and private life.

In June, she married Sam Asghari, a fitness professional and model. He met Spears on the set of her Slumber Party video in 2016.

Spears couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity to make her return.

Hold Me Closer follows the same format of Cold Heart, John’s previous collaboration with Dua Lipa, another modern melange of earlier tracks Rocket Man (1972), Where’s the Shoorah (1976) Kiss the Bride (1983) and Sacrifice (1989).

Where Cold Heart soared on the back of its smooth synth lines and club rhythms, Hold Me Closer shimmies along to the throbbing disco bass line throughout.

Similar to Lipa’s efforts, Spears’s contribution is heard in the chorus in which she performs an impressive falsetto.

The fact that she sounds so at ease is acknowledgment enough that she hasn’t lost any of her vocal ability.

According to Hold Me Closer producer Andrew Wyatt, Spears was adamant in nailing those sky-high notes.

“She kept going: ‘Nope, again, again, again',” he told The Guardian. "She was really collaborative and had really good ideas about the production. She’s an expert in music to make you dance.”

Despite the personal upheaval of recent years, Elton praised Spears for her professionalism in the studio.

“She sang fantastically,” he told The Guardian. “Everyone was saying they don’t think she can sing any more. But I said: 'She was brilliant when she started so I think she can'. And she did it, and I was so thrilled with what she did.”

Despite all the goodwill and fan reaction online, we are yet to hear what Spears makes of the positive reception to her comeback.

Her Instagram account, with more than 42 million followers, has been deactivated.

The song is on her Twitter account, where Spears expressed how momentous the release is for her career and fans.

"Okie dokie … My first song in 6 years. It’s pretty damn cool that I’m singing with one of the most classic men of our time," she said on Wednesday. "I'm kinda's a big deal to me.”

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StylesHarry Styles’ ‘As It Was’ Scores Milestone 10th Week at No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100

Harry Styles‘ “As It Was” continues atop the Billboard Hot 100 songs chart, dominating for a 10th total week. The song marks Styles’ first Hot 100 leader of at least 10 weeks – and the 10th for Columbia Records, the most among all labels over the chart’s history.

Plus, Beyoncé‘s “Break My Soul,” which holds at No. 9 on the Hot 100, after reaching No. 7, hits the Radio Songs chart’s top 10, becoming her 18th top 10 on the airplay tally and her first in a lead role since 2014.

The Hot 100 blends all-genre U.S. streaming (official audio and official video), radio airplay and sales data. All charts (dated July 23, 2022) will update on tomorrow (July 19). For all chart news, you can follow @billboard and @billboardcharts on both Twitter and Instagram.

“As It Was,” released on Erskine/Columbia Records and which debuted at No. 1 on the Hot 100 dated April 16, tallied 74.1 million radio airplay audience impressions (essentially even week-over-week), 18.1 million streams (up 1%) and 5,000 downloads sold (down 5%) in the July 8-14 tracking week, according to Luminate.

The track holds at No. 3 after four weeks atop Radio Songs, beginning in May; keeps at No. 6 on Streaming Songs, after two weeks on top starting upon its debut in April; and rebounds 11-6 on Digital Song Sales, following a week at the summit in May.

“As It Was” – from Styles’ third album, Harry’s House, which led the Billboard 200 albums chart for two weeks beginning with its debut in June and places at No. 4 on the latest list – becomes the 42nd song in the history of the Hot 100, which launched on Aug. 4, 1958, to reign for at least 10 weeks, a feat that just 4% of all No. 1s (1,138 total) have achieved.

While “As It Was” marks Styles’ first Hot 100 leader of at least 10 weeks (after his other No. 1, “Watermelon Sugar,” ruled for a week in August 2020) – it’s the 10th for Columbia Records, the most among all labels over the chart’s history. Arista and Atlantic follow with five such No. 1s each.

Here’s a recap of Columbia’s 10 Hot 100 No. 1s to reign for at least 10 weeks, with the label having logged the last three, as Adele and BTS’ latest leaders preceded Styles’ command:

“One Sweet Day,” Mariah Carey & Boyz II Men, 16 weeks at No. 1, beginning Dec. 2, 1995

“Independent Women Part I,” Destiny’s Child, 11, Nov. 18, 2000

“Irreplaceable,” Beyoncé, 10, Dec. 16, 2006

“Happy,” Pharrell Williams, 10, March 8, 2014

“Hello,” Adele, 10, Nov. 14, 2015

“Closer,” The Chainsmokers feat. Halsey, 12, Sept. 3, 2016

“Old Town Road,” Lil Nas X feat. Billy Ray Cyrus, a record 19, April 13, 2019

“Butter,” BTS, 10, June 5, 2021

“Easy on Me,” Adele, 10, Oct. 30, 2021

“As It Was,” Harry Styles, 10, April 16, 2022

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PuthFans Choose Charlie Puth & Jungkook’s ‘Left and Right’ as This Week’s Favorite New Music

Charlie Puth‘s “Left and Right,” featuring BTS‘ Jungkook, tops this week’s new music poll.

Music fans voted in a poll published Friday (June 24) on Billboard, choosing the pair’s collaboration as their favorite music release of the past week.

“Left and Right” brought in more than 81% of the vote in this week’s new music poll.

Puth and Jungkook’s pop track — which has them crooning “Memories follow me left and right/ I can feel you over here/ I can feel you over here/ You take up every corner of my mind” — dropped on Friday, alongside a music video. Puth had promised to release the Jungkook collab if fans reached at least 500,000 pre-saves for the song — not a problem for ARMY.

Trailing behind on the poll was Taylor Swift‘s Where the Crawdads Sing tune “Carolina,” with 15% of the vote. The haunting new song was penned by Swift (and produced by Aaron Dessner) for the soundtrack of the upcoming film adaptation of the Delia Owens novel.

Charlie Puth and Jungkook of BTS Find Themselves Lovestruck in ‘Left And Right’

Charlie Puth and Jungkook are sick — lovesick, that is. In fact, they’re so wrapped up in the memories of “the one that got away” that not even a visit to the Love Doctor in the music video for Puth’s newest single “Left And Right” can cure the singers of their ills.

The breezy, sentimental collaboration with the BTS superstar comes off Puth’s forthcoming album Charlie, scheduled for release some time this year. In the video, Puth and Jungkook find themselves overwhelmed with thoughts of their respective exes, prompting them to visit a man identified as the Love Doctor in an attempt to fix their heartache. (Puth teased the track earlier this week in a TikTok video filmed on the set of the Drew Hirsch-directed clip.) “Memories follow me left and right/I can feel you over here, I can feel you over here/You take up every corner of my mind,” the pair sings during the song’s chorus.

The video also includes a QR code and special phone number fans are encouraged to text for bonus content from Puth himself. (There’s also some not-so-subtle product placement for the Gen Z-targeted financial company Chime — but we’ll let that slide.)

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Harry StylesAlbum Review: Harry Styles - Harry’s House

When a teen idol becomes a rock star, he announces it with a Rolling Stone spread. Five years ago, in the run-up to his debut album, Harry Styles got that quintessential rock’n’roll treatment: A sprawling 6,000 words by the celebrated journalist and filmmaker Cameron Crowe. They had lunch in Laurel Canyon; Cameron likened Styles’ voice to Rod Stewart’s, his crew to the Beatles, and his recording studio to Big Pink.

When a rock star becomes a lifestyle influencer, he announces it with a Better Homes & Gardens cover. Styles’ appearance in the June issue of that publication—which runs articles about organic fertilizer and Meyer lemons and rarely profiles musicians at all, much less those of Styles’ stature—brushes off the music press and cleverly promotes Harry’s House, his third album. Harry is pictured in Gucci pajamas carrying a breakfast tray; the story’s very existence signals his hard turn into comfort and leisure. Meanwhile, he’s got Mick Fleetwood peddling his nail polish. On TikTok, Harry’s House single “As It Was” is a go-to soundtrack for supercuts of curated domesticity. The state of the boy brand is strong.

On Harry’s House, pleasure is the aesthetic proposition. The album oozes the easy charisma that lifted Styles head and shoulders above his former One Direction colleagues and makes him one of pop’s more compelling live acts. Its sounds—which move through funk, folk, and 2010s Tumblr-pop—are friendly and familiar enough to satisfy passive listening, but deftly executed, with a surplus of style and whimsy that rewards a more active ear. Styles’ previous albums seemed preoccupied with a desire to demonstrate taste and legitimacy via retro-rock pastiche, but here he wears his influences more lightly. The mood is light, too: Opener “Music for a Sushi Restaurant” kicks things off with scatting, scene-stealing horns, and a litany of food references (fried rice, ice cream, coffee on the stove) that conjure a state of goofy, sated bliss. “I could cook an egg on you”: Harry Styles lyric or Denny’s tweet?

Styles kept this record in the family, working primarily with returning collaborators Kid Harpoon and Tyler Johnson. For some artists, an intimate writers’ room can draw out vulnerabilities or create a foundation for risk-taking, but little here suggests that Styles is looking to tap into anything overly profound. The emotional stakes are low: Harry is either wistful for past love, but not too pressed about it, or else drawn to someone new, but not effusively so. He’s “not worried” about who his ex is going home to, despite the nostalgic halo she wears on “Little Freak”; he’s not wine-drunk and despondent, he just has the “grape juice blues.” “Daydreaming,” a skin-deep but richly textured sex fantasy that borrows from the Brothers Johnson, articulates what’s felt on much of the album: Styles is writing inside a reverie, blissfully insulated from life’s extremity.

Substance sometimes lacks, but style always abounds. Harmonies open like refracted light around the bright, decadent passages of “Daylight” (“If I was a bluebird/I would fly to you/You’d be the spoon/Dip you in honey so I could be sticking to you”). “Satellite” enters into conversation with Ariana Grande’s “NASA” and features a wonderful bit of text painting: Styles sings about “spinning out” while the back half of the song builds momentum and nearly careens out of control. And on an album whose themes are largely generic, a few dots of self-reflexivity sparkle. The third-person talking-to Harry gives himself on “As It Was” invites a burst of empathy. On the slick, salacious “Cinema,” he works in a coded boast about his union with a certain film actor and director—“I bring the pop to the cinema”—over an extended breakdown propelled by plucky rhythm guitar. It’s a moment of ego indulgence, and a rare Easter egg from an artist whose personal life is closely guarded.

Striking a balance between aloofness and earnestness is something of a Harry Styles specialty. Though direct touchpoints with fans are limited—he is minimally active on social media—his keen sensitivity towards them is evident. In that 2017 Rolling Stone profile, Styles defended his young, predominantly female audience: “Young girls like the Beatles. You gonna tell me they’re not serious?” he said then. Lately, he’s commiserated with them. When he introduced Shania Twain, who made a guest appearance during his Coachella set last month, Styles deployed familiar pop feminist logic: “This lady… told me that men are trash,” he quipped. In the same set, he debuted the Harry’s House track “Boyfriends,” opening by saying, “To boyfriends everywhere, fuck you.”

Is this pandering? Maybe. Call it penance for the misogynistic rock tropes that Styles occasionally reproduced in earlier work. “They think you’re so easy/They take you for granted,” he sighs over finger-picked guitar on the song about boyfriends, voice multiplied into a chorus of soothing affirmations—an old folk lullaby for the spurned and exhausted. (Some—identity politics purists, Larry truthers—will wonder whether Styles’ ode to the hardships of dating men is an output of imaginative empathy or of personal experience, but they’re unlikely to get answers.)

Styles’ “Treat People With Kindness” ethos radiates across Harry’s House. “If you’re feeling down, I just wanna make you happier, baby!” he insists on Passion Pit-approximate “Late Night Talking.” One song later, he’s “on [his] way to buy some flowers for you.” In this way, Styles invites participants into his project of pleasure-seeking: He is a nice guy, so adoring him is uncomplicated and guilt-free. That the persona doesn’t get grating—with the exception of “Matilda,” a wan ballad whose namesake gets lost in Styles’ abundant sympathy for her—is a feat. So what if Harry’s House isn’t especially bold; innovation is not a requirement of a solid pop album, and working too hard is out of fashion, anyway. Better to slip on your Gucci pajamas and just enjoy.

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