Music Scene: New works from Selena Gomez, The Weeknd, Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande

(Clockwise from top left) Sleaford Mods, Zayn, Shame, Olivia Rodrigo. PHOTOS: UNIVERSAL MUSIC SINGAPORE, NABIL, ROUGH TRADE, DEAD OCEANS

SINGAPORE - In this month's new releases, American pop singer Selena Gomez returns to her Latin roots with her first Spanish song in a decade, while Barry Gibb, the Bee Gees' last surviving member, gets back to his early love of country music.

Teenage Disney actress Olivia Rodrigo shoots straight to No. 1 in the charts with her debut single; Canadian singer The Weeknd seemingly takes a pot shot at his Grammy snub in his new music video; and former One Direction member Zayn releases his third solo album since he left the boyband in 2015.

Check out these new releases on music streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music.

1. Pop


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Drivers License is the debut single by American actress and singer Olivia Rodrigo, who made her name with Disney shows such as Bizaardvark and High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.

The 17-year-old co-wrote the song with producer/songwriter Daniel Nigro, which upon its release, went to the top of the global charts of music streaming services Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music.

"When I came up with Drivers License, I was going through a heartbreak that was so confusing to me, so multi-faceted," she says in a press statement.

"Putting all those feelings into a song made everything seem so much simpler and clearer and at the end of the day, I think that's really the whole purpose of songwriting."

2. Classic Pop/Country


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The last surviving Bee Gees brother, Barry Gibb, has teamed up with a host of country and pop stars for his new album.

It comprises updated versions of iconic Bee Gees songs, including Words (sung with Dolly Parton), I've Gotta Get A Message To You (sung with Keith Urban) and Too Much Heaven (sung with Alison Krauss).

Gibb told American music publication Billboard in a recent interview that he grew up with country music.

"I love all music, but I think country music or Americana music, what's going on now, it's still the best songs, it's still the best music. And it comes from one place. You can go anywhere else in the world, and you won't find the great songs that you find in Nashville."

3. Post-punk/Alternative Rock


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Swedish post-punk quintet Viagra Boys' 2018 debut album Street Worms won Album Of The Year at the Independent Music Companies Associations in 2019.

Frontman Sebastian Murphy says the songs in their sophomore offering Welfare Jazz were written during a tumultuous time in his life - his friends hated him, he broke up with his girlfriend and he was depressed.

He tells British music publication NME: "It was cathartic to write music during that period to help me get over it."

4. Post-punk


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British quintet Shame's new album expands on the sonic palette found on their 2018 debut, Songs Of Praise.

Guitarist Sean Coyle-Smith says he was intent on deconstructing the way he wrote songs and played his instrument: "For this album, I was so bored of playing guitar. The thought of even playing it was mind-numbing. So I started to write and experiment in all these alternative tunings and not write or play in a conventional rock way."

For the lyrics, frontman Charlie Steen tapped into the loss of a sense of self that he and his peers were experiencing.

"The common theme when I was catching up with my mates was this identity crisis everyone was having," he says.

5. Pop/R&B


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English singer-songwriter Zayn Malik says he had full creative control on Nobody Is Listening, his third solo album since he left boyband One Direction in 2015.

He serves as executive producer, co-wrote all 11 songs and also makes his debut as a producer on two tracks, album opener Calamity and closer River Road.

The lyrics on one tune, When Love's Around, recently sparked rumours that he is planning to wed American model Gigi Hadid, with whom he has a four-month-old daughter.

6. Pop/R&B


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Fans of Canadian pop star The Weeknd have been having a field day poring over his music video for Save Your Tears, a single from his album After Hours which was released last year.

He is seen throwing away a gold trophy, which fans say is a nod to how the Grammys have snubbed him for the awards in March.

He is also seen wearing freaky face prosthetic, a continuation of the bizarre looks he has been sporting in previous music videos and public performances. Some have speculated that the exaggerated features, such as the comical nose and lips, are a dig against his ex-girlfriend, model Bella Hadid.

7. Pop

ANYONE, Justin Bieber

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Canadian pop idol Justin Bieber made headlines recently by appearing without his trademark tattoos in the music video for Anyone.

A homage to the 1976 classic film Rocky, the video sees him playing an aspiring boxer training for a big fight, with American actress Zoey Deutch playing his lover. His tattoos were covered up with spray paint for the video.

The lyrics of the upbeat love song is said to be about his wife, American model Hailey Baldwin Bieber.

"Anyone is such a special, hopeful, anthemic song. It sets the tone for a brighter new year full of hope and possibility," he says.

8. Pop/Latin

DE UNA VEZ, Selena Gomez

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American singer Selena Gomez's new single is her first sung in Spanish in over a decade. The title means "at once" in Spanish.

"I am incredibly proud of my Latin background," she says. "It felt empowering to sing in Spanish again and De Una Vez is such a beautiful love anthem."

The track is the first by a female artist that is sung entirely in Spanish to debut at the top of the global iTunes song chart.

Accompanied by a fantasy-themed music video, De Una Vez is about emotional growth and self-worth. It is said to be the first single from an upcoming Spanish-language album.

9. Punk/Electro

SPARE RIBS, Sleaford Mods


Spare Ribs is the 11th album from the British punk duo Sleaford Mods, recorded in three weeks while they were under lockdown.

The lyrics, as singer Jason Williamson explains, are critical of the British government's handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He says: "Our lives are expendable under most governments, secondary under a system of monetary rule. We are stock, if you like, parts on a shelf for the purposes of profit, discarded at any moment if fabricated or non-fabricated crisis threatens productivity. This is constant, obviously and notably in the current pandemic."

10. Pop/Hip-Hop

34+35 REMIX, Ariana Grande featuring Doja Cat and Megan Thee Stallion


American singer Ariana Grande ups the ante on her 2020 hit 34+35 with a remix that features verses from two of the most prominent female hip-hop artistes in recent times, Doja Cat and Megan Thee Stallion.

Doja Cat had recorded a verse for the original version of the song, but it was later scrapped and she rapped on Motive, another song on Grande's 2020 album Positions, instead.

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