Welcome back to Mining for Platinum! We have heard a lot of our favorite artists coming out with albums in recent weeks, so I thought now would be a good time to examine some lesser known tracks from these artists. Perhaps one of these songs will take over the radio soon? You just never know.
If Love Was Fair – Ashley Monroe
Ashley Monroe is one of my favorite country artists of the modern era. Period. No qualifiers. This song certainly has a breezy vibe, but there is a tinge of melancholy to it. The main chorus line, “if love was fair/I’d be golden ‘cause/you’d be there”, kills me every time. This album, The Blade, is one of the strongest I have heard out of the country world lately, and this song is a perfect representation of why.
Work From Home – Jordin Sparks & B.o.B.
I still remember watching Jordin Sparks singing “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You” for Latin Week on American Idol. I was a little bit disappointed that Melinda Doolittle didn’t win that season, because she brought it so consistently, but Jordin was my next favorite and you could tell that she was really growing throughout the process. By the end, she had become a seasoned pro. After starting out singing urban R&B and transitioning to more pop-styled music, Sparks has transformed into a sexy R&B/hip-hop siren singer like Jhene Aiko and Tiana from Empire. This song opens her new album Right Here, Right Now, and it shows off her gorgeous vocals focusing more on tone than on the vocal acrobatics that she had employed on previous albums. Sparks shows remarkable growth on this album and this song is the real deal.
Aftertaste – Shawn Mendes
From a business perspective, Mendes’ rise to fame through Vine was a great story for how the industry has to be more forward-thinking when it comes to looking for talent. Musically, though, this guy is a formidable singer/songwriter with a lot of potential. Comments about his pronunciation aside, this song shows Mendes’ inherent understanding of pop song structure. He could very easily become a mainstay on the pop landscape, though I hope as he progresses he can feel free to give us a little bit more of the personality and authenticity that won him his Vine fans in the first place.
I’m Yours – Alessia Cara
I am a big fan of Alessia Cara. “Here” is the kind of song I live for. It’s a unique perspective. There is no one else out there who is singing about the same issues in the same way that she does, and we need someone like her out there to represent the less gregarious among us. This song is another example of her unique perspective, approaching a newfound love interest with trepid excitement. I see big things happening for her if she can continue down this path.
Waitin’ On A Plane – Maddie & Tae
I reviewed this album for BTS magazine, and I said then that it is a really strong debut album that is consistent and tells us exactly who Maddie & Tae are. This song starts the album, and it carries with it an urgent sense of anticipation that gets us excited for what’s to come. Their harmonies and songwriting, as usual, are golden.
Lone Ranger – Rachel Platten
As someone who owns a “This Is My Fight Song” T-shirt, it’s no secret that I love Rachel Platten. Her four song EP was a good sign of what was to come, and it seemed like this song was a no-brainer for her next single. They went with the uplifting “Stand By You” instead, but this would have been a fantastic choice. It’s catchy, fun, shows off her voice, and tells us a little bit about who Rachel Platten is. “Fight Song” was plenty uplifting, and I hope Rachel Platten is not relegated to the musical equivalent of a Hallmark card with all of her optimistic music. This song is a great marker of what she is capable of and hopefully her upcoming debut full-length will show us different sides of her.
Tell Your Friends – The Weeknd
After spending years on the indie circuit, The Weeknd broke through to the mainstream with his toe-tapping smash hit “Can’t Feel My Face”. Though that song is a departure from his earlier work, the rest of his album Beauty Behind the Madness is more reminiscent of what garnered him his earlier fans. This R&B deep cut on the album is a smash and is a seething kiss-off to an ex.
Water – Pentatonix
I love that Pentatonix is taking the next step forward in their journey with their new album made up of almost exclusively original material. Instead of just being an a cappella cover band, they are now starting to forge their own identity as artists. The more ebullient songs on the album like “Na Na Na” and “Sing” suit their outgoing personalities, but an intense pop ballad like “Water” is a great direction for them. It’s cool to see that they are still dedicated to the a cappella tradition while also incorporating more contemporary pop styles to their music.
Unbreakable Smile – Tori Kelly
I’ve always found Tori Kelly to be a little bit vanilla for my tastes, so I guess this song is directed at me. This is far and away my favorite song on the album. As I mentioned before with Rachel Platten, this song really shows us who Tori Kelly is and what matters to her. This is also a rare instance in which a killer song is written by only one person, and the fact that that person is also the artist delivering them adds to my joy at this song’s existence. The lines she spits are incredible and it makes me wish she did more of this.
Me and My Girls – Selena Gomez
This song didn’t even make the standard edition of Selena Gomez’s awesome new album Revival, but it definitely should have because this song is KILLER. The Middle Eastern feel is a perfect fit for Gomez’s slinky, smooth vocals and her delivery is on point. I would love to see how this song would play out in a live setting or a music video, especially as a big production with dancers. It’s probably never going to be a single, but this is a perfect song for Gomez to show off her vocal tone and personality as an artist.
Old Ways – Demi Lovato
Ever since Demi Lovato broke away from Disney and came out of rehab, her music has gotten better and more assured. Starting with “Skyscraper” and her album Unbroken, she has grown into a more confident (no pun intended) person and artist and it absolutely shows on this album, the aptly named Confident. Though the title track is probably my favorite song on the album, I would definitely choose this song as a single at some point. She sing with a confident swagger that is present throughout the album how she will stay this way for good and won’t regress into her old habits. Thank god she won’t, because she is making the best music of her career and seems to be in a really great place on a personal level.