Taylor Swift Rejoins Her ‘Folklore’ Crew, and 8 More New Songs

Every Friday, pop critics for The New York Times weigh in on the week’s most notable new songs and videos. Just want the music? Listen to the Playlist on Spotify here (or find our profile: nytimes). Like what you hear? Let us know at [email protected] and sign up for our Louder newsletter, a once-a-week blast of our pop music coverage.

Big Red Machine featuring Taylor Swift, ‘Renegade’

Big Red Machine is the project of Aaron Dessner — the guitarist in the National who was a producer on Taylor Swift’s “Folklore,” “Evermore” and her remake of “Fearless” — and Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), who wrote and sang “Exile,” a high-angst duet with Swift on “Folklore.” Swift sings two songs on the Big Red Machine album due Aug. 27, and regardless of the billing, she dominates “Renegade” with her melodic sense and personality: terse, symmetrical phrases carrying a coolheaded assessment of a failing partner, as she fends off attempts to “let all your damage damage me/and carry your baggage up my street.” The Big Red Machine aspect is in the production details — multilayered drones, tendrils of electric and acoustic guitar, Vernon’s distant backing vocals — but “Renegade” would fit easily on a Swift album. JON PARELES

Brent Faiyaz featuring Drake, ‘Wasting Time’

The way Brent Faiyaz approaches his verses over the lush, vintage-minded Neptunes production of “Wasting Time” is airy and a little fleeting, as if he’s so absorbed in his pitch to a potential lover that he can’t quite bring himself to stick close to the beat. “If you got time to waste, waste it with me,” Faiyaz pleads, almost pulling back from the request, casting his line while averting his heart. But there’s surety in the layered chorus — a Neptunes standard — and the thumping bass line, and then in the guest verse from Drake, which strikes a sour note about what it means to give of yourself and get crickets back: “Fluent in passive aggression, that’s why you actin’ dismissive/Hearing me out for once would require you actually listen.” JON CARAMANICA

J. Balvin and Skrillex, ‘In da Getto’

Credit where credit is due: The lion’s share of the block-party spirit in this song, which is perfectly designed to be blasted all summer, comes from the beat, organ hook and female vocals that the producers Skrillex and Tainy got by sampling “In De Ghetto” by David Morales and the Bad Yard Club featuring Crystal Waters and Delta, from 1994. They built on their acknowledged source, grabbing and crisping up the best moments and tossing in some sirens, while Balvin’s gruff rapping stokes the festivities. But the foundation was already there. PARELES

De Schuurman, ‘Nu Ga Je Dansen’

In the late ’80s, DJ Moortje, a selector from the Dutch Antillean island of Curaçao, mistakenly played a dancehall track at the wrong speed during his set at a club in The Hague. The result was a breakneck, squeaky-voiced sound called “bubbling,” a style that would veer into a thousand new directions over the next couple of decades. A new release from the Ugandan label Nyege Nyege Tapes is a reminder of the movement’s innovation. “Bubbling Inside” compiles previously unreleased tracks from De Schuurman, a staple of the scene a decade ago. Its standout, “Nu Ga Je Dansen” (“Now You’re Gonna Dance”), is a two-and-a-half minute club rampage. The first 30 seconds recall a late ’90s rave — all sirens and unhinged ferocity. But before long, a flood of kick drums arrives, beckoning everyone to the dance floor. ISABELIA HERRERA

Chicano Batman, ‘Dark Star’

The musical DNA of Chicano Batman is rich with references to bygone eras: the trippy deliria of psych soul, the political ambitions of Brazilian tropicália and the concept-driven idiosyncrasies of prog-rock, among others. But the Los Angeles band has never been interested in mere nostalgia, as it reminds us on “Dark Star.” The song is arranged like a puzzle: a jagged, layered bass line (à la Madlib) clashes with serrated guitar lines, while laid-back vocals glide over the production. In the chorus, the lead singer Bardo Martinez’s voice blooms into what feels like sunny psychedelia. But blink for a second and you’ll miss the ominous undercurrent of the track: The “Dark Star” at hand is not a celestial being, but America — a somber place contending with the legacies of racial violence that still drive its everyday reality. HERRERA

Ti Gonzi, ‘Kudzana Dzana’

Tinashe Gonzara, the 28-year-old Zimbabwean rapper and singer who performs as Ti Gonzi, has been recording prolifically since 2009 and winning music awards in Zimbabwe. He has already put out an album this year, “Sendiri Two.” But his newer singles have concentrated on melody as much rapping. “Kudzana Dzana” (“Hundreds and Hundreds”) stacks up vocal harmonies over a teasing, flexible three-against-two groove of percussion and guitar picking that hints at Shona mbira (thumb-piano) traditions but also lets an electric guitar wail. “Life is a journey,” announces one of the few lyrics in English. PARELES

Tarrus Riley, ‘Heartbreak Anniversary’

Giveon’s “Heartbreak Anniversary” is almost incomparably inconsolable. That it’s become the soundtrack for a TikTok dance trend borders on the lunatic. But perhaps that unlikely juxtaposition set the table for this cover, by the reggae star Tarrus Riley, which neatly leavens its angst. Over undulating, swinging production by Kareem Burrell and Dean Fraser, Riley sings not like a man mopping himself up off the floor, but rather one smoothly sauntering to safety. CARAMANICA

Sarah Proctor, ‘Worse’

“I know that it hurts/I know I’m going to make it a little bit worse,” Sarah Proctor tells the lover she betrayed. Piano chords toll and vocal harmonies swirl around her, making her sound reverent and contrite — except that she’s not apologizing. She’s breaking up. PARELES

Squirrel Flower, ‘Iowa 146’

Ella Williams, the songwriter behind the indie-rock of Squirrel Flower, doesn’t shy away from whisper-to-shout full-band crescendos on her band’s new album, “Planet (i).” But “Iowa 146” sticks with the whisper, accompanied by folky picking and all sorts of sustained near-phantom sounds, as she sings about the romance of sharing a guitar. PARELES

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