CreditBen Stansall/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
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. This week, something new from the 82-year-old trombonist Roswell Rudd, a video from the Latin Grammy winner for best new artist and a surprise album from Jaden Smith.
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Luis Fonsi and Demi Lovato, ‘Échame la Culpa’
Flo Rida featuring Maluma, ‘Hola’
Certainly it is long overdue that stars of the Spanish speaking pop world would be collaborating with their English-speaking peers, but in the wake of the success of Luis Fonsi’s “Despacito” remix with Justin Bieber, forced marriages are abounding. The quality varies. On “Échame La Culpa,” Mr. Fonsi returns with a jaunty, celebratory number alongside Demi Lovato, who sings in clipped Spanish that’s only marginally less comfortable than the bumpy-edged English-language semi-soul she employs elsewhere on the song. It’s a better approach than the one employed by the pop rapper Flo Rida, who never met a thinly-drawn concept he couldn’t grip tightly. His new single “Hola” — which includes the inevitable come-on “I don’t speak your language/but hey ma, hey mama/don’t need no translation” — is so cravenly touristic it verges on parody. The nimble, sensuous guest verse from the lite-reggaeton star Maluma ends up serving as a kind of rebuke — of the song’s other performer, and also of its conceit. JON CARAMANICA
Vicente García, ‘Bachata en Kingston’
Here’s a late-breaking video for a song released in 2016 by the Dominican singer Vicente García, just named best new artist at the Latin Grammy Awards. Starting with its title, “Bachata en Kingston” makes its fusion ambitions plain, part of the Dominican bachata’s continuing bid to infiltrate global pop. The sharply syncopated plucked guitar lines come from bachata, the backbeat and horns from Jamaican reggae; the minor key suits both. The lyrics mourn a lover who may be dancing with someone else: “Tell her to come back/I’m still playing bachata and singing reggae.” JON PARELES
Roswell Rudd, Fay Victor, Lafayette Harris and Ken Filiano, ‘Pannonica’
The trombonist Roswell Rudd, 82, is best known for his work as an avant-garde improviser, but he moves in many musical worlds. Everywhere he goes he leads with levity and warmth, giving even his far-out disquisitions a humanist appeal. On his new album, “Embrace,” recorded with a quartet, Mr. Rudd and the remarkable vocalist Fay Victor relish the tonal proximity of their instruments, doing a sympathetic and intertwining dance. It’s especially fetching on this reading of “Pannonica,” Thelonious Monk’s affectionate, prismatic ballad. GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO
Jaden Smith featuring Raury, ‘Falcon’
From the beginning of “Falcon,” Jaden Smith is in a rush, rapping with a loose ranginess over a beat that sounds like baile funk, the intense soundtrack of Brazilian favelas. (The song is from a surprise album he just released, “SYRE,” a couple of weeks after his sister released her own surprise album, “The 1st.”) But just when it seems Mr. Smith is partial to frayed edges, in comes the folk-soul aspirant Raury with some balmy melodies, a massage after a couple of rounds in the ring. J.C.
Maggie Lindemann, ‘Obsessed’
A narcissist gets all the scorn he deserves in this perky, plinking, handclapping putdown, as initial attraction gives way to cool-headed assessment. “You’re looking in my eyes/It’s to see your own reflection,” Maggie Lindemann sings, and suggests, “Get a table for two, your ego and you/Take him home and make a move.” She’s not even angry — she’s amused. J.P.
Stefflon Don featuring Skepta, ‘Ding-a-Ling’
Grime and U.K. rap have matured to the point of casually sticky sex-rap duets. This is progress, of a sort. Stefflon Don is a confidently dismissive rapper with a rich, bulbous voice, and her verse here is downright haughty. By comparison, Skepta sounds like a literalist — he’s panting, and then boasting, but she’s barely paying attention. J.C.
The Staves and yMusic, ‘Trouble on My Mind’
“I feel it all the time/There’s trouble on my mind once again,” sing the Staves, three sisters who share folky, glowing harmonies. They collaborated with the chamber ensemble yMusic on an album due next week, “The Way Is Read.” For “Trouble on My Mind,” the arrangement is cozy parlor music, a serene but fragile refuge. J.P.
Boubacar Traore, ‘Dounia Tabolo’
Although the Malian guitarist and singer Boubacar Traore has long explored connections between Malian music and blues, the lineup of his new album, “Dounia Tabolo,” sounds contrived on paper. He’s joined by Cedric Watson, a fiddler from South Louisiana, along with the blues guitarist Corey Harris (who also recorded with the Malian patriarch Ali Farka Toure), the cellist Leyla McCalla, the Malian percussionist Alassane Samake and a frequent collaborator, the French harmonica player Vincent Bucher. But the Creole-West African connection is convincing in the album’s title track, a meditation on life and death that heads toward a trans-Atlantic hoedown. J.P.
Marcus Roberts Trio, ‘Bessie’s Blues’
A virtuoso pianist well known to jazz fans since the 1990s, Marcus Roberts has a graceful touch and an ear for sparkling filigree. His expressive engine runs in its highest gear when his right hand is tickling the keyboard’s upper register. None of that would seem to put him next in line for a tribute to John Coltrane, who was known for his seriousness and serenity. But Mr. Roberts’ longstanding combo — with Rodney Jordan on bass and Jason Marsalis on drums — has just released “Trio Crescent,” a revisitation of “Crescent,” one of Coltrane’s most outstanding, if lesser-hailed, albums. Listen to Mr. Roberts’ take on “Bessie’s Blues,” and you hear what binds the two musicians: their Southern roots, and a belief in the ablutionary power of the blues. G.R.
Senate Tax Debate Devolves Into Angry Shouting Match
- As midnight approached in a daylong debate, Senators Sherrod Brown, the Ohio Democrat, and Orrin Hatch, the Utah Republican, sparred over whether the bill favored the rich.
- The exchange highlights the degree to which Democrats have found themselves outboxed in the most sweeping tax rewrite in generations.
A $4 Billion Plan B to Deal With North Korean Missiles
- The U.S. once relied on West Coast defense systems to shoot down long-range warheads fired toward the American mainland.
- An emergency request to Congress hints at an accelerated effort to develop more sophisticated cyberweapon and drone defenses.
The House Just Voted to Bankrupt Graduate Students
Our tax burden could increase by tens of thousands of dollars, based on money we don’t even make.
Meek Mill and the Absurdity of the Criminal Justice System
He’s being stalked by the probation system, which considers the smallest misstep a reason to lock people back up.
We’re With Stupid
The problem is not the Russians — it’s us. A huge percentage of the population can’t tell fact from fiction.
What’s Putting Americans in the Top 1 Percent
Dispelling misconceptions about what’s driving income inequality in the U.S.