The Playlist: Selena Gomez Goes Low-Gloss, and Camila Cabello Flees Fifth Harmony

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. You can listen to this playlist on Spotify here. Like this Playlist? Let us know at, and sign up for our Louder newsletter here.

(After you enjoy this week’s roundup of new songs, listen to our Playlist remembering the music of Chris Cornell, who died on Wednesday at age 52.)

Selena Gomez, ‘Bad Liar’

For decades, young pop stars have slathered themselves in varnish and glitter, and for decades they have tried to wipe it all off in a play to be taken seriously. This is tiresome, of course. And false. The shiny self is no more true than the natural one, even when the natural one is unexpected, tempting and intriguing. Note Selena Gomez’s new single “Bad Liar,” one of the most signature of her career, and deceptively original. Singing over a spare arrangement based on little more than the bass line from “Psycho Killer” by Talking Heads, Ms. Gomez sings sweetly and with clever approaches to rhythm. She doesn’t have much power in her voice, but she makes up for that with smart inflections. And here, she is more talk-singing than anything, musing over a lover who pays her little mind. It’s determinedly anti-glossy, as if early DFA Records had tried to reverse engineer a pop song. But it’s a ploy all the same. JON CARAMANICA

Courtney Barnett, ‘How to Boil an Egg’

Courtney Barnett’s latest droll, sardonic anatomy of everyday frustration has a rockabilly backbeat, twangy guitars and a not-so-rockabilly chord progression that droops into dissonance and pulls itself upright, again and again. “Every morning I feel more useless than before/trying hard to see the point in anything at all,” she blurts; later she chides herself, “Remember some people have real problems/next time you whine.” It’s desperate, funny and down-to-earth, fully aware of how trivial a…

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