It’s not even Halloween yet: Kelly Clarkson, “Christmas Isn’t Canceled (Just You)” - Straight off the bat, I reject this song and its desire to summon the spirit of the holiday season before the first pumpkin has been carved. But after my initial rejection, I find that this is a cute little tune from Clarkson’s forthcoming holiday album, When Christmas Comes Around... (her second Christmas full-length). It will do a great service to all of the newly single folks decorating their trees on their own, but also has just enough jingle bell juice to get everyone who is not going through a divorce on board. - Shannon Melero
Nah: Elton John and Charlie Puth, “After All”: At face value, there’s nothing particularly offensive about this song, which starts off with some piano that sounds promising but fails to deliver on said promise. Not to discredit either man here, but I think this song works for the underrated but necessary genre of music suitable for the first dance at a wedding—not too maudlin, absent any creepy daddy-daughter vibes (“Dance With My Father”, I’m looking at you), and very well-suited to an easy eight counts of some lightweight choreo, should the bride and groom be feeling fancy. That this song was written for an album called The Lockdown Sessions explains a bit why the song itself is kind of half-hearted: Everyone was doing their absolute best in the dark early hours of this hell time, and so if this is what these men could produce, I’m happy for them. —Megan Reynolds
Take me in your arms: Boys Noize & ABRA, “Affection” - The reverb and occasional devil-may-care attitude regarding pitch in 2016's “Crybaby” made me think that ABRA would sound great in a Latin freestyle context. Apparently Germany’s Boys Noize agrees, as he’s outfitted the New York vocalist with a bouncy beat that recalls the early days of electro (massive “Play at Your Own Risk” vibes pervade). I’m also getting whiffs of Kelela’s “Rewind,” which itself was kind of freestyle-ish. Is “Affection” entirely derivative? Hmm, maybe. But I’m not mad at all. It’s called dance music, look it up. —Rich Juzwiak
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You’re welcome: Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul, “Thank You” - Bouncy and tactile to the point of being slapstick, this reminds me of the jokey conceptualizing that Lil’ Louis played with in some of his house tracks back in the day. The lo-fi video makes the art arty. Adigéry’s existential ramblings on inspiration and gratitude give it all a real sense of tension. There are stakes to this play. —RJ