What’s Going On: Gwen Stefani, Crown Lands, Laura Mvula, James Newman, Pharaoh Santana

This week’s edition of What’s Going On features the new single from Gwen Stefani, the return of Laura Mvula, and the latest releases from Crown Lands, Pharaoh Santana, and James Newman. As always, if you dig what you’re hearing, be sure to stream and follow these artists.

Gwen Stefani – Crank it up! Iconic pop superstar Gwen Stefani wants you to “Slow Clap” for her first new single of 2021 via Interscope Records. Having achieved vast amounts of success with No Doubt and ruling the 2000s solo with her albums Love. Angel. Music. Baby. and The Sweet Escape, Stefani is perhaps mostly seen now as a TV personality. After reminding us with her 2020 single “Let Me Reintroduce Myself” that she’s still got it, Gwen Stefani teamed back up with Ross Golan and Luke Niccoli to create another certified banger. Effortlessly blending pop, hip-hop, and reggae influences, “Slow Clap” is a modern take on the classic Gwen Stefani sound. I’ve got my fingers crossed that there’s an album on the way. 

Listen to Gwen Stefani’s new single “Slow Clap”  below.

Crown Lands – Prog rock isn’t dead. Canadian rockers Crown Lands are out with two new tracks “Context: Fearless Pt. 1” and “Right Way Back.” The Juno-nominated duo consisting of Cody Bowles (vocals and drums) and Kevin Comeau (guitar, bass, and keys) worked with three producers that worked with Rush, a huge influence for Crown Lands. In particular, the song “Right Way Back” serves as a tribute to the late Neil Peart. On working with producers that have worked with Rush, Cody Bowles says: “To have grown up with nothing but the purest adoration for this band, to have finally scaled the impossible summit together and sit at the table with our heroes is a humbling surreality unlike anything else. Working with these legendary producers-now-friends is something we hold near and dear to us. If life is a wheel, please let it spin.”

Listen to Crown Lands’ new songs “Context: Fearless Pt. 1” and “Right Way Back” below.

Laura Mvula – After over three years away from releasing music, British singer Laura Mvula is back with “Safe Passage”, her first new single via Atlantic Records. Laura’s vocals have never sounded better, floating over glittery 80s-sounding synths & drums. Lyrically, the track takes you on an evocative escapist journey which is much needed right now. On the writing process of “Safe Passage”, Laura Mvula says: “Writing the song was a struggle because I had to really dig for it. But as it revealed itself to me, it struck me down like lightning on the Damascus Road, and I was grateful for it. I was so scared of letting myself down. And I was so exhausted of caring only about pleasing people and things around me. And I wanted and needed release from that. That’s what ‘Safe Passage’ is.” Put “Safe Passage” on your playlists.

Listen to Laura Mvula’s new single “Safe Passage” below.

James Newman – The cultural phenomenon that is Eurovision is fast approaching. This year, the 65th Eurovision Song Contest will be taking place in Rotterdam on May 22. Brit Award-winning singer-songwriter James Newman will be representing the UK with “Embers”, his triumphant new single on BMG. With its uplifting lyrics, euphoric melodies, and gospel-inspired vocals, “Embers” feels incredibly timely. Will it be enough to snag a Eurovision victory for the UK? Time will tell. On what inspired “Embers”, James Newman says: “I wanted to write an upbeat and positive song that people could have a party to. It’s about the spark between people who love each other. Just because you don’t see the people you care about all the time, doesn’t mean that spark isn’t there.”

Listen to James Newman’s new single “Embers” below.

Pharaoh Santana – LA rapper and actor Pharaoh Santana is proving he’s up next with “Playboy”, his fantastic new single. A refreshing blast of lyrical hip-hop, there’s no denying that Pharaoh’s approach to music feels unique in today’s music climate. Don’t let the song title fool you, “Playboy” is more than just the standard hedonistic good time. At its core, it really is a super relatable slice of life, it’s a personal manifesto. On what “Playboy” is all about, Pharaoh Santana says: “Playboy is just me and my guys; it embodies us. It’s all about being yourself, carrying yourself in the natural swag of things and not trying to fit any mold. Let em hate.” Get on board now because it’s clear that big things are ahead for the multi-talented performer.

Listen to Pharaoh Santana’s new single “Playboy” below.

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