Billie Eilish draws a connection between the public’s consumption of pop stars and plastic dolls on “What Was I Made For?,” a sparse, forlorn piano ballad from the “Barbie” soundtrack: “Looked so alive, turns out I’m not real,” she sings in a quivering whisper. “Just something you paid for.” The song hews closer to the more traditional, crooner-inspired fare on Eilish’s album “Happier Than Ever” than to the rest of “Barbie the Album,” which features upbeat tunes from Dua Lipa and Charli XCX. Still, Eilish knows how to tease out the pathos and a subtle sense of macabre from a particular kind of feminine malaise. “I’m used to float, now I just fall down,” she sings, making life in plastic sound less than fantastic. LINDSAY ZOLADZ

Margaret Glaspy sings as if every word is a struggle in “Memories,” a song of sheer grief and loss: “I’m lonesome without you/but I’m a wreck thinking about you.” Her voice arrives behind the beat and then leaps onto the note; the vocal quivers, cracks and sometimes breaks, conjuring emotions that are still raw. JON PARELES

Jamila Woods sings about incremental, ordinary but genuine feelings of love in “Tiny Garden”: “It’s not gonna be a big production/It’s not butterflies and fireworks,” she sings. “It’s gonna be a tiny garden/But I feed it every day.” As she describes a real but undemonstrative connection and the testing phase of a romance — “You want to be sure that I want you/Not just someone fun to do” — the track pulses with keyboard chords and rises with gospelly backup vocals, promising that there’s a true spiritual link. The artist duendita joins her near the end, more than willing to “watch all the purpose we place multiply slowly over time.” PARELES

Troye Sivan — the Australian pop musician, ex-YouTuber and rare musician who actually proved to be a watchable screen presence on “The Idol” (ahem!) — returns triumphantly with “Rush,” a sweaty, kinetic, gloriously hedonistic summer dance-floor anthem with a lightly NSFW video to match. Sivan’s breathy vocals dance atop an insistent beat and house-inspired piano riff, while a chorus of deep male voices chant the song’s infectious hook: “I feel the rush, addicted to your touch.” At last, Xander is free! ZOLADZ

Born in India, Sid Sriham grew up in California, studying Carnatic (South Indian) music with his parents while soaking up American R&B and jazz. He built a career in India, singing Bollywood hits along with Carnatic ragas. For his American debut album, “Sidharth,” due Aug. 25, Sriham veered toward the experimental, working with the producer Ryan Olson (from Poliça) and musicians including Justin Vernon (Bon Iver). “The Hard Way” is a lovelorn ballad — “I would do anything, anything, anything to make you smile,” he insists — that’s chopped up and placed within a jittery electronic exoskeleton: racing double-time beats, pitch-shifted vocals, bursts of multitracked harmony. It’s bold; he could easily have chosen a more commercial, less thorny approach. PARELES

It is a law of nature that there is never too much cowbell. Yard Act, the post-punk band that could almost be LCD Soundsystem with a British accent and a social-media update, has re-emerged after its debut album. That means post-punk nostalgia folded in on itself like origami. “The Trench Coat Museum” imagines that there might be such an institution — celebrating a garment that’s assertive, concealing, protective, too long and too evocative — in a spoke-sung eight-minute track that easily gives way to its early 1980s groove: beat, bass riff, turntable scratching, clawing rhythm guitar, synthesizers and Latin percussion that definitely includes cowbell. The open secret of post-punk is that no matter how cynical the vocal gets, the song is always about the groove. PARELES

C. Tangana, the Spanish songwriter who started as a rapper and has delved ever deeper into the musical past, stays out of the foreground of his latest project, a hundredth-anniversary song for a soccer team from Galicia, Real Club Celta de Vigo; his father is from the town of Vigo. “Oliveira Dos Cen Anos” (“Hundred-Year-Old Olive Tree”) is rooted in Galician folk tradition but underpinned by electronics. C. Tangana is one of the songwriters and co-producers and the director of a sweeping, scenic video; Galician musicians sing lead vocals. An ardent choral anthem, with folk-song lyrics vowing love and loyalty, gives way to a traditionalist six-beat stomp, with a fierce cameo from the drumming, singing women of As Lagharteiras, along with a glimmering harp interlude and a stadium-sized singalong. “I will always be here,” men shout. “Celta forever! PARELES

“Not everything is quite audible,” the rapper and singer RiTchie calmly observes in “Déjà Vu.” The producer Loraine James constructed a perpetually disorienting mix of jolting electronic glitches, soothing piano and furtive snippets of percussion and synthesizer. RiTchie, from the group Injury Reserve, layers on multiple vocals, sung and spoken, and sounds completely unfazed by his surroundings: “You just gotta soak it all in,” he advises. PARELES

Oxlade, a singer and songwriter from Nigeria, and Dave, a rapper from England with Nigerian roots, commiserate about straying lovers and social media in “Intoxycated.” Oxlade decides “love is overrated” after seeing his girlfriend with another guy on Instagram; Dave reflects, “Love’s easy to find, harder to hold/Most stories end and start with a phone.” A minor-key Afrobeats groove with little guitar curlicues sums up the mood: sleek and resigned. PARELES

The composer and producer Jlin — Jerrilynn Patton — built head-spinning electronic music out of percussive sounds, so it made perfect sense for her to write music for live acoustic performance by the ensemble Third Coast Percussion, which appeared on the group’s 2022 album, “Perspectives.” Now, Jlin has reworked those compositions for her own mini-album “Perspective,” due in September. Her new version of “Fourth Perspective” brings back electronic sounds, moving a ghostly, plinking, minimalistic waltz toward the ratchety, foreboding terrain of trap. PARELES

MaJa — the Dominican songwriter Maria-José Gonell — sings about contentedly being a fish out of water in “A Vivir en Desacuerdo” (“To Live in Disagreement”). Her airy voice makes her seem tentative at first, but the production — by her songwriting collaborator Gian Rojas — radiates growing confidence, as a beat slips in and electronics sparkle ever more brightly. She’s not diffident; she’s above it all. PARELES


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