Listen to this: New singles from Sia and Grace VanderWaal

By Nicholas Jennings

Piano ballads are one of the mainstays of pop music and it’s been that way forever. Think Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind,” Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” or any number of Coldplay hits. A simple tune played on the piano and sung with feeling serves as a welcome reprieve from booming electronic dance anthems, rowdy folk-rock sing-alongs and thumping hip-hop club bangers. New singles by two female artists 28 years apart provide this week’s most notable songs.

Sia: “Angel By the Wings"
Sia is known for her powerful vocal style and the electro-pop sound heard on her 2014 breakthrough single “Chandelier.” At 40, the Australian songstress has sold more than three million albums worldwide and earned five GRAMMY nominations. Her new single, recorded for the documentary The Eagle Huntress, about a 13-year-old Mongolian girl, is a stirring piano ballad that includes the inspirational chorus refrain: “You can do anything.”

Sia tweeted word about the single with a promotional video of the song featuring a poster from the movie The Eagle Huntress. No word yet on whether 14-year-old dancing star Maddie Ziegler, who has starred in five previous Sia videos, will make an appearance in an official “Angel By the Wings” clip.

Grace VanderWaal: “Clay”
Speaking of teenage sensations, Grace is the latest young star to create a major buzz. Simon Cowell called the 14-year-old “the next Taylor Swift” when she sang on this year’s America’s Got Talent. Although she won the 11th season of the TV competition accompanying herself on ukulele, Grace’s single from her forthcoming debut EP is an empowering folk-pop ballad that rides on an understated piano.

She may be only 12, but Grace is already molding a bright future on social media with over 200,000 followers on Twitter, where she shared her excitement about her new EP.

Hello! music columnist Nicholas Jennings surveys the pop landscape each week to find the most dynamic tracks to add to your playlist.

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