“I gotta get out into the world again,” Glee breakout star Lea Michele sings on her debut solo single “Cannonball.” Following the loss of her boyfriend and costar Cory Monteith, the selection of this Sia-penned song seems particularly heartfelt. As with most of Sia’s work this year, the midtempo cut is empowering, with a strong chorus with heavy rhythmic backing. Where it differs is in its crisp articulation and theatrical delivery, based on Michele’s performance background. Her experiences are apparent in her vocals as well: though written before Monteith’s death and originally unintended for Michele, her personal connection to the lyrical content of the song allows her to elevate each line, from the “break down” to the build-up.

The biggest downfall for “Cannonball” is its lack of dynamism, a disappointing factor considering the formidable power and range Michele has displayed through numerous covers as a part of the Glee cast. While the entire song is delivered with Michele singing with at least a mezzo-forte dynamic, peaking within each chorus, its mere five-note range provides nothing new beyond the first refrain. Further, the lack of a different middle eight, modulated ending, or anything more than a cut-and-pasted final chorus causes this “Cannonball” to be somewhat of a belly-flop instead of living up to its potential. However, its pop accessibility and solid backing talent offer a good slice of what’s to come from Michele’s forthcoming solo debut, Louder (due March 4 on Columbia), and prove that her future as a pop artist has strong footing.

When Lorde (née Ella Yelich-O’Connor) released previous single “Tennis Court” (with B-side “Swingin’ Party”) back in June, her star had barely begun to glow in the United States, despite having quickly rocketed to #1 in her homeland of New Zealand. However, with less than a month left until the release of highly-anticipated debut album Pure Heroine (due September 30 on Lava/Republic), buzz around Lorde and her breakout hit “Royals” has grown immensely as she races up radio and retailers’ charts. With her latest offering “Team,” she releases a pop-friendly track that keeps strong her track record of sparse, minimal instrumentation. Unlike the rest of the offerings on her first EP The Love Club, “Team” places Lorde’s soft, apathetic vocals atop a thumping bed of bass drums and organ-like synths that provides an accompaniment as suitable for a club setting as it is for pop radio. The standout element of the single comes in O’Connor’s lyrics: she makes a dig at her radio-ready competition in the post-chorus with the line “I’m kind of over gettin’ told to throw my hands up in the air / So there,” and like in “Royals,” she provides another shout-out to the small towns that “you’ll never see on screen” in the chorus. The self-proclaimed Queen Bee treats her subjects to a party that stays just sophisticated enough to stray from the typical structure of party-focused pop songs without being overly pretentious.