From rock to hip-hop to jazz, classical, and pop, from new music made in Spatial to classics remixed or remastered for it, this handpicked playlist is the place to find songs that unlock the magic and full power of Spatial Audio on Apple Music. Every week, we’ll be inviting top audiophile magazine Sound & Vision to weigh in on the new songs added to this playlist. Their own Mike Mettler will be breaking down some of the most notable new additions here every Friday. His “sacred mission,” he says, “is to inform you about the very best in immersive Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos magic that’s available in the ever-expanding Apple Music universe so you can experience the aural wonders of it all for yourself.” (You can catch the full version of Mike’s write-up on Sound & Vision.)
Sam Smith, “Stay With Me”
Sam Smith’s breakout single “Stay With Me,” a gospel-tinged gem of a track culled from the artist’s absolutely thrilling 2014 debut solo album, In the Lonely Hour, hit the top of the British charts and peaked at No. 2 here in the US—and with every good reason. Even better, the Atmos form of “Stay With Me” is, perhaps, the best example of why Smith wholly deserves his featured-artist status. The mournful opening piano chords emerge in the middle field while the kick drum locks in directly behind it and the cymbal work nestles well over to the right, essentially mirroring the physical proximity and locale of these elements in an actual drum kit. The instant the first reading of the title phrase enters, a gospel choir falls in behind Smith at both heightened volume and heightened placement, a slight echo delay quite noticeable at the end of each word block they sing. Oh, wait, I’m sorry—did I say gospel choir? Actually, that’s an amalgam of Smith’s multi-tracked voice you’re hearing there, layered oh-so-beautifully all throughout the song.
The Fray, “How to Save a Life (New Version)”
Denver-bred alt-pop rockers The Fray scored a No. 3 hit single with “How to Save a Life,” the heartfelt title track to their 2005 debut studio album, and it reaches even deeper into our collective souls in Spatial Audio. A stark acoustic-piano intro opens the track mostly in the center-left, the resonance of the riffs and the foot pedal movement slightly right of center prior to vocalist Isaac Slade taking a deep breath before the first line, “Step one, you say we need to talk.” After Slade reaches the title line the first time, a counter guitar riff responds center-left and pulls more fully to the left, shifting into a noodly chordal figure as the piano retakes the melody and the drums lead into the next verse. The character of Slade’s vocal is more calming here, accurately reflecting how the song’s narrative continues to unfold. The piano goes hard left and the drums go right, then back to the center—not unlike the arc of a subtle emotional roller coaster.
Mike Posner, “Cooler Than Me (Single Mix)”
Electro-pop chameleon Mike Posner sure knew what he was doing when he dropped “Cooler Than Me,” the lead single from his 2010 debut album, 31 Minutes to Takeoff, and this hit song most certainly lives up to its name in its Spatial Audio incarnation. Posner’s breathy vocals are well out front as the track begins, clip-clop percussion that would make The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson smile doing its thing behind him at center-left, along with a percolating synth sample quite well spread out as support. The synth begins to crest behind Posner as he sings the title phrase again—and then it’s full-on EDM bounce time, as the sampled bass takes up deep, down-low residence on both sides of the plane. Slap percussion carries the middle until a quick drop for Posner’s return. He’s up high in the middle as the low-end rumblings continue to burble away on the respective fringes of the field.
Jonas Brothers, “A Little Bit Longer”
The fraternal trio from New Jersey well-known far and wide as Jonas Brothers have long proven themselves to have incredible staying power, given their inherent knack for creating hooks and sing-alongs galore. One of their most deeply personalized hits, “A Little Bit Longer,” the title track to their 2008 album, is a clear reinforcement of their hit-making prowess to the nth degree in Spatial Audio. Nick Jonas wrote “Longer” about his struggles with Type 1 diabetes, and the track opens with him playing sustained piano riffs backed by a plaintive cello. Nick’s vocal veers off to the left as he repeats the phrase “you don’t even know, know, know” before recentering himself at the outset of the next verse, perhaps a reflection of the sometimes unpredictable nature of blood sugar highs and lows. The string accompaniment is subtle across the field before rising up above to the ether, giving this section of the song some extra buoyancy. —Mike Mettler, Sound & Vision