Make sure to follow the official Eyes on New Music Friday playlist for the very best weekly highlights, this week including an amazing return from Florrie, another banger from Slayyyter and a whole bunch of gorgeous ballads clearly inspired by a certain Driving License wielding popster.
BEABADOOBEE / LAST DAY ON EARTH
Historically the best part of all songs is the last minute, when every hook and melody comes to a crescendo with an emotional blitz of ad-libs and general kitchen sink amazingness. Quite smartly then, Beabadoobee’s new song sounds like that last minute for a healthy four minutes instead. It’s so great when an Artist clearly knows who they are and what they should sound like.
LIL NAS X / MONTERO (CALL ME BY YOUR NAME)
The art of the music video collides with the art of being gay. With a song that’s been teased for months on end, Lil Nas knew that something else needed to happen for this to hit the way it should… that it is the giant stripper pole to Hell and bottoming for Satan. It’s really quite something, and luckily the song is best-of-the-year kind of good too. It’s a delicious melody, and it plays twice in a row, so what’s not to love?
LOREEN / SOTVATTENTARAR
Firstly if you’ve never dabbled in non-English music, your life hasn’t been lived. Sötvattentårar marks something of another relaunch for Loreen, who has been at odds with her spellbinding potential for years now, with a soft return to the smooth-Swede-pop of her debut and initial Eurovision appeal. Loreen is the greatest pop star on Earth, let’s get that out of the way, and whatever she needs to do to get back on top needs to be accepted. This is melodic bliss, stunning delivery and sultry smooth delicateness. Get into it.
BECKY HILL / LAST TIME
Hill holds what might be Britain’s most curious popstar narrative, her voice a figurehead to a multitude of enormous dance bangers and nothing for her own solo attempts – which would be understandable if we didn’t regularly champion the blandest of personalities and voices at any given time… and Becky Hill is as bland as a restaurant grade Korma. ‘Last Time’ is everything you’d expect from a Becky Hill feature but it’s her name alone this time, let’s see what the radio and public does here. It’s over to them, don’t fuck it up.
THE KNOCKS, MALLRAT / R U HIGH
Katy Perry certainly didn’t invent the anthemic 80s power-chord fuelled chorus, but she sure did define it. ‘R U HIGH’ is, in simplest terms, a dreamy Teenage Dream Cash-Cash remix torn right from the early 10s. Whilst it maybe could have done with a few extra words here and there (what is with that trend right now?) that chorus really is undeniable, and that pulsing line beneath it keeps everything thick, creamy and warm.
EVANESCENCE / BLIND BELIEF
Admittedly Evanescence has found themselves as somewhat of a divisive band, so I questioned whether to include it here at all due to my clear bias… however ‘Blind Belief’ really is not only the strongest Evanescence song in years, but also the melodic highlight of this weeks NMF. You’ll either be into poprock or not, but that chorus made me post…
Blind belief, are you afraid to see
That our fathers were wrong?
We hold the key to redemption
Let icons fall
RUPAUL, DRUKS2 CAST / A LITTLE BIT OF LOVE
I doubt you’ve somehow managed to miss the impact of Drag Race UK Season Two, which closed up last night with the usual cast remix of a classic RuPaul song. If you did catch it, don’t worry because the version to stream does not sound as bad as it did on the show. Regardless, the way a 20+ year old song manages to sound so fresh and exciting deserves highlighting. RuPaul may have never set the mainstream charts alight, with obvious reason as to why, but moments like this should go on to prove that certain songs are just packed so full with hooks they’re ready to burst.
AMY SHARK / BABY STEPS
Whilst the first play might have produced a gasp at the possibility of this taking from ‘Barracuda’, it quite quickly does a sharp turn left into familiar Shark territory – that romcom tinged guitar in hand foot-stomping anthem. Recent singles have struggled to push her sound away from the debut and ‘Baby Steps’ isn’t exactly turning her into a modern day Xtina, but it does manage to sound new and exciting for her sonically while the lyrics serve us what we know and love. More of this please, Amy Shark.
THE DISCO FRIES, MOLLY MOORE / DUMB THING
Between this and the recent ‘Careful’ remix, Molly Moore really said you’re going to pay attention to me in 2021. Reminiscent of Jax’s huge DA-DA-DA lite hits (think Wroldsen’s ‘Breathe’ meets Daft Punk), that razor sharp vocal is what carries it into great territory. What would have made this an easy 11/10 would have been one more chorus, but at least it leaves you hovered over the repeat button.
THE BIRTHDAY MASSACRE / THE NEVERENDING STORY
Yes, it’s another solid classic from over twenty years ago. Originally recorded at the start of their career but only ever accessible in shoddy MP3 or in 11 year old YouTube clips, Birthday Massacre have finally gone out of their way to release the crisp and inviting cover we deserve. Having already released and dominated a cover of ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’ in 2008, TBM really showcase again just how polished and recognisable their sound continues to be. The way they infuse what is already an incredible pop song with their own identity, proving it as timeless, is genius. In fact, I’d go as far to call for an entire cover album from them.
CHLOE TANG / GIVE ME THE HIGHS
Easily the most straight-forward and well constructed song of the week, ‘Give Me the Highs’ serves second single from classic Brit pop star energy with it’s stunning infused chorus vocals, the intimate and sharp verses and even the occasional ad-lib choir moment. For some mind boggling reason, this hasn’t been chosen as a single yet? It’s been out for almost 12 hours and it’s not a chart topping single? Ofcom, I want to write a complaint.
INGRID WITT / DEVIL INSIDE
Channelling the nation’s sweetheart, Supernanny, Ingrid heard what could have been a fairly dull week and swept it, bat-like, to avert the crisis. ‘Devil Inside’ does that subversion thing that all the best pop songs do – it’s candyfloss soft chorus a complete u-turn compared to its verse – but by god does it really work. Flourishes like this in a world of verse-chorus-verse-chorus-middle8-chorus layouts make music feel so exciting.
STEFANIA / LAST DANCE
For years now, fans of Eurovision here in the UK have had to put up with the BBC’s pandering to an idea of Eurovision that no longer really exists. Whilst this year we have to put up with the abysmal ‘Embers’ and its years-too-late Sigala adoration, Greece have done what fans have been asking for us to do for years – embraced STEPS. ‘Last Dance’ manages to scream Eurovision from its very heart and yet (looking at you BBC) doesn’t tread into the embarrassing territory of chasing a sound from five years ago as if it’s still here, a novelty. Equipped with an enormous chorus and a stadium-filling vocal chant that is to die for… it’s a winner, baby.
MOLLY MOORE, LA FELIX / CAREFUL
Moore’s ‘Careful’ already had one of the best choruses of last year but, not content with letting the song slink away into the night quite yet, she’s brought in La Felix to make the song even bigger. A short and sickly sweet 2 minutes long, it’ll leave you grasping for that replay button if only to hear that chorus again. Seriously it’s enormous.
ROSÉ / ON THE GROUND
Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, K-Pop is making waves across the entire music scene. Solo explorations really aren’t that weird for K-Pop group members, a lot of them act like a vehicle for solo success in ways, but there’s something about Blackpink’s ROSÉ that feels perched for world stardom. Channelling Avril Lavigne, the song threatens to keep that stripped back, pop-punk aesthetic throughout only for that synth to burst through. A touch of wonder!
YONAKA / ORDINARY
Fans of Yonaka will notice immediately the move away from their traditional single art, a move into PVRIS territory that’s supported immediately by the opening to ‘Ordinary’. Of course, Yonaka have their chorus sound nailed down so tight that by the time that swings around, you know exactly who is in the building. This Nirvana inspired power ballad easily shows itself as one of their most instant, could it be a huge hit? Hopefully.
It’s the most stacked week in months, with some Pikatunes and some bangers. Get into the highlights here with me.
LIAR LIAR / PRETENDING
With a thumping MUNA bassline and a stunningly clear melody running all the way through, ‘Pretending’ really is the best thing we can ask for until our favourite queer trio finally comes back. That rare blend of minimal and explosive, it’s a delicate tread through… just an onslaught of hooks. How clean and lovely.
SINEAD HARNETT / LAST LOVE
There’s no escaping Amy Winehouse’s impact on British music as a whole, her music itself inspired by the very heart of classic soul music. ‘Last Love’ sounds so close to Winehouse’s debut that, on first listen, it threatens to overshadow the song as a whole. It isn’t just that drumline that’s reminiscent, but also the occasional way Harnett signs off individual words, but none of that would matter if the chorus didn’t stack up… and it does. Easily the best and most interesting thing she’s put her name to, let’s see where else the inspiration takes her.
SLAYYYTER / CLOUDS
Where once Slayyyter seemed content to a somewhat limiting niche style of release, that PC music affair that generates buzz but never seems to cross through, her latest releases seem to throw that aside by embracing her love of classic pop more exclusively. It’s, of course, the right decision. These are the best songs of Slayyyter’s career and it’s not just because of the minor sonic switch up into LIZ territory – her melodies are absolute perfection. This one in particular curls and curves in ways that you’d find on classic dance songs, giving it an instant satisfying edge. If there’s more to come like this, we could be in for one of the best albums in year?
MAISIE PETERS / JOHN HUGHES MOVIE
The Lucy Spraggan style verses are going to make first impression here, and they’re just that side of cringe to turn off a few people, but keep with it because this is one of the biggest choruses of the year so far. That Sigrid style vocal fades away as that pounding synth and soft melody comes in and the song soars for it.
POST MALONE / ONLY WANNA BE WITH YOU
A Post Malone Pokemon crossover one of the highlights of the week? Absolutely. Post’s talent with creating some of the best melodies in pop music is underrated as it is, his trademark roboto-vibrato usually the focus over just how strong and classical some of his go to lines are, and here the song is just imbued with warmth and happiness because of it. Particularly here for that absolutely stunning Gameboy synth that rears it’s head momentarily at the beginning. This is the Spring is coming song for me.
CAMDEN COX / UNDER THE WATER
Camden’s run of perfectly blended dance-pop equipped with huge trumpet bass continues with what might be her best yet, ‘Under the Water’. Part of what makes Cox so great in this is how, much like Emma Hewitt in her trance song appearances, her vocal manages to pierce the typical production with serious emotional heft. The best dance songs tug the heartstrings, whether lyrically or melodically, and ‘Under the Water’ does exactly that. It’s the sound of sinking into yourself, but making it bang.
COBRAH / DIP N DRIP
If there’s one person on this week’s highlight that deserves mainstream acclaim, it’s Cobrah. Think Poppy’s embrace of the heavy metal K-pop sound but instead of heavy guitar and screaming, it’s an infectious bassline and drumbeat. Plus, there’s something so effortlessly sexy about the whole thing. It’s positively dripping.
GLADES / DANCING IN THE MIRROR
Why their recent efforts have not quite clicked in the way their older material did is a bit out of my reach, because ‘Dancing in the Mirror’ shows a band filled with confidence. It’s all about that extreme phaser-soaked bridge and the swagger it carries, the filthy underlying bass leaving you totally unprepared for the sweetness of the chorus – as traditional Glades as you can get.
CONAN GRAY / OVERDRIVE
‘Overdrive’ isn’t winning points for originality, in fact you can kind of tick the Weeknd boxes as it goes along but for an artist that is pretty huge on Spotify they are yet to make that big commercial mark… ‘Overdrive’ feels as much an attempt at that as the epic ‘Wish You Were Sober’ was. Conan feels built for stardom but hopefully we can push through these kind of semi-ape hits on the way! Still, a banger is a banger.
LENII / WHITE LIE
Perhaps this isn’t the most original of weeks, and I’m not entirely sure we have the next big thing here (just yet at least) but sometimes cosplay can be just as fun as the main act itself… ask Natalia Kills and Ava Max. ‘White Lie’ has Billie Eilish stamped all over it, most notably in that smirk you can practically see in her delivery, but quite honestly that chorus and ‘Haven’t spoke to God in a while’ might be up there with much of what Eilish has done already. There’s also the open admission to people calling her Tones & I in the middle of the song. But don’t turn your nose up at something that seems inspired, you never know where they might end up. The promise is absolutely there.
Make sure to keep up with the weekly highlights in our dedicated NMF playlist below:
Renowned super spreaders Lipa and Ora have struck upon the new week, supplying some damn good pop music to distract us from the times… and their times. But other than that, it’s another stacked week. Get into it.
DREW SYCAMORE / 45 FAHRENHEIT GIRL
If that Shania Twain-dragged-into-2021 production doesn’t grab you on first listen, that Marina and the Diamonds vocal sure should. A straight up banger that brings the quirk of 00’s British altpop in spades, even removed from it. Particular shout out for that reverb soaked bass swinging through the entire thing. Amazing.
RITA ORA, GUNNA / BIG
This might sound like it’s been sat in the vault for ten years, but does that make it any less of a banger? Not at all. Part of the wonder of the new Rita EP is, as surprise drops usually embrace, this feeling that it doesn’t aspire to be an era-starting megahit. Ora’s music career is sparse to say the least, especially in comparison to her escapades, but ‘Big’ shows that she’s still here to play and… to be honest Britain is completely starved for this kind of pop star right now.
ARLISSA / HOUSE OF CARDS
Arlissa should have secured placements on the NMF highlights for a whole year considering the strength of her best single, ‘Healing’. Unfortunately the material hasn’t quite lived up to that one but here we have something that brings back those huge sweeping vocals and gorgeous blend of bass and piano. Attached to an EP that doesn’t hold her best song for some reason, it’s all about the promise in this one. We see big things!
FEAR OF TIGERS / TIGER BLOOD
Perhaps one of the least streamed highlights on the entire list and one that might almost lose the casuals to the 20 second introduction, but just you wait until that inspired burst of synths comes through – the 80s will never get old.
UPSAHL / STOP!
Arguably better than the actual Lipa side servings dropped this week as her deluxe, Upsahl’s ‘STOP!’ feels like something Ms. Lipa might herself carry to the top of the charts – especially that plunky bassline – but where she swerves into huge Britpop territory, ‘STOP!’ instead takes its chorus into Kpop territory. It’s quite addictive.
It’s been a quiet few weeks but our first February NMF brings some damn gems.
ALLIE X / GLAM!
Having developed both her sound and persona tenfold since her first foray into big bold and brash pop, Allie has been having of a turn of nostalgia by indulging into that past a little once more. ‘GLAM!’ might be an old leak but good god, it’s enormous. Her songwriting skills have undoubtedly progressed in time but there’s just something about past Allie X that really cuts right through in seconds.
MARTIN GARRIX, TOVE LO / PRESSURE
Neither Garrix or Lo are typically known for their subtlety, so when it comes to a duet between the two you’d be forgiven for expecting a balls-to-the-wall Sia/Guetta experience. ‘Pressure’ is the exact opposite of that – an exquisite blend of 3AM club-closing bass and Tove’s yearning for touch. It’s kind of a match made in heaven.
KITO, VANJESS, CHANNEL TRES / RECAP
Production is Kito’s forte. If you haven’t heard her yet, you’ll probably have heard a song that she’s had a hand in, most particularly behind BANKS’ phenomenal ‘Gimme’. Deep and warm like a dip in the tub, her production style felt ahead of the curve a year or two ago… it’s here to define the year now.
NEIMY / KNIFE OUT OF MY BACK
One look at Neimy’s Spotty Fry and you’ll see an abundance of covers with millions of streams each, her and Jubel’s cover of ‘Dancing in the Moonlight’ almost at a measly 200 million. ‘Knife out of my back’ might not have enough bulldozing originality to completely usurp that, but it’s a delicious little nod to an artist that has more to give than just those covers. Let’s keep on eye on her.
REZZ x PVRIS / SACRIFICIAL
With such a distinctive sound and vocalist, is there any escaping any song featuring PVRIS sounding a certain way? Having gone to extreme lengths to develop their identity and sound from the initial Paramore-lite debut, there’s an admirable consistency when it comes to the core of PVRIS songs. In essence, ‘Sacrificial’ sounds like Skrillex took a turn on one of their album tracks, and it works better than you’d think.
Do make sure to check out the playlist for more weekly highlights! Trust me, there’s some deep gems there.
It’s been a quiet month so far on the music front save for the current biggest song in the world, ‘drivers licence’ coming out of the blue and connected on a level we’ve not seen in a while. This week is anything but quiet though, mostly due to Pale Waves’ little gem. Let’s get into the highlights:
PALE WAVES / EASY
Coincidentally the moment Pale Waves leaned into their influences and embraced what is a very obvious link to classic 00’s Avril Lavigne, the quality of their music has veered upward. ‘Easy’ is so good that I’m tempted to call it career defining, I’d even go as far to say it’d be able to revive the Lavigne comeback quite easily. As 1975 as it is Lavigne, it’s just an inspired romp through gorgeously nostalgic 00s melodies that never once feels false. You’ve done it, Pale Waves. You’ve found your sound.
LEONY / FADED LOVE
The problem with samples of such ubiquitous songs is that it often seizes the song before the artist can even grasp it, leaving nothing much than nostalgia. ‘Faded Love’ is not that. Used in such a way that the melody starts to chew in before you remember exactly what it is, it makes me wonder why Dragostei Din Tei hasn’t been picked up much earlier. If Zara Larsson had this behind her she’d be worldwide in minutes.
DANNY L HARLE / ON A MOUNTAIN
Taken from his upcoming debut of sorts Harlecore, ‘On a Mountain’ is an absolutely fearless romp through classic dance. The reserved and clean Imogen Heap-esque delivery is quite a stable for PC Music, let alone Harle, and it’s a masterclass of how a throughline even without compromising on the hardcore production. Classic dance music is fearless, and this is already a classic.
KITTEN / DO U STILL LOVE ME?
Kitten have a good ten years under their belt now, so I’ll be surprised if you’ve not bumped into their music in some capacity before. Though the line-up might have shuffled around throughout their time, they have slowly settled back into consistent and regular releases – their latest potentially their greatest yet. Inescapably HAIM but still retaining their own warm and unique style, the only thing left to hope for is that this falls into an album at some point.
FICKLE FRIENDS / IRL
Swallowing the mild ire at waiting so long for a measly 5 track EP, ‘IRL’ continues the evolution of Fickle Friends’ perfectly matured Reading-Festival-Paramore vibe. Unnaturally charming, ‘IRL’ decries the communicative issues of modern teenage life – lying awake waiting for the screen to flash again. Hardly a generational exclusive though, this is going to be one of the big ones on the stage – trust me.
That last December drought is behind us, we’re in the clear now and there’s new music on the horizon. We’ve still got a little while before the real good stuff comes out, but there’s still a few diamonds to be sifted this week. Let’s take a look
GABRIELLE APLIN / WHEN THE LIGHTS GO OUT
Once victim to that oh so British Sophomore Slump curse, Aplin seemed at one point to the vanishing point so many Britstars find themselves caught up in. Of course, she spearheaded the front end of 2020 with the genuinely brilliant and frothy Dear Happy and she’s back to do it all over again. Wistfully simple almost to its detriment, Aplin has captured this piercing sentimentality that manages to come through because of the standard production. It’s something Katy Perry mastered years ago with PRISM, now torch bearer Aplin proves that she’s still not ready to go anywhere yet.
BLACK COFFEE, MAXINE ASHLEY, SUN-EL MUSICIAN / YOU NEED ME
‘You Need Me’ serves as the perfect opener to a brand new year – a musical representation of the sun piercing through the dark cloud. Dance music thrives in repetition as a means of inducing trance, its masters of the craft that manage to distract and divert that repetition in ways that splinters your mind in the fog. Effortlessly warm, ‘You Need Me’ demands every single second of its 6 minute play time and never wears thin.
OLIVIA O’BRIEN / BETTER THAN FEELING LONELY
Dive into the forbidden vaults of many an upcoming Spotify girl and you’ll find amongst the scraps the bones of ‘Better Than Feeling Lonely’. Pointedly on trend, it feels very much like one of those Julia Michaels songwriter demo seized for themselves moments, made generic enough to shop around to multiple artists for their input to be made later on. Melodically it’s damn solid, that chorus hook will hold on tight and that middle-8 vocal is slathered in the most incredible gritty vocal ever. It’s hard to see why anyone would shop this around, or why someone wouldn’t want to pick it up.
DOTTER / NEW YEAR
Swedish wonder Dotter aims squarely for the nail with a perfectly tailored release that will most certainly tickle any Swedish pop or Sia fan, if you’re out there. It’s a classic 00’s power mid-tempo without that trend of absolutely exploding at the chorus… instead designed instead to sweep you away smoothly.
YOU ME AT SIX / ADRENALINE
As any emo child will surely agree, You Me At Six triggers serious introspective thought. Whether you’ve been there since those rainbow-fuelled debut days will have an impact on how you perceive them now, the two opposite sides of the spectrum. ‘Adrenaline’ takes them further still into Imagine Dragons territory (that gritty chanted delivery oughta be trademarked really) but it feels homely enough to them. It’s surely the best week for the release, as dry as it is.
If you can wrestle yourself away from the spellbinding new Taylor Swift album you’ll find there’s actually some pretty huge highlights floating around this week. From Britney Spears to Madison Beer, let’s get into it.
TAYLOR SWIFT / GOLD RUSH
Look, there’s no avoiding this album right now. Taylor has bodied the surprise reveal this year and, lucky for us, they’ve been both brilliant and perfect for the time. evermore might just be the better half, bringing us back in line with those traditional Swift melodies and touches. ‘gold rush’ was quite evidently touched by Antanoff and has a home in this new woodland parish she has settled in, but it’d also fit at home on any of her previous albums because behind that minimal sparseness, there’s just endless hooks and brilliantly written lyricism. It’s gorgeous.
MADISON BEER / BOYSHIT
There almost couldn’t be a choice as abruptly different to Taylor here, Madison’s callout of worthless masculine banter relentlessly brash and purposefully aggressive. Without a doubt Madison’s biggest moment so far, ‘Boyshit’ quite literally sounds like storming through the football team with middle finger to both sides. A banger through and through.
JULIE BERGAN / WE’RE COMING UP
Both of the Hard Feelings EP finally get smashed together here in what results in an incredible second album for dance-pop queen Bergan. Leading the charge is completely illegible but enormous ‘We’re Coming Up’, another step in the perfect direction for an artist that already felt like taking big big strides. Quite honestly this ‘album’ opens with FIVE back-to-back 10/10 pop masterpieces. Who competes with that?
TROYE SIVAN, KACEY MUSGRAVES, MARK RONSON / EASY
While it’s not immediately evident what Mark Ronson actually did here except add a few synths, ‘Easy’ was already so good that it didn’t really need to be messed with. Troye continues his path to actual gay pop icon by recruiting queer ally and queen Musgraves for this light and breezy remix. It’s a bit more robotic, a little less wistfully romantic, but Kacey sounds absolutely beautiful and anything that helps push the song a bit more is damn worth listening to.
GEORGE MAPLE / STONE
How hideously annoying that the best song on Maple’s brand new project and potentially one of her best songs ever is a measly 2 minutes long. ‘Stone’ features everything Maple does so well – towering vocals, spellbinding synths, the most haunting of bridges. There’s plenty more brilliance on the album, but ‘Stone’ is just goose bumps inducing.
Be sure to let us know what your highlights of the week were, including your favourite evermore tracks. ‘champagne problems’ is kind of the one right now.
A rather quiet and sombre week for releases this time around as we sweep into the colder months. Get yourself a cup of coffee and tuck into these delights.
FLAWES / WHAT’S A BOY TO DO
Gorgeous British pop trio Flawes dropped their first album, Highlights, moments before the pandemic descended. A shame then that their potential seemed wrenched for a moment. ‘What’s a Boy to Do’ works to reject that, taken from a whole new EP that keeps things winding nicely. ‘What’s a Boy to Do’ is just brilliant from start to finish – that typical silky melody that has helped many a Brit-gang find success before. It’s hard not to hear this Coldplay meets CHVRCHES anthem appealing.
KULT KYSS / KILL THAT BEAT
Meet Little Boots and Grimes in the middle of an acid-wrecked dancefloor, half a glass of Vodka-Coke in one hand and a stranger in the other. That’s ‘Kill That Beat’: a gym ready banger that’s all about the trance-inducing production. Dance music really can take you away, can’t it?
FOLEY / SO PERSONAL
Something about a crisp and unfiltered guitar riff gets me real in the mood for chilling in the sunlight, alas it’s freezing outside and Winter is creeping in. ‘So Personal’ is a terrific montage of R&B meets Katy-Perry melodic heaven, particularly shifting gears and exploding in the last minute into an almost entirely different song. Think Foxes does ‘Harley’s In Hawaii’ and you’re halfway there.
RINA SAWAYAMA / WE OUT HERE
For better or worse, Sawayama wears her influences on her sleeve. The recent album, which has just received a Deluxe Edition, dips wider than the original immaculate RINA EP but those 90s influences will always be integral to Rina as an artist. ‘We Out Here’ is a love letter to key shifts, a chanted chorus and those huge Max Martin chorus’ and, as on that damn good EP, Rina wears it perfectly.
EVANESCENCE / YEAH RIGHT
At some point we’re sure to hear when the actual album is coming out, right? At this point, ‘Yeah Right’ serves as the fourth promotional single with no release date in sight and we’re beginning to feel parched. ‘Yeah Right’ opens as far from traditional Evanescence as you could expect, bringing those Open Door influences flooding back once again, only for the chorus to descend into typically brooding and stretched grunge chorus glory, but it’s those damn verses that keep the song afloat. Delivered in such a way that you can almost hear the smile on her face, ‘Yeah Right’ isn’t going to win any non-fans of Evanescence over, but it’s damn fun hearing the band continue to experiment.
MILEY CYRUS / GIMME WHAT I WANT
Quite an established force at this point, Cyrus turns her back on her pop roots to fully embrace the gritty rock callings of Can’t Be Tamed. With a breadth of genre-based albums in her collection, there was no doubt that Cyrus would arrive here eventually but, unlike those past albums, here it feels like she has arrived at her core sound as opposed to dressing up within one. ‘Gimme What I Want’ isn’t the rockiest on the album, nor the grittiest, and it would certainly feel at home with almost all of her other albums, but god it proves the point so well that 2020 Cyrus has it all figured out. The Weeknd influences shine right through, so much that this screams to be a single.
FRED AGAIN.. / JULIA (DEEP DIVING)
Grit your teeth through the rom-com cheese of a spoken opening because everything that follows it is pure bliss. A truly heartfelt and intimate soft-dance epic built around these small samples of ‘real life’ excerpts. Whilst it certainly doesn’t sound as detached here, the vocal just a smidge too professional to suggest anything overtly real, it’s really that smooth production and absolutely stunning piano melody that beats at the heart of all this.
RINA SAWAYAMA / LUCID
Headline: Sawayama embraces generic but enormous Bloodpop production for her cheapest but most commercial hit yet. That’s about all you need to know. Big fans of Sawayama are going to recognise every single polished edge and overly perfected angle, but if you’re going into this having loved Chromatica and wanting more easy dance-pop, you’re in for a treat.
CALL ME LOOP / ROSE
Call Me Loop was built to soundtrack the summer, her new single ‘Rosé’ a delightfully light Sophie Ellis-Bextor anthem built for sunshine kisses. Odd then that it drops following our stolen summer in the middle of the coldest temperatures of the year so far. Still! A little cold isn’t enough to dampen her brilliant melodic touch and, like the title suggests, ‘Rosé’ is as lightweight and joy inducing as the beverage itself.
YUNGBLUD / MARS
There’s nothing new or overtly weird about Yungblud, his schtick a well worn trope for many an upcoming British artist BUT having suffered the dull ‘Everyday-man!’ reign of Sheeran and Capaldi I’ll take Yungblud and his genderbending red-hair ways every single day. What makes it even easier is that the music is really blood good. ‘Mars’ in particular is about as weird as a barbecue in Summer, but its melody is ripped straight from a top-charting Harry Styles solo single.
That’s our highlights for the week, but what were yours? Be sure to let us know in the contact section. As always, there are whopping handfuls of more highlights every week in our dedicated playlist. Check it out.
Right well it’s a bloody great week this week, so let’s not wait any longer with meaningless opening drivel. Get into this.
RAYE, RUDIMENTAL / REGARDLESS
Avid music fans will clock the sample immediately but, you might not know it from the intro, the song is cleverly built around it as opposed to structured only around it. If there were any justice in the modern pop scene, RAYE would have a flightless career where this could bother the radio and charts, but still she feels like a bit of a hidden secret because of it. The new EP needs you to check it out, like immediately, but for now let your body sink into this smooth bop.
AVA MAX / MY HEAD & MY HEART
Ava Max is doing that thing where you drop extra songs after the album has come out and tack them on as a deluxe edition but… this might be better than everything on the standard album? The girls really cashed out on sample checks this week, didn’t they. Unlike RAYE, ‘My Head & My Heart’ is built entirely around its sample and somewhere Alice Chater is fuming for not picking it up first. It’s cheap as hell but it still sounds so damn good.
RVBY / THINKING ABOUT YOU
Give this the minute it deserves because once that smooth glitter fades away and the bass line takes centre stage, the song comes at you like a hammer to the face. And the best thing is that it gets even better, culminating in a perfect pop standard last 30 seconds glitterbomb of excellence.
NIKKITA / POSTCARD LOVER
Slowing it right down like a school disco DJ, Nikkita comes in like a storm cloud on the horizon. Dropped into my contact box ten days ago, I haven’t been this bowled over by a vocal in years. Vocals are subjective really, so you’ll either be into it or not, but the way they’ve coupled this devastating delivery with its enormous swelling orchestra feels like being hit by an ocean wave. One of those rare ballads that feels like it could just be you and the song left in the world, you’ll really not want to miss this one.
WANYI / LOVED YOU ONCE
Also dropped into my contact box is this silky romantic dedication to a love since lost, the words at odds with the dreamy production. Bringing a huge chorus reminiscent of classic Steps into the future, WANYI swerves from her usual upbeat Carly-Rae esque pop to prove a nice strong ballad isn’t out of her remit. Particularly noteworthy are the deliciously soft vocals, so much so that it’s pretty damn easy to fall into this.
This is a bit of a stacked week, so make sure you’re checking out the dedicated playlist for the best weekly music. You really won’t want to miss the Fickle Friends track, not the Lastlings one for that matter. Trust me.
BILLIE EILISH / THEREFORE I AM
Spooktastic heavyweight Eilish rockets back with what is arguably one of her most instant and charismatic releases so far. Taking clear cues from the debut, ‘Therefore…’ presents again the bravado and charisma that’s proven so successful already. Of course, it helps when the song is actually good and… it’s really good. Silky smooth haunting vocals over a sliding synth and pulsating bass, it’s addictive.
PALE WAVES / CHANGE
All you need to know is this is the best Avril Lavigne song that’s been made in years, so reminiscent of ‘Complicated’ that it’s hard to imagine the song was not an influence. Similarly to how PVRIS tapped those Paramore vibes at the start, taking cues from such an established sound might actually help Pale Waves find that mainstream lane. As Lavigne as it sounds, unescapable as it is, it’s still good enough to make you need more Pale Waves just like this.
GRACEY / 99%
‘99%’ is the latest big push from GRACEY, we’ll soon see whether that big push is going to pay off but for now the music can do all the talking. Lucky for us, it’s pretty easy to get sucked in to this Charli XCX-esque smooth banger. With that bassline doing all the work, Gracey fades in and out of the shadows like Krampus dancing around and watching you fall into the beat.
GEORGE MAPLE / FADE
When Maple hits it right, she hits it really right. Unfortunately her releases have been so few and far between that it’s been a bit of a worry where she would go next. Worry no more! ‘Fade’, taken from her new saga MYTH which drops in December, is Dido on steroids – a fine line between dance remix and that heavenly dark dreamland that Maple’s pop tendencies tend to sit within. Ever so subtle, ‘Fade’ takes it time to come really crashing but when it does, it HITS.
LAUREN AQUILINA / LATEST GHOST
Aquilina’s latest (and greatest so far!) is the emotionally powerful Swiftian-esque ‘Latest Ghost’. Something pretty close to MUNA, the greatest band in the world, it’s a really god damn good song wrapped in some pretty gorgeous production.
A BIG week here! Don’t let the highlights stop here. Get yourself to our playlist of every new release worth listening to!
VUKOVI / SLO
Right from the word go, the artwork is pushing a GRIMES/Purity Ring/Birthday Massacre vibe… and it’s damn near close. A track that hits the ground running only to get faster, it’s an electro-rock treat that wouldn’t sound out of place on a PVRIS album – a refinement of the mosh-pit inducing anthems they’ve already mastered. In short; a joy of a song, and the easy highlight of the week.
BABY QUEEN / WANT ME
‘Want Me’ is a breathtakingly sharp love song that wouldn’t sound out of place on the Skins soundtrack, nor on the Radio 1 A-List in 2020. South African artist Baby Queen feels like someone to have all the chips on right now – her infectious satirical approach to pop fresh and exciting at every turn – and ‘Want Me’ might be her best yet. Most impressively, the song manages a healthy 4 minutes whilst feeling like it speeds through it in two. Then it demands the repeat.
MAE MULLER / DEPENDENT
Taken from her new 8-track EP, ‘dependent’ serves Lily Allen-Air-Balloon meets Julia Michaels deliciousness designed not to sledgehammer its way into your brain but to eke its tendrils in slowly. Sometimes light and breezy is exactly what we need, and light and breezy this is, with a chorus that’ll get stuck in your teeth like fudge.
LILLY AHLBERG / CALL ME
It’s been two years since Tove Styrke dropped her ping-pong-centric EP Sway and we’re still seeing the impact it had (or the wave it managed to tap so well). It’s hard to hear songs like this with their bouncy synths and tender vocals and not think of Styrke, considering she mastered it before all the others came close, but ‘Call Me’ is a worthy little addition to the books.
EVIE IRIE / MISFIT
The story of the maligned misfit in pop music is… well, it’s overdone to say the least. Evie’s ‘Misfit’ manages to feel more like a self-analysis anthem rather than an Ava-Max ode to empowerment in the sign of self-oddness, and thus it actually ends up being a personal little bop. It also helps that it’s just a damn well produced song that builds and builds until the ‘Na Na Na Na’ hook comes in for the final slap.
A LOT of music this week, but we’ll close with the top five as usual. Make sure to check out our dedicated playlist for all the best weekly releases!
Halloween is almost upon us, and a distinct lack of spooky tracks for this weeks highlights of horror. That being said, there’s still a few gems, including a new amazing from the big Lipa. Get into it.
DUA LIPA, ANGELE / FEVER
Ms. Lipa teams up with french chanteuse Angele to create another health conscious anthem on behalf of scientists around the globe. Is it a fever, or are you making me hot under the collar? Covid or Lust? Who knows? I cannot advocate for kissing and touching as a means of testing this, you’re much better off buying a thermometer, but best not to play this while you do because it’s a sweaty banger – a dead cert to boost that body temp.
ROUTE 94, L DEVINE / SAD SONGS
You’ll know Route 94 for the unavoidable Jess Glynne epic ‘My Love’, released way back when in 2014. With little in the way of repeat success since, Route 94 has recruited little superstar in waiting Devine for what is easily the best Not-Actually-Clean-Bandit-Clean-Bandit effort in years. Certainly not reinventing the wheel, as is to be expected, but the little flourishes of untouched Final Fantasy-lite piano touches and Devine’s genuinely fantastic delivery make this as fresh as new Spring rain.
HANA / SO & SO
Grimes Protégé and general fantastic-when-she-actually-releases superstarlet HANA soars back with a song that legitimately sounds like it’s been pulled from the bottom of the ocean with three inch thick steel chains. Basically Evanescence’s ‘Lithium’ on a much sparser, bleached scale with blips where the big rock guitars would be, ‘So & So’ is an interesting choice to come back with but is an exciting glimpse into the creation of, hopefully, a whole new exciting world from HANA soon to come.
EMPRESS OF, AMBER MARK / YOU’VE GOT TO FEEL
The real shining glory behind Empress Of this year has been her stellar production efforts – her album, ‘I’m Your Empress Of’ was positively reeling with uniquely brilliant quirks and choices. ‘You’ve Got to Feel’ is a simple protest song that manages to feel even more because of those stellar choices. With an even greater choice of feature, which actually steals the entire song, it’s just a god damn addictive song right from the offset – even before the message sinks its teeth in.
LEON / DIE FOR YOU
As always with Leon, make sure you’re plugged in and truly ready for this in all of its intimate glory – it deserves no less. Pure, classic, solid songwriting delivered by the voice of an angel, ‘Die For You’ comes from her sophomore album, which we already know won’t get the acclaim and recognition it actually deserves, and it just explodes with heart.
What were your highlights of the week?
SO BELOW / OVER
There’s a definite blueprint behind So Below works, her glacial hypno-pop a mastery at this point, yet ‘Over’ (taken from her brand new album Left Behind, manages to play both blueprint and surprise. Undoubtedly the highlight of the album, ‘Over’ brings relentless synths to Maddie North’s typical otherworld delivery but it’s the melody that takes this up a notch – the sprightly juxtaposition with the production bringing everything else to life.
WALLOWS / COASTLINES
Wallows live and die by choruses so enormous it’s hard not to envision the crowds of fans chanting along to them after one solitary listen; the Remote EP is stuffed with them and is a waltz through some of the brightest alt-pop out there at the minute, but ‘Coastlines’ is a small window into a clearly exciting future. ‘Virtual Aerobics’ remains the best thing they’ve done, but ‘Coastlines’ proves there’s a little bit more to it all than the catchiness.
CYN / NEW YORK
Most new artists, as above with So Below, tend to find a fairly concrete blueprint to follow as opposed to experimentation. There’s an argument to be made about whether niche success affords it or requires a simpler dedication but either way, Cyn isn’t listening. Still very much under her remit of Katy Perry-esque delicate pop songs, she already has enough variety under her releases for each new one to be a surprise. ‘New York’ is a beautifully composed ballad to the concrete city, her vocals being the feature here, that departs pretty massively from the mildly successful ‘Drinks’ before it, but we can’t help but celebrate an artist unafraid to throw the kitchen sink around a bit.
PVRIS, RAYE / THANK YOU
Unceremoniously tagged on to the end of the deluxe version of their massively delayed third album, ‘Thank You’ hits as a Raye song more than anything else at first listen, but it informs the commercial perspective the band have been eyeing for a while. With songs as polished as this, but still retaining that angsty PVRIS vibe, it’s clear their future is still bright.
TERROR JR / RUNNING FROM THE SUN
With a pretty extensive catalogue prior to Felix’s exit from the band, Terror Jr have felt as though they’ve been struggling to find their identity again but, much like Cyn above, what it has afforded them is the ability to experiment. Cut to ‘Running in the Sun’ – an exploratory trek through a Drum ‘N Bass-lite pop wasteland. It’s a game of two halves – the opening a standard Terror Jr affair only for the beat and spoken-word section to cut through unexpectedly, something you’d be forgiven for thinking Charli XCX had a hand in at first.
This is the strongest Friday in recent memory. Honestly, between the new GRANT and CXLOE EP, the Sasha Sloan, Astrid S and Beabadoobee album, I almost had the highlights done already – then there’s even more! Check it out.
CXLOE / PLANS
The Heavy EP, which dropped last week, wasn’t actually the EP at all? Instead, Heavy Part One has dropped today with a total of six tracks, three of which are new and absolutely brilliant. Confusing release strategy aside, ‘Plans’ might be CXLOE’s best yet. Still very much following her blueprint of the thematic/one-word-focused chorus, but a chorus so instantaneous it’s nonetheless hard to deny.
ASTRID S / AIRPODS
Astrid S has always occupied a very unique space between commercially successful and an underground flame, mostly because of the sheer quality and drive of each of her releases. It’s quite easy for Scandi-girls to fall in the pit of anonymity, considering the amount of them out there at any given time, yet Astrid has set herself apart with unashamedly bombastic pop music. ‘Airpods’ is that in a nutshell; quirky but commercial, polished but sharp, undeniable.
ILIRA / EAT MY BRAIN
The sooner we admit that pop music has been a darker place since The Saturdays split up, the better. Luckily for us, ILIRA is seemingly sitting on an influx of 2013 pop classics straight from the vault of Fame-era Gaga and the likes. ‘EAT MY BRAIN’ is dumb as hell, and I don’t quite understand what it’s actually about yet because I’m too busy, as with all of her other frankly brilliantly produced songs, enjoying the damn banger for what it is.
SASHA SLOAN / HIGH SCHOOL ME
Sloan’s new album, Only Child, is a delicate trip through historical traumas, lifelong rivalries and body issues, to name but a few themes. Having proven her talent for writing desperately cutting lyricism already, it’s no surprise the best tracks on the album, which happen to be the two closers, present her possibly at her most cutting yet. ‘High School Me’ isn’t sad though, not at all. It’s a celebration of how proud our childhood self would be if they could see you now, and it’s beautiful.
GRANT / DON’T RECALL GROWING OLD
GRANT might just be my artist of the year right now, let’s get that out there first. There’s a steely coolness to her current material, which comes across perfectly across her new EP Vertigo, giving everything this charismatic sheen that compliments the glistening production. ‘Don’t Recall Growing Old’ doesn’t concern itself with an enormous chorus punch, as ‘Hell Yes…’ did before it, instead basking in that glorious atmospheric pool for a slinky 3 minutes. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – it’s so hard to listen to GRANT and not see the signs of a future BIG POP GIRL.
These are but five of this weeks brilliant highlights, but it’s a truly brilliant week. Make sure the check out the MUNA/NOW,NOW remix swap, the beabadoobee album and the new Fickle Friends track!
MAGGIE LINDEMANN / SCISSORHANDS
You’ll probably know Lindemann from that viral TikTok stair challenge and her minor hit ‘Pretty Girl’. While it’s clear the image change has been pretty drastic, if the Edward Scissorhands reference didn’t pass you by at the least, there’s still clearly the potential for banging tunes here. ‘Scissorhands’ hits so hard because of that opening guitar riff, and without it I’m not sure the song would work, but it’s so god damn good around that I’m not sure I care.
DAYA / FIRST TIME
Daya has fell victim to an cowardly label for too long despite her penchant for absolute enormous bops, and now that she’s independent we might actually get a consistent influx of them, for now ‘First Time’ serves as (we guess) a new beginning. Not quite as sweet and sugary as the likes of ‘Insomnia’, it’s still infectious in its delivery and chantlike beat. Very Elley Duhe, I thought.
JAX JONES, AU/RA / I MISS YOU
Nobody goes to Jax Jones for anything other than something to sink into with a glass or two, do they? In that case, ‘I Miss You’ ticks every box – ‘da da da’ breakdown, simple bassline, infectious chorus melody. AU/RA’s Eilish-lite delivery works pretty damn well here too, just as Wroldsen did for ‘Breathe’. We might need a switch up pretty soon though Jax, but for now let’s dance.
BEBE REXHA, DOJA CAT / BABY I’M JEALOUS
Yeah, I didn’t think a Bebe song would be this interesting but it is. Those typical baby talk mannerisms she’s come to love are still there but, quite wisely, the wailing has been pulled right back so we’re left with something just warm and infectious. Also the Doja Cat verse in the middle of that swervy bass-line is just perfect.
ELI HURTS / THE FUCKED UP THINGS ABOUT US
It pains me to put such awful artwork on the feature, trust me, but I’ve had to feature this for the sheer audacity this song has for being good… albeit doing so by pilfering ‘Teenage Dream’ in the process. And that’s honestly all this is – Hellogoodbye does ‘Teenage Dream’ – yet it’s just so god damn hard not to get sucked in to it, imaging Katy Perry singing over this again. Though it’d be called reductive then I guess…
Spooky season is upon us, so while we wait for Kim Petras to drop another album that I may never actually listen to… here’s this weeks highlights!
BECKY HILL / SPACE
Certainly not one to watch in that she’s been part of the UK music scene for what feels like an age, but not typically carrying it all herself (Nevermind the fact she does actually carry every song that she’s a part of). ‘Space’ is pure and utter brilliance. From the beautifully fresh piano line to the astronomically belted middle 8, it really deserves the world.
BEKA / I’LL BE THERE
This takes a little while to get going admittedly but when it does, which is conveniently exactly when it needs to, it hits like a damn train. Soulfully delivered melancholic vocal with a gorgeous Jess-Glynne light and frothy melody, it’s just a lovely little surprise in the middle of all these weekly heavyweights.
DAGNY / BYE BYE BABY
Yeah, I’m not entirely sold on these weird album campaigns that are treated like two EPs, especially considering the actual strength of the material here, but you should already know by now that Dagny was going to have at least one masterful highlight on either side of the album. The track in question is ‘Bye Bye Baby’ – a glittering goodbye reminiscent of Robyn but with that cutting sharpness we’ve come to know from Dagny so far.
ROMY / LIFETIME
There really is no greater feeling than finding something this good from an artist right out the bat. Obviously a sort of precipice not knowing whether they’ll continue or flail, but for that moment you can bask in having found a little slice of something super fresh and exciting. ‘Lifetime’ is a sort of beastly hybrid of Charli XCX/Cher/Trance/Dance that’s a bit hard to place which makes it EVEN MORE EXCITING!
DAGNY / LIE LIKE THIS
Do you know what is a bit of a brilliant album? Fleshtone by Kelis. Do you know what is a bit of a banger single? Don’t Start Now by Dua Lipa. ‘Lie Like This’ is the latter filtered right through the former and it’s surprisingly fresh from Michaels, who has been at this point behind a dozen or more hits with her own name attached somewhere in the credits. Apparently leading to her first actual debut album, we’ll take more like this please!
Make sure to follow the dedicated playlist for weekly highlights!
TERROR JR / WOULD IT MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER?
A lovely return to form for our Terrible delight here, but with something more of a Brit-pop Charli XCX/Daft Punk influence. Well damn, it works, arguably more than anything they’ve dropped in a while. Part of me craves that truly explosive Daft Punk vocoder ending that it sort of suggests, but the swift cut away just kind of forces you to hit replay, doesn’t it?
BABY QUEEN / PRETTY GIRL LIE
Just a really good, really strong pop song here. Sky Ferreira filtered through Sigrid, it has those MUNA-lite reverb soaked riffs and a relentless beat that is just impossible to resist. This is the exact kind of song you save for a meteoric debut, except it’s Baby Queen’s fourth now, but it kind of sounds like the perfect Baby Queen debut so we’re pretending it is.
JADA / ON ME
What you might not know is that Danish popstar Jada dropped one of 2019’s best albums last year, called I Cry A Lot, which brought together understated dance with a gorgeous R&B/pop flair. It sounded truly fresh then, and Jada is just building on that perfectly. ‘On Me’ basks in 90’s pop glory, with great big stabs and a soaring girlband melody, and sets Jada as one to watch for a second year running. In fact, it’s hard not to imagine a certain Ms. Grande looking to this for her future sound.
TASKA BLACK, EMILY VAUGHN / EASIER
Admittedly I very almost skipped this during this weeks highlight search and I would have been way worse off for doing so. There’s quite a few clearly dance inspired songs out this week, which threatens to dilute the pool a little, but god there’s a really beautiful song inside of this. Not only does Emily Vaughn also have a fantastic voice, she’s perfectly suited to these organic piano led mid-tempo mixes. I have a feeling this is going to sneak it’s way up the Best of 2020 playlist as the year carries on.
SVAL / WHERE DO WE GO
Slower songs usually get a bad deal when it comes to highlights simply because they, by design, usually need a little more time to really hit, so when you find one that already kind of hits after just a few plays, you know you’re onto a good one. Sval has been quietly releasing some damn good tracks already, so I knew to pay attention, but if this monster of a chorus doesn’t force your eye, I don’t know what will. Beautifully harmonised vocals and a sledgehammer chorus, what more do you want?
That’s it for this weeks highlights, but as always it doesn’t end here. Make sure to check out the full playlist for ALL of this New Music Friday’s very best:
SAM SMITH / DIAMONDS
As though they could ascertain our fears that the label had demanded more MOR balladry despite the bangers we have heard so far, Smith returns with a catastrophic impact in the form of ‘Diamonds’ – a sickly smooth continuation of that classic Sam Smith formula meets the dancefloor. It’s as effortlessly brilliant as Dua Lipa’s recent output.
AVA MAX / BORN TO THE NIGHT
Evil album artwork choice aside, Ava’s new album is out and it deserves at least one listen. You’ll find in it some pretty sweet and easy pop, which has its place in the world as much as anything else. ‘Born to the Night’ takes The Weeknd’s 80s formula and spins Ava’s lopsided wig all over it and, as regressive as it might be, it’s a blast.
SOFI TUKKER, NOVAK, TAX.X / EMERGENCY
Sofi Tukker’s name on any piece of work almost guarantees a keyboard-mashing-blessed-Madonna mix designed for a dark bedroom confined rave. ‘Emergency’ might be the only time you hear Simon Says incorporated into any song, let alone a dance song, but Sofi Tukker are so fucking good at this that it just… works.
PIXEY / JUST MOVE
GOD it’s so exciting when new artists come out with something that sounds like they’ve been around for years. ‘Just Move’ has the charisma of a rippling sunset on a field full of sunflowers; the guitar licks, fluctuating melody, the drum beat… it’s all infectious. Hard to see how Pixey doesn’t make a huge surge out of this.
STEREOJANE / I DON’T WANNA TALK ABOUT ME (R3HAB REMIX)
A rare occurrence of remix improving the original song without actually doing much here. In fact, it only takes a few listens for your brain to be tricked into thinking this was always how the song sounded. I mean it’s essentially a bootleg remix, but that twangy electronic bass just takes this chorus somewhere much bigger.
HERE ARE THIS WEEKS HIGHLIGHTS, GET INTO THEM:
SWIM FOR IT / GET WHAT YOU WANT
As shameless of me as it is, do you know I make music too? All created in my little bedroom, check it out if you’re a fan of breezy male-driven pop.
BEABADOOBEE / WORTH IT
Sometimes songs just sound like the close of Summer, carrying with them the imagery of a thousand indie movies. Beabadoobee has mastered the art of emoting through sound, ‘Worth It’ being her freshest song yet. It just sounds like an open car ride through soft sunlight.
JULIE BERGAN / ONE TOUCH
Some big pop names in the credits for this, which means it has to be good, and luckily for us it is. Bergan sort of operates in a different time-space to everyone else, where her music lives in some timeless-nostalgic flux, and there’s even more of that here. Instantly familiar but fresh enough to stay exciting, it’s more sugar sweet bliss from one of the most consistent artists out there right now.
KIIARA, DEATHBYROMY, PVRIS / NUMB
Kiiara is another consistent one, out there banging her drum to her own beat regardless of the circumstances. She’s always operated on this line between mainstream and underground production, flitting just enough into the former to break through, and there’s no doubt this sounds like her biggest push yet – notably because of the feature. It’s surprisingly understated though, almost in line with Ellie Goulding’s recent album’s darker moments.
FLETCHER / SHH… DON’T SAY IT
Fletcher is lining herself up as one to watch in the next few years, trust me. ‘Shh… Don’t Say It’ is basically a brilliant Selena Gomez song taken directly from Stars Dance. Delivered casually enough to earworm rather than strike, it’s that monster bassline which does the real first impression work, but it’s the melody and delivery that’ll keep it sticking.
DAVID GUETTA, SIA / LET’S LOVE
Admittedly this was a bit of a write off on first immediate listen, and it’s only with several more plays it’s unfolded to me. Part of that is probably because the chorus is the weakest part but the bridge is so good that it more than makes up for it. A complete different vibe for what you’d expect of this two but it’s those ‘This too shall PASS!’ moments that scream Sia through and through.
What were your highlights this week?
A little late on this one, but trust me this week is worth it. Let’s dig into those highlights:
FICKLE FRIENDS / WHAT A TIME
If you know anything about Fickle Friends, you know they have already mastered the vanilla-sugar-high-Paramore production with sickly sweet chorus and chants. If you’ve seen them live, you know that whatever they front comes alive on the stage. ‘What a Time’ might not suit our current times (what’s there to be excited about right now!?) but it is their biggest and best song yet. Pure anthemic joy that pushes the envelope just enough whilst keeping it Fickle.
LUNA AURA / TALKING TO ME
Luna is back with a vision. She knows the music she wants to make, she knows her sound – Sky Ferreira meets Pretty Reckless pulled through Carrie. She’s completely wiped her Spotify for these delectable pageant-gore image focused singles, which is a complete serve, and each one is bleeding out guitar riffs, atmosphere and attitude. Truly fantastic stuff here.
LOVA / ONE DAY LEFT
Speaking of best songs ever, LOVA also fires back with a breezy dedication to spending your last moments without regret. An obvious sentiment but who cares when the chorus is that damn good? Notably moving away from the plink-plonk production that once seemed to define upcoming Swedish pop, this strings and falsetto affair is far more Agnes than Styrke – and is all the better for it.
DAGNY / IT’S ONLY A HEARTBREAK
Queen of Consistency Dagny seems to have picked up the plink-plonks that LOVA left behind, luckily enough she’s got the songwriting chops for it to push through regardless. It’s hard to understand why Dagny hasn’t been picked up as songwriter extraordinaire by the greats yet when her touch for melodic hooks is this good. Heading towards a much calmer second half EP to the eventual album, we’re in for a treat from here on out.
FOXES / FRIENDS IN THE CORNER
The girls really weren’t playing this week – each one said “I’m going to drop my best ever song” and meant it. ‘Friends…’ is Foxes’ best. It’s Foxes at her best; huge chanted chorus with piercing emotion, subtle chords and production, delicate vocal delivery. It’s both understated and defiant, owing to that enormous verse-chorus punch. Hard not to be bowled over by this one, truly, and if you haven’t by the second chorus you’ll be hit by that final bridge.
Find ALL of this weeks highlights in our dedicated playlist below:
KATY PERRY / CRY ABOUT IT LATER
Frankly I can’t begin this without addressing the reviews Katy’s new album has been getting across the board. Each seem to have a problem with her mere existence and her insistence on releasing empowering music in a pandemic (something only she seems to deserve the criticism for). Screw the reviews, ignore them, because the album is a total triumph and possibly her best yet. ‘Cry About It Later’ brings masterful songwriters Sasha Sloan and Noonie Bao on board, and the result is a pulsing anthem to letting go of the pain for at least one night. With that sparkling pop-polish that we’ve come to know Katy for, it really is a triumph.
LUNA SHADOWS / THE NINETIES
‘The Nineties’ soars in part because of its dedicated video-game identity and production, which is still relatively fresh with its Allie-X/Terror Jr style melody and slinky synthline, but it’s the earworm of a chorus that takes this up a notch. Some songs just don’t need to explode.
DISCLOSURE, KELIS / WATCH YOUR STEP
Kelis as a vocalist does not garner the praise she deserves, perhaps because of a career overshadowed at times by the fine gimmickry of ‘Milkshake’. Here she flits from smooth to raspy, a perfect fit for the more subdued production, and really Kelis was built for dance music. Helped too by Disclosure’s evolved touch – there’s an unexpected depth to this that takes you right back to the dirty dance floor.
SASHA SLOAN / HOUSE WITH NO MIRRORS
Not content with having one song on the list with her efforts involved, Sloan surprise dropped the next single from her debut album and it’s that exact kind of introspective and cut-throat mid-tempo we’ve gotten used to with her by now. Inspired by her eating disorder developments and her dysmorphia, it’s a delicate undertaking of how much of an impact our thoughts can have on us. It’s pretty damn easy to see why people are snapping Sloan songs up left and right recently.
KATY PERRY / TEARY EYES
Yes, Perry deserves a second treatment here. ‘Teary Eyes’ is that exact frothy sequel to ‘Hummingbird Heartbeat’ and ‘Walking on Air’ we’ve been calling for. There really isn’t anything quite like it, and it’s hard not to swept up in its relentlessness, especially as that final chorus fires in. As above, there’s completely void criticism that Perry is trying to be overly happy in a dark time but if not now, when? Trust me, get those headphones on and let yourself float away to this sherbet-filled mega banger.
That’s it for our highlights, but remember that you can catch all the rest on our dedicated playlist below!
This week is huge. It is enormous. One of the best of the year, hands down. An eclectic mix of dance synth emotive bangery, get into the highlights!
GRANT / HELL YES, I’M BETTING ON YOU
Not only is this the best song of the week, it’s also one of the best of the year so far. Reminiscent of Katy B with that icy vocal on a subtle dance beat, its hard to fight the sheer amount of coolness coming out of this. It’s ‘About Work the Dancefloor’s edgier little sister, give it a stream NOW.
AGNES / FINGERS CROSSED
For a while it seemed as though Agnes had deserted all of us, with no sign of her for years. Of course last year gave us her stratospheric return in the form of dance-bangers ‘Limelight’ and ‘I Trance’, but ‘Fingers Crossed’ is that string filled instant classic we feared she had walked away from. Quite honestly one of the best vocalists in the world right now and stil we get experimentation. Agnes is one of the greats.
VERA BLUE / LIE TO ME
‘Lie to Me’ doesn’t stray far from the Vera Blue sound established on her debut album ‘Perennial’, especially compared to the preceding singles ‘The Way That You Love Me’ and ‘Like I Remember You’, and its all the better for it. Now it does feel as though Blue found herself torn between two forms of artistry at one point, ‘Lie…’ treads a fine line between the commercial and more nuanced melodies. Glittering in all the right places with enough depth to sink into, this better be heading toward a sophomore.
DANNY L HARLE / DREAMING
Danny L Harle is a producer for the Gods, let’s get that clear. One day we’ll give PC Music the credit it deserves for championing the quirkiest and ‘cheapest’ pop music of our time. Because who gets to decide what’s cheap and what’s cool? ‘Dreaming’ takes those PC Music icy beats and collides with classic trance, the dreamlike vocal carrying us right into a frankly beastly breakdown.
TROYE SIVAN / IN A DREAM
The lockdown has seemingly given Troye the opportunity to showcase his artistry in all the best ways – no overt polish, no refined edges, just Troye. ‘IN A DREAM’ is a beautiful mix between his huge pop melodies and those softer moments of ‘Bloom’, even if it is a tad too similar to a certain Allie X song for her not to have a credit…
For some reason Spotify embed is being awful so we are featuring the beautiful artworks instead. That’s it for our main highlights but as always, there’s plenty more to find in our weekly playlist which can be found here:
One of the highlights this week is the best song of the year so far. It’s a packed week, but the one diamond… *chefs kiss* Get into it.
THE MIDNIGHT / NEON MEDUSA
Quietly pushing their 80s-Arcade sound to the max, The Midnight take their biggest leap yet. A trance-inducing banger of absolutely epic proportions. Basically every other 80s inspired production can take a bow and leave now this has arrived because it’s peaked. I’m basically frothing at the mouth imagining the wave of pop stars that could take this and run with it… Katy Perry belting over these absolutely frigid synths and wild guitar? Make it happen, Lord.
ZARA LARSSON / NEED SOMEONE
Amongst the wreckage of Larsson’s lost legacy comes one of her best songs yet, ‘Need Someone’. That recognisable blend of frothy piano, curvy bass and melodic chorus… it’s astounding that literally anything else from this stretched out era was released over this. Similar to ‘Ruin My Life’ it sounds exactly like you’d expect Zara Larsson to sound now and yet still doesn’t sound boring? It’s a gorgeous bubbly little cheesecake of wonder.
LIZA OWEN / JOSIE
Any other week would have this as the runaway gold star amongst the highlights – the Weeknd synths and sultry chorus a perfect match for that subtle country sworl of a vocal. It’s always amazing when a song can chug along slowly and still hook as much as a 150bpm banger, and it’s the sea shanty-esque chorus which does most of the work. Simply brilliant.
METTE / PETRIFIED
Debut singles are always a difficult one. As much as first impressions count, it needs to be enough to hit the ground running. Mette hits the ground with a full damn sprint – the video and song both something deep established acts still don’t put out. The ground work has been put in for Mette, that much is clear, and the chorus almost threatens to shift into inspired-by-BANKS territory, but those intimately delivered verses that contrast with it brings it into its own little world. And the video! Lord, the video. A star.
GIRLHOUSE / LOADED GUN
Undoubtedly the warmest song of the entire week here, an extremely MUNA-esque drive through imposter syndrome. If you look a little deeper than the (gorgeous!) sonic palette, you’ll find razor sharp lyricism that contrasts deeply with the warmth at hand.
feelings turned to blisters
turned to callus on a broken thumb
debated getting stitches
but i do this for adrenaline
Just look at that verse. Look at it. It’s poetry.