January is coming to an end and already I’d say we’ve found a handful of songs that will still stand tall for the 2019 Best Of! list at the end of the year. Currently the crown would be a big toss up between Alice Chater, Fleur East and Mabel…
TERROR JR / MAKER
“I could meet my maker, I wonder what he’d say to me…
And would he be ashamed of me.”
Closing the month is the delightfully weird Terror Jr, who have dropped their first official album (? Not including the brilliant Bop City series). ‘Heaven Wasn’t Made For Me’ was a perfect distilment of that sharp, critical lyricism and punchy production they’ve been known for. The opener of the album, ‘Maker’, might be their very best yet.
Invoking The Weeknd without the homophobia, it’s a defining song for the band that showcases just how well they’ve refined their brand of punkish electro-pop. After mocking Trump voters and decrying misogynists, ‘Maker’ keeps up the bravado… and keeps it fun while doing it.
DEVON BALDWIN / DON’T PRAY FOR ME
“How could you be so cruel after what we’ve been through
Why’d you pour salt in my wounds?”
There’s just something so deliciously old school about Devon Baldwin’s voice: that kind of classic trance vocal she cleverly buries in various effects. It’s wistful and evocative, and used to great effect as she buries it in harmonies.
With a striking vocal, Devon takes us on a familiar journey decrying a failed and bitter relationship: the production a contrasting mix stretchy dreamlike synths and a drum beat that would sound right at home on Lykke Li’s latest album. Nobody is really making pop music like Devon Baldwin right now, and it’s a quiet but exciting path for her to take… and I can’t wait for more.
DUA LIPA / SWAN SONG
“I won’t stay quiet ’cause staying silent’s the same as dying.”
Undoubtedly the breakout artist of 2018 Dua Lipa is back. And god, the song is really bloody good. Sonically interesting and completely different to anything she’s done before, it’s a total rush of arpeggiated strings, vocal chants and delicate verses. I’d probably go as far as to say it’s one of her best songs… but… there’s something you just can’t ignore…
We’ve heard it before:
GRACE CARTER / HEAL ME
“I’m not waiting for you to cure, you to heal me
I’m not waiting for, for your love. You can keep it.”
Grace Carter is going to be huge this year – mark my words. Even if this song, her first release of the year, was average she’d probably still find herself on my ‘2019 Breakout Stars’ shortlist. Of course, she’s gone and helped me out here by releasing a unique mega ballad of self-empowerment with enormous Loreen style strings and a chorus even bigger than that.
Christ, sometimes you think you’ve heard all that pop music has to offer then someone comes along with a chorus as strong as this. Forgive the slight hyperbole but I’d put this on ‘Wrecking Ball’/’Someone Like You’ levels of massive-chorus-tier. If you’re still not convinced, it’s Jessie Ware ‘Say You Love Me’ with the BPM cranked right up and some beautiful ‘Euphoria’ strings behind it. If you’re still not convinced, you’re crazy.
LAUV, TROYE SIVAN / I’M SO TIRED…
“I’m so tired of love songs, tired of love songs
Tired of love songs, tired of love.
Just wanna go home, wanna go home.”
Troye Sivan’s output is, admittedly, an acquired taste that I personally love. Last year he perfected a ‘Teenage Dream’-in-2019 sound that Lauv have smartly co-opted here, bringing Sivan for the ride. Though not vocal powerhouses, there’s a deep understanding of their sounds here and a perfect cohesion between the two. Both artists sound perfectly at home cooing on top of that simple guitar riff.
Simply put: it’s a brilliant classic pop song that is the personification of driving through summer with the windows down and your arms in the air. Destined to soundtrack summer flings and indie shorts, its only fault is how cripplingly short it is… leaving you thirsty for more by the end of the almost three minutes. That’s what the repeat button is for, I guess.
ROBINSON / KARMA
“Karma’s a bitch, and baby she’s ruthless. Coming for you.”
Robinson has been quietly racking up millions of streams between each release, her latest single ‘Medicine’ amassing over 10 million streams! With such a captive audience, the pressure is on to deliver consistently high-quality content that will keep people hooked.
‘Karma’ does exactly that; an amalgamation of hooks, it quite literally sounds like it was freshly pressed from the ‘2019 Hits!’ Spotify playlist generator. But then… aren’t songs about karma usually always fantastic? Sounding remarkably like Gabrielle Aplin at times, Robinson sets herself apart with that witty lyricism and production that switches up just before it gets predictable.
If you’ve still not had enough, you can follow our Spotify New Music Friday playlist right here:
Updated weekly with the very best pop finds, let us know if anything has grabbed you this week that we’ve missed!