Music

June 28th, NMF!

AGNES / LIMELIGHT, I TRANCE

Seven years since she last gifted us with the masterpiece pop album Veritas, in which Agnes subverted all expectation and delivered one of the strongest pop albums of the decade; she’s back… and she’s done it again. There’s still an undeniable thread here, you’ll be expecting a European-style SMASH and that’s what you’ll get – but this dual release presents her yet again at the forefront of exciting and ever-changing pop music. ‘Limelight’ is the safer of the two: a typical Agnes mega-smash with enormous chorus fed through a dance filter. ‘I Trance’ is the delicious experiment: a Kylie-esque exploration of dance. What a woman.

KULT KYSS / RITUALS

‘Rituals’ is future pop to its core, evoking Kate Boy’s aggressive ‘One’ with its heavy synths and moody atmosphere. As with KB, the production is just one sparkly part of the package – the vocals being just as important in their world building. It’s the kind of sound I want more mainstream acts to co-opt and integrate their own sound, like when Katy Perry released ‘E.T’.

KIM PETRAS / ICY

Kim Petras’ problematic existence has been easiest to deny when her music occupied a relatively anonymous and fairly-good-but-not-amazing territory. ‘Icy’, part of her new album Clarity, may mark the end of that. Whilst still tied to Luke, and thus sounding like something you’d find The Weeknd releasing, it’s easily the best thing she’s put her name to yet. A fitting vocal for the subject material, where often she can sound slightly trill, it works perfectly to showcase the coldness she’s singing about.

MUNA / WHO

Queens of emotion, MUNA have followed their alt-banger ‘Number One Fan’ with a much more familiar ballad dedicated to obsessional stalking and unrequited love. Katie’s vocals will forever be the highlight, transforming what might be simple lyricism into heartbreaking odes of pain. It’s something they mastered with their debut, so definitely reassuring to see it return so well here.

PURE SHORES / RUSHING

Marlene and Ji helmed the best song of 2018 last year, Ear Candy, and have since teamed up to become production duo extraordinaire’s Pure Shores. ‘Rushing’ is their first release together, giving us a great first glimpse into the dance-pop they hopefully intend to keep on releasing. If there’s anyone that understands how to make a light and breezy pop song with enough substance to pierce your skull, it’s Marlene and Ji.

This might be the most packed week in recent memory… On top of the above highlights, we have new songs from Ellie Goulding, Sasha Sloan, Julia Michaels, George Maple, Jada, Iggy Azalea, Sofia Karlberg and even MORE. Make sure to follow our dedicated playlist to keep up with the best of the best!

Music

June 21st, NMF!

Batten down the hatches, there’s a strange storm brewing this week. Another monumental one; prepare for the classically excellent Swedish drops, the best of the best dream-pop and basically a whole bunch of artists that sound confident instead of anonymous. Relish in it. It’s a great, great week. Here’s the top picks:

HANNE MJOEN / STRANGERS

‘Strangers’ treads mightily close to Hanne’s previous single, ‘Sounds Good to Me’, but in that case it’s an exercise in just how to improve on perfection. The warm pulsating synths are like heaven, coupled with a very timid Gomez-esque vocal delivery. It’s the kind of thing Carly Rae Jepsen should have been chasing for her latest album. Perfect melancholic cry-dance pop.

DEVON BALDWIN / UNDERWATER

Nobody is making music like Devon Baldwin right now, and that’s absolutely to her credit; it’s slightly operatic but intimate, minimal and yet sprawling, dreamy and yet piercing. ‘Underwater’ is stunning in all of its atmosphere – truly summoning that drowned world she sings about. Do yourself a favour and plug in some earphones, listen to those subtle gated synths and hums…. let it just carry you away.

A R I Z O N A / NOSTALGIC

Nostalgia is a minefield of material that every artist has worked away on at some point, so it’s refreshing to see a song directly address the nostalgia. Personally it’s always these sprawling dreamy electro-bops that summon some kind of nostalgia for me, to a bright and happy Summer, and ‘Nostalgic’ bathes in exactly that. It’s the Summer banger we deserve with a beautifully charged melancholy threaded throughout.

DAYA / LEFT ME YET

Unfortunately many of us will be able to relate with this: the displaced disposition of loving someone but not yourself. “I’m surprised you haven’t left me yet” she confesses piercingly. This isn’t a ballad though, and the spritely production hides the emotional almost too well, so let’s hold out for the inevitable acoustic version which I will cry to.

ANNA BERGENDAHL / HOME

Part of me recognizes just how Melodifestivalen-by-the-numbers this is, but considering the Swedish Eurovision veto process typically plucks out some of the best pop songs of the year I’ll allow it. Anna’s Shakira-esque husk pushes through at times and instills it with character it desperately needs, just as the guitar does, but ultimately its the chorus that lets this stand out.

What with this being such a heavy week, make sure you’re checking out the rest of this dedicated playlist or you’ll miss out on some more GREAT releases like…

Zara Larsson‘s return to form, ‘All the Time’.
Alma‘s queer love tragedy epic ‘Lonely Night’.
Kiesza‘s reverb filled ballad comeback smash.
Shawn Mendes attempt to woo Latin America.

AND MORE!

Music

June 14th, NMF!

We’re crossing into mid-year territory here and Summer has yet to show its face, and apart from a few bangers (looking at you Katy) so have the Summer hits. It’s another week of moody alt-bops so grab your earphones, pull your curtains close and get ready.

SO BELOW / US

‘Us’ is cripplingly good and, crucially, sounds exactly like you’d expect a So Below uptempo to go. Her typical icy vocal is lifted by a constantly rolling production of pulsing synths and guitars, breaking away to reveal a controlled explosion of electronic blips and beeps. It reminds me of BANKS in just how confident and well crafted it is – not to mention the sheer melancholic emotion that comes with it.

LOOTE / LOST

Sometimes you just need a really well-crafted and simple melody, and if there’s one thing to celebrate here it’s that melody. Sounding like a Taylor Swift 1989 track is never a bad thing, and the chorus is as big as anything Swift has ever put to paper. I’m such a sucker for the GENTLE-VERSE-BIG-CHORUS formula…

DELANEY JANE / RED

The monumental thing about ‘Red’ is how effortlessly it shifts in sound, opening as a Kate Nash track only to morph into a Sky Ferreira-esque wonder as the chorus slinks in. Another monumental thing to note? That complimentary dissonance between her stretched vocals and the slowly intensifying production behind it. All in all – the song is a perfect showcase of just how atmospheric and expansive music can be at the best of times.

JADA / CLEAN LOVE

‘Clean Love’ is refreshingly sparse, opening with addictive delayed synths and a crystal clear vocal. The slight PC-Music influence comes through in the opening verses, only for it to subvert expectation with a power ballad chorus that evokes similar work from Devon Baldwin this year. It’s a great exploration of injecting emotion in dance music, and how well dance music elements can be incorporated regardless of tempo.

DANIELLA MASON / GIRL IN THE BOX

Taken from her new ep, Mental State, ‘Girl in the Box’ is one of four fantastic songs packaged up to showcase this interesting new starlet. Similar to Emily Vaughn’s Bitch Bops that came out earlier this year, there’s a more natural and subtle approach to melodies and production here. Where Emily punches, Daniella scratches at the skin to find her way into your mind. ‘Girl in the Box’ is delicate and addictive, packed with brilliant little touches like the mega-vocodered ad-libs.

SVEA / LOVE ME NOW

Normally I pick my favourite five to showcase here and the left are lined up on the playlist (mostly in order of greatness) but ‘Love Me Now’ also deserves a quick shout out. I do like to prioritize songs that try to do something a little different and ‘Love Me Now’ absolutely doesn’t… but honestly sometimes, who cares? It’s a Haillee Steinfield/CXLOE/Anne-Marie pop bop about loving yourself. And we can never have enough of those.

Music

June 7th, NMF!

Last week delivered one of the best new music friday’s in years, so naturally the week after would have a lot to live up to. Luckily there’s one or two songs that manage to hit like a meteor, let’s check them out:

MUNA / NUMBER ONE FAN

Two years on from one of the most realised debut albums of all time, MUNA return with the shockingly confident ‘Number One Fan’ – an anthem dedicated to learning to love yourself in the face of negative internal energies. Gone is the overtly dramatic aesthetic and gloom in place of a hyper realised 90s glam-dream and a much, much lighter vibe. Coupled with one of the best music videos I’ve seen in a long time, ‘Number One Fan’ brings MUNA right back into the fold as one of the most exciting and important bands on the planet right now.

KIIARA / OPEN MY MOUTH

Typically a Kiiara song will instill a sense of icy cool, opting to present her pop star quality as out-of-reach and slightly Madonna-esque in its ubiquity. There’s a distinct anonymity to her, like a lot of Spotify girls, but also a distinct coolness that comes with owning her own sound (much like Billie Eilish). ‘Open My Mouth’ does away with that a little to present a much warmer island-influenced bop, slowly peeling away the artist known as Kiiara. It still has her trademark vocal chop, but the production suggests a very welcome progression.†

SWIMMING GIRLS / I DON’T WANNA GET TO HEAVEN

The revival of the 80s continues with Swimming Girls new track, complete with guitar riff that would play out as the credits roll of every cult indie film of that era. It’s a deadly song that will find its way into your head without you realising, perfect for sunset drives and every heartbreak fuelled getaway.

CHARLOTTE / SOMEBODY TO HOLD

‘Somebody to Hold’ starts out deceptively simple; it’s one of those songs that unfurl through multiple plays, as you dissect the lyricism and find your own pieces of the puzzle inside. Ultimately it’s a stunning ballad of longing that elevates itself with a stunning gospel choir, introducing soul aspects that makes me really excited for Charlotte’s sound. By the third minute, I’m fully prepared and waiting for an entire album of this exact template.

SABRINA CARPENTER / IN MY BED

Being part of the Disney alumni can be seen as somewhat of a curse or a blessing, either way it immediately implies a certain expectation. Sabrina’s brilliant EP, Singular, last year showed exactly why she shouldn’t be written off as another simple Disney character and ‘In My Bed’, taking from the second parter, drives the nail in deeper. Stunning art direction aside, the song is a perfectly crafted earworm which evokes Ariana Grande to a scary degree in parts but showcases a confident character in its own right. Sabrina is polished and ready to show herself as herself, and that’s EXCITING.

Be sure to follow the Eyes On New Music Friday playlist, which is updated weekly with every track worth listening to. This week is a much slower affair, so grab your earphones and prepare to mellow out:

Music

May 31st, NMF!

Is this… Is this the greatest New Music Friday of all time? This is the time to grab a coffee, plug your earphones in and dedicate a good hour to this plethora of amazing pop songs. 2019 has never sounded better.

KATY PERRY / NEVER REALLY OVER

Returning with a point to prove, Perry really came back with her best lead single yet. Sampling Dagny’s equally amazing ‘Love You Like That’, there’s no other pop girl that has their finger on the pulse quite like Katy. ‘Never Really Over’ is absolutely exhilarating from start to finish; a total revolution of her Teenage Dream sound with the much-sought Swedish touch and a prechorus that SWELLS like an ocean into a chorus of relentless wordplay, leaving you literally gasping for breath. ‘Never Really Over’ is the sound of Katy Perry laughing at everyone who really though Witness was the nail in her coffin – it really is never over.

SASHA SLOAN / THOUGHTS

‘Thoughts’ is a brutal exercise in trepanation: the sound of Sasha Sloan drilling deep holes into her skull and allowing us to watch the demons that crawl out. She’s been somewhat of a revelation for songwriting over the past year or two: tackling her own mental health and severe self-doubt with a fearless optimism. But even beyond the piercing lyricism, ‘Thoughts’ stews in its stunning and minimal production to create a melancholic mid-tempo masterpiece.

LAUV / SAD FOREVER

‘Sad Forever’ takes similar cues to ‘Thoughts’, and it’s always great to see male artists exploring emotions we are told culturally to repress. Sonically it’s very familiar to ‘i’m so tired’ which is unsurprising considering it was both fantastic and a minor hit. I do wish the high squeak of the guitar string was phased out slightly, but nitpicking aside it’s built to be stuck in your head for days. “I don’t want to be medicated” he sings, exploring the use of antidepressants to keep us happy. It’s a much needed insight into problems so many are facing now, hidden deep inside of a bop. Great!

INGRID MICHAELSON / JEALOUS

You may or may not know Ingrid Michaelson already, but none of that really matters because ‘Jealous’ sounds like the debut of a whole new artist – one of those upcoming Spotify girls that have been in label purgatory for years slowly working on her craft. ‘Jealous’ sounds like the hit Julia Michaels has been searching for since ‘Issues’. A perfect blend of electro-pop and her traditional songwriter self… considering her last album was a collection of Christmas covers, and it has been three years since an original, consider me both surprised and elated.

CHERYL / LET YOU

There are half a dozen versions of this out already; the demo, two remixes and an orchestral version. Luckily the single version is the best of the lot, the highlight being its ecstatic Carly Rae production in contrast to an incredibly sleepy vocal. Cheryl’s real star power comes in her performances, and I can already envision the fantastic dance break she’ll hammer into that middle-8.

XYLO / YES & NO

‘yes & no’ was the big surprise this week, holding its own amongst some real heavy hitters – think Julia Michaels on a depressing acid trip and you’re halfway there. The sultry and sedated vocal giving off a positively creepy vibe alongside phenomenal production that would sound right at home on a horror video game or two.

I could sit and write about these songs all day, it really is the best New Music Friday you’ll find in a long time. Make sure to check out the rest or you’ll be missing out on some huge bangers.

Music

May 24th, NMF!

Before I get into the best new drops this week, make sure that you’re following the dedicated Eyes On New Music Friday playlist so that you don’t miss a single song. I do the hard work so you don’t have to.

Here are the very best of the best this week!

JESS GLYNNE, JAX JONES / ONE TOUCH

Prepare to hear this in every leisure center around the country because I’m not sure there’s been such an obvious summer hit since ‘One Kiss’. As usual with Jess, it isn’t trying to break the wheel – it’s more preoccupied with being the best feel-good banger it can be, and it certainly fits the bill. It’s basically a Jess Glynne song that Jax Jones helped POP OFF a bit, and it really pops off.

ORKID / MELODRAMA

The opening to this almost made me crash my car, the glorious 00s horns a perfect introduction for a song this full of bravado. ORKID has dropped songs of varying quality over the past year, but ‘Melodrama’ is without a doubt the most interesting yet. The unforgettable bass line carries the momentum here, but ORKID smartly coos around it to give it more complexity and depth. I could have done with the final chorus really throwing in the entire kitchen sink but it’s addictive enough.

CYN / HOLY ROLLER

‘Holy Roller’ kind of tries to do exactly what ‘Melodrama’ does in presenting Cyn, whose voice comes across as slightly whimsical and innocent, with a bratty attitude. Her real strength is in that juxtaposition, the song is an amalgamation of sexual lyricism, whistles and a straight edge vocal – it’s addictive and interesting from the off. She has definitely found her sound.

ALICE GRAY / HELL WITH YOU

“I kind of like living in Hell with you” Alice sings softly. It’s one hell of an introduction: unveiling a dark and addictive relationship with one opening line. Starting off as dreamlike and wistful before slowly unraveling the crunchy synths and further production, it’s addictive in its quiet delicateness. It’s as intimate a ballad as you’re going to find this week.

CHARLOTTE OC / BETTER OFF ON MY OWN

It’s easy to imagine Adele taking this, performing it on several award shows and watching it catapult to the top of the charts around the country. With an undeniable hammer of a chorus, it helps that Charlotte has one of the characterful voices of the current pop scene. I’m going to need an album NOW.

BONUS SONG:
SIGALA, BECKY HILL / WISH YOU WELL

‘Wish You Well’ is the signal fire that we’re approaching Summer here in the UK, and just as the sweaty bodies of pasty men fill our streets, as the ice cream men don their uniforms and take to the road, Sigala and other anonymous DJs will be prepared to drop everything they have. What else do you think they’ve been doing through the winter? Anyway ‘Wish You Well’ is a dance banger that does what I’ve been begging for for years and it goes full on Trance for the most part. Brilliant. No that’s not Anne-Marie, it’s Becky Hill.

Music

May 17th, the best of NMF!

Here are our top five of this weeks NEW MUSIC FRIDAY:

SOFI DE LA TORRE / ESTAMOS MAL

Sofi has often spoke about the influence her Spanish origin has had on her music, though this will be her first official release not in English, but that isn’t to the detriment to the song. ‘Estamos Mal’ showcases Sofi’s unrivalled ability to craft melancholic and introspective songs with an urban edge, the sheer pain and heartbreak drifts through even before you translate the lyrics. ‘We are not well, we are wrong’ she chants again and again from the heart. It’s the most open and exciting she has felt in years.

ISA / CONVERSATION

Spotify is a crowded place for the pop girls of today, each one seemingly drawing from the same pool of inspiration; most are blonde, have artwork that slightly covers their face and don’t stretch too far from the synth-pop template. ‘Conversation’ doesn’t break the wheel, its verses are pretty standard fare, but it does do the smart thing where it matters – the chorus is a gorgeous nugget of a hook. If you’re going to give us something, give us a good chorus.

GRACEY / IF YOU LOVED ME

Gracey’s ‘Different Things’ made a fair few waves with its minimalist vocoder-heavy approach, in hindsight the track was the perfect introduction to a new artist. ‘If You Loved Me’ dials the pop-song knobs up considerably, with a chorus as instant as anything on either of Lorde’s albums. Cut from a similar cloth but much more accessible, it’s so refreshing to see smart decisions like this.

KAT DELUNA / LAST NIGHT IN MIAMI

Listen this deserves to be here because it’s an enormous bop that segues really well with ‘If You Loved Me’ (If you don’t believe me, try it and get back to me). ‘Last Night in Miami’ isn’t going to rocket Kat Deluna back into the charts any time soon, it’s basically the lead single J-Lo has been trying to secure for the last few years, but I’m not going to turn my nose up at a 2010’s club bop like this and neither should you.+

CHARLI XCX, LIZZO / BLAME IT ON YOUR LOVE

Admittedly this took a few listens for me to get over the fact we’d already heard this in the form of ‘Track 10’, but it’s a great change of pace for Charli while also sounding perfect to her sound. Outside of the mixtapes, her music hasn’t necessarily lent itself to their PC-Music inspired standard. ‘Blame It On Your Love’ sounds like the best chance for Charli to get a hit as ever, especially considering she’s added the current big thing Lizzo to the track. Her verse exists to give us respite before the last thirty seconds obliterate our skulls.

This week, make sure you also check out:

Mark Ronson, YEBBA with ‘Don’t Leave Me Lonely’. His album really is going to be one of the most exciting of the year isn’t it?

Janice ‘Hearts Will Bleed’ introduces a new sound for her, the chorus is as big as ever.

Four of Diamonds ‘Walk Away’ is the best girl band single I’ve heard in years. More All Saints than Little Mix, it’s a fantastic ballad.

Hatchie ‘Obsessed’ is her best song yet and should soundtrack every Netflix teen drama from now on please. Absolutely stunning.

Carly Rae Jepsen ‘Real Love’ is the best thing from her new album, but it’s all very similar. If you like it, check out the album!