22nd May, New Music Friday!

Hey, we’re back. Make sure you’re following the Spotify playlist which is always updated weekly so you don’t miss out the highlights! Quarantine life be damned, we’re getting a highlight post out this week because it’s a crazy one. Last week was dominated by ‘Daisies’ really, this one is… well it’s a little spread of excellence.

LADY GAGA, ARIANA GRANDE / RAIN ON ME

It was almost inevitably going to be the big highlight of the week, with two of pops biggest artists coming together in a celebration of letting go of your sorrows and dancing the tears away. Of course, the stakes were high, but this hybrid house-pop dance banger manages to pull it off by bringing in that wistful Ariana vocal with those beloved Born This Way melodies. The result is something that feels exciting and fresh for Gaga, and seeing as the album is out in A WEEK it couldn’t have come a moment too soon.

CALL ME LOOP / STRIKE

Another heavy hitter this week in Call Me Loop, albeit on a different height of popstars like Ariana and Gaga. What we have here though is a contender for the years best of list, a ‘Runaway With Me’ style frothy pop song that feels simultaneously lightweight and melodically packed. Loop’s songwriting skills continue to be painfully underrated, something we still hope ‘React’ will help to rectify, and that’s never more obvious here than the gorgeous middle-8, a lovely intimate moment that recalls the older songs of hers. It’s no secret that there’s a huge Call Me Loop stan here, so there’s bias, but this feels like the closest she has been to breaking through with a song since ‘Give ‘N’ Take’ and ‘Love the Lie’.

ELLIE GOULDING / POWER

It’s been a weird few years for Ellie, hasn’t it? Admittedly we’ve afforded her more space than most, having opened up about the mental damage her last campaign did, but there’s been a real disconnect with her material since (most likely the labels behest). ‘Power’ is the first step to fixing that. Easily her best song in years but also, most importantly, alive with confidence and that typical Goulding heart that’s been strangely absent since ‘Figure 8’. The keen of hearing will notice the ‘Be the One’ interpolation, but the chorus is so fantastic that it really doesn’t matter after a few listens.

ALICE CHATER / TWO OF US

Alice Chater wasn’t built for indie success. In her videos, her production credits, her general appeal, it’s painfully obvious that Chater is one of the greats in waiting. Strangely that can sometimes hold one back, a cry against authenticity, and we’ve seen brief flits with apparent success yet no real fruition of it. ‘Two of Us’, with that in mind, feels like a real curtain-jerking moment of open vulnerability. Though not rocking the boat by any means, there’s something different about this release for her that feels so alive and exciting. Her delicate but gorgeous delivery takes this above and beyond, with a closer dedication to the melody and lyrical content than production, which is usually the case for Chater. It’s gorgeous, and hopefully the start of an album!

DAGNY / PARIS

What a damn week for music. In fact, there’s a potentially damning similarity between the highlights this week. All are dreamlike, whispery synth pop (which is apparently to my taste so…). Dagny is, like Call Me Loop above, a master at this. ‘Paris’ is arguably her best song yet, a real slowdown of that sugar-sweet formula of hers. The result is a gorgeous, sultry slice of pop music that relishes in her typical blueprint while showing us the other side of Dagny. There’s an EP to this too, Strangers/Lovers, which is the best of the week. If you’re looking for perfectly polished pop, there’s your bag.

Remember to keep your eyes on (!) the dedicated New Music playlist, where the highlights always continue. Every week. For you. (Apparently there’s an embedding issue so there won’t be a pretty graphic, but here’s the link)

8th November, NMF!

What initially seemed a weakish week has already started to open up to me, with some major subtle hits hidden among the rough. The highlights are highlights because of how well they hit on first listen but don’t discredit the rest of the list, there’s some real gems this week.

POPPY / BLOODMONEY

Poppy’s rapid evolution has been an absolute sight to watch, despite the harshness always being a key product in her music, there’s a real new pounding angst and rebellion that you’d expect from The Pretty Reckless. It fits better than it really ought to, and what might come off as pretentious for anyone else (a whisper-talk section about losing your soul) just kind of… fits in this chaotic landscape? There’s also the fact her voice often evokes classic Avril Lavigne, and it leans into that pop styling just as much as the harsh rock. Fearless and FAB.

HANA / ANXIOUS ALIEN

Rather brilliantly, HANA produced her entire new album in a Twitch Livestream over one month. The real kicker though is that the album is damn good, sounding as expansive as a full campaign led-album. ‘Anxious Alien’ feels like the perfect evolution for HANA, with similar vibes to Skott, in all of its Alisha’s Attic glory. With such a sparse and repetitive drum beat, you really need the melody to shine and it does.

IGGY AZALEA, ALICE CHATER / LOLA

Powerhouse vocalist Alice teams up with creative genius Iggy for this ‘I Like It’-inspired-party anthem. Admittedly it’s the video which makes this shine the most, which might be both parties best yet, but at the heart of it there’s a really fun pop song that sounds like the biggest chance of a hit Iggy has had in years. Switching from Alice’s dreamy vocals to Iggy’s industrial rapping style, it’s almost impossible not to be drawn in.

ROSALIA / A PALE

Well, the award for causing the greatest whiplash of the week goes to ‘A Pal lé’, a snarling anthem that is easily her best yet. Transcending the language barrier with an addictive bassline, Rosalia commands the entire room. With her name slowly becoming renowned around the world, each song racking up millions of streams, its hard to deny the power this song clearly has. It’s Rihanna meets Billie Eilish but also with her own distinct vibe, a vibe I need MORE of.

CAMELPHAT, JEM COOKE / RABBIT HOLE

‘Rabbit Hole’ fits here not because it’s a brilliant trance-dance song, but because there are parts in which Jem Cooke sounds exactly like Adele, that trademark inflection on certain parts of a word. It’s got me wondering about the kind of thing Adele could do would she ever choose to release something with a bit of a bite again, or even package out some remixes too. It’s easy enough to get lost in this gorgeous beat, but its the vocal that really takes it to the next level. Do give us something like this, Adele. If Sam Smith can do it, so can you.

SONIA / I DON’T KNOW

This had me at the Sting guitar intro, and it just had to prove itself from there. Luckily Sonia is kind of proving herself as some kind of minimal prodigy, her songs intimate and affecting, and ‘I Don’t Know’ is her best yet. At some point you do need a spark, but for now these brain-drilling epics are tingling my spine, instilling a real interest in what she continues to do. It’s that last closing minute, where it gets really stripped back, that brings it to where it needs to be, the guitar shifting into a stunning R&B-esque refrain, and suddenly I’m repeating just to hear the song all over again.

The BEST of the BEST are here every single week:

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2nd August, NMF!

August kicks off with a bang as the delightful Alice Chater returns with a dance banger, Carly Rae and Kiesza sign themselves up to features that are actually good and Ava Max double dropped suprisingly adequate pop songs despite a whole new upcoming single campaign. Here’s our best of the best:

Vocally Alice Chater is at that infamous Jessie J level of overwhelmingly competent, though our blonde diva in waiting is somewhat of a triple threat – glorious tunes, impeccable dancing skill and a towering voice. ‘Tonight’ follows in the footsteps of ‘Thief’, a somewhat anonymous megabop that sounds dangerously similar to ‘One Last Time’, in establishing Alice’s pop persona. You’d think talent was enough but we also need the songs.

I’m not quite sure whether ‘Tonight’ is that song just yet, but it’s the first time we’re glimpsing Alice Chater away from the samples and similar sounding sonic palettes. At times it really does sound like a remix, with the verses clearly missing something, but 1. crucially the chorus is huge enough for that not to matter 2. The music video, available here, is a total 10/10 blast (as are all of her music videos for that matter) and 3. the middle-8 is otherworldly. Honestly I almost crashed my car this morning when she came Ooooooooh-ing through the speakers.

Carly Rae has been a bit of an enigma this year, firstly for following one of the greatest and most refined pop albums of all time with a disappointing and a somewhat half-baked return, mostly because it kind of feels like her interest in her own sound has stagnated somewhat. It’s back to square one, and she’s jumped on a feature with the very underrated Gryffin – now you only have to look at the artwork and you know how this is going to go, but it does subvert the drop with a gorgeous horn/synth mix solo that suits Carly’s voice perfectly. It’s a kind of tiny moment of wonder that I hope inspires Carly going forward. Production aside, this is essentially a Carly song – so it’s not too farfetched to imagine a world in which she embraces this a little.

I hear sounds in the hallway, rocking chairs are moving on their own” Ava croons softly in what sounds like a misplaced Halloween reference. Ava Max is fairly easy to understand, her persona has been crafted that way, and thus ‘Freaking Me Out’ isn’t aiming to surprise as much as appease the listener. It does manage to have these small surprising moments of glory throughout though, imbuing it with character, like the ‘du du du’ middle eight section (complete with flutes!) that comes and goes within seconds. As long as she keeps this little surprises up, she’s good.

As a total sucker for emotional dramas and teen-flicks, 13 Reasons Why is the biggest guilty pleasure I’m happy to admit to. ‘fuck, i’m lonely’ sees rising star Lauv team up with Anne-Marie in a stunningly intimate duet about loneliness and the refusal to get over someone. Admittedly a worn topic, particularly when you think about the other party who is receiving these endless calls, but smartly coupling with 13 Reasons Why – which deals with teen angst and suicide, amongst a breadth of other things – gives it the extra dimension it needs. Lauv is doing a storming job right now openly exploring feelings in his music, which is not easy for males in the media right now, and ‘fuck, i’m lonely’ is another string to that bow.

Mabel’s album, High Expectations, is out now and ‘Put Your Name On It’ is easily the best thing from it that hasn’t already been released. Whilst she’s been at the helm of quite a handful of big hits now, most notably the recent ‘Don’t Call Me Up’, it has taken this long to put out a piece of work. ‘Put Your Name On It’ recalls her features (‘Ring Ring’, ‘Fine Line’) but showcasing her charismatic ability to command it by herself. It definitely seems as though she’s being lined up to be the next Dua Lipa, and frankly she has the material to match, so hopefully this is her ‘New Rules’.

There’s plenty more to listen to this month, as always it’s documented in our weekly ‘Eyes On…’ playlist here:

Give it a follow and make sure to tell us what songs you’re enjoying this month!

Eyes On…