Music

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)

Music

July 12th, NMF!

A big big BIG week this week. We’re talking enough hooks to catch a meal for the whole family. Get your earphones, get comfy… and dig in.

SOFI TUKKER / SWING

One of my highlights of the weak features almost entirely Portuguese lyrics and violent strings set to a dance background. Sofi Tukker have been behind some of the most versatile and exciting dance-pop music in recent memory but ‘Swing’ turns the character up a whole other notch. It’s delightfully addictive, the repeated lyrics cast out like a spell that hooks you right in – and just when it threatens to get too much, those gorgeous strings and a well placed ‘oooooooh’ softens it into pure bliss.

CALL ME LOOP / SELF LOVE

Call Me Loop has ditched the blonde locks and transformed her sound accordingly, switching from the frothy pop hits you’d hear from Rita Ora to a self-help anthem ripped straight from Ace Wilder’s playbook. It’s yet another delivery from Loop that leaves us wondering when she’s going to punch through – it’s positively oozing with character, Georgia’s vocal inflections and speak-sections keep it bouncing along. It doesn’t sound like an obvious hit, but it’s as catchy as the measles. Imagine this on the Melodifestivalen stage with a handful of dancers and coloured ribbons. Perfection!

BANKS / CONTAMINATED

Absolutely without a doubt the highlight of the week, if not one of the highlights of the entire year. While we wait for the album to sink in a little more, ‘Contaminated’ dug its claws in on first listen. It’s that broody, heavily affected ballad that BANKS knows how to deliver – you won’t find much of a deviation from her already perfect formula – but the worldbuilding on display in this song is astounding. Already one of the greatest songwriters out there, ‘Contaminated’ showcases Gillian’s unrivalled ability to present relatable topics in a completely unique, and heartbreaking, way.

THE BAND PERRY / GOOD LIFE

You may know The Band Perry from their fairly extensive country success. If you do, forget all about it. Their first new music in over five years, ‘COORDINATES’ established an entirely new dedication to electronic pop and ‘THE GOOD LIFE’ is the nail in that yeehaw coffin. Astoundingly it sounds as though they have been doing this sound forever, the sharp as nails vocal perfectly complimented by the glacial production. May they never look back.

PVRIS / DEATH OF ME

Like many other bands before them, Paramore being the closest, PVRIS perfected the art of delivering angsty rock music in a palatable pop package. Without sacrificing an ounce of their character, they have consistently delivered exceptional pop songs with that harder edge. ‘Death of Me’ is their best yet – it’s the kind of song we know Halsey would have begged to release. Production wise it is world class (and possibly the best produced song of the year?) with a chorus built to raise arena roofs. Welcome back, PVRIS.

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March 8th, NMF!

DAYA / INSOMNIA

“I keep on hoping to find you reaching in between the sheets.”

It’s been eighteen years since Kylie Minogue changed pop music as we know it with the undeniable ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’, and yet it still remains a milestone in pop music production. ‘Insomnia’ wears its inspiration on its sleeve, an almost direct homage to the undeniable bouncing beat and relentless obsession of ‘Can’t…’.

Insomnia itself is a creative topic that has been mined to near-death, and frankly the glamorisation of mental health disorders is a worrying trend for 2019, but the way Daya ties it all together with the theme of obsessing over a lover, completely unable to sleep without them on your mind, as well as the clear reference to classic Kylie? An absolute stellar knockout single. This really feels like a momentous release for her.

CHARLOTTE OC / BOYFRIEND

“I don’t even want a boyfriend, so why the hell am I still sitting here holding your hand?”

Charlotte OC has been quietly delivering downcast Folk/R&B tinged pop for a few years now: her rich and slightly smokey vocal perfectly matched to the stripped production. Her previous single, ‘Satellite’, marked the shift in sound to a more electronic, sparse style – and her skill for crafting a melody shone even brighter with it. Considering ‘Satellite’ slowly crept up to being one of the strongest tracks of last year, ‘Boyfriend’ is the LONG AWAITED follow up for us and…

It’s bloody brilliant: a perfect blend of her previously established sound with a timeless, Leon-esque funk. Just as we thought, Charlotte OC’s secret strength is crafting melodies that don’t necessarily sound instant, instead they slowly find their way into every corner of your mind.

CALL ME LOOP / BODY LIKE YOURS

“He’s so close to perfect, I couldn’t ask for more…”

Consider me frustrated that Call Me Loop hasn’t broken through to the mainstream yet considering her penchant for delivering perfectly crafted pop songs that are notoriously easy to digest whilst also switching things up just enough to keep it interesting. ‘Body Like Yours’ is taken from her latest EP, Drama, which ditches Loop’s previous singles such as ‘Love the Lie’ and ‘Give ‘N’ Take’ for one cohesive package. Lyrically exploring the painful contrast of head vs heart, ‘Body…’ showcases Loop’s expertly refined touch when it comes to pop music. Instant. Hooks. Everywhere.

RIA MAE / NOT YOUR TYPE

“If you don’t like my style, I’ll tone it down.”

File Ria Mae under the Betty Who/Call Me Loop categories for artists that just cannot seem to break through despite the quality of their material. ‘Not Your Type’ is positively encapsulating, a true Carly Rae Jepsen-esque production masterpiece that would sound right at place on a Katy Perry album. The parent EP, Stars, may struggle to find its sound a little but there’s a confident pairing in ‘Not Your Type’ and Ria’s delivery that absolutely deserves to be pursues more. Ria, keep on making these!

DAGNY, STEVE AOKI / HIT YOUR HEART

“You know I’m coming back to you like a bullet.”

You’ll have found, more than ever, Steve Aoki’s name attached to various pop starlets over the past few years. It feels like a real attempt to push his production style out into spaces his music usually wouldn’t permeate, and for the most part it has resulted in brilliant weird pop collaborations like ‘Lie to Me’ and ‘Are You Lonely’. It’s always refreshing to see dance music collide with pop, especially if it manages to pierce the mainstream enough to shift the landscape a little.

‘Hit Your Heart’ doesn’t feel like a landscape shifting epic, but it does sound like it’s at least trying. Where else will you find an abrasive Icona Pop vocal, a classic Britney Spears breakdown and blaring trumpets in the same song? Dagny has already proven she can deliver excellent and surprising pop music too, if ‘Love You Like That’ is anything to go by, so this is yet another string to her versatile bow.

If you’re not following the playlist, then don’t expect to find the good stuff on Fridays. Seriously, do it.