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!

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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.