Music

30th August, NMF!

August is coming to a close as we head closer and closer to spooky season, which means the big heavy hitters will be coming pretty soon to release their new albums. For now, buckle up and listen to these incredible highlights of the week:

LIZ / BTR 2GTHR

LIZ seems to have lit a rocket beneath her feet as I haven’t noticed material skyrocket in quality like this in quite some time. Despite a plethora of synth-girls attempting this type of style right now, most notably Slayyyter who featured in Liz’s latest single, ‘BTR 2GTHR’ manages to eclipse them by bathing in the influence of 90s dance/trance. It’s a fantastic and quirky release that evokes classic dance music just as much as it does contemporary pop, and god damn I haven’t been as excited about pop music as this makes me feel.

CHARLI XCX, HAIM / WARM

Speaking of quirky synthstress, Charli XCX is continuing her album rollout by teaming up with summer girl’s HAIM for the deliciously balanced ‘Warm’. Introducing a much needed warmness in Charli’s typically icy cold production, ‘Warm’ is one hell of an earworm – slowly etching itself into your cold skull with each chorus. And that’s before HAIM even show face, which actually ends up overshadowing Charli herself with their smooth as silk harmonies.

EA KAYA / BACK OF YOUR HEAD

Zara Larsson has seemingly fallen foul to the sophomore curse, inevitably shelving her album release in the guise of ‘wanting better material’. If it’s better Zara Larsson material you’re looking for, ‘Back of Your Head’ is right here. Entirely self-written, ‘Back…’ is stunningly mature with a melody to die for, an enthusiastic empowerment anthem for the cold nights. One thing is for sure, this song will be bouncing around the back of my head for the rest of the week.

TONES AND I / THE KIDS ARE COMING

There’s no escaping Billie Eilish right now, even if it’s not Billie herself. ‘The Kids Are Coming’ might be the closest not-Billie-Billie song I’ve ever heard, but crushed together with a touch of Eurovision charm and ludicrousness. Designed to be listened to with earphones, don’t give it your first listen without them – each little production choice popping in like poltergeists in the background, it’s absolutely undeniable in both its pretentiousness and charm.

LANA DEL REY / NORMAN FUCKING ROTHWELL

Everyone will have an opinion on once reigning hipster queen Lana Del Rey, and over the years her material has shifted around in both inspiration and emotional weight. ‘Norman fucking Rothwell’ is the best thing she has possibly released since her first album, an evocative and powerful ballad that doesn’t revolutionize who Lana is but truly feels like the peak of everything she has worked on so far. It really does feel like everything led to this song, and it really is a masterclass in the much sought after bluesy vibe she typically gets assigned to. With warm strings, an exuberant vocal and a crippling melody throughout… there’s really not much else to say about this other than… wow.

make sure you give our dedicated playlist a little spin this week too, as there are plenty of other amazing songs that dropped this week, from Alphabeat to Post Malone, that deserve your attention.

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.

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

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!

Music

February 22nd, NMF!

MØ / THEME SONG (I’M FAR AWAY)

“I found some roses to show you, growing wild through the floor.”

Am I about to admit a soundtrack song for the Moomin’s is one of 2019’s very best so far? No other artist has soundtracked the evolution of pop music quite like MØ, and her incredible second album ‘Forever Neverland’ showcased her unrivalled approach to quirky yet responsive melodies. It’s SO hard not to get excited when an artist consistently switches up their entire production style, keeping it uniquely them while giving you something fresh.

‘Theme Song’ delivers like a smooth tonic, the chorus unravelling like a dream and giving way to an ethereal saxophone riff. As she chronicles in the lyrics, it perfects the feeling of wanderlust: that rare childhood feeling of wandering the streets and pointing out cracks in the pavement. It’s nostalgic and melancholic, a love story to memories gone. Not only is it an absolute wonder on its own, it’s a bloody soundtrack song!!! Imagine what else MØ has lying around. God.

P!NK / WALK ME HOME

“Walk me home in the dead of night, I can’t be alone with all that’s on my mind.”

The Hot AC queen returns far sooner than anyone expected, and as usual she has delivered us with an expertly polished lead single. Much as usual with rock music, P!nk has taken to refining her sound throughout the many years of her career instead of necessarily reinventing it. What it results in are these uplifting pop bangers that drop all pretence, knowing exactly what they are and who they’re made for.

Stepping on the path ‘Beautiful Trauma’ set out, ‘Walk Me Home’ takes P!nk further out into folk-pop territory. The Mumford and Imagine Dragons influences are instantly apparent, but it’s a soundscape that works well for what will inevitably be screamed out into arenas throughout the summer. Looking back over the twenty years since she first arrived on the scene, the sheer scale of her discography is miraculous. If ‘Walk Me Home’ is anything to go by, her upcoming album is going to be a gem within it.

ELLIE GOULDING / DO YOU REMEMBER

“I still remember when you gave me life.”

The perfect week for every soundtrack lover out there, Ellie Goulding passes one of her biggest songs in recent memory to the ‘Fighting With My Family’ team. It’s surprising to see considering her real lead single, ‘Flux’, is out next week but this is the same artist that repackages each album, or delivers a 20 track masterpiece like Delirium.

‘Do You Remember’ picks up where Ellie left, sounding like a true sister to ‘Something In the Way You Move’. It’s easy to see why she’d pass it to a soundtrack, but that doesn’t make it any less of a sledgehammer. While not convincing any haters any time soon, it’s going to please any Goulding fan that is sat waiting for her new campaign to really start.

BLITHE / DON’T BLINK

“I’m performing a warning.”

Sometimes comparisons are inevitable: ignoring the obvious influences is far too difficult upon first impression. An impression can either overpower a song, or work to its advantage. ‘Don’t Blink’ invokes Julia Michaels with its bubbly production and brilliant switch-up-chorus, and Blithe’s sensual vocal brings tinges of Selena Gomez and Diana Vickers – the collaboration of the two makes the song positively shine.

Absolutely bursting with character, any wandering thoughts you had at the start will be swept away by the brain-melting chorus by the end.

BULOW / SWEET LITTLE LIES

Bülow has quietly been establishing her own quiet and moody aesthetic, positioning herself in much the same realm as Billie Eilish, by dropping consistent Imogen Heap-meets-Grimes-does-trap tracks that showcase an artist with a very clear vision of their songwriting skill.

‘Sweet Little Lies’ is immediately recognisable and easy to swallow, with the chorus possessing one of the most obvious and delectable melodies of the year so far. The sonic shifts of Bülow would threaten to give any fan whiplash, but it’s just another string to her bow; never pulling back far enough to stretch, the same delicate songwriter approach comes piercing through before anything else.

DJDS, COL3TRANE, RAYE / THE FRUITS

“Spill me your mind and I’ll spill you the fruits.”

I’m going out on a limb here and ready to bet you won’t find a song with better production this year than this right here. It takes me far away to the darkest corners of the club, hidden whistles and ‘oohs’ creeping through the crowd of bodies. It’s hard for me to argue with any bassline like this, but the real special moment is how RAYE contorts the melody at her sudden arrival: the equivalent of spotting your crush on the other side of the dancefloor – your vision captivated.

She’s the supporting actress that steals the show, delivering a vocal so charismatic that you’re left desperately hitting that repeat button. Incredible.

Those are our top picks of the week, but the fun doesn’t stop there! There’s plenty more tunes on our dedicated Spotify playlist right here:

Make sure to drop your own discoveries!

Music

February 15th, NMF!

ZEDD, KATY PERRY / 365

“I think about you all the time. 24/7. 365”

Katy Perry has rightfully established herself as somewhat of a pop tour de force, with each of her returning singles resembling an inescapable wrecking ball of hooks and polished visuals. ‘365’ doesn’t seem to be connected to any project of hers, yet, but it certainly comes with that typical Katy Perry first single gusto.

Directed by Warren Fu, the video helps instil the banger with plenty of heart. The song toys with the same idea: where does love and obsession meet? Its clever complexity adds layers to an otherwise simple pop song, one that is easily a Katy Perry best – and hopefully a sign of things to come.

SLAYYYTER / MINE

“Oh me oh my, I wanna make you mine.”

Depending on your Twitter social circles, Slayyyter is either completely unknown or about to break through to an underground mainstream. With only a year of releases under her belt, it’s already iconic how she has successfully managed to capture her own zeitgeist.

‘Mine’ follows ‘Alone’ in refining her somewhat sharp production style into an attractive retro fantasy, building on influences from classic house to Britney Spears. Never does it pretend to be anything other than an inspired love bop blaring out on the club floor at 11PM, and it’s all the more special for embracing that.

DUSK, CALL ME LOOP / NEW HABIT

Call Me Loop is one of the most reliable upcoming pop stars of the past few years, constantly supplying Rita Ora-esque bops that showcase a delicate lyrical style and unrivalled pop sensibility. Basically, she knows her way around a bloody good pop song. ‘New Habit’ is relatively simple, yet positively shines because of an addictive vocal.

Take Rita Ora’s ‘Anywhere’, rewind a few years and sprinkle a little bit of Alphabeat’s infectious positivity… and you get this!

SIR BABYGIRL / CHEERLEADER

“Everybody loves to watch the cheerleader fall”

In this essay I will explain how queer talent continues to push musical boundaries into exceptional, emotional territories that heterosexual members of society could only dream up.

‘Cheerleader’ is our shout out of the week from the new album ‘Crush On Me’ by Sir Babygirl. As with all of Babygirl’s songs so far, it’s hard not to envision the indie movie masterpiece that would accompany this song in the fantasy world we deserve. Above all it’s lyrically brilliant, her trademark shout-y vocals perfectly conveying every line with angst and emotion.

In fact, it’s so good that I can’t decide whether it’s better than her debut ‘Heels’… which is one of the best songs of all time.

YUNGBLUD, HALSEY, TRAVIS BARKER / 11 MINUTES

“I’m eleven minutes away and I miss you all day”

Halsey has been quietly settling herself in for an imperial era since ‘Closer’ hit the top spot around the world in 2016. Ironically ‘Closer’ would most likely be the outlier in her discography today, as its a perfect understanding of her brand and sound that has since set her up to be one of the next big things.

’11 Minutes’ may be a YUNGBLUD song, but it may as well be Ashley’s herself. From the minute her vocals drift in alongside the guitar riff, she absolutely dominates with a perfectly curated vocal. The song itself is Seether and Amy Lee’s ‘Broken’ dragged into 2019, but it’s just so impossible to deny how perfect a move this is for Halsey.

YONAKA / BAD COMPANY

“This big black cloud came down to smother me”

Another pop-rock fantasy moment, YONAKA continue their unstoppable momentum with one of their best efforts yet. Picking up inspiration from classic Paramore, ‘Bad Company’ is for every RIOT! fan that wants to feel thirteen again. It’s effortless pop rock with soaring vocals, who can argue with that?

EDEN XO / HAVE IT ALL

‘Have It All’ starts out as a Gwen Stefani song before swelling into a huge built-for-Eurovision chorus. What it lacks in character it more than makes up with the sheer size of the chorus, basically Kylie-esque Aaaaaah’s buried within warm synths. For now, it’s an exciting amalgamation of sounds that leaves us wondering exactly what Eden XO might deliver next.

Other highlights from the week:

ARMIN VAN BUUREN, BONNIE MCKEE / LONELY FOR YOU
SARA BAREILLES / FIRE
CXLOE / I CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS
BEBE REXHA / LAST HURRAH
FELIX CARTAL, LIGHTS / LOVE ME
EMILY VAUGHT / DEAD TO ME

Make sure to follow the playlist right here so you don’t miss a single bop:

Music

February 8th, NMF!

SOFIA KARLBERG / SPOTLESS MIND

“I might be hide and seeking you out, yeah.”

Sofia Karlberg is typically known for covering songs rather than heading them, one look at her Spotify page and you’ll find an assortment of popular covers spanning over five years… so any concerns about her own output would be justified at this point, right?

Fortunately for us ‘Spotless Mind’ is absolutely spellbinding right from the offset; its production a woozy haze of synths and strings, and an ethereal vocal balancing above it all. The delicate delivery showing a rare vocal mastery and a real understanding of how to use a voice as an instrument. Honestly I never want to hear her cover another song again if her own material is this good.

VERA BLUE / LIKE I REMEMBER YOU

“Keep falling on a loaded gun, try’na be someone for you.”

Vera Blue’s debut album, ‘Perennial’, remains one of 2018’s unrecognised gems. Showcasing an artist and a voice brimming with character that some artists struggle to discover in their third, let alone first albums, ‘Like I Remember You’ is a perfect continuation of her unique lane of pop.

Coupling herself with Greenpeace, the song acts as a political statement to the destruction of the world we inhabit; specifically the Australian Bight, which is being threatened by the presence of oil drilling. It’s a tender message that adds a double meaning to the towering chorus, both of which are impossible to argue with.

BILLIE / ALWAYS ON THE RUN

“Don’t ever take me home.”

It’s been four years since Billie delivered self-harm epitaph ‘Give Me the Knife’, which remains a fresh and glimmering example of electro-pop at its finest. ‘Always On the Run’ quite literally acts as though the four years between the two hasn’t even happened – its a nostalgic time machine to 2015 that even comes with a signature breakdown of blips.

Indiana’s ‘No Romeo’ found reanimated and repackaged. However what it lacks in character it delivers in polish, with every edge perfectly smoothed.

GEORGE MAPLE / CHAMPION

“So you wanna be a big star? 
Wanna be a porn star?”

As ‘Always On the Run’ is polished to perfection, George Maple proudly presents her creation to the world with sticky tape and glue. ‘Champion’ is frankly bizarre; a left-of-field banger that hits the ground running with a marching band and carefully dictated verses before its glacial chorus comes crashing through.

Inspired by the journey of triumph and tribulation, ‘Champion’ is a rallying cry in much the same way as ‘Work Bitch’ was for Britney and how Sasha Fierce is to Beyonce; its the ego we turn to when we need self direction, the moment of loss that requires us to reflect and rebuild. Though I don’t expect an entire album of songs like this, it’s a fascinating and promising beginning to her sophomore.

SVRCINA / INSECURE

“I’m confidently sure, I’m not that insecure.”

It’s almost time for Sweden’s Eurovision song selection contest Melodifestivalen, and I’m ready and willing to make a bet with every single reader that ‘Insecure’ turns out better than the song they select this year. There’s a masterful simplicity to it that would translate perfectly to a wide audience, and you can’t convince me the Julia Michaels-esque chorus hasn’t been created solely for a spectacular light show before the screaming queer audience.

Miraculously she isn’t Swedish, despite the song sounding like the birth child of every Wiktoria writing session of the past few years, but Spotify’s credited songwriters cannot be identified… so it’s not completely out of the question…..

OTHER NOTABLE RELEASES OF THE DAY

KELSEY BULKIN / KAREEM
VOK / IN THE DARK
MAREN MORRIS, BRANDI CARLILE / COMMON
MEG MAC / SOMETHING TELLS ME
MAHALIA / DO NOT DISTURB
ELLIPHANT / TO THE END
ICARUS / SIRENS
ELOHIM / TV
IONNALEE / OPEN SEA

FOLLOW THE EYES ON PLAYLIST: