Well it’s gay christmas because one look at the playlist and you will see Agnes, Dagny, The Pussycat Dolls, Tove Lo, Aly & AJ, Halsey, Marina… all in one week! Let’s dive right in.
DAGNY / COME OVER
Dagny is a songwriting genius, it’s why Katy Perry looked to her to create the greatest song of all time, ‘Never Really Over’. ‘Come Over’ picks up where she left off – that sublime sugar sweet pop music and relentlessness that she just seems to excel at. I really, really, really need her in the studio with Perry right now.
AGNES / GOODLIFE
There aren’t many artists around that have had as interesting careers as Agnes, who already dropped an amazing EP out of the blue last year. Ditching the experimental 80s vibe of the EP, ‘Goodlife’ turns to STRINGS, and god she sounds gorgeous on it.
THE PUSSYCAT DOLLS / REACT
It’s finally here. Though the wait was certainly worth it for that saucy music video, wow. Penned by the shining talent Call Me Loop, ‘React’ finds PCD crash landing into 2020 with a contemporary ‘Buttons’ of sorts. It’s sexy, it’s smooth, it’s a total rush.
CYN / LONELY GUN
Admittedly Cyn’s output has veered between sounds so much that I never know what she’s going to do with each release, but even with that I couldn’t have expected ‘Lonely Gun’. Taken from the Birds of Prey soundtrack, it is a total RACKET and is all the better for it. A KT Tunstall-style banger with horns, Cyn certainly couldn’t make herself any louder.
INA WROLDSEN / PALE HORSES
Ina is another artist that continuously surprises with the breadth of her releases. Whilst a respected songwriter already, she has had little success on her own terms, and though she’s dropped a few casual appeals to success, for the most part she’s able to experiment and play her own games because of it. ‘Pale Horses’ is one of her best yet; an initially bonkers drum beat soon gives way to an enormous chorus bolstered with strings.
SO there were our highlights of the week but as always more can be found in our dedicated New Music Friday playlist below!
Well, it’s one or the other this week; ballads or bops. Bangers or bores. A distinct 70-bpm difference. At what point do we think the year starts to evolve its own taste? Does it take a world-shifting popstar like Eilish, or is it a more subtle move? Well, right now it’s a depressing January and if that’s anything to go by, 2020 will be a difficult one. With that in mind, let’s crash into the good ones;
Hey, check it out. Not a complete shadow of a band coming out of nowhere to drop a Calvin Harris song that’s better than the actual Calvin Harris song that dropped this week. COY‘s ‘Promises’ is an absolute riot. Nostalgic synths, thumping bass, siren-esque female vocals, check, check, check.
Emmi Elliott certainly isn’t going to win points for artwork. One look at that and I’m expecting Irish Folk akin to Una Healy, consider my surprise when a glittery banger comes through the speakers instead. It’s basically that huge anonymous Spotify generated pop song that we all know with a fabulous chorus.
Zara Larsson just needs to get into buying these kind of bops, doesn’t she? Well, Dua Lipa started with songs as huge as this and she’s now a world conquering popstar so there’s always time for Clara. ‘Thank Me Later’ is a trip back a few years to the simpler pop of ‘Last Dance’ and ‘Teenage Dream’, and there’s always room for that.
Every now and then an artist comes along with such an individual character and so much promise that it gets so frustrating to see it not translating to mainstream success. L Devine is one of those artists. Positively brimming with potential, she already has a strong as hell discography and the imagery down too. ‘Boring People’, like ‘Peachy Keen’ before it, appears to be trying to rectify that. Palatable without sacrificing her resolve, it’s how samples are supposed to work. Shine through them!
WELL. SHE’S HERE. Arguably one of the strongest vocalists of our generation, Hayley Williams has been in the public eye for a number of years as part of Paramore. Now she’s going alone, as many have wished for a long time, and it’s not too far from what we’ve come to expect of the band. Clearly influenced by Eilish, it’s surprisingly succinct and delicate, which makes her whole solo move MORE exciting because god damn, that voice can do wonders, which peaks through for just a moment with the fabulous “Nothing cuts like a Mother.”
We’re back. The world is well rested and a whole new year of music is before us, with a few NMF’s under our belt, let me assure you that not much has been missed in the interim. If you don’t have time to check this blog out weekly, make sure to follow the dedicated Spotify playlist for weekly arrangements (Seriously I wake up at like 5AM just to update it).
Gabrielle Aplin is back with the first properly good album of the year. Frankly her songwriting ability continues to astound me and anyone who can write a masterpiece like ‘Miss You’ deserves the world, but here we have proper good pop songs galore with off-kilter ‘Love Back’, the glimmering ‘Invisible’, the terrifyingly sad ‘Dear Happy’. It’s brilliant.
Luna Shadows has dropped the best Allie X song of the last few years. Fizzling production is the first thing you’ll notice, but its the chorus that’ll keep you there.
Rina Sawayama transcends time and space. Sometimes people are born to be popstars, you know? ‘Comme Des Garcons’ is a club-inspired bass-squirming letter to understatement. Following the brash ‘STFU!’, it’s just… keep me on my toes, Rina!
Halsey has a boring new album out that wasn’t always going to be boring but turned boring because she apparently wasn’t angry anymore. ‘Still Learning’ is really great so only continue this sentence if you’ve already listened to it once………………. Okay, so Ed Sheeran wrote this. He’s all over it, and it kind of ruins it, doesn’t it?
Ella Eyre can’t come to the phone right now, why? Because she’s DEAD.
Hayley Kiyoko rounds off her brilliant E.P/Project with the delightfully weird ‘she’. The verses are better than the chorus but they’re really good. So is the bridge.
Tove Lo‘s ‘Bikini Porn’ is the kind of song only she could release, and she’s recruited Finneas (of Billie Eilish family fame) to help. Unfortunately it’s not very good, but maybe it’s a huge grower? Admittedly ‘Disco Tits’ was exactly that.
Lauv is really good but trying to write about his new song is proving to be pre zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Steamrolling right into Mariah Carey season, we have secured some broadly weird but faintly brilliant highlights for you. Forget the tinsel, dodge the baubles, it’s all about New Music Friday. A safe space from the sentimental drivel, I promise.
ELLEY DUHE / NATURE
Duhe’s experimental nature provides a constant excitement at the sight of her name. ‘Nature’ is not going to be what you expect, but it’s going to hit all the right buttons anyway. It’s a little Halsey, a little folksy, a little dancey, all these things you think wouldn’t go together at all, and it’s undeniable.
THE CHAINSMOKERS, AMY SHARK / THE REAPER
Here’s another mash of completely contrasting elements, working well again. You may already know Amy Shark for her sharp-as-nails songwriting skill and her work with Antanoff, and if you do you’ll know how out of the blue this collab feels. The Chainsmokers are as hit and miss as you can get, but when they get it right, and they get the right artist too, it’s a real hit. This doesn’t feel like a classic, but it does feel more interesting than anything they’ve done in years.
NF / PAID MY DUES
Okay, so you’re probably not going to be here for rap music. It’s a divisive genre. ‘Paid My Dues’, however, is quite simply brilliant. NF has been quietly carving a very impressive career, his clear rapping talent punching through every song, and ‘Paid My Dues’ shows exactly why. This isn’t the pop leaning chart-hitter complete with delicate melodic segments, of which he often releases, it’s a spitfire labyrinth of words that sets him up quite clearly as the Eminem prodigy.
KREWELLA, NUCLEYA / GOOD ON YOU
‘Good On You’ packages Krewella’s Pakistani heritage into their well-developed blueprint in an effort to deliver a timewarp into a much simpler dancefloor past. Palatable dance music with a bit of bite is their aesthetic, and at this point it’s exactly what we’ve come to want from them, but it’s a welcome cultural touch that gives it a little bit more dimension than usual.
TEYANA TAYLOR / WE GOT LOVE
Teyana’s ‘We Got Love’ is her spunkiest output yet, a dancefloor anthem that aims for the same heights of Lizzo’s ‘Truth Hurts’ and evokes Janelle Monae’s Prince-lite epics. And I could totally see it making it for the same reasons. In fact it’s so good that I can barely imagine a world in which this doesn’t take off.
BODIN / SOMEBODY
Yes, he’s Scandinavian. It’s CHVRCHES goes to Melodifestivalen, a pure sugar rush with the exact dreamy synths you’d expect and a chorus better than you expected. Excuse me while I go binge on this like glazed donuts.
Here are the highlights for this week’s New Music Friday, an eclectic mix that’s bound to contain at least a little fuel for inner thoughts. We’re starting to approach a pretty exciting point in time where artists, such as Harry Styles and Maggie Rogers, are kicking off their new campaigns. So let’s get into that:
YAEGAR / I TRIED
It’s difficult being a rising pop girl in the era of Spotify, especially considering the comparisons of female-kind are common enough, but it’s difficult having to establish your own blazing identity so clearly in each song. How do you go about it? Sometimes you’ve a vocal inflection which kind of does the work for you, sometimes you build on another artists work with a similar sound and sometimes you have to put the work into the production – the most immediate way to identify yourself. Yaegar has been kind of smashing all three, identifying herself as one to absolutely watch. ‘I Tried’ is an Alexandra Burke/Zara Larson hybrid that made me gasp with the first play, with a succinct melody and house-meets-pop production. It’s a real damn highlight.
RINA SAWAYAMA / STFU!
Hilariously having spoken about the troubles of defining your identity in this new social generation, you have an artist that has absolutely no trouble doing so. If you didn’t like the Poppy track a few weeks back, I’d give this a swerve. It doesn’t necessarily do anything she hasn’t already been doing, but the hybrid of nu-metal and shiny pop is a perfect fit for Rina’s aggressive sweetness. Arguably her best work since ‘Alterlife’ because of the sheer confidence on display, much like ‘Alterlife’, it’s just impossible to ignore Rina at the center here, and it takes real character to bring sweetness to the harsh, but it’s so easy for her here.
LOLO ZOUAI / MONEY DIAMONDS ROSES
‘Money Diamonds Roses’ might be the best song of the week, but it’s not designed to tell you that on first listen. I can already tell this will steep itself in me, each melody and haunting verse unfolding slowly, with production that sounds just so fresh and engaging. There’s something creepily horror-esque about the production, only aided by her stretched coos, and quite honestly by time the three minutes is up you’ve felt like you’ve travelled through a whole new world. Some creepy abandoned fairground with this blaring out of the speakers.
THE JAPANESE HOUSE / CHEWING COTTON WOOL
This is about as intimate a ballad as you’re ever going to get, but I beg of you give it a chance. It’s a real delve into a melancholic mind, and blissfully so, with such a perfect minimalism that keeps you in that crisp atmosphere the entire time. A beautiful but unconventional love letter, it really does encapsulate a love so clean and pure.
NIIA / WHATEVER YOU GOT
If you have bled Mark Ronson’s recent output dry and are looking for something else, it’s right here. A gorgeous blend of soulful piano before the funk drives in, immediately placing itself here in 2019 with the recent trend, there’s a gorgeous sense of authenticity in it, as though Niia has always sung these kind of songs. It’s such a perfect influence that I’m really hoping it’s not a one off.
That’s it for the highlights, but there’s a few more hidden ones you should give a try;
Alma has revisited what she tried to do with ‘Cowboy’ to a much better resolution with ‘Bad News Baby’. HAIM continue their quality resurgence with their best ballad yet, a folk classic already, with ‘Hallelujah’. Violet Days new song ‘Lovers or Losers’ follows a blueprint you’ll feel like you know on first listen, but it’s still a real cracker. Also a few people have started releasing Christmas songs so keep well away from them!!!
What a stellar week. Something about the cold of winter imbues the subtlest of melodies with melancholy, and I’m here for it. BUT don’t fear, there’s also a few classic bops here to keep you warm too.
BILLIE EILISH / EVERYTHING I WANTED
You would be forgiven for assuming this is going to be more of what took Billie to the top, namely the bravado filled stomper that is ‘Bad Guy’, but you’ll be taken aback when you see it’s much more akin to her delicately devastating moments like ‘Lovely’ and ‘I Love You’. There’s a deep melancholy to the delivery and lyricism, admitting dreaming about her own suicide, even with the uplifting chorus. It’s a masterclass in less-is-more with captivating flourishes in the production, underlining what is a gorgeous ballad with a proper beating heart. Lovely.
LIZ / INTUITION
I’m almost aghast at just how much influence Liz is prepared to instill through her recent output, each one sounding further placed in time than the last, and ‘Intuition’ is just… well, it’s spellbinding. Quite honestly I’m prepared for her to not receive the acclaim she deserves but for this sound to slowly creep its way into the mainstream anyway. Ride that wave, Liz. We’ll remember you at the fore-front with Rina.
HAYLEY KIYOKO / L.O.V.E. ME
Another song that relishes in a classic sound this week is the toe-tapping ‘L.O.V.E Me’, sounding like a lost boy-band classic number one. It’s easily one of Kiyoko’s best efforts yet and also probably her most immediate, packed full of incredible hooks that, I’m hoping, will draw in listeners from everywhere and every age. It’s the kind of song you can imagine Little Mix snapping up with a heartbeat, but Kiyoko is center stage and imbuing it with everything it needs.
GRIFF / SOUND OF YOUR VOICE
Who knew one of the best songs of the week would invoke such strong memories of Super Mario in me? It’s those delicious little vocal snippets, the production sounded like some sort of Gameboy Advance jingle. It’s addictive enough as it is, then you’ve got such a great vocal delivery and one of the best choruses of the year so far. By the end of the three minutes I’m practically bouncing on the ball of my feet like Mario bopping his head into a question block.
ELLEY DUHE / GOOD DIE YOUNG
Elley Duhe has been my one to watch for a while, and I’m a total sucker for any moody and brooding bass-synth driven mid-tempo as it is, so how lucky am I that Elley has produced something that practically perfects that? Nobody quite sings like Elley, some gorgeous blend of Ellie Goulding and Sia, and she uses it to great effect with haunting belts and ad-libs. It also helps that this reminds me of So Below’s recent output, perfect for the dark and rainy nights, and I’m already making another playlist just for that now.
This is quite possibly the best new music Friday of 2019 so far, and to accommodate the extra rise in effort this week, we’ll be highlighting a few more exceptional works. With Caroline Polachek dropping one of the best albums of the year, Sasha Sloan releasing her new EP, and Katy Perry returning with another banging pop song… It’s one hell of a week.
CAROLINE POLACHEK / PANG
‘Pang’, the title track from Polachek’s mind-blowing new album, starts simply with a smattering of electronic bleeps before launching its charm offensive. A smack in the face to anyone who swears that electronic pop songs can’t accurately bring the human emotion that real instruments can, ‘Pang’ delicately explores that deep seated feeling in our chests, and might just be one of the strongest songs of the entire year. Beautifully minimal but bursting outwards when it needs to. Danny L Harle’s style continues to evolve in such an epic way that it really does feel like we’re looking at one of the next big producers of our time.
KATY PERRY / HARLEY’S IN HAWAII
Although ‘Never Really Over’ and ‘Small Talk’ occupy similar lanes to material Perry has worked on before, namely taking influence from the monumental Teenage Dream era and its pop sledgehammers, there wasn’t really any kind of expectation as to how ‘Harley’s…’ would sound once it eventually dropped – save for those leaked music video images from months ago. Luckily it’s everything you didn’t expect it to be and more. Following up from Witness album track ‘Tsunami’, it’s a sultry tropico-bop that feels more inspired by Ariana Grande than Perry’s back catalogue. And god damn, does she own it, especially when those last minute ad-libs come soaring through.
LIZ / LAGUNA NIGHTS
Liz clearly sold a part of her soul to some demon somewhere, having featured as a highlight on this very blog several times in the past few weeks, but the music continues to just astound in totally different ways each time. ‘Laguna Nights’ might be her best yet, a nostalgic 00’s floor-banger that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Selena Gomez greatest hits album. It works because of the sheer charisma in her delivery, taking us back on a time-warp to the times it clearly takes inspiration from. For those 4 minutes, you can lost in it, and that only happens with the very best.
L DEVINE / PEACHY KEEN
Had you told me that a song that samples ‘Bette Davis Eyes’ and sounds exactly like Terror Jr. would be Devine’s next release, I’d have spat in your eye. But ‘Peachy Keen’ is exactly that, and she does it so well that there’s almost no doubt that her sound was ever anything but. Smartly, it toys with the sample ever so, leaving the brain to piece together where it has heard it from. This might be Devine’s best effort yet.
SOFI DE LA TORRE / DIMELO
‘Dimelo’, meaning ‘Tell Me’, is one of Sofi’s slowest efforts yet. Still accompanied with her bedroom-style beats, it’s a stunningly intimate ballad that aims right for the heart from the very start. Nobody quite does ballads like Sofi, and that’s in part due to the beautiful delivery every time. It takes charm to blend two tongues together and for that to translate to everyone, regardless of the language they know, and it comes across effortlessly here. The pain and heartbreak practically drip from every word.
SASHA SLOAN / TOO SAD TO CRY
Speaking of heart-slashing lyricism and delivery, Sasha Sloan’s new album comes equipped with one of the most powerful lyrical creations of her entire work so far.
I’m too sad to cry, too high to get up Don’t even try ’cause I’m scared to fuck up Don’t like to talk, I just lay in my bed Don’t even try to go out with my friends Lied to my doctor, she knew I was faking Gave me some pills, but I’m too scared to take them I try and I try, but I’m too sad to cry
I mean, take a look at that right there. There’s an exceptional talent here and a bravery to discuss the hardest of topics as if they were nothing, and it’s much harder than anyone will ever give credit for. The song itself stands right back and lets those lyrics take the spotlight, until Sasha steps forward with some delicious vocals in the second half. It’s just… stunning.
DJ SPOONY, SUGABABES / FLOWERS
If there was any justice in the world, this would be picked up by every radio station around the country and the UK would have no choice but to embrace back one of the greatest home grown girlbands we’ve ever had. Yes, girls, the original Sugababes are finally back, having fought for the name for a number of years. MKS, and the bulging vault of leaked tracks, is DEAD. ‘Flowers’ is the genius first step, fitting so well that you almost forget about the original song itself. Let’s hope there’s MORE to come and SOON.
P!NK, KHALID / HURTS 2B HUMAN (MIDNIGHT KIDS REMIX)
Well I certainly didn’t expect this floundering single to have fresh life breathed into it at this point of the campaign via one of my favourite remixes ever at this point. Not really taking the song apart at all, the song instead injects this wonderful explosion of emotion that sounds like it belonged there all along. Considering the emotional weight of the original song, it’s a real feat how well this manages to slot right in. This is… exactly what remixes are about.
Well there are eight major highlights above, and even then I could keep talking about songs we’ve missed. Highasakite have dropped a Part One EP, and ‘Just a Small Quake’ is monumentally stunning, Allie X has followed up with the delightfully catchy and breezy ‘Rings a Bell’, ORKID‘s ‘CloudsNdrivebys’ features such an infectious synth/trumpet blend that I want in every one of her songs from now on, and Fickle Friends have co-opted the Wii Theme Song (Bolded for impact, yes the Wii theme song) into their new album lead, ‘Amateurs’. It’s one HELL of a week.