Music

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…

Music

JULY 26th, NMF!

ILIRA / PAY ME BACK!

Don’t lend money that you can’t afford to lose in an old adage that many of us should subscribe to, but still often find ourselves on the wrong side of. How many of us can relate to the shilling of our own finances to fund someone who in shocking news turns out to be the same typical trash most of humanity is made of?

Well if so, may I present ILIRA’s newest anthem dedicated to the rinsing of a man that who takes more than he owes, and yet also recognises her own financial issues. The song is a masterclass in tongue-in-cheek bravado that evokes the recent Eurovision winner ‘Toy’ with its witty lyricism, brash production and shouty vocals. Amazing.

LIZ, SLAYYYTER / DIAMOND IN THE DARK

May I also present to you, and this may come as a shock following a song in which the artist rides a unicorn in a skintight red suit on the artwork, the gayest song of 2019 so far. A typical PC-Music affair of robotic synthpop littered with references to shining diamonds, rhinestones in the air and glittering hearts. Liz also brings in rising internet sensation Slayyyter, and with it her typical Britney 90’s influences also flood in, to create what is one of the most unexpected and frankly excellent songs of the year.

KATY PERRY / NEVER REALLY OVER (SYN COLE REMIX)

Remixes are usually a mixed bag, and typically I wouldn’t invest any inordinate amount in a remix when the original exists right there but ‘Never Really Over’ is the best song of the year (and perhaps the last few years?) and as such I’m appreciating any reworks of it we’re given. The Syn Cole remix turns it right on its head, drawing out the melancholy with trance-esque strings and a stripped back chorus – where instead of Perry, the hidden chants of ‘Never really over!’ take front stage. It’s a brilliant decision that highlights the strength of ‘Never Really Over’ as a song in all of its different forms.

BROOKS, ALIDA / WAITING FOR LOVE

Sometimes all you need on a blisteringly hot week like this is a dance anthem that inspires you to get moving, and ‘Waiting For Love’ is exactly that. Alida delivers the effective and satisfying chipmunk-lite vocal, Brooks delivers the rolling production and drop that hits you in all the right places. Whilst this isn’t going to be steamrolling my best of 2019 list any time soon, it’s finding its way on to every gym playlist I have.

TAYLOR SWIFT / THE ARCHER

Taylor Swift finally sighs her way on to one of our best of the week lists with ‘The Archer’, an 80s inspired revisit of her slower and much more intimate moments. Following ‘ME!’ and ‘You Need to Calm Down’ with this is almost enough to give someone severe whiplash, but it’s not really that much of a surprise considering its another Antanoff co-write. I can’t help but want that reverb to sharpen up as the song plods on, and honestly I don’t think any song needs a Humpty Dumpty reference, but this is a much better blueprint we’re begging for more of on the album. But… with a bit more oomph please, Taylor.

Follow the exclusive playlist for every new release on Friday’s that’s worth listening to:

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

May 24th, NMF!

Before I get into the best new drops this week, make sure that you’re following the dedicated Eyes On New Music Friday playlist so that you don’t miss a single song. I do the hard work so you don’t have to.

Here are the very best of the best this week!

JESS GLYNNE, JAX JONES / ONE TOUCH

Prepare to hear this in every leisure center around the country because I’m not sure there’s been such an obvious summer hit since ‘One Kiss’. As usual with Jess, it isn’t trying to break the wheel – it’s more preoccupied with being the best feel-good banger it can be, and it certainly fits the bill. It’s basically a Jess Glynne song that Jax Jones helped POP OFF a bit, and it really pops off.

ORKID / MELODRAMA

The opening to this almost made me crash my car, the glorious 00s horns a perfect introduction for a song this full of bravado. ORKID has dropped songs of varying quality over the past year, but ‘Melodrama’ is without a doubt the most interesting yet. The unforgettable bass line carries the momentum here, but ORKID smartly coos around it to give it more complexity and depth. I could have done with the final chorus really throwing in the entire kitchen sink but it’s addictive enough.

CYN / HOLY ROLLER

‘Holy Roller’ kind of tries to do exactly what ‘Melodrama’ does in presenting Cyn, whose voice comes across as slightly whimsical and innocent, with a bratty attitude. Her real strength is in that juxtaposition, the song is an amalgamation of sexual lyricism, whistles and a straight edge vocal – it’s addictive and interesting from the off. She has definitely found her sound.

ALICE GRAY / HELL WITH YOU

“I kind of like living in Hell with you” Alice sings softly. It’s one hell of an introduction: unveiling a dark and addictive relationship with one opening line. Starting off as dreamlike and wistful before slowly unraveling the crunchy synths and further production, it’s addictive in its quiet delicateness. It’s as intimate a ballad as you’re going to find this week.

CHARLOTTE OC / BETTER OFF ON MY OWN

It’s easy to imagine Adele taking this, performing it on several award shows and watching it catapult to the top of the charts around the country. With an undeniable hammer of a chorus, it helps that Charlotte has one of the characterful voices of the current pop scene. I’m going to need an album NOW.

BONUS SONG:
SIGALA, BECKY HILL / WISH YOU WELL

‘Wish You Well’ is the signal fire that we’re approaching Summer here in the UK, and just as the sweaty bodies of pasty men fill our streets, as the ice cream men don their uniforms and take to the road, Sigala and other anonymous DJs will be prepared to drop everything they have. What else do you think they’ve been doing through the winter? Anyway ‘Wish You Well’ is a dance banger that does what I’ve been begging for for years and it goes full on Trance for the most part. Brilliant. No that’s not Anne-Marie, it’s Becky Hill.

Uncategorized

May 10th, NMF!

Another great week on our hands, here are our absolute favourite tunes of the week:

GRACE CARTER / DON’T HURT LIKE IT USED TO

Grace Carter is the next British starlet that knows their way around a weighty ballad, each one emotional sledgehammers of character that evoke Emeli Sande and Adele but with a much more nuanced and pained outlook. ‘Don’t Hurt Like It Used To’ stuns from the first key, her characteristically huge voice keeping up with the equally big production. Her previous single ‘Heal Me’ was a revelation, and this very much feels like the dark sister track to that.

R3HAB, JULIE BERGAN / DON’T GIVE UP ON ME NOW

‘Don’t Give Up On Me Now’ continues Julie Bergan’s reign as 21st century dance queen, as she rises to the occasion for yet another banger of a dance track. It’s a pretty simple dance song, but Bergan as a pop star continues to enamor in her quest for world success.

AVICII, AGNES, VARGAS & LAGOLA / TOUGH LOVE

Posthumous releases are difficult to listen to, especially if you have a deep connection to the artist in question. Avicii left behind a short but rich legacy, his presence revolutionizing both dance and pop music around the globe. ‘Tough Love’ might not be as polished as his older material, but it’s boundless in effort and is the clear sound of an artist continuing to absorb inspirations. It’s difficult not to imagine Agnes taking this to Eurovision, its clear Europe sound a perfect fit to the infamous stage.

TEAMWORK, NINA NESBITT, AJ MITCHELL / AFTERHOURS

Firstly let’s acknowledge the fact Nina Nesbitt released the best album of the year so far to relatively quiet success. ‘Afterhours’ is a departure from anything on the album, more akin to the generic Chainsmokers-style hits that are all over Spotify right now. Nina elevates this with her presence, her icy vocal the highlight – and she deserves the streams.

CXLOE / LOW BLOW

‘Low Blow’ is CXLOE’s best song yet, positively bouncing as the production relentlessly rolls on. Typically when you’re starting out you need to have a song that either bleeds enough character for people to stop and notice you, or you need a damn good song that hits you on the very first play. For what this lacks in the former, it perfectly captures in the latter.

CARLY RAE JEPSEN / TOO MUCH

With one week away from the release of her new album, Dedicated, Carly has finally decided to drop a fantastic pop song. Drawing inspiration from Swifty’s ‘Delicate’, ‘Too Much’ sparkles with a new and exciting energy that only she can bring. It’s tender but sexual, sweet but daring, and we can finally start to get excited about the album.

Be sure to keep an eye on our dedicated playlists for new releases every single week!

Music, Uncategorized

April 26th, NMF!

P!nk is hurting, queer talent is thriving and Marina Diamandis is terrified of love – it’s new music Friday. Let’s get into it:

P!NK / HAPPY

P!nk teams up with the ever-impressive Sasha Sloan to create what may be her most brutally honest song since ‘Family Portrait’. It’s the sound of a mother, a lover, a pop star twenty years into their career, looking back on a life filled with anxiety and doubt. Sasha’s razor sharp lyricism is the perfect compliment to Moore’s terrifyingly tender vocals, but it doesn’t shy away from the hooks in delivering its message. If there’s any justice in the world, this needs to be enormous.

BETTA LEMME / PLAY

This would be the Queerest song you’ll hear today, had Dorian Electra not also released this week (see below). ‘Play’ is abrasive and absolutely bonkers, its main melody one of those instantly recognizable samples that makes you question why it hasn’t been sampled before, and its absolutely undeniable. Produced by Danny L Harle, it’s Aqua reborn for the thirsty pop fans. Did anyone ask for it? Who cares. I la la la la la love it.

SAM CREIGHTON / SMILE

‘Smile’ is just as fascinated with looking into the past as ‘Play’, though revels more in the inspiration than direct replication. You won’t realise at first; the song sounds like almost every other Spotify song by Astrid S, Tove Styrke, Orchid, Kiiara (I could go on), but the chorus is a masterful sledgehammer of 00s R&B dedicated to shutting down the sleazy mass of masculinity. “Tell me to smile, I dare you” – she practically begs, oozing with cool.

DORIAN ELECTRA / FLAMBOYANT

Queer talent often has to infiltrate a system by conforming before our own talent is recognized, and even then we can find our heterosexual counterparts commandeering our efforts as if they were always their own. Dorian Electra is an enigma that would inevitably frustrate the modern pop game, and ‘Flamboyant’ is a fantastic reclamation of a word that has been used against feminine queer men for years, but the true charm of it is how it balances on such a tight string of modern and fascinating production; twisting an obvious dark-club bop with a 90’s soundboard and a totally out-of-place but perfect piano riff – it’s a masterpiece in masquerading.

TERROR JR / LOVED BY YOU

‘Loved By You’ is the sound of Terror Jr carving out their niche for success, losing some of the jagged edges that made them so interesting in the process. It’s still brilliant enough to include here, and it’s easy to get lost in the relentless production and sweet vocal, but without their typical depth and running to a short 2:20, I’m left craving more.

MARINA / BELIEVE IN LOVE

Love + Fear campaign drama aside, Marina’s first album in four years had arrived with a dull thud. Skip immediately to the second side, to find the stunning tracks like ‘Believe In Love’. Admittedly it would appear Marina’s once quirky production and lyricism has been sandblasted away, but nobody quite delivers the quiet bliss of disassociation like Marina at her best. ‘Believe In Love’ is the sound of your mind floating away, caught in melodies and fears drifting by, it should have been the blueprint for the entire album.

FLETCHER / IF YOU’RE GONNA LIE

Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ ‘Under the Bridge’ continues to inspire some damn good pop music, the trend continues with ‘If You’re Gonna Lie’ – if Fletcher isn’t sued for stealing the guitar riff then I’m looking damn forward to the album this is taken from.

This incredible week doesn’t stop here, check out my playlists below for MORE MORE MORE of the week:

Music

March 29th, NMF!

P!NK / HUSTLE

“Don’t hussle me, don’t fuck with me.”

Beautiful Trauma showed a more focused, mature P!nk that catered perfectly to her well developed adult contemporary fan base, and it already appears like Hurts 2B Human is making steps to coalesce that with her usual RAH! shtick. In our culturally ageist and sexist landscape, it’s difficult to fault an artist that recognises a commercial peak and decides to follow it with music that caters to the wave, as opposed to breaks with the formula.

‘Hustle’ is a fiesty piece of the same old pie for P!nk, her vocal returning to its characteristic and sharp I’m Not Dead days, with some new doo-whop and Imagine Dragons-esque influences thrown in to keep it fresh. It’s interesting and endearing to see P!nk continue on establishing this punkish attitude as she continues to age, instead of turning to the smaltzy AC half of Beautiful Trauma would suggest.

BILLIE EILISH / BAD GUY

“I’m that bad type / Make your mama sad type
Make your girlfriend mad type / Might seduce your dad type”

You’re either going to get Billie Eilish’s appeal or you’re not, her ASMR mumble-core vocal is going to either force you to throw your phone or it’s going to send shivers through your spine. ‘Bad Guy’ takes Eilish’s spook-tastic appeal and puts a quivering spin on it, contorting a relatively simple hook into an energetic and fun three minutes. Without watering down her appeal at all, it perfectly packages every quirk so far into what is simply… a brilliant song. The way she purrs and coos, her vocal mastered to within an inch of its life, as if she’s right there behind your speaker. It’s spellbinding.

ZARA LARSSON / DON’T WORRY BOUT ME

“Now I been sleeping okay.”

Music labels are often the bane of every pop fans existence, as they stand in the way of common sense single releases and hold their stars to ransom if they do not conform to a particular sense of style. ‘Don’t Worry Bout Me’ was one of those, almost a victim to label boss expectation. Stepping far away from the Euro-pop stylings of ‘Ruin My Life’, ‘Don’t…’ is a far more contemporary Rihanna inspired pop-bop that positively bounces. In fact, it sounds increasingly similar to Mabel, and I wonder whether the label only let it go after seeing the success she has received with this sound…

GABRIELLE APLIN / NOTHING REALLY MATTERS

“I don’t know why I’m scared of forever, but it’s now or it’s never.”

Gabrielle Aplin has been producing world class music for years, and since her incredible sophomore album has moved into producing world class pop music. ‘Nothing Really Matters’ is a showcase of fantastic British pop music, showcasing Aplin’s razor sharp talent at songwriting. A swelling build up of a bridge? Check. A short and sweet chorus that builds and builds before cutting away? Check. A euphoric breakdown following? Check.

FOLLY RAE / FULL STOP

“No subtle meaning between the line.”

Folly Rae up and stole my heart with ‘You Don’t Love Me’ just last year, showing a unique pop mastery and a voice that stands out from the crowd. ‘Full Stop’ recalls Sigrid and Tove Styrke with its jagged production and witty lyricism, but above all there’s a popstar here that is damn well exciting. Full of character from beginning to the end, it’s the exact kind of song you need to blare out from the car all through the summer.

EMILY VAUGHN / PIECES

“Everybody wants a piece of me, and I’m running out of pieces.”

‘Pieces’ might just be my favourite song of the week, but it took a few listens to get me there. Most notably because the song really steps into its own at the last 3 quarters, introducing a pounding kick that elevates the hook to an entirely new level. It’s an interesting addition, and makes you question why the entire song doesn’t maintain that relentless drive, but the slow evolution of vocoder-heavy ballad into Tove Lo-esque banger gives this such a unique bite. Filled with melancholy and a delectable hook, it really would feel at home on a Tove Lo album, which is always a compliment.