Make sure to follow the official Eyes on New Music Friday playlist for the very best weekly highlights, this week including an amazing return from Florrie, another banger from Slayyyter and a whole bunch of gorgeous ballads clearly inspired by a certain Driving License wielding popster.
RUPAUL, DRUKS2 CAST / A LITTLE BIT OF LOVE
I doubt you’ve somehow managed to miss the impact of Drag Race UK Season Two, which closed up last night with the usual cast remix of a classic RuPaul song. If you did catch it, don’t worry because the version to stream does not sound as bad as it did on the show. Regardless, the way a 20+ year old song manages to sound so fresh and exciting deserves highlighting. RuPaul may have never set the mainstream charts alight, with obvious reason as to why, but moments like this should go on to prove that certain songs are just packed so full with hooks they’re ready to burst.
AMY SHARK / BABY STEPS
Whilst the first play might have produced a gasp at the possibility of this taking from ‘Barracuda’, it quite quickly does a sharp turn left into familiar Shark territory – that romcom tinged guitar in hand foot-stomping anthem. Recent singles have struggled to push her sound away from the debut and ‘Baby Steps’ isn’t exactly turning her into a modern day Xtina, but it does manage to sound new and exciting for her sonically while the lyrics serve us what we know and love. More of this please, Amy Shark.
THE DISCO FRIES, MOLLY MOORE / DUMB THING
Between this and the recent ‘Careful’ remix, Molly Moore really said you’re going to pay attention to me in 2021. Reminiscent of Jax’s huge DA-DA-DA lite hits (think Wroldsen’s ‘Breathe’ meets Daft Punk), that razor sharp vocal is what carries it into great territory. What would have made this an easy 11/10 would have been one more chorus, but at least it leaves you hovered over the repeat button.
THE BIRTHDAY MASSACRE / THE NEVERENDING STORY
Yes, it’s another solid classic from over twenty years ago. Originally recorded at the start of their career but only ever accessible in shoddy MP3 or in 11 year old YouTube clips, Birthday Massacre have finally gone out of their way to release the crisp and inviting cover we deserve. Having already released and dominated a cover of ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’ in 2008, TBM really showcase again just how polished and recognisable their sound continues to be. The way they infuse what is already an incredible pop song with their own identity, proving it as timeless, is genius. In fact, I’d go as far to call for an entire cover album from them.
CHLOE TANG / GIVE ME THE HIGHS
Easily the most straight-forward and well constructed song of the week, ‘Give Me the Highs’ serves second single from classic Brit pop star energy with it’s stunning infused chorus vocals, the intimate and sharp verses and even the occasional ad-lib choir moment. For some mind boggling reason, this hasn’t been chosen as a single yet? It’s been out for almost 12 hours and it’s not a chart topping single? Ofcom, I want to write a complaint.
INGRID WITT / DEVIL INSIDE
Channelling the nation’s sweetheart, Supernanny, Ingrid heard what could have been a fairly dull week and swept it, bat-like, to avert the crisis. ‘Devil Inside’ does that subversion thing that all the best pop songs do – it’s candyfloss soft chorus a complete u-turn compared to its verse – but by god does it really work. Flourishes like this in a world of verse-chorus-verse-chorus-middle8-chorus layouts make music feel so exciting.
STEFANIA / LAST DANCE
For years now, fans of Eurovision here in the UK have had to put up with the BBC’s pandering to an idea of Eurovision that no longer really exists. Whilst this year we have to put up with the abysmal ‘Embers’ and its years-too-late Sigala adoration, Greece have done what fans have been asking for us to do for years – embraced STEPS. ‘Last Dance’ manages to scream Eurovision from its very heart and yet (looking at you BBC) doesn’t tread into the embarrassing territory of chasing a sound from five years ago as if it’s still here, a novelty. Equipped with an enormous chorus and a stadium-filling vocal chant that is to die for… it’s a winner, baby.
MOLLY MOORE, LA FELIX / CAREFUL
Moore’s ‘Careful’ already had one of the best choruses of last year but, not content with letting the song slink away into the night quite yet, she’s brought in La Felix to make the song even bigger. A short and sickly sweet 2 minutes long, it’ll leave you grasping for that replay button if only to hear that chorus again. Seriously it’s enormous.
ROSÉ / ON THE GROUND
Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, K-Pop is making waves across the entire music scene. Solo explorations really aren’t that weird for K-Pop group members, a lot of them act like a vehicle for solo success in ways, but there’s something about Blackpink’s ROSÉ that feels perched for world stardom. Channelling Avril Lavigne, the song threatens to keep that stripped back, pop-punk aesthetic throughout only for that synth to burst through. A touch of wonder!
YONAKA / ORDINARY
Fans of Yonaka will notice immediately the move away from their traditional single art, a move into PVRIS territory that’s supported immediately by the opening to ‘Ordinary’. Of course, Yonaka have their chorus sound nailed down so tight that by the time that swings around, you know exactly who is in the building. This Nirvana inspired power ballad easily shows itself as one of their most instant, could it be a huge hit? Hopefully.
One of the highlights this week is the best song of the year so far. It’s a packed week, but the one diamond… *chefs kiss* Get into it.
THE MIDNIGHT / NEON MEDUSA
Quietly pushing their 80s-Arcade sound to the max, The Midnight take their biggest leap yet. A trance-inducing banger of absolutely epic proportions. Basically every other 80s inspired production can take a bow and leave now this has arrived because it’s peaked. I’m basically frothing at the mouth imagining the wave of pop stars that could take this and run with it… Katy Perry belting over these absolutely frigid synths and wild guitar? Make it happen, Lord.
ZARA LARSSON / NEED SOMEONE
Amongst the wreckage of Larsson’s lost legacy comes one of her best songs yet, ‘Need Someone’. That recognisable blend of frothy piano, curvy bass and melodic chorus… it’s astounding that literally anything else from this stretched out era was released over this. Similar to ‘Ruin My Life’ it sounds exactly like you’d expect Zara Larsson to sound now and yet still doesn’t sound boring? It’s a gorgeous bubbly little cheesecake of wonder.
LIZA OWEN / JOSIE
Any other week would have this as the runaway gold star amongst the highlights – the Weeknd synths and sultry chorus a perfect match for that subtle country sworl of a vocal. It’s always amazing when a song can chug along slowly and still hook as much as a 150bpm banger, and it’s the sea shanty-esque chorus which does most of the work. Simply brilliant.
METTE / PETRIFIED
Debut singles are always a difficult one. As much as first impressions count, it needs to be enough to hit the ground running. Mette hits the ground with a full damn sprint – the video and song both something deep established acts still don’t put out. The ground work has been put in for Mette, that much is clear, and the chorus almost threatens to shift into inspired-by-BANKS territory, but those intimately delivered verses that contrast with it brings it into its own little world. And the video! Lord, the video. A star.
GIRLHOUSE / LOADED GUN
Undoubtedly the warmest song of the entire week here, an extremely MUNA-esque drive through imposter syndrome. If you look a little deeper than the (gorgeous!) sonic palette, you’ll find razor sharp lyricism that contrasts deeply with the warmth at hand.
feelings turned to blisters
turned to callus on a broken thumb
debated getting stitches
but i do this for adrenaline
Just look at that verse. Look at it. It’s poetry.
It’s the most stacked week in months, with some Pikatunes and some bangers. Get into the highlights here with me.
LIAR LIAR / PRETENDING
With a thumping MUNA bassline and a stunningly clear melody running all the way through, ‘Pretending’ really is the best thing we can ask for until our favourite queer trio finally comes back. That rare blend of minimal and explosive, it’s a delicate tread through… just an onslaught of hooks. How clean and lovely.
SINEAD HARNETT / LAST LOVE
There’s no escaping Amy Winehouse’s impact on British music as a whole, her music itself inspired by the very heart of classic soul music. ‘Last Love’ sounds so close to Winehouse’s debut that, on first listen, it threatens to overshadow the song as a whole. It isn’t just that drumline that’s reminiscent, but also the occasional way Harnett signs off individual words, but none of that would matter if the chorus didn’t stack up… and it does. Easily the best and most interesting thing she’s put her name to, let’s see where else the inspiration takes her.
SLAYYYTER / CLOUDS
Where once Slayyyter seemed content to a somewhat limiting niche style of release, that PC music affair that generates buzz but never seems to cross through, her latest releases seem to throw that aside by embracing her love of classic pop more exclusively. It’s, of course, the right decision. These are the best songs of Slayyyter’s career and it’s not just because of the minor sonic switch up into LIZ territory – her melodies are absolute perfection. This one in particular curls and curves in ways that you’d find on classic dance songs, giving it an instant satisfying edge. If there’s more to come like this, we could be in for one of the best albums in year?
MAISIE PETERS / JOHN HUGHES MOVIE
The Lucy Spraggan style verses are going to make first impression here, and they’re just that side of cringe to turn off a few people, but keep with it because this is one of the biggest choruses of the year so far. That Sigrid style vocal fades away as that pounding synth and soft melody comes in and the song soars for it.
POST MALONE / ONLY WANNA BE WITH YOU
A Post Malone Pokemon crossover one of the highlights of the week? Absolutely. Post’s talent with creating some of the best melodies in pop music is underrated as it is, his trademark roboto-vibrato usually the focus over just how strong and classical some of his go to lines are, and here the song is just imbued with warmth and happiness because of it. Particularly here for that absolutely stunning Gameboy synth that rears it’s head momentarily at the beginning. This is the Spring is coming song for me.
CAMDEN COX / UNDER THE WATER
Camden’s run of perfectly blended dance-pop equipped with huge trumpet bass continues with what might be her best yet, ‘Under the Water’. Part of what makes Cox so great in this is how, much like Emma Hewitt in her trance song appearances, her vocal manages to pierce the typical production with serious emotional heft. The best dance songs tug the heartstrings, whether lyrically or melodically, and ‘Under the Water’ does exactly that. It’s the sound of sinking into yourself, but making it bang.
COBRAH / DIP N DRIP
If there’s one person on this week’s highlight that deserves mainstream acclaim, it’s Cobrah. Think Poppy’s embrace of the heavy metal K-pop sound but instead of heavy guitar and screaming, it’s an infectious bassline and drumbeat. Plus, there’s something so effortlessly sexy about the whole thing. It’s positively dripping.
GLADES / DANCING IN THE MIRROR
Why their recent efforts have not quite clicked in the way their older material did is a bit out of my reach, because ‘Dancing in the Mirror’ shows a band filled with confidence. It’s all about that extreme phaser-soaked bridge and the swagger it carries, the filthy underlying bass leaving you totally unprepared for the sweetness of the chorus – as traditional Glades as you can get.
CONAN GRAY / OVERDRIVE
‘Overdrive’ isn’t winning points for originality, in fact you can kind of tick the Weeknd boxes as it goes along but for an artist that is pretty huge on Spotify they are yet to make that big commercial mark… ‘Overdrive’ feels as much an attempt at that as the epic ‘Wish You Were Sober’ was. Conan feels built for stardom but hopefully we can push through these kind of semi-ape hits on the way! Still, a banger is a banger.
LENII / WHITE LIE
Perhaps this isn’t the most original of weeks, and I’m not entirely sure we have the next big thing here (just yet at least) but sometimes cosplay can be just as fun as the main act itself… ask Natalia Kills and Ava Max. ‘White Lie’ has Billie Eilish stamped all over it, most notably in that smirk you can practically see in her delivery, but quite honestly that chorus and ‘Haven’t spoke to God in a while’ might be up there with much of what Eilish has done already. There’s also the open admission to people calling her Tones & I in the middle of the song. But don’t turn your nose up at something that seems inspired, you never know where they might end up. The promise is absolutely there.
Make sure to keep up with the weekly highlights in our dedicated NMF playlist below:
Renowned super spreaders Lipa and Ora have struck upon the new week, supplying some damn good pop music to distract us from the times… and their times. But other than that, it’s another stacked week. Get into it.
DREW SYCAMORE / 45 FAHRENHEIT GIRL
If that Shania Twain-dragged-into-2021 production doesn’t grab you on first listen, that Marina and the Diamonds vocal sure should. A straight up banger that brings the quirk of 00’s British altpop in spades, even removed from it. Particular shout out for that reverb soaked bass swinging through the entire thing. Amazing.
RITA ORA, GUNNA / BIG
This might sound like it’s been sat in the vault for ten years, but does that make it any less of a banger? Not at all. Part of the wonder of the new Rita EP is, as surprise drops usually embrace, this feeling that it doesn’t aspire to be an era-starting megahit. Ora’s music career is sparse to say the least, especially in comparison to her escapades, but ‘Big’ shows that she’s still here to play and… to be honest Britain is completely starved for this kind of pop star right now.
ARLISSA / HOUSE OF CARDS
Arlissa should have secured placements on the NMF highlights for a whole year considering the strength of her best single, ‘Healing’. Unfortunately the material hasn’t quite lived up to that one but here we have something that brings back those huge sweeping vocals and gorgeous blend of bass and piano. Attached to an EP that doesn’t hold her best song for some reason, it’s all about the promise in this one. We see big things!
FEAR OF TIGERS / TIGER BLOOD
Perhaps one of the least streamed highlights on the entire list and one that might almost lose the casuals to the 20 second introduction, but just you wait until that inspired burst of synths comes through – the 80s will never get old.
UPSAHL / STOP!
Arguably better than the actual Lipa side servings dropped this week as her deluxe, Upsahl’s ‘STOP!’ feels like something Ms. Lipa might herself carry to the top of the charts – especially that plunky bassline – but where she swerves into huge Britpop territory, ‘STOP!’ instead takes its chorus into Kpop territory. It’s quite addictive.
It’s been a quiet few weeks but our first February NMF brings some damn gems.
ALLIE X / GLAM!
Having developed both her sound and persona tenfold since her first foray into big bold and brash pop, Allie has been having of a turn of nostalgia by indulging into that past a little once more. ‘GLAM!’ might be an old leak but good god, it’s enormous. Her songwriting skills have undoubtedly progressed in time but there’s just something about past Allie X that really cuts right through in seconds.
MARTIN GARRIX, TOVE LO / PRESSURE
Neither Garrix or Lo are typically known for their subtlety, so when it comes to a duet between the two you’d be forgiven for expecting a balls-to-the-wall Sia/Guetta experience. ‘Pressure’ is the exact opposite of that – an exquisite blend of 3AM club-closing bass and Tove’s yearning for touch. It’s kind of a match made in heaven.
KITO, VANJESS, CHANNEL TRES / RECAP
Production is Kito’s forte. If you haven’t heard her yet, you’ll probably have heard a song that she’s had a hand in, most particularly behind BANKS’ phenomenal ‘Gimme’. Deep and warm like a dip in the tub, her production style felt ahead of the curve a year or two ago… it’s here to define the year now.
NEIMY / KNIFE OUT OF MY BACK
One look at Neimy’s Spotty Fry and you’ll see an abundance of covers with millions of streams each, her and Jubel’s cover of ‘Dancing in the Moonlight’ almost at a measly 200 million. ‘Knife out of my back’ might not have enough bulldozing originality to completely usurp that, but it’s a delicious little nod to an artist that has more to give than just those covers. Let’s keep on eye on her.
REZZ x PVRIS / SACRIFICIAL
With such a distinctive sound and vocalist, is there any escaping any song featuring PVRIS sounding a certain way? Having gone to extreme lengths to develop their identity and sound from the initial Paramore-lite debut, there’s an admirable consistency when it comes to the core of PVRIS songs. In essence, ‘Sacrificial’ sounds like Skrillex took a turn on one of their album tracks, and it works better than you’d think.
Do make sure to check out the playlist for more weekly highlights! Trust me, there’s some deep gems there.
It’s been a quiet month so far on the music front save for the current biggest song in the world, ‘drivers licence’ coming out of the blue and connected on a level we’ve not seen in a while. This week is anything but quiet though, mostly due to Pale Waves’ little gem. Let’s get into the highlights:
PALE WAVES / EASY
Coincidentally the moment Pale Waves leaned into their influences and embraced what is a very obvious link to classic 00’s Avril Lavigne, the quality of their music has veered upward. ‘Easy’ is so good that I’m tempted to call it career defining, I’d even go as far to say it’d be able to revive the Lavigne comeback quite easily. As 1975 as it is Lavigne, it’s just an inspired romp through gorgeously nostalgic 00s melodies that never once feels false. You’ve done it, Pale Waves. You’ve found your sound.
LEONY / FADED LOVE
The problem with samples of such ubiquitous songs is that it often seizes the song before the artist can even grasp it, leaving nothing much than nostalgia. ‘Faded Love’ is not that. Used in such a way that the melody starts to chew in before you remember exactly what it is, it makes me wonder why Dragostei Din Tei hasn’t been picked up much earlier. If Zara Larsson had this behind her she’d be worldwide in minutes.
DANNY L HARLE / ON A MOUNTAIN
Taken from his upcoming debut of sorts Harlecore, ‘On a Mountain’ is an absolutely fearless romp through classic dance. The reserved and clean Imogen Heap-esque delivery is quite a stable for PC Music, let alone Harle, and it’s a masterclass of how a throughline even without compromising on the hardcore production. Classic dance music is fearless, and this is already a classic.
KITTEN / DO U STILL LOVE ME?
Kitten have a good ten years under their belt now, so I’ll be surprised if you’ve not bumped into their music in some capacity before. Though the line-up might have shuffled around throughout their time, they have slowly settled back into consistent and regular releases – their latest potentially their greatest yet. Inescapably HAIM but still retaining their own warm and unique style, the only thing left to hope for is that this falls into an album at some point.
FICKLE FRIENDS / IRL
Swallowing the mild ire at waiting so long for a measly 5 track EP, ‘IRL’ continues the evolution of Fickle Friends’ perfectly matured Reading-Festival-Paramore vibe. Unnaturally charming, ‘IRL’ decries the communicative issues of modern teenage life – lying awake waiting for the screen to flash again. Hardly a generational exclusive though, this is going to be one of the big ones on the stage – trust me.
That last December drought is behind us, we’re in the clear now and there’s new music on the horizon. We’ve still got a little while before the real good stuff comes out, but there’s still a few diamonds to be sifted this week. Let’s take a look
GABRIELLE APLIN / WHEN THE LIGHTS GO OUT
Once victim to that oh so British Sophomore Slump curse, Aplin seemed at one point to the vanishing point so many Britstars find themselves caught up in. Of course, she spearheaded the front end of 2020 with the genuinely brilliant and frothy Dear Happy and she’s back to do it all over again. Wistfully simple almost to its detriment, Aplin has captured this piercing sentimentality that manages to come through because of the standard production. It’s something Katy Perry mastered years ago with PRISM, now torch bearer Aplin proves that she’s still not ready to go anywhere yet.
BLACK COFFEE, MAXINE ASHLEY, SUN-EL MUSICIAN / YOU NEED ME
‘You Need Me’ serves as the perfect opener to a brand new year – a musical representation of the sun piercing through the dark cloud. Dance music thrives in repetition as a means of inducing trance, its masters of the craft that manage to distract and divert that repetition in ways that splinters your mind in the fog. Effortlessly warm, ‘You Need Me’ demands every single second of its 6 minute play time and never wears thin.
OLIVIA O’BRIEN / BETTER THAN FEELING LONELY
Dive into the forbidden vaults of many an upcoming Spotify girl and you’ll find amongst the scraps the bones of ‘Better Than Feeling Lonely’. Pointedly on trend, it feels very much like one of those Julia Michaels songwriter demo seized for themselves moments, made generic enough to shop around to multiple artists for their input to be made later on. Melodically it’s damn solid, that chorus hook will hold on tight and that middle-8 vocal is slathered in the most incredible gritty vocal ever. It’s hard to see why anyone would shop this around, or why someone wouldn’t want to pick it up.
DOTTER / NEW YEAR
Swedish wonder Dotter aims squarely for the nail with a perfectly tailored release that will most certainly tickle any Swedish pop or Sia fan, if you’re out there. It’s a classic 00’s power mid-tempo without that trend of absolutely exploding at the chorus… instead designed instead to sweep you away smoothly.
YOU ME AT SIX / ADRENALINE
As any emo child will surely agree, You Me At Six triggers serious introspective thought. Whether you’ve been there since those rainbow-fuelled debut days will have an impact on how you perceive them now, the two opposite sides of the spectrum. ‘Adrenaline’ takes them further still into Imagine Dragons territory (that gritty chanted delivery oughta be trademarked really) but it feels homely enough to them. It’s surely the best week for the release, as dry as it is.