A sweltering week made hotter by the damn hottest artists. Seriously, check out the highlights:
LUNA AURA / HONEY
There are so many Spotify tweens with capitalised names that create gorgeous synth-pop that I hit play here with a heavy set of expectations and instead found the most satisying guitar lick in 2020 pop music. LUNA AURA, consider me perched again for the first time since ‘Madhouse’. This is phenomenal.
LEON / CHASING A FEELING
Leon should have broken through by now, let’s get that clear. An astounding voice with songwriting talent that showcases the most intricate and gorgeous chorus melodies, ‘Chasing a Feeling’ is her best work yet. A real slow burning gem of a ballad that would feel right at home in a playlist with a dozen 80s classics. Stunning.
GRAACE / BODY LANGUAGE
Not to be mistaken with GRACEY, GRAACE (seriously stop the capitalising!) comes through with a song that feels right out of Indiana’s playbook (remember her?). The verses are a hard and interesting swerve of contemporary beats that feels fresh but also comfortably familiar!
SASHA SLOAN / LIE
Sloan’s HUGELY ANTICIPATED debut album is coming this year and ‘Lie’ serves as our first slice. There’s really not much new to say here considering her absolutely consistency regarding quality and sound, but I’ll welcome any more upbeat Sasha Sloan songs. Get lost in that smooth and sensual melody with us.
CARDI B, MEGAN THEE STALLION / WAP
Don’t even hit this if you’re not of an adult age because it’s easily the filthiest song I’ve ever heard. Let’s celebrate women celebrating their sexuality as men do, and consider the point well proven here. Pop music was made for events like this.
‘Care’ is everything you’ll need for this heatwave-rocked summer, its delicious indie melody a perfect vibe for throwing down your car windows and throttling towards the beach. Of course, it might be worth jumping on Street View and taking yourself there digitally to avoid the mass of people also making the move to the sands, but we have to take joy where we can find it now. Luckily ‘Care’ is going to take you there whether you want it to or not.
ELLIE GOULDING / HOW DEEP IS TOO DEEP
It’s really hard to imagine Ellie’s label being pitched with some of the songs on the album and still deciding she had to go away and work on commercially vanilla singles that won’t even make it into the main body of work. Despite the complete state of a rollout for the album, Goulding comes along and proves once again why she’s still a guiding British star. ‘How Deep is Too Deep’ is more Delirium than Bright Lights, but the flourishing production and her eye for a brilliant chorus makes it one of her best. And let’s be honest, she can write these brooding, scolding anthems with her eyes closed now. Try the entire album, it’s a wonder.
YAEGER / CATCH ME IF YOU CAN
Whispery pop girls on Spotify need all they can to bring themselves out of the blur and showcase what they can bring. Yaeger has a way to go to step out of that upcoming Swedish popster lens, despite having a handful of really interesting and brilliant singles to her name already, but ‘Catch Me If You Can’ is an exciting step forward towards her own spotlight. That slinky opening synth is divine and almost steals the song itself, but the real gem of this is that Tove Lo/Lolo Zouai coolness oozing through everything like nitrogen.
CXLOE / 12 STEPS
Speaking of all those anonymous Spotify girls, here comes one of the best of them. CXLOE has been dropping so many damn bangers that it’s hard not to get frustrated to see an album rocking the charts, but luckily she still pulls in the streams. ’12 Steps’ continues in the steps of her previous three singles – being complete utter stompers that fullbred-label artists would die for – and yet like all the best singles it feels like it manages to be just a bit greater than the last. If the next one can top this, I’ll eat my hat.
TROYE SIVAN / EASY
Troye Sivan’s greatest strength is knowing exactly how his music and voice ought to sound, even at the behest of those that may want something more full-bodied with typical pop production (Looking at Petras here). ‘Easy’ then is one of his best, a beautifully subtle piece of bedroom pop that gives him total space and control to glide around the sparse beat like he’s haunting our dreams. It doesn’t sound like a hit, and that’s what’s so GREAT about it. Whilst Bloom was a very good indulgent fantasy moment, it seemed to position Sivan’s bedroom style as though it was a Teenage Dream. Not everything can be, and that’s okay.
AND THAT’S THE HIGHLIGHTS of a very strong week, let me know if there’s anything you found that screams highlight and let me know if you’re dropping anything in the future to come!
Let’s start off with a question – apparently that’s a real commitment to site engagement. This month has had its fair share of difficult moments with shining gems throughout, though for the most part it hasn’t hit quite like the start of the year. I considered turning these into monthly rounds of hidden gems, so let me know if you would digest music highlight much better that way. With that out of the way, let’s settle into this week’s jewels.
LÉON / AND IT BREAKS MY HEART
An old adage goes that certain voices are so good they could ‘sing the phonebook’ and you’d still get swept away by them. That quality is always present with Leon, her thick emotion a gorgeous fit for her steady and stable pop songs. ‘And It Breaks My Heart’ shows an artist that just gets the music they want to make, the melodies they enjoy, the lyricism that strikes. The vocal takes this where you need it to go, but it’s those sweeping Del Rey strings that makes it so grandiose. Seriously, give us an album.
JESSIE WARE / WHAT’S YOUR PLEASURE?
After an age of waiting, Ware’s album dedicated to sensual dance has finally dropped. The title track, seen above, is the epitome of those lust-tinged beats and classic Ware touch. Positively dripping with sex appeal and reverb, it’s hard not to imagine her a siren, cooing out into the waves. And we’re pulled right in.
VIOLET DAYS / THIS YEAR’S SUMMER
Considering the actual state of 2020’s summer, it’s certainly a brave choice of Violet Days to embrace the title – ‘This year’s summer, everything will change’ Hansson sings breezily, and there’s no denying that. With the harrowing shadow of lockdown in her sights, what we actually get is a beautifully bright departure from her usually murkier output. There’s a lot of this out right now, immediately recalling Dagny, Call Me Loop, Carly Rae, Katy Perry – but something about that driving guitar riff and that second half of the chorus really sets this out as a highlight.
GRACE DAVIES / JUST A GIRL
I always find it interesting when certain prolific titles get reused simply because the immediate thought is always those much bigger songs. Here we have Grace Davies going head to head with No Doubt and Gwen herself, though instead with a Sia-esque anthemic exploration in authority and self-love. Out of all of the emerging girls right now, Davies seems like the one to watch in terms of buzz. ‘Just a Girl’ might not play any unique cards, its driving kicks and harmonious chorus immediately familiar to any slight pop connoisseur, but amongst the more lightweight offerings of the week, it really has a chance to shine.
CARLIE HANSON / STEALING ALL MY FRIENDS
The distinction between ‘eras’ is ever blurring, especially when it comes to smaller acts that can afford to release tracks more recently without the expectation of an album (or they’re held in purgatory hell until they’re allowed to release one). Since her surprisingly brilliant EP ‘Junk’ last year, Carlie has put out a series of songs that have each racked up a few million streams each, and the latest is a beautiful introspective moment that would usually be reserved for an album closer. It’s moments like this when I can’t help but celebrate how streaming has changed music because it allows these quieter moments their own time to shine. And it is gorgeous. Dedicated to the destruction caused by drugs to her life, it’s all about that guitar, melody and voice, and it’s giving us a window into Hanson’s artistry that you might never get with curated lead singles.
As always, the Spotify playlist is updated weekly whether a highlight post goes up or not, so make sure to give it a follow HERE!
Hey, we’re back. Make sure you’re following the Spotify playlist which is always updated weekly so you don’t miss out the highlights! Quarantine life be damned, we’re getting a highlight post out this week because it’s a crazy one. Last week was dominated by ‘Daisies’ really, this one is… well it’s a little spread of excellence.
LADY GAGA, ARIANA GRANDE / RAIN ON ME
It was almost inevitably going to be the big highlight of the week, with two of pops biggest artists coming together in a celebration of letting go of your sorrows and dancing the tears away. Of course, the stakes were high, but this hybrid house-pop dance banger manages to pull it off by bringing in that wistful Ariana vocal with those beloved Born This Way melodies. The result is something that feels exciting and fresh for Gaga, and seeing as the album is out in A WEEK it couldn’t have come a moment too soon.
CALL ME LOOP / STRIKE
Another heavy hitter this week in Call Me Loop, albeit on a different height of popstars like Ariana and Gaga. What we have here though is a contender for the years best of list, a ‘Runaway With Me’ style frothy pop song that feels simultaneously lightweight and melodically packed. Loop’s songwriting skills continue to be painfully underrated, something we still hope ‘React’ will help to rectify, and that’s never more obvious here than the gorgeous middle-8, a lovely intimate moment that recalls the older songs of hers. It’s no secret that there’s a huge Call Me Loop stan here, so there’s bias, but this feels like the closest she has been to breaking through with a song since ‘Give ‘N’ Take’ and ‘Love the Lie’.
ELLIE GOULDING / POWER
It’s been a weird few years for Ellie, hasn’t it? Admittedly we’ve afforded her more space than most, having opened up about the mental damage her last campaign did, but there’s been a real disconnect with her material since (most likely the labels behest). ‘Power’ is the first step to fixing that. Easily her best song in years but also, most importantly, alive with confidence and that typical Goulding heart that’s been strangely absent since ‘Figure 8’. The keen of hearing will notice the ‘Be the One’ interpolation, but the chorus is so fantastic that it really doesn’t matter after a few listens.
ALICE CHATER / TWO OF US
Alice Chater wasn’t built for indie success. In her videos, her production credits, her general appeal, it’s painfully obvious that Chater is one of the greats in waiting. Strangely that can sometimes hold one back, a cry against authenticity, and we’ve seen brief flits with apparent success yet no real fruition of it. ‘Two of Us’, with that in mind, feels like a real curtain-jerking moment of open vulnerability. Though not rocking the boat by any means, there’s something different about this release for her that feels so alive and exciting. Her delicate but gorgeous delivery takes this above and beyond, with a closer dedication to the melody and lyrical content than production, which is usually the case for Chater. It’s gorgeous, and hopefully the start of an album!
DAGNY / PARIS
What a damn week for music. In fact, there’s a potentially damning similarity between the highlights this week. All are dreamlike, whispery synth pop (which is apparently to my taste so…). Dagny is, like Call Me Loop above, a master at this. ‘Paris’ is arguably her best song yet, a real slowdown of that sugar-sweet formula of hers. The result is a gorgeous, sultry slice of pop music that relishes in her typical blueprint while showing us the other side of Dagny. There’s an EP to this too, Strangers/Lovers, which is the best of the week. If you’re looking for perfectly polished pop, there’s your bag.
Remember to keep your eyes on (!) the dedicated New Music playlist, where the highlights always continue. Every week. For you. (Apparently there’s an embedding issue so there won’t be a pretty graphic, but here’s the link)
This past week has involved little more than the new Empress Of album. Have you listened to it? You really should, it’s a masterclass in production and quirk. As for this week, god we have some right bangers. Last week is old news, let’s get going.
CHARLOTTE OC / FALLING FOR YOU
You should know by now that Charlotte OC has a fantastic voice, one of my favourites out there right now. But the best thing is she knows exactly when to use that gusto and when to hold back. Her greatest strength are these incredibly subtle hooks that quietly worm their way into the brain. There’s always time for a big ‘Into You’ banger, but ‘Falling for You’ is going to last a lifetime because of that subtlety.
KIESZA / CRAVE
Imagine a world in which Katy Perry snapped this up as the real followup to ‘Never Really Over’? Easily the best thing Kiesza has put out since ‘All of the Feelings’, which actually only came out a few weeks ago… Needless to say, this dreamy 80s euphoria suits her from the ground to the heaven and it deserves all the success ‘Hideaway’ once earned.
CHARLI XCX / FOREVER
First of all, do not listen to this on cheap iPhone earphones if you do not want tinnitus. Secondly, can we accept now that Charli XCX might be the perfect pop star? She certainly is for our quarantining. ‘forever’ was thrown together at light speed, which makes it even more incredible. Truthfully the production is just a sly bit too much at the verses but that chorus might be her best in years.
MOYKA / SPACES
Can’t come to the phone right now, just being transported into outer space because of those opening pads. Zara Larsson meets Lorde meets Robyn brilliance. Name a better inspiration trio, I’ll wait.
ISAAC DUNBAR / BOY
Every now and then a fantastic openly queer love song comes along and I realise how little of them actually find themselves being pushed amidst the endless releases. That actually makes them feel more special for now, because god this hit me as I sit here desperately missing my own boy right now. It feels so good to hear it sometimes.
PLENTY more this week to dive into, get your teeth wet here:
Ms. Lipa has crash landed her epic dance-pop album a week earlier than expected so I forgive you if you can’t bring yourself to listen to anything else, but for those who might still want the other highlights (Of which there are plenty)… let’s go!
DUA LIPA / COOL
The Dua album is brilliant. It’s brilliant smushed together and it’s brilliant picked apart. ‘Cool’ is one of the best, it’s dreamy production a perfect match for her. Also if we’re being honest it’s that opening that makes this so masterful.
LITTLE MIX / BREAK UP SONG
Little Mix’s performance ability has often been at odds with their musical output, veering from fantastic pop to doo-wop nots. ‘Break Up Song’ couldn’t have dropped at a better time considering how similar it is to Dua’s sleek retro leanings. Time will tell whether that will be this singles detriment, but as it is this is one of their absolute best bangers.
GABRIELLE APLIN / MY MISTAKE (REWORK)
The world continues to sleep on Gabrielle Aplin, one of our strongest songwriters. ‘My Mistake’ is originally a heartbreaking sledgehammer of a ballad but god damn, it has one hell of a chorus. Aplin has smartly took it and put a proper donk on it and… it slaps.
ISA / GRAVITY
Here’s another one that really slaps. I couldn’t really tell you what Isa’s shtick is anymore but this is the kind of song Selena Gomez would pick up and turn in to hit with relatively little effort.
GLOWE / OVERWHELMED
One way to get yourself into these musical highlights is to surprise. Is there anything better than a good pop surprise? ‘Overwhelmed’ starts as a Julia Michaels song and switches gears pretty instantly into a brooding epic. The two actually work really well together, really showcasing that feeling of sudden overwhelming emotion. Synths are God’s work.
Covid may have brought the shutters down on our lives, forcing us into mass quarantine, but that’s not going to stop us from seeking out the best of the best weekly new music. Here’s a special bumper edition, mostly because the music this week is so bloody good, that will make your weekend seem a little less claustrophobic.
LIZ / CLOUDBUSTING (MAOR LEVI REMIX)
You should know Liz by now. She’s damn bloody good at this nostalgic pop thing. Though not satisfied, clearly, because she’s teamed up with Maor Levi to make ‘Cloudbusting’, one of the best songs on her album, into a classic trance anthem truly reminiscent of classics like ‘I Turn to You’. God damn it, this is good.
ISAAC DUNBAR / SCORTON’S CREEK
A slow burner here, but one that practically causes a wildfire by the time the third minute starts to roll around. Well technically this doesn’t hit three minutes, but I can’t play it without replaying so it kind of is. Troye Sivan is apparently loading some new song up our way but unfortunately for him, ‘Scorton’s Creek’ does everything I’ve been looking for him to come back with and frankly it’s stunning. Bloom who?
MARIAN HILL, STEVE DAVIT / EAT U ALIVE
Marian Hill has always been one of those acts you turn to for deeply satisfying production value, kind of like BANKS, but honestly ‘eat u alive’ trumps everything they’ve done previously. The garage meets jazz vibe is an additive, and just wait until you get to the little question-answer section at the end. Masterful.
ARLISSA / HEALING
Actual gasps in the room when the chorus to this one kicks in. It’s a very good year for songs called ‘Healing’, isn’t it? I can’t help but imagine the absolute lengths this could have gone on the charts had Grace Carter snatched it up already, but then Arlissa would have had to give it up, and who would give a song like this up?
WENS / TONGUE TIED
Sometimes you find an artist and fall totally for their tone and approach but you just know they’ve got the shining diamond of a track yet to come. WENS has had some damn good songs come along so far but this… this is the one. Gorgeously subtle, quite honestly the melodies here are world class. Get this girl in writing teams around the globe NOW.
TOVE LO / I’M COMING
Could absolutely anybody else get away with a cover version of a song that simply repeats ‘I’m coming!’? The Queen of the Clouds is BACK.
JOSEF SALVAT / PAPER MOONS
Another male vocal here, which may not be to your taste, but give it a shot because it’s a silky smooth slinky tune with a real Snow Patrol but good singalong chorus to it.
FLEUR EAST / MINE
Fleur has talent pouring out of every orifice, that much is clear, but I was worried ‘Favourite Thing’ would be a bit of a fluke on the album, out now. Luckily, whilst it is the biggest thing there, it absolutely isn’t. ‘Mine’ is a career highlight of hers, an absolute earworm.
What else is there to say about this totally new, never been heard before banger? Quite honestly when Gaga fires on all cylinders, there’s nothing like it. ‘Stupid Love’ might just be the best thing she’s put out since Born This Way and it marks a return to the sleeker off-kilter ARTPOP Gaga we’ve all missed since Bradley Cooper got a hold of her. Welcome back PopGa, we’ve missed you.
CHARLOTTE OC / FREEDOM
Charlotte OC was behind one of 2018’s best songs, the subtly brilliant ‘Satellite’ and then the similarly brilliant ‘Boyfriend’ and ‘Better Off On My Own’ landed in 2019 and there was momentary hope that a bloody good album was on the horizon. It never came and we’re in 2020. ‘Freedom’ is her best in a while, an instantly charming power-in-belief anthem that, as Charlotte OC songs tend to do, will worm into your brain and find a home in there. We might be burned but that hope for an album is still there.
LPX / NEW MOOD
Aggression can be so fucking cool, can’t it? LPX gets that, and ‘New Mood’ is dedicated entirely to the vibe. With abrasive guitars, Kate Nash speak-swearing, a throat-achingly screamed chorus, it’s a literal catharsis.
SONIKKU, LIZ / WKND
I haven’t been this surprised by a song in quite a while, and speechless too. ‘WKND’ manages to make me feel things that I can’t even voice so I’ll just list them; Classic. Pop. Madonna. Borderline. Britney Spears. KPop. PCMusic. Sega MegaDrive. Dreamcast. Amazing.
JOE STONE, CAMDEN COX / MIND CONTROL
Now ‘WKND’ has decimated by brain cells with its time travelling ways, ‘Mind Control’ helps cement me back in reality. And it’s a sticky dancefloor at 11PM with a Bacardi Coke in my hand. Camden Cox is one to watch if you haven’t been already because basically amazing songs seem to flock around her in the form of her own and collaborations. Gorgeous dance music made for the club and the gym floor, with vocals that keep the emotion pounding through. What’s not to like?
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!