Music

Friday 7th July, NMF!

It’s Friday, we’re here and ready to showcase the best of the best of the best. Let’s go:

VERA BLUE / THE WAY THAT YOU LOVE ME

Every now and then someone releases a song which sounds like something at the top of the game. Simultaneously modern, such a song has to tap into similarity and nostalgia just as it paves a whole new direction. If there was any justice, Vera Blue would be catapulted to stratospheric success because of ‘The Way That You Love Me’ – a fantastically catchy master stroke of Vera’s more atypical melodies and a Billie Eilish-esque production, both working against one another and in tandem. Just brilliant.

AU/RA / DANCE IN THE DARK

‘Dance in the Dark’ is brilliant in its odd melancholy and minimalism. Sounding like a Billie Eilish-meets-Grimes album track, it bounces between the most minimal hook-driven choruses of the year to a much more typical Paramore-esque verse. It’s almost enough to cause whiplash, especially considering the chorus opens with nothing but her voice and the bluntest of kicks, but it quickly unfolds into a total earworm.

BLITHE / MASOCHISTIC

First of all it’s kind of terrifying how much she sounds like Anne-Marie on this, but is just so happens to be better than anything on Anne-Marie’s album. Sugary sweet, there’s something slightly saccharine about the delivery until that wonderful hook hits – “I’m just a little masochistic”. Ingrained so deeply into the production and delivered so delicately, it’s arguably one of the best moments of 2019 so far.

STOCKHOLM NOIR / GLORY

Stockholm Noir have helmed some of the strongest dance tracks of the last few years, but they have had us a bit scared recently with a flurry of fairly basic and hard-to-latch-on-to instrumental tracks. ‘Glory’ is a meteoric return to form, successfully crushing simple and evocative melodies (as all Swedes understand how to do more than any other) with the most palatable of dance productions. They really are a dance force to be reckoned with.

RALPH / GRAVITY

Ralph delivers her first dedicated dance banger due to online fan demand, and despite sounding like every other dance remix around, her voice lends itself to the anonymity well. Delivering an underrated and brilliant album last year wasn’t enough, and she continues to prove her desire to keep releasing music and expanding her brand… We commend it. Now give us those quirky pop songs we know you’re sitting on.

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 31st, NMF!

Is this… Is this the greatest New Music Friday of all time? This is the time to grab a coffee, plug your earphones in and dedicate a good hour to this plethora of amazing pop songs. 2019 has never sounded better.

KATY PERRY / NEVER REALLY OVER

Returning with a point to prove, Perry really came back with her best lead single yet. Sampling Dagny’s equally amazing ‘Love You Like That’, there’s no other pop girl that has their finger on the pulse quite like Katy. ‘Never Really Over’ is absolutely exhilarating from start to finish; a total revolution of her Teenage Dream sound with the much-sought Swedish touch and a prechorus that SWELLS like an ocean into a chorus of relentless wordplay, leaving you literally gasping for breath. ‘Never Really Over’ is the sound of Katy Perry laughing at everyone who really though Witness was the nail in her coffin – it really is never over.

SASHA SLOAN / THOUGHTS

‘Thoughts’ is a brutal exercise in trepanation: the sound of Sasha Sloan drilling deep holes into her skull and allowing us to watch the demons that crawl out. She’s been somewhat of a revelation for songwriting over the past year or two: tackling her own mental health and severe self-doubt with a fearless optimism. But even beyond the piercing lyricism, ‘Thoughts’ stews in its stunning and minimal production to create a melancholic mid-tempo masterpiece.

LAUV / SAD FOREVER

‘Sad Forever’ takes similar cues to ‘Thoughts’, and it’s always great to see male artists exploring emotions we are told culturally to repress. Sonically it’s very familiar to ‘i’m so tired’ which is unsurprising considering it was both fantastic and a minor hit. I do wish the high squeak of the guitar string was phased out slightly, but nitpicking aside it’s built to be stuck in your head for days. “I don’t want to be medicated” he sings, exploring the use of antidepressants to keep us happy. It’s a much needed insight into problems so many are facing now, hidden deep inside of a bop. Great!

INGRID MICHAELSON / JEALOUS

You may or may not know Ingrid Michaelson already, but none of that really matters because ‘Jealous’ sounds like the debut of a whole new artist – one of those upcoming Spotify girls that have been in label purgatory for years slowly working on her craft. ‘Jealous’ sounds like the hit Julia Michaels has been searching for since ‘Issues’. A perfect blend of electro-pop and her traditional songwriter self… considering her last album was a collection of Christmas covers, and it has been three years since an original, consider me both surprised and elated.

CHERYL / LET YOU

There are half a dozen versions of this out already; the demo, two remixes and an orchestral version. Luckily the single version is the best of the lot, the highlight being its ecstatic Carly Rae production in contrast to an incredibly sleepy vocal. Cheryl’s real star power comes in her performances, and I can already envision the fantastic dance break she’ll hammer into that middle-8.

XYLO / YES & NO

‘yes & no’ was the big surprise this week, holding its own amongst some real heavy hitters – think Julia Michaels on a depressing acid trip and you’re halfway there. The sultry and sedated vocal giving off a positively creepy vibe alongside phenomenal production that would sound right at home on a horror video game or two.

I could sit and write about these songs all day, it really is the best New Music Friday you’ll find in a long time. Make sure to check out the rest or you’ll be missing out on some huge bangers.

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

April 12th, NMF!

P!NK, CASH CASH / CAN WE PRETEND

“‘Cause honestly reality, it bores me.”

During the release of Beautiful Trauma, P!nk lamented about recording too many songs for the album and having to shelve a majority in favor of its typical, Adult-Contemporary sound. Hurts 2B Human has to be approached with this context; an outlier to her typical discography, released at her commercial peak because it can be. ‘Can We Pretend’ was clearly inspired by the phenomenal ‘What About Us’ remix that surprisingly bothered the iTunes charts, and comes equipped with their trademark production and drop. It would have been gorgeous to hear the original song before the remix, but it’s nice to see P!nk trying something completely different. And it bops!

ELLIE GOULDING / SIXTEEN

“We held on with the best intent, just two kids who kicked it on MSN.”

Ellie Goulding utilised the now infamous vocal chop breakdown way before it was popularised, with the anthemic ‘Anything Could Happen’, and ‘Sixteen’ feels like a swift return mixed with Rita Ora’s ‘Anywhere’. The weighty and surprisingly fresh lyricism helps give it the edge, but it’s Ellie’s typical vocal that infuses it with some much-needed emotion. A tight balance between nostalgia and grief, ‘Sixteen’ only makes the mysterious upcoming album even more interesting.


SEEB, HIGHASAKITE / FREE TO GO

“Did it occur to you that I could be gone from you?”

Seeb is a name we haven’t heard from in a while, right? Luckily he’s recruited one of our current favourites, Highasakite, for a stunning slice of dreamy dance-pop. Great dance music knows how to translate emotion without excessive lyricism, and ‘Free to Go’ really doesn’t have to say much to translate its emotional weight; as the vocals soar and squeak, the synths feel just like the freedom being called out for. It’s dance music at its best.

HANNAH JANE LEWIS / NOT YOURS NEVER WAS

“Can’t remember but I think I kissed you first.”

If you can see past Hannah Jane Lewis having possibly the worst artist name of current times, you’ll actually find one of the most consistent pop artists of the past few years. ‘Not Yours Never Was’ heads her self-titled EP, and is a perfect introduction into HJL’s full-hearted pop sound. Like Ava Max, Betty Who, Nova Miller, Rita Ora – it’s a great heap of perfectly scooped, creamy and delicious vanilla ice cream.

MARK RONSON, LYKKE LI / LATE NIGHT FEELINGS

“I lay in silence, but silence talks.”

In a masterstroke of genius, Mark Ronson has recruited so sad, so sexy Lykke Li for the title track of his upcoming album. Her fragile and fragmented delivery is a perfect match for his self-described ‘retro sad banger’ approach. It gets particularly good at the end (of course) when the song slows right down, before slowly speeding right up – like a heartbeat gaining pace.

HEY VIOLET / BETTER BY MYSELF

“Maybe it’s the way you used me. Watered down my love, abused me…”

‘Better By Myself’ is a departure of sorts for Hey Violet, but it brings them closer in line with After Laughter-era Paramore. It’s a more complex and encapsulating sound, one that slowly unfolds as the three minutes tick over. A subtle earworm, it cleverly introduces new elements throughout before unveiling a positively dominating final chorus. If this is the sound they’re pursuing now, count. us. in.

NOW, NOW / ENDA

“I might hate myself in the morning, but I’d do it anyway.”

Now, Now are one of the greatest bands on the planet right now. If you haven’t already heard of them, you’re missing out and absolutely have to set aside time to do so now. Their sound pivoting around a HAIM-like folk-pop and a much sparser electronic vibe, ‘Enda’ twists the dial entirely to the latter. Listen, you’ll either love or despise this; it’s minimalistic and sparse with a noisy and abrasive ending, translating a melodramatic anguish as slow as they possibly can. It’s overwhelming and dark, an experimental introduction into what seems to be a much heavier approach to songwriting, one that we think shows the band is continuing to evolve. AND THAT’S SO EXCITING.

Follow our dedicated playlists for ALL the best music:

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.