Thought I had a deadline, turns out I don’t, so I have a bit more time to cobble this together than planned, I was going to say something about Normani’s arrival but to be honest just watch the video for Motivation because it will tell you more than I ever could. See also: this thread about black women in pop which reminded me of the 2010 ever-banger Stuttering by Fefe Dobson. Incredible stuff.
I feel like I’ve lived three eternities since last week, but I would like to reiterate my love for the gorgeous Charlie by Mallrat, the banging Mama by Ella Eyre et al. and the relaxing Waste My Time by Grace Vanderwaal. All excellent.
I started following some additional New Music Friday playlists (US, Philippines, Country) to try and widen the new music net, so I went a bit overboard on new songs this week so my thoughts on them feel a little sparse, but the point is that you should just go listen to them whether or not I have anything interesting or profound to say about them.
Alex Cameron – Far From Born Again
I was made aware of Australian-born Alex Cameron’s breed of conceptual indie-pop-rock about a year an a half ago at an -upsetting- moment in my life and I clung to some of his songs like bluetack on the wall of my rented flat. If this is your first experience of him, then the “It doesn’t make a difference/If she does it for pay/Far from born again/She’s doing porn again” hook is very risqué, but threading jaunty, non-judgemental, toe-tapping songs with tales of the down-on-their-luck is his signature brand and Far From Born Again is immediately memorable and awkwardly endearing.
Best bit: the story within the song.
Arlissa – Running
Arlissa has the privilege (?) of being the first ever cover image for my first ever weekly music roundup, which means literally nothing to anyone but me, but it’s a nice little throwback in my mind of a simpler, less polished time. Running is a breezy lil soul-pop number that reminds me a bit of Izzy Bizu and feels to me like a precursor to a massive song on the horizon.
Best bit: the repetition of ‘Runnin’ in the chorus
Badgirl$ – Stella
This song is viscerally unclean. I get that vibe of house-party-with-complete-disregard-of-the-contents-of-the-house: beer cascading everywhere, things being knocked over, straight white teenage boys enthusiastically rapping along to their favourite song by Dave and losing their minds when 21 Pilots comes on. Ah, to be young(er). There’s a lot of heavy guitar thrumming and the vocalist sounds like they need a Strepsil, and I don’t know if these things sound like ‘compliments’ but I’m heavy down with the track as a whole. I had to google them to get a sense of genre and Vice.com tells me it’s ‘indie-trap fusion’. Huh.
Best bit: how cool I feel having listened to it
Daya – Keeping It In The Dark
It’s hard not to pin connotative presumptions to a song billed with that “From 13 Reasons Why – Season 3 Soundtrack” stamp in its title, so it’s hard to say if that has lowered my potential enjoyment or elevated it enough to make me listen to it. Either way, I -quite- like this Lauv-esque [slightly generic] sad-pop ditty in spite of Dylan Minettes brooding face glowering at me.
Best bit: That little falsetto in the chorus where Daya sings “names” “face” and “in the dark”
Drew Holcomb & The Neighbours – Family
I was distinctly of the impression that DH&TN were a band that had one song that I heard in 2011 before breaking up into obscurity, but nope – the Americana alt-rock band never stopped. Family is the NMF cut from their latest album: a cheery, foot stompin’, hand clappin’ slice of nice.
Best bit: the background “hey”s
Gabrielle Aplin + JP Cooper – Losing Me
This is inoffensively nice, light sadpop. I was torn if I liked this enough to place it in the spin pile, but Aplin’s vocal those little stuttery bit in the pre-chorus were enough of a hook to draw me into to putting this on more than a few times.
Best bit: the stuttery parts in the chorus
KREAM + RANI – Go Somewhere
A high energy banger. No disrespect to RANI and her peers, but I always think the best way to tell releases in this club/spin-class genre is to mentally ascribe one of your fav artists to the vocal and see if it bangs. I imagined Rita Ora and holy moly does it bang.
Best bit: how much it bloody bangs
Macklemore – Shadow (feat. IRO)
I like this OneRepublic esque alt-pirate-rock nonsense with all its swooshes, chain noises and Macklemores. I really wish this Songland stuff would pass though – not that they’re necessarily bad (I mean, I’m literally recommending you one of the songs from it right this second) just that no matter how good it is I just can’t see myself getting fully behind a reality TV manufactured song ever again. Anyway, Macklemore sounds good as ever and it’s a pacey, motivating listen in spite of this TV-branded tainting.
Best bit: Macklemore just doing his thing
Miley Cyrus – Slide Away
This is really soft and breezy, has a pretty hook-melody and is just all round nice. I wish there wasn’t such an unfortunate narrative surrounding it, but it’s much more listenable that I was expecting for what could have been a rushed-out, not-quite-ready breakup song. My favourite Miley Cyrus song since Malibu.
Best bit: How good she sounds
MUNA – Stayaway
I like this, but it is not quite the ‘trauma banger’ they were lauding it to be prior to dropping it. Maybe I’ve not listened to this in the right mindset yet, maybe I’ll grow to love it. At least I can tell you that it’s archetypal MUNA output which is a pretty solid stamp in and of itself.
Best bit: those signature MUNA glistening sounds in the background
Normani – Motivation
I’ve played this, according to last.fm, 43 times since it dropped on Friday and it continues to give me literal spine tingles, and the only other song this year that did that was 7 Rings. Everything about this is sheer perfection: from the Ariana meets Destiny’s child vibes to the early 00s aesthetic and throwback sounds; to the upbeat, instantly memorable hook which does what it says on the box; to the expert use of horns. Come through Normani. Oh, and that video? Best thing I’ve seen all year.
Best bit: In the chorus when she sings “think about it, ooh, think about it” I ache because it’s so good
Samm Henshaw – The World is Mine
I can and will always have time for Samm Henshaw, who really gave one of the best live performances I’ve ever seen when I caught him at King Tuts a few years ago. The World is Mine is an passionate, pacy soulful R&B track, which sounds a bit like Aloe Blacc with a more stylised vocal and throws back to Sam Cooke and James Brown et al. Transportative.
Best bit: the delivery of the line “You’re the whole world and the world is mine”
Sophie and the Giants – Break the Silence
If OneRepublic and Florence Welch and maybe one of the people from Of Monsters and Men collaborated on a track this is what it would sound like. High octane indie-rock with a hook that sounds a bit like the intro to P!NK’s Raise a Glass.
Best bit: the bit that sounds a bit like the intro from P!NK’s Raise a Glass
Taylor Swift – Lover
Everything about this song is complete and perfect Taylor Swift love-balladry and I love it EXCEPT FROM THE STUPID DAMN TITLE. Look, mam, I get it, Lover is a fun word but it just doesn’t fit in with it. It sounds like holding hands on a snowy winters evening and dancing under streetlights and whatever, and that lyric video of the projecter on the bed sheet was cute and all, but saying all these pretty and lovely things and setting us up with a perfect wedding-dance kinda song then slinging in the word ‘Lover‘ with an awkward sultry intonation is like making a bowl of cereal and adding a dollop of Mayonnaise to it. Anyway, this is cute and I like it and I am excited for the album xo
Best bit: how Christmassy it feels
The Lumineers – Left For Denver
This is a sad lil Lumineers leaving ballad that will probably help me indulge in my sadness at some point in the near future.
Best bit: Wesley’s vocal 4ever
YONAKA – You Need To Calm Down
Yes I’m finishing on a cover of that Taylor Swift song but a) it was second song down on the UK NMF playlist and b) it’s actually very good and I prefer it to the original. It starts off a little bit like Dancing with Myself, it has the grungy-guitar anthem, girl rock stylings of YONAKA, and its comfortingly familiar already. Anything that was wrong with the original (the delivery of the chorus, the emphasis on some words) feels like an improvement here. Surprisingly, excitingly good.
Best bit: how the “oh-oh-oh-oh-oh” in the chorus are better than T.Swifts original