Bonjour from the South of France where I began this post, and hello from London Heathrow where I shall conclude it. At time of writing I’m sitting in an airport terminal waiting for my first of two flights back to reality, hence the belatedness of this ‘Monday’ blog. I’ve spent the last four days hiking near Cannes and absorbing these 13 songs I’m about to present to you, so get ready for some very insightful, uh, insights.
Not sure if it’s my holiday mode and every song sounds good when you’re looking at rolling hills and the endless-seeming ocean, or if the music industry have just been generous in their gift this past friday, but this certainly feels like one of the best release weeks in ages.
Also, I’m currently whittling down the longlist for my songs of the year and songs of the decade, both of which are proving exceptionally difficult, the latter moreso because I keep thinking ‘oh yeah that song, that’s an important one!’ and adding it to the already 100-strong lineup. Pray for me.
Anyway, you don’t care about that right now, so here are the lucky 13 new songs you should hear, some of which you probably already have, plus some words as to why they’re really fuckin good.
BENEE + Gus Dapperton – Supalonely
I should warn you, this song is a earworm, so take that into account before you play it because you’re life is ever so slightly about to change. It’s a perfect balance of indie-dance and pop: a little bit of quirk with a great little hook. Singable, danceable, a feel good tune.
Best bit: a tie between how she sings ‘ceiling’, the pre chorus growl, or just the chorus itself.
Billie Eilish – everything i wanted
Stepping back from the beautifully unsettling wwafawdwg, Eilish has returned to that which she built herself on: soft singing over basic instrumentals. It’s a real talent to do so much with so little, making something instantly recognisable, instantly memorable and able to be downbeat without bringing the mood down with it. everything i wanted very much lives up its title.
Best bit: her breathy vocals
BOI – Beast and Beauty
This song feels like a sound homage to a load of the (to me) prominent pop songs and pop singers of this year: a little bit Peg Kavernick’s 27 Sorries, a little bit Avril Lavignes Tell Me It’s Over, and touches of Camila Cabello vocals and Taylor Swift anthemia, especially the latter – you could have lifted this right out of the encore of the Reputation tour. This is all a compliment of course: Beast and Beauty has a strong build, staple lyrics, and an excellent finish to it. I don’t know that this will be BOI’s biggest single, but can’t you just imagine this closing out a live show?
Best bit: the sheer ambition of it
Camila Cabello – Living Proof
There are some truly awful lyrics in here, the ‘when you touch me/paint me like a van gogh’ one is a personal lowlight, but the sound here works so hard that I’m willing to let it go. Cabello’s falsetto is gorgeous and flawless and transcendent, the percussion of the song as a whole is an excellent touch, and it’s nice to hear her using a new melody for a change. Also, there is this song by Imagine Dragons called Next To Me which I’m sure was not the first to do an intro like this, but it’s the one with which I’m most familiar, and is well worth checking out.
Best bit: the clapping
Fall Out Boy – Bob Dylan
Opine what you will about new Fall Out Boy, but I really like their post-2013 output, and I really like this. For a band that have been around as long as they have with such a specific base-sound, they’re always going to ping back to some of their old songs, and Bob Dylan does it in spades – probably because it’s the new song on their second Believers Never Die compilation, rounding off their 2010s era. Does that mean this is the end of an chapter for Patrick Stump and Co? Will their be hiatus? A new sound again? Whichever, I’m excited, and this is a really nice way to round it off.
Best bit: all that nostalgia I’m feeling
Griff – Sound of Your Voice
Clicky, clappy, a sweet little prechorus melody and an excellent vocal, and the transition into the chorus is so subtle you almost don’t realise it’s happened – very simply: a good pop song.
Best bit: the sheer number of layered vocals is overwhelming
Hayley Kiyoko – L.O.V.E. Me
Everything since Curious has fallen a bit flat for me from Kiyoko, so this is such a nice surprise. The melody calls back to early 00s girlband, the crackling-radio section and the subsequent bridge break it up nicely, and the only gripe I have is that’s its not a bit longer.
Best bit: the v catchy chorus
Jack Rua – Rise (feat. Darce)
Fresh from the flourishing field of lgbt pop stars is Jack Rua. There are elements of the Olly Alexanders and Troye Sivans who have kindly paved the way for this hypersexual (I’m pretty sure this song is a thinly veiled metaphor for someone giving you an erection) synth pop. Admittedly my favourite part of this song comes from Darce who has a very Childish Gambino esq guest vocal spot, but Rua is definitely making his point.
Best bit: Darce’s verse
Josef Salvat – modern anxiety
We have Lauv, we have Troye Sivan and we apparently also have Josef Salvat (who I’m admittedly the least familiar with) and they’re all doing this very similar reserved-vocal percussive synth pop. I’m finding it difficult to differentiate if I’m honest – I kept thinking this was actually Lauv when it started – but it’s got a catchy little hook so I’ll allow it.
Best bit: I’ll be signing the phrase modern anxiety in my sleep
Lauv + LANY – Mean It
Speaking of Lauv… Having collaborated with so many people for this upcoming album, it was only a matter of time before sadpop stalwarts LANY were called in for a guest spot. It all feels so natural: the downbeat melody, the indistinguishable vocals, the charming hopelessness of it all. It’s all just so pretty. Irrelevant side note: I really hate this artwork, so so much, it’s truly upsetting.
Best bit: the bridge is a wake up call
MUNA – Motivation
This is… Inspired. It’s a testament to both MUNA for stamping themselves in a song so left field to their subgenre and making it work, and to Normani and Motivation for being such a strong song in the first place, that make this a triumph. So much about this shouldn’t work on paper but it just does. If they play this at their show next month I’ll probably lose my mind.
Best bit: their delivery of the line “falling into the bed” gives me chills
Taylor Swift – Beautiful Ghosts
For the context fans out there, Taylor Swift and Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote and recorded Beautiful Ghosts for the upcoming Cats film. Look, I don’t know a whole lot about Cats save for Memory and some choice scenes my old flatmate would repeatedly show to me, and the whole thing seems more than a bit batshit crazy, so I don’t know what I would think of this if I liked Cats. First time I listened to this I was uninterested, but on the good will of Taylor Swift I listened again, and I listened again, and you know what? This is a really beautiful song. Swift sounds gorgeous and she shows that she is capable of holding a note which people so often decry of her. Would I listen to a whole Taylor Swift theatrical concept album? 110 per cent.
Best bit: when she holds that note
Taylor Swift + Shawn Mendes – Lover (Remix)
I don’t know that we *needed* this, frankly I’d have preferred a whole new song if the two of them were gonna collaborate, if anything I’m frustrated because I already know the words to Lover and along came Shawn on the remix and changed them, but he just sounds so lovely and right that I can’t be mad at it. I’m assuming this is an attempt to scale the chart in a post-old town road world, put out the remix, double the streaming numbers, scale the charts etc – and I for one am all for it.
Best bit: Shawn Mendes has such a magical voice, doesn’t he?