It is very nearly Christmas, but we’ll get to that later: first I’ve rounded up the best new songs from last week and it’s full of bangers, ballads and upbeat bops – and no, I’m not just trying to be alliterative, they’re all there I promise.
I’d like to apologise in advance for the social media crusade I’ll be going on in the run up to the new year, please do mute me for a bit if you want because it’s going to be a relentless drive for a little bit extra web traffic. It’s the end of a year, the end of a decade, and I have a lot to cover in a short space of time.
But before all that, new music continues to drop, and boy are there some gems this week. Here are 12 songs I think you should hear.
220 KID – Don’t Need Love (with GRACEY)
The lyrics to this bassy dance tune are a load better then they need to be. From the subtle verse by verse jump from “When I fall in love i usually take my time” to “lose my mind” to “change my mind”, to the cutting line about the commercial fixations surrounding love: “the white dress dress and the alter/that diamond in your ring/that’s all anyone cares about”, and all of it built around an infectious beat. I could loop this for hours.
Best bit: too many good lyrics to choose from but “White fence and a real job/We waste away in the suburbs/That’s all anyone cares about” is particularly good
Anson Seabra – Trying My Best
You remember that Say Something tune by A Great Big World and Xtina? Well, this is its spiritual successor. A quietly emotional piano ballad about a guy just trying his best to look after himself with a cute visual on the album artwork. It’s gentle and pretty and heartfelt, and enough of each of these things in part that it could be one of those songs that makes a steady chart ascent over the course of a few months.
Best bit: how sincere it feels
Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia
Future Nostalgia definitely won’t be the easiest sell for Lipa’s team. It feels like a bit of a gamble to throw something so definitively left field and in parts commercially unfriendly from one of pop’s darling. I reckon it’ll either stick or it’ll get buried in the album cycle as a misstep from someone with too much riding on her. The opening threat from the self-proclaimed female alpha: “You want a timeless song/I want to change the game” plus the chorus of “I know you’re dying trying to figure me out” and “You want the recipe, but can’t handle my sound” are literally daring you to challenge this song being released as a single. There are elements to its sound that puts Future Nostalgia halfway between MJ’s Thiller and Ronson’s Uptown Funk which makes this weirdly compelling with every repeat play.
Bet bit: The post chorus
Gabrielle Aplin – My Mistake
I have learned since playlisting this that what I thought was a new song buried in an EP that came out on Friday is actually a year old and has over 9 million streams but it’s still new to me so I’m going to leave it in. It’s a big ballad of self deprecation that gains passionate momentum as it goes and it’s no in surprise in listening that it’s been played so many times.
Best bit: “I’m a loser/and I self deprecate” is such a bold hook
Harry Styles – Falling/Canyon Moon/Treat People With Kindness
Harry Styles in 2019 is somewhere between The Weeknd and Vampire Weekend. I saw a lot of praise for his new album which I’m chalking up to it’s sound existing just over that line into indie that always receive the laudings of esteemed critics. If that’s for you, there’s a lot to like. If it’s not, there are still a few new songs to take home. First is Falling, a straightforward ballad with a nice hook – a gentle moment in the otherwise gung-ho album. Canyon Moon has the same summer holiday vibes as Vampire Weekend’s This Life and Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville with its light guitar and fun lyrics. And Treat People With Kindness is a playful and gives you the sense that Harry Styles is about 50 too years late for his time.
Best bit: those vocal harmonies at the beginning of TPWK
Josh Gray – Can’t Say No
If Ed Sheeran could jump back in time and hand a song to a teenage Jesse McCartney this is what he would give. It’s got that basic melody, guitar riff and rhythm with R&B undertones that puncture the sadboi pop that these young pop guys are putting out their numbers and its almost annoyingly good.
Best bit: that opening riff
Leadley – 23
The older I get the more unsettled I become by these songs about being specific ages I have already passed with their singers dwelling on feeling too old and unsure of their place in the world when I’m still largely in that mindset. I’m pretty sure Leadely will be ok if she keeps pulling songs as cool as this out though, even though I can’t shake the fear I feel from that chorus: “I don’t fucking feel like I’m young enough/No I don’t fucking feel like I’m old enough/No I don’t fucking feel like I’m holding up/23 got me like/Gotta have it in the bag but/I ain’t got no plans”. Me too, Leadley, me too.
Best bit: that final “I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing”
Macklemore – It’s Christmas Time (feat. Dan Caplen)
This is enormously cringey, bells jingling, and very specific to Macklemore’s life experiences as being a parent who gets excited at Christmas. It has an awful line that goes: “I wanna take a second, and shoutout my dead dog/Toby, he’s dead” You’re quite probably sick of hearing his voice alongside frequent-collaborator Dan Caplen, but that hook is really infectious and this is already on my Christmas playlist so what can you do?
Best bit: that final acoustic chorus really brings you in
Meghan Trainor – Evil Twin
This song is completely absurd and I absolutely cannot get enough of it. Trainor creating a pop song about having an evil twin (it’s not really, it’s about being drunk and turning into a whole other person) in her signature upbeat style could not be more up my street. Giving me a bit of Kasey Musgraves’ High Horse in sound.
Best bit: those tiny key changes
Raye – Please Don’t Touch
Not entirely sure how to judge a song which begins with lyrics of being a vitcim, and lines like “The thing about trust/Is it takes two of us” then the chorus “please don’t touch me” and feels like it could be a song about consent before continuing on to say “if you don’t mean it” – it’s catchy but it feels a little off base in how it has arrived. Still, a good pop song -is- a good pop song and I can’t fault how nice this is from a melodic standpoint.
Best bit: Raye’s vocal is lush