I wish everyone would just take a week off to let me continue to fawn over the new Jack Garratt single, but there are 11 new songs for you to check out this week, so let this by my last plug for you to stream Time by Jack Garratt and then we can move on. Also important: revisit 5 Seconds of Summer’s disgustingly catchy No Shame.
There were two pretty big-name releases on Friday which do not feature in my weekly roundup. The first is Billie Eilish’s James Bond song, No Time To Die, which I thought was fine and competent song for this very specific self-made genre. Great vocals, stunning instrumental, but I can’t imagine myself listening to outside of it playing in the film’s credits, y’know? The other is the new Justin Bieber album, Changes, which is a bit of a mess. Where are the good hooks, Justin? I hope he returns to something a bit more pop friendly for album number six.
Anyway, here are the 11 new songs you should absolutely, definitely stop what your doin and hear.
AJR – Bang!
If you don’t know them yet, AJR are a vocally-distinctive indie-pop band made up of three brothers – Adam, Jack and Ryan. Their 2019 album Neotheatre was one of my favourites of the year, made up of memorable hooks, heady synths, and anthemic finishes. Bang! feels like a musical continuation of the album, playing with theatrical vocals and hypnotic rhythms to create the feeling of being at some weird and wondrous musical circus.
For fans of: fun., Panic! at the Disco, Vampire Weekend
Alex Newell – Boy, You Can Keep It
It has been a slow, but sure, rise to fame for Alex Newell and we are all blessed to bear witness to it. He got his start after making it onto The Glee Project and subsequently becoming a series regular on Glee, albeit a bit after most of us stopped watching. He’s been on a couple of massive dance songs with Clean Bandit and Blonde, and now he’s on the main cast list for the new NBC show Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist. Boy, You Can Keep It is a fiery, powerful dance-pop tune with a buoyant hook, some well-placed flute playing, and an enormous vocal presence. Get listening!
For fans of: Lizzo, RuPaul, Adam Lambert
Chaz Cardigan – Being Human
Cardigan’s Not OK! is one of my favourite songs of the year so far, and he has kindly followed it up with a nice little 5 song EP called Vulnerabilia, which features Being Human. Like Not OK!, its synth-pop ode to just trying out best and getting things wrong sometimes and how that’s ok. There are some unstoppable melodic runs, a rare satisfying ‘rap’ bridge, and includes my favourite lyric this week: “say hello to being human/we’re all just dancing on the timeline”.
For fans of: 5 Seconds of Summer, The Vamps
Jake Shears – Meltdown
Now that he’s resurfaced as the unicorn on the UK version of that ridiculous TV show, The Masked Singer, Jake Shears, lead singer of Scissor Sisters, is using his renewed cultural relevance to continue his solo career with a camp, energetic, nu-disco banger that is dripping with his rich falsetto and will have you yearning to listen to I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’.
For fans of: Scissor Sisters, Dannii Minogue, Cheryl
New Hope Club – You And I/Why Oh Why
At long last, the spiritual successors to One Direction, New Hope Club, have dropped their self-titled debut album. It’s essentially a roundup of all their best songs to date plus a string of new excellent new tunes. You and I and is a drum-laden, bass-pop song which contains the inspired lyric ‘Like a king and a queen/Wearing paper-thin crowns’, and continues to prove that songs titled ‘You and I’ is a rich and endless pool of hits. Why Oh Why is a light, gentle pop-rock tune that will will stuck in your head for days.
For fans of: One Direction, Why Don’t We, The Vamps
Powfu – death bed (feat. beabadoobee)
death bed samples the opening verse of beabadoobee’s most played and most gentle song so far, coffee, which already stands alone so well. But just as AJ Tracey did with Jorja Smith’s Wandering Romance, Powfu’s gentle rapping and his harmonies over the hook elevate it and breathe in new life. A light and breezy song for light and breezy summer days.
For fans of:
Robinson – Watching You
Robinson, purveyor of excellent pop hooks, kindly released a four track EP and of the three new tunes on it, all of which are good pop songs, Watching You stands out most. It’s a lament about being in love with someone who is in love with someone else, and Robinson delivers it with palpably heart-aching vocals and a haunting melody.
For fans of: Halsey, Emily Burns, Julia Michaels,
Ronan Keating + Emeli Sandé – One Of A Kind
I’m a sucker for pop duets, especially when being delivered by two very competent vocals. I do think that Keating and Sandé have such distinctive voices that don’t quite blend as neatly as they could, but they’ve injected a choir to make up for that. It’s X-Factor winners single nonsense with a simple melody, soulful vocals and a huge final verse. The exact kind of trash music that gets me out of bed in the morning.
For fans of: Alexandra Burke, Leona Lewis, James Morrison
Sam Smith – To Die For
I really like Sam Smith and I put full trust in them that even if I don’t love their songs the first time I hear them, give it a month and I’ll have it on repeat. This a bit of a sad one for my regular rotation, but Smith’s vocal is in their signature heartbreak mode, there are some glorious falsettos, and its got me excited for their album coming out later this year.
For fans of: James Arthur, Zayn, James Bay
Vistas – The Love You Give
Another fast paced indie-rock anthem from Vistas. They’ve got that school-band that made it big vibe down to a T, and if you haven’t listened to them yet, then truly, what are you doing?
For fans of: Sea Girls, Blossoms, Vampire Weekend