I was on a rare holiday week last week so I’ll be keeping it short. I’m fairly sure some music things happened in June, do I remember them? Not at all, been too busy out soaking up that sunshine, which is what I’ll be doing imminently, which is great because many of these songs are perfect for a sunny day – what luck. [Disclaimer: on reflection, many of these songs are very angsty and not at all suitable for sunshine]
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Here are the 20 best songs to come out in June 2021, (plus one bonus track). Spotify playlist at the bottom. Happy Listening!
Bonus: Edge of Glory by Year & Years
Inconceivably, Lady Gaga’s Born This Way album is ten years old and she recruited a bunch of LGBTQIA stars to record versions for its re-release, including Years & Years’, AKA Olly Alexander, take on The Edge Of Glory – and it is absolutely stunning. The sad-disco-pop magic that Olly manages infuse into every single second of this is, well, magical. A work of art and a wonderful homage to one of the biggest albums of the 2010s.
20. Granted by Olivia Rodrigo
You thought we were done with Olivia Rodrigo pumping out new music – guess again! High School Musical: The Musical: The Series is still airing weekly and features new songs all the time, most of them are utter dross, much like the show they feature on, but this angsty check-your-privilege pop tune is lowkey great, you could almost *almost* imagine it having come from her album.
19. American Dream by Baby Queen + MAY-A
If there’s a bad Baby Queen song, I’m yet to hear it. A little more subtle than some of her past efforts, but “My wildest dreams always come true/So I’ve been dreaming wildly about you” has to be one of the best opening lyrics to a song you’ve heard in ages.
18. Reckless by Madison Beer
Despite what the opening bars might tell you, this is not a lullaby, but is in fact a lonesome heartbreak lament. Beer has plugged into that rhythm that’s classically singable and given us an Ariana-light pop ballad which is really quite good, especially the way she wings into that final chorus.
17. Oliver Twist by Arrdee
I know, I know, I’m *old* in internet terms, but I honestly can’t quite believe a TikTok teen has done something this dumb that is also very very good? The way he draws out the word ‘more’ is so fuckin tasty. Ridiculous, but it undeniably pops off.
16. MEMORIES by 347aidan
“Another pointless song about someone who doesn’t give a shit about me” is a lot of angst crammed into the opening bars of this song and tells you everything you need to know about this pointful, poignant anthem for doomed youth. Heartbreak trap pop by teens, for teens, and apparently for this 26-year-old journalist too. “I don’t wanna die young I know that’s not my destiny” is a lot for someone who is 18 to be feeling.
15. smoke break // by KennyHoopla + Travis Barker
Given that he’s almost single handedly steering the ship of much of the new wave of pop punk/rock that’s exploding everywhere – everyone and their mum has got a song featuring Travis Barker at the moment – I had to look up is net worth and, unsurprisingly, it’s somewhere around the $50 million mark. Incredible to have that much money and still be working 24/7 with everyone in the music industry, including KennyHoopla and his new album, which features the punk-rock-thirst-quenching track smoke break // that picks you up in opening riff and doesn’t put you down again. Fantastic vocals and great lyrics, including: “I wear a mask not ’cause of virus/Just don’t like what is behind it”.
14. Cloudy Day by Tones and I
Building on her tried and tested take-a-hook-and-bang-you-over-the-head-with-it that gave rise to Dance Monkey, Tones and I has managed to cram the lyrics “your mama always said look up into the sky/find the sun on a cloudy day” 12 times into this one, all with varied intonation and emphasis, and it’s very, very effective. Fantastic vocals.
13. How Not To Drown (feat. Robert Smith) by CHVRCHES
One of Scotland’s biggest music exports, CHVRCHES, came back with their best song in ages featuring Robert Smith. It’s a five and a half minute marathon of emo-rock angst and it they don’t waste a second. Huge, huge song. The way Lauren Mayberry delivers lyrics like “That was the first time I knew/You can’t kill the king/And those who kiss the ring” is incredibly powerful.
12. Varsity Crush by Pixie Labrador
Sometimes trawling the New Music Friday playlists from other regions serve up some hidden gems, case and point: Varsity Crush by Pixie Labrador. A gay acoustic pop ballad not too far a cry from Taylor Swift’s All Too Well in sound, telling the classic high school unrequited love story ‘if only all my pining leads you to me’ – before giving us that heart warming twist of the chorus at the end where she gets the girl. A gorgeous bit of acoustic story telling.
11. Let Them Know by Mabel
A banging Mabel party tune just in time for the new season of Love Island? What are the chances. Raucous, infectious, opens with the line ‘nails shining like christmas‘ and is then just full of terrible lyrics like ‘Blonde hair, yeah, I bleached it/You can call me Khaleesi‘. It’s a load of nonsense but its a fucking banger and I won’t hear a bad word said against it.
10. Nightmare by Dylan Fraser
An adrenaline dripping, chest imploding, fist pounding riot of a song that just relentlessly builds and builds. The way Fraser’s voice whispers through the bridge is everything. Think The Killers circa Hot Fuss.
09. Raise Your Glass by YONAKA
There’s a lot of bands that gave tried to do the Paramore thing, but this finally feels like a torch has been passed. A huge anthemic tune that is definitely not a cover of that Pink song.
08. Play Talk (About What) by Aiida
By rights this should have just been another generic pop song, but that chorus is a million times better than your gonna see coming. The ‘talk about what’ part of this one is a proper pop moment.
07. therapist by Cat & Calmell
After the very good dramatic and jorge, Aussie duo Cat & Calmell have released a tidy little EP featuring the pop banger therapist. ‘I need a doctor to put me in a coma/Cos there’s no getting over you’ is such a loudly good hook.
06. FaceTime with my Mom (Tonight) by Bo Burnham
I’m yet to actually watch the Bo Burnham special this is attached to, and normally I wouldn’t even longlist a ‘comedy’ song, but it landed in a quiet week and YOU KNOW WHAT it’s actually really fucking good. The parents can’t work facetime is a bit that’s been done to death, and yet he still makes it feel fresh and funny, and layers it into a genuinely good pop track? Inspired. “She’ll tell me all about the season six finale of The Blacklist” gets me every single time.
05. Lost Cause by Billie Eillish
I’ll admit this one was lost on me the first time I heard it, but I’m putting that down to the fact i watched the music video which feels a bit incongruous to the sound of the song itself, which is actually just another really low-key good Billie Eilish tune. The but that really clinches it is that ‘thought you had your shit together but damn I was wrong’. Eilish continues to be the moment.
04. Hot N Heavy by Jessie Ware
The only thing you need to know here is that this is one you’re gonna want to dance to. Jessie Ware, thank you so much for this gift.
03. Shade of Yellow by Griff
So far, Griff to me had been one of these fledgling pop stars who was lacking that proper hit. Sure, she’s a respectable music purist and does most if not all of her own production, which is great, but only when backed up by the music. Well, here’s the one that pushed her over the edge into being someone you really give a shit about. Shade of Yellow is a moment of pure pop escapism, and every single second of it it perfect.
02. The Rhythm by Drew Sycamore
If you were looking for a reason to dance, look no further than Drew Sycamore’s self-titled new record, Sycamore, featuring the strongest in a line of strong disco-pop infused singles, The Rhythm. It’s fast, fun, and infectious and is easily one of the biggest mood-lifting bangers to come out this year.
01. Solar Power by Lorde
The last time New Zealand’s biggest export gave us a lead single, she gave us one of the songs of the decade, and so the debut track of her third album cycle had a lot to live up to and, incredibly, it does. There’s a lot to love on this stripped down tune, but for me it had to go to the casual, carefree laughs she breathes into the line “Can you reach me? No, you can’t!” And the good Lorde said let there be summer and, lo, summer arrived.