Another strong month for new music, in which I really did pull myself away from listening to the new Imagine Dragons record (which still features heavily) to check out all the notable new releases from September – and thank goodness I did because there really were some phenomenal tunes dropping left right and centre.
I won’t take up your time with preamble, but I will quickly plug my weekly newsletter ‘The Monday Playlist‘ which delivers the best new songs from last week directly into your inbox
Here’s the Spotify Playlist, songs and words below.
20. You’re Not Here by Cynthia Erivo
Been a big fan of Erivo’s vocal since seeing her in Bad Time at the El Royal in which she plays a struggling session singer. She last month released her debut album featuring this gorgeous letter-cum-ballad to her estranged father relaying how his absence has impacted her life.
19. Ghosted by Michael Aldag
A bit of teenage friendly pop where Aldag takes aim at the frivolous irritations of dating when you’re young and the guarded refinement of online appearance versus who you are in reality. Lyric of the month has to go to this accidental TikTok star for the deep cutting “I lose at least a couple brain cells every time she speaks/I wanna kiss her but she hasn’t closed her mouth in weeks.”
18. After All by Elton John + Charlie Puth
With maybe the exception of Paul McCartney, Elton John is a rarity in being able to have had such a long career and still pull out new music that is both within his long-established sonic wheelhouse in the melodic choices and relevant to today’s soundscape with the vocal distortion over his own voice. Great to hear Puth and John come together, their unique stylings blend perfectly on this soaring pop ballad.
17. THATS WHAT I WANT by Lil Nas X
Any scepticism at Lil Nas being able to carve a viable career in the music industry following 2019s novelty behemoth Old Town Road is surely now dead and buried. It’s great to have such a prominent and popular artist championing the frustrations of being queer in the modern world, and to be doing it with such a refined flare for melody, as you can hear on the unapologetic THATS WHAT I WANT.
16. Less Of A Man by Zak Abel
New harbinger of the very much alive-and-kicking blue-eyed soul movement, Zak Abel is here to voice his frustrations of a world doused in toxic masculinity and what it means to be a ‘man’ on his latest vocally fantastic, catchy-as-hell track.
15. The Feeling by Gabry Ponte + Henri PFR
After drawing you in with an immediately recognisable sample of Cindy Lauper’s Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, Garby and Henri slam you with a pop banger that’s equally as fresh as it is nostalgic. An inspired little tune.
14. Shivers by Ed Sheeran
Credit to Sheeran where its due on this one, either for crafting yet another defiantly catchy pop song, or for so deeply permeating and shaping the last decade of music that anything he does has that accessible sense of familiarity. Might feel a bit like a joke the first few times it hits you, but before you know it’ll have achieved banger status.
13. That’s How It Goes (feat. 6LACK) by Zoe Wees
Having long admired the raw passion ever-present in Zoe Wees vocal, it’s great to hear her finally finding the perfect outlet for it. This one is huge, unapologetically matter-of-fact, and will threaten to stick in your head for weeks.
12. I’m A Mess by Baby Queen
Brilliant to hear that my favourite lyricist in pop Arabella Latham, AKA Baby Queen, has formally released an extended mixtape of her best songs plus a couple of new ones. The whole thing is a perfectly cohesive pocket of pop music, but of the new releases the emotional reverberations on I’m A Mess make it a contender for being her best song yet. ‘Somebody please stop the world, I think I would like to alight/It’s not for me, I can’t believe I’ve paid two decades for this ride,’ is up there with some of her best work.
11. Don’t Break The Heart by Tom Grennan
The great thing about Tom Grennan is that you’ll know if you like him in the first five seconds when his gravelly voice comes roaring in. This another by-the-numbers pop-ballad, (think Lewis Capaldi but vocally a bit ‘grittier’) that does the job and then some. Can’t get it out of my head.
10. Lonely by Imagine Dragons
The tentative optimism that the new Imagine Dragons record might see them back on form had been growing since the very good Follow You and Wrecked, and now I can breathe a sigh of relief that, despite a few choice moments, they band with the worst name in history are back at the top of their game. Track 2 from their latest album is a catchy little tune with enough ear-wormy moments it’s been a hard one to shake (in a good way, obviously).
09. you and me together is a problem by remy + Jutes
A perfect meeting of 00s skater rock and 20s sad boy music has finally occurred on this upbeat-yet-melancholy duet between remy and Jutes. Endlessly charming, has that same feeling that Sum 41’s In Too Deep brought the first time you heard it.
08. My Life by Imagine Dragons
A strong album opener from Imagine Dragon’s latest record Mercury – Act 1, but once you hear how much it sounds like 4 Non Blondes’ What’s Up you’ll never be able to unhear it. Great big crescendo to finish this one, it could just has easily have served as the album’s closer.
07. Life’s a Bitch (L.A.B) by Nina Nesbitt
Among the monotone vocal autotune, the thrum thrum thrumming and the sheer pop perfection of it all, it’s surprising to find out this isn’t an excellent Charli XCX. Must be Nesbitt’s best song yet.
06. Skinny Dipping by Sabrina Carpenter
It feels like an obvious move for Sabrina Carpenter to go down the muted story-telling pop with a strong chorus lane, and yet it was still refreshing to find that she got it this right. Unsurprising but not unwelcome to see Julia Michaels had a hand in penning this one – the opening verse is perfection.
05. More by Sam Ryder
In case you were still sceptical about the viability of TikTok to break a pop star, look no further than Sam Ryder. Do we really need another guy in pop with a massive, gravelly voice? When the songs are as euphoric, uplifting and anthemic as More, the case makes itself.
04. Record Player (feat. AJR) by Daisy the Great
Building on hook pulled from a song by a little known pop group that went viral, Daisy the Great teamed up with alt-pop nerds AJR to remix Record Player to create (maybe a little too late) a genuinely quite good pop song. It’s certainly an elevation from where it began, and if you haven’t heard the hook yet, be warned: once it’s in your head you’ll have a hard time shaking it.
03. Sister Ray by Foxes
Foxes was my own personal access point into the realm of pop music when I was at that age where I was finally defining what kind of music was mine. Almost a decade later, her prowess at creating euphoric dance pop bangers is as refined as it’s ever been. Sister Ray is a huge, glittering pop moment for Louisa and as a long term fan it bodes incredibly well as an introduction to her first full album in six years.
02. Eternal Love by JLS
It would have been easy enough for JLS to have come back with some C-minus song for their reunion and tour on their previous popularity. Instead, they enlisted Ed Sheeran to help pen their return to music and they nailed the assignment. Both a reminder that Jack the Lad Swing never dies and a prompt to delve back into the X-Factor alumni’s surprisingly great back catalogue. Let’s just all breathe a sigh of relief for Aston who can stop trying to make a solo career happen.
01. Monday by Imagine Dragons
Yes, everything about this track and video makes me cringe from my core to my every extremity, but I can’t stop listening to this stupid catchy sweet amazing deplorable inspired song.