Hello, from Bangkok! I’m writing today’s New Music Friday post in my hotel room, bashing it out before a morning and part-afternoon of dashing round all the most exciting things to do and see because I’m only actually here for two days. Of course, though, my trip is spanning the Tinashe show last night, every single Adele at Wembley date and Beat Mag’s amazing all day party with Jessie Ware, Raye and Tove Styrke on Sunday, so I have almost unbearable pop FOMO. Not even FOMO really. What’s it called when you don’t just have a fear of missing out, you know you are? Anyways… the sun is shining and gorgeous here so I can’t complain too much. Like, literally I can’t complain, I find it almost impossible to grump in good weather. Still, there might be a terrible new release this week to make my mood plummet… after last week’s drought there is a bonanza of new music out this Friday, including the LANY album which I cannot fucking wait to listen to. You can listen to all the tracks I’m writing about HERE or jump to the end for my 2017 playlist which features the best bits from today plus all the other NMF blog posts.
ADAM LAMBERT – ‘TWO FUX’
‘Two Fux’ begins with theatrical guitar and you think “ah well this makes sense, Adam Lambert cashing in on his Queen connections” but then it breaks into that weird half-sung bleepy Owl City bro-pop vibe for the verses before a chorus that has its foundation in Queen’s ‘Somebody To Love’… and then there’s another theatrical guitar solo? And despite the fact there’s so much going on in this track, it still sounds generic and personality free? I get what’s happening here – trying to update that classic rock sound for Spotify – but it ends up sounding quite confused, while Adam’s calling card – his incredible vocals – aren’t utilised to their fullest potential.
ASTRID S – ‘SUCH A BOY’ ☑️
Taken from Astrid’s new EP Party’s Over, ‘Such A Boy’ is a sly skewering of the “don’t act like a girl” relationship trope which cuts right to the heart of the bullshit, indecisive, jerking around which are par for the course when entering into any sort of relationship with a guy. It skitters and twinkles along, eye-rolling at men and simultaneously trying to placate them. Imagine Katy Perry’s ‘Hot N Cold’ rewritten for 2017 and you have this song. Astrid S is shaping up to be a fantastic popstar.
BILLIE EILISH – ‘WATCH’ ☑️
This Billie Eilish song got mentioned on my timeline several times over the week, so I had pretty high expectations. It doesn’t quite live up to them, but I’m not crushingly disappointed either. It’s layered to perfection, the vocals echo and harmonise while the drums propel the melody along. The chorus fails to lift the song up from its steady, linear pace but I can see this being a grower. If you’ve ever been into someone more than they were into you, this song will do you right.
CLEAN BANDIT – ‘DISCONNECT’ ft. MARINA AND THE DIAMONDS
Apparently Clean Bandit fans and Marina fans have been shouting for this song for a long time? I wouldn’t know, I don’t keep company with Clean Bandit and Marina fans. Was it worth their wait? Well, I guess if you’re a fan of both acts you’ll be into this, but personally it’s doing nothing for me. There are elements that really work – the verses I like a lot – and then something will come in that throws the momentum off – the bridge enters abruptly and disrupts the flow – and oh my god it’s just way too long. Four minutes of Marina wailing like the ghost of a woman lost at sea. A perfectly serviceable album track, and nothing more.
CHIP – ‘GETS LIKE THAT’ ft. GHETTS
I’m not sure this song pops off in the way I’ve come to expect from Chip – it explodes about a minute and a half in, with Chip spraying the beat with rhymes gunfire style, but the “didn’t wanna do it but it gets like that” refrain feels like hard work to listen to. Not my favourite, but I’m still excited for his new album.
DAN CAPLEN – ‘FLAT CHAMPAGNE’ ft. RAY BLK ☑️
This song is absolutely adorable. How a song gonna make me feel like I’m in a comfortable long-term relationship and totally in love with a man who supports my dreams the same way I’m supporting his when the reality is that I’m almost defiantly single and not trying to get wifed any time soon, or indeed, ever? There’s more than a touch of the closing credits to a rom-com song to ‘Flat Champagne’ but I think that’s why it works. Dan and Ray have perfectly complementary voices and I’m obsessed with this already.
DESIIGNER – ‘LIIFE’ ft. GUCCI MANE
It’s hard to keep up with yourself once you have a song as culturally impactful as ‘Panda’ was, because ever onwards people will listen to your new shit like “okay, but is it as good as Panda?” In this instance, the answer is no. ‘Liife’ is a fine, if forgettable track with a lazy Gucci Mane guest spot. Desiigner gets a lot of heat for being a Future clone, but with credit to Future, he’s never put anything out this tired before. Then again Future has never had a Billboard #1 either, but Desiigner isn’t looking likely to land another one with this.
DRAKE – ‘SIGNS’
Debuting at Louis Vuitton’s runway show from a week ago, this Drake track is inconsequential, inoffensive background music. It doesn’t feel like a Drake smash in the way ‘One Dance’ or ‘Passionfruit’ instantly felt like Drake smashes. Then again, wonders never cease, and certainly everything October’s Very Own touches turns to gold, so perhaps we’ll be unfortunate enough to have this soundtracking the summer after all.
HONEY G – ‘HIT YOU WITH THE HONEY G’
Can you believe this joke is still running, long after the last person stopped nervously laughing? This middle-aged white lady accountant is talking about “bussin” and beats being “phat” and no one is gonna put her in jail? I’m tired of this fucking country.
KACY HILL – ‘STATIC’
I have a lot of faith in Kanye West, which is the only reason I keep peripheral tabs on Kacy Hill, a G.O.O.D. Music signing. This ambient, folky noise is absolutely not my thing, but I accept that it’s beautifully orchestrated.
KATIE PRICE – ‘I GOT U’
I mean, who is singing this song, because it sure as fuck isn’t Katie Price? It’s not eX-Factor contestant Craig Coulton either, though he did write the song. Which isn’t terrible? I would be inclined to listen to it again if I didn’t have so many questions. Yes, it’s a generic trop-pop dance banger and yes it’s fronted by the UK’s longest reigning trashy tabloid queen, but you know what? Some of y’all listen to worse. It’s a better listen than anything Camila Cabello has ever released, put it that way.
METRO BOOMIN – ‘NO COMPLAINTS’ ft. OFFSET & DRAKE
A curiosity which may have no significance, but Offset is credited before Drake on this song, which means when you open it in Spotify you may not notice Drake is featured. So is Offset considered more of a draw than Drake? Anyway, the first thing I noticed about this track is that if it wasn’t for the American accents, I could easily confuse it for a mellow grime cut. Like, for a moment, I thought I’d accidentally played through into a ‘No Security’ remix. Anyway, I’m usually a sucker for a Metro Boomin beat but this one isn’t sparking anything within me.
MURA MASA – ‘SECOND 2 NONE’ ft. CHRISTINE AND THE QUEENS ☑️
I have sincerely tried to “get” Christine and The Queens but I’m afraid I’m gonna have to write her off as one of those acts which I understand but don’t enjoy. Still, this Mura Masa collaboration is kinda great – Christine’s voice sits atop a kinetic beat, punctuated by synths and steel drums. We’re two weeks out from Mura Masa’s album release and from the material so far, it’s a strong contender for album of the year.
ONEREPUBLIC – ‘TRUTH TO POWER’
A little while ago, OneRepublic frontman and pop hitmaker Ryan Tedder wrote a long letter about his burnout and suffering from poor mental health thanks to the restrictive churn cycle of creating, releasing, promoting and touring albums. In the letter, he said that OneRepublic would move to a more ad-hoc release strategy with songs coming along as one offs or in batches, whenever they were ready. ‘Truth To Power’ I suspect, probably had a stricter deadline than “when I feel like it” since it serves as the soundtrack to An Inconvenient Sequel – a documentary movie about global warming – and is written from the point of view of… well, Earth. It’s a rousing ballad which I enjoyed a lot more than I have enjoyed any of OneRepublic’s recent output, though I can’t help but feel it could benefit from a female vocal.
PRINCE FOX – ‘JUST CALL’ ft. BELLA THORNE
Prince Fox is another producer in the Chainsmokers vein, perhaps recognisable to those of you with more questionable taste as a Hailee Steinfeld collaborator (and can I just take this moment to ask why people are ironic stanning that charisma void of a popstar?) Bella Thorne is an ex-Disney kid best known for being messy and allegedly hooking up with Kardashian babydaddy Scott Disick. This predictable duet isn’t gonna be the beginning of anything for either of these acts, but I don’t hate it.
RUDIMENTAL – ‘SUN COMES UP’ ft. JAMES ARTHUR
James Arthur’s inexplicable comeback seems pretty assured but can he turn around the fortunes of Rudimental who haven’t had a notable hit for 2 years, and even then they only managed to hit #12 with a feature from the unstoppable Ed Sheeran juggernaut. I’m inclined to say that this will be a top 5 since I expect it will “stream well”, but for probably the fourth or fifth time this NMF I’m struck by how unrecognisable the vocals are from some of these featured artists? Surely the point of having a well-known name on a track is that they are instantly familiar to radio listeners? I would never have picked James Arthur out of an audio line up for this song.
ST. VINCENT – ‘NEW YORK’ ☑️
An unexpected piano ballad from St. Vincent and even more unexpected is that I really like it? I enjoyed the last St. Vincent record a lot but this is markedly different than that sound – much more delicate and traditional – and not my usual vibe, but the kind of sad, choral loneliness of it combined with that “you’re the only motherfucker in the city who can stand me” lyric is hitting my heart hard.
TÏESTO & KSHMR – ‘HARDER’ ft. TALAY RILEY
This is very chill for a track called ‘Harder’. I only really listened to it because it has a Talay Riley feature and I was hoping for some of that quirky Britney Spears – ‘Clumsy’ magic, but it seems the only thing Talay has lent to this record is his vocal because it’s a pretty generic dance song all the way through. If jumping up and down and getting friction burn from rubbing your shoulders against a splotchy, topless Ibiza bro every time you lift your arm to chug your drink down is your thing, I guess you’ll be into this.