Before we get into anything… Chester Bennington. What a sadness. Linkin Park was one of those rare bands that everyone was into, a band that my angsty, emo brother and my peppy, pop-loving ass could agree on (peep this old NMF post from when we reviewed the tracks together for proof). And they were that band without being reductive, or middle-of-the-road or inoffensive. That takes talent. So it’s a shame to have lost him. The latest Linkin Park material was different, but great, and it just always seems such a waste, doesn’t it, suicide? So I just wanted to use this space to say thank you Chester, for the music and memories, and to encourage you all to support mental health charities and to write to your MPs about making mental health a top 10 (at least) government issue. Information on how to donate to Mind here and a handy tool for contacting your MPs here. For anyone who reads this from outside the UK – your local info will be a quick google away. As for today’s reviews, as always listen along HERE and find the highlights on my 2017 playlist which you can subscribe to at the bottom. Have a good weekend and look after yourselves out there, friends.
ANGEL HAZE – ‘NO LIMITS’ ☑️
A fitting kick off from a female artist who has always been fearless in speaking her truth on everything. Emerging at around the same time, but lost in that Iggy/Azealia shuffle – not white enough for mainstream, not controversial enough for constant press focus – the gag is that Angel is the most talented of all three. ‘No Limits’ is some real beat-your-chest shit to get pumped up to – an inconspicuous beat letting the lyrics do all the leg work. When is Angel gonna get the recognition she deserves?
THE DARKNESS – ‘ALL THE PRETTY GIRLS’
In hindsight, I can’t quite believe the music industry ever bet on these fools so hard. I mean sure, they’re fun and theatrical, and ‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love’ is a modern rock classic but… they’re like a parody band created for a movie. Their new single isn’t unbearable, but it does sound like it was recorded in a toilet, and not in a cool, stylistic way. Was it cold in the studio the day they laid down vocals? Why do they sound so muffled, like there’s a scarf wrapped round his face? Whatever. This is inconsequential, much like The Darkness themselves.
ENRIQUE IGLESIAS – ‘SÚBEME LA RADIO’ REMIX ft. SEAN PAUL & MATT TERRY
‘Despacito’ is now the most streamed song of all time, and quite frankly we deserve those nukes North Korea is writing our names on. Anyway, because of the success of ‘Despacito’ expect at least 18 months (at least!) of limp dick attempts to recreate the same success with some watery remakes and tacking on a Western star to something that is already popping on the Latin music scene. And expect most of those attempts to come from Sony, the label – of the three majors – most likely to fumble an easy catch and have literally zero original ideas. No shade. Matt Terry – last year’s X Factor winner – and Sean Paul – just on retainer over at Sony by now, surely? – hop onboard this Enrique single that’s already proved to be successful in mainland Europe. Here’s the thing I hate about both this, and ‘Despacito’: they’re so dull. Like, they just sound grey somehow. I’m actually depressed listening to this.
GHOSTED – ‘GET SOME’ ft. KAMILLE ☑️
Kamille – aka Camille Purcell, the woman behind all those Little Mix singles y’all lose your wigs to – is the vocalist on the track, but who is/are Ghosted? One of those fake acts Spotify invented? Or just Kamille herself, who in rebranding with a K has entirely fucked up her SEO and is almost impossible to find unless you know where you’re looking in the first place? Anyway, the song – a sad-tinted fuckbuddy jam – is good. Not Little Mix good, but good nonetheless. And since Kamille is both a TALENT and a black woman, I’m gonna show out for her. The last truly successful black female artist in the UK was Jamelia, and her last single was literally a decade ago. Which isn’t to say there haven’t been deserving acts in the meantime, but given her songwriting pedigree, I feel like Kamille is more likely than others to get proper label backing. I’m happy for her to happen.
JULIAN PERRETTA & FEDER – ‘PRIVATE DANCER’
A Girls Aloud support act from time ago that I still have mad loyalty to for some reason, Julian Perretta is unknown in the UK, but actually pretty successful on the continent. I don’t know why they don’t work him in the UK at all, but he’s got a nice little thing going I guess, he’s touring, he’s making money, so why go through it? I was hoping to like this a lot more, but it’s… well, it’s basic, is what it is. Verse, chorus, Spanish guitar, lazy concept, lots of “yeah yeah yeah” to fill space. A miss, to be honest.
LOUIS TOMLINSON – ‘BACK TO YOU’ ft. BEBE REXHA & DIGITAL FARM ANIMALS
This song is not better than Niall Horan’s ‘Slow Hands’. (As a side note, I was thinking how interesting it is that Bebe opens this song rather than Louis, but then his vocal kicked in on the second verse and it is so irredeemable it makes absolute sense).
PRETTYMUCH – ‘WOULD YOU MIND’
Syco’s replacement One Direction (sorry, 5 After Midnight!) launch with this song that sounds exactly like something I had on a free CD from Smash Hits magazine circa 1997. Like, it’s not a stretch to imagine this as a Peter Andre single, right? Anyway, I’m interested to see where this goes. Is there a hunger for a new boyband, just yet? Can teenage girls still be seduced by primary colours and pick up lines that keep the hands at waist height, when they can have Zayn, Bieber, and The 1975 promising them blowbacks and their parents disapproval instead? PRETTYMUCH can pretty much do it all – harmonies, dancing, American-white smiles – and if they usher in a new era of performing popstars I’ll be all in. But this song doesn’t have me convinced, and young girls are savvier even than I am… I’m not sure they’ll be convinced either.
SMALLPOOLS – ‘PASSENGER SIDE’
What has happened to Smallpools? They used to be so high energy and cute and fizzy pop-rock guitars… EDM has so much to answer for. This leaden dance track sounds like every single song that you’ve ever heard in the past two years. Millennial touch points in the lyrics – ripped t-shirts! cracked iPhones! desert car rides! – and a half-arsed attempt at storytelling (that story about some basic white girl in a tribal headdress that you fucked in a car one night you’ve heard a million times before) this is #ad music. Like, Boohoo called and said “we need a song to advertise our new Inspired By Coachella range of t-shirts with triangles on and fringed shorts” and Smallpools said “say no more, fam”. I hate this sound and I hate that it’s coming from Smallpools.
SUPERFOOD – ‘UNSTOPPABLE’ ☑️
More slightly trippy indie pop from Superfood, and while ‘Unstoppable’ doesn’t have the same verve as ‘Double Dutch’, I’m enjoying how their new material is shaping up. If I ran, which I don’t, but if I did, I would run to this – the “I feel unstoppable” refrain of the chorus is very motivating.