Let me tell you something scary – it’s almost Halloween and I don’t know where half the time has gone. Wild to think I only have 9 more of these to write before the end of the year. I’m mulling over the future of New Music Friday right now (as regards to me, not like in general). Do I continue business as usual in 2018? Should I reboot? Maybe pivot to video? I joke a lot about there being only a handful of readers, but actually I get modest but consistent traffic, enough that I have kept this up all year. And last week was the most read yet – shout out Rita Ora’s impact! – so there is some appetite clearly, but I feel like I could do more to make this good and entertaining and maybe that means not this format anymore? I don’t know… I’m vaguely strategising, is my point, and any feedback would be welcomed. You can tell me to my face, or even on the phone, you can write it in a letter, either way I have to know. LOLJK! Just tweet me, innit. As for this week, do play along with the selection HERE and follow the main playlist for the best of the bunch at the bottom of the page. Enjoy your Halloween weekend!
BLACKBEAR & TINASHE – ‘UP IN THIS’ ☑️
“Shawty got a booty, let it hang out”. End review. Nah, I’m kidding but honestly what an opening line! Tinashe’s career is a shambles, an outrageous waste of talent, and who knows what this track is gonna do for her. For what it’s worth, I think it’s a lowkey banger – blackbear’s verses are whatever whatever, and the hook is very “tonight the role of Rihanna will be played by Tinashe” but it pops off a bit! I wasn’t completely getting my life but I was stank-facing and letting my neck go. Will play again.
CLEAN BANDIT – ‘I MISS YOU’ ft. JULIA MICHAELS
Listen, I do not have time for Clean Bandit. I think they’re largely antiseptic and sterile. Clean pop with the edges filed off. I don’t want to listen to music also enjoyed by Home Counties 4×4 families, it’s not my brand. But! Even I have to grudgingly admit they’ve had a decent run of singles lately, even if I would never choose to listen to them. ‘Tears’, ‘Rockabye’, ‘Symphony’… you know, credit where it’s due, they’ve been pretty good at delivering on some proper verse-chorus stuff where the tune changes between verse and chorus. I actually even really liked ‘Tears’, it’s on my 2016 playlist and everything! But here’s Julia Michaels on the track, spreading over what once might have been an interesting beat and suffocating the goodness like mold on soft fruit. Nothing happens in this song. Absolutely nothing. I’ve completely forgotten how it goes already. She is the worst thing in pop music right now.
FRANZ FERDINAND – ‘ALWAYS ASCENDING’
Not to sound like the kind of Buzzfeed article that would set Kate Nash off on one, but I had no idea Franz Ferdinand were still doing bits! Of course, like mostly everyone, I primarily fuck with their debut album only (a little bit of the second, maybe) and this new track isn’t ‘Take Me Out’ catchy so I probably won’t ever play it again, but I don’t hate this. It has that same dancefloor sensibility of ‘The Man’ by The Killers tempered by the fact it has none of that playful charm and swagger. Disco-rock has been a real “thing” this year and I’m not mad about it, but this one just happens to leave me a little cold is all.
INA WROLDSEN – ‘STRONGEST’
Listen, I have no idea about what Ina Wroldsen’s personal life is like but wow, if this song is autobiographical it sounds like she’s been having a Bad Time lately. If “Shape Of You as sung by Sia” sounds like your idea of a good time, or you fancy rubbernecking the wreckage of people’s family life, you’ll get into this. Disappointingly reductive for such a prolific pop songwriter though.
MØ – ‘WHEN I WAS YOUNG’ ☑️
I am so surprised by this, after the joyous crash banging of ‘Final Song’ and the starker crash banging of ‘Nights With You’, this cut from MØ’s new EP is warm and brassy – eclectic still! – but just a completely unexpected direction. Actually… not completely unexpected, since it wouldn’t be super out of place on her first album, but unexpected from the material she has released lately, I guess. Anyway, all this to say, I’m surprised, but I love it! I don’t see it being a massive hit necessarily, but I like it a lot.
NADIA ROSE – ‘BIG WOMAN’ ☑️
My personal favourite of the women in the UK grime/hip hop scene – Nadia Rose absolutely smashes this beat up and rebuilds it into a statue of her own double-bun image. A healthy dollop of braggadocio, relentless flow and a hook you can totally get down to. Fave new release of the week.
PITBULL x FIFTH HARMONY – ‘POR FAVOR’ ☑️
3/4s of Fifth Harmony are Latina so this collaboration with Mr. Worldwide actually makes a lot of sense and feels very natural. As we all know, I am absolutely sick to death of this sound but! Firstly I love Pitbull, secondly I’d love for Fifth Harmony to catch a break and thirdly the lyric “I already seen mami needed TLC and I ain’t too proud to beg just like TLC”. Rhyming TLC with TLC! A man, a legend, an icon. I’m fucking with this, and I’m not even sorry about it.
PLAN B – ‘HEARTBEAT’ ☑️
Second single from the upcoming Plan B album and the soar of the chorus means this sounds more like a radio hit than the excellent but “difficult” ‘In The Name Of Man’ (which flopped, I think). This is pretty generic fodder for Plan B, as it goes, but if I’m going to listen to this type of anthem-by-numbers, I’d put my spins behind someone this talented rather than the myriad of faceless producer x featured vocalist versions that get banged out through the year.
PRETTYMUCH – ‘OPEN ARMS’
This song is not strong enough to justify there being no beat for a full minute, I almost turned it the fuck off. In fact, if you are not Boyz II Men levels of richness and depth vocally, don’t acapella at all. God, this is actively fucking horrible. Western boybands are over, bookmark me.
SELENA GOMEZ x MARSHMELLO – ‘WOLVES’ ☑️
So after the one-note mumble vibe of ‘Bad Liar’ (great) and ‘Fetish’ (not great) underperformed, it’s a reset on this Selena Gomez era and one clearly inspired by the Kygo top 10 she had at the top end of the year. ‘Wolves’ is actually a lot of fun – reminiscent, momentum-wise anyway, of ‘Lonely Together’ by Avicii and Rita Ora, but since Rita just lifted that ‘It Ain’t Me’ style breakdown for ‘Anywhere’ we’ll call them even. ‘Wolves’ tops the New Music Friday playlist this week, which is about right (even if I personally think the Nadia Rose track is better) and I reckon this is gonna grow on me a lot.
YUNGEN – ‘ALL NIGHT’ ft. MR EAZI
I know people really rated ‘Bestie’ but it didn’t get me feeling any type of way, and honestly this track is leaving me a little unaffected too. Perhaps it’s loyalty to Chip, but the only time I’ve ever found Yungen slightly interesting is when the two were beefing. Or maybe it’s just one too many tunes in this vein leaving me a little fatigued. I feel like I just heard the exact same song two weeks ago from Kojo Funds, y’know?