The next two New Music Fridays will be coming to you from the heat of sunny Barbados (though I checked the weather last night and it’s gonna rain every day we’re there ffs!) but for this morning I am in London, electric blanket on high, thinking about the fact I have a shit ton of stuff to do before I leave and limited time to do it in. The release schedule is absolutely rife with Christmas songs today – I need to do that Xmas Special pretty asap – but distinctly thin on the ground for any blockbusters other than the N.E.R.D. & Rihanna track I cheated and listened to halfway through the week because how could I not? Meanwhile, Jake Shears & Ana Matronic from Scissor Sisters put out new music (but not together) yet have failed to place that music anywhere you can fucking listen to it, so that’s… y’know… a fucking shit show. Normally I won’t review anything that isn’t on Spotify, but I have made an exception in this case since Scissor Sisters are my favourite band. That said even favourites can fuck up – if you’re hiding free downloads behind a data exchange in 2017, you’re gonna have a bad time. Who can fucking be arsed to type their email address? Just give me the fucking music! Anyway, the selects for this week are HERE and the best bits will be in the main 2017 playlist after all my blabber.
ALY & AJ – ‘I KNOW’ ☑️
Aly & AJ’s glo up – from teen pop rockers, through that awkward better best forgotten 78violet rebrand, to this gorgeous synthy dream pop vibe – has truly been such a pleasant surprise. ‘I Know’ opens like a Christmas song from the 80s (instantly reminded of Alphabeat’s ‘X-Mas (Let’s Do It Again)’ and drifts along, all gauzey and lovely and mellow. What a delightful way to start NMF!
ANA MATRONIC – ‘AFTERLIFE OF THE PARTY’
Scissor Sisters fans will remember that Ana Matronic is lowkey the best member of the band but only ever got one song per album where she got to lead – even though they were regularly the best songs! Unfortunately, if you were hoping for a ‘Tits On The Radio’, ‘Kiss You Off’ or ‘Let’s Have A Kiki’ you will be disappointed by ‘Afterlife Of The Party’ which is five long minutes of atmosphere and no real chorus. I don’t see myself putting this into regular rotation, but it might sneak onto my playlist of songs I like to just lie in the dark to. It’s got that kinda vibe.
ELLA MAI – ‘NAKED’
Ella Mai was behind one of my favourite songs from last year – ‘She Don’t’ with Ty Dolla $ign – and while I’m not into this acoustic R&B number so much, it’s a nice reminder that she exists and is an exciting new talent actually. Her vocals sound excellent on this. As a sidenote, if you’re gonna release a song called ‘Naked’, ‘always best to check that you don’t share your name with a porn star, since googling for the cover art to this song just threw up a whole lot of full frontal nudity!
EMELI SANDÉ – ‘HIGHER’ ft. GIGGS
I know there’s a long running gag about Emeli Sandé being boring and showing up everywhere, but I have a lot of time for her – I think she’s capable of writing some really fucking great songs when she gets on it. The Giggs feature on this gave me high expectations, but sadly it’s not the massive banger I was hoping for but more that Mothers Day compilation Sunday morning soothing lane of Emeli Sandé and while it’s nice, it’s not enough. Give me another ‘Next To Me’, I beg. Take me to church, sis!
ICONA POP – ‘THEY’RE BUILDING WALLS AROUND US’ ☑️
It’s fair to say Icona Pop have lost their way slightly since the days they were our raucous pop darlings, but I think this is more back on track, no? This latest release is a cover apparently, of a band called Moneybrother – the original 2005 release had a b-side called ‘Bum Fucked (For Sure)’ so make of that what you will – and the Icona Pop version can be best described as “very Swedish”. I’m having flashbacks to the ABBA museum earlier this year. I really, really like it.
JAKE SHEARS – ‘CREEP CITY’
Our second Scissor Sisters solo member release of the week, what to say about this Jake Shears number? He has always been a talented and imaginative songwriter, and in that respect nothing has changed, but if you imagine a Scissor Sisters song, circa Ta Dah, written without regard for the potential of commercial success, you would get ‘Creep City’. Which isn’t to say it’s a bad song at all, just… when will Scissor Sisters be getting back together?
LIL’ KIM – ‘TOOK US A BREAK’ ☑️
Girl on girl hate is toxic, the proof is in the fact that Kim hopped off her “Nicki Minaj must die” shit for this track and it’s the best thing she’s released in ages. Sure she’s gonna undo it all with that upcoming Remy Ma collab, but for now let’s just enjoy this tight flow and infectious beat.
MADISON BEER – ‘SAY IT TO MY FACE’ ☑️
I felt a bit unfeminist about the fact that when I scanned the NMF playlist this week I literally only knew Madison Beer’s name because it’s been adjacent to her loser YouTuber ex-boyfriend and Brooklyn Beckham. Still, I am nothing if not a generous queen, so in the interests of female emancipation, I gave this track a spin and I did not hate it? It’s an incredibly basic bop – though the production does something fun in the closing seconds, for the most part it’s a very done sound – but I enjoyed it nonetheless. She’s like a very very very very very very very very very very very VERY budget JoJo.
MIGOS – ‘MOTORSPORT’ ft. NICKI MINAJ & CARDI B ☑️
Some debate on the timeline this week on whether Migos threw shade at the legendary Miss Britney Spears on this track with the line “suicide doors, Britney Spears”. I can follow the thought pattern, but I honestly think it’s just an expensive-cars-and-cocaine lyric that happens to rhyme with “switching gears”. Not every day that deep. The thing I most took from this song is that Nicki is such an agile rapper, and I do think she isn’t credited enough for her skill. Maybe it’s just because she’s alongside Migos and Cardi, but I noticed more than ever how much she can elevate a track – she switches between flows like it’s nothing. A banger, anyway, I’m looking forward to Culture II.
N.E.R.D. & RIHANNA – ‘LEMON’ ☑️
No one was fucking ready for this. I honestly feel like… when in the fuck did N.E.R.D. even hint about a comeback? Have I been asleep all this time? And with Rihanna on the track? RAPPING??? No one touch me, I’m not coping. This song absolutely fucking bangs, like fuck a Pharrell, you can catch me bouncing around bouncing around bouncing. I also love that Rihanna sounds nothing like Rihanna when she raps. I need that hip hop mixtape from her, like yesterday.
RAYE – ‘DECLINE’ ft. MR. EAZI ☑️
Let’s be real and honest – this song is absolutely nothing without the Ja Rule & Ashanti interpolation/sample… but it still goes off though! My problem with Raye is that the only songs of hers I have enjoyed so far have essentially been other people’s songs. ‘The Line’ is a Charli XCX track that she should have been Marvin Gaye-d over and ‘Decline’ is just an ‘Always On Time’ rework… When will she release something that is decent on its own merits? Stefflon, Mabel and Jorja are leaving her behind.
SKEPTA – ‘GHOST RIDE’ ft. A$AP ROCKY & A$AP NAST ☑️
I was a little worried when I saw that this new Skepta track had two A$AP’s on, purely because I remember when Tinie Tempah fell in to the US hip hop scene and suffered from not being able to marry the styles sufficiently. Thankfully I think Skepta has done a great job of retaining his own identity here, with Rocky and Nast adapting to grime rather than Skep Americanising his sound. The result is a track that goes pretty fucking hard, but I’m still unsure whether the scene has potential to go global or not.
WILEY – ‘I CALL THE SHOTS’ ft. JME ☑️
Always a good day when you get material from both Adenuga brothers. I love Jme’s verse on this, but it’s all Wiley, really, with relentless reminders that he’s been out here shaping the scene for a long time. This sounds so tame when you listen to it directly after the Skepta track, but in isolation it’s a goer, I was making casual finger guns, I won’t lie.