New Music Friday #53

Right back at it with New Music Friday #53 because you know I didn’t keep something up for 52 consecutive weeks only to start a new naming convention on 2018 and make my feat seem less impressive, come on now. Compared to this time last year, which got off to an incredibly slow start, the first New Music Friday of 2018 brings us releases from three global A-listers, a B-list collaboration for a C-list blockbuster, the latest from a “ones to watch” list band, the return of Mumford & Sons-but-hold-the-banjo and more. I’m breathless. If you didn’t know already, New Music Friday has changed slightly – you can read more details here – so there will be no follow along playlist this year, you can just play New Music Friday UK from the top to check out the reviewed selection. Best bits added to the new 2018 playlist as before. Podcast details coming tomorrow. If you come across anything new that you think I might want to listen to, please follow the Give It A Spin 2018 playlist and add it there, or tweet me if it’s not on Spotify. And now that all the admin is done, let’s get on with the music. Have a good weekend!

I am, and always have been, a Justin Timberlake fan, and I know it’s fun to dunk on him because you could comfortably argue that he’s The Worst, but please… we don’t have a male popstar on this level anymore, and I would say in this case we just have to go ahead and separate the art from the artist. The Superbowl halftime performance is gonna be incredible, Janet-apology or no, but we should agree that we’re all gonna watch the Daily Motion upload after the fact so he doesn’t get the ratings or the YouTube views, right? Anyway, his newest song… listen, even with that pretentious lumberjack bullshit, I was ready to love this if it was a slick, dancefloor ready sex jam, or a gorgeous ‘Mirrors’-esque orchestral sweep. I can’t even articulate the levels of disappointment in this Jamiroquai album track. It goes nowhere and does nothing. There’s no real chorus or even a good hook. It’s at least one and a half minutes too long. It sounds exactly like what happens if you fiddle the dial to between two radio stations and receive both at the same time through the static. And if she doesn’t remember that, she’s too young for you, bro.

I usually don’t listen to new music before Friday because I like to cover my immediate impressions, but there’s absolutely no way I wasn’t listening to this when the (amazing amazing amazing!) video dropped yesterday, and besides it’s a remix, I already vaguely know how it goes. I felt like 24K Magic was an excellent, if slimy album, when I first listened to it – I distinctly remember both liking it and disliking it simultaneously and feeling a bit out-of-body, but all the singles have been fire, so perhaps I should revisit. This version of the more 90s than the 90s ‘Finesse’ adds two knockout verses from woman-of-the-moment Cardi B full-on Bronxing all over the intro and middle 8, and has me wondering why she bothers with trap beats at all when this R&B/new jack swing lane is so clearly hers to own. Feels early to call it, but I’m gonna say with confidence that this song will be, if not the song of the year, top 5 at the very least.

We’re in the run up to Black Panther season, everyone and knowing that Kendrick Lamar is curating the soundtrack is the first big exciting music news of the year. (Lorde’s work on The Hunger Games soundtrack deceased, cremated and the ashes scattered at sea!) Label-mate and breakout star of 2017 SZA joins Kendrick for this understated mid-tempo and sounds gorgeous on a hopeful chorus, but given that each artist just dropped the albums of their career so far, plus they have the most black-blackety-black movie of the year serving as inspiration, ‘All The Stars’ is strangely lacking in their distinct character. Not the best from either of them, I’m hoping this is a false sense of security so as not to scare Them, and that there’s much more fire offerings to come from the rest of the soundtrack.

The soundtrack to the last Fifty Shades movie, in which Rita Ora starred, featured a song called ‘Kiss Me’ (by Rita Ora) but only on the Target exclusive version. It was a better song than the actual official single from that movie, and I have been quietly praying for justice for Rita since I heard it. I’m not a believer, but it turns out my wishes were granted. The most enormous sounding pop song to ever be written over the instrumental sound-bed for drone footage of trees and cliffs on any amateur filmmaker’s YouTube channel, I can taste the top 3 peak already. The crediting on this song is confusing to me since it is completely dominated by reliable hit vehicle Rita, reducing Liam to a second verse passenger who is completely inaudible during the chorus, but perhaps it’s wrong to expect Rita to be fairly acknowledged for her work on the soundtrack for a film famous for its unsafe depictions of BDSM and terrible representation of women.

Superorganism are a cool thing that were happening last year and I was too tired and uncool to give a shit. Too much “who is this 65-person-strong occultist human reef that hatched from an egg at midnight under a  blood moon” press release cribbed mystery, y’know? I’m fucking busy. Anyway, this song is very good – it sounds like a Tove Styrke track with the unfiltered joy removed, filtered (through east London’s exclusive nonchalant-distracted-yeah-whatever boredom filter no less), cut with some fake deep message about “fame” and injected back in. It know it sounds like I didn’t enjoy this, but actually I really did. It’s very well-written, immensely catchy pop. We can just say that, like, without trying to dress it up as something different than pop, we’re all adults now.

Arlissa was a tip on one of the industry lists of yesteryear and then, like most of these industry hyped acts, nothing came of her. But how’s this for a revival? Not only coming back years later, but getting a producer whose name is shorthand for “huge selling top 5 hits and year-long ubiquity” to remix an old song that was lying around and then on release getting a prime spot on the UK’s biggest playlist for new music. Just goes to show you can’t stop talent, and Arlissa really does have a gorgeous voice. Whether she can translate this track into radio play and radio play into a hit and a hit into longevity, or whether it’s just a bit of a slow release week remains to be seen. It’s all a bit “faceless session singer” for my liking, but I know The General Public are big fans of this kind of music, so who knows.

There is an entire glut of bands I just think of as mutations of the Mumford & Sons virus, and The Vaccines are “the strain that wrote for One Direction one time”. As we all know, Mumford & Sons are my least favourite band in the whole entire world, so this is not complimentary at all, but I actually don’t mind The Vaccines that much. Well, I didn’t hate ‘Teenage Icon’. Well, I would never choose to listen to it, but it’s not a terrible song, objectively. Anyway, I’m getting distracted, back to the more pressing matters, ie. specifically this new song. It’s just… listen, I’m laughing because I can’t really believe people still make music like this. Writing guitar songs for Radio X in 2018? Grow up.

A classic R&B ballad. So classic I can’t even find it in myself to be snarky about Charlie Puth at all… just kidding, I can dredge up a little bit of snark. Your boy played himself getting Boyz II Men on this track, exposing just how skim milk his “soulful” vocals are next to the full, rich cream of these unparalleled acapellas, but overall, I gotta hand it to him. This is the first Charlie Puth song I have ever enjoyed. Congratulations on playing directly to my nostalgia, Charlie. An underhand move, but I concede. For now.

For those who don’t know, Dodie is a YouTuber with over a million subscribers, and she writes kinda twee, acoustic songs that you could describe as nursery rhymes and not be completely inaccurate. I would never in a million years choose to listen to this, but if this is your vibe, ‘Party Tattoos’ is super pleasant and gentle. The kind of song that you could set to a really nicely illustrated animated tale of a cute woodland creature with an– oh my god I’m describing a John Lewis advert.

I have still not got my ears around the surprise new Francis and the Lights album because it wasn’t up on Spotify when it first dropped, and then I kinda forgot about it until now. I like this title track a lot though – a slow, electronic bounce with a bright chorus – and as a primer for listening to the full record later, I’m supremely excited. If you missed out on the amazing Chance The Rapper featuring remix of ‘May I Have This Dance’ last year, chances are you probably don’t know this act, but I urge you to go do some listening if you like your pop music upbeat and electro.


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