I’ve done all of two episodes and I already regret thinking a podcast was a good idea. To put it in context, I asked to work from home today because I’m pretty sure that one more day of carrying my laptop around will end my existence on this mortal plane. I’m bone weary, y’all, and I know in the grand scheme of things I’m not like saving lives or anything (like my equally tired doctor flatmate) but bodies do have limitations, apparently, and mine is teetering on the brink. The aim is still to get the podcast ready for Monday morning, but the last ep was slightly derailed thanks to my 20 hour Saturday, the fact we talked for way too long and also that I’m still getting to grips with the editing software (very unintuitive!) Give this one a listen (and rate/subscribe if you haven’t already) but allow the sound quality – we had one mic between three shrill, cackling little rats and I probably could have tried to soften it, but I had to keep taking nap breaks while I was editing it down and by the end I just didn’t give a shit. Anyway, as for this week! A very European affair in the first ten tracks of New Music Friday – British talent at the top, an honorary Brit in second and only two main credit acts that wouldn’t qualify for Eurovision… one of whom performed at the 2016 show regardless. Fire up Spotify to listen along, or skip straight to this playlist for the best bits. What’s Poppin’ #3 is being recorded on Sunday so please do sling me any recommendations before then by chucking them in this useful collaborative playlist, and as always have a wonderful Friday!
MABEL – ‘FINE LINE’ w/ NOT3S ☑️
I’m not sure that anyone expected ‘Finders Keepers’ to be such a commercial success – it’s obviously a bop, but its rise into the upper reaches of the chart seemed organic rather than inevitable, and the fact the follow up tracks didn’t land suggests a one-off rather than a strategy. ‘Fine Line’ opens the New Music Friday playlist this week, features one-to-watch man of the moment Not3s and is the first new Mabel track since her mixtape release last year – plans have been made for this song. But will they come to fruition? My instinct is that this track isn’t as good as ‘Finders Keepers’ (or ‘Bedroom’ which is my personal fave Mabel song) but it’s still extremely listenable – the rhythm is for the hips, the chorus is infectious – but this doesn’t smell like a proper “breakthrough moment” just yet.
KYLIE MINOGUE – ‘DANCING’ ☑️
This is a lovely Kacey Musgraves song that I wish Kylie hadn’t so much as a glanced in the direction of, but here we are. Country Minogue. I mentioned last week how inauthentic I find country music from British musicians, and it rings hollow and trend-chasing from Kylie too, but there’s not really any arguing with the sweet earnestness of the song’s message, the double-meaning laced into the chorus lyric “when I go out, I wanna go out dancing” and the fact that it’s entirely fucking pleasant all the way through. Again, if Kacey Musgraves had released this I would be listening to it on repeat. I wanted something completely different from Kylie, but this is what she’s served up. Out of politeness and loyalty, I’ll take it with a smile.
RUDIMENTAL – ‘THESE DAYS’ ft. MACKLEMORE, JESS GLYNNE & DAN CAPLEN
No offence but Macklemore is really not a thing anymore, so why am I listening to a Rudimental track that sounds like Macklemore? I know he’s featured and everything, but I was expecting him to have to adapt, not the other way round. What’s the difference between this track and that Kesha collab he did? I feel duped. Dan Caplen sounds nice on this. So does Jess Glynne to be fair. It’s a madly boring song though, all mawkish piano and unnecessarily churchy BVs.
THE CHAINSMOKERS – ‘SICK BOY’
Imagine me googling to find out what talentless unknown is providing vocals on this track, only to find it’s one of the actual Chain-bros? Good grief, who let these two open their perma-stoned eyelids enough to think they’re woke? I laughed outright aloud at “how many likes is my life worth”, did Logan Paul ghost-write this? What a fake deep dirge.
GEORGE EZRA – ‘PARADISE’
George Ezra, my favourite of all those boring white men that sprung up around the same time, because he was the one I heard the least about despite being arguably the most successful of them all. That is to say, I like him and want him to do well, without ever listening to any of his music. He’s just not for me. This is totally fine though, if you’re into this kind of thing. It’s got momentum and a nice, warm carefree vibe. I’ll be happy for him if this song is a success.
JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE – ‘SUPPLIES’
Two songs into the new Justin Timberlake era and I have… concerns. ‘Supplies’ is a weird song even outside the context of the, quite frankly, terrible music video, but the chorus – such as it is – gets stuck in my head and I don’t hate it? But is that where we’re at with JT these days? Not hating stuff? It’s hard not to shake the sense that Justin felt he needed to chuck out an album to coincide with the Super Bowl (why? he has enough hits?) and honestly I’m getting tired of calendar pop-starring. See also: Britney’s Britney Jean album, this entire Katy Perry era and the way they ran Rihanna’s Anti campaign (though in fairness, that one worked out alright in the end). I don’t care what tour dates you have booked or deals in place with smartphone companies. Take the time to get it right before you spunk all the goodwill generated from loyalty down the drain. Justin is making The 20/20 Experience sound like excellence in comparison to this shit.
THE WOMBATS – ‘CHEETAH TONGUE’
I do not know The Wombats, even though I’m aware they have been around a long time and I think I may even have seen them live accidentally about 10 years ago… All these acts roll into one for me. What’s the difference between The Wombats and literally any other guitar band to ever exist? Who knows? Not me. Anyway, this track. I didn’t mind it. Standard swirling-mist indie-boy stuff. It’s inoffensive. Maybe even good? I wouldn’t know, since these tracks are always pitched at a frequency only the terminally dull can hear and I am too cute and fun for my ears to pick up on.
FIRST AID KIT – ‘DISTANT STAR’
This is the first song by First Aid Kit I have ever heard, and I honestly thought they were a completely different kind of band. I was expecting some kind of twinkly shimmer pop, maybe something a little bit Neon Trees? They’re folk music! How did I get it so wrong? I think I just hear “Swedish” and assume it will be good pop. Me, a racist of positivity. Okay, well this reminded me of The Pierces with the fun sucked out. At least now I can cross them off my “bands everyone talks about that I need to get around to investigating” list.
REJJIE SNOW – ‘EGYPTIAN LUVR’ ft. AMINÉ ☑️
Let’s talk about the artists on this track: Rejjie Snow is a newcomer, but he’s Irish, and it’s important to strengthen bonds with our EU friends at this time. He’s also on record as being down to collaborate with Britney so you know he has taste. The uncredited chick on the chorus is Dana Williams, a talented (but under the radar) artist in her own right, you may know her as Leighton Meester aka Blair Waldorf’s irl bestie. Remember that gorgeous cover of ‘Dreams’ they did? Miley’s “Backyard Sessions” found rotting! As for Aminé, his debut album is a banging listen from start to finish, but it’s the song ‘Spice Girl’ that put him on my radar – he had to get sign off from all five living legends in order to release the track, and Queen Mel B even starred in the video. So we already know the roster here is quality. What about the song? A wavy Kaytranada produced number, Dana’s chorus is supremely catchy, while Rejjie’s deeper tones contrast nicely with Aminé’s lighter, more agile flow. It’s a slick lil’ slice of gentle hip hop that I can see myself alternating with Tyler’s ‘See You Again’ on repeat.
NAFE SMALLZ – ‘ADDICTED’ ft. STEFFLON DON
I was expecting Stefflon to be my favourite part of this track, but, controversially, I don’t like her contribution at all. Going from the comfortable cradle of Nafe’s smooth rap to Stefflon’s verse sounds like two completely different songs spliced together. It’s not that Stefflon’s verse is horrible, it’s just jarring. Who knew that female features could be intrusive and out of place? 2018 is wild so far.