January 2018: Top 10

What’s this? A new fucking string to the fucking overworked bow? It’s fine, I’m super busy but I’m playing this sick mental game of Buckeroo with myself, like I need to test my limits, I need to know how much I can take on before I throw myself off the planet. Perhaps it’s this long ass January that has prompted this decision to rank my fave songs of the past 84 years, but here I am with another self-imposed responsibility – end of month round up top 10! These are my fave ten songs from this month, in order of how much I liked them. Some of them are obvious and they’re probs your fave songs too. Others are less on the radar so if you haven’t listened to them yet, I recommend you do so now.

10. EMILY BURNS – ‘BITCH’
You know those friendships you have that get weirdly intense and then when they end – because they always do –  it feels like a break up? ‘Bitch’ is all about the aftermath, where the psychological scars are mostly healed over, but if you press your finger on them they sting a little.  The deterioration of platonic relationships are often better hooks to hang a song on (when done well). If a romance goes awry, there’s always the option of staying in each others lives – minus the sex. But when friendships sour they are over for good and the chorus lyric – “but I don’t wanna hear another word / ’cause, I’m still a little hurt / so you can live without it / but you don’t have to be a bitch about it” – is a thick, scored underline to those sulky feelings that manifest when you don’t care anymore but you still want the other person to and it’s all set over a predominantly percussive instrumental that sounds distinctly Scandinavian but is 100% homegrown and Brexit-proof.

9. THE ACES – ‘FAKE NICE’
In this extremely gorgeous and sophisticated new track by The Aces – who I banged on about all of last year – some next bitch is running her mouth and what we, via The Aces, are not about to do when that happens is let it slide. Harmonies on melodies on this whole vibe like they’re delivering the song through a “take no shit” smile, I’m sorry to keep on this tack and pit women against each other, but truly, if you like HAIM you will like The Aces because they are better.

8. LILLY AHLBERG – ‘BAD BOYS’
A dangerous-sounding brood on the ever-lasting temptation of bad boys over the security of a Nice Guy from newcomer Lilly Ahlberg. It’s extremely Astrid S and co, but if guitar music can homogenise to the point I literally couldn’t tell you the difference between any band fronted by a white guy for the last 20 years, there’s no reason we can’t have tens of thousands of slightly different Swedish girls all releasing different variations of the same song. At least the source material is excellent.

7. NINA NESBITT – ‘SOMEBODY SPECIAL’
Shocked by how much this song grew on me – it’s kinda trite, lyrically, but it’s got such a natural groove to it, and that nice little twist in the chorus where you think it’s a linear boreathon but suddenly the melody lifts and all these extra little layers whoosh in, and you realise it’s actually a solid gold R&B tinged pop bop. I’m loathe to get too excited about Nina Nesbitt, since she fooled me once already around the beginning of 2016 when ‘Chewing Gum’ was really exciting and then everything else was tripe, but I’m happily enjoying this for what it is.

6. ZEDD, MAREN MORRIS & GREY – ‘THE MIDDLE’
This has been out for a whole five days and I’m already a full Maren Morris stan off the back of it. No new ground is broken here, I get obsessed with a song exactly like this every single year, but enjoying this comes with the added bonus of knowing that “real country fans” are real mad about Maren Morris selling out and using country music as a stepping stone to pop. Love to taste Republican tears.

5. ANAÏS – ‘NINA’
Beautiful, soaring, soulful emancipation pop that sounds so slick it could have come from a far more accomplished and established artist, but is in fact anaïs’s debut. If you’re looking for a more accessible Solange, or a less relatable SZA, that’s what this track is. Jorja Smith should be sleeping with one eye open and on this, because a well-played campaign from anaïs could well threaten her de facto status as the current queen of chart-friendly neo-soul.

4. LIAM PAYNE & RITA ORA – ‘FOR YOU’
A peak just outside the top 10 for this soundtrack theme, but with Rita currently running all around America it’s fair to say promo hasn’t properly kicked off here yet. It definitely deserves to be more of a smash, with understated verses and a proper moment in the chorus where Rita gets to open throttle on her vocals in a way that she hasn’t on her last couple of hits, but even if it peaks no higher than #11, it’s enough to set up for a nice run into that second album we’ve been waiting five years for. Worth it!

3. HAYLEY KIYOKO – ‘CURIOUS’
I don’t have a man, but that doesn’t stop me feeling called out and attacked by Hayley Kiyoko every time I listen to this passive aggressive accusation masquerading as an extremely catchy electropop song. Guys, we’re stanning Hayley all the way through “twentyGAYteen” for being the most interesting female popstar in cycle right now, and she does choreo! By rights, the run on double-time delivery of the chorus should be the next big pop meme and this would be topping charts all over the world, but unfortunately that only happens to the basic girls.

2. YOUNG T & BUGSEY – ‘GREENLIGHT’
I cannot get enough of this song. I don’t know what it is that’s lodged it so firmly in my psyche, but it’s there and its immovable. I listened to this song for a full 2 hours straight one day last week. It has the dark, nightlife vibe of grime, but lighter somehow, like the club it’s playing in is beach-side, open-air and also permanently illuminated by a camera flash. As soon as the “straight face no banter” line of the chorus hits I know I’m hitting repeat endlessly.

1. BRUNO MARS – ‘FINESSE’ REMIX ft. CARDI B
Yeah, still this. Bon Iver made some good points about Bruno sweeping the Grammys with the sound of yesteryear but you know what – the sound of yesteryear is great! I’m still out here holding my head like “how he make this sounds more 90s than anything released in the decade itself?” Cardi B has spent the whole of this month establishing herself as a Problematic Fave, but her verse remains a highlight and the elevation of the entire track. Much like ‘Uptown Funk’, ‘Lush Life’ or ‘One Dance’, the ‘Finesse’ remix achieves that rare status of being overplayed, but not yet overdone.

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