So, after January stretched out for several eternities, February is finally here, hopefully bringing a multitude of excellent songs in its wake. I threw up some words on the best ten from January a couple days ago, which you can read back here – there’s some absolute gems on that list, some of which I have written about and others which you may have missed which were discussed on What’s Poppin’ (the podcast I plug in this space every week). I got timeline faves Alim and Rob along for the last ep to talk Britney world tour and new music, and I’m recording with Anth and Courtney tomorrow morning so do send over any songs you think we’d like to hear. Meanwhile, let’s talk about the first ten tracks of Spotify’s New Music Friday playlist this morning. If any of the tracks are any good you’ll find them on my main 2018 playlist. Also, just as a friendly PSA, your new fave band The Aces announced a London show for 27 March and tickets are under £10 so I highly recommend getting one. Have an aces Friday!
THE WEEKND – ‘PRAY FOR ME’ w/ KENDRICK LAMAR ☑️
When the New Music Friday playlist went live last night and I set up the structure of this post for the morning, Kojo Funds was at the top (he’s also the playlist artwork for the week), but when I woke up this morning, this new track from the Black Panther soundtrack had been run all the way up and knocked him down to second. Fair enough, to be honest. This brooding midtempo synth number is shot through the middle with a typically elastic Kendrick verse, and though you get the sense you’ve heard this same chorus from The Weeknd oodles of time before, it doesn’t make it any less sticky.
KOJO FUNDS – ‘CHECK’ w/ RAYE
It’s sad that Craig David is making whatever music he’s making, while Kojo and Raye are absolutely going to have a hit with this ‘7 Days’ sampling collaboration. I don’t know whether this song is good on its own merits, if I’m perfectly honest, because I have been wholly seduced by that classic guitar riff they’ve borrowed, but that’s kind of the point isn’t it? I am still concerned that Raye is yet to have her own hit – this is her latest release after ‘Decline’ which was also mainly only good because it snaffled the best bit of an early noughties banger and the one before that was essentially a Charli XCX track – but you know what? White men are praised all the time for being completely derivative and referential (or did y’all sleep through that Harry Styles campaign?) so we’re gonna give Raye a pass for now. But then we’re gonna demand she does better, because if we allow ourselves to become Them we’ll end up just as bad as They are.
CHVRCHES – ‘GET OUT’ ☑️
I’ll be perfectly honest, I’ve tried with Chvrches on more than one occasion. I have even lied and called myself a fan in the past, when the truth is I struggled to make it through even one play of their debut album and didn’t bother with the second. I was super geared up to ignore this era… but then this song! What a massive delight. The chorus is positively Paramore-esque, or maybe something I’d like for a new Avril Lavigne album (where is the new Avril Lavigne album?) and I’m obsessed. Big big BIG tune.
JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE – ‘MONTANA’
It’s release day for Justin Timberlake, which means this song will have been selected as the one most likely (aside from the singles, and the other buzz tracks) to make you listen to the album. I mean… for as much as I haven’t particularly vibed with the other three songs we’ve heard from this campaign so far (all of which, despite being not very good, have been in the upper echelons of the New Music Friday playlist, to highlight how playlisting is really not a meritocracy regardless of what they say) there have been fragments to enjoy, you know? Shards of hope! But if ‘Montana’, a turgid croon that would have been overlong as a 90 second interlude but has inexplicably been stretched into almost 5 minutes, is the best of what’s left on a 16-track album, I’m not really sure what to say. What to do when someone you’ve been a fave of for so long drops the ball so spectacularly? This is Justin’s Britney Jean, and it doesn’t even have a ‘Work Bitch’ on it. Let’s skip to the Super Bowl real quick so we can remember why we like this guy.
MAHALIA – ‘PROUD OF ME’ ft. LITTLE SIMZ
Maybe you recognise Mahalia’s voice from the Rudimental album? If not, don’t worry, it was five years ago and not one of the highlights from that record. This song is extremely boring: lyrically and melodically dull. Little Simz neither adds to or takes away from the experience, leaving me to wonder why she’s on the track at all. I know there’s an audience for this kind of song, but I’m not it.
X AMBASSADORS – ‘DON’T STAY’
Three sluggish songs in a row? Cut me a break, Spotify, I need to find the energy to make it to the weekend. The falsetto on the chorus of this track is so deeply unpleasant I’m actually vexed now. It sounds like an old Sam Smith demo, but cut by whichever no mark checkout worker was the “if you like Sam Smith” contestant on any given series of X Factor and released to the tune of just 8 copies sold.
PALE WAVES – ‘THE TIDE’ ☑️
Listen, I love Pale Waves and will continue to champion them, but… haven’t they released this song twice already? I mean, obviously I am really enjoying it, since it’s as shimmery and shining as the other two songs that sound exactly the same, but I’m struck by how by-numbers this is. If it ain’t broke, obviously don’t try to fix it, but maybe treat yourself to something new, just because you deserve it? I beg.
SAM SMITH – ‘GET HERE’
I am not opposed to this Oleta Adams cover – recorded live – since for all I don’t care even one atom for Sam Smith, he can obviously sing. Why though, is this the ninth most important song Spotify reckons the UK public should hear this week? I guarantee that when I listen to the rest of NMF over the course of today, I will find probably 15 other songs that deserved spotlighting more than this, buried deep in the bottom of the playlist where your average person won’t venture. What a wasted opportunity for someone who hardly needs the boost. His fans would have found this anyway, and no one else needs to bother with it since it won’t change the opinion you have definitely already formed of Sam Smith since he’s already hugely famous. Who makes these decisions?
LILLA VARGEN – ‘BELIEVE ME’
Do you like cold landscape nature pop? You know the vibe I mean, right? Rolling hills, crashing waves, grey fucking skies, 30mph winds, ice cold temperatures, some pale blonde chick in a horrible sensible coat staring off at a lighthouse in the distance or some such bollocks. This song sounds like every music video like that I’ve ever seen. The colour of this song is moss green and the sound of it is “this bleak fucking hell island”. No, thank you.