New Music Friday #60

What a mental fucking week. Mental, but amazing. You know when you do things that are so arduous you completely disassociate and then when you finally get a moment to reflect you actually cannot believe the things that happened actually happened? That’s what this week has been like for me. Exhausting but rewarding. I can’t wait to get out of London this weekend, go home for a couple of days, and finally watch Black Panther. If you’re missing the podcast this week, by the way, I literally did not get an opportunity to complete the edit before last night and I still need to drop the bloody song clips in, so that will be pushed out later today and then this week’s episode which I will be recording with my brother (he doesn’t know this yet) will drop on Tuesday to give this extremely late one a little time to breathe. Apols to anyone desperately missing it, but it’s actually quite a good one, so it’s worth the wait! As for this week’s New Music Friday, there’s actually a fair bit released that is exciting me (though as usual most of it falls outside Spotify’s first ten) including the song of the year – and do not sleep on that Janelle Monae video by the way, what a fucking woman – so let’s jump into it. Follow my 2018 playlist for the best bits and do sling me any recommendations for the podcast here. February is almost over everyone, have an excellent weekend!

“You need me like a cigarette” is not a great hook lyric, but this song is a 10/10 regardless. Some of the UK’s brightest young female talent coming together for a track that sits perfectly at the intersection of their respective styles – straight up pop, R&B pop, island pop –  is a rare feat, but ‘Cigarette’ is proof that magic can happen when women who all happen to be on Polydor Records work together. What strikes me most about ‘Cigarette’ is how natural a fit Raye, Mabel and Stefflon would be as a girlband. Year after year I watch female artists – and particularly female artists of colour – struggle to breakthrough as solo entities, and year after year I see very easy girl groupings that would probably work better, and yet year after year these girls are unceremoniously dropped from their labels never to be heard from again. None of these three are particularly at risk of that, but I do think there’s a lesson to be learned in the fact that there is strength in numbers, and all girls with solo stardom ambitions would do well to remember that before there was Beyoncé, there was Destiny’s Child.

‘Rapper’ is going to be the kind of song I enjoy hearing on Kiss FM in the salon when I’m getting my nails done – which is the only time I listen to radio – but not the kind of track I will play independently. It sounds a little like a ‘Did You See’ knock off – similar tempo, similar rhythm – but with none of that natural J Hus charm. Surprised it’s sitting in the second spot on the New Music Friday playlist this week, but I guess this kind of mid-tempo, pop-leaning UK rap sound is in vogue at the moment.

Firstly, it feels like Janelle Monae is in a completely different public profile space in 2018 than she was in 2013 (!!!) when she released The Electric Lady. Secondly, I can’t believe Prince isn’t actually dead, his soul just now lives in Janelle’s body? Thirdly, this song sounds exactly like being turned on. I am experiencing all the same physiological responses listening to this as I do when a guy pulls his shirt off by grabbing it under the collar over the shoulders so that both their arms and their stomachs do that flex thing. Little Mix would have murdered each other to have this song, which would have defeated the purpose, but that’s how good it is. The last time a song made tears burn the back of my eyes because I’m so grateful for good music was the first time I listened to Ariana Grande – ‘Into You’, and here I am getting emotional again. No offence to ‘Finesse’, but this is the best song of the year. Also, I’m just realising now that Janelle is a better Bruno Mars than Bruno Mars can ever be. Janelle Monae Super Bowl, 2019.

I don’t understand what people enjoy about Post Malone, like this “I got money and women” slow jam is fine I suppose, I’m not ripping my earbuds out or anything, but I also do not particularly want to listen to it ever again? Ty Dolla $ign is an under-rated rapper, by the way (I suspect it’s because he’s got a stupid fucking name) but when I think about it, I usually enjoy his verses and he’s definitely the best part of this song. Anyway ‘Psycho’ is an okay song, it’s probably gonna absolutely smash and you’ll be listening to it all year, so you may as well get used to it.

This big, noisy, generic-banger is the furthest thing from a ‘Lullaby’ you could ever imagine, and it was absolutely crafted with festival tents in mind, I can already see me pogo-ing when that chorus goes off (or I could if I was the type of person who went to festivals). Paloma sounds excellent on it, if a little unlike herself, and I feel very summery in mid-winter, so that’s great. Good work all round, everyone.

I have never been afraid to say with my chest that I enjoy 5 Seconds Of Summer. I think they lost their way a little on the second album, but then they tossed out that funky little number for the Ghostbusters soundtrack and restored my faith. ‘Want You Back’ isn’t as fun as ‘Girls Talk Boys’, but it’s a very good pop track regardless. Synth, falsetto, heartbreak… it’s all in the mix here. I think if you’ve been put off by their grubby pop-punk sensibility in the past, it’s time to set those prejudices aside, not least because these boys have always known their way around a good chorus. Love this comeback.

Did Franz Ferdinand think they could change their name to “The Vegan Leather” and I wouldn’t know they were Franz Ferdinand?

Imagine Dragons are at their best when they do big, energising anthemic choruses – my favourite tracks have been ‘Radioactive’ and ‘Believer’ – so I’m finding this new sound absolutely miserable, to be quite honest. ‘Next To Me’ makes me imagine being the daughter of a nobleman with dwindling funds waltzing with my newly-announced fiancé (who looks like Ed Sheeran) open mouth breathing into my ear as I stare over his shoulder and think about 50 years locked in a loveless marriage, blinking away one single perfect tear. I’m so depressed after hearing that song I might take the day off.

Can Ramz follow up on the unprecedented success of ‘Barking’? A lightning in a bottle moment like that is hard to repeat, but ‘Power’ has surprised me since I was harbouring a sneak suspicion he didn’t have any sort of follow up to speak of in his back pocket. There’s a nice energy to this track, but it’s missing the complete lack of guile that ‘Barking’ has, and doesn’t have the same capacity for a viral moment. Still, it’s good that he can’t be completely written off. The success of ‘Barking’ may have been a bit of a fluke, but I don’t think Ramz is gonna quite be a one-hit wonder.

I try my best to dislike anything Taylor Swift enjoys on principle, but Vance Joy’s cloying sentimentality and nasal vocals makes it super easy anyway. I’m not taking any more time on this track, 1 minute and 57 seconds is quite enough.


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