Over in the blink of an eye, the most intense month I might ever have lived through, then suddenly I realise I didn’t round up my best songs from February the way I pledged to in January. Good work. Anyways, better late than never (“but never late is better”, yes, fuck you Drake, I know) here are the ten best songs released in the exactly four weeks of February according to me, your trusted guide to new music.
10. TWIN SHADOWS – ‘SATURDAYS’ ft. HAIM
If this was the 80s and I was an American, my boyfriend would drive me around in some form of very American-looking, pastel-coloured convertible (I clearly know nothing about cars beyond super broad descriptions) and this would be playing on cassette as we laugh about some inside joke sitting in the car park before we kiss and slide out of the car to meet our friends for fries in the diner. It’s very 80s and American and heterosexual sounding, is what I’m getting at here. Not my usual, but I really fell in love with this track, and I think you will too.
9. ROBINSON – ‘NOTHING TO REGRET’
Co-written with Joel Little, who has helped to craft the sound of both Lorde and Khalid on their debut albums, this slick little pop number performs the clever trick of walking the tightrope between earnest and nihilistic perfectly. It sounds fresh and fun in that hazy way pop music does nowadays, and the role of messy, uncertain, throw caution to the wind teenager is performed far more authentically here by Robinson than Noah Cyrus has ever managed to pull off on any one of the singles she has released along this same vein.
8. KACEY MUSGRAVES – ‘BUTTERFLIES’ / ‘SPACE COWBOY’
Kacey Musgraves came back on the scene with two new tracks that couldn’t be more opposite in theme and tone: ‘Butterflies’, a soft, gentle sing-a-long about the first rush of something that sparkles when you meet someone significant, and the clarity they bring to your life versus ‘Space Cowboy’, a melancholy ballad about the end of a relationship, recognising when love isn’t enough to keep someone from moving on, and how it feels to step aside. Kacey’s sweet vocal and light touch is always listenable, and lyrically she’s at her best on matters of the heart. After a difficult second album, these two releases have me anticipating her third.
7. KHALID – ‘LOVE LIES’ with NORMANI
With so many collaborations nowadays that happen purely for business reasons and not because there is any hint of artistic chemistry or even familiarity, it’s nice to hear a song that makes sense commercially and creatively at the same time. Comrades in Black Excellence, Khalid and Normani were the Prom King and Prom Queen of Khalid’s ‘Young, Dumb & Broke’ video, but on ‘Love Lies’ they are the velvet-voiced maybe-lovers unsure of each others intentions, looking for a declaration. Vibey R&B from a talented artist and a promising newcomer.
6. MARSHMELLO & ANNE-MARIE – ‘FRIENDS’
Anne-Marie lends her vocal to this Marshmello production about putting a firm foot down on the idea of being anything more than buddies with a long-term friend. Already a top 5 here in the UK and gaining traction in the US too, I predict we’re gonna be hearing this at times quite theatrical (clock the dramatic strings from the second bridge onwards), track long into the summer.
5. 5 SECONDS OF SUMMER – ‘WANT YOU BACK’
Those grubby 5SOS boys have cleaned up a bit, and so has their sound. ‘Want You Back’ trades in the scuzz for funk guitars and synth for this sad earworm about missing an ex. Long under-rated, I’ve always had a soft spot for 5SOS and their ability to write something really hooky and while this track has a little less personality than their previous pop punk stylings, its still extremely listenable. A lane that Liam Payne could have been comfortable in, I think.
4. PALE WAVES – ‘THE TIDE’
When I first heard this song, I mistakenly dismissed it as being same-old same-old from Pale Waves… which in fairness, it kinda is. Shimmery synths, a peppy little melody, lyrics just this side of melodramatic – it’s par for the course with this band. My initial dismissal was based on a need for something that shows a different side to Pale Waves, but it would be remiss to write off ‘The Tide’ based on that, when it is in fact easily their stickiest track since ‘There’s A Honey’. I also recently discovered (as in, literally just now) that this is the first song the band’s songwriters, Heather and Ciara, ever wrote together. So in that context, this track is actually the source of the Pale Waves sound. What an origin.
3. CHVRCHES – ‘GET OUT’
In the back corners of my mind I feel like I remember reading somewhere about Chvrches front woman Lauren Mayberry and her teenage love for Avril Lavigne, so with that in mind it makes absolute sense that this song sounds like it could be an Avril comeback single. In fact, as time goes on, I’m beginning to resent that it isn’t. When will my sk8er gurl return from the war? Anyways, regardless ‘Get Out’ is a big, massive tune with a verse, bridge, chorus and middle 8 that all sound different. Catchy as you like.
2. THE ACES – ‘LOVIN’ IS BIBLE’
The best track taken from their forthcoming album, I know I bang on about The Aces a lot, but every single release has been a proper gem. ‘Lovin’ Is Bible’ is melodically intricate, thematically devotional and thoroughly listenable. I’m not sure what it will take for these girls to catch on in a big way, but if you’d like to get in early doors, please don’t forget they will be playing a live show in London on the 27 March, and tickets are only a tenner.
1. JANELLE MONÁE – ‘MAKE ME FEEL’
Obviously. This life-quaking, Prince-homaging, retro-future-funking pop confection shook me up on first listen. Like ‘Finesse’ in January, Janelle takes a sound of then and brings it to now, but somehow makes it sound more like songs that inspired it than those songs themselves? An ode to bisexuality, ‘Make Me Feel’ makes me want to make out with literally everybody, so job well done on that front. If only everything could be as fluid as the brilliance of this track or Janelle’s approach to love, what a world we could all live in.