I am staring down the barrel of seven weeks off as I shift from one paid job to another (so if you need a smart mouth who knows about “online” for a little bit, let me know) and as much as I am aware this time will not in fact be off since I have a laundry list of side-projects to work on, my body feels completely overwhelmed at the thought of so much time where I realistically just don’t even need to leave the house. What a treat! I can wait out the slushy, showery, transition from winter/spring in comfort, and emerge toned, accomplished, and re-energised in May, when the sun will be out. A dream. It will give me time to get my shit together, organisation-wise, since at the moment I am kinda just lurching from one thing to the next in mornings and evenings, trying real hard not to burn out. This week, for example, I had so much other stuff on my mind – even after I sacked off the two gigs I had tickets for – that I completely forgot I had a podcast to edit! I finished the line cut before bed yesterday and it will go out as soon as I’ve dropped the song clips in (the most boring part, it always delays the live date because I hate doing it), but it is really a very funny ep this week, so please do listen once it drops. This week I’m looking at the Spotify first ten on New Music Friday and seeing a lot of boring citizen names which make my new music boner soft, and, considering it was International Women’s Day yesterday, a fuckton of dudes. Fingers crossed this doesn’t feel like a waste of my time! Best bits on the main playlist, sling me songs to talk about on What’s Poppin’ here, and have an exquisite weekend.
JOHN NEWMAN – ‘FIRE IN ME’
You know, on the one hand, props to John Newman. That little bee in his bonnet about not being as successful as Sam Smith? He’s let it buzz into this song about how his spark will never go out or whatever, and it sounds exactly like the stuff he was releasing five years ago, which in fairness was alright listening, so good on him, and Spotify have run it right up to the top of the playlist, it will be the first song you hear if you’re questing new sounds today, even though Times Have Changed And This Is Really Fucking Dated TBQHWY. Thing is, when you investigate John Newman right, he’s done… fine? Sure he hasn’t had the critical or commercial success of Sam Smith, but he’s still had two top 3 albums, a minor hit in the US, the lead single on his last record went top 5, he’s featured on a number of successful tracks, like… what more do you want, mate? The entitlement is wild. Imagine spinning your modest but respectable career into this narrative of some kind of down and out trampled into nothing rising up like a phoenix from the ashes! And imagine being the dickhead who gobbles it up and fast tracks this 2012 throwback to the hero spot on the New Music Friday playlist! Bun it. Dig out the last Jess Glynne album if you’re that starved for this.
LIV DAWSON – ‘TALK’
Liv Dawson is Disclosure-backed and since they were instrumental in the rise of Sam Smith, it’s probably a good idea to keep an eye on her. Do I give a fuck about this song, though? It’s definitely pleasant, co-written by the guys responsible for what is easily One Direction’s best ever song (‘What A Feeling’), but I keep forgetting how it goes even though it sounds like a million songs I’ve heard before. In conversation the other day, a friend of mine was saying how depressing it is to think that the future of pop music is in the hands of such boring artists and I have to agree. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this Liv Dawson track, and certainly not everything can be groundbreaking or wildly inventive, and not everything has to be. I’d like to be excited once in a while though, you know? Perhaps even… entertained? What I loathe is this “ehhhhh, it’s aight” attitude so many new releases engender from me, nowadays. Be it bad or be it good, my god, be something!
YEARS & YEARS – ‘SANCTIFY’ ☑️
A Years & Years comeback had me slightly apprehensive, since their last album campaign (the one that wouldn’t fucking end, 13 singles in and here they are headlining me turning my coffee machine on) was led by lots of massive, brilliant singles but left me cold outside of those releases. Pleasantly, all praise to the heavens, this new track is very much up my street. My favourite Years & Years track is ‘Worship’, and like ‘Worship’ this song marries religious themes with less holy, more human motivations, and also does that Years & Years trick where it sounds just enough like another song to trigger a memory but not enough for me to figure out what the fuck I’m reminded of. Every time I hear the opening line of ‘Sanctify’ my brain snags but can’t quite pattern match the rest of the melody to the source. I’m furious! Anyway, this is a great lead single: creeping verses, a sticky chorus, enough R&B flavour to make it easy to dance to… and I just realised what I’m reminded of when I hear it! O-Town’s ‘Liquid Dreams’ crossed with ‘Outrageous’ by Britney Spears. High-fucking-calibre pop! Absolutely exceptional pedigree. I love this.
DERMOT KENNEDY – ‘YOUNG & FREE’
Gravel-voiced, acoustic, a chorus that feels like I’m being shouted at… a male artist like this breaks every year. I’m so desensitised to this sound now that I just accept it and let it happen. Is it Rag’n’Bone Man? Hozier? James Arthur? Does it matter when I won’t be listening to it again anyway?
WRETCH 32 x S.O.S – ‘AFFI ME’ ft. CULAN & MASICKA
Maybe it’s all the feminism of yesterday that has me recoiling from this song. Or maybe it’s because the lyric “that pussy affi me” is kinda gross and reductive no matter the time and place. I’m also just not in the mood for this kind of light-touch island production. Ask me about this song again when I’m not cradling my electric blanket with the memory of that frigid week of snow fresh in my mind.
SAMANTHA HARVEY – ‘WHEN IT COMES DOWN’
It’s so mad that The Aces release sophisticated, melodic, catchy exciting new pop songs with gorgeous harmonies on the regular and don’t get a sniff at the top of New Music Friday and here I am at 8am struggling to find two descriptive words to rub together for this song by… *squints at press coverage* a girl who has been signed off the back of some YouTube covers. I am so fucking bored I could sui.
JON HOPKINS – ‘EMERALD RUSH’
My headphones are on the blink, so I spent a good 30 seconds fiddling with the flex before realising that horrible static-y sound is actually part of the production on this instrumental which made me feel exactly like I did the one, and hopefully only, time I got a migraine. Skipped it.
GEORGE EZRA – ‘HOLD MY GIRL’
Here’s dead nice George Ezra singing a dead nice song about love. It’s dead nice, you guys. Like a cup of tea. Or a cardigan. Or giving your granddad a new pair of slippers. Dead nice.
1010 BENJA SL – ‘WIND UP SPACE’
‘Wind Up Space’ sounds like the fourth single from a much-hyped album. You know, the type of song where the artist has already had three hits and everyone’s got the record anyway, so they can afford to drop something self-indulgent and if it only charts at #53 no one’s mad about it, they recorded the video in one take sitting on a chair in a drafty white studio, it costs nothing to just toss it out and see what happens. What a whimpering end to a shit New Music Friday.