I spent a full day editing podcast episodes to bring me up to date yesterday and honestly, I will never ever let a backlog build up like that again. I feel rinsed. Anyway, Q1 wrapped up with two outstanding albums from Kacey Musgraves and Hayley Kiyoko and although the last month was a little thin on the ground for tracks with replay value, there are a handful that have got under my skin and even a couple that burrowed into my heart. Here are the best ten songs from March.
10. KEIYNAN LONSDALE – ‘KISS THE BOY’
Love, Simon is one of the cutest, most feel-good movies I have seen in a long time. In these times, if you can’t derive pure joy from seeing a teenager struggling with the secret of his sexuality overcome bullies, connect with his parents and get the boy, what can you derive joy from, y’know? Keiynan Lonsdale is not the star of ‘Love, Simon’ (supporting cast) and this song is not from the soundtrack (though it could be) but that doesn’t stop ‘Kiss The Boy’ from perfectly encapsulating the mood of the story. A soft R&B flavoured pop song, with lyrics like “love is a game we deserve to play out loud”, it’s impossible to not feel some type of way about it. Another 20gayteen success.
9. JOAN – ‘I LOVED YOU FIRST’
As soon as you hear the opening five seconds of this song, you’ll understand why I love it. joan are the exact mid-point between two of my favourite bands with dreamy nostalgic 80s styled instrumentals a la The 1975 and simple narrative sad boy lyrics a la LANY and naturally I’m obsessed with them. ‘i loved you first’ is going to soundtrack the moment in season 3 of Stranger Things where Finn walks into prom to find Eleven dancing with a cooler, hotter, older guy and also every single long bus ride I take where I stare out of the window and pretend I’m in a music video.
8. YXNG BANE – ‘VROOM’
This smooth dancehall track fills my heart with sunshine, rum cocktails and a feeling of freedom. The beat is tight, the vibe relaxed, and there’s an amazing guitar led outro to hook you back in even in the final 30 seconds. I hear it once, I’m genuinely wondering “who got the keys to the beamer?” all day. No one I know has a car.
7. YEARS & YEARS – ‘SANCTIFY’
The lovechild of Britney’s ‘Outrageous’ and O-Town’s ‘Liquid Dreams’ if it were raised by Timbaland, the Years & Years comeback is darker, twistier and definitely not as festival ready as the cuts from 2015’s Communion. The chart performance would suggest it’s been harder for the general public to get on board, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s a solid early 00’s influenced pop song with subversive churchy references and a delicious, creeping menace that Justin Timberlake would be so lucky to get his hands on.
6. CHARLIE PUTH – ‘DONE FOR ME’ ft. KEHLANI
‘Done For Me’ derives almost all its cool from the Michael Jackson – ‘P.Y.T.’ flavour infused into the instrumental, but Kehlani injects a little something all of her own and makes me wish the track was hers alone. That old-school vibe has been updated for 2018 so that the track sounds timeless (but not classic) and reluctant though I am to admit it, Charlie Puth really did the damn thing with this song.
5. PANIC! AT THE DISCO – ‘SAY AMEN (SATURDAY NIGHT)’
The type of full company song before curtain down on the first half of a play, ‘Say Amen (Saturday Night)’ has me feeling like I need to start getting geared up for a particularly dramatic fight. Brendon Urie’s theatrical vocals, combined with the ostentatious horns and subliminal threat of wild, recklessness that thrums all the way through, the lead track from the new Panic! album is a thrill of a listen from start to finish.
4. MØ – ‘NOSTALGIA’
The first of two appearances in the March top 10 for MØ, ‘Nostalgia’ dropped just before the cut off and became an almost immediate favourite. Weird in the best ways, the talky verses give way to a soaring, sad but hopeful chorus. An ode to first love, the “nostalgia” of the title settles and twists in your chest, but all the best pop music should make you wanna cry a little bit.
3. TYLER, THE CREATOR – ‘OKRA’
A “throwaway” in Tyler’s own words, recorded, it seems, to promote his range of Converse One Star shoes, and yet better than many rapper’s best? My supremely talented fave doesn’t fully leave his Flower Boy persona behind on ‘OKRA’ though the beat is mostly heavier and harder than anything on his 2017 album, the flow denser, there’s still room for more gentle piano parts and those ‘Who Dat Boy?’ recalling horror movie strings.
2. JACK ANTONOFF & MØ – ‘NEVER FALL IN LOVE’
This Cyndi Lauper-esque 80s confection taken from the Love, Simon soundtrack is far more tooth-achingly sugary than it needs to be for a song documenting a relationship gone wrong, but despite the unfortunate circumstances of the subject matter, I can’t help but feel completely buoyant when I listen to it. Fizzy, sparkly, straight down the line pop at its best. Not every day songwriters too clever for their own good. Some days, just a little bit cheesy.
1. KACEY MUSGRAVES – ‘HIGH HORSE’
If ABBA went to Nashville is the best way to describe ‘High Horse’, the most upbeat and shimmering offering from Kacey’s lush new album. This song wears spangled flares with its cowboy boots and bedazzled Stetson and dispenses the kind of dry, witty observation characteristic of Kacey’s sharpest songwriting – she’s at her best when she’s being a little bitchy. I truly reach nirvana every time I listen to this song, it activates that heart bursting rush of love I get just purely because music exists, and I can’t get enough of it. What a song. What a woman.