New Music Friday #72

I wish I could explain to you how much I need there to be good new releases this week. The media I have been consuming lately – and not through choice! – has been almost recklessly mediocre, so safe it’s practically insensate, so thoroughly and embarrassingly British in all its low-ceiling aspiration… I’m so numbed by it that I could easily blow my brains out and survive because I actually feel nothing. So yeah, in this ‘Uptown Girl’ state of mind I’m in, I am desperate for something to break me out of it. A swift peruse leads me to believe that I’m not gonna get that today but we live in hope. The best bits will of course be on the main playlist – I added a whole bunch of good stuff from last week just yesterday, so make sure you follow that – and you can keep scrolling for my thoughts on this lot. It’s Royal Wedding weekend, have a good one!

Oh. Well, this is just “okay”. Demi has been on a hot streak of great collabs lately and I thought this would finally be the chart-topping moment she deserves… but now that I’ve heard it, I’m less confident. Really lovely production, but there’s no hook? I guess that weird pitch-shifted post-chorus bit is meant to be it, but it doesn’t work, and I kinda wish that trend would die. It is good in precisely two songs – the Kygo & Selena one and the Rita Ora one – and nowhere else. Can I just get something to sing along to, please? And what a waste to get Demi and give her nothing to let her vocals go! Honestly, if this does well I will be delighted, but I shan’t be partaking.

Christine and the Queens happened for everyone on my timeline except me, and I’m not sure what exactly failed to click but I just didn’t get the hype at all. Like I understand all the dancing is cool and the support from the right places made it very credible and whatever, but kinda like FKA Twigs I just felt like… where are the songs though? This, however, I can get down with. It’s supremely funky, with an 80s lean, and while I don’t think the wheel has been reinvented in the same way everyone who talks about her seems to, a shimmery synth/guitar mix will always be my greatest weakness. I’m a sucker for it.

While Calvin Harris is back on his generic dance bullshit, the Funk Wav Bounce legacy lives on in artists less fucking cowardly, and while this track unfortunately features the sentient clog of hair you pull out of the drain in the bath at far too infrequent intervals, it bangs in that way that immediately makes me envision myself in short shorts and hi-tops, slightly waved on my way from a hot afternoon function with one friendship group to a warm, and hopefully rooftop function with another. Into it.

This 2003/04 R&B beat gave me some real nostalgia feelings but outside of triggering memories of watching music videos on The Hits starring ballers in their weirdly empty and echoey glass and slate homes, it didn’t do much else for me.

A little while ago Ryan Tedder wrote a long open letter about how the traditional music industry structure of write album, release album, tour album, repeat was no longer working for him and was actually kind of detrimental to his mental health, and going forward One Republic would drop songs as and when, which meant they would be fresh and current, and truly I thought this more nimble approach would be revolutionary for pop, the genre which has been the least flexible in adapting and updating to the more “on now” consumption of entertainment. The problem is, all the songs they’ve dropped since have been largely forgettable, and ‘Start Again’ is no exception. The lyrics are super on the nose, the beat is the same one every single white man has written over for the past three? four? years, and the mood is that “pity me, I’m only human” vibe that makes me wanna scream “GROW THE FUCK UP!” over and over again. You know what, this was written for the soundtrack of a teen show, so I’ll give them a pass on that last point, but not the rest. Also when will we admit Logic is not a good rapper?

Is Big Shaq a novelty act? He occupies a weird space because Big Shaq is a comedy character, and the lyrics are obviously meant to be humorous… but the songs kinda go off? This track is more low energy than Shaq’s viral first hit, and “man don’t dance” as a hook doesn’t pack the same punch as “man’s not hot” – even delivery-wise it doesn’t lend itself as easily to tripping off your tongue – but it’s still an extremely meme-able catchphrase and I’m gonna listen to this a lot, I just know it. No one @ me.

After slogging through the Arctic Monkey’s album a few nights ago, the next morning ‘Naïve’ by The Kooks came on shuffle on my way to work and I thought how much I wish we’d had their comeback instead (even though it won’t have nearly the same fanfare) and then lo! A new track from The Kooks on New Music Friday this week! I wish Richard Curtis still made twee white rom-coms so we could get this song playing over an opening credits montage showing the good time early stages of a good looking chinos and tea dresses couple of heterosexuals fading into the decline of their honeymoon period so the movie can begin at the crisis point, which will probably be a proposal that one or other or both of them actually feel uncertain about and then we spend 90 minutes watching them put loads of pressure on themselves before the lightning bolt realisation that love is all around, actually, or whatever the moral of this particular story will be. Hell, if Richard Curtis isn’t stepping up, I may write this movie myself.

This track takes entirely too long to get to a chorus, like… if you’re gonna lay down 70-80 seconds of dense bars you need to start with the hook to get me into it. Perhaps if we’d started off with the chorus, I wouldn’t have been underwhelmed when we got there, but as it is, that pay-off wasn’t even close to good enough. I’m not sure what to think about Stefflon… she’s gone off the boil a bit, and the colourism nastiness hasn’t exactly endeared her to me (or many of the people who were supporting her in the first place, the very ones she was insulting). I don’t know that I feel like her transgressions are so severe that a good bop couldn’t win me back round but… has she had one of those in a long while? Nah.

So what we’re not gonna do, is sleep on Kah-Lo. All of her tracks so far have been Riton productions, and all of them have been bangers. If you like club beats and rap verses, Kah-Lo is the artist for you. Fuck an Azealia Banks, why not have bops without the abusive attitude and shitty politics? ‘Ginger’ is probably her best track so far, it bounces and pops and gets immediately stuck in your head. Big tune.

Oh, this is just not for me at all. I realised recently that I just don’t really care for that “gravelly” white man voice that people absolutely lose their entire fucking shit over. People will tell you this is like, the highest brow music gets when actually this is just a really fucking cheesy brass tune that could very easily overlay one of those adverts that’s like kids running around at an outdoor wedding while the adults laugh into their glasses of pino, and it’s for life insurance through Lloyds TSB or something… I don’t really know bank stuff, is that a thing Lloyds do? Anyway, yeah. Not my cup of tea, thanks though.


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