ETA: THE NEW ARIANA GRANDE TRACK.
Hello, excuse me, hi. Why is the new Ariana Grande track not on New Music Friday this week? What weird internal politics have led to this omission? Also why does the new LANY track come out on Tuesday when I’m flying to LA on Sunday? So many administrative decisions that don’t make sense… But like I’m one to talk, when I am so behind on my life I can barely think without triggering a whole panic attack “lol”. Anyways! I have 11hrs in the air this weekend and 11hrs in the air next weekend in which I will be catching up on a whole mess of stuff including but not limited to: the thing I need to finish writing for reasons, plans for season 2 of the podcast and a presentation I was not expecting to make and will only be make or break for my plans this year so noooooooo pressure! In absolutely delightful news, I was a guest on the renowned and respected Bottle Pop podcast hosted by much loved Tom Aspaul (not once, but twice, thanks to some technical issues!) and you can listen to the episode here. I’m not gonna get round to it until my flight, unfortunately, so do let me know if Tom was favourable to me in the edit! The main playlist has finally been updated! So get your ears around like… a lost month of music I have been enjoying and here are this week’s reviews. Have a gloriously sweaty weekend.
CHILDISH GAMBINO – ‘SUMMERTIME MAGIC’ ☑
The complete volte-face on Childish Gambino (critically and commercially) is particularly satisfying for me, a forever stan, because now I get to bask in the good reviews, the chart success and the topping off of the NMF playlist he has always deserved. I am catered to, and I like it. ‘Summertime Magic’ is one of two plays for summer jam in the Gambino arsenal, and while he doesn’t quite land it with the precision of say… an Aubrey or a Justin, there’s lots to like about it’s night time beach bar production and Gambino’s slow, gentle groove on the topline. One for the very top end of your summer playlist, when you start it playing ready for friends coming round, but no one has arrived yet. No one will complain about missing this one.
SIGRID – ‘SCHEDULES’ ☑
The brightest and bounciest Sigrid has been so far, ‘Schedules’ aligns more closely to her fresh-faced, unassuming student image and while it’s undeniably catchy, something doesn’t ring true. The appeal of Sigrid, for me and I imagine everyone else who got invested back on ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’, was the slightly dark undercurrent of tension in both the music and the lyrics. It gave her character and was the whole reason she managed to emerge head and shoulders over the sink of scandi-girls on major label deals right now. But ‘Schedules’ feels more like a rote, by numbers, coulda-been-any-one-of-those-scandi-girls-actually attempt to steer the ship back on course after the IN. EX.PLICABLE. decision to follow up a hit banger with three mediocre acoustics and demos???? It may well work, it’s still a well crafted pop song, but so much momentum has been lost and my enthusiasm ran almost completely out of steam well over three months ago.
NOT3S – ‘JUST FINE’
Yeah, that about sums it up.
BENNY BLANCO – ‘EASTSIDE’ w/ HALSEY & KHALID ☑
Benny Blanco has been responsible for or instrumental in creating some of the biggest hits of the past ten years, so there is a natural predisposition towards liking whatever it is he produces. There is an unfortunate touch of the Ed Sheeran about this track – those weird crammed in, almost rap lyrics and the clipped syllables and choppy acoustic chords – and a soft bleep sound that reminds me of the unfairly slept on Joe Jonas single ‘Just In Love’. Halsey’s vocal make a jarring leap in the second verse, but all in all, those smooth Khalid tones will pull me in every time. Not irredeemable, certainly listenable, but oddly pedestrian for a producer so prolifically great.
ARIANA GRANDE – ‘GOD IS A WOMAN’
Ariana Grande is so good at sex that you will believe she is god, is the message of this song. Heaven’s Gates Pussy. Phuck yo big dick energy, Ariana has blessings between her thighs. The celestial choir in the final thirty seconds is the best part of this song – we know from previous interviews that it is in fact just Ariana’s own voice layered – beyond this however, the “musical maths” that Max Martin, the co-writer of this track, is so fond of, doesn’t quite add up. “You’ll believe god is a woman” in particular, is clunky in the delivery, and an almost unpleasant melody. The beat is lite-trap, the kind of thing Cardi or Swae Lee could tear up, but after the lush balance of ‘No Tears Left To Cry’ is kinda no frills basics for Ariana. I think the best thing I can do for the rest of this campaign is reset my expectations to zero, because this is the second time in a row the hype for an Ari track hasn’t quite met the bar set.
TWENTY ONE PILOTS – ‘JUMPSUIT’
Before there was Post Malone, it was Twenty One Pilots that occupied that space in local hearts with their emo-rock crossbred with hip hop missives. Unlike Post Malone, whomst I will never understand the appeal of, I can get behind Twenty One Pilots and indeed I very much enjoyed the blurryface record. ‘Jumpsuit’ isn’t a track I would listen to out of context – ie. outside of a specific niche playlist for my bleaker moods, or for when I have a mind to reminisce about the (very very very) short period of time I used to read Kerrang – but I’ll be all for it when those moments hit.
FUSE ODG – ‘ISLAND’ ☑
Not to put too fine a point on it… this goes the fuck off. Come through, horns!
ALESSIA CARA – ‘A LITTLE MORE’
There was a sliver of controversy when Alessia picked up the most recent Best New Artist Grammy despite having had two top 10 hits in 2015, and sustained success in the intervening years, bringing her total of best new artist awards since her first single release… to seven. So now that we have, hopefully, drawn the line under what has to be the longest debut of all time, what does the definitely not new anymore artist have to show for herself? Not a lot if this dreary ballad is the best indicator of what’s to come. I loved the Four Pink Walls EP and the album it developed into was patchy but promising. This is just… god, so dull! It’s mid-July! Alessia has a lovely voice though, maybe she can sneak herself a hit just through sustained coffee-house playlist spins.
THE VAMPS – ‘CHEAP WINE’ ft. KRIS KROSS AMSTERDAM
The Vamps haven’t broken the top 20 in two years, and while their single ‘All Night’ has a shedload of streams… can anyone attest to having ever actually heard it? What I’m trying to say is, why is this artificially successful group whose previous chart success relied on releasing 15 different formats of the same single, occupying spaces so high up the NMF playlist to absolutely no return when there’s a perfectly incredible new Brockhampton single languishing around the middle? As for the song… it’s fine. “I’m drinking about you” is such a dead lyric that thinks it’s clever so I’m not ever gonna play it, but if I heard it on the radio I guess I’d bob my head to it. The Vamps will never ever have 5SOS’s range, and that is that on that.
BAAUER – ‘3AM’ ft. AJ TRACEY & JAE STEPHENS ☑
This is kinda wavy, Jae Stephens holding everything together with a light R&B vocal, and the production doing all sorts of little madnesses, sometimes a bit trap, other times steel pans, a nice flow from AJ Tracey. Yes, certainly I could be down with this after a couple more listens.
THE HOWL & THE HUM – ‘DON’T SHOOT THE STORM’
*exiting out of Spotify at the 34 second mark*