When does a hobby become a habit become a chore? Friends, there is a new Robyn song (!!!) sitting atop the New Music Friday playlist this week, and I still couldn’t be more apathetic to press play. Like YouTube and the self-publishing literary industry, music has become so “accessible” to creators that every Friday I open up Spotify trying to find Kim Kardashian’s diamond earring in an ocean of what is increasingly looking like human waste water. There is perhaps… too much music? Too much mediocre music anyway. Too much listening to things that are just “okay” or “fine” or “actively bad but it was released by A Name so it’s third spot on the playlist anyway”. Too Much featuring Timbaland. I don’t know. Pop is due to be saved this month, 10 years after Lady Gaga released The Fame and shook us all up. It’s time for a new challenger to emerge. But what if they don’t come? What if standards have slipped so low that we mistake the saviour for just another mildly pretty girl with a couple of average songs, one decent music video and zero stage presence and make them famous even though they are Not That Good? What? If? I guess I’ll stick this out until the end of the year, but then who knows… I’m just not excited to do it anymore, is the reality of the situation. I’m BORED. Am I alone? Let me know in the comments! As for this week’s blog: notable omission as of course we do not platform known racists here (stream Love Lies to pay respect!), all the best bits will be popped onto the main 2018 playlist (which is now… 15hrs long? it needs a CULL) and send me anything I’ve missed on twitter dot com? Meanwhile I’ll see pretty much all of you in Brighton tomorrow, I should expect. Happy Britney Pride everyone!
ROBYN – ‘MISSING U’ ☑
Oh Robyn, we have been waiting. So fucking long. It’s such a relief to finally have her back. The sad banger industry has been a dust bowl without her. We have to address the fact that, yes, it took eight years to get a song that sounds exactly like… the material she was releasing eight years ago, but since that shit sounded like the future anyway, I guess I’m not too in my feelings about it. Literally no one does aching, plaintive yearning the way that Robyn does – the eviscerating way she sings “I Miss You.” (and yes, you can hear the capital letters and full stop in the phrasing) is just unparalleled – and after this wilderness we have been in, this track is like one single cool drop of clear water dripping onto a dehydrated tongue and bringing hope that you might survive. I’m not sure who Robyn is missing, but this song makes me realise how much I’ve missed her. I’m ready for more. I’m greedy for more! I want a torrent of tears on the dancefloor pop to flood in and drown me, and I want it now.
ZAYN – ‘TOO MUCH’ ft. TIMBALAND
I don’t know what to expect from Zayn releases anymore. ‘Let Me’ was gorgeous and extremely slept on, ‘Entertainer’ was utterly forgettable, ‘Sour Diesel’ goes off and then this… a bargain bin Timbaland beat and a tuneless Zayn melody. If the pattern holds the next track we hear should be gold? I don’t hold out a lot of hope for the consistent quality of the album, but then again, lots of songs serviced as “singles” nowadays sound much better in context. I think my main problem with ‘Too Much’ is that it sounds like an interlude rather than a full song. Up to a minute and a half of this sandwiched between two excellent bangers? I can fuck with it. But stretching it out to a full three minutes exposes the weakness in the structure – it’s fucking dull.
KOJO FUNDS – ‘WHO AM I’ ft. BUGZY MALONE ☑
This… is an actual smash? I’m wary of everything coming out of the UK rap/grime scene at the moment just in case that exact same afro-beat instrumental I’ve been hearing for a good year or so now fires up, but on ‘Who Am I’ there are so many fun little elements to find in the production, a genuinely hooky hook and a no-stopping verse from Bugzy Malone that I feel as though I can trust again.
MURA MASA & NAO – ‘COMPLICATED’ ☑
What happened to all the Mura Masa hype? And I mean this in a nice way, not a rude way. Felt like you couldn’t move for people talking about the sun that shone out of his arse and then the album was released to like… zero fanfare, even though it was actually a really great album? Well, I am here to crank that hype machine once again, because this song is great. Feels like it keeps the pressure up the whole way through, y’know? Never dips or drops off, just relentlessly tuneful, Nao sounding bright and beautiful for three and a half minutes, like there is barely an extended moment where she isn’t singing, proper chorus, cute little wubby-wubby sounds just below the surface, giving me Aaliyah – ‘More Than A Woman’ vibes… Dead into it.
ELLA MAI – ‘TRIP’
This song just occurred, like literally just this second stopped playing and I have immediately forgotten how it goes, which isn’t a good sign. I’m in two minds because I would like for Ella Mai to be a thing – I enjoy her voice, I loved 2016’s ‘She Don’t’ – but the music is on the whole, terminally average. What will be interesting to observe is whether the industry will move mountains to make her happen off the back of ‘Boo’d Up’. For comparison, she has already outpeaked Dua Lipa in the States – the market everyone wants to crack!!! – but the machine doesn’t work in quite the same way as it does for white girls… Where ‘New Rules’ at number six would be viewed as “reacting” is more likely to be seen as an anomaly here. I doubt the budget is opening up in the same way, y’know? I’m super intrigued to watch these next steps.
GORGON CITY, JP COOPER & YUNGEN – ‘ONE LAST SONG’
This is an objectively very good song that I subjectively have zero desire to play ever again. You ever get that? When you like something but not really? I experienced positive emotions listening to this – I like JP Cooper’s vocal, I was entertained by Yungen’s verse, the beat had my head bobbing along – and yet when I was finished, I was like “that was quite enough of that, thank you”. Maybe you will connect with it more securely than I did. I have no criticism, I just don’t care.
NENEH CHERRY – ‘KONG’
“Mabel’s mum” – a testament to Mabel’s success that she has flipped the “Neneh Cherry’s daughter” tag – hasn’t released new music in a while, and maybe I’m just feeling sentimental this morning, but isn’t it really fucking nice to see an artist in her 50s get a prime NMF slot? This sparse mid-tempo isn’t really my bag, mainly because the lyrics are a teeny tiny bit too real world for me when what I need right now is big, shiny distraction, but it’s very fresh and beautiful and worth a listen if you can stomach that kinda vibe.
YONAKA – ‘WAVES’ ☑
I don’t know where in the fuck YONAKA have come from but this is the third very good song of theirs I have heard – and perhaps I am now, a fan? Not my usual – it’s very guitary and not like, 1975wave soft pop guitary, like actually guitary – but what would life be if we were predictable? I feel like maybe The Veronicas could do something like this in two thousand and eighteen and everybody would extremely dig it.
JADE BIRD – ‘UH HUH’
Why is this like… weirdly xenophobic “lol”? Like, it’s kinda mad that this British girl is singing with a fake southern twang and being disparaging about another woman for being, what? Well travelled? Or straight up European? It’s a dogshite song, anyway. Like something sung by a Nashville bit-player written in to prop up a three episode arc. Doesn’t make the season soundtrack.
DEAF HAVANA – ‘RITUAL’
Didn’t Deaf Havana used to be… harder than this? Out here sounding like One Direction… (genuinely, listen to ‘Never Enough’ on their last record and tell me this track isn’t from the same family). It’s actually kinda good, but obviously I prefer One Direction.