This week is the first week in a long while where I’ve had time to get myself back into some semblance of a routine, look after myself, eat proper dinner, fall asleep after my nightly routine and not before. Then yesterday I had a really great, creative day with my partner-in-crime and… whew, my future! Lately I’ve been realising I may I have one! So all in all I’m feeling pretty sparky even though I had to get up early to get to Brighton this morning (hence why this post is a little late – expect disruption to your service next week too). Here are the big names I was most curious about this morning, check back on Weds for the songs you may have missed.
KATY PERRY – ‘SMALL TALK’
Katy Perry’s latest single continues down the bright, shiny euphoria pop lane she started on with ‘Never Really Over’. The really good fun production belies the fact that this track is lowkey kind of gutting – a forensic autopsy of the aftermath of a relationship that was once romantic (though that clunky “sliced bread” lyric can really jar you out of the mood). Katy, and indeed former rival Taylor, should be commended for their commitment to so resolutely go against the grain with their colourful optimism, glaring in a much more subdued, existential, wryly morose pop landscape, for providing a break in the clouds if nothing else. I don’t know to what commercial end this will have but a decade on and millions in, I guess the only thing they have to lose is face.
ELLA EYRE – ‘MAMA’
Banx & Ranx announce their contribution to this really relentless production for Ella Eyre, an artist I always felt had more to give than what we got. This is properly a banger – beat stomping, chorus sassy – and Ella’s (so distinctive!) vocal gets so elastic-y on the “boy, I’m telling your mama” line it’s kind of thrilling? B&R have previously got the best out of Ella on ‘Answerphone’ so really it’s no surprise that this is the best song of the morning for me. Kiana Ledé also features here but look at that artwork. We know who runs this show.
LABRINTH & ZENDAYA – ‘ALL FOR US’
Labrinth is one of the most talented producers this country has ever produced and Zendaya is my favourite ex-Disney success story of recent years, so a collaboration between them? Right up my fucking street! I absolutely loved Zendaya’s pop career – ‘Replay’ still absolutely goes – so I’m delighted to hear her singing again on this atmospheric midtempo. I am yet to watch Euphoria but between all the hype and the absolute melodrama of this song, I know I’m in for a treat.
BAZZI – ‘NO WAY!’
I sort of understand why Bazzi is happening, but I don’t really care for it personally. ‘No Way!’ gives me a sort of Rae Sremmurd goes pop vibe, I mean Swae Lee could well have had a hand in this in fact, but I’m on a train and can’t check the credits. I can imagine this will do well. Good luck and god bless!
ALESSIA CARA – ‘ROOTING FOR YOU’
I think it is fair to say that Alessia Cara has never really matched the precocious pretension of ‘Here’, a song that felt like a real moment, and perhaps when I think about it, was the precursor to a lot of the sardonic, cynical confession pop that we’ve seen rise lately. Not that there hasn’t been pop songs like that forever, but sonically the current wave owes to ‘Here’ in my loosely formed opinion. ‘Rooting For You’ has some of the same magic, it kind of reminds me of the mid-00s female singer/songwriter, Jem-esque sound actually. I’m not raving about it, but I’m not about to skip over it either.
BROCKHAMPTON – ‘IF YOU PRAY RIGHT’
I have always thought of BROCKHAMPTON as the centre of a Venn diagram overlapping The Neptunes, Outkast and OFWGKTA and the two GINGER singles lean more into the Outkast/OFWGKTA segment to my ears – rapid-fire, verbose verses but with a menace that wasn’t present in the Southern rap vibe of Outkast. Saturation III as an album, felt commercial and radio in places, but both iridescence and from the tasters of GINGER seemed to draw back into a more hip hop space, perhaps necessary after the controversy surrounding Ameer to give them time to regroup artistically. I don’t think their breakout/crossover moment is on the horizon is what I’m saying. I love this track though and am yet to be disappointed in any of their material, so I’m happy to wait for the rest of the world to get on board too.
LANA DEL REY – ‘SEASON OF THE WITCH’
Lana’s contribution to the soundtrack for Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark feels much more on brand than her contribution to the soundtrack of the Charlie’s Angels reboot. This is a spooky, retro spell of a song – vampy, campy and Halloween Instagram post caption ready. It is going to stick out like a sore thumb on any playlist I put it on and I love it.
MEGAN THEE STALLION – ‘HOT GIRL SUMMER’ ft. TY DOLLA $IGN & NICKI MINAJ
Megan Thee Stallion’s rise has just been beautiful to behold. Her ubiquity in the pop culture canon of the last year is testament to not only her talent but her innate understanding of the environment she operates in. Perhaps only Drake is as good at it as Megan – if last year we were saying “nice for what”, this year it’s been “hot girl summer” that captured public imagination. On this rework we have Ty Dolla $ign who never fails to deliver a quality performance in a guest spot while Nicki Minaj proves she can in fact play nice with the other girls and puts in an excellent verse of her own. A slam dunk collab.
TORI KELLY – ‘COFFEE’
This is just a very sweet, very pretty acoustic ballad that I really, really like and I am suddenly 10x more interested in listening to the new album Tori released today. If I can’t get ’Stuck’ 2019 from Ms Kelly, I will hope for more like this!
MARY J. BLIGE – ‘KNOW’
“Heavy is the head that wears the crown” is the message of this Mary J. Blige lament, and it is true that it isn’t easy at the top. There is a gospel tint to this record and MJ’s voice is as powerful as ever, but ‘Know’ doesn’t invite repeat listens. I’m very excited to think there is perhaps a new album in the near future though.