Friday 9 June 2017

new (and old) music friday #19: lorde, jakil, hurts, calvin harris

today the UK woke up to the news that the conservatives are back in power and forming a coalition with the DUP - northern ireland's answer to UKIP. the blow was softened slightly by the fact that 72% of young people voted as opposed to just 43% in 2015, and also this news story. 

but we're not here to talk politics - for decades pop music has been an antidote to such testing times, and today is no different, so without further ado i present a bumper edition of my favourite songs from the last week - and all the other ones before. 

1. lorde

i think almost every post i've made in the last few months has included lorde, as the release date for her second album melodrama draws ever closer. a few days ago she blessed us with a new song perfect places which she explained in detail here, and i've had it on repeat non-stop. there's a quality to lorde's sound that i've never seen in anyone else, that careful blend of agony and ecstasy, or as she put it in this time interview, "like crying and dancing in equal parts". her latest release sober - a more low-key affair - didn't thrill me as much, but i'm hoping it will grow on me in the coming weeks. 

2. halsey

the new jersey native released her second album hopeless fountain kingdom last week, and though i'm disappointed overall - she seems to have fallen foul to over-production from pop heavyweights like sia and cashmere cat, meaning i'm still unsure what her signature sound is - the heartbreaking ballad sorry and her newest single strangers are my stand-out tracks. critics also seem spellbound by the soft 80s synths and breathy vocals provided by fifth harmony's openly bisexual lauren jauregui (i knew there was a reason why she was my favourite).(they also gave an excellent performance of it on the today show.) love songs sung by and about women are still few and far between in the mainstream pop arena, and i couldn't help myself tearing up when i first heard the line she doesn't kiss me on the mouth anymore / cause it's more intimate than she thinks we should get. unlike the queer-baiting i kissed a girl, or the shrouded-in-metaphor cool for the summer, strangers is bold, brash and unflinchingly honest, and i'm pretty sure it's halsey's peak. 

3. katy perry

speaking of katy perry, i couldn't help but include swish swish and bon appetit in this post, simply because my best friend and i had them on repeat while getting ready to go out last week, and they remind me of a good time. however, i fully support the idea that she's been making questionable decisions lately, and is struggling to stay relevant after the monumental success of teenage dream, also her peak. a catchy hook and guest verse from (the inimitable) nicki minaj just won't be enough to save her as she seems to have strayed too far away from the "purposeful pop" she promised her next album witness would contain. 


the london-based artist has been making waves in the music world for a while, and i was a huge fan of her song it was my party last night, an ode to teenage life and house parties. her latest offering, the super summery feel OK features guest vocals from lethal bizzle; an unlikely pairing that apparently came about after his producer diztortion played her track in the studio by accident and he decided to contribute. the accompanying video is awash with neon hues of pink and blue, and it's a feel good summer anthem that i'll be playing well into the autumn. 

5. jakil

again, i've discussed the edinburgh indie pop outfit on this blog before, but their latest single fool without u has been stuck in my brain for weeks now. featuring the 80s sound that has quickly become one of their signatures, the tracks talks escaping the Big City when things all feel too much, and a girl who apparently looks ridiculously good in high heels.

6. carly rae jepsen

the queen of everything made her return to pop a few weeks ago with the super summery cut to the feeling. an E•MO•TION off-cut, the song features on the soundtrack for the french animated flick leap!, released last year. it features the typical euphoric sound of tracks like run away with me, i really like you, and of course, call me maybe, and will tide me over until the release of her next album; hopefully the rumours about it being "disco inspired" are still true.

7. hurts

the manchester-born electronic duo are still working on their next album, but after listening to - and loving - their newest single beautiful ones, i stumbled across lights on youtube, a disco-lite number that i just can't seem to get enough of. also excellent is nothing will be bigger than us, an anthemic party-ready track from 2015's surrender. 

8. steps

getting ready for my last night Proper Night Out at uni last month, i finally got around to listening to the latest offering from steps, titled tears on the dancefloor. i expected it to be the usual bland pop churned out year after year by bands who were popular in the 90s and early 2000s looking to make a quick buck, but i should have given steps a bit more credit. after the sensational scared of the dark, they followed it up with an entire album of cheesy, party-ready pop, with not a single Sad Piano Ballad in sight. picking a highlight of this album is near on impossible, as every song went into my party playlist on spotify, so if you love pop music as much as i do, you won't be disappointed.

9. calvin harris 

my current pick for Song Of The Summer is still a toss up between drake's passionfruit and heatstroke, by calvin harris, who's been churning out hits left right and centre the last few years. this one is something special though, perhaps due in part to guest vocals from ariana grande. either way, this song is Pure Summer, i.e. the feeling you get at approximately 5pm on a friday in early may - when it gets properly warm and you can walk to work/school/uni in just a t-shirt - when everyone starts leaving work. living next to a main road in my uni house, i was privy to such a sight every week as it became congested with cars queuing to presumably get out of town, and many of them were blasting both passionfruit and heatstroke. both evoke fond memories of nights out during my time away, and heatstroke first came to my attention when we were all crammed into a taxi on our way home from Tha Club one night, and i'm wondering if a similar situation may occur later tonight when i meet some of my friends in manchester who have travelled Up North for parklife festival this weekend; a place i tend to avoid as 99% of people from my year at school will be there. 

10. sunstroke project

as a lover of eurovision, i was super disppointed with this year's show, especially the acoustic track that lead portugal to victory. my winner was definitely sweden - who did come fourth - as i was spellbound by the excellent electro-pop and on point choreography of i can't go on, performed by robin bengtsson. however, a majorly underrated entry was moldova. hey mamma by sunstroke project grabbed my attention straight away with its catchy sax refrain, and i'll be blasting it while i get ready later on. 

this week's playlist is here

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