Friday, 18 October 2019

new (and old) music friday #45: harry styles, LIZ, miley cyrus, mabel

this week i've experienced everything from almost getting a rescue dog to yet another frustrating almost-interview, in which i arrived only to be told the digital marketing position i'd applied for had been filled and my CV had somehow been mixed up with the people who were applying for another job that involved assisting the receptionists and answering phones, i.e. my worst nightmare. 

i also returned to the job centre, something that would have devastated me a few months ago, but with my new-found attitude of Not Having A Breakdown About Every Tiny Thing, i'm trying not to let it bother me. luckily i'm heading to malaga tomorrow until tuesday, and though i'm not someone who cares about going on holiday regularly, i think some time away is definitely needed. 

but before that i have a backlog of bangers that need to be discussed.

1. harry styles 

it's hard to believe that two years have gone by since harry styles released his incredible self-titled debut album, but new single lights up picks up where he left off, albeit slightly more mellow.  
his "step into the light" could have many meanings. first, the literal feeling of stepping into the morning light when a party ends, still slightly drunk. secondly, it could be seen as an opportunity to tell the world who he really is after years of speculation about his sexuality.

fans took this idea and ran with it after the song and its (excellent) video were released on national coming out day, but by this point we really should know better than to expect a straightforward answer from him. either way, it's definitely helped me to be more comfortable with my own sexuality, and when he asks "do you know who you are?" i feel like i'm edging ever closer to an answer*. 

(*this could also be thanks to tegan and sara's newly-released memoir high school, which i read cover to cover in just two days. it's easy to think of successful artists as just that, any struggles they've previously experienced erased once they sign their names on the dotted line of a recording contract, so reading about sara's ongoing struggles with her sexuality reassures me that Coming Out isn't a singular moment that solves all of one's problems but a lifelong process. it also lead to several revelations about my own high school experiences as i realise that i actually did have feelings for all the girls i simply "admired" and "wanted to be friends with".) 

2. miley cyrus

miley cyrus has been making headlines lately thanks to her divorce from liam hemsworth and rebound relationships with both kaitlynn carter and cody simpson, all of which coincided with the release of slide away. the song was largely unmemorable, but when i saw a youtube comment about how it was like the modern equivalent of her 2008 track bottom of the ocean, i immediately felt compelled to re-listen to the accompanying album, breakout.

my 13-year-old self played this on repeat, and i'll always be of the opinion that it's miley's best work to date. 

there's something for everyone, from karaoke-friendly bops such as her country take on girls just wanna have fun, title track breakout and of course the iconic 7 things. there's also a largely unchanged remix of see you again, which is undoubtedly the best song from the hannah montana 2/meet miley cyrus album, which i owned on CD (!).  

forget greta thunberg, as wake up america proves that miley was the true inventor of climate change protests. the inspiration for the song came from an episode of the miley and mandy show, a youtube series created by cyrus and her friend mandy jiroux, which i vividly remember watching as a teenager and being devastated about its ending. in this particular episode, the duo encourage everyone to recycle, save and reuse plastic bottles, and use organic products with no harsh chemicals. perhaps if more people had followed their advice back in 2008, we wouldn't be in such a predicament now. 

most millennials have become well acquainted with the idea of "burnout" thanks to an article by buzzfeed writer anne helen petersen, but miley was once again ahead of her time as this concept is explored on the track simple song. the constant pressure cyrus experienced during her hannah montana heyday forms the basis of this track, which also features a piano backing to rival elton john (yes, really).  

there are still plenty of classic break-up songs though; highlights include these four walls, goodbye and my personal favourites, the driveway - with its avril lavigne-inspired electric guitar and fantastically dramatic chorus - and full circle, which was written about her on again/off again relationship with nick jonas 

3. SOPHIE/starrah

by far my most played this week, lock it up is yet another unreleased SOPHIE bop from 2016 which resurfaced online after being played on BBC radio 1's TNGNT show last week. why she refuses to release such bangers is beyond me, and several youtube channels have been set up as a place to find all of her unreleased songs in one place. perhaps she wants to be seen as a more ~serious~ artist as her debut album oil of every pearl's un-insides had a far more experimental feel and was nominated for a grammy this year. 

it's a world away from the carefully crafted bubblegum pop that sends fans into meltdown every time she unveils a new track, and this is no exception. featuring charli xcx collaborator starrah on vocals, my favourite thing about lock it up is the fact she uses female pronouns to describe her ~love interest~, something still rarely heard in pop music despite all the progress being made. whether we'll ever be blessed with an official version of this track remains to be seen, but for now i'll be playing it on loop and keeping my fingers crossed. 

4. kim petras 

miss petras came THROUGH with some more spooky bops with the release of turn off the light. rather than release it as volume 2, she decided to combine the songs from volume 1 to create a full length album, and i'm living for it. it's about as much enjoyment as i'll ever get from halloween, which is also my birthday, but to most people's amazement i despise dressing up and any kind of themed party. luckily death by sex, wrong turn and my favourite track there will be blood will make the occasion slightly more bearable this year, and i'm praying they'll be played at girls night out, the unofficial after party of charli xcx's manchester gig the night before halloween.  

i must also give an honourable mention to the impeccable video for icy, which is quite possibly my favourite song of the year so far, and after getting a ticket to see kim live next year i have a feeling this track will be the highlight of her set. 

5. mabel

i've never paid much attention to mabel as she's been releasing incredibly mediocre songs since 2015, and am still baffled as to why she supported harry styles on tour in 2017. her rather dull mix of pop and R&B felt totally at odds with the glam rock sound of david bowie and marc bolan which he channelled on his album. 

but everything changed with god is a dancer, a recent collaboration with tiesto. as soon as i heard this i knew it had potential to be a Huge Banger, and i can confirm that it Fucking Slaps, though that could have been thanks to the three (3) drinks i'd consumed before it was played in Tha Club. 

it's also an excellent walking-around-town song, guaranteed to make you feel like That Bitch, so i'm praying her next album will contain more of the same.

6. LIZ

last but not least it's LIZ, who i never fully got into her until i heard sunscreen a few weeks ago. it's yet another unreleased bop with SOPHIE on production, but that could be set to change as LIZ replied to charli xcx's already infamous tweet asking if anyone had a link to taxi (part of me wants to believe she could be gearing up to release it but i'm trying not to get my hopes up) saying "it’s with sunscreen in PC purgatory". she later tweeted herself that she was "just kidding" as the song is "thriving" and "getting ready for its debut". this seems like a far more sincere statement than that of miss XCX, who has always enjoyed trolling her fans, so hopefully sunscreen will actually be released soon.


in the meantime i've been loving a)lottery - which is inspired by slayyyter and blackout-era britney spears in equal measure and features a flawless cameo from drag race alumni aja - and b) her latest release laguna nights which she described as "teenage dream and the one that got away mashed up together" (anyone with taste knows teenage dream is one of the best songs from the last decade) and was inspired by "the idea of lost and rekindled love, on the beach, and for one night only", while sonically it reminds me of fame-era lady gaga

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