Friday 24 April 2020

new (and old) music friday #48: the 1975, doja cat, nadia oh, ashnikko, FLETCHER

1. the 1975

it's hard to believe that the last time i wrote about my favourite band was august 2019, when people had just been released and they were days away from headlining reading and leeds festival. the releases that followed failed to thrill me, and it's taken me a long time to really appreciate the slightly more subdued frail state of mind, the britpop-inspired me & you together song and jesus christ 2005 god bless america, both of which belong in a ~coming of age~ film à la beats and spike island. there's something fabulously nostalgic about these songs, but they still manage to sound fresh, something the band has always excelled at. 

as previously mentioned, i saw the 1975 in february and one of the songs i was most excited to hear was the unreleased if you're too shy (let me know), and clearly i wasn't the only one as the crowd were already word perfect. as a longtime lover of 80s-adjacent sounds, this felt like an instant classic and one of the most "1975" songs they've ever produced, rivalled only by it's not living (if it's not with you)

the track was finally released yesterday, receiving its world premiere on radio 1, and it sounded better than i could have ever imagined, particularly the saxophone solo which has made several appearances throughout their career. 

it also fully reignited my love of the band after those underwhelming singles, though my joy might be short lived as matty healy told annie mac that the rest of notes on a conditional form - now expected on 22nd may - will have a "heavier" sound, harking back to their drive like i do days. i'm not mad about this as i'm fully embracing the emo and pop-punk music my teenage self loved, but i can't help hoping they'll reconsider and add a few more synth-driven bops to the album. 

perfectly capturing ~the zeitgeist~ as always, if you're too shy reflects the ways technology has changed the way we form and maintain relationships, particularly in this period of lockdown - now extended for a further three weeks in the UK. it's their ability to capture our anxieties about Modern Life combined with a delightfully nostalgic sound that makes the band stand out among their contemporaries, and i might even go as far as to say that too shy is my all time favourite 1975 song, dethroning somebody else after four long years. 

2. the weeknd

i've long been a fan of abel tesfaye's more pop-leaning tracks, and starboy quickly became one of my favourite albums back in 2016. he's clearly shares my love for the 80s, and nowhere is this more apparent than on his new album, after hours. 

i became obsessed with blinding lights after hearing it in Tha Club pre-lockdown, and in your eyes is currently topping the UK charts. the alarmingly catchy synth-led bop also contains an excellent sax solo that gives me goosebumps every time i hear it. 

seeing this song at number one gives me faith that the 80s Resurgence is finally taking place, further cemented with break up song, physical and stupid love also charting highly. 

another noteworthy track from after hours is save your tears, with its new order-inspired bassline and delicate synths, but sadly the rest of the album falls somewhat flat. nevertheless, i'll be playing this holy trinity of bops on repeat in the coming weeks. 

3. ashnikko

i'm amazed that ashnikko hasn't made an appearance in my new music friday posts as i've been obsessed with her hi, it's me EP ever since i saw her support girli last year. an ode to fuckboys everywhere, manners, special and title track hi, it's me never fail to make me feel like That Bitch. she's recently had a moment of viral fame when STUPID (also from the EP) began appearing in the tik toks of teens everywhere, and NME just published an interview with the rising rapper, complete with a glossy photoshoot. 

since the lockdown began, i've actually been doing a vague form of "exercise", going for a government-approved walk every other day, and as someone who hates exerting energy, i do find myself looking forward to it now. to make the whole thing slightly more pleasurable, i've created a playlist of songs to soundtrack my walks, and ashnikko's EP was one of the first things i added. if you too need a boost of motivation to get moving, you can listen to it here 

4. doja cat

another artist who went straight into my walking playlist (it really needs a better name) was doja cat, who has also experienced a sudden jolt of success thanks to tik tok. her song say so quickly took hold of the platform a few months ago and even i couldn't escape it every time i opened twitter or instagram. 

despite having never been a huge fan of ~hip hop~ and rap - with the exception of pink friday-era nicki minaj - i soon found myself obsessed with the track's ridiculously catchy melody, though it took a shamefully long time for me to realise that i loved it so much because it samples the iconic disco bop good times by CHIC

then came boss bitch, which is by far one of my favourite songs of this year, reminiscent of nicki's pop phase, and i don't think it's a stretch to crown doja cat the new queen of rap, breathing new life into a sound pioneered by nicki minaj in the early 2010s. 

also worth a mention is the low-key emo-inspired banger bottom bitch, which included a slowed-down sample of what's my age again? by blink-182, showcasing the diverse range of inspirations scattered throughout doja cat's discography. as someone who's always appreciated everything from 70s disco, 80s synth pop, 90s indie and 00s pop punk, i admire her unconventional approach to the still male-dominated genre and eagerly await her next release.  

5. nadia oh

i first became aware of nadia oh back in september when paper magazine did an interview with LIZ ahead of the release of her single lottery, and in it she professed her love for nadia oh, one of the main inspirations for the song. 

"i wanted to make a track as an ode to nadia oh. i feel like her work with space cowboy really paved the way for a lot of future pop girls today," she said. 

listening to the hordes of iconic tracks released by PC music stars such as hannah diamond and SOPHIE, along with slayyyter, charli xcx and LIZ herself, nadia's influence can be heard all over their hyper-real blend of synth-laden autouned masterpieces. it's just a shame she never got the recognition she deserved and her work with producer space cowboy went largely unnoticed, though he went on to work with lady gaga on her debut album the fame. 

my absolute favourite tracks colours and DJ's girlfriend wouldn't look out of place on pop 2, while hot like wow, my egyptian lover and that kind of girl would fit perfectly with anything slayyyter put her name to. other highlights include the party-ready bops no bueno, hocus pocus, beauty & a beast and soopermodel.

sadly nadia oh disappeared from the music scene in 2012 and hasn't released anything since, but her continued influence on the world of underground pop proves her music was too ahead of its time for certain people

6. call me loop

now for something slightly less left-field but still excellent in the form of call me loop's recent releases, including latest single downhill from herewhich would make an excellent eurovision entry - along with catchy kiss-off association and the super sassy floor filler cry like kim k. she recently delighted fans with a surprise release called hot thru the winter, a demo dedicated to female friendship perfect for the warmer months, even if we're all stuck inside for the time being. 

7. vardaan arora 

in an excellent show of self-love, vardaan arora released his take on the selena gomez smash rare on his birthday this wednesday, and i've had it on repeat ever since. while the original is slightly lacklustre, he's infused it with an 80s-inspired kick that still stays true to his trademark sound, and though i'm not a full-on selena stan yet, it's given me a new-found appreciation for her version


best known for her breakthrough hit undrunk, FLETCHER got her start on the US version of x factor back in 2011 and has since become a vocal supporter of the #METOO movement, releasing the track i believe you in 2018, penning a letter for billboard, and joining a growing list of LGBT+ women making impeccable pop music (see: gia woods, l devine, the japanese house and pale waves). her latest track forever sees her torn between committing to a serious relationship and her desire to "be young and party" over a truly exquisite synth-driven hook. hopefully there's more where that came from, but until then i'll be watching the music video on repeat, mesmerised by the frighteningly attractive plethora of extras. 

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