after yet another shamefully long absence, new music friday is back as i attempt to work through the huge list of bops and bangers i've been listening to since the coronavirus pandemic begin.
1. troye sivan
of course i had to begin with the newest tracks from troye sivan. during lockdown he gave us take yourself home, a low-key track that builds to an excellent dance break. as the first single from his upcoming in a dream EP - arriving august 21st - it marks the beginning of an incredibly personal songwriting journey for the singer as he finds himself questioning everything about his life; he provides a more detailed explanation of the lyrics here.
then yesterday - after teasing the song and video on social media for several days - he released easy, though the song's subject matter is anything but, as it chronicles a crumbling relationship where one of the parties has cheated on the other and is begging for forgiveness.
it immediately brought to mind the early/mid-2000s production of hellogoodbye and metro station with its synth-driven sound and heavily auto tuned vocals, while the video - directed by troye himself- pays homage to 70s-era david bowie, as troye sports a bright red wig, colourful make-up and a perfectly tailored vintage suit.
as well as these new tracks, i also discovered this this, a bonus track from the target version of his album bloom, and i've had it on repeat non-stop, as well as the album itself.
australian artist CXLOE can do no wrong; i've been following her career which began with the release of i can't have nice things last year, and she hasn't put a foot wrong since. tracks like SICK, show you and low blow have been on constant rotation and i can now add 12 steps to the mix.
featuring her signature dark-pop sound and a Huge Chorus, she revealed via an instagram post that the song is about addiction and "mirrors the steps of the program through the eyes of a toxic relationship".
as someone who indulged in my fair share of destructive behaviour throughout my late teens/early 20s, it's a sentiment that resonates with me, and like all good songwriting, hits me right where it hurts.
3. heidi montag
for anyone that loves Trashy Pop Music, heidi montag's album superficial should be essential listening, and while i've had turn ya head, one more drink and my parade on repeat for some time now, the other day i found myself re-listening to the tracks i didn't love first time around and can't see myself stopping any time soon.
highlights include i'll do it, superficial, twisted, more is more and look how i'm doing, all of which could have easily been a smash had they been released by blackout-era britney (there's even a song called blackout on heidi's album) or lady gaga's debut album the fame, but it seems that heidi's reputation as The Villain on MTV's reality show the hills and her decision to undergo 10 (!) plastic surgeries just before the album's release meant it didn't get the promotion or acclaim it deserves.
despite being signed to a major label at the time, heidi shelled out $2 million of her own money to assemble a team of high profile writers and producers including steve morales, laura pergolizzi and cathy dennis, who wrote kylie's can't get out of my head and toxic by britney.
luckily the album has gained somewhat of a cult following in the last few years and slayyyter proclaimed heidi montag one of her biggest musical inspirations; several of the tracks on superifical could have easily appeared on slayyter's debut mixtape, released last september.
annoyingly my favourite heidi track body language wasn't included on the album, though it was released as a single in 2009, presumably to generate interest for the album. maybe it's the sample of yazoo's 1982 single situation - also used by the saturdays in their debut single if this is love - which makes it stand out, but i never get tired of hearing the song.
4. khalid/victoria monet
with everything going on in the world right now, it's understandable that we might not get a Song Of The Summer to soundtrack what remains of the warmer months, but may i propose experience by khalid and victoria monet?
this disco-inspired bop evokes a similar feeling to heatstroke and slide by calvin harris, two songs i played to death during my last summer at uni in 2017.
another Big Song that year was drake's passionfruit, and it seemed like every car that drove past my bedroom window was blasting it from the speakers.
it was also played every time i went to Tha Club, and i can't help but feel like experience could have had the same response had we been allowed to go out and ~socialise.
while that's not an option for many places still under quarantine, i'd highly recommend blasting experience at full volume, margarita in hand, and dreaming of a hopefully not-so-distant future when this song can be played on car stereos and at pool parties the world over.
5. astrid s
prior to this year, i was aware of norwegian singer astrid s thanks to her collaborations with artists including JP cooper and frank walker, but never paid much attention to her.
that all changed with the release of i don't know why. there's something much more light and summery about the production compared to previous NOTD tracks, and i simply can't get enough.
then she dropped dance dance dance, which gave me goosebumps from the first listen. this is pure pop perfection, and i'm living for the day i can hear it live in november, assuming her tour goes ahead as planned.
i've also been enjoying her more ~acoustic songs, particularly down low, sidelove and years from her 2019 EP down low, and her foray into ~reggae~ as a featured artist on contigo tengo feeling by GABIFUEGO, which came as a surprise to me as i did my best to avoid the earworm that was despacito.
6. julie bergan
another norwegian star i've had on repeat is julie bergan, who - like most new artists i write about - i became aware of thanks to popjustice. the first song i became obsessed with was bored - released last october - and ever since she's been releasing a steady stream of bangers into the world, including STFU - this live performance is really Something Else... dua lipa's MTV performance could never - outline, commando and her latest hit, don't you wanna play? with seeb.
if you're ever in need of a drinking game, i'd highly recommend going back through all my old posts and taking a sip/shot every time i say "80s inspired". i can guarantee that this post will appear as loviet takes the phrase to a whole new level.
while the 1975 continue to move in weird and wonderful musical directions - see: notes on a conditional form - it's always good to see artists be inspired by the - you guessed it - 80s-inspired sound they cultivated on their first two albums; their self titled 2013 debut and i like it when you sleep... three years later.
toronto-based loviet - real name natalie lynn - is one of those artists, who i first became aware of her thanks to an instagram advert for her latest single when it's over. i also love the thrill and everyone knows - perhaps the most 1975-esque song of hers - which is an ode to the Bad Boy we all love to hate.
with her first EP officially out in the world, i'm excited to see what the future holds for loviet - hopefully a full-length album is in the works.
one of my favourite things about twitter is the community of independent artists who have been inspired by the sound of charli xcx and PC music.
first it was slayyyter, then boy sim, and most recently alexzone, who collaborated with boy sim on the absolute banger that is permission.
as a solo artist, alex has been releasing bop after bop, including wish u well, control and tie me down!, which is my favourite song thanks to its early 2000s-inspired production and autotuned vocals.
i also have to thank him for making me aware of girls night out, a club night that has introduced me to a real-life community of pop lovers and literally Changed My Life in just over a year.
9. 100 gecs
i've said it before and i'll say it again; 100 gecs are truly the future of music, not just pop but everything in-between, whether it's trance, emo or pop-punk.
much like PC music back in 2016, when the duo first emerged, critics weren't sure what to make of their genre-hopping sound, but as their fan base steadily grew thanks to features with charli xcx and dorian electra, it seems like they're finally being taken seriously.
since i discovered them last july, they've put out a remix album called the tree of clues which has taken the internet by storm. somehow they've managed to make their already unique sound even weirder and i'm all for it.
my favourite track is naturally xXXi_wud_nvrstøp_ÜXXx, the scooter-inspired collaboration between hannah diamond and tommy cash, though tommy's version should have also been included on the album in my humble opinion.
if you're looking for a pop-punk fix, i'd highly recommend the black dresses remix of 745 sticky and the incredibly chaotic reworking of hand crushed by a mallet, which features actual fall out boy and canadian artist nicole dollanganger.
gec 2 u also receives two remixes, one featuring vocals from longtime collaborator dorian electra and the other by PC music's danny l harle, which goes heavy on both distortion and club-ready synths.
finally there's the a.g. cook remix of money machine and an updated version of ringtone, featuring charli xcx, rico nasty - who just released the impeccable girl crush - and kero kero bonito, who once played a gig at my university in my first year, which i regret not going to now they're starting to Make It Big.
the duo also included two new ~original tracks, including came to my show and toothless, which fit in seamlessly with the rest of the original album.
hopefully more new tracks will follow, but they've certainly given us more than enough to tide us over until then.
10. aly & aj
it's hard to believe that sisters aly and aj michalka were once two of the disney channel's biggest stars - never forget their iconic 2006 film cow belles, which is apparently getting a sequel - as they've since gone on to release some of the best pop music i've heard in the last few years and i saw them in manchester this time last year.
following their second EP in 2019, the girls released two impeccable singles during lockdown, firstly attack of panic - a sleek electro-pop bop which perfectly describes the collective and individual anxiety we've all been feeling lately - and joan of arc on the dancefloor, possibly their best song yet.
this is pure 80s floorfiller with a political twist, inspired by the historical figure herself who was burned at the stake in 143l aged just 19 after being accused of witchcraft.
aly described the song as "super relevant in this moment that we're going through, especially with these protests, and the fact that people need to have a voice".
she hoped the song would feel "very anthemic" while hoping it would "lift people up, make them feel like they could be warriors, in whatever way that is — whether that's standing up for their religious beliefs, their sexuality, their rights", and they've definitely succeeded in all these areas.
the video is definitely the best quarantine creation i've seen; inspired by the 1928 silent film the passion of joan of arc, it was filmed in aly's living room on roger deakins' eclair NPR camera and george s. barnes' mitchell no. 5 camera - used in several silent-era film - and includes footage from the sexual assault trials of anita hill and dr. christine blasey ford.
these small details demonstrate the passion they have for the music they create and with recording for their second album underway, i'm eager to see what they do next.
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