Friday 21 August 2020

new (and old) music friday #51: allie x, robyn, kiesza, griff, rina sawayama

honestly, i couldn't be more relieved to see this week come to an end. 

a combination of Work Stress, hormones and driving lesson-induced panic has just about finished me off, so i decided to do the one thing that consistently brings me joy in times of trouble; write about some of my favourite songs from the last few weeks. 

but before we begin, i must draw attention to the fact that love again - one of my top three carly rae jepsen songs - is finally on spotify after five! long! years!

originally a bonus track from jepsen's seminal sophomore album emotion, i fell in love with it instantly and was always mystified as to why it never appeared on the album, even just as a bonus track (though it did appear on the japanese edition). 

however my days of wondering are no longer as she announced via twitter that love again and never get to hold you would be available on spotify.

the Queen of The Gays delivered once again, dropping a "deluxe expanded edition" of her finest work on the streaming platform today, so that's my plans sorted for the next 48 hours. 

1. allie x

another pop icon whose debut EP has been receiving a new wave of adoration from fans since the queens from canada's drag race lip-synced to her song hello is allie x

i still remember being captivated by bitch and prime back in 2014, but re-listening to the EP the other day literally brought me to tears, so in awe i was over the impeccable synth-driven production. 

i've struggled to listen to good as its lyrics have always been a bit too Close To Home, but i managed to push my feelings aside and appreciate the song and its super dramatic outro, along with the CHVRCHES-inspired sound of catch and tumour

but my favourite has got to be sanctuary, with production so intense i couldn't contain my tears, and have played it endlessly since.

i hate to admit it, but i found her most recent album cape god a bit too subdued for my liking, so i'm glad to have coxlltion I to tide me over until her next release. 

2. astrid s 

another artist i've been obsessing over in the last few months is astrid s, whose uber-catchy bops have been a mainstay in my most played songs, and her latest single marilyn monroe doesn't disappoint.

i hate to use the word "sassy" but that's exactly what this song is, a defiant statement to anyone who dares to judge not only astrid but women in general. 

it sometimes feels like whatever decision we make is open to criticism, whether that's wearing make-up or going bare-faced, dating casually or settling down with one person, and dressing in a ~revealing~ way as opposed to covering up. 

but none of that matters as soon as i press play on this absolute banger, which i can't wait to blast at full volume on my Daily Walks (literally the only vaguely good habit i've developed during lockdown). 

3. robyn 

i've always felt that robyn hit her peak with 2010's body talk, the album which spawned the original Sad Banger, dancing on my ownand a diabolical cover that somehow reached number 2 in the UK charts a few years later - along with hits like call your girlfriend, hang with me, indestructible and the sorely underrated stars 4-ever.

that all changed with her latest track impact, a collaboration with producer SG lewis and channel tres. it's the high impact (i am SORRY) production robyn's more recent releases have been lacking and i can't wait for this song to be played at full volume in Tha Club once we're allowed back on the dancefloor. 

4. kiesza 

Gay Twitter has been buzzing about the release of kiesza's latest offerings for the last few months, and with their 80s-inspired production and a Big Chorus or two, it's easy to see why. 

she first became known for her song hideaway back in 2014, which brings back somewhat distressing memories of nights out at uni as the song was played on loop in every single bar, so naturally i'm delighted she's moved towards a more pop sound. 

i'd highly recommend all of the feelings, crave, run renegade, and my favourite track love me with your lie, along with the MEDUN remix


i last wrote about FLETCHER when she released the alarmingly catchy track forever back in april, and her latest single if i hated you is another excellent break-up bop i've been playing non-stop. 

featuring a similar synth-laden chorus to forever, the track forms part of her upcoming EP the s(ex) tapes, set to be released on september 18th, which hopefully contains more of the same. 

6. the japanese house 

as someone who's always loved Big Pop Songs, i've found my enjoyment of the japanese house's low-key sound to be somewhat of an anomaly in my music taste, but ever since i first heard the pools to bathe in EP back in 2015, i've been a huge fan of amber bain. 

her latest EP chewing cotton wool follows her long-awaited full-length album good at falling, which was released last year and easily became one of my all-time favourite albums. 

upon first listen, i didn't love the EP's first single chewing cotton wool, but having re-listened, it's perfect for those times where i just need to be In My Feelings. 

opening track sharing beds harks back to amber's early days where her vocals were so distorted it was hard to tell if it was a man or woman singing, retaining that sharp electronic sound which had been missing from her more recent EPs, swim against the tide and 3/3. 

after taking what felt like a slightly more ~pop~ direction and stripping back the autotune on songs like you seemed so happy, somebody you found and good side in, i'm glad she's returned to her roots, as i still get the same goosebumps when i hear early tracks like still, clean and teeth, though that might just be the nostalgia talking. 

i instantly loved something has to change when it was released last september but my favourite track has to be dionne, a collaboration with justin vernon - aka bon iver - which no doubt sent Real Music fans (aka men who use beard oil non-ironically) into auto-drive. 

i could talk at length about how the use of autotune is praised when used by male artists like bon iver and francis and the lights but women such as charli xcx and amber herself face criticism for hiding their "real" voices with it, but i'd much rather talk about what an incredible track dionne is.

sonically it harks back to her earlier releases, but lyrically the track - and the EP as a whole - see amber exploring the aftermath of a breakup. 

on instagram she said these songs "punctuate the stages of coming out of a relationship and entering into a new phase", and her eloquent self-reflection is reflected in the lyrics of dionne, particularly "your past becomes your present if it's always on your mind", a feeling i know all too well as i've struggled to let certain people go in the past. 

7. griff

speaking of which, another artist who has been extolling the virtue of being kinder to yourself and Letting Go is griff. her track forgive myself hit me right where it hurts, so much so that i can't even choose a particular line that resonated the most. 

like the japanese house, it's a much more mellow sound than i generally gravitate towards, but as long as there's some synths thrown in i can get on board, particularly as she wrote and produced the whole track herself. 

her latest track say it again is slightly more upbeat in context, and i can feel myself developing a mild obsession with it in the coming weeks. 

think of it as a Dual Purpose Bop; perfect for playing in the background whilst working or doing a mundane task but transforming into a bit of a banger when played full volume with a hairbrush microphone in hand. 

8. rina sawayama

i must admit, when i saw rina sawayama support charli xcx in october last year, i wasn't particularly impressed, despite everyone on my twitter timeline professing their love for her. 

but during lockdown i became a regular attendee of queerantine, the virtual equivalent of girls night out, and one of the songs played was who's gonna save u now? by rina. 

this would make an excellent Karaoke Song, and i'm living for the day i can drunkenly scream along to it in a booth at my favourite bar. 

featuring a euphoric guitar solo and KEY CHANGE, it sounds like a modern day mash up of holding out for a hero and total eclipse of the heart by bonnie tyler, two of the most dramatic and iconic songs of all time, an honour i don't hand out to present day pop stars without good reason. 

i also really enjoy bad friend, a 1975-esque, auto-tuned Sad Bop that sees rina address her tendency to lose touch with once close friends. again, it's a familiar feeling, forcing me to accept that i too could have made more effort with friends i no longer speak to.

finally there's the brabo and pablo vittar remix of comme des garçons (like the boys) which i also discovered during one of the queerantine zoom nights and is an excellent song to make you feel like That Bitch.  

9. lesley roy

it wouldn't be a new music friday without a eurovision bop, and while this year's contest was cancelled due to coronavirus, i've been playing story of my life by lesley roy on repeat over the last couple of months. had the show gone ahead as planned, she would have represented ireland in the competition, and it's a travesty that we won't get to see it performed live. 

my only requirement for a eurovision song is that it's as "cheesy" as possible. while most people would consider this a bad thing, i gave up caring about what they think a long time ago, and this song fits the criteria perfectly with a Huge Chorus that wouldn't sound out of place on an early one direction song. 

10. the toppers

though not released this year, during one of the BBC's many eurovision-themed programmes they showed to try and compensate for the cancelled contest, i became aware of what is by far one of the cheesiest entries ever. 

representing the netherlands in 2009, the song is shine by a group called the toppers, which features alarmingly positive lyrics, a Big Chorus and multiple key changes, a winning formula that means i never get tired of hearing it. 

clearly the majority of people don't share my enthusiasm for the song as it failed to qualify for the eurovision final, but luckily we were blessed with a semi-final performance that includes a woman with an eerily resemblance to gemma collins on backing vocals and pretending to DJ, so if you need a serotonin boost, i'd highly recommend watching it here

11. samantha harvey

i can only assume it was popjustice who introduced me to british singer-songrwriter samantha harvey. 

she began posting covers on youtube back in 2017 before releasing her first EP in 2018, and while these generic, top-40 filler songs failed to thrill me, it was her 2019 single get to know you which caught my attention. 

gone were the Sad Piano Ballads and in their place, a much more 80s-inspired sound. 

get to know you is as catchy as they come, and she followed it up with a remix by ekko city, which gives the bubblegum pop masterpiece a club-ready edge. 

then in june this year she released hard to get, a slice of pop perfection with a chorus so good it still gives me chills every time i hear it.

hopefully there's more where that came from, and maybe she'll even sneak in a Key Change or two. 

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