i have once again taken an unintentional month-long break from posting on this blog, but since my last new music friday, the UK's lockdown has finally begun to ease, with all pupils now back at school and the ability to meet one (1) person outside to "socialise".
however, after weeks of springtime sunshine and temperatures finally starting to rise, this week we've been hit with 27mph winds and torrential rainstorms, so any plans to meet up will have to be shelved for now.
luckily there's been several bops and bangers making things bearable, and now that my favourite club night girls night out has announced its return in june this year - following the announcement that nightclubs could be open by the 21st - i'm even more excited to finally hear them on the dancefloor.
one person who hasn't had the best time during The Pandemic is rita ora, who broke lockdown rules by hosting a 30th birthday party in london back in november, paying the venue £5000 to host the celebration and turn off the CCTV cameras.
so when she released her bang EP in february this year, it's safe to say she wasn't the most popular artist around.
i've never been a huge fan of her myself - with the exception of i will never let you down and anywhere - but as soon as i heard the axel f/crazy frog (!) sample on bang bang, i was instantly obsessed.
i will admit that i liked it slightly less when i saw ed sheeran has a writing credit on it, but now that my days of being a Music Snob are far behind me, i'm prepared to overlook this as imanbek's production is too good to resist.
2. dua lipa
dua lipa caused uproar when the track list for the moonlight edition of future nostalgia was released and normani wouldn't be featured on if it ain't me, a leaked track that she was most likely bullied into releasing by hordes of angry gays.
while it's true that the track feels like it's lacking something, i'm just glad it finally got an official release and i know it will be A Moment when we can finally hear it in the club.
i've also been loving that kind of woman - another previously leaked track - with its 80s-inspired sound, and the slightly more subdued fever, which i wasn't a huge fan of when it was first released. if you're looking for a more upbeat version, i'd highly recommend the disco-tinged vantage remix.
boy sim's debut album pink noise will always have a special place in my heart as it was pretty much the only thing i listened to back in 2018.
i've been waiting not-so-patiently for his return to the music world and he finally came through with the surprise release of fire last month.
with a stomping bassline and his signature synth-driven sound, the self-produced track sees him seeking revenge by burning down the house of his ex-lover... metaphorically of course.
he told paper magazine that the track is his "first step into a new sound i haven't done before" and it's clear that he's embracing a new direction, taking the electro-pop melodies found on pink noise to new heights.
while i was still recovering from the emotional rollercoaster of slayyyter's single troubled paradise, she went and dropped clouds, a textbook example of a Sad Banger and quite possibly her best song yet.
combining a thumping bassline with lyrics about feeling like she "didn't belong" in the music industry, she manages to create a song that's deeply personal yet extremely relatable for anyone who has struggled with their mental health.
she also delivered another iconic music video, paying homage to katy perry's teenage dream album cover and giving dorothy's wizard of oz a fashion forward twist.
while we eagerly await the release of troubled paradise, it seems slayyyter is already "putting the pedal to the metal for my next album", as she revealed in an interview with enfnts terribles.
heidi montag recently posted a video of her and slayyyter in the studio, so hopefully they were recording the y2k hyperpop collaboration we deserve.
5. zara larsson
another person i've never been a Massive Fan of is swedish singer zara larsson, though her 2019 single all the time is an absolute banger.
so when she released the disco-inspired banger look what you’ve done, it definitely took me by surprise.
i'm delighted to see that the sound kylie and dua lipa have brought back to the forefront of pop shows no sign of stopping, though i still found myself disappointed with the majority of her third album poster girl.
naturally i favoured the more upbeat tracks such as title track poster girl - which she says is about her love of smoking weed (?) - along with right here, fff and previously released singles love me land and WOW.
the rest of the album sticks to the ariana grande, RnB-inspired sound she's favoured for most of her career so far, and i wish she would just fully embrace the disco-pop sound.
i will say that watching her live-streamed concert on monday - a collaboration with IKEA that i'm living for - gave me a newfound appreciation for her vocal range and ability to command a stage, but i still don't think we've seen the best of zara yet.
born mette towley, the 29 year old has had an incredibly varied career as a model and actress.
she spent four years as a backing dancer for pharrell, appearing in rihanna's music video for lemon and the 2019 film hustlers, as well as revlon's live boldly campaign along with gal gadot and ashley graham.
drawing from a range of sonic influences, it combines RnB-style beats with a flurry of delicate synths and a huge piano-driven chorus.
lyrically the song might seem like your typical Break Up Song, but mette has described it as an ode to "my oldest friend... my inner child".
when looked at through this lens, the song takes on a new meaning, with a powerful message about learning to trust your instincts and push past any rejections and self-doubt that might have stopped you following your dreams.
but if this is an indication of what to expect from mette, she's got nothing to worry about.
7. the 1975/charli xcx/no rome
after what feels like an eternity, the 1975 and charli xcx finally teamed up for a long-awaited collaboration, and they brought no rome along for the ride too.
charli described it as "stunning/exquisite/tasteful and chic" and i couldn't have said it better myself.
with plenty of autotuned vocals and the house-inspired production favoured by the 1975's george daniel, it's a testament to their shared vision.
my only complaint is that i would have liked to hear more of matty's vocals, but hopefully the 1975 will add the song to their set list for future shows.
8. armin van buuren/alesso
in the last year i've found myself becoming obsessed with ~dance~ music, to the point that "dance pop" was my most-played genre on spotify last year.
i'm fairly certain the origin of this is the student night i attended most wednesday nights at PRYZM in kingston between 2014-2017.
the venue features several different floors and rooms playing different music, and though i complained every time we weren't in the 80s room, i think i sub-consciously began to enjoy the songs played in the main "dance room", all of which seem to have the exact same beat and synths in the background.
it's reached the point where my brain automatically classifies them as "PRYZM bops", and now i'm back from uni, i've been able to fully embrace my love of these songs.
a classic example of this is leave a little love by alesso and armin van buuren, but there's something that sets it apart from every other "PRZYM bop" currently sitting in my spotify playlists, and it begins at 2:29.
that thing is A Key Change, a facet of pop music i've loved ever since i heard i wanna dance with somebody, but the one place i never expected to hear it is the middle of a dance track by two of the world's biggest DJs.
i've been secretly praying that mainstream pop would one day embrace The Key Change, and now my wishes might finally be coming true.
if armin van buuren and alesso can embrace it, here's hoping other artists and producers will too.
9. nick jonas
i know it's only march, but this is heaven is already a strong contender for best song of the year, thanks to its impeccable 80s-inspired sound.
while it sadly doesn't feature a key change, it has an excellent saxophone solo to rival if you're too shy and it's not living by the 1975, a band who have always been open about their love of the 80s.
it also contains vocals from a gospel choir, another feature of some of my all time favourite songs including like a prayer, if i believe you and the thirty seconds to mars cover of U2's where the streets have no name.
i recently made a power ballads playlist to collate all of my favourite dramatic 80s songs in one place, and while most of the songs are specific to that decade, i also added this is heaven to it.
much like the key change, i'm praying this song and the recently released supernatural by paloma faith will kickstart what i'm calling The Michael Bolton Resurgence.
as the true king of power ballads, how can we be lovers is a staple of my playlist, featuring a key change and dramatic guitar solo.
it's clear that younger artists are now starting to take inspiration from this once-derided genre, so hopefully there's more to come.
10. bebe rexha
much like becky hill - who i discussed in this post - bebe rexha is one of those artists who is everywhere and nowhere at the same time.
despite starting her solo career in 2014 and collaborating with artists such as nicki minaj, lil wayne and more recently doja cat, i struggle to think of any song of hers that i really love, but that all changed with sacrifice.
a marked departure from the RnB and hip-hop inspired sound she's become known for, this is an absolutely Huge Banger that will no doubt be played in every single gay club at full volume once venues reopen, and i'm praying she will continue to embrace this sound on future releases.
i've always been aware of it and used to listen to it during my endless days steaming and organising clothes at a fashion showroom back in 2018, but they've definitely improved the playlists since then and i'm living for the mix of "basic" club bangers and songs such as this, which are pretty specific to the gay community.
i quickly added it to my spotify but didn't listen again until a few days ago, and i haven't stopped since.
much like sacrifice, this song would be right at home in a sweaty basement club, though i fear it might be too ~niche~ to ever be played in a mainstream venue.
the collaboration between ultra naté - best known for her 1997 hit free - and transgender actresses mila jam and angelica ross is a clear homage to the ballroom scene of the 1980s/90s and is guaranteed to make you feel like That Bitch each and every time you press play.