Tuesday, June 20, 2017

There's an obvious but amazing cameo in Sza's new video

One of the standout tracks on Sza's luscious new album, CTRL, is called Drew Barrymore. The lyrics don't reference the erstwhile star of ET and The Wedding Singer - but SZA was apparently inspired by watching the actress's seemingly endless stream of 1990s romcoms.

"I just imagine this being the soundtrack to one of those movies," she told an audience in New York last year. "Cue Freddie Prinze, Jr."

But Drew Barrymore (the song) has none of the breezy effervescence of those films, focusing instead on self-doubt and insecurities.

"I get so lonely, I forget what I'm worth," sings SZA. "I'm so ashamed of myself think I need therapy".

Nonetheless, Drew Barrymore (not the song) gave it her seal of approval, calling SZA "awesome" and praising the song's "lack of perfection" - especially the mention of "mom jeans".

She liked it so much, in fact, that she cameos in the video - released today and embedded above. She crops up around the 2'18" point; but the whole thing is worth watching. It's beautifully shot by Dave Myers, who recently made the Humble video for SZA's labelmate Kendrick Lamar.

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Haim's Little Of Your Love is a sweet pop gem


According to Haim, Little of Your Love song was written as a throwaway contribution to a film soundtrack - but they loved it so much they kept it for themselves. Which, as you'll hear above, was entirely the right decision.

Inspired by those burger joint pop jams of the 50s, with a nod to their love of Madonna's True Blue and a superb rock wig-out in the coda, the single is their most out-and-out pop moment since The Wire.

In other words, it's as magnificent and summery as a cold pint of cider, and should be a handclapping highlight of their Glastonbury set this weekend, where I fully intend to be bopping around like a fanboy.


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Friday, June 16, 2017

Coldplay, Demi Lovato and the rest of the best of new music Friday

Obviously the new Lorde album is the only new release you need today, but here's a few other tracks worth checking out once you get bored of it on Wednesday afternoon.

1) Coldplay - All I Can Think About Is You
Coldplay are uncharacteristically mellow and muffled in this love song, taken from their new Kaleidoscope EP. It's hardly Chris Martin's finest lyric (he compares himself to a shoe), but Guy Berryman's sinewy, agile bassline is worth the price of admission alone.




2) Jax Jones - Instruction (ft Demi Lovato & Steflon Don)
"If you're the supreme, then I'm Diana Ross," is the best worst lyric since Selena Gomez and "like the battle of Troy, there's nothing subtle here". But this song has such a massive grin plastered all over it's face that it's easy to forgive.

Musically, it's practically a carbon copy of Jax Jones' previous single, You Don't Know Me (especially in the rap-sung prechorus) but why tweak a perfect formula? A strong contender for song of the summer.




3) Arcade Fire - Creature Comfort
I admit, I was really prepared to hate this... After five albums of whining about modern things, Win Butler's "instinct that something isn't right with the human condition" is starting to look less like concern and more like misanthropy.

This song, a sort of electro nursery rhyme about suicide, contains what seems to be a particularly self-serving line about a girl who "filled up the bathtub and put on our first record". But towards the end of the song, Win clarified: "It's not painless. She was a friend of mine, a friend of mine" - and, all of a sudden, my own cyncism was punctured.

I thought Arcade Fire might have lost the power to move me. Turns out I was wrong.





4) George Ezra - Don't Matter Now
A distinctly odd comeback from George Ezra, he of the deep voice and the album inspired by a Eurorail ticket.

It's all mariachi horns and big, dopey backing vocals - as George recites a mantra about switching off from the big, bad world that Arcade Fire live in and having a nice old shindig at his place.

Maybe, given the horrors of the last month, this is just the song we need - like an Agadoo for the Trump era.




5) DJ Khaled - Wild Thoughts (ft Rihanna)
"I know you want to see me naked," sings Rihanna, in a video where she appears with her baps right out. How thoughtful of her to consider our desires in such a forthright manner. I wonder if her next song will also contain the line, "I know you'd like me to put them away once in a while and get on with the job of making incredible pop music."

Because make no mistake, this is not incredible pop music. Sure, it wears the clothes of incredible pop music - the beat from Busta Rhymes' Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See, and the guitar riff from Santana's Maria Maria - but the garments are as threadbare as Rihanna's blouse in the video.




6) Tove Styrke - Say My Name (acoustic)
Still an absolute tune.





7) Calvin Harris - Feels (ft Pharrell and Katy Perry)
This probably won't give Katy Perry the number one she so desperately needs right now, but Calvin's bouncy brand of diet funk is always welcome around here.





8) Hey Violet - Break My Heart
This actually came out two months ago, but Hey Violet's album was released today and contains at least five totally brilliant pop song; including one gallantly called Fuqboi.

The young band have quite an interesting back story: They were once a punk-rock project called Cherri Bomb, before they ditched their singer and signing to 5 Seconds of Summer's record label. There, they started working with Julian Bunetta, who co-wrote and produced all the good One Direction songs, and "went pop".

You can read more about the transformation on Stereogum, or just forget all that nonsense and enjoy the music. Bands are whatever you want them to be, and that's why pop music is great.




9) Jorja Smith - Teenage Fantasy
This was actually out last week, during one of my increasingly frequent lapses in blogging, but the video came out on Monday, giving me the perfect excuse to wang the song into this week's round-up.

Simply a perfect summer soul jam.




10) Dizzee Rascal - Space
As grime emerges as a full-blooded force, Dizzee comes back into the fold with this sparse and tough rap track.

"Can't find enough time to dine on rappers, all of these MCs are looking like tapas," he chides the competition. "Ain't no point in playin' it safe." Well, quite.



There you go, then. And now it is time to go back to the Lorde album. See you next week...

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Fickle Friends - Glue

Fickle Friends, a band whose name sounds like a pitch for a Channel 4 reality show, have spent the last two years releasing a succession of solid gold bangers.

Let's take a look at the evidence "to date":

  • Swim - A banger
  • Could Be Wrong - A banger
  • Cry Baby - A banger
  • Brooklyn - Sadbanger
  • Hello Hello - Grade A, Radio 1-playlisted enormobanger

  • The Brighton-based band, fronted by Natassja Shiner, have just released their latest effort - Glue - which is a pulse-quickening summer jam about snogging in public (and dragging your partner to the bedroom afterwards).

    As you might have guessed, it's a corking pop song. And there are at least three choruses to contend with, so pace yourself as you listen.


    At this rate, their debut album is going to be so banging it'll register on the Richter scale.







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    Wednesday, June 14, 2017

    Hey, you: The Killers are back and they are not messing about.


    Except with this conch shell, for reasons unknown
    It doesn't seem like five years since The Killers last released an album, possibly because Mr Brightside is still one of the UK's most-streamed songs of all time - but, yes, a cursory glance at Wikipedia confirms they've been on a self-imposed hiatus since 2012's Battle Born.

    That all ends TODAY, with the premiere of their new single The Man. "It's pretty funky," Brandon Flowers told Annie Mac, who premiered the song earlier tonight. "Funkier than anything we've ever done before."

    He's not wrong. The Man is a strutting peacock of a song, that delves deep into the new-wavey, 1980s references The Killers plundered so well on Hot Fuss - the choppy guitars of Talking Heads, the synth stylings of New Order, and the sugar rush choruses of imperial phase Duran Duran. There's even a nod to the late, great David Bowie ("Faaaaame!"), whose Hunky Dory Brandon once referred to as, "the most important record to me, ever."

    But amidst that pile-up of influence, The Man is 100% The Killers and, in a way I couldn't have imagined, a stunning return to form. Judging by the lyrics, Brandon knows it:

    I got gas in the tank
    I got money in the bank
    I got news for you baby
    You're looking at the man.
    "

    Even though the chorus is almost 100% tongue-in-cheek (compared to, say, the hollow self-aggrandisement of DJ Khaled's The One), you can't deny he's got his swagger back*.

    Amazing.


    * Or is the lyric a thinly-vieled attack on the Trump administration? The references to fossil fuels, untold riches and deluded self-belief certainly fit... And there's a lyric about being "USDA certified lean", the USDA being the department of agriculture, which is facing some of the deepest cuts under the new president. The Killers have always had a Springsteen-esque impulse to represent blue collar America, so the lyric could easily be read in that context.

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    Selena Gomez goes full Eddie Murphy in the Bad Liar video


    Bad Liar is a song about trying and failing to suppress your desires (specifically romantic desires, although it works equally well as an account of the emotions I encounter when passing a Krispy Kreme store).

    So it makes sense that the video puts the lust in clusterfuck - as a schoolgirl catches her father flirting with her teacher, for whom she also holds a torch, while navigating her hastily-fracturing family life. It has the makings of a pretty good film... except Selena has opted to play all four main characters, with the unfortunate result that her "father" looks like a six-year-old in a trenchcoat. It's a distraction that spoils what could have been a clever, witty video.

    Fortunately, the song is still a supple and slyly catchy pop gem.


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