Kendrick Lamar - Humble
"Wicked or weakness, you gotta see this," raps Kendrick on this, the first proper single from his fourth album. He's not wrong.
The track, which attacks some of hip-hop's most tiresome tropes (bragging about money, improbably proportioned video girls) while asserting Kendrick's position as the best rapper in the game. "Sit down, bitch, be humble," he says, while sitting in Jesus' position at The Last Supper. Well, quite.
A Tribe Called Quest - Dis Generation
The best track on ATCQ's recent album (it samples Pass The Dutchie!!) gets a proper single release, with a gorgeous black-and-white video that shows Q-Tip, Jarobi and Busta Rhymes trading lines, and dancing whenever the voice of the late Phife Dawg pops up. Brilliant stuff.
Calvin Harris - Heatwave (ft Pharrell, Ariana Grande and Young Thug)
Less than the sum of its parts, this star-studded single feels a bit aimless - but the loping groove and Ariana's sugar-sweet B chorus provide enough highlights to keep your attention.
Bleachers - Don't Take The Money
Jack Antonoff helped Lorde put together her new album, and she's repaid the favour by co-writing this single for his band, Bleachers (she also sings backing vocals, deep, deep down in the mix). Radio 1 are going to be all over this one.
Selena Gomez - Only You
A hauntingly sombre cover of the Yazoo classic, taken from the soundtrack to the new Netflix series 13 Reasons Why. I like this a lot.
Kwaye - Cool Kids
I was amazed to discover this caramel-smooth soul jam emanated from London - but there it is, Kwaye is a 22-year-old, Zimbabwe-born, London-based singer-songwriter. His debut video is a celebration and declaration of diversity. Highly recommended.
British Sea Power - International Space Station
British Sea Power said their sixth album (out today) would be their most musically direct record - and they certainly keep that promise. International Space Station is my personal highlight, with a soaring chorus and what can only be described as an indie musician's version of a cheerleader chant in the middle 8.
Becky Hill - Rude Love
Written with MNEK, this is a distinctly odd and deliberately obtuse pop single. Naturally, it is quite excellent.
Oh Wonder - Ultralife
A welcome return for DIY alt-pop duo Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West. Their doubled-up vocals are instantly recognisable on this joyous, uplifting single. Not a massive progression from their debut, but just different enough to raise interest for the new album.
Alt-J - In Cold Blood
Intricate but accessible; awkward but danceable. Alt-J at their best. Will sound great in a field near you this summer.
Billie Eilish - Bored
Another scene-grabbing slice of pop melodrama from the precociously talented teenager. An ode to boredom that manages to be anything but.
Vanessa White - Running Wild
The former Saturday has had her attempts at launching a solo career frustrated by legal problems with her old management. But with those hurdles overcome, she's back with EP2 (three years after EP1), which further exemplifies her deft touch with a classic R&B harmony. Beguiling stuff.
Catherine McGrath - When I'm Older
Imagine if Natalie Imbruglia did a country makeover of Torn, and you have a good idea of how Catherine McGrath's new single sounds. The 19-year-old, who hails from the rural outskirts of Belfast (NB: All the outskirts of Belfast are rural), grew up surrounded by music - her parents run the Fiddler's Green Festival - and cites Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift as her influences.
This song captures the joys of youth ("these are going to be the good old days some day"), with an earnest, uplifting acoustic strum. A total breath of fresh air.
Mary J Blige - Love Yourself (feat Kanye West)
After flirting with UK house on her last album, Mary J Blige's latest sees her retreating to safe ground. You've heard a hundred variations of this song before.
Cheat Codes - No Promises (feat Demi Lovato)
Totally generic Primark pop.
The Chainsmokers - The One
Not the one.
Labels: a tribe called quest, alt-j, ariana grande, audio, becky hill, billie eilish, british sea power, calvin harris, catherine mcgrath, kendrick lamar, kwaye, Music, oh wonder, pharrell, selena gomez, vanessa white, video