Friday, July 31, 2015

Four songs for Friday night

It's been a busy couple of days, so apologies for the gap in updates. To make up for it, here are four songs you should sample before the weekend is through...

1) Prince - Stare
Released exclusively on Spotify, just a couple of weeks after Prince pulled his music from every streaming service except Tidal? Well, if there's one thing Prince fans have come to expect it's a lack of consistency.

This starts brilliantly, with a killer bassline and a lyrical reference to Prince's Controversy-era breakthrough: "First things first, we like you to stare / We used to go on stage in our underwear". But it goes downhill quickly from there. This is very much Prince on funky autopilot.

2) One Direction - Drag me Down
"I got a river for a soul, and baby, you’re a boat."

To be honest, this is anonymous, if likeable, europop until the chorus makes an unexpected u-turn and breaks out the guitars. Designed for stadiums and, presumably, an imminent greatest hits collection.

3) Duke Dumont - Ocean Drive
Thankfully not a cover of the Lighthouse Family track, this is a return to form by Sir Duke after the underwhelming, underperforming The Giver.

Featuring legendary Chicago house vocalist Robert Owens, it's from the first in a series of 4-track EPs Dumont intends to release in lieu of what he calls "the old format of the LP" (ask your dad).

4) Alicia Keys - 28 Thousand Days
An intruiging mix of hard beats and hippy dippy optimism, heralding Alicia Keys' first album in five years.

"I'm back from hell, with my angel wings," sings Alicia, sounding more like she's just come back from Waitrose.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Weeknd has been set on fire

Don't worry, though, it's all in the name of art.

The Canadian singer - real name Abel Tesfaye - performs the stunt in the video for his slinky hit single Can't Feel My Face, which has been in the US top 10 all summer (but criminally ignored over here).

The clip, directed by Grant Singer, sees The Weeknd perform to a bar of disinterested punters, who yawn as they throw their drinks at him. When one decides to chuck a lighter at the stage, the alcohol is set alight and Tesfaye bursts into flames. After which, the audience can't get enough. The fickle world of showbiz, eh?

The striking video has debuted on Apple Music's Connect service - which they've finally made available to embed on external websites. Hello, 21st Century.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Little Mix take it to church

Reigning champions of the girl group premier league, Little Mix turned up for a triumphant Live Lounge session at Radio 1 this morning.

Aside from the expected cover of their number one single, Black Magic, they sang a stunning mash-up of Jason Derulo's Want To Want Me, and Whitney Houston's I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me).

Here they are, accompanied by a ruddy great gospel choir.

Little Mix - Want To Want Me / I Wanna Dance


But listen back to the intro. Is it just me, or does Jade sing "I've got the shits on the floor?"

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Video: Lion Babe - Impossible

Don't just stand there, let's get to it. Strike a pose, there's nothing to it.


Lion Babe - Impossible

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The new Robin Schulz video is gloriously demented

After the Grammy award-winning remix of Waves and the exquisitely mournful Prayer In C, it seemed like everything Robin Schulz touched turned to gold.

So it must have been especially galling to see his solo single, Headlights, stall at number 96 in the UK chart. For whatever reason, the blissed-out dance track didn't strike a chord over here - although it was "big in Europe".

The follow-up, Sugar, seems more tailored for UK radio; and it comes with an exuberant video that's destined to rack up requests on the music TV channels. It features YouTube comedian Nathan Barnatt as a deranged cop who is so consumed with Schulz's music that he slams his car around Los Angeles, wreaking havoc on the streets.

Robin Schulz - Sugar

FYI: The young Justin Timberlake with the bouncy perm is Canadian singer Francesco Yates, who has recently been working with Pharrell. Expect to hear a lot more from him next year.

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Epic Florence and the Machine video is epic

Here's a cheery little poem for you:

"We're dying of thirst so we feast on each other.
The seas are still a violent mother.
The blood round here pours down like water.
Each wave a lamb led to the slaughter.
And like children you just can't teach
We break and break and break ourselves upon the beach"

The spoken-word verse appears at the end of a violent, distressing video for Florence and the Machine's new double A-side, Queen Of Peace/Long And Lost.

The 10-minute story, filmed on the Scottish isle of Easdale, portrays Florence as both the victim and the mediator in a splentic battle for her heart and soul. We meet her childhood boyfriend in flashback, then watch as he is repeatedly ripped away from her by her family and the islanders - the singer's eternal fate to be torn between loyalty and love.

There are also some nice flat caps.

Florence and the Machine - Queen of Peace / Long and Lost

Of all the songs released from Florence's number one record, How Big How Blue How Beautiful, these are my favourites - with the singer's vocal pyrotechnics reduced to a smouldering burn. The combination of the two singles could just be enough to convince doubters to shell out for the whole album.

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Ellie Goulding gains the power of telekinesis and 12 other songs you may have missed

Songs You May Have Missed is a semi-regular round-up of songs I didn't manage to post about in a timely manner. It includes new discoveries, songs that took a while to appreciate and videos I simply missed.

This week's selection is particularly strong, for some reason. Enjoy below.

1) Major Lazer - Powerful (ft Ellie Goulding and Taurus Riley)
Ellie Goulding recently sparked speculation she was recording the new James Bond theme with the following tweet.

Of course, she could just have been marking her appreciation for the best Geri Halliwell b-side of all time. But while we wait for confirmation on the Bond thing, here she is bending forks like a sexy Uri Geller in the new Major Lazer video.

2) Disclosure - Omen (ft Sam Smith)
"It just would have felt wrong to not have him on the record," Howard Lawrence said of Sam Smith. "We speak to Sam everyday. He's our best mate. And he's the best singer in the world. Why would we not put him on the record?"

One answer would be "because it will inevitably suffer in comparison to Latch". But this track just about escapes that fate. Although it could do with being about 30bpm faster.

3) Tove Styrke - ...Baby One More Time
"Britney Spears - she's fierce," sings Tove Styrke on her current single, Number One.

As if to prove it, she's covered the pop star's debut single, smattering it with ice cold synths and building up to a Bjork-ish conclusion.

4) George Ezra - Barcelona
The sixth (sixth!) single from George Ezra's million-selling Wanted On Voyage album, is accompanied by a video shot deep in the rainforest. By which I mean Cornwall's Eden Project, which is why George has to wear that fetching mustard-colour jacket.

5) Gatlantis - Peanut Butter Jelly
The feel-good hit of the summer now has a feel-good video to go with it. It's about as infectious as you'd expect from Christian Karlsson and Linus Eklöw - whose credits include Britney's Toxic and Icona Pop's I Love It.

6) Shura - White Light (extended version)
A disturbing video for Shura's shimmering, space disco epic - which is released today.

The Manchester singer is currently in the studio putting the finishing touches to her debut EP for later this year.

7) George The Poet - Sorry Love, It's You Not Me (ft Lucy Rose)
Just added to the 6 Music playlist, this is a great piece of narrative rap, detailing the end of a relationship - with a devastating hook: "It's just you're forgettable. I think that's the issue".

Things to love: George's languorous delivery, and that infectious bassline.

8) Carly Rae Jepsen - Run Away With Me
The first track from Carly's new album, Emotion, comes with a fly-on-the-wall video, following the singer around a promotional trip to Japan, New York and Paris.

"I didn't even know we were making a music video until about halfway through it," Jepsen said in a statement. "David [Kalani Larkins - director] always has a camera in his hand and he has a way about him that makes you forget that it's there. I can remember watching over his shoulder as he uploaded the footage, recounting memories of the trip that I had almost already forgotten."

9) Izzy Bizu - Give Me Love
Seeing the name Izzy Bizu, readers of a certain age will inevitably be reminded of Sooty and Sweep.

For everyone else, here's a rollicking, drum-powered pop stomper from Barnes, in South-west London.

10) Lianne La Havas - Green and Gold
Described as "kind of an autobiography," Green & Gold sees Lianne La Havas narrate her life story, from a six-year-old "trying to watch cartoons through the static" to a "star in the city", feted by Prince and Stevie Wonder.

This is the third taster from her "sophomore" (second) album, which is shaping up to be one of the best soul records of the year.

11) Sarah Harding - Threads
"It's quite rocky - but it's also got pop and dubstep influences as well," says Sarah 'Girls Aloud' Harding. "There's a real mish-mash of different styles."

Mish-mash is probably the politest way to describe this, to be honest. *sad face emoticon*

12) Kira Puru - All Dulled Out
The debut single from Melbourne doom-pop singer Kira Puru is a little rough around the edges, but the balance between vulnerability and raw emotion is subtly captivating.

13) Cyril Hahn - Inferno ft Say Lou Lou
An aching, wistful summer jam that feels ripped from the soundtrack of a John Hughes movie.

"You know I'd hurt and suffer just to be with you," sing Say Lou Lou over Cyril Hahn's twinkling synths. "Pull me underground, never let me down, my inferno".

And that's the lot. Loads more musical goodies to come on the blog this week. If you're new, say hello on @mrdiscopop or in the comments field below.

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Friday, July 24, 2015

Video - Janet Jackson: No Sleeep

Oh, Friday, you're spoiling me.

Here's the video for Janet Jackson's long-awaited comeback single, No Sleeep (yes, that's really how it's spelt). Cunningly, it makes passing reference to several of the star's previous clips - That's The Way Love Goes (the setting); If (costume and lighting); Any Time, Any Place (firelit boudoir); What Have You Done For Me Lately (the early scenes are edited to look like a single take); and I Get Lonely (the hat).

The song's a sultry ode to Janet's lover and the things she might do to him when he comes back from a trip away. "It oughta be a weekend marathon," she sings - presumably in anticipation of watching a box set of Orange Is The New Black.

Based on the album version, the video contains a new rap from J Cole which really elevates the latter half of the song. His verse gives the boyfriend's perspective: "You bring cooked food and I bring dessert," thus proving the way to a man's heart is through his stomach.

It gets better with every listen.

Janet Jackson - No Sleeep

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Video: Demi Lovato - Cool For The Summer

Cool For The Summer is a song about exuberant, playful, quivering sexual experimentation. "Just something that we wanna try," coos Demi Lovato, butterflies aflutter as she leans in for a first kiss.

So I'm not sure why the video is so sleazy - with Demi trussed up in an ill-fitting bondage outfit, giving lascivious glances to the camera and clutching her buttocks like she's trying to hold in a poo.

The only allusion to the song's carefree lyrics is the inclusion of a bouncy castle and a pillow fight, but even those sequences appear to be set in a neon-lit sex dungeon.

Having said that, Demi's hair flick at 44" just about redeems the whole enterprise. (And the song is still amazing, obviously).

Demi Lovato - Cool For The Summer

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Kylie and Nile Rodgers - together at last!

Earlier this year, Kylie Minogue jumped on stage at the climax of Chic's set at Hyde Park. Now the singer has teamed up with Nile Rodgers in the studio.

The collaboration comes thanks to Australian DJ duo Nervo, who are most famous for co-writing When Love Takes Over for David Guetta and Kelly Rowland. Sadly, their solo material has never lived up to the promise of that track... until now.

The sisters' new single, The Other Boys, is a peppermint blast of discopop, featuring vocals from Ms Minogue and Scissor Sister Jake Shears, over one of Rodgers' unmistakable guitar licks.

The song is "about not getting the attention from the boy you want," Miriam and Olivia told Nylon magazine. It's "as disco as we have ever been".

And a good thing, too.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Is Freedom Pharrell's very own Earth Song?

You've been able to watch the video for Pharrell's new single Freedom for about three weeks on Apple Music, but here it is on the proper internet complete with a cast of thousands, stunning HD photography and a beret.

Possibly inspired by the Iranian teenagers who were arrested for making a Happy tribute video, it's a plea for compassion and an ode to the human spirit (which also crams in a lyrical reference to The Jungle Book's I Wanna Be Like You).

Strangely, then, the video paints Pharrell as a megalomaniac, gesticulating and pontificating in front of "the oppressed" like a multi-millionaire with a Messiah complex.

In many ways, it's his own personal Earth Song, from Pharrell's guttural howl right down to the bizarre wildlife lyrics ("Cheetahs needto eat, so run, antelope").

I look forward to next year's Brit Awards performance with interest.

Pharrell - Freedom

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Elle Eyre - Good Times

For some reason, Ella Eyre's solo career hasn't quite caught fire. Her singles, including the excellent Comeback, have all stalled outside the top 20, and her debut album has been delayed from October to May to August.

Part of the problem is that her style has been difficult to define. Deeper was a moody soul-n-blues cut, Comeback was ballsy revenge pop, and Together was a return to the banging breakbeats of her breakout hit with Rudimental, Waiting All Night.

I can't say the fourth single, Good Times, is going to reverse her fortunes, but it'll definitely get a lot of hands in the air at her upcoming festival shows. And it might (might) just convince people to shell out for that album, Feline, when it appears on 28 August*

Ella Eyre - Good Times

*Subject to delays.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Harkive: A day in the life of my headphones

Today is Harkive day - when people all around the internet keep a 24-hour diary of their listening habits. It's for a running project by Craig Hamilton, which aims to track how our access to and experience of music is changing. You can read more about it (and interrogate the data) on the official Harkive website.

I'll be updating my day's listening below, if it's of interest.

07:15 - 07:37 Listening to Years and Years' Communion on a hot, sticky train carriage. Because I have borderline OCD, I'm rating the songs on my iPhone as I go. It's mostly 2 and 3 stars - but King gets a four.

10:35 Streaming The Letter by Joe Cocker on Spotify. I'm writing an obituary for the song's composer, Wayne Carson, for the BBC News website and need a quick reminder of how it goes. I seem to have chosen a live version by accident. It's brilliant.

11:15 A colleague announces that 1980s one-hit-wonders Musical Youth are coming back with a new single. We get a short blast of Pass The Dutchie from his phone. Age has not withered its beauty.

11:48 Watching a video by "soul -pop sensation" Seinabo Sey on YouTube / Vevo. "Pretend is a fascinating blend of Swedish noir pop with a slinky dancefloor beat," says an email from her record label. It's very good, but the recurring refrain of "knock on wood" makes me want to listen to Amii Stewart.

11:52 Watching a fantastically overblown performance of Amii Stewart's Knock On Wood. It's been dubbed off VHS by the look of it.

For some reason, when I first click on the video, I get an entirely different video - Collette Carr's Static - which is like a less commercial Ellie Goulding track.

12:04 The new Foals single is on Soundcloud. It is not my cup of tea.

12:07 Actually, it gets a lot better at the end.

12:09 Writing up an interview with Robyn and La Bagatelle Magique for publication later this week. The piece looks at how Robyn and Markus Jägerstedt finished off their recordings after the sad, untimely death of producer Christian Falk. Listening to one of Robyn and Christian's earlier collaborations - Dream On - for reference and "the memories". Beautiful song.

13:47 Another Robyn track on YouTube - Tell U (Today). A cover of the Loose Joints cut, recorded for an Arthur Russell tribute album. More research for the article.

14:05 Having lunch in a branded cafe chain. Their barely-audible soundsystem is playing such classics as Fleetwood Mac's The Chain.

14:58 I've been pitched an interview with up-and-coming urban act Little Simz for the BBC News website. The blurb is interesting: She's an unsigned London artist with BET nominations, who's been championed by Kendrick Lamar. I click on the Soundcloud link. The first line of her record is "I puked up on my sneakers indoors" and she's giving the finger in her profile picture. Reader, what should I do?

15:21 Watching a video that I can't tell you about because it is embargoed until tomorrow.

16:26 On the way home. Had planned to check out Apple Music to see what old bollocks Zane Lowe was spouting today - but it won't load on my phone. Instead, I've loaded up a playlist of current singles from my library. Chemical Brothers, Demi Lovato, Janet Jackson, Lianne La Havas.  

21:49 The kids are safely in bed - somehow having avoided watching any television or listening to their favourite songs (currently Little Mix and Bob Marley), although I have been subjected to the refrain from Let It Go approx 107 times, as it emanates from my daughter's Princess Elsa magic wand.

Now in the bedroom, reading Moonraker and streaming the new Tame Impala on the home stereo (via Apple Music). The selection was inspired by a tweet from my old 6 Music colleague Sinead.

I'd quite forgotten that I blogged about the epic 7-minute opening track back in March. The rest of the record seems to be living up to its woozy, psychedelic promise.

22:50 I suffer from tinnitus, so I tend to listen to music as I nod off. Tonight, the sound of The Staves' second album (If I Was, on an old-school iPod classic) is being augmented by a tower fan, giving the music a certain windswept quality. I'll be asleep by track six. Nanite.

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Friday, July 17, 2015

Calvin Harris is 'searching for a new sound'

Scottish giant / super-producer Calvin Harris underwhelemed with last year's Motion, an album that saw him tread EDM water with a bunch of identikit tracks that failed to match the peaks of We Found Love or Sweet Nothing or Bounce.

So it's good to hear him trying something different on his new single, How Deep Is Your Love, which premiered on Radio 1 this morning.

Featuring London trio Disciples (whose They Don't Know troubled the lower end of the TOp 40 in January) and vocals from Ina Wroldsen (who wrote almost all of The Saturday's hits), it's a blissed-out house track with a ribcage-rattling bassline.

Oh, and a vast improvement.

Calvin Harris - How Deep Is Your Love

Speaking to Nick Grimshaw this morning, Calvin confessed he'd been looking for a new sound.

"I've been trying to work out what to sound like. You know when you've done a certain amount of things and you're like, 'maybe the world doesn't want to hear another tune that sounds a bit like this other song, and this other song?'

So it's trying to find something new. Even if it's just a little thing. Just a new thing for people to latch onto and enjoy so it doesn't sound old. It's like a science experiment."

Grimmy also asked how many times a day Calvin was asked to collaborate with someone. Here's how he replied:

"Maybe per month there's three or four. People generally aren’t that persistent. And I don't like to lead people on.

Most people that get my phone number are really good [but] there's people that have approached me... and I've been like, 'I don’t think it's the right thing for you. It would make me look really good to work on a track with you. But as a fan of music, I don't want to lead you down this road and I don't think it’d be good for your career'.

I've done that a couple of times."

Sadly, he wouldn't confirm who these artists were. But I'm going to stick my neck out and say it was definitely Jake Bugg.

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Marina is blue in Margate

If I had to choose one pop star to take to the funfair, it would be Marina and the Diamonds. She just looks like she'd be good at the coconut shy...

Now, thanks to Marina's new video for Blue, I can finally live out that fantasy. Partially.

Shot in Margate's vintage theme park, Dreamland, it looks incredible... Full credit has to go to director Charlotte Rutherford for the lighting and colouring for turning a drab seaside resort into something resembling a Tim Burton movie.

The vibrant, joyous video is a stark contrast to the song's lyric - about wanting one last fling with your ex. But there are a couple of moments of sober self-reflection that suggest Marina's joie de vivre isn't completely genuine.

On second thoughts, maybe I'll take one of the Haim sisters to Alton Towers instead.

Marina and the Diamonds - Blue

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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Chvrches new song is the catchiest kiss-off of all time

Good news for people who love good music - Chvrches are back and they haven't gone rubbish.

Lauren Mayberry descrives Leave A Trace as "the nastiest, snidest tune" she's ever recorded, an "anti-love song" about a lover who talks "far too much for someone so unkind."

"I know you'll never fold / But I believe nothing that I'm told / And I know I need to feel relief," sings the 27-year-old over a slick synth pattern. But she's not entirely unforgiving as she slams the door. "Take care to bury all that you can," sings Lauren in the chorus, "take care to leave a trace of a man".

Simultaneously more grand and more subtle than their previous material, it's still unmistakably Chvrches - thanks to the contrast between the sawtooth basslines and Lauren's featherlight vocals.

Chvrches - Leave A Trace

Leave A Trace is the first single from Cvrches' second album, Every Open Eye, which is due in September.

Speaking about the writing process on Annie Mac's show tonight, Lauren said: "I was quite conscious of not wanting to write a second album all about 'we were on the road, and we played shows' because that's not very interesting for anyone."

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

New from Lana Del Rey - Honeymoon

It's hard to believe that Lana Del Rey is prepping her fourth record in as many years. But here we are, four short years after Video Games, listening to Honeymoon, a prelude to the album of the same name.

Detractors will say that the high turnover leaves no room for reinvention and, true enough, the song touches on all the familiar Del Rey tropes. But this noir melodrama, with its tale of tortured romance, is more innovative than it seems. The orchestral overture and meandering structure are ambitious and nuanced; and the song challenges you to swim into deeper waters before drawing you under with its melodic undercurrents.

Drown in its pleasures below.

Lana Del Rey - Honeymoon

The song was co-written by Rick Nowels, who's been collaborating with Del Rey since her debut. The award-winning writer/producer sought her out after hearing early demos on YouTube and speaks very highly of her to this day.

"She is a one of a kind artist and keeps growing," he told Idolator last month. "She's such a natural writer and singer and has a real vision for who she is and what she wants to put out into the world. I think she will be a future legend."

If you're not the sort of person who reads liner notes (and how could you be in the iTunes era?) you might not know that Nowels has been the catalyst for some of the best female pop of the last three decades. I've put together a short playlist of his best bits below.

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Must listen: Jack Garratt - Weathered

What would happen if someone took the heart-on-sleeve-and-hands-on-guitar template of James Bay and Kodaline and made it interesting?

Well, one person is attempting to find out and that person is Jack Garratt. The London-based multi-instrumentalist, singer, and beard-owner has just released a new single, called Weathered, that begins like a billion other borefest ballads before exploding like party popper in a Moog factory.

It's strange and brilliant and embedded below.

Jack Garratt - Weathered

Dig a little deeper and you'll discover Jack is a multi-trick pony. Self-taught and a quick learner, he's dabbled in everything from dubstep to piano balladry to minimal electronica and this noodly guitar workout.

Born in Little Chalfont, Buckinghamshire, he first started writing music during lunch break at school, when he was just 12 years old.

The first song he ever wrote got him a place in the finals for the Junior Eurovision Song Contest, and he can play everything from trombone to mandolin, the clever bastard.

Jack's debut album is out next year - but you can hear the work in progress at Latitude and Reading & Leeds, before he heads out on a solo tour this autumn.

In the meantime, here are some of his ealier tracks.

Jack Garratt - The Love You're Given

Jack Garratt - Worry

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Lion Babe: Impossible

Well, this is nice.

Lion Babe are back with a funky, playful skip-rope jam called Impossible. Written in London with Joel Compass and Linden Jay, it'll perk your day right up.

The duo premiered the song on Annie Mac's Radio 1 show last night and described it as "an awesome collaborative joint" (it was a pretty ropey interview, to be honest).

Lion Babe are currently gearing up for the release of their debut album later this year. You can read more about them in this piece I wrote for the BBC.

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Friday, July 10, 2015

14 songs you may have missed: Demi Lovato falls over edition

A semi-regular round-up of noteworthy songs, videos, and musical ephemera from the blog's "to do" list.

Lots of great new songs here, proving that 2015 isn't going to be quite the dud it seemed two months ago.

1) Demi Lovato - Cool For The Summer (lyric video)
In pop, the smallest details matter. Here, it's the portamento on the phrase "body type" that transforms the chorus from predictable to phenomenal.

After you watch the lyric video, you may also wish to see this out-take, in which Demi takes a nasty fall then totally styles it out by diving into a pool. Classy.

#NOTCoolForTheSummer #FuckIt 😂😂😂😂

A video posted by Demi Lovato (@ddlovato) on

2) Example - Whisky Town
For those of you who don't live in London, this is what the morning commute is like EVERY DAY.

3) Kwabs - Fight For Love
I thought this was going to be a yawnsomely earnest electro-soul track - but then the hop-skip chorus came along and swept me off my feet. Delightful stuff.

4) Jess Glynne - Don't Be So Hard On Yourself
And stop comfort eating, too, you're looking fat.

5) Melissa Steel - You Love Me (ft Wretch 32)
A year after Melissa Steel scored a top 10 hit with Kisses For Breakfast, she returns with this irrepresible Rodney Jerkins-produced track. Would sound perfect while dancing under a sprinkler on a scorching hot summer day.

6) Little Mix - Black Magic (acoustic)
Damn, those girls can sing.

7) Sigala - Easy Love
I'm not sold on this - but it sounds like it'll be massive. A balls-out Balearic anthem that chops up Michael Jackson's vocals from ABC to impressive effect.

8) Janet Jackson - No Sleeep (lyric video)
A "glimpse into our creative space" or "a surprisingly low budget lyric video". You decide.

9) Leon Bridges - Smooth Sailin'
In lesser hands, Leon Bridges' retro-fitted soul would be a kitsch curiosity. But that voice. Man, that voice.

10) Eden XO - Torn / Don't Stop Believin'
It's Natalie Imbruglia's Torn! It's Journey's Don't Stop Believing! It's a new song in its own right! It's better than it could have been!

11) Rob Madin - Amnesia Du Soleil
AKA The bloke of Brett Domino, who's surprisingly joke-averse solo material is worth a listen. Also, the video stars Legs & Co.

12) Hudson Mohawke - Warriors (ft. Ruckazoid & Devaeux)
Kanye's right-hand man. Large on hooks, low on subtlety.

The title stands for Black and Blue, fact fans.

14) Iris Gold - Goldmine
One to watch. More importantly, one to listen to.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Video: Tove Styrke - Number One

Tove Styrke's Kiddo is my favourite pop album of the year. Strident, self-confident and shockingly catchy, it is by far the best album ever released by a former runner-up on Swedish Idol.

The best track, Even If I'm Loud It Doesn't Mean I'm Talking To You, was a single last year. Tove described it as "a shocking pink fuck you to all the people who think their penis bands are automatically more talented than one twenty-something girl on stage. Those who think it itches a little uncomfortable with mainstream pop and must speak about it."

That perspective - of a woman finding her voice against the weight of expectation - is threaded through the album. Tove says its "perfectly natural to sing about problems, any kind of problems — not just drinking or love and stuff."

Number One is the album's fourth single, and one that addresses how she's taken control of her music since the rushed, self-titled debut that came out immediately after her stint on Swedish Idol.

"Hot glam seems far away from where I am," she sings. "I can neither understand it nor demand it / Your tears don't shake my world like Britney Spears / She's fierce."

The chorus ends with the observation "no-one ever wants to give me one, but everybody loves a number one." In lesser hands it could sound self-pitying. Here, though, Tove sounds freed by the lack of pressure and the carefree attitude spreads to the video, which you can see below.

Tove Styrke - Number One

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Friday, July 3, 2015

New discovery: Gallant - Weight In Gold

LA soul singer Gallant is building up a serious head of steam* thanks to a slew of sweeping, symphonic R&B songs, inspired by everyone from D'Angelo to Janet.

Blessed with a celestial voice, he sets himself apart by shoving dirty great synth lines all over his music. The result will make your stomach plunge. But in a pleasurable way, like going over a speedbump.

His new single Weight in Gold was Zane Lowe's first ever "Future Exclusive" (a tautology if ever I've heard one) the other night. Since then, it's racked up 214,000 Soundcloud streams, suggesting the switch from Radio 1 hasn't diminished Lowe's status as a kingmaker.

Listen below.

If you like that, you should check out Gallant's previous singles, Talking in Your Sleep, Open Up, and his cover of Foo Fighters' Learn to Fly.

* Not literally, that would be painful.

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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Prince would rather you listened to his new stuff, thankyouverymuch

By now, we just have to accept the fact that Prince loves fucking with us.

Over the last 20 years he's retired and come back; changed his name at least three times (Prince, Victor, and squiggle); stopped playing his hits then resurrected them; deleted and reinstated his social media accounts; and he's now a YEAR LATE with the promised Purple Rain anniversary album.

Last night, he threw a strop and pulled his music off all the major subscription streaming services (except Tidal and Deezer, as far as I can work out). But simultaneously, he uploaded a storming new single called HARDROCKLOVER which is one of the riffiest things he's done in years.

"Turn my guitar up/ So I can make this woman scream," Prince proclaims priapically. "Ain’t no rapper trying to be a singer... R&B ain't got no place / But put some hard rock on, you'd better cover your ears/ 'Cause you’re about to hear a woman just scream."

The implicit message seems to be "forget Purple Rain, I am not my past." And while this is a great late-period Prince track, I'm pretty glad he can't come round to the house and steal my 12" of Little Red Corvette.

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Rihanna's BBHMM video

Violent, debauched, funny, feminist, anti-feminist, angry, playful, enigmatic, provocative, gratuitous, uncompromising - Rihanna's video for Bitch Better Have My Money is a lot of things, many of them contradictory.

The 7-minute clip sees the star kidnapping and torturing her accountant's wife after he leaves her bankrupt (apparently this is a true story, aside from the kidnap and torture bit).

If Rihanna is this generation's Madonna, then she's deeply into her Erotica / Sex phase - her boobs are everywhere, but the music isn't what it used to be. Her videos are an echo chamber of her media portrayal, while sticking two fingers up at music's moral guardians.

Bitch Better Have My Money is the apotheosis - gleefully depraved, brilliantly produced, but ultimately lacking in soul.

Rihanna - Bitch Better Have My Money

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Demi Lovato's new single is the pop anthem of summer*

Demi Lovato (rhymes with tomato) is one of those artists who pops up in the UK chart every so often with a killer single, then disappears completely. This is one of those singles.

Cool For The Summer, written and produced by Max Martin**, is Katy Perry's I Kissed A Girl crossed with the guitar riff from Sexy! No No No. Which is pretty exciting.

Buzzfeed has gotten itself into a lather about the lyrics, which it says are about a same-sex fling. You can certainly make that interpretation - she sings about tasting the cherry of someone who shares her body type - but does it even matter in 2015?

The main thing is that this is a total banger. A 10/10 pop gem. A good song by a good singer. A record you can purchase. A piece of music. An embedded audio stream.

Demi Lovato - Cool For The Summer

Demi has also posted a teaser for the video on Twitter, which very definitely reminds me of that Pheoebe Cates scene in Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

* Or, at the very least, this week.

** And Lovato. And Ali Payami. And Alexander Erik Kronlund. And Savan Kotecha. And your mum.

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Video: Jason Derulo - Cheyenne

Jason "Jason Derulo" Derulo has just finished a four-week stint at the top of the charts with Want To Want Me, an unexpected move into Maroon 5 territory with a heady whiff of fromage.

But his new single sees him back in familiar territory. Cheyenne is a moody, minor key R&B groove powered by a bubbling electro bass. It tells the story of Derulo accidentally falling in love with a girl called Cheyenne, hence the title.

The gothic, cinematic video sees Derulo waking up in an abandoned mansion tied to a chair in a room littered with half-burnt photos of women. But he breaks free of his shackles, dons a fetching purple suit and starts dancing with a cast of zombie ballerinas (but of course).

"I wanted to take it back to where videos had a huge concept, and also a huge dance break," Derulo says. "The video is kind of like The Haunting - Cheyenne is haunting my mind."

The song and the video both tip their hat to Michael Jackson's Thriller (or, to be more precise, Ghosts). It's rather good, which is as much of a surprise to me as it is to you.

Jason Derulo - Cheyenne

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Video: Disclosure - Holding On

Disclosure have just released a hugely ambitious video for their new single Holding On - which has really grown on me over the last few weeks.

Set in a dystopian future (is there any other kind?), the cinematic clip follows a young girl smuggling a mysterious "ink" through a police state, while lots of pensive and sweaty men have heated discussions on rooftops.

Shot in Mexico City, it's the first in a series of four videos shot by Ryan Hope that, pieced together, will create a short film.

"As each music video comes out... The plot unfolds," said Howard and Guy. "We hope you enjoy!"

Disclosure - Holding On (ft Gregory Porter)

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