Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Songs you may have missed: The Drake dance-off edition

So, I started a new job last week - accounting for (yet another) gap in the blog posts. Here's my penance - everything I heard in the last seven days and thought "I really should write something about that," before being dragged into another meeting.


1) Drake - Hotline Bling
As the entire internet has noticed, Drake has let his drunken aunt choreograph his latest video. Still, nice turtleneck.

2) Frances - I Care (ft Pomo)
I'm calling it now: Frances is going to be on all of the "Sound Of 2016" lists, or I'll eat one of James Bay's hats.

3) Hot Chip - Dancing In The Dark
Hot Chip have been covering Bruce Springsteen's rock'n'roll classic in their festival sets all summer. Now there's an (impeccable) studio verison, complete with a preposterous 1980s public access television video. Why? Who knows? Who cares?

4) Jones - Indulge
The cleanest filthy song you'll hear all year, Jones's Indulge is all about surrendering yourself to a night of passion. "I know that it's wrong, but I want to indulge in you," the London-born singer purrs over a crepescular synth wave.

Indulge has been around since April but, spurred on by her wave-making Jools Holland appearance a couple of weeks ago, the song now has a video. Simple but effective.

5) Ben Haenow - Second Hand Heart (ft Kelly Clarkson)
The first "proper" single from last year's X Factor winner comes with a rare Kelly Clarkson "feature". It's low on subtlety (the pounding, Ryan Tedder-esque beat and the singers' powerhouse performances don't leave much space for nuance) but it's the first time in a while that a male X Factor star has recorded anything worth listening to.

Interestingly, it started out in life as a country song. I'd prefer to hear that version but, for now, this is perfectly acceptable radio filler.

6) Will Young - Brave Man
A remarkable video, in which a transgender man sheds his clothes and walks into the street, suffering abuse, violence and bullying until, finally, a woman offers her coat and - most importantly - acceptance.

"This video isn't about selling records or my personal benefit," said Will. "This video is about taking a moment in time to explore a section of society who stand up for themselves. To tell a story and offer a window through music into someone's life.​"

7) Five Seconds of Summer - Hey Everybody
I only mention this because no-one seems to have noticed the verse is entirely ripped off from Duran Duran's Hungry Like The Wolf. Surely it's not just me?

8) Jack Garratt - Breathe
I'm calling it now: Jack Garratt is going to be on all of the "Sound Of 2016" lists, or I'll eat another one of James Bay's hats.

9) Eska - Shades of Blue
Every year, the Mercury Prize list has one head-scratcher: An artist I've overlooked but instantly fall in love with.

This year it's Eska. Born in Zimbabwe, raised in London, she has been a session singer and vocal arranger for years, appearing on albums by the likes of Zero 7 and Grace Jones. Her debut is the sound of all those years of frustrated musicianship being unleashed. It melds soul, jazz, folk, reggae and Western African rhythms without sounding opulent or overblown. And it's all held together by the most stunning, precise, soulful vocals you'll hear this side of Erykah Badu.

Here's her most recent single.

10) Alice Olivia - Lovers
A YouTube sensation (16 million views!) and a BBC Introducing finalist, Cambridge-born Alice Olivia recently signed a deal with boutique pop label Soko Records.

Her first single is called Lovers - "about watching someone you love remain in a destructive, poisonous relationship and helplessly watching from a distance."

Dark and gnarly, this is a great introduction to an interesting singer-songwriter.

11) Anne-Marie - Boy
Quirky, streetwise pop from another up-and-comer (it's that time of year, isn't it?). Anne-Marie is going to be on all of the "Sound of 2016" lists or I'll eat a casserole of The Edge's beanies.

12) TĀLĀ - Wolfpack (with Banks)
TĀLĀ was inspired to make music by her British mother's love of Tom Jones, and her Iranian father's obsession with uber-diva Googoosh (think Madonna crossed Celine Dion, if you dare). Thankfully, her charcoal-coloured electric pop sounds nothing like either.

Her latest single sees her team up with another R&B temptress - the magnificent BANKS - for an anthem to sisterhood that would have Beyonce running for the hills.

And that's your lot!

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