Song of the Week: Icona Pop – They’re Building Walls Around Us

Taken from this week’s Future Pop mailer. Click here to subscribe. All my Songs of the Week are featured on my Top of the Poptastic playlist, along with the rest of my faves from 2017.

Ask any Scandi music fan about the reality TV format that the UK needs to import, and they’ll instantly answer: Så mycket bättre. The show, which is approaching the end of its eighth season in Sweden, is based on a Dutch series. Seven successful artists live together for eight days, takings turns to perform each other’s songs in front of the original performer. The cover versions are released as singles, and every year the show produces several hits – some of the biggest and best have included Mikrofonkåt by September and One Last Time by Miriam Bryant. This year’s line-up was particularly strong on current pop acts, including Eric Saade, Sabina Ddumba and Icona Pop. The latter provided the standout performances in my opinion, managing to make every song sound like something they would have released. I was particularly excited when indie-pop artist Moneybrother’s week came around and I saw they’d been given his only hit, the poptastic They’re Building Walls Around Us. This song brings back great memories of when indie-pop music was actually a going concern – and the best stuff was, of course, coming out of Scandinavia. The Icona Pop version of They’re Building Walls Around Us doesn’t have the same orchestral feel as the original, but their electro-pop take is just as anthemic, with an added dose of joyous bounciness. This will definitely appeal to any fans of I Love It and the girls’ other work.

 

Future Hits: I had to Whatsapp my amigos

Taken from this week’s Future Pop mailer. Click here to subscribe.

My weekly playlist features five tracks I predict will be future hit singles in the UK.

Tracklisting:

  • Ed Sheeran & Beyoncé – Perfect Duet
  • James Arthur – Naked
  • Pink – Beautiful Trauma
  • Louis Tomlinson – Miss You
  • Rak-Su ft. Naughty Boy & Wyclef Jean – Dimelo

For more Future Hits, subscribe to my  Spotify playlist, updated weekly (when I remember) with the next big thing.

Future Stars: Lewis Capaldi (Virgin EMI)

Taken from this week’s Future Pop mailer. Click here to subscribe.

Spotify has a great track record of breaking rappers and DJs, but it’s yet to prove it can champion a singer-songwriter to stardom. Perhaps that’s why, back in April, their US music team decided to give the top spot on New Music Friday to Scottish 20-year-old Lewis Capaldi, who at the time was only signed in Germany (albeit to Universal). His song Bruises gained over a million plays in the following week, and it’s now at almost 30 million. Naturally, he quickly found label homes in the US (with Vertigo/Capitol) and UK (Virgin EMI), and has since toured Europe with Rag’n’Bone Man and released his debut EP. He’ll play a sold out show at Oslo in Hackney this Wednesday. After giving Bruises the “snippet and skip it” treatment when it first came out, it took me another eight months, and the discovery that one of his songs was co-written by David Sneddon, to find the will to listen to more. Lewis is a capable and powerful vocalist, but sometimes off-puttingly overwrought. He’s the type of singer the judges would rave about on The Voice UK, and he’ll certainly be mistaken for James Arthur by plenty of Spotify shufflers. If he gets big in 2018, no doubt he’ll be the bane of every pop fan’s life, but at least we can always tune him out with the good old ‘Cheesy Hits!’ playlist. Ignorance is bliss.

Future Stars: Yaeji (Godmode)

Taken from this week’s Future Pop mailer. Click here to subscribe.

Last week the BBC Sound of 2018 list was released (coincidentally on the same day two of the artists listed were featured here in Future Pop), and there was one act included who I’d never heard of: Yaeji. Once I’d gotten over the embarrassment, I quickly set about checking out this mystery artist, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that she is actually a female producer – something we are desperately in need of in today’s music scene. Kathy Yaeji Lee is a Korean-American DJ, conceptual artist and singer who performs in English and Korean, and has a hipster-cute vibe (i.e. she’s my new style icon). Her music combines breathy, girly vocals with a heavy, reverberating bassline, reflecting the contrast of her youthful sweetness with the urban edge of Seoul, as shown in her video for Drink I’m Sippin’ On. My favourite of her tracks is the poppy spoken word single Feel It Out, which includes the refrain “shit is crazy, shit is Yaeji.” She’s signed to Godmode, the same label that brought us Shamir, and although they’re not musically similar, they do both have a very fresh and futuristic feel. They represent a new generation of artists that couldn’t have emerged outside of the current digital era. Yaeji will probably never make a big pop hit, but the fact she exists is exciting, and the fact that a music industry panel see a successful 2018 in her future is even better.

Song of the Week: Luis Fonsi & Demi Lovato – Échame La Culpa

Taken from this week’s Future Pop mailer. Click here to subscribe. All my Songs of the Week are featured on my Top of the Poptastic playlist, along with the rest of my faves from 2017.

It’s been a funny year for Demi Lovato. She had the biggest hit of her career so far with Sorry Not Sorry, but that song does nothing for me, and the rest of her new album is equally underwhelming. However, she also made her first foray into featuring on dance tracks, an area where fellow former teen stars Selena and Justin have discovered there’s money to be made and hits to be had. The problem here is that Demi doesn’t have a voice suited to 2017. She will never be a queen of whisper-pop – she’s a belter by nature. But Selena wasn’t available, Demi got the job, and the results are much stronger and more vibrantly poptastic than anything else on New Music Friday these days. She appeared on one of 2017’s best semi-hits, Instruction by Jax Jones, and now she features on Luis Fonsi’s Despacito follow-up, Échame La Culpa. Demi may be half-Mexican, but she doesn’t have the natural Latino sassiness of stars like Jennifer Lopez and Shakira, who might have been more obvious choices for this duet. However, she brings to it a bright boisterousness that satisfies my pop-craving ears. The Latin-pop trend has been the saving grace of an otherwise uninspiring year in music, and Échame La Culpa is up there with Despacito and Reggaeton Lentó among its best moments. Thanks again, Luis Fonsi!

 

Future Hits: Ain’t no stopping, album dropping

Taken from this week’s Future Pop mailer. Click here to subscribe.

My weekly playlist features five tracks I predict will be future hit singles in the UK.

Tracklisting:

  • Diplo ft. MØ – Get It Right
  • Luis Fonsi ft. Demi Lovato – Échame La Culpa
  • G-Eazy ft. A$AP Rocky & Cardi B – No Limit
  • Steve Aoki ft. Lauren Jauregui – All Night
  • Flo Rida ft. Maluma – Hola

For more Future Hits, subscribe to my  Spotify playlist, updated weekly (when I remember) with the next big thing.

Future Stars: IAMDDB (Sony)

Taken from this week’s Future Pop mailer. Click here to subscribe.

It’s not even the end of November yet but the 2018 tip lists are already appearing. I suspect these will be more predictable than usual, since many artists have been promoted for the whole year already without breaking the top 10, as the charts have become tough territory for new acts. However, VEVO’s DSCVR did introduce me to some unfamiliar faces, including Mancunian female soloist IAMDDB (which stands for “I am Diana Debrito”). The 21-year-old singer has an edgy look, a fun and feisty personality, and a jazzy hip-hop style. She’s intimidatingly cool and confident, but extremely watchable. Her supporters include US singer Bryson Tiller, who she’s currently touring the UK with, plus BBC Introducing, Radio 1 and 1Xtra. It’s refreshing to see an artist breaking through from the north of England, and I believe the loyalty of the local scene has contributed to the millions of views on videos such as her debut single, Shade. When asked whether she’s signed, she gave a strange answer which I’m reading as: she has her own label, which goes through Sony.

Future Stars: Yxng Bane (Disturbing London)

Taken from this week’s Future Pop mailer. Click here to subscribe.

Tinie Tempah has reached a comfortably established status in the British urban scene now, which means he’s in a position to bring through the next generation. Rapper/singer Yxng Bane is signed to his label, Disturbing London, and managed by another artist on the roster, G FrSH. He grew up in East London, and takes his name from Bane, the villain from the Batman films. He first attracted attention earlier this year with his dancehall-style remix of Ed Sheeran’s Shape Of You, which got millions of views and eventually became an official release. More recently, the 19-year-old has featured on tracks by Yungen and Taya (the former reaching the UK top 10), and released his solo single, Rihanna. His style is categorised as afro-fusion, as it mixes westernised hip-hop sounds with afrobeats and dancehall, taking inspiration from throughout the African diaspora.

Song of the Week: Taylor Swift – Delicate

Taken from this week’s Future Pop mailer. Click here to subscribe. All my Songs of the Week are featured on my Top of the Poptastic playlist, along with the rest of my faves from 2017.

I’ve only had chance to give Reputation a few listens so far, but one track stood out instantly when I first heard it. Songs such as Look What You Made Me Do and End Game are hard to love, despite their strengths, because Taylor’s efforts to prove her self-awareness are so transparent, and she ends up coming off more self-obsessed than self-deprecating. Although she does make one maudlin reference to her reputation on Delicate (“My reputation’s never been worse, so you must like me for me”), the track overall feels far more sincere and relatable. The chorus has a real sweetness and even humility. The happy hopefulness and focus on little details hark back to the romantic side of Taylor that made her lyrical style so endearing and escapist on past albums. Musically, it’s in keeping with her current, autotune-heavy sound, but it reminds me of how Muna combine electro-pop with heartfelt songwriting on I Know a Place and If U Love Me Now – in fact, this could have been on their album. If you’re boycotting Reputation cos it wasn’t on Spotify or you didn’t like the singles, I recommend you at least give this one a listen (here or below at 19:25).

Future Hits: The rhyme has to be perfect, the delivery flawless

Taken from this week’s Future Pop mailer. Click here to subscribe.

My weekly playlist features five tracks I predict will be future hit singles in the UK.

Tracklisting:

  • Eminem ft. Beyoncé – Walk on Water
  • Fuse ODG ft. Ed Sheeran & Mugeez – Boa Me
  • Dave ft. MoStack – No Words
  • Lil Pump – Gucci Gang
  • Elbow – Golden Slumbers

For more Future Hits, subscribe to my  Spotify playlist, updated weekly (when I remember) with the next big thing.