Song of the Week: CNCO & Yandel – Hey DJ

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

After the success of Despacito, it would be nice for other similar Latin hits to be given a chance to cross over, and this new release is in prime position. Hey DJ by boyband CNCO and reggaeton artist Yandel has gained 36 million views in just over 3 weeks. CNCO are the product of Simon Cowell and Ricky Martin’s TV talent show La Banda, which formed a group out of auditionees from across Latin America. Hey DJ is the lead single from their forthcoming second album, and has a lovely summery vibe and a sweet teen party video. There’s also an amusing shoutout at the end when Yandel randomly says “Sony Music” – is this a thing in Latin music?

Future Hits: Let the music lift you up

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:

  • Selena Gomez – Bad Liar
  • Camila Cabello – Crying in the Club
  • Burak Yeter ft. Danelle Sandoval – Tuesday
  • Maggie Lindemann – Pretty Girl – Cheat Codes X CADE Remix
  • Alan Walker ft. Gavin James – Tired

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

Future Stars: Confidence Man (Heavenly Recordings)

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

One of the most talked-about acts of the festival was an Australian group on their first trip to the UK. I featured Confidence Man’s single Boyfriend (Repeat) as Song of the Week back in October last year, when I spotted it in the Aussie Shazam chart. At the time I compared them to CSS and LCD Soundsystem, but live their vibe is more 80s/90s – think B-52s and Deee-Lite. I hadn’t seen anyone talking about them before the festival, but once I got there everyone seemed to have heard of them, and word had quickly spread that they were great fun. Since my feature, they’ve released a follow-up single, a cheeky novelty song called Bubblegum, and signed to legendary London indie label Heavenly. As they haven’t put out any proper music videos yet, you can only get a sense of what they’re about by watching live performance videos such as this and this. The group, fronted by the perfectly named Janet Planet, is making the most of their inaugural UK visit with four London gigs, four sets at The Great Escape, and three shows at the various Dot To Dot Festivals this weekend. They’re also starting to find their place in the international music scene thanks to influential friends – they’ve supported Charlift (and Bubblegum was mixed by one of the members), and just released a remix of Magpie Eyes by their new labelmates, Saint Etienne. I don’t think Google image search will be bringing up pics like this when you type in “Confidence Man” for much longer.

 

Future Stars: Yungblud (Unsigned)

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

An unexpected highlight of The Great Escape was Yungblud, aka Dom Harrison, a 19-year-old singer-songwriter from Doncaster who put on the most exciting, energetic show of the festival, fittingly filled with enthusiastic industry types. Musically he’s a young Jamie T meets Arctic Monkeys, and his look is Harry Styles with an edge. He has the charm of a pop star and the swagger of a rock star. He played a set full of anthemic songs with memorable, chant-along hooks, and even managed to start a moshpit in Brighton’s posh South Lanes. Yungblud’s debut single King Charles has been described as a protest song, with anti-establishment lyrics that demand a voice for young people. The singer backs up this message with political tweets, written in his strong Northern accent. Early wins have  included spot plays on Radio 1 and Radio X, and a slot in Spotify’s New Music Friday, thanks to the support of his management Locomotion and agents CAA. King Charles is the only song online so far, but clips of him performing Tin Pan Boy and Park Hill Romance give a sense of his live show. These high energy tracks were balanced in the set by Polygraph Eyes, a more sensitive moment that speaks directly to men who prey on drunk girls. If you’d asked me last week what the music industry was missing right now, I would never have described this, but all the elements add up to make perfect sense for 2017.

Song of the Week: Harry Styles – Two Ghosts

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

The Harry Styles album arrived on Friday, and it’s predictably acceptable. I don’t hear any huge hits but it’s lovely to hear Harry’s voice without bracing for Louis to arrive and ruin the song at any moment. It also feels really genuine, not overthought – unusual for a debut album with so much riding on it. By not trying too hard, it shows confidence that this will be the first of many – just like when Harry speaks, and his slow drawl shows confidence that we’ll keep paying attention. Surprisingly (to me) it’s the ballads I like best, as they have the best vocals and songwriting. My favourite is Two Ghosts, the one that’s rumoured to be about Taylor Swift. Fans have linked the lines about “red lips” and a “white shirt” to Style, the song she allegedly wrote about Harry, and he giggled his way out of denying or confirming it on Radio 1 last week. I find it more likely  he’s just politely playing along with a convenient PR angle, but it’s interesting to speculate nonetheless.  My favourite fact about the album is that it’s produced by the same team responsible for Cam’s Untamed, a 2015 country-pop album that I always thought deserved a shot in the UK.

Future Hits: I am the great unknown

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:

  • Miley Cyrus – Malibu
  • Logic ft. Alessia Cara & Khalid – 1-800-273-8255
  • Halsey – Now Or Never
  • Imagine Dragons – Thunder
  • Galantis – Hunter

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

Future Stars: Amandla Stenberg (Interscope)

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

Actress Amandla Stenberg hasn’t officially announced she’s launching a music career, but after the song and video she’s gifted us in promotion of her new film Everything, Everything, it would be rude not to. Watching the video for her cover of Let My Baby Stay by unremarkable Canadian Mac DeMarco, I was instantly convinced that the pop world needs this girl. She’s bursting with charisma, coolness and likeability. This isn’t her first foray into music, as she was in a folk duo called Honeywater (a DIY project with a friend) and featured in Beyoncé’s Lemonade videos. However, she’s best known for playing Rue in The Hunger Games, and has since become an online influencer (with 1 million Instagram followers) and Teen Vogue favourite thanks to her activism, especially on the issue of intersectional feminism. She was recently described by Vogue as “neo-feminist, biracial, post-gender” and “the wokest teenager alive.” Outside of acting, the 18-year-old got most attention for her spoken word video, Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows, a school project gone viral. The thought and energy that has gone into Let My Baby Stay says to me that she’s ready to make a serious play for pop stardom – I hope I’m right.

UPDATE: Since I posted this, I’ve found out she’s signed to Interscope. Hooray!!

Future Stars: Kelsea Ballerini (Black River/Sony)

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

Now that Taylor Swift is firmly on the pop side of the country-pop line, the industry needs a new country-pop princess. While Lauren Alaina would be my top pick, Kelsea Ballerini is clearly first in line for the role. The 23-year-old has earned three country chart no.1s and an ACM Award, but has also hosted an ABC TV series, been nominated for Best New Artist at The Grammys, and performed in last month’s Radio Disney Music Awards tribute to Britney Spears. Impressively, she’s managed all this while signed to a small indie label in Nashville, Black River, though in the UK she’s with Sony. She’s never released a single here (her first will be album track XO, rather than US hit Peter Pan) but her first UK headline gig sold out in under an hour, thanks to the super-keen British country fanbase. I was able to attend the show, and while her debut album is nice enough, I was more impressed by the songs she played from her upcoming second album. Roses sounds musically inspired by Taylor, while High School features similar subject matter to Fearless and Speak Now. The standout of the whole night was another new song inspired by her fiancée, the sweet and funny I Hate Love Songs. I suspect, much like Taylor herself, the second album is where Kelsea will really start to shine.

Song of the Week: OG3NE – Lights And Shadows

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

After a couple of weak years, I’m very excited about Eurovision 2017, which takes place this week. There’s a diverse mix of contemporary pop styles and unusually few boring ballads, and although Italy has been a standout bookies’ fave, the contest still seems very open. I thought it would be tricky to pick a favourite, until I heard the Dutch entry, and my mind was immediately made up. The Netherlands’ best recent performance was with country duo The Common Linnets, and they’ve taken a similar approach with female trio OG3NE, winners of The Voice of Holland. Lights and Shadows starts simply but impressively, with beautiful harmonies and a folky melody – think Bellefire or The Corrs. It would be good enough if that’s all it was, but halfway through there’s a twist – it turns into an uplifting, sing-along pop anthem. It’s the musical equivalent of Bucks Fizz ripping off their skirts. You can see all the music videos and rehearsal clips for this year’s entries here – my other faves include Italy, Romania, Estonia, Sweden, Azerbaijan and F.Y.R. Macedonia.

Future Hits: It was reckless and we owned it

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:

  • Niall Horan – Slow Hands
  • Kygo ft. Ellie Goulding – First Time
  • French Montana ft. Swae Lee – Unforgettable
  • Jonas Blue ft. William Singe – Mama
  • Charlie Puth – Attention

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