Song of the Week: DeJ Loaf – No Fear

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

When I featured DeJ Loaf in Future Pop in 2014, it wasn’t with any expectation that she’d be releasing music that I would enjoy. In fact, although I thought she’d be respected by the hip-hop community, I didn’t think she had much commercial potential at all. Turns out, I was wrong! The Detroit rapper is now a singer, with long plaits replacing her edgy short-haired look. She’s still very cool, of course, but her new single No Fear is surprisingly poppy. It’s not a huge anthem, but it’s really sweet, summery and fun. It’s always nice when a quality pop song comes from an unexpected source. Welcome to Planet Pop, DeJ Loaf, I hope you’ll stick around!

Future Hits: Everything is upside down

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:

  • Lauv – I Like Me Better
  • Loote – High Without Your Love
  • Axwell /\ Ingrosso – More Than You Know
  • Olly Murs & Louisa Johnson – Unpredictable
  • Coldplay – All I Can Think About Is You

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

Future Stars: Lecrae (Columbia)

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

The streaming era has blurred the lines between genres, and allowed artists to reach potential fans who would have never usually heard their music, but I hadn’t seen this work in the favour of a Christian music act until I spotted Lecrae high in the viral chart last week. He’s a rapper from Houston with a large Christian following, who has been active since 2004, but he’s poised to cross over with his new album, his first released through Columbia. This is notable simply due to the rarity of a Christian artist signing to a major. The label has lined up some big collaborations to introduce him to a wider audience, including Tori Kelly on new single I’ll Find You, which is currently trending on Spotify, and Ty Dolla $ign on previous release Blessings. He also released another album track last week, the amusingly named Hammer Time, produced by Metro Boomin (Kanye, Drake etc.). I’ll Find You is already a hit on the Billboard R&B/Hip Hop chart, debuting at no.11 last week.

Future Stars: BC Unidos (Sony Sweden)

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

BC Unidos have just released their debut single, but anyone who follows the Swedish music scene will be familiar with them already. The duo is made up of Patrik Berger, producer of Icona Pop’s I Love It and Robyn’s Dancing On My Own, and indie-pop singer Markus Krunegård, known for Swedish-language hits such as Jag är en vampyr. It’s not Markus on vocal duties for the first track, Bicycle, however. That honour goes to Zimbabwean/Californian Shungudzo, yet the song still has a distinctively Swedish sound. It reminds me of one of my favourite underrated Scandi acts, Teddybears – a group that also features successful producers Klas and Joakim Åhlund. BC Unidos was previously known as B.C., and made their first featured appearance on Santigold album track Can’t Get Enough of Myself back in 2015. Bicycle has a fuller, funkier sound, a catchy and memorable hook, and a cool-pop vibe that would fit in many a Spotify playlist.

Song of the Week: Hey Violet – This Is Me Breaking Up With You

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

I’ve been a fan of Hey Violet since I first heard of them, under their original name of Cherry Bomb, back in 2012, but they have struggled to fulfil their great potential. They started out as a more serious rock band, then went pop, but finding a sound that balances the two genres is tricky as rock is currently a very separate, self-sufficient music scene with only a small number of crossover acts – none of whom are making much impact on the radio, streaming or singles charts. I have been quite underwhelmed by Hey Violet’s singles, but I was still excited to hear their album when it was released… and it turned out to be really good! It was hard to choose one song to feature here but I went for the punky, high-energy album closer This Is Me Breaking Up With You, because it represents what I want most from the group. It’s free and feisty, and will certainly be a highlight of their live show. Other songs such as Unholy and My Consequence place them more alongside Melanie Martinez and Halsey, and are as good as anything on their albums.

Future Hits: If you’re the supreme, then I’m Diana Ross

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:

  • Jax Jones ft. Demi Lovato & Stefflon Don – Introduction
  • DJ Khaled ft. Rihanna & Bryson Tiller – Wild Thoughts
  • Ofenbach – Be Mine
  • Calvin Harris ft. Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry & Big Sean – Feels
  • John Gibbons – P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)

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

Future Stars: Alex Aiono (Interscope)

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

Since the major labels discovered that a large YouTube following didn’t guarantee pop stardom and chart success, they’ve been much more cautious about signing YouTuber-musicians. However, it can still be a smart move when the artist actually has what it takes, regardless of their online popularity, such as in the case of Troye Sivan and Alessia Cara. I’m not sure yet which side of that line Alex Aiono sits on, but I do think he has pop star potential if he can avoid falling into the cheese trap. Alex moved from Phoenix to LA to pursue his music career at age 14, and was discovered while busking. He released a few singles, including Young & Foolish (written by John Legend), and some cringey music videos, and acted in Awesomeness TV series Royal Crush. He was just another cute YouTube singer making sub-par pop until he had his 2016 breakthrough moment, his self-produced mash-up of Drake’s One Dance and Nicky Jam’s Hasta el Amanecer, which now has almost 60 million views. The viral video put him among the top ranks of YouTube stars, and earned him a deal with Interscope. His latest single for the label is a strong pop tune called Question, and while I’m not sure it has the edge or originality to be a hit, it finally connects the dots and shows the charismatic, fun pop star he could be.

Future Stars: Why Don’t We (Unsigned)

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

Last week I introduced Pretty Much, a group bringing the boyband concept into the modern pop era. Now for something different, but still fun. Why Don’t We is a new boyband made up of minor social media stars and one American Idol contestant (2015’s Daniel Seavey), aged between 16 and 19. Their press shots suggested their music would be totally cheesy and dated, but actually they have some fairly enjoyable pop songs that don’t evoke any second hand embarrassment. The band themselves are pretty weedy and awkward, but The Vamps made that work, so perhaps Why Don’t We could appeal to the same, younger end of the pop fanbase, even if no-one over 18 ever manages to tell them apart. They don’t have a record deal, but they do have the backing of digital marketing agency Crowd Surf, who specialise in teen influencers. Their launch plan appears to be reliant on a partnership with Vine alumnus Logan Paul (brother of Jake Paul, also featured here last week), who clearly has a stake in the group as he features them regularly on his YouTube channel, and has directed their music videos. Those videos have millions of views, with the most popular being Something Different and Nobody Gotta Know.

Song of the Week: Susanne Sundfør – Undercover

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

I’ll start by saying that if you’re not familiar with Susanne Sundfør, you should go and listen to her last album Ten Love Songs straight away. Now. Then come back and listen to her new single, Undercover. The simplest way to summarise Susanne is that she’s a Norwegian electro-pop singer, and she’ll certainly appeal to fans of artists like Margaret Berger and Annie, as well as the new crop such as Sigrid, but there’s also more to her than that. Her music is majestic and orchestral, dark and beautiful, intricate and emotional. I loved Ten Love Songs so much that I purposefully kept my expectations low for her future output, as it does have the feel of a one-off special album that can’t be recreated. Sure enough, the first single from the new album isn’t as immediate as her previous singles Delirious and Fade Away, but it does have the sound and feel of Ten Love Songs, which is promising enough for me. Undercover is delicate and interesting, building up and developing as it goes on. It has the heartfelt lyrical candor Susanne has become known for, and the powerful, almost classical vocals, that contrast with the pop melody and unique production.

Future Hits: Who you got in your crew?

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:

  • David Guetta ft. Justin Bieber – 2U
  • MoStack ft. Mist – Screw & Brew
  • Hailee Steinfeld – Most Girls
  • Little Mix ft. Stormzy – Power
  • Sigala ft. Ella Eyre – Came Here For Love

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