Song of the Week: DJDS & Empress Of – Love

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.

When I heard this cover of Lana Del Rey’s 2017 single Love, I had no doubt it was Europop. The Europeans have a well-established ability to turn any song into a light, summery dance track, from rap to soft rock. Therefore, it was pretty surprising to find that Love is actually the work of Grammy-nominated production duo DJDS, who worked on Kanye’s last album, and indie-dream-pop singer Empress Of. Both artists are based in LA. Whether or not it was intentional, the collaboration has removed any edge or depth from the original. The result is a sweet, catchy dance track, the epitome of Spotify-pop – one of the best examples of the genre, in fact.

Future Hits: What are the rules for breakfast today?

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. Ed Sheeran – River
  • Ed Sheeran & Andrea Bocelli – Perfect Symphony
  • Brockhampton – Boogie
  • G-Eazy ft. Halsey – Him & I
  • MC Fioti ft. Future, J Balvin, Stefflon Don & Juan Magán – Bum Bum Tam Tam

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

Future Stars: Rex Orange County (Unsigned)

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When I first heard of Rex Orange County, he was presented to me as the new act from Adele’s management team, but he ended up winning a fanbase off the back of an endorsement by a very different artist. Surrey teenager Alex O’Connor has gone from studying at The Brit School to appearing on two tracks on Tyler, The Creator’s latest album, Flower Boy. Since then he’s shared stages with Tyler’s collaborators, Frank Ocean and Badbadnotgood, as well as UK rap star Skepta. Despite his cool new crew, the 19-year-old singer still comes across as a typical, slightly nerdy middle class British boy. I couldn’t see the fuss at first, but the sweet, relatable and original lyrics in some of his standout songs helped me to understand why he’s one of the most tipped artists for 2018. I enjoyed Best Friend (which reminded me of Declan McKenna’s one good song, Why Do You Feel So Down), and the upbeat album track Television. While The Fader described Rex Orange County as “post-genre” and compared him to Brockhampton’s Kevin Abstract, to my ears his sound is definitely indie-pop. However, his association with hip-hop acts has affected him in interesting ways, for example his musical prolificacy – he’s already released two albums, or “projects” as we’re apparently supposed to call them now, before having a breakthrough hit or signing a record deal (as far as we know…).

Future Stars: Brockhampton (Question Everything)

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Brockhampton are a hip-hop group who call themselves a boyband (“the best since One Direction,” according to their new song Boogie). I only heard of them about 10 days ago, but since then they’ve released a new album, Saturation III, and popped up all over my Twitter timeline. The group is made up of rappers, producers and even an Irish singer. Similar to Superorganism, they met online (through a Kanye fan forum), and moved from their original base of Texas to LA to live together and pursue music. Group founder Kevin Abstract was already somewhat known as a solo artist, and he’s the clear creative visionary of the group. Their interviews are chaotic and entertaining, but he still manages to get his key points across. They’ve released four albums since last year, and already have an obsessive audience attending their high energy gigs. Their lyrics take on issues such as rape culture and homophobia, and Kevin is very open about being gay. The members’ distinctly different styles suggest they’re likely to break out and forge their own careers like Odd Future and A$AP Mob, and maybe in years to come they’ll only perform together for reunion gigs. Perhaps my favourite thing about Brockhampton is that one of the members’ role is ‘webmaster’: if you have no rap or production skills, there’s still hope for you to join a hip-hop collective!

Song of the Week: Maggie Lindemann – Obsessed

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 caught Maggie Lindemann live in London a few months ago, and it was a strange experience. At the time, the social media star was enjoying a hit with the Cheat Codes remix of her poppiest single Pretty Girl, but she didn’t have any other upbeat tracks to entertain her newfound fanbase. The rest of her music was Halsey-esque alt-pop, and the audience were pretty underwhelmed. She’s now rebranded as a pop chick, recently collaborating with The Vamps and joining them on their upcoming tour. Her new single Obsessed is perfectly primed to appeal to fans of Pretty Girl, myself included – it’s one of the best pure pop tracks to come out in a while. It has a cute, bouncy sound and a fun concept, which is explored throughout the song, ending with a fun twist in the outro.

Future Hits: I got two different worlds like Miley

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:

  • Camila Cabello – Never Be the Same
  • Ramz – Barking
  • Migos & Marshmello – Danger
  • G-Eazy ft. Charlie Puth – Sober
  • Martin Garrix & David Guetta ft. Jamie Scott & Romy Dya – So Far Away

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

Future Stars: Not3s (Relentless)

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

In the past month I’ve featured five UK urban artists as Future Stars, more than the rest of 2017 put together: British rap and R&B are definitely having a moment. The commercial success of Stormzy has played a big part – although the British rap scene retained a loyal fanbase over the past five years, he was its first household name since the days of Tinie Tempah and N-Dubz. Since his album hit no.1 in March, acts including J HusYungen and Stefflon Don have broken the top 10, and a rap group won The X Factor. Already featured in several 2018 tip lists, with a top 40 hit under his belt, Not3s is next in line to make his name. Similar to Dave and Yxng Bane, he’s a charismatic London teenager who sing-raps about everyday life. His most famous track is Addison Lee, a repetitive (and therefore memorable) viral hit about splashing out on an expensive taxi to collect a “peng ting” (attractive lady) called Maddison because his account is blocked on Uber. There are no gangs and drugs in these songs – just #relatable content, like a musical equivalent of The Lad Bible. As such, it makes total sense for 2017. Addison Lee became a hit this summer with the support of Radio 1 and Capital Xtra. Signed to Sony imprint Relentless, and published by Tinie Tempah, he has released several singles and an EP, and recently collaborated with Tinie and fellow breakout star Mabel. His super-specific lyrics and love of outerwear also make me wonder if he may have been an inspiration for Big Shaq’s Man’s Not Hot – and what could be more zeitgeist than inspiring a novelty hit?

Future Stars: Rak-Su (Syco)

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This year’s X Factor felt like a turning point, and for the first time in years, it seems totally reasonable that it should continue to exist. Perhaps ITV commissioning The Voice gave Syco and Thames the kick up the bum that they needed. By keeping the panel the same they avoided overly focusing on judge drama, and encouraging contestants to sing their own songs (but, importantly, only the good ones) made it fresh and relevant. There were no joke acts in the live shows, and contestants were treated with an unusual amount of respect and support, taking a leaf out of Strictly and The Voice’s books. This new approach would only succeed if they had the talent, and luckily they had Grace Davies and eventual winners, Rak-Su. I’ve been vocal on Twitter about my suspicions that Rak-Su have been in development with Syco – their songs are unrealistically good and their performance too polished, especially as their manager has no track record in music. Something shady may be afoot, but if Syco have misled the public, they did it for our own good. Rak-Su are fun, talented and cool, with a very current, poptastic sound. Their winner’s single puts those of the last two years to shame, and fittingly it’s a hit. Dimelo reached no.2 on the UK singles chart, despite having no studio version (the single is literally their X Factor performance). They’ve already said they plan to release their first “project” early 2018, so it sounds like an EP of their X Factor songs is on its way.

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.