Song of the Week: This is the Kit – By My Demon Eye

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I’ve recently taken to listening to Spotify’s New Music Friday playlist in full every week, and it’s introduced me to some great songs that I never would have heard otherwise, such as Wonder by Blackmagic and this new track by British folk act This is the Kit. Don’t be put off by folk – By My Demon Eye is actually a very sweet, unique and interesting pop song. This is the Kit is the alias of British singer Kate Stables, a fave of 6 Music who has been working under that name since 2003. By My Demon Eye comes from her album Moonshine Freeze, released last month. It’s all very twee, but the unusual use of African language and the various different sections of the song prevent it from being too introspective or annoying. The line “Tako takoti o takoti sman yamba takoti” translates as “Boil boil water boil, let the liar be boiled,” and comes from an African folk story about a tortoise and a rabbit, where both animals were boiled to find out which one was lying (don’t try this at home).

Future Hits: Half of my heart is in Havana

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:

  • Marshmello ft. Khalid – Silence
  • Avicii ft. Rita Ora – Lonely Together
  • P!nk – What About Us
  • Camila Cabello ft. Young Thug – Havana
  • James Hype ft. Kelli-Leigh – More Than Friends

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

Future Stars: 21 Savage (Epic/Sony)

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If you think Sam Hunt’s lyrics are icky, don’t look up what 21 Savage said about Kylie Jenner. Unfortunately sexism is even less of a barrier to success in the rap scene than it is in country. 24-year-old Shayaa Joseph, aka 21 Savage, is a rapper from Atlanta and former teenage gang member. He was expelled from school for carrying a gun in seventh grade, and nearly died when he was shot six times on his 21st birthday. This experience inspired him to focus on music as a distraction from his gang life, and success came quickly. He released his first homemade mixtape in 2015, and months later was named among XXL’s 2016 Freshman class, an influential list of the hottest rappers for the year ahead. In January this year he signed to Epic Records, and last month released his amusingly-titled debut album Issa Album, which reached no.2 on the Billboard 200. He’s also currently enjoying his biggest hit so far with Bank Account, his first top 20 single on the Billboard Hot 100. The track has been played over 50 million times on Spotify in less than a month. 21 Savage also stars in a new Adidas campaign with fellow up-and-comers Young Thug and Playboi Carti, and has collaborated with Drake, Future, Travis Scott and others.

Future Stars: Sam Hunt (MCA Nashville)

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The Billboard Hot 100 has been dominated by hip-hop, Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber this year, but in the midst of all this one country hit managed to break through. Sam Hunt’s objectification anthem Body Like a Back Road has been in the top 10 for seven weeks and counting, and its peak of no.6 is the highest for a country track since Florida Georgia Line’s huge single, Cruise featuring Nelly, in July 2013. It has, of course, achieved much more on the country charts – it’s been no.1 for a record-breaking 26 weeks (so far). All this and bizarrely, the song doesn’t even have a music video. It hasn’t fully been embraced by pop radio, but dodgy lyrics aside, Body Like a Back Road does sound like a crossover hit. It even reminds me of the novelty country sound of acts like Uncle Kracker who managed to crack the UK charts in the 2000s. Sam only signed his record deal with MCA (part of Universal) three years ago, but he’s quickly become one of its biggest artists. Although this is Sam’s first Hot 100 top 10, in the country world he’s known for past hits Take Your TimeHouse PartyLeave the Night On and Break Up in a Small Town, all of which went at least 2x Platinum.

Song of the Week: MisterWives – Machine

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MisterWives are an American indie-pop group who don’t get much attention from pop fans, but they have actually released some really catchy tunes. I loved their anthemic 2015 single Our Own House, and their latest album Connect The Dots brings a new favourite with its lead single, Machine. It reminds me of the distinctive sound of Aura Dione, and could have been a fun girlband single. Although the lyrics of Machine criticise the culture of getting big name writers to provide hits for pop stars, I’d love to see band members and Machine co-writers Mandy Lee and Etienne Bowler writing for more mainstream artists.

Future Hits: I was busy thinkin’ ’bout boys

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:

  • Charli XCX – Boys
  • Kungs ft. Olly Murs & Coely – More Mess
  • Future ft. Nicki Minaj – You da Baddest
  • Skrillex & Poo Bear – Would You Ever
  • Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike vs. David Guetta ft. Kiiara – Complicated

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

Future Stars: Winner (YG Entertainment)

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Last month I introduced Blackpink, the Korean girlband primed to take on 2NE1’s K-pop crown, and now it’s time to meet their male equivalent. In addition to the new girl group, YG Entertainment are also promoting a new boyband to take the reins from their hugely successful act, Big Bang. Most British pop fans won’t know Big Bang, but they have a massive UK fanbase – they even sold out two dates at Wembley Arena in 2012 (and the tickets weren’t cheap!). New foursome Winner were formed on a reality show called WIN: Who Is Next in 2013, and have since had a no.1 album in Korea, which also reached no.2 in Japan. Last week they released a new “single album” (or double a-side, to us 90s kids) featuring summery tunes Island and Love Me Love Me, the latter particular in synch with Western pop trends. My favourite of their tracks is Really Really, from their previous single album, which is their most popular YouTube video and has sold over 1 million copies since its release in April this year. Their style is sweeter than the boyband EXO from rival K-pop label SM Town, but they still have character and individuality within the band, always important for a K-pop group as it makes them more relatable and marketable.

Future Stars: blackbear (Interscope)

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26-year-old Matthew Tyler Musto has released three albums as blackbear, but only now is he experiencing his first hit… or two. The rapper/singer had a slow-burner with IDFC, his 2014 single which eventually peaked at no.19 in the Billboard R&B chart last November, and is still hanging around today. His current single Do Re Mi has gone one better, reaching the R&B chart top 10, and entering the overall US singles chart, the Billboard Hot 100. Although he is classified as an R&B artist, blackbear’s history as a teenage rock band frontman shows through in the quirky, alternative vibe of Do Re Mi, which reminds me of Melanie Martinez’s cute/dark sound and aesthetic. The track will be pitched to pop radio stations on 22nd August, so its rise is likely to continue as it reaches a wider audience over the next month. This might be the first time pop fans are hearing of blackbear, but his sound might seem familiar. His biggest achievement is co-writing Boyfriend for Justin Bieber, and you can definitely hear the similarity in his own music. He has also collaborated with several Future Pop featured acts, such as Phoebe Ryan and Olivia O’Brien, and released an album in March as part of the duo Mansionz with his regular songwriting partner Mike Posner.

Song of the Week: Declan McKenna – Why Do You Feel So Down

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After the last time I wrote about Declan McKenna I didn’t think I’d ever feature him again. I was a little snarky (who? me?) which led to a reader complaint, and Declan even quoted me (in an ironic way) in his Twitter bio. But I’m all about equal opportunities around here, so when someone does something good, I’ll recognise them for it. Why Do You Feel So Down from his debut album caught my ear on a recent New Music Friday. Although he’s a teenager from Hertfordshire, he’s managed to make a track that reminds me of Swedish indie-pop of the mid-2000s. It has a strong, catchy melody with bouncy production and an uplifting feel, joyful and sweet with a youthful yet nostalgic sound. I would like to formally offer a truce to Declan, and concede that he’s not trying too hard to be cool anymore, as he actually is quite cool.

Future Hits: Now I’m out here lookin’ like revenge

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:

  • Snakehips ft. Anne-Marie & Joey Bada$$ – Either Way
  • OneRepublic ft. Seeb – Rich Love
  • J Balvin & Willy William – Mi Gente
  • Enrique Iglesias ft. Sean Paul & Matt Terry – Súbeme La Radio
  • Demi Lovato – Sorry Not Sorry

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