Song of the Week: Miss Li – Bonfire

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

When I first got into Swedish music, there was a huge separation between the acts that were big domestically and internationally. That’s no longer the case, but it means there are still some acts who are household names in Sweden yet unknown even to the most dedicated fans of today’s Scandi scene. Miss Li is one of those artists – I loved her album Best of (061122-071122), but the closest she’s got to UK fame was soundtracking a DFS ad in 2012 with My Heart Goes Boom. She returned last week with a bigger and brighter look (literally – her hair is ginger and huge!) and sound, with her comeback single Bonfire. It doesn’t have the chaotic charm of songs like Oh Boy and Ba Ba Ba, but it could easily be mistaken for a track by the brilliant Noonie Bao or Tove Styrke, proving how well Miss Li has translated her sound for 2016. Considering how many quirky girl singers have come along in the past decade, most of them being Scandinavian, I think Miss Li was really ahead of her time. I hope this time around she’ll earn recognition equally from Swedes, Scandiphiles and anyone who loves a good old catchy pop song.

Future Hits: Shake that bum ba bum ba bum

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:

  • Shawn Mendes – Mercy
  • Wretch 32 ft. Emeli Sandé – I.O.U.
  • Ellie Goulding – Still Falling For You
  • offaiah – Trouble
  • Kideko & George Kwali ft. Nadia Rose & Sweetie Irie – Crank It (Woah!)

For more Future Hits, subscribe to my  Spotify playlist, updated weekly with the next big thing.

Future Stars: Frank Gamble (PMR/Universal)

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The hidden identity  marketing trick for new artists is so tired now I can barely summon the energy to write about it, but it does give me the opportunity to exercise my internet detective skills. It only took a few minutes to uncover the secret identity of Frank Gamble, which is not actually a solo male artist but a male/female duo. The male producer is Justin Tailor (aka  Hoost) and the female singer is Hannah Yadi, who you may know from when she released music as YaDi a few years ago. She was signed to Warner Chappell for publishing and I remember seeing her support Foxes, but her career never had any momentum. She had a few nice songs, but I think her new music with Frank Gamble is much stronger. They’re signed to PMR, the same label as Disclosure and Jessie Ware, and they do have a similarly cool vibe but the songs are actually much more poppy than I expected. I enjoyed all the tracks on their Soundcloud, which combine catchy melodies with a drum and bass-influenced electro-pop sound and Hannah’s sweet yet strong vocals.

Future Stars: Citizen Four (Island)

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With One Direction out of the picture, we’re sure to see some new boybands launched in the next year. The US hasn’t contributed to the latest wave of boybands, but perhaps they’ll have a belated success with new Island Records signing Citizen Four. The group is made up of two former X Factor finalists, Josh Levi and Austin Percario (of the group InTENsity), and brothers Carson and Conner Boatman. They’re one of the better looking boybands I’ve seen lately, but their vocals and performance need work – enough with the over-singing! It seems Citizen Four was formed specifically for the label, as they launched with the announcement of their deal. They’ve since been uploading slick YouTube covers, and made a smart move in collaborating with YouTube star Kurt Hugo Schneider. After all, the teens of today don’t care if a new band is signed, or how much money was spent on them – they want to feel part of their journey through witnessing it online, so the support of an existing social media star is a big boost. You can’t launch an act like this overnight, and they’ve got a long road ahead of them, but there’s definite potential.

Song of the Week: DJ Snake ft. Justin Bieber – Let Me Love You

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The funny thing about Justin Bieber’s transition to coolness is that his music has ended up being poppier than it was before. The dirgey faux-R&B of his teens has been replaced with sweet, melodic pop (with a few quirky sound effects thrown in, just to remind us he’s cool now). To ensure the hype doesn’t die down now that Purpose has been out a while, Justin features on two big singles, collaborating with each participant of last year’s summer anthem, Lean On. First came Cold Water with Major Lazer and MØ, and now the big single from DJ Snake’s long-awaited debut album, Encore. The plan was clearly to hedge his bets – it’s basically guaranteed that one of the two tracks will be a megahit, and maybe even both. Let Me Love You is the work of a team of pop songwriters, including Ali Tamposi (best known for writing Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger) and Brian Lee (Fifth Harmony’s Work From Home), a mid-tempo love song that contrasts melancholy verses with a sparkly, uplifting chorus, followed by a bouncy drop (just so we know we’re still in 2016). It has been rumoured that Selena Gomez recorded a version, or perhaps it will later be released as a duet. If they are to finally appear together on a song, this seems like a good choice.

Future Hits: I roll my eyes at you

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:

  • Tove Lo – Cool Girl
  • D.R.A.M. ft. Lil Yachty – Broccoli
  • NEIKED – Sexual
  • Skrillex ft. Rick Ross – Purple Lamborghini
  • DJ Snake ft. Justin Bieber – Let Me Love You

For more Future Hits, subscribe to my  Spotify playlist, updated weekly with the next big thing.

Future Stars: Louisa Johnson (Syco)

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In the wake of the success of Jess Glynne as more than just a featured artist, the British major labels have been hunting for their own equivalent to Atlantic’s surprise star. As the role requires the artist to have no distinct personality or musical direction, it seems they’ve judged that the quickest route to test out whether Jess was an anomaly or a trend, is to give the job to whichever pop girl they need to find something to do with. For Syco, X Factor winner Louisa Johnson is the perfect candidate – a talented, pretty, 18-year-old girl with a profile, but in a precarious position, after her winner’s single only edged into the top 10 at no.9. When that happens, in the world of major labels, you lose your right to have a say over what your music sounds like. Louisa may secretly want to be a death metal singer – we’ll probably never know. Securing her a feature on Clean Bandit’s summer comeback Tears was an unexpected yet very smart move from Syco, though it took the idea of following in Jess’s footsteps almost too literally. According to all sources (any excuse to quote Geri…) her solo material is in the same vein. It’s a competitive market, as the songs will need to be just as strong as any dance hits with which they’ll compete for radio airtime. But if last year’s triumphs from Little Mix and Fleur are anything to go by, we can count on Syco for at least one track that’ll pass the test.

Future Stars: Marshmello (Unsigned)

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With the DJ community being so predominantly male, it can be hard for a newcomer to stand out and be remembered. Marshmello has the answer: a giant marshmallow head. Although it’s not entirely original (Deadmau5, Daft Punk and the Barndance Boys are clearly among his inspirations), combined with the name and logo, it’s a strong brand, and it’s doing the trick. His self-released debut album Joyride hit no.1 on the iTunes electronic album chart on the day of release, and his new single Alone has gained 10 million YouTube views in a month, already matching previous single Keep it Mello. The man behind the Mello is believed to be Chris Comstock, a close friend of Skrillex, and previously known as Dotcom. He began his career as Marshmello in 2015, with remixes for acts such as Calvin Harris, Zedd and Jack Ü, as well as a series of original tracks released to Soundcloud. We may not see many novelty records in the charts these days, but Chris is using the same tactics as acts like Mr Oizo and Gorillaz, who crossed the line between novelty and cool. And like those acts, the music perfectly matches the persona – so high-energy it verges on ridiculous, an exaggerated version of EDM/trap trends that could be mistaken for a joke. Perhaps even Mr Mello isn’t quite sure himself.

Song of the Week: Robin Bengtsson – Stevie Wonder

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As much as I like to discover innovative, fresh and exciting new music, sometimes all I really want is a song that will make me smile, and Sweden is the best at providing those tunes. The new single from Swedish Idol alumnus and Melodifestivalen 2016 star Robin Bengtsson is certainly not going to win any awards, but to me it’s a work of art. Stevie Wonder is a mashup of camp Scandipop and tropical house, with lyrics so ridiculous you just have to laugh (and cringe). It may truly be the least pretentious song in the history of music, and that’s why I had to feature it as my Song of the Week. No matter how many times you hear this song, you’ll never know for sure if you love or hate it – that’s exactly the joy of it. The most interesting fact about this track is that it’s not the work of some cynical old men, writing nonsense to patronise pop fans – in fact it was written by a trio of talent show stars: Robin himself, along with Fame Factory’s Jimmy Jansson and Idol 2013’s Gabriel Alares. I only wish they’d released it as a boyband… oh, what could have been.

Click here to watch the lyric video.

Future Hits: Don’t let this be our final song

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:

  • The Chainsmokers ft. Halsey – Closer
  • Jason Derulo – Kiss the Sky
  • MØ – Final Song
  • M.O – Who Do You Think Of?
  • Martin Garrix & Bebe Rexha – In the Name of Love

For more Future Hits, subscribe to my  Spotify playlist, updated weekly with the next big thing.