Song of the Week: Kesha – Spaceship

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Before Kesha’s new music emerged, I felt we were being prepared for it not to be very good, with stories about Sony rejecting the tracks she wanted to release. I was expecting something kooky and self-indulgent, a Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz situation. Actually, she skipped the Dead Petz and went straight to her Malibu. The storyline was that Kesha wanted to defy the commercial restrictions of major label pop, but in fact her new album is exactly what she should be releasing at this stage in her career, regardless of the legal and personal context in which she releases it. The sound is mature, but still consistent with what she’s done before, reflective of the musical influences she’s always cited, and fitting with current trends. The album doesn’t represent Kesha clinging to her pop star roots, but puts her in line with Haim, Leon Bridges, or any of the artists who reference 60s and 70s music for a Radio 2/Adult Contemporary audience. Spaceship in particular reminds me of the earthy blues-pop of Elle King, and stood out to me as the meeting point of the old and new Kesha. The lyrics express the feeling of being a misfit in a fun and quirky way, but the melody shows her musical talent and the stripped back production gives the message more depth and authenticity. I’m usually the first to say artists should listen to their teams, and let the experts make the musical decisions, but in this case the artist was the one who knew best. It’s a pretty heart-warming turn of events.

Future Hits: Actually, don’t answer that

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My weekly playlist features five tracks I predict will be future hit singles in the UK.

Tracklisting:

  • Justin Bieber & BloodPop – Friends
  • CNCO ft. Little Mix – Reggaetón Lento
  • Yungen ft. Yxng Bane – Bestie
  • Miley Cyrus – Younger Now
  • Avicii ft. Sandro Cavazza – Without You

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

Future Stars: BloodPop (Republic)

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Sorry might have been a big hit for Justin Bieber, but it’s had more of an effect on the lives of its co-creators. Writer Julia Michaels’ single Issues is one of the biggest US hits of 2017 so far, and now producer BloodPop is taking his moment in the spotlight, albeit shared with the Biebs himself. LA-based Michael Tucker initially released music as Blood Diamonds, starting out with remixes for artists like Kendrick Lamar, Beyoncé and Ellie Goulding. He wrote and produced tracks for quirky pop stars like Grimes and Charli XCX before going mainstream in 2015 with a large involvement in Madonna’s Rebel Heart and Justin Bieber’s Purpose albums. The following year, he co-produced all tracks on Lady Gaga’s album, Joanne. Friends is his first single as BloodPop, and it’s a great sign of things to come. Usually when producers release music under their own name it’s a vanity project, a chance to prove their credibility and experiment with less commercial music than they would provide for their star muses. Not so with BloodPop – Friends is the most poptastic track he’s ever released. In fact, the fun backing track and sweet male vocals remind me most of Melodifestivalen, the song contest that provides each year’s Swedish Eurovision entry. As BloodPop shares equal credit with Justin, it’s unclear whether Friends is the beginning of an album campaign for either artist, or simply a one-off. I’d love a whole album of tracks like this, regardless of whose name it’s released under.

Future Stars: CNCO (Sony Latin)

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When Despacito became a global success, I didn’t want to be over-optimistic about it opening doors for other Spanish-language artists. It’s a summer novelty hit with a bit of Bieber to get radio on board, that’s all. But surprisingly, two more Spanish tracks (Súbeme La Radio and Mi Genté) have already followed Despacito into the UK charts. Latin pop hasn’t had such a moment since the days of Ricky Martin and Shakira. Last week brought a brilliant new twist, as Latin American boyband CNCO released a remix of their big single, Reggaetón Lento, featuring Little Mix. CNCO are the product of Simon Cowell and Ricky Martin’s 2015 TV talent show La Banda, and I previously featured them here as Song of the Week with their latest single Hey DJ. The five members are aged 16 to 21 and come from Latin America and the US (with a Hispanic background). Reggaetón Lento was the biggest hit from their debut album, Primera Cita, released last year. The Little Mix remix features new English lyrics (contributed by regular LM topliner Camille Purcell) combined with the original Spanish hook, and the result is an instant contender for my song of the year. In an era with no major girl/boy groups, it’s a joy to hear a male/female duet with such with pure pop vocals. Can we dare to dream of a live performance with full choreo?

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.