Category Archives: Song of the Week

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.


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.

 


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.

It’s been a funny year for Demi Lovato. She had the biggest hit of her career so far with Sorry Not Sorry, but that song does nothing for me, and the rest of her new album is equally underwhelming. However, she also made her first foray into featuring on dance tracks, an area where fellow former teen stars Selena and Justin have discovered there’s money to be made and hits to be had. The problem here is that Demi doesn’t have a voice suited to 2017. She will never be a queen of whisper-pop – she’s a belter by nature. But Selena wasn’t available, Demi got the job, and the results are much stronger and more vibrantly poptastic than anything else on New Music Friday these days. She appeared on one of 2017’s best semi-hits, Instruction by Jax Jones, and now she features on Luis Fonsi’s Despacito follow-up, Échame La Culpa. Demi may be half-Mexican, but she doesn’t have the natural Latino sassiness of stars like Jennifer Lopez and Shakira, who might have been more obvious choices for this duet. However, she brings to it a bright boisterousness that satisfies my pop-craving ears. The Latin-pop trend has been the saving grace of an otherwise uninspiring year in music, and Échame La Culpa is up there with Despacito and Reggaeton Lentó among its best moments. Thanks again, Luis Fonsi!

 


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’ve only had chance to give Reputation a few listens so far, but one track stood out instantly when I first heard it. Songs such as Look What You Made Me Do and End Game are hard to love, despite their strengths, because Taylor’s efforts to prove her self-awareness are so transparent, and she ends up coming off more self-obsessed than self-deprecating. Although she does make one maudlin reference to her reputation on Delicate (“My reputation’s never been worse, so you must like me for me”), the track overall feels far more sincere and relatable. The chorus has a real sweetness and even humility. The happy hopefulness and focus on little details hark back to the romantic side of Taylor that made her lyrical style so endearing and escapist on past albums. Musically, it’s in keeping with her current, autotune-heavy sound, but it reminds me of how Muna combine electro-pop with heartfelt songwriting on I Know a Place and If U Love Me Now – in fact, this could have been on their album. If you’re boycotting Reputation cos it wasn’t on Spotify or you didn’t like the singles, I recommend you at least give this one a listen (here or below at 19:25).


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.

Anyone concerned by the musical direction of Taylor Swift’s new album may like to pretend she’s returned to her country-pop roots and listen to Unapologetically by Kelsea Ballerini. The second album from the 24-year-old Tennessee singer takes inspiration from throughout Taylor’s career, from the Fearless era on High School to the 1989 era on Roses. The latter sounds distinctly similar to Style, but that’s no criticism – it was, after all, one of the best tracks on 1989 (the best was actually Out of the Woods, fyi). The familiarity makes the song instantly catchy and it’s just as uplifting and wistfully nostalgic as Style. I’ve had the chance to see Kelsea live twice in London this year, and I hope to catch her again at next March’s C2C festival.


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.

One of the best gigs I’ve been to this year was an intimate show by country singer Cam at The Tabernacle, Notting Hill, where she performed for over two hours and told the stories behind her songs. Not every artist would be able to carry this off, especially after only one album, but like most country girls Cam has a fun personality and a natural talent that shines in a stripped back setting. Her debut album Untamed was a hit in the US in 2015, led by breakthrough single Burning House (though my favourite track was the sweet and moving Village). She made that album with Jeff Bhasker, Harry Styles’ main collaborator, and I could definitely see musical similarities in their country-meets-classic singer-songwriter style. Cam worked with Jeff again on her forthcoming second album, and the lead single Diane was released last Friday. It’s an upbeat track with a very full, uplifting sound, layered a capella harmonies, rousing riffs and a strong melody. Lyrically, Cam sees it as a response to Dolly Parton’s Jolene, written from the perspective of “the other woman,” who didn’t know she was having an affair with a married man. I have high hopes for Cam’s debut album, and so far I’m not disappointed!


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.

Bea Miller is an example of a trend I’m going to call “girl cried wolf.” One of the reasons I think we’re lacking in breakthrough pop artists at the moment is the current strategy of releasing new tracks incessantly, hoping that one sticks. The tactic worked for Dua Lipa, who finally had a proper ‘moment’ with her seventh single, New Rules, but for other artists it makes each new song seem increasingly inconsequential. This approach might please the superfans, but how are the rest of us meant to know when to pay attention? Bea Miller has been releasing singles and EPs since 2014, and her second album is due at the end of this year. Her songs have always been listenable, and she showed promise even back in 2012 when she appeared on The X Factor US at just 13 years old. Now, she’s finally released a track with hit potential, and no-one seems to have noticed. repercussions has a current sound, plus uplifting lyrics, sweet vocals, and a strong, catchy chorus. My first impression was that it sounded like Julia Michaels, and funnily enough it actually was co-written by Julia, along with regular collaborator Justin Tranter, producer Jesse Shatkin, and Bea herself.


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.

Not only has Australia launched some big international acts over the past few years, but they also have an abundance of local stars making great pop that the rest of the world hasn’t heard about (yet). Female singer E^ST (aka Mel Bester) can be filed next to Montaigne and Jess Kent in that category, both of whom have been featured here before. Although E^ST has a strong Aussie accent on new single Life Goes On, the track has a blissful electro-pop sound that you might guess was Scandinavian. In fact, the production is the work of a Brit – Jim Eliot. Jim’s credits include Kylie’s All The Lovers and Ellie Goulding’s Anything Could Happen, and it certainly has the same unusual combination of subtlety and anthemic-ness that those tracks share. I hope there is more to come from this collaboration! E^ST is signed to Parlophone and played her first UK gig a few weeks ago – sadly I didn’t hear of her til a few days later, so I’m hoping she’ll be back soon.


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.

Great pop music can come from anywhere in the world, but sometimes a new song comes along just to remind us that no-one does it better than the Swedes. Rhys is a young female singer who was born in the US, but has lived in Sweden since she was 10. Signed to Warner Music, she had a breakthrough hit this summer with the track Last Dance. It was a promising start with a current sound, but it’s her new single Too Good To Be True that really impressed me. Co-written and produced by former Cheiron member Jörgen Elofsson, it has a really fun, joyous feel and a soaring sound, with uplifting lyrics on a relatable theme I haven’t heard in song before. As someone who would prefer all films to have a happy beginning, middle and ending, the sentiment definitely appeals to me. I can see Rhys becoming the next Agnes, and she’ll be a strong contender if she pops up in Melodifestivalen 2018.


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.

landscape

I think I’ve finally heard what other pop fans must hear when they listen to Carly Rae Jepsen. The new single from Polydor signing Hannah Jane Lewis is pure pop joy. Raincheck is sassy, but in a cute and bubbly way, without the slightest edge. It sounds like eating the best sour sweets (the fizzy worms from Waitrose, or the Haribo sour bears they have in America). Hannah studied at Tisch School of the Arts in New York (where Gaga also went), but is signed in the UK, was born in Surrey, and has been working with British producers like Karen Poole, Anita Blay and Phil Cook. Raincheck was written with Nicole Blair, Henrik Moreborg, and Tormod Løkling, three unfamiliar names that I shall certainly be looking out for in future. Researching Hannah herself provided an unexpected twist. Prior to her rebirth as an electro-popper, she had a past as a country artist, with plenty of remnants online, such as the music video for her Sandi Thom-esque single Seventeen Again. As much as I enjoy a bit of country, in this case I’m very glad she went pop. I don’t want to imagine a world where Raincheck never existed!