Category Archives: Song of the Week

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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).


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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.


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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.


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Labels are so wary of the cost of a major pop launch  these days, that they are rare treats for us who love to follow their every twist and turn. That’s why I’m excitedly tracking Syco/Columbia’s new US boyband  Pretty Much, who I first featured last month. At the time they didn’t have any music online  but I was expecting it to be very current, cool and upbeat, like a boyband version of post-2015 Justin Bieber. I also assumed the aim was to create a modern, updated version of the American boybands that have been most successful in the past, Backstreet Boys and *N Sync. What I did not expect was for their debut single to actually sound like an early release by one of those groups. In fact, it could even be compared to their predecessor, New Kids on the Block. Would You Mind is a 90s-style boyband track that could even be called “dated,” yet everything else about this campaign is smart and innovative. I love the ethnic diversity in the casting, the social media posts which are fun without trying too hard, and the clever marketing tricks such as this dance video posted by a big YouTuber on the single release day. They’ve clearly got Spotify on board,  as they were top of last week’s New Music Friday  despite very little prior hype. The single certainly is poptastic (thanks to Savan Kotecha  and his brilliant team, including Max Martin on keyboards!)  but it’s a brave move to take this direction when it’s so far from the tastes of a teen pop fan today. Are Pretty Much good enough to change those tastes? I wouldn’t bet against them.


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Since being released earlier this month, Wonder by Nigerian singer Blackmagic hasn’t attracted much interest, and this itself is a wonder. Not only does it feature Fetty Wap, but Wonder is a very current and commercial, summery song with a carnival vibe, which sounds like a huge potential hit to me. The only thing I’d change is making the female vocals more prominent and frequent throughout the track. Afrobeats hasn’t had a crossover hit for a while, and I don’t believe this sound should be a passing trend. It’s a genre that western audiences should embrace, and would if they had more exposure to it, as proven by the success of Fuse ODG and OMI’s Cheerleader. Blackmagic, a singer, rapper and songwriter whose real name is Efemena Mukoro, has released three albums since 2013. Wonder originally appeared in early 2016, but was re-released with Fetty Wap on board by Ministry of Sound this year.


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Much like Susanne Sundfør, I’m awaiting the new album from Wolf Alice with equal parts excitement and trepidation, as I loved the last one and hope not to be disappointed by the follow-up. I can say that Wolf Alice’s Visions of a Life will have at least one song as good as anything from their debut, as I was instantly obsessed with new release Don’t Delete The Kisses when I discovered it on last week’s New Music Friday playlist on Spotify. The band has always had interesting lyrics, and that’s what stands out most about this sweet and witty track. It captures the feeling of having a crush, and being afraid to let the person know. The early refrain “what if it’s not meant for me, love?” is oh-so relatable, but what I loved about the song is that it’s not just about wallowing in self-doubt – it develops into a much more positive, inspiring end. While the first single from Visions of a Life, the rawkus Yuk Foo, showed Wolf Alice’s edgier side, I’m glad the thoughtful alt-pop that made me a fan will be present too.


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Norwegian pop star Astrid S has great potential but hasn’t found her breakout hit yet. I’m not sure Such a Boy is that song, but it is my favourite track from her so far. I love the opening lyric, “Say you need more space, what are you an astronaut?” The track manages to be both sassy and sincere, which is rarely achieved. It’s included on her second EP, Party’s Over, which was released last Friday, and she also performed a stripped back version on Norwegian TV show Nyhetsmorgon.


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When I featured DeJ Loaf in Future Pop in 2014, it wasn’t with any expectation that she’d be releasing music that I would enjoy. In fact, although I thought she’d be respected by the hip-hop community, I didn’t think she had much commercial potential at all. Turns out, I was wrong! The Detroit rapper is now a singer, with long plaits replacing her edgy short-haired look. She’s still very cool, of course, but her new single No Fear is surprisingly poppy. It’s not a huge anthem, but it’s really sweet, summery and fun. It’s always nice when a quality pop song comes from an unexpected source. Welcome to Planet Pop, DeJ Loaf, I hope you’ll stick around!


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I’ve been a fan of Hey Violet since I first heard of them, under their original name of Cherry Bomb, back in 2012, but they have struggled to fulfil their great potential. They started out as a more serious rock band, then went pop, but finding a sound that balances the two genres is tricky as rock is currently a very separate, self-sufficient music scene with only a small number of crossover acts – none of whom are making much impact on the radio, streaming or singles charts. I have been quite underwhelmed by Hey Violet’s singles, but I was still excited to hear their album when it was released… and it turned out to be really good! It was hard to choose one song to feature here but I went for the punky, high-energy album closer This Is Me Breaking Up With You, because it represents what I want most from the group. It’s free and feisty, and will certainly be a highlight of their live show. Other songs such as Unholy and My Consequence place them more alongside Melanie Martinez and Halsey, and are as good as anything on their albums.


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I’ll start by saying that if you’re not familiar with Susanne Sundfør, you should go and listen to her last album Ten Love Songs straight away. Now. Then come back and listen to her new single, Undercover. The simplest way to summarise Susanne is that she’s a Norwegian electro-pop singer, and she’ll certainly appeal to fans of artists like Margaret Berger and Annie, as well as the new crop such as Sigrid, but there’s also more to her than that. Her music is majestic and orchestral, dark and beautiful, intricate and emotional. I loved Ten Love Songs so much that I purposefully kept my expectations low for her future output, as it does have the feel of a one-off special album that can’t be recreated. Sure enough, the first single from the new album isn’t as immediate as her previous singles Delirious and Fade Away, but it does have the sound and feel of Ten Love Songs, which is promising enough for me. Undercover is delicate and interesting, building up and developing as it goes on. It has the heartfelt lyrical candor Susanne has become known for, and the powerful, almost classical vocals, that contrast with the pop melody and unique production.