from solange’s (ingenious) upcoming saint heron collection album (also featuring the likes of jhene aiko, kelela, and solange herself) comes this incredibly interesting new cassie track. here, she sounds the most experimental and soulful she ever has done - and by that i mean she doesn’t sound much like cassie at all, more like a less soulful solange variant. but it really works for her, i’d be intrigued to see if she pursues this direction in her upcoming work.
METRONOMY - I’M AQUARIUS
2011’s ‘the english riviera’ was always going to be a hard act to follow, but this new single from the upcoming ‘love letters’ gives it a pretty good shot. it expands on the more minimalist-leaning tracks of their last album, bringing a unique brand of moody dance along with love-yearning horoscope-infused lyrics and this fantastic “shoo-doop-doop-ahh” earworm throughout.
GORGON CITY - READY FOR YOUR LOVE (FEAT. MNEK)
it’s about time mnek got a big break, and i’m hoping this is the one. gorgon city bring that house throwback sound that has completely obliterated the uk mainstream by this point that (while great) is verging on being tired, but at its crux it’s got amazing accessible straightforward pop lyrics, an amazing chorus, an amazing middle eight, and an amazing popstar-in-waiting at the vocal helm. if this doesn’t sound like a #1 record i don’t know what does.
LE YOUTH - DANCE WITH ME (FEAT. DOMINIQUE YOUNG UNIQUE)
as a massive cassie fan, ‘cool’ left a bad taste in my mouth. as great a track as it is, after its freak success, i worried that le youth was managing to craft a career out of essentially remixing and renaming late 90s/early 00s r&b-pop anthems. ‘dance with me’ doesn’t completely convince me otherwise, but thankfully this time he restricted himself to a slightly more subtle sample of ‘no scrubs’, and got a rapper on board - the brilliant dominique young unique, no less. the result is a really rather pleasant dance tune that’s stylish and understated.
KATY B - I LIKE YOU
following one of the best british pop singles in recent memory, katy b has treated to the world even further with this george fitzgerald collaboration. it’s no ‘5AM’ but it’s in the similar vein and it’s still quite the toe-tapper.
LIZ - STOP ME COLD
LIZ is one of my favourite rising pop starlets of this year, and i was very conscious that she’d never release something that would top ‘hush’, but ‘stop me cold’ might be the new track to beat. it’s probably the most danceable song she’s released thus far, and her r&b-tinged bubblegum vocals sound as pristine as ever - this is a girl who knows how to handle a hook. and what’s more, if you like LIZ on facebook you’ll be able to download the track for free.
BLOOD ORANGE - YOU’RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH
this time with backing vocals provided from friends’ samantha urbani, dev hynes returns with another funky jam in the run up to the november release of ‘cupid deluxe’. ‘you’re not good enough’ is one of those great break-up songs that is really fun to sing along to but you’d rather someone not sing it about you because it’s like “fuck off i’m better than you” as opposed to “i’ll never find someone as good as you”. dev’s vocals sound pretty sweet though, so that takes the edge off - the track’s mellow and not aggressive at all and it’s got a perfect pop chorus. really exciting stuff.
M.I.A. - Y.A.L.A
in her reinvention of “yolo”, maya draws on karma and reincarnation to remind listeners that for some people, you always live again. there’s a lot of talk about polos, yoyos, etc - lyrically it’s probably the most fun and tongue-in-cheek m.i.a. song since the days of ‘arular’ and ‘kala’, which is nice to hear. of course, the production seems in keeping with the tastes of ‘matangi’ we’ve had so far, with brash drumbeats and frantic alarm noises thrown in for good measure. ‘y.a.l.a’ is not as catchy as the poppier moments of ‘come walk with me’, but not as abrasive as its loud parts. probably the best and most cohesive track of the album so far, barring (of course) ‘bad girls’.
LADY GAGA - DO WHAT U WANT (FEAT. R KELLY)
this new ‘ARTPOP’ track is really quite phenomenal. gaga keeps banging on about the whole “i am every icon” theme on this album, and ‘do what u want’ is a genuinely really multi-faceted song. it works as a much-more-straightforward-than-usual pop song, it works as a modern-day take on old school r&b slow jams, it works as a ‘piece of me’-esque “fuck the critics” anthem, but it’s even got a bit more to it than that. lyrically, gaga separates her heart, mind and body, and seems to have made a conscious decision to leave the last of the three out in the open now - “do what you want with my body” sounds incredibly passive on paper, but in reality this is a personal empowerment anthem if i ever heard one. her personal life and her thoughts and ideas are declared as hers to choose to share and articulate, but as for her body - she’s stopped caring. the brilliance of ‘do what u want’ is that lyric at its crux can mean so many things, ranging from “i really don’t care if you call me fat” to “r kelly if you want to have sex with me that would also be okay”. suddenly this “my ARTPOP could mean anything” nonsense is genuinely starting to come together.
am i being dangerously optimistic in thinking that if this is just a promo single, then single #2 ‘venus’ must be some kind of pop mammoth?
ELLIPHANT - COULD IT BE
the best song to include the words “toothbrush”, “pasta”, “milk” and “pancakes” in its chorus in recent memory. elliphant has opted for a more conventional pop sound on this massive track - and even a more typically pop subject matter: an ode to the remnants of a former lover. however, what she is retaining (in what surely must be her rise to stardom) is her brilliantly blunt and clunky lyrical style, unmistakable raspy, lilted scandinavian voice, and her unique aesthetic. everything about ‘could it be’ is just slightly ugly, slightly messy, slightly offbeat. the listener stops to think “did elliphant really just reference the universal-but-relatively-unspoken-of life issue of making too much pasta in the middle of a big pop song?” and then by the end you wonder why no one ever thought to do that before and realise you’ve just watched a great music video for a great song.