sometimes british pop music can get it really wrong, other times it gets it really right. it is often at its best when it walks the line between the two. the saturdays as a longtime uk girlband have tended to deliver two types of singles: 1) occasionally amazing, usually generic, dance-pop uptempos and 2) rarely amazing ballads. with this new single, the saturdays have forayed into new territory, with (frankly ridiculous) tongue-in-cheek lyrics reminiscent of, say, the spice girls. most importantly what we’ve got here is an unabashed pop sound - an earworm chorus, a talky bit where the girls name-check stereotypically handsome famous chaps. then there’s the video which has just been released: it looks insanely tacky, there’s green screen everywhere, and it’s like desperate housewives but with lots of cross-dressing. and i mean all of these things as a compliment. unlike most of their singles, ‘gentleman’ doesn’t seem safe and expected - it’s a risky pop single that with the right luck really ought to solidify the success that the saturdays are experiencing at the moment, what with having finally scored their first number one.
JACQUES GREENE - ON YOUR SIDE (FEAT. HOW TO DRESS WELL)
how to dress well is pretty much one of my favourite artists so when i heard he was collaborating with house DJ jacques greene i didn’t really know what to expect. turns out his ethereal r&b vocals lend better to house production than i could’ve ever thought. this is absolutely incredible, it’s pensive, introverted and minimalist but it’s got these massive steel-drum parts that are reminiscent of blood diamonds’ phone sex (which can only be a good thing).
KANYE WEST - NEW SLAVES (LQ)
so last night kanye debuted this new song simultaneously in various locations worldwide, projecting his face onto various walls worldwide. it’s all a bit jekyll & hyde - the first half is almost ‘yung-rapunxel’-esque, brash and gritty, but then through the dark clouds you get this strange, glorious golden glow in the second half. whatever this is - a new single or just a taster of what to come - it’s exciting stuff, especially when ye’s got ‘my beautiful dark twisted fantasy’ to follow up.
DIRTY PROJECTORS - THE SOCIALITES (ALUNAGEORGE REMIX)
if it wasn’t already universally accepted that alunageorge remixes are always a good thing, this new one should do the trick. amber coffman’s vocals are actually really well suited to that luxurious and magical (at some points gameboy-esque) sound of theirs.
BANKS - WARM WATER
this is amazing. the LA-based songstress banks delivers velvety vocals over crisp, chilled-out production courtesy of TEED.
KENDRICK LAMAR - BITCH DON’T KILL MY VIBE
it was already one of the best songs of last year, but it’s only right that it gets the single treatment in time for summer - with a great video to boot.
KATY B - WHAT LOVE IS MADE OF
i didn’t particularly love katy b’s output until the outstanding danger EP towards the end of last year, which was the perfect precursor to this: the euphoric retro comeback single. the garage and house influences are still there, but she’s sounding like a more uptempo, more rough-around-the-edges jessie ware here. by the looks of things, she’s not headed for a sophomore slump - if anything she’s setting herself up to eclipse her entire back catalogue thus far.
DJ FRESH VS DIPLO - EARTHQUAKE (FEAT. DOMINIQUE YOUNG UNIQUE)
two big name DJs and one of my favourite female rappers team up for an understated, heartfelt, emotional ode to making that ass shake. you might recognise the beat from angel haze’s (unauthorised by diplo and fresh) diss track to azealia banks earlier this year, but this sounds far more polished and dominique absolutely kills it. the biggest “club banger” of the year so far?
VÅR - INTO DISTANCE
new track from the copenhagen-based project, it sounds quite the cure-esque (AKA amazing), if slightly more ethereal, and has been released right in the run-up to the release of their debut full-length ‘no one dances quite like my brothers’. the description of the upcoming album on soundcloud boasts literary influences and emotional roller coasters, which is great news if you happen to be into those things.
finally the world gets to hear the first full-length effort from the hypeworthy pop duo. it’s consistently amazing, if slightly samey - think of a florence and the machine album but slightly more dreamy and much more electronic.