Tulisa – ‘Living Without You’
You’ve got to hand it to Tulisa, the woman has had a pretty tough year. But that’s not stopped her from producing this rather stellar, fist-pump anthem. Complete with melancholic and memorable lyrics, the former N-Dubz singer has done a Kiesza, house beats and pop-synths in tow. Automatically Tulisa has found a place for herself in pop’s landscape in 2014, and good for her. She is The Female Boss after all.
Gwen Stefani – ‘Baby Don’t Lie’
While she’s been busy with No Doubt and now The Voice, Gwen’s solo career hasn’t had an update in eight years. Now she’s back with ‘Baby Don’t Like’, a tropically infused serving of pop delight, complete with handclaps and mid-tempo beats. It’s immediate and maybe not as left field as Gwen’s earlier work, but really the whole thing has an element of madness to it that’s real.
Zella Day – ‘Hypnotic’
Hailing from Arizona, Zella Day is a perfect amalgamation of pop’s direction in 2014. With the synths of Tove Lo, the wispy vocals of Lana and the crossover of Taylor, she manages to effortless make an impact. With new track, ‘Hypnotic’, Day conveys its trapping message, with stabbing synths and lashings of guitar, including a rather recognizable sample. The result is something unique, memorable and rather good.
Sportsman – ‘Begin Again’ (Taylor Swift Cover)
At the moment it’s sort of Taylor fever – what with her album 1989 out next week, you can’t get on the tube, go online or turn on the TV without seeing Ms Swift somewhere. What’s more, Swedish musical man Sportsman has done a cover of one of Swifites best tracks, ‘Begin Again’. His cover is all soft pianos and muted vocals, and his crescendo towards the uplifting ending is wonderfully realized. Just lovely.
Shannon Saunders – ‘Silly Little Things’
Shannon Saunders has been making splashes on the interwebs for a while, and with good reason. New song ‘Silly Little Things’ is a bouncy, almost static, ditty, with modern production stylings reminiscent of Disclosure and Gorgon City. There’s something enchanting about the light splutters of synths that cascade in the background. Saunders is one to keen your eyes on in 2015 for sure.
Shura – ‘Indecision’
Channeling early Whitney, Shura’s ‘Indecision’ is one of those songs that you listen to three times in a row. It’s not only easy on the ears but sonically interesting, light stabs of synths perfectly balanced with guitar riffs. Likewise, Shura’s soul-dripped vocals are placed just right, lingering somewhere in the foreground. Lyrically, the song’s theme of shifting stages in relationships follows a steady progression found through out her work. If she keeps going like this, Shura’s not only going to be one the breakout stars of next year, something we’re so ready for.
Labrinth – ‘Misbehavin’’ (Live – Later…with Jools Holland)
Singer-songwriter and producer Labrinth is having a bit of a re-brand, and we’re on board. Taking the soul of Aloe Blacc, Labrinth brings some British charm to it with his new track, ‘Misbehavin’’. This video of him performing it on Jools Holland is captivating, and presents the London-born artist in some fresh light. There’s a charisma watching him behind the piano, full band behind him, that’s electric. We’re even more excited for new material now that we’ve seen this.
Lion Babe – ‘Jump Hi’ Ft. Childish Gambino
Lion Babe’s new track has us thinking back to Amy Winehouse’s debut Frank, with some modern production thrown in. The New York duo, comprised of Jillian Hervey and Lucas Goodman, have found a slice of sunshine in October’s mist, as this track’s uplifting vibe is infectious. Likewise, Gambino adds some texture to the song, his rap proving why he’s one of the best in the game. This is like aural silk, soft, smooth and delightful.
Ariana Grande and The Weekend – ‘Love Me Harder’
Taken from her second album, ‘Love Me Harder’ is Ariana Grande’s best work to date. Pulsing synths, adult(ish) lyrics and a sense of desire spread throughout the track, Grande’s signature vocals sounding stellar throughout. Likewise, The Weekend takes a crossover step, his delicate vocals delivered sublimely. This is, for us, one of the songs of the year. We love it (a little bit harder).