It sort of feels like the end of the year is picking up speed and this weeks list is a collective UMPH into winter, with heart achingly sad cuts from Selena Gomez and  Tropics, while Mark Ronson brings the funk to life and our new cover star Taylor Swift devoirs yet another man…

Selena Gomez – ‘The Heart Wants What It Wants’

Selena Gomez’s latest offering isn’t a jolly affair. In fact, it’s probably the moodiest the singer has ever been. Opening the track with an audio recording of a phone call (it’s authenticity debatable), Gomez tearfully opens up on matters of the heart and her relationship insecurities. It’s difficult listening, as she closes “I was in pain”, before the song launches. Soft, reverbed clicks and swirling electronics bubble under Gomez’s surprisingly strong vocals. This feels real, acting as an awakening for the star; she’s officially an adult now, and life’s complexities are no longer in the periphery. As Selena progresses we hope her music continues in this direction, as this is emotionally charged, adult sounding pop music.

Tropics – ‘Blame’

Sitting somewhere between James Blake’s atmospheric darkness and Brolin’s emotionally charged melodies, Tropics’ ‘Blame’ is an eerie electronic delight. Warming strings entice you halfway through the track as wah-ing synths build to a decidedly low-key break before embers of the track slowly burn out towards the end. ‘Blame’ is one of those songs for when you’re lost or confused.

Labrinth – ‘Jealous’

Labrinth is doing something to our hearts – he’s completely melting them. The song’s mourning message of loss is repetitive, but it needs to be, the term ‘jealous’ becoming more and more desperate throughout. While production builds around him, Labrinth’s emotionally raw delivery is what stands out. It’s automatically classical sounding without being pastiche. What’s more, Lab is wearing a really great mustard coloured jumper in the video.

Taylor Swift – ‘Blank Space’

Our new cover star, Taylor Swift, is smashing records everywhere with her fifth album 1989, and deservedly so. The second official offering from the album, ‘Blank Space’ is a tongue-in-cheek retort to the tabloids’ negative comments about her romantic life. Taylor’s self-awareness is what’s made this new album so refreshing; she’s able to poke fun at herself in the best way as she sings “Got a longlist of ex-lovers, they’ll tell you I’m insane.” The video only accentuates Tay-Tay’s humour, as it sees her happily devour a man, her ‘insanity’ building throughout the clip, complete by destroying effigies of him and ultimately chasing him out of her mansion. There’s even a moment where she stands on an actual horse – AN ACTUAL HORSE. Oh Taylor, we bloody love you.

Little Boots – ‘Taste It’

‘Taste It’ is probably the most experimental that Little Boots (aka Victoria Christina Hesketh) has ever been. Sparse production, interesting vocal ticks and spacy percussion are what’s on offer here, with Victoria’s rather alluring vocals ask someone “can you taste it on your lips like liquorish?” It’s all a bit barmy, but if that’s what we’re having we’ll take it (and most likely taste it).

The Veronicas – ‘If You Love Someone’

The Veronicas new track, ‘If You Love Someone’ sounds like a really good girlband track, which it kind of is; the Australian twins’ just get how to make a massive pop hook. Kelly Clarkson-esque drums and guitars are exactly what we need, as the huge chorus leaps out at you. This has massive radio hit written all over it, and we wouldn’t mind hearing this on our morning drive. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.

Lorde – ‘Yellow Flicker Beat (Hunger Games)’

I’m sure many were surprised when now 18-year-old Lorde was asked to ‘curate’ the new Hunger Games soundtrack, but we think it’s a great choice; who else knows what the film’s audience wants better than the film’s audience? Calling in her pals, Lorde has created a really exciting tracklisting. However, it’s her input that has all a tizzy. ‘Yellow Flicker Beat’ doesn’t feel like a soundtrack song, but rather a natural progression for the young New Zealander. The minimal hip-hop beats are upped a level, while wild strings attack the chorus. With Paul Epworth on production duties this was bound to be an epic affair, but somehow Lorde manages to reign him in, making sure it’s her that’s the star of the track. Not only is this absolutely brilliant, it’s got us completely prepared for Lorde’s next assault on our senses. Also, check out her quiff and outfits in the video – blooming marvelous!

Echosmith – ‘Cool Kids’

This track has become somewhat of a viral success over in the States, and now Echosmith are ready to unleash their preppy pop on to the rest of the world. The song sort of reminds us of early Taylor Swift (again), amped up with shinier production.  While the song’s sentiments are questionable (“I wish that I could be like the cool kids.”), the chorus is so catchy that you sort of don’t care. Also, what’s wrong with a bit of awkward longing, not every song has to be about being different – as the opening of the video shows, “cool” is subjective. The band are over in the UK later this month, and we can’t wait to check them out.

Le Youth – ‘Real’

Le Youth’s ‘Real’ somehow manages to sound like a lot of songs out there but kind of like none of them at the same time. House pianos and heavily tuned bass kicks the song along. The song’s use of samples is inspired, with the transitions blending seamlessly. We’re sort of hoping we hear this one on KissFM the next time we’re getting ready for a night out.

Mark Ronson – ‘Uptown Funk’ Ft. Bruno Mars

Mark Ronsona and Bruno Mars know how to make good music together if Mars’ last LP is anything to go by. Their latest collaboration, and the lead single from Ronson’s latest project, is a funk inspired, horn heavy masterpiece in paying tribute to the past without sounding ‘vintage’ or ‘retro’. The production is crystal clear, and there are no signs of artificial record player crackles (as one might expect). Mars’ vocal has a grittiness to it that suits the track’s heavy rhythm and slap bass. Also, whenever there’s a cowbell in a track we get super excited. Say what!?

Alim Kheraj

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