Years & Years – ‘Memo’
So far, the music that Years & Years have put out has been sat on the right side of dance-pop, glittering synths and melancholic lyrics amalgamating to create a special breed pop that has us dancing and swooning. But, with their latest track ‘Memo’, the London band seem to have dropped their dance sensibilities and opened up. ‘Memo’ opens with pianos and sparse drum machines as singer Olly’s light falsetto grows in strength as the song builds, while the lyrics tap into the band’s ongoing themes of longing and yearning. While at times their material can lean dangerously into ‘borehouse’ territory, ‘Memo’ is a healthy antidote that is substance over style.
Major Lazer Ft. Ariana Grande – ‘All My Love’
Recent controversies about size aside, Major Lazer’s production hasn’t always to our liking, the blend of reggae production and EDM can sometimes sit sour with us. However, things seemed to have been pulled back with ‘All My Love’. Taken from the new Hunger Games OST, which was curated by pop extraordinaire Lorde, the song sees Ariana Grande team up with the producer for this house-y banger. Grande’s powerful vocals standout against the somewhat bombastic production, and while it can all be a bit much this song would have been a welcome addition to the singer’s latest album My Everything. But, at the heart of this track is a rather touching love song with brilliant melodies and a completely amazing pre-chorus chorus thing. What this certainly proves, though, is that less is sometimes more.
Hayley Kiyoko – ‘This Side Of Paradise’
Hayley Kiyoko is a 23-year-old actress-turned-singer from LA who, despite starring in rather large Hollywood blockbusters, doesn’t apply this magnitude to her music. Her debut offering ‘This Side of Paradise’ is pop placed on the dreamscape. Oozing bass and slight percussion skirt around Kiyoko’s vocals, while otherworldly synths shine and scatter around. While we’re getting a bit tired of barrage of female fronted ‘dream pop’ that’s appearing at the moment, there’s definitely potential here – let’s hope some of that Hollywood sparkle pays off.
Charli XCX – ‘Gold Coins’
‘Gold Coins’ is the latest offering from Charli XCX’s upcoming pop behemoth SUCKER. Grungy guitars, appropriately affected vocals and slights of production put this track securely in the teen-movie soundtrack category. Likewise, the tongue-in-cheek lyrics are Charli at her most bratty, as she sings “my platinum problems are drowning in pink champagne.” Here Charli manages to convey the ridiculousness of opulence with more humour than most, and that’s why she’s one of the most exciting pop entities at the moment.
Julia Vero – ‘How Does It Feel?’
Imagine songs could talk to you, sit in your mind and hit you repeatedly with a rolled up newspaper to get your attention and you have ‘How Does It Feel?’. Epic Phil Collins-esque drums and synths build on this powerpop smash, with a euphoric chorus that continuously delivers each time it comes around. At times the ‘I can live without you’ lyrics become a touch much, but then that massive chorus comes around again and you’re hooked back in.
Kindness Ft. Robyn – ‘Who Do You Love’
Kindness’s left-field 80s inspired pop sometimes strays far into blog territory for us, this latest collaboration with Robyn is so gentle and kindhearted that it’s easy to ignore. A self-proclaimed song about how identity is formed through our relationships with others, this song’s subdued message of acceptance and connection comes across almost effortlessly. The sensitivity in Robyn’s vocals matched with dissonant percussion and sparse electronics is warming, with organs and electric pianos creating a wall-of-sound halfway through the track, making us feel all fuzzy.
Pr0files – ‘Forgive’
‘Forgive’ sounds like a power ballad but with the sensibilities of an 80s synth band and, to us, that’s absolutely dandy. There’s a hypnotic quality to the song, the repetitive bass and production sitting ahead of the vocals that glide around in the periphery until the chorus. This song sort of transports us to the pouring rain, we’re wearing double denim and our partner has just driven off in his Cadillac.
Becky G – ‘Cant Stop Dancing’
Earlier this year, Becky G arrived, sang in the shower and delivered one of the year’s best pop songs. Now the singer is back with the tropically infused ‘Can’t Stop Dancing’. What we like about this track is the rather sad verses that aren’t actually sad at all. And yes, while it may sound like a Rihanna song from 2006, it’s got a certain charm to it with it’s memorable hooks and handclaps. What’s clear is that Becky G needs to stop trying to be Carly Rae Jepson and stop trolling for that viral hit – if she keeps making music like this one will come along all by itself.
Pitbull ft Ne-Yo – ‘Time Of Our Lives’
There is something so deeply ironic about ‘Mr Worldwide’ and money bags Ne-Yo singing a song about only having $20 to their names, not being able to pay their rent but still ‘hitting the club’. However, this song is so damn catchy (aren’t they always), that it’s all forgiven. As yolo-pop goes, this is quite subdued as disco guitars jive under the low-key EDM beats. It’s the hook in the chorus that is so wonderful that we just want to sing along. As Pitbull says: “This is for everybody going through tough times, believe me, done that”, there’s a genuine sincerity that makes the whole thing quite charming. It’s possible that Pitbull, more so than his pop contemporaries, actually taps into what the audience wants and is, shockingly, quite relatable.
Scavenger Hunt – ‘Lost’
So, stick with us on this one, but imagine if HAIM decided to re-locate, live on a tropical island and make music, and you’ve got Scavenger Hunt’s ‘Lost’. Plinkity guitars and wild percussion are mixed with well produced vocals. While at times the melody in the verse gets lost amongst the production, little touches like the song’s bridge and wooshing sound, along with vocal ticks in the chorus stand out and make something altogether quite pleasant. Like a well made mojito on the beach this is refreshing, safe but quite tasty.