Kelly Clarkson – ‘Heartbeat Song’
Kelly Clarkson knows her way around a banger, and ‘Heartbeat Song’ is certainly that. Slightly electronic sounding guitars and hurtling drum machines kick throughout, with a double tempo verse and a powerful, hook driven chorus. At times it might be a bit basic, but then that’s what we want from Kelly – we want an immediate, anthemic bop, and she’s certainly delivered.
G.R.L. – ‘Lighthouse’
Since the tragic passing of Simone Battle last year, G.R.L. have, naturally, kept a low profile. But that is now over, and the girls are back with a touching tribute to their former member and friend. Whether ‘Lighthouse’ directly references Battle is disputable, but the moving video and emotive performances from the girl group certainly confirm that she was in their hearts throughout the crafting of the song. In a way, it’s the production on ‘Lighthouse’ that’s perhaps most indicative of the song’s theme – for a Dr Luke production it’s stripped back and slightly subtle, whereas it could have been all crash, bang and wallop. Where the girls will go next is still tbc, but for now ‘Lighthouse’ is an appropriate, lovely and heartfelt way to honour the past and look to the future.
Florrie – ‘Too Young To Remember’
In a collaborative effort with H&M, Florrie has released her most radio-friendly song yet in ‘Too Young To Remember’. So friendly, in fact, that it sounds like a Cher Lloyd song (no bad thing). Whether it’s the rhythmic guitar riff, the shouts of “Hey!”, or the breezy melody, the song is just pretty great. However be warned, if pastels aren’t your thing I’d steer clear of the video.
Ciara – ‘I Bet’
Queen Ci-Ci is serving up some 2004 R&B realness with ‘I Bet’, complete with sung-rapped verses and low-key, layered verses. There are clicks of a drum machine pattering across the top of the track, with Ci-Ci’s signature harmonies proving why she’s an R&B queen. Questioning an ex-lover, there’s speculation about whether the song is about ex-fiancé, Future. Regardless, for a lead single it’s a bit lackluster, but by no means unpleasant. Let’s just hope that for single two Ciara ramps up the sex appeal and delivers a proper banger.
Sophia-Grace – ‘Best Friends’
I don’t think we need to have a chat about Sophia-Grace’s age, and whether it’s appropriate for her to be releasing music because she is and that’s what’s happening. So let’s talk about the fact that Essex-born tween has released an urban, DJ-Mustard-lite stonker. The song’s sentiments about friendship are cute (despite the ironic lack of Sophia-Grace’s former partner in crime, Rosie), and the chorus is good. It might not be quite as polished as Willow Smith’s ‘Whip My Hair’, but ‘Best Friends’ has a certain charm about it, from the shopping trip to K-Mart in the vide, to the BEATS pill product placement. Sophia-Grace also serves some serious sass, and, at times, is quite believable as a popstar. We just want to get down to this in the club, and can’t wait until we do.
Charli XCX – ‘Doing It’ Feat. Rita Ora
‘Doing It’, the next single taken from Charli XCX’s much-delayed album SUCKER, is perhaps the best track from the collection. So it’s odd, then, that it seems that Rita Ora has been thrown in to help give the song traction. Regardless of the reasoning behind it, it’s actually quite surprising how well Charli, the princess of alt-pop, manages to blend with Ora’s Top 40 friendly voice. In reality, Ora doesn’t add anything special to the track (except a brilliant “oh yeah” bit in the second verse), but ‘Doing It’ doesn’t need it, the track’s glistening production and Haim-like percussion providing enough for the song to just be amazing. Let’s hope that, finally, ‘Doing it’ provides Charli with the chart-hit she needs and the rest of the world wakes up to what a brilliant popstar she is.
OWS – ‘Waterline’ Feat. Pusha T
What with Marvin LuvBug-ing all over the place, Aston probably planning world domination and JB selling turkeys on his farm, it seemed that Oritsé was the one member of JLS left behind. But little did we know that he’d actually released a smooth R&B track late in 2014, and that that song was incredible. Yes it sounds a bit like Miguel/Drake/Nick Jonas, but ‘Waterline’ is mature in a way that JLS never was. Complete with pointless rent-a-rapper feature from Pusha T, the songs swelling synths, offbeat percussion and guitar create a moody atmosphere, that’s only heightened by the black and white music video. What Oritsé did, sleeping on announcing himself as the man behind the track, was clever and a nice way of re-introducing yourself into the industry. There’s no pretention here and that is great. Let’s hope the OWS can deliver more, top-notch tunes.
Mikky Ekko – ‘U’
Imagine if Ed Sheeran wasn’t just a guitar wielding peddle monster, or Sam Smith hadn’t favourite strings over synths, and you land somewhere near Mikky Ekko. Atmospheric production elements and strong falsetto elevate what could have been snoring singer-songwriter fodder. The light splashing of tambourine at the end of each bar is an inspired flourish and Ekko’s vocals and yearning lyrics are so on point it’s almost hard not to be drawn in to the song.
First Aid Kit – ‘Master Pretender’
First Aid Kit’s Scandinavian take on country music is pretty fun, and ‘Master Pretender’ is no different, with banjos, strings and everything you’d expect from a galloping country hit. However, what is different are the melodies that are certifiably Swedish, filled with hooks and dreamy harmonies. It’s’ uncomplicated music that’s pleasant and inoffensive, and sometimes that’s exactly what you need.
Betty Who – ‘All Of You’
Despite appearing a few years ago, ‘All Of You’ has been chosen as the next single from Aussie-born Brooklynite Bety Who’s album. And it’s quite understandable, as pulsing synths and 80s shimmers provide and early summer anthem. What’s more, Betty has dropped the clean, varsity image and gone for full-on angry-chic, with sapphic subtitles. In fact, the bit in the music video where her friend attacks a guy with a baseball bat, while Betty just eats crisps is totally brilliant. We just hope this change in image and direction helps Betty Who break into the mainstream and show everyone else what they’ve been missing.