Carly Rae Jepson – ‘I Really Like You’
Two-and-half years after the world was taken over by ‘Call Me Maybe’, the bop that infected the world with it’s catchy, memeable chorus, Carly Rae Jepson is back.
Like her debut album, Kiss, ‘I Really Like You’ follows the same 80s influenced synths and drum machines, but contains an extra punch. Jepson captures that moment that we’ve all experienced, blurting out our affections for a crush. In fact, with a co-write from The Cardigans’ Peter Svensson, the song acts as an antidote to desperation in ‘Lovefool’, instead filling the world with the possibilities of beginnings, perfectly encapsulating those fluttering butterflies of liking someone. The driving drums almost blur out the urgency of the chorus, while shimmering synths cascade in the periphery. Yet it’s Jepson’s soft and sugary vocal that takes the track to the next level, so much so that by the end you’re screeching along with her.
What a song. What a popstar. We really really really really really really like you.
Cashmere Cat feat. Ariana Grande – ‘Adore’
Cashmere Cat is the current producer du jour, and with an impressive collection of collaborations under his belt, the Norwegian is on his way to superstardom.
One such collaborator is Wonderland favourite Ariana Grande. It’s no secret that we’re pretty obsessed with the ponytail wielding popstar, and we were living for the pair’s track from Grande’s last album. Now, however, they’ve stepped it up a mark. Rather than being sucked into the electronic vortex of dance music, the track pays heed to Grande’s debut, with flecks of 90s R&B throughout the bass heavy track. Clicks of percussion (and a cowbell!?) inject attitude to the track, while phasing synths, guitars and pianos replace each other on the verses. Of course, Grande’s voice is a dream, even if her diction is, again, way off.
With ‘Adore’ it feels that Grande has found a happy balance between the sonic throwback of her first album, and the Top 40 chart ready tracks of her sophomore effort.
Madonna – ‘Ghost Town’
With the much-maligned Rebel Heart due next week, we think it’s safe to say that Madonna’s latest album campaign has been off to a rocky start. And while the album sits at a massive 19 (!) tracks on the deluxe edition (there’s even a 25 track ‘Super Deluxe’ version), there are moments of classic Madge brilliance to be found.
One such moment is the apparent second single, ‘Ghost Town’, one of Madonna’s best ballads since Ray Of Light. Cold, almost clinical electric piano opens the song, before Madonna in her natural key comes in with a deeply emotive vocal performance. While at times the percussion becomes clunky, especially the drums during the chorus, the lyrics are probably some of Madonna’s best in years – there’s not “hesitating” or “waiting” here. Yes she is completely ridiculous, and someone really needs to take her off Instagram (#bitchimasock), but songs like ‘Ghost Town’ prove why Madonna deserves her crown as Queen of Pop.
Marina And The Diamonds – ‘Forget’
Froot might be Marina’s most sonically experimental record yet, but ‘Forget’ is distinctly reminiscent of her now deceased alter ego, Electra Heart. There’s a proper chorus here, with a big hook. We also love the blend of electronics provided by the drum machine and bass with the distorted guitar.
The song kind of reminds us of The Cardigans’ ‘Live And Learn’, but with more oomph and angrier lyrics. As Marina has said, Froot has more, personally, of herself in it, and the lamentations in ‘Forget’ are delivered with attitude, honesty and deep-rooted power. Now the album is out in a few weeks, we’re looking forward to what else Froot has to offer.
The Veronicas – ‘Cruel’
Heavily produced pop-rock is one of our favourite things, and for well over a decade The Veronicas have been delivering again and again.
What we really like about ‘Cruel’ is it tackles that strange middle point at the end of a break-up when you can’t bear seeing someone moving on, but don’t want them for yourself; it is, as the girls say, cruel. Couple this with pop hooks galore and massive synthetic guitars, and you’ve got the perfect pop song. The video also sees the twin sisters as the baddest bitches around, fighting with an ex and, ultimately, blowing him up in a car. For pop addicts, this one is for you.
Kate Boy – ‘Higher’
We were worried that we’d get tired of Kate Boy’s usual, industrial shtick, and in away the band have struggled to deviate from the same synths sounds and pounding drums.
At times, in fact, it felt like their aesthetic, both visually and aurally, was more important than a good old melody. However, it seems like something has clicked with them as ‘Higher’ has reined in the synths and has a killer melody. This ‘stripped back’ step for the Stockholm-based group is completely welcome, and even the forceful pads in the middle-eight have been rounded nicely in the mix so that nothing is overbearing. In fact, the verses have a Haim-like quality that really suits them.
We’re still approaching the band with some trepidation, but if they continue like this things might start looking up.
Loreen – ‘Paper Light (Higher)
When you think of Eurovision what normally comes to mind is a deliriously yet delectable images of camp, absurd and wonderfully outlandish pop. What also comes to mind is the ‘curse of Eurovision’, as it were – it’s very rare that a Eurovision contestant, or winner for that matter, manages to stick around. So when Loreen won in 2012, not only was the world stunned when her entry was an incredible pop banger, but that her album also performed well. Returning three years later, ‘Paper Light’ has pared down the EDM from her previous efforts, instead building on the current house music trend, with a rave glockenspiel(!) building in the track until the piano kicks in. Likewise, Loreen’s voice is subtle during the soaring chorus. This song is testament to her talent, and shows that she deserves a place at pop’s picnic more than more Eurovision entries.
The Japanese House – ‘Still’
Not too much is known about The Japanese House, aka Amber Bain, the UK-based 19-year-old who had her first play Zane Lowe’s radio show. Produced by two members from The 1975, the song is distinctive, ghostly and deliciously androgynous. In fact, we’re getting serious Guy Sigsworth/Frou Frou vibes from the song, especially the electronic vocal production, which adds texture and calmingly beautiful harmonies. The quietude that the track embodies doesn’t detract from the melancholic waves that play out in chorus. It’s exciting when something like The Japanese House comes along, isn’t it?
Slow Knights – ‘Just Kiss’
Slow Knights is the collective founded by Del Marquis from Scissor Sisters, and ‘Just Kiss’ is the lead single from their second album, Living In A Dark World, Let Me Be Your Light. The song is quite far removed from anything the Scissor Sisters would release, instead finding its footing in R&B slow jamz. There’s a sultry darkness to the funky, pronounced bassline, while trap-like drums and busy electronics scatter around it. Balancing pain with pleasure, ‘Just Kiss’ is a good sign of where Slow Knights are going, and we can’t wait to hear it.
Rihanna – ‘Towards The Sun’
Taken from ‘Home’, the animated film in which Rihanna stars, ‘Towards The Sun’ is a typically epic movie soundtrack song. There are crashing drums, choirs and, of course, deeply optimistic lyrics. But really, all we want is a bloody banger. Get a move on Rihanna!