A collaboration we didn’t know we needed from Afrorave phenomenon, Rema, and Selena Gomez of, well, Selena Gomez fame. “Calm Down”, taken from Nigerian singer and rapper Rema’s March album Rave and Roses is an irresistible, laid-back jam, now furnished with Gomez’s porcelain vocals, making for the late-summer team-up of our dreams. Gomez has been riding high of late in the acting stakes with Hulu’s Only Murders In The Building, however, if this track’s anything to go by, we hope she makes a B-line for the studio again sometime soon – preferably with Rema in tow, as we need this synergy to transcend just one release.
From a collaboration no one saw coming, the return of the princess of pop, and the convergence of two English rap titans, this week’s music round-up is a delightful sonic adventure.
Rema – “Calm Down” (with Selena Gomez)
Elton John and Britney Spears – “Hold Me Closer”
Britney. Is. Back. There’s little else that needs to be said about the collaboration of the year between two of pop music’s most legendary stars. A disco-pop reworking of John’s 1971 hit “Tiny Dancer”, in the vain of the previous modernisation of retro cuts “Sacrifice” and “Rocketman” on 2021’s Dua Lipa collab “Cold Heart”. However, if anything, this is a vehicle to restore the supremacy of one of the 21st century’s most eminent performers, with the sound of Britney’s instantly recognisable, sugary top line on this, her first track since being released from a 14-year conservatorship, dripping in poignancy. We hope we’ll see another track from Britney Jean before too long, but if this is all we’re getting, we couldn’t be more nourished.
Bugzy Malone x MIST – “Energy”
Leaders of England’s Northern and West Midland’s rap scenes respectively, Bugzy Malone and MIST’s “Energy” is a convergence of two rap trailblazers that more than lives up to its namesake. Driven by a disruptive bassline, alongside instantaneous earworm hooks and the pair’s masterful lyricism, “Energy” would enliven any setting, and with Notting Hill Carnival and one of the last big weekends of festivals set to unravel in the next few days, it’s simply inevitable that “Energy” will be blasting out of speakers for the foreseeable.
Hope Tala – “Leave It On The Dancefloor”
West-Londoner Hope Tala has saved the Sunday of summer with the ravishing, addictive groove of “Leave It On The Dancefloor.” The 24-year-old, responsible for one of the best songs of 2020 with “All My Girls Like To Fight”, is poised to top it with her iridescent new track, led by Tala’s euphonious tones paired over remarkably kinetic production. It’s destined to hang over us like a glitter ball, guiding our transition to the darker months, of course, with a two-step or two on the way.
Willow Kayne – “Rat Race”
At still only 20 years old, Willow Kayne delivers this blistering critique on the pursuit of musical success with “Rat Race”, which explores her inner conflict of believing in her own abilities but lacking faith in the industry to allow her to access the outcomes she dreams of. The singer and rapper, inspired by everything from pop, punk, and hip-hop, proves her prowess as one of the music industry’s most exciting new forces, a status she continues to attach herself to with every release, which this year has also included the inescapable magic of “White Noise” and the riotous “Final Notice”. It’s fair to say Willow’s fed us well so far in 2022, but we’re always looking for more from this maestro. Thankfully, “Rat Race” more than ties us over for now.
BNXN – “Bad Since ‘97” EP
BNXN’s schedule is jam-packed this year. Fresh from supporting Koffee on the US and Canadian leg of her tour, shows across the UK, plus a headline Lagos concert featuring West-African musical icons Burna Boy, Wizkid, Omah Lay and Zlatan, the 25-year-old artist-to-watch has still managed to gift us “Bad Since ‘97”. The seven-track EP of melodic Afro-fusion has hooks so infectious we would need another vaccine to slow its spread, but why would we want to do that when we can bathe in its glory instead? Barack Obama is certainly a fan anyway, evidenced by him adding BNXN’s Pheelz team-up “Finesse” to his recent summer playlist, which has in recent years become an unlikely run-down of the global industry’s biggest hitters. “In My Mind”, track five from “Bad Since ‘97” was brought to life this week in BNXN’s Colors performance, you can watch it right now, above.
Phoebe Go – “Hey”
Australian singer-songwriter and former member of five-piece indie pop band Snakadaktal, Phoebe Go delivers a dreamy, untouched sonic landscape on her captivating new track “Hey”, taken from her newly announced debut solo EP Player, out on October 28th. The track is a deeply personal one for the artist, inspired by the passing of her cousin a few years ago and exploring the sinuous path grief can take you. “This song’s really close to me,” she says. “I lost my youngest cousin really suddenly a few years back and I didn’t know how to make sense of it all, and I still don’t and I don’t think I ever will. But this song is really my way of coming to grips with that.”