Nearly every artist on the planet seems to be releasing music or videos at the moment. Here is some of my favourite new releases from the first 6/7 weeks of the new year: with everything from ethereal guitars to viking pop, there is something for everyone. At the very end, I’ve linked a playlist with all of these songs on them, so you can judge them for yourself!
twst – Are You Listening?
With barely 30,000 monthly listeners and only four singles to her name, twst is a London artist at the start of a career which will surely turn her into a big name. I only found her through a promoted post on Instagram whilst sitting on a bus. ‘Are You Listening?’ was released on February 5th, and is already my most-listened song. With themes of technology overload, it manages to combine piano backing and soft verses with dark electropop beats and a chorus with vocals so haunting they could be in a Halloween movie. The easiest way to describe this is through a comparison with ‘nihilist blues’ by Bring Me The Horizon and Grimes. The best way to describe it is if you press play on it ;).
Mura Masa, Ellie Rowsell (of Wolf Alice) – Teenage Headache Dreams
Mura Masa’s second studio album ‘R.Y.C’ (reviewed in full here: https://ryanwrites99.wordpress.com/2020/01/18/album-review-mura-masa-r-y-c-2020/) manages to blend a nostalgic, familiar sound with modern indie and alternative music. The highlight of the album is ‘Teenage Headache Dreams’, with Ellie Rowsell of Mercury Prize-winning Wolf Alice. Managing to combine both artists’ individual sounds (and voices), it’s about the ability to be happy through imagining things which aren’t real and the healthiness of escapism. With an acoustic element, uplifting choruses, a euphoric final minute and even a spoken word verse, this is the dreamiest and most diverse song I’ve heard in a long time.
Grimes – Delete Forever
With her fifth studio album, ‘Miss Anthropocene’, on the way next Friday, Grimes has been releasing a steady slew of singles and promotional content since the release of ‘Violence’ in September. Known for being hard to define as an artist (she has been quoted as wanting to make ‘ethereal’ a genre), ‘Delete Forever’ is a turn in another new direction. More guitar based and more widely accessible than her previous work, it is a solemn and personal look at the opioid crisis which has claimed lives across the USA. It manages this without losing any of the unique sound which has earned her a loyal group of fans since her debut albums a decade ago.
Dua Lipa – Physical
It’s 2020, and nostalgia has never been more in fashion. ‘Physical’ is the third preview from Dua Lipa’s second studio album ‘Future Nostalgia’, to be released on April 3rd. Fused with eighties vibes and a reference to an Olivia Newton-John song, this catchy love song wouldn’t be out of place in a nightclub, on a radio station or headlining a Pride festival. It’s got a really good music video too. Dua has owned pop for the last few years, and this could be her best song yet. Everyone else is going to have to up their game to catch up with her.
Pussycat Dolls – React
Nicole Scherzinger and the Pussycat Dolls are another piece of nostalgia. In the wake of the Spice Girls Reunion Tour being a roaring success last year, 2000s girl groups making a comeback seems to be the current trend in the UK. ‘React’ has been teased since last November, when it received an exciting performance on the X-Factor (a piece of history which certainly needs to be left in the past). ‘React’ is everything you would expect from PCD – it’s almost as if the ten year hiatus never happened. Although it only debuted at #29 on the UK Singles Chart, that may be more because the industry has changed since 2009. ‘React’ is pure pop – it gets you on your feet and sends you down a trip which involves everything they released back in the day. I hope this is the start of a new album for the Pussycat Dolls as they had more music left in them.
KAAZE – Wolves
Don’t ask me how I found this song, I don’t have a clue. I’m very happy I did though. KAAZE is a Swedish DJ clearly inspired by the trance of the late 2000s, however ‘Wolves’ feels like more than your average dance track. There’s clear influence from rockier elements of Nordic music – KALEO, Sivert Hoyem? – but with a drop which most producers would listen to with envy.
Samanta Tina – Still Breathing
I’m a big Eurovision fan, to the point where I’m listening to all of the songs as they get selected. Latvia’s entry this year is going to take a lot to beat for me, although whether it does well in Rotterdam in May is another matter entirely. Melodramatic and extra to the extreme, it combines pop beats, OTT vocals and overarching messages of empowerment and self-improvement with a rave drop to go mad to. Life is music, and she is the composer.
Rein Alexander – One Last Time
Although One Last Time didn’t win Norway’s Melodi Grand Prix festival and won’t be heading to Eurovision, it is one of the top songs of National Final season. Managing to combine Rein’s classical background with contemporary electropop, ‘One Last Time’ evokes images of a rousing speech from a grand Viking king leading his army into battle.
Sean Paul, Tove Lo – Calling On Me
I was sceptical of ‘Calling On Me’ when I heard of a collab between Sean Paul and Tove Lo. Yeah, Tove is my most streamed artist of all time, but beyond ‘Rockabye’ I’ve never been impressed by Sean Paul. With a catchy chorus, jumpy beat and both artists’ signature vocals, my scepticism has been proved wrong. Despite being promoted uniquely with Sean Paul’s appearance in a DJ set on ‘Love Island’ I feared this would not be an instant chart success. However, I’ll be dancing to this all summer long.
Tove Lo – Bikini Porn
Tove Lo’s been busy in 2020. Despite only releasing her fourth album ‘Sunshine Kitty’ in September (reviewed in full here: https://ryanwrites99.wordpress.com/2019/09/25/album-review-tove-lo-sunshine-kitty-2019/), so far she’s dropped three singles, three music videos and is embarking on the ‘Sunshine Kitty’ tour across the Americas and Europe. TL5 on the way (we can hope)? ‘Bikini Porn’ is the singer’s collaboration with Finneas, Billie Eilish’s brother and the producer of her Grammy winning album ‘when we fall asleep, where do we go?’. Catchy af, Tove has started 2020 with the determination to take pop by storm once again.
Ryan’s best songs of 2020 so far: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5QMkkdzk63cjw0nPFg5FQM