“Boo’d Up” is blowing up. Ella Mai’s sumptuous ’90s R&B throwback, first released way back in February 2017 as the opening track of her Ready EP, is on its second week at #8 on Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart. The slow-burn success story had its genesis in Spotify and Apple playlist placement but … More »
Now here’s a pop posse cut I can get behind: “Bitches” is Tove Lo’s new single, and it features Charli XCX, ALMA, Icona Pop, and Elliphant. A version of the song originally appeared on the Swedish pop musician’s Blue Lips album last year, but this remix has the added benefit of its long string … More »
- 5SOS haven’t actually made this week’s best song but Janelle & Grimes didn’t stick to the VERY BASIC LAW of New Music Friday.
- The Arrhult single would have made a nice Zayn single and the Zayn single would have made a nice Niall single.
- We should just get this out of the way now: Pentatonix have covered Ed Sheeran’s Perfect, and it’s not an enjoyable listen.
- Nicki Minaj remains one of the planet’s best popstars.
- ALMA has jumped on the Years & Years single and made it 7% better, which seems like a lot of effort for not much reward.
The post New Music Friday: 5SOS at the top, PENTATONIX DOING ED SHEERAN at the bottom, various songs in between appeared first on Popjustice.
Lately, guitar music has been, I hate to say it, striking chords with me. Whether electric, acoustic, finger picky, sludgy, rhythm and bluesy, blousy, bedroom-y, or meme-y, as in the WalMart boy sending me to Hank Williams’s “Lovesick Blues” for an entire afternoon, I’m having a time.
From her latest tape Tearful Lagoon, released by her own PINK QUEENDOM label, Alma strums and croons on “untitled3” kind of like yyu or Grouper—all drenched in reverb and love sickness and melancholy and fine mists falling from so-grey-they’re-blue skies.
Join me on this journey whichever way you’d like and head here to get the cassette.
This is, if nothing else, a feat of scheduling.
This is also 76m combined monthly Spotify listeners.
This is the answer all popstars should give when they are inevitably asked, because they’re always asked aren’t they, who they’d cast in a modern version of Lady Marmalade.
This is a stage school kid whose big break was a telly ad for The X Factor, alongside someone who went to art school and joined a punk band, alongside someone who crashed out of a European version of Pop Idol five years ago, alongside someone who was playing shithole gigs when she was 14, alongside someone who won a Swedish TV show when she was 10.
This is people who’ve pursued success, it’s someone who found herself on the most-streamed song of all time, and it’s one person who’s deliberately swerved chart domination, despite it being theirs for the taking, in pursuit of their own musical vision.
This is three people who didn’t break through with their first album, one person who did, and one who’s TBC.
This is one person smiling like she’s on an 80s pop magazine cover, one person doing that mouth-open thing only popstars can pull off without it looking like they’re in the middle of eating, two people looking like they mean serious business and one person avoiding eye contact all together.
This is, admittedly, not the greatest advert for ethnic diversity in pop.
This is still a hint of what happens when different personalities with different ideas and different experiences and different talents, of different ages, from different backgrounds in different countries, make sense in a room together.
This is a group of people whose ages range from only-just-20 to a-few-months-off-30.
This is five artists nobody who’s currently putting bands together would put in a band together. They’d write their own Number One single and direct their own video.
This is a one-off moment, but why does it need to be?
This is what girlbands could be like in 2018 if the music industry wasn’t such a bag of shit.
She wasn’t supposed to make it past 25. Charlotte Aitchison’s Charli XCX persona has never been geared toward longevity. Whether braving an apocalyptic day of reckoning on “Nuclear Seasons” or literalizing her mortality on “Die Tonight,” the Cambridge singer has long displayed a sense of fatalism in her music. On True Romance, Charli’s oncoming demise demanded romantic consummation, no matter how transitory. On Sucker, she combated encroaching death with puerile hedonism and carnal distraction. And unlike compatriots and fellow Bacchanalia frontline journalists Arctic Monkeys, whose distaste for English nightlife is so acute you might mistake them for teetotalers, Charli revels in the debauchery of the London club scene, viewing its inevitable hangover as fait accompli and, consequently, a nonissue. This is why her career never seemed likely to sustain itself; the good times were bound to kill this death-obsessed girl. But the joke’s on us: she’s still alive, and on Pop 2, Charli XCX returns for more profligacy, yet this time with a keener perspective recalibrated by the nuances of young adult maturity.
There’s a certain territoriality and arrogance in Charli naming her mixtape Pop 2, but much of her music is spent negotiating the line between admirable confidence and aggressive hauteur. Charli spent roughly half of Sucker explaining that she was too good for you — even if she’ll mete out second and third chances for the sake of comfort and familiarity — while elsewhere flaunting her superhuman tolerance to narcotics and a vast wealth that puts Croesus to shame. And so on Pop 2, we see more of the cocksureness Charli exhibits in spades, as on the escapist-affirmative “Out of My Head” (ft. Tove Lo and ALMA), as well as a self-assured autonomy on tracks like the prurient, cloying “Unlock It” (ft. Kim Petras and Jay Park).
Yet on most of these tracks, Charli XCX sounds to have abjured the truculence and grandeur that granted her notoriety on singles like “Boom Clap,” “Fancy,” and “I Love It,” with much emphasis on her guests, which include Carly Rae Jepsen, CupcakKe, Mykki Blanco, Pabllo Vittar, MØ, Dorian Electra, and more. The Caroline Polachek duet “Tears” finds the singer reckoning with her proclivity for caprice, singing “I killed our life, I’m crazy […] Door shut tight, that ain’t love, no.” In place of her trademark overconfidence, Charli delivers a comparatively unadorned performance, signaling what seems to be genuine feelings of remorse. She may not be the most convincing agent of regret, but Charli didn’t pen these songs in hopes of credence or validation. Instead, she’s singing for her own benefit, to make sense of the needless waffling and unrest in her relationships. More power to her.
In the last 40 seconds of “Delicious” (ft. Tommy Cash), the track shifts from a scrupulously produced club banger to a pristine choir. This is an apt metonym for the instrumentation and arrangements of Pop 2. With production help from the likes of SOPHIE, Life Sim, King Henry, EASYFUN, and executive producer A. G. Cook, the music vacillates between synth-powered spectral screeches and jolts and immaculate choral beds, as if to reconcile the delineation between the impersonal nature of club life, with its ephemeral hookups, and the deceptive jubilance of a real, long-term relationship. The result is mixed bag, with the album’s industrial moments more engrossing by virtue of their immediacy and the more human elements of the production turning into a slog if left alone for too long.
For better or for worse, Charli XCX is embracing maturity on her fourth mixtape. Now 25 years (and some change) old, Charlotte Aitchison looks to be relieving herself of the “born to die young” credo she’s so ardently maintained for the past few years in favor of something more stable. And though she may not find what she’s looking for anytime soon, Charli XCX, on Pop 2, is at least looking down a new path.
Listen, there’s no time: Saint Charli just dropped her new mixtape for the fourth day of Hanukkah, so just freakin listen to it okay?? And if the first track being a Charli/Carly teamup isn’t enough to get your dreidel spinning, well, sorry, there’s honestly no hope for you.
POP 2 is available to stream below via Spotify.
It’s been just about three years since Charli XCX’s last full-fledged LP, the brash and addictive Sucker. But in that time, the pop visionary and Millennial Pink enthusiast has been far from quiet, releasing a steady stream of music via EPs, singles, or mixtapes ahead of her heavily anticipated third … More »