New Music Friday: Bloody hell pop music’s really good isn’t it

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You’re going to look at this week’s playlist — it’s 37 songs long — and you’re going to think “no thanks I only have room in my brain for about 18 new songs”. Do not think that. Instead prepare yourself for what is, and we are absolutely serious about this, the best New Music Friday since New Music Friday began in 2015.

That’s not to say it’s packed with pop’s biggest names. You possibly haven’t heard of half these people. Very few of these songs are likely to make a huge impression on global streaming charts. But none of that matters, does it? This week’s playlist is absolutely packed with top notch pop music.

We actually got a bit emotional when we realised how much great stuff had been released today. It’s a real ‘maybe we won’t shut down this stupid website after all’ moment.

Notes:

  • RABBII, who we’ve covered a couple of times already on Popjustice, have released a totally beautiful modern pop ballad called ‘Left For Dead’.
  • CHVRCHES, as we know, are back, but released their new song on a Wednesday, therefore contravening Rule 1 of the New Music Friday Agreement and as a result are denied Single Of The Week status. Rvles are rvles chaps.
  • Absolutely brilliant US pop duo Magdalena Bay have chucked out another extraordinary single. Are they signed yet? Can someone at a label please take action in this area? We don’t want to take matters into our own hands and given the shambles that ‘ensued’ the last time Popjustice launched a record label you probably don’t want that either. ‘The Bay’ are really fantastic though.
  • THE RAE MORRIS ALBUM IS OUT TODAAAAAAAAY.
  • There’s loads of brilliantly eccentric pop out this week, including the Kiesza and Chris Malinchak song, Let’s Eat Grandma‘s brave and long overdue foray into being halfway listenable, and Millie Turner‘s extraordinary The Shadow, whose spoken word second verse will totally blow your head off.
  • V promising big-things-t0-come singer of song Sasha Sloan has released two (1 + 1!) songs today and they’re both brilliant.
  • Always nice to hear new Streets stuff, right?
  • Why Don’t We‘s Ed Sheeran-‘penned’ Trust Fund Baby (‽) sounds like it’s just being sung by Ed Sheeran. It is, like a lot of (BUT NOT ALL) Ed Sheeran songs, literally very good.
  • And finally, brace yourself for this one. Kim Wilde — KIM WILDE OUT OF THE 80s — has a new single out today. It’s called Pop Don’t Stop. If you think that title sounds slightly over the top you’re really only 8% of the way to comprehending the pop wrecking ball that’s about to smash its way through your brain. Pop Don’t Stop is the sort of song that exists far beyond our normal comprehension of things like ‘good’ and ‘bad’ but we can state now with some certainty that this song is destined to become a 5pm-on-a-Friday office playlist favourite for many, many Popjustice readers.

UPDATE: It’s now 38 songs because we forgot about the brilliant new ionnalee song.

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New Music Friday: Dua Lipa at the top, James Arthur at the bottom, various songs in between

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Song of the week:
Dua Lipa — ‘New Rules’ (Initial Talk mix)
This is an official release of the phenomenal vigilante ’80s version’ that was knocking around on social media a couple of weeks ago. At the time we tweeted: “Not to be dramatic but the future of Dua’s career rests on whether or not she’s performed this version live by the end of this month.” There’s still a week until the deadline but whether a performance happens or not what we were really looking for in that tweet was some sense that Dua would acknowledge or embrace this brilliant, unexpected pop accident, welcome it into her universe and celebrate the joy at its heart. Pop is full of artists (and labels, and management teams) who ignore this sort of stuff, or try to shut it down: another act might have said “we’ve had some very expensive and serious remixes done already, this isn’t what we had in mind and we don’t think it’s very fun at all”. They might have had the remix pulled from YouTube, burying it forever in a heap of cease and desists. Dua’s lot have made it canon. It’s a decision that elevates Dua Lipa to Major Pop Act status. It’s been coming all year, of course, but this is the thing that tips it over the edge. So we’re making the Initial Talk mix of ‘New Rules’ Song Of The Week for that reason, and we’re also making it Song Of The Week because it’s really brilliant, and we’re also making it Song Of The Week because we slept on it when it first appeared due to a misguided notion that the chorus was disappointing. It just took a few hundred listens. That isn’t an excuse, we take responsibility for our mistakes and hope you can understand that our younger self doesn’t reflect who we are today.

Wrong of the week:
James Arthur — ‘Naked’
Terrible voice, terrible song, terrible mental image. Straight to the naughty step for Max Martin.

Additional notes:

  • The latest Rae Morris track, ‘Atletico’, is a wonderful pop moment and makes it three-for-three on the ‘singles off the forthcoming album’ front. (The album is very splendid.)
  • When we Shazammed the One Bit / Noah Cyrus song a few days ago (it was on the radio, you see) we were the first ever to have Shazammed it. Have you ever been the first person to Shazam a song? It’s quite a rush. You feel fucking invincible.
  • Mimoza has released a song that’d make a good Little Mix single.
  • To be fair, so have Little Mix.

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The 5 Best Videos Of The Week

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It’s a little too messy and slapdash to make this week’s list, but I’d like to take this space to give a special shout out to Downtown Boys’ “Somos Chulas (No Somos Pendajas)” video. It’s a beautiful look at the kids currently being targeted by the inhuman dipshits currently in power and a powerful … More »

New Music Friday: Rae Morris at the top, U2 vs Kygo (!) at the bottom, various songs in between

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SORRY EVERYONE, THIS WEEK’S NEW RELEASE ROUNDUP IS LATE BECAUSE WE WERE STUNNED INTO A BRIEF COMA BY THE SHOCK NEWS THAT SIA HAS CONTRIBUTED A SO-SO TRACK TO A MOVIE SOUNDTRACK

Song of the week:
Rae Morris — ‘Do It’
The best Ellie Goulding song Ellie Goulding never released. The best way to deal with a hangover.  The best song this week. (You can see the video here.)

Wrong of the week:
Kygo vs U2 — ‘You’re The Best Thing About Me’
Actually we’re listening to this again now and it’s not as wrong as it first appeared. In fact it’s quite funny. Feels a bit strange that a 2017 U2 dance track somehow sounds more dated than all the Perfecto mixes they were involved with two decades ago, though — an unavoidable comparison considering one spends most of this new song’s first verse expecting Bono to launch into ‘Even Better Than The Real Thing’. Do you think that’s a deliberate callback? Very odd.

Additional notes:

  • The Sofi Tukker vs Nervo vs The Knocks pop pile-up is BRILLIANT. Would be good to see those two have a crossover hit, and by ‘those two’ we mean Sofi Tukker, but we also mean Nervo, and in fact we also mean The Knocks.
  • Barry ‘Thunderpuss’ Harris has delivered a really incredible, dramatic happysad remix of Pink‘s current single.
  • Future pop behemoth Sarah Close releases ‘Only You’ this week. There are big things to come from this singer of song.
  • Confidence Man’s ‘Better Sit Down Boy’ is — and we mean this in the very best possible way — like a Girls Aloud album track from 13 years ago.
  • DONKEYBOY ARE BACK!
  • HANNAH JANE LEWIS IS ALSO BACK!
  • Sia has — you really won’t believe this — contributed a song to a film soundtrack! This time round we’re talking My Little Pony: The Movie; ‘Rainbow’ is a better song than any one of us could ever hope to write, but not exactly one of Sia’s greatest-ever compositions.
  • ‘Think About That’ is a song Jessie J seems to have written about… Well, it’s hard to say. Is it about her former management? (“You spent my money and I lost their faith” neatly sums up some of the more questionable career decisions that were quite possibly out of Jessie’s hands.) Anyway it is — and it feels quite good to say this — a pretty great, and pretty understated, song.
  • No there isn’t a video autoplaying in another tab, it’s just the new Björk single.

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Little Mix’s ‘Touch’ won last night’s 2017 Popjustice Twenty Quid Music Prize! Here’s what happened…

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Congratulations to Little Mix! A combination of ‘Touch’, sixty judges and a large amount of booze means that the band’s prize of twenty quid (cash) will be on its way to Kensington High Street later today.

How did it all happen?

WELL. Last night in a London pub this year’s twelve shortlisted songs…

…went head to head. In most rounds two songs were picked at random, their relative merits were ‘debated’, it then went to a vote and, finally, the losing song went out. We do this at every year’s Twenty Quid judging — it’s unfair, unpredictable and basically very funny.

Judges had each received a special (not very special) judging pack.

Each table of judges was also named after a former Twenty Quid winner, which was supposed to be a significant element in terms of how one of the rounds would work, but we forgot to do that in the end.

Also, for the first time, each shortlisted song was represented in real life by a t-shirt-wearing judge whose job it was to speak up when needed.

ANYWAY.

The first step was for the judges to vote for the last year’s worst British pop single (a good way to provide context for the rest of the night) and, as is traditional at the Twenty Quid prize night, to boot off one shortlisted song without any debate or discussion.

Let’s just say it wasn’t a great start for Ed Sheeran.

Moving on, in last night’s second round the randomly selected pair of songs presented a very early upset.

(Earlier this week, each of the judges submitted their favourite song in a secret email poll — in that poll both ‘Touch’ and ‘Rockabye’ were really popular choices, so there was a lot of shouting when it turned out one of them would go out early.)

As the evening continued we discussed pop from almost every angle…

…although some criteria seemed more valid than others.

To organise our thoughts, pros and cons were listed on massive sheets of high quality foam board.

During the course of the evening, judges also found a winner for the inaugural Carly Rae Jepsen International Pop Single Of The Year award, the year’s best non-British pop single. Judges were asked to choose one of the three most popular songs from an earlier open poll.

The Carly Rae Jepsen International Pop Single Of The Year award went to Lorde’s ‘Green Light’.

At one point, the room was split into three sections using hazard tape due to a poorly-thought-through ‘mechanic’.

There was also a moment when one portion of the room decided to stage a coup and campaign for the last-minute inclusion of Dua Lipa’s ‘New Rules’, which let’s face it should have been on the shortlist but there we go.

This whole debacle was overruled because the Twenty Quid Music Prize is no place for anarchy. The good news is that Dua Lipa is a talented artist with a long career, and plenty of future Twenty Quid nominations, ahead of her.

One by one songs fell away from the shortlist, leading to an extremely lively three chair challenge segment best described, in the cold light of day, as total carnage. But it brought us to the final vote.

Little Mix won by a significant margin, loads of confetti cannons went off, some people cheered, and the evening came to an end. It was a good result for Little Mix, of course, but most people seemed to agree that second place for Steps was, in 2017, something of a victory in itself.

THANK YOU VERY VERY MUCH to all the judges who came along last night and made the event such a brilliant shambles, and well done to Little Mix. But also well done to everyone who was on the shortlist — even Ed Sheeran — because they all made great singles. And great singles is what pop’s all about, really, isn’t it?

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New Music Friday: Rae Morris at the top, Fifth Harmony at the bottom, various songs in between

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Song of the week:
Rae Morris — ‘Reborn’
Hot news from the ‘acts you’d assumed had been dropped’ desk: Rae Morris is back, she still has a proper record deal, and her new single is an absolute belter. If you’re no fan of songs that fade at the end, you’re going to love the way this one wraps things up.

Wrong of the week:
Fifth Harmony feat Gucci Mane — ‘Down’
It’s going some for another act to secure Wrong Of The Week when AronChupa and Little Sis Nora have unleashed Llama In My Living Room, but the Fifth Harmony comeback single is an imagination-free disappointment that seems to be the sound of a band and team who simply cannot be fucked, which is confusing because this first post-Camila single should be the point where they prove that can be very fucked indeed. Let’s just pretend Lauren’s song on the Halsey album is the new Fifth Harmony single and move on with our lives.

Additional notes:

  • The MNEK-produced 5 After Midnight single seems to be the start of something good. (It sounds a lot like an MNEK song.)
  • Haiku Hands‘ debut single ‘Not About You’ is a sort of Charli XCX-meets-Kero Kero Bonito affair that opens with the line “I feel like I’m on one, banging on to someone, before it comes undone I’m gonna eat my cake”. That’s how to launch a pop career.
  • Lorde, the young person, has had a nice time going out.
  • After numerous delays THE DUA LIPA ALBUM HAS FINALLY ARRIVED. ‘Bad Together’ is our favourite of the ‘new’ songs. Eight (EIGHT) of this album’s best tracks have already been released as singles or promotional tracks, which creates a slightly unfair first-listen situation in which you go into the album searching for new music and in doing so you have to overlook pretty much an album’s worth of pretty great tunes.
  • The Olly and Louisa single was released to DSPs a few days ago presumably in an attempt to stand out from this week’s other new releases or ‘game the system’ in terms of chart placings. Here’s another way to stand out and do well in the charts: release a good song.

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