Pop tracks are like buses – you wait for something decent and then a load of tracks come at once. Here’s a mass catch up...
Years and Years – Shine
Y&Y just keep going from strength to strength. King is probably the song of the year so far, but Shine is a more than worthy follow up. Debut album ‘Communion’ is out next month, it could well be an album of the year contender.
Listen: Shine will feature on ‘Communion’ released on 10th July.
From one of the best acts of the year to the worst. This is just dire, from the weak production, to the annoying chorus hook and the embarrassing attempts at “acting” in the video. Please make it stop.
You split from your long term record label, what’s your next step? Copy the best-selling artist of the decade of course. She sings it well, but the comparisons to Adele are inescapable. Altogether now: “There’s a fire starting in my heart…..”
Listen: Fire Under My Feet is released on 28th June.
Alesha Dixon – The Way We Are
Here’s another artist making a return with some copycat material. At least Dixon is a little more current – this is basically Clean Bandit feat. Alesha Dixon, minus Clean Bandit. It’s fun, it’s summery, and she looks great in the video.
Listen: The Way We Are is released on 21st June.
And as we’re on a female pop run, here’s Rita Ora failing to live up to the potential of her Calvin Harris collaboration I Will Never Let You Down. Well, you have. Poison is a decent enough pop jam, but its chorus is just too lumbering and forgettable.
Listen: Poison is released on 28th June.
Let’s throw in a male. Coffee will feature on Miguel’s forthcoming third album ‘Wildheart’, but it may as well be an offcut from ‘Kaleidoscope Dream’. Presumably he’s spent all his money on damages to the poor girl he kicked in the head last year (that will never get old). Also, make sure you listen to the Wale-less version – his rap verse is terrible.
Listen: Coffee is available now. ‘Wildheart’ is released on 30th June.
Never Let You Go doesn’t stray too far from the band’s formula, but it’s a more relaxed affair, the usual heavy beats and horn stabs simmering beneath evocative synths. ‘We The Generation’ will likely follow suit in its lack of sonic ambition, but you can at least design your own album cover on the band’s website. More exciting is the prospect of some new featured vocalists to look out for.
Listen: ‘We The Generation’ is released on 18th September.
Also returning for Warner Music this year is Lianne La Havas, fresh from her new friendship with Prince. Unstoppable is a beautiful slice of orchestral sunshine – lazy, jazzy and with a sumptuous vocal. Perfect for relaxing summer evenings.
Listen: Unstoppable is taken from forthcoming album ‘Blood’ released on 31st July.
Ghost Town hasn’t even been released yet, but Underground is available as a pre-order bonus for forthcoming album ‘The Original High’. What begins as a piano ballad soon morphs into a whirring, R&B-tinged jam. With material like this, there’s no denying Lambert is soon to break into the UK mainstream in a very big way.
Listen: ‘The Original High’ is released on 16th June.
If you’re looking for sexy sounds and sexier hair, then Lion Babe have you covered. Duo Jillian Hervey and Lucas Goodman have crafted a soulful, fierce pop-funk track (produced by Pharrell Williams no less) that’s so sexy it should come with contraception.
Listen: Wonder Woman is available now.
Honne are signed to Super Recordings, the same label that launched AlunaGeorge and Bondax, but their take on soulful dance is a more sombre and romantic affair than their label mates. Top To Toe epitomises their sound – a heartbreaking lyric accompanied by warm, cinematic production. The full EP ‘Coastal Love’ is well worth a listen.
Listen: ‘Coastal Love’ is available now.
Love Me Badder is the most radio friendly of Elliphant’s output. The Swedish rapper has always straddled Jamaican dancehall and pop, but this track launches her firmly into the latter category with a big sing-along chorus, even if it’s missing the sense of cool from her previous tracks.
Listen: Love Me Badder is available now.
Continuing the Scandi theme, here’s Norway’s Aurora delivering gothic Scandi-pop at its finest. Folk melodies, guitars and heavy drums combine with a powerful electro chorus and a delicately lilting vocal. One to watch.
Listen: Running With The Wolves is available now.
Active Child – Never Far Away
With a new album on the way – ‘Mercy’ – a handful of new tracks have emerged from Active Child, including the fragile 1999 and the hypnotic Stranger. Never Far Away is the best of the bunch though, with its smooth, slinky R&B influence on his trademark crystalline sound and falsetto vocals. Just wait for the guitar licks towards the end.
Listen: ‘Mercy’ is released on 16th June.
Tiger Town – Paper Note
Australia is delivering some brilliant pop music at the moment and this track from Sydney’s Tiger Town is a prime example. With a verse full of glittering electronic touches, it layers up the vocals and melodies towards a double chorus that’s as bright and joyful as you’d expect from a country of near perpetual sunshine.
Listen: Paper Note is “coming soon”. Apparently.
On first listen, Allie X’s work seems similar to Chvrches. But that’s hardly an unfortunate comparison is it? Catch is a *cough* catchy electro-pop track that’s as sparkly as its video is weird (very).
Listen: Catch is available now.
Initially this new track from the Manchester boyband is fun with its jangling guitars and falsetto vocals. Except, it doesn’t go anywhere. Instead it repeats the same melodies and production ad nauseam for just under four minutes. Inventive this isn’t.
Listen: We All Want The Same Thing is released on 7th June.
This track from NYC indie-pop band MisterWives seems to borrow heavily from all over the pop landscape: funk guitars, horn stabs, a handclap breakdown, house pianos and more. The result, though, is a bold and colourful pop song that’s so 2015 it hurts.
Listen: The band’s debut album, also called ‘Our Own House’, is available now.
Sia – California Dreamin’
Only Sia could take such a well-known song and make it sound this fresh. Taken from the soundtrack to the film San Andreas, the majestic, mournful, choir-backed opening is blown wide-open, as huge as Sia’s vocal and, presumably, the disasters of the film.
Listen: The soundtrack to San Andreas is available now.
Lastly, just in time for Eurovision week, Queen Loreen has released a reworking of her new single Paper Light that puts an almighty donk on it. Amazing.
Listen: Paper Light is available now.