Monday 7 September 2015

New Pop Roundup

It's that time again...

Justin Bieber – What Do You Mean

Yes it’s Bieber. And yes he has ridiculous hair. But it’s clear that a more serious Bieber is making a comeback this Autumn. We’ve already had the excellent Where Are Ü Now (even if his vocals were superfluous compared to the slick beats of Diplo and Skrillex) and now there’s What Do You Mean, with its tropical synths, syncopated dance beats and sad melodies. It’s both upbeat and downbeat, happy and sad – in other words, it’s great pop. Who knows what else he’ll be questioning on his forthcoming album…


Listen: What Do You Mean is available now.

XYconstant – Do It Well (feat. Tom Aspaul)

It seems that every singer worth their salt at the moment has to feature as a vocalist on a dance single. This track is sadly not a cover of J-Lo’s similarly titled hit, but its warm tropical sound is very 2015 and should extend the summer a little further. More so, it’s yet another piece of funky, soulful pop from Mr Aspaul, a singer who deserves far more attention. If a dance single is the favoured route these days, let’s hope Do It Well does in fact do well.


Listen: Do It Well is available now.

Kygo – Here For You (feat. Ella Henderson)

The reason for the tropical sound of the last two tracks? It’s largely down to the success of this guy, Norwegian producer Kygo, whose career has been built on endlessly repeating a successful (and admittedly enjoyable) formula. This time he’s joined by Ella Henderson, who seems to have found a second wind as dance featured vocalist of the moment (see also: Sigma’s Glitterball). But has this formula run its course? Can we really stand yet another Kygo single? Which dance producer will Henderson work with next?


Listen: Here For You is available now.

Janet Jackson – Unbreakable

Unbreakable you say? It seems Janet Jackson the forward thinking artist was broken a long time ago. Nowadays we’re left with Janet Jackson living in the past. Unbreakable, the title track from her forthcoming comeback album, is a slick, polished R&B jam that arrives about ten years too late. There’s little of the fierceness of the Rhythm Nation era, or the creativity of ‘The Velvet Rope’. Perhaps this track will all make sense in the context of the album. On its own, it just sound generic. One to file next to Madonna on the “probably past it” shelf.


Listen: Album ‘Unbreakable’ is released on October 2nd.

Little Mix – Hair

Artists often release their best music after a break-up (cue Adele reference), but they don’t get much more public than X Factor graduates Perrie Edwards and Zayn Malik. Hair may have been written and recorded long before the two singers split, but Little Mix are releasing this track at just the right time. Bold and sassy, it’s a case of right song right time for both Edwards and the band as a whole. It’s just not quite a pop banger on a par with Move or Black Magic.


Listen: Hair is available now.

Alesha Dixon – Tallest Girl

Dixon is still trying to make a comeback happen. What’s frustrating is that whilst the music is actually decent, nobody is listening. Is she really past it already? Previous single Just The Way You Are failed to ignite the charts and although Tallest Girl is a fun 90s dance throwback, it’s likely to follow the same fate. Perhaps we’ll have to wait until the next series of Britain’s Got Talent before we see Dixon on our screens again.
Listen: Tallest Girl is available now.

TĀLĀ & Sylas – Praise

This is basically sex for your ears. TĀLĀ’s music brings a middle eastern flavour to London electronica; London duo and Brian Eno protégés Sylas create haunting, experimental electronica. Put them together and the result is the richly layered Praise, their varied influences and vocal styles unifying in glorious harmony. Praiseworthy indeed.


Listen: Praise is available now.

The Neighbourhood – R.I.P 2 My Youth

California’s The Neighbourhood are still yet to best their brilliant Sweater Weather, but this new track comes close. As with Miss Del Rey, the band blend hazy West Coast beach vibes with a slight hip-hop twist and ghostly, whirring electronics, the sort of music that sounds nostalgic and futuristic at once – so pretty suitable for the end of summer (RIP). It’s not quite the emotive earworm of their breakthrough hit, but it does signal the way towards a decent second album.


Listen: Forthcoming album ‘Wiped Out!’ is released on October 30th.

Frida Sundemo – Stay Young

To finish, a little Scandi-pop. Sundemo is known for her bright, colourful sad-pop and Stay Young is no different with its yearning, anthemic chorus. After a string of EPs and singles over the last couple of years, it’s about time she released a full album – her highly polished pop is too good not to be heard as one coherent collection.


Listen: Stay Young comes ahead of a new EP due later this year.