You know how it goes: loads of people want to represent their country at Eurovision, the best song doesn't always make it through, and so on and on and on.
So I started with a playlist of the 300+ songs submitted around the world for this year's Eurovision and banged through it like I bang through each week's New Music Friday releases, where each week I start with about 250 songs and cut it down to the ones I'd like to hear again. As well as realising that most of would-be Eurovision songs are sonic variations on about four themes, I found some great stuff along the way. Keiino's Spirit In The Sky is still the best of the lot, but you'd probably already guessed that.
(Shoutout to MyEurovisionScoreboard.com whose National Finals playlist was, let's just say, 'quite helpful'. If there's anything I've missed that you definitely, absolutely think needs to be on the playlist, drop me a tweet.)
Playlist below; clicking this link should launch it in Spotify. Cheers!
Parts of pop do need a hero right now and it's fair to assume Charles 100 either is that hero or knows them. Her new single Blame It On Your Love, which features Lizzo and premiered tonight, probably isn't enough on its own to turn the tide against some of the more egregious twits taking pop in strange and unpleasant new (and old) directions, but the Stargate / AG Cook / Finn Keane-produced wobbler is definitely making things better.
Additional data: when premiering this song on Annie Mac's wireless show, Charli said "pants" and immediately corrected it to "trousers". She's still one of us, readers. Still one of us. (She also said there's an actual, proper, capital-a Album on the way.)
This, the new one from CXLOE, is how you do a lyric video. First step is to make sure you've got a song whose lyrics are good enough to justify writing them down, an important piece of due diligence most artists somehow miss. Second step, of course, if you're working with a still image, is to slowly reveal a popstar wearing a coat made of bubblewrap. Stylish and practical. You can't go wrong. Makes touring easy as well, just chuck yourself in a box and off you go.
In song terms Low Blow also means that in an insanely crowded corner of the pop marketplace CXLOE's emerging as one of 2020's bigger pop hopes. Low Blow sits brilliantly alongside this year's excellent I Can't Have Nice Things and 2018's Show You while also showing a clear and exciting upward trajectory.
This week's least brilliant new song is BFA which, in news that will come as a surprise to the British Florist Association, stands for Best Friend's Ass. The song is an inexcusably woeful attempt at viral pop by Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, with Paris Hilton on (some of the) vocals.
It kicks off with lines like "that bouncer was so hot but honestly that's not an excuse to be fucking rude" and "why isn't my phone charging?"; later on there's chat about Instagram, hashtags, fuckboys and Ubers. Despite male attention the narrator is mesmerised by her friend's bottom, and if you think this sounds like a beautiful celebration of bisexuality the single's artwork leaves little doubt that this is — surprise! — more a case of grotty voyeuristic male gaze bullshit.
It's strange how pop goes round in these circles, isn't it? It feels like Hilton started the Woman On A Night Out thing on her 2012 non-single Drunk Text, a complicated and semi-satirical miniature masterpiece that gave the world "no-one is safe in the Twittersphere anymore". If Paris was pretty much the target of the joke, she was in on the joke too. After that aborted single release we got Chainsmokers' 2014 single #SELFIE, which seemed to take the idea in a more judgey direction, and now here we are with BFA. The same as Drunk Text, but at the same time not the same at all. Idolator say the song "amusingly sends up Paris’ socialite image". Maybe they're right, maybe the whole thing really is very amusing. Who's to say!
New Music Friday: Cecily has been watching and waiting and pre-anticipating while you're all scheming
The Song Of The Week is Thinking Bout Me by Cecily.
In a busy week for above-average releases, it's ambitious introspectionbanger Thinking Bout Me, the debut release from New Zealand's Cecily, that feels most like a superstar-has-landed moment. Cecily says she wrote the song at the end of 2017: it was something she needed to hear, and something she thought other people might need to hear too. At one point it veers into Twinkle Twinkle Little Star because, quite frankly, why not? If I can find her address I might send her an email later: say hello, find out what she's playing at, get to the bottom of 'pre-anticipating', that kind of thing. Good idea? No: GREAT IDEA.
- Too Much finds Carly Rae 'Rae' Jeppo McJepsen getting back on track. Noonie Bao pops up as a co-writer.
- Justin and Ed's I Don't Care, with Max Martin on co-production duties, is the year's least eventful event record.
- Xenomania's busy 2019 continues today with the launch of Paige Cavell and her rave piano-stuffed debut single Predators & Monsters. I've met Paige a few times on trips down to Xenomania HQ and whenever she's in the room there's a real sense that you're In The Presence Of A Popstar which, well, it's not something you can take for granted.
- Eden xo's Sorry For Myself is a song about popstars making everything feel better. And do you know what, sometimes they do, don't they?
- On the other hand there's Meghan Trainor, whose Badass Woman — from the soundtrack of that new Anne Hathaway / Rebel Wilson film — is at once 70% brilliant and 60% awful, which puts it at +10%. A success!
- I'm not saying the Zayn and Zhavia Ward take on A Whole New World drags or feels like it might never end, but by the second chorus I was starting to panic about my Christmas shopping.
If you've been following Popjustice's New Music Friday playlists over the last couple of years you'll have encountered a few releases by Antony & Cleopatra, the creative partnership between songwriter and producer Alexander Burnett and more excitingly (sorry Alexander) Anita Blay who, in her salad days, was known and loved by Popjustice as CocknBullKid. They've been making quite sparse housey pop music.
Anyway Anita popped an email over last week containing A&C's new single Why Don't You Just Call Me? and the low-key vibes of the duo's previous songs have been chucked in the bin because this new one's a total sun-out-windows-open-volume-up discohouse thunderer.
A diversion from the duo's previous output. Also, better than the duo's previous output. And that's the way to be doing it, isn't it? Getting better? Rather than getting worse? That's the pop dream right there.
Anita says the song came about as a result of "a few accidents, chopping things up, losing our minds and then starting again"; Antony's explanation of the lyrics is that calling people is better than messaging, because "text threads and reading into ‘read’ and ‘seen’ can be dangerous" — an admirable stance but at the same time let's not allow ourselves to lose sight of the fact that anybody who calls without warning is probably a psychopath.
The Song Of The Week is Doom Days by Bastille.
No disrespect to the Good Grief hitmakers but it feels a bit strange to make Bastille Song Of The Week when Taylor Swift's got a single out. Still, here we are. Doom Days, a claustrophobic love song seen through the prism of Brexhaustion, environmental apocalypse and social media addiction, 'clocks in' (music biz term) at just 2:20 but builds and builds through several distinct stages before hitting its wobbly electronic climax. It does all this while also managing to reference every single book you studied for your English Literature a-level.
- The Fear part of Marina's LOVE + FEAR is out today; pick of the bunch is Too Afraid.
- Fresh Black Butter signing LORYN has big things coming and Sirens is a top notch introduction to a v talented new artist.
- Zara Larsson has the week's best single artwork. Should we read anything into how quickly this song has followed Don't Worry Bout Me?
- Xenomania girlband unperfect have unveiled an EP called Yeah, Why Not, with Rope and Looking For A Hug doubling down on the low-slung breeziness of Gots To Give The Girl.
- Best one yet from Chelcee Grimes, well done everyone.
- What is Dorian Electra playing at? WHO KNOWS!! But their Flamboyant video is Really Quite Something.
- Also Really Quite Something: Eurovision winners Keiino have released a studio version of Lady Gaga & Pal's Shallow.
- The RSPB — ie, the bird people — have today released a single which is no more, and no less, than the sound of birdsong. They've promoted this with an email that makes a joke about swifts topping the iTunes chart, so deserve a mention in this roundup. But not a place on the playlist. (Let's just wait for the inevitable R3HAB remix in three weeks.)
- Don Walk finds Stefflon Don on the passenger side of Rymez's ride.
- The Taylor Swift single sounds like being trapped in a branch of Smiggle.