Breaking radio silence to announce the twelve British and Irish pop singles shortlist for the 2021 Popjustice Twenty Quid Music Prize.
- Black Hole by Griff
- Got Me by Laura Mvula
- Hot Hot by Bree Runway
- I Don’t Mind by Georgia Twinn
- I Don’t Really Care For You by CMAT
- Levitating by Dua Lipa
and DaBabyUPDATE: Let's just go for the Dua version shall we
- Love Of Your Life by Raye
- On A Mountain by Danny L Harle
- Right Now by Sophie & The Giants
- She’s My Religion by Pale Waves
- Sweet Melody by Little Mix
- What’s Your Pleasure? by Jessie Ware
For more info, playlists, and to register as a Zoom judge on the September 9 prize night, click here.
- Georgia Twinn continues her fairly robust campaign to become one of Britain's best new popstars this week with Moth, which references Nirvana and combined with Olivia Rodrido's recent homage to Radiohead makes you wonder if we'll be seeing L Devine interpolating Shed Seven by the time the year's out.
- By sounding like a) The Weeknd and/so b) songs like Boys Of Summer the new Max Martin-produced Coldplay single sounds like Radio 1 and Radio 2 at the same time. Which in-house DSP playlists it sounds like is a different question but we seem to be living in an era were Coldplay are releasing 'bops' so perhaps we should all just embrace the chaos.
- Zyra's done a new version of the brilliant Closer. (It's still brilliant.)
- Apparently Joan's new one is the first song from two EPs due out this year — one's about falling in love and the other's about breakups. So Good's one of the falling-in-love ones.
- Warning: Jake Bugg has released an acceptable single. I mentioned the notion of embracing chaos and if you thought it felt like a good idea here's the ideal opportunity to put that all to the test. If you can pass the Jake Bugg Acceptable Single test, you're ready for anything.
The new Julia Michaels song starts off as one thing and ends up as something a bit different. Pop songs about relationships tend to be variations on a fairly small number of themes but All Your Exes articulates anxiety over former partners in a really unusual way, and there are some completely excellent lines in the song. "When your friends tell stories about 2017 I know there's parts that they leave out to be considerate of me" — A LINE. (For instance.) (I mean that's an actual thing that happens all the time isn't it, but have you heard it in a song before?) "Wish I could be blissfully unaware of where you used to put your mouth and who you write your fucking songs about" — ANOTHER LINE. Loads of lines. It's literally a song with lots of words in. (A very good song.)
- Having said all that, "I think I'm ready for your sex" in the Alle Farben/Theresa Rex song is probably the best lyric of the week.
- Moyka is absolutely not mucking about on her new one. What a song, what a popstar.
- Another set of KLF reissues means another completely anachronistic NMF playlist entry, this time in the form of Jarvis Cocker doing Justified & Ancient.
- I don't think history will judge me kindly for including the Seeb/Kooks remix on this week's playlist. Even I'm taking a bit of a dim view of my actions. But: it kind of works doesn't it? Like, it's actually quite good? We live in strange times. Maybe this is what a year without proper social contact does to people. What next? A Pigeon Detectives x R3HAB remix being 'actually not that bad'?
Griff's really done it this time. Heartbreak really shouldn't sound this spectacular but, well, here we are. What a song. The Black Hole artwork features a hole with a black border, ie the opposite of a black hole, but on the upside it does feature Griff ON HORSEBACK. Look at this:
- ELIO releases a really brilliant EP today and Charger is a real winner, despite being about mobile phones (a topic rapidly rising up the lyrical banned list).
- Rose Gray, a rave-pop practitioner of considerable talent, releases her Dancing, Drinking, Talking, Thinking EP today and every track's a winner. Which is best, do you think, out of dancing, drinking, talking and thinking? It would be interesting to get Rose Gray's thoughts on this matter.
- Years & Years have covered It's A Sin. Possible something to do with Olly being in a TV show of the same name which may or may not be starting on Channel 4 tonight; hard to say really as there's been very little publicity around it. The cover is ACOUSTIC but PERMITTED.
- 220 Kid's done the shanty.
- PRETTYMUCH's Stars is included in this week's playlist mainly for the almost heroic line "girl you're an angel from every angle": a lyric that surely made perfect sense written down but required some severe vocal gymnastics to deliver 'in song'. They really went there didn't they? And to think they say pop music can't push boundaries.
You might say "Peter why have you put a 28-year-old song at the top of the New Music Friday, are you having another meltdown" and, yes, fair point but:
a) America: What Time Is Love? hasn't been commercially available for nearly three decades after The KLF threw a strop and deleted their entire catalogue. (The band have today put a handful of their hit records, including two Number Ones, on streaming services.)
b) It's a very slightly different edit to the one that came out in 1992 and is therefore unquestionably NEW.
c) Any excuse to celebrate one of the two greatest pop duos of all time.
d) I think, very seriously, that all popstars could learn a thing or two from a band who responded to the challenge of remixing a hit for the US market by turning in a song in which they claimed to have arrived in America 500 years before Christopher Columbus. A policy of more ridiculousness wherever possible wouldn't harm pop in 2021.
Also this week:
- Fa La La (feat Boyz II Men) hitmaker Justin Bieber releases his best in a while; it comes with the best artwork of his career.
- Kylie and Dua 1have chucked out the Studio 2054 Real Groove thing.
- Raye's released some remixes; the Joel Corry reswizzle of Love Of Your Life is the best of the bunch.
For the avoidance of doubt that's Minogue and Lipa↩
Notes on this week's new releases:
- Mae Muller's new one Dependent is the week's best new song — it sounds brilliant and has a great twist on the "treat me a like a lady" trope. Her new EP No One Else, Not Even You, is also out today. Commas in titles are generally to be avoided but this one works well. 8/10 for the comma.
- The only thing that could have made the Miley Cyrus and Stevie Nicks 'collab' any better is a "Stevie, can you handle this? Miley, can you handle this? It's the remix, can you handle this? I don't think you can't handle this woo" bit over the intro.
- Georgia Twinn's new song is a big moment in its own right but also lands halfway between second album Lana and first album Charli, which isn't a bad place to be is it?
- Hello and congratulations to Little Mix, whose sixth studio album is released today. As a gentleman named Jon with a private Twitter account noted earlier this week, the last British girlgroup to pull this off was Sugababes in 2008, and by that point they were on their third lineup.
- Kylie's disco album, cleverly titled Disco, is out today. Last Chance is arguably the album's most on-brief song although I suppose disco means different things to different people. The extended version of the album shows up as Disco (Deluxe). Is Disco Deluxe a better album title than Disco? (Yes.)
- While we're praising longevity Shirley Bassey, the Queen of Q4, has released 70 albums across seven decades. Still no Bruce Hornsby collaborations on the new one but she does cover I Made It Through The Rain, one of the most sensational optimistibangers of all time.
- After several years I've binned off one of the features of the Popjustice New Music Friday edit — the bit where I put a total stinker at the bottom of the playlist. Most weeks I'd find myself actively searching out something terrible and there's enough negativity in the world without having to deliberately look for new Jake Bugg releases. (Or accidentally hearing them if, like a lot of people, you listen to playlists on shuffle.)
Notes on this week's new releases:
- Baby Queen continues to be one of the pop sphere's best things: new developments this week involve Pretty Girl Lie having a brilliant middle eight and some Matty Healy dancing in the video. A lot of artists have had a go at this song's subject matter but "I get more likes when I don't look like me" kind of nails it, right?
- The artwork for Shaylen's new release depicts the singer being attacked by butterflies. (The song's great.)
- Bree Runway, whose Damn Daniel would, I think, have won last night's Twenty Quid Music Prize if Dua Lipa's Physical hadn't destroyed everything in its path, releases the Easyfun-produced Little Nokia. All things considered Bree should be approx four times bigger than she is right now but things feel like they are heading in the right direction and in These Uncertain Times that's something to hold onto.
- There's a perky F9 remix of Annie's The Streets Where I Belong, a Being Boring-esque song about Annie's return to her hometown. Being Bergen, IF YOU WILL. The remix is amazing, the original's amazing, the album the original's on is amazing, everything's generally amazing in Annie world.
- Remember Jens, of Any Other Way almost-fame? Tough Love is his new song.
- No new Kygo atrocities this week although I did get a press release containing the words "Tomorrow, Friday 25th, film star Vin Diesel will be releasing his debut dance music song 'Feel Like I Do' on Kygo's Palm Tree Records" and I was too scared to click any of the links in the email so I have no idea if it was a joke or not.
(For some reason the shitting embed hasn't updated with the new playlist and if it hasn't sorted itself out by the time you see this you can click here to open Spotify.)
Congratulations to Dua Lipa, whose single Physical was voted the best British pop single of 2020 tonight by a panel of (virtual) judges. Thanks to everyone who joined in with the voting this year, 2020's been a cavalcade of shit but nights like this make things marginally less terrible.
The twenty quid prize fund will be submitted by Paypal tomorrow morning.
Notes on this week's new releases:
- Seriously though the EHLE single is very brilliant. "I'll stop wearing black when they invent a darker colour" — A LYRIC. There's something slightly Aloudian about the unhingedness of Finders Keepers, EHLE's fourth (fourth!!) excellent single of 2020.
- Gorgon City have released their best single in about a hundred years. Evan Giia has a good voice, right? Nicely done everyone.
- Sir Sly's Material Boy sounds like a lost MGMT track. Quite good.
- Hard to imagine the strange series of events that led to Maja Kristina covering The Pointer Sisters' Slow Hand, although there's a chance it might involve autocomplete and Niall Horan. Anyway: it's an extremely good track.
- Not sure if you noticed Koko's All Together Now earlier this year but it was a bit of a slowburn belter. Anyway they're back today with So Nice To Meet You, which interpolates Public Image Ltd's This Is Not A Love Song.
- Sophie Ellis-Bextor's covered Alcazar's Crying At The Discotheque. It is the best idea for a Sophie Ellis-Bextor cover since she had a go at Propaganda's Duel.
- You will note that the previous three songs each do something new with something old. You may be thinking: "I would like to hear a four new song that is also an old song." Well.
- Kygo's reign of terror continues, with Donna Summer the latest diva to be on the receiving end. Do you remember that amazing Firestone track he did with Conrad Sewell? They were different times weren't they? Simpler times. I didn't ever think I'd be nostalgic for the specific period in my life when Kygo did that amazing Firestone track with Conrad Sewell but here we are. Sometimes we don't really appreciate the beauty of a moment until it'd faded, do we? A lesson for us all there. UPDATE: Actually once you're over the shock this is quite good isn't it?