This edition comes to you via a recent journey into the very BOWELS of London — the United Kingdom's capital city and home to nearly 9m people.
1. Little Mix wear some clothes
When this campaign first appeared there was some social activity showing a big US electronic billboard going "WOW AMAZING TO SEE THIS IN TIMES SQUARE" or something, then about five minutes later I walked past the same ad stuck up on a wall in Highbury, which struck me as being strangely poignant given that Highbury is very much Not Times Square. The picture shows Little Mix at the fairground with Jade's 'threads' (clothes) offering an early hint at her political leanings.
2. Harry Styles sassily rejects the lure of the rubber glove
The problem here is that the combination of the fish-eye effect and the shape of the London Underground walls results in an incredibly distorted idea of what Harry Style really looks like.
Fortunately through the miracle of digital image manipulation it's possible to see what the original photo looked like.
That is what he actually looks like when he's walking down the street. If you ever see a photo of him looking normal it's because he's demanded the photographer use a special lens.
3. Ed Sheeran delivers a reminder
It's weird isn't it that Ed Sheeran had an album out this year, and loads of hits came off it, and it sold really quite well, and yet it doesn't totally feel as if there's been an Ed Sheeran album? THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU PUT 'PROJECT' IN THE TITLE OF SOMETHING. Obviously Ed knows this, considering he knows everything about marketing, but it feels like there's been a disconnect between 'this is an album but it's not a proper album' from Ed and 'we're going to market the tits off this one anyway' from the label.
4. Robbie Williams remembers the true spirit of Q4
Considering I'm absolutely never going to listen to this album, I do quite like The Christmas Present. I like the album being split into Christmas Past and Christmas Future, with the album's title representing the bit in the middle, which doubles up as quite a funny Q4 album title. I am also keen on Robbie holding the album itself on the album sleeve. He should have called it Sing When You're Carolling, but you can't have everything.
You may well be wondering what's caught Robbie's attention in this photo and the truth of the matter is that he's on the search for someone sexist and homophobic to duet on one of this album tracks.
Oh look, he's found someone.
I'm calling a snap Readers' Poll. Polling day is THURSDAY DECEMBER 12. No votes will be accepted before or after that date. The results will be published on Friday December 13.
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Notes on this week's new releases:
- I think we can all agree Harry Styles is working a lot better now he's decided he's not going to get on the cover of MOJO, and of course his pivot to music that sounds like it's from the last six years means he loses some of his interestingness but a) he's still fully committed to interesting trousers and b) Adore You finds him moving slightly closer to what he should have been doing all along, ie songs that sound like The 1975's Somebody Else.
- Elsewhere this week Bodin's Somebody sounds… Like The 1975's Somebody Else.
- The Rouxnaissance continues with Gullible Fool which is, and there are no two ways about this, amazing.
- Franky Wah's collaboration with podcaster Jessie Ware is pretty promising — perhaps 2020 will find Jessie hanging up the pop filter and launching a pop career?
- Becky Hill has covered Yazoo's Only You. Her version is better than the Enrique Iglesias version and not as good as the Yazoo version, which is To Be Expected.
- Abisha's latest is GREAT.
- Yes that's right, the new Chainsmokers and Amy Shark song is quite good!
- The Taylor Swift Christmas song tries to push all the right buttons, but it's wearing mittens so pushes some wrong ones instead.
I've made a big decision about the future of Popjustice, a website I started nearly twenty years ago. Not an easy decision, but one that's been coming for a while.
The madness has to stop. As of today I will be writing songtitles With Capital Letters Where They're Supposed To Be.
- Josef Salvat's new song is called modern anxiety. NO IT'S NOT.
- The new Pet Shop Boys song is called Burning the heather. NO IT'S NOT.
- Griff's new song is called Sound of Your Voice. NO IT'S NOT.
These songs are called Modern Anxiety, Burning The Heather and Sound Of Your Voice.
I feel quite bad about the Pet Shop Boys one because they've dedicated their entire careers to writing their songtitles as sentences but I can't have one rule for one popstar and another rule for others.
I have not yet made a decision on whether RAYE is Raye, ZAYN is Zayn and so on — I'm slightly sympathetic to the idea that an artist's name is kind of sacred. But frankly I'm not that sympathetic. I feel a decision brewing and it might well cause WIDESPREAD OUTRAGE. (Or Widespread outrage.) (Or widespread outrage.)
PS: Yes songtitles is one word, just like popstar.
PPS: And yes it's PS not P.S..
Notes on this week's new releases:
- Josef Salvat (who returns this week with Modern Anxiety, a song whose video you should watch on your mobile telephone): WHAT A MAN, WHAT AN ARTISTE, WHAT AN ENTITY.
- No idea why The Rubens have made a totally brilliant pop song, possibly an administrative error but here we are.
- Charlotte Lawrence has this week's best song title: God Must Be Doing Cocaine. Quite Magnetic Fieldsy, as songtitles go. And that's probably it, isn't it, when you look at the state of the world these days. God is just absolutely of His tits. (God does not exist.)
- Krystal Klear, who should produce the next Pet Shop Boys album, as well as everything else by everyone else, has a new EP out today and Entre Nous is the bangingest song on it.
- By 'next Pet Shop Boys album' I mean the one that's out after the one that's out next year. The latest song from that is in this week's playlist and it's full-on pensive. (Actually, thinking about it, Entre Nous is a very PSB song title. GET KRYSTAL KLEAR IN THE STUDIO WITH NEIL AND CHRIS NOW.)
- Not sure how I feel about the 'collaborashawn' (oh dear) version of Taylor's Lover, a Q4 streamchase reswizzle sort of diminishes the directness and purity of the original but I appreciate that in the current 'pop' 'ecosystem' this sort of objection is a bit of a cloud yell.
- Vita Bergan suffers from exactly the same problem as Lilla Vargen. Not a musical one — they're both quite good — but because of the simple fact that it's impossible to see either of their names without feeling the compulsion to bellow "HEY! TOUCHED FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME".
As well as Pang being the pop album of the year and a modern masterpiece in its own right, it seems like Caroline Polachek has also made the album countless other artists either wish they made or think they made. The whole lot's right at the top of this week's playlist. (Also, is she going to make 'NO INTERLUDES NO FEATS' into a t-shirt or am I going to have to make my own?)
- Gryffin's Maia Wright collaboration recalls the Gryffin we all (well about nine of us) first fell in love with 'back in the day'.
- TOM ASPAUL IS BACK LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.
- Grace VanderWaal has now signed with Syco, which is quite interesting and also great news because the greater her audience, the closer she'll get to the Radio 1 Live Lounge, and the more likely it therefore is that she'll cover Wonderwall and change the lyrics to "after all, I'm Grace VanderWall". All pop careers, whether the artists know it or not, are heading towards one big moment, and that one's Grace's.
- The new Julie Bergan EP is v good!
Something strange is happening in this week's new releases. It's as if in several different parts of the world a small number of popstars have independently decided that this is the week when pop must finally collapse in on itself.
Black Eyed Peas sampling Rhythm Of The Night? Sure! Pusha T chucking the Succession theme tune on a song? Fine! Hanne Leland banging out The Sound Of Silence, Sondr reworking Eiffel 65's Blue, Baby Ariel interpolating Lou Reed, Lucas & Steve singing new words over A-ha's Take On Me? THIS IS ALL ABSOLUTELY NORMAL. There's a dodgy Freak Like Me remix knocking around somewhere this week, too. (Most of this stuff, I should add, hasn't made this week's playlist.)
To top it all off someone called Scott Walker has decided to launch a pop career in spite of the fact that pop's Scott Walker quota (which is 1) is already full, meaning that the Spotify artist page for one of music's most epic voices now lists his first posthumous release as being a money-for-old-rope house effort. I'm sure it's what he would have wanted.
- Song Of The Week by about half a mile is E^st's new one Talk Deep, which finds her reunited with Jim Eliot and is both BREATHY and PERKY. It's the first look at her debut album I'm Doing It which is a) a really extraordinary new body of work, b) due next year and c) and a handy reminder, for the time being, that E^st's existing catalogue of pop is very much work revisiting.
- Harry Styles is veering into Zayn territory with Lights Up.
- Cher Lloyd has released a song called MIA but WHEN WILL MIA RELEASE A SONG CALLED CHER LLOYD?
- The latest Charlie's Angels song, How It's Done, features a lot of artists, none of whom will ever include this song in their live sets.