It's nearly two years since Don't Kill My Vibe established Sigrid as a promising pop thing, and well over a year since she released Strangers, which became her biggest song. Strangers went gold in the UK and was her first (and to date only) Top 10 single, and it's still Sigrid's biggest track on Spotify, with three times as many streams as anything she's done in the last year.
Those Spotify numbers tell the worrying story of Sigrid making a big entrance, building through 2017 then gradually losing listeners' interest. Was Sucker Punch supposed to be the big track that launched the album? It felt like it got that sort of push. But it stands at 7.8m Spotify listens; Strangers has 65m. YouTube numbers echo all this.
It'd be nice to think that there are numbers elsewhere that tell a totally different story. Sigrid has pretty much the same number of monthly listeners as Robyn, for instance, and Honey's streaming numbers are, to put it politely, underwhelming, but Robyn can still sell concert tickets. Maybe, once she's finished with her arena dates supporting George Ezra, Sigrid will be able to announce a big tour of her own. Maybe she's getting enough sync deals for none of this to matter. Maybe her merch — she's selling socks — is a big deal. Maybe she's 'that sort of artist'.
In any case, with Sigrid's debut album out in a couple of months, new single Don't Feel Like Crying has a lot of work to do and for better or worse it definitely sounds like it's working pretty hard.
The nuance of songs like Don't Kill My Vibe, Plot Twist and even Strangers is less pronounced, with Sigrid making a heavier nod than ever to parts of the prevailing Spotpop sound, with hints of Jess Glynne. Maybe this was the plan all along? There's less Sigrid in this song than in those tunes that got everyone excited two years ago, but while the main chorus hook feels as functional as something you'd expect to find in a Sigala single there are enough flourishes elsewhere — in the verses, the pre-chorus, the talky bit near the end — for this to feel like the work of a still relatively exciting, still relatively new artist.
And obviously if she needs numbers quickly, combining factors like Spotpop, Jess Glynne, Sigala and a little bit of the old Sigrid magic is, on paper at least, probably the best way to go.
The Song Of The Week is Tokyo by White Lies.
No idea what this song is on about — probably something terribly important because as we all know White Lies take this pop business very seriously and the video, which the band seem to have been forced to record at gunpoint, is no help at all — but what a chorus! If there is still any pop justice in this world there will be a quite bad, but also quite amazing remix of this song on the DSPs in about (checks 2019 Release Strategy Rulebook) four weeks.
- Speaking of quite bad but also quite great remixes, the search for the definitive shitmazing rework of Panic! At The Disco's High Hopes is, it seems, not yet over. For no clear reason this week sees the release of a Don Diablo remix. It's not quite awful enough to really do the business but it is, undeniably, along the right lines.
- The Weeknd has released his song again!
- Lana's Hope Is A Dangeretc is very Lana, but it's not the most Lana song that's released this week. That's an honour that falls to American Spirit by Washington.
- ISA has a new song out. She'll probably have another one in the next tax year.
- Westlife's Ed Sheeran-'penned' Hello My Love came out yesterday. It's better than you'd expect a Westlife song to be at this stage, but not quite as good as you'd expect an Ed Sheeran song to be, despite being a not-particularly-well-disguised partial rewrite of Castle On The Hill, which actually is one of Ed's best songs. Includes a line about having "hair growing where it's meant to".
- Concrete proof that Spotify Singles must be discontinued: Muse have covered Duran Duran.
Troye Sivan has just premiered his best-ever pop video and that's all very well but the real question is this: what impact could the Lucky Strike audiovisular extravaganza have on the millennial pop elf's future merch stands? Let's find out.
1. Soft furnishings
If Kylie can get away with it there's no reason Troye Sivan can't flog red cushions for — and this is a conservative estimate — £18 a throw. Maybe he could literally also sell matching throws for £18 a throw.
2. A towel thing with a lady's bottom on it
This item's appearance in the video sort of points to the fact that towels with ladies' bottoms on them already exist, but this is actually ideal because there need be no initial expense in terms of design, R&D and so on. Towels can be ordered in bulk at wholesale prices and there's no reason absorbent beach ponchos can't fetch upwards of £25.
3. A vest
This would actually be a really good t-shirt design were it not for the fact that it could be mistaken for a gunshot wound and might therefore be seen as being in slightly poor taste. A bit of forward-planning from the wardrobe department, making the stain more clearly in a heart shape, could have avoided this problem. It's all about attention to detial.
Before moving on with the squishy commentary it's very important to state here that the 'attention to detial' typo above was an exquisitely constructed joke, and not a mistake. Anyway: heart-shaped squishies could easily go for £10 on a merch stand, if you take into account the idea that normal non-merch squishies are getting on for that price anyway even though they clearly cost about nine pence to make. Massive margins to be had here. In fact why not chuck in a free Troye Sivan fidget spinner while you're at it?
A big statement parasol, where the statement is "I have sensitive skin and/or am mindful of what harm the sun's rays can cause, and also I am either quite-to-very gay or an ally whose allyship stretches to the completely unreasonable sum of £68 for a fabric umbrella". Actually this isn't the proper rainbow flag colour scheme is it? No matter: people at gigs are in such a state of euphoria that they'll be halfway home with this beast before they even realise. Lots of money to be made with this one.
Bonus: 6. u wot m8??
You could have 100 people in a room and even the one who wanted to see Lady Gaga in a film wouldn't guess that the Lucky Strike video was made 'in collaboration with' (thanks to a pile of cash from) popular file hosting company Dropbox. Hard to see how this might extend to a merch stand. Cardboard boxes? Filing cabinets? Actually, a Troye Sivan-branded Bisley would be pretty special. This is Popjustice's 2019 merch dream: a Troye Bisley. Would pay £80. This is not a joke. There is £80 here for anyone who can manufacture a high quality Troye Sivan filing cabinet.
When pop and film collide and you see words like 'music from and inspired by' you can usually bet that the 'inspired by' part is a broad way of saying 'music retrieved from a leftovers folder, inspired by an email asking for any random old nonsense to chuck on a film'.
Not something you could say about the new Billie Eilish track When I Was Older, a song that's not from but definitely is inspired by Sólo con Tu Pareja hitmaker Alfonso Cuarón's latest film Roma.
Upshot: a super-atmospheric moodtune that's probably one of Billie's Top 5 songs to date.
The Song Of The Week is Juice by Lizzo.
Juice, a great follow-up to last year's also brilliant and partially slept on Boys, is three minutes and fifteen seconds of total not-from-concentrate joy. Look at her smiling face! Is smiling going to be the big pop trend of 2019? Obviously Lana's got an album coming out, but apart from that?
- As noted earlier today, Fleur East's Favourite Thing falls into Unexpected Belter territory. It's good to have her back.
- Norwegian warbler jens used to make rock music but had an awakening and now counts Charlie Puth and Lauv among his influences. Any Other Way doesn't sound like much for the first minute or so but by its second half the song reveals itself to be an absolute monster.
- Frankly Chaka Khan's Hello Happiness just hammers home the idea that 2019 is the year of the Pop Smile.
- In light of Mark & Miley's latest version of Nothing Breaks Like A Heart Popjustice is happy to temporarily lift its ban on acoustic versions. The pair are currently unveiling new versions of this song at the rate of about one a week and with any luck this will continue through 2019 — if you missed the Boston Bun or Dimitri From Paris mixes please listen to them now, they're very good.
Strange how the light reflects off the car's windscreen, obscuring the driver and briefly creating the illusion that Fleur East spends her weekends driving a clown car down country roads.
BUT FLEUR EAST IS NO CLOWN — as you can see from Favourite Thing, a new song/video combo from the singer, who you'll remember competed in a slightly demeaning ITV show, and also took part in I'm A Celebrity.
It's Fleur's first big release since leaving Syco and Favourite Thing is about four times better than it has any right to be, as well as being pretty bloody good in its own right. "The song has influences from my mother's side of my family in Ghana," Fleur tells a press release. "My mum has always made sure I know a lot about my heritage."
It's hard to predict how this sort of release will pan out in the streaming era but it deserves big things, as does Fleur.
(Also, if you missed it last summer, this Colour Blind video was pretty powerful.)