The concept of 'selling out' — that slightly tedious old notion that recording artists should only ever make money from selling music — hasn't really applied to pop for well over a decade. Or at least since artists stopped, er, making money from selling music. But if anything's likely to push the issue it's sitting around in your pants for cash when you're already a generally-lusted-after artist keen to stress his musicianly credentials.
Hats and almost everything else off, then, to Shawn Mendes, who in this new Calvin Klein shot makes a rather sweet attempt to divert attention from his underwear by casually resting a keyboard and guitar against the wall. "I might be in my pants," the photo's composition seems to say, "but I know how chords work, and that's the really important thing here." Let's all just agree to ignore the elephant in the room.
Popjustice's Instagram followers have spent the last two weeks joining me in a celebration of some of pop's greatest ever horse-related imagery, and there's more to come as the month plays out.
HORSE FEBRUARY is best experienced with music, so here's a playlist of songs about horses.
Three years after she contributed a version of Everywhere You Look to Netflix's Full House reboot, Carly Rae Jepsen has unveiled a new song, Now That I Found You, via an ad for the new season of Netflix's Queer Eye.
The logical conclusion of all this is totally obvious and incredibly simple: Carly Rae Jepsen should set up a recording studio at Netflix HQ and just bang out song after song for all the company's original and so-called-original programming.
Ask yourself this: would Russian Doll not have been better if it had combined Groundhog Day, The Good Place AND Cut To The Feeling? Ask yourself this: when you consider the tidying up programme that in another era would have been screened on Channel 4 at 8pm on Tuesdays and totally ignored by anyone under the age of 30, do you not find yourself pining for the joy-sparking tones of Carlos The Jeppel?? Ask yourself this: wasn't the Ted Bundy docuseries lacking a certain feelgood factor???
Let's get Carly on every Netflix show. And let's get this sorted by the end of March, none of us are getting any younger.
The Song Of The Week is Champion by George Maple.
A strong sense of two different songs playing at once in this one, but no bad thing at a point when most New Music Friday offerings sound like about half a song playing at once.
- Elliphant's song off Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is out today!
- Marina's suggested that Handmade Heaven — a song that won't exactly scare off existing Marina fans — isn't representative of the rest of her forthcoming album, which is quite interesting isn't it?
- Ariana's album is out today, break up with your girlfriend, i'm bored is the one that jumps out as being the best song on it, and that's that. REVIEW ENDS.
The world always seems more bearable when there's new Pet Shop Boys music in it, and the arrival today of Give Stupidity A Chance raises global bearability by a full 4%, which in turn moves the needle from Total Shitshow into Almost Total Shitshow. This is a temporary shift, please make the most of it.
Neil says the song's put-them-on-the-side-of-a-bus-worthy lyrics are "about the poor quality of political leadership in the modern world". They end on Trump but start closer to home: there hasn't been much talk yet of what will be Number One on Brexit day, March 29, and the bookies aren't even taking bets, but so far Give Stupidity A Chance feels like the only sensible Brexmas Number One contender.
ALSO IT'S UNDER THREE MINUTES, IMAGINE IF THE UNITED KINGDOM HAD SUBMITTED THIS FOR EUROVISION.
By the way if any Pet Shop Boys fans reading this are confused about why membership of the EU is a good thing, one key part of the whole deal that's worth bearing in mind is that it's a, it's a, it's a…
It's a single market.
There's more to come soon — very soon indeed — from 'the lads'. Three further songs from the Agenda EP ("three satirical songs and one rather sad song") are all out this week; the titles are On Social Media (this could be reasonably spectacular), What Are We Going To Do About The Rich? (ditto) and The Forgotten Child (probably the rather sad one). The EP was produced with Tim Powell, and it's a standalone thing ie the songs won't be on the next PSB album. There'll be a CD version that's preorderable here.
Within the first few seconds of the spectacular new Rein video it's obvious the exceptional Swedish artist's budgets have increased slightly since, for instance, the videos for releases like C.A.P.I.T.A.L.I.S.M. or Can't Handle Me, and then a short while later you realise why — it's part of a deal with Volkswagen.
And then you realise it's something to do with electric cars, and the decision to cover Leila K's semi-ancient song Electric makes even more sense. Obviously, this all comes with the obligatory behind the scenes video on VW's Swedish YouTube channel.
Last year Popjustice wrote about Paloma Faith's collaboration with another car brand, Skoda, and about how anyone working in music should bear in mind one simple rule: IT MIGHT BE BRANDED CONTENT BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN IT NEEDS TO BE TOTAL SHIT. That rule seems to have been followed with Rein's Electric, a release that's brilliant in its own right. Hard to say exactly where this sort of thing fits in with the general vision of Rein's other work, but here we are anyway.
If you haven't come across Rein's other stuff you should get to know it now. She sits somewhere between Icona Pop and Nine Inch Nails and since 2016 she's been banging out aggressive, confrontational and really exciting electronic songs with titles like (You Call It) Democracy, I Don't Get Anything But Shit From You and There Is No Authority But Yourself. Frustrating, in a way, much as it might go against some of Rein's independent spirit, that Rein hasn't all been picked up by a massive international label and propelled into the pop mainstream with multi-million-pound budgets. Maybe the bigger labels think the whole proposition looks too difficult. Thing is, SOMETIMES POP NEEDS TO BE DIFFICULT.
One of the best bits is this quote: "I love and adore all support for my music, but people online don’t own me, and I won’t give them any illusion that they have any kind of entitlement." Lots of pop is built on that illusion. Always has been. But for lots of popstars it's not an illusion at all: careers really are built, then lurch from easy hit to easy hit, based on how readily some artists capitulate to fan entitlement. Not very interesting careers though. Most of what we as fans think we want from artists is surprisingly conservative. It's like that Henry Ford quote: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
Anyway that's not the best bit of the interview. The very best bit, delivered in throwaway fashion, comes near the end of the piece when there's a summary of some of the things Marina's been doing while she's been away from her pop duties. Brace yourself:
She’s playing around with falconry
At the risk of getting a bit 'Sean Bean meme', one does not simply play around with falconry. And yet… And yet. Is there any popstar on the face of the planet better equipped to popularise falconry as a leisure pursuit?