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?
Notes on this week's new releases:
- OMG What's Happening is, whichever way you look at it, the quintessential 2020 song title. Is Ava Max, who currently stands at 33.5m monthly Spotify listeners, making her the world's 47th biggest act, the quintessential 2020 popstar? That's another conversation for another day. Let's not do it now.
- Daniel Briskin, a very important (and decent) new popstar from north London, has released a new song that starts off as one thing and ends up as another thing. Both those things are good things.
- British chanteuse Blithe, of 'did a big interview with her a while back' fame, returns today with the v sparky If I Ain't The One.
- French singer 1 Marina Kaye releases her sparse and spooky new single Double Life today. As with previous single The Whole 9 (also highly listenable) she made it with David Stewart and Jessica Agombar, two songwriters who've appeared on Popjustice in the past in slightly different roles and are having a bit of a Moment right now, having recently knocked out Dynamite for BTS and that quite good Jonas Brothers single. Marina says this song was partly inspired by the writing session's proximity to the Jack The Ripper museum. (???)
- The new Oz one, Murder, hits a mark somewhere between Lana and Sia, but also sounds like nothing else I heard while scouring hundreds of songs for this week's playlist, and it's really quite brilliant.
- Next time someone on Twitter is wanging on about "where are all the modern protest songs???etc", point them to #freebritney by Holy Spearit.
- Anna Straker's one of the artists I spoke to in that marathon Zoom session during lockdown. Seems a long time ago now, doesn't it? All that madness? Anyway she's got a new track with Gabrielle 'Prior To Them Closing Their Last Branch In 2008 I Used To Buy My Batteries At M' Aplin, and very enjoyable it is too.
- Navvy's The Final Pieces EP is out today and it's not quite all the feels but it's the vast majority of them.
- In 'egregious noughties anthem interpolation' news, hit play on the Sigala and James Arthur song and I guarantee that within one second you'll be screaming "SIGALA AND JAMES ARTHUR WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?" A truly extraordinary piece of music.
That's French for chanteuse↩
Notes on this week's new releases:
- Look, I generally try to keep the New Music Friday playlist pretty short each week because we're all busy people so it is with deep dismay that I must report this week's playlist contains 34 decent songs.
- Griff's one of the better new popstars, isn't she? Say It Again's her best release to date.
- It's a semi-busy week for Babeheaven who release what we used to call a double a‑side single featuring new songs Cassette Beat and Human Nature, both of which are very enjoyable.
- Ava Max has released an Ace Of Base-inspired single, while modern pop's premiere Ace Of Base apologists Clean Bandit have released an unexpected and, frankly, unrequested mashup of Real Love and DARIO G'S SUNCHYME. (I first noticed the mashup in one of the band's live lockdown DJ sets, has it been part of the Bandit 'oeuvre' for a while?)
- Amy Allen, whose songwriting you've already been enjoying via artists like Harry Styles and Halsey, has an acceptably 90s-sounding single out today.
- Bastille's excellent new one is Song 4 on the playlist and when you hear it you may well agree that's two spots too low.
- Curtis Waters isn't messing around is he?
- Brighton-based singer of song Oz has a really impressive EP on its way and the first glimpse of that is out today: its called Money.
- The new Vamps single is good, mind you that was pretty inevitable considering it was produced by Lostboy.
- Seriously there are so many decent songs out this week.
- (Please make some time to listen to the great E^ST album.)
- Yorke released her debut EP in March and it seems she's been using her lockdown wisely: Gravity is a huge leap forward and sounds like Ellie Goulding doing 1989-era Taylor Swift, ie totally ideal.
- SO MANY DECENT SONGS.