The 2019 Popjustice Twenty Quid Music Prize takes place on September 29. Want to help judge? Apply here.

New Music Friday: Taylor Swift is so sick of running as fast as she can

Filed by Peter Robinson on

The Song Of The Week is The Man by Taylor Swift.

In which Taylor echoes the sentiment of Beyoncé's If I Were A Boy and ends up at If I Were Still Taylor Swift But Also A Boy. Points are made.

Additional notes:

  • Taylor Swift is also respons­ible for the week's worst song, but that's the gift and the curse of the mul­ti­fa­ceted pop entity, right?
  • The new Unperfect single is their best yet. You cannot go wrong with an upward tra­ject­ory.
  • The 1975: incred­ible racket.
  • Poppy: incred­ible racket.
  • Missy Elliott's first album in over a decade isn't actually an album because it's an EP but let's not allow the fact to get in the way of Comeback Excitement. One thing is certain, though: "I did records for Tweet before y'all could even tweet" is the lyric of the week.
  • 5 Seconds Of Summer credit New Order in their new single, which seems quite strange. A bit of it sounds slightly like Rihanna's Blue Monday-inter­pol­at­ing Shut Up And Drive… Is that it?
  • The Elusive Charlteuxcx releases new music this week after an absense of, ooh, several days. Miss U, off the new 13 Reasons Why, is album-worthy material. (It's not on the album.)


New Music Friday: Normani does it so right

Filed by Peter Robinson on

The Song Of The Week is Motivation by Normani.

Last time I checked the spread­sheet I noted that pop was overdue a new hero and here she is, with a little help from Ariana, Max, Ilya and Savan. The video is excellent about 37 different ways and con­sti­tutes what I reckon has to be 2019's defin­it­ive Supersar-Has-Landed moment.

Additional notes:

  • The Charli and Sky single is a swooping slab of melec­tro­drama that with any luck will establish this pairing as the new Pitbull & J.Lo. One song a summer, every summer: ideal.
  • MUNA have billed their new song as a "trauma banger", which is five levels above a sadbanger on the gloomo­meter. "Trauma never sounded so good!!!" is the sort of thing people say in reviews isn't it?
  • Swedish semi-superstar Vera Hotsauce (NOT HER REAL NAME) is really shaping up to be something special and One Time is an XCesque is a great step forward from the Red Pill EP, which came out earlier this year.
  • Navvy is also sad on My Love, the key song on her new EP which is called — and she's not leaving any room for ambiguity here — The Breakup.
  • For the avoidance of doubt, because I know a lot of you listen to playlists on shuffle, the new Darkness single is VERY MUCH THE BOTTOM SONG THIS WEEK.

Caroline Polachek does not adhere to aspect ratio norms

Filed by Peter Robinson on

New Music Friday's quite boring this week so let's instead use our time to marvel at the aspect ratio deployed in Caroline Polachek's Ocean Of Tears video. There are times, aren't there, when it feels like 4:3 is giving us less. But that's only if you're thinking hori­zont­ally. Don't be fooled by the dark portions of a YouTube embed: a visionary like Caroline lives their life ver­tic­ally, meaning that in this case a 4:3 video is actually giving us more.

She's on tour this October. Tickets went on sale this morning.



The Gold Zone is where all new popstars need to be, and CXLOE's just entered it

Filed by Peter Robinson on

Australian singer of song and estab­lished bubble­wrap advocate CXLOE returns today with Sick, a song she says is about the fact that "sometimes we just want that raw emotion of feeling sick over someone, like an obsession … That pit of your stomach sick". Which is all very well, but the main point here is that while Sick begins like any number of songs by any number of emerging solo artists, it packs a huge punch of a chorus and is, when all's said and done, a totally amazing pop single.

Sick is CXLOE's third con­sec­ut­ive stu­pendous song (following I Can't Have Nice Things and Low Blow — both released earlier this year) which means she's entered pop's Gold Zone, a coveted area reserved for emerging acts actually worth investing your energy in.

THE GOLD ZONE EXPLAINED

  • One great single: FLUKE.
  • Two great singles: COINCIDENCE.
  • Three great singles: GOLD ZONE ACHIEVED, SOMETHING'S DEFINITELY HAPPENING HERE.

Gold Zone rules are harsh but fair. Two great songs followed by a duffer? Sorry, you need to start again. A great song, then an alright song, then a great song? Apols, the second song has voided the first.

Gold Zone mem­ber­ship is not for life and can be revoked if a run of three great songs is followed by more than one con­sec­ut­ive sub­stand­ard tune. This means that if CXLOE's next single isn't up to scratch (UNLIKELY) she'll still be in the Gold Zone, but if the one after that's a stinker (POSSIBLE, STILL UNLIKELY) she'll need to re-earn her Gold Zone status by releasing three new great songs in a row.

I'm still figuring out the finer points of Gold Zone mem­ber­ship. Should it also apply to estab­lished and returning artists? (I think it could.) How do EPs and albums affect it? (The rules really only make sense in the run-up to a Body Of Work.) Does a hit song that's a shit song (HSSS) have any bearing on the whole thing? (I'm leaning towards no.) But in a pop era packed with an unpre­ced­en­ted number of pretty good new artists with pretty good music, the Gold Zone might be our best chance to make sense of what's really happening.


New Music Friday: ITZY are icy, but on fire

Filed by Peter Robinson on

The Song Of The Week is Icy by ITZY.

Icy, which I should warn you right now goes like the absolute clappers, is the lead track off the new EP by rel­at­ively new K-pop five-piece ITZY, whose first release popped up back in February. Like a lot of the best pop music Icy feels like it could go in any direction at any moment and you've got to love a song that includes the lyrics "beep beep" and "blah blah". There's a great bit in the video where one of them eats an apple. AN APPLE!

Additional notes:

  • Tove Lo's released her best single in years; Alma comes along for the ride.
  • Sydney-based singer Lola Scott is currently sitting on 227 monthly Spotify listeners. Luxurious pop wobbler Heaven Knows should change that (and the spec­tac­u­larly-titled Warzone Of The Suburbs, from earlier this year, is also worth a listen).
  • THE NEW ARIANA IS ABSOLUTELY FINE.
  • Best Raye single yet? Yes.
  • The Charming Horses and Bymia single doesn't exactly have a double chorus but its chorus does have a great 'secret com­part­ment' with the "cos you got me inap­pro­pri­ate" part.
  • Not to say the Carly Rae Jepsen vs Gryffin single is slightly less than the sum of its parts, but if you think about the Gryffin of about three years ago and the Carly Rae Jepsen of, well, about three years ago, OMG isn't exactly a case of both acts firing on all cylinders.
  • I'm sorry about this because I know you probably really like it but I just find the new Haim song totally awful. What a racket!


The 2019 Popjustice Twenty Quid Music Prize: shortlist announced

Filed by Peter Robinson on

Today I reveal the twelve best British* pop singles of the last twelve months. On September 19 the act/s respons­ible for the best of the lot will win twenty quid (cash).

Click here for the full shortlist and playlist, plus more info and all the past winners and short­l­ists.

On prize night a panel of judges will decide on the winner at a top secret (I haven't booked it yet) London venue. If you'd like to join us all on the night, drop me a line on [email protected] explain­ing why you should be a judge and saying which song should be kicked off the shortlist — and which song should take its place.

The overall winner will receive a pair of overalls with a £20 note stuck in the pocket.

* I will be taking questions about the inclusion of Tiesto on the night and not before.


New Music Friday: Hayley Kiyoko sometimes wonders if you'll ever love her ever

Filed by Peter Robinson on

Notes:

  • Hayley Kiyoko's I Wish, probably although not def­in­itely this week's best new song, is a superstar pop moment 'and no mistaking'.
  • Charlotte Lawrence takes a step up and slightly to the side, into Eilishish territory, with Why Do You Love Me. The shift suits her; the song has an impress­ive team behind it, including Ali Tamposi, Ryan Tedder, Andrew Watt and Charlie 'You Can't Handle The' Puth.
  • Bishop Briggs also comes into focus this week with the Joel Little-produced Champion.
  • Sam Smith Has Experienced Sadness.
  • chloe mk's new single opens with quite a line: "I miss David Bowie, I miss Prince, I miss the way it used to feel when we were kids."