Right, we've given it a week and we'll be honest with you: Q4 is underperforming.
Yes, the David Guetta single is good in ways nobody could have expected. Yes, Avicii and Robbie's single is 'a big thing' and bad in ways most people would have expected. Yes, McBusted's single announcement is a pretty Q4 event. And yes, we'll accept that the BBC did pull a big rabbit out of the hat last night with the One Direction and Jake Bugg collaboration.
But where's everything else?
As we outlined last year in our introductory guide to all things Q4, Q4 is the most special time of year for pop music.
Qthousand4teen needs to buck up its ideas, and here's what we want to see before 2015 comes along and ruins all the Q4 fun.
1. Let’s have a Rihanna single. We don’t even need a whole album. Just a single. We'll take anything at this point.
2. McBusted’s ‘Air Guitar’ video needs to be set at a karaoke night; the full McBusted album must include a song about the demise of Busted.
3. Will Young doing The Beloved's 'Sweet Harmony' for the John Lewis ad please.
4. Actually, thinking about it, let’s have a Rihanna album after all.
5. Gwen Stefani’s single has to be almost supernaturally incredible.
6. We don't care if it's finished or not: Tamera Foster’s debut single needs to come out this year and we don’t want any of this Sade bollocks people were talking about earlier this year. This needs to be balls-out amazing.
7. The only person allowed to release an album that sounds like Sade in Q4 is Sade, and even that’s pushing it a bit.
8. Almost one year ago to the day we tweeted about a new Calvin Harris album coming in 2014. This was based on an email we'd just got from his label but in a reply Calvin seemed quite surprised by the news. He’s since deleted that tweet but ‘Motion’ is indeed coming, and its release date falls in the pop calendar’s most exciting 25%. So we were right about the Calvin Harris album and Calvin Harris was wrong about the Calvin Harris album. The Gwen track obviously needs to be completely amazing, and the album’s not out for a few weeks so there’s still plenty of time for Calvin to release a few more singles, thus achieving the impressive ‘half a greatest hits’ feel he pulled off on '18 Months’. (We also like the American Horror Story-esque ‘returning cast’ feel of Ellie Goulding and Theo Hurts coming back to do some more songs.)
9. It’s yet to be officially announced but The Saturdays’ Christmas album must be completely ridiculous, but it must also not be total shit. As well as sleighbell-strewn original songs the album must include covers of Low’s ‘Just Like Christmas’, Saint Etienne’s ‘I Was Born On Christmas Day’ (with Marvin Humes as Tim Burgess), Hurts’ ‘All I Want For Christmas Is New Year’s Day’ and Leona’s ‘One More Sleep', plus the greatest festive single in recent history — Paul Holt’s ‘Fifty Grand For Christmas’. It must be called 'On Your Reindeer'.
10. Something about Adele.
11. One Direction’s farewell album must follow in the pensive footsteps of ‘Fireproof’.
12. Sorry to go on about this, but about this Rihanna album. We’ve heard murmurings of guitars. But Charli XCX’s involvement has also been mooted. The latter would be acceptable, as would a combination of both.
13. Taylor Swift’s album must be the album of the year. To give you some idea of the scale of this album's power, Max Martin's done at least nine songs. Don't let us down Max.
14. In other Max Martin news, we’d like to hear the fruits of Tove Lo’s writing sessions as part of Max's team, and in total we’d like to hear three different Max Martin-helmed singles by three different non-Swift US recording artists before Q4 is out.
15. She might be the planet’s least self aware popstar but even Jessie J must know that this new album of hers is make or break, at least in terms of the international superstar status she covets. The good news is she’s got form when it comes to decent songs.
16. Emeli Sandé’s already sidled her way into one big Q4 release (ie that BBC ‘God Only Knows’ single) but there’s still time to whack out a single and album before the end of Q4. Obviously, as she’s discussed in the past, she has strong feelings about how exploitative shows like The X Factor can be. The good news is that she's more than happy to put her strong principles to one side if there's a chance of flogging some music, so maybe she could appear (yet again) on one of the live shows.
17. If a 'Bangerz' repack called 'Banger2' definitely isn't happening we want to know why and we want the names and addresses of everybody involved in this heinous decision.
18. It’s increasingly hard to see where Madonna’s music promo ends and her hashtag addiction begins, but an album definitely exists and while it's scheduled for 2015 we mustn't forget that she's managed by the same man who 'masterminded' the U2 iTunes release, and Madonna’s still one of the few artists who could just about cause the necessary fuss a semi-Beyoncé requires.
19. Speaking of U2, isn't there supposed to be another album on its way? Not the forthcoming physical release of 'Songs Of Innocence' (which is a release that takes the one good thing about that album — the artwork — and changes it). A completely different one. Given how long they spent between albums there must be several potential U2 albums knocking around. They could chuck an LP onto iTunes once a week for the rest of Q4 if they wanted to, but the one we’d be interested in hearing is the one that contains the RedOne sessions.
20. We’re going to set ourselves up for a fall here but we’re crossing our fingers for a Cheryl album with more than three good songs on it.
21. More importantly, would a surprise Nicola Roberts track between Christmas and New Year be too much to ask for? She's been in the studio, at least one of the songs must be SoundCloud ready.
22. Do you think it would help if we just phoned Rihanna every two days to ask how she was getting on?
23. 'Oily' Murs has an album on its way. The first single’s not great, but he usually manages a few decent tracks from each album campaign, and given Olly's standing in the British male pop 'community' we're going to have to demand at least one all-out triumph. “I want to be the biggest male artist in the country,” he recently told Music Week. "I might never get there but I’m going to keep going until that day when you know it’s over.” We’re not sure what to make of that; nor are we entirely sure what to make of this: “I look at the market and always try to challenge myself. So if I hear an Avicii song I might want to write an Avicii song.” (Apparently one song on his album, the Steve Mac and Wayne Hector track ‘Stick With Me’, does indeed sound a little bit like an Avicii song.)
24. The Nicki Minaj album is going to be great, right?
25. One of the things we really love about the current Kylie 'era': the way Kylie's letting leftover tracks find their way to fans. Another thing we like about the current Kylie 'era': loads of these songs are actually really good. We'd like to see another surprise EP release on the morning of December 25.
26. David Guetta's new single is great. Will the album also be great? No, it will contain a large amount of old nonsense, but 'Dangerous' is a good reminder that Dave should never be underestimated.
27. Susan Boyle’s album features a version of 'You Raise Me Up’ featuring the Lakewood Church Choir. This must have a massive donk at the end of it.
28. Iggy Azalea's reissuing her album. It'll include new songs with Charli XCX and Ellie Goulding which is all very well but Azo needs to bin off the title ('The New Classic: Reclassified') and call the reissue 'First Things Second'.
29. We're afraid we're going to have to insist that Ella Henderson – whose album is out next week — stages a stupendous X Factor performance with fire and a choir. Fire And A Choir should actually be deployed on all X Factor performances.
30. This isn't a demand as such but bear in mind Status Quo have an acoustic album coming out. It's called… 'Aquostic'.
31. The thing is, Rihanna's at a point now where if she doesn't want to release an album, she just won't. That's the problem. She's too big. This is our fault, and your fault. We created a monster.
32. Released on November 3, James Blunt's 'Moon Landing (Apollo Edition)’ is perhaps the quintessential Q4 release. You know those 'hilarious' videos of posh actors reading out deranged tweets and YouTube comments? We would like this James Blunt release to include a hidden track in which James Blunt's tweets are read out in a posh voice, ie by James Blunt.
33. Do you think Sia might release a second single at some point?
34. The BBC Music Awards — which take place on December 11 — need to be properly amazing and they need to be a proper snapshot of what people around the country actually enjoy listening to, ie it can't just be a wobbleboard player off Jools Holland, Clean Bandit, and a 'once in a lifetime' collaboration between Tinie Tempah and some sort of symphony orchestra. It’ll be hosted by Fearne Cotton and Chris Evans.
35. Speaking of Fearne Cotton, don’t panic guys — there’s a Radio 1 Live Lounge compilation album out on October 27! We'd like to see Fearne Cotton write track-by-track sleevenotes for this one, and under each and every song title we'd like to see one of these three phrases: "Goosebumps." "Real talent." "Just wow."
36. The 2014 Popjustice Twenty Quid Music Prize has to be won by a brilliant song. This year's shortlist is the strongest in years; if you'd like to join us in London to be part of the judging process see this page for details.
37. Sam Bailey’s due to appear on the X Factor semi-final, flogging the new edition of her album 'The Power Of Love'. We can't seem to find the artwork online yet so we're hoping there's still time for her label to consider one of these suggestions.
38. 'Christmas At Downton Abbey' is out on November 10. It features cast members singing and if there isn't a version of 'Fancy' by Hugh Bonneville and Maggie Smith the whole release will be entirely pointless.
39. Seriously, if there isn't a sniff of Rihanna by the first week of December we're hiring a lookalike, a soundalike, some songwriters and a video director and sorting this out ourselves. Someone has to take responsibility for this shambles.
40. Right. Sugababes. Mutya Keisha Siobhan. Whatever they're called these days. Something, as they posted just yesterday, is actually happening. We know 'something' is 'happening' every fortnight with that lot, but it does seem like something's moving along this time. Moving forward we should probably look at Sugababes not as potential chart-toppers whose releases should be judged on their commercial success. Instead we must see this whole thing as a beautiful pop miracle that we are privileged to witness. They'll put out some music at some point. It'll be great. And that, really, should be enough.
41. Is there any chance Little Mix could pull their forty fingers out please because a lyrically generic but sonically fantastic empowerment banger is exactly what we all need during the cold Q4 months.
42. December 13 is Beyoncé Day. Beyoncé Day is the day on which any artist whose release schedule has gone a bit wonky during the preceding twelve months is required, by law, to just chuck an album on iTunes. It's the day on which artists and labels cut their losses on slightly messy attempts to make or release an album. In a way, Beyoncé Day is a solid incentive to labels not to mess around. They can't say "oh dear radio isn't playing the single we thought we'd launch the album with, let's try again with another one in four months and hope for the best". Artists, meanwhile, can't say "I'm not sure if this album is cohesive as a body of work, let's scrap everything and start again". The rule is this: if you've recorded an album's worth of songs (which is twelve of them), it goes on sale on December 13 whether you like it or not.
43. Beyoncé should beyoncé an album on Beyoncé Day. (NOT A REMIX ALBUM.) (MAYBE THE BEY & JAY DUETS ALBUM.)
44. It goes without saying that if the music industry agrees to stick to the rules outlined above, Beyoncé Day may well be the day we receive a surprise Rihanna album.
45. Remember that thing the other week where Robyn was saying she'd recorded a new EP with Markus Jägerstedt and the late Christian Falk? Well let's have that in the middle of November please, because nothing says Christmas quite like Robyn. If we could have another EP of the Jam & Lewis stuff in Q1 that'd be brill, cheers.
46. Do you think Adam Lambert might sneak a new single out over the Christmas period?
47. The biggest release day of Q4 comes just over halfway into the season of goodcashcows: on November 24 alone there are album releases from David Guetta, Nicki Minaj, Olly Murs and Susan Boyle. You know it's an important date — the latest Now compilation's out too. On this date we'd also like a surprise release of a Britney EP.
48. A number of proposed Q4 UK releases by Popjustice-approved solo singers of song have slipped back to 2015. These include albums by Tove Lo, Ella Eyre, Charli XCX, Indiana and Rita Ora. Ironically, by attempting to avoid a Q4 solo singer bottleneck, these artists may collectively have created a brand new one in Q1. Many of these will probably leak in the tail end of Q4, so that will be something to spice up the BLOODY BORING period between Christmas and New Year.
49. Did we mention Rihanna?