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).
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.
- 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."
The Song Of The Week is Circle Of Life / Nants' Ingonyama by Lindiwe Mkhize and Lebo M.
Popjustice reader Court Clark took exception, yesterday, to my claim that some of Ingrid Michaelson's new songs were bangers. "It seems like you don’t understand the meaning of the word 'banger' when referring to music," he wrote. Of course, as we all know, the word 'banger' ceased to really mean anything specific about three years ago, but I think if there's one thing we can all agree on it's that Circle Of Life is an absolute banger for the ages. Jon Favreau gets a production credit on this new version. Well done Jon!
- The David Guetta and Martin Solveig single has almost certainly been ruined by, well, David Guetta and Martin Solveig. The writing credits suggest Alex Hope, Noonie Bao and Sasha Sloan — three women entirely capable of making a song on their own — actually wrote the song (it sounds like the uncredited vocalist is Sasha). All of which leads to one simple demand: RELEASE THE ORIGINAL VERSION.
- The Ina Wroldsen/Syco experiment seemed to have hit a bit of a wall but Forgive Or Forget is a smash-in-waiting.
- Considering how record-breaking their record-breaking run of hits was, Girls Aloud have so far had a fairly minor influence on what pop sounds like today, but Call Me Loop's pulling some Aloud moves with exuberant wankbanger Self Love, which also nods in the direction of Little Mix's Move but exists as a rather excellent pop moment in its own right, too.
- The K.Flay album's out today. Play it from beginning to end please, it's very good.
- Sofi Tukker's Swing is 'quite something'.
- The new Justin Bieber version of Billie Eilish's bad guy almost works…
- Sigma are really running on fumes at this point.
Ingrid Michaelson's new album came out a couple of weeks ago and I've found myself going back to it again and again: it's obviously one of 2019's best albums to date, and that's before you even get into the fact that each of the tracks on Stranger Songs is inspired by a different character, scene or theme from Stranger Things.
Is this album eleven tracks long? YOU BET IT IS LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.
Here's the new video for Missing You, which like every other song on the album works brilliantly even if you have no interest in or knowledge of Stranger Things. If you have been watching, according to a track-by-track commentary on Billboard it's about the Nancy, Steve and Jonathan love triangle.
One of the album's best songs is the first Ingrid wrote for what eventually bloomed into a full-on album project — it's called Christmas Lights ("I promise I'll make things right, but until then I will talk to you through the Christmas lights") but to be honest they're all good. Pretty: banger. Take Me Home: banger. It's quite literally a good album.
Ingrid's playing London's Union Chapel in November; tickets are on sale here. Hopefully by that point she'll have started work on an album about Tiny House Nation.
If you like your pop with a Stranger Things twist have a listen to Esther's extraordinary Kvällsgäst, which came out on Friday.
The background: Last summer, to celebrate the 100th edition of Now That's What I Call Music, I put together a special Popjustice Edit — the best song from each edition, in order. 100 songs that told the story of pop music from the 80s to today. Click here for the playlist, it's incredible.
The updates: With each subsequent Now That's What I Call Music album, I've been adding the best song. Last November I selected The 1975's TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME, and in April I added Mark Ronson and Miley Cyrus' Nothing Breaks Like A Heart. Which brings us to…
The latest addition: Now 103 is out next week and the tracklisting (which, sidenote, is a mess) throws up several worthy additions to the Popjustice Edit playlist. Among them are Ariana's break up with your girlfriend, i'm bored and Camila and Shawn's Senorita, but the two songs that best showcase what pop can do in the summer of 2019 are Lil Nas X's Old Town Road and Billie Eilish's bad guy. Both those songs are by artists who've subtly rewritten what popstars can/should be like, and neither song sounds like anything else in the chart. In the end bad guy makes it onto the list: it sounds like pop music from a different time (maybe only 7–9 months in the future, but that's enough) and a different planet and like bury a friend it still, after all this time and all these listens, somehow takes you by surprise when it tumbles out of the radio.
The Song Of The Week is Rituals by Kult Kyss.
Melbourne duo Kult Kyss say they merge "future pop with ritual noise", and you can't go wrong with a bit of that; Rituals, their first release of 2019, is a spooky technopop thunderer.
- Not being funny right but is Hate Me Ellie Goulding's best single in ages?
- New artist thisisNAMASTE is the daughter of two dentists!!!!!!
- Violet Days and Violet Skies both release new singles today, which is either bad planning or great planning.
- On a similar note Muna and Yuna both release great songs today, and while I was compiling the playlist I got a press release for a new label called Oona.
- As discussed here the new Eden xo EP's out today and it's really good; So Lucky is the track that makes this week's NMF playlist.
- Kygo's Whitney Houston collaboration — based on a semi-unreleased cover from 1990 — is neither right not okay, but he's made it anyway.
Sometimes the best popstars get everything right straight out of the gate, and that's all very exciting, but sometimes they need time and space to realise who they are, what they're doing and why they're doing it. Popjustice has been covering Jessie Malakouti's work for some time now and it feels like in 2019, as Eden xo, she's finally figured everything out.
Eden's been teasing her new The Question EP for the last couple of months with glittery tunes Sorry For Myself and Have It All; the full EP is out today and it's just really great.
Also out today is the video for So Lucky — as you can see from this YouTube embed holding image's 'fortune teller on a pink sports car' tableau it's a typically understated affair.
Eden's making the most of the clarity she's found with The Question; there's another EP, which Eden xo describes as the yin to The Question's yang, coming soon.