Now this is upbeat chilled music: Maya Jane Coles, Basenji, Tusks, J.Views, Anna of the North

 

Life is relentless.

It has a momentum that is fierce and uncompromising, racing hand in hand to a future only it seems to know, leaving us hanging on for dear life.

Or maybe that’s simply how it often feels.

The truth is we do have the power to call time, to slow the ferocity of the pell-mell madness of life and chill, restoring some quietness and thought to the day-in, day-out rat race-ness of modern living.

These five artists bring you that calm, along with a thoughtfulness, adding a richness to those rare moments of contemplation that leaves you far more alive than if you had simply kept unthinkingly putting one foot in front of the other.

 

“Take Flight” by Maya Jane Coles

 

Maya Jane Coles (image courtesy official Maya Jane Coles Facebook page)

 

There is a moody, almost removed and yet quite beautiful quality to “Take Flight”, the title track from the first full album of material from the in-demand British DJ and producer in three years, that almost immediately draws you away from the urgent immediacy of your surrounds.

Lust, ethereal and punctuated by tremulous beats, the song is a gorgeous excursion into an electronic dreamscape, an escape into a carefully-crafted world which, Coles quietly promises, is “a secret place we can hide until daylight.”

The song is emblematic of the electronic artist’s singular style which melds a disparate group of sounds and tempos but all in the service of creating a soundscape into which you can lose yourself and only emerge when you’re good and ready. It’s a strategy aided by the fact her new album, Take Flight, comes in at an impressive 2 hours, delivering up 24 magically different but cohesively-whole songs.

If you’re exhausted by the demands of day-to-day life but can’t quite step away for too long, then think about putting this song and its accompanying album mates and let them take you where they will.

 

 

“Don’t Let Go feat. Mereki” by Basenji

 

Basenji (image courtesy official Basenji Facebook page / Photo by Jordan Drysdale Photography)

 

There’s a bright upbeat loveliness to this “Don’t let Go”, the new track from Sydney producer Basenji who uses the piercingly beautiful vocals of Los Angeles-based singer Mereki to add some liltingly beautiful lustre to the song’s delightfully fey melody.

Dreamy and meandering, the song has a lot going on as Purple Sneakers observes:

“Soft synths provide extra texture, harnessing the dream-like vibes and laying a gentle bed of sounds, which eventually blooms into a more dance-y chorus. The feel-good, easy listening vibe and the uncomplicated joy of the lyrics masks a complex layering of beats and sounds which is a testament to BASENJI’s seamless production.”

The song bolsters the idea that the simplest-sounding and most affecting of songs have the most moving parts, something true of all good pop songs of which “Don’t Let Go” is a current standout example.

 

 

“Dissolve” by Tusks

 

Tusks (image courtesy official Tusks Facebook page / Photo: Jodie Canwell)

 

Love is, as we all know, a powerful emotion.

Nowhere is it more combustable than when you’re young before it’s tempered by life lessons too numerous to mention; Tusks aka Emily Underhill captures the raw power and beauty of young love in a song drenched in intense emotion that contrasts beautifully with the dreamily detached melody.

So expansively, emotionally rich is her music that it possesses a vividly cinematic feel, bolstered by her lushly visual story-rich video clips, a quality inspired by her childhood and the way it has influenced her art:

“I’m a very visual person, I love being outdoors and surrounded by nature. I grew up by the sea and I’ve always tried to spend as much time outside and travel as much as possible – I think perhaps subconsciously that all influences how cinematic some of my music can be and why I love creating the artwork to go with it.” (source: DIY)

Quite simply Tusks music is intensely real, true and deeply-felt, a perfect match to unfettered life which, if you’re paying attention and this artist most certainly is, rarely expresses itself in hushed tones of beige and nothingness.

 

 

“We Moved” by J.Views (Feat. Benja Lyman)

 

J.Views (image courtesy official J.Views Facebook page)

 

Described by Billboard as a “lustrous New York-based producer”, which has to be one of the most fulsomely lovely descriptions of an artist I’ve ever read, J.Views aka Jonathan Dagan has a way with a catchy tune.

Take “We Moved”, which not only features an infectiously danceable beat with some beguiling calypso drum beats percolating through it with a deliciosuly upbeat urgency, but comes with a eye-catchingly fun video featuring the artist’s dancing as their muse takes them, in multiple locatins around the world.

These same fans were given the opportunity to be a part of the creation of “We Moved” and the album it’s from 401 Days, part of an endeavour that Billboard described as “[working] to elapse the borders of fan and musician to illustrate that art shared with the world doesn’t have to be complete — a mission that allows everyone to speak from their heart through their creation.”

It’s a wholly unique way of creating art that has resulted in some no doubt very devoted, invested faans and some truly amazing music.

Time to get your groove on people.

 

 

“Money” by Anna of the North

 

Anna of the North (image courtesy official Anna of the North Facebook page / photo by Jonathan Vivaas Kise)

 

If you think that “Money” by Norwegian/New Zealand artist Anna Lotterud is about you as you listen to its bewitchingly beautiful pop, then you might want to think again given that the artist, who works closely with Australian Bradie Daniell-Smith describes the song this way:

“‘Money’ goes out to all those fake ass people. Users who use those around them; for money, for status, for fame. S/O to fake friends and gold-diggers!”

So rethink that one, unless you like being a fake ass shallow gold-digger then have at it.

For the rest of us, this luscious song, which was recorded in Oslo and mixed in Copenhagen and London by Luke Smith (Foals, Petite Noir, Depeche Mode), is damn fine music, described by as Mushroom as “[a slice of] gorgeous alt-pop [that] follows a slew of shimmering electronic singles.”

It’s utterly entrancing, a delightful balance of gorgeous music with hard-hitting lyric, the sort of song that Scandinavian, and even Scandinavian/New Zealander artists seems to excel at.

 

NOW THIS IS MUSIC EXTRA EXTRA!

The movie of the one of the best films ever, The Princess bride, turned 30 on 26 September, and as an “ode” of celebration, the Gregory Brothers crafted this fantastically catchy song made up of the movie’s many catchphrases and great lines of dialogue. (source: Laughing Squid)

 

Now this is music: 5 memory-rich songs

 

Songs, like smells, have the ability to instantly take us to places and times that played a formative, or in some cases, memorably incidental, role in our lives.

It can take only a bar or two and suddenly the memories are flooding back, immersing us once again in that particular moment, all the people, the food, the activities and a whole host of other touchstones so vividly real we could reach out and touch them.

These five songs are just a small selection of the tracks that instantly conjure up treasured moments in time for me, some way, way back, others relatively recent, that together make up the tapestry of my heavily-soundtracked life.

 

“Yellow” by Coldplay

 

(image via Wikipedia)

 

“Yellow”, the first in a long line of what of what would become an avalanche of hits for British supergroup Coldplay, was released in Australia in January 2001, eventually reaching #5 on the nation’s ARIA charts.

Roughly six months before that however, I had happened across a 15 second snippet of the song on one of CNN’s world music report where they’d talked about Coldplay’s nomination for a Mercury Award for the album Parachutes from which “Yellow” was the second single after “Shiver”, and fallen absolutely head over heels in love.

Hearing this beautiful, heartfelt song of unrequited love set off an almost fruitless chase across the record stores of Sydney – this was in the time of no downloads, basic internet and non-existent e-commerce – in the search for Parachutes. Australia at that point hadn’t heard of the band and wasn’t really interested so no one was really stocking the album … save for department store David Jones in Miranda (Sydney) which didn’t exactly have the comprehensive stock of CDs but somehow had Parachutes.

It began my second great musical love affair after ABBA, and while I am no longer quite in love with Coldplay as I once was, their music has featured very heavily in the soundtrack of my life, and I have this one mesmerisngly beautiful song to thank for it.

 

 

“Chiquitita” by ABBA

 

(image via Discogs (c) Polar/Universal)

 

Almost everything about the beginning of my decades-long love affair with ABBA in the ’70s is as fresh now as the day it happened, which tends to be the way with memories about formative parts of your life.

In the case of “Chiquitita”, which ABBA released in January 1979 as the first single from their much-delayed and thus hugely-anticipated Voulez-Vous album, the memories are especially clear.

ABBA had volunteered to donate the royalties from the song in perpetuity to UNICEF, premiering the song at the  Music for UNICEF Concert, along with artists like Olivia Newton-John and the Bee Gees, which was telecast in Australia on the Saturday after the actual performance on 9 January 1979.

This hauntingly beautiful, emotionally-resonant track was the first indication of what ABBA’s new music would sound like – as it turns out, not exactly emblematic of what was a heavily disco-oriented album – and I was determined to be home for it, begging mum and dad to leave our church’s social day in time for me to watch it live. (There was no other choice in the days before VCRs, streaming and catch-up services.)

I can still picture the day – the food we ate, the cricket we played (I’m no sports fan so I could be scarred from being forced to play a game I barely tolerated, if that) and the people there, but mainly because getting through that day meant I got to spend the night with ABBA; not just for the 3 minutes of exquisite pop perfection that “Chiquitita” represented but also the sing-a-long at the end of the concert where all the artists joined in a rousing rendition of an early ABBA song “He Is Your Brother”.

 

 

“Love Letter to Japan” – The Bird and the Bee

 

(image via Spotify)

 

Ah, falling in love.

When it happens like it did for me in early 2009, it seems to sear everything you did, felt, experienced, ate and saw into your memories with a clarity not reserved for many other things.

Meeting the love of my life, and yes I am still with him and going strong nine years later, was a defining point in my life, and I can still remember standing on the edge of Hyde Park in the centre of Sydney waiting for Steve to turn up so we could walk down to watch a film at the Open Air Cinema, which is always one of the highlights of summer for me.

Oddly I can’t recall the film we saw but I remember listening to this exquisitely rich, upbeat bright-n-breezy song from Los Angeles-based indie pop duo, The Bird and the Bee (Greg Kurstin, Inara George) as I stood on the footpath with the wind blowing on a relatively barmy Sydney summer day.

What really rooted this song to my memory of my day was its lyrical content which talked in whimsically earnest tones about doing whatever it takes to be near the one you love; I was head over heels for the most wonderful man in the world and so the song resonated deeply with me and even now, all these years later, it is still very much my go-to song of desire for my beautiful guy.

 

 

“Euphoria” by Loreen

 

(image via YouTube)

 

I am, and have been for many years, a Eurovision Song Contest obsessive.

Started way back in 1956 as a way of drawing a fractured Europe back together with the healing power of music, the Contest can be kitsch and cheesy but increasingly it is a window into a world of music that spans the gamut of European musical tastes and trends.

My friend Kerry adores the contest, as does my partner Steve (who prefers the more tragic, weirdly bizarre acts of which there are a sadly declining number) and so every year we hold a big party at my place for 30-40 people where we eat European food, drink lots of wine, watch every last millisecond of the show – after Kerry and I have watched and reviewed all the songs in the lead-up – and glory in the glitter-coated majesty of Eurovision.

2012 (held in Baku, Azerbaijan) was one of those years that sticks in my mind primarily because (a) Sweden won and (b) they won with a song whose performance owed a debt of gratitude to Kate Bush (visually at least) and was one of those gripping, yes euphoric pop tracks that seizes the imagination and thrills the soul from the opening bars.

I knew it would win from the moment I heard it, with the only other song that’s come close for me being “Rise Like a Phoenix” by Conchita Wurst (Austria) which won the contest in 2014 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

 

 

“Knock on Wood” by Amii Stewart

 

(image via Discogs)

 

Like many a teenager before me, but probably not as many since in this age of instant streaming and downloads, I spent many a Saturday cloistered in my bedroom listening to the Top 40 countdown and taping all the songs I loved from “Mickey” by Toni Basil to “Video Killer the Radio Star” by The Buggles, “Chuck E’s in Love” by Ricki-Lee Jones to “Born to be Alive” by Patrick Hernandez and many, many others, onto an ever-growing number of cassettes.

Sure I ended up with the radio station’s forward or back-announcing on almost all the songs, but while that peeved me at times (OK a lot of the time; I was, and remain to this day, a non-philosophically chilled person), if it meant I could listen to the songs whenever I wanted – of course if I really liked a song and wanted to listen to it over and over, I had to rewind over and over again; no instant iPod replay back then – then it was a small price to pay.

Especially as I didn’t have money to buy too many singles and LPs, with the money I did have, pretty much exclusively directed to ABBA.

One song that captured my attention was Amii Stewart’s cover of “Knock on Wood” – the song was originally written by Eddie Floyd and Steve Cropper in 1966 and first recorded by Floyd – a vibrantly alive piece of piercingly alluring disco that came complete with a dazzlingly psychedelic clip that to this day is one of my favourite pieces of visual imagery.

I used to stand up in my room, grab the requisite hairbrush and pretend I was on the stage singing this thrilling song at the top of my lungs, lost in an escapist fantasy with a soundtrack that to this day gets my pulse racing and my mind wandering to what it would be like to perform a song as brilliantly memorable as this one. (Funny story – years later I was at a hairdressers, told the 18 year-old cutting my hair that I remembered when the song has been on the charts in 1979 – it was on the salon’s in-store playlist – only to have her look at me like I was a caveman fresh from the Stone Age. Hilarious.)

 

Now this is music #97: Ionnalee, Butter, Future War Bride, Queenie, Bien

 

Who wants a beige life?

No one in their right mind that’s who, which is why you need to listen to artists like the ones following who chart their own course, put real thought into their artistic expression and pour it into songs so unique and vividly listenable that you’ll realise, all over again, how richly varied life can be.

And if ever the beige comes creeping back in, and it happens despite our best efforts thanks to daily routine and exhaustion, then throw these songs on, soak in them and be reawakened to a life lived far from the boring centre.

 

“Not Human” by Ionnalee 

 

Ionnalee (image courtesy official Ionnalee Soundcloud page)

 

Setting out on her own after eight years as part of Swedish electronic music and audiovisual project iamamiwhoami, ionnalee aka Jonna Lee has gifted us with the fruits of her many talents including singing/songwriting and visual directing in the form of the lushly ethereal beauty of “Not Human”.

Beginning with some trippy pounding beats, “Not Human” has a melodic vibrancy to it, grounded and enriched by ionnalee’s emotionally-resonant voice with the song, as We Are: The Guard points out, creatively paying tribute to the way romantic love can truly change us:

“…. the song is a larger-than-life piece of electronic pop, with a powerfully rhythmic instrumental acting as a backdrop to Jonna’s narrative about her lover giving her shape-shifting abilities: ‘Oh, oh! You make my waters flow/Now look how tall I grow/I’m not human/Oh, oh! With you, it’s magical/The urge is animal/I’m not human.'”

As imaginative celebrations of love’s immense power to make us someone altogether different, “Not Human” takes some beating, it’s gorgeously-transcendent music the perfect backdrop to life-affirming lyrics.

 

 

 

“For Kate I Wait (Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffitti Cover)” by Butter

 

Butter (image via official Butter Facebook page)

 

Kate Bush, one of pop music’s most original and brilliantly clever voices, has inspired a great many people; among them is Ariel Pink who penned “For Kate I Wait” as part of his solo project Haunted Graffiti which he used up until 2014.

Similarly-inspired it turns out is Butter aka Lola Blanc, a Los Angeles-based artist who covers Pink’s seminal track, infusing this standard bearer song of Hypnagogic pop (basically chilled pop that draws heavily on nostalgia and older styles of music such as that of the 1980s) with a distinctly gender-different perspective as We Are: The Guard points out in their description of this catchy track:

“[she] succeeds in bringing a whole different dimension to the hypnagogic pop piece, which originally appeared on 2000’s The Doldrums. Featuring her starry-eyed vocals meeting an 80s-indebted, synth-speckled production courtesy of Night Sequels and Freescha’s Nick Huntington, it’s an otherworldly cover that drains the song of most of its testosterone, refocusing it instead through a dazzling female gaze.”

It’s rich, bright and breezy, a wash of amped-up etherealness that surges and bounces along while still retaining lush emotionally-introspective qualities.

 

 

“Gloves Off” by Future War Bride

 

Future War Bride (image via official Future War Bride Facebook page)

 

Oh, but “Gloves Off” is a lot of fuzzy atmospheric rockin’ fun!

The debut single from Danish outfit Future War Bride, the song has got a whole of Bowie/Queen-esque sonic weirdness going on which grants a deliciously psychedelic vibe to this fantastically out there song.

And if you think it’s whole lot of musical experimentation with no real purpose, think again:

“The face down generation is, on a spiritual level, going belly up in the hunt for the next opportunity. It’s a weird and cruel philosophy that leads only one way, creating miserable people in a miserable world. This is not a game, and people are not athletes. Maybe it’s time to take the gloves off and start fighting with winners and losers mentality.” (source: We Are: The Guard)

So there you have it – some very retro musical influences with some very pithy, off-the-moment sentiments that together creates a thoroughly original track that will have you captivated and thinking hard for quite some time.

 

 

“I’m Ready” by Queenie

 

Queenie (image via official Queenie Soundcloud page)

 

One of the distinguishing marks of many new music artists is a scant or near-to-nonexistent bio. Is it an attempt at mystery? Of wanting the music to speak for itself unadorned by a biographical muddying of the waters? A case of not enough time what with music creating and everything?

Whatever’s behind it, new British artist Queenie is among their number, arriving with no real bio but a debut single “I’m Ready”, that is a giddily upbeat as it lushly and darkly plunges into a swirl of modern electronic music that is brilliantly, amazingly, insanely catchy.

With her sound described by We Are: The Guard as “the love child of Robyn and Lily Allen”, “I’m Ready” surges on a wave of densely melodic synth beats and a voice that fits into the musical scheme of things so perfectly that you feel like the artist has always been singing the song.

You know, whoever the hell she may be …

 

 

“Spinning on Blue” by Bien

 

Bien (image courtesy official Bien Facebook page)

 

An indie-pop Nashville, Tennessee-based trio that includes Jessie Early, Angela Lauer and producer Tim Lauer, Bien is a band that began with the idealistic notion of creating music free from any and all limitations (but not without “confetti” and “fun” according the band’s Facebook page About us section).

The latest fruit of their un-hemmed in labours, following their debut EP in 2016, “Spinning Blue” is set very much in a musical tradition which they, delightfully and somewhat quirkily describe as “dreamy synths, unique melodies, sweeping strings, and dance-y beats, [with] the songs cover[ing] a colorful spectrum of emotion.”

It’s an exquisitely-wrought piece of pitch-perfect dream pop awash in beautifully removed vocals that soar lightly and brightly across a lithe, steadily pounding musical landscape that seems to stretch on into infinity.

The song is a reminder, says the band, that we should all stop and remember that even in the midst of the fraught mess that is 2017, beauty and community should be sought and can be found:

“There’s so much going on in the world right now, and we really wanted to write something that encouraged people to remember we’re all sharing this planet. It’s our kind of ‘seize the day’ song that reminds us to take in the beauty and wonder of the world and the people around us.” (source: We Are: The Guard)

 

 

NOW THIS IS MUSIC EXTRA EXTRA!

 

If there’s one music artist you can count to come up with a truly original, imaginative, envelope-pushing visual feast for her songs, it’s Björk.

Her new song for “The Gate”, the lead single from her upcoming album Utopia, is no exception, a crazy, colourful feast for the eyes that is the result of the artist’s collaboration, according to SPIN, with “Andrew Thomas Huang, the artist and filmmaker who also directed videos for Björk’s Biophilia album and the VR clips for Vulnicura, and Alessandro Michele, creative director at Gucci.”

 

Gaga: Five Foot Two reveals that stardom is not always a personal nirvana

(image via Paste Magazine (c) Netflix)

 

SNAPSHOT
In Gaga: Five Foot Two, Lady Gaga narrates how loneliness has pervaded her life as a star. It also shows scenes of her struggling with chronic pain due to fibromyalgia, as well as a snippet of an interview with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe in which she lists a handful of issues she has been grappling with: “paranoia, fear, body pain, anxiety.” (synopsis (c) Paste Magazine)

Successfully pursuing your dreams, as Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta aka Lady Gaga has so stupendously successfully done, can be a double-edged sword.

Yes, all your creative aspirations have been, or have the capacity, to be fulfilled; but as you quickly discover, success and fame do not you being you with all of the upsides and flaws that entails.

Hailed by The Hollywood Reporter for offering a “an artfully casual, precisely spontaneous glimpse into the life of [the pop] idol” and by Variety as an “intensely revealing of Gaga’s life and personality”, Gaga: Five Foot Two gives us an impressively confessional look at the full panoply of pop culture celebrity.

Granted, it is likely as stage managed as anything else this amazingly talented singer/songwriter/actor/fashion icon/etc etc has done, but nonetheless, all reviews point to the artist’s authenticity and realness throughout the film.

If you’re a fan, this will be required viewing; but even if you’re not, you get the impression it’s worth watching if only to fully appreciate what it is like to have all your wishes granted and still find yourself not as close to nirvana as you thought you might be.

After premiering at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, Gaga: Five Foot Two is currently available on Netflix.

 

Now this is music – get your groove on! Loote, Elohim and Whethan, Opia, MY, Stanaj

 

Let’s face it – life can be absolutely brilliant and gorgeous, unstoppably, fantastically wonderful with cherries on top; but it also be beigely uniform and onerously frantic, a thousand demands piled one on top of the other until you feel like you’re about to break.

Before you reach that point, and you should since the sound of a souls napping in two ain’t pretty, you should take a big step back, throw on the music by these artists and immerse yourself in a world where love rules, summer is for always and true friendship saves you from yourself.

Sound too good to be true? Maybe it is but these five talented artists make it feel like it’s not just possible but with you here and now, ready for a dance, a kiss and a holiday from what ails you.


“Out of my Head” by Loote

 

Loote (image courtesy official Loote Facebook page)

 

It’s exciting to watch how two different talents can join together to create something deliciously far greater than the sum of its parts.

New York pop duo, singer/songwriter Emma Lov and songwriter/producer Jackson Foots bring their respective talents to dazzlingly engaging effect on “Out of my Head” which combines Lov’s songwriting panache and Foote’s production expertise.

This bright, bouncy, emotionally-rich song, which features vocals for both members, gorgeously examines what it’s like to have that special someone who can circuit-break the neuroses we all carry:

“[‘Out of my Head’ is] an emotional roller coaster. It’s about being stuck and weird and feeling like you can’t get out of your own crazy. And it’s an ode to that one person or thing you can rely on; you like that they get you out of that shit. The chorus is this celebratory moment that’s kind of a ‘thank you’ to them.” (source: Broadway World).

We all need those people and this incredibly catchy song celebrates them in fine, repeat-listen style.

 

 

“Sleepy Eyes” – Elohim and Whethan

 

Elohim and Whethan (image courtesy Soundcloud)

 

Sweeping in with a dreamily-kinetic blur of ethereal vocals that leap from foreground to background like magical whispering sprites, “Sleepy Eyes” is groove with mystery and atmosphere.

An ode to the air possibility and celebratory sangfroid of summer, or really any moment when anything seems possible and every day reality takes a great big step back out of the picture, the song, from Chicago producer Whethan aka Ethan Snoreck with sublime vocals by Los Angeles-based electro-pop artist Elohim, carries much of its feel and spirit as a result of the collaboration between the two as Elohim explains:

“I am generally pretty particular about tracks I will work on… but there was something about this one. I fell in love with the feeling instantly and together we created a song that feels like butterflies in the summertime.” (source: Broadway World)

Nailed it in one – that’s exactly what it feels like, a tropical house-infused ode to the most wonderful, light and breezy parts of life that will have you hankering for every chance you can get to step away from the rat race.

 

 

“Faded” by Opia

 

Opia (image courtesy official Opia Facebook page)

 

Lordy but “Faded” is a generously-beautiful of beat-heavy pop that Earmilk has described in the most wonderfully poetic way:

“‘Faded’ is a combination of soulful vocals with roiling guitar riffs that sound like a conversation between pebbles. Celebratory and with an irresistible hook as catchy as the one on ‘Falling’ [their breakout 2016 debut], this unique combination of elements makes ‘Faded’ one of Opia’s best works so far.”

There is a substance and grandeur to the song from this indie electronic group comprised of  Cole Citrenbaum (vocals/guitar), DJ Stanfill (vocals/keys), and colorthought (producer) who met at Yale University in 2016, that joyfully pounds and bounces its way along with synth and guitar, punctuated by idiosyncratic vocal flourishes and divinely trippy musical touches that together add up to a thoroughly unique and endlessly catchy listening experience.

It’s giddy substantial music with endless heart and soul, and honestly if this what it feels like to be faded, then bring it on!

 

 

“W.I.L.D.” by MY

 

MY (image courtesy official MY Facebook page)

 

Possessing a stage moniker that confuses the hell of Google’s search algorithms – you have to type in her surname Helmner (yes My is her actual first name) to get the Swedish artist to appear in any meaningful way – MY delivers up a song in “W.I.L.D.” that is as punchy full-on and untrammeled as its title.

Suffused with some delicious pop sensibilities that would be at home on any national pop chart, the song defies being just another generic slab of in-the-moment pop by virtue of what The Line of Best Fit calls her “pop-punk attitude”, describing this attention-grabbing song in its entirety thus:

 

“With a bassline shaking the speakers and booming percussion, the track bursts immediately into life yet none of the instrumentation can overpower MY’s take-no-prisoners vocal. As she sings “a gladiator dressed up as a tiger / a thousand monsoons doesn’t matter / if you’re getting bored hanging out with Jane / come a little closer set it all in flames” over exhilarating riffing, MY is looking for a little bit of something untamed in her life.”

It’s dark, sultry, fun and redolent with lushly-realised attitude that is addictive as it is brilliantly alive and engaging. This is music with personality and a strong sense of unapologetic self which fits perfectly given its title.

 

 

“The Way I Love Her” by Stanaj

 

Stanaj (image courtesy official Stanaj Facebook page)

 

A collaboration between up-and-coming R&B singer Stanaj – born in Albania and in New York City since 2014 – and Moroccan-Swedish producer RedOne, “The Way I Love Her” is a loping, impossibly romantic song that grooves along with all the joy and self-assured contentment of someone newly in love.

It’s lush, it’s beautiful, anchored by vocals by both Stanaj, who delivers up all the emotional resonance you could ask for, and American singer JoJo who harnesses some unmissable vocal heft, reflecting what was, by Stanaj’s account, a dream working relationship:

“Collaborating with RedOne was such a refreshing feeling. The chemistry came so quickly and naturally; we haven’t stopped working for two months now.” (source: Billboard)

If ever you wanted a dreamy, stare at the stars on a moonlit night kind of song to soundtrack your romantic endeavours, then “The Way I Love Her” is the answer to your red rose-shaped prayers, all sensuous abandonment to Cupid’s arrow that you can’t help but fall in love with right along with the object of your desire.

 

 

NOW THIS IS MUSIC EXTRA EXTRA!

 

Sia is a masterful songwriter of deeply soulful, nuanced and very catchy songs.

Her contribution, “Rainbow”, to My Little Pony: The Movie soundtrack, is very much in this tradition, and as always her dance muse Maddie Ziegler is dancing her way through a winningly musical emotional storm. (Mashable)

 

 

I love Christmas, and yes that means I love Christmas music! To my great delight, one of my favourite artists, Gwen Stefani is releasing a festive collection of songs, You Make it Feel Like Christmas this season, due out 6 October.

As per EW, along with some original tunes, there are the expected but always welcome holiday classics:

“The rest of the songs on Stefani’s Christmas album are: ‘Jingle Bells’, ‘Let It Snow’, ‘My Gift Is You’, ‘Silent Night’, ‘When I Was a Little Girl’, ‘Last Christmas,’ ‘Under the Christmas Lights’, ‘Santa Baby,’ ‘White Christmas’, ‘Never Kissed Anyone with Blue Eyes’, ‘Christmas Eve.'”

 

 

And finally who wants to see The Addams Family dancing to The Ramone’s infectious danceable song “Blitzkrieg Bop”? Why you and I do, of course! Just try not to join them. (source: Laughing Squid)

 

Now this music #96: Plastic Plates, Set Mo, Viceroy, NONONO, PNAU

 

Life got you down? Dragging your feet everywhere you go? Need some pep in your step?

More than though, do you want to groove away to music that actually means something from artists who have actually stopped and thought about life a little or, I suspect in the case of these five talented singer/songwriters/DJs, a lot?

Of course you do so here’s your soundtrack to those escapist moments that renew the soul, put a smile on your face and remind why life is worth living.

 

“Good Times” by Plastic Plates

 

Plastic Plates (image courtesy official Plastic Plates Facebook page)

 

There’s a playful feel-good bounce that percolates right through “Good Times”, an exquisitely catchy slice of what’s commonly called “tropical house”.

Replete with insistently danceable beats and some divinely-chilled R&B vocals that hover in and out of the foreground, “Good Times” is a bright, light, addictive song that will have you out of your chair and dancing all your cares away.

Plastic Plates aka Felix Bloxsom, currently based in LA, has a knack for taking a genre and subverting it in some very interesting compelling ways, something that Nest HQ noted:

“Although by any legal definition this is certainly tropical house, Plastic Plates’ sophisticated, textured production style packs a much bigger punch than your standard-issue trop-house, wannabe banger.”

It’s got a beguilingly upbeat quality that lifts the spirit, moves the feet and makes you feel like life is little more magical than it was before you heard its giddily joyous tones.

 

 

“I Belong Here feat. Woodes” by Set Mo

 

Set Mo (image courtesy official Set Mo Facebook page)

 

No matter how confident we might be, we all reach a point where we question if our existential ducks are all in a row, if we’re even remotely hitting the mark.

Set Mo, a Sydney duo made up of DJs Nick Drabble, Stu Turner, know what you’re talking about and have crafted a catchy song, given luminously emotive voice by Woodes, that speaks to that moment when you question everything:

“The song is about when you start to question what you’re doing, and if you’re in the right place – which is important to do – but then to also be able to realise when everything is good and you are exactly where you belong. Whether that is geographically, relationship wise or career wise. We feel this is the perfect song for us right now as we’re definitely feeling we’re in the right place at present!” (source: Your Music Radar)

The great thing about “I Belong Here” is that when the epiphany hits you that you’re exactly where you should be, you have the perfect song with which to celebrate, a heady mix of “unique vocalists, deep groovy bass lines or sensual strings” that sets the soul free. (source: Triple J Unearthed)

 

 

“Improvise feat. Tom Aspaul” by Viceroy

 

Viceroy (image courtesy official Viceroy Facebook page)

 

Hailing from San Francisco where he is a DJ/Producer, Viceroy aka Sultan of Summer is an artists committed to “jams not bangers”.

That is beautifully evident on the gorgeously bright and alive tones of “Improvise” which dances around with a happy carefree abandon that lifts your mood and gets you bopping along no matter what state you might be in.

The airy, light vocals that come courtesy of British singer/songwriter Tom Aspaul lift this groove-laden slice of contentment and wonder which showcases the artists’s musical passions as he explained to Billboard:

“I’ve been really striving to move my music towards a full-on disco and funk feel. ‘Improvise’ is really my first single that showcases my passion of mine.”

It’s a beat-heavy ode to just cutting loose, seeing where life takes you, something that Viceroy has clearly taken to heart with a song that drives you on and on to … well, who knows what? That’s the sublime joy of it all.

 

 

“Masterpiece” by NONONO

 

NONONO (image courtesy official NONONO Facebook page)

 

Kicking things with a romping charging-out-of-the-box larger-than-life beat and some chompy, chant-like vocals, “Masterpiece” seems intent on living out its title from the get-go.

The latest insanely catchy from Swedish trio NONONO is laced with a bluesy attitude that suffuses every last note, lyric and vocal, a heady vibrant exploration of very deep, pertinent issues, according to the band who gave this interview to Line of Best Fit as they debuted their first new song in three years:

“It’s about socially constructed reality and how a subjective thought or idea turns in to an objective truth if enough people gets contained by it. It could be a hype, a trend, a brand and really the whole society we live in is built and formed by our, from the beginning, subjective ideas. I think the line between subjective and objective truth is very fascinating and wanted to explore it. If someone ever claims ‘Masterpiece’ to be a Masterpiece it will be a very ironic victory!”

That’s a whole of substance crammed into a lusciously fun and breezy song, the perfect marriage of the upbeat and the cerebral, the sort of song that Scandinavians, able to balance light and dark, fun and thoughtful, with aplomb, are so adept at creating.

Want to think and dance and see where it takes you? This is your song  if you’ll just “buckle up and follow me.”

 

 

“‪Young Melody feat. Vera Blue‬” by PNAU

 

PNAU (image courtesy official PNAU Facebook page)

 

I have always loved PNAU’s ability to cram all kinds of intensely, deliciously-addictive emotions into fantastically catchy song after fantastically catchy song.

Originating from Sydney, NSW, the musical duo (Nick Littlemore & Peter Mayes with Sam Littlemore) have kicked things into high drive once again, following the success of “Chameleon” in late 2016 (their first new music since 2012), with “Young Melody” which is all driving dancefloor rhythms and lose yourself to the moment sensibilities.

Dropped with two other new tracks, “Into the Sky” and “Control Your Body”, all of which hail from new album Changa due out 10 November, “Young Melody” draws on the impressively expressive vocal talents of Aussie singer Vera Blue.

Known as party-starters, PNAU’s music is lushly rich and full of a sense of escapist melody and iridescently-lush vocals and “Young Melody” is a worthy addition to their already-considerable roster.

Now that’s enough talking – time to go off and dance!

 

 

NOW THIS IS MUSIC EXTRA EXTRA!

 

PINK is an artist I have loved ever since her first single, not simply because she creates intelligent, passionate music that rocks your soul and soothes your more introspective moments but because she is willing to take public stands on a range of very important issues, all while being unapologetically herself.

Billboard have gathered together some of her finer moments, of which there are many, including her recent, justifiably much-celebrated appearance at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards when she issued a clarion call to everyone to be yourself in a way that was authentic, inspiring and empowering.

To add musical icing to a thoroughly substantive cake, the singer has a new album, Beautiful Trauma out 13 October with lead single “What About Us” every bit as rich and compelling as anything she’s released before.

 

Now this is music: Scandipop special (Iffy Orbit, Highasakite, Peg Pavernik, Nelli Matula, MY)

 

Ever since ABBA seduced me with their wholesome catchy pop back in the mid-’70s, I have had a thing for the inestimable pleasures of Scandinavianpop music, often referred to as Scandipop.

It’s not hard to see why it’s so catchy for me and many other people – it’s usually impressively hook-laden, delivered with a glossy sheen that feels well-produced and authentic all at once, and usually suffused (though not always) with dark lyrical content that, contrary to expectations, finds a natural home in upbeat melodies.

These five artists are very much in that tradition delivering up radio-friendly music that snags your attention and holds with a level of innate musicality that’s impossible to ignore.

Sounding very much of the moment, and yet very much itself, Scandipop has an identity very much its own, and if you’ve never taken the time to delve into its many delights, here’s your chance.

 

“Night/Day” by Iffy Orbit

 

Iffy Orbit (image courtesy official Iffy Orbit Facebook page)

 

Hailing from Sandvika, Norway, Iffy Orbit Markus Eide Anskau, Erik Mathias Samkopf, Eirik Aas Grove, Kristoffer Robin Moe Severinsen, Teodor Dysthe Lyngstad) have been bringing together synth, guitars and forthright vocals to intoxicatingly rich effect since 2012.

“Night/Day”, which according to the band is all about disappearing into your own world and losing contact with friends, family and the trappings of everyday life, has a magical, light edge that builds from a sparsely melodic intro to a harmony-rich and is catchy as hell all the way through.

With songs this listenable it’s no surprise they’ve found considerable success on the festival scene, as well as playing plenty of concerts in Norway including at the prestigious Oslo Opera House, a highwater mark for any band.

With a new album Slow Times coming out 15 September, packed full of sings this tuneful, Iffy Orbit, are the band for you if you’re into pop that has some playful, clever edges to it, is anchored by blissful harmonies and possesses the sort happy buoyant vibe that makes getting through life, whether you’re walled off from it or not, a whole lot more enjoyable that it might otherwise be.

 

 

“5 Million Miles” by Highasakite

 

Highasakite (image via official Highasakite official Facebook page)

 

Fellow Norwegians highasakite, made up of members Ingrid Helene Håvik, Trond Bersu, Øystein Skar, Marte Eberson and Kristoffer Lo, possessed the kind of playful, tongue-in-cheek that garners them attention from the get-go.

Thankfully, they don’t trade on a witty name alone, with songs like “5 Million Miles”, all emotionally-resonant vocals, anthemic positivity and a building, pounding beat that catches you up and won’t put you down (like you’re going to complain) catching the attention of everyone from the organisers of the Nobel Peace Prize Concert and Conan O’Brien falling in love with their lush pop sound.

There’s a glorious depth to this song, with Line of Best Fit deservedly calling it “pop heaven … passionate, raw and loving … supported by sharp and smart beats, wooden block percussion and whooshes of bright synths.”

Add in a visually striking video clip and you have a band who knows who they are and are happy to nail their enticing electro-pop colours to the mast where its pretty safe everyone will want to come and listen.

 

 

“Don’t Tell Ma” By Peg Pavernik

 

Peg Panervik (image courtesy official Peg Panervik Facebook page)

 

Swede Peg Panervik has made quite a name for herself in no time flat.

Shooting straight into the pop firmament in early 2016 with debut single “Ain’t No Saint”, and cementing that early attention with a breakout national tour and crowning as “Rookie of the Year” by Swedish P3 Radio Price, Panervik has an unerring ear for an inordinately catchy pop hook.

“Don’t Tell Ma”, written by Panervik and Swedish producer duo Cold, is the kind of song that can’t help but grab some international attention, placing the singer in a grand tradition that began with ABBA and has gained real traction in the last decade or so with Sweden gaining a well-deserved name for insanely catchy pop music with substance, edge and depth.

 

 

“Lemmikki” by Nelli Matula

 

Nelli Matula (image via official Nelli Matula Facebook page)

 

Finnish Singer/songwriter began her musical career nice and early while still at high school in 2015 where she wrote and performed prior to signing with Rähinä Records in 2016.

One listen to “Lemmikki” and you can understand why she attracted so much attention at a time when she was still running between classes and juggling a crazy homework schedule.

It’s not that out of the box in one sense, the kind of playfully-distorted radio-friendly pop that seemingly everywhere right now, Matula’s strong, edgy voice, the song’s quirky bells and whistles and glossy sheen mark it as one of those wholly memorable pop gems you’ll be singing along to for months to come.

Yes, even if you don’t know a word of Finnish …

 

 

“Hate on Myself” by MY

 

MY (image via My Helmner Facebook page)

 

There’s something deeply engaging about any artist willing to put their hearts right on their musical sleeves.

Not everyone does it, with many singers happy to stick to palatable, non-revelatory generalities; MY (My Helmner, her real name), however, goes right out there filling “Hate on Myself” with some full-on confessionals about what it’s like when you’re being bullied or trashed by others and end up, rather twistedly, becoming your own bully.

Anyone who’s been harassesd that comprehensively, (such as your truly) knows how easy it is to internalise the tormenting, to become your own worst enemy; MY takes that reality, pours it in a driving, upbeat piece of pop and serves up an invigorating, inspiring piece of pop, an anthem to remind yourself to stand up to the bullies, within and without.

This song is a powerful example of the Scandinavian gift for infusing euphoric music with substantial commentary on the human condition, in turn giving us intelligent, catchy pop with soul that explains why Scandipop has become so successful of late far beyond its home countries.

 

MANAMANA! Feast your eyes and ears on the original 1969 version of the iconic song

    (image via YouTube (c) Sesame Workshop)

 

Sesame Street is justifiably famous for a great many things.

Its still-necessary mission to educate the children of the world through bold and imaginative means, its hilarous parodies of all kind of pop culture moments (complete with rteachable moments) … and of course, “Manamana”, a catchy as all get out song, that debuted on the 47 season long show in just its 14th episode, way better in 1969.

The song very much reflected the spirit of the time with a heavy beatnik influence and an infectious folk vibe that caught on like crazy.

So popular was the song that the original version, featured beatnik Bip Bippadotta and two girls who riff around him, was updated for the first ever episode of The Muppet Show in 1976 where Bip became Mahna Mahna, backed by the fabulously-named Snowths.

You can see why the song was so catchy so quickly, and if you ever needed proof that Sesame Street had it all together and then some from the word go, I give you exhibit A.

Now just try and get this out of your earworm …

(source: Laughing Squid)

 

 

Now this is music #95: Dreamcar, JAMATAR ft. Natalie Foster, Amery, Meg Mac, Oceana

 

One of the best parts of listening to songs by a diverse range of artists is hearing the way each of them, in their own unique style, pour their heart and soul into their music.

Investing their songs with the richness of their experience, of their struggles and the life lessons learned, gives these songs a resonance that makes them far more than diverting ear candy.

All five of these songs bring that certain something to their songs that elevate them way beyond fun listening, though they certainly are that, to music that says something, in a real and meaningful, non-posey way, about the human condition.

It’s makes them a thousand times more interesting to listen to and infinitely more rewarding.

 

“Kill For Candy” by DREAMCAR

 

DREAMCAR (Image courtesy official DREAMCAR Facebook page)

 

So what do you do if you’re in a long-running band and you’re lead singer decides it’s high time she recorded another solo album?

Well, if you’re Tony Kanal, Adrian Young and Tom Dumont of Californian ska pop band No Doubt, you join up with the lead singer of AFI Davey Havok and you create a band call Dreamcar and release an insanely catchy song like “Kill For Candy”.

With a title like that, Havok rather correctly describes the tuneful driving upbeat rocker as a “perhaps dangerous and unhealthy desire for the sweet”, an ’80s tinged, big chorus-heavy song that might one day find favour with edgy dentists.

Who knows, but as songs go, it’s incredibly engaging, all driving guitars, airy substantial vocals and a melody you can’t say no to.

Just like sugary things … wait, no, think I’ve missed the point of the song.

 

 

“Reflect” by J▲M▲T▲R

 

Jamatar (image courtesy official Jamatar Facebook page)

 

Kicking off with the breathy ethereal vocals of Natalie Foster, “Reflect” by up-and-coming Melbourne, Australia-based electronica artist J▲M▲T▲R, who maintains a beguilingly obtuse online persona, is a dreamy slice of pop with some fairly backstory inspiration to it, according to The Aussieword:

“… the track was inspired by an animation by Alice Carroll which depicted a girl lost in space. With the narrator having an overwhelming sense of despair and fear when her reflection leaves her, she discovers her strength and potential for greatness as she overcomes her own self doubt and negative perceptions.”

It’s a gorgeously upbeat ode of sorts to Gameboy’s classic 8-but technology that moves from a loping verse into a driving chorus, anchored all the time by an ambient sound suffused with beat heavy melody.

It’s mysterious, beautiful, otherworldly and engaging, an electronic track that for all its musical remoteness, never sounds less than deeply reflective of the human experience.

 

 

“So Good” by Amery

 

Amery (image courtesy official Amery Facebook page)

 

The son of Rwandan immigrants to Belgium, Amery has been in love with music from a young age, drawing from the twin influences of “Billy Jean” by Michael Jackson and playing piano in church growing up to create a deliciously rich combination of R&B and pop.

“So Good” is a song that lyrically and musically is uplifting in just about every day.

As Amery repeats the title of the song in pleasingly hypnotically rhythmic fashion, the joyous melody percolating through every word and beat, you can feel the sheer ecstasy of falling in love, which was the inspiration for the supremely feel good track.

“I want people to get back to that feeling they experienced when they met their first crush or love of their life. I want to bring them back to where it all started.” (source: Aussieword)

And if you’re not in love when you start the song, trust me you will want me to by the end of it, so addictively, happily compelling is the track.

 

 

“Low Blows” by MEG MAC

 

Meg Mac (image courtesy official Meg Mac Facebook page)

 

You know those moments when someone of more bulldozer-like inclination puts all kind of pressure on you and you want to stand up for yourself but cave because the force arrayed against you is just too overwhelming?

MEG MAC most certainly does with her song “Low Blows” addressing just such a situation as The Aussieword details:

“I wrote ‘Low Blows on piano in my bedroom in Melbourne – The song is about wanting to stand up for myself – I don’t say much especially when I need to – it’s about being uncomfortable and all the things that go along with that – allowing people get the better of me.”

The necessary emotional force that comes with standing up for yourself is all through the song which was polished by the artist in Fort Worth, Texas with Niles City Sound before being finished off in Electric City in new York.

It’s a catchy, emotionally-resonant (thanks to MEG MAC’s piercingly beautiful vocals) ode to holding form to what you need and want; defenders of your own boudnaries, this is your heartfelt soundtrack song.

 

 

“Can’t Stop Thinking About You” by Oceana

 

Oceana (image courtesy official Oceana Facebook page)

 

You know how some songs effortlessly summon up a particular place, time or season, and even though you’re a million miles away from that seductive reality, you feel like you’re right there with the artist?

That’s the way you almost immediately feel with Oceana’s headily upbeat song that recalls the twin delights of being in love and drenched in summer sunshine, with the singer, born to parents from Martinique and raised in US, Germany and France, delivering up all the emotional warmth you could ask for.

Throw in an incredibly danceable melody, driving beats that build and build in a dazzlingly euphoric way and you have a song that takes you to beautiful places, real and emotional, far from the drudgery of everyday life.

At once very real and delightfully escapist, this is music to let the soul loose.

 

 


NOW THIS IS MUSIC EXTRA EXTRA!

 

Who doesn’t love music from the ‘Hoff? Or featuring the eternally-tanned visage of the king of Baywatch (TV series, not the – shudder! – movie)? No one, of course and so here he is in a Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 extra for your retro viewing pleasure (source: Laughing Squid)

 

 

Winter may have come but with it, thanks to The Gregory Brothers of Songify This! , comes some music heavy on beats and lauding “The Shape of Jon Snow”. (source: Laughing Squid)

 

 

El Patito: Sesame Street parodies Despacito in the sweetest Ernie and Rubber Ducky way

(image via YouTube (c) Sesame Workshop)

 

Ah ubiquity you are a double-edged sword.

In the case of the catchiest song of the US summer, “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi (feat. Daddy Yankee), that means lots of airplay, remixes without count and the constant presence of the song on just about platform imaginable.

It also means, Sesame Street fans rejoice, an absolutely gorgeous remix of the song featuring Ernie and Rosita singing a song of devotion to the object of his longstanding devotion, Rubber Ducky, in a gloriously-good bilingual take on the song.

“The family-friendly version of the bop pays homage to the original song while Ernie sings about his rubber duckie, a.k.a. el patito: ‘Rubber Duckie, it is a connection/ It doesn’t have to be a tubby session, ya/ Take my day from zero to 11, ya.’

“Then comes the chorus in Spanish: ‘Oh, el patito, es mi favorito/ Donde quiera que vaya hace su sonido/ El patito es tu buen amigo/ El patito.'” (ew.com)

As you’d expect from Sesame Street, which has consistently proven itself adept at having fun and teaching great lessons at the same time, the song is a joy, even down to a typically curmudgeonly Bert moaning about “that song again”.

Ha! This is so catchy even Bert eventually succumbs … and yeah, so will you.