Who doesn't listen to music from streaming platforms these days? With '80s and '90s Pop ruling the radio airwaves, it's tough to discover new music in Singapore. Hence, music buffs turn to digital music services like Apple Music and Spotify for the latest jams and curated music playlists.
But with countless new tracks vying for your attention constantly, it's hard to keep track of the best new music. Welcome to Mixtape Mondays, a curated recommendation of three new songs each week by the Esquire Singapore team that will help you maximize your listening time. Only the best sounds. So stay woke and press play.
Week of 3 August
'My Oasis (feat. Burna Boy)' — Sam Smith
Because the heart knows what it wants, Smith dived headfirst into love. Whether the fancied reciprocate or not is another matter. Such is the pain of unrequited love. Giving another taster to Smith's upcoming (delayed and retitled) third studio album, the poignant R&B track describes pining and longing for someone. On the same page as Smith is Nigerian singer-songwriter Burna Boy, who joins the British crooner with his verse.
“This track has been a beautiful release of emotions for me during this time,” Smith said in a press statement. “I’ve been a fan of Burna Boy for years now and am so happy to have a tune with him.”
'my future' — Billie Eilish
Nobody knows what the future holds. But you can steer destiny into the desired route. Multi-Grammy winner Eilish doesn't rest on her laurels. Instead, she chose to self-reflect during this current pandemic lockdown lull period and produced an optimistic jazz-tinged pop number on hope with her brother Finneas O'Connell.
“We wrote this at the very beginning of quarantine. It’s a song that’s really really personal and special to me,” shared Eilish in an official statement.
“When we wrote this song, it was exactly where my head was at—hopeful, excited and a craaaazy amount of self-reflection and self-growth. But recently it has also taken on a lot of new meaning in the context of what’s happening in the world now. I hope you can all find meaning in it for yourselves.”
'Now I Know' — Jason Yu
Many life-changing events can happen within a span of two years. For Yu, the experience of realisation, loss, and regret proved to be an unforeseen development which affected him. On this GRYD-produced brooding track, Yu is honest with his feeling and opens up these heavy emotions using characteristically dark tones, raw metaphorical lyric writing, and sombre melodies.
“'Now I Know' is a manifestation of the grief and turmoil that I had to go through after losing someone. The mistakes I made; the things I could have done right; only further fuelled the loathing I had for myself at that time. However, something good did come from the experience."
"I had learned that the pain I went through had made me stronger, and I emerged a better person. Through 'Now I Know', I hope to convey to my listeners that though we might falter in life, our blunders are just lessons in disguise.” says Yu.
Week of 24 July
'Say Something' — Kylie Minogue
After experimenting with R&B on Kiss Me Once and Country on Golden, there's no denying that Minogue excels best in Dance. Hence, Disco, her upcoming 15th studio album. The first offering from this era, 'Say Something', is an introspective mid-tempo slow-burner with lyrics reflecting current times and quarantine days. She also produced the track with long-time collaborator Biff Stannard and his Biffco songwriting team.
“We’re a million miles apart in a thousand ways…Love is love it never ends, can we all be as one again?”, sings Minogue.
Although returning to dance, the pop icon still included country elements like organic guitar cords into this track. So don't expect it to hit immediately like 'Can't Get You Out Of My Head' and 'All The Lovers'.
'Break' — Julia Stone
Yes. She's indeed THAT Julia from indie-folk brother-sister duo Angus and Julia Stone. Her first solo material in eight years, Stone returns with an upbeat frenetic tune about cosmopolitan romance. It's also fitting being co-produced by St Vincent and Doveman's Thomas Bartlett with additional contributions from The National's Bryce Dessner and Warpaint's Stella Mozgawa (on drums). A star-studded project, it is.
“It’s when you first meet somebody, and you have that connection and your chemicals go crazy,” Stone said of the track in a statement. “It’s about enjoying that first moment, without considering what comes next.” Added St. Vincent: “I was so floored by ‘Break.’ The feel, the vibe, it’s catchy but weird— like ‘You Can Call Me Al’ through the looking glass.”
'flags (feat. ShiGGa Shay)' — iNCH.
Many are oblivious to Earth's signal of strain and cry for help, but not iNCH. The multi-disciplinary artist-musician ponders on the current state of affairs in the world. From the COVID-19 pandemic to Australian forest fires, what can we do to keep Earth intact? iNCH has imbued this melodic art-pop statement with an outspoken commentary that is loaded with passion and meaning, combining catchy hooks with deeper thoughts.
inch also worked together with Singaporean rapper ShiGGa Shay on this meaningful composition. “He is like a younger brother to me, and we have collaborated on a number of occasions. However, this is the first time he's jumping on a track of mine, and it feels nice to be able to share this with him,” she expressed.
In addition, inch will be donating all proceeds made from July, August, and September to H.O.M.E.—the Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics [H.O.M.E.], a Singapore-based charity dedicated to empowering and supporting migrant workers who find themselves victims of human rights violations and suffer abuse and exploitation.
Week of 20 July
'Easy' — Troye Sivan
Nobody has it easy when flames of passion have diminished. For those in a waning relationship, Sivan suggests giving love a second chance. On this mellow 80s-inspired soft synth tune, surrendering is not an option. Its accompanying self-directed video sees the pop star looking for redemption.
Appearing together with his previous single 'Take Yourself Home' on an upcoming six-track EP in a dream, Sivan described that 'this small collection of songs explores an emotional rollercoaster period in his life when the feelings and thoughts were most shockingly fresh.' “Revisiting these songs and moments is tough, but I’m proud of this music and excited to have it out in the world,” he said.
'Get Paid (feat. Princess Nokia & Jada Kingdom)' — Aluna
Don't we all get ecstatic when the money rolls in? Aluna (of AlunaGeorge) break down the meaning pocketing hard-earned dollars with a catchy feel-good dancehall jam. Getting Princess Nokia and Jada Kingdom on board, the trio dance and declared their intentions confidently to a steady beat backed by various percussion instruments on a slick bass line.
“‘Get Paid’ is an aspirational celebration about Black women and women of colour getting paid, in opposition of the reality that we are consistently undervalued for our work,” said Aluna in a press statement.
“On the other hand, this is a song about believing we deserve to get paid because as society keeps telling us we are worthless, we internalize that notion, which is almost more damaging because it stops us from advocating for ourselves.”
'The Other Side' — Rish Sharma
The grass is greener on the other side. But you have to take the leap of faith. Thus, Sharma encourages all to overcome inhibitions by expressing emotions freely. The Berklee College of Music alumni crafted this self-produced upbeat funk track via rock attitude and pop sentiments to serve up good vibrations.
Its lyrics also gave a glimpse into Sharma’s life on channelling positivity and illustrate that adversities can be blessings in disguise.
Week of 13 July
'Do to Me' — H.E.R
Following H.E.R's powerful protest message delivered on 'I Can't Breathe' for #BlackLivesMatter released a month ago, the African-American singer-songwriter celebrates her heritage with a reggae-focused song which samples Sister Nancy’s iconic 1982 offering 'Bam Bam'. H.E.R delivers giddying aspects of passion and love in a confident yet flirty attitude.
She sings coyly to the tropical dancehall beat. “Why, why you make me so blind?/ Just looking in your eyes, you/ Took my soul for a ride, ride/ How, how you make me fall down?/ Tripping over the sound of/ You loving me so loud, loud.”
'Are You Even Real?' — James Blake
Whether in denial or just hallucination, Blake dwells on that with this dreamy piece while venturing into electropop. Known for his experimental and deconstructed sonics, the English musician co-wrote the song with Starrah and Ali Tamposi (the former has written hits such as Camila Cabello's 'Havana' and Maroon Fives "Girl's Like Me'. Blake's taking a leap of faith here and it all works out.
“I was just playing her music, just ambient piano loops and beats and things that I had made. A lot of it, she seemed to engage with and start writing to, which is amazing because I’m a big fan of her. We just kind of hit it off and made a lot of stuff. This was one of the songs that we made. This is one of the songs that we started together. I sort of played her a piano motif and she immediately just started writing and came out with one of the main refrains melodically,” Blake said of this collaboration with Starrah with Zane Lowe on Apple Music
'Voices' — VANNA
Can you trust the voice within? For Israeli singer-songwriter VANNA, a battle with herself has led her to find solace in music. Recounting the experience in overcoming voices and troubles in her head, VANNA fought off her inner adversities through her mindfully crafted melodies and hauntingly atmospheric folktronica production courtesy of Roy Avital from Tel Aviv based indie-electronic trio Garden City Movement.
“I wrote this song about myself emerging from a period of a troubled inner world. Anxiety, depression, walking around my bed, walking around my head. Trying to make it all disappear. Mental health is a big part of my subject matter as it’s something I have been dealing with for the past 10 years,” VANNA described the track.
Week of 6 July
'America' — Sufjan Stevens
The American dream is often sought after. But the Trump administration isn't making it easy to obtain. Stevens ponders on the 'land of opportunity' with this epic 12-minute drum and synth-driven number. A direct outcry using a haunting ambience, Stevens confronts the unrest faced in his motherland currently.
Written for his previous album Carrie & Lowell, the track never felt so relevant even though it was completed in 2015. In a press statement, Stevens calls it “a protest song against the sickness of American culture in particular.”
"I was dumbfounded by the song when I first wrote it. Because it felt vaguely mean-spirited and miles away from everything else on Carrie & Lowell. So I shelved it. But when I dug up the demo a few years later I was shocked by its prescience. I could no longer dismiss it as angry and glib. The song was clearly articulating something prophetic and true, even if I hadn’t been able to identify it at the time. That’s when I saw a clear path toward what I had to do next."
'Heat Waves' — Glass Animals
What's a summer without Glass Animals? Being a festival favourite, the British band welcomed the sunny season with a technicolour tinted track led by layered psychedelic guitars and bombastic bass. Shucks that we've to wait till August to obtain Dreamland as the album is pushed back from its original July release date out of respect and support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Of the song's accompanying video, frontman Dave Bayley said on Instagram that 'it is a love letter to live music and the culture and togetherness surrounding it.'
"It was filmed at the peak of the lockdown in my neighbourhood in East London by the lovely people who live around me, just using their phones. These are people who are usually out at shows, in galleries, going to cinemas etc. These venues are left empty now, and many of them will not survive. The song is about loss and longing, and ultimately realizing you are unable to save something…and this video is about that but for art, being together, and human contact. When everyone was leaning out of their windows filming, I felt that same sense of togetherness and spine-tingling energy that happened at live shows. It made the coldness of performing to an empty room with the band stuck on screens feel even more heart-breaking."
'Tonight' — Gail Belmonte
Belmonte's debut single is long overdue, but with good reason. After numerous singing competitions and a stint in theatre for Pangdemonium’s staging of the Tony award-winning musical, Fun Home, the Singapore-based Filipino songstress has gone to hone her musical craft and provide guest vocals on tunes by thecolorfractal, Fingerfunk and Tim De Cotta.
On this forthright and chill R&B groove, Belmonte melts into the night, slowing down and taking time to soak in its magical beauty.
“I’m quite the night owl and work best during the nighttime, so I decided to write a whole song about how much I love the night,” Gail shares the details about her new song. “In writing 'Tonight’, I felt a sense of safety in the night, and I wanted to portray that in the most comfortable and magical way possible—and that’s throwing a bit of love in there. The most important thing to me is that it’s completely okay to feel vulnerable on your own in the dark of night, and it is okay to slow down every once in a while and let the night time take over.”
Week of 29 June
'Mine (You Can't Find Love in Mollywood)' — Lauv
Having dropped his debut album earlier this year, Lauv is back again with a surprise EP. The singer-songwriter announced this four-track quarantine project on Twitter only a day before its release, catching fans and listeners off guard.
While lead single 'Dishes' sees Lauv pondering on different emotions that typically followed with a breakup—heartache, sorrow, and anguish, 'Mine' takes a stab on a flirt who eventually played him out. Its upbeat melody backed rhythmic tropical beats is perfect for summer.
In addition, Lauv recently launched a podcast, Breaking Modern Loneliness, discussing human relationships, mental health and technology. Curious? Head over to breakingmodernloneliness.com.
'Weird Fishes' — Lianne La Havas
Covering a legend's tune takes guts. But Havas definitely has the chops to elevate Radiohead's 'Weird Fishes' (from In Rainbows) into a sublime composition. Both soulful and dreamy, the honeyed vocalist already covered the song live since her debut in 2012 and only got to record a studio version of it after her 2019 Glastonbury performance. And this song sets the tone for her upcoming self-titled album.
“I had the most wonderful, nourishing experience recording [Weird Fishes],” Havas said in a press release. “That’s where I decided: the rest of the album needs to be like this. It’s got to be my band, and I’ve got to do it in London, whenever people have time.”
'Firefly' — The Steve McQueens
There's something magical about a firefly. Providing a glowing yet hypnotic presence in the dark. This same magnetic energy can be used to describe Singapore nu-jazz band The Steve McQueens too. The quartet experiments and redefined their signature sound with dynamic arrangements and neo-soul grooves, resulting in an ethereal lead single off their upcoming EP, Tape Ends.
Besides prepping for the EP's release on 7 August, they are also currently writing and recording new material for their fifth album, The Observer, to be released in 2021.
“The Observer stands apart as an indifferent spectator at the ongoing culture clash between the jazz traditionalists and the new guard, smiling quietly to himself and making music,” the quartet spoke of its musical direction. We're intrigued.
Week of 22 June
'Black Parade' — Beyoncé
Without warning, Beyoncé surprised everyone with a song (yet again). This track comes timely in the light of #BLM and Juneteenth—a federal holiday that commemorates the emancipation of slaves in the United States. Spirited and unapologetically honest, the Texas-born artist celebrates her African roots and blackness with an empowering vision.
“I hope we continue to share joy and celebrate each other, even in the midst of struggle,” Beyoncé expressed of the track on Instagram. “Please continue to remember our beauty, strength, and power.”
According to Beyoncé’s official website, the proceeds of 'Black Parade' will go to the BeyGOOD Black Business Impact Fund. The fund is administered by the National Urban League and will be used to support black-owned small businesses in need.
'Ordinary Guy' — Toro y Moi
Also embracing ancestry is Chaz Bear (aka Toro y Moi). Choosing to cover Latin soul singer Joe Bataan’s 1967 doo-wop single 'Ordinary Guy', the alternative artist roped in jazz duo The Mattson 2 and gave the song a modern funky spin. Both Bear and Bataan share an Afro-Filipino heritage.
Toro y Moi first covered the song on a radio show in 2019, but he released a mastered version on Bandcamp to support the fight for racial justice and music sales were donated to the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund.
“It's a cover of a song by a fellow Afro-Filipino, Joe Bataan," Bear said in a press release. "His music first caught my ear back in 2009 when Ryan Kattner of Man Man played it for me. I was immediately hooked by Joe's music because, to me, he represented the impossible—he felt so comfortable in his skin and he had so much confidence and appeal."
'Lockdown' — Anderson .Paak
Our former cover star Anderson .Paak reflects on racial injustice, police brutality, unemployment on this protest song. Although chill and groovy in melody, its lyrics detailed the experience faced at Black Lives Matter protests held in Los Angeles in June 2020.
.Paak raps and addressed the murder of George Floyd, “Sicker than the COVID, how they did him on the ground? Speakin’ of the COVID, is it still goin’ around?”
The cast and crew who participated in the accompanying 'Lockdown' video donated their salaries to Black Emotional and Mental Health collective (BEAM), Dream Defenders and Color of Change.
Week of 15 June
'Rose Rouge' — Jorja Smith
Brit Award winner and UK soul singer Jorja Smith revisits her jazz roots with pride. Doing justice on this cover, Smith added her rich honeyed vocals and masterful range alongside vintage brassy horns and smooth running keys on this 2000 track penned by French jazz musician St Germain.
'Rose Rouge' will be released on Blue Note Records’ one-off compilation project Blue Note Re:Imagined. Along with Smith, the compilation includes music by Shabaka Hutchings, Alfa Mist, Poppy Ajudha, Jordan Rakei, Nubya Garcia, among others.
Of the track, Smith said she's 'honoured to be involved on this Blue Note album to rework St Germain's anthem 'Rose Rouge', and with such an array of wonderful musicians on the album, including my brothers Ezra Collective.'
'no song without you' — HONNE
Isolation proves to be fruitful. At least that applies to HONNE. The English electronic duo completed a song, which is also their first new material in two years, at their studio in Hackney during this lockdown period. With lyrics taken from Andy Clutterbuck's speech at his wedding as explained recently during a Billboard Live At-Home performance, 'no song without you' definitely conjures butterflies in the stomach along with its heartwarming animated video, created by illustrator Holly Warburton.
The song was written alongside Anderson .Paak collaborator Pomo during a spontaneous trip to Los Angeles back in January.
“It’s OK for things to sound a bit rough”, says the duo of the song. “Rather than going into the studio and compressing guitars over and over. The more character that you leave in it, the more the listener can dive in.”
'Leap Of Faith (feat. bittymacbeth)' — Axel Brizzy
Sometimes your gut can take you to places. Only if you trust it. Singaporean hip-hop artist and rapper Axel Brizzy recounts the experience on diving into the cut-throat music industry and teamed up with fellow musician bittymacbeth to deliver an introspective and soulful tune based on their career ventures. The duo analyses the risks that come with treading the path less taken, ultimately deciding that each obstacle will eventually come together to make their journeys in music worthwhile regardless.
Brizzy shows growth by taking the mantle on producing, mixing and mastering this meaningful track by himself.
“I’m back to doing everything on my own in my bedroom, so I feel like this single is the perfect representation of the real me, raw and unfiltered. I’ve wanted to make a song like this for the longest time, and with bittymacbeth on board, we’ve managed to encapsulate what I’ve always envisioned. I want ‘Leap of Faith’ to be the one track that people fall back on when things are rough,” Brizzy expressed.
The track is on sale via Bandcamp from SGD$2 minimum, but you can choose to pay as much as you want. 100% of the proceeds from the Bandcamp sales will be donated to charities and funds benefiting the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
Week of 1 June
'I Want To See Bright Lights Tonight (feat. Raissa)' — Mark Ronson
On the eve of Late Night Feelings first anniversary (21 June), Mark Ronson dropped a track which could definitely fit in the heartbreak-driven album. Befitting either pre-party or 2am unwind.
Featuring the British producer's newest Zelig West signee, Raissa, this synth sentimental slow burner is a cover of Richard and Linda Thompson‘s 1974 song. Also, Ronson's classy take is recorded entirely while on lockdown.
“In the first few weeks, one song I couldn’t stop listening to was ‘I want to see the bright lights tonight’ by Richard and Linda Thompson. For me, it’s the ultimate song about a messy weekend night out. All the weird but wonderful human interactions that go down", Ronson shared on social media.
"Not knowing what might happen once you head out that front door. Maybe a little hookup, a good time, even a hint of danger. But whatever it is, you know you’re going to forget about the boredom and stresses of everyday life for a few hours. I imagine the reason I’ve been so drawn to this song is because I miss that all very much, I bet a lot of us do.."
'Blame It On Me' — Melanie C
Among her ex-bandmates, Sporty Spice never stopped delivering music. Now, Melanie C finally dives into disco and electric to fulfil and finish a prophecy started since the excellent anthemic 'Think About It'. This blast of unapologetic modern pop calls out toxicity in a relationship encourages one to take a stand a for themselves.
Mel C's voice has always been a standout and we're glad that she makes an effort to stay relevant through appearances such as making quarantined live-streams. Featuring Q&As on physical and mental wellbeing, and advocating the next generation of Girl Power (a conversation with Rina Sawayama for Crack Magazine).
'Small Lanes' — M1LDL1FE
Detour and travel down small lanes instead of taking the usual highway when it's jammed. You just gotta keep on moving. This song serves as a reminder that it is okay to not have everything figured out.
The homegrown funky indie-pop band fused pumping synth bassline (from David Slow), Jeryl Yeo's rhythmic drum grooves, Tan Peng Seng's bright and bold guitar chords, and Paddy Ong's soaring vocals to evoke images of late-night drives to nowhere; nothing but open roads, street lamps pulsing overhead and the wind rushing past you.
"We wrote this song last year, before the world went upside down with all this craziness. The lyrics talk about pushing through uncertainty and how sometimes the only way through a tough time, is to ride it out", explained the band.
"It was written as a reflection of our journey as a band and some of the personal rough patches we were going through, so to release it in a time where we're experiencing the most uncertain of times is accidentally prescient. We hope everyone is doing okay and for those who have been hit harder than others, we hope you take one step at a time and come out the other end better than before!"
'Small Lanes' is one of three singles the band plans to release this year, leading up to their debut album in 2021.
Week of 25 May
'Love Not Loving You' — Foxes
When a relationship wanes and bounds for a depressing abyss, it's time to make an exit. Therefore, Southampton alt-pop singer Louisa Allen chooses freedom and embraced change by declaring she's better off alone. On this bright and catchy synth bop, the 'Clarity' vocalist draft playful melodies that enforced self-reassurance.
“This song is about finally falling in love with myself, about not depending on anyone else for my own happiness, And being able to stand on my own two feet. I hope the message in this song can inspire others to do the same”, expressed Allen in a press statement.
Its accompanying video was directed by The Mill’s Rauri Cantelo, and shot by Foxes herself using her phone during UK's lockdown.
'Pomegranate' — deadmau5 & The Neptunes
Sharp and tart best represent both the ruby fruit and this mega-production collab. Recorded back in December 2019 during a secret session at Criteria Recording Studios in Miami during Art Basel, the bouncy 'Pomegranate' amalgamate deadmau5's progressive house sensibilities with The Neptunes' eclectic instrumentals.
And yes, Pharrell Williams' signature confident falsetto and silky smooth croon appear on this festival-friendly track too.
"The track without Pharrell singing on it has actually been kicking around for 5 years just kinda sitting in my burner pile of ideas," deadmau5 told Apple Music's Zane Lowe. "I caught wind of them getting the band back together last year… and Pharrell had a listen to that old demo then we met up in the studio in Miami."
'Dopamine' — Fingerfunk
We need a catalyst that calms immediately. Thus, Fingerfunk concocted audible dopamine via a feel-good music formula. The homegrown R&B and Hip-Hop quartet dazzle with soulful honeyed tones from lead vocalist FRZ and bold dictions from rapper Hisham.
Credit also goes to slick hooks from guitarist Leo, who scattered them throughout the jubilant track. Polished and skillfully calculated, the band's songwriting is balanced and clean on this one. Finally, a non-invasion cure for the weary self.
Week of 18 May
'Good Guys' — LANY
Don't let good guys finish last, especially the dudes from LANY. Many times we've invested emotions and doing the best, only to give them to the wrong person. The American indie-pop band addressed this predicament on the emotionally-driven electronic-lite first single taken from their upcoming third LP, Mama's Boy.
“As soon as you say ‘I love spending time with you’ to someone, they figure something out and they’re not interested anymore,” says frontman Paul Kleinof on the track's meaning in a press statement. “It’s like a challenge. You accomplish the task of getting someone to like you and they move on.”
'Beautiful' — Rhye
Beauty should be celebrated. And there's no better way to describe it than penning an equally gorgeous tune. In current unprecedented times, Mike Milosh calms frenzied spirits with a lush tune constructed using a funky disco rhythm and a warm bassline.
“As we all share in this collective crazy moment that is quarantine, there are many ways to deal with the isolation, many ways we can truly fall into ourselves,” Milosh said. “For me, celebrating the beauty that is my partner has been a huge inspiration and a saving grace. Beauty is something we truly need to be open to in this moment.”
'Rumble Under My Toes' — HubbaBubbas & Kwak Pureunhaneul
It's important to stay grounded. But when your world gets bumpy, what can be done to ensure you're still rooted in reality? Homegrown alternative pop trio chronicles their uncertainties with Korean indie songstress Kwak Pureunhaneul for a feel-good number that motivates us to stay focused.
“When we were facing uncertainty, we weren’t able to find much music to relate to because a lot of the music that we were listening to always had a clear feeling of the artist’s emotions – joy, sorrow… and for good reason. But we felt this was a part of ourselves that was not so clear, and we wanted to encapsulate it in a song", said lead vocalist Stephanie Lim of HubbaBubbas on the story behind this song.
"We also thought that perhaps there were people out there who felt the same way, and we found Kwak. She shared with us her personal reasons for being on a hiatus from music, and you can feel her emotions from her performance in the studio."
Week of 11 May
'Stuck With U' — Ariana Grande & Justin Bieber
We're still in the midst of lockdown season but this doesn't hinder these two superstars from collaborating. A straightforward pop ballad that chronicles being grounded indoors with a significant other, this romantic ode reminds us to cherish our dearest in unprecedented times. Remember, current self-isolation measures are enforced for safety reasons so don't piss your company off.
Single? Cuddle in with your pet like how Grande snuggles her dog, Toulouse.
In addition, the accompanying spliced music video peers in on their lives. And we spy Grande's new squeeze, Dalton Gomez. This song is also a fundraiser for the First Responders Children's Foundation, which provides grants and scholarships to the children of medical workers, emergency medical technicians, firefighters and police officers, according to the video's description on YouTube.
'Die 4 Ur Love' — Tei Shi
Apocalypse is merciless. Not even love can withstand it. So would you succumb to such reality? Valerie Teicher aka Tei Shi wrote a brooding alternative synth rhythm that addresses the pain of losing someone and separated by death. With demise on loop, the Colombian-Canadian songstress ponders on lovelorn ties and the meaning of life without an important presence.
“‘[Die 4 Ur Love]' is a song about the end of the world as you know it,” Teicher shares. “About losing someone or something you never knew you could lose, and then all of a sudden, your reality shifts. I wrote it right after the new year when I was feeling a sense of impending doom and darkness, which now feels surreal to see taking form in a real way around the world and in how the rest of 2020 has unfolded.”
'AWARE' — Dominic Chin
Sensed something? That's the sound of a racing heartbeat. Chin professed his crush on someone with a bouncy tongue-in-cheek electro-pop tune fearlessly. After all, it'll remain one-sided if you don't try. Confidence leads in homegrown singer-songwriter's assertive voice as he sings in tandem with the crisp beat. We're sure the person-in-question will definitely be impressed with his effort for affection.
“It’s an honour to be able to love and be loved in return. If you like somebody, don’t feel bad about it! Love freely and love openly,” Chin exclaims.
Also, stay tuned for Chin's 7-track debut EP License to Cry, which is set to release later this year.
Week of 4 May
'Dreamland' — Glass Animals
Where would you rather be, reality or dreamland? For the alternative psychedelic English band, it's about constructing a landscape based on past memories. "We can’t be out creating new memories, so…we’re diving back head-first into the old ones", says frontman Dave Bayley.
'Dreamland', the title track from the indie outfit's upcoming third LP, is a tranquil and misty tune that explores Bayley's past and looking deep within for inspiration. There's a vulnerability with self-introspection. Furthermore, Bayley has allowed us to experience this with its accompanying video, which was shot by the frontman himself from his own quarantine space.
'Savage Remix (feat. Beyoncé)' — Megan Thee Stallion
Hysteria is expected when Queen Bey spits bars ferociously. And that happened recently when she joined fellow Houston native rising Rap Star Megan Thee Stallion on the latter's mega-hit remix. Most featured artists only get modest lines, but hey, Beyoncé gets whole verses to work with, and with great bougie results.
Meg is shrewd for roping in Mrs Knowles-Carter. Already a rare occurrence, Beyoncé's also has a Midas touch on rap-focused remixes like her own '***Flawless Remix' and DJ Khaled's 'Top Off'. Tik Tok and OnlyFans experienced a surge in users, thanks to "Hips tick-tock when I dance. On that Demon Time, she might start an OnlyFans." Don't underestimate the 'Bey Effect'.
Of course, Megan is able to carry her own weight too. Smug delivery and a killer chorus with brute hooks, we reckon this jam will be played all summer long.
'wanted you so bad' — Foxela & Chelsea Cara
Rejection cuts straight through the heart. And it can be overwhelming to those who experience it for the first time. Indie-pop singer-songwriter Cara finds strength and support through music by penning various emotions such as pain and frustrations into a delicate but soulful tune.
Paired with 17-year-old electronic producer Foxela's honest and cathartic instrumental arrangement, listeners can find a way out from the complicated maze of desire. This marks the second collaboration between the two classmates, who have worked on, ‘Live On’, released earlier this year.
Week of 27 April
'If You're Too Shy (Let Me Know)' — The 1975
After two pushbacks, The 1975's Notes on a Conditional Form is set to release on 22 May 2020. But before that, the English band dropped their sixth single (!) from the 22-track album.
Inspired by online romance and cyber-lust, try playing this infectious uptempo guitar-driven and horn-heavy bop for courage. We're LIVING for John Waugh's flawless Saxophone solo (see below). That, unfortunately, will only be featured on the album and video instead of the single edit.
"It’s about chasing connection, it’s about getting naked on FaceTime. It’s the lighter version of some of the observations of what we’re all up to on the internet", Matt Healy said on BBC Radio 1’s Future Sounds.
Lastly, spot FKA Twigs' uncredited backing vocals. (Hint: It's embedded within the opening instrumentals)
'The Sun Is Up Forever' — Joesef
A mother's love is endless and unconditional. So, Joesef dedicated a heartfelt number to his mom. The 24-year-old Glasglow native reminds us to look forward by penning this calm yet radiating tune.
"I wrote this song about a month ago after talking to my mum about how relationships can affect you in every corner of your life, right down to the way you carry yourself,” explained Joesef. “My dad was a bit of a bastard to her and us, she said it’s something that never really leaves her, but after 20 years she’s learned to let go of the grief a little. It’s from her perspective, and mine. It’s about leaving a dark part of your life behind you. The tune is for her.”
Mark our words, the soulful musician and BBC Sound of 2020 nominee got a bright future ahead of him.
'Put You Through' — Gareth Fernandez & theodora
Nobody can escape or dodge heartache. But passion's pain can be reduced if you own up to it. Fernandez and theodora co-wrote an introspective duet to address regrets and acknowledging their roles in causing pain to people they loved, in a way that was excruciating but also freeing.
Produced by Shaykandbake, 'Put Me Through' also serves as a sequel to Gareth’s earlier single, 'Achilles'. Both singer-songwriters complement their respective musical styles to not only showcase balanced harmonies. but also an emotional vulnerability that everyone resonates with.
"I hope that people can relate to this song, maybe cry to it, because it's about regret and being the agent of heartache (rather than the victim). We chose the lyrics very carefully in order to weave a narrative that avoided self-victimisation,” described Fernandez.
Week of 20 April
'Idontknow' — Jamie xx
Trust Jamie xx to translate quizzical doubt into a trance-inducing tagline. Everything is in order to his signature when the track begins—ambient, chill, and joyous. But when its bpm accelerates to a frenetic 160, that's when the party starts.
Such emotional uncertainty led Jamie xx towards a delirium music sphere, which certainly isn't a bad thing. First mushroomed on Four Tet's and Caribou's DJ sets, the vivid percussive dance track gets a proper release now.
“I made 'Idontknow' as an outlet for my frustration over not being able to finish any music for a while,” expressed Jamie xx on Instagram. “I tried to be less precious with my ideas and just let go. Now, we can’t go out to dance and we need an outlet more than ever, I hope you dance to it at home and let go for a moment.”
'Light of Love' — Florence + the Machine
Light guides the way to emancipation, as assured by Florence Welch. An outtake from the band's High As Hope sessions, this subdued introspective ballad reminds us to stay grounded. Although reality looks bleak, 'in every one of us shines a light of love'.
“The song is about the world coming at you so fast and you feel like you won’t survive it, but in actually bearing witness to the world as it is, it’s really the only place you can be of service," Welch said in a statement. "I found so many ways to numb myself out, to hide from the world, and although waking up from that was painful, it’s never been more important not to look away, to keep an open heart even if it hurts, and to find ways to keep showing up for the people that need you. Even from a distance.”
'Two Sides' — Gentle Bones & Charlie Lim
It takes both hands to clap as one can never execute it without the other. On their first collaboration, homegrown musicians Gentle Bones (Joel Tan) and Charlie Lim explores struggles of the duality faced in their personal relationships.
Written and produced jointly by the duo, this heartbreak and longing-driven tender boyband-inspired track communicates with honest conviction through their soothing harmonized vocals.
Of the song's message, Lim shares “A lot of the lyrics came from a place of frustration with someone but also knowing there's a reason why things happen the way they do and why people are the way they are.” Gentle Bones also added that “it all stems from love and a bit of heartbreak to arrive at an understanding that we are all one with our differences.”
Week of 13 April
'forever' — Charli XCX
Actions speak louder than words. Thus, Charli XCX professed her love to her listeners and fans with this 'made during social isolation' electronic ballad.
Spawned from the British singer-songwriter's upcoming virtual themed project that's written, recorded, produced and released entirely while in quarantine, 'forever' cleverly connects like-minded souls and reminds everyone that they are not alone.
“This video is made up of your clips of the moments/people/places/things in life you wish to cherish forever…thank you so much for helping me make this video, it wouldn’t have been possible without you,” Charli declared on Twitter.
'Imagine U' — Omar Apollo
Not one to pigeonhole himself, rising Mexican-American music talent Omar Apollo dabbles in various genres such as R&B, lite Hip-Hop, and now, Funk. His first tune in 2020 is a catchy melodic number that's inspired by dance maestros Daft Punk, which Apollo admits listening to constantly.
Produced by himself alongside frequent collaborator Kenny Beats, the sleek guitar strums and bouncy drumbeats draw you in immediately.
“I’m all about the feeling when it comes to music,” Apollo said in a statement. “The lyrics and melody came to me so naturally and I feel like free thinking is what's missing in a lot of music nowadays. There’s a guitar part I played that’s pitched up as soon as the song starts that I love and when I first made the song that part was all I had. I was obsessed with it—I kept playing it on loop cause it felt so good to me."
'MESS' — Jasmine Sokko
Sokko appears without a visor or a mask? The plot thickens, but she's still hidden behind shadows. Clearly, there's order and direction in this 'MESS'.
The electro-pop local artist and recent MTV EMA Best Southeast Asia Act winner conveys tenacity in this psyched pick-me-up anthem. Indeed, the only way to go is up if you've hit rock bottom. Produced by fellow Singaporean musician Myrne, Sokko established that failure is temporary.
“I have atychiphobia—I don’t like failures. People say failures are lessons learned but I stand by the fact that they are lessons FORCED upon us! I want to be driven by a concrete desire to do things, not by the fear of not being successful at something,” exclaimed Sokko.
Week of 6 April
'Take Yourself Home' — Troye Sivan
If you haven't 'Take Yourself Home', Sivan's reminding everyone through his latest slow-burning synth bop. Gloomy chill is the theme here and its accompanying lyrics serves as a wake-up call.
“It’s one of my favourite songs I’ve ever written. The song is kind of a pep talk with yourself and the place you’re from. Grappling with your place in the world. I write these songs as a diary entry, then as life and places change and relationships change, songs can take on a new meaning entirely. Clearly, that has happened for this song with what is going on in the world now,” said Sivan in a press statement.
There's no avoiding grim and sombre due to this calamity, so why not embrace it entirely like Sivan.
'Still Here' — Kllo
Be grateful that you're still here. Thus, Melbourne electro-pop duo and cousins Kllo decided to toss aside insecurities and live for the moment with this newest cut. Although embracing experimental tempos fully, 'Still Here' embeds tender emotions with dance beats to calm those in suffocating relationships.
"In the past, we’ve tried to speed things up and push away from that," explains vocalist Chloe Kaul. "But now we’re sitting where it feels comfortable to us. Comfortable but also daring, because we know it’s not as polished in certain ways. We’re doing us, we’re doing Kllo. We’re a bit older now. We aren’t compromising as much on this album. It's a little bit classier and more tasteful this time around."
'My Darling' — [.gif]
Warm and affection work effectively when coaxing a beloved. But homegrown indie alternative pair [.gif] approaches with nostalgia and haunting expressions instead. Known for their captivating ambient rhythms, this pre-release track from the duo's upcoming anticipated LP masterfully manipulates syncopated beats and hypnotic sonic waves from Din while backed with Weish's magnetic vocals.
“'My Darling' was written in a toilet during a panic attack. It is a song you cradle in your chest, curled up with your back to the bathroom door. The song made its live debut at our recent form-bending multi-disciplinary production 'Beside Ourselves' — a commission for the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival,” conveyed the duo in an interview with UK online music fanzine God is in the TV.
Week of 30 March
'Break My Heart' — Dua Lipa
Bless her heart! Dua Lipa brought forward the release of Future Nostalgia LP a week earlier and it's what we need now. Although unmistakably disco reconstructed for millennials and Gen Z, Gen X can still identify with the record's familiar samples. One of which is INXS' 'I Need You Tonight' on Lipa's fourth single, 'Break My Heart'.
Pain comes with love, but the Grammy-winning songstress is able to soothe heartbreak with sass and uplifting boogie beats. Respect.
'BELIEVE IT' — PARTYNEXTDOOR & Rihanna
While Rihanna's upcoming album is still in limbo, she finally managed to get her voice out through a feature with PARTYNEXTDOOR. The pair aren't strangers though. As he worked with Rihanna on ANTI—from the number one smash 'Work' to 'Sex With Me'.
Produced by Ninetyfour, Bizness Boi and Cardiak, this airy sensual ballad is about patching up and re-examining a couple's devotion to each other. Fun fact: Rihanna only submitted her finished feature on the week of Partymobile's release, cutting it close.
'One More Song' (feat. Roosevelt) — Classixx
Play that funky music again! Los Angeles-based electronic duo Classixx brought back toe-tapping rhythmic beats to 'One More Song' via 'a bassline heavily influenced by Louis Johnson, the Brothers Johnson co-founder who notably played on Michael Jackson’s Off The Wall, Thriller, and Dangerous'.
The cherry on this shiny cake is Roosevelt, who provided soulful chorals and playful synths to the melodious track. So, keep calm and dance on.
Week of 23 March
'Dancing Next to Me' — Greyson Chance
It takes two to tango. But choose your partner wisely, as Chance recounts. Co-written with singer-songwriter-producer Teddy Geiger, the Oklahoman native expressed getting betrayed by a potential romantic singleton for second-guessing in this pensive yet bouncy pop-bop.
“I’d come across a few people this past year and there were a few different cases—this was the most specific one—where they were just afraid to love,” Chance told HuffPost. “It could have been a case of someone not feeling confident in their sexuality. It could have been an age thing. They just wanted a taste of love to see what it’s like, and then they were gone. They wouldn’t commit to it fully.”
'Spotlight' — Jessie Ware
Ware deserves a spotlight that's as bright as her fellow English comrade, Adele. Blessed with soulful heartwrenching-inducing vocals too, the London-based songstress stood by her alternative roots (she worked with SBTRKT, Disclosure, and Dev Hynes) since her debut and has not given in to mainstream demands.
Picking up the dance baton, Ware described 'Spotlight' as “melodramatic, romantic, it’s everything that I love, and it’s got a bit of a beat.” The pairing of Ware's sultry coos and organic strings with synth provided by Simian Mobile Disco’s James Ford is indeed adult contemporary at its best.
'Get Better. Not Bitter. (feat. Orumo)' — bittymacbeth
Life's the greatest teacher you can ever have. And bittymacbeth is inspired by it. For her recently released EP BETTER NOT BITTER, the Berklee College of Music Summa cum Laude graduate in Contemporary Songwriting and Production details ordinary people overcoming extraordinarily difficult circumstances.
As for 'Get Better. Not Bitter.', bittymacbeth conveys emotions and forgiveness towards a friend, who nearly caused her to be stranded in a foreign country. Produced by Italian jazz/R&B producer Orumo and herself, 'Get Better. Not Bitter.' is a modern funk bop with throwbacks to ‘80s synth-pop. Peace and positivity can definitely be attained by letting go.
Week of 16 March
'The Difference' (feat. Toro y Moi) — Flume
Collabs are common. But we didn't expect these two contemporary dance names to do a project together. Flume's progressive futuristic while Toro y Moi's throwback synth. But both of them met halfway at a chill drum and bass midpoint.
We made this song between a day at my place in L.A. and a day at Chaz’s spot in Oakland,” said Flume in a statement for the stellar lush track. “This was our first time working together, I’ve been a Toro Y Moi fan for a while. His song 'Talamak’ is a longtime favorite. I listened to that one a lot when I first started Flume as a project.”
'Bittersweet' — Lianne La Havas
Breaking up is a bittersweet affair. On her first original recording in five years, British soul singer-songwriter Havas addresses it with a stirring warm tune to comfort herself. Looking to 'reborn', Havas is ready for the dawn again.
“I’d forgotten how much I love singing,” Havas said in a press release. “I’ve tapped into the best and worst parts of me and while I didn’t expect this to be the direction of my new music, it’s my reality and it’s driven by emotion.”
'do me right' — brb.
Painful, yes. But heartbreak did these boys right. After teasing with singles, the homegrown funky R&B band finally rewards fans with their debut album. There are indeed familiar favourites, but pay attention to 'do me right' too.
The trio describes this song as “a snapshot of the distinctive pain of the discovery process of a partner’s unfaithfulness, one that is its own kind and can never be derived from anything else.” Props to the boys for translating vindictive and resentment emotions into positive energy.
Week of 9 March
'Describe' — Perfume Genius
Mike Hadreas has often been compared as the male counterpart to Sade. Now, that's a compliment. On the lead single off the American soloist's fifth full-length album, Perfume Genius shifts his gaze from sensual lo-fi to spacey calm before taking up a notch by swelling synths. The depressive yet poetic lyrics pair well with the hypnotic guitar chords.
“I started writing about when you are in such a dark place that you don’t even remember what goodness is or what anything feels like,” Hadreas said in a statement. “The idea was having someone describe that to you, because you forgot or can’t get to it.”
'Murphy's Law' — Róisín Murphy
Disco hasn't disappointed Murphy, yet. And Murphy is setting her foot with an upbeat law that demands listeners to dance. Teaming up with DJ Parrot (Richard Barratt) again, the Irish avant-garde sovereign returns with an immediate four-to-the-floor nightclub banger. Just freefall and immerse into the eight-minute original mix to experience paramount bliss.
“‘Murphy’s Law’ is our crack at a straight-up, straightforward, no-frills, disco standard,” Róisín Murphy said in a statement. “Oh, and it’s the story of my life. It’s about the nature of the past, it’s often a difficult thing to outrun but it can also be quite comforting.
'Fool' — IN THE NOW
Love can be insensible at times. So, the boys from homegrown band IN THE NOW express that emotion with a coming-of-age romance narrative on their debut single. The budding electro-pop and R&B quartet doesn't drown in sorrow due to unrequited love and infatuation. Rather, they layer dark melancholic synths constructed with dreamy electronic pads before bridging into a heartfelt chorus. All this in the hopes of getting the hero's crush to change her mind, even though he knows he should move on.
“We experimented with many different versions of the drop before we got something we were all happy with, bringing together the right amount of contrast and energetic release,” says Dan Rafael, IN THE NOW's producer and vocalist.
Week of 2 March
'Stupid Love' — Lady Gaga
Here's indeed a rebound song. After pining her guts out with 'Shallow' on A Star is Born, 'Mother Monster' aka Lady Gaga hits back fast and furious with an upbeat unshakable love banger. It's been three years since standalone single 'The Cure', so fans and music buffs were stoked when the previously leaked song was released in hi-fidelity.
Although the final version doesn't veer far from its demo, everyone rejoiced as 'Stupid Love' is identifiably early Gaga. An energetic electro-pop track that's not exactly ground-breaking, this lead single from Gaga's upcoming sixth studio album is an unapologetic anthem that gives Grimes a run for her money. Pink is the agenda here, it seems.
'Tondo' — Disclosure and Eko Roosevelt
Best known for collabs with Sam Smith and Lorde in their Grammy-nominated albums Settle and Caracal, the British electronic-producer duo geared up for their latest Ecstasy EP release by dropping a handful of singles consecutively. Thus, blessing EDM lovers.
One highlight that stood out is 'Tondo'. Sampling a tune from Cameroonian musician Eko Roosevelt, the African beat-driven uplifter sees the Lawrence brothers introducing a sweaty Summer floor-filler in Spring.
“Over the past few years, we’ve explored more and more African genres of music. This specific track samples the Cameroonian musician Eko Roosevelt,” Howard and Guy Lawrence said via Twitter. “If this one is anything, it’s fast, punchy & above all… fun. Another one designed for the dance floor.”
'HERE' — Dominic Chin
A mother's love is noble, let alone a grandmother's. So homegrown singer-songwriter Dominic Chin dedicated a self-penned tearjerker to the matronal figure in his life. Here, the soloist converts one of the toughest human emotions, grief, into a fresh lo-fi doused pop-r&b hybrid track. With a devastating verse masked by tight instrumentals, it reflects how modern individuals showcase selective vulnerability. There's no shame in addressing a feeling which everyone experiences.
“The message I’m trying to send across is that coping with grief will be something that all of us will have to cope with at some point and will continue to cope with because we never stop missing our loved ones—and that's okay! It's important to talk about it and process it whenever we do feel bad about it,” Chin emphasized.
Week of 24 February
'Smiling' — Alanis Morissette
"Isn't it ironic?" These famous words uttered by Morissette on 'Ironic' really stuck to the alt-rock queen throughout her career. On the second single off Such Pretty Forks in the Road, her first original LP since 2012’s Havoc and Bright Lights, Morissette reflects on her existence as a “bottom dweller,” dealing with the ups and downs of life as they come and mulling over personal failings.
Wistfully gloomy yet transcends into an uplifting pulse, the track first appeared on Morissette's Broadway venture of Jagged Little Pill.
'Meltdown' — Jake Shears
While Shears went west and kicked up boots with honky-tonk on his self-titled solo debut, there's no way he's turning his back on the dancefloor. Sleek synths still dominants the Scissor Sisters frontman's musical style.
'Meltdown' touches on global warming and was written when he was experiencing the 'hottest day of the Summer in New York City', as he expressed on Twitter. Three minutes of syncopated groovy beats paired with Shears' signature falsetto = 'Eargasm'!
'Who We R' — Dru Chen
Do you identify as an individual or society better? For Chen, the collective matters for the greater good.
Says the homegrown singer-songwriter, “['Who We R'] is as much about our personal past as it is about how far we have come as a human race. It confronts the present trials and tribulations of the human condition as we step into an unknown future."
Taking the song's soft folk & country fundamentals and ramping them up with additional additive pop beats, Chen comforts self-doubters who are also delving into the unknown after making a major decision. Thus in life, you either go big or home.
Week of 10 February
'Let's Be Friends' — Carly Rae Jepsen
Nobody likes getting friend-zoned. So stop leading someone on and give out ambiguous romantic signals. But if you happen to encounter this ordeal, heed Jepsen's advice and 'just rip off the band-aid!' Definitely an anti-Valentine's upbeat pop anthem, 'Let's Be Friends' encourages emotionally dejected individuals to flip the bird at a bad date.
“I mean, you’re sort of a dick sometimes but someone out there is surely gonna love a dick. Uh, check please?”, Jepsen snarls. We certainly stan an alt-pop advocator who's both frank and fair.
'Hummingbird' — Charlie Lim & Linying
Take flight. That's what Lim and Linying are doing—venturing beyond the local soundscape and performed at internationally-renowned festivals such as Summer Sonic (Japan). 'Hummingbird' marks the first time both homegrown musicians are having co-writing and co-producing credits on a track even though the pair had previously worked on a duet with Evanturetime ('Vultures').
According to Lim, 'Hummingbird' is about “trying to muster the courage to believe in something new, despite our tendencies to repeat past mistakes”. The interplay between Lim and Linying’s perspectives is enchanting, in addition to embodying wistful and lilting moods on its melody.
Stay tuned for our exclusive interview with both Lim and Linying on producing 'Hummingbird'.
'Cut Me' — Moses Sumney
Before we all get physically violent now, Sumney's approach is all about emotional growth. “Well, if there’s no pain. Is there any progress? That’s when I feel the most alive. Endurance is the source of my pride,” croons the genre-bending Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter.
Roping in British experimental indie rock band for this cut from part one of his upcoming album græ, Sumney's vulnerability penetrates the inner self with dynamic instrumentations that assures listeners that pain is life's mentor.
Week of 3 February
'Hypnagogic (I Can't Wait)' and 'CP-1' — Calvin Harris
Confident; Harris is. The award-winning British producer DJ returns to rule dancefloors once again with not one, but two bangers as Love Regenerator. Hooking listeners with hallucinatory Acid House, Harris conceived this project to 'rediscover the way he originally began producing music 22 years ago before he ever thought about how it might be perceived by outside forces.'
"Just pure fun and experimentation with what sounded good to me. The records are inspired by early rave, breaks, techno and house, the music I was obsessed with growing up. In fact, I’ve done everything I can to make them sound like they’ve come from a 1991 time capsule. Every synth and sound used is from that time period." Pure electronica bliss.
'Simmer' — Hayley Williams
While Paramore got their second youth with New Wave punk, frontwoman Williams still kept some angst from the band's foundation for her solo debut, Petals for Armor. Also, both fans and critics have been waiting 15 years for this. Rejoice!
Although Williams did lend her vocals to soundtracks (Jennifer's Body, Twilight) and producer-led albums (Zedd's 'Stay The Night'), 'Simmer' marks her first venture under her vision. Noticeably grittier and emotional, the experienced vocalist resolved to wear her heart on her sleeve. “Oh, how to draw the line between wrath and mercy?; Wrap yourself in petals/Petals for armor.” Such beckoning lyrics.
"[Petals for Armor] benefited from a little bit of musical naïveté and rawness and so I experimented quite a bit more. I made this with some of the closest people to me. Their respective talents really shine bright throughout the record. I like to think we all make each other better and the result is something that sounds and FEELS exactly as I’d hoped it would. Now that it’s time to put it all out there, I can finally exhale. I’m excited to let people in to experience a different side of myself that I’ve only very recently become familiar with.” Petals for Armor will be out on May 8.
'Boy' — Houg
Self-reflection can reveal many answers. For Trip-hop & Chillwave local musician Houg, introspection offers an insight into the fragility of self which is weathered by circumstances, particularly in the journey of creative expression.
The 2018 Noise Mentorship Programme alumni delved deep via instrument experimentation. Result: An addictive jazzy funk riff paired wavy chill-hop vibes. His mentors Kevin Foo (of Foundation Music & Umami Records) and Inch Chua (Noise Mentorship Programme) would be proud.
Speaking to the narrative of the song, Houg says, “The Self is naively inclined to take a ‘dive into the sea for an eternity’ but soon finds the solitude and seeming weightlessness of this exploration only a prelude to the sobering pressure and fear of the unknown. With the focus now on the onset of claustrophobia, the certainty of the Self cracks, and sets off a conundrum of fickle fragility.”
Week of 20 January
'(Don’t Let The Dragon) Draag On' — King Krule
Archy Marshall, or better known as King Krule, has just experienced fatherhood. But that didn't stop him from putting out another new LP, Man Alive!. Avid listeners may recognise the ghostly and mellow first single from 'Hey World', a short film where Krule performed solo with instruments on acoustic and features '(Don’t Let the Dragon) Draag On', 'Alone Omen 3', 'Energy Fleets', and 'Perfecto Miserable'.
On the self-directed accompanying video, Marshall displayed his love for black-and-white cinema to phenomenal effect. Such is the influence of Carl Theodor Dreyer’s classic The Passion Of Joan Of Arc. Extremely captivating.
'Call Me' — Empress Of
Spooked by the supernatural horror visuals of The Turning? Allow L.A.-based indie-pop singer-producer Lorely Rodriguez aka Empress Of to soothe with a romantic dream-pop number from its soundtrack.
Lawrence Rothman, who wrote 'Call Me' with Rodriguez and Yves Rothman, explains: “When writing the track with Lorely, Yves [Rothman] and I had the idea of writing something that was dreamy and processional; the movie’s swan song. it became a track that Floria Sigismondi used on set a lot to set the mood when shooting the scenes of the dreamlike limbo that the ghost Ms Jessel is trapped in.”
'Me & You Together Song' — The 1975
After going all out with the head-banging punchy 'People' and UK garage-tinged 'Frail State of Mind', the Brit alt-rockers revisit their roots with this vulnerable yet upbeat third offering from Notes on a Conditional Form.
“I had a dream where we had kids/You would cook, I’d do the nappies.” These tender lovelorn lyrics evoke domestic life and millennials' desire of settling down, aided by the soft rock guitar chords. Indeed, young romance craves for lust and longing. It's all about being sentimental and living-for-the-moment.
Week of 13 January
'Uneventful Days' (St. Vincent Remix) — Beck & St. Vincent
Beck and St. Vincent—this is a collab you don't see or hear often. Recently, they both joined Nirvana on stage to perform the former's celebrated tracks. So when the multi-award Grammy-winning artist puts her own spin and remixes the acclaimed alternative musician's tune, we were shooketh. Aside from rearranging the glossy track into a more aggressive version, St. Vincent also admirably execute melodies from guitar, bass, and keys herself.
Of the remix, St. Vincent said in a statement, “I guess I was listening to a lot of ’70s Herbie [Hancock] and WAR at the time and wondering how much funk was inside me, too. I sent it to Beck and he dug it, but he said, ‘It should be 3 bpm faster.’ And what do you know? HE WAS SO RIGHT. It made all the difference in the groove.”
'melancholyism.' — Super Whatevr
This Orange County, California-based rock & roll band isn't like any other. Initially formed as a vehicle to develop lead vocalist and guitarist Skyler McKee's poetry, the duo (along with drummer Chase Vernon) now uses this lyrical element to reflect a glimmer of hope amidst life's struggles.
“['melancholyism.'] is a loner’s love song to my wife Jess who I feel that I can be with and not compromise my quiet times,” explained McKee. “As an introverted musician, I’ve struggled with finding time to recharge my emotional tank.”
'Lost in Yesterday' — Tame Impala
We supposed this is the final advanced track we're getting before The Slow Rush drops on Valentine's Day 2020. Yes, it has been four years since the psych-rockers wildly successful Currents album so expectations are definitely high for their follow-up.
Funky groove bassline dominates this fourth reveal from The Slow Rush. And the catchy easy-listening tune does have the ability to convert casual listeners into fans. Psyched? We are.
Week of 6 January
'Runner' — Tennis
Most would feel lost at sea but not indie-pop duo Tennis. The husband and wife team were inspired by their four-month sailing adventure in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico. As the first song penned for their forthcoming album, Swimmer, it's unmistakably lush synth and romantic lyrics will ignite passion. An ocean rendezvous under the full moon, we say.
Vocalist Alania Moore shared in a press statement that the song "began as a guitar riff Patrick recorded while we were living off-grid, anchored in a fisherman’s cove called San Juanico."
“The only instruments we had on board were an acoustic guitar and a drum sequencer, but the limitations seemed to work in our favour. Until that point, we had no clear vision for our writing. The demo Patrick recorded that day outlined our future, the first contours of our next record.”
'Checklist (feat. Chromeo)' — MAX
Maxwell George Schneider shines brightly as a star should and didn't go unnoticed. The New Yorker was one of Billboard's top pop-star to watch and also nominated by iHeart in 2019 on its ‘Best New Pop Artist’ category. Working with Canadian duo Chromeo to amp up the funk, MAX's assertive vocals pairs well with its cheeky lyrics on the punchy track. It's tough to stay still when this tune is on.
MAX explained, "I wrote this song after my wife was tired of living with my parents so we got our own spot and bam things got much better. We wanted that extra layer of Funk spice to bring the song to the next level. Who better than Chromeo the funk lordz themselves. It’s a fun record but it also has an underlying message of treating the person you love the way they deserve. Happiness in a relationship only really comes when both partners are getting what they need. Make that checklist baby.”
Also, MAX will stage a gig in Singapore on 18 January. Get your tickets through Live Nation's website.
'Then There Were Two' — Mark Ronson & Anderson .Paak
This is one major collab. Teaming up for animated movie Spies In Disguise soundtrack, the two music maestros soulful delivery catches on immediately without resorting to pesky hooks. Its full sound is all brass and bass. Ronson had nothing but positive comments on producing the soundtrack.
“So much fun making this tune with one of my favourite artists of recent times @AndersonPaak,” the acclaimed producer expressed on Twitter.
Week of 30 December
'Love Me Wrong' — Allie X & Troye Sivan
We're certainly bumped that Alexandra Ashley Hughes cancelled her gig at the 11th hour a couple of weeks ago. Otherwise, fans could've previewed some of her newest material live—including 'Love Me Wrong'. The OG of weird-pop (yes, it's a genre brought to mainstream attention recently) continues to best herself and gift us impeccably lush productions.
The two had co-written on each other's songs (Allie's 'Vintage' and Sivan's 'Youth) but this duet is a first. On the Leland and Bram Inscore-assisted moving electro-pop ballad, Allie explained '[Love Me Wrong] is a song about being misunderstood by your family or loved ones.' "You know that they love you, but not for the full person you are. The relationship between a parent and child is so intense and layered, that it was liberating to put it into the simple phrase 'you love me wrong' and repeat it over and over in the chorus of this song."
Peeps, stop sleeping on her already!
'Racing Stripes' — Bombay Bicycle Club
The BBC boys slowed down from their usual energetic gear four to one for this airy sing-along number. Featuring vocals from British folk artist Billie Marten, the London alt-rock band's lament aura signifies a breakthrough in their sound. Frontman Jack Steadman explained, "It’s a good example of the emotional rollercoaster you go through [a writer's block]. I was like, this is it, I can’t do this any more, and then the next morning you’re like, ah, this is a really good song. The relief!"
While the accompanying music video reflects the winter season, the band's upcoming Everything Else Has Gone Wrong LP will surely fire up music festival crowds.
'Impatient' — Shye
Don't be fooled by the song's 8-bit Nintendo Tetris-esque dings and saccharine single cover. Its overall arrangement actually packs quite a punch. Recently opened for the gigs of indie-pop band Superorganism and American lo-fi bedroom-pop virtuoso Clairo, the 17-year-old Vans Musicians Wanted winner is not afraid to experiment with layered vocals and beats. Not walking on the conventional route does pay off.
If 'Momentary' and 'Impatient' can already command the attention of fickled listeners, high expectation is certain for Shye's debut EP and the way she'll conceptualise it. Definitely one of many to watch for in 2020.