Back at the turn of the half-year, I made a mix of some favourite tracks from the year so far. I posted it on Patreon, along with short write-ups of each track, but now that’s shut down I figured some of you might like to read/listen/tell me why I’m wrong. Enjoy!
ABOUT WORK THE DANCEFLOOR – GEORGIA
I’m a sucker for any music that sounds like a Eurovision runner-up from another universe, being picked up by a strangely-tuned radio. So “About Work the Dancefloor” is practically made to order, right down to that grammatically nonsensical title.
NAKED ALONE – L DEVINE, feat. INDIIA
Loneliness, horniness and self-love – ahhh, the Pop Music Holy Trinity.
WHEN I DIE – ALMA
Don’t get me wrong, I like Billie Eilish a lot, but this track is 100% nicking her spot on the playlist. A banger about imagining your own funeral, it’s that same strain of pop so jet-black it occasionally crosses the event horizon into novelty.
TEMPO – LIZZO, feat. MISSY ELLIOTT
Having squeezed every drop out of “Juice”, another representative from the Lizzo album (which I didn’t love quite as much as I wanted to, but I am so, so glad it’s successful). Let’s pick this one because of Missy, because of that opening Princely guitar screech, because “accessorary”, but most of all because it just goes hard.
HAPPY – JULIA MICHAELS
Who can resist a chorus that goes: “Sometimes I think I kill relationships for art/I pay my bills with it, I watch ’em fall apart”. I’m not even that kind of writer, most of the time, but… ouch.
RED BULL & HENNESSY – JENNY LEWIS
I don’t normally have much time for nostalgia, but “Red Bull & Hennessy” repackages a load of sounds from my Heart FM-infused childhood (most of them already decades out-of-date by the time they reached my ears) in a way that makes me think warmly of all those long drives home from the swimming baths, forgetting all the boredom and car sickness.
TOO MUCH – CARLY RAE JEPSEN
“When I party, then I party too much.” Carly Rae Jepsen writes a Taylor Swift song, catching Alex’s heart in the crossfire. “When I feel it, then I feel it too much.” In case it’s not completely transparent why I’d relate so hard: I wasn’t originally meant to be doing write-ups for this playlist. “When I’m thinking, then I’m thinking too much.” I worry I’m flattering myself, but there’s an unspoken conditional in there: if I’m not being too much, then I’m barely there at all. “When I’m drinking, then I’m drinking too much.”
TAPED – NAAZ
Let’s give someone else a turn at the confessional, eh? The way Naaz sings, and the way the track is constructed around it, feels like she’s using her music as an externalised nervous system.
IN MY BED – SABRINA CARPENTER
The Pop Music Holy Trinity, Part Two – with a beat that sounds like it was written as an Audiosurf course.
THE BEST – SELF ESTEEM
I’d listened to the Self Esteem album a dozen times before someone pointed out that this was a new alias for Her Out of Slow Club. I still can’t quite connect the two in my head. For all the flaws on show in the lyrics, I don’t hear any of that indie-folk baggage. Like the album cover, which I can’t help but see as a reworking of Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus”, Self Esteem sounds like a towering pop god, just sprung into glittering existence.