From Clean Bandit to Betty Who, via Iggy Azaela, Mary J Blige, Zara Larsson, Charli XCX and RuPaul, our music man, Conor Behan has a top notch bunch of tunes for you this month
Clean Bandit scored one of their biggest hits ever with ‘Rockabye’ and current tune, Symphony sounds like it could do equally well. Featuring Swedish pop star Zara Larsson (pictured above), it’s an infectious, uplifting dance-pop gem.
Iggy Azalea (pictured above) attempts to return yet again with would-be club banger Mo Bounce. It’s a pretty enjoyable party-starting tune but Azalea’s stilted flow stops it from becoming something truly enjoyable.
David Guetta, Nicki Minaj and Lil’ Wayne combine their star-power for Light My Body Up, an unusual but catchy mix of rap swagger, electronic production and a massive pop chorus.
Calvin Harris does star-studded too with Heatstroke, featuring Young Thug, Pharrell and Ariana Grande. With Harris bringing a low-slung soulful feel to his pop-dance production, this team-up is an effortless disco-tinged number that will soundtrack every party this summer.
Mary J Blige makes a stellar comeback on the Kaytranada-produced Love Yourself. Featuring a powerful verse from Kanye West, it’s still Blige who makes it her own.
Swedish star Zara Larsson has become a pop act to watch out for since she came to international prominence with ‘Lush Life’. Her international debut album, So Good arrives with plenty of expectation but sadly falls a little flat. Bar some strong singles, it’s a middling collection of generic pop R’n’B cuts.
Drake continues to be one of the most prolific people in music with the release of new project, More Life. Somewhere between a mixtape and a playlist, it still boasts sleek production, party jams and the usual existential ennui you’d expect from the lovelorn superstar.
The mixtape format suits Charli XCX too as she shines on Number 1 Angel. Chock full of quirky melodies, charm and surprising guest stars, it’s a strong affirmation of Charli’s star power.
A second album release in 2017 (with a third on the way) sees drag legend RuPaul serve some stellar new material. American is chock full of drag lingo, big hooks and even bigger attitude. The title track is Madonna-esque disco-pop while standout ‘Call Me Mother’ is a vogue ball ready house track with a far more foul-mouthed Ru than usual. ‘Hey Doll’ and ‘Hey Kitty Girl’ are slinky, bubblegum cuts not afraid to be too cheesy. Delivering such well-thought-out pop outside of the major label system is truly impressive and RuPaul does it with aplomb on this solid effort.
Underrated Aussie pop starlet Betty Who has built a cult following for her smart take on shiny dance pop. On second album The Valley, she finds an interesting balance between nostalgia-tinged pop and confessional songwriting. ‘Some Kinda Wonderful’ and ‘Free To Fly’ channel early naughties pop R’nB with aplomb, while ‘Human Touch’ rides the tropical-pop wave with buckets of charm. This unapologetically mainstream pop collection features a cohesion many bigger names would kill for. It’s an album that could soundtrack your summer to perfection.
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