Feed Limmy Albums of 2018

I actually thought this might more straightforward than the ‘Songs of 2018‘ list since I haven’t listened to that many albums this year. Or so I thought. Perhaps it’s not necessarily true that I haven’t listened to that many albums. Music has never been more accessible to me ever. I tend to put on an album or a podcast episode when I’m engaged in a low-distraction task at home like cooking, cleaning or hanging the laundry. We are so spoilt in the streaming age – the convenience, the access, the sheer amount of material out every single week. It truly is overwhelming and hard to digest.

Over the past few years my listening pattern had changed. I absolutely relish in the control I have now as a consumer to be a complete master of my listening experience. I prefer to curate my own themed playlists which would soundtrack a myriad of moods and seasons (here’s my Spotify profile if you would like to peruse). I’d rather make my own ‘artist discography’ playlists rather than pass the hours with a prescribed set of songs picked out for me.

However, in the practice of me putting together my own playlists, I had come to really admire a well put-together body of work when I come across one. This list is more of 2018 honours list for bodies of work I have enjoyed. So in there will be a couple of mini-albums or EPs as well – whatever people wanted to call them. Here are 12 albums/EPs I have really enjoyed and connected with in 2018…

#12 – Charlie Puth “Voicenotes”

Literally no one I know listens to Charlie Puth. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him mentioned in my feed. Nothing. Therefore, I have zero self-awareness about liking his voice and his album. Basically, I went through this one week earlier this year where I was listening to a New York Times Popcast episode about Charlie and his Voicenotes album and then went to check it out and was surprised that I didn’t completely dislike it. Voicenotes dazzled me in the way Bruno Mars’ first album did back in the day. It’s a complete candyland of 80s/90s R&B influences without crossing over into pastiche, the silky vocals and youthful confidence is truly Charlie’s biggest drawing card. He, as I discovered, isn’t just a remarkable vocalist but also a brilliant producer, which really reflects in this album.

Key tracks: ‘Attention’, ‘Done for Me’ (feat Kehlani), ‘Slow It Down’

#11 – Years & Years “Palo Santo”

I distinctly remember getting butterflies halfway through my first listen of this album. It hit me that Olly Alexander and Years & Years would have been my teenage self’s absolute everything. Imagine what life would’ve been like as a young queer person and seeing Years & Years on primetime telly and playing big festivals. Palo Santo is nothing if not a collection of poems delicately wrapped in layers of electronic pop production that never try to outdo the heart of each song. In the centre is a rawness and vulnerabilty that draws you in to unpack more with each listen. Even now, I don’t feel I’ve fully gotten to the core of Palo Santo yet but I’m not in a rush. In an age of instant gratification maybe this is the kind of slow burn we need.

Key tracks: ‘All For You’, ‘Hypnotised’, ‘Hallelujah’, ‘Sanctify’

#10 – Troye Sivan “Bloom”

Bloom is such a gorgeous, highly stylised coming-of-age album that falls somewhere between soundtracking a Dolce & Gabbana citrusy-sea breeze fragrance commercial and an arthouse LGBT teen film. The charm is in the effortlessness of this – the unhurried pace, Troye’s chilled vocal delivery, and the themes of self-discovery. You walk around town on a quiet Sunday afternoon in spring with this in your headphones and I guarantee you’ll feel like you’re in an indie film.

Key tracks: ‘Seventeen’, ‘Bloom’, ‘My My My!’, ‘Dance to This’ (feat. Ariana Grande)

#9 – Ray BLK “Empress”

I’ve long been a fan of Ray since her 2016 Durt EP. She truly is a South London gem that should be appreciated and protected at all costs. Through her work you can see how she has grown as an artist and writer but I love that she has never wavered from her commitment to telling her story and painting you a picture of life in her community. The parallels to Ms Dynamite’s work is an obvious one. Let me just say, Ms Dynamite’s 2002 debut album holds such a special place in my heart. Even to this day, listening to ‘Brother’ would get me in my feelings. ‘Mama’ on Ray’s “Empress” EP brought that same feeling back around and I was listening to this for the first time while I was doing a food shop in Tesco and had to blink away the tears. At the same time, it made me smile that she did a rap from her mum’s perspective. My favourite line from the “Empress” EP is in ‘Got My Own’ where Ray’s doing a tongue-in-cheek flex about how much money she’s got and she’s treating her mum etc… and suddenly she adds, “I’ll get that pack of fizzy water, don’t use that tap no more – do I look like a buster?”. I mean, that is truly when you know you’ve fucking made it. When you’re buying sparkling water and you don’t have to entertain tap water any more.

Key tracks: ‘Mama’, ‘Run Run’, ‘Empress’, ‘Got My Own’

#8 – Kate Stewart “In The Beginning”

I just knew immediately after hearing ‘He’s Good’ that I was going to love this new incarnation of Kate Stewart (the artist formerly known as K Stewart). This was a proper 90s/00s pop R&B affair. This one’s for anyone who’s a fan of Mariah, JoJo, Samantha Jade etc. It’s pristine vocals and I mean proper vocal vocals. It is vibes. It is emotions. Nobody else is doing shit like this right now and the fact is not anybody can walk up and do this like Kate’s done it. This body of work needs to be celebrated. I can imagine her getting out to Asia performing there, and this just blowing up absolutely in every country. Vocal royalty needs to be treated as such.

Key tracks: ‘He’s Good’, ‘Distraction’, ‘Loving You’.

#7 – SUMNI “Warning”

This will be the only K-pop album/mini-album you’ll find on here this year even though Spotify Wrapped 2018 will let us know that my Top 5 tracks of the year were all K-pop bops. My low-key obsession with SUNMI (formerly of the legendary Wonder Girls) this year literally came out of nowhere. Even though she had been in the public eye for over 10 years, I had no knowledge of her until this era. Between Wonder Girls and her relaunching as a solo popstar (she had a solo EP in 2014), SUNMI tapped into a new performance style that was a little odder, for lack of better words. It was less preoccupied with the K-pop female idol archetypes of being cute or overtly sexy but rather this character was more standoffish and cold, and it really suited her.

Warning the mini-album is a collection of songs crafted around this newfound persona. Opening with ‘ADDICT’ (sung completely in English), SUNMI invites you into the world of this femme fatale rhetorically asking “Who’s running the show?”. ‘Siren‘ – which could be taken as either the bewitching folklore character that drew seamen to their doom, or a literal alarm – is ball-busting 80s disco romp warning lovers not to get attached because she will not emote or empathise even if they’re crying. In its corner are the singles ‘Gashina‘ (a post-tropical house banger about a woman scorned) and ‘Heroine‘ (a pantomime bop about a love-hate relationship where she lets her man go on acting like he’s her ‘saviour’). ‘Black Pearl’ is a gorgeous gem with its surprising sax solo and sultry demeanour. Overall, if you’re after a theatrical female K-pop project that has slightly more class and quirk to it, I’d recommend SUMNI and don’t forget to turn on the subtitles for her music videos.

Key tracks: ‘Siren’, ‘Gashina’, ‘Heroine’, ‘Black Pearl’

#6 – Robyn “Honey”

We’ve waited a really fucking long time for a Robyn album and this thankfully hit the mark for me. Although it wasn’t as generous of a classic as Body Talk was, this was a natural next step for her – and I got just as much out of it. I found myself walking alongside Honey like Robyn and I had never missed a beat. I realised I never really appreciated the warmth and knowingness in Robyn’s vocals until this album. She laid the sonic blueprint out for all her pop predecessors over the last 10 years to adapt but in all the love I have for these Robyn-inspired records, nothing felt like home like Honey.

Key tracks: ‘Honey’, ‘Send to Robin Immediately’. ‘Missing U’, ‘Because It’s In The Music’.

#5 – MNEK “Language”

I know that Uzo is a student of Mariah and Janet like I am. I know that he understands the magic in creating a body of work that takes people on a journey, bonded with interludes etc. Language is truly best experienced as a whole from start to finish, with its various chapters. This is an unapologetically queer album written from a young black man’s perspective but overall, the themes are pretty universal – ‘Tongue’ tackles infatuation, ‘Girlfriend’ addresses a secret affair with a closeted man (OK maybe not that universal), ‘Phone’ vexes over trying to get over an ex that won’t stop getting in touch.

Key tracks: ‘Girlfriend’, ‘Tongue’, ‘Correct’, ‘Honeymoon Phaze’, ‘Paradise’

#4 – Kali Uchis “Isolation”

I’m still not sure exactly what a Kali Uchis is but what I know is when I randomly played her Isolation album, I knew this was one of the best albums I’ve heard this year. The Colombian-Amerian artist created her own vortex of Winehouse-esque soul, pop, reggaeton, R&B, and funk – and I’m living for it. It’s sort of retro in a Latina Lana Del Rey kind of way but still incredibly modern in its approach and fusion.

Key tracks: ‘Dead to Me’, ‘Body Language’, ‘Tyrant’ (feat. Jorja Smith), ‘Just A Stranger’ (feat. Steve Lacy’),  ‘After The Storm’ feat. Tyler The Creator and Bootsy Collins).

#3 – Kacey Musgraves “Golden Hour”

This is my gardening album of 2018 and it means a great deal lot to me. Whenever I’d be in my backyard weeding or planting or tidying up, I’d have this album on. As far as modern country records go, this does a great job of reaching out to the pop audience without losing its identity. Tracks like ‘Slow Burn’, ‘Lonely Weekend’, ‘Happy & Sad’ have been really comforting whenever I’ve been alone.

Key tracks; ‘High Horse’, ‘Lonely Weekend’, ‘Happy & Sad’, ‘Slow Burn’.

#2 – Mariah Carey “Caution”

As any Lamb would tell you, this truly is a brilliant Mariah Carey album for 2018. A solid R&B body of work that doffs its hat to her musicality without dating her. She may be known worldwide for her multi-octave range, whistle notes and big belting finales but in Caution she strips it all back to show that she doesn’t have to showboat to get your attention. The Blood Orange collab ‘Giving Me Life’ is a mood and a moment – slotting beautifully in with some of her fan favourites ‘The Roof’, ‘Babydoll’ and ‘Lullaby’. ‘A No No’ is a classic showcase of Mariah’s wits and sharp lyricism, “Snakes in the grass, it’s time to cut the lawn / Ed Scissorhands aka I cut you off”. If you don’t know, you better know.

Key tracks: ‘A No No’, Giving Me Life’, ‘The Distance’, ‘Portrait’.

#1 – Janelle Monáe “Dirty Computer”

What a masterpiece of a concept album. What a masterpiece of an album about womanhood, queerness and breaking free of societal expectations. It is proud, political, angry, sincere and sensual all at the same time. The spirit of Prince is more than alive here, especially in ‘Make Me Feel’ and in the hedonistic ‘Screwed’ and ‘Crazy Classic Life’. ‘Pynk’ and ‘Django Jane’ are a celebration of female sexuality and liberation. It’s hard to think of a feminist body of work more significant, intelligent and truly aurally pleasurable than this in recent years.

Follow me on Twitter @feedlimmy / Instagram @lovelimmy

And my 2000s pop podcast Right Back At Ya! – @rightbackpod

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/right-back-at-ya/id1384164995?mt=2

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/0XLneIjlau2BxFZcTecdP6?si=xn7p0mkiQWSDNI0rKm6zUg

Feed Limmy Songs of 2018

Guess, what? It’s another year-end list. 2018 overall has been a year spent in deep infatuation with female K-pop stars. I’ve been saying for the past few years that Western pop hasn’t really been hitting the spot for me in the way their South Korean counterparts are. The melodies, the juxtaposition of genres and styles, and above all, the commitment to serving full-blown productions. We’re talking music videos, live performances, styling, choreography. Everything is just an experience.

For the first time ever, my Top 5 most played songs of the year on Spotify were occupied exclusively by K-pop tracks. There were three BLACKPINK tracks (‘DDU-DU DDU-DU’, ‘As If It’s Your Last’ and ‘Forever Young’) and two SUNMI singles: ‘Siren’ and ‘Heroine’ – the latter was my most played song. I mean, I was definitely obsessed with it at the time of release. I must’ve had it on repeat for two weeks straight for it to come out on top of the list.

My Songs of 2018 isn’t made up of what I’ve listened to the most but more of a combination of what I’ve definitely been obsessed with and songs that I felt have definitely been MOMENTS this year. So here are 25 tracks that have stood out for me…

#25 – joan ‘Tokyo’

It’s not like me to really listen to male artists but this indie-pop duo from Arkansas is really doing it with their swirl of nostalgic 80s synths and sentimental lyrics. They sound like sweet boys who wear beanies in summer and make music in their parents’ basements, all around them are takeaway containers where veggie dumplings and ramen used to be. I hope they get more mainstream attention in 2019.

#24 – Amy Shark ‘I Said Hi’

I feel a bit guilty for not staying in touch with what’s happening with pop back home in Australia. Every now and then a really cool name would show up on Idolator or a Spotify playlist like Tkay Maidza, Jess Kent or Nicole Millar and I’d get that mix of excitement and FOMO. Amy Shark is a singer-songwriter from the Gold Coast signed to Sony who is enjoying great success this year with her debut album. This moody little single ‘I Said Hi’ caught my attention immediately with its new-gen Avril vibes and candid lyrics about how lonely it gets when you’re chasing your dream.

#23 – Cher Lloyd ‘None of My Business’

I’m gonna sing Cher Lloyd by… Cher Lloyd. What a tidy little comeback from one of my favourite ever X Factor breakout stars. There is definitely a certain kind of fondness for Cher Lloyd amongst gay men of our generation and it’s really heartwarming. ‘None of My Business’ does a wonderful job of bridging what’s great about 2018 pop with what we loved about her in the early years. With these nursery rhyme-like melodies and lyrics that pack a fistful of attitude, this feels like a classic Cher Lloyd record but with a bit more grace. The smirk and eye-rolls are still there, trust, but she’s maybe a little less bothered and little less OTT about it these days.

#22 – Shawn Mendes ‘Lost in Japan’

I can pick Shawn Mendes out from a crowd of a thousand but I couldn’t sing you a single one of his songs. No ma’am. ‘Lost in Japan’ was something of a surprise for me. It may not be innovative by any means from what he normally does but young man, slap on a mischievous funk bass line and some winking emoji lyrics about a rendezvous, and I’m on the first Easyjet over.

#21 – Charli XCX ‘No Angel’

I think cerebrally I’ve always known Charli XCX to be a highly honourable purveyor of pop but I’ve never accepted her into my heart until maybe the last few months. I think there are times where she is over-hyped, for instance, I don’t think all that screaming and shouting on Twitter was warranted for something like POP2. There are definite moments, please don’t get me wrong. But let’s address it for what it is… moments. The singles Charlotte brought us this year – ‘Girls Night Out’, the double A-side ‘Focus’ and ‘No Angel’, and ‘1999’ (more on this later) – really turned me around. She would be the popstar of my dreams if I were a teenager in 2018. ‘No Angel’ very marginally took the spotlight from ‘Focus’ for me purely because I’m really into this gyrating, robo-reggae rhythm and the earnest lyrics about self-redemption.

#20 – BLACKPINK ‘See U Later’

The amount of times I have strutted out of the office with this turned up loud. What BLACKPINK really do well is that feisty, ice-cold princess gig. You can tell there is vulnerability in there somewhere but they would never wait around long enough for you to figure it out. ‘See U Later’ is a brilliant kiss-off track with a few peppery lines (in English) that’ll stay on your tongue long after they’re gone. “See you later… maybe never?????”

#19 – Clean Bandit feat. Demi Lovato ‘Solo’

It’s hard to take in that Clean Bandit is one of Britain’s most significant pop groups at the moment… but the charts and streaming numbers don’t lie. It’s even harder to deny them this when they’re dropping precise, radio-ravaging candy like this so consistently. Where years ago I was banging on about how ‘crying at the disco’ was my favourite sub-genre, nowadays, sad bangers are ruling the charts. ‘Solo’ somehow manages to become something enjoyable you’d blast on Greek island getaway with your mates and also something you’d crank up when you’re post-break up bruised and finding yourself home alone with a £6.99 bottle of Malbec.

#18 – Rina Sawayama ‘Cherry’

I have been excited about the prospect of popstar Rina Sawayama ever since ‘Cyber Stockholm Syndrome’ and ‘Alterlife’. I completely appreciate her perspective of 00s pop R&B through a 2018 Dazed/i-D reader lens. ‘Cherry’ with its blossoming chorus and stunning music video with choreography and a restraint, high fashion statement completely did it for me. Similar to Charli, Rina would be the kind of popstar a teenage me in 2018 would be completely and utterly obsessed with. She represents the dream.

#17 – Kacey Musgraves ‘High Horse’

Just as it was for many pop gays, Kacey Musgraves and her Golden Hour album was an amazing discovery for me. It seems like the time is right for a new country crossover queen to emerge and Kacey did so with such elegance with this gentle, glittery disco-Nashville number. Not for a moment did it feel like she was over reaching or trying too hard, which made her all the more appealing to the pop community. More on Kacey when I do my albums of the year list.

#16 – Charlie Puth feat. Kehlani ‘Done for Me’

It wasn’t until I listened to an episode of the New York Times Popcast discussing Charlie Puth that I really had to give it up to him. I can’t think of a male vocalist since Adam Lambert (and going even further back, Darren Hayes) that has really impressed me like Charlie has. ‘Done For Me’ – with Kehlani – is him finally becoming cool, I think.

#15 – MNEK ‘Tongue’

I could not be happier for Uzo because 2018 really saw him come out and deliver A-grade live performances with choreography and not to mention, one of the best albums with Language. The more I listen to ‘Tongue’ to more I get to savour the layers and dimensions to it. In the first listen, you clasp the monotonous spoken-word chorus over strutting club beats, but then the layers of harmonies wrapped around the verses and all the ad-libs come to the forefront. It’s genius work.

#14 – Ariana Grande ‘God is a woman’

It’s hard to discuss the world’s biggest popstar because everything astute and thoughtful there is to be said about her musicality – especially in the Sweetener era – has been articulated by critics and people with far more intelligence than me. But when it’s all said and done, ‘God is a woman’ is a completely spellbinding, slow-burner that seemingly plays to a cool, shadowy sensuality but, in actual fact, is a remarkably produced Max Martin-aided bop that has multiple levels to it.

#13 – Janelle Monae ‘Make Me Feel’

This Prince-gleaning neon-funk bop is just absolutely one of the most pleasurable music moments for me this year. As a long time admirer of Janelle Monae (she shook my world with the ‘Many Moons’ video and Metropolis: The Chase Suite EP and I’d been on board ever since), this more brazen and sexually-liberated Janelle was a welcomed surprise.

#12 – Kylie Minogue ‘Dancing’

Kylie is one of my favourite artists of all time. I would maybe even go as far as saying absolute favourite. It’s a little known fact that even people closest to me don’t know about. Any kind of reservation I might’ve had about the pop grand dame embracing country music was quickly hushed when ‘Dancing’ came out. While Golden might not have completely done it for me (I actually think it would’ve sounded better if she had given us a straight up country pop record without all the unnecessary electronic-pop flourishes in some tracks), I embrace moments like ‘Dancing’, ‘Radio On’ and ‘Sincerely Yours’. Kylie is the ultimate queen of melancholy, brightly-coloured pop and she has done this oh so subtly throughout her career. Check ‘I Should Be So Lucky’, ‘Hand On Your Heart’, ‘Never Too Late’, ‘All The Lovers’, ‘Into The Blue’ etc. The double entendre of “when I go out, I wanna go out dancing” will never not get me. Play this at my funeral.

#11 – Louisa feat. 2 Chainz ‘YES’

This second coming of Christina Aguilera’s ‘Dirrty’ absolutely sent for me. There are moments in these troubled times where a really fun pop banger comes around that doesn’t necessarily align with whatever Capital or Radio 1 is playlisting but that’s not to say it doesn’t deserve a moment. With all the nostalgia for the 00s going around at the moment, it is possible that Louisa might’ve been a little ahead of the curve with this one. I think had she had the chance to deliver an A-grade pop performance on TV with a big troupe of dancers and an image/styling that blatantly reeked of throwback 00s vibes, like what Charli XCX’s playing at with ‘1999’, perhaps this would’ve fared better.

#10 – Charli XCX feat. Troye Sivan ‘1999’

This is just a straight-up confetti-blasting throwback bop and I’m so happy for Charlotte that she’s clocking up radio airplays with it. I think in this day and age we can be too #woke and overthink one’s approach to pop when really, we’re forgetting the importance of having fun and keeping it simple. It’s a shitty world out there – we got Brexit, we got Trump, we got drones fucking grounding our flights… let’s go back to a time where things appear to be simpler and better. Nothing airbrushes the past better than nostalgia. I’m living for Charli XCX giving us the fast-food equivalent in music. Absolutely brilliant escapist pop.

#9 – Ariana Grande ‘no tears left to cry’

This is admittedly a strange pop record and yet everything about it just works. In here we have elements of garage beats layered with stabbing synths and Ariana’s angelic vocals that switch from grand sweeping notes to kittenish semi-spoken word lines. There is a persistent tide of optimism in ‘no tears left to cry’ that doesn’t try to sweep the sadness under a rug but rather bring it to the light and live alongside it. This in itself is a life lesson.

#8 – Normani x Calvin Harris ‘Checklist’ (feat. Wizkid)

This Afrobeat-influenced Top 40 dance pop banger was all kinds of exciting for me from the moment it dropped. Normani is very much on her way to becoming the next big breakout star and I’m sure she is going to move mountains in 2019. The strategic move of aligning with credible and established collaborators like Khalid, Calvin Harris and Wizkid to introduce her as a solo star is very astute but it’s her fiery delivery on ‘Checklist’ that really made me sit up. Her ability to embody this jam with a swagger and accent that isn’t necessarily native to her tells me she is a performer to be reckoned with.

#7 – Rita Ora ‘Let You Love Me’

This song stabbed me in the heart and drained the blood from my veins within the first minute. Atlantic Records-era Rita Ora has been delivering hits after hits and I was well on the ride, but it wasn’t until they delivered a nerve-damaging emotional bop like this that I knew I had to take a breather. The song’s sentiments about self-sabotaging and fear of intimacy spoke to me in ways I didn’t expect to be spoken to.

#6 – Kim Petras ‘Heart to Break’

This song has been pure joy for me and will always remind me of the summer of 2018. I have the pleasure of working with Kim and to have spent a bit of time with her when she came over to the UK to play her first sold-out headline show. I think in her I saw someone who was not only a formidable songwriter and vocalist but a true scholar of pop music, someone who deeply understood Britney, Gwen Stefani and Madonna references (and everything else in between). Above it all, I was drawn to her feverish commitment to making escapist pop – not just for us but for her – in the face of whatever the real world was throwing our way.

#5 – Toni Braxton ‘Long As I Live’

Toni Michelle Braxton has no right barging into 2018 with a lush, modern day R&B classic like this. We are complete undeserving. ‘Long As I Live’ – with its pulsating rhythms and nocturnal piano-synths – sound like something evocative of a 90s Babyface LP and no less, with Toni’s timeless, quivering aching vocals. I’d even go as far as saying this is the best Toni Braxton song we’ve had this decade.

#4 – Ariana Grande ‘breathin’

This song has low-key been such a meaningful soundtrack for me personally. The arrival of ‘breathin’ coincided with me learning to take better care of myself this year. Year after year I do these lists and towards the top end of the list, I usually find songs that have resonated with a fragile or complicated part of my life. And I guess this is no different.

#3 – Calvin Harris feat. Dua Lipa ‘One Kiss’

This was the song of summer 2018 for me. You’d be in a park with mates, nursing a cider, and hear this tune coming out of a tinny portable speaker. With Dua Lipa emerging as the UK’s biggest female pop entity of the minute, teaming up with dance music supremo Calvin Harris who was suddenly circling back to house music… ‘One Kiss’ kinda feels like a modern day classic that has always been around.

#2 – BLACKPINK ‘DDU-DU DDU-DU’

BLACKPINK was such a dominating pop force in my life this year. This YG-managed girl group, initially hailed as the second coming of 2NE1, slowly but surely got me stanning. Even though ‘DDU-DU DDU-DU’ sounds like something from about four years ago with its garish EDM drops, the blockbuster music video and BLACKPINK’s utter commitment to nailing every live performance sparked an excitement that caught fire in me and in fans worldwide. Without me realising, they had become one of my favourite girl groups alongside Girls Aloud, Sugababes, Spice Girls, 2NE1 etc. With BTS blowing the gates open with K-pop presence in Western media, I can only hope that by this time next year we’d all be on the BLACKPINK fandom.

#1 – SUNMI ‘Siren’

This has to be #1 for me. I’ve had this on repeat for months and I still can’t get over it. Ex-Wonder Girl SUNMI got my attention last year when she made her solo comeback with ‘Gashina’ which was one of my Songs of 2017. What really drew me in was SUNMI’s unconventional performance style in this era and she absolutely sunk her teeth into ‘Siren’ (just watch the music video). The high drama in this throbbing 80s disco-pop banger, which hears her cut down an eager lover from going further with her emotionally unavailable self, is absolutely bad-ass in every sense.

Listen to my Songs of 2018 playlist on Spotify here:

Follow me on Twitter @feedlimmy / Instagram @lovelimmy

And my 2000s pop podcast Right Back At Ya! – @rightbackpod

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/right-back-at-ya/id1384164995?mt=2

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/0XLneIjlau2BxFZcTecdP6?si=xn7p0mkiQWSDNI0rKm6zUg

 

 

 

 

Some Predictions for The State of Pop in 2017

It’s that one time of the year where I trawl Chinese horoscope and astrology sites to see what my fate and fortune holds for the year – and then invariably forget about them by lunchtime.

It’s no different in the music world with predictions flowing in from industry types now on the impact of streaming and how it’s changing the whole music business, and hot-takes from tastemakers about what the top trends and ‘sounds’ of 2017 will be. Now that streaming is king and the consumer’s attention span is getting shorter and shorter, how will this affect the way hitmakers create songs? It’s a good time for jingle writers… that’s all I can say!

The music industry is a fascinating beast because at the heart of it, music is such a huge part of our personal life and our culture, but at the same time the business itself is constantly bending and adapting to challenges posed by tech and consumers’ changing behaviours. It’s amazing to observe and be a part of.

Here’s basically how I see it for us in 2017.

Sound of the underground: sombre vibes and alternative sounds to the front

Pure pop is over – or at least, it’s taking a backseat. I was listening to my RedOne playlist on the way home from work this week and it really hit me that the optimistic and hopeful days under Obama’s ruling, which saw RedOne, Dr Luke and will.i.am‘s party rocking pop to flourish has well and truly passed.

As I highlighted last year in reference to Tove Lo and Alicia Keys‘ new albums, in this time of great divide and political unrest triggered by Brexit and Trump’s America, people are looking for something real to connect with. So for me, 2017 is going to see the re-emergence of ‘realer’, more left-field sounding music and harder-edged sounds. Hip hop, grime, neo-soul, indie and icy, moody electro-pop will make a deep impact. Pop as always will evolve to adopt these genres’ qualities. When Evanescence and Linkin Park were really huge… so was rock-tinged pop in the shape of Avril, Kelly Clarkson and P!nk.

Pop in 2017 will feel more urban yet minimalist. Gone are the ostentatious big bubblegum melodies, thrashing synths and excessive productions of ‘Till The World Ends’, and in comes something a bit more sombre, stripped back and bootleg – it’ll be most noticeable in dance music. Vocals and songwriting with earthy qualities of soul and indie-folk music will be highly sought after. Simplistic, effortlessly chic styling and 90s streetwear influences will become your main popstar looks. It’ll be less about the glamour and flashiness in pop, but more about ‘what have you got to say for yourself’, ‘what is your message?‘ and ‘what do you stand for?’. More so than ever the empowered and free-thinking popstar with attitude is needed, so look at the likes of Zara Larsson, Anne-Marie etc.

I’m also throwing all my love to South London R&B/hip  singer Ray BLK (pictured above), who I first came across when I worked on the MOBO Awards last year. Her seven-track debut Durt is incredible, I will say it again. This week we found out she won the BBC’s prestigious Sound of 2017 so I’m totally looking forward to all the great things she’ll be doing and – hopefully – prolonged industry support she will also receive this year.

Check out her incredible freestyle track ‘Patience’:

 

Nostalgic re-issues of classic, 90s albums on vinyl will be a thing.

News broke this week that in 2016 vinyl sales were at a 25-year high, which is pretty incredible but also very telling looking at the top vinyl sellers itself. It’s dripping with nostalgia and a haven for legendary musicians – dead or alive – with die-hard fans.

I’m not surprised that in 2017 – as my generation gets a bit older, more nostalgic for our teens and perhaps even start getting into serious record collecting – we will see re-issues of massive pop albums by our childhood faves like George Michael, Spice Girls, Backstreet Boys, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, Shania Twain, Alanis Morrisette, Destiny’s Child etc.

We’ve seen Kylie‘s Stock Aitken and Waterman back catalogue re-issued with great finesse, featuring comprehensive biogs and thorough assembly of recorded material. Why can’t the same be done with the aforementioned artists? I’d imagine they’d be snapped up pretty quickly by sentimental fans, which is all of us. Imagine if Britney did the same with unreleased tracks, demos, rare b-sides and unseen photos and videos?!

Expect unexpected collaborations

Start the year as you intend to go on… and topping the UK singles chart (for the ninth consecutive week) is Clean Bandit featuring Anne-Marie and Sean Paul‘s ‘Rockabye’, an infuriatingly infectious hybrid of dance music with pop and reggae, created by a classical crossover band, a rising popstar with plenty of Essex swagger and charm, and a Jamaican rapper. Brilliant!

In 2017 we’ll see genres continuing to erode and meeting of vibes will be king. We’ve already seen pop songwriter and bonafide British girlband royalty Nicola Roberts co-writing songs for alt-R&B siren Tinashe (that’s Tinasha, if you’re Britney) and K-pop siren TIFFANY from Girls’ Generation (pictured above) last year. Sam Hunt, an American country singer with the classic Abercrombie college jock looks, who is sings and rap and is probably closer related sonically to Drake than Keith Urban. It probably won’t be long until grime weaves its way into K-pop too. I’m seeing all these grime artists already touring internationally to places like Australia where I really didn’t think it would be a thing.

Albums I’m looking forward to in 2017? 

Zara Larsson, MNEK, Rita OraDua LipaChristina Aguilera, FergieBritneyLorde. I was gonna say Mutya Keisha Siobhan/Sugababes for the third year running or something but then I thought, best leave this open wound to heal, yeah?

ICYMI – here are my 40 Favourite Songs of 2016. Why don’t you tell me about your favourite moments in Mariah’s World here at @feedlimmy?

 

Neon Jungle “Welcome to The Jungle” Album Review

I don’t know if I’ve made enough noise about Neon Jungle but I’ve been anticipating their debut album all year. So much so that I had to take a moment to pause before I streamed it earlier this week. Y’know, just to prepare myself in case I’m disappointed.

NEON JUNGLE ALBUM

These girls are giving me everything I want in a female pop group right now. They seem to have the whole package: edgy streetwise styling, a fierce pop sound and better yet, three Top 10 hits in the last seven months.

But whatever, that’s all well and good, but can this manufactured girl band turn the party with their first full length album?

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Gorgon City feat. Laura Welsh ‘Here For You’

North London electronica duo Gorgon City returns with ‘Here For You’, a sweet deep house number that picks up nicely from where they left us with their UK #4 hit Ready for Your Love.

Gorgon City Here With You Single

Laura Welsh’s soulful vocals bring a certain Sunday morning warmth to the 90s-inspired dance beats, rendering the song with a quality of being both suitable for clubs and the bleary-eyed ride home in the early AM.

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Introducing: Javeon

Bristol artist Javeon is shaping up to be the next big charge in the electro-soul game.

JAVEON

The rising star brings a sophisticated balance of warm, soulful vocals and crystalline electronic beats. Stylistically, he is on the same futuristic Britstep trajectory that Disclosure has successfully steered into the mainstream.

In fact, Javeon hails from PMR, the same label as Disclosure and similar ‘it’ UK artists of the moment like Jessie Ware and Cyril Hahn. He also drops guest vocals on an amazing new Clean Bandit album track titled ‘Cologne’. So basically, you’re gonna hear more from him.

Vocally, Javeon – with his honeyed tones that recall Lemar or R Kelly – could probably sing anything from Motown to modern R&B, and make it sound like gold. He is capable of making your headphones moist even when he’s singing brutally honest tunes.

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Kylie Minogue “Kiss Me Once”

The boss of glitter-bomb pop, Kylie Minogue, returns with a euphoric album that glistens with her signature tuneful dance music style.

Kylie Minogue Kiss Me Once album cover

Kiss Me Once arrives four years after Kylie‘s last album of originals, enough time in pop years for a whole generation to saunter past and not Google her. Despite the nagging paranoia from fans after she signed to Roc Nation management, Kylie‘s new album remains ever so true to the impossible princess’s brand.

It’s bright, it’s melodic and it’s sophisticated in a way you would expect from a seasoned performer of Minogue’s calibre.

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