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?

 

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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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Feed Limmy Songs of 2012: #20 – #11

At this point, y’all are probably thinking, ‘anything goes with this goddamn list.’

Songs of 2012: #20 - #11

I’ve tried really hard to suppress my delight in some of these songs because I know in my head, they’re probably non-events to the majority of you “discerning pop music listeners” but  under very inexplicable circumstances I’ve come to thoroughly enjoy the likes of Toni Braxton‘s barely-known dance single ‘I Heart You’ and even Melanie Amaro‘s saccharine uptempo ‘Don’t Fail Me Now’.

Not just enjoy. But I’ve kept each of these songs on repeat in all sorts of places – when I’m up in the gym, strutting down supermarket aisles, roaming the streets of Paris by myself. Everywhere.

Here are the tracks that reign in my Top 20 this year:

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Leak Report: The Saturdays ‘All Fired Up’

The British girlband that is coming forward stronger than ever might’ve just launched their most commercially viable single to date.

The Saturdays have long straddled the fine line of hits and misses with their three year discography. It has taken the public a while to figure out their signature sound but I think ‘Notorious’ solidified everything when it came out two months ago. You see, ‘Notorious’ had all the recognisable designs that were consistent with their back catalogue. Think: strut-worthy phosphorescent pop number with elements of R&B that recalls their finest singles ‘Up’ and ‘Higher’.

However, the brand new single ‘All Fired Up’ is switching gears, slamming the pedal down and accelerating the girls to a dance/pop lane. Sonically, this positions The Saturdays in the league of LMFAO and David Guetta etc. and it’s utterly hands-in-the-air Ibiza o’clock.

Take a listen to the track here and tell me what you think:

“I put my head to the speakers saying, DJ blow my mind!”

‘All Fired Up’ also marks The Saturdays‘ first collaboration with Xenomania – long-time hit maker for rival band Girls Aloud. It was also written by Space Cowboy (who worked with Lady Gaga circa The Fame) and upcoming British teen rapper/producer MNEK, so if it doesn’t sound distinctly like a Xenomania creation – you know why. Speaking of these ladies closing in on Girls Aloud, anything familiar about the above new promo shot?

My first impressions of the track are not necessarily one of extreme joy. Commercially, I can see this song working for The Saturdays because it sounds current and there’s an instantly club/radio-friendly feel to it, but the music and lyrics just don’t speak to me. Maybe it’s my overworked body speaking out after a night of clubbing but the overly familiar dance beats just don’t move me.

Footnotes:

The Saturdays will release ‘All Fired Up’ on 4 September. There’ll be a CD single, Maxi-CD version and also a vinyl single. What did we say about them coming club correct?