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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Limmy’s Hot Take: Tove Lo’s sweariness, Destiny’s Child “reunion” and Paulini on The Bodyguard

This week on Limmy’s Hot Take, while you embark on the annual adventure of reaching into the back of your closet to fish out that Poundland shake-and-go wig that looks like it should be read its last rites but is still holding on to some fake blood from three Halloweens ago, we are recapping shit that went down in pop.

Some people can’t help but notice there is swearing and real shit going on in Tove Lo’s new album.

The Guardian summarises in the title of their review: “Joyful sexual liberation and lots of swearing”. The Evening Standard muses, “could do with fewer F-words and more bulls-eye choruses”. “Once more, she flaunts words that would be bleeped on the radio,” pointed out the New York Times. “There’s one in the first line of the album’s opening song”, the reviewer gasped. Blimey! Won’t somebody think of the children?

I mean, you’d think they were clutching their pearls at some BBC children’s show presenter, but no, this is Swedish pop sensation Tove Lo who has made her mark for being wonderfully real and uncensored about sex, drugs and fuck-ups in irresistible electro pop feasts. Where she comes from, they don’t censor nudity or swearing on television. The realism and emotional honesty she bares in her work continues to make some people slightly uncomfortable – and dare I say, I’m slightly more intrigued by that than this album.

“We’re so terrified of emotions,” she tells GQ. “We live on top of each other in cities like this [The chat took place in New York but you get the picture]. We all make ourselves smaller so that we don’t annoy each other. You can say ‘Oh, we’re being respectful of each other’ but why is it so? ‘Don’t laugh too loud. Don’t lash out. Don’t be angry. Don’t be sad.’ I think it hurts us. I think it makes us sick, really. To be able to have your lash-outs or crying, being an emotional person, that’s what a real, strong person is.”

I think we’re entering a new phase in the pop cycle right now and 2017 is going to look a whole lot more like Tove Lo than you’d think. Not saying swapping ‘O’s for vaginas on album covers are gonna be the new thing, but more like, we’re gonna experience more realism and rawness in mainstream art, and it’s not just because we’re in a post-Lemonade world. People are going to respond more to records that are honest, that reflect the pain and confusion they’re trying to calmly mask while they carry on their 9-to-5. We’re in a bit of a shitty place right now – there is a lot uncertainty particularly with people in our generation, Brexit is looming, there is financial turmoil and a tide turning with conservatism.

And that was probably a touch too deep for a Saturday afternoon from someone who wrote about Little Mix last week, but if I haven’t lost you…

 

Destiny’s Child is officially on Instagram and people are losing their shit

For some reason, there is now a verified Destiny’s Child Instagram account and people, INCLUDING MYSELF, are getting flustered at the slight chance of a reunion. Beyoncé’s is probably thinking, ‘I did not sign off on this. Who let my father on Instagram?’.

Honestly, whatever reunion there is will probably never happen on the scale we want (album of new material, world tour, HBO documentary, another McDonald’s advert, merch, line of wigs) but, like, there’s probably some contractually-obligated ‘best of’ in the pipeline.

If we had a brand new Destiny’s Child single, it better be a sultry, urban low-key banger in the vein of Tinashe/DJ Mustard production/’Motivation’-meets-‘Drunk in Love’-meets-‘2 On’.

 

Paulini is doing The Bodyguard Musical in Australia!

The musical theatre production has already done wonders for reviving Beverley Knight and Alexandra Burke’s careers here in the UK, so I’m bloody excited to see what it’s going to do for Paulini.

I mean, I really hope Australia gets behind our girl in this exciting new role, but not so much that it gives her the courage to release some strawberry daiquiri Eurodance covers album of Whitney’s hits. We mustn’t let it go to her head because, remember, somebody let this happen.

 

Top tunes of the week

Ray BLK ‘Baby Girlz’

South London singer-rapper Ray BLK is 100% compulsory listening for every single one of you. I was immediately won over when I heard her singles ‘My Hood’ with Stormzy and ‘Chill Out’. Her seven-track album Durt, which hears her pair velvety vocals that would sound at home on American urban music airwaves with truthful lyrics about her life, relationships and struggles in London, is my favourite new release this week.

‘Baby Girlz’ sets the scene telling a story of a girl named ‘Keisha’ who fell pregnant in her teens and turns into a wider commentary on the cycle of hardship Ray sees in her community.

“You know the Tories wanna trap you in the cycle, either you’re carrying a baby or got a rifle. And you know the streets always looking for disciples to follow the roads and have your growth stifled.”

 

 

Ralph ‘Busy Man’

Rocking a slightly more laid-back groove this time is electropop chanteuse Ralph, who of course dazzled us all with the rather brilliant ‘Cold to The Touch’. There is something quite alluring about her desire and steely determination to get her message through to this bloke. I can imagine myself trying to slow dance my way out of the Friend Zone with this one.

 

Alex Maxwell ‘Ghost’

London alt-pop singer songwriter Alex Maxwell is giving me throwback to the dreamy 90s psychedelica of Mazzy Star here with ‘Ghost’. It’s totally one for laying on the grass in the countryside with a joint, definitely not wearing a flower crown because that shit is lame, and staring at the stars. The track, which Alex co-wrote with Carey Willett from Athlete, is on her debut EP Signs.

 

Ryland Rose ‘Polaroids’

Independent Australian rapper Ryland Rose sounds ready for prime time slot after the 7 o’clock news on this polished production of swishy synths and urban beats.

 

For more of my favourite tunes, check out my NEWEST playlist.

And finally…

Turns out, the Sugababes were #1 on this day 13 years ago with ‘Hole in The Head’ (Mutya’s look in this video is so Halloween goals) and nine years ago with ‘About You Now’. What. Major. Tunes.

If you haven’t already lost hope <insert Titanic ‘It’s Been 84 Years’ gif>, apparently very early 2017 will finally bring us the long awaited new album by Mutya Keisha Siobhan.

Let’s talk shit and share playlists on Twitter. Follow me on @feedlimmy.

Quick Feed: Pink, Mutya Keisha Siobhan + Shaznay, The Presets and Brandy

Pink is now a Covergirl.

PINK COVERGIRL

There’s something seriously cool about Pink stepping out as the new face of Covergirl. I love that she’s always been a gritty tomboy but when duty calls, bitch can scrub up just as well as your other pop princesses. Check out her stunning new promo shot for the cosmetics giant above and while we’re at it, there’s the new single artwork which blatantly rips off Kylie’s X.

PINK TRY

Do we have a Tumblr blog called Popstars Who Steal From Kylie yet?

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