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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Feed Limmy’s 40 Songs of 2016

In keeping with this annual tradition that stretches back to a land before Snapchat and Gigi Hadid, I am here to present you Feed Limmy’s Songs of The Year.

Over the years it has become more of a documentation of songs released in the past 12 months that I have really enjoyed or have soundtracked a special memory. I think for that reason, these lists of the more intimate nature perhaps carry a bit more meaning and weight, as they’re not critically-inclined but are measured by the standard of one’s enjoyment and personal connection. Which after all, is what music is all about.

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Limmy’s Hot Take: Christmas dread (already), Tinashe and delayed albums, and my new fave girlband BLACKPINK

This week on Limmy’s Hot Take: I’m operating on zero sleep and most definitely on zero chill after a stressful week. I come home to dead flowers and various receptacles spilling out with dirty laundry and empty wine bottles. Things are simultaneously winding down for the year as they are ramping up, and it’s really fucking with my calm.

Christmas-themed foods have started creeping into our shelves (Yesterday, I discovered “Christmas sarnies”. What a time to be alive), I’m beginning to wonder (no Dannii) if my plan to AT THE VERY LEAST stop at one bottle a week is looking the slightest bit possible. People are starting to gasp things like, ‘Where has the year gone?’, and with it inevitably comes the much-dreaded cue for reflection. WHERE HAS THE YEAR GONE, SIS? WHAT HAS IT LEFT US WITH? With the US Election looming, I pray it’s not another bad news for us all.

Reflecting on what’s been both a super and crappy year is one of our faves Tinashe. The R&B singer’s much-delayed sophomore album Joyride continues to be much-delayed. Sis was forced to axe her tour dates in the UK and Australia, and there’s still no sign of when they might be rescheduled. Now it seems all this pent up frustration and murkiness with her own album plan has led to a brilliant new creative output in the shape of a 15-track mixtape called Nightride.

It’s raw, it’s dreamscapey. It’s ambient yet really present at the same time. And also, quite nicely features a track called ‘Ghetto Boy’, co-written with the critics’ fave Girls Aloud, Nicola Roberts, and Dev Hynes, who also produced the track. She’s got her fingers in all the right pies. Joyride or no Joyride, Tinashe is not about to disappear, I swear. Maybe we need to address fans pestering artists for an album? CC: Zara Larsson.

Top Tunes of the Week

BLACKPINK ‘Playing With Fire’

I keep yo-yoing between slightly bored to comatose right now with the current output from Little Mix and 5H, so I genuinely couldn’t be more excited to come across this new girlband. From the creators of 2NE1, comes a new generation of K-Pop girlband in the shape of BLACKPINK. These four girls have very quickly become quite a massive deal in South Korea since their debut in August. Sonically, they’re a bit of a dog’s breakfast at the moment. While their style is definitely a winning fusion of big pop melodies and rap, each of the four singles thus far have taken on completely different personalities and genres, which I actually don’t hate.

There’s also something rather international about BLACKPINK’s make up that perhaps gives them a bit of an edge? One of their members, Lisa (the one with the bangs), is Thai and is the first non-Korean artist signed to YG Entertainment after she was discovered at their audition in Thailand five years ago. Another member, Rosé, hails from Melbourne, Australia, and Jennie was raised in New Zealand.

Check out the videos for their newest offerings ‘Playing With Fire’ and ‘Stay’.

Tom Aspaul ‘Messy’

If you have ever woken up still-fully clothed and stained in cheap red wine from the night before, desperately trying to locate your phone and wallet, and struggling to recall what the fuck you said to whom at the pub after the fourth round, then first of all, welcome to my world, and second – this song is you. ‘Messy’ is one of four soulful, electropop gems on the brilliant Tom Aspaul‘s new EP Left. Rightfully heaped praise for its shiny melodies and production aside, I have to say I’m more drawn to that hint of emotional truthfulness and humanity in each of these songs.

Tayá ‘Deeper’

She first caught my eye with the gorgeously honeyed R&B tones of ‘Sweet Waste of Time’ now Liverpudlian singer Tayá is back with ‘Deeper’ – a soulful jam with crystalline electronic beats. There’s not really too much out there about this Atlantic Records UK signee as yet but I sense it will all change in 2017.

Kiiara feat. Ashley All Day ‘dopemang’

Another one we’re all keeping a firm eye on for 2017 is Kiiara, who was one of the shining breakout artists of Q1/Q2 this year with ‘Gold’ and her debut EP low kii savage. Here she is, dropping a totally badass new track to remind us all of her potential, just as bloggers start to prep their ‘ones to watch’ lists.

Avelino ‘Late Nights in The 15’

One of the many great pleasures I get from working on the MOBO Awards every year (for the past three years) is discovering new artists. The Best Newcomer category is one I always check for and this year’s nominees were exceptionally strong, including a certain hotly-tipped London-born rapper called Avelino.

Known for his collaboration with Wretch 32 and praised by key tastemakers from Noisey to Annie Mac and Charlie Sloth, I reckon it won’t be long before Avelino achieves mainstream recognition. Don’t worry, pop fans, I’m not trying to bring you a bit of grime or anything like that. Give his F.Y.O. (Fuck Your Opinion) album a spin.

This is ‘Late Nights in The 15’, which dropped a couple of months ago.

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

And finally…

We need to talk about how next level Tina Knowles Lawson is as a proud mama. .

This is my rendition of Solange❤️

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This is my rendition of Beyonce'

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Don’t @ me re: my love for M&S’s Prosecco and Winterberries crisps. Show me love instead @feedlimmy.