It’s unbelievable what this coronavirus has done to all of us. We’re stuck at home, bombarded by videos of Instagram models working out in their apartments, teaching us how to use pots and pans to increase the effectiveness of push-ups. Stars like Miley Cyrus or Charli XCX do Instagram story live streams daily, interviewing each other. Some people say they’re planning on reading more during this time, which is definitely a good idea. Despite having two or three books to finish myself, I’m not really in a position to recommend any reads to anyone. However, I’d be more than happy to share a few songs released this year that I’ve really enjoyed. Maybe some of them will make your time at home (including bicep curls performed with plastic water battles) a bit more enjoyable.
Christine and the Queens – La Vita Nuova feat. Caroline Polachek
I mean, we stan Chris. I wasn’t so keen on her last album so as soon as I heard she’s realising new music in 2020 my stomach dropped like the stock market last week. La Vita Nuova is the title track off Christine and the Queens’ new EP released in February. Named after Dante Alighieri’s painting, the record includes six crazy, disco-queer-electronic bops. I wasn’t sure which one of them to present as my recommendation, but finally, I decided it’s going to be the title track. The pop masterpiece starts softly, with Chris singing in Italian against the soft instrumental until the beat kicks in to let us know we’re not worthy. The song also features another pop phenomena, Caroline Polachek, who shows off her vocal range and language skills after the first chorus. It’s like if Michael Jackson was a genderqueer, art-pop Knight Templar of good taste and decided to do a collab with one of the most gorgeous pop singers on the planet.
Alec Benjamin – The Book of You and I
I’m always keen on listening to new singers songwriters, especially if they sing about how good things used to be, and how shit they are now. If I could transform an Apple Music playlist into a country and move there, that’d be “In My Room” playlist, with all the sad, acoustic songs on there. Heaven.
This guy is what Ed Sheeran could have been if he had (any) taste. His debut album These Two Windows is scheduled to be released on May 29th this year and, seriously, I can’t wait. I love how his songs sound smart, even though they’re clearly cliches. He’s obvious without being tiring. I’m also a massive fan of his, kind of, androgynous and soft voice. Give it a listen if you like easy listening, acoustic pop songs.
Conan Gray – The Story
Staying within the young-singer-songwriter-sad pop territory, this guy has just released his debut album Kid Krow today (20/03/2020). The record’s closing track is my personal favourite. It’s a sad ballad telling a story of two boys and their love-gone-wrong. It gives me Tracy Chapman vibes, especially with the lyric: “if we worked and we saved, we could both run away and we’d have a better life”. I like how nicely structured it is, with a very neat and tidy production. It really is a beautifully written and gently performed pop song, and I recommend it to all of you! Conan Gray’s most significant songwriting influence is Taylor Swift, and it definitely shows.
Alanis Morisette – Smiling
Initially, I was planning on writing about another song called Reasons I Drink but fuck my life, I thought, as I realised it was actually released in December last year, which would be cheating. Smiling is a song off Alanis’ upcoming album Such Pretty Forks in the Road. Brutally honest, written with signature Alanis style of realisation and self-assessment, Smiling is an excellent introduction to what’s still to come. Very nice guitar in the lead here, catchy but dreamy and not distracting from Alanis’ vocal performance. We stan.
Celeste – Stop This Flame
I first discovered Celeste at the beginning of this year. Later, when I saw her performance at the BRIT Awards I fell in love completely. This USA-born, UK-raised pop-soul singer won the Rising Star award that night and performed her gorgeous 2019 ballad Strange. The song I’m writing about today is showing her more radio-friendly approach, as the single is up-tempo, jazzy, but also catchy and poppy. If Adele’s I’ll be waiting had a twin sister, this would be it. Celeste’s vocal performance, as well as really enjoyable pop instrumental, makes it a perfect radio song and displays the singer’s massive potential.
Tame Impala – Breathe Deeper
At this point, Kevin Parker could autotune the recording of him snoring and I’d still be able to find an excuse to put it on the list of best tracks. Breathe Deeper is the fifth single from the new Tame Impala album The Slow Rush. This enjoyable, polished and beautifully produced funky rollercoaster is exactly what we need from Tame Impala in these dark and uncertain times.
And if you’re looking for a good, fun album to remind you how fun partying is while all the clubs are closed – I recommend High Road by Kesha. Stay healthy!