Wednesday, June 7, 2017

THE GREATEST NMF OF THE YEAR (May 2nd) - featuring Dua Lipa, Bleachers, Halsey, and so much more!
Dua Lipa just did everything this week!!!

It's finally here, the greatest NMF of the year. Major pop people have decided to release so many albums and singles that it is somewhat overwhelming. And just like last year, this year's best NMF is courtesy of DUA LIPA!!!! So let's dive right in.

AronChupa obviously made the most ridiculous song this week. It's called "Llama In My Living Room" and features some woman named Little Sis Nora. It's a Eurotrash banger that slows down for the chorus and is full of stupid lyrics. Unfortunately, it becomes the worst song this week for all the potentially amazing reasons I listed above. The video does get some points for actually having a llama in a living room.

Fifth Harmony have comeback with "Down" feat. Gucci Mane and sans Camila Cabello. They had a lot to say with this single since losing a member can spell disaster for most bands. Unfortunately, the result is a little too-Spotify sounding and a little too boring to make a statement. On the bright side, Lauren seems to belting more often now. We'll have to see if Fifth Harmony can even make it to the second single, but they were too amazing in 2016 to give up on. 

Phoenix have released "Goodbye Soleil" as the follow up to the fantastic "J-Boy". While not as instantly catchy as that song, "Goodbye Soleil" stands out from the crowd for having the chorus sung in FRENCH. Smart move there Phoenix.

Lion Babe are back after their underwhelming last single "Rockets". With "Hit The Ceiling", Lion Babe have managed to hit that sweet spot between cool R&B and summery pop. They still need to work on making hits like "Impossible" but they have too much pop potential to not produce something amazing soon.

The new Major Lazer EP is full of the typical island bangers, although they are more straightforward with the delivery this time. "Particula" and "Know No Better" are highlights but they could have used Camila's voice better. Oh well, she'll find her place in pop soon. 

Nashville based singer Mags Duvall is slowly becoming a name in the game. Her newest single "Plain Jane" continues to show off Mags's instant charisma and sassiness. With more songs like this and "Pink Cadillac " we could be in store for the bratty reincarnation of early Lana Del Rey!

The Veronicas have come back from a triumphant 2016 with a new ballad. "The Only High" is lovely and sweeping but nothing too special on its own. Hopefully the album puts everything in context. 

I have no idea who this Force Major is or came from, but their new single "Glow In The Dark" is a great quiet pensive banger for the rainy June days that are sure to come this summer. 

Another special pop feature comes from Alunageorge on the new Peking Duk single "Fake Magic". The track pops off as a rocking dance song before the chorus turns into a cool bass heavy funk. After that disappointing album last year, it's nice for Aluna (and George) to be on the right side of pop again.

I had forgotten about Sinead Harnett for a while after her string of dance features years ago. But apparently today she has released an entire ALBUM (but she's calling it a mixtape). It's a subdued house album that would make great lounge music. "Unconditional" is an immediate standout in being another great pensivebanger for this summer. 

Who wants another LANY promo track?!?! With their debut due at the end of the month, LANY have released their millionth song called "13" today. It's a simple lamenting love song with an acoustic guitar and drum machine that's deceptively full of pop hooks. It's fair to say this debut will also be quite incredible. 

Olly Murs is continuing to promote his quite good album from last year. He has done the genius move to add another X Factor alum to a new version of highlight "Unpredictable". He chose well as Louisa Johnson sounds perfect for the summery song and it would be nice for Louisa to get on the charts more, especially when no one foolishly fell in love with "Best Behaviour". That was a banger. 

German synth pop starlet NINA has come back after her stunning EP from last year. "One of Us" is another space-tinged mystical pop song that sounds too ethereal and sublime to be heard by that many people. But I'm hearing it and it's great so it gets to be on the NMF playlist. 

The new Kat Graham album is a big surprise. After the underwhelming Roxbury Drive, the funky edge of her sophomore effort actually hits the spot multiple times. It's a little too disparate and genre-jumping to have a lot of cohesion between tracks but if you imagine it as a Pussycat Doll solo album, it sounds much better than expected. "Time = $" is a good place to start (the "when the moon's on your mind" line is great) but there are at least 2 other really good songs on Love Music Funk Magic

After the incredible "Saw You In A Dream", The Japanese House has returned with "Somebody You Found". It's not as effortless as her last song, but it's a step in the pop direction and it's nice to be surprised by an act you thought was boring but actually has a lot of potential. 

The big voice of Betsy is back with her new single "Little White Lies". While it isn't a Florrie cover, it's just as powerful with a gospel influence that makes Betsy one of the better pop stars out there. 

One of the best Scandinavians I have ever known is back: SUSANNE SUNDFØR! After her one-off single with Royksopp that ended up being the 4th best song of 2016, Susanne has announced her new album Music For People In Trouble in August. She has released the sparse and beautiful ballad "Undercover" as the first single. It's classic Sundfør sadness but by the end the chorus erupts. It's sure to be a good year for Susanne and I'm excited to see what comes next. 

Scandinavian newcomer Julia Kedhammer has released her debut single "Everywhere". It's an uplifting disco-tinged bop with the most euphoric strings I've ever heard. It's very vanilla but who doesn't love a good straightforward pop song? Idiots, that's who. 

VÉRITÉ is also on the promotion bandwagon for her new album coming at the end of this month. Her new track "Saint" is the same menacing electronica as her past couple of songs. This one has a lighter chorus that shows off VÉRITÉ's vocals much better. Another album I can't wait to hear. 

Norwegian singer Anna of The North has announced her first album entitled Lovers. The title track is being released as it's debut single and it's the same featherlight electropop Anna has become famous for. Between Anna, Dagny, and Sigrid, Norway is really killing the game in 2017. 

Cherryade have jumped on the political pop bandwagon and released the critical "Theresa May (Bullshit)". It's a typically fun and crazy rave-rap-pop hybrid and could be a big hit in Britain with the right coverage. Cherryade might be one of the most fun acts of 2017 and it would be good to see them get famous for their talent.

Dance outfit Release The Woolves have released a new EP today that has some dramatic eastern influenced dance bops on it. The last track is the best by far, mainly because vocalist Maribelle brings the dark sass we all want from "Shotgun". This is the type of song that would make for a great Freemasons remix, if only they did that sort of thing anymore.

Iamamiwhoami's ionnalee is back with another track as part of her "solo" adventure. "Not Human" lines up with the arctic synths of her past work so the song is actually Scandinavian perfection. It would even work as a Robyn comeback song, and nothing is a higher compliment than that.

The legendary Saint Etienne have released their new album Home Counties. It's an album from a different era, mixing 50's rock guitars with odd lyrics and medieval elements like harpsichords for no reason. It makes no sense in 2017 but maybe it will grow on me like most Saint Etienne records. However, there is a clear gem on the album: the stunning "Out Of My Mind" produced by Richard X. The pair of Etienne and X have made some of the best songs ever created so it makes sense that this elegant banger is amazing on several levels. After almost two decades, Saint Etienne remains one of the best pop forces around.

Australian radio personality turned pop singer KLP released one of the best pop EPS of last year ("Back In The Room" remains amazing). Today, she returns with a new single "Changes". It continues her quest of mixing R&B influenced pop with 2000s dance beats, sort of like a more pop version of The Knocks. It's pretty great and I can't wait to see what else she has up her sleeve. 

The newest X Factor alums to release a single are the boy band 5 After Midnight. They were so exciting on the show, being the first boy band to DANCE in years, so their debut single should be just as heart racing. Luckily, "Up In Here" is just that. A recognizable sample, cool individualized locals, and production from MNEK make this a very promising start to a desperately needed British boy band. 

Like Cherryade, Haiku Hands are the type of odd pop outfit that would make Charli XCX fans go crazy. Their rave beats and nonsensical raps are what pop music was made for. I already want a greatest hits album from them after one listen of "Not About You". 

Rae Morris had made one of the best albums back in 2015 but her return this year came very quietly. "Reborn" quietly creeps towards majesty but by the time it gets going, it's clear Rae has made her best song yet and stood out from many of the big names on this incredible NMF.

Lorde has a new song to promote Melodrama, coming out very soon. "Perfect Places" is another stunner from this era, mixing Lorde's honest lyrics about youth with a more direct production. I can't wait for the album and also for the Tove Lo written song on it because obviously that will be the best one. 

Remember ROOM8? The production duo behind the greatest pensive banger of all time "No Hard Feelings" in 2015? Well they are BACK WITH ANOTHER ONE! And to make this even better, they got The Sound of Arrows on vocals! It's a match made in heaven on "Just You & I" as the Dream pop singers make ROOM8's productions shine over the prom slow dance beat. It's good to have them both back and hopefully 2017 will have an album from both of them. 

Former Ladytron singer Marnie has released her second solo album today and it's something of an obscure pop jewel. Strange Words and Weird Wars take Marnie's icy vocals and layer it across synths that remind me of early La Roux, Little Boots, and a touch of Kylie. The album is marvelous in that it sounds like nothing anyone is making right now, and if you're a fan of intelligent electropop, this will be one of your favorite albums this year. Previous singles "Alphabet Block" and "Lost Maps" are a good place to start but "Little Knives" is my favorite album track after one listen.

Against all odds, the Halsey album is brilliant on many levels. Despite the horrible title, hopeless fountain kingdom acting as a concept album of forbidden love akin to a modern Romeo and Juliet is accomplished with the drama and modern pop persona that Halsey brought on her debut. This time around, everything is much cooler, production is perfect for 2017, and Halsey feels more comfortable on every track. While "Strangers" remains the shining star, there are a lot of other songs that play well including the self-deprecating "Bad At Love" and "Alone". This will hopefully be the last time I underestimate Halsey but if she keeps surprising us like this, I'm okay with it. 

Julia Michaels continues her journey towards being the best pop person in the world. Her second single is called "Uh Huh" and is another 10/10 song. Starting off with a sparse guitar hook, the chorus explodes with a sassy and charismatic flair. Thanks to Julia, Justin Tranter, and Mattman & Robin, this song is sure to be one of the year's best. 

The Bleachers album that Jack Antonoff has been teasing for a while now has been unleashed. It is the quintessential soundtrack to any 90's movie you can think of, with woozy nostalgic synths paired with uplifting guitars. While some of the tracks could use with a little extra oomph, songs like the purely romantic "Let's Get Married" show why big names like Lorde, Carly, and Taylor come to this man for the hits. Overall, a great pop album from a great pop person. 

After so many delays and false starts, the Dua Lipa album has become a mythical icon for pop fans. But today, it is finally with us. And man, did she deliver. It's a nonstop stream of grade A bangers that all have single potential. While the track listing could use some rearranging, her debut is brimming with potential that explodes from past and future songs. There are too many gems to go through right now but of the new batch, "Dreams" is definitely my favorite with the most single potential, catchy factor, and after hearing it live so many times it's amazing to hear the studio version. It's a 10/10 debut from Ms. Lipa.

Here is a playlist of all the highlights of this week, with "Dreams" as the finale. If you want to catch up with the best of the best, here is another playlist for 2017 pop hits!

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