Written by: Max Martin, Savan Kotecha, Alexander Kronlund, Ilya Salmanzadeh and Ariana Grande
Produced by: Max Martin and Ilya
Album: Dangerous Woman
UK release: May 2016
UK chart peak: 14
The first single from Ariana Grande‘s Dangerous Woman – its slinky, dramatic title track – was fairly well received, but didn’t make too much of an impact when compared to, say, Problem or Bang Bang. And even though follow-up single Into You wasn’t an all-conquering chart smash either… boy did it make a big impression.
The hysteria among The Gays™ when this came out was frankly apocalyptic: we were obsessing over each and every part of the backing vocals, dissecting the instrumentation and picking out our favourite elements, lambasting the video for not being epic enough… this was such a huge EVENT song in our bubble that it still surprises me when I remember it didn’t quite bother the Top 10 on either side of the Atlantic.
It’s just absolutely phenomenal, from the “PAH! PAH! PAH! PAH!” intro to the clean, sharp ending. The blaring bassy synths on the chorus are perfect for sweaty homo-packed dancefloors in the middle of the night; the vocal hooks destined to run round and round your head for weeks at a time. Ariana’s exceptional vocals are all restrained and sensual in the beginning and then all fiery and yearning in those wonderful final harmonies; and the “LI! TTLE! DANGEROUS!” part is simply iconic.
This isn’t anywhere close to being Ariana’s biggest-selling hit, but any pop superfan will tell you it’s arguably her best.
Playlisted 2020, week 3: At least this hellish month is delivering bops
Q1 is truly the new Q4, it seems: there was a lot of good stuff out this week, not just in terms of singles but albums too (Halsey, Louise, Gabrielle Aplin), though I haven’t really deep-dived (deep-diven? deep-dove?) into those just yet.
Anyway here are the eight, yes eight!!!, new songs I’m adding to my rolling all-important (…) 2020 playlist this week. Said playlist is here if you want to keep track (it’s also embedded at the bottom of the post), and here’s the best from last week.
Bikini Porn – Tove Lo
Sun-soaked hedonism is a strange flavour for bleakest January but obviously I’m more than happy to gobble up anything Tove Lo serves, and this is possibly my favourite new track of the week. Co-written and produced with Finneas O’Connell, I love the slightly dark edge the production gives the otherwise fun lyrics – thanks mainly to that thick vocoder-heavy backing vocal. Addictive.
Disco – Cheerbleederz
A song that rivals Staying Up Late for the title of Cheerbleederz’ Best Song Yet, Disco’s topline is its greatest asset; a charming melody + lyric combo supported by gorgeous harmonies and windows-down-wind-in-your-hair guitars.
In The Afternoon – Josef Salvat
Not to be dramatic but after the incredible Modern Anxiety, this is simply another completely lush, bullseye-hitting assault on the SOUL. In The Afternoon – which is fantastic in either its English or French carnations! – has an absolute butterfly-rush of a chorus and Josef’s voice sounds dreamy on the higher ad-libs towards the end.
New Me – Ella Eyre
‘Lol’ that I first heard this on Thursday and dismissed it as an overly chaotic mess, and then spent most of yesterday getting my fucking life to it. The post-chorus bit is just great, isn’t it?! I really can’t call if New Me will be a hit or not (for all her success, Ella has never reached the Top 10 on a song that’s not a collaboration), but I hope it is. 2020 marks five years (!!!) since the Feline album and I’m ready for her to start regaining some serious momentum.
Comme Des Garçons (Like The Boys) – Rina Sawayama
For anyone uninitiated, this is a great Rina gateway song, and I say that because… it was my Rina gateway song. I finally gave her a proper look after seeing people rave about her on the ol’ Twitter timeline, and friends, I was not disappointed (although loads of her past stuff is ringing bells so I must have checked her out before and forgotten, who knows). This is the sound I think Dua Lipa’s gunning for on her new era, but I have a suspicion – quality-wise, at least – Rina will out-do her.
Me & You Together Song – The 1975
We’re back in Chocolate-style territory here; a ballpark that Lawson wouldn’t have turned their nose up at eight years ago. The melody on the verses is actually a bit What I Go To School For-y, isn’t it? It’s nice to hear a sugary, uplifting, American Pie soundtrack-friendly love song from this lot; a much-needed shot of heart after a hellish couple of weeks in Global Events.
What A Man Gotta Do – Jonas Brothers
Sucker was huge for the reformed JoBros last year, and while I highly doubt What A Man Gotta Do will hit the same heights, it more than justifies the guys’ potential for a serious long-term comeback. The brilliant Jess Agombar of ex-Parade fame is on the writing credits, and I am very happy to generate her some streaming royalties!
Bury Us – The Naked And Famous
TNAF are one of those acts who never come to mind when I think of my favourites, but I’m always very pleased to hear from them. Bury Us isn’t quite as incredible as I thought it might have been after the intro and first verse, but it’s still a very welcome return.
Playlisted 2020, weeks 1 and 2: Here are the first nine decent songs of the decade
Q1 is the new Q4
I tried this in 2019 but I had too many plates spinning to keep it up beyond early March… so let’s see how we get on in big old 2020 (I managed to see the 100 Songs of the Decade thing through to the very end, right?!?!)
As I know many people do, each year I start a playlist on Spotify on which I add any and all good pop songs as-and-when they’re released. It comes in very useful in December when trying to remember the year-end best-of, I tell ya.
So once again I’ll try and get into the habit of writing every weekend about the songs that I’m adding; which I’m sure some weeks will be just one song and others will be fucking tonnes, but who doesn’t love unpredictability?!?!
You can follow Playlisted 2020 on Spotify here if you so choose. Last year I added 183 songs to the 2019 one, so be warned IT’LL GET LENGTHY!
I didn’t even think to kick this off last weekend (lol, good start) so strap in; we’re doing Weeks 1 and 2 in one post. Here are the first good songs of 2020, and the first to qualifty for THE PLAYLIST. Firstly, the two I would have written about last weekend if I had my wits about me:
Miss You 2 – Gabrielle Aplin and Nina Nesbitt
I ended the decade being much more ~into Gabrielle Aplin and Nina Nesbitt than I ever would have expected when they first came “on the scene”; Gabrielle winning me over with Waking Up Slow and Nina delivering one of the few genuinely great pop albums of last year. And while I’m actually not familiar with the original Miss You, this sequel(?) is a great little moody, waft-a-long semi-ballad that packs an effective electro-oriented edge whilst keeping the trusty piano front-and-centre. I can’t say I’ve had this on repeat since it dropped last week but I’ve certainly enjoyed it while it’s been on, yaknow?
Wrong Direction – Hailee Steinfeld
Can you believe it’s nearly HALF a DECADE since Hailee’s debut single; fifth best song of the decade Love Myself? Frustratingly, it still doesn’t feel like she’s gained much ongoing momentum, and 2019 was especially quiet for her music-wise – but Wrong Direction’s appearance on New Year’s Day indicates that maybe 2020 will be more fruitful.
It’s not a banger, of course, and if it’s not about Niall Horan then someone somewhere certainly knew what they were doing with that title. I also don’t really see how it’s going to do the business numbers-wise (perhaps Lose You To Love Me was the blueprint), but I think Hailee’s vocals are delivered beautifully and it’s my favourite release of hers since Colour. It’s really clicked with me in the last few days.
And now to the best of this week’s crop:
Make U Cry – Torine
Here it is! The first all-out bop of the decade. I don’t think I’ve come across Torine before – Spotify says this is only her third single – but you can bet I’ll be going back to catch-up now, yessir!!
I love the topline on this, and the way the first chorus effectively edges you right up until you’re half-way through it. Comparisons are lazy, I know, but if you need a quick sell: it’s Sigrid meets Sorry I’m Late-era Cher Lloyd, while vocally we’re not a million miles away from HRH Zara Larsson.
I’m obsessed with this; my first Repeat One direct-hit of the year.
Diamonds – Megan Thee Stallion & Normani
Hope it’s not too reductive to compare the Birds of Prey soundtrack to the Charlie’s Angels soundtrack considering they are similar projects for similar-genre movies – but if you were to compare Diamonds to Don’t Call Me Angel, this would be an EASY win.
I’m so excited for both of these artists, especially Normani, to completely conquer the year ahead; and this is a fantastic start. I had this blasting in the car to Tesco’s yesterday (yes, I’m a local, what of it!!) and WHEW!!!
Also: a VIDEO.
You Should Be Sad – Halsey
Halsey’s new album Manic is out next week and you can count me very much in as far as excitement is concerned. This song is a big, big mood; I love all the harmonies, the little topline flourishes, the jarring blast of synthesised guitar over the otherwise simple acoustic-led backing… excellent work from Greg Kurstin, and eeeeexcellent work from Halsey. Props also for the Shania leopard-print outfit in the video.
Rare – Selena Gomez
The title track (and latest single) from the first blockbuster pop album of the year, Rare returns us to the sparse Bad Liar type of pop Selena has proven form with. And as with the likes of Bad Liar, the lyrics are witty and quirky (“Saw us getting older, burning toast in the toaster”) – and now there’s even what sounds like a dobro wailing away in the background. It’s Very Selena Gomez, and it’s Very Good.
24 Hours – Georgia
Georgia also has an album out this week, and 24 Hours doesn’t – on first listen, anyway – quiiiiite smash the bullseye in the same way as About Work The Dancefloor, but I love the slightly woozy chorus and the pulsating production. I haven’t properly deep-dived into the album yet but… well, it’s hardly gonna be shit, is it?
Better Off Without You – Becky Hill feat. Shift K3Y
The chorus is a bit of a sledgehammer to the face after the sweet promise of the intro and verses, but I really like this from Becky Hill; who now seems to have found her home in reliable, enormous dance music. As a pop subgenre, This Sort Of Thing isn’t necessarily my favourite, but I’m always rooting for Becky and I hope this is a big hit for her.
Stop This Flame – Celeste
The BBC Sound of 2020 winner will have a lot of eyes on her now, and Stop This Flame is an irresistibly rousing track to introduce those who are just getting to know her. The iconique oneofthosefaces NMF round-up yesterday said this is the stuff of Jools Holland – not in a bad way! – which is spot-on. As such I’m not sure if it’s the kind of thing I’ll come back and actively seek out over the next week, but goodforher.gif.
Here’s the playlist, btw:
100 Songs of the Decade
The best bops, bangers and ballads from 2010-2019
What are we even calling this decade? The tens? The teens? In 2009 some madmen were floating “the tenners” but… I mean that was never a thing, right?
Whatever it is, I’ve marked it by doing the only two things I can do: be extra, and make a list.
If you’ve just joined me: one song a day for the last 100 days of the year, I’ve written about my personal favourite pop singles from January 2010 to the present. Mostly in no particular order, except the Top 10. Follow the Spotify playlist here, and there’s also one on YouTube here.
Click through the list below for “thorough” “analyses” of the songs covered.
Here were the first 90 songs, delivered in no particular order:
- 100 songs of the decade: Moments – Tove Lo
- 100 songs of the decade: Black Magic – Little Mix
- 100 songs of the decade: Crying For No Reason – Katy B
- 100 songs of the decade: Night Changes – One Direction
- 100 songs of the decade: Skyscraper – Demi Lovato
- 100 songs of the decade: Higher – The Saturdays
- 100 songs of the decade: XO – Beyoncé
- 100 songs of the decade: Out Of The Woods – Taylor Swift
- 100 songs of the decade: Get Outta My Way – Kylie Minogue
- 100 songs of the decade: Do You Think Of Me – Misha B
- 100 songs of the decade: Piece By Piece – Kelly Clarkson
- 100 songs of the decade: Your Love – Nicole Scherzinger
- 100 songs of the decade: no tears left to cry – Ariana Grande
- 100 songs of the decade: Promise This – Cheryl
- 100 songs of the decade: Rolling In The Deep – Adele
- 100 songs of the decade: Never Really Over – Katy Perry
- 100 songs of the decade: Only Girl (In The World) – Rihanna
- 100 songs of the decade: Ghost – Ella Henderson
- 100 songs of the decade: Don’t Kill My Vibe – Sigrid
- 100 songs of the decade: Call Your Girlfriend – Robyn
- 100 songs of the decade: Hold It Against Me – Britney Spears
- 100 songs of the decade: Anywhere – Rita Ora
- 100 songs of the decade: Starships – Nicki Minaj
- 100 songs of the decade: Shine – Years & Years
- 100 songs of the decade: What’s It Gonna Be? – Shura
- 100 songs of the decade: Cut To The Feeling – Carly Rae Jepsen
- 100 songs of the decade: Fuego – Eleni Foureira
- 100 songs of the decade: DNA – Little Mix
- 100 songs of the decade: Fake Happy – Paramore
- 100 songs of the decade: Catch My Breath – Kelly Clarkson
- 100 songs of the decade: Wrecking Ball – Miley Cyrus
- 100 songs of the decade: I Am Not A Robot – Marina
- 100 songs of the decade: Happiness – Alexis Jordan
- 100 songs of the decade: Scared Of The Dark – Steps
- 100 songs of the decade: Number One Fan – MUNA
- 100 songs of the decade: We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together – Taylor Swift
- 100 songs of the decade: Hymn – Kesha
- 100 songs of the decade: Good For You – Selena Gomez ft. A$AP Rocky
- 100 songs of the decade: Anything Could Happen – Ellie Goulding
- 100 songs of the decade: The Edge Of Glory – Lady Gaga
- 100 songs of the decade: Losing You – Solange
- 100 songs of the decade: Work From Home – Fifth Harmony feat. Ty Dolla $ign
- 100 songs of the decade: Tears – Clean Bandit feat. Louisa
- 100 songs of the decade: Body Talk – Foxes
- 100 songs of the decade: Waking Up Slow – Gabrielle Aplin
- 100 songs of the decade: Flatline – Mutya Keisha Siobhan
- 100 songs of the decade: Shake It Out – Florence + The Machine
- 100 songs of the decade: Your Body – Christina Aguilera
- 100 songs of the decade: Rainbow – Kacey Musgraves
- 100 songs of the decade: Heart Attack – Demi Lovato
- 100 songs of the decade: Euphoria – Loreen
- 100 songs of the decade: Start Without You – Alexandra Burke feat. Laza Morgan
- 100 songs of the decade: Green Light – Lorde
- 100 songs of the decade: Into The Blue – Kylie Minogue
- 100 songs of the decade: Ugly Heart – G.R.L.
- 100 songs of the decade: Once – Diana Vickers
- 100 songs of the decade: One Last Time – Ariana Grande
- 100 songs of the decade: Love It If We Made It – The 1975
- 100 songs of the decade: Motivation – Normani
- 100 songs of the decade: Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) – Kelly Clarkson
- 100 songs of the decade: Love On Top – Beyoncé
- 100 songs of the decade: Roar – Katy Perry
- 100 songs of the decade: Youngblood – 5 Seconds of Summer
- 100 songs of the decade: Chandelier – Sia
- 100 songs of the decade: Good As Hell – Lizzo
- 100 songs of the decade: I Will Never Let You Down – Rita Ora
- 100 songs of the decade: Can’t Feel My Face – The Weeknd
- 100 songs of the decade: Work Bitch – Britney Spears
- 100 songs of the decade: What The Hell – Avril Lavigne
- 100 songs of the decade: Something New – Girls Aloud
- 100 songs of the decade: Ruin My Life – Zara Larsson
- 100 songs of the decade: Blank Space – Taylor Swift
- 100 songs of the decade: Don’t Hold Your Breath – Nicole Scherzinger
- 100 songs of the decade: On A Mission – Gabriella Cilmi
- 100 songs of the decade: I Know A Place – MUNA
- 100 songs of the decade: Underneath The Tree – Kelly Clarkson
- 100 songs of the decade: Touch – Little Mix
- 100 songs of the decade: Jealousy – Will Young
- 100 songs of the decade: You Bring Me Joy – Amelia Lily
- 100 songs of the decade: The Middle – Zedd, Maren Morris and Grey
- 100 songs of the decade: Nothing’s Real But Love – Rebecca Ferguson
- 100 songs of the decade: All Fired Up – The Saturdays
- 100 songs of the decade: Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars
- 100 songs of the decade: Telephone – Lady Gaga feat. Beyoncé
- 100 songs of the decade: Call My Name – Cheryl
- 100 songs of the decade: Dancing On My Own – Robyn
- 100 songs of the decade: Mine – Phoebe Ryan
- 100 songs of the decade: True Disaster – Tove Lo
- 100 songs of the decade: Make Me Feel – Janelle Monáe
- 100 songs of the decade: All The Lovers – Kylie Minogue
You can follow the rolling playlist on Spotify here.