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: