Alternatively Pop’s Top 10 Albums of 2018

As the dawn of a new year begins, the world takes a moment to reflect on the year gone by. Here at Alternatively Pop, we take that as our chance to reflect on the music released this year. Without further ado, here are Alternatively Pop’s Top 10 Albums of 2018.

1. Dirty Computer – Janelle Monaé

dirty computerAfter topping our Top Tracks of 2018 list, Janelle Monaé proves once again as she takes the top spot here as well. An immaculate collection of fun, fierce and fabulous pop-funk-R&B magic layers itself over heartfelt, raw and pure lyricism, Monaé’s Dirty Computer perfectly captures the unique experience and outlook of Monaé, as a queer WOC in a culture that puts up walls against her. Dirty Computer isn’t just an album, it’s an experience, and only after you are done will you realize the masterpiece that Monaé has created.

2. Look Up Child – Lauren Daigle

220px-look_up_child_(official_album_cover)_by_lauren_daigleA stunning ode to the power of not only faith but pure belief, Lauren Daigle’s Look Up Child is an otherworldly set that doesn’t get bogged down in its desire to be overtly Christian. This, allows the album to serve multiple purposes, as an expression of Daigle’s own religious beliefs, as well as just a fabulous album about passion and faith for those who don’t practice. Look Up Child is a gorgeous album that showcases a voice that deserves to be heard.

3. Golden Hour – Kacey Musgraves

golden hourCountry’s reigning queen of acclaim truly did it again with Golden Hour. With what may well be her crowning achievement, and is by far her most accomplished effort thus far, Musgraves has created an emotional knockout, a cohesive record full of heartbreak, healing and attempts to capture the beauty of life that picks you up, takes you in its arms and hugs you for 45 minutes before setting you gently down.

4. The Kids Are Alright – Chloe x Halle

the kids are alrightA mature debut from one of R&B’s most promising acts swings in many directions. From bangers to ballads, from catchy to pure experimental, the sister duo does it all and somehow retain cohesion. The album makes for a perfect breakthrough album that showcases the gorgeously diverse vocal ranges of the pair, and their ability to coin a lyric or two. If The Kids Are Alright is anything to go by, Chloe x Halle is a duo to watch.

5. Palo Santo – Years & Years

palo santoOne of the LGBTQ+ community’s most prominent acts, Years & Years have been producing great music for a while now. Palo Santo builds on that. A bare it all album, Palo Santo is pure pop escapism that aptly captures the experiences of the queer community. The record is sexy, intimate and vibrant from its get-go, and the band never second guess themselves, going all in with their explorations of sexuality and it’s complexities.

6. Expectations – Hayley Kiyoko

expectations2018 was a great year for Hayley Kiyoko and one of her crowning achievements is the release of her debut album. Expectations is a gorgeous and catchy walk through pop perfection as Kiyoko rolls out bangers and ballads across the album’s 14 tracks, perfectly painting her feelings across the lyrics and beats for an intimate debut.

 

7. LM5 – Little Mix

lm5With their final album as a SYCO act, Little Mix left the generic beat drops and trend attempts in their Glory Days. With LM5, Little Mix embraced experimentation and went all in with the album. The result is the quartet’s greatest and most importantly authentic album of their careers. It’s by no means perfect, but songs like ‘Wasabi’, ‘Joan of Arc’ and ‘The National Manthem’ finally crack the potential this band has had since day one, and hints at the brilliance they could finally achieve now they are free of SYCO.

8. No Shame – Lily Allen

no shameLily Allen has had a hard life, but she ain’t afraid to sing about it. No Shame truly lives up to its title as Allen spills her guts on subjects like drugs, divorce and motherhood. The album is a wonderfully unique record that is so acutely specific and detailed but together creates a marvellous story of a woman’s life.

 

9. Bloom – Troye Sivan

bloomTroye Sivan can be added to the history books as he becomes one of the few artists who have avoided the sophomore slump. 2018’s Bloom was anything but a slump, instead, it is full of vibrant life as Sivan meanders through the past and the present exploring the modern experience of being gay. The album is unapologetic, and deliciously positive, the perfect follow-up to Sivan’s Bloom.

10. By The Way, I Forgive You – Brandi Carlile

by the way i forgive youA gorgeous delve into Americana, Carlile’s By The Way, I Forgive You puts her signature vocals to the test as she soars from high pitches to the lowest of whispers in the space of the words. The record is full of delicate acoustic and crashing drums back up Carlile as she beautifully and emotionally discusses hope and forgiveness in a rare, but a fabulously positive move for the singer.

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Alternatively Pop’s Top 20 Tracks of 2018

As the dawn of a new year begins, the world takes a moment to reflect on the year gone by. Here at Alternatively Pop, we take that as our chance to reflect on the music released this year. Without further ado, here are Alternatively Pop’s Top 20 Tracks of 2018.

1. Pynk – Janelle Monaé

Janelle Monaé failed to release a track that was anything less than stellar this year, but ‘Pynk’ was by far and away the greatest. If you’re looking for a cry for unity among beings, an immaculate exposé of the construction that is gender and a beautiful ode to femininity, ‘Pynk’ is the song for you. It’s damn catchy as well.

2. God is a Woman – Ariana Grande

Another artist who had an incredible 2018, Grande had some great tracks and some less than so, but ‘God is a Woman’ lived up to its title. A ballsy female anthem that holds no punches, ‘God is a Woman couldn’t have been more poignant in a year where women found their voice. ‘God is a Woman’ also has one of the greatest hooks of the year, and the gospel influence at the song’s climax is arguably the year’s most goosebump worthy moment, leaving you believing that God truly is a Woman.

3. You Say – Lauren Daigle 

From a more risqué portrayal of God to a more traditional Christian offering, Daigle’s ‘You Say’ is a gorgeous ballad that recognizes the comfort, hope, and self-belief that religion and God can provide someone. A straight-up piano ballad thy focuses the ear on Daigle’s vocals and lyrics, ‘You Say’ is a simple yet stunning track in a year full of complexity and boundary-pushing.

4. Alfie’s Song (Not So Typical Love Song) – The Bleachers

A not so typical love song written by a not so typical pairing for a not so typical movie, ‘Alfie’s Song’ is the perfect soundtrack for 2018’s ‘Love, Simon’. Written by Jack Antonoff with frequent hit-maker Isley Juber and resident heartthrob Harry Styles, ‘Alfie’s Song’ is pure feel-good movie magic that is the perfect companion to a rom-com.

5. Not So Bad in L.A. – Allie X

Allie X has been consistently blasting out pop bangers over the past few years, but ‘Not So Bad in LA’ is easily one of her best so far. A searing satirical take on the city of angels delivered in a lazy, disinterested vocal with a touch of quirky thrown in, this is one for the ages.

6. Curious – Hayley Kiyoko

As representation takes hold of entertainment, LGBT artists have begun to rise to prominence. One of “20GayTeens” main breakthroughs was Hayley Kiyoko. Her debut album’s lead single, ‘Curious’, is one of the reasons of why. The nonchalant way that the track doesn’t make a big deal of how it varies from the usual heterosexual break up bop is what sets it apart, but that infectious hook sure helps.

7. Sue Me – Sabrina Carpenter


It’s amazing how far a catchy hook will get you and ‘Sue Me’ is a perfect example of how a brilliant hook can elevate a track even further than where it already was. The sassy vocal of Carpenter perfectly matches the unbothered attitude this track adopts. From its screw you lyrics to perfect synth production, ‘Sue Me’ should have been a surefire hit.

8. Sanctify – Years & Years

Years & Years ‘Sanctify’ is one of those tracks that kind of seeps into your skin until one day you wake up and realise just how well the song is constructed. From those dark, skittish drums to the equally haunting vocal of frontman Olly Alexander to the clever wordplay of the lyrics, ‘Sanctify’ is an immaculate conception.

9. Space Cowboy – Kacey Musgraves

Speaking of clever wordplay, Kacey Musgraves’ ‘Space Cowboy’ dives right into that arena. One of country’s more experimental artists, ‘Space Cowboy’ perfectly showcases Musgraves’ ability to toe the line between classic country ballad and more pop-influenced moments, as she tinges the track with a little something more than just southern charm that elevates the track beyond being just another acoustic guitar moment that gets lost.

10. Moment – Blanche

Blanche is one of the most fascinating artists to ever come out of the Eurovision. All of her 2018 droplets could have made this list, but it’s ‘Moment’ that truly capitalises on what Blanche did on last year’s ‘City Lights’ and raises the level. Here, Blanche goes from sheer potential to full-blown pop star, with her emotive vocal adding dimension to the sensual clap-along beat of ‘Moment’.

11. Bloom – Troye Sivan

Troye Sivan is one of the finest pop artists to come out of this decade, and ‘Bloom’ is the perfect example of how he has matured since his debut. The tongue in cheek lyrics laced over the sweet as sugar synth is the perfect encapsulation of sexual liberation and Sivan’s own quirky brand. Also, it’s the use of metaphor is about as good as it gets, so that earns it points as well.

12. Venice Bitch – Lana Del Rey

Despite rarely varying her sound too much, Lana Del Rey somehow always makes it sound fresh and new. On ‘Venice Bitch’, Del Rey goes back to basics, singing lightly about her sugar baby antics while backed by an acoustic guitar. Oddly the track is nine minutes as Del Rey tacks on some odd psychedelic instrumental at the end that somehow makes the track even more endearing.

13. Party For One – Carly Rae Jepsen

One hit Wonder turned cult favourite Carly Rae Jepsen returned this year following her critical darling of an album, E•MO•TION, and she delivered. Although similar to much of her previous material, ‘Party For One’ is an anthem of self-love (of the very literal variety). The sexual innuendo here is half the fun but the bouncing beat is hard to ignore and when you put them together, you have another banger from Jepsen.

14. God in Jeans – Ryan Beatty

Although not technically a single, this was one of those tracks I just couldn’t ignore. A weird hybrid between rock, country, and R&B, ‘God In Jeans’ takes on the sexes up religion claiming that “God is real and he was sleeping in my bed last night”. The track is one of those perfect blends of genre that exists on a whole level of its own.

15. Youngblood – 5 Seconds of Summer

After a tumultuous few years, 5 Seconds of Summer blasted back to flying form in 2018, and ‘Youngblood’ was the anthem for that comeback. The track’s thumping guitar line gets the blood pumping like no other before letting the calm set in with the minimalistic approach to the track’s verses, resulting in a rollercoaster-esque banger.

16. Miracle – CHRVCHES

CHVRCHES ‘Miracle’ is another blend genres, here blurring the boundaries of big pop and generic EDM. The drop is arguably one of the most satisfying of the year, avoiding the pitfalls of unoriginality, instead of producing a drop that actually evokes a headband instead of a groan. The track’s boldness in its production, as well as the vocal performance, sets ‘Miracle’ apart in a field where it’s very difficult to even try and be original, never mind actually pull it off.

17. Crush – Tessa Violet

A triply little number, Tessa Violet’s ‘Crush’ just oozes summer. The track relies on very little production, with Violet sing-speaking over a sparking kick track until the song climaxes into a slightly less minimalist chorus. Violet also throws in some little effective samples on the bridge to add to the track’s cool edge.

18. 5 In The Morning – Charli XCX

Pop’s resident party girl, Charli XCX released some clunkers in 2018 but who cares when she also dropped her best bop since ‘Break The Rules’. A mix between the oddball production of Pop 2 and more classic pop hits, ‘5 In The Morning’ so arguably XCX’s most on brand track to date. She sings about how great her afterparty game is with her cocky vocal providing serious ‘fuck you’ vibes, ‘5 In The Morning’ is the perfect night out banger.

19. King’s Dead – Jay Rock with Kendrick Lamar, Future & James Blake

Infinitely better than the Black Panther soundtrack’s lead single ‘All The Stars’, ‘King’s Dead’ is a stuttering star turn that showcases the talents of Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, James Blake, and even the ever-mumbling Future. ‘King’s Dead’ does exactly what a great movie track does – standing on its own as a song while also elevating the motion picture it was created for.

20. Currency – Ivy Adara

As I said before, it’s incredible how far a catchy hook will get you. And that’s exactly why this track is here. Ivy Adara’s ‘Currency’ isn’t a slam dunk, in fact, the track isn’t all that great as a whole. But that hook is so good. Although the lyrics are a bit cliché, the production takes all the right cues and Adara gives off such cool girl vibes she somehow gets away with singing about such cliché topics such as dreams and rainbows to the point that she has you singing along with her.

Listen to all of our Top 20 Tracks of 2018 on our official Spotify Playlist here:
https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/ryanxoc/playlist/20DOE9hlGJKC1y7mOcd7cF

GRAMMYS 2019: Who Should Win and Who Will Win?

The 61st Grammy nominations are officially here, and with them came mass uproar, shock and questions about the changing industry. While the hours since the reveal of the nominations have been spent discussing who got snubbed, who wasn’t deserving and who exactly some of the nominees even were, it’s time to turn our attention to an even more important question – in a  very different race than many thought it would be, who is taking home those megaphones come next year?

RECORD OF THE YEAR

The Nominees:

Cardi B – I Like It

Brandi Carlile – The Joke

Childish Gambino – This Is America

Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper – Shallow

Drake – God’s Plan

Kendrick Lamar & SZA – All the Stars

Post Malone & 21 Savage – Rockstar

Zedd & Maren Morris – The Middle

Probably one of the least shocking categories this year was Record of the Year, where really the only major players who missed being Jay-Z and Beyoncé, Ed Sheeran (and Beyoncé), and Ariana Grande. Without them it seems like this is even more of a landslide for Gambino’s ‘This is America’. Drake and Kendrick Lamar could give him a run for his money given the support the academy has shown the two in this year’s nominations. Same could be said for Carlile who came out of nowhere to secure this nod, but at the end of the day, ‘This is America’ is the deserving, and most likely winner.

SHOULD WIN: ‘This is America’ – Childish Gambino
WILL WIN: ‘This is America’ – Childish Gambino

SONG OF THE YEAR

The Nominees:

Kendrick Lamar & SZA – All the Stars

Ella Mai – Boo’d Up

Drake – God’s Plan

Shawn Mendes – In My Blood

Brandi Carlile – The Joke

Zedd & Maren Morris – The Middle

Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper – Shallow

Childish Gambino – This Is America

This one was a bit more shocking than the Record. Major players that missed were pop’s main girls Taylor Swift’s ‘Delicate’ and Ariana Grande’s ‘No Tears Left To Cry’. Another contender should have been Maroon 5’s ‘Girl Like You’, which was relegated to the pop field. Again, this seems like a slam-dunk for Gambino, particularly given the trend of awarding one artist both awards in the past few years. However, in a ridiculously unpredictable year, anything could happen. Carlile’s support here is shocking and could well give her a win. Lady Gaga is having an amazing year and that could get her over the line. Additionally, Lamar and Drake are always there in the background. Given Lamar’s status as one of the most snubbed artists in recent memory, and SZA losing all five nominations last year, it could be ‘All The Stars’ that takes it home.

SHOULD WIN: ‘The Joke’ – Brandi Carlile
WILL WIN: ‘This is America’ – Childish Gambino

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

The Nominees:

H.E.R. – H.E.R.

Brandi Carlile – By the Way, I Forgive You

Drake – Scorpion

Various Artists – Black Panther: The Album

Kacey Musgraves – Golden Hour

Post Malone – Beerbongs & Bentleys

Cardi B – Invasion of Privacy

Janelle Monáe – Dirty Computer

Arguably, the most shocking of all the nominations from this morning was Album of the Year. Album of the Year staple Taylor Swift missed with reputation, her first LP since 2010’s Speak Now to fail to secure a nod here. Beyoncé and Jay-z’s Everything is Love also didn’t get a nod, despite their status as music’s king and queen. Elsewhere, Chris Stapleton’s From A Room: Vol 2, as well as Grande’s Sweetener and a number of other contenders. Instead, the 8 nominees are divided into commercial smashes and critical darlings and it’s hard to know who will prevail. Drake’s Scorpion was the second highest selling album of the past year, while Cardi B’s Invasion of Privacy and Post Malone’s Beerpongs and Bentleys had solid debuts with huge hits to help bolster their profile here. Perhaps its Lamar’s years to finally take the trophy home for Black Panther, which was also one of the biggest movies of the year and is set to be a huge awards contender itself. On the other hand, Musgraves produced one of country’s finest LP’s in a long time, H.E.R’s self-titled debut was critically adored, and Carlile appears to have huge industry support. In the end, one LP stands well above the rest. Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer was a masterful exploration of sexuality, race and patriotism that is perfect from top to bottom and is more than deserving of the trophy.

SHOULD WIN: Dirty Computer – Janelle Monae
WILL WIN: Black Panther: The Album – Various Artists

BEST NEW ARTIST

The Nominees:

Chloe x Halle

Luke Combs

Greta Van Fleet

H.E.R.

Dua Lipa

Margo Price

Bebe Rexha

Jorja Smith

This was Dua Lipa’s to lose from the get-go. With the snub of her biggest contender Ella Mai, Lipa seems like a sure thing. Best New Artist is an odd category given its ever-changing rules, but realistically, her only competition here is Rexha and H.E.R. As for who should win, Chloe x Halle had a wonderful debut album, Luke Combs had some big songs on the country charts and Jorja Smith got acclaim for her debut album. However, the Academy likes to award the next big thing here, and that is most certainly Lipa. Don’t be surprised if you see a major upset given this year’s unpredictability, but for now, it’s Lipa’s to lose.

SHOULD WIN: Dua Lipa
WILL WIN: Dua Lipa

Leave your predictions for the 61st Grammy Awards below.

 

Alternatively Pop’s Top 20 Songs of 2017

We count down our picks for the top 10 tracks of 2017

2017 was an… interesting year. Albeit not the best year in other areas, at least the music was good, even great in some cases. We were blessed with some brilliant songs this year. These are (subjective to opinion) the best of those.

  1. Praying – Kesha

Simultaneously, a piercing battle cry and heart-breaking anthem of pain, Kesha’s first release in almost five years came as nothing less than a triumph.  A stunning return to the industry and a musical 180, ‘Praying’ was the perfect encapsulation of the hurt and rage that the Trump-era has brought upon the world, as well as the personal turmoil of the voice that brought the track to life.

2. Bad Liar – Selena Gomez

Selena Gomez is not the first name that is on the tip of everyone’s tongue when it comes to experimental pop songs. However, Gomez’s ‘Bad Liar’ was an immaculate pop song that stopped critics in their tracks with its simplistic production paired with Gomez’s sensual and breathy vocals. Written over the bassline of the Talking Heads’ ‘Psycho Killer’, Gomez put herself well and truly on the map with this one.

3. Green Light – Lorde

A champion of everything weirdly brilliant, Lorde knocked everything she had done out of the water when she returned with ‘Green Light’. Marvellously rousing, ‘Green Light’ is like a jigsaw put together incorrectly but fitting perfectly all the same. Mismatched song writing over a flawlessly building pop beat, Lorde made sure her return was as perfect as it could be.

4. Look What You Made Me Do – Taylor Swift

Although it’s follow-up ‘…Ready For It?’ is sonically superior, it is ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ that truly shows off the brilliance of its creator. Arguably the most divisive song of the year, ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ was the comeback heard on every corner of the globe, and only in the wake of its flickering and savage arrival, could one appreciate the genius behind it. From the choice to make the pre-chorus build to nothing to the risk of interpolating Right Said Fred’s ‘I’m Too Sexy’, Swift made sure her return came singed with the rage and anger only pop’s most hated person could muster.

5. The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home – Declan Mckenna

On ‘The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home’, Mckenna perfectly captured what it is to be tethering on the line between youth and adulthood in a world where so much is so unsure. The raw vocal of Mckenna paired with the pondering almost conversational lyrics make for an impeccable indie-rock track that sounds like stepping into someone’s thoughts.

6. City Lights – Blanche

The Eurovision song contest is assured to give you two things – camp over the top performances and awkward instances of countries giving their neighbour points. However, every year, there is some songs that stand out among their sub-par competitors. Belgium’s entry to the 2017 contest was one of those rare shining diamonds. An impeccably crafted pop song, ‘City Lights’ relies on its simplicity, in both production and vocals to truly make it epic and god, does it succeed.

7. Sign of the Times – Harry Styles

God only knew what the hiatus of the world’s biggest boyband would bring about and while his bandmates went in reasonably predictable routes, Harry Styles shed his mainstream cocoon and dove head first into the world of rock. A sweeping soft rock ballad that Bowie would have been proud of, Styles showed exactly what he was capable and flexed his creative muscles to their full extent for what may well have been first time in years.

8. Love – Lana Del Rey

On the lead single from her fourth full length, Del Rey returned to the vintage greatness of tracks such as ‘Young and Beautiful’. ‘Love’ arrived wrapped in a bow and dripping with Hollywood glamour to deliver an awe-inspiringly cinematic testament to the beauty of young love in a way that only the voice of Del Rey can conjure.

9. Disco Tits – Tove Lo

A sexually charged club anthem, ‘Disco Tits’ held nothing back as Tove Lo bared it all. The EDM tinged dance-pop pounds and bounces unapologetically and lets it all hang out – literally. The song draws on disco as well as more modern influences and explores a care free attitude and approach to the world – and its fabulous.

10. Feel It Still – Portugal. The Man

A retro track from a little known alternative band is an odd thing to find within the top 40, never mind the top 10, and yet that’s exactly where Portugal. The Man found themselves this year with ‘Feel It Still’. This funky hit harkens back to 60’s groove in both production and lyrically, resulting in an impossible to ignore earworm.

11. Love is Alive – Lea Michele

Michele truly created something special with the release of ‘Love is Alive’. A stunning broadwayesque power ballad that reaches to the skies and fabulously showcases the vocal talent of Michele, the track perfectly captures the essence of the star who created it.

12. Watch – Billie Eilish

Speaking of talent, this fifteen-year-old singer-songwriter is one of the best things to emerge in music in 2017. Perfectly capturing the dramatic nature of teenage love and over the top feelings that come along with it, Eilish displays a masterful touch on this pop masterpiece that throbs as though it is a recording of the broken heart that inspired it.

13. Lost Without You – Freya Ridings

In a similar vein to Blanche’s ‘City Lights’, Riding’s heart-breaking ballad thrives on its simplicity. Reduced to merely a piano and the gut-wrenching voice of Ridings, ‘Lost Without You’ displays the brilliance in the less is more mantra as its quietest moments are in fact, its loudest.

14. The Cure – Lady Gaga

After the dramatic departure from pop that Joanne took, Gaga returned to her comfort zone with this track. Debuted during her Coachella set, The Cure is a flawlessly fashioned radio hit with a chorus that is undeniably addictive and annoyingly irresistible.

15. Uh Huh – Julia Michaels

One of pop’s most prolific songwriters, Michaels had one of the best breakouts of the year with her hit ‘Issues’. However, it is its follow-up ‘Uh Huh’ that impeccably shows off her genius as a pop mastermind. With a guitar instrumental backing up the verses, it is the drop right into the chorus that makes this one of those unskippable ones that sneaks into very corner of your brain.

16. ’71 Charger – Loreen

Rooted in alternative music, ‘’71 Charger’ broke new ground for the Swedish hit maker. The track draws heavily on minimalistic beats and production, showcasing the voice of Loreen, who makes the bold choice to match and double down on her minimalistic production, with an equally minimalistic but mystifying vocal performance that can only be described as brilliant.

17. Drew Barrymore – SZA

I always believed that Drew Barrymore was the superior Charlie’s Angel and thankfully, R&B’s newest prodigy agrees. SZA cites Barrymore as an inspiration as she played the roles that SZA herself identified with such as the girl who couldn’t get the guy and the track perfectly captures that as SZA asks her lover is she is enough for him.

18. Waking Up Slow – Gabrielle Aplin

A brilliant and overlooked talent, Aplin has developed and coined a unique sound since her debut English Rain. ‘Waking Up Slow’ is fabulous new-age synth driven dance track that is alight with euphoria as bright as the sun.

19. I Know – Aly & AJ

From the pop royalty that brought us the legendary track that is ‘Potential Break-up Song’, Aly & AJ continued to deliver on their potential a decade after their last release. The track was yet another notch in the marvellous year that experimental female pop music has had. A dream pop song that has its head in the clouds and its production in 80s synth pop, ‘I Know’ plays like candy floss and vintage shops.

20. Lost in Your Light – Dua Lipa

Another breakout star of 2017, Lipa’s ‘New Rules’ was absolutely everywhere as it dominated airwaves, its predecessor was equally worthy of adoration. A catchy hook, peppy beat and interesting feature from Miguel makes for an all-around dance-pop banger that was, sadly, ignored.

Listen to all the tracks on this list on Spotify here

Grammys 2018 preview: The Big Four – Kendrick Lamar, Ed Sheeran and Lorde

As the nominations for the 60th Grammy awards move closer and closer to being announced, we break down the major players for each of the big four awards and make our predictions for who will be nominated.

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

YFz0bfs6In a year of dwindling album sales, several albums stood out. Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. was a critical and commercial smash and is a lock for a nod come nomination day, as is Ed Sheeran’s Divide, which lived up to its title and divided critics. That being said, consumers certainly weren’t as the album was a commercial juggernaut. After those two, the field is pretty even. Lorde’s Melodrama was a critical darling, but wasn’t as commercially viable as albums such as Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic and The Weeknd’s Starboy, which were mixed with critics but commercially successful. Other contenders include Kesha’s Rainbow and Lady Gaga’s Joanne, both of which saw the two pop superstars transition into more subdued and well-received personas.  The recording academy also like to nominate more critically acclaimed but obscure genre fare which could result in nominations for A Tribe Called Quest’s We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service or Sza’s CTRL both of which were critically adored.

Final Predictions
1. Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.
2. Ed Sheeran – Divide
3. Lorde – Melodrama
4. Bruno Mars – 24K Magic
5. A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service

 

RECORD OF THE YEAR

OGtOBZiLThis award is awarded to the recording artist, the track’s producers, recording engineers and mixers. In recent years, the award has gone to both ballads and up-tempo numbers, but all recent winners have been commercial smashes. With that in mind, Lamar and Sheeran are both in strong contention with ‘HUMBLE.’ and ‘Shape of You’ respectively, both of which topped the billboard hot 100 in early 2017. The academy may also choose to award the ever growing influence of Latin music and award arguably the biggest smash of the year ‘Despacito’. It will be interesting to see if the academy will acknowledge the success of the track or will it relegate it to the Latin Grammys instead. Other contenders include Imagine Dragons’ ‘Believer’, Bruno Mars’ ‘24K Magic’ and the less successful but accliamed ‘Green Light’ by Lorde. One also has to wonder whether the polarizing reception of Taylor Swift’s ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ will outweigh the undeniable commercial and cultural impact the track had, as well as Swift’s overall dominance in the industry.

Final Predictions
1. Kendrick Lamar -‘HUMBLE.’
2. Ed Sheeran – ‘Shape of You’
3. Luis Fonsi ft. Daddy Yankee – ‘Despacito’
4. Imagine Dragons – ‘Believer’
5.Taylor Swift – ‘Look What You Made Me Do’

 

SONG OF THE YEAR

9bvtxvYOThis award awards the lyrics and melody of the track and is awarded solely to the songwriters. Traditionally, this goes to songs for critical acclaim over commercial success but both are factors. Lamar’s ‘HUMBLE.’ is once again a major contender as is Sheeran, this time for ‘Castle on the Hill’, both acclaimed for their lyrics. Mars’ should also be in the mix for nomination with ‘That’s What I Like’. Pop-starlet Kesha has a very real chance for a nomination her with the critically adored ‘Praying’ which marked her return to the music industry. Lady Gaga’s raw and emotional hit ‘Million Reasons’ should also be in contention as should Logic’s suicide awareness track ‘1-800-273-8255’. Breakout hits such as ‘Issues’ by Julia Michaels and ‘Sign of the Times’ by Harry Styles could follow a tendency to award young songwriters such as Sam Smith’s ‘Stay with Me’ and Lorde’s ‘Royals’. Lorde herself is again in the conversation for ‘Green Light’ as is Taylor Swift for her country return on Little Big Town’s ‘Better Man’.

Final Predictions

1.Kendrick Lamar – ‘HUMBLE.’
2.Ed Sheeran – ‘Castle on the Hill’
3.Bruno Mars – ‘That’s What I Like’
4.Kesha – ‘Praying’
5.Logic ft. Khalid and Alessia Cara – ‘1-800-273-8255’

 

BEST NEW ARTIST

b19HOqXKFor the first time in recent years, this category is wide open. Awarded to artists who have had significant breakthrough during the eligibility period, there is generally a frontrunner such as when Sam Smith walked away with the trophy in 2015. This year has a number of contenders. Cardi B and Post Malone both lodged huge hits very close to the voting period with ‘Bodak Yellow’ and ‘Rockstar’ both hitting number one within weeks of the nominations being announced. This could work in their favour as they are kept fresh in the voters minds. Other contenders include Khalid and SZA who both received critical acclaim for their debut albums. Alessia Cara also stands a chance given her increased success this year, as does Logic who along with Cara and Khalid had a massive hit in ‘1-800-273-8255’. James Arthur and Julia Micheals will both be in the mix given they fit the singer-songwriter mold that usually warrants a nod.

FINAL PREDICTIONS

1.Post Malone
2.Khalid
3.SZA
4.Logic
5.James Arthur

 

The nominations for the 60th Grammy Awards will be announced on Tuesday, the 28th of November, 2017.

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Jen Gloeckner

Interview with Iowa-born alternative artist Jen Gloeckner gives insight into the magic behind the music

The music industry has always been a rather corporate machine, where those who lucky view rise to the top. In recent years, it has advanced, becoming even more calculated, with the formula tweaking and altering as time passes and a new hit is made. However, there is still room for artists that just make music for the love of it, success or not. Artists like Jen Gloeckner.

Jen 2Hailing from the shores of Dubuque, Iowa, Gloeckner has steadily crafted a respectable and inspired back catalogue. Her music is immersive, seductive and haunting, incredibly personal yet unhinged. Recorded and produced by the artist herself in her bedroom, her latest offering “VINE” comes seven years after her last album “Mouth of Mars”, yet she doesn’t miss a beat producing something that she hopes allows her listeners to “find their own meaning in the record”.

However, music wasn’t always the plan, or even an idea. Gloeckner began her venture into the industry by accident.Jen 4 She credits her beginnings to “a digital work station [she] had at the time” which she began messing around with, before eventually “the songs came together, so I sent it off to a record label”. Miraculously, despite her worry that they would “want to re-record everything” they didn’t and released it as she had sent it. That messing around has culminated in a career spanning over a decade with her debut being released way back in 2004, followed by “Mouth of Mars” in 2010 and finally, 2017’s “VINE”. The gap between releases, which Jen credits to an unfortunate back injury, has lit a fire beneath her, saying the time lost to the injury are “still needs to be made up for”.

However, while she may have lost time, she has lost any of her brilliance. “VINE” has received rave reviews, being called “weird and wonderful” by The Irish Times and “A poetic work” by Rolling Stone, with latter making comparisons to Björk, an artist who Jen Gloeckner - VINE -coverGloeckner has “always had a lot of respect for”. The album, a sweeping and cinematic record, isn’t calculated according Gloeckner. The album’s wonder and off-beat nature wasn’t intentional as she doesn’t “consciously know how a record is going to sound, or have a specific direction in mind”. Instead, her music’s wonder and off-beat nature stem from ideas which she has the bravery to “let them develop and give them the time they need to go where they need to go”.

Gloeckner isn’t an artist who can be defined. She isn’t trying to be something, she just is. She doesn’t actively distance herself from the corporate machine that is a lot of the industry she inhabits, nor does she actively pursue it. As for the future, she says “a music career in the traditional sense is kind of out of the picture, which is probably a good thing, because that creates many more opportunities”.

Jen’s album “VINE” is available on iTunes and Spotify

Follow Jen on Social Media:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/jengloecknermusic

Instagram: www.instagram.com/jen_gloeckner

Soundcloud: www.soundcloud.com/jengloeckner

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jengloeckner

Bandcamp: www.jengloeckner.bandcamp.com

Official Website: www.jengloeckner.com

 

Five Female-led Tracks That Deserved To Be Hits

With the current lack of female led hits, here are five songs that should have been bigger than they were

It is no secret, that as of right now, women are having a rough time on the charts. The last time a female artist was credited as a lead artist on a song that sat atop the Billboard Hot 100 was Sia a year ago with “Cheap Thrills”. The start if July brought the end of a 12 week run where not a single female was credited on any of the top five, lead or otherwise, when Rihanna featured on “Wild Thoughts”. However, this lack of female presence in the chart’s top places isn’t for lack of good female songs, and here are examples of female led songs that should have been hits.

Primadonna – Marina & the Diamonds

The lead cut from her sophomore album, “Primadonna” was an electric piece of pop music that deserved much more than it got, reaching a peak of 11 in the U.K. while failing to chart in the US whatsoever. So, while the track can be credited as the artist’s big break, this camp earworm never reached the heights that it should have.

Runaway With Me – Carly Rae Jepsen

The fact that Jepsen will be remembered by the general public as the girl who brought the horror that was “Call Me Maybe” in to our lives, instead of as the genius behind one the greatest tracks of this decade is a shame. It failed to make any real impression on any chart, but will always have a special place in the hearts of those who have experienced its 80s pop brilliance.

Green Light – Lorde

This one really hurts. The lead single of her second album and the first track from Lorde in four years and no one had the decency to make this a hit. Its modern lyrics and slick and inspired production that matched that of the smash-hit that was “Royals” made this track a standout for music fans everywhere in 2017. It is also one of the most critically-acclaimed singles of 2017, which just adds insult to injury when you consider that this track reached a peak of 19 before retreating back down the Hot 100.

Into You – Ariana Grande

Unlike the other tracks on this list, this one just screamed hit. Unfortunately, very few people heard those screams. A certified earworm, “Into You” should have easily been the song of the summer, but instead was relegated to moderate success, reaching the top 20 on both sides of the pond. However, with its flawless pop structure, mainstream artist and addictive hook, this track should have been one for the books.

Fuck Apologies – Jojo (feat. Wiz Khalifa)

After years out of the spotlight and surrounded by lawsuits and a fight to regain her voice as an artist, Jojo made a triumphant return with this R&B-infused bop. Despite the usual commercial draw that is a rap feature, this return to the industry failed to reach anywhere near the heights that her younger self had soared to.