Mostly Pop returns from its winter slumber, and finds MrMoth full of the joys of spring. No, honestly.
Carly Rae Jepsen – I Really Like You
Aww, this is just lovely, innit? I was thinking just the other day “Hey, what’s happened to Carly Rae Jepsen?” (no, I was!) and I admit I’d sort of decided to write her off as a one-hit wonder but this is genuinely great. The sort of sweet, sunny, breezy bubblegum pop song that you’ll probably hum for weeks. It’s not quite the cultural sticky grass that Call Me Maybe was, but it’s mighty fine. And the video is just as adorable.
Look at Tom Hanks go! Don’t we all love Tom Hanks? Yeah, sure we do. He’s good people. Imagine Johnny Depp – who is by all accounts a very nice man and up for all sorts of hijinks – doing a lipsync video. You can’t. But Tom abandons self-consciousness and just goes for it. Maybe that’s age, although there’s only a small gap between them, or maybe it’s just that Hanks has always had a streak of childlike fun in him. ALMOST AS IF BIG WASN’T FICTION AFTER ALL omg that’s it.
Taylor Swift – Style
The windswept epic of 1989 was always going to be a single (not because it’s obvious, but because it’s magnificent), with its beautiful young lovers, unable to quite keep away from each other, reclining on a bed of Chic guitars and lush synths. It’s a nighttime song, an end of an affair, a series of layers to unwrap. You don’t need me to tell you it’s brilliant.
Shame the video really isn’t. I can see, I can, what the intention is. The problem is that the intention is pretty dull. When a Taylor Swift video could be a Paris Hilton video, it’s a failure.
Marlon Roudette – When The Beat Drops Out
Apparently this has a good chance of doing well in the charts. Number one, possibly, with a carrying wind! Maybe. What a state, then, that we are in if this extremely ordinary track is tipped for greatness. It’s not that it’s bad! It’s not, really. It’s just not good, it’s not… It’s not anything. It’s music that happens while you’re doing other things. Sorry, Marlon. I checked my emails while this played. Maybe I missed something. Maybe I missed everything.
Iggy Azalea ft Jennifer Hudson – Trouble
Wait, hold on, Iggy Azalea re-released her album with five new tracks? That’s a pretty big admission of failure, isn’t it? I like to think my scathing dismissal of the album in my wrap up of the year was influential. Anyway, this is one of the new tracks and I like it. Quite a lot. It’s got a nice late 80s-early 90s sound to it (you know, like it was recorded in a clockwork shoebox), and Jennifer Hudson’s contributions make it feel like that time Salt n Pepa did a track with En Vogue. Which is why I like it, I guess. It’s definitely been stomping brassily round my head the past few days.
Video-wise, it doesn’t quite work as a pastiche of vintage cop shows because it’s all too shiny. It could be a pastiche of a pastiche, a derivation from the remake of Starsky and Hutch, but mostly it feels like a GTA V cutscene.
Nate Ruess – Nothing Without Love
I’m not going to lie to you, reader, I spent a good month of last year listening to nothing but Fun.’s album. So I’m a bit of a fan of this man’s voice and stompy power-pop style, which I realise is not for everyone. That’s ok, you don’t have to like it just because I do. It’d be a funny old world if you did.
To be scrupulously fair, this is pretty much more of the same. It could slot into the Fun. album without anyone noticing – which I again stress I am totally fine with because sometimes what I want is what I know. Piano-driven, yup, soaring choruses, yeah, bits and pieces dropping out seemingly at random, this is all good for me. Hate the video – well boring.
MNEK – The Rhythm
Another fairly forgettable dance track, though this is at least slightly less generic thanks to the somewhat broken bass and the strained soulfulness of the vocals. It needs to kick a bit harder, for my money, but whatever. The video actually does my head in a bit, from the swirly twistiness of the early moments to the “whut?” boneless dancing in the dark. I’m still not entirely certain they didn’t cripple their dancers for real.
#HIPHOPISHIPHOP – Hip Hop for the World
Charity single that isn’t shit shocker. In fact, this is excellent for several reasons. First, it’s got so much going on (14 artists in under 7 minutes) that if you don’t like one bit it’ll be replaced by another bit very shortly and maybe you’ll like that one. Second, it’s fun to play “Spot the country” and enjoy the different styles. Third well, shit, isn’t it nice to have a bit of hip hop that is positive, outward-looking and is 100% guaranteed to not feature Chris Brown? I bring him up because there’s a single with him on this month, and I’m pointedly not reviewing it because fuck that guy.
So have a listen and let’s play favourites. I’d go for Bosnia and Indonesia. I thought Bosnia’s Frenkie might have been Puerto Rican at first because I wasn’t paying attention and thought it was a Reggaeton track. Yacko from Indonesia rattles through her rap in a pleasingly complex way, bringing a sharpness to the track between Wales and Bangladesh’s somewhat more drawling entries. Let me have your favourites in the comments, that’d be nice.
KRS-ONE turning up a capella at the end does kind of make it feel like the American cavalry arriving and claiming hip hop in the name of the United States, but if that sells it to sceptics let’s let them have it.