This one is more difficult than usual because it’s defined by beats and female voices that have wound their way into my spine, up the nape of my neck, through my head, clouding my eyes, rolling through my nose and out of my mouth as I do anonymous sing-along versions while dancing in my room. The one binding strain is the magical catalyst that brought me to them – Annie Mac and her other worldly week day shows. Hers has got be my favourite voice in the universe, just because of the bridges she’s built between a nutter like me and songs that are waiting to be adopted and re-played until they are born again.
We’re well in to 2016, struggling with resolutions we made at the beginning of the year but still under the illusion that we could possibly pull them all off because it’s March. What better way to yank out four voices from the closing months of 2015 that made me feel like I could become a unicorn if I wanted to bad enough.
There’s always that twilight moment between the time a distinctive voice first crashes into the public realm, early adopters who hear it and feel that surge of excitement at having discovered a raw sound that holds the promise of earthly domination in the coming months, and then the actual moment where it’s everywhere you go. Unfortunately, I didn’t make the most of twilight because I was too busy building my empire but here we are now.
- Dua Lipa – New Love (Warner Music)
Speaking of unicorns, Dua Lipa is definitely one. I first heard ‘Be The One’ in October last year and it made the multi-tasking neurons in my brain stop and light up in a collective flare. Of course, now she’s all over every ‘voices to watch out for in 2016’ article, including, might I add, FORBES magazine: http://www.forbes.com/sites/livbuli/2016/03/01/10-reasons-why-dua-lipa-could-become-the-next-big-pop-star/#6a06b6f23d66
I remember feeling completely swept away, smitten. She has the ability to crawl in to places in your head reserved for wasabi after shocks, ice lolly brain freezes and dangerously overwhelming gin and tonic highs. But with a melodic rawness that’s both powerful and vulnerable, her music includes no man’s land spaces waiting to be filled with our own associations – something every artist aspires to create. Once a song is released in to this concrete jungle, it belongs to no one and everyone at the same time. I love all her three releases so far like favourite but unique bangles reserved for different days of the week. The omnipresent ‘Be The One’ is what first made me fall in love, and ‘Last Dance’ is as enchanting as the forest she runs through in its video, but here’s the very first – ‘New Love’ – because there’s something hauntingly arresting about its simultaneous hope and nostalgia. Oh, and she also covered Jamie xx’s ‘Good Times’.
2. Danny L Harle – Broken Flowers (Columbia Records)
‘Teardrops feel like showers/ There’s nothing I can see/ Lying awake for hours/ Time stands still around me’
Nope, I didn’t write those lyrics, but the voice on producer Danny L Harle’s insanely catchy ‘Broken Flowers’ sings them. You know those mornings where you Just.Could.Not.Be.Arsed to deal with expectations, humans, traffic, laundry and life in general? The beauty of this track lies in its ability to create gold out of shit – serious new age alchemy going on here. I listen to it and for three minutes and twenty two seconds, I embody the most power pop ‘F you’ vibe my body can muster. These beats are everyone’s mundane responsibilities wrapped in electrocuted glitter and transformed into a subversive anthem. Go!
3. NAO – Bad Blood (RCA Records)
Then there’s NAO. Everyone I’ve introduced ‘Bad Blood’ to goes ‘WHOOOAAAAAA, where did THAT come from?!’ What gets me most about this song is how every pause is as special as the surge of sound that comes right after it. Like the three seconds on top of a water slide before you become a soaked rocket. I’d love to spew some more ridiculous metaphors to describe her tune, but I’d rather you felt the sexy surprise for yourself. Just be prepared to think ‘I want whatever she’s tripping on’.
4. Riton – Rinse & Repeat feat Kah-Lo (Ministry of Sound)
This last one inhabits a different planet because it’s SO badass, you don’t have the TIME for spaces, recollections, daydreams or imagination. Cheers Annie, Riton (British producer Henry Smithson) and Kah-Lo have made my inner Mad Max come alive. Nothing beats a no bullshit garage vibe – no need for milk, sugar, foam or some synthetic syrup when one shot of gritty espresso will do – ‘This is not how I woke up/ But it’s how I look now’ – says Kah-Lo with a voice that’s distinctly her own but aptly reminiscent of notorious favourite Azealia Banks. I’ve been listening to this every damn DAY ever since I found it in November last year. Just like the title says – Rinse & Repeat. If Charlize Theron listened to acid house, she’d start with this.
I always upload all my recommendations into a playlist on my Soundcloud, but because of major label streaming restrictions, a bunch are unavailable. YouTube for now peeps, more later!
Tweet me @chooncracker if you feel like Alice or drop me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org