Ingrid Michaelson's new album came out a couple of weeks ago and I've found myself going back to it again and again: it's obviously one of 2019's best albums to date, and that's before you even get into the fact that each of the tracks on Stranger Songs is inspired by a different character, scene or theme from Stranger Things.
Is this album eleven tracks long? YOU BET IT IS LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.
Here's the new video for Missing You, which like every other song on the album works brilliantly even if you have no interest in or knowledge of Stranger Things. If you have been watching, according to a track-by-track commentary on Billboard it's about the Nancy, Steve and Jonathan love triangle.
One of the album's best songs is the first Ingrid wrote for what eventually bloomed into a full-on album project — it's called Christmas Lights ("I promise I'll make things right, but until then I will talk to you through the Christmas lights") but to be honest they're all good. Pretty: banger. Take Me Home: banger. It's quite literally a good album.
Ingrid's playing London's Union Chapel in November; tickets are on sale here. Hopefully by that point she'll have started work on an album about Tiny House Nation.
If you like your pop with a Stranger Things twist have a listen to Esther's extraordinary Kvällsgäst, which came out on Friday.
The background: Last summer, to celebrate the 100th edition of Now That's What I Call Music, I put together a special Indiho Edit — the best song from each edition, in order. 100 songs that told the story of pop music from the 80s to today. Click here for the playlist, it's incredible.
The updates: With each subsequent Now That's What I Call Music album, I've been adding the best song. Last November I selected The 1975's TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME, and in April I added Mark Ronson and Miley Cyrus' Nothing Breaks Like A Heart. Which brings us to…
The latest addition: Now 103 is out next week and the tracklisting (which, sidenote, is a mess) throws up several worthy additions to the Indiho Edit playlist. Among them are Ariana's break up with your girlfriend, i'm bored and Camila and Shawn's Senorita, but the two songs that best showcase what pop can do in the summer of 2019 are Lil Nas X's Old Town Road and Billie Eilish's bad guy. Both those songs are by artists who've subtly rewritten what popstars can/should be like, and neither song sounds like anything else in the chart. In the end bad guy makes it onto the list: it sounds like pop music from a different time (maybe only 7–9 months in the future, but that's enough) and a different planet and like bury a friend it still, after all this time and all these listens, somehow takes you by surprise when it tumbles out of the radio.
The Song Of The Week is Rituals by Kult Kyss.
Melbourne duo Kult Kyss say they merge "future pop with ritual noise", and you can't go wrong with a bit of that; Rituals, their first release of 2019, is a spooky technopop thunderer.
- Not being funny right but is Hate Me Ellie Goulding's best single in ages?
- New artist thisisNAMASTE is the daughter of two dentists!!!!!!
- Violet Days and Violet Skies both release new singles today, which is either bad planning or great planning.
- On a similar note Muna and Yuna both release great songs today, and while I was compiling the playlist I got a press release for a new label called Oona.
- As discussed here the new Eden xo EP's out today and it's really good; So Lucky is the track that makes this week's NMF playlist.
- Kygo's Whitney Houston collaboration — based on a semi-unreleased cover from 1990 — is neither right not okay, but he's made it anyway.
Sometimes the best popstars get everything right straight out of the gate, and that's all very exciting, but sometimes they need time and space to realise who they are, what they're doing and why they're doing it. Indiho has been covering Jessie Malakouti's work for some time now and it feels like in 2019, as Eden xo, she's finally figured everything out.
Eden's been teasing her new The Question EP for the last couple of months with glittery tunes Sorry For Myself and Have It All; the full EP is out today and it's just really great.
Also out today is the video for So Lucky — as you can see from this YouTube embed holding image's 'fortune teller on a pink sports car' tableau it's a typically understated affair.
Eden's making the most of the clarity she's found with The Question; there's another EP, which Eden xo describes as the yin to The Question's yang, coming soon.
I met a really good popstar yesterday. Not your usual 'here's a singer with some good songs who'll probably peak at about 350,000 monthly Spotify listeners after 18 months' type of good popstar — like, proper "I am in the presence of a superstar" material. "Get her on all the chat shows now" material. "Here's someone whose video content people might actually enjoy watching" material. Super funny, super smart, super excited to be banging out music. Absolutely ideal.
Anyway she's called Navvy, she comes from New Zealand and you maybe heard her last song, Subliminal which was, and there are no two ways about it, good.
Now here's her new one, 100 Thousand. It was written after a relationship went tits up and Navvy (it's pronounced 'Navy' — good luck with that) says it came "from a place of helplessness in the loss of love, but turning that into strength, and realising that I’m going to be absolutely fine. At the same time as thinking of all of the things I could do to get back at someone that did something so terrible, I’m realising that there’s no point because there are so many people in the world that will be better to me than he was”.
The idea behind the song is spectacularly bleak if you think you're happily in a relationship: considering there are 7.5bn people on the planet, do you really, really think the person you're with is your ideal partner? Like, sure, they'll do, and they might be the best bet out of everyone you've met, but how many people have you even met in your life? 2000? 3000?
It seems highly unlikely that the true love of your life somehow, coincidentally, happened to be in that small sample. But at the same time, does the love of your life, the concept of 'the one', actually really exist?
Navvy proposes — and this is quite optimistic if you've just ended a relationship — that there might not be a million decent matches out there, but at the same time you don't have to exhaust yourself looking for 'the one' because, really, out of 7.5bn people alive today, 100,000 great ones seems like a reasonable figure. It's the old plenty-more-fish-in-the-sea idea, which is referenced in the 100 Thousand lyrics, but with numbers and mathematics backing it up. Also, in these times of environmental crisis there might come a point when they're really aren't plenty more fish in the sea, so the concept of 100,000 might actually prove very useful in the coming years. Good to have a backup for old sayings, as the old saying goes.
And the point, really, is that figuring 0.001% of the world's population might be right for you isn't really too much to ask, is it? And, well, sometimes it might seem like yes that's a pretty tall order actually, but on a good day… Maybe it's alright? Tracking them down's a different matter…
Recap: YOU CANNOT GO WRONG WITH A GOOD FLYPOSTER. But sometimes record labels throw more cash at billboard posters, which don't quite have the same semi-legal 'frisson', but can still be spectacular.
This Mark Ronson poster, situated in London's 'Brixton', is absolutely beautiful. And as you can see…
…what they've done, right, is they've made the disco ball heart a separate thing. It's not just a poster, it's an art installation.
Worth walking up some steps to get a better picture of? You bet.
Incredible scenes, well done everyone.
With tedious inevitability something I've heard a lot about over the last few years is a pretty toxic atmosphere in writing sessions and writing camps where women and LGBTQ+ creatives are shouted down, overruled, ignored and generally treated badly by Men In The Room. One songwriter told me that their ideas would only be considered worthy by a producer when they were relayed via a (straight male) co-writer. Jesus, quite literally, Christ.
Anyway that all comes to mind because MNEK has today announced MNEK x Pride WC (the WC is writing camp, it's not being held in a toilet). MNEK will be there, obviously. Olly Alexander, Kloe, L Devine, Ryan Ashley and Rina Sawayama will also be banging out hits, along with producers like Jon Shave off Invisible Men, Sakima and Leo Kalyan.
A good group of people. Well, I haven't met all of them, maybe L Devine's a horror, but you'd assume MNEK is a good judge of character. Speaking of which here's MNEK himself, who told a press release:
"I’ve set up this camp to have a couple days specifically for Pride but to also invite some LGBT talent that I really rate to collaborate with each other. The community is so creative and full of really gifted writers and producers so I’m really excited that we are getting to come together, be there for each other and make music for this camp!”
I can't be the only one hoping that first thing to come out of this is a massive Band Aid-style collabanger. (The camp's taking place on July 4–5, so a full release with video on July 12 doesn't feel like it's asking too much.) Whatever else they come up with is a bonus.