Best Songs Ever: Ria Hall & Che Fu’s contemporary protest anthem … and more!

Our regular round-up of new songs and singles, this week featuring Ria Hall, Banks, Desiigner, Bye Bye Fishies and more …



Ria Hall – ‘Tell Me’ (ft. Che Fu)

A contemporary reggae protest anthem

Five minutes fifty is a bit of an epic runtime for a song that (I assume) aspires to mainstream pop radio, but it has good reason. ‘Tell Me’ is firmly in the tradition of reggae protest anthems, and it has a lot to say. Ria Hall’s vocals are commanding and raw, and a contrast to Che Fu’s more polished delivery, which is thankfully lighter on the melisma than usual. The instrumentation is surprisingly subtle, and has some great guitar fills throughout. Two long verses from each vocalist, and a final section that builds up to a bit of a moment. Shoutout to the clever mix of percussion that simultaneously hints at multiple rhythmic foundations. No doubt a more economical radio edit would be easier for the public to swallow, but I think a track like this deserves to be heard as it is. – Mitchell Houlbrooke


Brad Paisley – ‘selfie#theinternetisforever’  

A cantankerous misstep from a neo-traditional country star

Sometimes a song title just hits you in the face. Brad Paisley is a great guitarist, and a fine neo-traditional country star who hit trouble when his 2013 car wreck ‘Accidental Racist’ – an album track which went viral for all the wrong reasons – saw Paisley (with the help of LL Cool J) clumsily try to tackle complex issues of race disastrously in a country setting.

Since then Paisley seems beset with a barely concealed bitterness, simmering just below the surface, which roars to life here. A fiddle and Telecaster-backed treatise against the social media age, the lyrics here are absurdly bad for a skilled writer like Paisley; “You should be ashamed / Of your selfie / Now why you gotta go and tweet it / When you oughta just go delete it?”.

Paisley has dabbled in bullying internet-dwellers before on his 2007 hit ‘Online’, but he hits peak cantankerous old man here, and it might pay him to look over at his contemporary Miranda Lambert for a lesson on how to mature gracefully in the world of modern country, before he spirals too far down this deeply perplexing hole. – Pete Douglas

Banks – ‘Crowded Places’

Banks returns with some Antonoff-assisted intimacy

Her first song since 2016’s The Altar, Banks’ ‘Crowded Places’ is a subdued, intimate slice of heartache. The mood of the track feels in the realm of Lorde’s ‘Liability’, an inkling solidified knowing it was produced and co-written by Lorde-collaborator Jack Antonoff (as well as Tim Anderson). It’s similar in subject too, that vulnerability in feeling altogether too much. Written for the second-to-last Girls episode, Banks announced the track online, writing “shout out to social anxiety and falling in love.” Her solemn echoes ever-haunting, ‘Crowded Places’ feels like pulling sweater sleeves over your hands and nudging into a lover’s shoulder as if to say, take me home?Amanda Robinson

Bye Bye Fishies – ‘Frugali-tehe’

A nostalgic Dunedin ode to frugality … from Liverpool!

The product of Dunedinite-turned-Liverpudlian Angus McBryde, ‘Frugali-tehe’ is a funny-ish slice of Dunedin ‘sound’ indie/post-punk, a kind of tongue-in-cheek time capsule on Soundcloud. Not that it sounds like all those Flying Nun bands (insofar as they every really sounded like one another), more that it sounds like it could have existed alongside those bands, probably opening a few shows and making a cassette that went on to become a collector’s item even though it’s not quite as good as its reputation suggested. – Henry Oliver

Desiigner – ‘Up’

The ‘panda panda panda’ mellows out a little

Desiigner consistently drops genre-destroying singles and projects. Well, at least he did until now. ‘Up’ is the first thing I’ve heard from this guy that hasn’t caused me to question the meaning of hip-hop. That being said, it’s still a dinger, and what by Desiigner’s standards might be called ‘minimalistic’. If you quite like Desiigner’s flow but hate his (headache-inducing) beats, this could be the one to convert you. – MH

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