A te reo Christmas song, 2019’s favourite mumbler and music’s coolest sisters are all part of our songs of the month for November.
‘Everything I Wanted’ by Billie Eilish
I run hot-and-cold on Eilish as an artist. I think her album has a few great songs – ‘bad guy’ especially – but it feels more like a statement of purpose than it does a cohesive album of songs, and her, uh, ‘subtle’ vocals come off less understated and more no statement at all. In fact, I’m one of those dicks who prefers her debut EP Don’t Smile At Me to the album that made her famous! Sorry, everyone.
‘Everything I Wanted’ is a step back to the vibes of that early EP; it’s an intimate song about a nightmare that Eilish had about dying and nobody caring, essentially. Relatable content! It has more than a little bit of a DJ Koze vibe, and it could be a dancefloor-filler at the saddest club you’ve ever been to. Which is to say: I love it, it’s weirdly mature, even more weirdly catchy, and it makes me resent that Billie Eilish was born after 9/11! / Sam Brooks
‘Tryna Not Fall in Love’ by Chelcee Grimes
I can say without a doubt that Chelcee Grimes is the best pop star who is also currently a member of a professional football team. Mildly infuriating spelling of ‘trying’ aside, Grimes has crafted a hell of a bubblegum pop classic – it’s not hard to imagine a pre-Emotion Carly Rae Jepsen singing these lyrics: “I was tryna not fall in love but we both know it ain’t that easy / I try to ignore this feeling, believe me.” Hell, if this were another decade, this could be a monster hit for one Stacie Orrico. But right now, it’s just a simple, straight-forward, hooky-as-hell, singalong song and sometimes that’s what we all need. /SB
‘Hallelujah’ by HAIM
HAIM, everyone’s favourite sister act since Sister Act, has been releasing singles all (American) summer, the latest of which is the acoustic “Hallelujah”. All three HAIM sisters have been increasingly honest about the real life stories behind their songs, and they’ve pegged “Hallelujah” as their most personal song to date. Each sister sings a verse, sharing a story of when they needed their loved ones the most. There are hints of “Last Mile Home” by Kings of Leon, a nice song from a nice movie (August: Osage County) and the title is apt. It’s the type of song you’d expect to hear being sung around the campfire at Christian camp by the pastor’s daughters. It’s a deviation from their norm but “Hallelujah” is still very much HAIM. / Madeleine Chapman
‘Regulars’ by Allie X
Allie X has been turning out killer songs on the reg for a few years now, and they’re largely maximalist bangers that you can bop your head to at your desk while hoping they don’t leak out of your supposedly noise-cancelling headphones. For ‘Regulars’ she pares it back for a low-key, brooding track about hanging out with the least-cool people you know, and not giving a single care about it. It’s more melancholy and inward-facing than her other stuff, but the bassline is infectious as hell, and the multi-tracked chorus hangs around in your head just as easily as well. She makes hanging out with the least-cool people sound like the coolest thing ever. / SB
‘Te Kaiwhakaora O Te Ao’ by Theia
I love me a good Christmas song and I love me a good waiata, so naturally, I’m smitten with this new te reo Māori release from Theia. It’s quite a departure from her usual joyous pop bangers – a traditional, solemn hymn with a bit of an edge, showcasing the Waikato-Tainui singer’s vocal chops against a gentle strumming guitar. Apparently Air New Zealand flights will be playing it on landing in the leadup to Christmas – ka mau te wehi! Personally, I look forward to butchering those high notes with my family after a few shandies on Christmas Eve: “Korōriaaaaaaa korōriaaaaaaaaaaaa”. / Alice Neville
‘Ten Tonne Truck’ by Tami Neilson
Is there anything more infectious in a song than somebody laughing? I say no! New Zealand’s reigning country queen Tami Neilson’s latest stomper builds its chorus around a thrice-repeated ‘ha-ha-HA’, some ‘heys’ (also infectious) and a beat that’s impossible not to clap along to. Country is underrated for a few reasons, and ‘Ten Tonne Truck’ showcases many of these reasons: the genre often has a killer sense of humour, it properly tells a story, is a great showcase of a performer’s personality, and almost never outstays its welcome. It’s easily one of the best country songs of the year, and one of the best of Neilson’s career. / SB
‘Falling’ by Chores feat. Laine
A track that references social media has a pretty short shelf-life, but if they can all be as catchy as Chore’s latest piece of funk-disco, then it’ll extend a bit. It helps that it’s also a bit more clever with its references than most tracks are: “I don’t care about the things that you do, all the likes, all the views – falling from you.” Who hasn’t fallen out of love with someone on social media, honestly? Laine’s vocal here is classic disco-diva, big, brassy and full of soulful attitude. And hey, I’m very easily won over by adding some orchestra-style strings to your disco. There’s no more reliable way to make someone turn that ‘repeat one song’ button, in my mind. / SB
‘Tropical’ by Olivia Foa’i feat. Nase Foai
I’m a sucker for house music, but I’m even more of a sucker for house music with a twist. ‘Tropical’ is a lean take on the genre, with chill beats and hollow steel drums propelling the song along. Foa’i aptly plays 21st century siren to whatever hapless listener she’s enraptured: “A whole lot of blue / a whole lot of sand / a whole lot of sun / and you are the only one I want to spend my time with.” Foa’i’s flow is incredible here, shifting up rhythm from a come-hither sing-song to flawlessly executed rapping, and it adds to the underlying menace of the track, especially as it slowly breaks down into aborted drops and glitchy static. / SB
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