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Pop CultureJuly 28, 2017

Best Songs Ever: Inverting pop’s male gaze and One Direction-influenced lo-fi indie pop


Our regular round-up of new songs and singles, this week featuring Charli XCX, Repulsive Woman, Mick Jagger, Chase and Status and more…


Charli XCX – ‘Boys’

Dreaming of Charli XCX’s perfect production

Sometimes a song just nails a sound so simple and so sweetly that only six seconds into your first listen you know you’re listening to something you’re going to listen to at least 74 times. On ‘Boys’, the Mario Brotheresque beeping interval is so instantly infectious the song’s central genius – its subversive inversion of pop’s male gaze, made explicit on its start-filled pin-up video – only hits you after your immediate obsession with the perfect beeps calms down after 30 seconds or so. This won’t top the charts (it doesn’t have a Bieber feature on it) but it should. / Henry Oliver

Mick Jagger – ‘Gotta Get a Grip’

In case you wanted to know what Mick thought about Brexit

Life in 2017 is basically one long episode of The Simpsons so, of course, Mick Jagger has released a rap single about Brexit. ‘Gotta Get A Grip’ is for the ’10s what Neil Young’s ‘Piece of Crap’ was for the ’90s. On first listen it’s funny but you’ve got to love the indiscriminate anger behind it and the guitars sound cool. And this verse is… where’s the fire emoji… “Everybody’s stuffing their pockets / Everybody’s on the take / The news is all fake / Let them eat chicken / Let them eat steak / Let them eat shit / Let them eat cake / We gotta get a grip!” / Calum Henderson

Repulsive Woman – ‘Relief’

One Direction-influenced lo-fi indie pop

The first non-One Direction cover by Repulsive Woman, the former-One Direction cover recording project of Millie Lovelock, the One Direction scholar (full disclose: Lovelock has previously published a defense of Harry Styles on the Spinoff) and half of Dunedin band Astro Children. With a plucky guitar verse, a strummed chorus with forlorn cello swelling underneath, and a restrained, perfectly pitched vocal, ‘Relief’ is as good an example of lo-fi indie pop as you’re going to hear these days. An academic study of a boyband is obviously good training for writing and recording super catchy songs in your bedroom. I hope there’s more to come. / HO

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Samantha Urbani – ‘Hints & Implications’

An ’80s anthem for the contemporary ghosted

Samantha Urbani, of Friends’ blog-hit ‘I’m His Girl’, finds a fruitful middle point between 80s pop excess (the bassline! the key change!) and modern disaffection (it’s essentially a song about trying to get someone to text you back) in her new song, ‘Hints and Implications’ (and against all odds and rhythms, that phrase works itself into an earworm of a chorus). The kitchen-sink production works in its favour, with Urbani’s cool-but-still-pining driving the emotional throughline throughout. This is 2017’s anthem for being ghosted by someone you love. A huge, lovelorn tune. / Sam Brooks

Brandy Clark – ‘You’re Drunk’  

Some country for your weekend

In a parallel universe, Brandy Clark would be a bonafide star of modern country music. Originally a great professional writer for the likes of Miranda Lambert and Kacey Musgraves, her own two records have both been critically lauded, Grammy nominated, and generally considered among the best country records of the 2010s. But Clark is a 41-year-old woman, and so she inexplicably has only a single entry in the Billboard country airplay charts (‘Girl Next Door’ peaked at number 39 last year), one of the many sad illustrations of the gender gap that pervades the genre as a whole. ‘You’re Drunk’ is an outtake from her 2016 album Big Day in a Small Town – moving along with an almost reggae-ish beat and chronicling the narrator’s unimpressed response to a drunk gentleman caller showing up at her door at 2am – and showcasing Clark’s easy yet sly delivery at its best. Add it to a country playlist while shaking your head in disbelief at Florida Georgia Line’s latest new chart record. / Pete Douglas

Chase and Status – ‘Love Me More’ ft.  Emile Sandé

Deep dish DnB with just the right amount of cheese

I was but a young sperm during the heyday of the English rave scene, and so it has been to Chase and Status that I’ve gravitated in order to taste the acrid drips of those chemically-enhanced days. ‘Love Me More’ is vintage, ‘Blind Faith’ Chase and Status; a keyboard-driven DnB anthem with just the right amount of cheese to make you hug a stranger like you’re trying to meld into a single sweating organism. I think the lyrics have something to do with self-acceptance and body positivity or something, but really who cares because this music is about feeling, and ‘Love Me More’ is enough to get the nostrils twitching, make no mistake about it. / Don Rowe

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