The 2018 Grammy Awards saw some incredible and deserving wins but there was a lot of disputes over who actually deserved some of the other awards. Out of all of the 8 televised awards only 1 female won. That statistic feels a little wrong doesn't it? Somehow Ed Sheeran won Best Pop Vocal with “Shape Of You” over Kesha’s “Praying” or Lady Gaga’s “Million Reasons” whilst SZA didn't even win one of her 5 nominations. Then Lorde was the only Album Of The Year nominee who didn't get to perform on the night because the Grammys board wouldn't allow her to perform an original song or by herself unlike the four other male nominees. The head of the board then made a statement the next day saying how female artists needed to “step up their game”.
Doesn't that just give you a little sick feeling in your stomach? Last year saw a lot of bold and empowering pop songs and albums released by female artists who have ALWAYS “stepped up their game”. Julia Michaels, Lady Gaga, Kesha, SZA, Lorde and Lana Del Rey were all snubbed from their respective awards because an old white male businessman thinks Bruno Mar’s “24K Magic” and Ed Sheeran’s “Shape Of You” are universally stronger. It just makes me feel a little sick that we are in 2018 and this conversation of equal rights and recognition is still needing to happen.
Otherwise, there were some cool pop tracks released this week as well as some confusing ones that you really should check out.
ALBUM REVIEW: Justin Timberlake - Man Of The Woods
I really wanted to love this record because I think Justin Timberlake is such an incredible performer and artist but “Man Of The Woods” is sadly a little bit below average. The album fails to successfully blend his rhythmic and full band sound with the country roots he’s trying to implement. It feels too forced and polished whereas he should’ve been a bit more natural with the delivery. The albums strongest moment comes from the stripped back collaboration with Chris Stapleton “Say Something” which impresses with it’s raw emotion. The monster lead single “Filthy” takes a little while to grow on you whilst tracks like “Sauce”, “Midnight Summer Jam” and “Higher Higher” will instantly have you taping your feet along. But the common issue surrounding this record is the confusion of genres. He has so many musical ideas happening that he just loses you. “Wave”, “Supplies”, “Flannel” and title track “Man Of The Woods” are painfully awful while the rest of the album is forgettable at best. I was waiting for a big “Mirrors” moment or a “My Love” styled singalong or even a “Can’t Stop This Feeling” cheese fest but it never came. It’s bold and ambitious that he constantly tries to reinvent himself and grow as an artist but sometimes you should just try to improve what you are already doing.
SINGLE OF THE WEEK: Eilish Gilligan - S.M.F.Y
Over the last year Melbourne singer-songwriter Eilish Gilligan has been delivering some alternative pop tracks with big heart and a lot of emotion. Her new single “S.M.F.Y” hears her heading towards a polished pop sound while still holding onto her alternative roots. There are so many things I love about this song but one of the things that first grabbed my attention was the unusual and captivating structure. The track doesn’t have your typical verse, chorus format and instead hears the production growing along with the storyline until the vibrant production breakdown at the end which will have you wanting to dance like no one is watching. Lyrically the song is a bit of a rollercoaster of emotions. It reflects on a relationship that has ended and having to come to terms with the fact that it’s over but not being able to stop thinking about them. Instead of it being super sad its more reflective and a positive tribute to who they used to be. However, my heart couldn’t help but break when she sang the line “Your mum is missing me and I miss everything” but then she made me feel all warm and fuzzy seconds later when she finally revealed what the acronym “S.M.F.Y” meant… “Cause wasn’t it the truth, so magic finding you”. The production, structure and execution is flawless and I can’t fault it one bit. The track sounds like the little sister to Lorde’s “The Lourve” and I love it.
SINGLE REVIEW: Iggy Azalea feat. Quavo - Savior
Iggy Azalea’s forthcoming sophomore record “Surviving The Summer” has been a long and messy journey so far and apparently she’s restarting the promotional circuit once again. She’s taking it back to basics with the island influenced RNB track “Savior” which is actually quite the bop. Ditching the electronic-pop influence that her last singles had this song focuses more on a rhythmic production and hears her delivering a decent rap flow. It re-discovers the raw essence her early music impressed with and doesn’t come across too try hard or gimmicky unlike some of her previous singles. She also opens up on this track and explores the idea of being able to be your own savior by searching for that strength within yourself. It’s catchy and grows on you with each listen. However, can everyone stop using Quavo as a feature on their songs and choose a different rapper? It’s getting a little predictable and boring and there are a lot of stronger rappers she could’ve used as a feature. While the song may not be as captivating as “Work” or “Change Your Life” it does have the potential to win people over again who believe she is a little problematic.
SINGLE REVIEW: Jennifer Lopez - Us
Usually Jennifer Lopez can do no wrong in my eyes but this time she highly disappointed me with her mess of a new single. “Us” is an interesting collaboration with Skrillex and Poo Bear that hears her trying to fit in with the EDM trend that pop music is adapting towards. Instead she should’ve just continued to make great pop and RNB tracks like she has for the past 15 years. The song try’s so hard to be fresh and captivating but what it actually ends up sounding like is a tacky 2011 B-side. I wish I could say that the production was at least good but I’m unsure if Skrillex or Poo Bear even finished mastering the track before she released it because it doesn’t really meet up to their usual standards. And lyrically the song is a tad…generic. There’s no real substance to it and just hears her repeating the same refrain over and over again. I really wanted this to be the massive dance floor anthem she’s needed since “Dance Again” but it’s not. instead it just another forgettable track that you don’t even need to listen to all the way through.
SINGLE REVIEW: Peking Duk - Wasted
Peking Duk are back with another smash hit that is awaiting chart domination. “Wasted” is the carefree weekend jam you need in your life and with its appropriate title you are going to want to do a lot of drinking and dancing whilst listening. It is just 3 minutes of typical Peking Duk with big synths, a slick beat drop and ridiculously catchy radio friendly hook. The boys take lead on the vocals this time with no guest feature which actually works really well for this song. From a first listen it will instantly be stuck in your head and you will be quickly running to a dance floor near you to tear it up. They are kind of becoming the kings of the Australian charts and festival circuit and it’s pretty exciting. More bangers please.
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Want to listen to some of these songs? Then check out the #BLEACHED playlist on Spotify which is curated each week by Thomas Bleach featuring his favourite new releases.