Welcome to another new series for Music 4 The Masses and it once again contains the idea of monthly feedback to all of you guys in terms of new releases and what I think of them. Each month I will be telling you which new singles of that month are the best and worst, covering some of the biggest names in music from all kinds of genres. January 2017 gave us a lot of comeback artists and a few fresh faces that sprung surprises on us with new singles, whether or not they were good is why you are here to see. Artists such as Gorillaz, Arcade Fire and Ed Sheeran brought us singles this month as well as the fresher faces of Zara Larsson, Rag’N’Bone Man and Major Lazer. I have covered them all for you and I will tell you now whether or not they’re worth listening to or if you can miss them out.
Ed Sheeran – Shape Of You: 9/10
Ed Sheeran took the world by storm with his first two albums (+ and x) and once he had conquered the musical world he took a year long hiatus from social media, presumably to go and live his life a bit and keep fresh for a triumphant return. Sure enough, 2017 has arrived and Ed is back, he has a new album on the way which follows the mathematical symbol pattern and is scheduled to be called ‘Divide’ but there isn’t that symbol on a computer keyboard. With this song, the first of two new singles to arrive this month, Ed used a more electronic instrumental but sounded just as passionate and confident in his vocal delivery. It’s a fantastic track but I will be the first to admit that it took time for me to get on with it so don’t give up on it completely after the first listen.
The xx – Say Something Loving: 9/10
The xx had a break after their second album ‘Coexist’ and returned late in 2016 with ‘On Hold’ which is a fantastic lead single. They then followed it up with this, another electronic upbeat track with a usual xx tint to it and I for one love it. Romy and Oliver sound slick and beautiful together on it and they are partnered with another blinder of an instrumental courtesy of superhero Jamie xx. The album came very soon after this and it didn’t fail to deliver, with this one standing out as a highlight on a very good album as a whole. Definitely one of my favourites of the month.
London Grammar – Rooting For You: 8/10
It has been a long-awaited return for London Grammar, who dazzled us all with their haunting debut album ‘If You Wait’ in 2013; and now they are back and better than ever. Once more the standout aspect of the song is those absolutely beautiful vocals supplied to us by lead singer Hannah Reid, who has claimed a lot of praise for her fantastic range and her ability to completely dominate a song and this is no different. Soft and easy-listening in the instrumental, the key word for this song would be ‘intriguing’ as we await to see what they will do next.
Wiley – Speakerbox: 6/10
I am a big fan of Wiley and always have been, his flow is better than just about anyone coming out of this country and he truly is the godfather of grime, as his new album title suggests. With all this being said, I am not a huge fan of the beat on this song and it is a shame because just about everything else is there and in place to be a great grime track. The chorus is catchy and the bars are quick and punchy, but the beat is just too loud and too much to handle unfortunately.
Dua Lipa – Thinking ‘Bout You: 8/10
This is as catchy as it gets in the chorus and I really like the fragility of the acoustic settings which really gives her a chance to shine with her voice. It is just a cool track which gets better the more you hear it and hopefully there is much more to come from Dua Lipa, there will more than likely be an album on the way and I am excited to hear what she has to offer on that going off the evidence of this track.
Major Lazer feat. PARTYNEXTDOOR & Nicki Minaj – Run Up: 7/10
The latest chart hit to come from Major Lazer has surprised a few with the features chosen to provide vocals for it, with Nicki Minaj and OVO member PARTYNEXTDOOR being given the responsibility. The song itself is very cool and PND does a very good job on his biggest platform yet with two good verses and a very catchy hook. Nicki has a very hit and miss verse but when it’s good, it’s really good. Good tune but it’s nothing remarkable really.
Zara Larsson feat. Ty Dolla $ign – So Good: 2/10
Now I will be the first to admit that I have a real soft spot for Zara Larsson, I think she is a really good artist amongst other things, but this is absolutely trash, pure and simple. The stupid stuttery piano beat drives me up the wall and her vocals/lyrics are just so underwhelming. Ty Dolla has to be the most inconsistent feature artist of all time, he can do a Real Friends and then he can do this, woeful.
Tinie Tempah feat. Tinashe – Text From Your Ex: 3/10
This is just pure dross, I can’t believe Tinie has become this honestly because he used to be the king of UK rap when Pass Out was topping the charts, but look how the mighty have fallen. This is just poor there aren’t really many more words for it, I am aware that this song has been made to be a pop banger but it has failed drastically, this one certainly isn’t as good as Girls Like with Zara Larsson was.
Arcade Fire feat. Mavis Staples – I Give You Power: 6/10
The inclusion of Mavis Staples seems odd enough but it doesn’t come close to justifying quite how bizarre a song this is from an already strange band in Arcade Fire. The production on it is fantastic that much isn’t up for discussion, I’m just saying it’s all a bit odd and too much to deal with. It’s clear that this is an anti-Trump rallying cry from them, but repeating the same few lines over and over seems a bit lacklustre given the ability they possess as a band. Middle of the road for me and it sounds like a creative risk that has kind of worked and kind of hasn’t.
The Chainsmokers – Paris: 2/10
Oh my god guys, you’re never going to guess! The Chainsmokers have released another sub-par brainless, talentless EDM track. I don’t want to waste my energy on this group and the sooner they are drained from the music industry the better, just know that this and every song they have done is truly terrible.
Gorillaz feat. Benjamin Clementine – Hallelujah Money: 7/10
The production is fantastic, absolutely first class from Damon Albarn and co. there. The feature of Benjamin Clementine was always going to spark debate but it had the potential to create something absolutely magical, especially given the fact that Clementine himself is a Mercury Music Prize winner. Much like the Arcade Fire track, it is very strange and is an adverse dig at Donald Trump. After long consideration and a lot of listens, I think I like it but I don’t think I will ever be 100% sure.
Ed Sheeran – Castle On The Hill: 6/10
This one sounds more like an archetypical Ed Sheeran song than Shape Of You does but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is a better song as such. I do like it but I just think it lacks something really, the instrumental isn’t amazing but the story behind the song is a strong selling point and it is very real so that much is impressive from Ed. Not an awful lot to say about this, I’m neither here nor there about it.
Rag’n’Bone Man – Skin: 9/10
The Critics choice award winner for the BRIT awards this year as pulled it off once again here, following up his breakout hit ‘Human’ with another stroke of brilliance with ‘Skin’. Every year we get one or two artists from this country that are truly special, last year we had Jack Garratt and this year we have Rag’n’Bone Man. His voice on this song is powerful and emotional while the instrumental is meaningful and fitting given the style of the song. One of the best singles of the month without a doubt.