New Songs Sunday: Pop perfection with Charlie Puth, Ava Max, Louis Tomlinson & Kali Uchis

The first week of September sees many pop stars return to the spotlight with their releases. Charlie Puth, Justin Bieber, Louis Tomlinson, Ava Max and Kali Uchis all release new tracks. Love is in the air this week. Sigala’s “Living Without You” and The 1975’s “I’m In Love With You” lead the love parade. And finally, album and release date announcements abound.

We also see the release of Cryalot’s anticipated debut EP, Icarus and Nina Nesbitt’s 12-track studio album, ÄLSKAR.

  1. Arctic Monkeys – There’d Better Be A Mirrorball

With one of the most beautiful pieces of music released this year, Arctic Monkeys return to releasing new music. Their latest single is cinematic and orchestral, with soft rock and lounge pop influences that they had explored in their last album, 2018’s Tranquillity Base Hotel & Casino. “Mirrorball” is simply splendid and filled with emotional highs and lows. Alex Turner’s songwriting and vocal delivery only make it more heartbreaking. Those who were not in on the band’s last sound might be disappointed to see them continue in this vein; it’s a far cry from the garage rock that they had first come to be known for. Their forthcoming studio album, The Car, will be out on October 21, 2022.

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  1. Louis Tomlinson – Bigger Than Me

The talented singer-songwriter, and former One Direction member, returns with a brand new single. Last releasing Walls in 2020, the 30-year old makes a comeback with “Bigger Than Me”. It’s an emotionally rousing pop-rock single with great vocals and an evocative subject. It’s a surefire hit with live performances, as it will be a future stadium anthem. Tomlinson’s second studio album, Faith in the Future, will be out on November 11.

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  1. Ava Max – Million Dollar Baby

American-Albanian artist Ava Max once again takes on the 2010s pop genre with her latest song, “Million Dollar Baby”. No one’s doing it like her. Seriously. Does that make her ahead of her time? Or is she just late to the party? It’s a likeable track for the Ava fandom. There’s also a throwback to her 2018 hit “Sweet But Psycho” when Max goes “M-m-ma-ma”. Having said that, we still don’t get to know who she is underneath her icy popstar glamour facade. And she continues to play it safe. Look out for her new LP, Diamonds and Dancefloors.

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  1. Charlie Puth – Smells Like Me

Yet another album announcement! Puth’s CHARLIE will be out on October 7. “Smells Like Me” has some touching, intimate lyrics with pop being the foundation, and some rock flourishes. Puth sings of being away from his partner for a while and how his cologne is still on his shirts. He wonders if she can smell him on the clothes. If Beabadoobe sang about her boyfriend’s shirts in “Cologne”, then “Smells Like Me” is the boyfriend’s POV.

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  1.  GAYLE – god has a sense of humor

Rising star GAYLE has an EP coming out on the same day as Puth’s album. Named simply a study of the human experience volume two, it’s a sequel to her previous EP. GAYLE proves she’s more than just “abcdefu” with this pop-rock track that explores existential themes. The existence of a god, suffering, emptiness, depression, it’s got all the topics to try appealing to the edgy, emo kids. For those who are already her fans, this is gospel.

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  1. The 1975 – I’m In Love With You

The English pop-rock band are awaiting the release of their LP, Being Funny In A Foreign Language, which comes out on October 14. Wow, October really is going to be a busy month in popular music. “I’m In Love With You” is your sweet, but by-the-numbers, “declaration of love” song which is in the Charlie Puth alley of the grocery store. Can we say The 1975 are turning into Maroon 5 and Bruno Mars with their wedding-friendly songs? Perhaps… We’ll have to see.

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  1. Shygirl – Nike

This is probably Shygirl’s best single since “Firefly”. With minimal beats and restrained instrumentation, the rapping takes centre stage. And shines bright at it. Rapper Shygirl is in her element here, as we get the perfect amount of humour, raunchiness and a cute accent that makes the artist true to the title of her upcoming LP, Nymph. It’s honestly so playful and funny. She raps, “He told me Nike, just do it. Hands on my breast and my batty like he knew it. I tell him lay the pipe. And he blew it.” Along with the athletic wear company, she also namedrops Peri Peri and Big Mac. If the companies aren’t sponsoring her, they should.

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  1.  Kali Uchis – NO HAY LEY

The new Spanish-language single by Kali Uchis is just fabulous. It sounds nothing like music in English-language. It makes you want to give a listen to Latin music. “I wrote this song about putting love above all else,” Uchis said of the track. “‘There are no laws to love. Be with who makes you happy, and don’t listen to what anyone else has to say about it because it wasn’t their business in the first place!”

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  1. Lady Leshurr – TABASCO

Is “Tabasco” a promo song for the pepper sauce? Looks like it. The new track by British rapper Lady Leshurr is fast paced reggae rap that is energising and perfect for the clubs. Leshurr delivers her signature quick-fire bars that will you breathless, and a little dazed. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is all up to you.

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  1. Pussy Riot – PLAYTHING (feat. REI AMI & Kito)

“PLAYTHING” is the new bonus track on Russian outfit Pussy Riot’s muscial project, MATRIARCHY NOW. If every track in MN has an individual theme: like being a dominatrix, sugar mommy, or a submissive doll, this is about treating a boy as a plaything. Consensually, of course. ““PLAYTHING” is about unapologetically owning your sexuality and letting your horninnes be your playground (always with respect, always with consent)”, says frontwoman Nadya Tolokonnikova. With a heavy bass and magnetic performances by Nadya, Rei and Kito, combined with heavy bass, this is one of the brightest tracks on the mixtape.

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  1.  Sigala, David Guetta, Sam Ryder – Living Without You

London-based musician Sigala makes a Top 40 chart-friendly house dance track. There’s pining vocals, lovey-dovey lyrics and a punchy groove to kick it up on the dancefloor. It’s a perfect summer song, so it’s a mystery why it was released this autumn.

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  1. Zella Day – Mushroom Punch

“And I run, run, run. And I choo-choo-choo. Before somebody else is your somebody new”. Zella Day is absolutely adorable in this equally heartbreaking, vulnerable and humorous take on folks-y Americana music. Zella is incapable of making a bad song. Her second studio album, Sunday In Heaven, will be out October 14.

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  1.  ELIZA – ME vs ME

The fourth single off Eliza Lovechild’s highly anticipated second LP, A Sky Without Stars, has some mesmerising and introspective lyrics that capture the feeling of demons making misery in your mind. “I’m feeling good… All of the Gods are on my side. And then one turns and takes a hold. Laughs in the face of my lack of control… Get out of my brain oh”. The songwriting will touch many listeners, although the melody at first listen does not stand out at all.

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  1. Flohio – Highest

Flohio delivers bold and confident bars against a swirly hook. “Highest” cements the young rapper as one of London’s most promising musical acts.

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  1. YUNGBLUD – Tissues

The 25-year old rocker from Doncaster, UK melds rock and pop-punk together to make yet another energetic, zany hit that his young fandom will gobble up.

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  1. Fazerdaze – Break!

The song begins with Amelia Murray singing, “a lowkey loser, a stranger to herdself”. The previous single “Come Apart” marked the beginning of an angstier era for Fazerdaze, and that seems to be affirmed with this second, even edgier track. Sonically, “Break!” holds back more than “Come Apart” but its lyrics are darker and nihilistic. “Pray to God, it’s a shame no one’s listening”, she croons, or “I’m just gonna break” and “don’t tell me it’s gonna okay”. We hope she feels better. Fazerdaze has announced her second EP, Break!.

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  1.  Tay Money – Hands Up (with Monaleo)

Monaleo pulls no punches in her verses, “He call me when he tipsy, He got a b**ch and a baby that stay at the house. But he still be ready to risk it… We not friends, you not my sissy… “I feel sorry for the next hoe that try me, send up a prayer”. Like damn, sis. But the overall track feels too short, and lacks a bridge. It could also do with an extra verse by Tay Money. The vocals feel unclear and fuzzy which I am not sure if that was intentional.

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  1. TSHA, Clementine Douglas – Dancing In The Shadows

British singer-producer TSHA is soon to drop her album, Capricorn Sun on Oct 7. “Dancing In The Shadows” is a fantastic recall of 90s/00s jungle garage music. The vocals on the chorus are cut and rearranged and that makes for a great club-friendly chorus. The singing is immaculate too.

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Check out the “New Songs Sunday” playlist on Spotify. 

Also read | ‘Fresh’ review: horror movie about online dating is creepy and well-acted


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