Only Time Makes It Human
When Mikaela Straus first appeared, it was hard to shake the sense that her music didn’t live up to her supreme swagger: 1950 aside, it was all a bit “All Saints B-sides”. This crushes those doubts: Straus drops the pose and tortures herself over the memory of an ex-girlfriend with pouty petulance, set to a disco whirlwind.
Netflix’s Emily in Paris isn’t just cliche-ridden ordures with as much substance as a macaron, it’s also yet another lily-white portrayal of the multicultural French capital. Sack off the hate-watching and turn your attention to Mali-born, Paris-raised Aya Nakamura, France’s biggest pop star, whose self-possessed Afropop is laced with straight-talking dating dispatches that should make Darren Star’s limp “coq” jokes shrivel.
The Weather Station
Tamara Lindeman leaves her debut’s poised Americana for a more sensual world: the chamber-pop weirdness of Kate Bush and Julia Holter echoes through her impressionistic mockery of the Trumpy, Tory falsehood that immigrants are peeping through your garden fence, sizing up your spoils. Building to a brassy squall, it captures the strange dissonance of living under these liars.
Not a Pop Song
Little Mix lay waste to Simon Cowell (whose clutches they escaped in 2018), to sexist expectations of girl groups, and to the concept of guilty pleasures. All the while, the delicious weirdness of this intergalactic cheerleader chant – verses unspooling at about nine different speeds – subtly advertises the weirdo spirit behind their new talent show. Is a chef’s kiss-off a thing? It is now.
Waving at the Window
Post-Britpop, pre-Libertines, British indie lived in pop’s dumper, with some exceptions. Remember how well Fran Healy did dejection, slumping into Why Does It Always Rain on Me with perfect teenage melodrama? Sadly, the memory is made more distant by this soggy breakup song. FYI Healy does not want to see his ex “waving at the window”, presumably because he was dating Mr Benn or an over-friendly postal worker.