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Pop Music

As the trends in music evolve, as does the definition of pop music. Pop started as an abbreviation for popular; since the mid-20th-century, it has become the go-to term to define the music currently holding the most favour with the public. The evolving nature of pop makes it hard to pinpoint the pioneers; some say it all started when performers needed a catchy and memorable song in the Victorian area, while others say that pop began with the original crooners in the 30s.

The introduction of the pop music charts in 1952 allowed a cultural shift to form around music. It was at this point in history that teenagers became a massive target for the media. Before this new social reconstruction, there had been no in-between for children and adults. Just as it is now in the TikTok age, where teenagers can make an unknown artist go viral in minutes, teenagers effectively ran the music industry in the 50s too!

After Elvis Presley reigned supreme in the late 50s and early 60s, the Beatles dominated the charts for eight years until they disbanded in 1970. Throughout the 80s, synthpop took the pop limelight until the Boy Band era was born in the 90s. The selling power of East 17, Take That, Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync gave Bob and Chris Herbert the idea to manufacture the world’s ultimate girl group; with the Spice Girls, they discernibly succeeded. After the Spice Girls topped the charts, more manufactured pop acts, such as Britney and Mariah Carey, started to surface. Manufacturing is still a massive part of the pop industry, but more and more pop artists are becoming brave enough to break the mould (think Billie Eilish, St. Vincent and Lorde).

Even though the pop charts are more diverse than ever, with Ed Sheeran sitting next to the Weeknd and Dua Lipa next to Tom Grennan, there are still common factors in their pop tracks. Today, most songs that fall into the pop category follow the extensively tried and tested pop formula. Generally speaking, pop tracks are 3 – 5 minutes in duration, use just one key, contains melodically lyrical soundbites that include the title, have a repeating chorus and keep to 4/4 time signatures. Repetition is quite literally key.

Unless it is a ballad or a stripped back acoustic number, pop tracks usually unfold to danceable tempos and rhythms to complement the lyrical hooks. Elements from every genre can be pulled into pop, the main ones being rock, RnB, hip hop, country, Latin and dance. Indie pop was a force to be reckoned with at the start of the millennium, but two decades in, it has lost its foothold to hip hop and RnB, which have become pop genres in of themselves.

Allen Green’s ‘P’s Up’ Is A Soulful Synthwave Journey Through Hip-Hop Nostalgia

Curating only the smoothest samples for his aural doorways into the exultation of hip-hop nostalgia, Allen Green’s harmony-driven approach to sample-based production has proven irresistible throughout his career which kicked off in 2023 with the mixtape 808 Soul, Vol. 1.

His latest lush with soul release, P’s Up, is an invitation to lose yourself in the tonal transcendence of his ingenuity. It’s a neon-lit euphoric hybrid of synthwave, soul, and hip-hop that temporally drifts through eras and styles, evoking sentimentality for each epoch while standing as a testament to Green’s ability to modernise retro rhythms while staying true to his LA roots.

With everyone from the Alchemist to DJ Jazzy Jeff to Barry White influencing his sonic signature which scribes through hazy synth hues and solid backbeats, you’d be more than hard-pressed to find an artist and producer more resolute in staying true to orchestrating originated syntheses that first and foremost strikes a chord within him and inevitably resonate with his ever-growing fanbase.

P’s Up was officially released on May 16; stream the single on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

USUALLY MODEST became the biggest free-from-vanity rockstar in pop with ‘Toothpick’

USUALLY MODEST came in red-hot with his latest rock-licked hypersonic pop hit, Toothpick, which blurs genre boundaries through an explosion of high-energy hooks and a sense of unfettered exuberance that becomes infectious from the first progression.

Unravelling like an accelerated sonic lovechild of the Weeknd and the 1975, Toothpick speeds past contemporary trends, arriving safely in the confines of the future of pop, inviting listeners in by laying out a doormat woven by innovation

Just as his moniker would lead you to believe the up-and-coming Switzerland-born-and-raised artist with Ukrainian roots, his free-from-vanity sensibility shines through in Toothpick. The sticky-sweet emotional underpinnings are the cherry on the hyper-augmented sonic cake, which will undoubtedly allow the self-taught singer, songwriter and producer to rack up even more streams.

Since his humble beginnings on SoundCloud in 2017, USUALLY MODEST is well on his way to becoming a viral sensation. In the last three years, he’s racked up over 350,000 streams on Spotify along with 50,000 total views on YouTube. His standout single, Soul Searching, has also been in regular rotation on one of the biggest Swiss urban radio stations, yet, we’re sure that there are far bigger accolades waiting to fall on the revolutionary.

Stream the official music video for Toothpick when it premieres on June 7th via YouTube.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Teff exhibited the exhilaration of being inside of love in her Latin Pop triumph, Suerte

Teff

Teff, the Latin Grammy-nominated sensation, has returned with a rhythmic explosion in her latest single, Suerte, which attests to the bliss of finding love in an ocean of 8 billion souls. Suerte, meaning ‘luck’, is a celebration of serendipitous romance that has the capacity to transform every moment into a fervent exhilaration.

The song’s production, co-helmed by the illustrious Bernardo Arzola, is a masterclass in blending quality and innovation. Martha Paredes’ percussion, Camilo Rodriguez’s guitar work, and Danny Thomas Gonzales’ bass provide a rich, soulful backdrop that captures the essence of Teff’s upbeat Latin pop style. The synergy between these artists creates a dynamic and infectious sound that radiates positivity and gratitude.

Teff, born in Caracas and raised in the United States, pours her heart into every beat and lyric of Suerte. Her voice, filled with a fiery passion, navigates the listener through the highs and lows of love, ultimately landing on the sweet realisation that true connection makes every bad moment fade into insignificance. The track’s upbeat tempo and quirky lyrics encapsulate this duality of luck, delivering an authentically heartfelt experience.

Every progression in Suerte is laid down with flourishing finesse, while the effervescence of the crystalline production attests to the transformative power of love. It’s a timeless piece that teaches the ultimate lesson in gratitude and showcases Teff at her most candid and uninhibited. For fans of Latin music, Suerte is an essential listen, capturing the vibrant, soul-rich colour that defines Teff’s unique musical journey.

Suerte will reach all major streaming platforms on June 7th.

Discover Teff on her official website, Facebook, and Instagram.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Nicole Leaskk unveiled RnB’s most authenticated modern love story with ‘Want You’ ft Strizzy Strauss

Nicole Leaskk’s latest Afrobeat-heated single, Want You, is a subversive symbol of defiance in the face of RnB tropes. If you’re tired of the lyrical fawning and mourning old flames as their light dims, tune into the 90s RnB-inspired summer pop anthem that captures the passion of tragically relatable conflict. Tempers run as hot as the tones in RnB’s most authenticated modern love story.

The reprising lyric “I don’t even want you, I just want to prove you’re mine” testifies to the inevitability of becoming an unwilling pawn in mind games if you dare to delve into the dating pool as Latin flavours ooze through the guitars and percussion and bring the rhythmically kinetic groove in the Afrobeat-tinted production.

Strizzy Strauss’ grime-y rap bars work in dynamic contrast to Nicole Leaskk’s firebranded vocals as he delivers the other side of a cat-and-mouse vignette of tormenting prey before casting aside and moving onto the next chase.

The flawless execution of Want You will undoubtedly leave the UK singer-songwriter open to more critical acclaim. If you’re still sleeping on her, you may as well be in a coma.

Want You was officially released on May 31; stream the single on all major platforms via this link.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Candy Rush debuted with her quirky pop revelation, Don’t Even Wanna Know

Don’t Even Wanna Know is the satirically sweet quirky pop debut from the Romanian London-based artist, songwriter and producer, Candy Rush (Elena Ilie). Play it loud and amplify the voice of this generation that is becoming increasingly tired of plastic pop protagonists who shirk autonomy while rattling a begging bowl for commercial success.

The debut is stylistically saccharine enough to implant a voracious sweet tooth in anyone who swims in its honeyed tides of the single which allows idiosyncrasy and autonomy to ebb and flow throughout the avant-garde mix of alt-pop, neo-jazz, funk and soul.

“It feels like an infection to deal with your perfection” is just one of the introspectively enlightening lyrics which embody the lyricist’s ability to move far past the tired tropes and deliver lines that catch you off-guard with the resonant obscurity. Her playful approach to vocal arrangement and unorthodox grooves resulted in a ground-breaking debut which embodied her desire to exhibit the quirks and contradictions of modern life.

With the accessibility of the proverbial girl next door and a talent that could rival HONEYMOAN, Candy Rush will prove to be a force to be reckoned with as she rises up from the alt-pop underground.

Don’t Even Wanna Know was officially released on May 24; stream the single on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Aveah Green delivered polyphonic pop euphoria in ‘Sunny Days’

For the ultimate sun-soaked serotonin fix, look no further than the standout single, Sunny Days, from the irreplicable one and only indie pop artist, Aveah Green.

While some artists are preoccupied with commercial potential in their productions, others use their creativity as a conduit for their uninhibited expression. The playful polyphonic synth-pop tones, the rejection of traditional song structures, and the quirky reverie in the authentically liberated vocal performance in Sunny Days testify to Aveah Green’s fearlessly originated sonic signature that you’ll want to scribe through your mind every time you want to be reminded of the freedom in embracing your own autonomy.

The Seoul, South Korea bedroom pop singer, songwriter, pianist and guitarist made her debut in 2018 and has remained prolific with her releases; with her album, Barrymore Drive, in the pipeline, she is definitely one to watch.

Sunny Days is available to purchase on Apple Music, or you can add the single to your Spotify playlists.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Ella Eliza’s Life Without Me Is A Journey Through Heartbreak and Self-Discovery

London’s queen of queer pop Ella Eliza, exhibited the difference between a singer and a soulstress in her latest single, Life Without Me, which firmly puts her in the latter camp.

With spiritual motifs littered through the lush-with-transcendent-textures single that allows the brooding basslines to create a moody atmosphere for the indie jangle pop guitars and glassy synths to explore, Live Without Me breaks new evocative ground as Eliza exhibits her full vocal range from low sonorous reverberations that bring home the gravity of the vulnerable lyricism to the harmonic highs.

Life Without Me reaches the epitome of vulnerability as Eliza navigates the complex landscape of relationships in the context of self-discovery. By sonically visualising the precipice of potential romantic loss, the urgency in the lyrics which were penned in the aftermath of a breakup cuts deep.

Life Without Me will be available to stream on all major platforms from May 31; for the full experience, stream the official music video on YouTube, which was created in collaboration with the multi-award-winning LGBTQ+ filmmaker, Frankie Joe Gommon.

“After speaking with Frankie about making this video, I decided that I was ready to open up about my sexuality for the first time, and let my audience in on some of the most vulnerable parts of myself. I think there’s still a part of me that’s that 13-year-old girl, who’s scared of showing so much of themselves. I am a lot more comfortable with who I am now, but I think the video reflects my past – which is the current reality for a lot of queer people. My biggest hope is that this song and the video resonates with people who are still trapped in that place, and can inspire them to be their most authentic selves.”

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Embers’ Breakbeats are as Hard-Hitting as Her Bite in ‘Teeth’

By anchoring the transcendent house elements with the forcefully resonant undertones of the bass that reverberate through the entrancing breakbeat production against techno beats and vocal pop hooks, Embers’ started a fire that will never go out with her latest single, Teeth.

Sensually sonorous in one breath and rhythmically liberating in the next, every progression is a revelation in stylistic motion in Teeth, which attests to the London-based singer-songwriter and producer’s triple-threat talent that is making waves in the UK electronica scene and tearing attention away from the likes of Sylvan Esso, Lapsley, and Maggie Rogers.

While the instrumentals deliver an expansive brand of alchemy, Embers brings the intimacy with her ever-ascending vocal lines, making Teeth fitting for late-night sessions of reflection, your after-party playlists, and whenever you need reminding of the transformative power of sound orchestrated by a visionary who knows exactly to stir the soul with melody.

Teeth was officially released on May 24; stream the single on all major platforms via this link.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Pearl Poet – At the End of the World: Apocaloptimist Electro Pop

At the End Of the World by Pearl Poet

If the end of the world is nigh, we may as well follow the human proclivity to romanticise tragedy; there’s no better track to look at the apocalypse through an affectionate lens than the latest single, At the End of the World, by the Floridian producer duo, Pearl Poet. The pangs of euphoria as soon as you immerse yourself in the nu-disco landscape of melody, sincerity and harmony could turn up the heat in the bitterest soul.

As the lyrics and effect-imbued vocals euphonise on a thin line between existentialism and exuberance, the thematic duality of At the End of the World will take the reigns of your rhythmic and emotional impulses; relinquish control and you’ll find yourself in the safe hands of a gifted duo of apocaloptimist electro-pop producers.

The 80s pop aesthetic may continuously be revisited in 2024, but few artists are better placed to modernise the lush neon-lit synthetics as Pearl Poet. Wherever their creative journey takes them next, we want to be there for it.

At the End of the World will be available to stream on all major platforms from May 31. Stream and purchase the single now on Bandcamp.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Grief transmuted into ground-breaking dance-pop in Tori BLK’s anthem of fortitude A-Okay

Tori BLK

Ignited by fiery pop-punk energy, Tori BLK’s latest dance-pop track, A-Okay, is an act of intense sonic fortitude. Written in the months following losing her mother to liver cirrhosis in February 2024, the single delivers mantras and sonics of solace as it sarcastically scathes at the internal and external expectations to be okay in the wake of a tragedy so colossal you lose your sense of gravity in an alien orbit of reality.

With so many layers to the single, consuming it completely requires digging deep into the emotional and thematic mantles of the single in addition to acknowledging how the instrumentation and stylistic touches amplify the heart-wrenching yet juxtaposing soul-enriching essence of the single.

As the hard-hitting beats thrash against the grief, the upbeat synth-carved melodies deliver the consolation in synergy with Tori BLK’s ascendingly ethereal vocal lines until the chorus hits and she fervently delivers the refrain “tell me that I’m okay, tell me that I’m a-okay”. The heterogeneous hit is inexplicably affecting; it transcends music to exhibit an unfiltered manifestation of a grief-torn soul. As someone who has also experienced the loss of their mother, I can attest first-hand to how raw and real the resonance is.

If this is your first introduction to Tori BLK (AKA Victoria Islas) and her ability to alchemise, transmute and transform broken hearts, it will be an unforgettable acquainting with the singer-songwriter, music producer, poet and spiritual intuitive.

A-Okay will be available to stream on all major platforms from May 31; find your preferred way to listen and connect with Tori BLK through her official website.

Review by Amelia Vandergast