Last week we got new music from Britney Spears, Katy Perry and Zayn 'ZAYN' Malik. There's no point in pretending otherwise, this week is decidedly less A-list. Last week was 'Strictly Come Dancing', this week it's a bit more 'Dancing On Ice', but let's just get stuck in regardless, shall we? Here are three of the biggest new tunes for this week...
1. Cher Lloyd - 'Activated'
I'm not being funny, but Cher Lloyd should be the biggest popstar in the UK by this point. Astonishingly, it's been six(!) years since we first heard Cheryl uttering the immortal words "you are right up my street", and her performance of 'Turn My Swag On' is still held up as the quintessential 'X Factor' audition.
Never before (or since) has an 'X Factor' hopeful rocked up to their audition and already been a ready-made popstar in the way that Cher Lloyd did back in 2010, and while her time on the show might have been blighted by reports that she was a nightmare behind the scenes (all from "sources" and "insiders", might I add), her performances got stronger and stronger as the weeks went on.
Then, what did they go and do with her? They cocked it right up and released 'Swagger Jagger' as her lead single. Syco had what was undeniably one of the most exciting singers they've ever had on their roster, and they gave her a souped-up nursery rhyme to release as her debut, with a load of sirens and special effects and yelling over the top of it. The song was trash, and it made Cher Lloyd look like a joke.
In a parallel universe, Cher released 'Activated' as her debut single instead of that garbage heap. 'Activated' manages to perfectly toe the line between being laid-back and cool-sounding, while still coming across like enough major label folks had faith in the song that it's worth investing your time in. It's basically exactly what I would have wanted from 2010 Cher Lloyd to release.
It opens with a lovely "ooh-ooh ooh-ooh", slightly reminiscent of your camp auntie trying to get your attention through a car window (it actually reminds me of a lower-BPM version of Little Mix's 'Move', as it goes), and by the time Cher's singing an effortless "when I do the damn thing just watch me" on the chorus, you can't help but feel like you want to do what she says.
Give it a listen for yourself below:
In honour of Kim Kardashian's infamous Snapchat saga this week, how many sleeping Rick Rubins out of five has Cher Lloyd's 'Automatic' racked up?
Look at him. Like a little, bearded angel.
2. Sophie Ellis-Bextor - 'Come With Me'
"I know where you belong, yeah, follow me," Sophie Ellis-Bextor sings in the introductory verse to her new song, 'Come With Us'.
Listen, Sophie. I like you a lot. I think you're lovely. I saw you at V Festival once and you were brilliant (although I was so drunk that the only reason I know I saw you at all is because there's a video of me and my friend ballroom dancing to 'Murder On The Dance Floor' on my iPhone, filmed by a total stranger).
But I'm not convinced I should be "following you" or that you "know where I belong"... because quite honestly I don't think that you're presently where you belong. You should be sitting proudly on your throne as the queen of the underrated twinkly pop ditty.
I get that underrated twinkly pop ditty after underrated twinkly pop ditty must have been getting a bit tiresome, and sometimes as an artist you need to flex your muscles and do something a bit different and break out of the box you (or your fans) have put you in. And I respect that - I even made it a third of the way through Lady Gaga's jazz album, for heaven's sake.
I've got to say it, though, Sophie. I thought you'd got all this out of your system with that last "organic" album. Why am I hearing bass guitar riffs? Why am I hearing an actual guitar solo in the middle? When is the Freemasons remix coming?
'Come With Us' is a nice enough song, and the disco influence hasn't gone unnoticed, and it's appreciated. But I'm not getting the urge to ever listen to it again, which is a shame given the absolute pop gems in Sophie's back catalogue.
Perhaps I'm being a bit harsh, and luckily for you, you can decide for yourself now, because here comes the song:
And here come some poorly-cropped images of Rick Rubin to illustrate my apathy towards it:
And here, just for good measure, is a far superior song:
3. Major Lazer - 'Cold Water', feat. Justin Bieber and MØ
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge might have long faded from our memories along with loom bands, Miley Cyrus's flailing tongue and other things that were inexplicably popular in 2014, but Major Lazer are determined to remind us of it with their new song, 'Cold Water'.
Alright, I don't think 'Cold Water' is actually about the fundraising trend that lost its credibility the exact moment my dad sat in the back garden and poured a washing-up bowl full of ice over himself while my mam rolled her eyes in the background, but I do expect it to be just as prevalent this summer.
Much like with Snake Hips' effort last week, the draw here isn't actually Major Lazer (or MØ, which a quick Google search tells me is pronounced 'meuhhh'), but the fact the song's guest vocalist is Justin Bieber, whose music you've probably heard if you've left the house in 2016. Or, indeed, if you haven't.
'Cold Water' has all the hallmarks of what made The Biebs' last album such a hit (and I don't just mean the really buff cover art, although he does look really buff on the cover art). He's singing to some "lucky lady" about how devoted he is to her, and how he "won't let go" and wants to be "her lifeline" and all those lovely lies you tell people to get them to quit their complaining, and then, what do you know, we then get the OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY when MØ (again, pronounced 'meuhhh') gets the chance to sing.
There's not actually all that much more to say, to be honest. 'Cold Water' sounds exactly like you'd expect a Major Lazer and Justin Bieber collaboration to sound in the summer of 2016, and you'll no doubt be hearing it in heterosexual discotheques from now until... well... the next Justin Bieber hit, I imagine.
Have a listen to it for yourself below:
And now, here is Rick Rubin's sleeping face replicated four times, to illustrate my point about my enjoyment of this song:
To conclude then, let's just remind ourselves of Justin Bieber's Ice Bucket Challenge, while we're moderately on the topic: