You may have noticed a dearth of posts lately. That’s because I’ve been getting a lot more paid blogging work, and at the end of the day writing an extra blog post for a personal passion project hardly seems worth the time. But in the past week I got complaints from two people who told me they missed these posts, and relied on them to find new music. Meanwhile, a friend of my was lamenting that there were no new pop songs this summer as infectious as last year’s singles from Lorde. This was enough to spur me to action, as you know no phrase tickles my ranty bone like “They don’t make good music like they used to,” even when “they used to” was just a few seasons ago. My reply to such an audacious untruth is always, “CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.”
In fact, I’ve chosen to limit this post to girl pop singers, because, hey, I don’t have all day to tell you about all the great music out there so I need to narrow it down, OK? These aren’t fast-paced songs like you’d get from Dragonette or Icona Pop. As this post was inspired by Lorde, these are songs paced similar to her work, the kind of songs you could dance to, but will just as likely listen to while doing a thousand other tasks. They are songs that, like Lorde, reward repeat listening with interesting lyrics.
Julian Moon – Good Girl
Listening to Julian Moon reminds me of the first time I heard Sheryl Crow. It’s music that’s a little bit twangy, but too clean for country, and a little bit rock while still firmly cheery enough to be pop. This is one of those songs that is so clever, you’ll wonder how pop music has gotten along without it for so many years. The song is everything the “Good Girl” next door should be: sexy but approachable, familiar but unforgettable.
As of this posting, Julian Moon is offering “Good Girl” as a free download on Soundcloud, so there’s no reason her flirty voice shouldn’t be keeping you up all night, playing this number on repeat.
Hayley Kiyoko – Girls Like Girls
Hayley Kiyoko is also offering a free download, so I’m sharing the Soundcloud link below so you can grab it, but first I have to show you the video. I’m going to be honest with you, this video makes me more verklempt than Linda Richman at a Streisand concert.
I know there have been a ton of songs about girls liking girls, but for some reason this one feels really right to me. Many of the earlier bi-curious anthems feel more like they are in service to a man’s fetish than reflective of something real (I’m staring rudely at you, Katie Perry). At best, they are pointed political statements about equality. But “Girls Like Girls” is more like, “yeah, sometimes girls like girls, so what?” And I think that’s how the upcoming generation truly feels about it. I think this song makes me cry not because we need another gay rights anthem, but because of how casual the whole thing is. We waited so long for progress, so long it seemed impossible, and then it came all at once, so swiftly was justice brought about that a single generation later and the kids can hardly see what all the fuss was about.
Hayley Kiyoko – Girls Like Girls Video
So good, right?! Do you need a tissue? I do…every fucking time. And the chemistry between the girls is so true, like even though they’re not doing anything in the video, you can feel it between them. And the scene at the end, you can see not how much they lust for each other, but how much they care about each other.
As far as I know, Hayley Kiyoko isn’t queer, I don’t think she’s even in the video (however, she did direct it). She’s primarily an actress, a Disney actress no less, best known for parts in CSI and as Velma in Scooby Doo. And those are the sorts of things that would normally prejudice me against a performer. But based solely on this song, I can’t wait to hear what this Disney princess puts out next.
Now here’s the Soundcloud so you can buy “Girls Like Girls.” I hope to listen to it enough times that I can hear it without turning into Linda Richman.
Bebe Rexha – I’m Gonna Show You Crazy
If the queer pride movement has crested (and the trans pride movement is currently on the rise) I believe the next big social movement is going to be for the nutters. Half of everyone is on some kind of psychiatric drug these days, while social services for mental illness are either terrible or non-existent. Which is not to say that every dance anthem has to have some moral underpinning. I mean to say, there are always a lot of crazy girls on the dance floor and those girls will immediately embrace this song, dancing their asses off with fists pumping. Rexha has a sultry and powerful voice and the with the fierce music behind her, she makes Meredith Brook’s “Bitch” sound like a family campfire song in comparison. Though we may not all be medicated, I think everyone can identify with this song, that moment when you cut loose and decide to own all the labels thrown at you, and then some.
Alessia Cara – Here
You know that feeling when you’re at a party, and you’re just so ready to go home? There’s someone trying to talk to you, and they mean well, and it’s nothing personal, but they could really just drop dead as far as you care, and everywhere you look there’s annoying people making bad decisions, and you don’t want to force your friends to leave, but you don’t want to spend another second in these uncomfortable shoes, and this loud music? YES I KNOW YOU KNOW THAT FEELING. Because even I know that feeling, and I’m always the last person who wants to leave the party. Alessia Cara has captured that feeling perfectly in “Here.” She doesn’t just tell us, she shows us, with all kinds of details about her surroundings, and that’s what we call good writing.
For the main sections, she sing-raps in the way that has been popularized by artists like Keisha, but Cara has a fantastic voice, deeper and more sultry than I’d expect from one so young. But the lyrics are interesting and she sings them fast enough that you get sucked in, want to learn the words so you can sing along. The back up vocals and the single piano key give the song weight.
I have this song followed by a remix of it on my Hypem list, which means that when I listen to my playlist I hear it twice. I’ve yet to skip either version.
These four songs are fighting it out to be my new favorite thing in the world right now. They are the soundtrack for my summer. What’s yours?