#SWLTOM

#SWLTOM: Betty Who, Heize, Ralph & More

Welcome to #StillWorthListeningToOnMonday, a round-up of the week’s best releases and #NewMusicFriday standouts you’ll actually care about once the weekend ends. Don’t waste your valuable stream worth a fraction of a cent.

Hello! How are you all doing out there? Tossing everything out of your closet to make room for all the Kenzo yet? Thought so.

Let’s do this – in no particular order obviously, because that gives me anxiety.

Betty Who, “Look Back”

Betty Who left her label and went indie – and based on her latest track, co-written with Jesse Saint John – she shouldn’t ever look back, because the future’s looking bright. After serving up her official kiss-off “Ignore Me,” Miss Who’s doubled down on the pop sound with the flirty, reggae-tinged come-hither anthem “Look Back.” It’s stuffed with great little moments – the Donna Summer “Bad Girls” style whistle! – and one fierce chorus. Just don’t get whiplash.

Heize, “Jenga (feat. Gaeko)”

Heize needs no introduction if you’re acquainted with the Korean pop scene. The talented singer-rapper’s already paved quite the path for herself in a short amount of time, having notched an impressive three No. 1 records in the past year-ish or so. Her new mini-album, Wish & Wind, is an immediately captivating set of jazzy sounds, mixed with R&B and hip-hop elements and dreamy balladry. I might need to give it a proper review in the next few days – it’s really wonderful. And the visuals? Unreal. Look at her promo photos and give that video for “Jenga” just a few seconds of your time – next-level, really.

Ralph, “September Fades”

Ralph, born Raffa Weyman, is a newer discovery: the Toronto-based synth-pop singer counts Sade, Stevie Nicks and Donna Summer as her musical heroines – which…solid, solid, and solid. After releasing a debut EP last year, she’s back in 2018 with a new track called “September Fades,” full of dreamy retro-sounding synths and funky guitar – and one hell of a catchy chorus. (“Evergreeee-e-e-e-eeen…“) After this one, consider her an official One To Watch™.

MANDY, “Purple Water”

So, everyone knows there’s nothing better a perfectly polished South Korean girl group pumping out fierce, cutesy choreography. Stan LOOΠΔ forever. But right now, I’ve actually been living for some of the slower, more experimental moments popping out of Seoul and/or neighboring areas.

There’s one girl, MANDY (not to be confused with the shark movie star), who I found like, literally, ten minutes ago. She has a very modest following (her real name appears to be Kim Seung-A), and her new song “Purple Water” produced by Deer is just…wow. Springy electronica and piano melodies layered underneath silky-smooth ’90s R&B crooning – it’s a delicious production, especially once the chorus starts blasting off. (Not to make everything about Britney here – but, well, everything is. Imagine her doing something left-lane and artsy-fartsy like this? Can we get Deer to hop onto B10? I’ll put in a word with Karen Kwak.)

Naturally, this is the only one that isn’t on streaming – yet. Give it a day or two. I think.

Purple LP, “Stay With Me (feat. Kaya)”

Then there’s “Stay With Me” by a group called Purple LP, featuring Kaya (not to be confused with the Pussycat Doll), which turned out to be a perfect accidental find I stumbled upon after coming back home from…making a choice. The song is so chic and lonesome (my favorite genre is “chic and lonesome,” second only to “sad disco.”) It sounds like the music you might hear in a swanky hotel lobby (Utada REFERENCE) on the way out after…making a choice. “When you feel lonely and unhappy after a long and tiring day, we hope that this song give a little comfort to you waiting for someone,” the group wrote while describing the track on their Facebook. Honestly, they did that!

Years & Years, “Sanctify”

Olly Alexander has a very ambitious vision for the group’s follow-up, centering around a make-believe world that finds him exploring concepts like sexuality, identity and the very essence of our humanity. The first offering, “Sanctify,” was written about Olly’s experience hooking up with “straight” guys (#discreet) – and inspired by the sound of “Slave 4 U”-era Britney, which explains the beat. (See? Everything really does come back to B-Girl.) I had the honor of hearing some fun things still to come (and also the great pleasure of chatting up Olly and mostly discussing Girls Aloud.) Watch for the adventure to unfold in the months to come…

Liv Lovelle, “All That Matters”

Liv Lovelle is a British singer with the best of roots: yes, that’s right – a girl group past. She was part of the very short-lived SoundGirl. (Their one charting single “Don’t Know Why,” for the record, remains a bop.) Now she’s Liv Lovelle, solo star, working with Xenomania. (!) Her latest track is called “All That Matters,” and it’s a hypnotic, horn-y midtempo jam. Very, very good stuff.

Jaira Burns, “OKOKOK”

Jaira’s another fairly new girl on the scene signed to Interscope Records, hailing from Pennsylvania and sporting bold blue hair. Last year, Olivier Rousteing picked her track “Ugly” to soundtrack the Kylie Jenner-featuring Beats/Balmain campaign – which means somebody made some coin. She’s back this year with a total earworm. One listen to the finger-snapping, eye-rolling kiss-off, and you’ll be like…okay, okay, okay. Okay?

That’s it for now, I think. Leave your finds in the comments! Love you all dearly.

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Photo credit: Kobalt Music / CJ E&M Music / Ralph