Saint Etienne Pond House

Saint Etienne Go Back to the '90s With a Natalie Imbruglia Sample

"Here it comes again..."

Hey, could you pick up? Saint Etienne are on the phone again.

Over three decades after their debut, and four years after their ninth studio album, 2017's Home Counties, the British sophisti-pop troupe returned on Tuesday (July 27) with their new single, which involves Natalie Imbruglia (!), news of an album on the way, and even a feature film. (Evidently, they've been busy amid the pandemic.)

I've Been Trying to Tell You is the (great) name of their tenth album, out on September 10. True to These Uncertain Times, the record was made entirely remotely between the three members, from Hove (Pete Wiggs), to Oxford (Sarah Cracknell) to Bradford (Bob Stanley), along with contributions by film and TV composer Gus Bousfield.

It is described as "about optimism, youth and the late nineties," and was built largely out of samples and sounds from the years 1997 to 2001.

Appropriately, a legend of that era is a part of the premiere process: the oft-sampling trio spliced Natalie Imbruglia's "Beauty on the Fire" from 2001's White Lilies Island into their lead song, "Pond House," described as "an evocative collision of undulating beats and samples alongside its visuals from the film." (Speaking of Natalie, she's kicking off a comeback of her own as of late. Get into it.)

The dreamy tune plays like summers past, broadcasted through a rose-colored filter in the far-off future, conjuring familiar feelings of days at the beach, driving around aimlessly and spacing out by the pool. It's not necessarily a song as it is a vibe, and could prove to be just the beginning of a comforting, vaguely nostalgic aural escape at a time when we many of us need it most.

“To me it’s about optimism, and the late nineties, and how memory is an unreliable narrator. Pete and Gus have done a properly amazing production job. I think it sounds gorgeous," Bob says.

“We've really pulled apart and dived deep into the samples; the concept and each of our interpretations of it have made this a very special sounding album, we hope you think so too," Pete continues.

“It's the first sample driven album we’ve made since So Tough and it’s been a really refreshing experience, such fun! It’s both dreamy and atmospheric, late summer sounds," Sarah adds.

Along with the music, there's an I've Been Trying to Tell You movie coming, directed by acclaimed photographer Alasdair McLellan, who shot the still photography for the album. It arrives on September 3 during a special weekend of screenings and Q&As at BFI Southbank. (Here's all the info.)

“My starting point was an interpretation of my memories from the time I first started to listen to Saint Etienne’s music. Of course, it is an interpretation of what I was doing then while looking back at it now. At that time, I was a bored teenager in a village near Doncaster, South Yorkshire; it was a place where very little happened. I now look back at that time as something quite idyllic – even the boredom seems idyllic – and a big part of its soundtrack was Saint Etienne," he says of the project.

Prepare for (future) nostalgia.

I've Been Trying To Tell You track listing:

1. Music Again
2. Pond House
3. Fonteyn
4. Little K
5. Blue Kite
6. I Remember It Well
7. Penlop
8. Broad River

The album is available to pre-order now.


Lorde Stoned at the Nail Salon

Lorde, Stoned at the Nail Salon, Sees the Bigger Picture

"Well, my hot blood's been burning for so many summers now / It's time to cool it down, wherever that leads..."

Lorde is not old. But she's always felt old, right from the start.

"I've never felt more alone / It feels so scary getting old," she confessed on 2013's "Ribs" from her critically hailed debut. She was 16 years old then.

By 2021, not even midway through her twenties, Lorde is now grappling with an all-too-relatable observation: the culture is moving on without her. Quickly.

"Stoned at the Nail Salon" is the second offering from Solar Power, following the album's summery, George Michael-y lead single and title track. In contrast to the carefree vibes, Lorde's gone far more introspective and existential for her follow-up, which also helps to add context to the relatively fucks-free first single.

Produced alongside Jack Antonoff, whose omnipresence in the music industry is daily fodder for stan Twitter debate, the track gently glides across a pensive guitar and traces the calm between the tours, and the quiet moments of mundanity at home after the rush of her rise to fame.

“This song is sort of a rumination on getting older, settling into domesticity, and questioning if you’ve made the right decisions. I think lots of people start asking those questions of themselves around my age, and it was super comforting to me writing them down, hoping they’d resonate with others too. I used this song as a dumping ground for so many thoughts," she said in the press release.

She added even more in the accompanying email to fans, which provides vivid imagery of post-tour life as well.

"I started writing this in the first six months after stopping touring for Melo. I was so tired by the end, I’d been so busy for so long, and I remember at the end of that tour saying to people I knew 'I’m just going to go home and get bored' — because it had been two years since I had been at a loose end, bored out of my brain going from the couch to the fridge, and I was craving that. The first couple months of it were incredible— I’d run a bath at 10am and eat a slice of cake in it! My bandmate Jimmy and I would go out for these long lunches on Mondays and drink wine! But eventually, of course, the insecurity that this was my life now, that I wasn’t a titan of industry, but someone who just… cooked and walked the dog and gardened crept in. I was starting to fall out of step with the times culturally, I didn’t have my finger firmly on the pulse for the first time in my life, and I could feel the next round of precocious teenagers starting to come up, and I felt insecure that they were gonna eat my lunch, so to speak. Was I over the hill?!! This song was borne out of that feeling. I was sure that I was building a beautiful life for myself, but I wasn’t sure if that life was going to satisfy the same thirsty, fearless person who could tear apart a festival stage or be in seven countries in seven days. I know now that as hard as I try to run towards or away one of the sides of my life, they’re both very much who I am. It’s jarring to move between them, but that dichotomy is me. And writing this song was a real step toward embracing that. It’s almost comical to be writing this from a hotel room where my life is busier than ever, my iCal is wall to wall from wake to sleep, and of course I’m daydreaming about cooking and gardening and romanticising the greener grass once again… SO IT GOES. […] I hope you love this song, and this side to the album, and I hope if you’re someone who also has a habit of tiptoeing up to a deep thought then doubting yourself or dissociating, you know you’re not alone."

I love this song for her, and for us, for a variety of reasons: it speaks to the inevitable panic upon first recognizing the generational divide has suddenly left you behind (leave the Gen Z vs. millennial discourse on TikTok), and to the maturation of one's passions over the years, and to the ebb and flow of emotions that comes with being terminally online, even just after a quick scroll of Instagram.

"'Cause all the beautiful girls, they will fade like the roses," she remarks, alluding to "the sexy models on Instagram who made me feel inferior – they too will age. We’re all on the same bus. At some point we have to get on the bus back....I was old enough to finally think about it. When you’re a kid, you’re immortal.”

It also captures something very exclusive to Lorde and her pop star contemporaries, which is the culture's exponentially dwindling attention span. "I could feel the next round of precocious teenagers starting to come up, and I felt insecure that they were gonna eat my lunch, so to speak," she said in her newsletter. (Certainly, there are a few of the newest Main Pop Girls that come to mind.) While there's nothing new about the passing of the baton when it comes to pop reign, it's hard to deny that the cycles are growing shorter and shorter, and fame is more fragmented than ever. Lorde waxing nostalgic at the age of 24 about How It Used To Be, and worrying about keeping up with the girls, is really something to hear - not that her time in the limelight has even slightly passed, of course.

To quote Showgirls: there's always someone younger and hungrier coming down the stairs after you.

"I realized I was trying to come up with a funny Instagram caption and do a photo of me that looked cool that I would hope would get a certain amount of likes. It sounds obvious, but that's cooked. For me, I'm not a girl that gets a bunch of likes. I'm who I am, and I've got to lean into that…I think for the last one I was 21 and still like the kids, and then the culture started to change and I didn't know that I wanted to change with it. I didn't know if I wanted to be TikTok girl, Instagram Stories girl, and it was a real crossroads. I had to be like, 'Do you want to keep being the kids? Or do you want to transition through that and be something of an elder statesman at 24?' Which I really feel like I am now, which I love, but it took a minute. I felt a little like, 'Oh no, I'm the kids?'" she told Zane Lowe.

But there's not so much a panic in Lorde's voice as there is the occasional worry about opting for a local fantasy as opposed to chart domination, which sort of washes away as the song goes on and she finds comfort in the slower moments. (She's alright with a Slow Burn, like our Kacey would say.)

There are some particularly moving lines throughout, especially towards the very end: "Spend all the evenings you can with the people who raised you / 'Cause all the times they will change, it'll all come around."

The only disagreement? "'Cause all the music you loved at sixteen you'll grow out of." Tell that to my Dannii Minogue collection, Ella.

"Stoned" is perfectly representative of the pandemic era mood as well, as so many of us are taking stock and reevaluating our priorities and values. And it feels as though Lorde - now knee-deep in press, and music videos, and live TV performances and appearances, and prepping for another big round of touring - has settled on the most realistic resolution to those lingering concerns about taking one path or another: balance.

Solar Power will be released on vinyl on August 20.


Nina Nesbitt Summer Fling

Nina Nesbitt's "Summer Fling" Is One Dreamy Escape

"Won't you give me everything? Love me like a summer fling..."

Nina Nesbitt!

You know and love the 26-year-old half-Scottish, half-Swedish singer-songwriter best for hits over the past decade like "Stay Out," "The Best You Had" and "Somebody Special," as well as penning tunes for favorites like Jessie Ware and Olivia Holt, plus last year's fantastic "Miss You 2" with Gabrielle Aplin and "Somebody" with Sigala and "Cry Dancing" with NOTD, among many others.

And if you don't know of her already, now you do...and you're better off for it.

As of Friday (July 9), Nina's returned with a brand new tune called "Summer Fling" - it's just a fling baby, fling baby...am I right, Alouders? - right in time for the sweltering season. If you're in the Northern Hemisphere, that is. I do not mean to be Southern Hemisphere-phobic. Q2!

The repeat-ready track, written and produced entirely by Nina amid the pandemic, dreamily drifts atop a sea of nostalgic '80s synths and lyrically provides all the fleeting season's signature vibes: crashing waves, hot sand, cool breezes and salty air.

"Cross your fingers, tell me it's forever / Could we make it into September? / Leave me on the porch, take back your sweater / I'll be so cold when it hits December," she croons just before the Autumn Goodbye hits.

"'Summer Fling' is inspired by wanting to escape. I always caught myself dreaming of going back to Sweden to spend the summer there, so it’s a fantasy of that world. Where there's no stress," she says of the song's inspiration.

To feel the full fantasy of her summer getaway, Nina teamed with director Wolf James for the accompanying music video. And while the colorful, slightly surreal, flower-filled visuals and sweeping landscape shots are lovely, it's really all about the striking shots of Nina on the aerial hoop. (Did you know? She was a gymnast.) The talent...it overflows.

Nina Nesbitt Summer Fling Aerial Hoop

"Summer Fling" is the first offering from the follow-up to 2019's The Sun Will Come Up, The Seasons Will Change. And based on what she's supplying already, it seems Nina's about to give us everything, indeed - and possibly her best set yet.


Mabel Let Them Know

Mabel's "Let Them Know" Is a Gay Ol' Time

Don't call Mabel up.

In the event that you do decide to give her a ring (ring), just know: she left her phone at the club, so...good luck.

The 25-year-old High Expectations chanteuse - who is also the daughter of Neneh Cherry and Cameron McVey, lest we forget (more on this in just a moment) - is back on Friday (June 18) with her first taste of new music this year: "Let Them Know," a joyous anthem and Song of Summer '21 contender.

Inspired by "obsessively re-watching" Paris Is Burning, Pose and RuPaul's Drag Race (right in time for Pride Month - put your paws up, LGBTs), the bright bop is an immediate hit of fun, fierce energy and unwavering self-confidence, pulsating with a distinct nod to RuPaul's "Supermodel (You Better Work)" and pop culture nods to everyone from Doja Cat to Saweetie to Daenerys "Khaleesi" Targaryen.

All that self-assuredness is unsurprising: "You Don't Know Me" queen RAYE's a co-writer, and her confidence-oozing penmanship is all over the track, as is that of the unstoppable MNEK. And to top it all off? The newest production king and Dua Lipa collaborator himself, SG Lewis.

A winning team, if I've ever heard of one.

"Let them know / Oh baby, let them know / 'Cause they can run they mouth, but I'mma stand and pose for you," Mabel declares, supplying a hint of that brazen brilliance from solo Geri Horner née Halliwell, circa Schizophonic.

The song, and the music to come, is inspired by the time she spent pent up in lockdown, moving back home and taking up dance classes. From that point on, she "channeled everything she missed (close friends, the big night out, young love, feeling unafraid) into this brand new musical chapter," distilling the "sweaty, grotty and frankly unglamorous side of noughties club land - as lost to the pandemic - alongside deeper cultural influences."

A big ol' sweaty dance record full of bottled up panorama feelings? Do call me up.

Mabel also showcases those dance skills in the accompanying music video, supplying hair flips, perilously long nails and split aplenty while at the club. Someone's evidently learned a few new tricks! Plus, there's a little promising tease of an upcoming song called "Good Luck" playing in the car at the very end of the clip.

Also...Famous Mom cameo!

Mabel Let Them Know Neneh Cherry Phone

Quite literally: let them know. So sweet. So fierce. What a promising way to kick off a campaign.

"Gay rights!" - Mabel.

High Expectations is now available in vinyl.


Kylie Minogue Lady Gaga

Kylie Minogue & Lady Gaga Marry the Night & Do Pride Right

This Kylie Minogue has some fucking nerve.

It's apparently not enough to have already blessed us with a Dua Lipa-fied "Real Groove" at the top of the year, as well as a sexed-up-to-the-stars assist on Olly Alexander's "Starstruck" remix in May. Apparently keeping us foaming at the mouth with rumblings of a Disco reissue along with a potential Jessie Ware duet doesn't quite do it enough for her, either.

Here we were, prepared for an already promising array of pop offerings to drop from the sky at midnight on this New Music Friday (June 11).

But before we could even hear a single sine from above, a disco ball-sized meteor came hurdling down at us instead: a Kylie cover of Lady Gaga's "Marry the Night," specifically.

Lady Gaga Fall

[Gay panic.]

The thing is, it was already the stuff of pop stan dreams to ponder a Stefani Joanne-Kylie Ann crossover event. For years...since 2008 and counting, really.

So to have the Body Language beauty's blessed re-imagination of Our Stefani's bop a decade after the two were promoting Aphrodite and Born This Way - during Pride month, no less? It's more than a dream. It's stan fan-fiction. And that is what true allyship looks like.

Not only is the cover itself good (duh), but it's also Kylie-fied, thanks to the legendary Biff Stannard, tried-and-true "Love at First Sight" collaborator who's worked with her for decades, as well as Disco co-crafter Duck Blackwell.

The new mix brings the song closer to the Disco universe, honoring the original while supplying a healthy amount of vintage synths, funky blips and bleeps and kilotons of glitter, flown in directly via KM Air. Utter queerphoria.

The best part, however, is those final few seconds: "Watch me...walk like...Gaga."

Kylie Minogue Screaming

My Stan Meter has not gone into overdrive to this degree in a while, if not years. But for tonight? The 21-year-old twink in me is absolutely shaking and crying. (I mean, I did actually tear up.) The collaboration of queens! The nostalgia! I'm pleasantly overwhelmed, to say the absolute least.

And just for the record: the Born This Way: The Tenth Anniversary special edition album is arriving on June 25, and includes six new versions of songs reimagined by artists representing and advocating for the LGBTQIA+ community, including the previously released "Judas" with Big Freedia and "Born This Way (The Country Road Version)" with Orville Peck.

There's a “Yoü and I," "The Edge of Glory" and "Highway Unicorn (Road to Love)" coming as well. I hope they feature Madonna, Stacie Orrico and Hoku, respectively.

Thank you, Kylie. Thank you, Gaga.

But please, give us some advance warning next time: neighbors of LGBTs all across the world are now deeply concerned that there's just been a murder in the adjacent home.


Ava Max EveryTime I Cry

"EveryTime I Cry": Ava Max Is Stronger Than Yesterday

"Every time I cry, I get a little bit stronger..."

Ava Max, the world's single most wholly committed-to-a-lopsided-'do pop star, is back with yet another banger.

Ever since we formally first met Miss Max and her Max Cut in the summer of 2018 with "Sweet But Psycho," she's done nothing but supplied Heaven (& Hell) in the form of major bangers like "Kings & Queens," "Naked," "Torn" and the ATC-interpolating "My Head & My Heart."

She simply can't be stopped in her tracks - except when it comes to naming Elton John songs.

"EveryTime I Cry” arrived on Tuesday (June 8), and no, it's not quite the beginning of a new era yet. And yes, it is inexplicably capitalized like that. Don't question the Max Method!

As always, the tune was crafted with constant collaborator Cirkut, as well as Sean Myer (Maggie Lindemann), and co-written with Demi Lovato's The Art of Starting Over co-writers Caroline Pennell and Lauren Aquilina. And really, it's great!

Big piano chords, big beats, big vocals, big emotions - and a chorus that includes not one, but two Britney song references: "Every time I cry, I get a little bit stronger."

And while not exactly sonically the same, it's very much giving the same sort of power-through-the-pain dance floor energy as Ari and Our Stefani's "Rain on Me." Similar vibe with the tear-drenched artwork too!

"I feel like all of us are coming out stronger out of this pandemic. We've gone through a lot that we never thought we'd go through in our entire lives," Ava explained of the latest addition to her bop arsenal to Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1.

"'EveryTime I Cry' is really just about seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and every tear you shed, it makes you realize, it makes you also appreciate the good times, and it makes you feel like, 'Okay, I deserve to be here. I've gone through the struggles and I feel like I learned something.' And I think the message of this song is super important for everybody going through hard times. I love this song so much and it has such a fun beat to dance to, and it's a little different than everything else I've put out so I'm nervous to see what people think. But I personally love it."

And, good news for us Avatars, there's more on the way.

"I'm not in a hurry, but I can say that when January hit...I had a lot of thoughts and inspirations that came to my head, and the next project...it's just coming out of me so easily and I would never have thought I would have had another body of work this fast. So, that's all I can say."

Ava Max and the Maxxinistas: decidedly stronger than yesterday. Because this summer? We're all vaxxed and Maxed.

Heaven & Hell is available now as a limited vinyl LP.


Dua Lipa's "Love Again" Video Takes Us to Future Yeehawlgia

You know, we were just joking on the pod about Dua Lipa going full-on Joanne for DL3 a week ago. Clearly, she's been listening.

Our Darling Dua has been Dua-ing it right time and time again with her over-a-year-long-and-going-strong Future Nostalgia campaign, and it's become clear that she has no plans to rest until each and every song becomes a single. And honestly, that is what a pop star should aspire to do. ("Cool" next, pretty please? Or literally "Pretty Please," for that matter?)

Accordingly, she's decided to Dua something special with one of the best, more underrated songs on the collection: "Love Again." And already, I know what you're thinking: another pop music video centered around a giant hovering egg being lassoed by clowns?

Almost all of the Future Nostalgia campaign has always had bits and pieces of surreal fantasy thrown into the mix, from the semi-anime-inspired "Physical" video to taking futuristic flight in "Break Your Heart" to going "Levitating" to the moon and back, but she's really gone ahead and served up an eyebrow-raising, egg-cracking visual buffet this time around.

First of all, the obvious to any pop nerd: yes, duh, the video screams Madonna's "Don't Tell Me," what with all the bull-riding and line-dancing choreography. (And thus, also Joanne.)

Let the record show: Dua's waxed (future) nostalgic about Confessions on a Dance Floor while promoting this album, as well as expressing her desire to emulate Madge's iconic career. She's clearly a Little Madonnster, and if you're taking notes from and being compared to the Queen of Pop™, you're absolutely doing it right.

But! It's a little bit weirder than a straightforward country-disco-pop foray, which has also been explored lately by the likes of stars like Kacey Musgraves and Halsey.

Dua Lipa Love Again Music Video

The plot is very straightforward: basically, the ghost second cousin of Joanne floats through an empty venue to deliver a cowboy hat to our Disco Dua, who's now riding cowboy style with a peaceful style atop a mechanical bull.

Dua Lipa Love Again Music Video

She starts cooking up a meal of raw eggs backstage (good for the creative mind), then starts to hallucinate (REFERENCE).

Dua Lipa Love Again Music Video

Some clown-faced companions soon join in for a horny hip-swinging line dance, as Dua starts mixing up paint to create some masterpieces, presumably to auction off as NFTs.

Dua Lipa Love Again Music Video

There's also a Giant Boss Egg, which is ultimately lassoed by the clown-men, as all men are clowns. And, as Twitter user @itsadambxxch says, the Egg is obviously an allusion to Twitter's old default avatar, and clearly "symbolizes all the Twitter trolls with 14 followers and an egg avi." Thus, she has triumphed over Stan Twitter's shady memes about her dancing.

Dua Lipa Love Again Music Video

Britney's Radar Horse's (RIP) younger brother comes riding in with lights, and the clown-men suddenly realize that they are lassoing nothing. Why? Because you can never fully control your egg avatar haters on Twitter.

Dua Lipa Love Again Music Video

The rest of the video is mainly about Dua looking hot, which she most certainly achieves.

Dua Lipa Love Again Music Video

Finally, she realizes she is a clown for asking a man to do anything, wipes her clown makeup ("that's gonna STAIN!") on a man's shoulder for doing a mediocre job at controlling the Giant Boss Egg.

Confused? Too bad. This is Dua Lipa's Main Pop Girl fever dream. Don't ever tell her to stop.


Kadiatou Don't Complicate It

Sweden's Kadiatou Has a Summer Bop for Overthinkers

Meet Kadiatou Claudine Holm Keita, if you're not already formally acquainted.

The 19-year-old Stockholm-born Swedish singer first rose to fame as one of the finalists on Idol - the Swedish version of the Idol franchise - coming in as the runner-up against Sebastian Walldén in 2018.

Look at how she did Our Rita Ora justice. A proud Ritabot!

From there, she did what many talented Swedes do (ABBA, Eric Saade, Loreen to name a few) and moved on to Melodifestivalen in 2021, the annual song competition to determine Sweden's representative for the Eurovision Song Contest. There, she entered with the fantastic "One Touch" - not to be confused with the Sugababes, nor Mini Viva - but sadly placed in sixth place during the semi-final rounds. (A shame, especially, since it slaps far harder than Sweden's actual entry.)

But let's not dwell on it.

In fact, that's the whole mantra behind her brand new bop: "Don't Complicate It," a solid summer-ready banger for the over-thinkers among us. (I, however, have never once had any thoughts.)

Produced by Lukas Hällgren (of Alexandra Stan's "Cherry Pop" fame), and co-written with Erik Dalquist and Yvonne Dahlbom, the song is an uncomplicated, reassuring earworm: "We don't have to fall in love tonight," Kadiatou promises throughout the bouncy dance-pop production.

Don't overthink it! Don't complicate it! Words of wisdom, if I've ever heard them.


Utada Hikaru Pink Blood

"Pink Blood": Hikaru Utada Is on a Sexy, Self-Assured Journey

The Utadaissance continues.

Hikaru Utada - Utada, if you're nasty - is having quite a moment already in 2021.

With a mere tweet here and there and a live Instagram Q&A or two (yes, English music is coming, no, she still hasn't played Kingdom Hearts, you nerds), Hikki's still managed to strike a panic in the music industry over two decades since her debut: from her Japanese Hot 100 No. 1 Evangelion theme song smash "One Last Kiss," to the accompanying quarantine-style music video (35 million views and counting!), to the vinyl pressings, which went international due to sheer demand, to a Netflix show on the way based on her music.

As announced in March, she's currently soundtracking NHK ETV's hottest new anime on the block, called To Your Eternity, with a new tune called "PINK BLOOD." And no, that's not to be confused with SM Entertainment's possible new girl group of the same name. Her impact already!

Now that Japan's (sort of) caught up to the rest of the world when it comes to globally available streaming, the full song and accompanying music video are all here at the same time at midnight, Japan time, on Wednesday (June 2).

One of the more tantalizing tidbits that Hikaru teased on Twitter recently is that the upcoming record is more about turning inward: “In the past, my songs often focused on my relationships with other people. My new album is shaping up to be more about my relationship with myself," she said.

And then, when specifically asked about the lyrics of "PINK BLOOD," she said: "When you realize that you are the only one who can determine your value."

Accordingly, even in the face of the unknown that lies ahead - a classic Hikki theme - the track has a real sense of self-assuredness.

"I won’t be scared anymore of losing that thing to fill the hole in my heart / Because I realized that I was the only one who could heal myself," she sings. (Translation via Lyrical-Nonsense.)

True to all her work from Fantôme and beyond, the song's a bit of a genre blur: there are the calm electronic pulsations of pre-hiatus works like Ultra Blue and Heart Station, but also the smooth, sensual R&B, synth-y, jazzy vibes that she's increasingly captured in recent releases like "Tomodachi" and "Darenimo Iwanai."

The track also echoes the cool and confident vibe of the lyricism, which offers some of her most motivational insights in a while: "There’s no point in being valued by someone who doesn’t know how much I’m worth / I should probably just stop working myself to the bone if it won’t be for my own sake."

Seriously, her writing is as unmatched as ever: "Roll the dice and go forward that many squares / Even if there’s no end to this road in sight / Whatever regrets I have, I’ll wear them with style / Until the day they become just memories." Whew.

And: "I won’t be happy with any thrones to sit on, 'cause they’re no good to me if they’re not the seat I’ve chosen myself." (Honestly, just go read the whole translation.)

As for the video? No GoPro excursions or iPhone selfie videos at home this time: the visual is a full-on production, captured by Eiji Tanigawa, award-winning CEO of Creative Lab.TOKYO. And it also happens to (easily) be one of her best videos in years. Hello, budget.

Never did I expect to see Hikaru serving up "Slave 4 U"/"All The Lovers"-style interlocked dancer choreography in a music video. Forever keeping us on our toes. What an absolute thrill! And that "Forevermore"-style, alien sci-fi lighting? The mossy forest fantasy? The elegant candle spiral structure? The high slit reveal of the dress? HORSES?! It's all so beautiful and striking, and she looks more comfortable in her skin than ever.

What a pleasure it is to be along for the ride with an artist who consistently evolves to this degree over the years. This introspective, as-of-yet untitled era is shaping up to be one of her finest to date.

The "One Last Kiss" US vinyl is out now.


MØ Live to Survive

"Live To Survive": The Triumphant Return of MØ

's back. (Everyone kind of just says "mo," but it's technically pronounced like meu.)

The Danish superstar singer-songwriter, who you surely know and love best from the inescapable "Lean On" with Major Lazer and DJ Snake (at one point, the most-streamed song of all time), as well as "Cold Water" with Justin Bieber and her huge "Final Song," is making the first solo step back into the music scene since 2018's Forever Neverland with "Live to Survive." In the words of Legends Only favorite Roz, it's beenaboutta minute!

It's also quite an on-trend serving from a personnel standpoint, co-crafted with our new favorite producer SG Lewis and Caroline Ailin, of Dua Lipa's Future Nostalgia fame. (Between this and the new Sigrid, the impact of Miss Peep and the disco-pop revival knows no bounds in 2021.)

And, much like the underlying themes in "Don't Start Now" and "Mirror," MØ is on a self-empowerment journey and thriving (well, surviving at least) in spite of everything.

"I live to survive another heartache / I live to survive another mistake / I live to survive another heartache / I live to survive," she declares along the slick, shimmering electronic pulse.

MØ might have lost a few battles along the way, but she's clearly won the war: "You dragged me down that hole with you / So now, you can stay there." Tell 'em!

“[It’s] very much about pulling yourself through a shitty time and coming back stronger on the other side, but it's also about forgiving yourself for those mistakes. It's going to happen a few times in your life, so you need to get back on the horse," she sagely says of the fierce survival anthem.

The accompanying video finally answers the question: what would happen if I career-pivoted to full-time Globe of Death stunt rider? As it turns out: a visually stunning, universe-bending collision of massive proportions. The clip was shot in the British countryside with director Joanna Nordahl, and finds MØ as the character Ophelia to introduce the themes of her upcoming record: "rebirth, transformation, acceptance and strength."

The dramatic declaration is a perfect way to put the right foot forth on the dance floor for MØ's upcoming outing. And there's more to come: "it’s a tasteful tease for a summer of more music from the popstar and sets the tone for her new fruitful era," the release declares. Live, laugh, love, lean on.


Sigrid Mirror

Sigrid's "Mirror" Is a Self-Assured Disco Pop Smash

"I love who I see looking at me in the mirror."

Not so fast, Olivia Rodrigo.

While the sound at radio might be steadily shifting towards something that resembles an early '00s pop-punk revival (which is great in its own right), last year's wave of disco-inspired pandemic pop ushered in by the likes of Dua Lipa, Jessie Ware, Kylie Minogue and Lady Gaga hasn't stopped manifesting in today's music releases just yet.

Case in point: Sigrid, 24-year-old Norwegian "Strangers" singer-songwriter sensation and BBC Sound of 2018 winner, who returned to us on Wednesday (May 26) with "Mirror," a shimmering new single following her 2019 record, Sucker Punch.

Back in 2020, Sigrid was on a flight returning to Norway after working in LA on her follow-up when she began to pen what would be her latest, self-empowered single. She'd later bring the tune to Denmark to finish it with songwriters Emily Warren and Caroline Ailin - both of whom wrote Dua's "Don't Start Now," among other smashes - and producer Sly, who just did Dua's "We're Good." (Basically, a very Future Nostalgia-inducing songwriting experience.)

Like "Don't Start Now," the strut-ready, disco string and piano-laden track is all about walking away from a relationship, only to find a fierce, renewed sense of self-assurance on the other side: "I needed loneliness to know there's nothing that I can't turn into confidence / I couldn't play pretend, and I'm sorry that you had to pay the consequences," she declares.

"It had to break, I had to go, 'cause it took me walking away to really know."

The song comes with a music video directed by Femke Huurdeman of CANADA (the Spanish production company that did "Malamente" for Rosalía and, yes, Dua's "Physical"), and it's a big win for fans of floofy dresses, iguanas, archery and dancing out the demons at home.

“We wanted to explore how conflicting it can feel to have different sides of yourself competing against each other, and not working together. And as I can’t stand still whilst singing, there’s a lot of dancing, running, driving - you can tell I had a great time on the shoot," Sigrid says of the clip.

“It can be quite liberating to reinvent yourself after getting out of a relationship. This journey of finding your core, coming to terms with who you are and radiating this from oneself is at the heart of the concept of the video. For me, it's always important to showcase a 3-dimensional image of a character. We built together on a language of movements, and different moods for each scene, all rooted in Sigrid's own style of performing. She can be empowering, humorous, sensitive, playful, captivating and bold, and that's something I think you can feel throughout the video,” director Femke adds.

It's not easy to deliver an ode to unwavering self-confidence without coming across as cheesy or cliché, but Sigrid's found just the right sweet spot to have us all confidently winking at our reflections in the disco ball at the reopened clubs this summer.


Kylie Minogue Years and Years Olly Alexander Starstruck

Kylie Minogue Takes Years & Years' "Starstruck" to Another Galaxy

"I can't help it / I get starstruck around you..."

Kylie Minogue is making gay dreams come true yet again.

Like the Green Fairy she played in Moulin Rouge, with a little shimmy and a shake (and a healthy dollop of glitter), the "Chocolate" chanteuse just makes everything feel infinitely (disco) better - and her remix of Years & Years' "Starstruck" out on Friday (May 21) is certainly no exception.

Our Mighty Aphrodite™, Dance Floor Darling™ and tireless LGBTQ+ ally's forged a friendly relationship with sweet, sweet Olly Alexander on and off the stage over the years, as illustrated in his (appropriately fangirl-y) TikTok announcing the collaboration.

And now, the two have come together in song. (Or songs, possibly? More on that later.)

Unlike far too many other collaborations as of late, this remix is actually a proper duet: Kylie is heavily featured throughout - just as she should be - and she sounds really, really incredible singing alongside Olly. The signature breathy moans are all there. And those vocals? That's that Minogue magic. She is a smile in human form!

"Kylie is an icon who has inspired me since I first started making music, so this feels out this world," Olly says.

"I asked if Kylie would be interested in doing something on the song and I'm so thankful she said yes!!! I’ve been on cloud nine ever since and she's really brought so much to the song, her voice is divine and her presence is just magic. I really hope people enjoy this moment of cosmic fantasy, I’m over the moon and the stars and the planets that this has happened!”

Honestly, it's a win for everybody involved, and their "Starstruck" duet deserves to be a big 'ol, joyfully giant summer hit.

Plus, it sounds like this isn't the only time the two are teaming up: if the rumblings are true, we'll be getting an Olly-penned tune on the forthcoming repackage of Kylie's Disco - and that highly anticipated Jessie Ware collaboration, too. Promises, promises.