The month that popped. As much as I love pop music, I seemed to listen to an inordinate amount of it June. This is only because some awesome pop tunes were released or came to my ears in June. This is a good thing. Here’s the list of my Top 20 Songs of June.
20. jj – All White Everything
All white indeed. Glad to hear them back with new material. They have a way with breezy electronica unlike any other act.
19. Kylie Minogue – Crystallize
Best Kylie song in years.
18. Kyla La Grange – Fly/Get It
I’ve heard a lot from Kyla La Grange this year, being exposed to her for the first time with the immaculate smashes “Cut Your Teeth” and “The Knife”. She just dropped a new album, and there a bunch of super-catchy electro-pop ditties on it. Her lilting falsetto works well with the dark-meets-light synth tracks. This is evidenced best on “Get It” and “Fly”.
17. Omar Souleyman – Wenu Wenu
Love this track, and was very fortunate to have seen Omar perform at NXNE’s Vice Island (with Le1f and Future Islands). Not the most demonstrative character, but this song is gitchy galore.
16. Lil Jon – Turn Down For What
Waaaay late to this party. Still, a massive pop/hop/club banger that I couldn’t turn down, no matter what.
BONUS VIDEO: Hilarious video of Star Trek set to “Turn Down For What”.
15. Charli XCX – Boom Clap
One of the best poppers around. Charli’s new single is a winner.
14. Le1f – Boom
“Boom” is hella catchy, and Le1f is really good live. An engaging showman.
13. Royksopp & Robyn – Monument
I think I may have been too quick to anoint “Every Little Thing” the far-and-away best track Royksopp and Robyn’s recently released EP. “Monument” definitely gives ELT a run for its money. Both are dynamic, slithering, pulsating electro-pop gems. “Monument” is even more of a slow-burn, an ode to shooting for the moon, a thriller of a pillar, a huge hoarder of brick and mortar. Royksopp and Robyn are a lethal combination.
12. Sia – Chandelier
I do believe Sia is the best pop songwriter of the past several years. Her touch has lifted so many huge pop singles to glory. She’s kept a massive hook for herself here, and “Chandelier” borders on the outermost limits of the atmosphere.
11. Tove Styrke – Even If I’m Loud If Doesn’t Mean I’m Talking To You
What’s with amazing pop stars from Sweden named Tove?! Tove Styrke has been away for a few minutes, but she’s burst back onto the scene with a hulking and dizzying dancer of a tune.
10. Foster The People – Best Friend
At present, I don’t love Foster The People’s second record. I quite like two songs from it, “Coming of Age” and the follow-up single, “Best Friend”. This is the song that most harkens back to the wonderfully catchy gaiety of their indomitable debut album.
9. The Griswolds – Red Tuxedo
Short, pretty, and unusually sweet, “Red Tuxedo” is a warm, sunny ballad that possesses just the right amount of nostalgia-laced ache.
8. Wye Oak – Glory
Best song I’ve ever heard from Wye Oak. “Glory” is wickedly catchy.
7. The Alternate Routes – Nothing More
What a fantastic melody. Thanks to TC for the heads up on this band!
6. La Roux – Let Me Down Gently (Sailors Remix)
One of my favourite remixes of the year. Sailors have done an exceptional job retaining the hooks and upping the playfulness quotient, contrasting the brooding original with this reflective yet skip-to-my-louing banger.
5. Ed Sheeran – Sing
It took me a little while to come around on “Sing”. A couple months actually. I was so in love with several of the songs from Ed’s debut record + (“The A Team”, “Drunk”, “Small Bump”, and “Lego House”) that I think I held whatever he released next to an unreasonable standard. And it’s not that “Sing” is necessarily an inferior song to those other tracks. It’s just different, a cocksure pop song designed for radio domination. Perhaps I just like it best when Ed Sheeran lets his voice, guitar, and preternatural way with melody shine through. “Sing” is not that simple, with its knife-sharp sheen and flawless Pharrell production, that it took a while for me to fall for its charms. Fallen I have. It’s just a song mate, and it’s a bloody catchy one at that.
4. 5 Seconds Of Summer – She Looks So Perfect
Completely chock-full of hooks in every fathomable nook and cranny. This is a perfect pop/alt song.
3. Tove Lo – Over
On repeat throughout June, “Over” is a marvellous pop song. Tove Lo’s impassioned vocal dips and soars and prods and pleas in this gem of a tune. Sweden strikes again. (When isn’t that apt? Never.)
2. La Roux – Tropical Chancer
So many layers of pop genius here. This marks the third song that La Roux has released from her brand-new album, and it’s the third monumental track. “Tropical Chancer” sounds like a juggernaut now, and I believe it will hold up as one just like so many of the songs on La Roux’s debut have five years later. What an ear for absolutely perfect melodies and layers Elly Jackson has. The track earns bonus points with me for the subtle but amazing flute (flutish?) flourishes at 2:48. I’ve not an iota of doubt that “Tropical Chancer”, both the song and the album, will be among the best of the year in both categories.
1. Jessie Ware – Tough Love
For the longest time, I had La Roux’s “Tropical Chancer” as my favourite song of June. I listened to it a tonne, and found so many great layers to bask in. It’s a commanding, multi-layered pop masterstroke.
But I felt something different for “Tough Love”. I felt, after only a couple listens, like I was experiencing one of the songs of the year — a new school soul-electro-pop smash supported by shimmering, pristine, jaw-droppingly gorgeous production. I felt like I could see a part of Jessie Ware’s essence floating in, around, below, and above “Tough Love”. I felt like I could hear her spirit — decimated but unfathomably resilient in the hea(r)t of a tumultuous fire — crawling all over this sultry, sizzling, sexy track. Maybe more importantly than that, I think the power of this song tattooed something on me: a reflection, a foil, a consideration, a commiseration.
I can’t quite put my finger on it, and I’m not sure when or if I’ll be able to. That’s called “Tough Love”.