This Week’s New Music Round Up: Ed Sheeran, Ed Sheeran Again, Dua Lipa & More
Ed Sheeran – ‘Shape of You’
He’s back. In December 2015, Ed told the world he was taking a break from music to travel the world so he could see “what he missed” – which he did – but then that Ed went and built a bloody studio in a ship in the Philippines (who hasn’t?), and recorded his third album, thought to be titled ÷.
Because he’s a generous man, Ed’s comeback has brought not one, but two new singles. ‘Shape of You’, the first, is exactly what you wanted from an Ed Sheeran song, “A club isn’t the best place to find love / so the bar is where I go," and it’s Really Very Good. Written with Johnny McDaid and Steve Mac, minimal production loops throughout, only ever being silenced by the chorus’ deep, tribal cries of “oh why oh why oh why” as Ed’s crisp vocals sound as strong as ever, “I’m in love with your body”.
Ed, who co-hosted the Radio 1 Breakfast show this morning (January 6), revealed that he had originally written ‘Shape of You’ with Rihanna in mind, "but then I was singing some of the lyrics and was like Rihanna is not going to sing these words so kept it to myself," he laughed.
Ed Sheeran – ‘Castle on the Hill’
A love song dedicated to Suffolk (where Ed grew up) because “nobody else has done that yet”, this track sounds designed to ring out across arenas. Furious guitar strumming propels the track forward as Ed recounts childhood tales, from breaking his leg fleeing from his brother’s friends, to rolling down the Suffolk hills. Ed Sheeran has always been a strong storyteller, and that skill is on full-display in ‘Castle on the Hill’.
The xx – ‘Say Something Loving’
The xx have changed. Gone is the melancholic, anxiety-ridden sound. In its place? Warmth. Affection. It’s a striking tonal shift from their earlier material, but just like with previous single ‘On Hold’, ‘Say Something Loving’ proves that this more outward-looking new sound is the right move for a band trying out new things, and succeeding.
Jamie xx’s In Colour has clearly had an influence on the trio. Heck, their new tracks are verging on pop, which actually makes total sense since Romy Croft, vocalist and guitarist, spent time taking pop writing camps in LA.
Snakehips & MØ - ‘Don’t Leave’
MØ is Planet Earth’s on-form singer. Best known for her performance on Major Lazer’s unstoppable ‘Lean On’, MØ once again steals the limelight as she belts out “I may not ever get my s*it together” on this grand, pulsating, electronic collaboration with British duo, Snakehips.
Make sure you pay attention to MØ this year. Her solo singles ‘Final Song’ and ‘Drum’ were streaming juggernauts in 2016, and a feature on Major Lazer & Justin Bieber’s ‘Cold Water’, where she was the highlight of the track, didn’t hurt her credentials one jot. 2017 is the Danish singer’s to own.
Dua Lipa – ‘Thinking 'Bout You’
Dua Lipa is a pop megastar in the making. Her single, ‘Hotter Than Hell’, was streamed almost 70 million times on Spotify alone last year. It’s such a good pop song that it begs the question: why wasn’t it played more? Maybe if Dua Lipa was actually Rihanna, and then released ‘Hotter Than Hell’, it would’ve been played 17 billion times. Like it deserved.
Anyway, Dua Lipa is kicking off 2017 with new single ‘Thinking ‘Bout You’. “3am and my neighbors hate me”, she sings, as the track starts out as an acoustic ballad. Essentially, it’s the polar opposite to ‘Hotter Than Hell’. Make sure you ‘press play’, below.
Kiesza – ‘Dearly Beloved’
Remember Kiesza? Back in 2014, the deep house ‘Hideaway’ was absolutely everywhere, and was accompanied by a distinctive single-shot music video, which received a MTV Video Music Award nomination for Best Choreography. Radio 1 DJ and all-round good guy, Greg 'Gregsza' James, was inspired by it. Now Kiesza is back with ‘Dearly Beloved’, produced by Stuart Price, who has worked with likes of Madonna and Kylie Minogue in the past. Check it out.
Kehlani – ‘Undercover’
Kehlani is brilliant. Following the release of ‘Advice’ back in early December, the American singer has dropped ‘Undercover’ before her long-awaited debut album, SWEETSEXYSAVAGE, hits on Janaury 27. Don't miss it.
London Grammar – ‘Rooting For You’
Following almost four years away from the spotlight, London Grammar are back with their first new track since 2013’s If You Wait. Two versions have been released, one the radio-friendly cut, one acapella version and a live orchestra.
You Me At Six – Night People
Night People opens with buzzing electronic noises, the sort of noises the bees from that episode of Black Mirror would make, before riffs the size of a shipping freighter crash in. This is a stomping opening to You Me At Six’s fifth studio album, which is out today. With a welcome run-time of just 35 minutes, Night People never outstays its welcome.
Sundara Karma – Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect
Sundara Karma have huge potential. Sporting massive, anthemic choruses designed to pack out arenas, this indie rock foursome have the potential to cross over into the mainstream. Their songs encapsulate how it feels to be young – providing a snapshot of mistakes, debauchery and teen romance gone sour, all set in a time when the universe seems to revolve around you and your tight pack of mates. Sundara Karma are a lot of fun. Also, they sometimes wear fancy floral shirts. It’s the complete package. Their debut album is streaming below. Check out interview with the band here.