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It is hard to write a perfect pop song. It’s even harder to make it look as easy as London artist Fauness, whose new single bottles the melodic joy of Strawberry Switchblade and the ache of Carly Rae Jepsen deep cuts. Over exquisite 80s-inspired production from Jam City, she sings dreamily yet with clear purpose – a thrilling new voice in UK pop.
Kacey Musgraves’s best songs are as vivid as sunlight after taking off dark glasses. Yet the first proper single off her new album, Star-Crossed, seems to be gunning for gold in the grower-not-shower Olympics, a hazy and grown-up mid-tempo about giving your heart the space it needs to hurt, and realising you’re not Wonder Woman but all too human.
I Am Not a Woman, I’m a God
In an era of pop stars who sing as if they’re staring at their shoes, Halsey’s new music feels as if it’s challenging you to a merciless staring contest. The most immediate song from their Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross-produced new album, it plunges you straight into a swirling mind, with tightly coiled industrial riffs, a new-wave pulse and a whole heap of righteous attitude.
Covers albums usually have a whiff of the emperor’s new clothes; The Metallica Blacklist bucks the trend, with 53 covers of the metal icons’ classics by the likes of Miley Cyrus, J Balvin and Rina Sawayama – who turns out to be a low-key hair metal goddess in disguise, belting over gnarly riffs like a dark-sided comic-book villain with snakes in her hair.
K-pop queen bee CL ceded her throne for a bit to young guns such as BTS and Blackpink, but her long-awaited comeback has the hectic flair of some of her best songs with iconic group 2NE1. Pitch-shifted vocals are enjoyably eccentric, and John Malkovich shows up for an odd spoken-word bit, but the donks-by-numbers and braggy lyrics feel like a bit of a rehash of former pop glories.