St. Vincent is a popstar, in the sense that she holds up a mirror to society. She embodies many of our cultural assumptions and insecurities... But instead of just reacting, playing into those hot-take thinkpiece games, she responds like the conceptual artist she is — through her music.
More than any other genre, pop music is about the choices you make. It’s about your artistic vision, regardless of what level of natural “talent” you’re deemed to have... But when the floor of pop music is so low, it’s no wonder that the likes of Olivia Rodrigo and Lil Nas X shine so bright. As for Addison Rae? Prove us wrong.
Now 34, Lana's matured into a generational balladeer; yet she’s become more down-to-earth, no longer defined by the tragic figures who once inhabited her songs. She’s often seemed like a figure out of her own time: a ’60s hippie, a jazz singer, an old-Hollywood icon. But this decade of popular music wouldn’t be the same without her.
The World’s a Little Blurry is exactly the documentary Billie Eilish deserves. Where most recent pop documentaries — including Justin Bieber’s Seasons — function like branded content, marketing preordained narratives to both casuals and fans who’ll lap up anything, Billie’s film makes no effort to pander to anyone.
Pop music -- like dance, like love, like sex -- is about transcending yourself. It’s about control, being the best possible version of yourself. And then it’s about letting go, feeling everything; opening yourself up to the level of joy you can only experience with another person. Ariana Grande is one of the most impressive singers on the planet, but on “Into You”, she’s found a love so great that even she’s lost for words. All that’s left to do is give in to the music.
Jaguar Jonze is an unforgettable stage name. It begs the questions: who could possibly have the confidence to go by such a name, and what could their music sound like? In her social media bios, Jonze dubs herself an “Eastern cowgirl howling at the rising sun”. You could call her music Spaghetti Western Pop: full of dusty twang and atmosphere, yet crisp, modern production.
By explicitly playing a movie character on a stage, Tesfaye’s both deepened our the impact of the The Weeknd’s depravity, while softening our emotional relationship to the human being behind it. The protagonist of Trilogy was an amoral fuckup; the character of the After Hours videos is a hyperbolic maniac. But the singer of After Hours is an immoral hustler in search of a redemption arc. Not only is that more relatable — it’s a story with a future.
“Love Story (Taylor’s Version)” is best described as a restaging of a memory. Swift isn’t imitating herself, so much as she’s imagining her current self performing in that old headspace, on that “balcony in summer air.”
The first instalment of Infinite Pop, a Music Junkee column about the past, present, and possibilities of pop music.
My definition of a genius is a person who creates artistic worlds from scratch. Someone who isn’t just the logical product of one’s culture and circumstances, but an aberration in the timeline — and if who never existed, would never have been replaced. That was SOPHIE, who brought to life futures we never dreamed of; who redefined how we thought of the word “future” itself.
Would folklore have been if not for COVID-19? Swift clearly had some of these songs in her regardless, but it’s impossible to know. The folklore sessions don’t offer an answer — and that’s the beauty of this film. There’s no one message to a collection of songs so packed with allusions and quiet revelations.
Ruel: “I was listening to a lot of sad music, thinking, ‘What am I even doing?’ I felt a bit useless”
The truth is, the two subjects that inevitably come up in every conversation about Ruel – his age and the hype around him – are by far the least interesting things about him as a person and an artist. In a few years’ time, neither will be relevant. We’ll simply be talking about the music: a seamless blend of vulnerable lyrics, jazzy guitars, and both classic and alternative R&B, sung by a richly textured voice. Forget what you’ve heard – Ruel’s story has only just begun.
Modern art pop is often characterised as cold, academic, emotionally distant – sometimes rightfully so. But the best artists of the genre, from Kate Bush to Radiohead, have always made music that’s deeply human and passionate. With ‘Republic Of Paradise’, Aphir has cracked that code for herself. Whether the record feels challenging or peaceful, transcendent or intimate, it’s always inclusive in spirit.
My video interview with Troye Sivan, for NME Australia's August 2020 cover.
I profiled Troye Sivan for the August 2020 cover of NME Australia. "Not since Sivan was a teenager has he been so removed from the head rush of life as a global pop star..."
I directly inspired the recording of this cover for my 30th birthday.... what a concept!