SINGAPORE – In this weekly column, The Straits Times curates the most buzz-worthy music you need to know about now.
Ace Album: Blackpink – Born Pink
To no one’s surprise, Blackpink’s sophomore album Born Pink was one of the most anticipated releases of the year, with more than two million pre-orders before it even dropped on Sept 16.
The first few songs check all the boxes that made the K-pop quartet so massively popular: bouncy hip-hop beats, zippy tempo changes, in-your-face lyrics and grrl-powered affirmations.
Though it may seem like the megastars are playing to the gallery, Born Pink is not all formulaic.
Amid the modern pop bluster, first single Pink Venom incorporates traditional Korean instruments such as the gayageum, a nod to their roots.
While Ready For Love’s electronic dance music beats would fit perfectly in a dance music festival setlist, piano-led ballad The Happiest Girl takes thing down a notch and ensures that the album is well-paced.
Rose even gets a solo outing on the disco-tinged Hard To Love. Frequent collaborator and producer Teddy Park has a hand in crafting many of the tracks, but Rose and Jisoo also get writing credits on the shimmering, 1980s new wave-inspired tune Yeah Yeah Yeah. – Eddino Abdul Hadi
Must-See MV: Lewis Capaldi – Forget Me
Forget about a six-pack. The Dad Bod is where it is at, as Scottish singer-songwriter Lewis Capaldi proudly shows off in the kitschy music video for Forget Me, his first new song in almost three years.
The clip is a shot-by-shot remake of English pop duo Wham!’s music video for their 1983 hit Club Tropicana.
Just like the late singer George Michael, Capaldi – in all his fleshy glory – sports only white Speedos and sunglasses, chilling at the same Ibiza hotel the original video was filmed at.
Despite the sad subject nature of massive hits such as Someone You Loved (2018) and Before You Go (2019), he is well known for always poking fun at himself, so this “exposure” is definitely on-brand.
Capaldi says in a statement that Forget Me is more upbeat than his previous songs because he noticed fans at shows “were about to fall asleep out of sheer boredom” when he sang slow numbers.
“However, this new one is sad and fast, much like my lovemaking,” he jokes. “Not to worry, I’ve still got plenty of depressing ballads up my sleeve.” – Eddino Abdul Hadi
Stream This Song: George Wu and Ivy Lee – Outset
Two contestants from Taiwanese singing competition Jungle Voice 2 (2019) have teamed up for a soul-stirring, bittersweet duet that will make your heart ache with sadness.
Malaysian singer Ivy Lee won the contest, while Taiwanese singer-rapper George Wu, also known as Fei, cracked the top 13. Their song about the end of a relationship is sigh-inducing as both parties come to terms with the inevitable split.
Its lyrics – which trace a couple going from being acquaintances to lovers to strangers – aptly capture the conflict that arises when one reminisces about a break-up yet looks ahead to new beginnings.
Lee’s powerhouse vocals and Fei’s deft rapping make for a good pairing, and the emotion-laden number shows the young musicians’ potential. – Benson Ang
Chart Champ: Bad Habit – Steve Lacy
You cannot help but lay back and chill to Bad Habit, the latest single from American multi-hyphenate Steve Lacy.
Currently at No. 2 on the Billboard charts, it is also climbing up Spotify’s Singapore charts.
Lacy’s layered vocals float pleasantly on warm synthesizers and lo-fi vibes on this track, the second single from the singer-guitarist-songwriter’s sophomore album, Gemini Rights.
And just when you thought that the summer-kissed tune would end on a leisurely groove, it shifts gears and a new, electronic-tinged beat takes over. – Eddino Abdul Hadi
Singapore Scene: Jaime Wong – I Say Too Much EP
Driven by her tender voice and confessional lyrics, local singer Jaime Wong’s second EP navigates the weighty transition from one’s 20s to 30s.
Wong, who won the National Arts Council’s Noise Singapore Award for Music in 2012, lays bare her feelings of being single in her early 30s, watching as her peers seemingly progress further in their lives.
Despite being older, she still feels like a misfit, as she narrates in the EP’s pop-punk title track. Meanwhile, I Swore I’d Stop Writing About You, a mellow tune, deals with heartbreak.
It is not all doom and gloom though, as she bookends the EP with two uplifting and hopeful tracks, A Little More and How Many Times.
Wong will launch I Say Too Much with a concert at the Esplanade Annexe Studio on Oct 12 that features fellow home-grown artistes lewloh and 53A. – Eddino Abdul Hadi