SINGAPORE – In this weekly column, The Straits Times curates the most buzz-worthy music you need to know about now.
Singapore Scene: Jasmine Sokko – Winter
If you have ever wondered why enigmatic and frequently masked singer, songwriter and electronic music artiste Jasmine Sokko has never revealed her full face in publicity photos, she explains it in the latest episode of The Straits Times’ podcast series Music Lab.
Sokko, the first Singaporean to win Best Southeast Asia Act at the MTV Europe Music Awards in Spain in 2019, also talks about going back to her rock roots for her new single Winter.
While it contains several catchy hooks, the production is markedly different from her past repertoire and features hard-edged industrial rock sensibilities balanced by her dulcet voice.
The song marks a new beginning for the home-grown performer, who rose from being a local cult favourite to gaining a regional following after she took part in Rave Now, an electronic music talent reality competition show in China in 2018.
The self-taught music producer’s output includes hits such as Tired, a 2019 song that has amassed more than 10 million streams on Spotify alone.
Sokko, who shuttles between China and Singapore, almost had her music career derailed during the pandemic, but is now back on track with new songs and an upcoming EP.
Listen to the full interview on Music Lab at omny.fm/shows/music-lab/jasmine-sokko-music-lab. – Eddino Abdul Hadi
Ace Album: U2 – Songs Of Surrender
Irish rock icons U2 are the latest major music act to join the likes of singers Taylor Swift, Sting and Bryan Adams to go back to the studio to re-record past songs.
Songs Of Surrender features new renditions of 40 songs from their discography, a career-spanning repertoire that ranges from the 1980 non-album single 11 O’Clock Tick Tock to Get Out Of Your Own Way, a single from their last album Songs Of Experience (2017).
Frontman Bono and guitarist The Edge handled most of the re-recordings during the pandemic lockdown, although bassist Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr play on some songs.
The album also serves as a companion to Bono’s memoir released in November 2022, Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story.
Most of the tracks have been stripped down to their bare essentials, with minimal instrumentation, putting Bono’s voice front and centre.
For the most part, the album is a convincing reminder that while these songs have rocked stadiums for decades, they are also, at their core, solid tunes that stand the test of time.
Bono still sounds youthful on Out Of Control, a song from debut album Boy (1980) that is now 43 years old.
Big, bombastic tunes like Beautiful Day from All That You Can’t Leave Behind (2000) are transformed into pensive pieces, while Stories For Boys, first written back in 1979, gains a new perspective with updated lyrics.
The two band members also appear in Bono & The Edge: A Sort Of Homecoming With Dave Letterman, a documentary special filmed in their home town of Dublin that focuses on the duo’s friendship and features American talk-show host Letterman joining the musicians for a concert performance. It is now streaming on Disney+. – Eddino Abdul Hadi
Chart Champ: Taylor Swift – All Of The Girls You Loved Before
To mark the start of her massively popular The Eras Tour, American pop star Taylor Swift dropped a surprise release last Friday of four songs.
One of them, All Of The Girls You Loved Before, was supposed to be part of her 2019 album Lover, but was left out for unknown reasons.
Now, it is quickly shaping up to be another big hit. It is her highest new entry on the British singles charts at No. 5 and is expected to make a big mark on the upcoming American charts.
The catchy tune has all the hallmarks of Swift bop – memorable and catchy melodies paired with storytelling lyrics that detail how past relationships can have a positive impact on a current one.
While Swift has not explained the inspiration behind All Of The Girls You Loved Before, many have deduced that the subject is English actor Joe Alwyn, whom she has been dating since 2016.
The other three songs in the surprise release are re-recorded tunes. Safe And Sound (Taylor’s Version) and Eyes Open (Taylor’s Version) were originally from the soundtrack of dystopian action flick The Hunger Games (2012), and If This Was A Movie (Taylor’s Version) was first found on the deluxe copy of her 2010 album Speak Now. – Eddino Abdul Hadi
Must-see MV: Jimin – Set Me Free Pt.2
Ahead of the release of his debut solo album Face on Friday, BTS member Jimin has put out its lead single Set Me Free Pt.2 and accompanying music video.
The dark track about wanting to be liberated is filled with so many annoying audio effects, it overshadows the original quality of the K-pop boy bander’s pretty vocals. But no matter what one may feel about the music, there is no denying the video’s haunting allure.
Jimin is known for his dance moves and sense of drama in performances, which are both fully highlighted here.
The set is a sparse, industrial space and the only subjects are Jimin and his horde of 30-odd dancers dressed in black and grey.
The choreography incorporates plenty of hand movements in synchronicity, and formations that look both cinematic and sinister.
The camera moves all around the space, even hanging above the group when it goes into a spiral formation midway through the song and at its climactic ending, when the mob of dancers seemingly consume Jimin by wrapping themselves around him before suddenly lifting him up into the air. – Jan Lee
Stream This Song: Mirror – Rumours
If you think Hong Kong boy band Mirror’s discography is limited to Cantopop, they are out to prove everyone wrong.
Made up of 12 members, Mirror look set to hit the international stage with their flashy English-language debut Rumours. At the time of writing, the edgy dance track has already been played more than 150,000 times on Spotify.
The electronic dance music stomper is written by Swedish songwriters Chris Meyer and Ludwig Lindell, who are behind songs for K-pop boy bands such as Super Junior and Shinee.
Indeed, K-pop hallmarks such as a bombastic bassline, heart-pounding energy and the repetition of syllables that form a song’s title can be found in Rumours.
Dark and mysterious, the number pulsates with an intoxicating sense of danger, and the members’ suave steps and slick moves in the music video up the cool factor. – Benson Ang