Music Scene: New work from Adele, Coldplay, Tony Bennett


SINGAPORE - Some of the most prominent acts in the music world have set new records in the past month.

Adele's first single in six years clocked the highest first-day numbers on Spotify, with 19.75 million streams. Meanwhile, jazz icon Tony Bennett, at 95, has become the oldest person to release a new album.

Finneas, who at 22 was the youngest to win a Grammy for Producer of the Year - Non-Classical last year (2020), marks a new milestone by releasing his debut solo album.

Check these out on streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music.

1. Pop Ballad

Easy On Me, Adele

British balladeer Adele makes a comeback with Easy On Me, the first song from her upcoming fourth album 30. It is her first new song in six years.

In an Instagram post, she wrote that the songs were her way of coping with the "maze of absolute mess and inner turmoil" that she had gone through in recent times. She had divorced charity entrepreneur Simon Konecki and her father had lost his battle with cancer in May.

"It was my ride or die throughout the most turbulent period of my life," she wrote.

Upon its release on Oct 15, Easy On Me became Spotify's most-streamed song in a single day, and received the most requests for a new song on its first day of release via virtual assistant Alexa on Amazon Music.

2. Pop/Rock

Music Of The Spheres, Coldplay

British band Coldplay's latest and ninth album includes the song My Universe, a collaboration with K-pop megastars BTS sung in both English and Korean.

The quartet worked with pop hitmaker Max Martin on the songs, which are tied together by an extraterrestrial science-fiction theme.

Fellow pop stars who appear in the album include American singer Selena Gomez on Let Somebody Go.

Frontman Chris Martin recently said in an interview with Associated Press: "It's really another record about life as a human person, but given this freedom that comes when you pretend it's about other creatures in other places."

3. Jazz

Love For Sale, Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga

With his 61st album Love For Sale, 95-year-old American singing icon Tony Bennett is recognised by Guinness World Records as "the oldest person to release an album of new material".

It is his second collaborative album with pop star Lady Gaga.

In a recent Apple Music "First Listen" global live-stream launch for the album, Lady Gaga said: "You know, I can promise you that every note that I sang, I was thinking about how this was Tony's last album."

Bennett retired from music after playing his last shows, together with Lady Gaga, at New York's Radio City Music Hall on Aug 3 and 5.

4. Alternative Pop

Optimist, Finneas

American singer-songwriter and producer Finneas had already won eight Grammy awards and scored multiple hits before the release of his debut album Optimist.

He, is after all, the brother and regular collaborator of one of pop music's biggest stars, Billie Eilish.

He says of the 13-track collection, for which he wrote, produced, sang and played all the instruments by himself: "My hope is some kid somewhere puts this on and maybe thinks, 'This is exactly how I'm feeling right now.'

"That's what I do with my favourite music. Personally, the more I learn, the less I know. So, I just feel really lucky right now and optimistic about the future."

5. Folk/Rock

In These Silent Days, Brandi Carlile

The songs in American singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile's seventh album, In These Silent Days, were inspired by her memoir, Broken Horses, which topped The New York Times Best Sellers list.

They were written while she was under quarantine when the pandemic first hit.

"This album is what drama mixed with joy sounds like," she says. "It's resistance and gratitude, righteous anger and radical forgiveness. It's the sound of these silent days."

6. Alternative/Electronic

Colourgrade, Tirzah

Colourgrade is the second album by British musician Tirzah Mastin, who performs under her first name. Her debut album was Devotion in 2018.

She worked on the songs for the follow-up album after the birth of her first child and just before the birth of her second.

In an interview with music publication Rolling Stone, she explains the album title: "I've always seen music in textures and colours."

7. Indie folk

A Beginner's Mind, Sufjan Stevens and Angelo De Augustine

A Beginner's Mind is the first collaborative album by American singer-songwriters Sufjan Stevens and Angelo De Augustine.

The pair looked to popular films for inspiration, from horror classics Night Of The Living Dead (1968) and The Silence Of The Lambs (1991) to action film Point Break (1991) and comedy-drama She's Gotta Have It (1986).

According to their record label Asthmatic Kitty Records, the duo holed up for a month in a cabin in upstate New York, watching films at night and writing the songs the next morning.

8. Jazz/Rock

Talk Memory, BadBadNotGood

The first album in five years by Canadian band BadBadNotGood, Talk Memory, is an all-instrumental affair.

The collaborators on this album include Brazilian composer Arthur Verocai and hip-hop/jazz alto saxophone player Terrace Martin.

The mostly improvised jams pay tribute to rock music. As bassist Chester Hansen told Apple Music: "We come from a background of listening to a lot of rock music when we were younger. So it's nice to be able to incorporate some of those elements on this record."

9. Hyperpop/UK garage

To Hell With It, PinkPantheress

To Hell With It is the debut mixtape by British musician PinkPantheress, who scored a deal with record labels Elektra and Parlophone after her songs Pain and Break It Off went viral on TikTok early this year (2021).

Inspired by dance music genres such as UK garage and jungle, it includes songs such as Just For Me, which the 20-year-old has described as "a song based around an unhealthy obsession".

10. Soul-Jazz/R&B/Pop

Skin, Joy Crookes

The songs on British-Irish-Bangladeshi singer-songwriter Joy Crookes' debut album Skin were written when she was 15 to 21.

Describing it as "an album about my identity", the now 23-year-old touches on topics such as relationships, mental health and politics.

"The word skin massively resonates with me as biologically, it is one of the strongest parts of our bodies. However, socially and externally, it is often used against us," she says.

"This juxtaposition is grappled with throughout the album - lyrically, my album is effectively a collection of stories."