Life is, by pretty much every estimation, a serious affair.
Hearts break, love dies and the worst of humanity visits itself upon us … and yet for all that potential and actual misery, it is possible to push back against that tide of trauma with defiance, cheekiness and yes, a healthy sense of fun.
All five featured artists embody this philosophy in their work to varying degrees and by varying means, offering up songs that don’t shy about the realities of living but don’t let it defeat them either.
It’s an emboldening way to look at all that existential angst, and handily, if you like to soundtrack your day with some great music, to listen to as well.
“Night Running” by Millie Turner
A native of East Hackney, London, 18-year-old Millie Turner has had quite the pop-filled year.
One of her more recent tracks in a long line of what NME calls “consistently uplifting pop belters”, “Night Running” is a paean to the animated energy of a night out, the sense that anything is possible:
“Night running’ was inspired by a moment when it’s late and you suddenly feel consumed by this rush of energy. It’s an adrenaline kick where you become distracted from everything else in your life, replaced by this impulse to run or move, suddenly becoming animated. To me it represents an anthem of youth where you feel empowered. I really wanted to use this idea in the video, whereby you get taken on a journey which captures the night, full of animation and movement reflecting youth and life of our generation.” (The Line of best Fit)
It’s a mid-tempo slice of pop perfection, filled to the brim with a loping, captivating beat, that for all its chilled charm, pulsates with an attractive euphoric energy that makes it a great accompaniment to your night … or day for that matter.
“Cool Again” by Shoffy
For singer-songwriters like vocally-gifted L.A.-based Shoffy, collaboration is the thing, the elixir from which springs some brilliantly-good music.
In the case of post-break up song, “Cool Again”, Shoffy has teamed with Maroon 5’s Sam Farrar for an exploration of the time it takes after love has run its course for everyone involved to move on to friendship (assuming it’s possible which it isn’t always).
It can be a big ask, of course, but you get the feeling listening to “Cool Again” that it’s not only possible but actually going to happen in what Ones to Watch calls an “upbeat, catchy, electronic-R&B-pop combination.”
That’s not to say that Shoffy isn’t hurting or feeling like a future rug has been pulled out from under his feet; he knows friendship isn’t a natural or immediate outcome, no matters how noble the intent – “We had sketched out our future/You were mine and I was yours/You’ll always have a place in my heart/Just need some time to heal”.
Drawn from Shoffy’s debut album Lenses, the song is proof that our very best impulses, not to mention musical sensibilities, can come to the fore even when the very worst is happening to us.
“AOP” by More Giraffes
As someone who once worked for an Australian telco whose exhausting, months-long financial planning sessions were known as AOP or Annual Operating Plan, it’s safe to say I’m not particularly enamoured of this particular grouping of two vowels and a consonant.
But in a spirited act of creative inspiration, L.A.-based More Giraffes (Mark Hadley and Keeley Bumford), whose artistic moniker suggests a policy that any sane person would be a fool not to become an ardent advocate for, have turned them into a song that, drawn from their debut EP It Was a Joke, represents an overall sound that Born Music describes as infused with “bright synth lines and pulsing pop bass, dashed with carefree lyricism, a little splash of wit and chock-full of raucously catchy melody.”
“AOP”, now freshly-minted as infectiously-gorgeous pop with a breezily-buoyant sound and vibe, is the product of a pretty cool creative philosophy:
“Together, they create colorful songs laced with wit and undeniable melodies, meant to conjure dynamic images you’d double tap in your Instagram feed.
Mark & Keeley turn to More Giraffes as an artistic playground. There are no rules, expectations, or boundaries. It’s the definition of #nofilter and the end result is carefree pop that leaves you smiling or ready to let your freak flag fly. It’s the opposite of the daily grind. It’s Saturday morning drinking bottomless mimosas with the sun on your face even though you forgot the SPF.” (Facebook)
Mischievously-fun philosophy? Catchy-as-hell song? The best duo name for ages? Tick, tick and Tick … seriously, what’s not to like?
“3 Nights” by Dominic Fike
Lordy but this track, and the 22-year-old Naples, Florida-resident artist who gives it seductive life, is the stuff of emotionally-resonant musical catchiness.
“3 Nights” may have been criticised by Pitchfork as “harmless to fault” and “neither soothing nor pleasant” but honestly, it’s an infectiously-fun piece of what We Are: The Guard says “oozes with a kind of laid-back vibe that’s nothing short of infectious”.
The song is a sweetly-honest musing on the unrequited love, the lead track on Don’t Forget About Me, Demos, released on Columbia Records after a reported $4 million signing follow the mind of bidding war that creative types of any stripe dream of being inside of.
With just this song to go on right now, Fike has a bright future, possessed of a charmingly-dusky voice, a lyrical ability to playfully explore relationships in all their messy glory, and a knack for melodic beats that burrow under your skin and stay there, much like the object of his attraction.
“If It’s Over (ft. Charli XCX)” by MØ
Losing someone you love with all your heart, can be a devastating blow; in response, you can either fall into a great big tub of ice cream and mountains of pizza, never to emerge until it’s all self-therapeutically eaten, or, and this seems like the healthier approach, take a leaf out of Danish singer-songwriter-record producer MØ’s book of life and rather stridently shrug your shoulders and declare “If it’s over then it’s over, I don’t want you back”.
Karen Marie Aagaard Ørsted Andersen, as she’s known to family and friends, is coldly-dismissive; clearly hurt has happened but she’s chosen to taken the decision by her lover to end things as gospel and definitive and is refusing to playing any kinds of games in the emotionally-horrific aftermath.
She is, according to GQ, a passionate person who dives headfirst into life, and “If It’s Over” reflects that, replete with the kind of heady moving on vibe that many of us wish we could replace the ice cream and pizza with (tasty though that all is).
The song reflects a life philosophy that, according to the artists herself (again from GQ), rests liberatingly on the idea that “If I’m not myself it’s not gonna work”, a heady antidote to the cloying need to cling tightly to someone or something when it’s obvious it’s done and dusted and there’s nothing to do but move on with life and carpe diem the hell out of things, broken heart be damned.
NOW THIS IS MUSIC EXTRA EXTRA!
Let’s hear it for people who are happy to take the classics, throw in some modern sensibilities and see what results. No, we’re not talking good old Hooked on Classics; rather the work of a musician who had some real fun with one well-known classical piece, according to Laughing Squid:
“Musician Rousseau, who performs ‘piano covers of classical and pop songs with a reactive visualizer’, did just that with a very modern take on Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata (3rd Movement). Each note of this fast-moving, complex piece triggered a beautiful light reaction and kept going until it looked like piano had sparks coming out above the keys.”