A few weeks back we finally said goodbye to a turbulent and intense year in which you most likely had to miss out on a lot of concerts and festivals due to reasons you are probably very familiar with by now. Although the virtual concerts have been a great alternative to in-real-life concerts, nothing tops the feeling of singing your heart out in a venue with hundreds or thousands of strangers. It is undeniably something many music fans are dying for the experience again, preferably already in 2021. Luckily this year has already been treating us very well music wise. With new rising pop star Olivia Rodrigo topping the charts, Selena Gomez working on a Spanish album and many others impressing us with their new tracks, it is sure that all those lockdowns and quarantines have inspired artists to work on new projects.
Olivia Rodrigo – Drivers License
In ‘High School Musical: The Musical: The Series’ Olivia Rodrigo already proved to be an outstanding vocalist and talented singer-songwriter. The song ‘All I Want’, which she wrote for the show, was her first big success on the charts; Rodrigo even charted the Billboard Hot 100. The soon-to-be 18-year-old just released her brand new startling single ‘drivers license’, which has set the tone for an exciting and promising musical career. Olivia posted a snippet of the song late December 2020 on her TikTok account where it blew up and received a bunch of positive reactions. It’s a very honest and empathic song that could be the start of Rodrigo’s breakthrough as an international artist. ‘drivers license’ describes the heartache she felt after a breakup that left her confused and vulnerable. The song balances passion and pain and gives an insight into the singer’s deepest emotions. It all builds up to the ultimate climax of the song: a brilliant bridge that leaves you in awe of her impeccable talent and reveals her hurt in the rawest way possible – “Red lights, stop signs / I still see your face in the white cars, front yards / Can’t drive past the places we used to go to / ‘Cause I still fucking love you, babe”. The song has been topping global charts since its release, broke Ariana Grande’s record for most streams in one day on Spotify – 5.69 million to be exact –, and even caught the attention of Taylor Swift, Rodrigo’s favourite artist. In conclusion: it safe to say that this song could already be the best song of 2021.
Text by: Ine Vanvuchelen
Zoe Wees – Girls Like Us
With her brand-new single ‘Girls Like Us’, German singer-songwriter Zoe Wees sends out another empowering message following her popular debut single ‘Control’ which was released in March 2020. In ‘Girls Like Us’ Wees expresses solidarity and speaks out on the insecurities and doubts of many girls and women all around the world, “When they smile like this / And it hits me hard / Hits me hard / Try to play it cool / But inside I’m bruised / And it breaks my heart”. In Wees’ raw and powerful voice you can hear the hurt and anguish felt by women and the importance to shed a light on the struggles many of them have to deal with. The song proves how strong her vocals are, especially in the bridge. It is followed by the chorus which she sings rather softly and quietly. This creates a powerful contrast and additionally highlights the fullness and dynamic of the singer’s voice. Moreover, the lyrics criticise the unrealistic beauty standards in today’s world that many girls struggle with and that causes them to feel like they are less worthy – “Mirror, mirror on the wall / I don’t see beautiful / Staring back at me / Watching, watching my heart bleed out / Trying not to freak out”. The rather moderate verses then explode into a powerful and expressive chorus underlining the empowerment and togetherness that the song communicates. Although the singer has released only two singles so far, one can already tell that music is her way of digging deep into her own pain and struggles. Wees’ music also showcases her growth and strength and creates a sense of belonging among women. The brand new single is painfully honest and empowering, and sets the same expectations for her future songs.
Text by: Alexa Zsigmond
Selena Gomez – De Una Vez
Selena Gomez’s upcoming album is a project that has been in the works for pretty much a decade, but now the wait is finally over. She has given us a taste of what we can expect with the lead single ‘De Una Vez’. “This is the beginning of something I’ve wanted to explore for so long” she tweeted, referring to the idea of releasing a full-on Spanish LP. ‘De Una Vez’ is gentle and delicate without neglecting the familiar tempo of Hispanic beats. Gomez’s vocals paint a fairytale-like world that is being explored in the music video of the song; after waking up from a Sleeping-Beaty-like rest the singer attempts to carry on with her life that is led by the beat of her mending heart. The lyrics sing of a tale that’s not unfamiliar to Gomez’s discography: a woman growing stronger into her skin, finding the beauty and power in being okay on her own after getting her heart broken. From a Latin single, one would expect it to be a get-on-the-dancefloor-and-dance-your-hips-off kind of track, but the vibes and the quality sound promising for what we can anticipate from the rest of her newest project. There’s no doubt that it is going to be exciting to hear more of what Gomez has to offer on this album that has been inspired by her Mexican roots.
Text by: Benedetta Borgese
Baby Boys – Cannonball
Upon hearing the band name “Baby Boys”, one might imagine a young boyband that likes to spent most of its time on TikTok and has already amassed a huge, mostly female following. In the case of the real group Baby Boys, only the latter can be accounted as true. The indie-pop side project of famous alt-boys Hippo Campus was cofounded by Jake Luppen and Nathan Stocker, here exploring new artistic avenues – via what a press release calls “a purposely chaotic creative free-for-all” – alongside Caleb Hinz of Happy Children. With their debut EP from 2018 and a two year-long hiatus out of the way, the Minnesota-based group has now set out to new grounds with their latest release ‘Cannonball’, birthed from their stance of counting spontaneity over painstaking care, thriving on enthusiasm and finding creative liberation in the process. The result is a sunny, weird track with a gorgeous and glitchy collage of mazy guitar work, fun lyrics and brilliantly idiosyncratic rhythms. It’s every indie kid’s wet dream in the form of a song and in a time of solemn darkness the ray of fresh sunshine we all needed.
Text by: Laura Weingrill
The Wrecks – Rich Girl
‘Rich Girl’ the upbeat, ultra-pop-rock crossover from Hall & Oates has been covered by American indie-band The Wrecks. Just like the original The Wrecks’ version seeps an undeniable catchiness and although the progression of the track goes the same, not once throughout does it make the listener think that it is a cover. Lead singer Nick Anderson’s voice excels in this production and entices a new generation of listeners to this ‘70s staple.
The Wrecks are the embodiment of fun, quirky and extremely powerful indie-rock music. With ‘Rich Girl’ they have used their strengths and made a song so famous their own. This version will have you jumping for joy in the middle of your living room, lip-synching whilst using your brush as a microphone and thinking you are on stage at Wembley stadium. As with all The Wrecks’ previous projects ‘Rich Girl’ is not just a creation of their talent but a song that will be on your playlist forever.
Text by: Lauren Dehollogne
Tom Rosenthal – Worries
If there is one song that could ever be described as a tight hug full of love and comfort, it would be Tom Rosenthal’s new(ish) release titled ‘Worries’. Initially written in 2014 and but only ever released in Germany and Austria after his album ‘The Pleasant Trees’, the song has now finally seen the day of light for the rest of the world, much the joy of his many fans who have been waiting for the serene hit to be released all these years. Featuring only the quietest, most calming piano rhythms and Rosenthal’s angelic voice, the song is exactly what everyone needs in these dreary weeks. With lyrics like “Here we go / Goodbye to the lows / We got hope” and “It’s cold but love I got no worries / I know we are going to see this trough”, the track could not fit the current situation any better and upon listening to it, one can’t help but feel a certain sense of hope that everything might be okay someday. We don’t know when, but we are sure it will and in the meantime, we will let Tom Rosenthal fill our hearts with hope.
Text by: Laura Weingrill