Jeremy Williams-Chalmers, Arts Correspondent

Singles Of The Week: 22 May 2020

The summer sun appears to have finally arrived, and while the world remains at various of stages of lockdown, there is a sense of unity and optimism as we look ahead. With the first post-lockdown concert having happened in the States and the Eurovision confirming its intention to return in 2021, the music world is proving a strong fighter. To celebrate, here are our singles of the week - with an impressively high rate of full house scores meaning a tough fight for the single of the crown. It came down to two very different entries and rather than decide between them, we split the crown in two and made them both wear half...

SINGLE OF THE WEEK: Daði Freyr - Where We Wanna Be Rating: 5/5

For many Daði Freyr is a newcomer. The breakout star of Eurovision 2020 thanks to viral hit Think About Things. The truth is that the Berlin based Icelander has been on the scene for a long time, firstly in the impressive RetRoBot then as Mixophrygian, before releasing the striking & Co. last year (if you haven't heard it yet, check out Endurtaka Mig). Where We Wanna Be builds sonically on Think About Things, while cleverly transforming the lockdown situation into an ever enduring love story.

SINGLE OF THE WEEK: Nico Santos - Walk In Your Shoes Rating: 5/5

Nico Santos is an artist who knows how to make your move your body, but as Walk In Your Shoes shows he can also melt your heart. This is a stunningly straightforward tribute to his late childhood friend. Whether you have lost someone close or not, you will feel every word he breathes.

AURORA - Exist For Love Rating: 5/5

Wow. From the opening moments of the truly beautiful Exist For Love, AURORA transports her listener to a timeless place of all the warm, fuzzy feelings. With a voice that is somewhere between Björk and Ane Brun, Exist For Love is a song that could have been delivered by both artists but feels truly AURORA. Dazzling.

Dorian Electra - Sorry Bro (I Love You) Rating: 2/5

Dorian Electra has released some of the most amazing electro pop anthems of the last few years. Sorry Bro (I Love You) isn't one of them. Where they have previously managed to paint a different picture to their contemporaries, the short burst that is Sorry Bro (I Love You) is Tegan and Sara meets Katy Perry meets Ke$ha, but not as addictive as any of them. Skip this track and explore their other work.

Netta - Cuckoo Rating: 5/5

Former Eurovision winner Netta is known for her outlandish pop anthems, however, she has released a very different side to her artistry in the stripped back, emotional Cuckoo. A moving musical moment about mental health, Cuckoo will give you all the feels. Stunning.

Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande - Rain of Me Rating: 4/5

Lady Gaga's Stupid Love indicated that the Chromatica period will be a return to her pop sound. Rain on Me, her heavily hyped duet with Ariana Grande, shows that this is definitely the case. This is a happy anthem with an uplifting message about finding joy even in the difficult times.

Dream Wife - So When You Gonna... Rating: 3/5

Their last single, Hasta La Vista, showed a very different side to Dream Wife. An almost pop leaning to their punk sound. So When You Gonna..., the title track from their upcoming album, returns to the riotous anthem that we know and love. While it is definitely an immediate and infectious listen, it isn't as strong as some of their other bold releases. That doesn't mean we aren't counting down the 42 days until the album release...

Max Giesinger - Australien Rating: 5/5

Australien is one of the stand out moments on Max Giesinger's 2018 album Die Reise. Having reworked the record into acoustic form, Australian is the second song to have been revealed. And wow, if you loved the original, the reworking is even stronger. Max's vocal shines and the musical arrangement is perfect.

Cariss Auburn - Too Tired To Sleep Rating: 4/5

Cariss Auburn's vocal is honey smooth, and were you to hear it without being told the artist, you would be forgiven for believing it was the All Saints' Melanie Blatt. This is no bad thing, for Melanie Blatt should have had huge solo success - which hopefully Cariss will be rewarded with. Too Tired To Sleep is very All Saints - sexy, soulful and ubercool.

Red Moon - Medusa Rating: 4/5

Norway's Red Moon captured our attention with the captivating Dogma, which is today followed by the equally enchanting Medusa. Medusa is striking for the contrast between the blissful harps and the dramatic vocal delivery. With echoes of Kate Bush, this is rather magical.

Andrea Laszlo De Simone - Immensità Rating: 5/5

Immense is a perfect title for Andrea Laszlo De Simone's debut single. The italian multi-instrumentalist delivers the truly enrapturing cinematic lead single from his new EP. With the colourfully empowering score partnered with his introvert vocals, it takes your breath away. A real wow moment.

Kenza Blanka - Thank You Rating: 3/5

Former mental health nurse and The Voice UK star Kenza Blanka has decided to give back with her new single, Thank You. While the powerful music video is very moving, the song itself lacks a certain something. The lyrics are strong and Kenza is a warm presence, but is doesn't quite get where it needs to.

Maya Hawke - So Long Rating: 5/5

Maya Hawke's singles to date have shown that her debut album, Blush, is destined to be amongst the finest of 2020. However, her latest single So Long tops everything she has released to date. With an almost Bond-esque stature, this is and understated epic anthem.

Becky and the Birds - Paris Rating: 4/5

Swedish producer Thea Gustafsson has revealed the hypnotic Paris, which deals with the battle against closure in a relationship. When you all want to do is more forward, your mind says no and has you constantly drawn back to what you are trying to avoid thinking about. The journey between dizzying and blissful could not have been more tenderly captured.

Sia  - Together Rating: 3/5

Sia has gone from underappreciated to truly heralded. While her earlier work jumped from genre to genre, she is has spent the last good while as one of the world's leading pop voices. Together continues in the pop vain and, unsurprisingly, is lifted from a soundtrack.

Todrick Hall - Mask, Gloves, Soap, Scrubs Rating: 3.5/5

Todrick Hall has become something of an LGBTQI+ icon over the last few years. A star of stage, screen and a prolific musician, he can do it all! Having made use of his time in isolation, he has released the rather catchy Mask, Gloves, Soap, Scrubs, which is littered with strong cultural references as well as simple repetitive routine. This is destined for TikTok viral fame, but despite it's addictive nature, it does feel like this song has been done time and again by Todrick, RuPaul and many of the RuPaul alumni.

Lucius - Insane Rating: 4/5

For many years the irrepressible I Can't Help Myself by Lucid has been the ultimate insanity anthem, but all that is set to change with the arrival of Lucius' Insane. While the aforementioned is a panicky dance anthem, Lucius' electro pop number evokes a similar feeling of self-entrapment. Powerful.

Denai Moore - Motherless Child Rating: 3.5/5

Denai Moore has shown over the course of her first two albums that she is a soulful artist with an innovative approach to songwriting. Her latest single, Motherless Child, is no exception to that rule. Motherless Child has the insightful lyrics, rich vocal and a trippy beat. It doesn't necessarily match her peak, but it's definitely worth a listen or three. The message is strong, but this won't be remembered as her finest cut. A little predictable, but who can resist Sia?

Karima Francis - Orange Rose Rating: 4/5

Over a decade has passed since Blackpool's Karima Francis released debut album The Author. Three albums now under her belt, she returns with the soulful insight of break-up song Orange Rose. A wistful number, the sense of loss can be felt even more greatly in these troubled times. A little bit of a tearjerker.

Tim Dugger - You're Gonna Love Me Rating: 2/5

Alabama native sings 'if you like them, you're gonna love me' as he references old school sounds, cold beer, old chevvs covered in rust and it just about sums up the paint-by-numbers country that he delivers. This certainly will find an audience, but it plays it far too safe to allow his decent vocal to really shine.

Shaefri - 23 Rating: 4/5

Shaefri has been celebrated for marrying her Egyptian and Irish heritage within her music. 23 continues this theme, with the determined 23. Lifted from her forthcoming EP, Girl, 23 looks forward but is not a song about ambitious dreaming, it is a very tempting slice of the staggeringly real.

Machine Gun Kelly - Bloody Valentine Rating: 2.5/5

Machine Gun Kelly has so many awards to his name and such a huge fanbase that he is at the point in his career where it doesn't really matter what he releases. Bloody Valentine ticks all the boxes to keep his fanbase screaming with delight. It doesn't do much more than that though. We guess it doesn't need to though.

Noah Cyrus - The End of Everything Rating: 3.5/5

Noah Cyrus has a mammoth task. Not only is she the daughter of Billy Ray, but she has always found herself referred to as the younger sibling of the global icon Miley. Not only that, but her older brother Trace has enjoyed numerous hit singles too. There is no denying Noah has a stunning vocal and a lot to say. The End of Everything is a little Lana, but with just a little more dramatic flair this would have been lifted to her breakout hit, even though the lush Young & Sad should have already seen her explode.

Christopher - Leap of Faith Rating: 4/5

Denmark's Christopher has to date released four stunning albums, but his impact on the international music scene is only at the early stages. With a sound that is somewhere between Olly Murs, Niall Horan and Jamie Lawson, his latest single is a rather gorgeous soulful moment of optimistic reflection and forward thinking.

Gunna - WUNNA Rating: 1/5

Rapper Gunna finally broke the into the upper echelons of the mainstream when his debut album hit #3 on the US charts. His steady rap and socially attuned lyrics do hold appeal, but WUNNA just never really gets past first gear. Gunna is gonna be huge, but WUNNA isn't gonna win him new fans.

Michele Bravi - La Vita Breve Dei Rating: 4.5/5

Having romped to victory on the seventh series of The X Factor in Italy, Michele Bravi has shown that he is more than a TV talent show victor over the course of two impressive studio albums. As he builds towards to the release of his third album, he releases the grand La Vita Breve Dei, which shows a strength in mixing the intimate moments with big bold statements.

Irama - Mediterranea Rating: 5/5

Multi-Platinum recording artists Irama has just released Mediterranea, which deserves to be a global summer hit. It has an irresistible summer beat, Irama is in fine voice and whether you understand the lyrics or not, you simply can't resist singing along. Surely this is a big step towards international superstardom.

jxdn - Angels & Demons Rating: 3/5

Following the success of his self-released single Comatose, 19 year old jxdn is the first signing to Travis Barker's new label DTA Records. Claiming that he is the act to bring rock back (we aren't quite sure where he thinks it went...), his new single Angels & Demons is certainly a decent, but he isn't bringing anything new to the field and is possibly more aligned with pop-rockers than all-out rockers - especially given the vocal production.

Harry Styles - Watermelon Sugar Rating: 4/5

Rather shockingly it has taken until this week for Harry to release the heavily hyped Watermelon Sugar as a single from his truly impressive sophomore album, Fine Line. Watermelon Sugar continues his penchant for fruit themed songs. It is charming, fun and very addictive. Even before this, we wouldn't have minded being Harry's Watermelon Sugar high - and we know we aren't alone.

Lucy Rose - Question It All Rating: 3.5

There is something very warm and homely about Lucy Rose's vocal. It doesn't matter whether her subject matter is positive or negative, it just effortlessly reassures you. Her latest single sees her pondering life, and it is breezily beautiful.

Sion Hill - Speak Up Rating: 4/5

Last week Irish singer/songwriter Sion Hill appeared on Free ESC, the German alternative to the Eurovision Song Contest. Having finished in 10th place, ahead of the UK's Kelvin Jones. Speak Up is a rather wonderful anthem promoting the need to speak up about mental health issues. Sion Hill is a relatively new name, but he is one to keep a close eye on.

Diodato - Un'Altra Estate Rating: 5/5

One of the most likely competitors to stop Daði & Gagnamagnið soaring to victory last week was the powerful rock balladeer Diodato. He returns with his first post-Eurovision single, Un'Altra Estate, which is a buoyant dream of a sunnier, cheerier time.

Ren x Sam Tompkins - What Went Rating: 3.5/5

Brighton's Ren and Sam Tompkins have teamed up for this rather tasty collaboration. Balancing their vocal stylings for a storyteller narrative, this is every day life set to compelling the occasional instrumental explosion. With elements of Len, Eminem and The Streets, this is collaboration that should be further explored.

Lara Fabian - Par Amour (Live piano-voix) Rating: 4/5

Lara Fabian has this year released one of the most tender lockdown singles, which she has followed with this very moving live reworking of her hit single Par Amour. Lifted from the upcoming deluxe re-release of the album Papillon, the stripped back sound really showcases her gracefully enticing vocal.

SOHN & Metropole Orkest - Artifice Rating: 5/5

Rather surprisingly it is over half a decade since SOHN released the still impressive Tremors, but since then he has simply gone from strength to strength. For those that felt he may have peaked with the awe-inspiring Ólafur Arnalds collaboration Unfold, be prepared as Artifice is a masterpiece.

Soda Blonde - June Rating: 4/5

Born out of the ashes of Little Green Cards, Soda Blonde have recorded June in isolation and it is a must-listen. With vocal echoes of Ane Brun, but a driven sound that could almost be described as Country-Indie-Folk (with a touch of summery jazz), this is a rather delightful on the ears.

Carly Rae Jepsen - This Love Isn't Crazy Rating: 3.5/5

If Carly Rae Jepsen isn't one of your favourites popstars, she should be. The Canadian songstress may be be best known for the earworms Call Me Maybe and I Really Like You, but her album releases showcase a far more superior pop artist. This Love Isn't Crazy is the first track lifted from Dedicated Side B. While it isn't her strongest song to date, it is still pretty decent.

Dolche - Big Man Rating: 4/5

Dolche's new album Exotic Diorama draws ever closer, and quite frankly after hearing Big Man we can't wait. Big Man has all the dramatic flair of previous single Roma, but boasts a very different flair. A truly eclectic and unique talent.

Phoebe Bridgers - I See You Rating: 3/5

Phoebe Bridgers is best known to many for her high profile collaborations, but she has built a steady following since the release of her debut album 3 years ago. Her new single I See You has echoes of Radiohead's Burn The Witch, which is never a bad thing.

Arca - Time Rating: 4/5

Venezuelan sonic-experimentalist Arca has helped Björk re-shape her sound over the last couple of releases. As Arca now builds towards their fourth studio album, KiCk i, they have revealed the feast that is Time. A dizzying experience, Time is fuelled by temptation.

Ellie Goulding - Power Rating: 3.5/5

Ellie Goulding may have started her recording career as an artist deemed to be an acquired taste. However, as her sound has grown, she has shown that her unique vocal can fit with any sound. Power may not have the most interesting verses, but the rousing chorus will have you chanting along every time you hear this on the radio.

Foxes - Loving Not Loving You Rating: 4/5

Foxes is one of the UK's most underappreciated popstars. Having released two albums nearly half a decade ago, her initial chart success faded despite the continued quality of her output. Hopefully second time around audiences and radio producers appreciate her more. Banging pop!

Seasick Steve - Carni Days Rating: 3/5

Seasick Steve exploded from touring session musician to festival headliner in what seemed like the blink of an eye. Since then his popularity has not waned. Carni Days is a talk-sung sleeper. It is inoffensive but not truly remarkable.

Audrey Mika - Just Friends Rating: 4/5

In just a short time Audrey Mika has gone from being the YouTuber covering other artists to being the artist others are covering. With a sweet vocal and an ability to craft a hooky pop gem, Audrey Mika is breaking out of the web and aiming for stadium stardom.

Max Barskih – По секрету Rating: 4/5

Max Barskih has done extremely well in the decade since he made his debut on the talent show Fabrika Zirok 2. About to release his new studio album, 1990, his latest single is a very sexy pop burst.

ByeAlex és a Slepp – Feküdj ide Rating: 3/5

Hungary's ByeAlex és a Slepp formed in 2015 after vocalist ByeAlex had enjoyed a successful period as a soloist. With the group's debut album learning towards a folk sound, their new single sees them throw Hip Hop undertones into the mix. And it works.

Bruckner - Weit Weg Rating: 4/5

Sibling duo Bruckner are set to release their album, Hier, in a month's time. Their latest single is a brilliant teaser for it's arrival. The spacey, chilled out delivery of the held-back emotion is strangely compelling. If this is the standard of the album, then it is going to be a rather moreish listen.

Aitana and Reik – Enemigos Rating: 3/5

Spain's Aitana teams up with Mexico's Reik for this pretty pop ditty. The animated music video is a wonderful addition into the mix. While the song has radio hit written all over it, the song needs a bit more welly as it gets to the final third.

The Mamas - Let It Be Rating: 4/5

The Mamas were initially spotted as the backing group for John Lundvik at Eurovision 2019. This year they beat tough competition from Dotter to earn the right to Move centre stage in their own right at Eurovision 2020. Of course that didn't happen, but they haven't let that stop them. Let It Be is their euphoric new single, which will only serve to strengthen their fanbase.

Samanta Tina - I Got The Power Rating: 4/5

Samanta Tina deserves to be a global icon. As does her co-writer Aminata Savadogo. Both artists in their own right, when they unite they form a powerful force. Not only do they know how to craft a song laden with unexpected musical twists and turns, but they also know how to be both in your face and thoughtful in their lyrics.

HM Johnsen - Serenity Rating: 3.5/5

Norway's HM Johnsen is an upcoming talent. While he showcased his abilities on his 2017 album, the now 23 year old shows a real growth lyrically on his new single, Serenity. With a sound similar to early Andreas Johnson, just a little more anthemic push in his choruses and he will have a huge radio hit on his hands.

Laura Tesoro - Hold On Rating: 5/5

Hold On was easily one of the stand out moments on the very long-awaited debut album from Belgium's Laura Tesoro. Now re-packaged in acoustic form, the highlight shifts even further onto her lush vocals and moving lyrics. Send this song to someone that you think might need that uplift today to let them know you are there for them.

Matt Goss - If I Ain't Got You Rating: 3/5

Babyface has produced this soulful rendition of If I Ain't Got You for former Bros icon Matt Goss. Released to raise funds for the NHS, you can't take away the drive for a good cause. However, there have been far more impressive renditions of the song historically.

Janet Devlin - Holy Water Rating: 5/5

Janet Devlin is about to release a truly impressive album. Believe us when we tell you that you need to pre-order Confessional right now. Her latest teaser for the album is the wonderful uplift of Holy Water. With a playful trad Irish sound, this is the sing along you need to welcome the weekend and wash away your sins.

Jeremy Loops - Mortal Man Rating: 4/5

Jeremy Loops is one of the world's greatest artists for chilled out vibes. To be filed alongside Donavon Frankenreiter and Jack Johnson, his latest single Mortal Man is waiting to whisk you away.