14 degrees of separation: the sounds of 2015

There’s some really good new music coming this year. Here’s how they all link up [disclaimer: some of these are pretty tenuous but sometimes new popstars are quite secretive, y’know]

Melissa Steel

If the never-ending wait for Rihanna’s eighth album has given us one thing, it’s the fresh batch of popstars that look a bit like her. Melissa Steel is one of them, with ‘Music Of The Sun’/’What’s My Name’ island-pop being very much her thing. I’ve seen her live a few times now and although she doesn’t really know how to get the crowd going, she has that thing that Louis Walsh would get excited about. She’ll probably have a Number 1 by the end of the year.

Years & Years – they both are influenced by reggae

I have a broad statement to make: lead singer Olly has the best male voice to launch this decade. It’s one of those voices that sounds crisp yet emotive. The calypso/house sound works so well too; in fact, it should be the blueprint for the next Rihanna album. I was talking about the fittest popstars at the moment on Twitter and Years & Years are very attractive (well maybe just the keyboard player but he’s a ten so).

Karen Harding – they both do house

Another house act that’s really fucking good is Karen Harding. She’s been in pop bootcamp for a while now, having tried her hand at Eurovision [WARNING: that video is terrible] and The X Factor.  Anyway, she’s good now, and ‘Say Something’ is an excellent throwback to ‘Show Me Love’-era dance songs. It’s been pushed back so many times that it’s probably not going to be a hit, but it sets her up nicely for single two.

Becky Hill – they have both done reality TV, and sound completely different now

Also from a reality show is Becky Hill, who got to the semi-finals on The Voice a few years ago. She’s shat out a few really good songs recently (‘Losing’ is particularly fun), but it sort of feels like they’re holding a stone cold banger back for the next single. She’s toeing the line at the minute between being a massive pop thing and a Jessie Ware-esque ‘loved by many but never a chart hit’, but if the music is good then who cares?

Fleur East – they both did reality TV and featured on loads of dance singles

This is a bit presumptuous – she doesn’t have a record deal yet – but Fleur East could be the biggest popstar in the world by the end of the year. Here’s the plan: guest-spot on the next Blonde single, first proper single (sort of an ‘Uptown Funk’/’Crazy In Love’ type affair) out in July, stellar pop single in October, album, best popstar in the world. Her merch should include a line of gold clutch bags, too.

Tom Aspaul – both are inspired by Janet Jackson

Inspired by Janet Jackson’s ‘Doesn’t Really Matter’ (in my personal Janet top 3), ‘Good Together’ by Tom Aspaul sounds like the best bits of early noughties Darkchild mixed with spacey electronica. That’s the thing: his music is sort of like what we thought the future would sound like 20 years ago. He’s responsible for ‘Feels So Good’ from the last Kylie album, which should have been the first single tbh.

Tamera Foster – both have worked with Tom Aspaul

Perhaps they’ve left it a bit late now with Tamera seeing as Fleur East did it better on this year’s show. However, there’s a good popstar in Tamera, and perhaps she be the ‘#edgy’ alternative to Fleur East’s crowd-pleasing pop. There’s very little evidence that her music is any good, but let’s hope it sounds more like Tinashe/FKA twigs than Rihanna (it would be interesting to see how Syco would market a popstar like that too).

Florrie – both have enviable popstar hair

I do a run down like this every year and every time I have included Florrie. I thought it might be time to give up, but I saw her last year and she has the presence of a big popstar. So, I will write about her every year until: a) it happens or b) there’s little chance left. The songs are massive pop songs, albeit weird and repetitive. Last year’s ‘Seashells’ is particularly repetitive (and a bit jarring), but it’s a jam so we’ll forgive her.

Becky G – both do pop in its purest form

Back in the 90s (when dance was last really popular), there was a wave of really strong pop that eventually became more popular (see: Spice Girls, Take That). We’re sort of seeing that now, with ‘Ugly Heart’ having longevity despite never going Top 10. Becky G could be next, with her brand of simple, latino pop. I love ‘Can’t Stop Dancing’ in particular, and although she’s a bit basic, her album would be amazing.

Alexa Goddard – both have videos directed by Hannah Lux Davies

The stretched text in the opening bit of that video almost irritates me as much as the cheap coat hangers in Little Mix’s ‘How Ya Doin” video. Alexa Goddard had a hit a few years ago with her cover of ‘Turn My Swag On’, but she’s now signed to Roc Nation. Much like Becky G, she does really simple pop. My only reservation is that all her songs so far are about 60% as good as they could, but she has potential

Nick Gardner – both did YouTube covers before being signed

There are lots of good pop men coming out this year (don’t worry, the rest are coming at once). Nick Gardner covers stadium electronica on ‘Lose You’. You can almost imagine the crowd singing that back at Wembley, can’t you? The drums sound a lot like ‘In The Air Tonight’, and over all it sounds like what Maroon 5 should be doing right now. He’s signed to Interscope, so there’ll probably be a big push this year.

Josef Salvat – both are men (it’s getting hard now)

I can remember where but I saw someone describe him as a young Steve McDonald. I can no longer get this image out of my head. Anyway, he does brooding pop. It would be pretty lazy to say “the one-man Hurts”, so I’ll say “Banks with a cock” instead. He has a really interesting tone to his voice, it’s almost a bit George Ezra-like. He sang that cover of ‘Diamonds’ from the Sony advert, btw.

Matthew Young – both are Australian (well it turns out he’s from New Zealand so they’re both from Oceania)

I’m super excited about Matthew Young. There’s not much on the internet about him (heck, we don’t know what the front of his face looks like), but he’s released four stellar tracks so far. ‘Loveblind’ is particularly good, with electronica that sounds a bit warm yet equally glacial. The artwork is spot-on, the music is spot-on, and so is the back of his head.

Allie X – both are fucking hard to research

Sometimes popstars like Allie X can be a bit style-over-substance. However, songs like ‘Prime’ and ‘Catch’ speak for themselves: they’re fucking massive popstars disguised as the work of a Tumblr hipster. Katy Perry called ‘Catch’ her “summer jam”, and tbh, it’s what Prism should have sounded like. I read an interview with her in Elle last year and she described herself as ‘ageless’, which I sort of love.

I suppose you’re wondering how Allie X and Melissa Steel ‘link’. They’re both popstars.


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