MX ritaoraoftheyear 2017 | Best Releases 40-36

MX ritaoraoftheyear 2017

50 Best Releases


Lea Michele – Places

When it comes to Lea’s second album, she’s mostly switched the bops for ballads and this overall change in style is welcomed as ‘Places’ has a level of sophistication that ‘Louder’ didn’t have. Nothing on this album tops the lead single “Love is Alive” for me because there’s something really striking about the way her vocals sound simultaneously joyful and desperate. Another special moment is closer “Hey You” which is a very simple and honest dedication to her late boyfriend Cory Monteith. The way it reads as one half of a conversation is highly vulnerable and I commend Lea for including such a song on the album. Through the entire record, ‘Places’ is inspiring and beautiful.

highlight track: LOVE IS ALIVE


K Á R Y Y N – Quanta (series)

This series of singles by upcoming electronic composer K Á R Y Y N is without a doubt one of the most versatile projects I have heard all year. If you like Björk and FKA twigs, then say hello to your new favourite artist. The ‘Quanta’ series is often glitchy and unconventionally operatic. It’s impressive how K Á R Y Y N’s music manages to sound blissful yet loaded with layers upon layers of harsh sound. It feels peaceful in a way that running away feels peaceful. An array of emotions around us, but solace is found in escapism.

highlight track: UN-C2-SEE


Calvin Harris – Funk Wav Bounces, Vol. 1

Shock! Calvin Harris made an extremely cohesive full-length album. ‘Funk Wav Bounces, Vol. 1’ is a mixtape-era album, really – the Vol. 1 immediately highlights that this project isn’t like its predecessors. This is plainly ten tracks of excellent R&B/hip-hop collaborations that was initially planned to be released as a singles series. Instead, Calvin opted to release it as a short full-length, and it was a great choice. This album was truly a summer soundtrack and I still stand by the ‘E•MO•TION’ comparisons that I made when I first heard it. It’s practically designed to make you feel good. Listen to “Skrt On Me”, or “Cash Out”, or the smash hit singles “Slide” and “Feels”, and then tell me you don’t have a smile on your face. I won’t believe you.

highlight track: HARD TO LOVE F/ JESSIE REYEZ


Demi Lovato – Tell Me You Love Me

Ex-Disney acts Miley Cyrus and Demi Lovato released their latest albums on the same day. Initially, I favoured Miley’s album as I am a long-time fan of her work and “Malibu” was much more appealing to me as a lead single than “Sorry Not Sorry” which I initially considered to be shouty and dull. However, after listening to this project multiple times, it soon became clear that the album Demi had released here is nothing short of amazing. Songs like the wonderfully executed old-school 3/4 ballad “Cry Baby” and the dramatic gospel-lite title track deserve to be noticed. It’s wonderfully sultry and sexy throughout the entire track-listing, and it just feels like she completely hit the nail on the head with what sound works better for her. And now she’s got it, she can run with it.

highlight track: READY FOR YA


Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.

This album was massively overrated, and I don’t feel as if I’m the only one who thinks so. ‘DAMN.’ really falls short compared to its predecessors, the incredible ‘Good Kid, m.A.A.d City’ and ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’, and I feel as if it’s because ‘DAMN.’ is thematically lacking in comparison. Kendrick’s previous two albums were fully fledged and conceptually well thought-out, and so my main issue with ‘DAMN.’ comes from the fact that I wasn’t expecting Kendrick to put out a conventional album. That being said, ‘DAMN.’ being conventional does not mean that it isn’t often excellent and some of his best songs ever. Kendrick has never sounded so masterfully effortless as he does on “ELEMENT.” (a surprising James Blake collab) and no one can deny the fact that “HUMBLE.” and “DNA.” are complete bangers. Also, a quick shout-out to the moody soulful “PRIDE.” which is quite touching. Yeah, this is very good, but I wouldn’t expect anything less from a genius.

highlight track: ELEMENT.

This Week in Music Videos: Taylor Swift, Camila Cabello and more

Here is a round-up of some of the biggest and best music video releases over the past week, including telenovela realness and some serious sci-fi effects.


Fresh off the release of ‘reputation’ promo single “Gorgeous”, Taylor has dropped the music video for “…Ready For It?”, the second single from the album. The video was directed by long-time collaborator Joseph Kahn (who also directed “Look What You Made Me Do” and several singles from the ‘1989’ album) and pays homage to many sci-fi greats through some beautiful usage of special effects.


This week’s most talked about video has to be “Havana” (The Movie) by Camila Cabello and Young Thug. The long-awaited visuals for her hit single proved worth the wait for fans as Camila has transformed the song into a full telenovela – a nod to Camila’s Latin roots. The impressive short film features Cabello playing three different characters and is “dedicated to the dreamers”. The video has been helpful in pushing “Havana” to a new chart peak, with the song on track to reach #1 in the UK this week.


Pop sensation Bebe Rexha went down a completely unexpected route with the latest single from ‘All Your Fault Pt.II’ – a collaboration with Nashville duo Florida Georgia Line. A departure from her previous singles, “Meant to Be” is a country ballad destined for U.S. success. The Sophie Muller-directed visuals show Rexha working at a cafe, and performing with Florida Georgia Line at an open-mic night and at a concert.


Julia Michaels joins Clean Bandit on their latest single “I Miss You”, the fifth single from their upcoming album and the follow-up to hit collaborations with Louisa Johnson, Anne-Marie & Sean Paul, Zara Larsson and Marina & the Diamonds. The visuals for the song are stunning and feature some very clever editing. “I Miss You” continues with the subtlety of previous single “Disconnect” – a refined sound that is a refreshing contrast from the power pop that we love to hear from Clean Bandit.


This is perhaps a surprising single choice from Calvin Harris’ highly underrated fifth album ‘Funk Wav Bounces, Vol.1’ but it is one that I am very excited about. The aesthetic of this video is extremely pleasing and Kehlani looks mesmerising as she sings in front of dazzling coloured settings. This could be an unlikely hit for the trio if the capturing video gains some more media attention – it definitely deserves it.


Poor Matt Terry. The dark visuals for his proper debut single “Sucker For You” seem to be doing nothing to propel the song to success. Recent X Factor alumni such as previous winner Louisa Johnson, Reggie ‘n’ Bollie and 5 After Midnight have failed to secure hits with just music videos and discounts, so it looks like it may take some more promo than this for Matt to solidify a solo hit. Let’s hope that The X Factor can give him a promo slot on one of the live shows so that “Sucker For You” has a chance for a fraction of the success of winner’s single “When Christmas Comes Around”.


Perhaps the most unexpected music video release this week is the visuals for Azealia Banks’ most recent single “Escapades”. This video is Banks’ first in 18 months since ‘Slay-Z’ single “The Big Big Beat”. The video is simple, but an effective way of giving her dedicated fans some new material as they await her next project ‘Fantasea II: The Second Wave’…however long that will take to arrive.


Alaska’s win on All-Stars 2 may have arguably overshadowed Bob’s win on Season 8 but it didn’t stop the two of them coming together to produce this killer rap single. The music video (filmed in the desert of all places) was directed by previous “Purse First” collaborator Assaad Yacoub and features Season 4 alumni Jiggly Caliente. Alaska manages to fit references to just about every Season 9 queen possible in her verse – a highly sufficient continuation to her All-Stars 2 referencing single “The T”.


This year it seems like the UK loves making chart hits out of unlikely people, and comedian Michael Dapaah’s hit single follows recent successes from reality stars Megan McKenna and Chris & Kem. “Man’s Not Hot” started out as a viral freestyle meme that even had Jeremy Corbyn on board, sending the song up to the top 5 in the UK iTunes charts. Now the song has a video, and this will only help to contribute to the stability of the song in the charts, proving Big Shaq is here to stay.


One of my favourite videos of the week and easily the most on-brand for the Halloween season is Superfruit’s “Guy.EXE” – The latest in a series of videos for their debut album ‘Future Friends’. The Rocky Horror-esque video follows the story of Mitch Grassi (as a scientist) building the perfect guy (which happens to be Scott Hoying) and ends with a hilarious dance sequence. If you’re looking for a fun festive watch today then you’ve found it here.