New month, new music—you know the drill. Here are the tunes and grooves that have been in our heads all day.
1. Come Through by Advaitha
An artist with the talent and level of vocal control 17-year-old Advaitha Venkat displays is rare to come by; much less one as young as she. The rising starlet proves her developing pop potential with both cover songs that she embellishes with runs and riffs, as well as originals of her own.
Sitting pretty with her debut and sophomore singles “Apologise” and “Others Do”, “Come Through” is where Advaitha begins to find her footing in the scene. The sparkling, sultry piece was majorly recorded and produced in the confines of lockdown, which, unsurprisingly, made things complicated. “I was not able to meet with producer Jklmn in person, but our artistic vision for the song was well established and that made it easier for us to work on the track and communicate electronically.” Positivity certainly paid off for the pair; the released track is nothing short of a sleek electropop tune made for the airwaves, embedded with features of glo-fi and just enough edge to let her growing confidence and maturity shine through.
Before her venture deep into the pop orbit, Advaitha had been professionally trained in the South Indian classical art of Carnatic music, to which she attributes her precise vocal techniques and improvisation skills. “Carnatic music has also given me a very strong awareness of the key of a song, and this allows me to explore different ways that I can work with a key and use notes that are not typically sung with the key.” She muses that juxtaposing these traditional techniques into modern R&B helps distinguish her music from the rest of the otherwise amazing tracks by other artists.
But Advaitha is only getting started. “Come Through” is the testament to her musical exploration since her first foray into songwriting back in 2017. As for current projects, she shares, “I’ve been working with some other Singaporean local artists and I can’t wait to see how everything comes together.”
2. Somerset Boy by Louie Indigo
This Somerset Boy never misses when he takes shots—Louie Indigo flexes big with verses that ride easy on relaxed trap beats. The hip-hop/R&B specialist adds “Somerset Boy” to his ever-expanding releases of singles, a nod to the town’s youth-populated creative hub that has solidified the beginnings of many fresh-faced local artists. It’s evident that Louie sees through his projects with a sense of mastery oftentimes absent from rappers in the region; the track is yet another polished job from delivery to production, with fire lines like “Somerset, drippin’ wet 2 steppin’ on my foes, God bless never stressed never sellin’ my soul”, injecting just that bit of braggadocious that fuels a swagger walk down the streets of Orchard.
3. Glass Shard by Sasha M
Isolated keys amplify the poignant build-up in Sasha M’s hauntingly emotive ballad “Glass Shard”, her most recent release and collaboration with bestie Zaleia, following “No Sorries” earlier this year and 2019’s “Friends”. “Glass Shard” is raw and scrabbling at emotional wounds during the verses that lead up to the opulent swelling of instrumental backing and harmonisation as the hook comes ‘round, phoenix-rising-from-the-ashes style. It’s hopeful, yet bittersweet at the same time and for the multi-talented songstress, writing the song was a cathartic healing process. Even Dance-pop queens have their vulnerable moments.
4. Stubborn Is The Love by Firefly Search Party
“Stubborn Is The Love” chronicles the magic that is fresh, steadfast love, caught and immortalised between the bars of feel-good and buoyant acoustics. Penned by Dian, the lyrics on this track is as genuine as it comes across at first listen, giving the audience a peek into the duo’s relationship in its initial stages against a constant stream of external discouragement. “This song is a true story; it’s our story about a love that everyone was betting against because we come from different countries, cultures, races and life experiences. But we knew it was worth fighting for,” remarks Nate.
Befittingly, this had been the first original song the couple had worked on together three years ago. “It’s a deeply personal song for both of us and that won’t change, because we know our challenges aren’t going to disappear.” With “Stubborn Is The Love” we’re treated to early-Firefly Search Party writing, featuring personal experiences on the subject of their relationship. “In the early stages of our musical journey, we wrote a lot about our own relationship. But lately, we are exploring other themes and giving voice to other peoples’ experiences: existential crisis and bliss, social justice, or the often-missed beauty of daily life.”
Between the folk duo, Dian usually takes on the role of the “artist”—setting the melody and mood of a piece, while Nate is the “architect”—building the structure, arrangement and production, depending on who had first inspired a song. Stubborn passion, however, has its impediments from time to time. “Sometimes we go to bed without talking to each other because we can’t agree on something, and other times we sit down and complete an entire song in a couple of hours.” But above all, they find common ground on with the bottom line: “Stubborn is the love we find ourselves in because it has to be.”
5. Origami by Namie
The traditional art of Japanese paper-folding transcends into audial appreciation in Namie’s latest drop. “Origami” is almost a tranquil instructional in the Jazz songbird’s velvet-smooth vocals, accented with the subtle sounds of folding paper to set the zen scene. Though a rather lyrically-stripped piece at first listen, the Laselle alum’s entrancing vocalisation unfolds to reveal a veiled message in the outro of the track: “It’s okay to start again”, reminds Namie as the music fades.
Without warning, the sounds of screeching tires and revving engines announce that THELIONCITYBOY and co. have pulled up to your location in “Vios”. Off of his mixtape “Circus Breaker”, “Vios” is one for the roots. “I promise to never change, to always be the type of guy driving into the scene in a Toyota Vios, with the low skirting, sports rims and racing spoiler in the back. ” He professes that though the concept behind the number started out all in the name of good fun, the core message still stands. “Never change.” Jakarta-based rapper A. Nayaka also hops on this track to dish his own fire lines.
As for the deftly-named “Circus Breaker”, a play on the two-month-long nationwide lockdown from earlier this year, THELIONCITYBOY (real name Kevin Lester) expresses the excitement that went into curating the themed mix. “I was just so excited to create with some of the regions best and brightest stars in “Circus Breaker”. It was originally supposed to be eight songs in the project.” Ultimately, Kevin settled on the six that reflected his mood and energy during the lockdown best, serving up the adrenaline-pumped “Circus Breaker”.
7. Lying Eyes by Tim De Cotta
Musical activist and founder of Getai Group Tim De Cotta’s “Lying Eyes” is four minutes and 15 seconds of pure 80s-pop utopia. Complete with the best, nostalgia-evoking elements of the golden era of pop (read: subtle cowbells, basslines to groove to and mellow synths), the track fondly echoes pre-Bad MJ in a way that does not drown out Tim’s originality and style. “Lying Eyes” is a modern disco anthem for throwing shapes on the dancefloor and a welcomed break when chart hits start sounding a little too similar.
This celebrated local pop heartthrob has seen through abundant success in the comfortable realm of croony English hits and raises a debut in the Mando-pop sphere. Busting in strong with the honeyed vocals of fellow Singaporean singer-songwriter Tay Kewei, Joel Tan, who goes under the moniker Gentle Bones, successfully proves himself to the formidable Mando-pop fanbase that makes up a good portion of local music-lovers. “你還不知道?” or “Don’t You Know Yet?” is a tender touch of reassurance from a loved one that seemingly slows the otherwise bustling life around us. “It’s kind of a play on words to give you a reflection of self-awareness,” he explains, “it’s a cheeky way to say “I love you, don’t you know yet?” The fact that you need to express yourself means that the other person might not know it.”
According to Joel, composing in Mandarin was a breeze. “There weren’t any difficulties for me to compose Chinese music. First of all, the lyrics of the song are pretty simple. I am not the strongest in Chinese but I was good enough to write for the kind of lyrics for ‘你還不知道?'” Whilst some focus on the poetic complexities of music, Joel shows a deep appreciation for the charm of simplicity when expressing a concept through song. Of course, being an avid Mandopop fan since his youth and idolising homegrown superstar JJ Lin has helped with the honing of his innate songwriting talent. Adding onto his repertoire of +65 bangers, such as the lovesick “I Wouldn’t Know Any Better Than You” from 2018 EP “Michelle” and the tinkling fantasies of Ed Sheeran-reminiscent “Settle Down” from his 2015 self-titled, the mandopop ballad lays a pretty solid groundwork for future endeavours.
9. Morning Dance by YAØ
Most mornings pit us against the incessant and infuriating beeping of a digital mortal enemy, but we gather that singer-songwriter YAØ has had a full eight hours of rest from his energetic new drop, “Morning Dance”. The 2019-crowned New Kid On The Block unleashes a much-needed dance break of positivity and motivation to get through these particularly dreary days, overflowing the blippy synth sequences with caffeine boosts and golden morning rays. In line with the YAØ branding, the wake-up anthem is kept light and bubbly that just might make mornings a little easier to manage.
10. Lose by NIKI
The third drop of her enthralling Moonchild saga, “Lose” is NIKI’s downcast chapter in the story that captures all of the feels. In the accompanying music video, NIKI falls through the era-themed purple and blue skies, cleverly directed to link the narrative from the last scene in “Switchblade”. The tone in “Lose”, however, is vastly different; melancholic piano and violin keep the lonesome poetry company as the songbird sways along, alone with her shadow.