Joanna Burns, back
Pillowtalk – ZAYN
This song just had to be in here. I LOVE it. It is catchy and sexy and amazing. Zayn’s reputation as a member of One Direction will definitely hinder his music career and it will be hard for any demographic other than teenage girls to take him seriously. This is a shame since if any other artist released this song and video, they probably would have been given a lot of credit. Despite the video being slightly odd, it is pretty impressive and the song is really great. He was always the strongest voice in One Direction and I hope he can be taken seriously once he stops saying insane things in interviews.
Army – Ellie Goulding
I have never been a massive Ellie Goulding fan but this song is just wonderful. Dedicated to her best friend, it is a great example of how women do not need to always sing about a man. It also promotes female empowerment and the importance of female friendships. Her post on Instagram addressing the subject of the song was refreshing, as she talked about the times her and her best friend got so drunk they could not stand and how they can laugh together until they cry. There is a lot of focus on writing songs about love and sex, because that is the music that sells, and I love that women like Ellie Goulding are starting to change that.
Formation – Beyoncé
It is hard to condense a review of this song but I had to include it in this week’s list. Beyoncé is one of the most famous people in the world and she obviously realises her power to spread the word, through her music, on serious issues that need to be addressed. The video hits hard, with depictions of police violence towards innocent black people, slavery era images and black unity. Her performance at the Super Bowl was powerful and relevant and the negative backlash to it sheds light on America’s continuing issue with realising the extent of the race relations issue that, frankly, should not even be an issue in the 21st century. Even though I feel like I have no place to relate or discuss the issues within this song widely, I do love the fact that Beyoncé uses her power as a musician to promote these ideas and try to change deeply-rooted issues within American society. And the song is amazing, too.
Kiss It Better – Rihanna
After a long absence from music-making, Rihanna is back with ANTI. I have always been a huge Rihanna fan and every album so far has been incredible, full of a great mixture of RnB ballads and upbeat tunes. ANTI is no exception and she sticks to her roots with Caribbean sounds and heavy beats while still exploring new musical avenues. While not being quite at the level of Talk That Talk or Loud, she is still killing it with her eighth album. Rihanna remains unapologetically herself throughout her music, not bowing down to any pressure from the music industry to conform. She has her own unique style and is incredibly versatile, whether it is the sexual ballad of “Yeah, I Said It” or the chart-topping single, “Work” featuring Drake. “Kiss It Better” is my favourite track off the album, with its catchy melody and classic Rihanna drum beats, but I would recommend just listening to the whole album. Despite having earlier said that Ellie Goulding is great for singing about something other than love and sex, I applaud Rihanna for continually singing openly about sex and how it is okay for women to enjoy it, which is a change from hip hop’s misogynistic tendency to have men singing about aggressively having sex with women and disregarding their views towards it. Every album sees Rihanna reclaiming sex for women and producing great songs while she does it.
Too Little, Too Late – JoJo
A throwback to finish with! I had completely forgotten that this song existed until I heard it, surprisingly, on a Spotify playlist by one of my favourite artists, Jarryd James, entitled ‘Songs That Make Me Want to Make Music’. You might not think JoJo would be the number one musical muse, but I totally get where he is coming from. Going with the theme that has emerged throughout this article on women in the music industry, JoJo released a song in 2006 that is a proper feminist anthem. Accompanying this great message, JoJo has an incredible voice which is really shown off in this song. And what a phenomenally noughties video to go with it! She has actually released an EP in the last year, and though I love ‘Too Little, Too Late’, I would not recommend spending time listening to the new stuff… Sorry JoJo.