Tag Archives: hot chip

Monthly Playlist – Apr. 2022

15 May

After a short break, we are back with our Monthly Playlist series! This month, we saw the releases of much-anticipated albums from Wet Leg, Fontaines DC and more – not to mention news of perhaps the year’s most anticipated release, Kendrick Lamar’s new album. Read on to find out our picks from the month of April 2022, and let us know if you agree or disagree!

“Down” by Hot Chip

English synthpop band Hot Chip have been around for quite a while now – almost two decades, in fact – and they’ve got quite a few notable albums under their belts. Their second and third albums were particularly successful, with sophomore album The Warning (2006) fetching a Mercury Prize nom and third album Made in the Dark (2008) spawning the massive hit “Ready for the Floor”. Now, a few so-so albums later, the band is back with new single “Down” as the lead single for their eighth album Freakout/Release, set to come out in August 2022. “Down” is a jagged, off-kilter party romp that’s up there with the band’s best works. It’s just a fun dance music with a strong bassline, infectious breakdowns, and an insanely catchy phrase (“Girl, know how to break it on down!”) running through the background – definitely check this one out. 

“About Damn Time” by Lizzo

(Note: This song was actually released in March 2022, but since we missed a Monthly Playlist in that month, we just had to include it in this one. Trust us, you’ll see why when you listen to the track!)

Speaking of irresistible dance music, there are few active artists today who can keep churning out the hits quite like Lizzo. In the latter part of 2021, she released the catchy “Rumors” with fellow artist du jour Cardi B – a track we liked so much that we put it on our year-end list. At the time, she mentioned that “Rumors” marked the start of a new era for her, possibly ahead of her planned 2022 album. Now she’s added another milestone to that new era with “About Damn Time” – a song seemingly about Lizzo re-discovering her confidence after a rocky few months. The world’s foremost flutist / funk-pop star describes how she’s finally in a mood to celebrate and get back out there. “Oh, I’ve been so down and under pressure, I’m way too fine to be this stressed, yeah / Oh, I’m not the girl I was or used to be, Uh, bitch, I might be better,” she says in her classic confidence, all set to a riff that would make Nile Rogers proud. The best thing is that this track also serves as a post-COVID anthem for those that are ready to get back out there after a couple of difficult years; when she says “Is everybody back up in the buildin’? It’s been a minute, tell me how you’re healin’”, we felt that.

“Barely on My Mind” by The Regrettes

The Regrettes are a punk rock band with a couple of albums to their names. But they seem to have taken a bit of a left turn with the dance-pop track “Barely on My Mind”. There are almost Phoenix-like turns of melody on the track, mixed with the magnetism of lead singer Lydia Night’s vocals. The track is part of their third album Future Joy, which was released in April 2022. We’ll surely be checking out the rest of the album with an introduction like this!

“Autopilot” by Dev Lemons

If you’re a TikTok regular, you are probably familiar with the work of Dev Lemons – not as a musician, but as the creator of the popular @songpsych page which boasts almost a million followers and 26 million (!) likes. On the page, Dev Lemons (real name Devon Schmalz) breaks down popular songs into the byte-sized format that suits the preferences of her Gen Z audience. However, not content with just being a music critic of sorts, Dev Lemons has now taken her insights into what makes songs popular (e.g., this video about the new Lizzo song that we also loved above) and has begun releasing original music too. Vaguely reminiscent of acts like Lily Allen, “Autopilot” amps up the synths on the chorus for a fun, catchy romp. Definitely check out Dev Lemons’ music – and of course her @songpsych channel if you’re on TikTok!

“Oh Algoritmo” by Jorge Drexler feat. Noga Erez

Jorge Drexler, the artist behind our final pick “Oh Algoritmo”, is one of the most interesting people you’ve never heard about. First and foremost, he’s a medical doctor – an otorhinolaryngologist (ENT) to be exact. Secondly, as if excellence in one specific skillset wasn’t enough, the Uruguayan won an Academy Award in 2004 for composing “Al Otro Lado del Rio” from the Motorcycle Diaries. This is not counting the numerous Latin Grammy Awards he’s racked up, including Album of the Year and Record of the Year. Suffice it to say, you owe it to yourself to at least give a listen to “Oh Algoritmo”, in which Drexler has paired up with Israeli singer-songwriter Noga Erez. The song immediately draws you in with a funky bassline and Drexler’s vocals set against a lively background of shakes, bops and beeps. By the time Erez’s confident English-language vocals come in, we’d bet that you’re hooked on to the angular, groovy vibes on this track. 

Monthly Playlist: Oct. 2020

2 Nov

As 2020 draws to a close, and we start making the first drafts of our end of year lists, we took a look back at some of the best songs in October 2020. Read on for a quick spin through everything from dance-rock to synth-pop – to whatever Gorillaz is…

5. “I Love It” by Kylie Minogue

The firs of our big-name artists to feature on the list this month is Aussie pop legend Kylie Minogue, who blessed us this month with the 1970s disco-throwback gem called “I Love It”. Readers of Top Five Records will note that this particular aesthetic is rather chic among female pop singers this year, whether it’s Dua Lipa or Jessie Ware or Gaga herself. Kylie carries forward this year’s trend with this bouncy, Technicolor soundtrack to all the parties you wish you’d had this year.

4. “Straight to the Morning” by Hot Chip feat. Jarvis Cocker

Dovetailing right into Kylie’s above track is “Straight to the Morning” by British dance/synth-pop outfit Hot Chip, featuring none other than Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker. As you may expect from this combination of artists, “Straight to the Morning” is a classic heartbeat-speed of a dance track, supported by Cocker’s irreverent drawl. Hot Chip are, of course, famously known for making great music videos, so be sure to check out the one for this track.

3. “Intercontinental Radio Waves” by TRAAMS

British indie rock three-piece TRAAMS is #3 on our list this with their catchy jam, “Intercontinental Radio Waves”. You simply can’t ignore the bluesy, sludgy bassline that hits you right at the start – and before you know it, you’re nodding along to lead singer Stuart Hopkins’ sharp, staccato pronouncements. The band last released an album a few years ago (2015’s Modern Dancing), so perhaps this is a sign of new music to come. If so, they’ve got new fans here at Top Five Records.

1. (Tie) “The Valley of the Pagans” by Gorillaz feat. Beck & “The Pink Phantom” by Gorillaz feat. Elton John and 6LACK

Over the course of this year, Gorillaz have been releasing a song every few months, including the recent ScHoolboy Q collab that we covered here at Top Five. All this new music from the virtual band was a lead-up to October’s Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez. All tracks on this perfectly-titled album (for, after all, these are indeed strange timez) are collaborations between Gorillaz and an eclectic mix of artists, from niche (e.g. CHAI) to arena-filling (e.g. Elton John). Naturally, such a mix has resulted in a number of possible picks for a stand-out track this month, but we decided to go with two, both of which we’d rank as some of the best songs this month.

With its slick, dance-rock embellishments and playful pacing, “The Valley of the Pagans” is reminiscent of the golden Demon Dayz-era Gorillaz. “The Pink Phantom” features the one and only Elton John, whose vocals shine on this slowed-down, melancholy track. Elton’s voice is impressively – and surprisingly – complemented by American rapper 6LACK’s Auto-tuned, R&B-tinged verses. Props to Gorillaz’s Damon Albarn for putting all the pieces together!

Have you started thinking about your Albums of the Year and Songs of the Year? Let us know in the comments below!

Party Time! Excellent! : A Top Five List of Essential Party Songs

6 Jul

So, it’s Friday night. You’re throwing the party of the year (or month, or day) at your place. You’ve bought yourself a new outfit (totally rockin’ those skinny jeans and Williamsburg-esque beanie), you’ve picked out the drinks (Pabst Blue Ribbon, what else?) and you’ve even rented a VCR from a quaint little vintage store (hey, it’s an idea). The only thing left is the bread and butter of your circle… the music. Whether or not your party will have its own hash-tag on Twitter will ride on this, you know it. You know that you can’t play the old stuff: MIA, CSS and Ratatat are a tad too trite for your taste. You also know that you can’t (God forbid) play Usher or Pitbull or LMFAO. What to do? Lucky for you, we’ve picked out five new songs that’ll get you dancing more than just the Shoegaze Shuffle.

5. “We Are Young”, by Fun.

Used in everything from a Chevrolet ad to WWE background music (!), American indie rock band Fun.’s “We Are Young” has officially broken into the mainstream, in a manner as grand as the song itself. Dramatic, marching-band drums unfold a feeble apology for the violence in a previous relationship (“I know I gave it you months ago/I know you’re trying to forget”).But, suddenly, the verse closes, the drums slow way down, and the song goes from an apologetic Bishop Allen to My Chemical Romance at a New York bar. And I’m not just talking about the video.

A slow jam/power ballad is hardly the type of music to suggest for a party soundtrack, and you might just sneer away this article at this point. But just wait until “We Are Young” hits the chorus (“Tonight, we are young/ So let’s set the world on fire, we can grow brighter than the Sun.”). Listen to how each syllable there is repeatedly enunciated and stretched and dramatized until your life somehow achieves melodramatic, Hollywood-tinted sunglasses, and you know why this song is such a cross-over hit. A better way to put it is this: everyone at your party will feel like they’re on the Gossip Girl season finale, full of drama and exhilaration and the heady rush of youth, and if that isn’t a formula for a great party, I don’t know what is.

Sidebar: We do have one bone to pick about this song. Janelle Monae possesses a divine voice that needs to be showcased (if at least for a verse), not delegated to mere backing vocals on the chorus. Ah well.


4. The House That Heaven Built, by Japandroids

You’re twenty years old: listless, restless and reckless to boot. You spend your days drinking, partying and falling in and out of lust. One such night, drunk on God-knows-what, all inhibition thrown out the window, you and your best friend find yourselves a guitar and a drum kit, and just decide to jam the buzz away, singing about drinking, partying and falling in and out of lust. If you’re thinking this is a good idea, it is: Japandroids did exactly this.

Their first album was aptly called Post-Nothing, which makes sense because the band isn’t post-rock, post-punk or whatever else. Japandroids make the kind of candid music that would require quite a bit of inebriation: and in that state, coming up with a genre for your sound would be impossibly contrived. Their second album is called Celebration Rock, and this is even more apt, for the eight songs here are just that: a celebration of rock, in all its original sex-and-drugs-and-rock-and-roll nature, before certain artists ruined it with all that hair and ego tripping.

“The House that Heaven Built” is a post-break up song (“But you’re not mine to die for anymore, so I must live”) and a lusty invitation (“We’ll shove our bodies in the heat of the night/ All day the day after, blood in the skies”), which are both interesting elements to throw into your party. But best of all, the Japandroids are insanely fun when you’re drunk, and few things are more important than that.

3. Night and Day, by Hot Chip

Hot Chip’s 2008 single “Ready for the Floor” introduced a wide audience to the UK band’s dark, clever synthpop, which makes our job easier: we don’t have to spend entire sentences convincing you to listen to their latest single! “Night and Day”, from their latest album In Our Heads, is a hybrid genre monster (electronic disco-synth dance music?) that articulates, from beginning to end, of burning lust. Hot Chip makes absolutely no bones about it. “The way I feel about you, baby, in the middle of the night/ there’s just one thing that I can do to make me feel alright,” hints Alexis Taylor; later, he loses even that much politesse: “If I could be inside you darling, at the center of your life/ I’d write no more upon the page, we’d live with no disguise,” he slyly suggests.

Hot Chip are masters of penning sexed-up versions of 60s pop songs about love. Besides, disco-derived electronica is always the perfect soundtrack for creating a ruckus. Listen to the first five seconds of this song, and you’ll know why we insist that this is an essential party song.

2. Idea of Happiness, by Van She

Electronic/pop band Van She’s record label introduced them as “new band from Sydney fresh on ideas, fresher than Flavor Flav, fresh like coriander, fresher than the Fresh Prince, fresher than fresh eggs,” and we think they’ve got it spot-on. Van She appear to be Gods of the synthesizer: they make those electronic beats pop, pound, march or roll over you, in a very seamless manner. “Idea of Happiness” is the title track and first single of their second album, which releases today. Through the haze of electronica, the track just yells one thing at you: “Screw it all, it’s summertime.” It’s like Junior Boys remixed a collaborative track by Hot Chip and Passion Pit in the Sydney summer. Or, to put it better, Van She’s “Idea of Happiness” is three things: Sydney, synthpop and summer. In fact, their entire album seems to be about those three things, and we suggest you give it a whirl after you’re done with this party. Or maybe during.

1. I Love It, by Icona Pop

Here’s what you need to know about Icona Pop: they’re Swedish, they’re “90s bitches”, they just got out of a relationship, and they are loving it. Like, seriously loving it. In fact, they’re so over you that they threw your stuff down the stairs and drove their own car off the bridge, and guess what? They don’t care. About anything. To put it into perspective, it’s like someone teleported ABBA into 2012, got them drunk, and made them party with Ke$ha. Believe it or not, that entire combination produced one of the best tracks of the year, period. LMFAO, look out.

So there you have it. Give  our playlist a spin at the nearest party. And tell us what you think!

– Neeharika

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