“That they’re still making original music should be celebrated.
BANANARAMA – IN STEREO
After recruiting original Nana Siobhan for their massive reunion tour, Keren and Sarah shrink back to a duo on the new Bananarama album, which sticks to their good times/party girls formula. First single, Dance Music, is a sexier, slower affair than usual, recalling disco’s most orgasmic moments like Donna Summer’s Love To Love You Baby and ABBA’s Voulez-Vous. The anthemic I’m On Fire is ripe for early hours clubbing, Tonight is a gay classic waiting to happen and the perky Stuff Like That harks back to the Stock Aitken Waterman glory days. While the Nanas could desperately do with some assistance in the lyrics department, the fact they’re still making original music – and not merely pumping out cover versions – is not just to be commended but celebrated.
DUA LIPA – SWAN SONG
We have to admit having a super fangirl crush on Dua. She’s been one of the most consistently pop-tastic artists of recent years and still only had one album! While we anxiously await her sophomore release (due soon we’re reliably informed) the 23-year British artist continues her hot streak of “between album” tracks. Following on from her ubiquitous One Kiss dance thumper with Calvin Harris, and the equally livewire Electricity with Mark Ronson and Diplo’s new duo Silk City (please forget her turgid Andrea Bocelli duet), here’s yet another. This time it’s a suitably cinematic pop feast attached to the action flick Alita: Battle Angel, based on a Japanese manga. At the rate Dua keeps pumping out the goods, her next album is likely to be a Greatest Hits collection. Dua, you can be our diva anytime.
CHARLI XCX/TROYE SIVAN – 1999
One of the catchiest tunes in recent memory is undoubtedly Charlie XCX and Troye Sivan’s duet about the joys of life, and Britney, before the millennium. To bolster 1999’s continuing chances of becoming that huge breakout hit both artists need to take them to the next level (it went platinum in Australia), here’s a nifty batch of nine remixes. Young Franco from Australia remakes it into a slinky affair, while countrymate Super Cruel’s reinterpretation morphs into a cruisy R&B joint that sounds nothing like the original. For our money, though, the best of the bunch might be The Knocks Remix, which makes 1999 seem like some great forgotten Daft Punk hit from the last decade of the last century. Timely indeed.
KELE – LEAVE TO REMAIN
Former Bloc Party lead singer Kele has teamed up with Dr Who/Torchwood scribe Matt Jones for a timely musical about gay interracial marriage, addiction and good people dealing with bad governments. This haunting, Afro-centric soundtrack is Kele’s version on the songs from Leave To Remain, which finished its sold-out premiere run in London recently and is a likely candidate for being “the next Hamilton”. Not The Drugs Talking is a bold indicator of the powerful score – a raw exploration of modern gay romance, done with an indie pop injection bolted on to its traditional musical framework. This is not just an important work, but likely to remain a gamechanger for both the LGBT community and our representation in mainstream arts.
ORIGINAL TV SOUNDTRACK – RENT
Almost 25 years ago, Rent became a defining moment in pop culture. It tossed the musical genre out onto the mean streets of NYC, where it delved into some gritty issues like homelessness and HIV, sung to hard rock ballads. Earlier this year, a live broadcast (some 14 years after the Hollywood movie version) brought this still-relevant show back to public consciousness. There was plenty of star talent attached (Mario, Tinashe, Vanessa Hudgens, Teen Wolf hottie Jordan Fisher), but we squealed when we discovered Drag Race’s Valentina was among the cast! This double-disc soundtrack will have Broadway babes belting along to Seasons Of Love for years to come.