"Cigarette," the new single from Raye featuring fellow UK stars Stefflon Don and Mabel, marks the second time this week that a number of women in pop (and/or its surrounding genres) have linked up for a collab, following Dua Lipa's BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge performance of "IDGAF" which saw her backed up by Alma, MØ, Charli XCX and Zara Larsson. It's symptomatic of a developing trend that I rather like.
"Cigarette" itself isn't really setting the world alight (lol sorry): other than the Stefflon Don verse, which sees Jax Jones' tropical beat take on more urgency almost as if to signal the arrival of the best part of the song, it tootles along as a bright, upbeat burst, with Raye and Mabel also taking pretty turns on the mic. However the track also shows that there's something about pop girls working together that excites both fans and artists. Maybe that's to do with the sheer number of young women making genuinely interesting pop right now, or maybe it's just the novelty of hearing your faves on the same song. Either way, it seems to be a huge pull right now.
Potentially taking cues from trendsetter and über-collaborator Charli XCX (whose song with Carly Rae Jepsen, "Backseat," had fans collapsing in on themselves last December, and whose approach to pop actually borrows a lot from hip-hop), it seems that women in pop are noting that there's strength in numbers. And where features from male rappers once prevailed, it's nice to see, as we do here, that women are starting to provide those parts themselves, too, widening the scope of what we expect from woman artists in pop and R&B. Considering that without fail, women make up the most innovative voices in pop music (as well as a great deal of its fans) it's heartening to see them collaborating and taking the reins as a collective.
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