We know you’re busy. So instead of covering everything, we’re going to publish a rundown of the best new music each month. As Drake said on his everlasting debut album – Thank [Us] Later. Or send us gifts in the post. January is one of the worst months of the year. Not to be an unequivocal bum-out but the waning of bank accounts, unbearable cold and the fact Summer feels like an unobtainable paracosm, can contribute to January being one inevitable suck-fuck. I’m pretty sure the only people who enjoy it either (A) have a birthday (B) live in the Southern Hemisphere or (C) are vessels of serotonin and body heat. The beginning of the year is usually pretty slow – it takes the average human at least two weeks to shed the meaty-inflations and extended-family fatigue of December, so popstars usually wait until later in the year to release bangers. Somehow though, we were blessed with a bounty straight after the ball dropped into 2015. So with that in mind, lets look back on the things we want to take from January and store in our favourites / bookmarks / mind for future reference and booty points. It’s time to get into this. Leggo!
The Song With the Most Hype: Action Bronson’s “Actin’ Crazy”
I mean, c’mon. It features the line: “I feel so alive I think I shit myself”. There’s no way it could be anything but undiluted petrol lit on fire. Place of origin: Queens, NY, USA
The Best New Band: Paul McCartney and Kanye West
Look, Paul McCartney and Kanye West getting on a song together had to be on here. They’re both GOATs and the combination is akin to a complete circle. The injustices Kanye raged about on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Yeezus – “What’s a black Beatle anyway? A fuckin’ roach. Guess that’s why they got me sittin’ in fuckin’ coach” – still exist, but Paul’s decision to appear not just on a track with the best black man in music but also, in Rihanna, arguably the best woman, has brought the world one-step closer to equilibrium. "Only One" is a great song. People who disagree are either jaded Beatles fans, jaded Kanye fans or just completely heartless. Read our in-depth analysis here. "FourFiveSeconds", which dropped last weekend, is a little different. Reactions were mixed: mostly because it’s Rihanna yodeling over an acoustic guitar. Thing is though, Rihanna yodeling over an acoustic guitar is objectively great. Girl has got pipes. Show us a better song by a world-renowned popstar in the last 4 weeks. Place of origin: Chicago, Bahamas, Liverpool
The Pop Music Queen: Eleven-Year Old Sophia Grace
Sophia Grace slays. If you haven’t come across her yet, she’s an eleven-year old girl from Essex, England, who has released a pop song that puts the rest of Great Britain to shame. A DJ Mustard-lite beat, PC Music-esque interludes, a chorus about telling everyone who isn’t in your immediate clique to get fucked – Sophia Grace has a wealth of power-moves. Place of origin: Essex, England, but created in the pop-dungeon of corporate America.
The Only Album Worth Listening To: Lupe Fiasco - Tetsuo & Youth
Lupe Fiasco has been – albeit fairly – maligned. Ever since the release of The Cool – one of the best rap albums of the mid 00s – Lupe’s been hell-bent on ruining his own career: waxing on politics, rebranding himself as a self-appointed vanguard of high-culture, and releasing records that are as tasteless as a bowl of luke-warm coleslaw from the pasta bar at Harvester. Of course, as Lupe contests, the quality of his output has been at the fault of his record label – Atlantic reportedly forced him to ditch projects – but after the bizarre circumstances which saw “hacker-group Anonymous” coerce the label into releasing Tetsuo & Youth this January, he’s come through with a banger. Make no mistake. Tetsuo & Youth is Lupe’s most accomplished project since The Cool. It’s lavish – several tracks reach over eight minutes, providing centerpoints in the record – it’s full of double and triple entendres, and runs as clearly as cool, fresh water. This isn’t the Source, but four out of five mics, please. Place of origin: Chicago, Illinois, USA
The Best Video: SIA - "Elastic Heart"
What more can we say? SIA released the video for “Elastic Heart”, featuring professional troll and artist Shia Labeouf and dance-sensation Maddie Ziegler on January 7, and it’s since hit over 80,000,000 views on YouTube. A lot of people took issue with the video – it features a young girl locked in a cage with a grown man. Really though, having an issue with the content only comes from the viewer’s own view on what should and shouldn’t be okay. The only thing wrong, according to Maddie herself, was Shia Labeouf’s hygiene. Speaking to Vanity Fair, she said: "I really did bite Shia, and it was gross because we were dirty and I had to bite his dirty hands," Maddie said. "I kept wiping myself off and I kept handing the wipes to Shia and he was like, 'I don't need the wipes' and I was like, 'Yes, you do.'” Place of origin: Adelaide, Australia
For those of you still with us, that’s been a run through the pin-point moments of January that’ll no doubt appear somewhere in end of year lists, think-pieces, and comments on where culture is in 2015. It’s not just about big tracks and albums though. There’s also been a bunch of great songs released in January that are worth listening to. Here they are. Lap them up…
BEA – “Filthy Believer”
Few things are known about Amsterdam-based pop singer BEA; aside from her being called BEA, coming from Amsterdam and making pop music. She dropped a couple of tracks in 2014 - "Breadwinner", and an EP called Good Thinking - but it's her new one, "Filthy Believer", that really takes the biscuit. It's pop music with brass instruments but, unlike say, Iggy Azalea's "Fancy", the wind parps refrain from threatening the aural development of the listener.
FFO: Pop, vocals that wash over you, synths & brass instruments
Place of origin: Amsterdam, Holland
Olatunji – “Ola (Kan Kan Riddim) 2015 Trinidad Soca"
Olantunji's "Ola (Kan Kan Riddim)" dropped late last year but, since it's only just started to pick up momentum, we're gonna bend the rules and include it because it deserves to be heard by everyone and anyone in 2015. This is happiness in audio.
FFO: Eternal happiness, dancehall, smiling
Place of origin: Trinidad
Adventures – “Heavenly”
The Adventures line-up includes three members of hardcore band Code Orange Kids, but sounds nothing like them. This is sweeter and softer, the sort of sound that compromises and always wants to hear your side of the story. The band formed and put out an EP last year, and "Heavenly" is like being hugged until you can't breathe.
FFO: Feelings, guitars, getting anxious a lot, holding hands and getting drunk
Place of origin: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Princess Nokia – “Young Girls”
"We are old souls, protectors of the earth, guardians of children, worshipers of the moon, mermaids of the ocean, followers of the sun, and woman of magic. We are witches. We protect nature and fight against darkness" - Princess Nokia says, by way of introduction to her video for "Young Girls". It's a profound statement and one that makes a lot of sense; organic, natural, and more believable than the stunt-heavy thematics of her peers - we're all patrons of the earth. Princess Nokia - reborn from Wavy Spice - has opened her third eye and the result is refreshing, like cooling in the mist from a tropical thunderstorm.
FFO: Harmony, the world, Wavvy Spice
Place of origin: New York, USA
Phoebe Ryan – “Ignition / Do You”
The amount of remixes on Soundcloud can be tiresome. NGL, there's been some terrible mash-ups - S-Club 7 & Michael Jackson, for example - but every so often something pops up that actually works. The marriage between R. Kelly's "Ignition" and Miguel's "Do You" is currently the only weapon in LA based artist Phoebe Ryan's repertoire, but it's a sweet one.
FFO: Remixes, R.Kelly or Miguel, thinking about or doing drugs
Place of origin: Los Angeles, USA
Miss M.E – “The Unbearable Wetness of Being” EP
Meghan Edwards spent most of last year intermittently putting on thumping pop-up parties in Los Angeles, featuring gyrating, soulful Chicago house, and contemporary dance. Outside of that, though, she's been making music as Miss M.E. This is best enjoyed in headphones or, as the title suggests, on the kind of day when the ground soaks through your ripped trainers.
FFO: Atmospheric longing
Place of origin: Berlin, Germany
Pinkshinyultrablast – “Everything Else Matters” – album
Five-piece Pinkshinyultrablast put out their debut record Everything Else Matters earlier this month and it sits somewhere between the atmosphere of Cocteau Twins and melodic glitter of Polica.
FFO: Shoegaze, kaleidoscopic melancholy, chilling the fuck out
Place of origin: St Petersburg, Russia
Webster X – “Doomsday”
Milwaukee resident Webster X put out his debut EP late last year, and in 2015, dropped the video for "Doomsday". The song's message, "Why the fuck you been stressin'?", is pretty much life's eternally unanswered question.
FFO: Hip-hop, Chance the Rapper/Mick Jenkins
Place of origin: Milwaukee, USA
Rich Homie Quan – “Flex”
Oh my fucking god. Praying the day never comes when Rich Gang - the group headed up by Young Thug and Rich Homie Quan and were behind "Lifestyle", the best song of 2014 - stop making music. When it does, someone needs to set-up some sort of rehab, though. Rich Homie Quan's voice is too addictive.
FFO: Trappin’ out, gettin’ turnt’, Rich Gang, space aliens
Place of origin: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
You can find Ryan Bassil on Twitter: @RyanBassil