It’s time for our reveal of the best 10 tracks to check out this month from our Head of Content, James.
November is well and truly here. The days are turning colder, the nights are drawing in. But hey, when you've got a great playlist to keep you going, it's not all that bad! Let's begin with our Top 10 tracks this November...
1. Mariah Carey - Loverboy
Mariah Carey just dropped “The Rarities” album, and you can bet your lucky stars that I woke up that morning like a zombie gasping for air after 1000 years of slumber.
“Loverboy” is a candy-coated, euphoric RnB jam that uses a sample of “Firecracker” by Yellow Magic Orchestra, and vocals that, let’s be honest, are absolutely flawless. If you do one thing today, listen to this song. And would you believe, it’s Pamela Anderson who does the “woooooooooo” background vocals!
2. Purity Ring - Better Off Alone
“Better Off Alone” reminds me of school discos: old friends, panda pops, sweets, cheesy dance songs and coloured lights...
Candadian electronic duo Purity Ring have remade the Alice Deejay classic and brought it into the 2020s. Mellow pads, a pulsating side-chained bass line and a trip-hop beat breathe new life into the noughties anthem with vocalist Megan James flowing in and out with the minimal hook. This version is much more subdued, but still manages to retain the energy and catchiness of the original track that came out 20 years ago!
3. Kaytranada feat. Tinashe - The Worst In Me
Spooky video alert!
There’s a sweet spot at the intersection of Dance and RnB, and it’s where you’ll find “The Worst In Me” by Kaytranada and Tinashe. Sultry lyrics, ghostly vocal tones, a bouncier than hair-on-a-shampoo-advert bassline, and raw, rickety hi-hats bubble together to create a frighteningly good musical libation. If you’re mourning the passing of Halloween, get this one on.
4. NOISY - I Wish I Was A…
Worthing-based band NOISY do produce some high decibels, however all within the constructs of a perfectly palatable grungy, poppy, breakbeat style. Push your cap backwards and continue...
“I Wish I Was A…” ...little bit taller? No, but close.
“I Wish I Was A…”, the latest single from the seaside trio, is an angsty, distorted and delectable slice of alt-pop that features slick raps, an infectious hook and lyrics centred around... wishing! We’ve all been there, longing for something else, thinking that if you had just a little bit more of whatever then things would be OK. Well, NOISY are here to remind you - “Hey, stop wishing your life away!”
5. Olivia Dean - Echo
Sift, sift, sift. Every release day Friday, I feel like I am using one of those square mesh screens, looking for a diamond in a bunch of sand. After quite a few skips, I stumbled upon Olivia Dean’s “Echo”.
Opening with “ghostly reverberations” (or “echos”, James), I can see flickers of light start to bounce as Olivia spins the first verse. There’s a presence to her voice that suits lyrical storytelling, a tone that says “sit down and listen”. The chorus is coming, some subtle horns lift us up to a shimmering key change, layers of vocals fill the space and pure soul floods. Wow, this hook is good!
“Echo” is beautifully written too. Dean sings about the need for a supporter, someone to back you up when you’re experiencing self-doubt, an “echo”. So if you’ve had a tough week, feel a bit “meh”, shove this track on. Not only can we all relate to the message but it will surely sparkle like the precious jewel it is. “Found it”, I yelled as the 3 mins 17 seconds were up, “found my diamond!”.
6. Future Utopia feat. Dave & Es Devlin - Children Of The Internet
The chromatic piano/string motif that’s embellished throughout makes me feel like I’m dressed as Miss Havisham, descending a dusty, crooked spiral staircase after a mysterious guest has just banged the door knocker. Who was there? Intrigue, mystery and a dash of anxiety.
"12 Questions" by Future Utopia, the creative project by songwriter and producer Fraser T Smith, is probably one of the most packed albums of genuinely interesting lyrics, unique production and complex melodies. I started with “Children of The Internet” featuring rapper Dave, who weaves a spiders web of thought provoking and spooky narratives over a punchy, sharp hip-hop beat. Was it unsettling? Yes. Was it necessary? Probably. So if you are just dying to know what a child of the internet is, just listen to the song and find out. And be aware of the thing you are reading this on…
7. Ariana Grande - Positions
Ariana fan or not, you can’t get away from her these days. And even the most alternative of music lovers will surely find warmth in her mellifluous tone. “Positions” continues to showcase that remarkable voice over a plucked violin loop that feels a little “country” until the distorted kick bass, guitar slides and strings come in.
Lyrically, Grande is gushing over a new love, letting him know that her talents stretch across a wide range of areas. According to the video, this includes politics and baking! Does this mean Grande 2024 is a thing? Will she appear on next year's Bake Off? We’ll just have to wait and see!
8. Marco Faraone & Greeko - Armaghetton
This song is the equivalent of a triple shot flat white - slick, punchy and packed with energy.
Faraone’s house beat creates the perfect loop for Greeko to skip-jump over with his 80s inspired uplifting spoken word. Is he the lost member of Run-D.M.C? Possibly. “Armaghetton” is an infectious dance track that will surely tear up dancefloors (when? WHEN!) with it’s quick pace, homage to classic rap, bumpy bassline and all round feel-good factor. If you’re lacking in endorphins… PRESS PLAY!
9. H.E.R.- Damage
H.E.R has appeared twice now in our monthly top picks, and is anyone even surprised? “Damage” has a vintage feel, like a chanteuse in a smoky bar, slowly distilling parts of her soul into the whisky-soaked audience. Perhaps a cigar is being lit, perhaps all the chairs are burgundy leather, studded with gold. See where I am going?
A muted trumpet, retro synths and raw hi-hats, accompanied with that distinct vocal tone make “Damage” a song that tonally blends harmoniously. Not to state the absolute obvious, but I feel this is why she is “killing the game”. She knows how to make a damn good song and what sounds work bloody well together.
10. The Knocks feat. Foster The People - All About You
“All About You” is the second collaboration from artists The Knocks and Foster The People, who seem to effortlessly blend electronic and indie influences together in a cool 3 and ½ minutes.
Low cut vintage sounding loops are employed over a tambourine adorned beat, of which Foster’s instantly recognisable voice hums about the blossoming of a new love. Then the chorus hits, key change, drama and we’re taken a little further into a psychedelic, swinging 60s pop trip.
That's it for November.
I know, I know, you want more. Well you'll have to pop back in December for more of our Top 10 tracks then. We promise just the right amount of festivity.
Until then, keep safe, and don't forget you can listen to the whole November Top 10 playlist as much as you like, right here!
Creative Director at Startle. It's my job to produce and execute our music output, making sure everything is sounding, feeling and performing just right for our customers. When I'm not doing this, you can find me either walking my dog, remixing 90s divas on Logic Pro X, returning overdue library books or throwing weights about in the gym.