Cult Clash’s 2017 Music Roundup

2017 has been an incredible year for music. Not only have some amazing albums been released, but we have also seen some new artists take the year by storm, completely upturning the music scene. Before we announce the countdown to the best album of 2017, the Cult Clash team have complied their favourite 5 songs from last year.

Cult Clash’s Top Songs of the Year:

  1. Crew – GoldLink
  2. XO Tour Llif3- Lil Uzi Vert
  3. Chanel- Frank Ocean
  4. The Weekend- SZA
  5. Bank Account- 21 Savage

Now what you’ve all been waiting for; you all voted for the best albums to emerge from 2017 and we have compiled a top 10 list for you to indulge. In reverse order…

10. Culture- Migosa3

The trap trio released a stunning album last year, featuring some big names in hip hop including Lil Uzi, Travis Scott and Gucci Mane. Their quirky group dynamic makes this fun filled album a proper party soundtrack.

9. Common Sense- J Hus

London’s own J Hus released his album Common Sense last year, introducing a new form of Afro-beat reggae influenced hip hop. The album has some memorable tunes including Did You See, Bouff Daddy and Plottin. We are predicting great things for J Hus in the forthcoming year.

8. Luv is Rage 2- Lil Uzi Vert

Lil Uzi hit us with another album this year, upholding his quirky Hip Hop style. XO Tour Llif3 comes at a close second for our best song of 2017, with its contagious hook, not to mention the amazing beats of other tracks on the album.

7. At What Cost- GoldLink

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With two years since his debut album, GoldLink has obtained his enthralling hooks and refined beats. The album also flaunts some great tracks like Herside Story, Meditation and of course our chosen song of the year, Crew.

6. SATURATION – BROCKHAMPTON

Well, it was too hard to rate all three versions of SATURATION released in 2017, so we are just going to appreciate them for the incredible trilogy they are. Not only is BROCKHAMPTON’s dedication to making music extremely impressive, but the continuity in their rap style gives them a place in our top 10.

5. More Life- Drake

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The pop-rap artist we all know and love blessed us with another dance provoking album in 2017. Not only has Drake stayed true to his party rap style with tracks like Passionfruit and Fake Love, but the refined beats and lyrics in all of the tracks on More Life, show a fresher dimension to his music that we really hope is taken into 2018.

 

4. Yesterday’s Gone- Loyle Carner

This delicate rap album, with its heartfelt lyrics and soft vocals from Loyle himself, not only melted everyone’s heartstrings but also fused the boundaries between Hip Hop and lyrical pop. The artist also had 2017 in the palm of his hand in terms of live shows; touring twice and being a significant act at many major worldwide festivals.

3. DAMN- Kendrick Lamar

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After the drop of single HUMBLE, loyal Kendrick fans went wild for the release of his latest album, and he definitely did not disappoint. The rap artist dished out tune after tune, undeniably owning the Hip Hop scene in 2017. Our team at Cult Clash are also very looking forward to his shows in February this year.

2. Flower Boy- Tyler, the Creator

a2This majestic rap and melodic infusion is more than deserving of our number two spot.  Tyler has collaborated with indie pop artist Rex Orange County, whilst also featuring both established and up and coming names in Hip Hop Frank Ocean, Kali Uchis, A$AP Rocky and Jaden Smith; this has made his latest album tap into a range of genres whilst still staying true to the melodic Hip Hop roots of Tyler’s music.

1.CTRL – SZA

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Unsurprisingly, the Hip Hop female solo artist, SZA, and her second album CTRL took 2017 by storm. With a beautiful recipe of pop and RnB flavours, this album more than definitely deserves Cult Clash’s top spot. Particular tracks that have caught public attention include Love Galore, SZA’s collab with Hip Hop artist Travis Scott. Moreover, the unsuspecting popularity for track The Weekend, that went platinum without even being released as a single.

It is clear to see it has been a great year for music, Hip Hop in particular, with SZA’s second album undeniably nabbing the number one album of 2017. We hope that 2018 blesses us with as much incredible music as last year.

Angel Witney

@angelxwitney

Inside the Musical Brilliance of King Krule

Archy Marshall’s alternate musical persona King Krule has made an awe-consuming return to the music scene this past week. Following up his collaborative single ‘Blue Train Lines’ released earlier this year, King Krule has given fans another flavour of his bluesy electronic sound with ‘Czech One’.

The track itself begins with a chilling opening, mirroring the synth sounds of James Blake, with the distorted vocals. Archy Marshall’s hypnotic voice is complimented by the bluesy jazz piano accompaniment, contrasted with the electronic keyboard. This cleverly crafted dichotomy of jazz and synth is the basis to King Krule’s musical identity, similar to previous tracks like ‘Ceiling’ and ‘Will I Come’. The jazz influences in Marshall’s music is expressed in ‘Czech One’ through the melodic saxophone, as used in popular track ‘A Lizard State’. 

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King Krule also incorporates indie rock into his work, through enthralling guitar riffs and catchy lyrics, provoking the popularity of songs like ‘Easy Easy’, ‘Ocean Bed’ and ‘Border Line’, not to mention the enthralling instrumental of older track ‘363N63‘. The influence from various genres creates the authentic concoction of musical brilliance, and firms Marshall’s originality as a solo artist.

Archy Marshall has been a must-watch on the music scene for a number of years, receiving a nomination in the BBC’s Sound of 2013 poll as well as places on many “Artists to Watch” lists. After the release of his debut album 6 feet Beneath the Moon in 2013, listeners have been gagging for new material, and it looks like they finally have it.

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With the release of two new singles in 2017, fans of King Krule are hopeful of a new album in the forthcoming months; especially due to the announcement of a UK tour this Autumn. This tour is definitely a sign that something magical is to come from the London-based solo artist, due to the scarce amount of live shows he plays.

Angel Witney

@angelxwitney

 

The Evolution of Pop Music

The name says it all. Pop is an ideology essentially representing music that is popular and appeals to the masses. Today, we associate Pop music with the UK top forty and boy bands and Little Mix singing about their Ex, but once upon a time this genre was not so heavily stigmatised. There was a time where liking Pop music did not label you as ‘uncultured’ or ‘basic’, but it did genuinely provide the function of appealing to a mass audience.

The word ‘Pop’ was first used way back in 1925. The term was intended to represent music that had mass appeal to a wide range of people. It was in the 1930s that we see the first collection of Pop Stars emerge onto the music scene with artists like Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. Even eighty years ago, these stars had audiences of screaming teenage fans and were considered the idyllic paragon of man to young girls. It is hard to imagine that these men singing about flying to the moon with sultry piano accompaniment and romantic lyrics had crazed teenage fans, but it is true.

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The majority of music audiences is and has always been teenagers, and that is why we hear the reference to the ‘package’ of up and coming pop stars. Much like Frank Sinatra, Justin Bieber achieves the handsome male ideal that sings about love and lust. This is because it is considered popular amongst teenage girls to have this kind of artist to idolise, which is why this feature of pop has been obtained after years. Although the theme of love is a constant in pop music throughout time, it has been manipulated to appeal to the mass audience of the time period. After the swinging 60s, Britain became more sexually liberal, and music adapted to this change. Modern day Pop stars take a more lustful approach with sexually provocative lyrics. This is a prime example of the pop ideology and how music adapts to society.

elvisIn 1952 Pop charts were created, bringing a competitive aspect to the idea of popular music. This hierarchal system gave artists a pathway which brought about the first instance of pop music bringing the ‘basic’ stigma. In being top of the charts, artists did what the people seemed to like, which suggests why pop music seems ‘samey’ and ‘uninventive’, as they wanted to maintain public appeal. Also with the growing television exposure in the 1960s, pop stars developed a sense of identity and persona that contributed to the ‘Pop Star’ appeal. Nevertheless, the Rock n Roll rage in the 50s introduced Elvis Presley onto the music scene. Despite his legacy being that of a Rock legend, it could be argued that Presley was in fact a pop star of his time. With the iconic sexually provocative dance, screaming teenage fans, catchy popular songs and huge political and social influence, Elvis ticks all the boxes of a contextual pop star. This type of Pop Rock was influenced by the Civil Rights Movement and how Elvis had such a controversial partake in this event, much like the acclaimed King of Pop, Michael Jackson, who rose to stardom in response to increasing Black civil rights.

 

bowie2This explains why, as a generalisation, parents are viewed as out of touch with modern music, and ‘old fashioned’ by their children. I was raised in the 00’s with my dad blasting out Bowie and Pulp- clearly not Pop music of that time, but it was for my dad. Through growing up in the 60s/70s, he had become accustomed to these artists as his social norm and pop culture, whereas young people in the 2000s would invariably associate this with a niche, old school pop rock genre. There is also a sense of nostalgia that people bind the music they grew up with to, which sparks the reluctance most adults have with conforming to modern pop culture. Needless to say, the resurgence of pop music from past decades has shown to be a popular movement; for example, Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman’s cover of Something Stupid by Frank Sinatra in 2001. Also, the increasing appreciation of David Bowie amongst younger audiences following his death last year, proves that pop music is not bound by era but by social events and interests.

 

It is the 1970s that people closely associate with pop- more specifically, the formation of the Boy Band. The Beatles’ melodies and harmonies had a massive influence over how our nation viewed pop music, but more importantly, paved the way for a mass market of male pop bands in the future. The fundamental selling point for the Beatles was that, instead of one attractive male singing about love, teenage girls now had four to fawn and scream over, buy merchandise and dedicate their little pocket money buying records and going to their shows. It is arguable that the teenage girl market is the most profitable and accessible. It is interesting to see that the Beatles are still appreciated today, but in a more musical sense for writing some incredible songs, rather than how they would be contextually viewed as these beautiful men that sing about wanting to ‘hold your hand’ and you imagine it’s about you. Now that we are extracted from the societal context of the 70s, modern day listeners are able to fully appreciate the music of the Beatles. However, with instances like David Bowie’s, it is his entire pop presence that moulds his legacy and enhances modern day listeners’ infatuation with his artistry.

It was not until the 90s that we see the boy band resurgence, with that of Westlife, Take That, Backstreet Boys and NSYNC. For those, like my mum, who grew up amongst these bands, it is enriched with nostalgia. But to most modern teenagers, this era of music was cringey and we cannot fathom how it was once pop culture. These bands were a denomination of the 70s boy band, but with less musical talent. It can be seen that the reason for the boy band backseat in the 90s was the growing popularity of the Girl Group. Producers and Record Label owners had finally realised that, whilst girls like pretty boys singing about love, boys liked beautiful girls dancing and singing about sex. Before the rise of feminism, it was the case that these Girl Groups’ USP was their ‘sex appeal’. Despite this, it is undeniable that the 90s era of Girl Bands produced some utter bangers. The UK got a lot of influence from the USA with groups like Destiny’s Child and The Pussycat Dolls, and it was not until the 2000s that the UK churned out some infamous Girl Groups; The Sugababes, Girls Aloud, Spice Girls, All Saints and Atomic Kitten to name but a few. This era of Dance Pop Girl Groups took the music scene by storm and dominated both the male and female market in the 90s to the 2000s. This newfound form of social appeal must have derived from the growing sense of female empowerment and equality in this period, but did not change the sexualising of these Girl Groups.

Bringing it into the modern age, we are currently in the Teen Pop era. Producers have taken advantage of the adolescent television market of channels like Nickelodeon and Disney Channel, and thrown teen stars into the world of pop music to essentially attract dedicated youthful fans. The young people that idolise these stars essentially get roped into supporting awful music simply due to the person endorsing it; cleverly vile. In another sense, the teen pop era of that of One Direction and Justin Bieber is similar to what it always has been, with the Pop Star ideal marketed to teenage fans, but with the artists marketing to a similar age groups to themselves. Also, the advance understanding of the synth and drum machine in recent years has encouraged the resurgence of synth pop, which takes us back to the idea that Pop Music all sounds the same.

The understanding is that Pop is not a genre, but an ideology. Pop music adapts to society and what is most popular to the public, explaining why there is a common motif of love in pop music from the past hundred years, as it has always been a concept. It is clear that Pop is not restricted to simply music, but the entire persona and presence the artists has to their fans. It can be argued that Pop is the most progressive and broad area of music and will continue to be.

Angel Witney

@angelxwitney