Lana Del Rey, Battles, Robyn
1. Lana Del Rey – ‘Video Games’
The words “YouTube sensation” are rarely a good omen. ‘Chocolate Rain’, Rebecca Black: all destined to be ‘liked’ into oblivion until they become less funny than getting stuck in a lift with Michael McIntyre. Thank heavens, then, for Lana Del Rey’s ‘Video Games’, the clip for which is currently smashing NME’s – and half the internet’s – cold dead heart into pieces 30 times a day. Del Rey (aka 24-year-old New York State native Lizzy Grant) calls her music “Hollywood sad core”, and the modern subject matter aside, this gloriously molten ballad could easily ornament the rolling credits of Tinseltown classics. Del Rey herself looks more like the aftermath of modern day LA – a sad-eyed Mena Suvari, with huge, ostensibly fake lips.
That’s just one of a peculiarly beautiful set of contrasts: delicate harp plumage and weighty piano build to a climax that’ll make you weep harder than completing Halo 3, yet Del Ray sings about a state of untroubled romantic bliss: “He holds me in his big arms/Drunk and I am seein’ stars/This is all I think of”. The heart-punching sadness comes from knowing it’s fleeting, emphasised by her voice – a flooring, Cat Power-ish pout. We’re furiously addicted, and somewhere, in a dark studio, Florence is screaming at herself for not writing this.
Laura Snapes, Assistant Reviews Editor
2. Battles – ‘AM Gestalt’
This B-side to single ‘My Machines’ nails Battles’ unnerving combination of glee and hackle-raising fear, like a demonically possessed carousel. It’s a stuttering, cymbal-crashing thing with a rhythm like ragtime that’s been through a hay-baler. You’ll scream, but you’ll wanna go faster.
Emily Mackay, Reviews Editor
3. Robyn – ‘Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall’ (Coldplay cover)
It’s no surprise that Robyn fills this song with a deep well of disco longing, tearing apart the lyrics with b-girl assuredness. What is surprising to note is that when revisiting the original you’re struck by the fact that it sounds like Chris Martin & Co are covering a Carlsson original.
Priya Elan, Assistant Editor, NME.COM
4. Washed Out – ‘Wicked Game’ (Chris Isaak cover)
You’ve got to have some pretty big balls to cover the sexiest song ever written and get away with it. Ernest Greene is obviously packing quite a punch in the trouser department, then, as his swirling cover of the Chris Isaak classic – also featuring his lady wife – is sublime.
Leonie Cooper, Deputy News Editor
5. Loney, Dear – ‘My Heart’
Let us elude the idle dilly-dally: Loney, Dear’s Emil Svanängen has gently orbited universal acclaim for the best part of a decade, but bafflingly his friend request to widespread recognition is pending. ‘My Heart’ shoots crystal synths, funk-bop bass and a lugubrious, bloody-nosed wail fireworking skywards to remedy all that.
Jazz Monroe, writer
6. Toddla T feat. Roots Manuva – ‘Watch Me Dance’
Toddla T’s Sheffield dance-pop may be endearingly naff, but in the shape of ‘Watch Me Dance’, it’s increasingly in danger of crashing the charts. The sound of ‘Fix Up, Look Sharp’ if Dizzee had discovered pop back then, it proves there’s more than just Monkey business going on in the steel city.
Jamie Fullerton, News Editor
7. The Flaming Lips & Lightning Bolt – I Want To Get High But I Don’t Want Brain Damage’
No offence to the massively talented Mr Coyne and Lightning Bolt, but judging by this track – the slow sludgy sound of guitars being stretched on the rack while a drug-bent lunatic repeats himself over and over – it might be too late. Kids, do try this at home.
Tim Chester, Deputy Editor, NME.COM
8. Mastodon – ‘Black Tongue’
Only a genius or the criminally insane would release a concept album about a quadriplegic time traveller. The jury’s still out on metal behemoths Mastodon, who follow up ‘Crack The Skye’ with a loopy torture porn re-imagining of 300. “I burned out my eyes/I cut off my tongue”, wails Troy Sanders. Yummy.
Mike Williams, Deputy Editor
9. Real Estate – ‘Barely Legal’ (The Strokes cover)
In which the New Jersey natives bring The Strokes’ dirtiest tune over the Hudson to celebrate its 10th birthday. Cue lots of woozy, mournful guitars and country-tinged vocals. It’s part of a bigger covers project doffing its cap to ‘Is This It’ from Stereogum, and is
one of a handful of hits amongst several misses…
Matt Wilkinson, New Music Editor
10. Kasabian – ‘Days Are Forgotten’
This louche jam is classic Kasabian – embracing psychedelia from a safe distance – but in sepia tones, all burnished brown leather and pagan swagger. Any fears that this signals the band growing up on new album ‘Velociraptor!’ are neatly assuaged by a line about “chewing on monkey brains”.
Dan Martin, writer