1. Beyonce – ‘Run The World’ (Girls)
Forget their coming over all chummy in that ‘Telephone’ clip – 2011 is all about seeing Beyoncé and Lady Gaga fight tooth and nail to lay hands on the coveted Queen Of Pop mantle, and ‘Run The World (Girls)’ is the first shot across the bows from Ms Knowles.
Suddenly knocked off her perch by the publicity-ravening Ms G, Bey knows only too well that her fourth album has to be all killer to successfully regain her crown, and this Major Lazer-sampling single is a welcome step in the right direction — if not exactly what you’d call a game-changer.
A fire-breathing ‘feminist’ statement reeled off over Switch and Diplo’s exhilarating, military-dancehall beats, the track sees Beyoncé delivering snarky put-downs even as she strives to put ladykind at the top of the table (“I think I need a barber/None of these hos can fade me”) and is credited to Knowles and R&B hotshot The-Dream, who also lent his Midas touch to ‘Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)’ off the last one.
No surprises there, since ‘Run The World (Girls)’ is precisely the sort of mad accumulation of staccato accents Beyoncé made her name on, and while it’s great to hear the Houston diva playing to her strengths, she’ll need to find another gear to see off her enemy if ‘Judas’ goes viral next week with a promo featuring Gaga curling one out into Pope Ratzie’s mouth. Which it almost definitely will.
Alex Denney, writer
2. Dananananaykroyd – ‘Muscle Memory’
The Glaswegian band recorded their new album with famed nu-metal producer Ross Robinson. Thankfully, that doesn’t mean it’s full of drop-tuned riffs and lyrics about maggots; rather, hurtling, splenetic punk-pop masterworks like this.
Luke Lewis, Editor, NME.COM
3. Best Coast – ‘Untitled’
So, what do we know about Beth C? She loves cats? Yes. She smokes the odd doobie? Yup. She’s a big fan of angsty grrrls Sleater-Kinney? Whodathunk it? Live from Coachella, this is hardly a new direction, but new it is nonetheless, and for that, we rejoice.
Mike Williams, Features Editor
4. Spectator – ‘Never Fade Away’
Fred McPherson, formerly of Les Incompétents and Ox.Eagle.Lion.Man, always seems to be doing something interesting. This expansive, lovelorn thing – Frankie & The Heartstrings if you replaced their Orange Juice albums with Cocteau Twins – is no exception.
Emily Mackay, Reviews Editor
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5. Art Brut – ‘Lost Weekend’
From their forthcoming fourth album ‘Brilliant! Tragic!’, ‘Lost Weekend’ sees slick-haired red wine fan Eddie Argos venture across the line between spoken word and singing. The result is his growling account of clumsy confessions of love, “trying to look sober” and being chucked out of chip shops.
Abby Tayleure, Festivals Editor, NME.COM
6. Blood Orange – ‘Dinner’
Not content with being Lightspeed Champion, occasionally Darth Vader and a sometime member of a Weezer tribute band, Dev Hynes has another new name: Blood Orange. With Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor co-producing, ‘Dinner’’s ’80s funk suggests we might now be calling him Prince Jr instead.
Paul Stokes, Associate Editor
7. Leonard Cohen – ‘The Darkness’
One of four new songs Laughing Leonard recently debuted live. This is a voodoo blues tune loaded with this delicious noir lyric: “Come to darkness baby, drink it from your cup/I said, ‘Is it contagious?’/You said, ‘Just drink it up’”.
Martin Robinson, Deputy Editor
8. Jeff The Brotherhood – ‘Diamond Way’
In which Nashville bros Jake and Jamin Orrall – formerly of mid-’00s teen-noise brats Be Your Own Pet – grow up, drop out and discover Hüsker Dü.
Krissi Murison, Editor
9. Beth Jeans Houghton – ‘Dodecahedron’
A paean to the greatest platonic solid of them all? Nah, not really. Instead, ‘Dodecahedron’ sees Tyneside chanteuse Beth Jeans Houghton strut the uke/double bass while howling about releasing golden demons.
Matt Wilkinson, News Reporter
10. Eleanor Friedberger – ‘My Mistakes’
Seeing as her brother – fellow Fiery Furnace, Matt – is releasing eight solo albums this year, seems only fair that Eleanor gets a shot at it too. From her forthcoming debut ‘Last Summer’ comes this handsome tale of regret.
Laura Snapes, Assistant Reviews Editor