Listen Up: Shawn Wasabi "Animal Crossing" (featuring Sophia Black)

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Shawn Wasabi makes music that's pure fun.  Take for example his new single "Animal Crossing" featuring Sophia Black. It's a happy-go-lucky slice of froth pop that shows off Shawn's knack for melody and love for production. You can just tell Shawn's having fun with it. If you have seen interviews with Shawn or follow him on social media, you know how he's able to turn every object into a musical instrument by wiring it to a midi controller. The Verge explains in an article how Wasabi helped conceive a 64-button midi controller inspired by Japanese arcade games to help him do that. Every button triggers a note or sample, which has opened up a whole new world of composition and production for Wasabi. His brand of pop is deeply influenced by his controller art. "Animal Crossing" but also his previous releases perfectly demonstrate that. The music is bouncy, fast and fun, much like a classic arcade game, with lots of sonic twists and turns that result in hyper pop stylings. Combine that with great songwriting and what you end up with is a futuristic pop sound that is completely refreshing. I'm a fan!

Listen Up: BTS "Euphoria" (The Timeless Power Bop That Keeps On Giving)


While on the topic of songs that I've been loving, I must also mention BTS' should-have-been-a-way-bigger-hit "Euphoria." It's a major bop that I love to go back to once in a while when I'm in need of a timeless, sugar-sweet, goosebump-inducing power bop. Honestly, I cannot get enough of "Euphoria." The song was first released in the summer of 2018 as part of the Love Yourself: Answer compilation. It's an important song for multiple reasons. It proved that K-Pop could seamlessly adopt Western pop stylings, it set the tone for the hopeful and triumphant thematic arch of Love Yourself: Answer, and it shows off Jungkook's pristine pop vocals. The way Jungkook brings the bridge back to the chorus, two thirds into the song, gets me every time. The production is courtesy of Candian producer DJ Swivel who expertly added just the right dose of spark and sizzle to make "Euphoria" a shining beacon of memorable K-Pop. Love you, BTS.

Listen Up: Maxine "Help Myself"


There's very little I know about Maxine except that she's Dutch and able to serve up a great pop melody. Case in point is her new single "Help Myself" that's a pristine little pop banger. Written by Maxine, Julian, and Adriaan Philipse, "Help Myself" is "about being so in love with someone that you do stupid things to keep them close to you," explains Maxine.

She writes, "It's about being jealous and all the crazy things you do if you're jealous. Like checking someone's phone without them knowing, obsessively scrolling through their Instagram stories just to find out that the girl he's standing next to is his sister. I mean, even the brightest persons can be jealous. It's a human emotion."

So who is this bright young new star on the pop scene? The bio on her web site provides some clues. Maxine is 21 years-old and hailing from The Hague. Before starting her career as a writer, she attended Sweden's famed pop academy Musikmakarna where she learned how to apply her innate talent for pop following the advice of mentors like Max Martin. 

"Help Myself" is a very, very promising introduction to what Maxine has to offer. It's current, universally appealing, and prominently displays her songwriting savvy and powerful pop vocals. You can easily file her music next to Lauv, Julia Michaels, Julian and LANY. Maxine is one to watch.

Listen Up: Carlie Hanson "Daze Inn"


Every song Carlie Hanson has put out since her debut in 2018 has been excellent. Today, she released her new single "Daze Inn" and I love every single second of it. It's moody and introspective but has a bright pop glow that perfectly defines Hanson's sonic aesthetic. She has a knack for sharing what's on her mind, the good and the sad, and making it universally appealing with great hooks and melodies. I'm such a fan of what Hanson is doing. This lady has spunk and pure star power. If you're only just discovering Carlie Hanson make sure to also listen to "Back In My Arms," "Only One," and "Side Effects." Every generation needs their Avril Lavigne, and Carlie Hanson is that for 2020 (and more).

Listen Up: Niall Horan "Black And White"


"Black & White" is the best Niall Horan song you may not have heard yet. The song is taken from his new album, Heartbreak Weather, that is filled with fine little bops about love and heartbreak. Horan took a few sonic risks on this new LP to continue to evolve and aim higher as an artist. I applaud him. Songs like "Put A Little Love On Me" and "Dear Patience" are finely tuned, heartfelt ballads that we never have enough of. The title track is a breezy jam straight from the 80s, and let's not forget about the island vibes of "No Judgement." There's a lot of great music to dig in here, but to me, there's one that firmly sticks out. That's "Black And White." Expertly produced by Julian Bunetta and Teddy Geiger, Horan serves up a straight-up anthem of the goosebump kind. It's full of life and full of fervor. In other words, it's great pop music. "Black And White" has a racing pulse that will have you tapping along the moment the needle drops. Enjoy.