Hello to you,
Most of this newsletter has been stuck in drafts for a week or two because I got distracted fixing, moving and arguing with the Popjustice forum (don’t try to sign up, that side of things is still not properly fixed), and as a result of this parts of the newsletter may contain attitudes that could seem outdated to modern readers. In particular, the excitement regarding a new range of hot sauces being sold by Ed Sheeran could, these days, seem confusing or even offensive. It was a different time, last week, and society has moved on.
This stuff has happened
Jessie Ware unveiled her first Number One single, or at least the sort of cover of the sort of beloved global megasmash (in this case Cher’s Believe) that would have resulted in a Number One if streaming hadn’t ruined everything for everyone.
Frankie Bridge had the inside story on a possible S Club 8 reunion: “God knows!” (In other S Club news S Club 7 added extra dates to their arena tour, and only Bradley turned up for an S Club 2 show.)
There have been early rumblings on Twitter but I kind of feel like the world isn’t ready for the devastating impact Meghan Trainor’s next single is going to have on the way we live and interact with each other. (Short clip here, but you get the idea.)
According to the IFPI (via Rob Abelow), only half of music listeners actually search for artists more than twice a week.
Fair play, Kylie and Dannii at the Sydney WorldPride opening event was quite a moment.
This feels like a clever idea: a bunch of musicians will be adding Earth — as in, the third planet from the Sun; as in, where you’re probably sitting now — as a co-writer on their songs, meaning that a portion of songwriting royalties from those songs, from now until the end of forever, will go to environmental causes. You might think it sounds strange for musicians to give away a songwriting credit to an entity that’s had no actual impact on a song being written, but [HEAVILY REDACTED]
Adam Lambert noted (via NME) that he is “not known for being subtle”. If you saw his Holding Out For A Hero video last month this will not be big news.
Those of you who voted for David Bowie in the Popjustice Readers’ Poll’s Pop Entity (NOT QUEEN) Who Should Be Next To 'Do An ABBA Voyage' category maybe have been onto something: there are murmurings of a Voyage-style thing, which I suppose would make sense as part of the purpose-built V&A Bowie archive blowout that’s meant to be opening in 2025.
New Music Friday
The best new song this week is Psykopat — sadly due to my limited knowledge of the Swedish language I can’t offer a translation of this song’s title — by Myra Granberg, who you may also know as the quite good LVLY. The song’s very all over the place in the best way possible.
(Worth also noting here that the Mimi Webb album is out this week and is really good!)
ALSO while we’re discussing new music, last week’s top song was this one from Dylan…
…who, it’s important to note, is extremely good at making pop music. She just keeps chucking out songs in the 4.5/5-to-5/5 range and roaring banger Every Heart But Mine is the latest.
Some bullet points left over from last week and which would have made more sense back then but, as mentioned above, I was messing around with servers and CSS files:
Babymorocco’s new one contains a very very subtle sample of Pet Shop Boys’ West End Girls. I thought it worth mentioning as you might have missed it otherwise.
Daine’s entire Shapeless mixtape is brilliant but I picked Haunt to go on the NMF playlist. Perhaps you will have a different favourite. Perhaps you will not!!
This wasn’t out on Friday but it is out now, so that’s one good thing about sending the email out late: Loreen’s Tattoo was unveiled last weekend and is through to the Melodifestivalen final. The staging is v good.
As you know, I update the New Music Friday playlist each week, but I haven’t mentioned since starting the Popjustice Substack that there are two other key playlists I keep updated, and you might like those too.
POPJUSTICE BIG HIT ENERGY
This playlist changes quite slowly and comes with a strict 21-song limit. I suppose this is what daytimes would sound like if I ran an incredibly unpopular radio station. (This is basically the playlist I chuck on if I can’t decide what to listen to.)
2023% SOLID POP MUSIC
Essentially, a year’s worth of the best bits of New Music Friday. For some reason when I started doing these in 2018 I used a goat as the cover image, which was a bit stupid because I should have used that for a greatest-of-all-time playlist, but we are where we are. Each year brings a new goat.
There’s an archive of these if you’re interested:
Also while we’re here on the topic of playlists I’ll mention that I’m still adding to the Acceptably 80s In The 20s playlist, although about half of it is Ava Max.
It’s bin a while
The world recently came together to mark the sixth anniversary of what I think might be the funniest thing I ever did on Popjustice. The thing is, I know it’s not actually very funny, but it makes me laugh whenever I think of it, and we all know that laughing at your own jokes is totally fine behaviour.
It unfolded in three stages.
STEP ONE: To kick things off, I asked people on Twitter for their thoughts on the best comedy name for ‘artist of the moment’ Rag’n’Bone Man.
STEP TWO: The next step was to figure out how to create a Chrome plugin that replaced every mention of Rag’n’Bone Man with Ragin’ Binman.
STEP THREE: BEHOLD
Like I say: not really funny, but also, really funny.
If anything in this newsletter has somehow made you think subscribing might be a good idea, you can do that here.
Worth ninety quid of anyone’s money
As we all know BTS are big fans of the works of Carl Jung, and Jung had a few things to say about ego, but did he have anything to say about LEGO?? Just a little play on words for you there! But in case you are wondering no, he did not.
What might he have said about £90 for a new BTS Lego set? “I’ll have two,” that’s he would probably have said.
I could write more on all this but to be honest it’s inspiring some unwelcome flashbacks to last summer and a trip I was involved in — some would say in charge of — to Legoland Windsor, and my attempt to create some KLF figures in the ‘design your own Minifigure’ thing in the gift shop, which went wrong due to what I’ll magnanimously describe as some possible miscommunication on my part, leading to a frank exchange of views (it was a very hot day) which ended up with me saying “I’M SORRY BUT I DON’T THINK COUNTS AS ‘BUILDING AN AWESOME FAMILY MEMORY’” then stropping off, but then I had to strop back in because we needed to collect a different ‘Minifigure’ that had been ordered separately. It had been a long day. Apologies to the staff of Legoland Windsor.
(These ABBA Minifigures are good.)
A chat with Caity Baser
Who’s this in the Popjustice Zoom window? It’s none other than popular-and-getting-more-so singer of song Caity Baser, who has exploded out of Southampton. Southampton really has spoiled us over the years: Benny Hill, Matt Cardle, Rishi Sunak... Anyway Caity’s really good at being a popstar and as you can see in the discussion below she’s quite enjoying things so far.
Where are you?
I am in my management’s office, and I'm in the kitchen because there's no room anywhere else.
What if someone asks you to make tea? Do you do make tea? Or do you have tea made for you?
If someone offers me a cup of tea then of course I'll take it but I make tea because I know how I like it: just enough milk, two sugars, stunning.
How's the world of just generally being a popstar?
It's amazing. It's so much fun. It's intense. It's quite overwhelming. It's non-stop. I have no time to think about anything other than music so it’s quite crazy, but it's fun because it's my favourite thing to do.
Give me an example of it being crazy.
People recognising me in the street — that's crazy. Going on tour, that's crazy. Releasing an EP… That's crazy.
You’ve made it all look quite simple: chuck out a song on TikTok, go viral, get a manager then sign to a major label. How easy has it been?
I think what you see on social media is just the tip of the iceberg. Underneath it is the crying, the meltdowns and all the emotions of life and dealing with all these people. But I guess you could say my way into the music industry has been the most warm, loving welcome ever. I've heard stories of terrible managers, or people getting fucked over. I was just cradled like a small child. It was amazing because all I wanted to do was be a singer, and I would cry every day because I was like, ‘I'm never going to be a singer’. It would drive me insane. I had no confidence. I didn't believe in myself. And then all of that felt worth it when someone was like, ‘No, you're sick, come to London’.
Why did you want to be a singer? It looks like hard work.
It's the best thing ever. It's the only thing that makes me feel calm. It's always been my dream. Like, I went to a Katy Perry concert when I was eight and I remember thinking: ‘How on earth has this tiny lady made everybody in this whole entire room feel connected and feel like nothing in the world matters other than what's going on right now?’ I think I've always wanted to be that person. Also, I've never been cool with the smalltown mindset, staying in the same place…
What do you put that down to? Because there's lots of reasons people stay home — their family, their friends, they just quite like it… But some people want to leave and I wonder where you think that came from for you.
I don't know, it just drives me insane. I hated where I grew up. I just didn't like anything about it. And my whole life I was just thinking, ‘If I could get out of this city, and maybe move to a different place, I'll be inspired’. I've always been hungry for something different all the time, which is why I'm so happy that this is my job, because I get to do different things and make different songs every day and do all this crazy shit.
My favourite song on your new EP is Feel More Okay. What can you tell me about that song?
I made it in 2021. I'd just broken up with my ex-boyfriend. And my best friend of ten years, we’d had our biggest argument yet. And so the two people that were most important in my life, I just lost. And I remember going to the studio and the producer was like: ‘Are you okay?’ And I started bawling my eyes out. And this is one of the first times I've ever met this guy, and I'm just crying, and then I go: ‘I just want to feel more okay’. And that’s where the song started. It just explained exactly how I felt in that moment. I was completely honest. That's why I love it. It shows my vulnerable side, which is something that I don't like to show that often.
What is it about showing your vulnerable side that you're not keen on?
I don't know. Really? I don't know. I'm cool with it. Like I don't know. I think my response to emotions is just like buckle up. ‘I don't care’, whatever. And that's cool for a while. But then in a month or two, I’ll sit there and be like, ‘No, I really do actually feel a lot of emotion’.
It was the Angel of the North’s birthday last week. If they were to make an Angel of the South, for everyone to see as they were driving into Southampton, and if that sculpture depicted YOU, what would it look like?
[At this point Caity vogues melodramatically]
And what should it be made of?
Recycled plastic from the sea.
It says in your press release that you have landmark ticket pricing on your upcoming tour. Why’s it important to have cheap gig tickets?
I don't want a gig to be something that people have to worry about missing out on because they can't afford it. Because I've been that person. All that matters to me is getting everyone together, and having a good time making everybody feel good. Because they make me feel good. It doesn't sit right with me to make their lives more difficult when they're the ones that got me here.
I mean the ultimate trick surely is to build up your fan base with cheap tickets then when everyone's on board, jack up the prices.
I don't even know because, you know, Prince did those shows at the O2 and the tickets were something like £21. Madonna's ticket prices are extortionate — one of the most successful singers in the world with all the money in the world and you're expecting your fans who are nothing like you to pay that sort of money? It just doesn't make sense to me and it's a smack in the face. I don't think I would do that.
What do you think is a good price for an arena show?
What would I pay? Well for a festival, I would pay like £200 to £300 because you get a whole weekend and the vibes are amazing, but for one night, I'd say £80 absolute maximum.
I think they should do it based on minimum wage, so you go along and if they're on stage for an hour, you get an hour's worth of gig and you pay £9.50. They give you an hour of their time, you give them an hour of your money. If they're on for twice as long, you pay twice as much. Although there's some artists I would actually just prefer to be on for about 15 minutes. So in that case, maybe I’d pay more for a shorter show. I don’t know, perhaps you have two tiers of artists who are paid either more or less depending on stage time. I haven’t really thought this through but [this bit just completely tails off, apols]
Caity’s Thanks For Nothing, See You Never EP is out now and here it is on Spotify.
FAQ: SHEERAN SPECIAL
What is the greatest thing to happen in pop music in the last two weeks?
Undoubtedly the launch of a hot sauce by Fundamentally Alright Human Being Ed Sheeran, an event so monumental that its announcement was embargoed and accompanied by 69mb-worth of high-res imagery. Here’s just one of the images.
What’s this spicy substance called?
As you can see, the hot sauce in question is called Tingly Ted’s. (“I say waiter, do you have Tingly Ted’s?” “No but my cock’s a bit numb,” etc etc etc.)
Has it previously been established that Fundamentally Alright Human Being Ed Sheeran (FAHBES) is interested in hot sauce?
“I love sauces, that’s no secret,” Ed says in the press release.
Is Ed excited to be bringing ‘Tingly Ted’s’ to market?
You bet he is. “I’m so excited to bring this product out,” he adds — and who among us, faced with the grim financial outlook of having to make do with being one of the planet’s most successful streaming and touring acts, wouldn’t be excited at the prospect of a new passive income stream?
Does Ed put his money where his mouth is, or his mouth where his money is, or whichever way round it is here?
Check out this endorsement: “It's genuinely something I use every day on all three meals.” You might think he’s making this up, but this claim is genuine and you know it, because Ed says so. (He does go on to advise against putting it on bananas.)
Do you really think this will make him money?
Don’t be surprised to see a new entry on the FAHBES Rich List.
Did you do know that joke was coming?
Yes it originally said ‘Fundamentally Decent’ in the first paragraph but I changed it to set up a 4/10 joke to round things off.
You should have left it there rather than adding this extra bit of discussion, the newsletter’s about to finish and you won’t be able to get things back on track now.
Yes but you see the problem is I haven’t yet thought of a way to sign off my newsletters, possibly something that is sort of the same but slightly different each week — like, I’d have a format for the signoff, but each time there’s a slight variation.
The FAHBES joke is 10/10 I won’t hear different.
The whole hot sauce bit made me laugh aloud (aloud!)