On the face of things, pop—as evidenced by its very name, derived from the word ‘popular’—has been having a good time of it ever since the onset of ‘it’ acts like Elvis and The Beatles. But just because pop has been riding the top of the charts since our grandparents were young doesn’t mean it’s always been good.
Thankfully, the last few years have seen a turnaround in the entire genre, as a new wave of artists have come through blazing a trail with their wonky, alternative or just plain fun sounds.
Here are 5 artists on the Standon Calling 2022 bill who are making pop fresh again:
Combining drag performance with surrealist alternative bops, Lynks is a new kind of London artist. Emerging from the scene that created Shame and black midi (they have even featured Shame frontman Charlie Steen on the excellent track ‘This Is The Hit’), Lynks is something completely new. Dissonant and confrontational as punk, left-field and bizarre as true avant-garde, the resulting sounds that come from Lynks’ tinkering are wild, grinding and often humorous. Strange and sarcastic as it is, Lynks’ music is still absolutely and undeniably pop…it’s just not like any pop you’ve experienced before.
We’ve already introduced Rebecca Lucy Taylor here, but her solo venture Self Esteem deserves another mention here—her recently-released sophomore album Prioritise Pleasure has been a runaway success that has pulled in BRIT nominations and is a favourite to be nominated for a Mercury Prize in 2022. Unlike some overnight successes, Self Esteem and Prioritise Pleasure are not overrated statements agitated to such heights because of groupthink: they are genuinely exciting new propositions within the world of pop.
‘Fucking Wizardry’, ‘Moody’, ‘Hobbies 2’, and of course, ‘I Do This All The Time’ are all daring, souped-up examples of pop songs created by a star with genuine originality. And all of that is not mentioning the bops from Album 1 Compliments Please, which also see the light of day during Self Esteem’s much-loved, hyper-choreographed pop shows.
Drag star Bimini Bon Boulash was at a crossroads in their life just a few years ago: do they go into the life of being a queer performer, or become a scuba instructor? Bimini opted for the former, and quickly became a fan favourite on the UK edition of Ru Paul’s Drag Race thanks to their easy sense of humour, caring affect, high-fashion looks—and one very convincing, very funny impression of Katie Price.
Now on the cover and in centre spreads of fashion and culture mags all over the UK, Bimini is making pop music. Already out with the single ‘God Save This Queen’, it looks like Bimini’s going to be bringing their highly-nostalgic, high camp style to more songs very soon—all in time for what’s sure to be a very popular set at Standon Calling this July.
One of the best things about the new advance of pop music is that it’s so often tangled up in several other genres. The new generation has grown up on a diet of Spotify playlists that give exposure the music from all angles, and it shows.
Angolan-Portugese artist Pongo is one such artist, bringing Kuduro (Angolan dance), dancehall, Brazilian beats and EDM together into her own frenetic, Carnivalesque brand of pop. Expect a real party at her Standon Calling set.
CMAT loves cowboys and country music with a passion. A long-time fan of Dolly Parton (who isn’t?!) this Irish artist has just released her exceedingly fun debut album If My Wife New I’d Be Dead. Filled with eye rolls and delicious riffs, it’s a conglomeration of influences, not least country music and the pop avenues that have been built out of it.
Her set is bound to be a lot of fun—not only for the noodling guitars on pop hooks that’ll be served up by the dozen, but for the playful back-and-forth CMAT will inevitably hold with the crowd.