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I was born in 1990—too young to really experience the eclectic peak of techno. So when I started listening to music consciously, designed pop stars like Britney Spears, Destiny’s Child, or Christina Aguilera were on the top. In parallel, hip-hop rose to the dominating genre it remains until today.
And while the girls in primary school listened to the pop singers, the boys celebrated the latest tracks by D12, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Xzibit, and 50 Cent. Oh, innocent times.
It was a brief time before the downfall of the CD and our adoption of P2P services like LimeWire. The iPod, and subsequently iTunes, haven’t hit yet. I consumed music through compilations: Boom 2000, Megahits 2001, The Dome.
These compilations introduced me to electronic music. But, of course, these Trance and Eurodance tracks were quite dull. Darude’s Sandstorm or Exploration of Space by Cosmic Gate. And does anyone know what happened to Safri Duo?
The time around the millennium shaped my listening behaviour as much as other influences. I still enjoy a good pop song, and I’m still captivated by the intricacies of electronic music.
However, pop tunes and electronic sounds are like alcoholic beverages. When you’re young, you consume too much and, foremost, cheap shit. I still appreciate it now, a bit older, but quality matters more than quantity.
Today, we explore some of the beat-driven songs and catchy pop tunes within Weekly5 that stuck in my head. Welcome to 2021 Repeat: Beats/Pop.
benzii – Commodity
Commodity by young Berlin-based artist benzii is as weird as it is fascinating. Stomping beats meet with hasty synthesizers, while benzii condemns Gen Z’s booty call culture. Commodity feels torn and—despite its aggressive sound—vulnerable. Here, benzii cracks open the vast space between techno and pop music.
Moyka – Stay
Personally, Moyka has been one of my favourite pop singers for quite some time. The Norwegian artist always blows me away with her talent of bringing together a Scandinavian icy atmosphere with pop’s catchiness. Stay is a longing hymn, driven by synthesizers, that shimmers like sunlight on freshly fallen snow.
Sofia Portanet – Real Face
Although Real Face, the latest single by Sofia Portanet, is a song that is more than ever before rooted in pop music, her unique intonation gives it that special something. Besides Real Face’s important message, the track enters the mind like honey the throat: Smooth, sweet, irresistible. Simply brilliant.
audiobooks – The Doll
It’s an exceptional mixture of electronic music and spoken word, reminiscent of the one true heroine of the genre: Anne Clark. The Doll by British duo audiobooks is musical storytelling that draws you into a cold and apathetic world. The song’s appeal remains its freaky character. Every time The Doll starts, I cannot detach my attention.
Everdeen – Heart Shaped Gutter
Pure thrill, that’s what Everdeen bring to the table with Heart Shaped Gutter. The band from Southern Germany has created an electrifying pop hymn. And even after a couple of months, the song still holds up its promises: Heart Shaped Gutter sets me in a good mood.
Julian Bracht – Streets (feat. Enyang Ha)
After years of silence, Julien Bracht released new solo material in 2021. While I enjoy every single track on his album Now Forever One, it’s been Streets that hold me in the tightest grip. The infinite atmosphere the song perpetuates on the edge of progressive electro, it’s beautiful, somewhere between dancefloor and dream.
Odd Beholder – Birds
Swiss artist Odd Beholder opens a fascinating world of art-pop and electronic music on her latest album Sunny Bay. But the complex track Birds stands out as a shimmering jewel with its technoid nature and swirling synthesizer spikes. It’s a song that feels straightforward and yet doesn’t shy away to explore.
Jeans for Jesus – 2000 etc. (feat. Steiner & Madlaina)
The collaboration between Swiss bands Jeans for Jesus and Steiner & Madlaina resulted in a lucid, thoughtful 2000 etc., a song that feels as melancholic as free-wheeling, light as a feather but also heavy like a broken heart. And this atmosphere spreads even if you don’t understand German.
ZUSTRA – Walking on the Moon
I always love when artists switch between languages. So naturally, ZUSTRA’s Walking on the Moon immediately caught my attention. The German artist sings as if she’s in a trance, yet the song marches forward with dedication and consciousness. Walking on the Moon floats like ambient pop and flirts with its captivating groove.
Christian Löffler – Moldau
What happens when a techno producer reworks 1874’s Moldau by deaf Czech composer Bedřich Smetana? An otherworldly, centuries-spanning experience. Christian Löffler’s rework embraces the dusty 1920 shellac recording and adds crisp bass. The result is stunning ambient time travel.