2020 might just be the best year that Australian pop has ever had. More and more, artists in Australia are putting out singles that continue to push the boundaries of pop, making some of the most forward-thinking music coming out across the globe.
We've put together some of our favourite Australian pop tracks we've heard so far this year, and what makes them so great. If you're wanting to check out the pop sounds you'll be hearing a lot more of in the next few months, then we've got you covered.
JXN - Paranoia
After a slew of alt-R&B and hip hop-leaning singles with the likes of A$AP Twelvyy and A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Melbourne-based JXN has returned with something totally different. Paranoia shows his breadth of genre and strength of songwriting - unlike anything on his last EP NeverASadAdventure (NASA) which was mostly electronic-pop, Paranoia leads JXN into a darker world of inspirations from psych-rock and we're really excited by his new direction.
E^ST - I Wanna Be Here
Sydney artist E^ST has released a string of singles from her upcoming debut album I'm Doing It - and I Wanna Be Here might just be our favourite of the bunch. It's a track about holding onto hope, even during the toughest times, which is a poignant message for the world currently.
Speaking about the track, E^ST says, “I wrote this song at a really difficult time in my life, and it’s almost like I wrote the song that I needed to hear. This song is about realising that just because life feels impossible, that doesn’t mean that it is impossible… as long as you’re trying something, there’s always hope.” It's a track that will make you feel better about the world - even when things don't seem like they're going to get better anytime soon.
Jack Gray - I Got 3
Oft-compared to the likes of Dominic Fike and The 1975, Sunshine Coast-born, LA-based artist Jack Gray has been busy during the current coronavirus pandemic, uploading a string of covers to Instagram, and he's now returned with his strongest release yet.
It's a popular topic in pop, but his latest single, I Got 3 finds a unique way to speak about that moment in a relationship where you're either in or you're out - and the fear and excitement that comes along with it. “I Got 3 is about that moment in a relationship when you start to wrestle with the powerful feelings you have for the other individual.
"You want to express yourself and tell that person how you feel, but you’re just unsure how. It’s like that night when you’re out having an amazing time, and you realise you can no longer hold back the words." He's currently in the midst of writing his debut album, and with releases like this, it's sure to be special.
Eves Karydas - Complicated
Her first single since 2018 album Summerskin, Brisbane pop artist Eves Karydas announced her return in early June with her new single Complicated. Speaking about the track, Eves says it was inspired by a "dream that (her) teeth were falling out" which Google told her was related to her having an inferiority complex.
She told her collaborators, Calle Lehmann and Max Thulin she wanted to write about that idea, saying "We should write about this and not make it super serious.’ They were like, ‘Yeah cool, let’s do it!’ It was one of those lightning bolt moments that happen every so often where there’s no struggle whatsoever and the song just writes itself.”
Like the rest of her discography, Complicated is a whole lot of fun - and relatable. We've all had dreams we don't understand, and taken to Google to try and find out what they mean - and we don't usually get the answers we expected.
Kllo - Somehow
Having gone back into the woodwork after releasing their debut album Backwater in 2017, Melbourne duo Kllo have provided us with another taste of their upcoming album, Maybe We Could, with their new single Somehow. It's a track that mixes the melancholy with a beat that wouldn't be out of place at a nightclub - managing to be both downbeat and upbeat at the same time.
Speaking about the track, Kllo says, "Somehow is one of the dancier tracks on the album and one of the more difficult ones to finish. This song is probably the closest to (2017 track) Virtue both musically and the way in which it unfolded. It went through many different incarnations before arriving at its final state.
"Although gruelling at times, we consider this process to be a positive thing. The harder songs to finish are usually the ones people connect with most. It’s just a matter of simplifying the ideas once we’ve over worked them." As one of Melbourne's most forward-thinking artists, we can't wait to hear what Kllo's album has to offer - they're always one step ahead of the game.
Hartley - Underwater
Hartley's already proven that she knows how to get the most out of her music by working with some of her friends, and that's no exception on her latest track, Underwater. Working on the track with Gossling and co-produced by Perto, Underwater sees Hartley teaming up with a couple of Australia's biggest talents to capture that feeling of utter peace that comes with being underwater.
Speaking about the track, she pays tribute to the pair's contributions, saying, “I started writing Underwater in a little studio in Melbourne with Gossling, where we talked about having the realisation that something's not all you hoped for it to be. I really wanted to apply that feeling to being underwater - something that can either be so peaceful or completely engulfing.
"After the session I took the song home and produced it and added all the vocal hooks and layers, then I brought that production into a session with Perto where he took the song from heartbreaking ballad to emotional bop within 20 minutes.”
Hartley's only released a few singles so far, but each have built on the last, and proven that not only does she know how to get the most out of her vocals, but how to pair her vocals with the right production to sit underneath. Traversing both the electronic and pop scenes, we can't wait to hear what Hartley has in store next.
Gordi - Extraordinary Life
Gordi has just released her second album, Our Two Skins - and one of the standout tracks on the album is Extraordinary Life. In an album that is packed with emotion, Extraordinary Life stands out as a beacon of goodness - it's all about wanting the best for someone, and hoping their life goes well.
Speaking about the song, Gordi recalls recording the track, and how it sits with her personal view of what love means. “I was standing in a shower in a hostel in Ghent at 2am towards the end of 2017 and I started humming. I began recording the demo in stairwells across Europe while I was on tour with Asgeir and in most of the demo vocals you can hear distant chatter in Icelandic.
"For all the turmoil and anguish described in the record, this song just sits in pure joy. I like the idea that the ultimate gesture of love is to make someone feel exceptional; like they deserve an extraordinary life.” Gordi continues to be one of Australia's most exciting musicians, and after hearing Extraordinary Life, you'll want to check out the whole of Our Two Skins.
Kita Alexander - I Miss You, I'm Sorry
Kita Alexander's new track, I Miss You, I'm Sorry is the second taste of new music we've recently heard from the Northern NSW-based pop artist, and it highlights her growth since her second EP, Hotel, was released back in 2017. It's a track about the highs and lows experienced in love, and the subsequent loss that you're risking by falling in love, and sees Kita baring her soul.
Speaking about the track, Kita says it came naturally to her, but it involved learning some hard truths about herself through the process. “Writing this was a real experience for me. It was an easy song to write because it came from experience. But it was hard to look in the mirror and realise you messed up.
"I don’t know if everyone has that epiphany, but on this occasion, I saw my mistakes and flaws.” It's a track that's the audio equivalent of a gut punch and no matter if you've experienced what Kita has gone through, you'll still feel the emotion come through every lyric.