earthings! 2018: My ten favorites of the year

It’s our very last post for 2018, which means it’s time to reveal my ten favorite songs of the year – although chances are, if you’ve been reading this blog more religiously than most, or have a good idea of what I am into, then you’d have guessed some of the songs on this list. For this year, I decided not to have a massive reckoning some time from the beginning of December (too much pressure, that) but instead made up this list as the year went along. It didn’t make it easier: the tenth song (again, this list is in alphabetical order) was added just a few days ago, and that was a song I actually took off the list. I won’t tell you what that is… [NB]

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Review: Chris by Christine and the Queens

Chris by Christine and the QueensChris is hard to categorize. Well, sound-wise, it is: the latest effort from Christine and the Queens borrows and the synth-powered pop-funk so prevalent in the 80s, proving again that what was once old is new again. There’s also the finesse that you’d expect from the artist otherwise known as Héloïse Letissier, that mystical quality you get from French artists, whether they’re crossing over or not. And she definitely has, with her debut Chaleur humaine becoming a surprise worldwide success. That process has led her to a new character, and here’s where Chris becomes interesting. On the surface Chris is buff and sexually ambiguous; go deeper and you hear someone who’s bent to break down gender stereotypes by somehow building them up. It’s forward and yet it conforms. It says a lot about the stereotypes I never acknowledged harboring, not in these times where what you believe is everything. And the songs are so good – bold, forward, irresistible and yet easy on the ears. In its ambiguous certainty Chris becomes one of the most daring – and satisfying – pop record of the year. How the hell did she get here? Must be that mystical quality, and then some. [NB]4/5

“Je ne tiens pas debout.”

“Christine” by Christine and the Queens | I should’ve scheduled something for today earlier. Now, here I am, rushing to finish this before finishing my work backlog. Another song from Christine and the Queens, then, from the same album that had this. I heard this last night on the painfully late plane from Hong Kong – my radio recordings, of course – and thought, well, that was soothing. I mean, the plane was late, the legroom was terrible, and my neck was a strain. (Cebu Pacific, you never fail to fail me.) And then, for the first time ever, I came this close to falling asleep on a plane. And then one of the flight crew came along and asked if I wanted to eat. [NB]

“But if you say just one word, I’ll stay with you.”

“Saint Claude” by Christine and the Queens | I’ve been hearing this song on Double J these past few weeks, but only now did the similarities to Imogen Heap hit me. I mean, at one point in the song, Heloïse Letissier’s voice hit the same note, the same feel, and I was suddenly confused. So. Christine and the Queens. That’s what Heloïse calls herself; it’s a one-woman singer-songwriter project centered on that style of electropop. Also, she’s French – oddly, I swear I never noticed the song is mostly in French; it’s that entrancing. This song is from her debut, Chaleur humaine, released this year, although she has outed a bunch of EPs before, and has opened for the likes of Lykke Li and Lilly Wood & the Prick. Which leads me to my usual reaction: how come I’ve never noticed her before? [NB]