The Bias List is a K-pop blog that also covers a fair amount of J-pop. But along with most music fans, I enjoy tracks from all around the world. So, I thought I’d start a monthly round-up of some of the non-K-pop songs that have caught my ear. No ratings — just highlights!
This is my biggest global round-up yet. Since K-pop hasn’t really delivered the “songs of summer” I had hoped for this year, many of the tracks below are in contention for the title. It’s been a very fruitful couple of weeks!
Benjamin – Gay
Benjamin is basically a one-man Eurovision at this point, complete with the massive choruses and key changes.
Betty Who – Blow Out My Candle
Playing its 80’s theme to the hilt, Blow Out My Candle melds synth-pop with an anthemic, Springsteen-esque chorus.
Ciara – Jump (ft. Coast Contra)
This is one of 2022’s most entertaining music videos, and the song takes me back to mid-00’s pop/hip-hop in the best way.
Ellie Goulding – Easy Lover (ft. Big Sean)
This is why I’m always nattering on about the importance of choruses. Easy Lover‘s centerpiece is stop-you-in-you-tracks sublime, complete with gorgeous vocal layering.
Jessie Ware – Free Yourself
There have been plenty of nods to disco over the past few years, but few songs get it as right as Free Yourself. You can practically hear the sweaty dancefloor.
Lizzo – 2 Be Loved (Am I Ready) / Everybody’s Gay
I’m loving the new Lizzo album. Next single 2 Be Loved is such a joyfully catchy 80’s pastiche, while Everybody’s Gay‘s brassy disco thump takes me back to Thriller-era pop in a way few artists do.
Miyavi – Futurism
Miyavi doesn’t release duds, and even though Futurism has gone under the radar (so far), its gigantic guitar riff deserves attention.
MUNA – What I Want
What I Want is pretty much a perfect pop song. It’s all about catharsis, climaxing in an instantly-memorable chorus.
Omar Rudberg – Todo De Ti (All That She Wants)
Former The Fooo/FO&O member heightens the reggae influences of an iconic 90’s Ace Of Base hit and brings in Spanish-language verses for extra charm. Irresistible.
Perfume – Spinning World
Perfume’s aloof, electronic pop is well-suited to our current fascination with retro influences. As usual, Spinning World is a taut synth-driven track with plenty of character.
Rina Sawayama – Catch Me In The Air
The lead-up to Rina Sawayama’s new album gets more exciting by the month, and the melodic Catch Me In The Air feels like it might be its emotional centerpiece.
Sam Feldt – Late Night Feels (ft. Monsta X)
I couldn’t quite justify doing a full review for this, given that it’s a K-pop group featured on a Dutch DJ’s single and performing in English. But, Late Night Feels deserves a mention for its brassy breakdown alone.
Sophie Ellis-Bextor x @Wuh Oh – Hypnotized
Sophie Ellis-Bextor shines best on quirky tracks, and Hypnotized‘s constant key changes and mile-a-minute phrasing are so charming. I’m obsessed with her pronunciation of “Hypnoti ZED.”
Theoz – Det Kommer Bli Bra
This feels like the natural follow-up to Theoz’s excellent Som Du Vill. Feel-good, festival-ready pop with anthemic hooks.
Tom Grennan – All These Nights
Match driving synthwave production with an equally-driving rock track and you’ve got an absolutely massive slice of pop music. It’s hard not to love this immediately.
Wanima – Genkou
As an OST for fantastic Japanese drama Nanba MG5, Genkou captured its rough-and-tumble atmosphere perfectly. On its own, it’s an equally potent blast of punk rock energy.
The Weeknd – How Do I Make You Love Me?
The Weeknd pairs a creepy/trippy animated video with one of the best tracks on his new album. I’m still waiting for the obvious smash Less Than Zero to get a single release, but this makes an excellent stopgap.