Arjan Timmermans
A blog about music and more. Since 2002.

Spencer Sutherland’s latest single is one of his smoothest ones to date. Paranoia” packs a deliciously hooky, 80s-infused punch that makes it sound both timely and timeless. That was Sutherland’s exact intent. “I think I wrote the most perfect song for an 80s movie in 2021,” he says on TikTok. Lyrically, Sutherland matches the breezy and upbeat sonics of the song, but there’s more to his story about letting love run free by exploring the world. There are not-so-subtle references to recent challenges with lyrics like, “We saw the world’s Armageddon, we saw it snowing in June.” That sentiment brings us back to the title of the song, “Paranoia,” which captures Sutherland’s desire to live it up, but worries are holding him back. These conflicting emotions acknowledge how many of us feel, making “Paranoia” a song that offers comfort and escape.

Late last year, I wrote about Role Model’s terrific ‘Alive,’ which is one of my favorite songs of 2020. It’s a wildly unique, pioneering pop production that seamlessly blends elements from across the genre spectrum. Role Model (born Tucker Pillsbury) returned last week with a brand-new single, titled ‘forever&more,’ that further details the artist’s burgeoning brand of pop. Accentuated by jangling, slightly distorted guitars and a steady drum groove, Role Model keeps the vibe carefree and hopeful with a tender story about new-found love. ‘forever&more’ hits fever pitch in the chorus with the help of a candy-coated string section that injects the song with just the right dose of pop euphoria. Role Model continues to carve out his own unique niche by innovatively combining compelling pop writing with forward production stylings that have tons of artistic merit.

Sophie Rose is an exciting pop newcomer you should know

I love when a songwriter finds an interesting new way to say something that has been said a million times before. Sophie Rose has that innate talent. She has a knack for turning seemingly trivial musings into poignant observations that are deeply meaningful.

Sophie Rose’s new EP, aptly titled This…

(Sanni “Lately” single cover)

Sanni is bursting with optimism, and so is his music. The singer has big plans and if his new single, “Lately,” is a sign of things to come, his future is looking bright. “Lately” is an infectiously cheery, happy-go-lucky pop number that gives listeners some solid clues about the type…

(Greyson Chance publicity photo)

Greyson Chance writes music that heals the soul. There’s an immense healing quality to Chance’s music that resonates far and wide. Written and performed straight from the heart, his new single, “Holy Feeling,” is a perfect example of that. It’s an uplifting, soul-baring number that Chance crafted following a mental health struggle last year. “I fell into mind-numbing anxiety,” Chance candidly shared on Twitter. “And I didn’t think I was good enough to continue as an artist.” They say the only way out is through, and that’s exactly what “Holy Feeling” represents to me. It’s like the moment when you come back up for air and reconnect to all the wonder in the world. “Holy Feeling” underlines Chance’s innate artistry. He’s creating music for all the right reasons, selflessly and truthfully, to uplift himself and others. Greyson Chance is the light we can turn to when we need it most.

(Annika Wells publicity photo via Facebook)

Annika Wells is full of surprises. The pop newcomer, who recently signed to Vol. 1/Epic Records, keeps the vibe playful on her new single, “F**k Being Sober.” Wells refers to “red cups,” “pouring it up,” and “drinking money away” that may lead you to believe that she’s solely interested in stirring a little ruckus. But she has a surprise for you: When you listen more closely and absorb the song’s melancholic sonics, a poignant message surfaces that’s thoughtful and timely. Wells encourages us to be present in the moment and live it up a little. Time is precious and celebrating happy little moments with people close to us can make a world of difference while we’re all stuck at home. Wells’ rebellious spirit and gift for writing unveil a promising pop debutant who surely has more surprises up her sleeve.

(ZAYN photo by Nabil)

ZAYN is the king of pillow talk. The R&B crooner is bringing sexy back on his new album, titled Nobody Is Listening, which is filled with hot and bothered R&B that will have fans swooning. True to form, ZAYN combines escapist, contemporary R&B with his penchant for pop that results in an album worth playing on repeat. Highlights include the falsetto-licious “Outside,” the upbeat “When Love’s Around” (with Syd, who is terrific), and the climactic “Sweat” that serves as the beating heart of the record. ZAYN’s most significant achievement is that he stays true to his instincts no matter what people want or expect from him. One of music’s most-gifted male vocalists continues to chart his own course, sharing stories about his insecurities, falling in and out of love, and making the occasional stumble. ZAYN is not afraid to be vulnerable and himself, and for that alone, I’ll be listening.

Arjan Timmermans

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store