(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 of pop Sanni plans to unleash upon the world. It’s pop music that’s upbeat, honest, and incredibly well-crafted.

I first came across Sanni scrolling up and down TikTok while heading down the magical rabbit hole of its insanely effective algorithm. It’s always a bit of a guess how things get…

(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.

Olivia Rodrigo “drivers license” is taking off like a rocket on streaming platforms. The record is massive. It’s the first bonafide viral moment of the year and it’s exploding around the globe. Just a quick observation: The reason for the song’s overnight success is not the High School Musical-related drama that supposedly inspired the music. The record is way bigger than that and reaches far beyond the Disney fanbase. It’s all due to the emotional quality of the song itself. It was beautifully written and performed by Rodrigo, and expertly produced by Dan Nigro. He recently also produced songs for Conan Gray, Finneas and Lewis Capaldi. Nigro knows how to capture great poppy melodies and give them a slight bend to provide more character. Rodrigo and Nigro accomplished something special, and I hope we get to hear of what they cooked up.

It’s never too late to catch up on some great music releases from 2020. In fact, over the last few days, I’ve gone back to my music library and listened to some albums that I added to my collection last summer. Sadly, not a lot of these records sound as fresh and exciting as they did six months ago. Music moves at the speed of streaming, and, quite frankly, not many albums and songs from just a few months back can stand the test of time.

The declining quality of music is in large part the result of a strategy…

I applaud artists who use their music to make sense of 2020 and give us hope while moving into the new year. It’s what we need right now — great, timeless songs and a big hug. It’s been a dreadful year for many reasons, and music can help us cope by providing perspective and an escape.

Music can make us feel less alone by acknowledging the feelings of loneliness and isolation. But music can also help us distract from the bleak news headlines by just being happy-go-lucky, no fuss, escapist fare to give the soul a break.

I’m a little…

The Welsh singer shares a “wonderful way” to remedy whatever gets you down

Hannah Grace just released a song that’s incredibly fitting for the sad and strange times we live in. Titled “Wonderful Way,” the singer shares a hopeful message that provides comfort amid the bleak news headlines.

A dear friend of mine sent me the song earlier this week and it’s just what I needed to soothe my soul.

“Wonderful Way” is a potent antidote to all the doom and gloom with its calming qualities and uplifting message. It poignantly acknowledges life’s challenges while serving up peace and solace…

They say good things come in pairs and that’s most certainly true for joan. The duo of Alan Thomas and Steven Rutherford released two EPs last year that were among 2020’s finest pop efforts.

If you’re new to joan [stylized in all lowercase], let me quickly fill you in: Alan and Steven hail from Little Rock, Arkansas, where they started making music together after being in different bands. They both grew up on a steady diet of ’90s pop listening to Usher, Boyz II Men, Prince and all of the Max Martin-crafted greatness that started to emerge later in the…

Mike Posner makes me want to be a better human. I say this in all seriousness. I’m a fan of his music, and I’ve been so inspired by the bold moves he makes in his life and career. He has the confidence to change things up and trust his instincts. There’s plenty of proof of that: Posner abandoned his initial success to explore America in an RV. He returned with a global superhit to put his music career on hold again to walk across the country. …

Arjan Writes

Stories about music and more. Since 2002. Editorial @ Apple • Reach me at @arjanwrites on Instagram

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