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.

(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.

Arjan Timmermans

Arjan Timmermans

A blog about music and more. Since 2002.