Are we finally leaving tropical house behind? Surely it’s about time. The sound that suckered onto the charts and leeched its way to the top, slurping the blood from naïve pop stars, leaving a myriad of awful identikit tracks in its wake… could it finally be (whisper it) gone? The evidence suggests we might be almost there. The last couple of weeks have seen artists who would normally be picking the flesh from the carcass of any profitable pop genre turn to a different sound, perhaps realising the heyday of cold synth flourishes and minimal production is almost over. And thank God.
The release of Years & Years’ new single saw the group look back in time for inspiration. ‘Sanctify’ embraces the snappier RnB-influenced sound of the early-noughties, featuring a more fleshed-out arrangement that favours excess over minimalism. Following suit, former X-Factor champ Louisa Johnson (now stylised simply as Louisa, though God only knows what this will do for her SEO), has released a similarly noughties-inspired track with her new single ‘YES’.
And man oh man, what a track this is. Until now, Louisa has been kind of circling the outskirts of Popstar City, coming close to its gates, but never quite getting a foot through the door. Her tracks have been minor successes but have never really hit the big time, never securing that coveted number one spot on a Now! Compilation or spawning an international smash. But with ‘YES’, this might just change. A succinct bit of dance pop, Louisa channels ‘Toxic’-era Britney and ‘Dirrty’-era Christina on a song that expertly bridges the gap between turn-of-the-century nostalgia and modern pop principles. It keeps the tempo high, pre-packaged for sweaty dance floors, featuring a clipped, stomping chorus that harks back to the glory days of 2001. What a time to be alive.
Typically, a guest spot from a US rapper ensures this is very much a 2018 affair. A feature from 2 Chainz is about as superfluous as you’d expect, his brief interlude enhancing the track very little though adding a little more meat to a song that’s not quite as rounded as its early-noughties predecessors. His presence also shows Louisa has her sights set on the US market, a notoriously tough nut to crack, but if anyone can appreciate a Britney flashback, surely it’s the Americans.
On her feisty new track, Louisa proves she’s fended off the dreaded X-Factor curse and is ready to join the ranks of pop’s finest. Welcome to the club.