Pop stars find their own unique voices

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Davina De Campo
Davina De Campo

In The Cookie Jar

A myriad of artists have released music for the New Year. From former boy band members stepping out on their own to drag performers finally getting their moment in the sun to a dynamic female artist creating perfect “harmony” with another artist of the moment, these artists are names that you will definitely be hearing in years to come.

Divina De Campo 

Divina De Campo made it to the top of the heap on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK and while she did not snag the ultimate prize of being the UK’s Next Drag Race Superstar, the notoriety and respect that she gained from fans and her fellow competitors alike, coupled with her own raw talent, are what is going to take her far. That is no more evident than on her EP Decoded. Right from the beginning, the package turns the standard Drag Race competitor albums on their ears. One track simply called “A Drag Race Song” has everything that make a quintessential Drag Race song, from the “tagline to put on a t-shirt” to singing about “fashion” but all done with her growling and impressive vocals. The remainder of the album focuses on tracks that show off De Campo’s versatility, with a dance stomper like “Gratify” and electronica gem like “Validation.” The true standout on the package is “Down With You,” a dance floor bopper showing definite influences of Blondie and the Scissor Sisters in the material.

Camila Cabello
Camila Cabello

Camila Cabello 

Leaving a successful and prominent girl group like Fifth Harmony can make record industry executives and fans alike nervous about the next steps in a performer’s career. But when the artist has the raw talent and the “it” factor that Camila Cabello has, it is safe to say that she has very little to worry about in her post-girl group career. In her latest album, Romance, Cabello is diving head-first into her romance with Shawn Mendes and it reflects in her music throughout the package. The lead single is the sultry “Shameless”, with a stripped-down vibe that shows off Cabello’s vocal range. “Should’ve Said It” is an electronic-tinged bop, with Cabello giving her best “shoulda coulda woulda” vibe to a suitor, and the ballad “Dream Of You” is the kind of yearning tale of new love song for the ages that many artists dream of recording. The fiery “Señorita” with boyfriend Mendes gives off heat every time it’s played on the radio, and it lands perfectly in the middle of this package, offering a sultry palate cleanser of sorts. A true standout on the package is the track “First Man,” one of the best songs written by a daughter for her father that I have heard in recent memory and lines throughout the track will hit listeners right where it counts.

Harry Styles
Harry Styles

Harry Styles 

Much has been made of Harry Styles playing with gender norms and turning them on their ear on his latest album, the aptly titled Fine Line. Regardless of the clothes he’s draped in, there is no denying that Styles has a solid package of material with this album. The track “Watermelon Sugar” is dripping in summer style goodness while “Adore You” is a staunch pop track that firmly puts Styles alongside fellow male pop vocalists, making him much more than a “former” lead singer of a boy band (in this case, One Direction, whose members have splintered off into various career trajectories). “Falling” is a brooding and solemn song where Styles showcases some deep self reflection, while on “Canyon Moon” Styles showcases a strong British sensibility as an artist, paying homage in his own way to the artists that came across the pond before him. “Treat People With Kindness” has the best message around today, with slamming drums and vocals that lead into a glorious sing-along style chorus. What better kind of track to kick off a New Year to?

Liam Payne
Liam Payne

Liam Payne

As part of One Direction, Liam Payne was a stellar ensemble performer but it’s standing on his own that he’s truly shining. His album LP1 showcases a performer that has peeled away the boy band facade and revealed a fantastic hybrid of pop/R&B perfection. “Heart Meets Break” is a metaphor heavy stunner while “Tell Your Friends” strips down the instrumentals on the track to showcase a very interesting arrangement. “Bedroom Floor” is a sultry love song telling a lover pointedly how they both feel and “Weekend” is a slowed down groove heavy track that helps Payne extend his creative direction. Payne wisely partners up with some fantastic collaborators on this package. Zedd checks in on the dancetastic “Get Low” while “Live Forever” with Cheat Codes is an EDM-style track but with the tempo to allow you to stop and soak it all in. A standout on the package is with the criminally underrated Rita Dra, who teams up with Payne on the stunning “For You.” Their vocals complement each other gorgeously, and these two artists are absolutely aching to be remixed for the dance floors on this one.

DJ Matt Bailer
DJ Matt Bailer

The TOP TEN from DJ Matt Bailer 

  1. LIZZO – Juice
  2. KIM PETRAS – Heart To Break (Stacy Mier Ultimix)
  3. KIDEKO – What Is It (Extended Mix)
  4. PARTY PUPILS & MAX ft. ASHE – Love Me For The Weekend (Extended Mix)
  5. JACK BACK – (It Happens) Sometimes (David Penn Remix)
  6. DOLLY PARTON – 9 To 5 (Butch Le Butch Remix)
  7. STUDIO KILLERS – Dirty Car (GFDM Remix)
  8. LIZZO – Cuz I Love You
  9. LADY BRI – So Good
  10. KESHA – Rich White Straight Men (DJ Matt Bailer vs. Northbrook Remix)