Summer is fast approaching and it's time to curate the perfect playlist with which to beat the heat. I suggest you look no further than Haim's new songs. The three-piece sister band has been teasing a new album all year, and I've had the two tracks released so far, Summer Girl and Now I'm In It, on repeat. What's more, their music videos are epic too. Both are directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood, Boogie Nights). For a punchy pop hit, look no further than Australian singer E^ST's latest single Talk Deep. She's one to keep an ear on over summer and beyond, as she builds to the release of her debut album next year.
We ran a feature on it a couple of weeks ago and included it in our streaming guide last week, but HBO's adaptation of Philip Pulman's His Dark Materials is a masterpiece worth all the attention. From the opening scenes, I became immersed in Lyra's (Dafne Keen) world and was sold on the casting choice. It's the kind of show to get lost in, and one that blends escapist fantasy with carefully paced suspense. The CGI is great too and captures the characters' animal companions, or daemons as they are known in the show's universe, in startling detail. It's just a few episodes in on Sky's SoHo and their streaming service Neon.
If you've been anywhere on the pop music corner of the internet this week, you wouldn't have missed the latest development in Taylor Swift's rights battle with her former record label Big Machine. Swift posted online this week that her ex-label is barring her from performing her songs prior to "Lover" which she doesn't own the masters for. The saga began when Taylor was allegedly barred from bidding on her master recordings before the label was sold to music manager Scooter Braun. Even as an unashamedly massive T-Swizzle fan I'll admit the situation is a big contract law mess, but deeper analysis unveils systematic issues around creators' rights. If an artist as prolific as Taylor Swift doesn't own most of her work, who can?
Speaking of pop music news, there's a podcast for that. The New York Times Popcast is hosted by their music critics and deep dives into the big headlines from the pop music world. Hosted by Jon Caramanica, the show brings on fellow music journalists to give context and critique to trends in the music industry. My favourite aspect is that they don't just talk about their thoughts on a subject, they back it up with snippets from songs. Episodes worth checking out include one where they break down the still-prevalent misogyny in the country music industry, and the episode where they discuss whether Kanye West's move towards gospel music with latest album Jesus Is King is authentic.