From internet downloads to TV stations, it’s fair to say that music is pretty much accessible to everyone around the world – well, to those who can afford mobile data or Wi-Fi connection. This leaves lovers of sound spoilt for choice as to which and which track to choose from. The danger, however, is that sometimes good tracks are totally slept on, while crappy tracks gain traction. This is where reviews come in.

Over the past couple of weeks, our favourite acts around the world have presented us with new tunes to vibe to. There is a lot to pick from, so the question is, which of them is worth plugging our headphones to?

This week, the spotlight is on long-lasting boy (or man) band Backstreet Boys, Afropop sensation Mr. Eazi, R n B sweetheart Jorja Smith, and 2017’s biggest winner Big Shaq.

Don’t Go Breaking My Heart – Backstreet Boys

Growing up as a socially awkward kid in the South-South region of Nigeria, I never cared so much about boy bands. They all sounded and felt the same: cheesy, shallow, seedy and unoriginal, from the monotonous Westlife to the forgettable Boyzone to the cringey Nsync… but there was something different about Backstreet Boys. There was something about their music which elevated them above the status of “teenage girl – serenading group “. Tracks like “Show Me The Meaning” and “Incomplete” were more than just Top 40 pop songs, they actually had content.

Two weeks ago, the band made a comeback with a song called “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart “, and surprisingly, it is good; not “they are doing fine for their age” good, or “hey, we haven’t seen you in a while” good, but really good. The nearly four-minute track measures up with anything churned out today by your favorite EDM / Pop acts, and they would give modern day chart-toppers a run for their money.

The title of the song makes it theme obvious, but the tune is really catchy, and what makes the accompanying video so adorable is that the choreography is actually well done: these guys weren’t trying too hard, the dancing was seamless, and for people who have been in the game for twenty-five years, they are in really good shape. Cynics would say that the 11million + views on YouTube so far are from 80s and 90s kids overwhelmed by nostalgia, but when a song is listenable, it definitely is.

***
Overload – Mr. Eazi (ft. Slimcase & Mr. Real) / London Town (ft Giggs)

Troll him all you want (those “traitor” jabs are pretty stale anyway), but Mr. Eazi makes good, bop-worthy music. This year in particular has been quite positive for Mr. Skin Tight so far, with bangers like “Pour Me Water” and “Akwaaba”, with Patapaa of the One Corner fame featured in the latter.

“Overload” has Mr. Eazi enlist the help of two of Nigeria’s hottest street hop sensations, the fast-rising Mr. Real who lit up the streets with “Legbegbe”, and Slimcase who has racked up a number of big collaborations in the past few months. The lyrics are repetitive, but the groove is present, and if all Mr. Eazi wanted to do was release a song that people could dance ‘shaku shaku ‘ too, then he clearly achieved his aim.

“London Town” features U. K grime rapper Giggs, and together they attempt to create an afropop / rap blend. It doesn’t turn out too brightly, and Giggs in particular struggles to fit his flow into the song, but there will be marks for attempt.
.
***
February 3rd – Jorja Smith

If there was one thing memorable about Drake ‘s 2017 album “More Life “, it would be the introduction of Jorja Smith to the spotlight. The 21-year-old British songstress has been in the independent music scene for a while, doing songs like “Blue Lights ” and “Beautiful Little Fools”, but it was her vocals on Drake ‘s “Get It Together ” that served as the real launch pad to international stardom. Since then she has collaborated with Stormzy, performed at the 2018 Brit awards, and worked with Kendrick Lamar on the Black Panther soundtrack.

Jorja has been described as having a style similar to Amy Winehouse, and a voice range that matches that of Sia ‘s. In “February 3rd”, a song about being unwilling to commit and admit to loving, Jorja comes through with that Alicia Keys kind of vibe. The vocals are sublime, and the tune itself is mellow, one for a rainy evening. Jorja ‘s debut album “Lost & Found” is set to drop next month, and fans would be rubbing their palms in anticipation.

***
Man Don’t Dance – Big Shaq

Having cashed in on the fame from “Mans Not Hot”, Big Shaq (real name Michael Dappah) was always going to struggle in replicating that success. Comedy has always been the Ghanaian-Briton’s first love anyway, and he has managed to thrill fans with other alter egos like MC Quakes and Dr. Ofori, who also combine stand-up routines with music.

Compared to its predecessor, “Man Don’t Dance” actually boasts of more rhythm and a more meaningful lyrical combination (if there ever was one), but it would take a whole lot to capture the world ‘s attention again. There isn’t much to care about anymore, and everyone seems to have moved on, but in a competitive entertainment airspace, two million views on YouTube so far is not the worst of returns.

***

So, there you have it for this week’s insight on worldwide sounds. Download the songs, listen to them on YouTube and don’t be shy to say whether or not you agree with the opinions above.

Have a totally vibey week…oh, wait, it’s almost weekend. Happy pre-weekend countdown then.