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First Spin: The Week’s Best New Dance Tracks From Jessie Ware, Chris Lorenzo With COBRAH & More



This week in dance music: The Chainsmokers announced that they’re launching themselves into space, traveling electronic festival Breakaway announced a California date happening this fall, Dimitri Vegas told us about his first starring role in a feature film, we celebrated the 32 year anniversary of Black Box’s 1990 hit “Everybody Everybody” hitting No. 1 on Dance Club Songs, BMG acquired the publishing catalog of French legend Jean-Michel Jarre, Swedish House Mafia announced a two-year residency with Wynn Las Vegas, Skrillex graced what appears to be the credit list for Beyoncé’s forthcoming LP Renaissance, Sofi Tukker’s “Summer In New York” hit the top 10 on Dance Mix/Show Airplay, Fred Again.. teased a forthcoming Swedish House Mafia collab, ODESZA dropped their new album, we went to Tomorrowland, and we broke down the top most played tracks of the Belgian mega-festival.

And guess what, there’s more! Let’s dig in.

Jessie Ware, “Free Yourself”

After delivering Billboard’s favorite dance album of 2020, What’s Your Pleasure?, club chanteuse Jessie Ware is back this week with a new single, “Free Yourself,” which she describes as the beginning of a “new era” for her.

Compared to WYP?, which offered sultry, sexy, breathy disco in shades of blush and burgundy, “Free Yourself” radiates color, bright and bold, to match Ware’s sky-rocketing chorus: “Free yourself/ Keep on moving up that mountain top.” The production — handled by the legend Stuart Price (Kylie Minogue, Madonna, Pet Shop Boys and many more) — adds an air of peaktime urgency with its stomping beat, wailing horns and bursts of stuttering percussion that give Ware’s words of encouragement the force of command: “Why don’t you please yourself/ If it feels so good then baby don’t you stop.”

From inquiring, “What’s your pleasure?,” Ware’s “Free Yourself” is permission to ask yourself, ‘What’s my pleasure?” and act accordingly. Last month, Ware performed “Free Yourself” for the first time at Glastonbury Festival, and will surely perform it again during a run of dates opening for Harry Styles this October.  “I’m so excited for people to have this song for the end of their summer; to dance, to feel no inhibitions & to feel joyful because that’s how I’ve been feeling recently being able to tour again and being able to sing again,” she says. “Enjoy yourself, Free Yourself!” — KRYSTAL RODRIGUEZ

Chris Lorenzo & COBRAH, “Mami”

Chris Lorenzo logged a (fairly) recent hit with his October 2021 edit of the The Mamas & The Papas’ classic “California Dreaming,” and another major smash with his edit of J Balvin and Skrillex’s “In Da Getto.” Now, Lorenzo appears to have another monster on his hands with his latest, “Mami.” A collaboration with Swedish songwriter/producer/vocalist COBRAH, the tech house heater is an homage to living like the bourgeoisie while “doing drugs in the penthouse suite,” a choice situation evoked by Lorenzo’s increasingly dizzy production and COBRAH’s pitched up delivery.

“Mami” is the first release on the U.K. producer’s new label, the appropriately titled Late Checkout. “I had been listening to COBRAH’s stuff for a while and knew that stylistically, her vocals over my beats could work really well,” he says. “We were in the studio for two days recording different ideas but I especially remember the moment COBRAH came up with the ‘Mami’ lyric. I knew right then and there what we created was going to be huge, even before the beat was finished.” — KATIE BAIN 

Manila Killa, Dusk

Fans of Manila Killa have always known the producer for his uplifting melodies, heartfelt toplines and future-pop atmospheres, but today, the 28-year-old musician presents a more complete picture of his influences and creative soul.

Dusk is my debut album, the apex of the sound I’ve been crafting over the years,” he says. “I spent a lot of time during quarantine reflecting on what I wanted out of creating a full length album. I reached a realization that I wanted it to be a project that touched on all aspects of my inspirations and influences through dance music. The subjects and emotions I touched on consisted of heartbreak, yearning and resolve; all things I considered throughout the creative process. I took a dance-music driven approach to the production, reaching back to my roots and channeling the feelings I got when I first started listening to dance music. This album is something I’ve worked towards my entire life and I hope that people can resonate with the ideas and energy I’ve put into it.”

His most honest work to date is also his most diverse, a sophisticated collection of tunes that’s as comfortable dropping frenetic drum’n’bass beats as it is hypnotic house epics. He even set the whole LP to a visualizer — because if you don’t listen to Dusk in full, you’re only getting part of the picture. – KAT BEIN

Moon Boots feat. Cherry Glazerr, “Come Back Around”

Summery dance meets indie cool on Moon Boots’ new single, “Come Back Around” featuring Cherry Glazerr’s Clementine Creevy. The first taste of the producer’s forthcoming third album, “Come Back Around” is house music molded for the year’s hottest months: a heavy yet jubilant rhythm marked by bouncing bass, aquatic synths and a sweltering ambience that will have you rushing to your nearest beach. Meanwhile, Creevy’s sweet-sounding vocals put a candy coating on her lusty desires with lyrics like, “Had a daydream that would make you blush/ You say what’s the rush/ I can make you rush.” “Come Back Around” is effervescent and just plain fun — just like its above music video, a summer romp through Coney Island. — K.R.

AN21 & HIISAK feat. Able Faces, “Alright”

The vibes are hypnotic and moody on the melodic house heater “Alright,” the latest from Swedish producer AN21 (in collaboration with rising Italian artist HIISAK and Scottish singer-songwriter duo Able Faces). The track marks the first single AN21 — the artist name for Antoine Gabriel Michel Haydamous Josefsson, the younger brother of Swedish House Mafia’s Steve Angello — since 2015. As Antoine tells Billboard, there’s a good reason behind the hiatus.

“I always had a chip on my shoulder of being Steve’s brother,” he says. “Had an instant success from the get go and got to tour nonstop. I had a sort of imposter syndrome for many years. But touring was incredibly fun, and I kept releasing music, but at some point making music took longer and longer, mainly because I felt that the quality of the music had to be as good as my brother’s.

“I spent a lot of time in L.A..” he continues, “and I clearly remember coming back for a second show after some time at Create in LA and realizing that for the second time there, I had no new music to play. It felt super disingenuous to my fans to ask them to buy tickets, so I decided to stop touring. I then moved back to Sweden to reinvent myself, started a family and got a daughter Melody. Then when I was ready to come back, Covid happened and then I had my son, Phoenix, but now when the world is hopefully restored. It’s time to show the fans what I have been working on for all these years.”

It’s time indeed, with AN21 performing at Tomorrowland this Sunday. Meanwhile, “Alright” is out now via Angello’s Size Records. — K. Bain

Biicla, “Mini Skrt”

Life isn’t black and white, but it is about dichotomies. Light and dark, introspective and expressive, moody and raw as heck; these are all concepts Russian artist Biicla explores on his sophomore album Yes Place, which is in itself a dichotomous response to his 2020 debut LP, No Place.

“For a few years, I have been thinking about where and how to move on. Constant trips alone, a new team, new friends and endless thoughts in my head, as well as my first performances in America,” he says. “All of this was like in the movies, and naturally it affected my music. The album No Place was about finding myself, and in 2022 I think I found myself. I just decided to create a light dance album for you that will touch you to the depths of your soul, because it is inspired by the new events and people I have met during this time. I share my fresh look at electronic music with you in this new album. Its full name was Yes! I think I found a place, but I decided to shorten it and leave it to just Yes Place as opposed to the last album, No Place.”

Today, we’re highlighting “Mini Skrt,” because it’s just super fun and a little weird, totally quirky and absolutely cool, but you should groove to the full album. It’s a real trip. – K. Bein

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Iggy Azalea Says She’s Making Music Again: ‘I’m Coming Back. Cry About It’



Iggy Azalea’s last release, 2021’s “The End of an Era,” marked the Australian rapper’s final bow — or so we thought. On Monday morning, Azalea seemingly retracted that sentiment.

“A year ago I was willing to walk away from music because I was tired of the negative energy it attracted,” she tweeted. “But what I’ve learned is that even when I’m minding my business, y’all gonna be negative and nosey. So if I can’t have peace, neither can you. I’m coming back. Cry about it.”

A little over a year ago, Azalea told audiences that “End of an Era” would be her final album so she could take “a few years to focus on other creative projects and things I’m feeling passionate and inspired by beyond music.” She also added that she was looking forward to sharing “different sides” to her in the future.

In an August 2021 interview on the Zach Sang show, Azalea explained that “End of an Era” was the final album she had to deliver as a part of a distribution deal with her label, Bad Dreams Records (Empire). “That was two albums, contractually. I don’t have anybody that I need to make happy.” She also added that she would possibly get another deal in “three to four years” but also expressed — pretty definitively — that “End of an Era” would be her final studio album release.

She also mentioned her decision to stop releasing music came because of the increased assumptions made about her lyricism in relation to her real-life relationships. It remains unclear whether Azalea has plans to seek another distribution deal or plans to release a full studio album again.

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Justin Timberlake Gives Former ‘N Sync Bandmate JC Chasez a Birthday Shoutout: ‘We’ve Come a Long Way’



JC Chasez has made another trip around the sun, and former ‘N Sync bandmate Justin Timberlake has congratulated him on the journey.

Chasez turned 46 on Monday (Aug.8), and, among his many well-wishes was a shoutout from Timberlake.

“And to my brother,” JT wrote to JC on Instagram Stories. “We’ve come a long way.”
A long way is underselling the story of ‘N Sync, whose classic lineup featured Timberlake, Chasez, Lance Bass, Joey Fatone and Chris Kirkpatrick.

The former pinup had one of the biggest albums in the internet era, with 2000’s No Strings Attached, and continue to keep fans updated with new merchandise. Just last year, they released their 20th anniversary collection on their official website, and in 2019, the five original members reunited for the presentation of a a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

In March, the band issued a cryptic message, “Vol. 7 Coming Soon.”

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Taylor Swift Slaps Back at ‘Shake It Up’ Plagiarism Lawsuit, Says She’d Never Heard Plaintiffs’ ‘Playas Gon’ Play’



Taylor Swift clearly believes she’s being played in court, as a declaration she filed to the judge in a “Shake It Off” plagiarism lawsuit laid out her contention that she never heard the song she’s accused of lifting, “Playas Gon’ Play,” until after she was made aware of the legal action.

“The lyrics to ‘Shake It Off’ were written entirely by me,” Swift said in paperwork filed in response to the allegation from two songwriters that her 2014 smash infringed upon a single from the group 3LW that peaked at No. 81 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2001.

“Until learning about Plaintiffs’ claim in 2017, I had never heard the song ‘Playas Gon’ Play’ and had never heard of that song or the group 3LW,” Swift wrote in a filing first reported on by Billboard. She said she would have had little opportunity to hear it during its brief chart run, since her parents “did not permit me to watch (MTV’s hit countdown show) TRL until I was about 13 years old.”

Regardless of exposure to the tune, Swift and her attorney made the case that any similar phrasing is a result of the terminology being a part of everyday language, and was part of the popular vernacular before Sean Hall and Nathan Butler wrote “Playas Gon’ Play” around the turn of the century — at which point the hitmaker says she was hearing that language on the playground, not on the airwaves.

“I recall hearing phrases about players play and haters hate stated together by other children while attending school in Wyomissing Hills, and in high school in Hendersonville,” the Pennsylvania-bred star wrote. “These phrases were akin to other commonly used sayings like ‘don’t hate the playa, hate the game,’ ‘take a chill pill,’ and ‘say it, don’t spray it.’ … I was struck by messages that people prone to doing something will do it, and the best way to overcome it is to shrug it off and keep living.”

Swift noted that the phrasing was common enough that she had worn a T-shirt bearing the words “haters gonna hate” at a 2013 concert — one that was not custom-made, but purchased at Urban Outfitters.

The songs appear to have nothing in common except the core contested lines — with the 3LW tune repeating the lyrics “Playas, they gonna play / And haters, they gonna hate,” while Swift’s track uses the lines “‘Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play / And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate” as the linchpin of its chorus.

Still, that was enough for an earlier judge to overturn a prior dismissal of the lawsuit, which has been making its way through the courts for five years. It was set aside by a federal judge in 2018, but the suit was reinstated by an appeals court the following year. It’s due to be decided by a jury at an undetermined date in the future, but Swift attorney Peter Anderson is arguing that further evidence shows the plaintiffs’ claims are baseless enough to not warrant a trial.

Although “Playas Gon’ Play” made minimal impact on the pop charts in 2001, Billboard did place the song at No. 87 on a 2017 ranking of “the 100 Greatest Girl Group Songs of All Time.”

As internet sleuths have pointed out, the contested phrases or close variations on them have appeared in a number of other 21st century songs, both before and after “Shake It Up,” including Eric Church’s “The Outsiders” in 2014 and BTS’ “Mic Drop” in 2017. The Notorious B.I.G. is often credited as popularizing the phrase “Playa Hata” with his 1997 song of that name.

In his initial dismissal of the case, before it was sent back to him by an appeals court, federal judge Michael Fitzgerald wrote that the lyrics were “too brief, unoriginal, and uncreative” to be protected. “In the early 2000s, popular culture was adequately suffused with the concepts of players and haters to render the phrases ‘playas … gonna play’ or ‘haters … gonna hate’ standing on their own, no more creative than ‘runners gonna run,’ ‘drummers gonna drum,’ or ‘swimmers gonna swim,’” he continued.

Subsequently, upon having the case returned to him by the higher court, the judge said that Swift’s lawyers “made a strong closing argument” but added that it was not so clear-cut that leaving it to a jury was unwarranted.

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