By Josh Schonfeld
It was a cloudy September afternoon and my friend and I had just landed in London. This being our first time overseas, we were overwhelmed by the sheer size and scope of the city as we quickly learned our navigational skills were mediocre at best. As we scoured the cobblestone streets of London on that first day, we happened upon a trendy, albeit gritty, shopping area made up of shipping containers aptly named Boxpark Shoreditch. Deciding this to be an acceptable place for our first English meal, we found a seat at an outside table and ordered. It was then that the speakers began blaring the latest and greatest hits the city had to offer. From upbeat bangers to heartfelt ballads and everything in between, each song that was played left an impression on us and provided us with the perfect soundtrack to begin our British adventure. Below is a collection of songs by British artists that encapsulates our time spent across the pond.
“Tears (feat. Louisa Johnson)” – Clean Bandit
The nightclub we were at went nuts when this Clean Bandit song came on. While its subject matter is dark and depressing at first, the chorus belts out an uplifting message that is impossible not to dance to. There’s nothing better than a dramatic pause before a powerful back beat brings everyone to their feet as Louisa Johnson sings, “You won’t drag me down, I’ll get over you!”
“Dancing On My Own” – Calum Scott
This song was discovered during the never-ending channel-flipping we did each night before going to bed. A cover of Robyn’s 2010 dance hit, “Dancing On My Own” is re-imagined as a powerful lament over unrequited love that is sure to get you bawling your eyes out. Calum Scott’s vocals quiver with emotion and continue to swell as the song progresses before reaching a crescendo at the final line, “the lights go on, the music dies, but you don’t see me standing here.”
“Ain’t Giving Up” – Craig David & Sigala
We actually saw posters for this single all over Brick Lane, where we were staying, and that’s how we ended up finding this track. While America may know a few of Craig David’s hits from the 90s, such as “7 Days” and “Fill Me In,” most probably don’t realize that he is back and better than ever in the UK. “Ain’t Giving Up” is simply a fun and upbeat dance track that will put a smile on your face.
“Send Them Off!” – Bastille
Most Americans will remember Bastille from their hit song, “Pompeii,” but not many realize that they have a new album out (and it’s really good!) with “Send Them Off!” as the latest single. The cautionary bass line gives way to a memorable chorus alerting you to “exercise my mind, help me exercise my mind!”
“Saturday Night” – Whigfield
Ok, so this is actually over twenty years old, but it was new to us and will be new to most of the people reading this as well. This is one of those novelty 90s tracks that will get stuck in your head for the rest of your life, whether it’s Saturday night or not. When this track came on, the ladies next to us at the nightclub began doing a complex dance routine similar to the Macarena and we were quite impressed! Little did we know, it was this dance associated with this song back when it was charting. So, if you’re looking for cheese and nostalgia, look no further than Whigfield.
For more hit songs from Britain and around the globe, check out my PoP Explo$ion playlist on Spotify!