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Erika Kamano

gal-dem selects: February’s new music run-down

A selection of the best releases this February featuring beabadoobee, Janelle Monáe and more.

23 Feb 2023

Whether or not you are in the mood for it, February is the month of love, and that’s definitely seen with recent music releases. Kelela and beabadoobee both dropped love-themed singles in Valentine’s week – and as someone definitely not in the mood for love, I can assuredly confirm that both tracks are pleasurable listens even outside of any romantic circumstance.

Bea’s ‘Glue’ has already amassed over 2.5 million views on YouTube in its first week of release; proving her sheer popularity has no signs of slowing down. The Filipino-British indie star and Gen Z hero, whose 2022 sophomore effort Beatopia landed at No. 5 in UK charts, dropped the single ahead of a massive US stadium tour supporting Taylor Swift in the US this Spring. It’s shaping up to be another huge year for Bea, and we’re sending all the love her way.

This month’s gal-dem selects isn’t all romance hymns; we’ve got a mix of rave tracks, R&B anthems, afrobeats hits and more in a curated extended playlist you can find below:

Here’s an in-depth look at some of our highlights:

beabadoobee – ‘Glue’

At a time where fast beats and deep drops are informing pop music, it feels almost nostalgic to hear a stripped-back guitar-led song. Enter ‘Glue’, a tender love song written by beabadoobee in the back of a tour van strumming on her guitar. “For the first time this is just me being really happy. I’m in a really positive place for the first time in a long time and feeling love,” she shared in the song’s accompanying press statement. The music video was filmed in Bea’s hometown Ilo Ilo, “It’s where I was born and so that also added another personal touch to the song,” she added. 

Janelle Monae – ‘Float’

Monae’s first track since 2021, ‘Float’ drops as a welcome surprise this 2023. Although we’ve recently seen Monae in a leading role opposite Daniel Craig Netflix’s 2022 film Knives Out: Glass Onion, it’s been too long since we’ve heard her on the music scene (her last album, Dirty Computer, is already five years old!). Teaming up with Seun Kuti and band the Egypt 80, ‘Float’ is a title that perfectly pairs to the mood of the music. Said to be “inspired by Muahmmed Ali talking shit in Zaire, 1974” ‘Float’’s uplifting brass bursts evoke the light-footed skipiness of the late boxer in the breeziest of manners. Monae sings, ‘I don’t step, I don’t walk, I don’t dance… I just … float’, it’s an effortlessly triumphant track that oozes swag.

Ayra Starr – ‘Sability’

Nigerian-Beninese singer-songwriter Ayra Starr returns with her afrobeat banger ‘Sability’. An upbeat track where paired back vocals flow over rhythmic dance beats, Starr made the song to remind people of happy memories and “live their best lives”. “Growing up there were some songs I listened to that I would term ‘happy songs’,” shared Starr in a statement. “I decided to lean towards making a high-vibrational song because I wanted to remind people of their childhood joy.” In keeping with Starr’s goal to capture reminiscent bliss, the track samples Congolese star Awilo Logomba’s 1998 hit, ‘Coupé Bibamba’.

Tei Shi – ¿Quién Te Manda?´

The second single from the Colombian-Canadian artist’s forthcoming EP Bad Premonition, “¿Quién Te Manda?” is a slick, R&B track reminiscent of Mýa 2000 classic, ‘Case of the Ex’, with hushed, breathy vocals that capture a sense of reckoning. The lyrics, which switch from Spanish to English, confront deception to reclaim self-confidence, ‘you put your hands all over the wheel / now I’m taking it back for me and I’m blowing right past you / and it feels fantastic’. 

POiSON ANNA – ‘96 Heat’ ft Jwles

London-based POiSON ANNA continues to carve her fiercely fresh brand of experimental hip hop with ‘96 Heat’, which features Parisian rapper Jwles. Dark and almost disturbing in execution, the track’s whispering vocals entwine hypnotically with haunting sirenesque synth over shuffling beats.

GALE – ‘Nuestra Canción’

Puerto Rican popstar GALE is touted as breakout star of 2023, but she’s already won a Grammy for songwriting on Christina Aguilera’s 2022 Spanish-sung record, Aguilera. On ‘Nuestra Canción’, GALE takes us through catchy pop verses that bubble into a carefree, hand-waving chorus, before the track culminates in an epic rave finale. “‘Nuestra Canción’ is about letting go, about finally accepting that the relationship is over, and that instead of crying alone at home, you go out dancing and face that song that was yours and that person’s,” she revealed in the single’s accompanying statement. 

Flo Milli –  ‘Nasty Dancer’

Alabama-born rapper Flo Milli releases steely rap track ‘Nasty Dancer’, which cuts an irresistible groove from the first brassy gusts that loop onto a tight, pounding beat. Flo amps the energy with relentlessly flow, “I make him do what I want” she raps brashly in this year’s sexiest Valentine’s drop, “he can’t get enough of me, I’m in mood”. We’re all in the mood for you, Flo.