What’s Going On: ABBA, Charli XCX, Ike Rhein, Johnny Marr, Rory & The Island

In this week’s instalment of What’s Going On, we’ve got another fun roundup of hot new releases, including the first new music from the legendary ABBA in more than 40 years. Plus, since summer is quickly coming to an end so we’ve got music from Ike Rhein, Charli XCX, Rory & The Island and Johnny Marr to help ease you into Fall. As always, if you dig what you hear, be sure to stream and follow the artists.

ABBA – Mama Mia! Pop legends ABBA are back in a major way. Fans around the world were captivated by ABBA’s announcement of a state of the art concert that will see digital ‘ABBATARs’ of Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid performing in London starting May 2022. The group also announced a new album titled Voyage, their first new release since 1981’s The Visitors. Two new songs were dropped, the beautiful ballad “I Still Have Faith In You” and mid-tempo pop masterclass “Don’t Shut Me Down” – both sound like classic ABBA. In an excerpt from an open letter that the group shared with the media, Agnetha Fältskog says: “When we got back together in the studio I had no idea what to expect…But Benny’s recording studio is such a friendly and safe environment, and before I knew it I was really enjoying myself! I can hardly believe that finally, the moment has come to share this with the world!”

Listen to new Abba songs “I Still Have Faith In You” and “Don’t Shut Me Down” below.

Charli XCX – Is pop stalwart Charli XCX making a play for mainstream mega-stardom with her new single, “Good Ones”? The talented writer and performer has traversed between the pop charts and the underground scene throughout her career, and “Good Ones” has all the energy and drama that her fans have come to love but in an extremely commercial and accessible package. Explaining her new single in a way that only she can, Charli XCX says: “The first single of my new chapter embraces all that my life has to offer in today’s world – fame, glamour, inner demons and global hits. ‘Good Ones’ was produced by Oscar Holter of Max Martin’s Wolf Cousins entity, and laments my inability to keep hold of healthy relationships, instead being endlessly drawn back to the dysfunctional and toxic.”

Listen to Charli XCX’s new single “Good Ones” below.

Ike Rhein – 19-year-old singer-songwriter Ike Rhein is out with his new single “Just Like You.” The multi-instrumentalist set the summer on fire with his previous single, “Not for Me.” and this new one seems likely to capture the same success. With production from ZBeatz, “Just Like You” is a stunning acoustic guitar jam that features Rhein’s processed yet still emotive vocals over top. On what “Just Like You” is all about, Ike Rhein says: “’Just Like You’ is about how sometimes people only focus on nitpicking the little things that their significant other does that makes them upset, but their significant other could do just the same to them.”

Listen to Ike Rhein’s new single “Just Like You” below.

Johnny Marr – Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr announced that his new EP Fever Dream Pt.1 will be out on October 15th. The first taste of what’s to come from the forthcoming project is the single “Spirit, Power and Soul.” The pandemic has been rampant with releases that mine ’80s sounds for modern day output, but few have done it better than Marr has done here. “Spirit, Power and Soul” sounds like an uplifting love letter to new wave and synthpop but maintains a current feel, showing that Johnny Marr is still very much on the cutting edge. Johnny Marr says: “‘Spirit, Power And Soul’ is a kind of mission statement. I had an idea about an electro sound with gospel feeling, in my own words… an electro soul anthem.”

Listen to Johnny Marr’s new single “Spirit, Power and Soul” below.

Rory & The Island – Irish performer Rory and The Island wants to make you dance with his new single “Donna Don’t Take My Summer.” Inspired by disco greats Quincy Jones, KC and the Sunshine Band, Nile Rogers, and that whole late ’70s Studio 54 scene, “Donna Don’t Take My Summer” is a gorgeous slice of retro-tinged mid-tempo pop. Sonically, “Donna Don’t Take My Summer” is a departure for Rory who is better known for his adult contemporary singer-songwriter fare. On the change in sound, Rory says: “After releasing two introvert melancholic songs during the pandemic I decided that with a bit of light at the end of the tunnel to just go crazy with a feel-good bubblegum pop summer song!” 

Listen to Rory & The Island’s new single “Donna Don’t Take My Summer” below.

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