What Can We Expect on 5SOS’s New Album?

Australian pop rock band 5 Seconds of Summer is fueling up for their third full-length album, the follow-up to 2015’s stellar Sounds Good, Feels Good. (Click here to read our full review of Sounds Good, Feels Good.) The boys have been teasing the process on social media for months now, claiming to be writing from time to time, but lately, the results are starting to seem more tangible. So what can we expect on this new long-player?

5SOS have cemented themselves as an upbeat pop rock band with some darker moments as well. The monumental hit “She Looks So Perfect” undoubtedly put the four-piece on the map with its international success and summertime charm, and the heartfelt “Amnesia” proved their more emotional side. Before that worldwide fame, 5SOS originally started out uploading humble covers to YouTube, everything from Mike Posner and Ed Sheeran to All Time Low and A Day to Remember. The unit had a rock edge to them but a pop sensibility and boy band image that made them easily accessible to a large mainstream audience, capturing fans on both ends of the spectrum. Due to their mainly female fanbase and energetic, poppy songwriting, 5SOS was faced with the issue of breaking out of that boy band label. They play their own instruments, write their own songs, and their work is dominated by distorted guitars and crisp drumming, all things that set them apart from the typical boy band mold.

Their self-titled debut album was unleashed in 2014 on the cusp of the boys transitioning from their teenage years into early adulthood, so 2015’s Sounds Good, Feels Good exhibited remarkable growth and maturation in both lyrical content and musicianship, even if releasing just one year after its predecessor. However, many critics judged the band for relying too heavily on their influences, like Green Day, blink-182, and All Time Low, among others. A number of their songs have actually been co-written with their icons, like Alex Gaskarth, Deryck Whibley, Roy Stride, and the Madden brothers, and John Feldmann has produced all of their projects to date. In their entire discography of ~70 songs, only 2 have no credited input from the boys: “Amnesia” and “Girls Talk Boys.” After releasing the latter for the 2016 Ghostbusters movie, their listeners were curious to see what direction the group would be heading in for their third LP. “Girls Talk Boys” was groovy, funky, and irresistibly catchy, but it didn’t exactly sound like a 5SOS song. It was not a bad track by any means, but it certainly put the band at a crossroads for where they could carry their upcoming style. Of course, “Girls Talk Boys” could have just been a departure from their usual timbre to fit the bill of the movie soundtrack considering the Ghostbusters theme song is known for its funky groove.

Yesterday, we finally got a hint at what may be to come. Michael Clifford posted this photo on Instagram which views the band with Carl Falk and Rami Yacoub. The caption reads: “creating magic with these dudes has been an incredible experience. so grateful to them for taking us on and helping us create something amazing ❤️.” So what can we infer from this interaction? 5SOS has worked with outside writers before, but never to this caliber. Carl Falk and Rami Yacoub are the songwriters to thank for some of the biggest hits of the 2010s, like One Direction’s colossal singles “What Makes You Beautiful,” “One Thing,” “Kiss You,” and “Live While We’re Young,” Nicki Minaj’s “Pound the Alarm” and “Starships,” and also songs from massive acts like Jason Derulo, Demi Lovato, Ariana Grande, Avicii, Carly Rae Jepsen, Ellie Goulding, Tiesto, The Vamps, and Madonna. Rami Yacoub has also worked with Backstreet Boys, Celine Dion, P!nk, *NSYNC, Enrique Iglesias, DNCE, Cher Lloyd, The Wanted, and Bon Jovi, and co-produced the landmark “… Baby One More Time” for Britney Spears. What does this mean for 5SOS?

From such an impressive catalog, Carl Falk and Rami could have just helped 5SOS write the biggest song(s) of their career for all we know. 5SOS could be moving in a more pop direction from the looks of it, but Falk claims his favorite instrument is the guitar and he tries to “always have guitar on [his] songs, almost like a trademark.” Maybe 5SOS and Falk are a match made in heaven. 5SOS will more than likely not give up their instruments any time soon, and with a guitar-savvy songwriter, this next album could have some of their best and most successful material to date. (Sounds Good, Feels Good did not warrant the mainstream attention that its antecedent received, so the record label may possibly be compensating for that by pairing the boys with Falk and Rami.) From all this information, fans can probably expect some songs similar to their debut and numerous cuts from their sophomore effort: buoyant pop rock with catchy melodies and radio-ready hooks. The boys will more than likely stick to their strings, so there’s not much to fret. (No pun intended.) We can trust 5SOS to deliver another outstanding album, possibly even their best to date. For those of us who appreciate the band’s rockier side, it may seem like the end of the world to see them working with such pop-oriented songwriters, but I’m fairly positive we won’t see them giving up their rock vantage at this point in their career, if ever. Of course, we have not seen what other songwriters have contributed to the project and the destined style the band has in mind, so much of this is quite early to call. Nonetheless, the future looks extremely bright for the Australian four-piece and we can assuredly remain optimistic and excited for this upcoming full-length, and keep in mind that this is all plainly speculation.

What are your thoughts and contemplation on the approaching release? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet at us on Twitter @AltColumnist!

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10 Songs to Celebrate Pride Month

Here at Alt Columnist, we mainly focus on alternative music, from indie rock to pop punk to singer/songwriter folk and everything in between. To celebrate Pride Month, we will be stepping outside of those genre-based boundaries and discussing songs that are pop, reggae, hip-hop, R&B, and alt-pop. These pieces are either about being LGBT+, are written/performed by LGBT+ artists, and/or have become regarded as empowering anthems for the LGBT+ community. We hope you enjoy, and let us know your favorite LGBT+ tunes! (Want a Spotify playlist? Click here!)

“Girls Like Girls” by Hayley Kiyoko

Hayley Kiyoko has risen to popularity through starring in Scooby Doo and Disney television shows, but her solo music career started taking off with the release of the This Side of Paradise EP in 2015 which featured her hit single titled “Girls Like Girls.” This indie pop song is an absolute anthemic jam for women-loving women everywhere, and the emotional music video presents the struggles that many gay people face in relationships and friendships. Hayley released her follow-up EP Citrine in 2016 which delivered more empowering tunes, like “Ease My Mind” and “Palace.” She recently debuted another single earlier this year named “Sleepover,” a fabulous slow burn that again details the difficulties of crushing on a friend. Overall, Hayley serves as an innovative indie pop artist who isn’t afraid to wear her heart on her sleeve.

“Girls/Girls/Boys” by Panic! at the Disco

Coming from the last genuinely good Panic! at the Disco album, (click here to read our review of Death of a Bachelor), “Girls/Girls/Boys” describes a love triangle complicated by bisexuality, but instead of execrating the orientation, Brendon accepts and supports it, chanting that “girls love girls and boys” and “love is not a choice.” “Girls/Girls/Boys” has become empowering for many LGBT+ youth, especially considering Panic!’s large young fanbase. While Brendon himself is not a member of the LGBT+ community, he has reported experimenting with men in the past but ultimately identifies as straight. He is a notable ally and features a rainbow pride flag at many of his live shows, overwhelmingly adorned by admirable praise from the audience.

“Ghosts” by PVRIS

Lynn Gunn, the frontwoman of the electro-rock band PVRIS, is gay and open about it in hopes of providing representation for others. It was hard to narrow it down to one song to feature in this post, but we settled on “Ghosts,” a personal favorite that exhibits the struggles of a relationship when dealing with “ghosts” which Lynn has explained is a metaphor for mental health issues, namely depression. This tune seems to tell the story of a couple facing challenges in their relationship due to these ghosts, the “things [Lynn] can’t see” but are still having an affect on their emotional connection, again pointing to psychological problems or other hardships. Overall, PVRIS has consistently released fantastic music and their powerful frontwoman continues to serve as a gay icon in the scene.

“Shameless” by Tyler Glenn

Tyler Glenn, lead singer of the pop rock band Neon Trees, has come out as gay and is shameless about it. He distanced himself from the Mormon religion due to his sexuality and other disagreements, and his debut solo album Excommunication discusses his experience and frustration with the LDS Church. “Shameless” is about not giving a damn and “living a life so shameless” while also calling out others on how they “hate what they don’t understand.” In a vein similar to Lady Gaga’s power anthem “Born This Way,” “Shameless” is bound to embolden listeners to be themselves unabashed and audaciously. Both songs also include religious inflections in the lyrics, taking jabs at close-minded church organizations, and Gaga in particular encourages the idea that God makes no mistakes and LGBT+ people can be spiritual no matter what.

“You Can Cry Tomorrow” by Betty Who

Again, it was difficult to choose just one song to include from the LGBT+ pop icon Betty Who. Jessica Anne Newham, known by her stage name Betty Who, relocated to the United States from Sydney, Australia, in 2007 and pursued a music career in the early 2010s with the debut single “Somebody Loves You” dropping in late 2012. Her sugary, upbeat pop jams have been utilized for gay marriage proposals and LGBT+ events, and she has performed at countless pride festivals across the country. “You Can Cry Tomorrow” is an uplifting ’80s-inspired pop tune with glimmering synths and catchy melodies, and the artist doesn’t hold back her sexual orientation in the lyrics.

“Heaven (ft. Betty Who)” by Troye Sivan

Speaking of Betty Who, she is featured on Troye Sivan’s emotional song “Heaven” from his 2015 debut album Blue Neighbourhood. The South African-born Australian initially found his fame on YouTube, garnering attention from other LGBT+ internet personalities like Tyler Oakley, Hannah Hart, and Connor Franta, and, through his profound interest in music, eventually signed to EMI Australia in 2013 to deliver his EP titled TRXYE, released in 2014. Troye is openly gay and acts as a role model for his viewers and listeners. “Heaven” discusses the familial and religious struggles that are unfortunately attached to the orientation, such as hiding the truth from one’s parents, coming to terms with oneself, and questioning spiritual beliefs. The piece is moving, haunting, and showcases perfectly the challenges many LGBT+ people face personally in the church.

“I Found A Girl” by The Vamps

The Vamps debuted as a British pop rock reggae band with syrupy sweet melodies and summertime vibes, though they originally started out uploading covers on YouTube, everything from One Direction and Austin Mahone to Neon Trees and McFly. Even as their career has progressed, they still continue to post covers, branching out to more rock oriented artists like Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, and 5 Seconds of Summer. Their second album Wake Up featured the band taking a more pop approach in their style with songs that could easily have appeared as One Direction b-sides but still maintaining their guitars in most instances. The project also included the monumental “I Found A Girl,” an energetic pop rock reggae fusion song about a man falling in love with a lesbian and, like Brendon in “Girls/Girls/Boys,” he doesn’t condemn her sexuality but rather welcomes it.

“Apologize (ft. OMVR)” by Matilda

Norwegian up-and-coming pop artist Matilda (no, not the musical/film) has released multiple amazing singles and albums, unleashing infectious electro indie pop tunes with a ferocious bite. (Oh, and she also wrote some of them with Betty Who.) Her music video for “Apologize (ft. OMVR)” gained viral attention from the LGBT+ community for shining the spotlight on the ups and downs experienced by a lesbian couple. Her song “Ghost” is catchy and pleasingly memorable with a melody you won’t be able to get out of your head. (Coincidentally, another artist by the name of Matilda has released a song titled “Girl Code” which discusses a lesbian struggling with a crush on her friend. If we are mistaken and these Matildas are the same artist, please let us know. We were greatly shocked!) Matilda continues to be on the rise with her single “Illusion” which was recently released at the end of May.

“Dancing in the Rain” by Taylor Bennett

Taylor Bennett is the brother of Chance the Rapper and opened up about being bisexual in early 2017. He told Billboard that his main motivation for coming out publicly was for his fans to know him better. “You don’t want to do anything that makes your fans not like you anymore, but I realized, ‘F— it! Be yourself.’ You got to be yourself. That’s what I said; that’s what my parents have always told me. The only people I felt like I deserved to tell was my fans because if your fans don’t know you, how can they support you? Then there was also the idea that for somebody that has a platform like mine that can speak to these many people, to come out and say something like that, I hope, puts courage in people to do the same thing.” His sweet R&B-tinged hip-hop ballad “Dancing in the Rain (ft. Donnie Trumpet, Shay Lewis, & Brandon Fox)” details the desire to just dance with your partner and let go of the pain, the worries, and the heartache.

“Night Go Slow” by Catey Shaw

Catey Shaw, a pop artist from Brooklyn, mentioned in an article with AfterEllen that she’s “had relationships with men in the past and with women” and her sexuality influences her songwriting; she enjoys making music that elevates LGBT+ people. From humble beginnings busking on subway platforms to alt-pop renown, Catey Shaw is a seasoned singer/songwriter who describes her music as being very careful and mixing many genres together, like jazz, disco, and reggae. The music video for her slow-dance-ready song “Night Go Slow” features a young lesbian couple enjoying a night alone together between sleeping in the back of a truck and stealing from a convenience store. Catey’s sweet pop tunes will not only get stuck in your head but also serve a greater purpose for the LGBT+ community.

Other great songs to check out…

Let us know in the comments some of your favorite LGBT+-related songs and inspirational artists! (Of course, please understand that a person’s sexual orientation does not define their entire identity; humans are inherently multidimensional, so please take time to look into these artists even more beyond their sexuality and/or political/social stances.)