London based pop-rock artist Hugo Valentine has unveiled his last offering of the year with the highly emotive "Change". Expertly showcasing his song writing talents, Valentine touches on topics that we all experience, from personal growth to sticking true to who you truly are. With the distinctively husky vocals we have come to associate with Valentine, "Change" is a bittersweet piano led ballad that is practically oozing with charm and universal emotions.
We caught up with Hugo Valentine this week to discuss the 5 standout tracks that he holds dear...
Gavin DeGraw - I Don't Want to Be
This song was shown to me by Henrik (producer) at the beginning of this year. He referred to it as a song that I “should listen to“ because it in many ways reflected the style that we were working on. I have to say, this song went on to be one of my most streamed songs of the year on Spotify – there’s something about it just grabs me. It feels like a song that I already know and I’ve heard many times before, it has that familiarity. But also, it feels fresh every time I listen to it. As I’m listening to even now, there is something special about it, something exciting. It’s what I would call pop rock – I know to some people that is a bit of a dirty word, ha ha, but I feel this marries together two amazing genres of music. It has the rock flavour to it, the rock chord structure and tonality, but it has the catchy lyrics and hook of a pop song. If this sounds like the kind of thing you would listen to, please go and do it now, thank me later.
Nina Simone - I Wish I Knew How It Would Feed to Be Free
I’ve always sort of known this song, it’s one of the songs that you just know growing up, though I wasn’t aware it was by Nina Simone. That is, until the first lockdown, when I had a moment. I was practising yoga with an instructor whom I know well, online, and he always sets up the most amazing playlist for our yoga sessions. I had been very ill for a number of weeks, and this session of yoga was the first I’d been able to manage in that time. Though I was getting better, I felt very strange, almost detached as I had been so wiped out by illness. About four songs into the playlist, this came on, and it suddenly gave me this intense inner warmth which washed over my body. I suddenly felt like this huge weight was lifted off me, like everything was going to be okay. This was such a profound moment for me, in a way it was instrumental in helping me to cope with what was going on around us at that time and it really is a moment I’ll never forget.
Nina Nesbitt - The Best You Had
I discovered this song a few years back. I was just when I started to really get into more ambient, electronic pop music. I always liked electronic styles but this was one of the first singer-songwriter type songs I’d heard with this sort of production. It was at the time when I’d been recording one of my first singles on the Isle of Wight – I’d been there for a few days. After I’d had a long recording session, I would leave the studio to drive back to my hotel, but would detour on the way back to drive around different parts of the island in the dead of night, with nobody around. It sounds like a strange thing to do, but driving has always given me peace, calm, and helped to clear my head. Particularly after a long day recording, being creative and productive, this serenity which I was able to derive from these little expeditions was beautiful. I remember on one of these trips, I drove to a totally deserted beach in Shanklin, parked my car, and just walked across the sand in the dark, looking at the stars.
Howard Jones - What Is Love?
My vocal coach showed me the song a little while back. She suggested that Howard Jones ship will be someone that I should check out, to get some inspiration for how to incorporate some synths and electronic sounds into my organic style of music. I was never hugely into 80s music, but this really opened my eyes to what kind of stuff is out there. There is such a nostalgic, hazy quality to this song which I absolutely love. It really takes me to a different place, and there is something about his voice that is so compelling. I believe when he does live shows he often performs alone, surrounded by a number of synths and other electronic instruments - I find this fascinating – I’d love the chance to see him at some point. This song has inspired me in many ways, again a combination of styles in my eyes - a very clear 80s/disco sound, but again with a strong hook and pop sensibility to it. Another one of my most played on Spotify this year.
Melody Gardot - Once I Was Loved
Another yoga song. This one would always crop up right at the end of the session, around the time of Shavasana – corpse pose. For anyone who doesn’t practice, this is the relaxation period at the end of practice where you’re encouraged to allow your mind to clear, and to observe (without judgement) any thoughts that come into your head. This song would infuse such beauty into the air and give me such deep and complex feelings that transported me to a different time, a different place. There is something so deeply wistful about this song, equally beautiful and painful. Nostalgia is something that really gives me goosebumps, makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, and every time I listen to this song I can’t help but stop and think. The song in a way has become meditative for me in its own right. Please listen to it, preferably in a dark room, lying on your back, detached from any thoughts or judgements.
You can check out Hugo Valentine's latest single, "Change", below: