Friday, May 27, 2016

Video: Chance the Rapper - No Problem

It's been hugely satisfying to see Chance The Rapper top the charts (based only on streams) with his third mixtape, Coloring Book. Why? The record's generosity, spirituality and positivity is a welcome antidote to the narcissism of mainstream hip-hop.

Brimming with gospel influences, Chance spends most of the record celebrating his faith - apparently inspired by the birth of his first son. But he's no choirboy - there's still plenty of attitude on Colouring Book, particularly on No Problem, where the rapper sings "If one more label tries to stop me, there's gonna be some dred-head n****as in the lobby."

The song now comes with a video, featuring s Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz, DJ Khaled and many more. Chance continued his commitment to releasing music for free by posting it on Twitter last night.

And here is is.

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Clean Bandit have teamed up with that X Factor winner you vaguely remember

Fresh from making music with Sir Elton John, Clean Bandit - the 21st Century's answer to M People* - have hit the studio with 2015 X Factor winner Louisa Johnson (aka Louisa (aka Lousia Johnson (aka Oh yeah, her))).

Don't worry, though, because Tears is much better than it sounds - a twinkly, housey, arms-akimbo banger, cut from the same cloth as Gloria Gaynor's I Will Survive.

Louisa declares "I will get over you" with such conviction that you can picture her wiping away the mascara that's streaming down her face and striding purposefully into the night (with a sheet of loo roll stuck to her pants because she is just like you or me).

It's not perfect. Clean Bandit's USP - they play proper instruments, you know? - is clunkily shoehorned into the chorus, giving what should be the climactic moment the ambience of "fourth runner up at Eurovision".

But overall it's a solid 7/10.

(If the player doesn't work try this link instead.

* If the M People were a question, which is debatable.

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The Strokes have premiered three (yes, three) new songs

Is it exciting to have The Strokes back? I'm not 100% sure - but given the recent dearth of guitar music, it's good to hear from a band who know their way around (i) a riff and (ii) a melody.

Leveraging this fact, Julian Casablancas and co have secured exclusives on three separate radio stations today. Admittedly the first one can't have taken much negotiation - with the premiere of OBLIVIUS coming, as it did, on on Casablancas' own radio show. A sleazy, droning track called Drag Queen followed on Zane Lowe's Beats 1 thing; followed by the poppiest effort of the three - Threat of Joy - as Annie Mac's hottest record.

Either The Strokes very confident in the new material or they're hedging their bets... I'll let you decide which via a series of poorly-implemented embedded proprietary audio players.

Honestly, is it any wonder YouTube beats the pants off every other streaming site in the world?

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

New music from Nao and Shura

The two debut albums I'm most looking forward to this year come from "I look best in profile" singer-songwriters Nao (deliciously wonky funk) and Shura (gorgeous, dreamy pop). Thankfully, after a frustratingly long wait, their records are almost here. Not just around the corner, but walking up your street and getting ready to press the doorbell.

To celebrate, they both released new material this week. Nao got in first, with the slinky, seductive Girlfriend - a cosmic riff on Prince's If I Was Your Girlfriend - which premiered on Annie Mac's show two days ago.

"This song just came out of nowhere," she said. "Hopefully people will like it and sing along to it with me as well."

The studio version is below, followed by Nao's first UK TV performance, on last night's Jools Holland ("a dream come true," she says).

Shura, meanwhile, has just delivered the 80s-tinged dance thriller Nothing's Real - also on Annie Mac's show - calling it "the first piece of truly new music from me in a while.

"This record is about fancying someone... then realizing that it’s probably not gonna happen," she said.

She also likened the arrival of her album to being "seven months pregnant".

"I've been told that I'm glowing, I'm kind of a bit bored of glowing now, can I just deliver the child? I'm just really, really excited about giving birth."

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Monday, May 23, 2016

Video: Alicia Keys - In Common

In Common is Alicia Keys' strongest single in years. Smooth and subdued, it's a world away from the larynx-busting gargantathons of her last few albums, with the vocals so muted they're barely there.

After premiering the song online and performing it on Saturday Night Live, Keys has now released the official video. Directed by fashion photographer Pierre Debusschere, it's a classy black-and-white clip that, unexpectedly, throws some breakdancing into the mix.

"Yes, yes," you must be thinking, "but does it also blend Alicia Keys' perspective of the raw humanity of the world? Does it celebrate individuality while looking at how we are all just human?"

Here's the press release to tell us.

"The video is shot in black and white and reflects her NYC roots and hip-hop culture while blending her perspective of the raw humanity of the world. It celebrates individuality, but also looks at how we are all just human and want the same things – love, freedom and to be true to ourselves."

Phew. Glad to have that cleared up.

Here is said video.

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Video: Ariana Grande - Let Me Love You

Subdued, stoner balladry is all well and good, but I prefer Ariana Grande when she's BELTING OUT THE BANGERS.

Disappointingly, her new single, Let Me Love You, is one of the former; even if it is a particularly accomplished example of the genre. The video is as seductive as the song, sending the Daily Mail into a breathless frenzy of screengrabs and gushing captions. For example:

  • Ariana shows glimpses and shots of her bra throughout the music video
  • The Bang Bang singer is seen wearing numerous scantily clad outfits as she writhes around on a bed
  • In one shot the singer's hair has been curled and is very vuluminous as she pushes it all to one side
But the writer doesn't seem to have been as impressed by Lil' Wayne.
  • "The rapper was dressed down in a T-shirt and white cap"
If only he'd curled his hair and shown a glimpse of his bra. If only.

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