Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Video: Hailee Steinfeld - Starving

It's been hanging around the lower reaches of the chart all summer but Starving, Hailee Steinfeld's collaboration with Zedd, has finally been granted a video.

The clip sees the actress-turned-singer twirling around a warehouse while being caressed by a quartet of oiled-up, shirtless men. Or, as I like to call it, Wednesday night in.

Fans of Justin Bieber's Love Yourself will find plenty to like about the song's arpeggiated verses; but Zedd makes his presence felt with a huge blast of synths in the chorus, while Steinfeld sings: "I didn't know that I was starving till I tasted you".

Which is quite an image, I think you'll agree.

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Skott's new single Amelia is the best song of the week

It starts off as a folk song and ends up sounding like The Joker blowing up Kanye West's mansion. Amelia, the new single by Scandinavian singer Skott, is immediate, thrilling and, dare I say, essential.

The key to her idiosyncratic style can be found in an official biography, which reads: "Skott grew up in a remote small town forest commune run by outcast folk musicians. The small supportive community exposed her to music while she grew up in this unorthodox childhood, however Skott didn’t actually hear any contemporary music until she went to the city for the first time in her mid-teens."

Amelia, she says, is about reaching a crisis point in a relationship. "Is it worth continuing or is this the end?" she says.

"The song's about not giving up, fighting to keep that special someone next to you despite the hardest of times.

"'Amelia' reminds me of my first love as a young teenager when I'd dream up crazy plans for the future. They weren't always realistic but they were honest and dramatic."

Skott's over in the UK next week, supporting Canadian girl-rock band Muna - who are equally excellent. If you want to see some of 2017's break-out stars before they become too big for their boots, then head down to Notting Hill's Art Club next Wednesday. I'll see you there.

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A dirty protest from Dirty Projectors

The poo emoji finally gets the recognition it deserves in the new video from those premium purveyors of glitch-pop, Dirty Projectors.

Keep Your Name is a haunting ballad that appears to be a diss of a former bandmate: "What I want from art is truth / What you want is fame," sings David Longstreth. "I guess it's shit that Gene Simmons said / Our band is a brand and it looks that our vision is dissonance."

The video is stark and surreal, with Longstreth playing piano, smashing up guitars and showing off his ambidexterity - doodling complex pictures (and cartoon faeces) with both hands simultaneously.

It's really quite beautiful.

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Are Daft Punk laughing at The Weeknd?

By now, you may have heard that Daft Punk have teamed up with The Weeknd for his new single Starboy. Sadly, it isn't the genre-bending, world-changing song that suggests. In fact, it sounds like a typical Weeknd song with some vocoder on the top.

(Specifically, that vocoder segment features Daft Punk going "ha ha ha ha", which is presumably the noise they made as they took Abel Tesfaye's cheque and deposited it in their bank.)

Still, Starboy is a great launch to The Weeknd's new album, due in November. It's a lithesome, late-night groove with the Canadian star crooning about how absolutely brilliant he is ("out of your league," apparently). Coincidentally, he references Brad Pitt in the final verse: "Let a nigga Brad Pitt," he sings. "Legend of the fall took the year like a bandit."

Listen to an excerpt on the various streaming services below.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

New discovery: Rag 'n' Bone Man

It's a while since a performance on Jools Holland stopped me in my tracks - but that's what Rag 'N' Bone Man did last night.

He was there to perform Human, his first single on Columbia Records, released back in July. It's a swampy, broken ballad, co-written by Jamie Hartman, whose previous credits include Westlife and Emma Bunton. Don't hold it against him, though, this is a singularly moving piece of music.

The reason? That voice. As smooth as peanut butter and just as indulgent. In fact, the acoustic version of Human performed on Jools last night is vastly superior to the sturm und drast of the original.

Interestingly, the song is already "big in Europe", residing at number six in the German top 40, and climbing up the Spotify charts in Austria, Denmark and The Netherlands.

Catch up on what our neighbours already know by clicking the big "play" button below.

PS If you think you've heard of Rag 'N' Bone Man before, you're right. The singer, who was born Rory Graham had a previous life as a drum & bass MC, performing under the name Rag 'n' Bonez.

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Video: Lady Gaga - Perfect Illusion

People who found Lady Gaga's comeback single Perfect Illusion off-puttingly histrionic aren't going to be won over by the video.

Billed as a simple performance clip, it's frenetically edited (there are 45 cuts in the first minute alone) with Gaga on full throttle "asylum escapee" mode from the outset.

I still like the song, though, which is a rush of fresh air amidst all the carefully-controlled, expertly-positioned indentipop of the last 12 months. The hook is solid gold, no matter what your opinion of the delivery mechanism.

In related news, I would like one of Mark Ronson's jackets, but with "Savage" written on the sleeve.

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