Friday, May 22, 2015

Cotton's last stand

Today marked Fearne Cotton's last show on BBC Radio 1 (although she's popping up to host some of the Big Weekend coverage before she hangs her headphones up for good).

Never as bad a DJ as her detractors would have you believe, she championed Lana Del Rey and Fleet Foxes on daytime Radio 1, making up for her inexplicable love of Kodaline. Well, almost.

Her last show was a truly star-studded affair with appearances from Dave Grohl, Ricky Gervais and... er, Keith Lemon. But the best bits were the surprise songs recorded in her honour. And, bless the BBC, they've put them up online for your listening pleasure.

My personal favourite was this cover of Dolly Parton's 9 to 5 by Lucy Rose. In typical Live Lounge fashion, it took a perky pop song and turned it into a seriousface acoustic "jam". But in this instance it really works. A cover of unusual beauty.

Rae Morris also popped up with a cover of Ben Howard's Keep Your Head up that practically defined the word "ethereal".

Lianne La Havas played Fearne's favourite song, Etta James's At Last.

And Coldplay (no wait, come back) penned a tune especially for the occasion, called Gone But Not F. Cotton.

Witty and affectionate, it was a highlight of the show.

So #FarewellFearne, as twitter would have it ("it's not like I'm dead," the presenter wryly observed). You played some good music, you were brilliantly scathing about Fuse ODG, and you said "amazing" a lot. I'll miss you even more than the paparazzi who waited outside the BBC every day to see what kaftan you'd worn to cover up the baby sick.

I'm also looking forward to Clara Amfo's take on the show, and the Live Lounge, when she settles into the hotseat next week. I've heard they've revamped the whole format - so it'll be interesting to see what difference the new host makes.

And, if you're interested, here's Fearne's hand-picked playlist from her last show.
  • Arctic Monkeys - Hold On, We're Going Home (Radio 1 Live Lounge, 13 Sep 2013)
  • The Avalanches - Since I Left You
  • Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros - Home
  • Kodaline - The One (Fearne Special)
  • Chris Malinchak - So Good To Me
  • Hozier - Do I Wanna Know? (Radio 1 Live Lounge, 15 Sep 2014)
  • Take That - Pray (Radio 1 Live Lounge, 22nd November 2010)
  • James Blake - Limit To Your Love
  • James Bay - (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher
  • Duke Dumont - The Giver (Reprise)
  • Royal Blood - Out Of The Black (Radio 1 Live Lounge, 18 Feb 2015)
  • First Aid Kit - Stay Gold
  • Dave Grohl - My Hero (Radio 1 Live Lounge, 4 Nov 2009)
  • Kings of Leon - Dancing On My Own (Radio 1 Live Lounge, 10 Sep 2013)
  • Jack White - Sixteen Saltines
  • Lucy Rose - 9 To 5
  • Coldplay - Gone But Not F Cotton
  • D.A. - Glowing
  • Adele - Hometown Glory (Radio 1 Live Lounge, 27th Jan 2011)
  • Eaves - As Old As The Grave
  • Rae Morris - Keep Your Head Up
  • SOAK - Immigrant Song
  • Lianne La Havas - At Last
  • Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues
  • Darwin Deez - Constellations
  • Tom Odell - Farewell Fearne
  • Lana Del Rey - Video Games

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Abracadabra! Little Mix conjure up another hit

By giving Pretty Girls to Britney Spears and Iggy Azalea, Little Mix indicated they were setting a high bar for their third album.

And so it proves. Black Magic, premiered this morning after it leaked online, is as bewitching as the title suggests.

With a nod to Cyndi Lauper's girl power anthem Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, and harmonies tighter than Kim Kardashian's pants, it's an absolute corker.

Welcome back, ladies.

Little Mix - Black Magic

PS: It turns out the Cyndi Lauper lift is intentional. Jesy Nelson called the 80s star "our biggest inspiration" in an interview with The Sun earlier this year. "We love Prince too," she added. "He's an icon and definitely inspired the sound."

The video for Black Magic is out next Friday (29 May) and the album is due later this year.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Superlative summer synth-pop - listen to Goldroom's Embrace

Here's a song that's been banging around for two years, but still sounds fresher than a squeezed lemon.

Embrace is a smooth, sugar-coated slice of laptop disco, that originally emerged in 2013 with vocals by Ariela Jacobs. Now it's been re-recorded with George Maple (pictured above) for an official EP release from LA producer Josh Legg's Goldroom project.

It's the "version of Embrace that I've always heard in my head," said Legg, adding the following words in the following order.

"George Maple and I actually wrote Embrace together, so having this come full circle, and to have her singing on the song, feels like a dream. The song Embrace is all about re-connection, and so having George back in my studio again, singing the song, felt like it was meant to be. I'm so stoked to be able to share this with you guys, and I hope you like it!"

If you're a fan of Jessie Ware who secretly wishes she'd put a donk on everything, this is one for you.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Beyonce and Nicki Minaj: Feeling themselves

Out of nowhere, Nicki Minaj and Beyonce have premiered the video for Feeling Myself - an ode to their own brilliance, featuring such unlikely boasts as "I can kill your migraine (migraine, migraine)".

The clip sees the R&B powerhouses hanging out at the Coachella festival, feeding each other hamburgers and having a water pistol fight.

It's streaming exclusively to half a dozen people on Tidal - but you can see a 30-second preview on YouTube. Or below. Take your pick.

Nicki Minaj and Beyonce - Feeling Myself

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Monday, May 18, 2015

Bad Blood: Good video

Bad Blood is Taylor Swift's attempt at a diss track. Allegedly, it has something to do with Katy Perry "stealing" some of her dancers. Because, as we all know, dancers are not possessed of free will.

All of which would be fine if the execution wasn't so clumsy. The lyrics are whiny and petulant. Taylor commits the contrasting crimes of being over-dramatic ("band aids don't fix bullet holes") while lacking any bite ("we've got problems and I don't think we can solve them"). There's no humour, no substance, and the whole mean-spirited endeavour paints the star in a bad light.

Worse still, the tune is horrible: Repetitive in the bad way and delivered in a manner that makes the lyrics seem 10 times as moany.

A mediocre song in the middle of an exceptional album Bad Blood has, somehow, been chosen as a single and received a stunning, blockbuster video with a cast of thousands.

Thankfully, Taylor's lyrics are mostly deleted in favour of two verses by Kendrick Lamar, which improve the song while making it totally nonsensical. But since when has that mattered in pop?

If only they'd spent this kind of creative energy on the video for Style.

Taylor Swift - Bad Blood

The full cast list is:
  • Taylor Swift - Catastrophe
  • Selena Gomez - Arsyn
  • Kendrick Lamar - Welvin Da Great
  • Lily Aldridge - Frostbyte
  • Zendaya - Cut-Throat
  • Hayley Williams - The Crimson Curse
  • Gigi Hadid - SLAY-Z
  • Ellie Goulding - Destructa X
  • Hailee Steinfeld - The Trinity
  • Lena Dunham - Lucky Fiori
  • Karlie Kloss - Knockout
  • Serayah McNeil - Dilemma
  • Jessica Alba - Domino
  • Martha Hunt - HomeSlice
  • Ellen Pompeo - Luna
  • Mariska Hargitay - Justice
  • Cara Delevingne - Mother Chucker
  • Cindy Crawford - Headmistress

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  • Rita Ora: Premature evaluation

    Here, at last, is the new single from Rita Ora, whose second album was thrown into disarray by the end of her relationship with co-writer / producer / superstar DJ Calvin Harris.

    As you can see from her shoulder, the song is called Poison and it's produced by Sir Nolan, who recently had a mega hit with Nick Jonas's Jealous.

    I've listened to it once, and it's a solid 7/10. It could be a grower, it could become fantastically irritating. But that's what makes pop music exciting isn't it?

    Lyric video below.

    Rita Ora - Poison

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