Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Kasabian cover Fancy - and it's a 10/10


This is quite something: Kasabian doing a lush, laid-back cover of Iggy Azalea's Fancy in Radio 1's Live Lounge.

Perhaps understandably, they concentrate on the Charli XCX moments, particularly the "let's get drunk on the mini-bar" section.

The session was all part of the station's More Music Month, which involves a Live Lounge every day of September, so expect more of his sort of thing in the next 29 days.

Kasabian - Fancy

And if you liked that, it turns out the Leicester lads have a knack for a kooky cover. Check out this mash-up of Good Vibrations and... er, the Sesame Street theme tune, performed for Australia's Triple J last month.

Kasabian - Fancy

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Video of the week: Grimes - Go

If you boiled BBC Four's excellent Kate Bush documentary down to a sentence, it was this: "Kate Bush is really rather good, and here are lots of musicians we found who were prepared to say so".

But the progamme's other big point was that Kate Bush succeeded because she cut her own path. Those swooping, hollering vocals; the bizarre key changes; the adventurous instrumentation - no-one else had ever sounded like that before. That's why she was the first woman to score a self-penned number one in the UK, and that's why her comeback concerts have been so enthusiastically reviewed, despite sounding like an excruciating evening of utter bollocks experimental theatre.

Near the beginning of the documentary Elton John is interviewed about Wuthering Heights. "It was not your normal song," he says, "but that's why it was so brilliant. It was great to hear something out of the norm. Things like that don't come along very often. I mean, when has the next Kate Bush come along after Kate Bush? There hasn't been one."

I don't quite agree - Bjork redefined pop in the 1990s with the same cavalier disregard for the rules; and you could argue Kanye West did the same thing for rap in the 2000s. But those sorts of talents are truly once-in-a-generation.

Someone who could manage it for the 2010s is Grimes: A sonic innovator, with a preternaturally assured approach to the way she presents herself and her music. She hasn't quite crossed over to the mainstream yet but, as her new single shows, she has the pop nous to have a go... Assuming that's what she wants.

As noted here before, Go was written for and rejected by Rihanna. But it works better with Grimes' wispy, waspy vocals. The video, coincidentally, looks like something Kate Bush might put together if she was 19-years-old in 2014.

Grimes - Go (ft Blood Diamonds)

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Video: Charli XCX - Break The Rules


Making hay while the sun shines, here's pop-punk princess Charli XCX with her ode to skipping school, Break The Rules, time so perfectly to coincide with the start of a new school year.

The video finds the singer attending school, hijacking a school bus, and dancing at a school prom, so it's possible no-one listened to the lyrics but, hey, it looks great. (Although I'm 99% certain she's doing the ice bucket challenge wrong at the end.)

Charli XCX - Break The Rules

Charli's album Sucker arrives on 17 October and if it's anything as good as it's predecessor, we're in for a treat. Here's what she told Entertainment Weekly about the record backstage at Sunday's VMAs.

"There’s definitely a punk energy that runs throughout the record. Some people will hate it, but I’m really excited about it because I know some people will absolutely love it as well. I feel like that’s what a good album is. It’s very feminine, it’s raw. I see it as being like the color red when I listen to it."

More of that interview, plus Charli's backstage performance of Boom Clap, can be found on the end of this weblink.

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Usher is singing about his sexual prowess for a change (ft Nicki Minaj)


Let's face it, if Usher's last single, Good Kisser, had had a catchier tune, it would have been this year's Blurred Lines. A five-minute ode to oral sex, containing the line "you pull it out, then you open wide" - if it didn't make you wretch, you were listening to it wrong.

So the news that he'd teamed up with noted feminist Pharrell Williams for the follow-up didn't fill me with hope. Nor did the title - She Came To Give It To You (we can assume "it" is not a toy train or a birthday card, although it might be a subpoena for a sexual harassment trial).

But actually, the lyrics are not that bad - they're just lazy R&B clichė (from the man who once spent an entire night making love in the club, we should expect nothing less). And the groove is a solid gold Pharrell classic.

Stick around to the end of the video for a Christopher Nolan-style mindbender.

Usher - She Came To Give It To You (ft Nicki Minaj)

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Friday, August 22, 2014

A rag tag grab bag of new swag*

So, as predicted, parenthood is thinning out the blog posts a little but DO NOT FEAR - I'm still getting my lugholes around the latest pop discs and groovy new tunes (as well as taking a crash course in dad speak).

Here are a few that caught my attention in the midst of the biggest and most rewarding learning curve of my life.

1) Labrinth - Let It Be

Steeped in a steamy soup of classic soul, Labrinth's comeback single starts out like an unnecessary Aloe Blacc pastiche. But you know young Timothy McKenzie will have a secret weapon in his production tool belt, and so it proves on the slightly mad, definitely brilliant, spaghetti western chorus.




2) Haim - My Song 5 (ft A$AP Ferg)

My Song No. 5 showcases the more experimental, riff-tastic side of the Haim sisters, but it's an odd choice for a single when My Honey & I is still waiting to be cherry picked from the album.

The video doesn't do the track any favours, either, with it's dated Jerry Springer Show parody bearing scant relation to the lyrics. Odd - but worth it for the Ke$ha cameo.




3) Juce - Burning Up

When I last wrote about this song in early July, it wasn't scheduled to be a single. But either someone has seen sense, or Juce's record label fancied writing off some money against their tax bill - because top summer jam Burning Up now comes with it's own "visual".

Mind you, it looks like it cost about £20 with change left over for a packet of Jaffa Cakes, but the London-centric tune ("Big Smoke is burning up") survives intact.




4) Laura Doggett - Phoenix

This may only be her debut single, but Laura Doggett is the first artist I'm calling for the BBC Sound of 2015 list.

Produced by SOHN, the track is barely there - a minimal, stuttering click track and a mournful piano - all the better to showcase Laura's pitch-black vocals. She sounds like Tracy Chapman or Nina Simone dragged into the sewers, and it's captivating.




5) Bondax - All I See (ft Tanya Lacey)

Just when you thought 2014 had enough killer dance anthems, along comes another one. Bondax (terrible name, sounds like a drain cleaner) are Adam Kaye and George Townsend, and the video for their tropical take on deep house was shot in Corsica and Lancaster. See if you can guess which is which.



That's all for now. I'm off to do some dad dancing.

* Sorry - I ran out of time to think up a better headline.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Video: Tove Lo - Not On Drugs


It's no secret that I love Tove Lo, the beat-wielding wild child of Swedish synthpop. Her Truth Serum EP is as a illy mixed cocktail of awesome - full of stomach-plunging drama and choruses so megalithic you couldn't destroy them with a truckload of Semtex.

So it's a crying shame that the video for that EP's standout track, Not On Drugs, is so undercooked. The weird editing, the weirder haircuts, the cheap effects and cheaper locations are a woeful disservice to the song's gutsy declaration of love ("There’s always the happy part before the broken heart," says Tove. "Come join me in my little love trip…")

It kind of comes together for the final chorus when someone sets off a powder paint grenade in Tove's face but it's too little, too late (this may be the first time someone has described a hand grenade as 'inadequately exciting for a pop video' but I call 'em like I see 'em).

Maybe just close your eyes and enjoy the song, which is a solid gold 9/10

Tove Lo - Not On Drugs

To counterbalance the disappointment of that Swedish video, here's another, better Swedish video, filmed at Stockholm Pride last weekend.

Yes, that's a genuine cop.


PS Tove Lo's album Queen Of The Clouds is out on 30 September in the US and "TBC" in the UK. :(

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