Monday, February 28, 2011

Key moments in Lady Gaga's Born This Way video, and when you can expect to see them...

Hello reader. Here at Discopop Directory, we know you're far too busy chopping potatoes and tweeting about The One Show to devote a whole seven minutes of your life to Lady Gaga and her video for Born This Way.

So, with you in mind, we have created a handy, timed guide to this audiovisual event. Now you can simply skip to the segment that piques your interest, without sitting through two demoralising minutes of sub-Scientology bollocks.

0:04 A unicorn.

0:33 A uterus.

0:24 Mmmm..... That pimple on your chin looks ripe for squeezing.

2:11 Amazing hair-toss moment. The first of many. Approval rating = 100%

2:37 After a ridiculous load of old drivel, the song finally starts.

3:03 Man on the far right pulls "serious dance face".

3:52 Now they're all at it.

4:07 Bugs Bunny.

4:38 There are easier ways to eat a Cadbury's Creme Egg.

5:34 No, Lady Gaga. How about you go fuck yourself? Huh? HUH!? I thought so.

6:05 A solitary moment of frivolity.

6:52 These gloves look suspiciously like they were added "in post".
What could they be covering up, conspiracy fans?

7:10 Copyright notice.

Great. Now that we've got that out of the way, here is the video for you to watch / scroll through at your leisure. You can thank us in chocolate.

Lady Gaga - Born This Way

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Friday, February 25, 2011

Incredibly good Noah And The Whale video

They may not have the profile of Mumford or Laura Marling - but Noah And The Whale are set to go fully mainstream with their genuinely excellent, Tom Petty-inspired new album, Last Night On Earth. It's the band's third record, it lasts thirty-three minutes, and the final track is 3'33" long. OCD, much?

I'm glad to report that both the obsession and compulsion stretch to their live performances, which are nigh-on flawless. Have a look at them playing current single L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N. at the iconic RAK studios, and see if you can spot any variations from the recorded version.

L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N. (Live from RAK Studios)

Fabulous, no?

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It's the you-know-Hoosiers

It's been seven months since we heard from them, but at last The Hoosiers are back with the follow-up to Choices.

It's called Bumpy Ride, a title which neatly sums up the band's recent fortunes. At the beginning of 2010, they scrapped an entire album and set off in search of a synth-pop sound, only to find that ship had basically sailed. Choices and it's parent album, The Illusion Of Safety, may have reached numbers 10 and 11 respectively, but someone clearly felt that wasn't good enough - hence the loooong gap between singles.

The album has now been reworked for a third time, and rechristened Bumpy Ride in honour of the new single. To be fair, the track is a great little radio song. Inessential, perhaps, but incredibly catchy.

The question: Will it find an audience?
The answer: Not if The Hoosiers have anything to do with it.

For no good reason, they've spunked their entire video budget up the wall making a Hangover-inspired Las Vegas mini movie. It chops the song into tiny unrecognisable pieces. It features a censor-baiting pole dancing sequence. It ends with a shot of a baby causing irreparable damage to a koala with a shoe (one of these statements is untrue).

Still, it looks like it was a blast to shoot.

The Hoosiers - Bumpy Ride

The single is out on 28th March, with the album due on 11th April.

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Those Britney clips "in full"

So, from Adele, who has the voice of an angel, to Britney Spears, who has the voice of a Speak And Spell.

Following the epic (ie irritating) two-week teaser campaign for her new video, she's now releasing daily snippets of tracks from her forthcoming album, Femme Fatale. The first three go like this...

How I Roll

Inside Out

I Wanna Go

There's plenty to get excited about here: The whistling, the dubstep collywobbles, the galvanizing cry of "COME ON", the general aceness of Bloodshy & Avant's production on How I Roll.

But let's not be too hasty. If the album lasts 45 minutes then these 30 seconds represent just 1% of the total. Femme Fatale could be a work of genius, but there's still plenty of time for an I Love Rock'n'Roll, or a duet with Justin Bieber.

Even the tracks we've heard could go disastrously wrong. Would I Wanna Go sound as epic if it suddenly gained an extended spoken word section pulled from the pages Britney's diary? Anyone who remembers the "personal messages" she used to post on her website would know that the answer is "not really".

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Adele vs Aretha

When you hear that Adele is going to cover Aretha Franklin's 1967 smash (You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman, it instantly makes sense. And the performance, for VH1's Unplugged show, completely lives up to expectations.

I love the way she chirps "Oooh, I got frew it" like Barbara Windsor at the end... Stupendous.

The full show will be aired on online Thursday, March 3, at 7 p.m. at The TV premiere will be the day after on VH1, March 4 at 11 pm.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Yasmin is back. Remember her?

You may remember we said "hello" to Yasmin last December. She has since been on the Radio One playlist and recorded a thing with Jamie xx while wearing a hat.

Yasmin put a preview clip of her new single, Finish Line, on the YouTube last week. It's two-and-a-half minutes long, which suggests either (a) the finished product lasts a quarter of an hour, or (b) she has fatally misunderstood the meaning of the words "preview" and "clip".

Anyway, the song is dressed with dramatic staccato strings and a honking great drum loop, giving it a feel not dissimilar to vintage SWV (Downtown rather than Right Here).

My personal highlight is the bit where she pilfers the "boy band... and another one... and another one... And A-No-Ther One" melody from Busted's Year 3000. Her next single is a cover of You Said No, apparently*.

Yasmin - Finish Line (preview)

* I made this up.

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Jamie Woon - Lady Luck

Let's be honest, readers, there are several reasons to be suspicious of Jamie Woon.

1) His Brit School education.
2) His achingly fashionable production.
3) His achingly fashionable facial hair.
4) All of his songs sound like mid-90s R&B sweatmeisters Jodeci.
5) He has recorded an a capella version of his new single, Lady Luck, in a canoe in Cambodia, like he's on some sort of dubstep gap year. Urgh.

Jamie Woon - Lady Luck (Al Fresco)

But - and this is a big but (too big for Sir Mix-A-Lot, that's for sure) - his voice instantly overrides any concerns you might have. Jamie Woon wraps his tonsils around a melody like a crab around a rock. Precise yet soulful, modest but powerful.

As he croons in the chorus to Lady Luck, "this is something you can't synthesize".

Thanks to the brand new Day-And-Date release strategy at Polydor / Universal, the single went on sale as soon as it premiered on Mistajam's Radio 1 show yesterday. You can hear it below, and buy it on iTunes now.

Jamie Woon - Lady Luck

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Get your Kanye West fridge magnets here

The video for Kanye West's genuinely superb All Of The Lights has just popped up on YouTube and it features two of my favourite video tropes of all time: Typography and sideboobs.

The typography section (where the text of the chorus appears on screen in a blur of eye-blinding colours) seems ripe for parody. I made an attempt, but all I could manage was a mirthless message about getting a pop star to appear on a BBC2 comedy panel game show.

Oh dear.

In the end, I was much more taken with the montage of typefaces I'd built up in Photoshop than the "joke" itself. I've reproduced it below. Maybe you can use it for any ransom notes you intend to write.

And, if you're really keen, there's a zip file with all the images at the end of this link [right-click and select "save as"]. And, let's not forget, there's a video left to watch at the end of all this frivolity. Here it is.

Kanye West ft Rihanna and Kid Cudi - All Of The Lights

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ping! An email has arrived

The Discopop Directory inbox is a hostile place. If I'm not being offered "men's health products", I'm being introduced to artists who look and sound like Ru Paul if Ru Paul had the courage to be really flamboyant.

So, it was a nice surprise when Seb got in touch. Seb is a singer from London who sounds like a cross between Darren Hayes and Adam Levine. I'm not 100% convinced by the cheddar-splendent demos on his official website, but he's done a song with Fred Falke (amazing) and Burns (?) which is a promising indicator of things to come.

The track is called First Move, and Seb explained how it came about:

I'd wanted to work with Burns for a while, always loved his stuff. Last summer I was at a Mixmag party, Calvin Harris was there, too. I knew he was down to see Burns' set, so I went over to the big man. Incredibly nice, and probably more used to being the centre of attention himself. Yet we chatted and he said he'd introduce me to Burns. He did.

We got e-mailing, I wanted to send Burns some raw ideas but had always loved the original Falke remix of First Move... So I turned it into a vocal track. Something quite romantic but with an air of loss is what I wrote, very much in keeping with the track's original vibe.

He liked the result and now the track is finally getting out there.

What a heartwarming tale. Here's the result.

Burns / Fred Falke / Seb - First Moves

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Dancing to Radiohead -- amazing scenes

Here's the new Radiohead video, Lotus Flower, in which Thom Yorke wears a hat like Olly Murs and dances like Jamiroquai. It is 100% superb, of course.

Radiohead - Lotus Flower

You can download Radiohead's new album, King Of Limbs, right now on their official website. The link you need to click is this link. That is all.

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If you're going to steal, steal from the best

So, after an interminable wait, the video for Britney Spears' Hold It Against Me has premiered. You're going to watch it no matter what I say, so let's get straight to the point.
Britney Spears - Hold It Against Me

After all those teaser videos, this was always bound to seem like an anticlimax... but let's focus on the good bits.

:: Britney vs Britney slapfest - as previously seen in Mariah's Heartbreaker

:: Inkjet fingertips - as previously seen in Robyn's Indestructible

:: Voguing - as previously seen in Madonna's Vogue

:: 100ft high wedding dress - as previously seen on Beyoncé's I Am Tour

:: The bit with the heels - as previously seen in an explicit and disturbing dream I'm not prepared to tell you about right now

Oh, and did you notice the product placement? It was very subtle, so you could be forgiven for missing it, but I was particularly impressed with the sponsor's message in the pre-roll advertisement.


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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Lykke Li is sad :(

The beautiful Lykke Li was on 6 Music this morning doing a few tracks on Huey Morgan's show. One of them was a new track, Sadness Is A Blessing, from her imminent second album Wounded Rhymes.

Five word review: This song will cause tears.

It would be improper of me to post the song here, because of that pesky copyright law thing, but here's a YouTube clip of it from last year.

And you can listen back to her performance on 6 Music by clicking this link (expires on 23rd Feb).

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Free download from Groove Armada's Saint Saviour

You may remember Saint Saviour as the vocalist on Groove Armada's Paper Romance, a scurrilously filthy electro glam barnstormer from last February. It went like this.

Groove Armada - Paper Romance

Now Ms Saviour, aka Becky Jones, is setting out on her own. Without the aid of a manager, label or publicist, she's put together an altogether listenable EP called Anatomy, which is due out on 21st March. Unlike the sparse piano demos on her MySpace page, it's all swirling synths, dramatic vocals and doom-laden bass lines. If you liked Siobhan Donaghy's Ghosts, this is going to be right up your street.

The lead track, This Ain't No Hymn, was described to me as "Marcella Detroit versus Robyn". It's much, much better than that, with more atmosphere in it's brief 4'40" than a million all-nighters at Russ Abbot's house.

Sadly, I can't share it with you now... But you can grab a free download of track 2, Birdsong below. I guarantee it's worth the pointing and clicking. Especially if you're making a mixtape for an exorcism.

Saint Saviour - Birdsong

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Monday, February 14, 2011

The Grammys in four video clips

The Grammys, eh? The world's premiere 14-and-a-half-hour-long award ceremony. Lots of thanking God, interspersed with performances by Muse and a country band you've never heard of. You certainly wouldn't want to sit through them. Unless you were tied to a chair in one of those Saw films and getting up would result in being cut in half with an axegrinder.

Anyway, I've sifted through the haystack to bring you the needles. Mind your fingers.

Came out of an egg, you know. Truly the Kinder Surprise of Pop.

Lady Gaga - Born This Way

This is a tribute to Elton John's Muppet Show performance of Crocodile Rock, back in "the day". Gwyneth Paltrow plays Miss Piggy.

Cee-Lo Green + The Muppets - Forget You

Who deservedly won the Album Of The Year prize for The Suburbs. This performance was essentially their acceptance speech. I think we're supposed to believe it was impromptu and unscripted, but no-one seems the slightest bit flustered.

Arcade Fire - Ready To Start

For my money, this is the standout performance of the night - a soul revue pulled straight from the video for Hey Ya! Bruno Mars steals the show with his terrifying assault on a ride cymbal during Cold War.

B.O.B. / Bruno Mars / Janelle Monae

Inevitably, these videos will all disappear as soon as I hit the publish button. Here's the relevant Google searches in case you need 'em.
Lady Gaga :: Cee-Lo :: Arcade Fire :: Bruno, BOB and Janelle

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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Brand new pop from the mouth of a lady called Spark

You may have heard of the Liverpudlian, Brit school-educated, singer-songwriter Spark. In fact, you might even have heard about her on this blog, when I wrote about her last November. For those of you with short attention spans, she looks like this:

But who is she? How do you define her? Let's see what the Oxford English Dictionary has to say on the matter.

Spark, n.
Pronunciation: /spɑːk/

1. A small particle of fire, an ignited fleck or fragment, thrown off from a burning body or remaining in one almost extinguished, or produced by the impact of one hard body on another.

2. A woman of great beauty, elegance, or wit.

3. A spotted or parti-coloured bullock.

4. A small diamond.

Funnily enough, that's about 75% accurate.

Spark - born Jessica Sparkle Morgan - spits and crackles with the energy of a box of firecrackers. She is indeed a woman of great beauty and wit. And, after Marina Diamandis hand-picked her as a support act, you could justifiably describe her as a "small diamond".

I'm not so sure about the bullock thing.

Anyway, the 18-year-old has just put out the video for her new single, Crave. A dirty, funky slab of synthpop, it's aimed straight at the heart of the Jessie J market for people who look a bit like Cher Lloyd off X Factor.

The video sees the young singer being chased around by an evil race of malfunctioning photocopiers. Creepy. But catchy.

Spark - Crave

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Friday, February 11, 2011

So, Born This Way, then

Depending on where you live, Lady Gaga's new single Born This Way has premiered or is just about to premiere (Capital FM at 11am). We've heard it. It is amazing. Initial reactions:

1) Spoken word intro - JUST GET ON WITH IT, LOVE
2) "Put your paws up" is the new "do it like a mandem"
3) This sounds a bit like Robyn after a massive dose of self-belief
4) This sounds a bit like Donna Summer on poppers
5) This sounds A LOT like Express Yourself
6) Speaking of which, a Shep Pettibone 12" remix would be amazing.
7) A capella coda = classy
8) This is probably the most straightforward pop song Gaga's ever recorded
9) The line "we have the same DNA" is brilliant, but scientifically inaccurate
10) I am now holding down the repeat button with a copy of Randy Taborelli's "Madonna: An Intimate Biography"

So yeah, it's pretty darn good.

Will it change the face of recorded music forever? No.
Will it do anything to quieten Gaga's critics? No.
Is it a triumphant love letter to her "little monsters"? Absolutely, yes.

Well done.

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

This man has an above-average voice

What you're looking at is a picture of Sir James of Blakenstock, sitting behind his keyboard, getting ready to play a session in the BBC 6 Music kitchen. Tidy, isn't it?

About two seconds after this photo was taken, James politely reminded us that, since all of his music is electronic, we wouldn't hear anything if we remained standing around next to him. So we went to an adjacent room, where we could hear the output of the mixing desk, and peered at him through a plexiglass door.

I don't know about you, but I've never seen anything quite so captivating through a sheet of plexiglass in my life. And I've stood at a bus stop with Moira Stewart, so I'm pretty jaded when it comes to plexiglass-celebrity interfaces.

Why? Because the most amazing sound comes out of this boy's mouth. Pure, soulful, tender. A rare, rare thing of delicate beauty. No wonder his music is so sparse - there is literally no need to embellish the vocals. If you haven't seen him play live, I beseech you to do so as soon as possible.

The 6 Music session is available on the station's website for the next 6 days. Alternatively, you can use the player below to listen to James's performance from last night's Zane Lowe programme. The subtlety is ruined somewhat by the crazy-ass compression Radio 1 run over their entire output, but you'll get the general idea.

James Blake Maida Vale session

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Dear Britney, just get on with it

Is your heart rate elevated? Do you have sweaty palms? Are you on pills for your nerves?

If so, I think the record industry might be to blame. Over the last two years, they've kept us in a constant state of heightened awareness, regularly releasing "teaser videos", "buzz builders" and "impact tracks" for people with the attention span of... Oooh, look, a sausage.

Take Britney Spears. She's putting out fourteen - fourteen - teaser clips to build anticipation for her Hold It Against Me video. Hold It Against Me, the single, is out now and in the charts. But the video won't be unveiled until 17th February, by which point we'll presumably be so overcome with excitement that our mindgrapes burst.

Here is one of the clips in question, which contains the unexpected revelation that Britney Spears' new video will have dancers in it.

Meanwhile, Lady Gaga is over on Twitter posting lyrics for her new single in a carefully orchestrated link-up with tastemaking websites like Perez Hilton and Popjustice. Fans are devouring, debating and deliberating over couplets like: "Don't be a drag, just be a queen". The artwork was leaked last night. The song will premiere on Friday. Lady Gaga will perform it at the Grammys on Sunday.

Even the Foo Fighters are getting in on the act, showing off a new, 30-second guitar riff before they'd even bothered to give their next album a title.

I might be wrong, but aren't we supposed to be excited by the music itself, rather than the anticipation of the release of the music on an undetermined future date?

There are two outcomes here:

1) By the time the actual release comes around, we'll all have lost interest and moved on to something new.

2) One pioneering artist will eventually dispense with the need for full-length singles and albums altogether, releasing a series of 30 second song fragments that never amount to anything more than a hyperactive iTunes playlist for people with ADD.

So, here's a plan. I'm "unfriending" Lady Gaga for the next 48 hours; I'm refusing to look at Britney Spears until 17th February; and if Dave Grohl so much as glances in my direction, I'm sticking my fingers in my ears and singing 10 Green Bottles.

Because if I don't extract myself from this state of constant excitement and arousal, there's a very real danger I'll turn into Zane Lowe.

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More from Those Dancing Days

Last month, I introduced you to fizzy Swedish popsters Those Dancing Days and their single Reaching Forward.

Well, it transpires that discerning music types in the UK have decided that single is JUST NOT GOOD ENOUGH (or maybe the single is too good, and it is you and I who are not worthy).

Either way, it is being replaced with another song called I'll Be Yours. Cue the jangly guitars and the life-affirming harmonies, we have a pop hit on our hands.

Those Dancing Days - I'll Be Yours

PS: Here is a short, but perfectly formed, band biography by the equally short-and-perfectly-formed Maddy Costa.

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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Braids: They whip their hair back and forth

Hello and welcome to Braids. The quartet, from Montreal, are highly skilled purveyors of dreamy indie pop. Which is a good thing, because they would never have succeeded in their alternative chosen careers as Canada's official hide and seek team.

Cheap jokes aside, Braids' official biography is a delight:

Four Calgary high school students decided to form a band one day in the cafeteria. They began practicing and entered their high school's battle of the bands competition. They lost to a Red Hot Chili Peppers cover band. They were not discouraged.

And their music is just as good. Current single Lemonade is a supple, rippling soundscape, with harmonies bobbing to the surface like mermaid calls from the depths of the ocean. It's quite beguiling.

Braids- Lemonade

If you think that slow-building, sonically complex song would be impossible to replicate live, think again. Braids can even do it, busker-style, as they walk down a disused railway line. Amazing.

Braids - Lemonade (acoustic)

The single is out on 14th March, or you can download it without fear of retribution from Stereogum.

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Monday, February 7, 2011

How to make a Dubstep hit in three easy stages

1) Rip off a 1990s Eurodance hit by Sash or Fragma.
2) Slow down the drumbeat by 50%.
3) Hey presto!

The latest entry in this literally quite listenable genre comes from Breakage (feat Jess Mills), whose new single is called Fighting Fire. It goes something like this.

Breakage Ft Jess Mills - Fighting Fire

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Friday, February 4, 2011

The Distract-a-tron

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Britney Spears album cover

According to the press release, "Femme Fatale is a tribute to bold, empowered, confident, elusive, fun, flirty women and men".

What about the meek, disenfranchised, insecure, approachable, unhappy men and women with a regular libido? When is someone going to make an album for them?

[Answer: Coldplay's new record is due in May]

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James Blake is out of focus

When this film came back from the developers, he must have been furious.

James Blake - The Wilhelm Scream

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Doing it wrong: Rihanna

She's an odd fish, that Rihanna (overly literal illustration above). Half the time, she makes titanium-plated pop anthems. The other half is spent churning out cynical, joyless dross like Russian Roulette.

Today, we are sadly in the presence of the latter.

Rihanna's new single, S&M, actually manages to make Samantha Fox's Touch Me seem like a scholarly study of sexual politics. "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but whips and chains excite me," Rihanna repeatedly sings in her colourless monotone, with all the excitement and motivation of a child being forced through the front gates of school.

"Sex in the air, I love the smell of it," she adds. Ah yes, the sweet, seductive smell of sex. That sumptuous aroma of stale bodily fluids and stained bedsheets. So potent and erotic that they pump it through the air conditoning at Tesco to make people buy extra tissues. I think we all know exactly how Rihanna feels.

If you think it all sounds tawdry and desperate, wait til you see the video. It has Perez Hilton in it, for a start. Then Rihanna "suggestively" eats a banana (hint: you're supposed to think of a cock).

It isn't shocking or camp or playful or sexy any of the other things it's supposed to be. It's just BORING.

Rihanna - S&M

Brilliantly, S&M shines a whole new light on Rihanna's other new single. At first, Who's That Chick seemed like a bog-standard collaboration with DJ David Guetta. Not it appears to be a glittering example of carefree, disposable pop. It doesn't even matter that it's a weak retread of Madonna's Who's That Girl, because Rihanna's clearly having a blast.

Plus, it doesn't make you want to stuff your shoe so far down your throat that you choke.

David Guetta feat Rihanna - Who's That Chick

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