Metronomy have resurfaced with a video for the sublime Everything Goes My Way, off of their not-Mercury-winning album The English Riviera. This is the one featuring vocals from Roxanne Clifford, who spends the entire song flirting with a different tune in an alternate key. Somehow it works, though - giving a precarious sense of fragility to the song's story of a faltering relationship.
The video features the band walking through a park (Richmond Park, I think) and encountering some deer, for no immediately justifiable reason.
Rejected titles for this post included: Nearest and deer-est; Deer to dream; Metronomy watch your aunt elope; Stag night; What's this video about? I've no i-deer; Metronomy's en-deer-ing video; Bambi goes emo; Oh deer.
The grainy Parisian visuals seem wistfully appropriate without detracting from Adele's performance, and it's nice to revisit the album version of the track (I'd almost forgotten the chorus's soaring high notes, which have been excised for her live performances).
Everybody sing along now: "Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it ursinstay"
The stonking brilliance of The Saturdays' last single, All Fired Up, was something of a revelation. Suddenly, the quintet who became Britiain's top girl group by default (because the others all gave up) had raised their game with a deranged and distorted dance anthem. They're following it up - in pop's greatest tradition - with a ballad aimed at the Christmas market.
My Heart Takes Over isn't knock-you-sideways extraordinary but it's a competent 7/10 effort. From the croaky, string-drenched opening it picks up an uneven, proto-industrial drumbeat and builds to one of those moments where everything goes uncomfortably quiet for a little longer than is musically appropriate, before it EXPLODES INTO A HUGE FINAL CHORUS.
Of course, that moment of silence is specifically timed for Gary Barlow to say "it's four yesses, you're going to bootcamp!". Someone in The Saturdays team knew exactly what they're doing when they wrote that.
An audio preview of the song went up on YouTube this morning, and the girls are off to Iceland to film the video later today. I hope they've scouted this museum as a potential location.
Lisa Hannigan has got a ukelele and she's not afraid to use it... The 30-year-old, from Kilcooln in County Meath may be familiar to you from her six-year collaboration with Damien Rice, which produced classics like Cannonball and The Blower's Daughter but also this sultry, under-the-sheets version of Pink's Get The Party Started.
Hannigan quit Rice's band in 2007, saying she had "become pretty outspoken about my frustrations at the direction the band was going in... I'm sure he was starting to find me a pain". If her solo material is anything to go by, her bugbear was having to be so bloody morose all the time. Freed from the shackles of Rice's incessant girly weeping, Hannigan's debut album See Sew was giddy, playful and open-hearted. Her new album, Passenger, promises more of the same - quaintly hand-stitched folk music with a sunny disposition. If you can imagine Laura Marling on poppers doing a comedy "top of de mornin to yer" Oirish accent, you'll be half way there.
In the video for the first single, Knots, Hannigan looks like the Rose Of Tralee, dusky of hair and rosy of cheek in a virginal white dress. She then spends four minutes trying to lip-sync while people throw paint over her. It's brilliant.
Proof that UK hip-hop and soul is properly coming of age... The new generation of artists can genuinely "cut it" live (see also: Tinie Tempah, Labrinth and Jessie J). Here's a sublime selection of clips from Jools Holland's current series.
Apparently the rest of the world has decided to ignore Holy Ghost on the grounds that they are too similar to LCD Soundsystem, while missing the point that they are better than LCD Soundsystem because they don't spend entire albums grumbling about being middle-aged and having osteoporosis.
Well, I applaud Holy Ghost for their carefree brand of dance-funk. Striding around in your disco slacks is 100% preferable to slouching on the sofa watching repeats of The Great British Bake Off, wondering where the years have gone.
Not that Holy Ghost are immune to sentimentality. Case in point: The video for their new single Hold My Breath. It's stitched together from personal photos and videos of the band grwoing up together, after they first met at elementary school.
“There were no trepidations about exposing our personal lives,” says singer Alex Frankel. “We literally handed over the archives in all their humiliating and sentimental glory.”
Give them 10 years and they'll be writing a song about rheumatoid arthritis and why they should bring back conscription "to teach the kids some discipline". Until then, enjoy...
If you like your hip-hop stuffed with bigger hooks than a butcher's meatlocker, then B.O.B. is usually your go-to guy. But, after the chart-pummelling success of crossover hits Nothin' On You and Airplanes, the Atlanta rapper has gone for a tougher, street-bound sound on his new single Strange Clouds. Starring Lil' Wayne on guest vocals, it's got the same menacing tone and buzzing bass frequencies as Luniz's classic I Got Five On It.
Fans of B.O.B's poppier moments need not despair, though. The MC recently told SOHH his second album has "a more mature sound but nothing too experimental. It's a happy medium between the sound of B.o.B Presents The Adventures of Bobby Ray and the mixtapes, so everyone should be able to enjoy it."
She's allegedly shooting the video for her new single We Found Love, co-written by Calvin Harris, all semi-naked in the corn.
Look, I grew up in Belfast during the 80s. We couldn't even get Level 42 to come over for a show, never mind a pre-eminent diva of pop'n'rock* in the nearly buff. Also, we never had fields that looked like this.
Or like this...
Or like this...
(I hope someone told her to be careful of that combine harvester)
No. It was more like this...
Seething jealousy aside, I suppose it's "a good thing for tourism" that Rihanna has chosen the Northern Irish capital for her latest video shoot. With any luck, she'll hire a cottage in Donaghadee, write an album about "the craic" and drink a wee pint of Harp at Laverys. But be warned, Ms Fenty, because Ireland is a straaange and disturbing place. In the last week, people have been caught spontaneously combusting. And only a couple of months ago, they were auctioning off the severed head of the patron saint of genital diseases. What I'm saying is: It's more of a Lady Gaga sort of place.
Oh, by the way. Here's that single. Ach, it's grand, so it is.
Despite the geographically-confusing concept of a band called Beirut playing a song called Santa Fe, there is much to recommend this single by Zach Condon and co. The wistful sounds of summer fading make it both seasonally appropriate and the perfect soundtrack for kicking around piles fallen leaves with your headphones on.
Also, the video is spectacularly odd and Zach has a terriffic bouffant. What's not to love?
From next week, you will be able to purchase Nicola Roberts' solo album Cinderella's Eyes. It is something you should seriously consider, not just because the ailing economy needs your support, but because it is a bold artistic statement that also happens to be an excellent pop album. These things don't come along that often.
In an effort to persuade you to part with your £7.99, Nicola has just performed one of the standout album tracks, I, exclusively for the NME.
If you've found her singles a little irritating (and I agree, her I AM DEAD QUIRKY, ME vocals are something of an acquired taste) then steer clear. But if you're the sort of person who likes to hear pop's conventions being tackled head on with a generous helping of dry wit, then you should check it out.
A lot of people believe R.E.M. - who announced they were splitting up today - were po-faced, supercilious millionaire rock stars. Maybe they were - but I always thought Michael Stipe had a million times more humour, emotional complexity, and general awesomeness than Bono and Chris Martin the rest of the rock fraternity. No-one who takes himself seriously would ever have written that ridiculous "hey baby" Elvis impersonation into Man On The Moon.
Over the next few days, as they rake over the embers of R.E.M.'s career, you'll hear a lot about Everybody Hurts and how it became an anthem for the broken-hearted, disillusioned, disenchanted "youth of the nineties". People will also say the band never bettered it.
They will be wrong, because they've forgotten about At My Most Beautiful - a Beach Boys-style ballad from 1999's underrated, sonically adventurous Up album. Anyone who's ever fallen stupidly in love will recognise themselves in phrases like "I read bad poetry / Into your machine", and the naivete of the chorus, "I've found a way to make you smile", is audaciously, heart-smackingly beautiful. In lesser hands, the song could have been corny but, as critic Garry Mulholland once explained, it was Stipe's humble delivery that made R.E.M.'s frequently elliptical lyrics resonate with millions.
"There is almost no ego in his singing," he wrote, "only the desire to own the notes and the words, and to plant their roots into the ground."
It's that time of year when record labels start to wind up the campaigns for their Sound of 2012 hopefuls. At this stage, it seems a fairly safe bet that Lana Del Rey and Ronika are headed for the Top Five. There'll also be something unlistenable from the post-dubstep "genre", an indie band we never hear from again, and an influx of ginger women with big confessional ballads. The industry loves a trend.
Coming up from the rear, however, are three genuinely talented pop singers with spookily similar hair. In order to avoid confusion, I have prepared this handy cut-out-and-keep guide. You are, as always, welcome.
Real name: Paloma Ayana Stoecker Age: 20 Nationality: British Has toured with: Chase & Status If her music was a soft drink it would be: Cherry Cola "Interesting" fact: Paloma's granddad Karl designed Roxy Music's album covers Hyperbolic blog quote: "When I heard ‘Go’ I shed a single tear at the beauty of what I had been lucky enough to bear witness to." (Kwa.me) Her single sounds like: The unholy marriage of Chaka Khan and Katy B She says: "If I could be anything apart from a person I would like to be a Pencil." (Pyromag)
Real name: Amanda Mair Age: 16 Nationality: Swedish Has toured with: No-one If her music was a soft drink it would be: Ginger Beer "Interesting" fact: Amanda lives on an island, like Robinson Crusoe Hyperbolic blog quote: "Impossible not to be amazed" (Hits In The Car) Her single sounds like: Florence and the Machine on mood stabilisers She says: "My parents have a bakery and I can make seven types of cookies." (Popjustice)
Real name: Jade Williams Age: 23 Nationality: British Has toured with: Ellie Goulding If her music was a soft drink it would be: Lucozade Sport "Interesting" fact: Jade had hypnotherapy to overcome her stage fright Hyperbolic blog quote: "Probably cooler than anyone we’ll ever know" (Sugarscape) Her new single sounds like: A cover of Suncreem's Love You More. She says: "I’d love to do a gig at the National History Museum in one of the display cabinets with the stuffed animals." (There Goes The Fear)
About 15 years ago, in the heyday of Loaded and FHM, Lynx came up with an ad campaign where they promised that if you sprayed "Africa" or "Instinct" on your armpits, girls would flock to your door and do sex on you. It continues to this day, with laughable promises like "the cleaner you are, the dirtier you'll get". In reality, of course, any potential rumpo would be over the second a girl licked your back and got that horrible dry musky taste on her tongue.
Nonetheless, the concept persists. And now Jennifer Lopez has taken it on in the video for her new single Papi. She's reversed the gender roles, obviously, and she doesn't need to use a special bodyspray to attract men because Jennifer Lopez smells like fresh sky on a mountain top.
So, in the video J-Lo eats a magic love cookie (similar to a hash brownie, one presumes) and hundreds of men fall over themselves to get her attention, with hilarious consequences. At least, I assume it's supposed to be funny - but I think they've miscalculated the comedic effect of a posse of men on a wild testosterone binge pursuing a lone women down the streets of New York. The extras all seem to have a little too much fire in the blood. They're looting and smashing things up, chasing a visibly distressed Jennifer Lopez in their cars, and forcibly pulling her out of her own car through the sun roof.
When it suddenly breaks into an impromptu dance sequence, you realise they were just trying catch J-Lo in order to compliment her fabulous shoes - but for a moment there it all got a little sex crimey.
1) Arctic Monkeys have dispatched drummer Matt Helders to the US, where he's filmed a video for Suck It And See, the plodsome title track to the band's otherwise excellent new LP. Part Bonnie And Clyde, part Natural Born Killers, the resulting mini-movie is achingly, disdainfully cool. Warning: contains nudity.
2) Noel Gallagher has released what can only be described as a surprisingly competent solo single. AKA... What A Life! is, despite the tediously overwritten title, a little gem - carried along on a psychedelic swirl of Madchester house pianos, and sounding not entirely unlike Ian Brown's better solo material. Well played, monobrow.
Martin Solveig's Hello is pretty much the perfect radio rotation record. It's under three minutes, it's insanely catchy and it comes packed with more bubbles than an Aero. Consequently, Hello has been played on UK radio more than 500 times in the last 30 days, nearly 10 months after it was released.
Not one to change a winning formula, the French DJ has re-teamed with Dragonette for a sequel. Called Big In Japan , it picks up exactly where Hello left off. I don't just mean it has an equally cheery demeanour and a towering selection of dance beats. I mean this song has literally been recorded over the top of Hello. The instruments are the same, the melody is in the same key, even the tempo is a completely identical 128bpm.
Don't believe me? Here's the intro to both songs, played at exactly the same time.
Still, it's hard to gripe when a song is this infectiously upbeat. If you loved Hello, you're going to love this too... Guest chants come from Japanese reality show group Idoling!
Pictured above is an an emotional moment from the Kelly Rowland's new video Lay It On Me. For her new solo project record, the X-Factor judge has taken note of her success as a "featured artist" on innumerable club smashes, and souped up a rather plain R&B jam with premium brand rave synths. Result = 100% quite good.
Sadly, the video's not ready yet, but we have a behind-the-scenes preview courtesy of Rap-Up TV. Warning: You will hear the chorus repeated many, many times over the duration of the following video and it's insanely catchy. You may find yourself inadvertently singing this to strangers in the lift.
Luckily, the lyrics make no reference to the forbidden love that is shared by a woman and a pachyderm, so you won't be causing undue offence.
Ever since the viral success of F**k You, lyric videos have become hugely desirable marketing tools. Cheap but effective, they siphon fans away from unofficial, low-quality "radio rips" on YouTube, giving the artist time precious time to make a proper music video after their song premieres.
But Cee-Lo's lyrics were written by somebody with a keen grasp of idiom and metaphor. They were also very funny. Not everyone can be so talented lucky. Having fatally misunderstood the entire concept, Alexis Jordan released a lyric video for her new single Laying Around With You last week. The lyrics were punishingly banal in the first place ("What I wouldn't give to cook you dinner in the microwave") but having them spelt out in front of your eyes will cause your melt your brain.
But, lo! To the rescue come Labrinth and Nicola Roberts. Both have made their latest lyrics available online for your discernment and scrutiny.
Labrinth gets Tinie Tempah to repay the favour he paid on Frisky, by getting him to star as featured vocalist on Earthquake. Going for a playful-but-dumb vibe, the duo namecheck Labrinth's label boss Simon Cowell: "Hey Simon, we be fucking them up / Turning em Syco, everybody rock".
Much as I appreciated PJ Harvey's album in a "well, this is all incredibly clever" kind of way, it was far from being my favourite record on the 2012 Mercury shortlist. Tinie Tempah was too commercial, and Metronomy were too good to win - so my choice for the prize was Anna Calvi. If nothing else, she needed the £20,000 just to keep her in hair lacquer.
For the uninitiated, Anna is a tiny mouse of a woman strapped to a honking great Fender Telecaster, with a voice that reaches deep into your soul and gives it a thorough seeing to.
Her previous singles Blackout and Desire are basically musical aphrodisiacs, drenched in pheremone and dripping with lust. The post-Mercury follow-up, Suzanne And I, initially seems just as libidinous, with its insistent refrain "we will never be apart". But Anna says there's a much more mysterious story behind the lyrics.
"It's about falling asleep and getting lost in your dream, and perhaps meeting someone or seeing your unconcious and making the decision to run away into your imagination and never wake up. It was inspired by a film called My Winnipeg, where a guy wants to leave this town but everyone in the town keeps falling asleep and he can't leave. It's very surreal and strange. I wrote it the day after I watched the movie."
So what we have is a song about death that's the aural embodiment of lust. Disturbing, but brilliant. But disturbing.
Continental crackpot Camille is back with a brand new single, L'étouderie (The Thoughtlessness).
For the uninitiated, her previous records are transcendentally bonkers Gallic pop, recorded totally a capella. Or rather a le corps, as the every inch of the 33-year-old's body is employed in some way. Of particular genius is Money Note, a song from her 2008 album Music Hole, which is not only a sly joke at the expense of Celine Dion, but also a six-minute deep house epic performed entirely on a human fleshbag.
Having pretty much exhausted the possibilities of a capella arrangements, Camille has allowed a few basic acoustic instruments onto her new album, Ilo Veyou (that's I Love You, in case you hadn't noticed). Camille's quotes on the press release are, unsurprisingly, in French, but here's what Google Translate tells us.
"Ilo Veyou" album is a stripped, acoustic, organic, a capella, which speaks of love and that has been registered under specific conditions, with a particular acoustic sometimes live, sometimes with a string quartet or in places individuals as a chapel.
Essentially, the album was recorded live, in various locations with peculiar and special acoustics. We don't know where L'étouderie was committed to tape, but I like to think it was on a fishing boat. It has a gentle, lilting quality that would sound perfect if you were set adrift in the middle of the Atlantic.
The only YouTube clip available so far is an acoustic performance, performed while Camille balances a stick on her head.
Mylo Xyloto. It sounds like a character in a Japanese video game. The sort of game where the visuals give you a contact migraine and the soundtrack is like having jagged kebab skewers shoved into your eardrums.
Mylo Xyloto is, in fact, the new album from Coldplay - so the effect is broadly similar. Or so you'd think...
Because Paradise, the second single from the band's latest long player, is actually quite tolerable. Much like Lost, the funky, Jay-Z featuring single from Prospekts March, it melds the bands melodic instincts to a rhythm worthy of Timbaland. And Chris Martin doesn't sound too moany for once.
"Listen without prejudice," as it says in the Bible [are you sure about this? - Ed].
I promised to post the new Lana Del Rey video as soon as someone at her record label hit the "publish" button on YouTube. So here it is... and it's called Blue Jeans.
Songs about unrequited love are a tricky prospect - it's easy for a line like "you fit me better than my favourite sweater" to come off as clingy and desperate. Lana Del Rey's tormented vocals sidestep that neatly. Even a hackneyed line like "I will love you til the end of time" drips with desire. That yearning Arizona accent helps (although I thought Lana was supposed to be a New Yorker?).
I particularly love how the video splices archive footage with the singer's performance... Not since Janet Jackson's Again has 2Pac been seen in the proximity of such a fragile song.
Today, we've got two songs that stick rigidly to their genre tropes, but somehow manage to make a virtue of that fact. They are the Guy Ritchies of pop music. They are The Apprentice in a world of Temptation Islands. They are....
1) Le Kid - We Are The Drums Le Kid is a front for three Swedish songwriters you've never heard of, who penned hits for the likes of Alcazar and Agnes, who you've also never heard of.
But that doesn't matter, because We Are The Drums is a terrrific little pop song. Garishly fluorescent, perhaps, but the sort of thing you could imagine Girls Aloud singing in their prime. The lyrics are a strident call to arms against anonymous DJs and their seriousface mixtapes. The chorus runs "We are the drums / And you're just another TV theme / We are the beat / And you're acting like a drum machine".
The fact that this is sung over a stoically clichéd drum loop is either artistic genius or fantastic hubris.
2) Wavves - Nodding Off (feat Best Coast)
Californian surf rockers Wavves couldn't sound more different than Le Kid, but they too are sitting right in the middle of their comfort zone. Mosquito-buzz guitars, boxy drums and syrupy West Coast backing vocals are the order of the day here.
The title belies the song's energetic riffage (hang around for the genuinely exciting crescendo at 2'00"). And the song is all the better for the presence of Bethany Cosentino from Best Coast - aka the coolest woman in rock.
Forget Liverpool and Manchester, St Alban's is the UK's hottest musical city. Yes, sleepy suburban sinkhole St Alban's. Not only is it named after the indecently talented What Is Love hitmaker Dr Alban*, but it also gave birth to the likes of Friendly Fires, Enter Shikari, Siobhan Fahey from Bananarama and Paul "is getting down on the floor" Cattermole out of S Club 7.
So it's hardly a surprise to learn that they've turned out yet another great pop act. This one goes by the unweildy name of Alunageorge which is a clever compound word derived from the first name of singer Aluna Francis and producer George Reid. Thank goodness they weren't called Anu and Sol.
The reason they're so good is that they take the tricky experimentalism of James Blake and marry it to coruscating R&B harmonies. The result is something like the music Aaliyah would have been making if she'd lived to see 2011.
Alunageorge's current single is You Know You Like It (But It Drives You Insane). The video is below, and the song is available at your local MP3 download location.
Victoria Christina Hesketh has been disappointingly quiet on the releasing singles front, but it's good to know that she's still dipping her Little Boots into the sparkly waters of pop. For, at the end of that tweet is a link to the new video from Joe Goddard of Hot Chip "fame" that is, quite simply, house music at its most beautiful. It sounds like this.
The 1990s jack swing revival continues apace with the launch of "for real" girl band RD (it stands for Rough Diamondz, apparently). The trio may have handicapped themselves with an impossible-to-Google name, but the material is promising.
In their own words, RD are "a nod back to the glory days when sassy girl groups - En Vogue, Salt ‘N’ Pepa, TLC and the like - ruled the roost". To pick more a recent (but nonetheless ancient in pop terms) example, the band combine the smudged glamour of All Saints with Mis-Teeq's diet R&B.
The girls are (l-r) MC Chronz, Troy and Martika. They've toured with JLS and been mentored by N-Dubz, but have somehow managed to escape untainted from both experiences.
And if RD seem vaguely familiar, it might be because you heard Do It Like Me - the funky, Dead Prez-sampling single they released last year. I've no idea what they've been up to since then, but I'd like to imagine they've been polishing up the screenplay they pitched to MTV's The Wrap in January.