Monday, April 30, 2012

Rihanna has a severe case of feminine itch

You know you can get a cream for that, love?

Rihanna - Where Have You Been

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New from MIA: Come Walk With Me

MIA tweeted a link to this, apparently unofficial, video last night... The dance moves are incredible, and the song's mixture of 60s girlpop and chaotic noise is sublime. Presumably Come Walk With Me is a new song from her forthcoming album. In which case, I can't wait for that release date to roll around.

MIA - Come Walk With Me

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Stooshe redeem themselves

I had a dig at Stooshe's pointless cover version of Things That Make You Go Hmm... last week so it's only fair that, in the interests of balance, I point out that their latest video is actually quite good.

Black Heart is a retro soul torch ballad, and the girls get all glammed up for the videogram. Thankfully, they keep the inane "Oim so blaaahdy quirky, innit?" chatter to a minimum, and there's an unexpected chord change in the chorus that just kills.

Stooshe, you have been temporarily reprieved from the shit list. Well played.

Stooshe - Black Heart

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Azealia Banks & Lana Del Rey - together at last

When they're not lazing about in hotel bedrooms, it turns out that Lana Del Rey and sweary rapping lady Azealia Banks have a mutual appreciation society going on. That's led to a collaboration on Lana's new single, Blue Jeans, which has been remixed and spruced up with a high-octane cameo from Ms Banks. There is also a massive donk on it.

File this one under "totally unexpected", but create a separate index card for "audacious and awesome".

While I'm here, there's a new Lana Del Rey video I've been meaning to post all week.

It's to accompany album track Carmen and it sees Lana return to the found footage montages she created for some of her demo tracks last year. The difference this time is that her YouTube page lists credits all the vinatge videos she's "borrowed". This may have something to do with the fact that Lana got sued to high heaven over the Video Games promo last year.

"That was a bad day," she told me in January. "A million views and it got wiped out. I have a copyright specialist that I work with now." Ooops!

Lana Del Rey - Carmen

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Here is Nicki Minaj's video for Starships

The much-delayed, heavy-on-the-subtlety video for Nicki Minaj's Starships has finally arrived.

If you've been hoping the clip would linger on uncomfortably explicit shots of Nicki's boobs then, boy, are you in luck.

Nicki Minaj - Starships

So, is starships basically a euphemism for tits? Answers on a postcard, etc.

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Two women sitting on a floor

Ren Harvieu sounds like a small village on the French coast, full of wrinkly old men in berets chomping on onions and playing pétanque.

But it turns out Ren Harvieu is actually a raven-haired 21-year-old singer from Salford with a right proper Northern accent. Her singing voice, on the other hand, is treacle-dark - sonorous and melancholy, and recorded with more reverb than the Grand Canyon.

Ren describes her music as "passionate, dramatic, intense, emotional". Accordingly, she has been compared to Dusty Springfield, Peggy Lee and The Walker Brothers. Or, as one writer put it, Ren is for people who "secretly like Rumer but think she's too mumsy".

I enjoyed her debut single, Through The Night, back in January (although not enough to write about it, natch). The follow-up is even better. The Train Song is a duet with former Mrs Jack White, Karen Elson, which fits neatly next to The Pierces on my playlist of female-fronted gothic rock close-harmony love ballads.

The video sees the two singers pulling their best Abba poses, while sitting resolutely still on the floor. But, given that Ren was nearly paralysed after breaking her back last year, you can fogive her for not doing a full-on George Sampson funky banjo dance.

Renm Harvieu and Karen Elson - The Train Song

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Foster The People are record label puppets

LA's Foster The People have created some of the best music videos of the last 12 months. Their new one, for the re-release of former single Houdini, is a brilliantly macabre satire on the music industry. In the opening scenes, the band are killed in a horrific stage accident, but their management conspire to keep the money rolling in by turning their corpses into puppets.

Conceptually, it's reminiscent of Peter Serafinowicz's video for Hot Chip's I Feel Better - but Foster The People play it for laughs. They've even included an enthusiastic bumming scene for the band's burgeoning gay fanbase.

Well, I never.

The full video is below, and if you haven't already invested in it, Foster The People's excellent debut album, Torches, is a bargainacious £5 on Amazon this week.

Foster The People - Houdini

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A very good Norah Jones remix

There is a song on Norah Jones's latest album called She's 22. The original is a rather lugubrious affair, with carefully strummed guitars and Norah doing her sultry, eyes-half-closed, femme fatale thing. But, with a bit of embellishment from TV On The Radio's David Sitek, it becomes a glacial electro spine-chiller. It's really rather excellent.

The remix was commissioned for Record Store Day but it turned out so well that Norah decided to give it away to everyone for free. Or rather, for the price of your email address. Here's the link. And here's the song.

Norah Jones - She's 22 (Dave Sitek Remix)

While we're at it, the video for Norah's latest single, Happy Pills, is also worth watching. The basic premise is: Don't cheat on Norah Jones, or she will kill you.

Norah Jones - Happy Pills

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A load of old StooShe

I've been enjoying the whole StooShe "thing" up til now. Their first single, Betty Woz Gone, was funny and smart while dealing with some pretty serious issues - social services, drug taking, death. And I didn't mind Radio One playing Love Me to the point where the song lost all meaning, because it had more personality in it's opening bars than an entire box set of Saturdays albums.

Their new single... Well, their new single is a cover of C And C Music Factory's 1990 novelty hit Things That Make You Go Hmmm. It doesn't turn out well for anyone.

StooShe - Things That Make You Go Mmmm

You see, for all of its epic naffness, the original Things That Make You Go Hmmm had a brilliant lyrical conceit.

Each verse was a story, with a set-up, a pay-off and a moral - eg the wife who tests her husband's loyalty by leaving the house and sending over a girl in a tight dress; and who gets her comeuppance when it turns out the girlfriend had designs on her man all along.

There are some nice little lyrical touches, too: Like when rapper Freedom Williams says he and his best friend Jay "are so damn close we're the same blood type". And it includes the awesome Apache drum break, which was obligatory for any rap song released between 1987 and 1992.

StooShe keep a lot of the C&C song's lyrical structure - and lot of the content - but they completely strip out the narrative and the humour. They replace story-telling with a few cheap innuendos and a lot of waffle about how "controversial" StooShe are. I mean, come on. It's not like they've slaughtered a goat and eaten its entrails live on T4.

You'll also notice that StooShe waste a lot of time rapping about lipgloss and nail varnish. That's because the song has been placed in an advert for a range of make-up.

The whole thing is cheap, pointless and tawdry. And if you don't believe me, here's the original, which looks like a masterpiece in comparison (even though it has one of the most hilariously mishandled videos of all time).

C and C Music Factory - Things That Make You Go Hmmm...

While we're here - you should take a listen to Clivillés and Cole's remix of the song. A slow-building house groove, it has literally nothing to do with the rap version. I'd rate it as one of the best remixes of the entire 1990s - especially that gospel piano that kicks in around the 1'40" mark.

C and C Music Factory - Things That Make You Go Hmmm... (Classic House Mix)

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Oh, hello there, Fiona Apple

Hey, how are you?! What have you been up to? Oh, really. Really? Wow. Well, you're looking very well. No, nothing much has changed around here. We got some new shelves in last week but other than that... Yeah, just keeping things ticking over. Mm-hm? Oh, I know. He did not?! That's so typically Jeff, isn't it? And did they ever catch the guy? Haha! No. Way. Oh, and have you been watching Homeland? It's such good television. So well made. Really clever. Did you know that the guy was British? And the other one - Paul or Saul or... Yeah, him. Anyway, he was in The Princess Bride. Yeah, yeah. Remember the one who went, "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die". That one! I know! I wouldn't have known if it wasn't in The Guardian last week.


Honestly, some people.

PS: That first paragraph is the full title of Fiona Apple's new album.

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When they aren't sitting on a window sill, AlunaGeorge make excellent pop records

Well, this is a long, hot shower of a song. Invigorating and luxuriant, it'll steam up your windows and leave a puddle on the carpet.

The culprits are AlunaGeorge, two 24-year-olds from North London who met on the internet but not like that. Their last single You Know You Like It was one of 2011's year's best un-noticed releases - a fantastically odd pop record, which I described as "the sort of music Aaliyah would be making if she'd lived to see 2011". You can refresh your memory on YouTube.

The shower song is a new single, Just A Touch, which is released today. It sticks broadly to the same template - glitching subsonic basslines splashing all over a cooing, whispered melody. Or, as George puts it, "a soulful song with weird noises". It'll clean out your pipes, and that's a fact.

Go on, give it a rinse [that's quite enough of the shower references, don't you know there's a drought on? Water Ed].

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Friday, April 20, 2012

That Cheryl Cole single in full

The wait is over. Cheryl's big comeback single, Call My Name, has been on the radio and it is genuinely very good indeed.

And if you were wondering how the song might look if it were represented in the form of a pie chart, you are in luck my friend:

Without further ado, here is the song in an embedded audio format. Superb.

Cheryl Cole - Call My Name

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Scissor Sisters: Only The Horses video

There are two key elements to the new Scissor Sisters video



Directed by Hiro Murai and Lorenzo Fonda (B.O.B, Usher, Metronomy) there's an hilarious making-of video available on YouTube (sample quote: "I'll eat that pig's anus if I get fifty thousand dollars"). Lorenzo Fonda's blog is a great place to lose yourself for five minutes, too.

Scissor Sisters - Only The Horses

Only The Horses is out on 13 May, followed by an album, Magic Hour, on 28 May.

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This is the new song by DJ Fresh and Dizzee Rascal. It is called The Power. It is not a cover version of the classic Snap! single - although that would have been amazing, too, because after all Dizzee Rascal is this generation's lyrical Jesse James, is he not? Yes he is.

You don't really need to think too carefully about the lyrical content of The Power. It has lines about people "waving their hands in the air" (oh dear) and girls "shaking their tail" (oh dear, oh dear) but it is still the most exciting thing you will hear all day. Guaranteed.

Hmmm... That video doesn't seem finished, does it? Assuming it's not legit, and will be taken off the internet by lunchtime, here's an official teaser clip for the song to show you what you're missing.

DJ Fresh ft Dizzee Rascal - The Power

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New music: Blondfire

If you're lucky enough to get a job in pop radio or music journalism, you realise very quickly how brutal the record industry is. And the greatest illustration of that comes from the postman.

Every morning, he'll deliver a dozen or more envelopes, crammed with CDs and press releases from bands who will never, ever be heard from again. These are people who have fought their way past thousands of other hopefuls to get a recording contract. They are singers who thought their time had come the moment they signed their lives away on that major label legal document. But, no...

Of those dozen CDs, you're lucky if one ever makes its way onto radio. And that's not always because the other 11 are bad (although some of them are truly shocking). Maybe another artist is doing something similar, but better. Maybe the song is too long or too caustic for daytime playlists. Maybe the CD is by Status Quo. There are dozens of factors.

So it's a nice surprise when a band who have been tantalisingly, achingly close to a breakthrough come back with a new song that fulfills their promise and rescues them from dumperville.

I think Blondfire may have just done that.

Hailing from New York, Blondfire are brother and sister duo Bruce and Erica Driscoll. They used to be called Astaire, until Fred Astaire's widow threatened to sue them. For this reason, they refer to her in interviews as "Skeletor".

When they were Astaire, the band were hovering on the periphery of mainstream success - they had songs on Dawson's Creek and a bunch of Hollywood film soundtracks (L-L-Love, from piss-poor romcom Monster In Law, is particularly catchy). Erica also wrote B.O.Y. for Jessica Simpson, which must have helped pay the rent for a couple of months.

The new material is a huge leap forward. The duo have an instinct for unassailable pop melodies, but they've started throwing in a few curveballs - animal noises; big acoustic drum tracks; wonky guitar riffs. It's quirky and angular without losing sight of the hooks. And it sounds incredibly polished for a young band who self-produce their own material.

Erica lists her current influences as MGMT, The Smiths and The Cardigans. For once, that's not setting up unrealistic expectations. I'd also mention Dragonette and The Bird And The Bee, who share a similarly left-field approach to dreamy pop.

The band's latest song is called Hide And Seek. I think you might like it.

The video for Hide and Seek is due soon... If you're interested in how Blondfire look via the medium of moving image, you should check out the clip for their last single, Where The Kids Are, below.

Blondfire - Where The Kids Are

I sincerely hope it all works out for them this time around. If you want to know more they are on Facebook and Twitter.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

12 solid FACTS about Cheryl Cole's new music

How do we know: Because it says so on Cheryl's newly-relaunched website. To be precise, it says Call My Name will be played "from 8:10am on all UK radio". Which is quite a bold statement, when you think about it.

How do we know: Calvin hinted at his involvement when he posted a picture from the video shoot, saying "Can't wait to see this". His production credit was later confirmed in the "tabloid press".

How do we know: Music website That Grape Juice described it as "an alleged electro tinged dance floor romp with a 4-on-the-floor breakdown". They clearly haven't heard it but if you had to describe the key components of the Calvin Harris oeuvre, you couldn't do much better than that.

How do we know: Because she has been teasing fans with photos from the video shoot, which took place in Los Angeles earlier this month under the watchful eye of Anthony Mandler (Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna). In these pictures, Cheryl is alternately missing her coat and her trousers. Isn't it annoying when that happens?

How do we know: In February, Cheryl posted something that looked like lyrics on Twitter. "You know it turns me on when the beat starts dirty dancing.. The way it calls to me I can almost feel its rage.. La da da da da Dum Dum.."

While these might not be from a single (or even an album track, assuming a few songs have been rejected) the lyric "La da da da da Dum Dum" clearly puts Cheryl on the fast track for an Ivor Novello award.

How do we know: Because Cheryl announced it this afternoon. Call My Name is out on June 10. The album is out on June 18.

How do we know: See above.

How do we know: Cheryl's PR team tweeted about it ages ago. It comes with a stylish clear plastic sleeve, with a bonus yellow post-it note to protect prying eyes from the TOP SECRET song titles. This security measure was devised by the FBI.

How do we know: Let's just say the album was put together with a lot less haste than Messy Little Raindrops. We expect it will be more coherent as a result.

How do we know: Because The Sun says so. According to their article, which is based on quotes from an unnamed source, "the record label are pretty happy about it because Lana has a massive following." A massive following, you say? Unlike, for example, Cheryl Cole? What a strange sentence. Anyway, a press release for the record confirms the Del Rey connection once and for all.

How do we know: Because he is her manager, you nitwit.

12) ER.... THAT'S IT.
So here is a picture of Cheryl in a tunnel.

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An update on songs by Rita, Nelly and Lana

This isn't one of those music blogs where we tease you with new material then lose interest and leave you hanging. Oh no. Nosiree.

Here are some updates on our most popular* posts of the last few weeks.

:: On 24 February, I mentioned a song by Rita Ora called Party and Bullshit. It now has a video where Rita is seen HAVING FUN A PARTY but does not wade through a swimming pool of bullshit. Disappointing.

It also seems the track, which is her debut single in the US, has been re-christened How We Do (Party). Ho hum.

Rita Ora - How We Do (Party)

:: On 10 April, I posted a clip of Nelly Furtado's comeback single Big Hoops (Bigger The Better). I noted that the song sounded incredible, despite the heavily distorted audio in the video Nelly had put on her website.

The full song is up on YouTube now (and on iTunes if you live in certain "territories"). It's still very good, but I miss the distortion.

Nelly Furtado - Big Hoops (Bigger The Better)

:: On several occasions, I have mentioned popular and totally authentic chanteuse Lana Del Rey. Her demo recordings have been kept as secure as a wig in a hurricane, which means that, with a bit of creative Googling, you can pretty much download an alternate mix of her entire debut album (hint: National Anthem comes out particularly well).

The one I'd been waiting for was album highlight Dark Paradise and, as if on command, it popped up on Soundcloud last night. Thanks, internet.

* read more than once

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Best Coast are giving you a free song

In the 50s and 60s, British guitar bands used to churn out songs about having a lovely time. The Kinks would laze on a Sunny Afternoon; Cliff Richard had no worries for a week, or possibly even two; and who can forget Mungo Jerry's In The Summertime with its legally-questionable advice to: "have a drink, have a drive, maybe do a ton or twenty-five"?

These days, though, our rock stars wouldn't dream of being seen out in the sun, in case the heat made them spontaneously combust. I blame punk and it's aggressive strait-jacketing of "authentic" rock topics - ie fighting, hating things, being angry and having drugs.

In fact, after devoting 30 seconds of continuous thought to the subject, I've concluded that the last decade of British rock has produced JUST ONE song about the joys of being off work and eating an iced lolly. It's this one.

Franz Ferdinand - Jacqueline

US artists don't seem to have this hang-up about the summer. Maybe it's because they actually get a summer - but American rock is literally dripping with hot fun and beach parties. FOR EXAMPLE, here is The Only Place - a new song by achingly cool LA duo Best Coast - whose opening gambit is: "We were born with the sun in our teeth and in our hair".

Download it for free, and store it up for that one week in July when Britain is "scorching hot" (23°C).

PS: I used to think Best Coast were called Best Coats. I think they should consider making the change.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sophie Ellis Bextor has a potty mouth

Sophie Ellis Bextor might look like an angel, but she has the vocabulary of a football hooligan if this new single is anything to go by. She's effing and jeffing all over the shop but it's always a bit of an illicit thrill when posh people swear, isn't it?

The record is a duet with Bob "Love Generation" Sinclar and it is called Fuck With You.

Well, I never.

Bob Sinclar ft Sophie Ellis Bextor - Fuck With You

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Awe-ral Satisfaction

Seattle isn't exactly renowned for its heritage of great soul music. Grunge: Yes. Speed metal: Yes. Tossed Salad and Scrambled Eggs: Yes.

Admittedly, it was also Jimi Hendrix's birthplace, but he didn't really achieve anything of note until he moved to England.

So it comes as something of a surprise to find the year's best hip-hop album (yes, already) on Seattle's Sub Pop label. The company is better known for surfing the bleeding-edge of rock, having signed Nirvana, Butthole Surfers and Sonic Youth. But in recent years they've diversified, taking the likes of Fleet Foxes and Flight Of The Conchords under their wing.

The record in question is by THEESatisfaction. They are a duo - Stas and Cat - who have branded themselves "queens of the stoned-age". That should give you a clue as to their sound: A blunted neo-soul that recalls the mind-bending psychedelia of Common's Electric Circus album. Like that record, AwE NaturalE is raw but sensuous. Woozy but sharp. Experimental yet listenable. (Although there is one absolute clunker about half-way through).

But why take my word for it? Sub Pop have put the ENTIRE THING up on YouTube as a permanent stream. A bold move but potentially a wise one. I went to iTunes and bought the album after 15 minutes.

THEESatisfaction - AwE NaturalE

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Monday, April 16, 2012

Rizzle Kicks do a free MP3

This just arrived in my inbox, so I thought I'd share... Rizzle Kicks are giving away a new song, for no particular reason other than they feel like it. They clearly haven't been taking business lessons from The Joker.

Nasty is the name of the track. It rumbles along on an old skool "tip", and appears to be more Rizzle than Kicks. You can watch below, or download via this Soundcloud link.

Top marks for the line: "Sitting on the couch can only get me so-fa". Gyles Brandreth would be proud.

Rizzle Kicks - Nasty

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Friday, April 13, 2012

Rebecca Ferguson: Glitter and Gold

Something has gone very right with the Rebecca Ferguson campaign, hasn't it?

The songs are genuine, she does great smokey eyes in the promo shots, and her album's mum-friendly without being too bland. Who'd have thought that the face of Walker's Sunbite Crisps would have a career making successful, grown-up pop?

In the world of UK talent show graduates, that puts her in an exclusive club of two, alongside Will "do you remember the time he stood up to Simon Cowell" Young*.

Her new video, Glitter And Gold, came out today and it's inspired by the video game Paper Mario.

Rebecca Ferguson - Glitter and Gold

* Yes, we do remember, because the clip is played on the television EVERY TIME HE'S ON. It's not even that good. He comes across like a posh school prefect having a tantrum because someone's running in the corridor. They should show this video of him reading his autobiography instead.

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"They made a sunrise for people like us"

:: Do you like Arcade Fire?

:: Do you like chiming guitars?

:: Do you like three people singing a top-line melody without bothering about harmony?

:: Do you like bands where some of the people are related to each other, but not in a sexy way?

:: Do you like your favourite artists to look like they just escaped from a quasi-religious cult?

...Then you are sure to like Family Of The Year, whose single Stairs contains the most creative use of the word "fucking" this year.

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

What is Paloma Faith having for tea?

The above picture is a screen capture from Paloma Faith's new video, Picking Up The Pieces. In the context of the storyline, Paloma is having a miserable dinner with her boyfriend, who is still in love with his ex. The video contains lots of staring into the middle distance and slow motion footage of couples arguing. There is also a song.

But the big, important question is "what's Paloma Faith having for tea?". She's in a posh restaurant, so it's probably scallops or a millefeuille of pears or some horrible cut of lamb with a "mint spume".

Luckily, the director gives us a close-up.

Spam and carrots.
That's spam.
And some carrots.

No wonder she looks so pissed off.

Once you've finished retching, the video (like the single) is rather brilliant. It really makes me think of The Spice Girls' Goodbye, for some reason. I think it might be the castle.

Paloma Faith - Picking Up The Pieces

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Gig review: Ronika

Last night, Ronika did an EP launch in a room above a pub with a glitter ball on the ceiling*...

The Nottingam-born singer (real name Veronica Sampson, according to ASCAP) is so steeped in 1980's iconography you expect her to arrive on stage in a De Lorean, sipping a Dr Pepper, clutching a poster of Ralph Macchio.

She doesn’t, though. She simply strolls through the crowd, clambers over the lip of the stage and starts singing. It’s not the classiest entrance in pop history, but this girl has the poise to pull it off.

Ronika is relatively new to the live 'arena' but she's already perfected her Goldfrappian ice maiden death-stare. Her stage patter has a similarly bleak humour: "I’d like to introduce you to my band: Exhibit A, Exhibit B and Exhibit C."

Not that this is a seriousface pop tragedy. Ronika also breaks out the robot dance, and the double handclaps, while her tight blonde curls literally bounce to the beat. The choreography has been lovingly cribbed from the early, clumsy TV appearances of a certain Madonna, before she started looking like a frayed rope.

If you're a regular reader, you'll already know that Ronika's retro rollerdisco funk gets a big thumbs up from us here at Discopop Towers. It works just as well live, complete with choppy Chic guitars, crunchy Linn drums, and a surprisingly limber man (I think he was Exhibit B) playing frankly impossible bass runs. Ronika, who had lost her voice earlier in the day, sounded studio-perfect. Breathy and peppy in equal measure.

It's still early days for the project. I'm told an album of demos will be ready by the summer, after which the real work of finding a record label starts. But with a bit of luck, Ronika should become a star bigger than the fluorescent sweatbands on her wrist.

*This picture by Dom Henry was taken at a completely different show, because some cretin stole my phone last night. This is what you get for going to East London, folks.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A very distorted clip of Nelly Furtado's comeback single

Let's face it, the wheels fell off the Nelly Furtado train about five years ago. Maneater was amazing. Promiscuous was amazing. Even the one Chris Martin wrote was amazing. But then she went and did an (admittedly very good) Spanish-language project and a half-assed greatest hits album and everyone basically lost interest.

But... BUT Nelly has just posted a clip of her new, Darkchild-produced, single Big Hoops on YouTube.

Sadly, the lyrics aren't a plea for an adult-sized edition of the popular corn snack, Hula Hoops (although could someone sort this out, please?). No, it's a song about having big earrings like Pat Butcher off EastEnders.

A weighty subject, and one worthy of serious discussion, I'm sure you'll agree.

Anyway, it turns out that the lyrics don't matter one jot because the beat is so gigantically, colossally propulsive that it will knock you backwards like a sucker punch from a kangaroo. Have a listen, then get ready for the full song in a matter of days...

Nice to have you back, Nelly.

Nelly Furtado - Big Hoops (Bigger The Better)

If you are affected by the issues raised in this video clip, Nelly Furtado has provided further insight into the lyrics with the following blurb on her YouTube channel.

Half-child,half-woman. Those big jeans and hoops unstoppable but even more unstoppable the swagger. Becoming the myth. Mythical poster creature. Hair gel hardened under a mound of fresh bun. Gold hoops borrowed from older sister. White Sox jersey borrowed from a friend who's a boy with a crush on you. Oh but the swagger. The Bigger The Better. Waiting to be invited into the cipher. Look at me. On this street. I took the bus down and I've got my Big Hoops on.

"A mound of fresh bun". The mind boggles.

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Drake and Rihanna and a buffalo

Drake is single-handedly putting the blues back into rhythm and blues. For proof, see Take Care, his duet with Rihanna - a tender, mournful tryst between two broken hearts. It's a world away from the dry-humping, brand-pimping, "sexy bitch" misogyny of Akon and Taio Cruz and their ilk. And if you're feeling delicate, it'll even make you do a little cry.

The track, which is based on a chunky Gil Scott-Heron sample, has been doing the rounds for months now but the video's only just been finished. It's hard to see what took so long - for the most part, it's just a Drake and Rihanna cuddling in an empty room. There is also a recurring buffalo, but the metaphor is lost on me.

Nonetheless, if your internet connection can handle it, you should watch this in full-screen and high definition. The photography - by French director Yoann Lemoine (Katy Perry's Teenage Dreams, Lana Del Rey's Born To Die) - would give one of those BBC wildlife documentaries a run for its money.

Drake ft Rihanna - Take Care

PS: I interviewed Rihanna recently for her new movie Battleship. It was one of those "round table" affairs, where lots of journalists gang up on an actor for 20 minutes. There's always one mental case from Europe who asks questions like "why do you smell so nice" but this one was relatively sane. You can read a transcript here.

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Friday, April 6, 2012

New music from Scissor Sisters & Jennifer Lopez

...But not together, thank the Lord.

I'm off to the cinema, so apologies for the uncharacteristically quick update. Two new songs from two big returning artists. Both sounding particularly earworm-y on first listen.

1) Scissor Sisters - Only The Horses
Key infomation: Produced by Calvin Harris.
General ambience: Anthemic.
Key lyric: "If you don't know the way to hold me, let me show you how"
The video: Just the lyrics, and the Scissor Sisters logo :(
Duration: 3'39"
On Twitter: @ScissorSisters

Scissor Sisters - Only The Horses

2) Jennifer Lopez ft Pitbull - Dance Again
Key infomation: Produced by Red One.
General ambience: Alicante sex disco.
The video: A swingers party on the set of Lionel Richie's Dancing On The Ceiling.
Key lyric: "Your lips taste like heaven so why should I stop?"
Duration: 4'27"
On Twitter: @JLo

Jennifer Lopez ft Pitbull - Dance Again

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Foxes on the prowl


Here is a song you might like by a lady called Foxes. She's not really called Foxes, of course. Her real name is Louisa Rose Allen. But we already have one L Rose Allen in pop and it's best not to confuse the children.

Foxes - White Coats

That's pretty good isn't it? Especially the bit that goes: "If the men in white coats are coming / I know you'll still be there for me". It's not often that pop music references the mental health act in a love song. But, as you can see at the top of this article, Foxes is a little excitable around lampshades, so maybe there's a dark, untold story behind the lyric (NB there isn't).

Coming up next week on Discopop Directory: A Jennifer Lopez ballad about the Greek financial crisis.

PS - If you click through to soundcloud, White Coats is available as a free download. And if you want to know more about Foxes, there is a very good interview on the Swide website.

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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Plan B's Ill Manors gets an answer song

I'm middle class. I don't understand this OR the original :(

Prince Barrie - My Manor's Law

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"Stuck here with a bottle of beer and I love you"

I've had The Vaccines' old single If You Wanna stuck in my head for the past fortnight, thanks to the trailer for the third series of Made In Chelsea, which Channel 4 is currently rinsing like a dirty flannel.

Still, it's a welcome reminder that The Vaccines gave British indie a much-needed shot in the arm (ha!) last year. The band are neither dour nor miserable, Justin Young doesn't sing in that made-up "indie bloke" accent, and they weren't afraid of gigantic hooks. The musical sort, that is - the band remain justifiably wary of the meat packing district.

So it's good to hear some new material from the group for Record Store Day. They've just unveiled their cover of 1980s alternative classic Why Should I Love You, which is guaranteed to put a spring in your step over the Easter break. Here it is:

The original is by lo-fi legend R Stevie Moore, who has about 400 (400!) albums to his name. It's almost identical, but this video is worth a watch. Let's just call it "idiosyncractic".

R Stevie Moore - Why Should I Love You

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Put another dime in the juke box baby

If you haven't read anything about Alabama Shakes, the much-touted rock band who hail from Athens, Alabama, allow me to sum up the press coverage so far:

"Blah blah blah real music blah blah blah impassioned vocals rhubarb rhubarb cut it live blah waffle spirit of rock and roll blah blah nonsense next big thing waffle nonsense celebrity fan Russell Crowe"
But PLEASE don't let that put you off, because they are genuinely something special. In particular Brittany Howard - the bespectacled, corckscrew-curled singer - is one of the most stop-you-in-your-tracks frontwomen you have ever seen. Which is why the band's decision to release a live performance of their new single Hold On is such a masterstroke.

A brilliant song, performed brilliantly. What more do you need to know?

Alabama Shakes - Hold On

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RIta Ora - for the days when one Rihanna just isn't enough

There's no denying that Rita Ora (pictured right, shortly after being fed through a paper shredder) is an exciting new voice. Potentially the best pop star Albania has ever produced.

But listening to her "proper" debut single, you do wonder whether Roc Nation are trying to turn her into a stand-by Rihanna - ready to leap into action if the real one suddenly proves unable to produce a new song every seven minutes.

RIP sounds like a cast-off from Talk That Talk. So you won't be surprised to hear its a major overhaul of a Drake demo (I'm Ready For You) with Chase and Status at the helm.

"I heard the demo when Drake sang it and it touched me," Rita told Killer Hip-Hop. "I thought it was a great woman-empowering song, so I was like 'I need to cut this song' and Drake gave it to me."

Which is lovely - but if you start off as the substitute Rihanna, following her (admittedly successful) blueprint to the letter, how do you ever become a major artist in your own right? As a wise ginger woman once said, you should dance to the beat of your own drum*.

Rita Ora ft Tinie Tempah - RIP

* Actually, she said you should dance to the beat of her drum, which isn't as powerful or accurate, but I'm not going to let facts get in the way of a useful conclusion.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Automatically sunshine

Let's face it, not everyone has the money to jet off to California to film a sun-kissed surf video for their latest single. Ronika is one such cash-strapped pop star but does she complain? DOES SHE HECK. She drags out her film projector, beams footage of a seagull onto her bedroom wall and stands in front of it looking a bit moody.

I love Ronika and that is that is that.

Ronika - Automatic

Automatic is out on 9th April, and she's launching it with a gig at The Old Blue Last on the 10th. See you there.

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Party, Karamu, Fiesta Forever

Jai Paul. Hmmm... what do we know about Jai Paul?

:: He was on the longlist for the BBC's Sound of 2011.

:: He comes from "the tube stops there" London location Rayner's Lane.

:: His records sound like James Blake, if James Blake was injected with Andre 3000's DNA.

:: There are approximately two promo photos of Jai Paul online. One of them is not the real Jai Paul.

:: Drake sampled Jai Paul's underground club hit BTSTU for his track Dreams Money Can Buy.

:: Then Beyonce sampled it on Til The End Of Time.

:: That is the sum total of everything Jai Paul has ever done.

:: Until now...

Yes, because the reclusive singer-songwriter has suddenly uploaded a new demo to his Soundcloud account. At times, it appears he's accidentally uploaded two songs playing over the top of each other to his Soundcloud account but I'm assured that is not the case.

The song is called Fiesta and it's as grubby as the "gentlemen's magazine" with which it shares a name. Imagine, if you can, a song by late 90s R&B pervmeister D'Angelo that was so sexually charged it was encased in lead and thrown to the bottom of the ocean, lest it cause a population explosion that would wipe out modern civilisation. Now imagine that the song is somehow being played on the seabed, and the sound is bubbling up through the waves like a filthy salmon. That's Fiesta.

You have been warned.

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Monday, April 2, 2012

It's a beautiful design

Is electronic space music a genre? If so, then Hooray For Earth are in charge of it. Like fellow space explorer Buzz Aldrin, the band hail from New York, and are led by the fantastically-named Noel Heroux.

I loved their previous single True Loves and the follow-up is equally fantastic on plastic.

No Love is the sort of music MGMT would be making if they hadn't bottled it completely in 2010 and abandoned all attempts at melody, structure and coherent thought. Psychedelic but funky, its trippy experimentalism is shot through with squiffy 80s synths and sublime pop hooks... Loads of them. I counted at least three choruses, which is approaching Gaga levels.

There doesn't seem to be an official video, but the song has already inspired a couple of amateur efforts. Unusually, some of them are even tolerable to watch. Here are my favourites.

Hooray For Earth - No Love
A short film about love, passion, and milonga.

Hooray For Earth - No Love
Kids at a rave version

The single is available now, as part of Hooray For Earth's debut album, True Loves.

UPDATE 02/04/12: The band have written to tell me that the first video, directed by Johnny Wood is "Hooray For Earth approved" and an official clip is "will surface in a couple of weeks". So there you go.

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