Wednesday, October 31, 2012

"A terribly poor grasp of the English language"

What is happening to the education system in Canada? I always thought it was top of the UN's "most totally pampered places to live in the world" chart (I think it's really called the Human Development Index) but if Canada's pop lyricists are any indication, the country's children have a terribly poor grasp of the English language.

Sixteen years have passed since Alanis Morisette famously got in a muddle over the definition of irony, but it's not getting any better. Here are some recent examples.

1) "Before you came into my life, I missed you so bad"
Carly Rae Jepsen - she either fundamentally misunderstands the linear nature of time, or has mixed up her tenses.

2) "I like a woman with a future and a past"
Drake - who is trying to express his preference for a female partner with plenty of experience and a lust for life. Sadly, his clumsy phrasing makes it sound like he's willing to have a go on anyone who's not a baby or a corpse.

3) "We don't need a cure for the weight of the world / cause its floating round in the universe"
Dragonette - displaying a shocking ignorance of Kepler's laws of planetary motion.

4) "Your lips are undeniable"
Carly Rae Jepsen (again) - who has confused undeniable with irresistible. Of course you can't deny someone's lips. You'd look pretty stupid saying, "those aren't lips, they're plasticine snails. Everyone knows lips don't really exist, dummy".

Oh dear, readers. Oh dear.

That last lyric, by the way, comes from Carly Rae Jepsen's new single This Kiss, a song which tries so hard to shout "I am not a one hit wonder" that it nearly gives itself a hernia. It needen't have bothered, it's a proper sugar-pill pop classic once it settles down into itself.

Carly Rae Jepsen - This Kiss

PS The world's best pop lyricists (writing in English) come from Sweden. Deny it if you can.

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Friday, October 26, 2012

James Bond megamix and four other songs you may have missed

A semi-regular round-up of songs I haven't had time to blog about during the week, which is by no means a comment on the relative merits of those songs, although it sort of is when you think about it, isn't it?

1) Krafty Kuts - 50 Years Of Bond

I had to wade through 23 Bond films to compile this ridiculous / brilliant / ridiculously brilliant infographic for the BBC News website last month. So I completely sympathise with the utter madness that went into this five-minute mash-up of Bond music from the past 50 years. Best bit: Mixing between the all-time best and all-time worst Bond themes at 2'45".

You can download this for free at if you are so inclined.

2) The xx - Chained

A selection of headlines about this video:
"The xx go underwater". [Spin]
"The xx hit murky waters" [Consequence Of Sound]
"The xx get wet" [What's Hot]

In other words, you don't need GCSE art studies to fathom (ha!) the basic visual motif.

3) Ciara - Got Me Good

Over the years, Ciara has been blown about like a wasp in a musical sandstorm. When she's good, she's the master of utterly filthy slow-jams (Ride, Goodies, Love Sex Magic). When she's bad, she makes utterly filthy slow-jams with all the erotic charge of a weetabix (Like A Surgeon, with the inexplicable lyric 'my love's like anasthesia').

Luckily, her new single is in the former category - and it comes with some top-notch choreography-in-a-desert. Watch her kicking up the sand below.

4) Haim - Don't Save Me

After The Staves, Haim are my next favourite sibling vocal harmony trio of the year.

Their music is an indescribable mix of R&B and folk, with an unexpected Max Martin twist. "I know the dance routine to every Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys song," eldest sister Este Haim told the BBC a couple of weeks ago.

So perhaps it's not too strange that their next single is being released by uber-hip boutique pop label Neon Gold (which launched Marina, Ellie and Gotye in the States). The label announced their new single in a tiresomely breathless blog post this week, describing it as "a breathtaking sunny-side-up megajam pooled from our '80s fever dreams, all morning glory hooks and syncopated goodness."

Yeah, yeah. We get it. Just play the song.

5) Solange - Losing You (Cyril Hahn mix)

Didn't I blog about Solange's excellent new single already? No? That's weird. I really thought I had.

Ah well, Losing You fully deserves your attention. It's a beautifully lachrymose ballad, fastened to a scrappy hip-hop loop that sounds like the future of R&B. The video, directed by Melina Matsoukas, features the dapper Congolese gentlemen known as Les Sapeurs.

But I don't feel guilty for waiting so long to discuss the song, because it means I get to post this delicious remix by Cyril Hahn, which drops the vocals down two octaves and gives the song a deep house makeover. It'll be on repeat all weekend at Discopop Towers.

And that's it for this week.... I'm off to celebrate my birthday for a couple of days, after which I've been seconded to the BBC's six o'clock news bulletin for a month. If the blog posts dry up slightly during November, I apologise in advance.

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Biffy Clyro cover Starship in the Live Lounge

Of all the shirt-eschewing Scottish rock bands with a penchant for weird time signatures, Biffy Clyro are clearly the best. Partly because they always have ridiculous facial hair, and partly because they make impeccable choices for their Live Lounge appearances.

Their tender, acoustic version of Umbrella brought new layers of subtlety (and harmony) to Rihanna's all-conquering R&B stomper. But popping into Radio 1 today they surpassed even that milestone... with a flawless cover of Starship's We Built This City.

It would only have been better if they'd come dressed as them, too.

Biffy Clyro - We Built This City

You can also listen to them perform new single Stingin' Belle (it's in 6/8, music nerds) on the end of this link.

After a few delays, the band will release their ambitious double-disc rock opus (uh-oh) on 28 January. If it's any good, I reckon they'll be sitting atop that Pyramid Stage with the Rolling Stones come next June.

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Prince: When inspiration dries up

"The moon, the stars, everything plays a part. And there are no accidents. Music is made out of necessity. It's a fact of life. Just like breathing. The voice inside tells U when there is a song 2 be born. All children are born beautiful, How that are perceived may be another matter indeed. Much like an unborn child, a song is never conceived whole. That would be like taking dictation. Pleasure comes from not knowing what your baby's character will be. Pleasure comes from the nurturing process. Whatever we are... Whatever we make."

Those are the words of enigmatic rock midget Prince - a rare direct quote from the back pages of his Diamonds And Pearls tour programme in 1992 - making it clear that writing music is a compulsion, an obsession. Something over which he has almost no control.

So what must it be like when that muse deserts you? Prince's work rate has flatlined over the last decade. The man who wrote Little Red Corvette while drifting to sleep in his bandmate's bright pink Ford Edsel, and who used to churn out four albums a year via a multitude of side projects, has only managed five studio records since 2000.

Maybe it's a relief, breaking the bond to this restless muse and reclaiming your sleep. But I'd wager there's a feeling of bereavement. If Prince sees his songs as children, he's experiencing the musical equivalent of empty nest syndrome.

Not that the purple pixie stopped writing completely. He turned up on Jimmy Kimmel's TV show on Tuesday to play his new single, Rock n Roll Love Affair. It's a fairly uninspired romp through the blues, with a chilly blast of Minneapolis horns - the sort of thing he used to knock off in an afternoon. But watching him perform is always mesmerising, and the magic moment here is a cheeky little guitar solo around 2'20".

In the meantime, I'm off to dig out the Lovesexy DVD for an afternoon of Paisley Park-themed nostalgia.

Prince - Rock n Roll Love Affair

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What exactly is an 808?

I've been dithering around for the last hour or so, trying to find something, anything new to blog about. Nothing seemed to be hitting the spot but, eventually, I stumbled across something that cheered me up no end: It's a video of rap pioneer Egyptian Legend programming his Roland TR-808 drum machine.

No doubt, you've heard of the 808 many times. Beyonce namechecks it in Deja Vu, Outkast extol the virtues of its sub-bass frequencies in I Like The Way You Move, and Madonna informs us that she is compelled to sing "hey-hey-hey like a Girl Gone Wild" when she "hears them 808 drums". As you do.

But have you ever seen what an 808 looks like? They're lovely. Big, chunky prehistoric hunks of plastic that could easily be a cheap knock-off of the 1970s TARDIS console. But they sounded better than they looked, particularly that low and dirty kick drum.

There's also something pleasingly robust about the machines, first produced in 1980. Look at how Egyptian Lover pounds those keys like they're indestructible. I might be able to programme more complex beats on my phone these days, but if I stabbed it that hard my fingers would go through the screen.

The video comes in two parts. First an excerpt from a 1981 documentary:

And then an extended tutorial filmed last month for FACT Magazine. I love how he rolls his sleeves up as he gets ready to programme the kick drum.

And thus concludes today's history lesson.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

New talent alert: Nina Nesbitt

Allow me to introduce you to Nina Nesbitt, an up-and-coming singer whose name sounds pleasingly like an ambulance siren.

The Scottish teenager was raised on Abba and Roxy Music by her pop-loving parents. She only started playing live last May, but by the summer she'd been spotted by Ed Sheeran. That led to a support slot on tour and a cameo in his Drunk video. Now she has a recording contract with Island Records. Funny how these things work out.

But you don't need me to tell you the details - here's what Nina in her own words, talking about her stellar rise to almost-fame and some other stuff, cherry-picked from press interviews and public statements "to date".

:: I used to write short stories at the age of about six or seven. Just really bad stories. As I grew older, I got a little keyboard and started plunking away on that, learning bits. I put stories to songs and that's how that came about. Over the years I developed that and picked up the guitar 3 years ago. That is when my song writing really took shape. [Fistful Of Sound]

:: I once broke my arm [while] rollerblading down a steep hill, getting pulled by a skipping rope, shouting faster. I was a fearless child. [Coup De Main magazine]

:: I wouldn’t like to be Adele's ex-boyfriend but my album is a break-up album, too. Her music is a lot more mature. She was 21 when she released her most recent album and I'm only 18. [Daily Record]

:: Child having a tantrum on the train, he's not allowed to go to the zoo now :( [Twitter]

:: I used to do gymnastics for Scotland. I trained all the time and I was going to go to the Commonwealth Games but I decided to do music instead. [Undersong]

:: My biggest musical iPod influences right now are Bon Iver, Ben Howard, Ed Sheeran, Mumford and Sons, Laura Marling, Lissie... to Example... to Nirvana. I like variety. [Soundhall]

:: My favourite pancake topping is actually syrup. [YouTube]

:: I dislike butterflies immensely, unless they're in my stomach. [Twitter]

So that's Nina Nesbitt in a nutshell. You can have a listen to her song now. It's called Boy, and it's available from all good download stores today.

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Little Mix: If it's black & white, it must be classy

There's a thing called Selective Desaturation and it's everywhere.

You probably know it best from Schindler's list. It's the technique Stephen Spielberg used to make a little girl's red coat the only element of colour in a black and white movie. When you saw the same coat discarded in a pile at the end of a movie, it was a powerful and disturbing statement.

But the technique has become a horrible cliché. A gimmicky shorthand for "art" that's particularly prevalent in wedding photography. Weirdly, it's always the bouquet they leave in colour, which only steals focus from the bride and groom.

Next to jump on the bandwagon are Little Mix, who have gone all moody and monochrome for the video to DNA. I suspect the director was hoping for a hyper-real Sin City colour palette, but without Robert Rodriguez's production budget, everything just seems washed out. Poor Jesy looks like they've just rescued her waterlogged corpse from the bottom of the sea.

The song, on the other hand, is still excellent, with harmonies up the wazoo and the best musical S-S-S-S-Stutter since My Generation.

Little Mix - DNA

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So, I was in a room with Girls Aloud...

This morning, we all traipsed over to The Corinthia Hotel to see The Girls of Girls Aloud reveal pop's worst kept secret: They are releasing a greatest hits album, and they are going on a tour.

I'll admit my stomach did a little flip when they walked out: Cheryl, then Nicola, then Kimberley (showing us her Strictly Come Dancing tummy), Sarah and Nadine. They still have that certain something - let's call it the X Factor - that sets them apart from, say, The Saturdays.

"We were all just getting dressed this morning, and it actually feels really normal," said Cheryl. "Like nothing changed, like we didn't take three years away."

Then there was a lot of, frankly boring, waffling about how blessed they all were, and how incredible it was to be back together, which went on for approximately seven months. I've cherry-picked the few remaining quotes from the press conference for your edification. But you could skip to the end and watch the (superb) video for Something New and you wouldn't have missed much.

:: "[Our first meeting was] in the same hotel that we stayed in on the night we got in the band." - Nicola

:: "I had women's underwear thrown onto the stage once with my name on the crotch" - Cheryl

:: "My Brit award has just arrived, literally about two weeks ago. I was like 'What is this?'" - Nadine

:: [On the hiatus] "It was important and good that we were challenged individually, just as people. We were kind of morphing into one personality towards the end. This is normality for us, the last three years have been kind of weird." - Cheryl

:: "Nadine was in America, so I was having to write melodies in the morning so that she could sing them in the afternoon. It was a worldwide situation." - Nicola

:: [On meeting Beyonce] "I completely embarassed myself. I just turned into a weirdo. I had no control of what was coming out of my mouth. It was the first time I was really starstruck." - Cheryl

:: "It's not real life. None of this is real life. So we just can't take it seriously." - Nadine

Girls Aloud - Something New

Some other observations: Nadine was delighted to be back (or delighted to have an audience, at least). Cheryl seemed a little uncomfortable, and wished she was "somewhere warm" instead. Kimberley extolled the virtues of drinking English tea (what a corporate whore, eh readers?) for which Sarah branded her a "supergran". And Nicola? Nicola was cool as a swimming pool.

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Holy Guacamole, it's Holy Ghost

You may remember Holy Ghost from that song that sounded like LCD Soundsystem and that other song that sounded like LCD Soundsystem. Well, here they are with their first new material in over year and guess what it sounds like? Nana Mouskouri.

Oh, alright. I am pulling your legs off. But, hey, if James Murphy is going to take all his toys home and cry like a baby, I'm happy these guys are around to keep the fun going. Their new record is called It Gets Dark and, appropriately enough, it heralds a more ominous tone in the Brooklyn duo's music. There's even a hint of Joy Division in the lonely twang of those guitars.

Best moment: "A, B, C, D / You won't use that school degree".
Other best moment: The bit where it sounds like LCD Soundsystem.

Head over to DFA's webstore to pre-order on the MP3 or the 12 inch, depending on your format preferences and wallet size.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A thing of beauty from Regina Spektor

I've been sitting here mesmerised by Regina Spektor's beautiful new video for the last half-an-hour.

It's a song I've talked about before - How, from her latest album, What We Saw From The Cheap Seats. Shorn of the "hiccup brrzzzt ping!!!" vocal gymnastics Regina's become (erroneously) known for, it's a simple, sad tale of heartbreak, and how difficult it can be get over an old flame.

Interestingly, the singer has always insisted her music isn't autobiographical. "I'm much more interested in things outside of myself rather than my actual self," she told Mother Jones earlier this year. "You know, confessional: 'This happened to me, and so I wrote this song.' That doesn't really happen, where I paint my own life in my songs."

Still, it's hard to escape the feeling that this particular song was inspired by some very real, very intimate sorrow. And it's all the more beautiful for it.

Regina Spektor - How

BONUS CONTENT: If that's all a bit glum for you, here's a picture of Regina on a trampoline.

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Rudimental's striking new video

Wow. Brilliant. You don't expect to see a furious polemic about the children of the third world slums when you sit down to watch a music video with your 11 o'clock eccles cake, but it's just happened to me.

Now, don't be put off - because the video, for Rudimental's new single Not Giving In, is a superb piece of work: Slumdog Millionaire meets Oliver Twist via... erm, Step Up 2 The Streets.

Directed by British photographer Josh Cole, it tells the story of two brothers, raised by a drug addict father who abuses their mother. After they flee for the streets of Manila, the sibling's stories are told in parallel: One escapes by joining a street dance crew, but his brother follows a much darker path.

Rudimental - Not Giving In (ft John Newman and Alex Clare)

The video is loosely based on the story of global B-boy champion Mouse, whose mother abandoned him to hustle on the streets the Philippines when he was just eight years old. He became involved in the local dance scene, while his brother sank into addiction. Eventually, when he was 16, his mother sought him out and brought him to live with her in Birmingham, where he was able to pursue a professional career as a breakdancer.

Mouse has a cameo in the Rudimental video, but here he is in "real life".


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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Girls Aloud - Something New (official audio)

It's really rather good, you know...

:: Not a ballad!
:: Kimberley rapping!
:: Nicola rapping!
:: Cheryl just shouting at the top of her voice like a mentalist!
:: "We're the leaders of the pack. Boy, you'd better watch your back."
:: It stops! It starts!
:: The great big black hole of suspense just before the first chorus.
:: The "follow the leader" cheergirl chant at the end.
:: Presumably not a Children In Need single.

Welcome back, ladies. We have missed you.

Girls Aloud - Something New

Now, there was a fair bit of carping on Twitter last night after a lo-quality version of the track leaked. I agree, that version seemed rather underwhelming. But if you ramp up the quality to 1080p on the YouTube clip, suddenly the bass kicks in and the song takes off. This is a club stomper, in the mold of Something Kinda Ooooh (the band's favourite song in their back catalogue, apparently).

Admittedly, Something New is no Biology or Love Machine. Once everything settles down, I reckon it'll sit just above Sexy No! No! No! in the all-time Girls Aloud Top 20.

And let's not forget, the second single off a Girls Aloud album is traditionally the best.

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Bruno Mars: Locked Out Of Heaven video

This still sounds like two completely different songs welded together. And one of those songs is blatantly a Police b-side. But it kind of works. Kind of... (The chorus doesn't quite achieve blast off, but it'll be stuck in your head for the rest of the day anyway.)

The Instagram-tastic video plays to Bruno Mars's biggest strength: Namely that he's a brilliant, if off-puttingly sweaty, live performer. Fans of the singer's enormous collection of pork pie hats might be worried by the opening three minutes, but if your persevere 'til the end, you will receive your reward.

Bruno Mars - Locked Out Of Heaven

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Her name is Fallulah

That lady swinging her hair around like a wet dog is Fallulah. Fallulah is the stage name of Danish pop star Maria Apetri, who has made a bigger impact in her homeland than Sofie Gråbøl's chunky knitwear collection.

Her debut album, The Black Cat Neighbourhood, spawned a number one single, and earned a clutch of Danish Grammy nominations. She's just come back with the first evidence of a follow-up. It's called Superfishyality and here's what I could find out about it via Danish website Sound Venue and Google Translate.

Who knew Fallulah was also a more than habil dancer? Not me. But in the video for the singer's new single 'Superfishiality' will be danced crazy with some blonde clones, and even swung a fist or two, when there are disputes on the basketball court. On the number continues Fallulah in roughly the same track as the acclaimed debut and running with beating drums, the subdued verses into an energetic chorus that takes the use of 'la-la-la' to new heights. Quite rosy, it is not because the text and title covers Fallulahs grim discovery of the music industry's superficial back. Fallulahs second album coming in early 2013, and was in consequence singer even become a more understated and subdued affair.

If your knowledge of Danish music only extends to Aqua, then fear not. Fallulah takes her cues from Feist and Lykke Li: Kinky, percussive pop with a direct connection to the melody centres of your brain. "I like music because... it likes me," she says.

Fallulah - Superfishiality

Oh, and that name? "It was just a word that got stuck in my head," according to her record label biography. "Fallulah isn't a different person. It's a name that represents me and the music together as a unit. Maybe taking that name helped me muster the courage to do this."

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Friday, October 12, 2012

Bat For Lashes covers Rihanna and five other songs you might have missed

A semi-regular round-up of songs I haven't blogged about this week because time is precious and some of us have proper jobs to do, ok?

This week's line-up starts here.

1) Bat For Lashes - We Found Love

In which Natasha Khan takes Rihanna's global smash hit and gives it a makeover. A fucking miserable makeover. Crikey, love, cheer up.

2) Rudimental - Not Giving In

"I'm not giving in," sings John Newman on the follow-up to Feel The Love. Which is odd, because he's apparently caved in to the demand to feature every musical instrument and genre on planet earth in this four minute gospel-soul-dance-dubstep-reggae-rave bangathon. If it doesn't go straight into the top 10, I'll eat my trombone.

Apologies for the presence of Zane Lowe at the start of this clip.

3) Misha B - Do You Think Of Me?

Dungarees, Misha? Really?

Also this is excellent, in a rave Alicia Keys kind of way.

4) I Am Kloot - Hold Back The Night

A beautiful lullaby from Manchester's I Am Kloot, produced by Elbow's Guy Garvey and Craig Potter. "Fill up your day, and your pockets, with plenty, 'cos soon they'll be empty," emotes Johnny Bramwell over swooshing string flourishes lifted straight from I Am The Walrus. Lovely stuff.

5) Lana Del Rey - Ride

After that "clipmix" video for Yayo earlier this week, this is a proper big-budget video for Lana's proper big-budget new single, Ride. A rootin'-tootin' country ballad, it comes with gracefully forlorn Rick Rubin production, which turns out to be a perfect foil for Lana's sombre vocal.

Shame the video is such a pretentious mess, then. Seriously, has any three-minute spoken-word prelude ever been worth sitting through? This is the usual diaphanous guff parading as highbrow philosophy. "My dreams were dashed and divided like a million stars in the night sky that I wished upon" - that sort of thing.

Skip forward to 3'36" and you'll be fine.

6) Arthur Beatrice - Charity

Imagine Mumford and Sons without the banjos, and this is what you get. Slow-burning verses that spiral into joyous, open choruses.

I am informed that the band are comprised of the fantastically-monikered Orlando Leopard (!!) and his cohorts Ella Girardot, Hamish Barnes and Elliot Barnes - surely making them the poshest pop line-up since Kula Shaker?

Incidentally, the band insist they were unaware of Golden Girls star Bea Arthur until after they got their recording contract. Shame on them.

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Jack White has got the shakes

When he's not busy dressing up like Edward Scissorhands, Jack White seems to be having a blast making videos for his first solo album, Blunderbuss.

On Sixteen Saltines, he let a bunch of feral kids burn him alive. On Freedom at 21, he was cavorting with ludicrously nubile policewomen, while channeling the spirit of Michael Jackson. For new single, I'm Shaking, he's having a musical duel... with himself.

I think I'd like to be Jack White for a day or two.

Jack White - I'm Shaking

Mind you, I'm equally impressed with this fan-made video I stumbled across on YouTube.

The creator, who goes by the "handle" WakkereSamson, explains: "When I first heard this song it immediately made me think of the Soul Train line dance. I bought the song on iTunes, did some Apple stuff to the clip, et voilá, here you go!"

And if you're thinking to yourself "wait just one cotton-picking minute, I have heard this song somewhere before" you would be right.

The original, by Little Willie John, was released in 1960. A swampy R&B groove, it's not as high-octane blow-your-socks-off thrilling as Jack White's version - but it's fun to discover that both singers pronounce "nervous" as "noivous".

A forgotten classic.

Little Willie John - I'm Shakin'

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Later... With Jools is now on YouTube

If, like most normal people, you can't bear to switch over to BBC Two on Friday nights in case you accidentally catch Paul Morley jizzing himself over "the concept of the album" on The Late Review, a VERY GOOD THING has just happened.

With the new series of Later... With Jools, the producers have started* to upload a selection of tracks from each show directly onto YouTube. Admittedly, regular people have been doing this for about a half-a-decade now, but now it's less likely that the videos will be blockier than a game of Tetris.

As if to prove how good this innovation is, the team have just published videos of Jessie "eyebrows" Ware, Sharon "wash your hair, love" Van Etten and The "you could also do with a shampoo" Vaccines - all of whom were excellent on last night's live show.

Here's the proof.

Jessie Ware - Wildest Moment (live on Later)

Sharon Van Etten - Serpent (live on Later)

The Vaccines - Teenage Icon (live on Later)

* Or maybe they've been doing it for ages and I haven't noticed.

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Dance your cares away (clap clap)

In these days of fast-cutting, product-placing music videos, it's increasingly rare to see uninterrupted, breathtaking choreography. But this new clip from Pink bucks the trend.

If you've seen her recent live shows, you'll know the singer is pretty handy on a trapeze. In fact, she trained as a gymnast for eight years as a child. And all of that athleticism is put to great use in the video for Try.

Choreographed by The Golden Boyz (Madonna, Britney and... er, Shayne Ward) it tells the story of a relationship that's both physically and mentally destructive.

No matter what you think of Pink's music - and I can generally take it or leave it - this is powerful stuff.

Pink - Try

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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

New from Lana Del Rey: Yayo

Yayo is a track on the Christmas cash-in edition of Lana Del Rey's Born To Die album. Amazingly, it's not completely rubbish.

Her lyrical touchstones are all present and correct - trashy glamour, cinematic criminality and supplication to an unseen lover ("let me dance for you, daddy" - urgh).

But musically, it's a fresh direction - ditching the hip-hop affectations of Lana's previous singles to present a bare bones jazz melody whispered over a brushed snare and melancholy, minor-key strings.

This video has just cropped up on Vimeo, from an account created two days ago. My bat sense is telling it's unofficial, but whoever put it together has done a pretty decent job.

UPDATE: The Vimeo clip got taken down. It's since resurfaced on YouTube (see below) but don't expect it to hand around too long...

Yayo (Official Music Video) from lanaissues

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Something kinda due

After a brief flutter of anticipation, the Girls Aloud website relaunched this morning with... a 10-day countdown timer (and what appears to be a blurry picture of someone's arm).

So while we twiddle our thumbs and fingers, let's look at some of the FACTS surrounding their comeback.

1) The countdown timer ends on 19th October. That, fact fans, is the date the girls gave their first individual live performance on Popstars: The Rivals and, one presumes, is their official 10th Anniversary.

2) That first week of live shows nearly saw Kimberley Walsh eliminated. Imagine how different history would have been - ie very slightly different.

3) Back in March, Nadine told 'friend to the stars' Dean Piper that fans should expect "one or two singles I would think." Which raises the prospect of a greatest hits album with a few new songs tacked on the end.

4) Then Xenomania, who wrote all the best Girls Aloud songs, confirmed on Twitter that they’d been in the studio with the band in May. They subsequently deleted the statement in a panic, but not before 'someone close to the band' retweeted it.

5) Interestingly, when I interviewed Cheryl a few weeks later she took a very staunch line that "we haven't recorded anything".

Now, the girls usually record their vocals separately, so maybe Cheryl didn't know about the sessions at that stage; or maybe she was being a professional, and trying to keep the focus of the interview on her solo album.

But she did say this: "My girls, Girls Aloud, are like my sisters. They're the closest girlfriends I have and that seems like it's hard for people to understand. But we've been through life changing stuff... we've grown up with each other from teenagers to women. That's very bonding."

6) Girls Aloud are now on Twitter @girlsaloud, which is quite sensible when you think about it.

7) They may (or may not) be releasing a single for Children In Need and may (or may not) be embarking on an arena tour next year. You can't believe what you read in the papers these days, as you might have noticed if you’d paid any attention to Hugh Grant prattling on about it for what feels like the last eighteen years.

8) Ten is the number of times Nadine Coyle has accidentally lost her passport down the back of a sofa.

9) Ten is also the number of pounds in Sarah Harding's bank account.

10) This is the best pop song of the 21st Century.

Girls Aloud – Biology


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Monday, October 8, 2012

The Dum Dum Girls: Lord Knows

I'm a bit late to this one (apparently it first came out in July) but I'm really enjoying the new single from the California's The Dum Dum Girls.

Lord Knows is a brooding ballad, drenched in Leader Of The Pack echo. Some reviewers have noted its similarity to Tommy and the Shondelles' megahit Crimson and Clover, and there's definitely a touch of Blondie at their CBGB best.

It all makes sense when you discover the record was produced by Richard Gottehrer, who ponked the buttons for Blondie's debut album, and then the Go-Go's debut album. He also set up Sire Records with Seymour Stein, unleashing Madonna on an unsuspecting world.

Lead singer Dee Dee Penny describes how the legendary producer stopped the band from being identikit jingly-jangly indie chicks with one salient piece of advice: "He told me how it's really important to have a distinctive voice," she told Self-Titled. "Like Chrissie Hynde from The Pretenders - you hear it and you know exactly who it is."

"Richard said, 'Keep her in mind, and have that intensity in mind.'"

With all of those top drawer influences, how could you not want to listen to the following song? I only hope I haven't built your hopes too high.

The Dum Dum Girls - Lord Knows

PS: How can you not love a band that dresses in black and white? If it was good enough for The Hives...

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Friday, October 5, 2012

Here is Adele's James Bond theme

Just in case you've been hiding in a bin and missed it...

Adele - Skyfall

The lyrics are rubbish, aren't they? "My heart burst", "we will stand tall", "feel the earth move". Did they just give Adele a set of James Bond fridge poetry magnets (which is something I would totally buy, by the way)?

Also, is Skyfall a metaphor or a physical place? It is not entirely clear.

Good tune, though.

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

The top 3 facial expressions in Cher Lloyd's new video

I raved about Oath, an above-average Katy Perry cast-off, on the blog last month. It's on the US edition of Cher Lloyd's Sticks And Stones album. Heaven only knows when they plan to release it here.

Cher Lloyd ft Becky G - Oath

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Ria Ritchie: Something About You video

I was listening to Ria Ritchie's Something About You last week when someone said, "I didn't know Katy B had a new single out".

It's not an unfair point. Both artists weld clattering breakbeats to finessed, soulful vocals. And both are haunted by the chunky piano chords of the 90s rave scene they are too young to have experienced, except by watching old KLF videos on YouTube (I can highly recommend this, by the way).

The point is: If you like Katy B, you're going to like Ria Ritchie. The South Londoner has just released the video for Something About You, which is her first "proper" single after an EP and a duet with Disclosure earlier this year. It's largely event-free, but here are some of the standfout scenes.

Ria sings facing away from a wall

Ria sings facing towards a wall

Ria sings next to a canal

Ria sings while waiting for the chauffeur to load her groceries into the car

As you can imagine, Lady Gaga is watching this over and over, furiously scribbling down notes for her next video.

Ria Ritchie - Something About You

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A clutch of remixes

It's been a busy, busy day at the "coalface"... But I still had time to sniff out a few remixes for the journey home. And here they are.

1) Jessie Ware - Night Light (Joe Goddard Mix)
In which Jessie's after dark potboiler becomes a glorious 70s synth workout.

2) Monsta - Holdin' On (Skrillex and Nero Remix)
Obscenely exciting. Zane Lowe will probably explode.

3) Marina And The Diamonds x Kitty Pride - How To Be A Heartbreaker
Marina, baby sloths, and a cute-as-buttons Betty Boo rap.

4) Rebecca Ferguson - Backtrack (RAW Club Mix)
Makes a boring song not boring.... Which is sort of the whole point, I suppose.

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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Stuck on repeat

Nick Grimshaw, who is turning out to be a witty, inclusive breakfast show host on Radio 1, was expounding his personal theory of music this morning. The best way to have a hit single, he explained, is to repeat the title as many times as you can in the body of the song.

I can think of a few huge exceptions - Bohmeian Rhapsody and Unchained Melody, for example - but it chimes with something Benny Anderson of Abba once said: "The title of the song should always be the first line of the chorus". True enough, it applies to all but four of the tracks on Abba Gold.

Grimshaw illustrated his theory by playing a supercut of Rihanna's new single, Diamonds, in which she repeats the title 32 times. That's 30" of the song's entire duration. I've put together my own version here:

By contrast, Bruno Mars has just released his comeback single Locked Out Of Heaven, a spiky pop tune with more than a little nod to The Police. The title crops up a paltry six times. He is simply not trying hard enough.

Has he doomed himself to lower sales that Rihanna? Only time will tell...

Still, the song's not bad - although the wishy-washy chorus doesn't quite gel with the kinetic energy of the verses. It's from Bruno's second album, Unorthodox Jukebox (love that title), which is out next month. The full track premiere is below.

Bruno Mars - Locked Out Of Heaven

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Monday, October 1, 2012

Little Mix are not genetic scientists, apparently

Little Mix have today "unveiled" their second single (third if you count the X Factor winner's single, which no-one does). It is called DNA and, if it isn't quite as "look-at-me" brilliant as Wings, it's still an example of a pop group getting it very right.

The lyrics expose the Little Mixers as proponents of psychological nativism: They believe their boyfriends are perfect because it is hard-wired into their DNA. You can imagine the fights this must have caused with Tulisa - a staunch empiricist, whose personal experience has taught her you can rise above your inherited genetic traits to make summink of yourself.

Sigmund Freud, as Madonna would say, analyse this.

Now, Little Mix are canny enough to mention they do not have a "first degree" in molecular biology (honestly, it's in the second verse of DNA) but you would be surprised to learn how many modern pop stars have studied the subject. Many of your favourite songs, in fact, are directly inspired by genetic research. For example...

:: I'm So Tired Of Being A Clone - Al Green
:: Sexual Helix - Marvin Gaye
:: Jump In The Gene Pool - Friendly Fires
:: We Call It Deoxyribonucleic Acieeeeeed - D-Mob
:: Tiger Foetus - Mud
:: Billy Gene - Michael Jackson
:: The Polynucleotide Is High - Blondie
:: Every DNA Is A Winding Road - Sheryl Chro-mosome
:: Annie, I'm Not Your Daddy, as Jeremy Kyle proved with this paternity test - Kid Creole and the Coconuts [ok, that's quite enough now - Ed]

Little Mix - DNA (lyric video)

DNA is out on 12 November. An album of the same name follows a week later - and it has a duet with T-Boz out of TLC on it. I shit you not.

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