Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Pharrell, Coldplay and other songs you may have missed

Hello, and welcome to another instalment of "songs you may have missed", aka "songs I have forgotten to write about".

There's a bumper crop this week, kicking off with...

1) Pharrell Williams - Happy (at the Oscars)
Guaranteed to slap a grin on your face, here's an ebullient performance from man-of-the-moment Pharrell Williams. So what if the song didn't win an Oscar, who else can say they got Lupita Nyong'o, Meryl Streep and Amy Adams to dance with them on Sunday night, despite wearing the worst pair of shoes ever seen by humankind? No-one, that's who.

2) Coldplay - Magic
True story: In 2011, one of my 6 Music colleagues ended up sitting next to Chris Martin at an awards show. All night long, she badgered him for an interview. All night long, he refused.

"You probably don't even like Coldplay," he said, trying to shut the situation down.

"I do!" she protested. "I really love your first album."

Eyebrow raised, Martin asked: "And you hate all the others?"

"No, no. It's not that," she protested. "It's just I never bought any of them, so I wouldn't know."

Coldplay apparently took the exchange to heart, because their new single sounds closer to that debut album, Parachutes, than anything they've recorded since. It's called Magic and it goes like this.

3) Arctic Monkeys - Arabella
Four singles in, and AM continues to deliver the goods. Arabella is the moody one, and comes with a video by in-demand director Jake Nava (Kanye's Monster, Beyonce's Single Ladies). Disappointingly, we don't get Alex Turner doing a dance routine in a leotard, but he delivers the song with one almighty swagger.

4) Moonboots ft Kyiki - Don't Ask Why
"I encountered the mysterious undiscovered star @kyiki on a winter night spacewalk," writes producer Moonboots on his Soundcloud page. "We came back with this song."

Not to ruin a fun story, but Kyiki is actually Crystal Fighters' frontwoman Ellie Fletcher, whose vocals caress this feel-good dance track into a dizzy swoon. It's a free download, too. So that's nice.

5) Shakira - Empire
Christing Jesus on a Hotdog, she's not holding anything back, is she?

6) Kate Miller - Collar Up
Don't let the unassuming name fool you, Kate Miller is one heck of a singer. A 19-year-old who is (I think) still unsigned, she sounds like Florence + The Machine, if Florence + The Machine discovered restraint. Her debut single Collar Up is a jagged shard of noir pop, with a chorus that'll stick to you like velcro.

7) Janelle Monae and Charli XCX - Simply Irresistible
Sadly not a duet, but R&B oddball Janelle Monae and pop's best-kept secret Charli XCX have separately recorded versions of Robert Palmer's Simply Irresistible.

The tracks were made for TV channel E! and played during their Oscars red carpet show on Sunday (although I watched it, and failed to hear either of them).

8) Paolo Nutini - Iron Sky (live at Abbey Road)
This one's a slow-burner, so stick with it. Taken from Paolo's forthcoming third album, Iron Sky is a powerful, passionately delivered protest song, which samples Charlie Chaplin's speech from the 1940 anti-Nazi movie The Great Dictator. Adele is a fan:

And that's a wrap. More "fun" and "mayhem" (music videos) tomorrow.

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