Thursday, June 26, 2014

En route to Glastonbury

The waterproofs are packed, the sun cream is not. Glastonbury, I am coming to you.

From a news point of view, one person is going to dominate the headlines and that person is Parton.

Admist the work, I'm hoping to catch Jurassic 5, Wolf Alice, Chvrches, The Black Keys and Lana Del Rey. I suspect Rudimental will see a sales boost from their main stage set, but Arcade Fire - while incredible live - will seem strange and wonky on TV. Prince is not turning up, and Cliff Richard hasn't died.

My updates from the festival will be on Twitter - @BBCNewsEnts for the official stuff and @mrdiscopop for the nonsense. But I'll mostly be locked in a Portacabin writing web pages for the BBC website.

All that activity means the blog will be silent for a couple of days - but to keep you going here's a new single from Sia.

And a new single from The Saturdays (and Xenomania!)

And the quite impressive opening of Jay-Z and Beyonce's joint "On The Run" tour.

See you next week!

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Big tune: Jhené Aiko - To Live and Die

Jhené Aiko has been a name to drop since she provided guest vocals for two songs on Drake's Nothing Was The Same last year. Her subsequent EP, Sail Out, sold a quarter of a million and she scored a number one on the R&B charts with its lead track, The Worst.

The Drake connection is a good indication of what you're in for: Stoned soul, stormy emotions and gramatically-incorrect phrases like "please don't take it personal". What stops her from being another imitator is a sweet, tender falsetto that imbues her songs with a heart-rending fragility.

Ahead of her appearance at this weekend's BET Awards, Aiko has popped a new single on the internet. To Live & Die is the first release from her debut album, Souled Out, and it features Cocaine 80s, who are apparently a hip-hop crew of some description.

Caught in a musical tug-of-war with an indecisive partner, the 26-year-old delivers her lyrics just behind the beat, creating a palpable sense of apprehension. "Love side, hate side, never in between," she sings. "Live forever for love - or you can die today".

The song was premiered last night by DJ PupDawg, who helpfully spoiled the mood by putting his "tag" all over the top of it. If you can ignore that, it sounds like a hit.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Remix ahoy: Coldplay's Sky Full of Stars

It's a solid gold fact that Coldplay songs instantly become 20 times better when someone shoves a drum machine, two rave synths and a stick of dynamite up their backside, strikes a match, lights the fuse, retreats to a safe distance, records the results and hands them over to Dave Pearce.

It's another solid gold fact that putting crowd noise underneath a song makes it more exciting by a factor of a million (conservative estimate). The KLF never mentioned it in "The Manual (How To Have A Number One The Easy Way)" but they did it on every single one of their songs. Look at the liner notes to The White Room, and it's right there: They sampled crowd noise from live albums by U2, The Doors and - if you can believe it - Haircut 100. It works. Every time.

So imagine a Coldplay song that's been given an explosive rave enema AND had the sound of an enthusiastic audience slapped all over the top of it. Well, you don't have to imagine it, because someone has done it for you. Here's the Hardwell Remix of Sky Full of Stars:

Disappointingly, this turns out to be a live recording of a DJ playing the song to a crowd of tanked-up holiday revellers. The studio version of the remix is precisely 25% less brilliant, but an improvement on the original, nonetheless.

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Zola Jesus rises again

Four years ago, I wrote a solitary blog post about Zola Jesus (Nika Danilova to her mum) noting that she made music in the vein of Florence and the Machine, without any of the recognition or fanfare.

She's released a couple of albums in the interim, sadly without much to show for it, but her new single made my ears prick up like Bugs Bunny when he spots the sexy lady rabbit from the Cadbury's Caramel advert. It turns out Zola recently signed to Mute Records, home to Goldfrapp and Depeche Mode, and some of their gothic pop stylings have rubbed off on her.

Dangerous Days, the lead track from the forthcoming album Taiga, is sideways synthpop, that manages to be angelic and sultry all at the same time. Can you even have sultry angels? What would that look like?

The good news is you can get Dangerous Days for free by sending Zola an email (or, rather, donating your email address to her record label) on her official website.

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Put away those "one-hit wonder" stickers, the new Icona Pop single is really good

Need I say more?

The song in question is called Get Lost and, even on this poor-quality radio rip, it's exuberant and intoxicating and (yes) shouty.

Icona Pop - Get Lost

Debuted live on Thuesday night, the song was played on Swedish radio this morning and is apparently available on Swedish iTunes later this week.

Asked by a fan if it was going to come out in the rest of the world, they said: "We promise, just have to start somewhere. And it will be on spotify!"

The band also provided a sample of the lyrics written with a pen on a scrap of paper. How 20th Century:

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Friday, June 20, 2014

Songs you may have missed: Time pressure edition

Hey there... I'm knee-deep in Glastonbury preparations right now. Interviews to transcribe, features to write, schedules to be finalised, wellies to be de-stinkified. So this week's "songs you may have missed" column comes with the bare minimum of commentary. 

But that's not to say I don't have some corking tunes to embed. So here they are:

1) The one where Alt-J sample Miley Cyrus
Not as bad as it sounds.

2) The one where OK Go play tricks with perspective
If only they wrote songs as well as they made music videos.

3) The one where Coldplay pretend to be buskers while clearly miming to a backing track
Try to watch this without cringing.

4) The one where Sinead O'Connor sounds reinvigorated
Unexpectedly brilliant.

5) The one where Duke Dumont hopes to score a third successive number one
He's got more bangers than a butcher.

6) The one with Beth Ditto and some Belgian guy
Key lyric: "I'm over-thinking everything. I'm drinking everything."

7) The one where Tove Lo makes her US TV debut
Bare of foot, husky of voice, tousled of hair. I love her.

8) The one by an artist called "Potato Potato"
Clicked on it for the name, stayed for the song.

9) The one with Jess Glynne in the back of a pick-up truck
She's lucky she didn't break her neck.

10) The one with Lana Del Rey and an awesome guitar solo
One of the six good songs on Lana's new album.

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Maybe tomorrow, I'll wanna settle down

There's a hint of The Littlest Hobo in Home, the new video by Naughty Boy and guest vocalist Sam Romans.

Fair warning: By the time the red bar reaches the right hand side of the screen, the more sentimental amongst you are going to need a box of tissues.

Naughty Boy ft Sam Romans - Home

Home is out on 27 July and you can do the pre-order thing on iTunes now.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Big song: Broods - Mother & Father

New Zealand's Broods, who impressed us so much with their Bridges EP last year, are back with a rather spiffing new single.

Mother and Father is all about cutting parental ties and stepping into the big bad world on your own (after your first record turns you into an internet buzz band, travelling the planet, and playing your music to thousands of people).

I spoke to the band yesterday (for a piece that's going up on the BBC later this year) and singer Georgia Nott explained: "Mother and Father is basically me trying to adjust to leaving home. It's like a list of things I was afraid of.

"I sing 'I don't want to wake up lonely, I don't want to just be fine'. Leaving home was really hard for me, because I'd just finished school and I was so not ready to face the world.

"The first time my mum heard it, she cried."

Produced by Joel Little, who was a key part of Lorde's success last year, Mother and Father is the first official single from Broods' as-yet-untitled debut album. Joel tweeted on Friday that he was finalising the mixes for the record, so we shouldn't have too long to wait.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Here are two very good live videos

I'm not going to muck about here... Let's get straight to the videos.

First up, here's Paolo Nutini playing Let Me Down Easy live at Abbey Road (and filmed through Instagram's Earlybird filter, apparently). This is the official video for his next single, the cheapskate.

Paolo Nutini - Let Me Down Easy

Second up, dance collective Jungle give it some cowbell on Jimmy Kimmel's US chat show. Surprised to discover they're basically Disclosure after hiring a funk band - but what a great sound they make. 

Jungle - Busy Earnin'

And that is all I have to say about that.

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Arctic Monkeys sense of humour failure

There's a charmingly goofy new Arctic Monkeys video on the internet. The clip, for Snap Out Of It, pokes fun at Alex Turner's "sexpot" image, with actress Stephanie Sigman (that's her above) in floods of tears, smooching pictures of Alex on her TV and hungrily devouring a steak.

Over on YouTube, though, everyone has missed the point spectacularly.

"She's sexy but I don't get it. Why she sad? Why is she swimming?" asks a perplexed Vincent Peralta.

"I think the steak is the symbol for the carnal desires she feels for Alex," says contanns. This scene is interpreted differently by Estevan Candel, who writes: "In the video, Alex is dead. We notice that by the steak, which represents death."


It gets worse, though.

"More gratuitous, self-aggrandizing tripe from the ego of the century," grumps, arrloid, who is not alone in feeling Alex's ego has run rampant like a feral donkey.

"His confidence is sexy but this is a bit much," writes Anna Farid. "The only thing bigger than his ego," concludes FSAfykm, "is his nose".

Other posters are unable to differentiate between pale English fashionista Alexa Chung and a slender, cheekboned Mexican actress. "Girl in video = Alexa Chung," declares John Rains. "This is Alex mourning over Alexa," concurs Casey Reid. "I immediately thought of Alexa," adds Linda N. Why anyone would make a video raking over the coals of a three-year-old relationship is never questioned.

But my personal favourite reaction comes from Suzy N, who asks: "In all seriousness, where is her bra from????"

Watch for yourself below. It's really not that confusing.

Arctic Monkeys - Snap Out Of It

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Monday, June 16, 2014

Good news - Jessie Ware is back

She's the Larynx of London, the Sultan of Sultry, the Nefertiti of NuSoul, the Dubstep Sade, the Ware in "Tell me where on earth that voice comes from".

She is Jessie Ware, and she's got a new song to tell you about.

"I had just finished a run of shows in the States and went to NY to work with BenZel for a couple weeks, mainly as a different focus to touring," she says in a press release. "I didn't have any expectations or pressures with what would come out of those two weeks, and think 'Tough Love' sums this up.

"It was me experimenting with my voice and having fun with it. It just felt right and kind of dictated the route of the next album, much like Devotion did on my first album."

Anyway, without further nonsense, here is the song. It's called Tough Love and it's everything you could have wanted.

Jessie Ware - Tough Love

If you think the name BenZel rings a bell, you're not mistaken. Shrouded in mystery, they launched their career about 18 months ago, with this anonymous but sublime cover of the R&B classic If You Love Me. Coincidentally, it had Jessie Ware on vocals.

The production duo were later revealed to be a side project of Benny Blanco (Katy Perry's Teenage Dream, Maroon 5's Moves Like Jagger) and Two Inch Punch (Sam Smith's Money On My Mind). Now they're executive producing Ware's new album.

According to Pitchfork, she's also worked with Miguel, Ed Sheeran, Julio Bashmore, Dave Okumu, AntMusik, Kid Harpoon, Robin "Oblong" Randall, James Ford, Arvind Nue5mith, Tim Burton, Helena Bonham Carter, Roland Poland, Red Setter and Nineteen85 on the new album

OK, I made half of those up.

But what you can be sure of is that Tough Love is out on 4 August. Here's the pre-order link - and while you wait for it to come out, here's Jessie performing Wildest Moments with the winner of Poland's X Factor. Because why not?

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Mnek and Kiesza have made songs for you

:: You will know MNEK from singing Gorgon City's epic Ready For Your Love.
:: You will know Kiesza from singing Kiesza's superlative Hideaway.
:: Now they have made epic and superlative follow up singles.
:: This is something to celebrate.

MNEK's record is called Wrote A Song About You. It begins: "Baby, baby, baby, I wrote a song about you last night, and it went something like this", which is an example of metafiction.

Very clever, MNEK. Almost too clever. But we'll let you off for the catchy "la la la" bit.

Kiesza's record is called Giant In My Heart. It begins "I'm trying to pretend it isn't true, but even when I run it's like I can't get over you", which is an example of Taylor Swifting your lyrics. It's also an example of confrontational first-person narrative.

Very clever, Kiesza. Almost too clever. But we'll let you off for the catchy "waow-do-doop-do-de-do-daow" bit.

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Friday, June 13, 2014

Listen: The New Sins - Lights Down

Memory's a funny thing. I'm word-perfect on all three verses of Boom! Shake The Room, I know every line of Abba's atrocious When I Kissed The Teacher, I can even make a fair stab at Falco's Rock Me Amadeus, despite never having learnt a word of German. But the lyrics to any song released this century? Forget about it.

Lana Del Rey's Video Games sits at the top of my "most-played" in iTunes - I couldn't even tell you the first line. At a stretch, I might be able to sing "it's you, it's you, it's all for you" at the appropriate moment. The rest of the chorus is a mystery. Maybe my mind ran out of room after The Spice Girls. More likely, it shut down in protest.

Anyway, this is a long-winded way of introducing a song that has one solitary lyric: "Me and you / In the club / With the lights down / Down, down, down". It's generic and repetitive, to the point where even I can commit it to the memory bank. And, thankfully, it comes attached to a GIANT summer dance anthem.

The track is called Lights Down, and its by The New Sins - a band formed Lou Hayter, erstwhile keyboard player of punk-dance-electropop "crew" the New Young Pony Club. Heavy on the bass, it's a late-night club track that recalls Felix Da Housecat and Miss Kittin at their glitziest. It also steals a trick from Fatboy Slim and Lil Louis' big book of dancefloor dynamics. You'll see what I mean at the 2 minute mark.

It premiered on Nemone's 6 Music show last month - and she promised it would be out this month. All the band's website can say is an enigmatic "coming soon" - but if you frequent the dance tent at any summer festivals, you'll not be able to escape it.

PS: It sounds even better on the official New Sins Soundcloud page (click here) but sadly you can't embed that right now.

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Forget about the football and watch this

Fifteen minutes ago, I'd never heard of Irma, a young soul singer from France by way of Cameroon. Then, the always-excellent Loft 405 posted her new video with no text, no explanation, other than the headline "Must Watch: Irma premieres video for Save Me".

I couldn't have put it better myself.

Not only is Save Me a great song (think Lauryn Hill covering Sara Bareilles backed by the cast of Stomp) but the video takes the back projection technology from Beyonce's 2011 Billboard Awards performance and turns it up to 11, if not 11¾.

Irma - Save Me

It turns out the Beyonce comparison isn't unwarranted... Irma made her name in France by uploading covers to YouTube, one of which is a beautiful acoustic take on Single Ladies.

The singer-songwriter started taking piano lessons aged seven, when she was still living in Cameroon, and was writing her own material by the time she was 12.

Those YouTube covers (I love this Regina Spektor one) earned her a recording contract in 2011. Not long after, her debut album, Letter To The Lord, went platinum and she was nominated for MTV Europe's "best French act" award in 2012... But lost out to everyone's favourite Francophone experimental nu metal band Shaka Ponk (I'm not making this up).

Save Me comes from her second record, Faces, which dropped in France earlier this week. There's no UK release date yet - but you can get it on import from Amazon for the entirely reasonable price of £41.99.

If you need convincing before handing over that amount of cash, here's the album's first single, Hear Me Out - the most beautiful protest song you'll hear this side of Tuesday.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

I hope you hit the ground hard when you fell for yourself

That's got to be my favourite lyric of the year - from the second verse of Tove Styrke's striking (ha!) new single Even If I'm Loud It Doesn't Mean I'm Talking To You.

For a song that employs just two notes in the top-line melody, it's brilliantly exciting - building and building and building like one of these guys.

The video is below (warning: extreme close-ups throughout). And if you like it as much as I think you'll like it - and I really think you'll like it - the song is available to buy now on UK iTunes.

Tove Styrke - Even If I'm Loud...

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Video - Nicole Scherzinger's Your Love

In which Nicole Scherzinger rolls around a beach in her pants, for no discernible reason (other than selling records, natch).

Sadly, the opportunity for a huge dance breakdown at the end is jettisoned in favour of bonus footage of Nicole writhing around on the shoreline.

But I defer further analysis of this video to a greater scholar of popular culture than I. Eric Cartman:

Your Love is out on 19 July.

Nicole Scherzinger - Your Love

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Video - Cheryl Cole's Crazy Stupid Love

In which Cheryl, like a pop Ed Milliband, has been told to smile in every shot so she appears "more relatable to the electorate".

Crazy Stupid Love continues to be a curate's egg, with its honking sax riff and awkward lyrical analogies. What's the point of a roller coaster that only goes up?

It's definitely grown on me since last week - as Mark Hoppers observed on Twitter: "I like how the saxophone represents her 'crazy stupid' love" - but would I have given it a second chance at all if it was a Pixie Lott single? (Hint: No)

Video verdict - great dancing, Tinie Tempah looks like he's trying to escape.

Cheryl Cole - Crazy Stupid Love

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Saturday, June 7, 2014

Review: Arcade Fire at Earl's Court

"We'd like to play this song for Earls Court," says Win Butler, as he plays the opening chords of The Suburbs. "Before they tear it down and turn it into condos. Get your bids in now. Hope they're cheap."

Butler might be sentimental about the venue - but, for me, they can't demolish it enough. Earl's Court is undoubtedly the worst concert venue in London. An ugly, reverberant warehouse with all the soul and personality of a damp towel.

Arcade Fire are helped by the fact their songs gain a scale and majesty from the sonorous echo (after all, they recorded their second album in a cathedral). The early material - Neighborhood #3 (Power Out), Ready To Start, Rebellion (Lies) - sounds particularly grand; but the finessed basslines of last year's Reflektor album get lost in the rafters.

The sprawling 12-piece band aren't going to let the night be spoiled by dodgy acoustics, though.

There's always been a chaotic energy to an Arcade Fire show - William Butler, in particular, plays with the demented fervour of a tiny puppy who's just heard the word "walkies" - and on this arena tour, they've extended the dramatics to the audience. Fans were asked to turn up in fancy dress, and we saw sequins, skeletons, facepaints, ball gowns, bow ties and one brave man in full-on fishnet-stockinged drag.

In return, the audience got their own lighting rig, as well as glitter cannons, steel drums, fake palm trees, and a full dance troupe on a hydraulic platform. Regine also appeared on the b-stage later in the show, performing the back-and-forth vocals of It's Never Over (Oh Orpheus) facing her husband across the arena.

What else? Ian McCullough made a guest appearance, playing Echo And The Bunnymen's The Cutter; a man in a full mirror suit became a human disco ball; while a mariachi band in bobblehead masks played a wobbly version of Bittersweet Symphony.

The three-track encore was undoubtedly the highlight - starting with the moshpit-inciting Normal People, followed by the supple groove of Here Comes The Night Time and finishing with a truly anthemic, air-punching Wake Up (strangely uplifting for a song that bgins "something filled up my heart with nothing").

"We only put out a record every four years or so it feels really special to be here," said Win as the show ended. "You guys have been amazing."

The feeling was mutual. And if Arcade Fire can turn the cold, cavernous Earl's Court into a full-on Haitian carnival, Glastonbury is going to be a doddle.

Flashbulb Eyes
Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)
Rebellion (Lies)
Joan Of Arc
The Suburbs
Ready To Start
Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)
The Cutter - with Ian McCullough
Neighborhood #2 (Laika)
No Cars Go
We Exist
It's Never Over (Oh Orpheus)
Sprawl II

Bittersweet Symphony - fake band cover
Normal Person
Here Comes The Night Time
Wake Up

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Friday, June 6, 2014

Cheryl gets remixed and 10 other songs you may have missed

A round-up of the songs that slipped through the cracks over the last seven days. This week's selection starts right here.

1) Cheryl Cole - Crazy Stupid Love (Handbag House bootleg)
Scottish remixer Iain Macleod, aka Handbag House, was impressively quick off the mark with this one, uploading his remix of Cheryl's comeback single about 15 hours after it got it's first radio play. He hasn't done a bad job, either.

The image at the top of the page, by the way, is from Cheryl's video shoot earlier this week. The promo is due to "hit the streets" (be uploaded by a record label intern) on Monday.

2) Lana Del Rey - Ultraviolence
The Ellie Goulding to Kimye's Wills & Kate, here's Lana Del Rey with the title track to her second album. The usual adjectives apply: haunting, gauzy, hazy, woozy, ethereal, dreamy, etc, etc.

3) OneRepublic - Love Runs Out
"Love Runs Out was originally going to be the first single on our album but I couldn't crack the chorus" Ryan Tedder told me earlier this year. "It gutted me because I had it marked on the board as 'first single' for six months."

It's a good thing he kept working on it, as it would have been a shame to lose this gospel-pop gem.

"I'll be your light, your match, your burning sun," he sings over an insistent piano rhythm, that harks back to Moby's Bessie Wright sampling hit Honey.

4) Ella Eyre - If I Go
Ella's trying out the old Lionel Richie "Dancing On The Ceiling" trick for this video - but she's overlooked one crucial detail. While Lionel had a tightly controlled afro, her shaggy lion's mane always falls in the direction of gravity, giving away the secret of the optical illusion (it's a rotating box).

Amazing song, though. What. A. Voice.

5) Klaxons - Show Me A Miracle
A cross between an ITV Chart Show ident and one of those internet cat videos. In other words, awesome.

6) Sam Smith ft Mary J Blige - Stay With Me
There's a mutual love affair going on here. "Working with Mary J. Blige is one of the biggest highlights of my career so far," said Sam Smith after recording this live band duet.

"I remember holding her album in my hands in the car when I was a young boy. To meet your idols is a magical thing, but to work with them is truly a dream come true."

Blige was no less gushing, saying: "Sam's true soulful voice is the first of this kind I have heard since Luther Vandross, Freddie Jackson and all great soul male voices."

Oh, Get a room, you two.

7) Banks - Drowning
Banks sings her latest ballbreaking R&B ballad in a room full of mirrors. No wonder she's got a tortured mind - it must be a nightmare cleaning off all the fingerprints.

8) Kylie - Sexy Love
I can't really recommend the song, which is so bland and generic it might as well be a Tesco own-brand Rich Tea biscuit. But the video features Kylie doing the hoovering, and you can't argue with that.

9) Jack White - Lazaretto
The blues in black and white.

10) Neon Jungle - Louder
With two bona-fide top 10 hits under their belts, Girlband-with-attitude Neon Jungle have taken the shock decision to release a ballad. "It's still got energy and power," they insist, "but in a more subtle way".

11) The Ting Tings - Wrong Club
No, wait... Come back. This is a return to form, although it never reaches the heady heights of Great DJ or That's Not My Name.

As Fraser McAlpine noted on Twitter, they're up all night to get Lucky-y.

And that's it for another week... Stay tuned for more on Monday.

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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Review: Prince at the Roundhouse (set II)

Four months into his Hit and Run tour, Prince is on a roll. And when Prince is on a roll, he's untouchable. That's why, with 36 hours notice, he can summon 7,000 people to two consecutive shows at London's Roundhouse. 

I made it into the second of those - a rib-shaking, house-quaking, curfew-breaking spectacular that ended long after the last tube. Not that anyone seemed to mind. 

Prince took the stage at 10:30, just an hour after he'd wrapped up the first show, but he was fresh as a Paisley daisy, ripping into a grinding Let's Go Crazy before reeling off Raspberry Beret, U Got The Look, Kiss, When Doves Cry and Sign O The Times. No breaks, no pauses, no sweat, no problems. 

It's easy to forget Prince has been playing this material for 30 years now. The music is so effortless it seems like it's just occurred to him in the moment. His face contorts with every note of every guitar solo. He exudes passion and joy. And 3rdEyeGirl - his dazzlingly versatile band - can turn on a dime, bending the music to his whim with nothing more than a nod of a head. 

"How many hits have we just played?" Prince grinned at the 45-minute mark. At a rough estimate, I'd have said two thousand zero zero - but the party still wasn't over (sorry, couldn't resist).

So on it went: Controversy gained a funky, polytonal guitar lick; Little Red Corvette was slowed down and drawn out; and Purple Rain blossomed into a 10-minute singalong with three false endings. It was so good, the couple next to me disobeyed the "no cameras" rule and got their phones out. They were forcibly removed by a bouncer.

They must be kicking themselves today, because they missed almost an entire hour of music. Having dispensed with the hits up-front, Prince plucked hidden gems, album cuts and semi-improvised blues jams out of his lustrous afro, trading riffs happily with Donna Grantis (guitar) and Ida Nelson (bass). 

The highlight was a 15-minute run-through of Something In The Water (Does Not Compute), from the album 1999. "Take it to church," Prince directed keyboard player Cassandra O'Neal, who laid down some chunky gospel chords while he led the audience in an extended dance of call-and-response vocals. 

Almost as good was the set-closer - an early-90s cast-off called What's My Name, which Prince originally released on a telephone hotline (yes, really). Rarely played live, it turned the Roundhouse into a heaving midnight moshpit. 

"We've all got families," Prince said as the show closed, "but tonight I'm putting 3rdEyeGirl up for adoption". 

"If you promise to look after them from now on, you'll get me half-price."

It's a deal. Where do I sign?

Let's Go Crazy File
Take Me With U 
Raspberry Beret 
U Got The Look 
Cool (The Time cover)

[Sampler Set]
When Doves Cry
Sign O' The Times
Hot Thing 

Little Red Corvette  
Nothing Compares 2U

[Solo piano set]        
Diamonds And Pearls
The Beautiful Ones
Under The Cherry Moon (instrumental)    
Do Me, Baby    
I Wanna Be Your Lover    
Electric Intercourse

Purple Rain

Encore 1
The Ride / Butterface
Something In The Water (Does Not Compute)

Encore 2

Encore 3
Stratus (Billy Cobham cover)
What's My Name

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Charli XCX must really like bicycles

I never had Charli XCX pegged as a yellow jersey enthusiast or a patron of velodromes - but here she is posing next to a load of whatever they call Boris Bikes in Amsterdam.

It's all in aid of Boom Clap - the very good song she's contributed to The Fault In Our Stars soundtrack. The music video, streaming below, sees Charli gallivanting around the Dutch canals, interspersed with clips from the film (so expect to see a lot of Shailene Woodley breathing through a nose tube).

OK, it's not going to result in a re-evaluation of the music video milieu, but it would be nice to see Charli get a boost from such a high-profile film soundtrack. It still baffles me that she's had two US number ones as a featured artist (on Icona Pop's I Love It and Iggy Azaelea's Fancy), while resolutely failing to send any of her solo records into the chart.

Fingers crossed, then.

Charli XCX - Boom Clap

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The welcome return of Amerie / Ameriie

Remember Amerie? Probably not. It's been a while.

One of the greatest singers in modern R&B, she has a formidable roar with a raspy undertone that's equally capable of capturing the freewheeling rush of falling in love, and the aching, down-on-your-knees pain of separation. It doesn't hurt that she's also quite easy on the eye.

If you know her at all, it's for 1 Thing, a joyous clattering dance track that sold millions in 2005.

That was followed by 2007's Because I Love It, a candy-coloured collision of 80s funk and retro soul which produced the irresistible Cee-Lo collaboration Take Control.

In the intervening seven years, the Washington native has had her fair share record label troubles, got married and had an extra "i" surgically attached to her name.

Now she's back with a potentially massive new single. What I Want takes one of the most sampled records of all time - Apache by the Incredible Bongo Band - and retools it as a soul sister testimony.

Granted, it's not the most original idea in the world but, like I said, Ameriie's voice could convince you a takeaway menu was the New Testament. Pin your ears back and have a listen.

Ameriie - What I Want

No word on a release date yet, but Ameriie is visiting the UK later this week - and she's helpfully sent over a new photo of her throttling an unsuspecting microphone. Nice trousers.

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Monday, June 2, 2014

Good grief, it's Cheryl Cole!

Why is Cheryl Cole standing on her tippy-toes? I'll tell you why: It's because she's nervous about how people will react to her brand new single Crazy Stupid Love.

Well, the good news is it's a superlative pop record. There's a bit with a parping horn and a bit that goes "la la la" and a terrible rollercoaster metaphor and a chorus that's catchy as all heck. It even has Tinie Tempah rapping that he'd be surprised by any woman who has hips and thighs, which makes you wonder what sort of fetish magazines he's been reading lately.

Cheryl Cole - Crazy Stupid Love

It's a bit of a grower, this one. Give it a day or two and it'll be holding your brain hostage.

With the first radio play out of the way, the next question is what Cheryl's got planned for her comeback TV performance? To recap, we've had the following watercooler moments:

FIGHT FOR THIS LOVE (2009) - Faulty trousers

PROMISE THIS (2010) - Zebra legs

CALL MY NAME (2012) - Falling off a balcony

Cheryl, if you're reading, here's some ideas I came up with on the bus.

1) Balancing on a huge inflatable beach ball

2) In character as Venezuelan exchange student Señor Hector Banana

3) Perched on the back of an elephant

4) Planted in a flowerpot

5) Cooking a soufflé

6) Get Bill Bailey to play the hook on his air-horn machine

7) Perform entire song with back to camera, then turn round to reveal comedy Alan Sugar mask with googly eyes

8) In a T-shirt bearing the legend "my other t-shirt says Nicola Roberts"

9) Doing this exact dance

10) Pogo sticks

11) Unscripted appearance, standing outside the window of The One Show dressed as a whistle

12) Learn ventriloquism and make Tinie Tempah's rap appear to come out of a strawberry jelly with spectacles drawn on it

13) More double sex crab

I'll leave it in your hands, Cheryl. But please bear in mind that, as bad as these ideas seem, all of them are better than having your backing dancers pretend to play plastic saxophones. And I'm 75% sure someone's already placed an order for the props.

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