Sunday, October 26, 2014

Taylor Swift sings on a street and 12 other songs you may have missed

The "Songs You May Have Missed" post is often my favourite thing to write all week. It's simply a collection of songs I've stumbled across and filed away - some I'm still evaluating, others are too insubstantial for a standalone article, but they've all made my pop radar go ping. Some of the artists may disappear forever, but it's a good way to summarise my listening and the perennial quest to find new and exciting things.

Anyway, here's this week's collection. As always, I'd be interested to hear what you think in the comments field or over on twitter.

1) Taylor Swift - Out Of The Woods / Shake It Off (live)
In the same week that Taylor Swift topped Canada's iTunes chart with eight seconds of white noise (yes, really) she appeared on Jimmy Kimmel's chat show to promote her new album 1989. And she promoted the heck out of it.

This performance, which shut down Hollywood Boulevard, is a proper pop moment.

2) Kiesza - No Enemiesz
At the outer reaches of her vocal register Kiesza sounds like a cross between Kermit and Miss Piggy, but you can't fault her for sheer effervescence.

The dancing in this video is carefree and joyous - which makes the soft-core pay-off all the more unnecessary.

3) Tulisa - Living Without You
I was pretty dismissive of Fergie and Gwen Stefani's underwhelming comeback singles last week, so it's refreshing to hear someone else claw their way out of the dumper after a protracted (and traumatic) period out of the limelight with something that sounds like a hit.

Of course Tulisa benefits from the gift of low expectations - but she sounds confident, hungry and (unlike the other two) current on this track, which utilises her husky vocals to great effect. Fans of Kiesza may notice a few similarities, though... See above if you doubt me.

4) Leon Bridges - Better Man / Coming Home
Leon Bridges hails from Fort Worth, Texas, where NASA has one of its big research centres, so it's not inconceivable that was beamed from the 1950s to the 21st Century in some sort of freak gamma ray accident.

Otherwise, how do you explain these recordings, which sound exactly as if they were ripped out of Sam Cooke's hands and smuggled into the future? Gorgeous music, and free to download via Soundcloud.

5) Bauuer ft AlunaGeorge - One Touch
Whisper it, but this collaboration is better than AlunaGeorge's own comeback record. Chopped-up, wonky pop with a weirdly infectious hook.

Unusually, the song came from a list of unreleased tracks that Baauer posted on his Facebook page last week, telling fans he'd release the one they liked best. You can't fault their judgment.

6) The Veronicas - Line Of Fire
A filthy, low-slung groove marks The Veronica's return to electropop after the devastating balladry of You Ruin Me.

7) The Veronicas - You Ruin Me (live)
Speaking of which, this X Factor Australia performance is a keeper.

8) r.e.l - Plateau
"Time's slipping away from me," sings Arielle Sitrick with earnest urgency on this lush, hushed indie-pop gem. Maybe it's a strange thing for a 19-year-old to come out with, but when you read the lyrics - about a stalled relationship - you begin to understand her desire to get on with life.

The track is taken from her soon-to-be-released debut EP, which was funded by a Kickstarter campaign to the tune of $8,000. Not bad, eh?

9) One Bit - Not About You
Clearly inspired by Disclosure, this Hertfordshire duo were plucked from BBC Radio 1's Introducing Strand and given a few plays on the daytime schedule last week. It's not difficult to see why - this economic dance track is smart, slick and soulful.

10) One Direction - Steal My Girl
One Direction have done the "video directors are morons" plotline before but, in true boyband tradition, why ditch a successful formula? This time, the video comes with added Danny DeVito and, to be fair, the parody of music video tropes is completely on the money. I laughed twice.

11) Seinabo Sey - Pistols at Dawn
Haunting song, chilling video.

12) Rita Ora - Grateful
Rita Ora's break-up with Calvin Harris seems to have delayed her second album, what with his decision to pull all of his songs from her album in the aftermath.

Still, this soundtrack ballad from the pen of Diane "Don't Want To Miss A Thing" Warren should help shift a few copies when it finally comes out. Diane certainly has confidence in the track: "Rita Ora did an amazing vocal," she told Billboard. "I think it can be a career song for her. It shows a whole different side to her and I'm hoping we get to... see her sing it on the Oscars next year!"

To be fair, it's pretty good.

If you made it this far, thanks for sticking around. Hope you found one or two new favourites. If not, send me suggestions for next week's roundup!

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