Friday, November 28, 2014

Here is an excellent remix of Lana Del Rey's Brooklyn Baby

Semi-reclusive, underrated British musician Tom Vek occasionally pops up with excellent remixes of likeminded artists such as Metronomy, Bombay Bicycle Club and Alt-J.

Now, he's turned his attention to Brooklyn Baby - Lana Del Rey's viscious skewering of New York socialites - and given it new life.

Reframing the maudlin, string drenched ballad with a shuffling drum pattern, it doesn't quite reach the heady heights of Cedric Gervais' reworking of Summer Sadness, but it's definitely going onto my ever-expanding "Lana Del Remix" playlist.

Lana Del Ray - Brooklyn Baby (Tom Vek remix)

Labels: , , , ,

Indiana: Only The Lonely

Nottingham songstress Indiana has been one of this year's slow-burning successes.

Her pulsating, bubbling single Solo Dancing plonked onto the chart at number 14 in April, but its profile has risen ever since. Describing it as "the year's most hypnotic pop record," Time Magazine recently named it one of their top 25 songs of 2014.

The follow-up, Heart On Fire, was a similarly despondent dose of downbeat disco, which admirably held its own amongst the more screechy elements of Radio 1's playlist.

Even US industry "bible" (magazine) Billboard has gotten all moist over the 27-year-old singer, calling her "your new favourite pop artist", praising her menacing, minimalist take on chart pop.

The public hasn't quite caught up with the critics yet - Heart On Fire failed to chart in the UK - but her debut album, No Romeo, is shaping up to be an excellent piece of work.

If you need convincing, check out her next single, Only The Lonely, whose sense of quiet despair is a perfect soundtrack to those long winter nights.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Jackson Breit: Genius or heretic?

In the list of "things I would not touch", Bill Withers' back catalogue is up there with spider nests and Madonna's forearms. But Jackson Breit is a braver man than I am.

For his new single, Breit has literally sung over the top of Withers' 1972 soul classic, Use Me. It's not a cover, and it's not karaoke - he just weaves his vocals in and around the original, adding an Ed Sheeran-style sing-speak section and even a guitar solo (!) to Withers' track.

"Sacrilege!" you might cry "burn him at the stake!". But hold your horses because Breit, along with collaborator Carneyval, manages to pull it off, thanks to some perfectly-judged jazz phrasing and a certain amount of swagger.

Have a listen. I promise you won't be upset.

Like it? Then you're in luck - Breit's version of Use Me is a free download on his Soundcloud page.

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Eleven things Google tells us about Rae Morris

Frizzy of hair and breathy of vocal, Rae Morris is being tipped as one of pop music's NEXT BIG THINGS. So, before the Brits unveil their Critic's Choice shortlist (Thursday) and the BBC reveal their Sound of 2015 longlist (Monday), here are 11 exciting facts about the singer, which I have Googled for you.

You're welcome.

1) Rachel Anne Morris was born in Blackpool in 1992. [Wikipedia]

2) Rae is short for Raymond, which was her grandfather's name. [Leadmill]

3) Atlantic Records signed her in 2011, when she was just 18, then gave her space to "grow as an artist", whatever that means. [Line of Best Fit]

4) You may have heard her voice on Bombay Bicycle Club's rather lovely single Luna earlier this year.

5) Her piano teacher is called Darren [GoldFlakePaint]

6) She realised she could be a proper songwriter when she saw fellow Blackpool singer Karima Francis on Jools Holland. She later got to sing with Clean Bandit on the very same programme, which she described as "the scariest thing I've ever done". [DIY mag]

7) If she had a million pounds, she would probably buy some books. [For Folk's Sake]

8) She is quite the Kate Bush fan.[Twitter]

9) Her debut album, Unguarded, has been recorded with Ariel Rechtschaid, of Haim and Charli XCX "fame". It's out next year. [When the Gramophone Rings]

10) The most famous person she's met is Barry Chuckle. [London In Stereo]

11) She is not trying to be cool. "I'm not trying to be cool," she says, "because, well, I'm not cool. I'm just really not cool." [Teen Vogue]

So now you can impress all of your Facebook friends with your insightful and encyclopaedic knowledge of current pop trends.

You can also tell them you've heard Rae's new single, Under The Shadows. Be sure to use words like "haunting", "dramatic" and "supple" so you can sound totally up your own arse.

Rae Morris - Under The Shadows

Labels: , , , , , ,

Update: Here's Lorde on the AMAs

When I wrote my AMA super-post yesterday, there was no way to watch Lorde's super-creepy performance of Yellow Flicker Beat. Now there is, thanks to the star's official Vevo channel. If only every artist was so enlightened.

Watch below, and try not to have nightmares.

Lorde - Yellow Flicker Beat (live at the AMAs)

Labels: , ,

Arcade Fire's Will Butler goes solo

Will Butler - aka the insane one out of Arcade Fire - has broken ranks and recorded a solo record, called Policy.

The first single, Take My Side, is a stomping rock'n'roll tune in the vein of White Stripes or even The Stooges. Butler sounds like he's having a punch-up with his guitar, while screaming gleefully abrasive lyrics like: "If I could fly, you know I'd beat the shit out of some birds".

It's loud and scratchy and a world apart from the post-millenial angst of his usual band.

Take My Side will be the opening track on Butler's new album, Policy, which is out in March. According to a press release, the album was recorded in Jimi Hendrix's old living room at Electric Lady Studios in New York.

Butler has created an album trailer that's clearly inspired by dangerous quantities of "special wine". And it's all the better for it.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, November 24, 2014

Songs you may have missed: AMA special

A semi-regular round-up of songs I should have blogged about, but didn't.

This week, I've spiced things up with a few performances from the American Music Awards, which will probably have been whisked off YouTube before this sentence ends. Take your chances below...

1) Sam Smith ft A$AP Rocky - Stay With Me
Vocal chops, he's got 'em.

2) Ariana Grande - Break Free / Love Me Harder
Vocal chops, she's got 'em.

3) Fergie - LA Love
Vocal chops, she's got 'em on a backing tape.

4) Beyonce - 7/11
The best thing about this home-made video is discovering Beyoncé's bedrom is just as messy as mine.

5) Taylor Swift - Blank Space (AMA performance)
Magic tricks, homicide and another outing for Taylor's crazy eyes acting face. Superb.

6) Take That - If You Want It
I do not want it.

7) Gwen Stefani - Spark The Fire
After the lacklustre response to Gwen's comeback single, Baby Don't Lie, this Pharrell-produced club has a lot of heavy lifting to do. Thankfully, it's a cheerleader earworm in the vein of Hollaback Girl.

8) Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars - Uptown Funk (Live on SNL)
I just checked and this song is still amazing.

9) Clean Bandit - Show Me Love
Sounds exactly like you'd expect a Clean Bandit cover of a 1990s house classic to sound. It's like Hooked on Classics all over again.

10) MNEK - The Rhythm
MNEK's Wrote A Song About You was one of this year's best singles - smart lyrical conceit, indelible melody and insane vocals. The fact that it stalled at no. 66 is a genuine travesty.

His follow-up isn't half as adventurous, but it'll probably sell a bucketload.

11) Paul Oakenfold ft Azealia Banks - Venus
After years of delays, Azealia Banks's Broke With Expensive Taste turned out to be quite good after all. And this collaboration with Paul Oakenfold (who must be about 75 now?) is an Ibiza sunset delight.

The career rehabilitation starts here.

12) Years & Years - Desire
There's an argument that the UK electro-house scene is starting to become saturated, from Disclosure downwards. But I reckon Years & Years might squeeze in a few hits before the door slams on the scene forever.

Desire, their latest single, is getting a few spins on Radio 1 and they've just made it onto MTV's "Brand New for 2015" list. Ones to watch.

13) Labrinth - Jealous
Not sure how I missed this when it came out last month, but after last night's X Factor performance, it's leapt into my consciousness (and, more importantly, the iTunes top 10). A terrifically heartfelt piece of songwriting.

An exhaustive list, I'm sure you'll agree... And there are plenty more AMA performances (Lorde, Charli XCX, Selena Gomez) that are worth checking out if you can find a valid link.

Back to business as normal tomorrow.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

New discovery: Jones

Jessie Ware, Banks, Tinashe, FKA Twigs: 2014 has been a great year for avant garde R&B.

But if you haven't had enough yet, check out impossible-to-Google London newcomer Jones, whose new single, You, is so experimental it should be housed in CERN.

"I'm only in it for you," she sings over a soothing electric piano, while a producer throws shopping trolleys at her head. Then Peter Gabriel's 1980s backing band drops by and "lays down" a fretless bass guitar line. Then a spaceship lands quietly in her garden.

To Jones's credit, the competing textures enhance the song's sense of smoky mystery. As it fades away, you feel like you've just heard the soundtrack to someone else's dream.

Highly recommended.

Jones - You

If you liked that, check out Jones's earlier single, Deep, which is a little more straightforward but no less seductive.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Can Charli XCX turn it back around?

It'll be interesting to see what happens to Charli XCX's career in the UK after Break The Rules flumped into the chart at 35 and disappeared without a trace.

To be honest, it wasn't her best effort - replacing Boom Clap's carefree abandon with a petulant lyric and sneery video - but the goodwill from Fancy and Boom Clap should have carried her a little higher up the charts.

It's not even a "young people don't buy music" problem: The video for Break The Rules has a disappointing, if not abysmal, 8 million views. Boom Clap has 84 million, while Fancy racked up an unbelievable 349 million (!).

I hope the poor performance is an aberration, because Charli is one of the thrillingest, killingest pop stars we have, as anyone who's seen her live show can attest.

Charli herself doesn't seem too flustered, telling Seventeen Magazine: "I'm going to build an empire. I'm always writing for someone else. I want to be someone who has her fingerprints all over the pop charts."

And, while she's contributing to the Hunger Games soundtrack and collaborating with Giorgio Moroder, that seems entirely possible.

But the proof will come when her album, Sucker, "drops" on the unforgivingly competitive date of 16th December (26th January in the UK).

To tempt you into purchasing a copy, she's just uploaded the new song Gold Coins to Soundcloud. Written with Robyn and Icona Pop collaborator Patrick Berger, it's pop with balls. Massive shiny balls.

Labels: , ,

Monday, November 17, 2014

Video: Mark Ronson - Uptown Funk

One week on, and this Mark Ronson / Bruno Mars single Uptown Funk is still strutting around my brain like a particularly funky peacock.

When it premiered last week, I noted its similarity to The Time - and their Purple Rain-era material in general. The video does nothing to dispel that notion, with Bruno and The Smeezingtons channelling the syncopated moves, comedic timing, and tidy threads of Morris Day and Co.

And, after an opening segment that's inspired by Guys & Dolls (or is itWe Could Have Been Anything We Wanted To Be??), it ends up in a facsimilie of the First Avenue Club, where the majority of Purple Rain was shot in 1984.

It goes without saying that this only makes it better.

Labels: , , ,

Tove Lo has cancelled her London show

SAD FACE EMOTICON HERE. Tove Lo has had to scrap her show in London this week because her vocal cords are distressed.

Now, I'm not a doctor, but I think she should reconsider her grape-eating technique.

Anyway, it's not all bad news, because the Swedish singer has left us with a brand new video by way of compensation. Confusingly, it's for Over - a track from her year old Truth Serum EP, rather than a new single from her (exquisite) album Queen Of The Clouds.

According to the blurb, the video was shot by noted fashion photographer Rankin on London's Hampstead Heath. "Watch the fearless singer brave the elements as she treks across the Heath," the blurb continues, "before ultimately submerging herself in Hampstead's ponds for an emotional climax."

The water looks disgusting. I hope she scrubbed her armpits with Dettol afterwards.

Tove Lo - Over

Labels: , ,

Here is that Band Aid 30 video in full

Band Aid 30 - Do They Know It's Christmas?

How can they give two lines to Rita Ora and none to Jessie Ware?

Donate your feckin' money by downloading the single here or visiting the Band Aid site. It's the right thing to do.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Songs you may have missed: A Lorde (and S Club) special

So it was back to work this week after a very generous (although partly-unpaid) 12 weeks' paternity leave. I won't say it was easy to leave the kids behind but on balance my wife has the harder job.

Anyway, the cogs of the music industry machine continue to turn despite my domestic arrangements. Here's a round-up of the songs I heard this week and couldn't find time to write up. NB: They're basically all by Lorde.

1) Lorde - Yellow Flicker Beat (Kanye West Remix)

2) Charli XCX ft Simon Le Bon - Kingdom
This one's from Lorde's hand-picked soundtrack to The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1.

Charli talked about it to Pitchfork earlier this week, using the following words: "I worked with Rostam [Batmanglij] on that song. We went to the Miley Cyrus show in LA and got really wasted. Then we went back to his house and I sat on top of his piano, and we wrote Kingdom. We sung it into his phone.

"I remember thinking in the morning, 'Ugh, this is going to be the worst thing ever,' but it was really good. So when Ella [Lorde] reached out to me about the soundtrack, I decided to send her that song even though it’s really different than my usual shit. She was really complimentary about it."

So there you go.

3) Lorde - Don't Tell 'Em (Radio 1 Live Lounge cover)

4) S Club 7 - Greatest Hits medley (from Children In Need)
A greatest hits medley featuring four songs isn't really worthy of the title but it's interesting to see what S Club look like in their mid-to-late 30s.

Paul Cattermole is the highlight, dancing like a drunk uncle at a David Brent lookalike competest.

5) Nicole Scherzinger - Run

6) Lion Babe - Jump Hi (ft Childish Gambino)
Possibly R&B's best-kept secret, Lion Babe have been on the Discopop radar since 2012. They've been quiet for a while but this song, the title track to a forthcoming EP, suggests they're getting their ducks in a row for a major push 2015.

Sample watch: The chorus uses a vocal hook from Nina Simone's interpretation of Mr Bojangles.

7) Ariana Grande - All My Love (ft Major Lazer)
Also from the Hunger Games soundtrack. A total racket, but in the good way.

8) Calvin Harris - Outside (ft Ellie Goulding)
Do you think Calvin regrets giving all his best material to Rita Ora?

9) Taylor Swift - Shake It Off (Tesher remix)
This is magnificent - reframing Taylor's pop hit as a dark and dirty club hit. If Lorde had written Shake It Off, it would have sounded like this.

Sample-watch: The backing track is based around the intro to Justin Timberlake's What Goes Around (Comes Around).

10) One Bit - Won't Hold Back
Superlative sunset grooves from Radio One's "Most Played New Act of 2014". For fans of Disclosure and Holy Ghost!

11) Fergie - LA Love
Featuring cameos from Hilary Swank, Chelsea Handler and Ryan Seacrest. Hardly Liberian Girl, is it?

12) Chvrches vs Bleachers - You Can Go Your Own Way
Featuring the worst live sound mix you have ever heard in your life, this is nonetheless a brilliant cover version. Lauren's vivacious vocals really bring a new dimension to Fleetwood Mac's kiss-off classic.

And that, readers, is that. Happy listening!

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Here is the video for Marina's Froot

When Marina and the Diamonds unveiled her comeback song, Froot, a couple of weeks ago, I suggested it couldn't be a single because it was too long (and too odd) to be played on the radio.

I stand by that assertion - but it could still become a hit by default. The audio stream's already up to 2.5m views on YouTube and Froot leapt into the UK and US iTunes chart as soon as it was released yesterday, thanks to the star's tightly-knit and on-the-ball fanbase.

But is it a single? Sadly, Marina's extensive interview with Line Of Best Fit doesn't clarify the matter:

"Lead tracks are funny. Whatever you lead with, it's going to put out a message to everybody watching and who's a fan as to how you're going to progress. If I'd come out with 'Blue', probably my biggest sounding song, it would be like 'oh, okay, this a huge pop campaign, let's do the whole Top 40 route' and I'm just not here for that anymore.

"If it happens, it's fantastic, and I still consider myself part of that world, but I don't want to have to adhere to or rely on that anymore.

She's clearly hedging her bets - a hit is a hit is a hit, after all. But with the album not due until April 2015, I'd wager the promo campaign will begin in earnest next year.

Either way, feast your eyes on this old school Hollywood visual treat.

Marina and the Diamonds - FROOT

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Taylor Swift standing on a horse

"You can take your clothes off all you want.  But here I am, standing on a horse, owning pop music."

Taylor Swift's new video is proof that you don't need to be half-naked to sell a pop song. Blank Space is the sort of video Katy Perry would kill for, a heightened melodrama that takes the song's premise, that Taylor is the voracious, psycopathic maneater the tabloids make her out to be, and turns the volume up to 11.

Discussing the treatment, director Joseph Khan (Britney's Toxic, Eminem's Without Me) told Mashable: "She's highly aware of one particular thing that's happening right now — the idea that if you date her and you break up with her, she’s going to write a song about you. She's aware of this. She's not an idiot. Taylor wanted to make a video addressing this concept of, if she has so many boys breaking up with her maybe the problem isn't the boy, maybe the problem is her."

In the age of the Gif-able video, this is probably the most Gif-able of them all.

Taylor Swift - Blank Space

Labels: , , ,

Monday, November 10, 2014

Mark Ronson's new single sounds like...

This song.

And this song.

Also, this song.

A little bit of this song.

A-lacka-lacka-boom of this one.

And a few nods to this one.

That's not a criticism. I'd kill to have written one of those songs. And so would Ronson - who readily admits that 70s and 80s funk classics were the inspiration for his new album.

"No matter how my taste in music and DJ-ing veers over the years, I always find myself coming back to that music I would play out in hip-hop clubs in NY in the late 90s/early 2000s", he says in a needlessly long press release for his new album, Uptown Special.

"Biggie, Chaka Khan, Amerie, Boz Scaggs, Missy, Earth Wind & Fire, N.O.R.E... Those songs would set alight the dance floor. The NY club scene was filled with girls, boys, dancers, drug dealers, rappers, models and skateboarders who came mostly for one reason: To dance. And regardless of genre or era, if the song was good - if it had dope drums, if it had soul to it - they danced. Before smart phones, bottle service and smoking bans, people came to the club, found their spot and stayed all night, absorbed in the music. With Uptown Special I set out to capture the feeling I remember from those New York nights".

OK, Mark. We get the point.

Here's the song. It has Bruno Mars all over it.

Mark Ronson - Uptown Funk (ft Bruno Mars)

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, November 7, 2014

Songs you may have missed: Haiku edition

A round-up of songs that escaped the full glare of the Discopop Directory spotlight - but are still worthy of note.

For some reason, I decided to write Haikus about each of this week's entries. The results are poor, to say the least.

1) Royal Blood - Happy
When Pharrell hears this
He might well reconsider
His entire career

2) Selena Gomez - The Heart Wants What It Wants
The spoken intro's
Excruciating candour
Will make your skin crawl

3) Take That - These Days
Truncated trio
Should have called up Nile Rodgers
For this turgid song

4) LoneLady - Groove It Out
The next six minutes
Should be irresistible
In toe-tapping terms

5) Lorde - Yellow Flicker Beat (from The Hunger Games)
Armageddon still
Has the best theme song, but this
Is acceptable

6) Ekkah - Last Chance To Dance
Strap on your hotpants
And sashay to the dancefloor
Before it's too late

7) The Pierces - Devil Is A Lonely Night
Belinda Carlisle
It's almost like you never
Went away at all

8) Kendrick Lamar - I
Kendrick did a great
Freestyle over Shake It Off
But this isn't it

9) Ella Henderson - Yours
Ella, oh Ella
Wrote an ode to her fella
The song is stella(r)

10) McBusted - Air Guitar
Danny, Dougie, Tom
Harry, James and Matt. Looking
Quite old now, frankly

11) Jose Gonzalez - Every Age
Existential angst
Is one way to describe this
Although hard to spell

12) Ludacris - Good Lovin' (ft Miguel)
Butter smooth slow jam
Too good to spoil with bad jokes
Like all the above

Well, that was unedifying. At least the songs were good, eh?

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Veronicas: If You Love Someone

The Veronicas excellent, tear-wracked comeback single You Ruin Me went straight to the top of the charts in Australia in September. It was initially available on iTunes UK but it disappeared a few weeks ago, only to be re-listed with a release date of 9 November.

Hopefully, that means the song will get a huge push in the UK - as it is unquestionably one of the year's best tracks - but I notice that the BBC has shunned it, leaving Heart to champion the band (the station is currently playing it about six times a day, according to comparemyradio).

The Veronicas - You Ruin Me

Back in Australia, meanwhile, the band have already moved on to the second single from their forthcoming, self-titled new album.

If You Love Someone is more like the Veronicas we all know and love - fantastic, feisty fempop. It premiered on Aussie station 2DayFM yesterday and now you can hear it, as well as some inane preamble from the hosts, below.

Excellent work, girls.

Labels: , , ,

Banks' acoustic set will blow your mind

OK, apologies for the hyperbolic Buzzfeed headline - but this is gorgeous.

US public radio station NPR has a strand called "Tiny Desk Concerts" where they bundle performers into their cramped offices and force them to play for the staff. Then they film it, and put it up online. Singing for her supper yesterday was doom-and-bass queen Banks. On this evidence, she must have earned a six course degustation at the Fat Duck.

NPR's producers explain it all much better than I could, so here's an extract of the write-up on their website:

The setting is particularly challenging for vocalists, especially those accustomed to heavy production, effects or — in the case of recent guest T-Pain — generous dollops of Auto-Tune.

T-Pain's effects-less set grabbed more attention at the time, given the extent to which digital alterations are expected of him, but this performance by Banks is, in its own way, an even greater high-wire act. Banks' terrific full-length debut, Goddess, is constructed out of layer upon layer of electronics, beats, samples and other means of submerging the singer's voice in swirling accoutrements. With assistance from keyboardist/guitarist John Anderson and percussionist Derek Taylor, she's not all alone behind the Tiny Desk, but her expressive voice is fully exposed here.

It also contains some amazing "I am emoting" hand gestures.

You can watch the full, 13-minute performance below.

Banks - Begging For Thread / Alibi / Brain

PS: The audio of this performance is currently available as a free download on NPR's website.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Listen to this: Layla - Weightless

Music that plays with dynamics always get a big tick in the Discopop ledger of pop approvalTM, so London newcomer Layla is destined to get lots of ticks.

Taking her cue from the noir pop of Florence and Lorde, Layla makes the sort of songs that start with a whisper and ends with an elephant exploding the moon. She caught my attention this summer when her song Smokestacks was used to soundtrack the BBC's trailer for VERY IMPORTANT SHOUTY DRAMA series, Secrets.

Full of gothic choirs and huge, reverberating cymbals, it even managed to stand out amidst all the acting in the minute-long slot.

Smokestacks featured on a very good EP called Black Mud a couple of months ago. Since that came out, Layla has been to the US, where her parents renewed their marriage vows with an Elvis impersonator and she recorded a brand new batch of songs.

The result is the Weightless EP, whose lead track is getting lots of love on 6 Music and Radio 2 - and it's easy to see why: Weightless perfectly captures the moment two besotted teenagers stop bottling up their feelings and go for a full-on snog in the back of a car.

Pop cliché dominates the lyrics ("flying like cannonballs"? again?) so it's left to the music to really sell that sudden, uncontainable urge to grab someone by the lapels and suck their face off. And, boy, does it achieve that. Never has a string section sounded so tumescent.

You'll need a shower when it's all over.

If you liked that, you can pre-order the Weightless EP on this link and read a lovely interview with Layla on Ground Sounds.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, November 3, 2014

Ariana Grande - a curious breed of pop star

Ariana Grande can lay claim to being 2014's major breakthrough star. Sure, she'd troubled the US chart a couple of times before (including the sweet, memorable top 10 hit The Way) but in the UK, her chart record read like an obesity clinic weigh-in form: 145-113-92-132-155.

But with her second album, My Everything, the former kids TV star has turned her fortunes around. Two UK chart-toppers, a worldwide number one album, and awards up the wazoo.

So why now? She puts it down to her work ethic: "I love working, it makes me happy," she told Clash Music. "It makes me happy. When I have too much time off it makes me feel very weird."

She's certainly put in the hours - although it has alledgely come at the expense of her manners - but she's also the beneficiary of fame's most elusive factor: Good timing.

With Katy Perry at the end of a promotional cycle, Rihanna pursuing an alternative career on Instagram and Justin Bieber just making a mess of everything, there was a pop void waiting for Ariana to step into it. And she fills it admirably. She has a formidable voice - with the range, if not the control, of Mariah Carey - and she's staged some great award show performances.

But there's still something slightly off about the whole thing. For starters, Ariana always looks unbelievably awkward in her videos. Watch her eyes - it's like she's a kidnap victim, desperately trying to placate her captors (insert your own music industry metaphor here). If that's the end result with the benefit of hours of footage and edit approval, it makes me worry for her state of mind.

What's more, the best bits of her singles all belong to the featured artist - Iggy Azalea's rap on Problem and Zedd's production on Break Free.

It's true on her new song, too. The Weeknd gets a whole verse on the steamy electoballad Love Me Harder and, while he's a much more limited singer than Ariana, he sells the confessional lyrics with much more sincerity.

Maybe its the 20-year-old's relative lack of maturity, maybe its something more sinister. Either way, it'll be interesting to see how Ariana's career moves on from here. Because by all accounts, she's a genuine music fan (her favourite artist is DIY indie goddess Imogen Heap) who has been hand-picking her collaborators. And given the strength of her singles this year (yes, despite my misgivings) that can only be a good thing.

Ariana Grande - Love Me Harder (ft The Weeknd)

Labels: , , , ,

Prince tore up the textbook on SNL

Instead of two four-minute performances, which has been the standard since the 70s, Prince was handed an uninterrupted eight minute slot on this weekend's Saturday Night Live, and he didn't waste a second.

Along with his 3rdEyeGirl band and guest vocalist Liane La Havas, he performed a medley of songs from his recent albums Art Official Age and PlectrumElectrum. And, for someone who's not accustomed to the idea of quality control, he actually did a good job of picking which songs to play - so we got boudoir ballad Clouds, guitar workout PlectrumElectrum, some straight-up rock'n'roll on Marz, and the ethereal set closer Another Love.

OK, it wasn't as hit laden as his pyrotechnic SuperBowl performance in 2007 but, as adverts for new material go, this was up with the best.

A poor-quality video follows, until the lawyers rip it down. US viewers can see the whole thing properly on Rolling Stone.

Labels: , , ,

Cheryl did a textbook X Factor performance last night

Cheryl's I Don't Care has been sitting pretty at the top of the iTunes chart for the last 24 hours, suggesting that she'll score her fifth number one single on Sunday. In doing so, she'll set a new record for the most number ones by a UK solo female artist.

Her team have been trumpeting this possibility for a couple of weeks now, and rightly so, but they never seem to mention whose record Cheryl will be smashing... probably because it's Geri Halliwell's.

Anyway, Cheryl took a break from judging duties on last night's X Factor to do her pop star thing, and she put on a gutsy, professional show. She's been accused of miming, to which I say (a) it sounds more like a hybrid mix of live and pre-recorded vocals; and (b) who cares when the choreography is so tight and funky? I believe the correct internet vernacular is "fierce" but, to me, the whole routine was reminiscent of Control-era Janet Jackson - all snaps, flicks and punches.

The song has finally grown on me, too, although I reckon it's crying out for a mash-up with this rave classic.

Cheryl - I Don't Care

I Don't Care (The X Factor) - Cheryl by cherylonlinenet

Labels: , , ,

Newer Posts ::: Older Posts

© 2014 Discopop Directory | Contact | Go to the homepage