Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Songs you may have missed: A double Madonna edition

I took a mini-break from the blog last week to help the kids survive the school holidays. OK, to help my wife survive the school holidays.

But plenty of great music found its way into the world in my absence. Here is a 15-track summary of that music.

1) Madonna - Ghosttown
The best video Madonna's made in over a decade, for her best single since Sorry.

Co-starring Terence Howard (Iron Man, Empire), it depicts the Queen of Pop one of the last survivors of a nuclear apocalypse. Which finally explains why she has the face of a 30-year-old Drew Barrymore.

2) Florence + The Machine - Ship To Wreck
More mellifluous than the previous releases from Florence's upcoming third album, this still finds the singer wracked with doubt. "Did I drink too much? Am I losing touch? Did I build this ship to wreck?" she hollers over the deceptively upbeat, glockenspielly backing.

The video, directed Vincent Haycock, follows the narratively-driven clips for St. Jude and What Kind of Man, and was filmed at Florence's house.

3) Brandon Flowers - Still Want You
It seems like Brandon's having a lot of fun with his new solo album.

I mean, A LOT of fun.

The second single from The Desired Effect is a wonky rock/gospel hybrid that hammers home its chorus with a bejangled mallet; while the video finds Brandon in a playful, flirty mood - looking eerily similar to Bryan Ferry doing David Bowie on Stars In Their Eyes.

4) Shura - 2 Shy
I championed this Janet Jackson sound-alike a couple of weeks ago, and now it has a moody and windswept (and largely unnecessary) video to accompany it.

5) Michael Calfan - Treasured Soul
This has been bubbling around on specialist dance shows since the start of the year, but it's getting a proper release in time for the summer. A soulful, uplifting dance anthem, it's powered by steel drum hook that owes a huge debt to Duke Dumont's I Got U. Which is no bad thing.

6) Chloe Black - Cruel Intentions
I wasn't a big fan of Chloe Black's last single, 27 Club, in which she revealed an ambition to die young, at the same age as Kurt Cobain and Janis Joplin. It was a terrible, attention-seeking lyric with a casual disregard for those tragically curtailed lives.

Her new single seeks to make amends ("I won't try to defend all of my crazy") and suggests the London-based singer-songwriter could be this year's Lana Del Rey. Distinctive and dramatic.

7) Clean Bandit ft Marina and the Diamonds - Disconnect
Premiered live at Coachella, this is apparently from Clean Bandit's "eagerly anticipated" second album, which is coming out later this year.

As Marina later noted on Twitter, her stage outfit made her look like Ali G.

8) Ty Dolla $ign - Drop That Kitty (ft Charli XCX)
Aggressively mediocre.

9) Kiesza - Sound of a Woman
It's ballad time in Kiesza world, which means less dancing, and more emoting. Bah.

10) Mark Ronson ft Mystikal - Feel Right
Live on the Ellen Show, this is a peach of a performance.

11) Snoop Dogg - So Many Pros
Produced by Pharrell, this creamy-smooth jam finds Snoop drawl-singing an ode to the "pretty people". Progressive it isn't, but the funkadelic chorus (featuring vocals from The Gap Band's Charlie Wilson) is delicious.

12) MO - Preach
Like SWV combined with Little Mix, while never reaching the peaks of either. Now on the Radio 1 playlist, where it's a refreshing change from James bloody Bay.

13) Lykke Li, Kanye West and Lil Wayne - Never Gonna Love Again
Eminem's producer has mashed up Lykke Li's Never Gonna Love Again with Lil Wayne and Kanye' Lollipop remix, for no reason other than he could.

It works surprisingly well.

14) Charles Hamilton - New York Raining (ft Rita Ora)
Here's a stunning, Selma-esque video to accompany New York Raining, Charles Hamilton's collaboration with Oscar nominee Rita Ora.

Set in a monochromatic 1960s New York, we see Charles amongst a group of civil rights protestors, joining arms as they square off with police. Rita stays clear of the politics, preferring to gaze wistfully through a rainy window.

15) Madonna - Bitch, I'm Madonna
We finish back where we started - with Madonna back on form, despite the creative disarray of her Rebel Heart album.

This is how you do a chat show performance in the YouTube age - playful and self-deprecating while cramming in tons of "content" and some killer dance moves. It's just a shame the song is so cringeworthy.

So there you go. Seems like I was the only one who had a quiet Easter. So spare a moment to remember the PR people who had to manage the YouTube uploads and email out the links. Let's hope they had tons of chocolate to compensate.

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