Three New Pop Singles By Seven Female Pop Singers

Moving house (twice) in a short space of time is stressful, and as a result my blogging has suffered in the last few weeks. As I move to London in less than two weeks to pursue my dream of video game journalism I’m thinking of turning this blog, partly or wholly, into a diary of my adventures in the big smoke. For now though, it’s business as usual.

Lily Allen – URL Badman

Lily hasn’t been perfectly happy with the run of singles from her third studio album, Sheezus. Specifically, the label made her release songs designed to get radio airplay rather than the provocative, sharp-tongued musicals musings Allen is known for. Fans and Lily herself can now rejoice as one of the stand-outs from the album is getting the single treatment, and the popstar is at her satirical best.

‘URL Badman’ is a critique not of bloggers and wannabe journalists (even if it was, I couldn’t help but love it – ironically, obviously) but the keyboard warriors who think their strong opinions and way with words entitle them to slam everyone else. You know the type. Hipsters with a webpage. The video has some cool effects but it’s a bit of a non-event, not that I could think of something to do visually with the songs theme, the track itself is definitely deserving of a download for quotable lyrics like “I don’t like girls much, they’re kinda silly, unless of course they wanna play with ma willy”. Oh, and there’s a Space Ghost reference in the brilliant rap middle eight. You don’t know who Space Ghost is?! pfft, *rolls eyes*

I think I just became a hipster.

Florrie – Little White Lies

Whilst I’m on this ‘too cool for the mainstream’ wavelength I might as well try and get more people into my favourite bubbling-under-the-radar popstar, Florrie. After releasing an EP earlier this year consisting of three excellent tracks (one I covered before) and two average remixes, the singer/songwriter/drummer/astronaut is turning one of the remix tracks into her first proper single, a single that will almost definitely maybe lead to an album that might (not) be out before the end of this year.

Unlike the three songs from the Sirens EP, ‘Little White Lies’ is more a ‘proper’ pop song, with a standard verse chorus verse chorus middle 8 chorus structure as opposed to an upside down and in reverse (reference!) collection of sound bites. That’s a good and a bad thing for me: the song floats along dreamily nice enough, and hopefully it’ll fit in well with what’s currently on the radio but I prefer the excitement of the more left-field edge of ‘Wanna Control Myself’. That being said, it’s Florrie – and therefore Xenomania, my favourite producers ever, of Girls Aloud/Pet Shop Boys/Abs from 5ive fame – so for either to get a hit would be fantastic.

The Saturdays – What Are You Waiting For?’

If anyone is going to give Xenomania a hit this summer, it’s the single from The Saturdays upcoming greatest hits. As well as the single, the group has uploaded a megamix of their hits, which I think is definitely worth a listen, because it sums up the good and the bad of The Saturdays.

If you’ve listened to the radio at all in the last 6 years you’ll probably sing a fair few of these chorus, even if you didn’t think you knew them. You might go ‘oh, that one’s quite good actually’ here and there. But overall, (and I’m fully aware it’s a megamix) the main feeling I get is that The Sats are just a girl group doing girl group songs. Now I do like a good girl group, they are an essential part of the pop landscape, and when they develop their own style, like the aforementioned Almighty Aloud, Destiny’s Child, the Spice Girls, the second line-up of Sugababes and now, Little Mix, they becomes leaders of the pack (reference!). Then there’s The Saturdays. There’s no catfighting or bitchy dramas, diva tantrums or trashy lads mag shoots (well maybe the odd one). On the other hand, The Sats don’t have any sort of unique identity to them musically. ‘All Fired Up’, ‘Ego’ ‘Up’ and ‘Higher’ are great, but nothing in their catalogue is a stone-cold classic.

As the lead single from their greatest hits, and produced by the masterminds at Xenomania, I was really hoping for that classic to finally be delivered. Instead (and clearly following on from the dreadful ‘What About Us’ being the group’s first number one) we got every generic pop/EDM crossover cliche thrown into one neat package to remind us how unadventurous a lot of chart music has been these few years (My god, maybe I am a URL Badman). It’s got a good beat to wave your arms to in the club, the lyrics are easy enough to sing/shout when drunk but you won’t remember it down the line. The sad thing is, when Xenomania and The Saturdays teamed up before, they created ‘All Fired Up’ which was a club banger with loads of auto-tune and lyrics about partying. Where ‘All Fired Up’ works though is that song didn’t bother with the tired build ups and drops of everything else, and was three minutes and fifteen seconds of a sonic assault, barely stopping for breath. ‘What Are You Waiting For?’ just… plods along. And the music video is Beach Video 101 too. The perfect opportunity to make a deceleration of why you should be a major British pop act, wasted.

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New Music!: Royksopp & Robyn, THAT Avril Lavigne song and… Ed Sheeran

It’s been too long since I did a music review round-up, and this time I’m going to avoid waxing lyrical about my favourites Lily Allen and FlorrieTheir most recent songs are pretty amazing and you should have clicked on those links already – one at a time please, otherwise you’ll just hear a messy mess of noise or so much amazingness your head might explode.

When Robyn and Royksopp recently announced a ‘mini-album’ to support a tour they’re doing, I thought my head would explode from their combined Scando-superpower. Two tracks leaked online the other day and have since been ripped down from YouTube. Luckily you can listen to them both here.

Of the two, I think most people are going to like the title track, ‘Do It Again’. If I’m being honest, it didn’t majorly impress me on first listen. Lyrically and sonically, it doesn’t sound like either at their best. Thankfully, ‘Every Little Thing’ is a melancholic electronic gem. Its slow and sinister, kind of Royksopp‘s own ‘You Don’t Have a Clue‘ had a baby with Richard X/Norweigan Popstar Annie‘s collab Just Friends‘.

Since I can’t embed a video for either song, let’s remind ourselves of their fantastic 2009 collaboration; ‘The Girl & The Robot’.

The “don’t deny me, call me back, I’m soooooo alone” send shivers down me

Right, let’s move onto the big one. Avril Lavigne with her new single ‘Hello Kitty’. If you haven’t seen/heard/experienced it yet, here it is:

I want to get a few things out the way first, ie: the things most of the internet are talking about. I don’t think the song or video is racist at all. Avril is really popular in Japan and is a self proclaimed massive fan of that country and the Hello Kitty brand. I’m also not against culture appropriation either; I was raised on dubbed anime that changed a lot of character names and references. Personally I don’t believe that’s a bad thing. If an art form such a music video or children’s TV show has familiar elements mixed in with the foreign, it can make it easier to absorb and less alienating.

The whole ‘minority just used a prop/backing dancer’ thing regarding this, Lily Allen‘s ‘Hard Out Here‘, Miley‘s ‘We Can’t Stop‘ performances etc. gets on my nerves a bit. Its starting to feel like everytime a white artist is using someone of different origin in their videos/performances they are blasted online for putting themselves on a pedestal and reinforcing negative stereotypes. I wonder if these keyboard warriors just want to see only white people in a ‘white persons’ music video, and only black people in a ‘black persons’ video? I could start a whole debate but it’s been done to death so lets move on.

Another thing people are blasting Avril for is that she is ‘too old’ to be making this sort of music and having the image that she does. It’s similar to what Madonna has been facing for years and I kind of agree to a point. Should Madonna, at 55 stop singing about going out dancing and enjoying some sexy time? No. People of that age do do that, believe it or not – as much as we like to block out that fact. However, should Madonna keep baring her breasts on stage? Not really. It’s a bit embarrassing at 25 let alone 55. Back to Avril, then. She is 29. Should she ditch her attitude and rebellious rock chick persona? No. People like Joan Jett have been rocking out for way longer and good on them. Avril’s second single from this album (‘Hello Kitty‘ is single #4) ‘Rock n Roll’ is about maintaining that persona and it’s a great song.

‘Hello Kitty’ is not.

You don’t need to mature with every new album, and by age 30 only sing ballads. But at the same time, to regress to the point where your new single sounds like it was written and produced by a 12 year old is a bit ridiculous. Avril’s first album, released at age 17, was more mature than this. It just feels like a massive step backwards. I love a good novelty record from time to time, especially in summer. Heck, I’ve been blasting the heck out of the ‘Asreje (The Ketchup Song)‘ and ‘Numa Numa‘ for the last week and regret nothing. But this isn’t even ‘so bad its good’. It’s just… dire. The horrid dubstep, “a fat kid on a pack of Smarties/throw a chocolate cake at me”, the annoying beat, just… everything. The sad thing, as a population we buy this stuff up normally. ‘#SELFIE‘, ‘Bom Bom‘, ‘GANGNAM STYLE‘ for pete’s sake. Why this gets so much hate is beyond me. Is it because people are jumping on the racist/too old bandwagons, or we know Avril can do better? One thing is for sure though, it’s getting people talking about her. Remember her previous single, Let Me Go‘? Course you didn’t.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about Ed Sheeran.

Now I dislike Ed Sheeran. I respect him for getting where he is and the way he did it but he annoys me. His voice is shrill, his lyrics are poor (and really creepy, in the case of that 1D song he wrote) and his one song I did like (‘Lego House‘) got overplayed like crazy until I hated that, too. But god damn, his new song is pretty good. If you’ve not heard it yet, enjoy:

What you’ll probably notice right away are two things: 1) This sounds like a Pharrell production and 2) This sounds like first album Justin Timberlake. And those two things are exactly why this is good. ‘Sing’ sounds like a better Justin Timberlake single than anything Justin himself released last year. Ed’s voice actually delivers the smoothness needed really, really well. He sounds as confident as the music, effortless whereas before he sounded way too try-hard. Alongside the marvellous Happy, Pharrell is getting closer to redeeming himself afterBlurred Lines and whilst Ed has a ways to go in my opinion, this is definitely a step – no, a major stride – in the right direction.

 

Some new songs that came out in (or around) February

Usually on my music write-ups I gush about pop music by artists that aren’t exactly mainstream, and no one really pays attention to me. So in a blatant attempt to get some views (and for people to read about an artist I really, really like) I’m going to also review two songs by people whose music I always hear ‘in the club’…

First up, Ludacris ‘Party Girls’ (feat. Wiz Khalifa, Jeremih and Cashmere Cat)

Ludacris is really popular, right? I mean, I liked his song ‘Rollout’ when I was like, twelve and didn’t know better. His bit is the only non-chorus bit of Usher’s ‘Yeah’ that people attempt to sing/rap along to and he’s obviously on Justin Bieber’s ‘Baby’. He’s also roped in the guy who did that ‘Birthday Sex’ song, some dude I’ve never heard of but I assume is popular amongst hip-hop fans and the chap from ‘Payphone’ and the song where T-Pain ruins one of my favourite Lily Allen tracks. If that’s not going to get me tons of views nothing will! So onto the song itself…

Oh dear. I imagine Ludacris think he’s being really edgy and cool by sampling Aqua’s ‘Barbie Girl’ here. Sure, rappers like Flo-Rida have been taking cheesy Eurodance songs and turning them into anthems about having lots of sex with sexy ladies for a while now, but to go further than any rapper has before and interpolate THAT song is pretty courageous, right?

No. In fact, its about as boring as going to Subway and buying just ham on plain Italian. Onto the next one

Jason Derulo – ‘Stupid Love’

About as boring as going to Subway and just having bread.

Well, if you came here for Ludacris and Derulo then please stay for five more minutes and listen to this song by one of my favourites artists. She’s been an internet favourite for a few years now, hopefully moving into up-and-coming success in the mainstream territory. This is Florrie…

Florrie – ‘Seashells’

With Girls Aloud breaking up almost a year ago to the day, the Gossip album being a major mixed bag and the whole Amelia Lily debacle, I was thinking this was the end for Xenomania – my favourite pop makers of all time. Luckily, Florrie was there with my second favourite song of last year ‘Live a Little’ keeping my faith alive. Despite finally signing to a label, this singer-drummer-model-fireman combo hasn’t ditched team X to work with the current big names that everyone else is. And despite the songs Brian Higgins and co have put out over the last 2 years nearly all being firmly in the electronic category, ‘Seashells’ instantly hits you with some Asian-sounding production. This is typically Florrie and Xenomania in that it ignores typical verse-chorus song but is made up of nonsensical playground style chants that earworm into your brain. It’s not the most immediate song on first listen, nor does it seem to compare to earlier Florrie songs like ‘Call of the Wild‘ or ‘Every Inch’, but if your curiosity takes you back for further listens, it really grows on you.

The video suits the song too, its not really about anything but its got the chilled aura to it. The Instagram effects coupled with Florrie’s relative unknown status make this pretty hipster friendly but she really is worth getting into, and not just to have an unknown popstar to brag about liking but because her music is really damn good.

(and she’s not actually a fireman)