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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The Saturdays ‘Gentleman’ Review

So yes, The Saturdays. They started off being put together by Girls Aloud‘s record label, supporting GA on the Tangled Up Tour 2008. They released their first album Chasing Lights whilst the Aloud were at their peak. Then, the Almighty Aloud went on a year hiatus that lasted three. During that hiatus, The Sats could’ve become huge. But they just sort of… meandered around, fussing about with removing an ‘underperforming’ album off iTunes then releasing an overpriced EP with songs from that deleted album on it. They brushed close to the top spot on the singles charts a few times, coming VERY close by collaborating with Xenomania, the masterminds behind the Aloud only to follow it up with an album that truly underperformed. Then, on the week Queen Nudheen Coyle and company announced their heartbreaking split, the Two From S Club Juniors and company FINALLY hit #1 with ‘What About Us’, a terrible auto tuned mess with fake Rihanna style accents and… Sean Paul.

What I’m trying to say is, The Saturdays have always been entwined with Girls Aloud. They were clearly put together to keep us going during those cold, cold years of enduring Cheryl Cole’s solo career. And as I said above, they did OK. But now, we are entering the POST-ALOUD years of pop. Following that #1, is it time for The Saturdays to flourish?

Hmmmmmm, probably not. Their reality show Chasing The Saturdays didn’t make huge waves in here or America. Manufactured bands don’t always last that long – JLS have called it quits after five years. Una has already had a baby and now Rochelle and Frankie (the ones who were in S Club Juniors) are expecting as well. So the group’s upcoming album The Chase may prove to be their swansong.

So, following a poor lead single, can ‘Gentleman’ raise expectations?

Basically, yes. Before I get to the inevitable Aloud comparisons, which in this song are more apparent than normal, there is another comparison to make. To this:

Thankfully the songs sound nothing alike. The girls have ditched the electronic club trend for something more proper left-field. Ie: rapping. Little Mix and Stooshe are both bringing back the 90’s R&B girlband sound, and this does sound a bit like the latter’s debut ‘Love Me’ but what I find it has most in common with is GA’s Tangled Up album track ‘Control of the Knife’. There’s a cool, speedy reggae-pop beat during the verses and lots of white girl attitude where men are put in their place.

The lyrics too, play with innuendo in the way the Aloud used to (its still hard typing about the Aloud in past-tense) especially during the chorus: “Cause most dudes just hit it and quit it/And then they wonder why most girls just spit it”. Naughty, if not Super Naughty (‘All Fired Up’ reference). And whilst I don’t agree with their choices of men in the breakdown, I’m going to have fun trying to memorise that bit.

So in short, its zippy, catchy, full of attitude, a little bit left field and the best thing I think The Saturdays have done for a LONG time. I’ve complained the bands songs have been too generic and trend-chasing but this could be a turnaround. So far the hit/miss ratio of singles for this album is 50/50, so if half of The Chase is as good as this, that half will be happily on rotation on my iPod playlist.