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.

New Kylie Minogue video, ‘I Was Gonna Cancel’

Kylie’s ‘Kiss Me Once’ campaign continues with ‘I Was Gonna Cancel’, produced by Pharrell who is responsible for pretty much everything nowadays – including the wonderful ‘Happy’, the fantastic ‘Get Lucky’ and… ‘Blurred Lines’.

The song is the right choice to be the newest single from the album, but the video really isn’t helping matters. I totally get the ‘retro Kylie’ look they were going for here with the styling and block background colour but by GOD is it repetitive. The Kylie doing minimalist movements in an enclosed space surrounded by loads of extras was done much much better by her iconic video for ‘Slow’ and whilst I appreciate the cheeky illuminati hand gestures, this video is sadly a bit of a dud.

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.

 

Do you have a minute to talk about pop’s saviour Lily Allen?

So on Monday (March 10th) My 2nd Favourite Popstar Ever Lily Allen debuted a new song and video from her third album, wonderfully titled ‘Sheezus’. Here it is:

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Now, its safe to say reaction to this song and, as a result, the whole ‘Sheezus’ ‘era’ has been mixed. The press were quick to pick up on a (now deleted) reply Lily made to someone’s tweet on Twitter (the best place to make a tweet really) that went like this:

RJwilding: “@lilyallen’s new music is actually docile pop rubbish. So disappointing. She properly just wrote some rubbish to cash some cheques.”

Lily: “@RJwilding what you’ve heard so far yes. All i can do is do my best, the labels and the radio stations won’t play the better stuff. keep the faith.”

That’s a fair few elephants in the room. Whilst I guess its refreshing to be honest (which is what I love Lily for) its sad to see her admit that songs like ‘Our Time’ and Air Balloon‘ are “docile pop rubbish”. Labels aren’t always the best at picking singles (I’m still gutted Gaga’s ScheiBe‘ never got a single release) but for an artist to admit they are unhappy with those choices before the album is even out is pretty major. Especially when that artist is Lily Allen, who you’d think was too outspoken to be forced into releasing songs she doesn’t want or pander to mainstream radio. ‘Air Balloon’ got a lot of flak for that very reason, from people like Mr. Wilding.  I myself wrote about it before I said I enjoyed its carefree nature but it was more of a B-side standard. Since then I’ve not been able to get it out of my brain and I actually think its worthwhile as a single. The labels plan worked, as the song has had strong radio airplay and charted this week at #7, better than Hard Out Here’ did last year. Personally, I think people are expecting every single song by Lily to have some sort of social commentary, and if that’s your beef you probably won’t enjoy this new one either.

Just a catchy song to show a different side to Lily Allen, or a soulless product designed to get an easy chart hit?

Lyrically, ‘Our Time’ is about a typical pop topic (a popic, if you like): a night out. But rather than being a generic full-on club banger, this is a more chilled tune with lyrics more down-to-Earth than throwing your cash in the air and getting with every single lady you see. And that’s refreshing. Groundbreaking? Not at all. Social commentary? Not really. Does that make it “docile pop rubbish”? I don’t think so. There’s always room for songs about nothing in particular but just lift you up and make you feel good. If every song I listened to was deadly serious I’d be pretty depressed (and/or a Coldplay fan). That’s why I love Kylie MinogueIf I’ve had a stressy day at work or one of life’s little things gets me down, it’s songs like Love at First Sight‘, ‘Lola’s Theme‘, ‘Walking on Sunshine’ and even ‘Air Balloon’ that cheer me up. So don’t hate on Lily Allen because not every new song is another The Fear‘ , ‘F** You‘ or Kabul Shit‘. 

Seriously, go buy this now.

Writing that last sentence has kind of put things into perspective a little bit. Perhaps the reason a lot of us are disappointed with the songs from ‘Sheezus’ so far is because every song from ‘It’s Not Me, It’s You’ was so, so good. As in, my favourite album of all time good. Apart from maybe ‘Hard Out Here’, everything from this campaign sounds like a sequel to Lily’s 2006 debut, ‘Alright, Still’. And once again, that’s fine. Although we are promised the ‘better stuff’ is on the album, I’m not expecting it to beat her sophomore effort. If it does, I will be more than pleasantly surprised. If not, I will still have another album of great pop music made by a great popstar. I can’t wait.

If nothing else, this album ‘era’ has given us these two gems and that’s better than what your favourite could ever pull off:

Lily Allen Baggy Pussy

How all nights out in Britain end, fighting with a hot dog

How all nights out in Britain end, fighting with a hot dog

#KEEPTHEFAITH

Three New Songs By Three Really Good Female Popstars

No opening paragraph today, just going to get right to the good stuff.

Stine Bramsen – Prototypical

If you don’t recognise this lady, or her voice, then you need to go and have an Alphabeat session right now. Both their first two albums were 50% rubbish and 50% beyond incredible. They had a great run of singles too – ‘Fascination’, ‘10,000 Nights (of Thunder)’, ‘Boyfriend’, ‘Hole in my Heart’ and ‘DJ’ (well, this remix anyway) being my favourites. They had a third album too but I really didn’t pay attention to that, it’s not anything special apparently.

Now Stine is going solo whilst the band is taking a break and after featuring on the incredible ‘I Want You’ in 2011, Bramsen is back with the ‘Prototypical’. I’ve embedded the live session version above and it’s my favourite, but the actual version is worth listening to as well.

Lily Allen – Air Balloon

After making her return late last year with The Annual John Lewis Christmas Song and the fantastically sharp-tongued ‘Hard Out Here’ Lily Allen is releasing her second single from her long-awaited, still untitled third album. It’s catchy, combining modern beats with playground melodies and cute lyrics about Elvis getting to first base before Kurt Cobain. It’s good, but in a B-Side-That’s-Not-As-Good-As-Any-Of-Her-2nd-Album*-Era-B-Sides way. Let’s just hope the video takes the day-dreamy feel of the song and elevates it (pun intended) to something worthy of a single from my 2nd favourite popstar ever.

*That 2nd Album is called It’s Not Me, It’s You and its my favourite album of all time. Every song is perfect. Buy it. Now.

Kylie Minogue – Into The Blue

Into The Blue

http://a.tumblr.com/tumblr_mznojei9I31qjdybto1.mp3#_=_

(In lieu of any sort of video, here is the single cover and a link.)

Thanks to some naughty internet people leaking things they shouldn’t, we get new songs from 2nd and 1st favourite Popstars in one week. January blues? Not this year!

I only heard this for the first time last night and didn’t really like it, but at that point I had been awake for 20 hours and you could’ve given me a million pounds and I would’ve grumbled it wasn’t 2 million. Now I’ve had some sleep and given this tune a proper whirl I’m ready to give my (still mixed) opinion. It’s not as an Americanised as I’d feared from Kylie‘s deal with Roc Nation (Jay-Z‘s label) but the ‘E-yo-oh-oh-oh’ hook is the basic sounding thing you’d find on a Flo-Rida song and why sing ‘Don’t need no miracle’ rather than ‘Don’t need a miracle’? Just generally unnecessary.

Also, the production on the chorus is a bit too ‘hard’ and contrasts with the feeling but the verses sound divine as expected from the Goddess of Pop herself. To be honest, it’s Kylie and it’s hard to dislike because she delivers warmth and happy fuzzy feelings in spades. I can’t wait for her debut performance on The Voice (where she is instantly the best judge, obviously) and studio album number 12.

That’s it from me today, peace out!

Lily Allen’s been in the studio (not in the kitchen) and now she’s back!

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but the ‘chart music scene’ has been really, really bad recently. We’ve had to endure Robin Thicke‘s tacky rape anthem ‘Blurred Lines’, Miley Cyrus‘ tongue antics, endless auto-tuned EDM put your hands/drinks up in the club/to the sky ‘bangers’ and everyone twerking as if it was something only invented this year (it wasn’t).

Despite all the misogyny flying around, pop music is usually an area where girls do it best,  but I can sum all the recent albums from Lady Gaga, The Saturdays, Katy Perry and Avril Lavigne with a big meh. Where’s the spark?! Things clearly need to be done.

Luckily, my second favourite popstar of all time Lily Allen has decided to come out of musical retirement, and dropped the name Lily Rose Cooper she used when featuring on P!nk‘s ‘True Love‘, to bring take pot shots at the sorry state of the music industry, and the rampant sexism – all wrapped up in one of the best singles of the year.

This, is ‘Hard Out Here’

So, it’s clearly amazing. I could go on about how clearly amazing it is; nearly every line is quotable, the production sounds like a Lily Allen song (twinkly piano et al) in 2013 should sound like an the video if full of screen-cappable gems. Here’s my top 5 favourite bits.

NUMBER 5:  I personally like to think the amount of times Lily uses the word bitch in the song is directly referencing Britney‘s ‘Work Bitch’. Which is still a terrible piece of music.
NUMBER 4: “If I told you ’bout my sex life, you’d call me a slut / when boys be talkin’ ’bout their bitches, no one’s making a fuss.”
NUMBER 3: The ironic, and perfect (over)use of auto tune where its really not necessary. Kanye, T-Pain, Rihanna and the like must be REALLY big fans of that Cher song from ’98. You know the one.
NUMBER 2: 

This is my new favourite saying

This is my new favourite saying

NUMBER ONE (unsurprisingly):

Lily Allen Baggy Pussy

This just sums up Lily’s humour: sharp and to the point, but not afraid to self-depreciate herself at the same time as putting the (music) world (of 2013) to rights. I’m so excited, that the album and tour tickets are going to be pre-ordered the moment they go online.

Keep it coming, bitch.

(Oh, and the John Lewis advert Keane cover is lovely and all too. #diversity)

New Music Video! ‘Work Bxxch’ by Britney Spears.

I’m not going to lie, I’ve been feeling pretty run-down, constantly tired and therefore uninspired to write the last two week and a half weeks. New Miley Cyrus video? meh. It’s all been said. Kingdom Hearts HD? Too busy playing it. Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD? Seems a bit of a touchy subject amongst people I know, not sure I want to fan flames further (:P). Breaking Bad finale? I’ve never watched an episode, please don’t hurt me.

But anyone who knows me AT ALL knows how much I absolutely loathe ‘Scream & Shout’ by will.i.am and Britney Spears. The production sounded like an unfinished demo, will.i.am’s auto-tuned lyrics are typically dreadful, there hooks are weak and I don’t even know what Britney was doing with that accent. The worst thing was is that the song was (and still is) massive. I hear it in work all the time, and whilst flicking through the music channels last week, Conor Maynard listed it as number 2 (or 3, I forget) on his ‘greatest collaborations ever’ show.

The all-time great collaborations: Sonny and Cher. The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl. Queen and David Bowie. Aerosmith and Run-D.M.C. and finally: will.i.am and Britney (bitch). Yeah, no.

EVER. Are you serious?!? Not that I care much for anything Conor Maynard does anyway but I don’t understand why everyone was/is mad about it.

OK, well I have a clue: will.i.am. He’s a really big deal over here. It probably would have sold massively whether it was Britney wailing (keyword) over the chorus or any other female singer – just look at ‘This Is Love’, the only reason people know Eva Simons is that song a few years ago everyone thought was Lady Gaga and Rihanna teaming up. So naturally, the ‘Do Somethin” star enlisted will.i.am to executive produce her newest studio album, because she’s onto her 8th now and she wants it to be very emotional.

Seems like the natural choice.

If you haven’t heard lead single ‘Work Bitch’ before, then it’s basically a sequel to ‘Scream & Shout’ but with only Britney on vocals. So: godawful lyrics, that stupid faux-British accent, droning beat and the sound of me crying in the corner singing ‘Everytime’ to myself, thinking about the better days.

But this post is about the music video, which literally debuted about 20 minutes ago online and combined with the song, riled me into writing my first post in weeks. I’ve written this before watching the video so I’m going to leave my cynicism behind (and I’m being a massive keyboard warrior tonight, it’s a bit unlike me – back with a vengeance!). The ‘Femme Fatale’ era (her last album) might have sounded like Spears had no input whatsoever, but 3 out of the 4 music videos were really, really, really good. So there’s hope for this one. Britney may not really care about the music (I don’t know her so I honestly couldn’t say) but her team around her surely must know what they’re doing at least some of the time and disguise a turgid song with a good video, right?!?

See you on the other side…

Oh dear.

Let’s get the good out the way: 1) the desert sequences remind me of Spice Girls ‘Say You’ll Be There’ and Sugababes ‘About A Girl’ so that’s something. 2) She wears a nice dress in the pool sequence. 3) will.i.am doesn’t appear. 4) It’s not got a #toteshipster Instagram filter over the top of it (looking at you, MKS).

That’s about it.

The dancing is just… really stifled and awkward. I wasn’t expecting incredible moves but it’s like the ‘Til The World Ends’ video all over again (the one bad video out of the four from her last album campaign) but it just looks a bit rubbish. The whole S&M/bondage/Fifty Shades stuff feels even more forced, not to mention something that just feels out of date now (kind of like the song with the EDM). It’s trying to be ‘sexy’ and ‘edgy’ without any real point, except maybe ‘I’M STILL RELEVANT!’

Britney sits in front of a mirror with her perfume beside her, again. It was annoying the first however many times so stop now please. The rest of the product placement isn’t so blatant; there’s an ad in the background for her Vegas shows and one of the bound and gagged men has some sort of beats thingy in his mouth. So it’s not frequent, but in the latter case, its still stupid.

How did I forget to mention the product placement of the 'Boo-gar-tee' and 'Lam-boo-geenie'?

How did I forget to mention the product placement of the ‘Boo-gar-tee’ and ‘Lam-boo-geenie’?

But my favourite (and by that, I mean laughably bad) bit is when Britney proves her cultural relevance by getting the dodgy CGI-rendered sharks from Sharknado to… swim around Britney in the pool unconvincingly. Well, done everyone.

These sharks are most definitely in there with her, there can be no mistake...

These sharks are most definitely in there with her, there can be no mistake…

So, dodgy dance routines, out-of-place looking aquatic killers, out-of-place popstar, over-the-top bondage all brought together in a package I don’t think is technically edited and framed very well either. My verdict: everyone involved in this video needs to go back to class, learn what to do and how to do it properly and THEN get back to work.

Bitches.