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 Music Video! MKS: Mutya Keisha Siobhan ‘Flatline’

First off, I must apologise for the long gap since my last blogs, its been ages. I’ve had job interviews, actual jobs, a lot of travelling and being away from home, being home but being ill and a certain Japanese RPG taking up all my time. More on the latter soon, but first…

Over a year after they announced their reformation, with tons of teases, the briefest of Daybreak snippets and Twitter ‘RT for a follow’ sprees (which I admittedly took part in)  Mutya Keisha Siobhan have released their first music video. As the original Sugababes, their debut was ‘Overload’ was a simple video of a white background and the members in different outfits popping in and out of shot. Will the video for the re-debut, ‘Flatline’ -literally premiered 30 mins ago at time of posting –  be as simple but arty?

Well, no. The whole thing has a pretty funky Instagram-type filter added to it, which you just KNOW the hipsters are going to love (if you didn’t know, MKS are adored by the music loving hipsters of Twitter) which gives it nice summery vibe. There’s a brilliant shot near the start of a dog trying to skateboard which should be a gif on Tumblr already. But in the first 2/3rds of the video, not much happens. Lots of beach shots, people on the beach, the girls looking admittedly great (and happy!). Then they hop in a vintage car and speed off to the desert.

What do they find? Heidi, Jade and Amelle sexy-dancing around the ‘About A Girl’ set? Giant cactus creatures (too much Japanese RPGs Josef)? Nope.

MKS Marching Band

A marching band!

This is obviously all sorts of awesome, although its 99% definitely pre-planned. I’ve only been to the States once but I don’t think marching bands just wander (or… march) around the desert aimlessly, looking for lost pop stars with film crews. Anyway they all have a little dance and its very cute.

So yes, in my high opinion the song and the video are pretty good. Not spectacular or iconic (sorry, hipsters) but good in an underplayed way. This isn’t like the Sugababes of old where song and video has the kitchen sink thrown in, its down-to-Earth and ‘real’. I think that’s how the whole MKS album campaign will be, not in-yer-face attitude with something to prove but just content to do what they are doing.

‘Flatline’ is out September 15th. It’ll be interesting to see how it does chart-wise, although judging by the whole ‘vibe’ of what the girls are doing, I think they’re happy to be making music and connecting with their fans.

The new Pet Shop Boys album ‘Electric’ is really good, let’s all try and make it Number 1 please

If you didn’t know, the Pet Shop Boys new album ‘Electric’ is out this week. Its being hailed as their big comeback, despite their last album only coming out ten months ago. That’s because last year’s ‘Elysium’ was chilled, reflective and… a little bit boring to be honest. ‘Electric’ is the Boys returns to the dancefloor, and the true sequel to 2009’s FANTASTIC Xenomania produced (the guys behind Sugababes, Gabriella Cilmi and the Almighty Aloud‘s biggest hits to name a few) album ‘Yes’. But not only that, it feels like the album PSB should be making and in fact… the album Daft Punk should have made this year with ‘Random Access Memories’.

This is absolutely amazing, why is this not played everywhere?!?

Don’t get me wrong this album is clearly the work of Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe (y’know, the Pet Shop Boys) and producer Stuart Price (The Killers, Kylie, Take That, Madonna). But it’s got the interesting electronic twists and turns that people who know Daft Punk pre-‘Get Lucky’ are used to. ‘Axis’, linked above, is a kitchen sink affair, and could easily be the work of Godfather of Electronic Music Giorgio Moroder, whilst ‘Shouting In The Evening’ is insane in a ‘Skins party sequence/keep the dubstep kids happy’ way whilst still sampling Lionel Richie. 

Elsewhere, ”Vocal’ is a full on raveathon with lyrics about being in a club and getting lost in the music and ‘Thursday‘ is an ode to starting the weekend early, featuring ‘What We Made’ hitmaker Example. Of the 9 tracks here, 7 are instantly gratifying, with only ‘Inside a Dream’ and Bruce Springsteen cover ‘Last to Die’ being overshadowed by the amazingness of everything else on my first dozen or so listens. But the Boys are (usually) clever with writing tracks that take just that little bit longer to reveal their brilliance, so I’ll get back to you on that one.

And now we come to my highlight of the album; a song with possible the most Pet Shop Boy-ish title of all time – ‘Love is a Bourgeois Construct’. An italo-disco affair that hits the sweet spot on first listen, where we find Neil is disillusioned with love, believing it only exists in books and whatnot. Its all very tongue-n-cheek and bounces along giddily, occasionally blasting off into some computery vocal effects (but tastefully done).  There’s even some classic ‘Go West’ male choirs thrown in for good measure. Listen and love:

Yeah, its that good I put it up there twice.

Now here’s the thing: the album is currently sitting at Number 2 on the album charts. This is great, because although ‘older’ bands like Black Sabbath have done great in the album charts this year, and a lot of old stuff is coming back into fashion, the Pet Shop Boys are seen by people of my age and pretty ridiculously ‘uncool’ (maybe its coolness, not love that is a bourgeois construct). The person keeping them from Number One is… this dude.

I mean, REALLY?!?

‘Blurred Lines’ (the song) has been Number 1 for 4 weeks, before getting knocked off by Icona Pop‘s amazing ‘I Love It (feat. Charlie XCX) and then climbing up to the top spot again last week. Well done everyone. I’m not being funny but whilst the song has a really catchy production, the song is dreadful and like the video, it’s a little bit… rapey.

Maybe since turning 21 I’ve actually become 40 but I find #BLURREDLINES (grrrr) crass and… pretty trashy. And off the back of that, this guy is going to have a Number 1 album over British music legends, with a career spanning 25+ years and legendary songs like ‘West End Girls’, ‘It’s A Sin’ , ‘Suburbia’,’Always On My Mind’ and I could go on but you get the point. So I’m begging of you please, music buying public of Great Britain; put aside your ideas of Pet Shop Boys being too old, boring, posh or… gay and go buy a very good electronic/dance album and enjoy it for what it is. Which is pretty spectacular.

Also, I got my first ever vinyl yesterday:

Iconic.

Pop Partners In Crime ANNIE & RICHARD X are back together with… ‘Back Together’

It’s my 25th blog post! Huzzah! I hope people have enjoyed reading them (or, just read them) as much as I have writing them. So, without further ado…

What a brilliant thing to return from holiday to. Norweigan Popstar ANNIE and My Second Favourite Producer Ever RICHARD X have announced The A&R EP is coming out in August. It features 5 songs the pair have described as ‘dance influenced pop’, ie: the areas they excell in. One song is tantalisingly called Ralph Macchio, about The Karate Kid actor. I can’t wait to hear what wonderfully weird lyrics Ms. Strand comes up with for that one. Argh, hurry UP August!

I imagine many people reading this aren’t going to get why I’m so excited. So here’s a brief history of the both, with lots of embedded YouTube videos of varying quality.

Let’s start with Richard X, who is a producer. But unlike, say, David Guetta, he doesn’t make bad music.

Quite the opposite actually:

He made his name doing 80s sounding mash-ups but he’s done completely original things too, producing a Number One album for this chap, led by this brilliant single:


Another single from that album samples the opening song from Drive and makes its better. Because that’s what Richard X does. He’s also produced songs for Goldfrapp, The Sound of Arrows, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Saint Etienne. He’s also done some fantastic remixes of Pet Shop Boys, Cassie, New Order and Nine Inch Nails. In fact, I may dedicate a future blog post to his best stuff. Or just hijack parties with my laptop and a Spotify playlist.

Onto Annie now…

You may remember Annie from her 2004 minor hit Chewing Gum:

 

or critics favourite Heartbeat:

The former was the first collaboration between Annie and Richard, but in 2003-4 they created two MUCH more interesting songs together. The first, Just Friends is an ambient-y few minutes of gloomy bleeps and bloops where the Norweigan pop princess is having second thoughts about meeting up with a guy she’s chatted to over the internet or some seedy phone line. It’s a great late night track. The other is the totally bubbly and cheesy Me Plus One. The production and ‘Mrs B-E-AUT, Mrs I, Mrs FUL’ chant give it a playground feel but the song is actually a diss track. Ready for some pop facts?

(breathes in)

Basically, and frequent songwriting collaborator Hannah Robinson wrote the classic Some Girls (always get what they wanna wanna, etc) which was recorded and released by Rachel Stevens Of Amazing Second Album Fame. Because it was for Sport Relief it has a pretty naff video, which Rich (rhyme!) apparently hates but that’s beside the point. Ginger Spice Geri Halliwell wanted the song for herself and locked herself in a car in a bid to get it. Whereas Some Girls uses clever wordplay to disguise the fact its on about performing sex acts to get ahead (ermmm) in the music industry, Me Plus One is pretty direct at who the song is aimed at. And its delicious.

Let’s fast forward to 2008/9 where the pair teamed up to create two fantastic icy disco gems, Songs Remind Me Of You and Anthonio.  Here they are you for your listening pleasure. (Not so much visual)

Going by this rule of the pair’s collaborations getting better as the years go on, this year the songs should be so good it isn’t humanely possible to comprehend.

Or at least be as good as my favourite song of the year so far, Take A Look At The World:

Luckily, the first song off the EP has been released already!! Annoyingly, when old Richie X popped it on his SoundCloud he didn’t allow it to be embedded (that or I’m an idiot). Here it is.

https://soundcloud.com/richardxbm/annie-back-together

It was written by Little Boots and sounds like it would fit perfectly on Nocturnes, the album she released a few months ago and you ALL should have bought. I’m surprised that the album didn’t feature any X production, here’s hoping he remixes one for a single release – preferably All For You. That being said, any one would be a killer.

But yes, Back Together is pretty great. It is however, definitely more album (or EP) track than single. Annieponannie has been social media-ing about a new single and video so I’m hoping for something so incredibly everyone else will just give up music and go home (or maybe just will.i.am and Rita Ora at least). That may be a bit far-fetched, so let’s just hope the video is better than this:

2013 will be the year all you ever hear about is Richard x and Norweigan Popstar Annie. From me at least.