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.

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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.

Me Top 5 Singles Of 2013 So Far

We’re about halfway through the year, the sun is absolutely shining and here in Wales this rarity is something we should treasure and make the most of. We are country so often shrouded in darkness and what feels like eternal rain that we should take what chances we get to bask in the golden rays of happiness.

So here I am inside writing up a pointless list of 5 songs I really like.

The rules: its Singles of 2013 list so naturally, they’ve got to have been released individually since January 1st 2013. Its getting more difficult to tell what a ‘real’ pop single is because of buzz tracks, artists bopping a song on iTunes for the lulz, music videos but no individual song release, CD or not, mixed up release dates etc etc. I’ve decide to discount ‘Racer‘ by Giorgio Moroder since its more a song from a game/Google Chrome app freebie and I’ve talked about its instant sweet-spot hitting at length. A very close sixth goes to Little Mix and ‘How Ya Doin’?‘, even though it was on their 2012 album, the single was re-swizzled enough with extra chorus bits and a Missy freakin’ Elliott guest spot – but it wasn’t as good as the other five.

Let’s crack on eh?

FIVE

Gentleman

I’ve already waxed lyrical about this one too so I won’t go on about how it reminds me of the Almighty Aloud, brings some much-needed tongue in cheek to band in need of personality, isn’t caked in Auto-Tune or featuring Sean Paul, was the best performance of their Radio 1’s Big Weekend slot which suffered from awkward dance moves, mic issues and not great singing , follows the rule of amazing second single from an album (not counting ‘30 Days’) and has an insanely catchy rap middle eight.

To be honest, it would’ve cracked the top 5 just for the line “Cause most guys just hit it and quit it/and then they wonder why most girls just spit it”

FOUR:

Get Lucky

The one everyone knows about. After four weeks at number one its finally been dethroned. Four weeks at number one and its still not got a proper full music video yet. More importantly, after four weeks at number one it still sounds pretty fresh and not getting on my nerves yet. I’ve given the album a bit of (but not nearly enough time) and its a definite grower, but worth picking up for ‘Giorgio By Moroder’: the best musical monologue about music since… well last year’s ‘Over The Border’ by Saint Etienne.

THREE:

Axis

A divisive one amongst their fanbase (isn’t everything they do nowadays though? :/). For a band whose first hit opens with the lines “Sometimes your better off dead/There’s a gun in your hand and its pointing at your head” and whose lyrics are often so ambiguous people still debate the meaning years after I can see why some people are disappointed. The only lyrics to ‘Axis’ are things like”turn it up”, and “feel the power”. And that’s absolutely fine. Some days (most days) I want to listen to PSB songs that could be about love or a terrorist suicide bomber depending on how you look it at, but some days (also most days) I want to listen to a straightforward, insanely catchy club banger. David Guettawill.i.am and co. can are clogging up the charts, radios and dancefloors but in some parallel world where everything is at it should be; me and my Uni friends would be necking Jagerbombs in a club screaming “ELECTRIC EN.ER.GY., ELECTRIC EN.ER.GY.” at the top of our lungs, rather than me pretending to tolerate “Feel This Moment”. 

TWO:

Live a Little

Three exact minutes of pure joy.

That’s all I really need to say about this one but I like to ramble on. This song is written for some sort of SONY Headphones advert campaign thing – I’m not really sure. All I know is it sounds great with my SONY Headphones (not the ones involved in this campaign, a pair I picked up a year ago in Tesco for a tenner) so I guess this proves great music is great music no matter where it comes from? It is a fact of life great music comes from Florrie and Xenomania, who will surely make up for the whole Amelia Lily disappointment when she releases her major-label debut album.

Clearly Florrie is some sort of heaven-sent angel, with her beautiful voice and gorgeous looks, who has blessed us with three EPs of incredible music completely FREEEEE!!! She also gave us Shot You Down, which is just ‘OK’,  but we can forgive her for that one. She is performing live music for us mere mortals in London on the 25th of June – the EXACT DAY I’M OFF TO TURKEY! Whilst I cannot wait to Live (a Little) up in the sun, I’ll only be ticking skinny dipping off my Bucket List this June, and not ‘Raving like a lunatic to Call of the Wild in front of its (most likely slightly disturbed) performer’.

ONE:

Take A Look

Club thumpers with female vocalists featuring on them usually make me sigh. “A sample of a good song with an annoying Eurodance beat, terrible lyrics about putting your hands up, probably a guest rapper who’s bit is so phoned-in its literally recorded off the answering machine and vocals more processed than cheap hot dogs” I whine to anyone who wants to (or realistic, doesn’t) listen. But then, like a superhero, comes Norwegian Popstar Annie (as I have to call her, because people think I’m on about the musical ¬¬) to rescue me. Teaming up with fellow Norway folk Ralph Myerz, they have created something so wonderful that I think Scandinavians should be put in charge of Earth.  The production is an icy disco throb for the verses, coupled with Annie’s mysterious, sexy voice floating on top before it all lifts off for a euphoric chorus. She cheekily teases “take off your clothes, now come and have a swim with me” and later even thrown in a reference to a song she co-wrote ‘Left My Heart In Tokyo’ performed by the gone-but-never-forgotten Mini Viva. Excellent stuff.

There’s nothing different or quirky about the structure, genre or anything really. It’s a straightforward dance-pop song. The quirkiness is left to Annie’s solo comeback single ‘Tubestops & Lonely Hearts’ which is pretty darn good, but I can’t help but think of the low-budget awkward video whenever I hear it. Sadly you cannot take a look (pun!) at the music video for this song, because its not out yet. Annie promised on Facebook it would be out in June but I cannot wait until then to do this countdown. I’m hoping its epic, obviously but for me, ‘Take a Look at the World’ is so good the video could be someone chopping their toenails and it wouldn’t detract.

Though in all seriousness Annie, please don’t ever make that into a video.

Well, that’s my top 5 of the year so far. If you would like to enquire as to who these artists are and which other songs of their you should check out, or why ‘Scream & Shout’ wasn’t featured then please leave me a comment or get in touch.