Friday, December 16, 2011

Top 12 Singles of 2011

12. Adele "Someone Like You" UK singer Adele's emotional song about heartbreak was very powerful and even more moving live. Not that any of us saw her in concert because she cancelled everytime. However, judging from her award show appearances it was pretty amazing.

11.Kids of 88 "just a little bit" Thanks MTV for using this song in Teen Wolf over and over. kids of 88 are from New Zealand and craft the kind of too cool for school synth-drenched pop that sounds like its from the future. I played this throughout Dragon*Con.

10. Britney Spears "I wanna go" Maybe it's the whistling. Maybe I just love the squeaky vocals. This was catchy pop and easily the best song on Brit's "femme fatale" album.

09.Telekinesis "Please Ask for help" Indie group's 2nd album spawned this totally ace track. It was the song that helped me survive the morning crawl through Atlanta.

08. Pixie Lott "All about Tonight" Sums up going out, shrugging off a bad relationship and having fun in the city. She looks tragic in the video but it didnt stop me from running around the house singing this jam. I live for the stuttering effect around the 2:50 mark.

07. Nicole Scherzinger "Don't hold your breath" She may have been the lead stripper in the Pussycat Dolls but as a solo artist she's just another hooker on the street. Regardless, she still managed to release one of the best pop songs of the year even if no one in the US cared.

06. Katy Perry "last Friday Night" A great pop song made even better by it's 80's inspired video. I swear my sister looked just like Katy when she is transformed into party glamor babe. the hair, the makeup. A fun singalong pop song.

05. Foster the People "Pumped up Kicks" I first heard this in "friends with benefits" and was surprised to learn it was a top 10 hit already! "pumped up kicks" was the soundtrack to numerous starbucks trips even if all the Sb hipsters had moved on to something else.

04. The Saturdays "All fired Up" UK girl group the Saturdays really should be bigger. This single paired them with top producers Xenomania. I did my best Risky business impression to this song and found the combination of europop and cotton briefs to be quite exciting.

03. Eric Saade "Popular" Winner of Melodifestivalen and amazing Swedish talent- Eric delivered an energetic rush of pop energy. This song could easily be a hit in the US. It was a major hit at Casa de Ackley this year and was heard on more than one road trip-particularly to IKEA.

02. Florrie "I took a little something" UK singer Florrie delivered sugary goods on this Xenomania produced gem. There's a hint of melancholy, a bit of hope and some amazing sounds to be found as Florrie reminisces about the past. This is the music I live for.

01. Nicola Roberts "Beat of My Drum" AMAZING! Britain's Nicola Roberts delivered a quirky, catchy and infectious single. With it's shouty Gwen Stefani inspired "L-O-V-E!" and stuttering production courtesy of diplo this single was extremely polarizing- you loved it or hated. For me, it was catchy, danceable and easy to sing. I even subjected my coworkers to it's chanty chorus.

Monday, July 25, 2011

BWO's Martin Rolinski releases solo single

Martin Rolinski, lead singer of Sweden's BWO is set to release his debut single "blame it on a decent matter" next month. While the other members of BWO have been busy with other projects Marina teaming up with her old synthpop group PAGE and Alexander Bard forming Gravitonas singer Martin seemed to be enjoying fatherhood. The new single shows he too has been busy!

The single "blame it on a decent matter" premiered this week on Swedish radio. The song is exactly what you would expect from him. The production is upbeat dance-pop with a catchy melody that only the Swedish are capable of crafting. Martin is also performing the song on the summer festival circuit. You can watch below.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

All about Pixie Lott's "All About Tonight"

Pixie Lott has never really inspired me to get particularly worked up over her songs. Her debut single "mama do" was Amy Winehouse lite and inoffensive enough but not enough of a jam that it required many repeat listenings. Her later releases were even less exciting and so Pixie is a minor blip on my pop radar.

Her latest release "all about tonight" might change that. The red one produced track debuted on Uk radio a few weeks back and the singer has also delivered a video with the usual themes: getting dressed up, going out with "the girls" and not caring what anyone thinks. It is typical pop empowerment for the 21st century. Having said the song itself is a bit of a jam. The chorus alone is pretty killer with its rapid delivery of "grab someone if your single, grab someone if you're not - its all about tonight". The song is so completely joyous that its quite easy to overlook the corny themes presented lyrically.

I've drove around Atlanta several days with this playing as loud as I can and it boils down to I pretty much wait for the 2:49 mark to hear the stuttering effect. Its sad but perhaps its just that 2 seconds that really wins me over.

I hope this is another smash for Pixie even if I'm not a huge fan of hers. As for the video she looks incredibly awkward in her sexed up image. The stylist should be shot for boy shorts and the sleeveless black outfit she sports during the dance sequences. She looks like a 13 year old at the rollerskating rink trying to be adult. See for yourself.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Saturdays' latest could be massive

The Saturdays have been steadily releasing single after single over the past few years. Their debut album was amazing and songs like "up" and "work" are classics- well, classics at least in my living room. Their later releases have been succesful to varying degrees but all have failed to really live up to the hype/hope of their debut. Two and a half albums into a career and one has to wonder Whats a girl group to do?

Well, we now have the answer. Amazing but sadly commercially hit or miss production team Xenomania have been recruited to handle chores on The Sats' next release "all fired up" and I;m pleased to say the single is a corker! I am a bit biased as I love nearly everything Brian Higgins' & company touch but in this case I feel the praise is truly deserved. "All fired up" is commercial, current and most importantly insanely catchy in a "Sexy, No! No! No!" kinda way. The girls vocals are wrapped in an avalanche of synths and beats while chanting "All fired up but I feel alive!" This is hopefully the single that will take the girls out of the minor league and into the majors (and hopefully to the top of the UK charts as well).

The Saturdays' get "all fired up" on 4 September.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Ellie Goulding's SNL gig

It's funny. The other day my itunes was on random and Ellie Goulding's "if I stayed" popped up and I began thinking "I guess her US launch is dead on arrival." Much to my surprise a few days later she shows up on Saturday Night Live!

Ellie looked amazing and I was only too happy that the response to her was quite positive! I was surprised that Ellie chose the slightly remixed version of the song "lights" to perform versus some of her stronger singles ("starry-eyed", "guns and horses") but Ellie wowed nonetheless. She followed up her performance with her hit cover of Elton John's "your song." Both performances were strong but "lights" was the best and after months the subtle remix is finally growing on me.

Ellie's name was the #1 trending topic on yahoo this morning so I hope that means good things for her stateside. If you missed it the first time watch her performances below.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Florrie's "Begging me"

There was time not too long ago when Brian Higgins' Xenomania productions promised a tidal wave of amazing pop via acts his team had developed. Mini Viva. Jessie Malakouti. Dekade. Alex Gardner. Vagabond. Brooke X. And of course Girls Aloud. One by one these acts either floundered, flopped or simply faded away leaving only one girl, Florrie.

Florrie was originally the drummer for Xenomania's house band but was soon being groomed for pop success. Higgins was clearly shook by the rapid failure of the previous acts that fizzled and proceeded with Florrie very cautiously. Florrie's development has been long. There have been free downloads, digital EPs and even a promotion with Nina Ricci. After what feels like an eternity in development Florrie released a proper EP "introduction" last year that didn't trouble the charts and left many to wonder what was next. We now have the answer.

Florrie's is back with new single "begging me." The song was released at the end of April. I'm left scratching my head.Is this her official debut single? Her first proper single? No idea. What I do know is that the single has a video and you can watch it now on youtube or at Florrie's website. The song itself is a rather pleasant but pedestrian effort by Xenomania. I like it but you can't help but wonder if there weren't stronger tracks available to be a single and film a video. Overall its a nice song.

The video is less successful with it's quick cuts, blurry visuals and lack of energy. While I hope good things happen for Florrie I am now thinking that after two years of "development" that the moment to launch her a major pop act has come and gone.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Is Lady Gaga secretly anti-Gay?

Lady Gaga is set to release her new album "Born this way" this month. Since her debut she has developed a loyal and growing fan base she calls her "little monsters" - fans who anticipate her every release with a passionate fervor. Gaga's message of "acceptance" and "being yourself" has found a hungry audience with gays, teens and people who sometimes may feel like outcasts. Her earlier singles like "poker face" and "just dance" may have urged you to get up and and move in the club but with the release of her single "born this way" clearly Lady Gaga is now here to educate and empower. The question I ask- what's the true message?

Before I start I just want to first that I am a gay man. I love pop music music and I do not hate Lady Gaga. I'm just not sure I really like her.

On the surface it would seem that Lady Gaga's much hyped single "Born this Way" is an anthem of gay pride. Of empowerment. It appears to be a message to straight homophobic Christians who maintain that homosexuality is a vile choice that gays aren't degenerate people in society. Lady Gaga sings "baby, i was born this way" essentially telling all the people who think gays are made by their environment and family - "fuck nurture- nature made me." The song became a huge hit stateside, debuted at number one on Billboard and no doubt became an instant staple in gay clubs everywhere.

After really listening to this song and the visuals she has created to support the track I have to wonder what her true message is. The sleeve photo shows her as an alien or even demonic being with horns. The video tells the story of a godlike mother monster who gives birth to a pure, loving people caught up in an epic good vs evil struggle. While it would seem these pure people are meant to be her fans its also made me think Gaga is actually promoting the idea that gay people are strange, alien individuals who are very different from normal people. Instead of saying we are the same as anyone else she presents this image of homosexuals as bizarre beings - freaks who operate outside of society. Her message is even condescending - gays are weird freaky people but lets accept them despite being so bizarre because they were born this way. Instead of saying gays are born gay but they are like everyone else and entitled to the same rights as anyone else gaga has gone to say to the press her concerts are safe places to be outrageous. As if all gay men dress up like it's Halloween time.

I'm hopeful one day that people will realize gay people are like anyone else. Homosexuality isn't a choice- either you're gay or you aren't. Ignorance however will always be an option.

Chris Lowe Superstar

Pet Shop Boys' often quite keyboardist is set to take on lead vocal duties for the new Stop modernists's single. The single is a quite loyal cover of New Order's 1986 single "subculture." A release is planned for June 14th and can be purchased or illegally downloaded from the usual places.

Since I first purchased New Order's "substance" in junior high I have always loved "subculture" so it is interesting to hear this new interpretation. Chris' vocals work has always been pleasant on the few Pet Shop Boys' songs he sings and this single is no exception. Musically the Stop modernists keep the production crisp and keep the song true to its synthpop origins. For those eager to hear this amazing piece of pop right now a soundcloud stream is available.

Stop Modernists featuring Chris Lowe - SUBCULTURE - radio edit 128kbps by Sahko

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Saturday's to release new single "Notorious"

The Saturdays announced today that they were readying a new single "notorious" for release. The girls delivered an amazing debut album and have been losing my interest ever since. Their second album promised much but proved be such a mess. In effort to get the girls back on track the label took great measures to forget the sophomore album ever happened. In the meantime the Sats rushed their mini-ep "headlines" out to do damage control and their singles have all been pleasant but forgettable events ever since.

Below you will find a snippet of their forthcoming new single. The track sounds pretty much like any other female pop song out right now so only time will tell if this will grow on me or be a huge hit. Right now its a total bore - I bet even Nicole Scherzinger didn't even want to touch this song!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Nicole Roberts' Solo Debut

My favorite member of Girls Aloud has announced a new single "Beat of my drum" on June 5th and a album to follow in autumn. There really is nothing to say but amazing. You can read more on her facebook page. Why not "like" her in the process?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Kylie's best "Should have been a single" moments

Kylie is touring North America currently and I will be off to see the Aussie pop goddess this Friday in Atlanta. It's always fun to speculate about the set list and when you think about Kylie songs you can't help but think that some of her best songs were never released or were relegated to b-sides or unreleased status. I've asked people from a few other blogs to write about their fave best Kylie "should have been a single" moments as well as my own.

Jump (Possibly, Amazing)
"Tightrope" from "fever Aussie edition" (2001) & B-side "love at first sight" UK

When Kylie unleashed her "fever" the track "tightrope" started out as an Aussie bonus track but proved so popular that she later released it in the UK as a b-side.What was so great that fans worldwide were frothing rabid racoons for the track? Well, everything."Tightrope" is the kind of pop that Kylie does so well. The track was of course dance-pop with a nod to Ibiza complete jangly tambourine, moody synths and a melody dipped in melancholy. Kylie sings the chorus "I'm in so deep, can't eat, can't sleep-I'm high upon a tightrope" with a sense that she is completely distraught and uncertain. The middle eight proves to be the best part where the music suddenly gets quiet and puts Kylie's vocal front and center quietly declaring "no more time should pass us by" before ending with the chorus. It's all spine tingly amazingness.

I really can't find too much fault with the Fever era singles but I always felt like "tightrope" would have made an amazing 5th single had it not been a bonus track or b-side. One of Kylie's best moments.

Jason (Olga Loves Yuri)
“White Diamond” from "Showgirl live" (2006) & "X" UK version (2008)

Let’s take a step back (in time), before the release of X, Kylie Minogue’s 10th studio album. Kylie had battled breast cancer and emerged victorious. Resuming the tour that her diagnosis delayed, Kylie recorded a live album, Showgirl Homecoming Live, in her native Australia. This album (taken from a performance in Sydney) contained a brilliant track written for Kylie by the Scissor Sisters. Of course, Kylie fans will know that I am talking about “White Diamond.” What we heard on Showgirl was an electropop/dance track that hinted at the direction of new Kylie material. However, fans waited and waited for a studio version of the live track, and yet, it never materialized. Instead, promotion for new album X propelled forward, and “2 Hearts” was chosen as the lead single, while a ballad version of “White Diamond” was relegated to “bonus track” status on the UK version of the album. Granted, the ballad version is gorgeous and became the staple of the Kylie-mentary White Diamond, but it was never released. And it should have been. I can’t think of a more appropriate transition from the horrors of breast cancer to the success and victory of remission than “White Diamond.” Kylie sings, “Like a pure white diamond / I’ll shine on and on and on and on.” Whether you prefer the electro or ballad version, this fantastic “single that never was” is an opportunity that was absolutely missed.

D'luv (Chartrigger)
“Things Can Only Get Better” from Rhythm Of Love (1990)

I’m going pretty old-school here. Kylie went through her phase of “That right, I’m tellin’ you how the world is–so sit your ass down and listen, chylde!” songs early on, a la “Enjoy Yourself” and this funky house jam. The lyrics are pretty trite (“If you’re feeling you’re lost and lonely and feel so afraid, remember things can only get better!”), but I think the driving pace, urgent melody and that cheeseball guitar solo combine for what’s ultimately a potent dance-pop cocktail. And thank Christ for the “Original 12” Mix” on Greatest Remix Hits Vol. 4!