Friday, August 22, 2014

Song Of The Day: "Get Lost" by Icona Pop

ICONA POP ARE BACK! That's right, Swedish girl group, masters of the shouty pop song, and the artist's behind THE BEST SONG OF 2013!!!!! have returned to give us more music. Before blowing up with their Charli XCX co-write, Aino and Caroline were known for a more indietronica sound but they made the correct decision to become true popstars and their debut album in the states was a nonstop joyride of anthemic pop songs.

Unfortunately, the public kind of thought they were one-hit wonders despite "All Night" being amazing as well. But the girls aren't fucking around now. Their new single, just released today, "Get Lost" is a signature Icona Pop song, complete with rollicking piano riffs, a slight retro feel, and a no fucks given chorus. Much like "I Love It", just try not to sing along to this while driving down the coast, "leaving this fucked up world BEHIND!" Could Icona Pop repeat their success and claim BEST SONG OF 2014 too?!? "Get Lost" may just do that!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Track by Track Flashback: "Settle" by Disclosure

The first in my series of Track by Track Flashbacks is Disclosure's debut album Settle. A collection of schizophrenic dance hits that helped bring about the 90's house revival of 2014, Disclosure broke out as the premiere electronic producers of 2013. Now working with the likes of Madonna and getting a sleeper US hit with Latch, it looks like Disclosure are on a nonstop takeover of the world. So let's look at each track on the album to see why they have been so successful.

1. When A Fire Starts To Burn

As most good albums have displayed, an intro that leads into the first real song can be a useful tool to display what to expect on the album. With this in mind, Disclosure somehow encapsulated their signature sound in "When A Fire Starts To Burn" while also sampling a motivational speech. It's that kind of forward thinking that makes the Lawrence brothers pioneers. Though a little repetitive, they clearly get their message across and the entire time I keep thinking how this would have been a great song for Azealia Banks to rap over (lost opportunity for Azealia).

2. Latch (feat. Sam Smith)

This is Disclosure and Sam Smith's first breakout hit in every country, really. It came out last year and somehow has just recently cracked the Billboard Top Ten. In all honestly, I don't get how. Sure, it's something different from everything else on the radio, but it's not really catchy, it's not really danceable, and it's not really pop. However, it clearly resonates with the crowd and Sam Smith does have the pipes to back it up.

3. F for You

These boys sing too! This is the first track that shows just how multi-talented Disclosure can be and was also a highlight during their concerts. It's super catchy, has weird dream-like breakdowns, and that bass is the coolest thing you heard in 2013. And if that's not enough, Mary J. Blige has come into the picture and adequately heightened the diva factor.

4. White Noise (feat. AlunaGeorge)

Now here is where things got good. I wasn't particularly impressed with Latch, which made second single White Noise take me by surprise big time. First off, that electronic melody that reincarnates throughout the song is supremely hummable and it's amazing the ways the brothers shapeshift the sound to match the different parts of the song. But really, AlunaGeorge shines with her angelic vocals that find a nice home on electronic songs like this. Hopefully, this song follows its UK success and brings Disclosure they're second hit in the US because it really is amazing.

5. Defeated No More (feat. Ed Macfarlane)

This is a real testament to Disclosure's chameleon-like production. While distinctly a Disclosure song, this chilled-out hypnotizing song wouldn't have sounded out of place on Friendly Fires last album, which Ed Macfarlane is the lead singer of. That's probably why Madonna wants to work with them so bad.

6. Stimulation

Unfortunately, the fun starts to get a little bit annoying at this point. Like some of their other solo work, "Stimulation" just goes on and on repeating the same riff over and over. It's interesting for about a minute and a half but really, five and a half minutes? It's too much, sorry.

7. Voices (feat. Sasha Keable)

Disclosure took it upon themselves to introduce many new talents to the music scene, and Sasha Keable was one of them. A great dance song with a great vocal can never go wrong, and really set up Keable for future success. Back to bangers, this was the last single to be released from the album and is probably the most accessible. Furthermore, it shows just how remixable their tracks are, as this Le Youth remix can easily tell you. 

8 & 9. Second Chance & Grab Her!

Suffering from the same repetition as "Stimulation", these two tracks are just dance filler. At least "Second Chance" is short and "Grab Her!" managed to get nominated for a VMA. 

10. You & Me (feat. Eliza Doolittle)

Somehow, Disclosure made a song featuring one of the worst pop singers in England amazing. Eliza Doolittle should really thank the Lawrences for introducing her to dance music. Paraphrasing a review I read somewhere, the song is extremely scattered but the chaos is so organized and interesting. With Eliza giving us a surprising heartfelt vocal (that bridge of "Can you stache my heart, somewhere in the dark, keep it safe" was a real moment of 2013), this should be a new direction for her and dubstep producer Flume keeps the  it going with this insane remix for all you strobers. (Side Note: You & Me is probably my favorite song off the album.)

11. January (feat. Jamie Woon)

The indieness of this song is ridiculously high, but I suppose that's a good thing. Singer-songwriter Jamie Woon brings some edge to "Janurary" and, although a little forgettable, the track continues the flow that Settle should be known for.

12. Confess To Me (feat. Jessie Ware)

This was definitely the most anticipated collab on the album and the fan favorite amongst the Disclofans. Jessie Ware is a singer-songwriter extraordinaire whose own start was helped by this Disclosure remix of her fantastic single "Running." Based on how insanely good that was, I expected a lot from "Confess To Me" and while it does display Miss Ware's heavenly voice, that chorus really kills the song for me. Jessie's voice really should not have been messed with, but all in the name of artistry I suppose.

13. Help Me Lose My Mind (feat. London Grammar)

The only ballad on the album also happens to be ridiculously good. A big hypnotic song, Help Me Lose My Mind is a rare song that proves that ballads from Disclosure are just as good as bangers. It also brought art rock group London Grammar to the forefront, with lead singer Hannah Reid haunting vocal sealing the deal on this song as well as the album.

Settle was a great album from an extremely talented duo of producers. The best thing about the album is that Disclosure's sound was something we never expected, but we realized we needed. They managed to straddle the line of mainstream, indie, and EDM with expert finesse and never strained from their unique sound, despite its repetition at times. Overall, good job Lawrences for creating the best dance album of 2013.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Song Of The Day: "Too Cool To Dance (Fred Falke Remix)" by Eden xo

Recent Next Big Thing featured artist Eden xo has a new single bumping around here and there. It's called "Too Cool To Dance" and it's a classic pop song that proves the best people are the ones who dance without shame. Eden's trademark cool bitch personality is in center stage and she may usurp Kesha and Rihanna as the baddest femme in pop at the moment (that's a call to action ladies!). I mean, who wouldn't want to be this girl's bestie?

While the original track is platinum level brilliant, this remix by the legendary Fred Falke properly brings Too Cool To Dance to the dance floor. Eden's call for "Bitches better recognize" sounds amazing atop the pulsing beat and electrifying production and it goes fully mental during the chorus. If you don't feel the need to dance after this song, there's no hope for you.

Song Of The Day: "Comeback Girl" by THANKS

It's a bittersweet moment when a really good band decides to go on hiatus. It's sad because they will most likely not get back together even if it's just "temporary." Girls Aloud proved this phenomenon to be true, even though they had a short-lived reunion (it's still a sore topic for me). However, it also signals the start of a different act's career as they move forward with their former success. Such is the fate of Danish all-star band Alphabeat, responsible for the peppy "Fascination" as well as this ridicumazing remix of Lady Gaga's "Telephone". Calling a hiatus earlier this year, their lead female singer Stine Bramsen wasted no time in taking over the Danish charts by releasing her first solo single "Prototypical" which reached number 2 there.

Following her lead, Anders SG and Anders B of Alphabeat (too bad for the other Anders) decided to venture on their own to create their new group THANKS. Along with this announcement, the group released their first song and video for "Comeback Girl." And THANK god, it's fucking amazing. A super bonkers pop song that actually sounds like the music is having a seizure, Comeback Girl is easily the most exciting thing Alphabeat has made in recent years. It would actually sound just as good in a disco as it would sound in a hoedown. This country-Motown esque banger and its fun exercisey video is extremely impressive, even if the boys missed out on the opportunity to call themselves The Anders. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Track by Track Flashback: "Night Time, My Time" by Sky Ferreira

It's time to talk about Sky Ferreira's debut album. This has been a long time coming, considering Ferreira has been around since 2010 and promised us an album at the beginning of 2011. However, Night Time, My Time is definitely not the album we would have heard from Sky back then. Throwing away her glittery pop persona, Sky Ferreira has decided to go for the scuzzy Kurt Cobain-esque pop-rock that I guess she really wanted to make. DON'T BE SCARED! She actually pulls it off quite well and although she has made some questionable decisions(from the NSFW cover art to her disappointing drug arrest), these tracks really show what Sky wanted us to hear since the beginning.

1. Boys

The first song misleads you into thinking Sky decided to go back to her electropop roots before that grungy guitar kicks in. From then on, it's a pretty good head banger. Even though lead producers Ariel Rechtshaid and Justin Raisen (who also produced Charli XCX's debut album and worked with Queen Kylie Minogue) have been known for crystalline electropop, they channel Sky's new persona in a great new direction. It's still nice to hear Ferreira not going too Shirley Manson on us with a dreamy chorus, that sets the tone for this album to be a classic for angsty teenagers and romantics all the same with lines like "I knew it was you all along."

2. Ain't Your Right

Someone call Avril Lavigne, cos there's a new emo, eyeliner slaying popstress on the scene. This really would have been a great Avril song though. The propulsive beat with the choppy guitars keeps the new grungy Ferreira from straying too far from the pop stratosphere. She also makes anger sound so sweet with passive aggressive lines like "We'll see about that, won't we?" Maybe that's a call to all you haters out there.

3. 24 Hours

And with just one alarm clock sound, we get back the good old Sky Ferreira that gave us bright pop gems like "Sex Rules" and "99 Tears". 24 Hours was the first promo single for the album and is probably the best example of Sky's desire to mix the 90's rock scene with the synth-heavy pop music of today. And her vocals have never sounded as great as her howling the "24 HOOOURS" in the post-chorus. It's almost sad this came out in 2013 because I guarantee it would have been a number one hit back in the 90's and appeared on many a movie soundtrack.

4.  Nobody Asked Me (If I Was Okay)

This one leans a little too much on the angry rock side that could lead to you ripping your ears off. But when Sky goes into the second chorus, she gives us the best earworm on the entire album. It's also interesting to see Sky become introspective considering all the shit she has been through. I guess the pop producers really shut her down and all that anger about her ideas ignored were put in this song. It's okay Sky, your fans will always hope you're okay.

5. I Blame Myself

Sky Ferreira can really choose these singles. Second single "I Blame Myself" is amazing in that every incarnation of Sky throughout the years would have been able to confidently carry this song and kept it amazing. Once again, Sky's personal storytelling also keeps you locked in, and the multitude of pop hooks don't hurt either. As a side note, Sky received a lot of backlash for apparently being racist and using only black dancers in her video (which is amazing). Basically, her accusers are idiots and Sky is not racist as these dancers had the best talent to appear in the video. #TeamSkyForever

6. Omanko

All right, here's what I was afraid of. Sky gets a little too deep into her own head, which comes out on songs like "Omanko", which has something to do with Japanese porn. It's just not a great song. It's just noisy drums with a noisy filtered guitar and a weird horn that comes halfway through the song while Sky sings about a Japanese Christmas. Trust me, it's not as amazing as it sounds.

7. You're Not The One

This was the first taste of Sky's new album when it came out as a single in September and it really threw me for a loop. It was a huge departure from her old sound, but it was still pretty amazing. Then the video came out, and I decided that I was sufficiently hooked. It was the first real single that made an impact for Sky without sounding like she was trying too hard. And that guitar riff was the best use of guitar in 2013. Period.

8. Heavy Metal Heart

"Heavy Metal Heart" suffers a little bit from being a little too drenched in production and sounding like noise on noise but Sky's voice brings it back. Honestly, the only thing I can say is that it would have been a great Sleigh Bells song and proves Sky's ability as a songwriter should not be underestimated.

9. Kristine

Another expression of artistry or whatever, "Kristine" provides a strange break in the album from the streak of harder hitting songs. A sufficient breather track, it displays an endearing part of Sky's weirder songwriter as she raps about a millionaire chick atop alien-like beeps and laser sounds that keep you hooked because of how bizarre it is.

10. I Will

The title track to what would have been the album's third title, "I Will" sees Sky taking on a straightforward indie-rock song a la The Yeah Yeahs. Much darker than most of the other songs on the album, her promise to "teach you a lesson" will haunt you're nightmares for a while, in a not too scary way. Overall, a nice song though.

11. Love In Stereo

"Love In Stereo" really does not belong on this record, but I'm glad she left it on. It totally breaks from this gritty rock pop persona she has spent the entire album creating. In some ways, this could have been a great Robyn song, and no higher praise can be given, especially considering that we are talking about Sky Ferreira. The sweetest I have ever heard Ferreira, the sugary synths and new wave guitar hopefully indicates that Sky still has some love for the electropop that made us fall in love with her in the first place.

12. Night Time, My Time

And just like that, Sky Ferreira does a complete 180 and goes from the best song on the album to the worst song. The title track and album closer is a weird, dark synth odyssey whose lyrics are its only redeeming factor. Sky's reverbed voice tries to distract us from the unmelodic production as much as it can but unfortunately, this is probably Sky's worst song ever. I guess she must have thought so too as she made a video to try to get us interested. It's sad because without this song, Night Time, My Time would have probably been in the top 10 albums of the year.

It's hard to think of a singer who has had a rougher time getting a start on their career than Sky Ferreira, but it happened for a reason I suppose, as her trials and tribulations helped Sky find a signature sound and inspiration for some of the highlights on the album. And it's not to say that the album was too weird to be enjoyed, it managed to get into the Billboard Top Ten albums when it came out. It's just I still prefer the pop ingenue that brought us hits like "One" and "99 Tears" to this new electro-grunge rocker. Still, this is a great album and I hope Sky is happy to finally have her true personality shine through after all the trouble she went to give us music.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Next Big Thing: Eden xo Is Finally Ready To Bring Pop To Its Knees

It takes time for a popstar to really break out and sometimes, an image rebranding has to occur for someone to really get going. You may know cases like Verbalicious (Natalia Kills), Jade Williams (Whinnie Williams), or Elizabeth Grant (LANA DEL REY!). Unfortunately, this means that a lot of great music gets shelved because the rebranding and changing of record labels makes it hard for an artist to release their music and even harder to get the mainstream success they deserve.

This has been the fate of pop's baddest bitch in the making Jessie Malakouti. This chick has been around since 2008 after losing her old band and making a name for herself with singles like "Standing Up For The Lonely" and "Outsider" (ambitious isn't she?). She has also had some luck with big breaks as her single "Trash Me" briefly caused a media storm when people realized Britney Spears's song "If You Seek Amy" sounded oddly similar (exactly the same) to it. Here it for yourself.

After having some her songs featured on The Hills (legendary status achieved), Jessie signed with EMI records and worked alongside XENO FUCKING MANIA for her first album, that has yet to come out. With everything going for her, Jessie shed her old name and adopted the new incarnation of Jessie and The Toy Boys. And how brilliant were they. Just look at this picture of her.

Mega Popstar moment achieved

Now that's a fucking promo shot. The Toy Boys were actually just mannequins that were Jessie's band. Take that Florence's Machine and Marina's Diamonds. As a die hard Fannequin, Jessie and the Toy Boys were the coolest act on the scene back in 2010 and her debut EP Show Me Your Tan Lines was the perfect mix of sass, romance, ecstasy, and hilarity that only a few popstars can accomplish. Her song "We Own The Night" was also used to promote The CW, so it looked like everything was on trend for The Toy Boys to take over for Queen Jessie. She even snagged a gig opening The Femme Fatale Tour with fellow female icons Britney Spears, Nicki Minaj, and NERVO. The following are incredible songs with incredible titles and notice how Jessie successfully took best video of the year with each song released.




Essentially, Jessie and The Toy Boys will go down as one of the best pop bands that wasn't a band in history. After many stops to her album coming out, it seems that Jessie gave up on the project and thought it would be best to go to her birth name. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough to restart her career, although we did get the college girl anthem "White Girl Wasted", which is the story of my Saturday nights. It seemed as though Jessie would fade away into pop obscurity but luckily, she got signed to Virgin and was given another chance to properly slay the charts. And with this, we have Eden xo, Jessie's newest incarnation and probably the key to true stardom. Although her time has been brief, Eden has really been killing it with her new single "Too Cool To Dance" forcing everyone to let loose on the dancefloor. The Fred Falke produced banger has all the sass and fun that made me fall in love with the Toy Boys era and it looks like Eden is here to stay. So say hello to the most exciting pop act on the horizon.