Saturday, October 11, 2014

Track By Track Throwback: "THIS IS … ICONA POP" by Icona Pop

This throwback is dedicated to the almost debut album by Swedish 90's bitches Icona Pop. Though it was not their first LP, Icona Pop's revamped album of balls to the wall bangers was a reckless thrill ride across every dance floor. So let's get into shall we?

1. I Love It feat. Charli XCX

We've been through this before, but "I Love It" is OFFICIALLY the best song of last year and possibly this decade. Thanks to Charli XCX, we got an insanely catchy kiss off that every college freshman had screamed in clubs across the world. Pretty much my theme song for any occasion. At 2 and a half minutes, the three girls managed to take over TV, airwaves, movies, and anything else you may have thought of. With this being their first song on the album, Aino and Caroline set the bar pretty high.

2. All Night

"All Night" was the follow up to "I Love It" and would have removed Icona Pop from their one-hit wonder status if people would give it a chance. It starts off with a fun little guitar lick before finding the girls back on the dance floor (where they belong). Though not as immediate or anarchist, it is an aspirational feel-good jam that is especially great live. And the video should give you LIFE in so many ways.

3. We Got The World

The girls first foray into EDM territory also happens to be Tove Lo written. I wonder what it sounds like? BLOODY INCREDIBLE THAT'S WHAT! By now, Icona Pop's signature can be heard as a carefree statement of being who you are and just having fun. And it's a lesson a lot of popstars need to remember.

4. Ready For The Weekend

By now, it's pretty dizzying the pace that this album is going. The BPM is probably averages above every other album from last year. However, with "Ready For The Weekend" Icona Pop decides to mislead us into thinking that Gregorian chant would be there the entire time. Then the auto tune and beat comes in and we realize Aino & Caroline were just joking. Not the most amazing song but one of the most interesting for sure.

5. Girlfriend

Yes that is them sampling Tupac. But don't let that turn you off. The song is all right. It just kind of ambles on with steady electronic beats pairing up with the girls declaration of female camaraderie (ME AND MY GIRLFRIEND). It would have probably been better if they had replaced this with a song from their Swedish album like "Nights Like This" or "Downtown." Oh well.

6. In The Stars

We start to enter some pretty cool stuff now. "In The Stars" has the girls declaring their future as "pharaohs on the throne" before going into a rock n roll esque chorus. One of the catchier songs on the record, it will have you jamming in about 10 seconds. The best bit is when you hear one of them shouting in the background!

7. On a Roll

This Shellback-produced joyride is a definite favorite. That beginning with Icona Pop "do do doo"ing is pretty awesome. It's a headbanger from beginning to end and uses a guitar wisely for a dance song. And for some reason sounds very distinctly Swedish. Way to represent Icona Pop!

8. Just Another Night

The only real ballad on the album is the delicate and heartfelt "Just Another Night." For some reason, this appears to be Icona Pop's favorite off the album and is no doubt a nice song. For Hilary Duff. Or Celine Dion. Or Adele. Just not Icona Pop. It's sad when an act can't deliver a ballad properly but it's better to just accept it and move on to the next banger. Fortunately, this is the only really skippable song on the album.

9. Hold On

Back on the dance floor, we see the girls get a little more angsty and steer the boy-hating "I Love It" energy into a little darker territory. Then that slightly country-ish chorus comes in like sunshine and we can all breathe a sigh of relief. The most straightforward pop song for sure, a little boring compared to the others. But the chorus is still great.

10. Light Me Up

The second to last song on their album happens to be their best (besides I Love It cuz duh). Another Tove Lo co-write, it bridges the gap between older indie reggae Icona Pop and newer EDM Icona Pop.  From the islandy guitar to the "Oh Oh's" in the background, "Light Me Up" pretty much sums up the girls aesthetic for marrying organic and electronic sounds perfectly. That "Even If I go down in flames" part is really great.

11. Then We Kiss

The last song on the album is an energy filled smash that somehow incorporates an electric harmonica. Bearing a similarity to the Sugababes' "About You Now," it's a bouncy and fun song with Icona Pop recounting stories of falling in love and that amazing first kiss. It pretty much writes itself.

THIS IS… was Icona Pop's introduction to mainstream pop music and is a solid effort regardless of its lack of critical success. It may have been a lot less charming than their Swedish debut but it's a fun-filled thrill ride that succeeds in getting you to move. So let's hope Icona Pop continue to achieve the success they deserve and if not let's just remember

Friday, October 10, 2014

Next Big Thing: Justice Crew Put All Other Boy Bands To Shame

While I have shown my intense love for girl groups around the world, I have to give credit to the guys too. I grew up with NSYNC and The Backstreet Boys so there is a high bar for boy bands in my books. And I'm gonna come clean and say that I very much like One Direction and 5 Seconds of Summer probably have one of the best albums of this year. But until Rixton get off their asses and release an album, I have yet to decide who my favorite modern boy band is.

Therefore, it's time to go across the seas and see if there is a sufficient contender. Scandinavia had a lot of promise last year when Satin Circus released the mind-bogglingly good "Emma" and there was a point when I was obsessed with street smart Swedish group The Fooo (King Of The Radio is amazing). But then we get to Australia and I stumbled upon the salvation of all boy bands, Justice Crew.

These boys are doing a lot of things right. They have iconic names like Solo, Samson, Paulie, & Wildrok. There is at least one guy in this group that any teenage girl (and a couple of them boys) will find irresistible. They clearly work out and love to show it off, thank god. There is so much racial diversity that they should just be poster children for the UN. They have the rare ability to meld catchy music and mesmerizing dance routines which many pop acts including One Direction will never be able to pull off. They have managed to make a song that includes Flo Rida extremely good, and that takes skill, just ask Kesha and T-Pain. Finally, the band includes very cute twins.

Officially obsessed
The band comes from a street dance background and got their big break after winning the fourth season of Australia's Got Talent. They must have a lot of talent since they are probably the only act to break out from that franchise. Step it up America and England! After a string of semi-successful singles and a loss of a couple of members, the group got some more fame after becoming the opening act for Chris Brown and Janet Jackson's tour in Australia. Some of Ms Jackson's magic must have rubbed off because they then released this monster of a single last year.

A saxobeat filled jam with full on party attitude, "Everybody" came in like a real wrecking ball during a time when that goddamn "Story Of My Life" bullshit came out. It reminded us that a boy band shouldn't get too introspective and learn to dance and have fun. You're not Take That, 1D so calm down. Along with "Everybody", the band snagged their 1st Australian number one with "Boom Boom" which kept up their track record for amazing moves and bodies.

It looks like these boys have all the goods to breakthrough internationally, but unfortunately they have to do so through Pitbull's imprint on RCA Records. Now, this may lead to a massive hit but that hit will most certainly contain Mr. Dale on it, and I'm sorry but he just needs to go away. Oh well, the boys can continue notching platinum singles in Australia. Btw, they just so happen to have this year's most played song in Australia with "Que Sera." So don't be surprised if everyone decides to forget 5 Seconds Of Summer and move onto to these guys by next year.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Song Of The Day: "Marathon" by Ronika

What a woman! Ronika has been a long time favorite of mine and consistently delivers polished disco classics with a modern twist. Not only has she delivered Best Album of 2014 contender Selectadisc, she has decided to release another EP of tunes in December! Now that's what Qthousand4teen is all about!

The first single off that EP is title track "Marathon", another hit waiting to happen, mixing all the best parts of the 70's with a 2014 funky sheen that screams "Take me to the dance floor!" Definitely a highlight on Ronika's track record and just proves that sometimes the best way to make music is to get down and dirty with the synths yourself. Who knows, Roni might even outdo Beyoncé by releasing a second album before the year is up! 

Next Big Thing: Sweden + Australia= Amazing Music in the Form of Say Lou Lou

Meet your new obsession
Say Lou Lou happen to be those two lovely ladies above. At first, you would probably think they were just your typical models that look very much alike making generic pop music. But they are so SO much more than that. Miranda & Elektra Kilbey-Jansson (Now those are a couple of superstar names) are in fact twins. They are the daughters of music experts Steve Kilbey and Karin Jansson. As such, the girls are half-Australian and half-Swedish.

Let's take that in for a second. HALF-AUSTRALIAN AND HALF-SWEDISH! Two of the world's greatest music suppliers combined. That's like if they were the love-children between Gabriella Cilmi and Tove Lo. Or like Dannii Minogue and Icona Pop.

LIKE THE CHILDREN OF KYLIE MINOGUE & ROBYN! *The world just imploded from that merging of pop*

Thankfully, their music kind of sounds like a mix of all those things. They popped up in 2012 as Saint Lou Lou with "Maybe You", a lush electronic ballad that sounds like it's gliding on ice. The girls deliver heartbreak and melancholy in the most beautiful way and solidified their status as the new lovelorn sirens on the scene.

Since then, the girls have decided to change their name (probably for trademark reasons) and continue their tradition of amazingly beautiful love songs that involve some torrid love affair among the girls. Just look at "Julian" and their cover of Tame Impala's "Feels Like We Only Go Backwards." Their appreciation for epic storytelling and cinematic styling certainly brings them to a higher status than other singers with more fame (ahem, Miley?). They also have the uncanny ability to create B-sides that at some times overshadow the actual single.

This is "Beloved." It's the B-side for Say Lou Lou's 2013 single "Better in The Dark." Now, that song was grade-A pop perfection. Literally one of the best. But "Beloved" though?!?! The soft cooing synths. That chorus of pure heartache. That bridge of anger and frustration. AND IT'S A BALLAD! Never before has a ballad been so close to being the song of the year, but Say Lou Lou managed to do it.

Clearly, these girls were meant for superstardom and became the premiere twin act of 2014, beating out the likes of Tegan & Sara, Jedward, and The Veronicas. Say Lou Lou were so great that they even got nominated for the BBC Sound of 2014 Poll alongside other great acts like Ella Eyre and Chlöe Howl and frankly, they should have won but Sam Smith mania took over the world. Oh well, they did give us "Everything We Touch" and "Peppermint" to show how ready they were to rule the airwaves. Seriously, the lush power ballad should become the new Game Of Thrones theme song, especially since the girls "trained dragons"#DanaerysTargaryenRealness.

With 2014 almost at an end, Miranda and Elektra decided to throw us a curveball. Not only are the girls releasing their debut album Lucid Dreaming on Valentine's Day (which is a missed opportunity to name it SLAY LOU LOU), they have decided to take their talents to the dance floor. Their new cut "Games For Girls" with Norwegian producer Lindstrøm is pure disco voguing bliss as the beat goes from hypnotic Italo disco to euphoric bouncing throughout. Guess ballads aren't the only things Say Lou Lou have mastered and I'm already calling their album as the best of 2015!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Future Smash Alert: "Mother & Father" by Broods Could Give America Another New Zealand Hit
New Zealand has a notorious reputation for hiding away amazing pop music in its land. We all know the success story that was Lorde and her international takeover as a the premiere indie-gone-properly huge artist of 2013. However, in the past, we got some pretty great music from the Land next to the Down Under including excellent debut albums by Zowie, Kimbra, and Ladyhawke (best of 2008 to be exact). It comes as no surprise that a new Kiwi act would come to add to New Zealand's roster of talent in 2014 and Broods has done just that.

The brother-sister duo composed of Caleb and Georgia Nott first popped up toward the end of last year with their debut single "Bridges." The delicate piano-led fragility of the song gave way to the brightest shimmer of a chorus I have heard in a while. It took all the great parts of Lorde's lyricism and off-kilter musicality, thanks to her collaborator Joel Little working with Broods, with a strong electronic production that makes it instantly relatable. With that, Broods had become one of the most anticipated acts of 2014 in my books.
Since the turn of the year, Broods has managed to not only edge up their style a bit, but also claim best EP cover thanks to their ingenious use of glass. Top that Britney! But the songs are just as great, from Never Gonna Change to Sleep Baby Sleep, the siblings tackle a wide variety of genres with effortless confidence and fragility. All this makes their debut album one of the best of 2014.

 If you needed any more convincing, we still have the first single "Mother & Father" to obsess over. Without a doubt, the song is Broods finest, a heartfelt declaration of growing up but never losing one's love for their parents. Georgia's voice glides along the punchy yet crystalline production that could easily make their album Evergreen a critical and mainstream success. "Mother & Father" has all the potential to crossover into a major international hit and I believe Broods could easily join the Hall of New Zealand Music Fame that we have all come to love.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Song Of The Day: "London Queen" by Charli XCX

Today marks a momentous occasion. After winning an MTV contest to see Charli XCX in Brooklyn at an intimate show, I finally managed to talk to her. It involved us fangirling over each other's looks, casually reminiscing over the past year of music, AND SHE FUCKING HUGGED ME!!!! #blessed It also involved us talking about her role as the true London Queen and my future as her successor once I go abroad for a semester there!

It was only fitting that this magical encounter involved Charli premiering a new song and playing it live for the first time just for me (I wish)!!!! That song is "London Queen," the third song to be taken from her second (third) album Sucker, which unfortunately won't be out until December. But, if all the songs on the album end up sounding like "Boom Clap" and "Break The Rules," I think it may be well worth the wait. "London Queen" sees Charli totally giving up her original Tumblr-tronic dark wave persona and going all in with the Kim Wylde-esque punk-pop with some old-school Britpop stylings as well. All in all, this is a catchy ass song and those "OI!" bits were positively electrifying live. Until we meet again Ms. XCX!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Song Of The Day: "My Neck, My Back" by Elle King

You may have heard an Elle King song without even realizing it. Her signature brand of R&B country music has caught the attention of a lot of people like the producers of Mad Men and Mob Wives. The true tastemakers if you will. The real appeal of Elle is she is truly a hilarious and charming performer with material to back it up. 

Her style doesn't exactly fit the mold of NSOT Pop (tears on the dance floor, 90's bitch would be the perfect description of that) but her new single "Ex's and Oh's" is catchy in all the right ways, better than some other songs that have come out this year (looking at you Cheryl!). But that's not why we're here, it's this cover of Khia's seminal classic "My Neck, My Back." It's hard to do good country covers but Elle King manages to do it. "I Was There" by Le Grind next please?