Pon De Replay: Edition No.2
No. 1 on my playlist of the month is the glorious, sun-kissed club-pop of Katy Perry-aping Geordies MAUSI. Their latest single 'MOVE' is a perfect sample of ebullient, bouncing summer pop, a bit like 'Hot N Cold' if less, you know, 'Hot N Cold'. Charged forward by the wonderful vocal pairing of siblings Daisy and Thomas Finetto, the almost Balearic outcome sounds like that twisted Penguin Prison/Perry collab that will never, ever happen: euphoric, energetic and bolstered with masses of unreserved enjoyment. Out on Loose Lips Records, below is its video in which the band goes on mildly entertaining Pussay Patrol in Lisboa, all games of pool, shots and dancing.
Yes, Destiny's Child came back with that okay song which was 2/3s Beyoncé, and yes, Beyoncé did that rather risqué GQ shoot, and yes, Beyoncé's got a cute little baby, and yes, Beyoncé mimed her national anthem, but what about the new Kelly Rowland single, huh? 'Kisses Down Low' is yet another steamy bedroom banger about feeling sexy, specifically about experiencing chills down one's spine due to 'the kisses down low', and it's actually rather pleasurable. Praise be to Kelly Rowland: this ain't music to listen to with your Mum in the car, but you can't deny Destiny's Child's second member is back in golden, memorable, explicit style. All bodes well for fourth solo album, Year Of The Woman, out later this year, on which T-Pain, Lil Wayne and Kevin Cossom will all feature.
My favourite album released this year so far is probably Anxiety by Autre Ne Veut. By no means 'straightforward pop', and by turns heartbreaking, overjoyed and horny, Brooklyn's ANV strains every single fraught or wild emotion from his body through a haunting, likeable merger of mainstream R&B and oddball 80s electro. Drawing direct inspiration from Usher's awesome last record, what comes out is always darn catchy but always in an awkward, inimitable way; this guy has one of the most incredible voices, and you need to hear it. Best three songs are in no order: 'Ego Free Sex Free', 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody' and lead single, 'Counting' (below).
Speaking of Usher, I came across a wonderful cover of 'Climax' by upcoming Brighton trio DrDr earlier this month. Certainly hitching a ride aboard that SBTRKT/Disclosure train of bass-influenced, brainy pop musicians, their interpretation adds tones of garage and UK funky into the highly charged original mix. The song is a free download on their Soundcloud.
Next up, London nu-garage siren Syron certainly has a knack for choosing the right teammates. Following last year's impossibly brilliant Rudimental/MNEK collaboration 'Spoons' and her appearance on Tensnake's bass-heavy euro-pop 'Mainline', she's been working with Huxley, Hackman and MJ Cole on tracks for her debut album. One of the songs to emerge from these recent sessions is new single 'Here', which premiered on Annie Mac last week. It's coming out on March 15th via Black Butter and Ministry of Sound, whose influence you can hear in the distinctly joyous, club-friendly arrangement. It's got Rihanna vibes written all over it, but is much, much better than anything on Unapologetic, let's be honest.
I first heard about gifted R&B singer and future star Sevyn Streeter on ThisIsRnB's top tips for 2013 list a few weeks ago, astounded by her previous credentials as songwriter for Alicia Keys, Mary J Blige, Trey Songz and Chris Brown (boo, hiss, etc), as well as the sheer sass, ass and class of her own tunes. Like Syron, she's currently working on her debut album, to be released on an Atlantic-affiliated imprint soon, but has already dropped a taster in the form of potential song-of-January and Youtube hit 'I Like It'. The video features marvellous things like belly-thrusting, skyscraper-scaling, multiple outfit changes, an awesome choreographed chair scene, and I love it.
Finally, here's Willow Smith's 'Sugar & Spice', in which Smith basically just plays a round of karaoke over Radiohead's 'Codex'. To marvellous and unsettling effect, mind. Especially since she's 12.
This year has been the best, most relentless year for pop music this century. No doubt about it. It's been tricky keeping up, what with all the extravagant comebacks, the crossover successes, the surprisingly brilliant changes of direction, and the album releases from popstars we thought terminally unproductive (Charli XCX, Sky Ferreira). [read more]
"Bow down bitches / bow, bow down bitches." March has been a pretty mint month for pop comebacks. Not only did we receive that terrifyingly ballsy, brazen intro-or-maybe-an-actual-song from Beyoncé, but we even heard the first fresh material in more than a decade from Mutya Keisha Siobhan, the new incarnation of the founding members of the Sugababes. [read more]
Baauer's 'Harlem Shake' has to be the most irksome phenomenon of the year so far, right? Presenting the perfect antidote: California pop singer LIZ, who makes outstanding, glossy, commercial-sounding R&B coloured in with a splash of bubblegum and a touch of the lyrically absurd. [read more]
You'd have thought August would be a pretty dead month for pop releases, but that really hasn't been the case. It turns out it's one of the best. Clearly, more and more artists are using the eventless summer months to test out new sounds on the web and ready themselves for Autumn. [read more]