Pon De Replay: Edition No.3
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. Snapped up by Mad Decent imprint Jeffree's last year, the same label that released the omnipresent (*whispers*) 'Harlem Shake', her debut single 'XTC/Underdogs' certainly nods towards the classics (early Kelis, Mariah, Destiny's) but also winks at her contemporaries (she sounds a bit like a first-rate Kesha). 'Underdogs' is the better of the two cuts, mainly because I love it when she declares, earnestly and naturally, "bitch I'm a unicorn," over and over again.
Next up, you can't deny London's Black Butter have done marvels for British music over the past twelve months, self-assuredly eking out release after release of timeless, bass-boosted pop bangers from the likes of Rudimental, Syron and Lulu James. Continuing in a similar fashion, the label's latest project is the Real EP from suave, funky house duo Gorgon City. The title-track is one of the best songs of the year so far, on which they team up with Yasmin, whose deep, honeyed tones you may recognise from Devlin's 2010 white-boy grime hit 'Runaway'. This time though, these rather more trendy North Londoners (also known as DJs RacknRuin and Foamo) have done something completely different with her voice, using her grooving lines as the melodic charge for their sexy, butt-swinging mix of house and garage.
Dead cert future R&B chart-queen Ravaughn made a particularly auspicious, sassy start to her career this month with her debut single 'Better Be Good'. Collaborating with an utterly bewildered Wale ("I implore her / I take my hat off"), the feisty, frank-talking, fist-pumping outcome is a boy-you-so-bad, look-at-my-fuckin-dance kinda girl-power chant, and possibly the best gender show-down of its kind since the Black Eyed Peas' seminal 'Shut Up' (just shut up, shut up...) The song is lifted from an album entitled Love Always, due this Summer through Columbia, which will also feature turns from Ne-Yo and Marsha Ambrosius.
Craving Katy B with her smooth, accessible pop songs and simple booming bass-lines? Yes? Well, just have a listen to TS7's gorgeous new number with rising Tracy Beaker-haired vocalist Taylor Fowlis, who sounds just like our Katy. It's uncanny, astonishing, almost creepy. Intrigued? Puzzled? Smitten? If her Facebook page is anything to go by, you can expect a solo record very soon indeed. The single has already received decades upon decades of airplay on 1xtra this month, and can be downloaded now via iTunes. But in the mean time, you can watch the official video below. Expect noodle scenes.
One band I haven't stopped listening to this month is YYZ, a slightly silly, slightly unfashionable pop trio from London. Fronted by the wonderfully named Ali McNally, the three-lettered three-piece (not to be muddled up with Rush's awful instrumental rock piece of the same name) create cheesy, vertiginous Saturdays-style machine-pop with a view to making you dance like a Crazie, or something extraterrestrial with a limp. Recently described by Popjustice as "gratifyingly berserk," they're a much better proposition in reality than on paper. You can stream a selection of their songs via soundcloud here:
Finally, Diplo and Usher have made another song together. That is all.
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]
Why hello there, and why Happy New Year. Welcome to my very first column about pop music. Before you ask: yes, I have indeed christened this here rambling-point of mine in honour of Rihanna's incredible, career-defining, somewhat callipygian debut single 'Pon de Replay'. For I can vividly remember seeing its video on TMF aged 11 and thinking 'Holy Shola Ameobi. WHO IS THIS LADY?' And that was the beginning of our long-term liaison. [read more]
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]