Sunday, October 9, 2011

It's ALL about Sophie Ellis-Bextor

I may be biased, but Sophie Ellis-Bextor is practically a pop princess.  She’s been on the music scene in England since she was frontwoman for indie band theaudience back in the 90s… AND she managed to finagle a successful solo career in the early 2000s (don’t even get us started on her fashion, that’s for another post).  Unstoppable Sophie nearly replaced Kate Moss as the face of Rimmel in 2008, rumor had it.  NOW, fast-forward to 2011, the year we saw her release her fourth album, “Make a Scene.”  Don't worry, I know what you’re thinking: well, what do you think of the album?  

“Make a Scene” is a perfect example of a genre I call proper pop, the kind of pop album that you can blast with your parents or grandparents present (the Brits seem to be the best at it).  The album sees porcelain-skinned, class-act Sophie E-B making a dash through the door of pop relevance towards – surprise! – electronic dance music.  Does she pull it off, you ask?

Yes.  Granted, the album is not exotic or innovative, but Sophie remains 100% lovable.  Here are the most noteworthy songs on the album:

Revolution” – the opening track is produced by Greg Kurstin (the prince of female pop artist production, we adore him).  As an opener, “Revolution” is a little less Sophie, a little more… car commercial.  “Bang bang,” she sings, “shut it down and turn it out.”  It’s good for her to show a tougher side, but we’re thankful that she only tried to on the first track.

Off & On” – the third track is produced by none other than our musical lover Calvin Harris.  The song is a totally catchy, stuck-in-your-head tune.  The melodic marriage of funky Calvinesque synths & Sophie’s vocals make “Off & On” a much better track than Kylie’s “In My Arms,” Calvin’s first pop star collaboration.  He’s come a looong way (read our very first post on Calvin & Rihanna here).

Bittersweet” & “Heartbreak (Make Me a Dancer)” – Dainty little Sophie E-B may seem an odd idea for an electroclash artist, but she more than earns her club-credibility on these tracks.  I group these songs together as they are both produced by disco house band Freemasons.  Not surprisingly, these were her most successful songs on the charts (check out "Heartbreak (Make Me a Dancer)" here).

Can’t Fight This Feeling” – produced by little-known French disc jockey Junior Caldera, “Can’t Fight This Feeling” is beguiling but dizzying - fitting, since the chorus features Sophie singing, “I just can’t fight this feeling / my head is spinning / I think it’s winning.”  Thankfully Soph E-B does not stray from her traditional lyrical themes of love and irresistibility, or this song would be completely off target.

Make a Scene” – indie dance band Metronomy co-produced this title track, and baby, you can tell.  The song definitely has an “indier” feel than the rest of the album.  Horns blast.  Trumpets flare.  It’s basically a good attempt at playing with genres, but its bombastic sound doesn’t fit Sophie’s ladylike frame.

Not Giving Up on Love” – this single found Sophie partnering up with Dutch trance legend Armin Van Buuren (need I say how much I worship him?).  The Eurohouse hit made a big splash in the Netherlands.  "Not Giving Up on Love" very well may be the boldest and most memorable song on “Make A Scene”  (Click here for the gorgeous music video).  By the end of the song we gaurentee you’ll be chanting “hold me now! Nothing else matters / it’s just the two of us!” 

Starlight” – sigh.  How to describe “Starlight?”  It is, more or less, a lovely allude to 80s melancholy in pop music.  “We are one / find us under the starlight,” Sophie sings with a hint of gloom.  The song is the hazy mid-morning sky when you realize that the night has ended (listen here).

Haven’t had enough Sophie?  Come back to UnapologeticallyPOP in 2 days for an extra hit – on an unlikely, yet unsurprising album! (No hints, can you guess?)



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