Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The State of POP in June, 2012: What Are We Waiting For?

Last week Gregory & I compiled a list of our top 5 POP releases of the year.  Marina & the Diamonds, fun., & Lana Del Rey made the list with their releases, along with lesser-known synthPOP group Tanlines & James Mercer's The Shins.  Thankfully, there is still so much we are waiting to hear, because in all honestly, so far 2012's CV is pretty pathetic.  I feel like we lost more POP stars then acquired them.  As successful as Starships is, any faith I had in Nicki Minaj as a viable POP performer floated away in the wreckage of that miserable excuse for a music video.  Marina did a good job on her second album, but aside from a few songs I don't hear anything exceptional in Electra Heart (read Gregory's review here).  Katy Perry's songs are 95% recycled.  Gaga's gone mad.  Rihanna sank to new lows.  Britney is breaking.  Need I go on?

The indie circuit is an equally mixed bag.  Some highlights include exciting acts on the rise like Florrie, Icona Pop, Zowie, Queen of Hearts, Charli XCX, & Catcall.  There are some lowlights, though: Hot Chip's latest single is just utterly confusing, Chromeo isn't releasing new music anytime soon, & the hipster's crumpet, Azealia Banks, can't sing a song without ordering a hit on someone.

Thank the POP heavens that the year is only halfway over, which means we still have a good handful of music to look forward to.  So what are we waiting for?

I have been anticipating Ladyhawke's latest album for an eternity.  Pascal Gabriel is quite simply the perfect collaborator, mixer, & producer for Pip's Ladyhawke project, having experience with both punk rock & pure POP (Kylie Minogue, Goldfrapp, Dido).  However, since the release of Ladyhawke in 2008, younger stars like Charli XCX seem to have eclipsed poor Pip, which is a damn shame.  Unless there is a synthtastic, sun-drenched POP phenomenon hiding somewhere in this album, I don't think it will make much of an impact.  Not even Popjustice seems excited for Anxiety... which makes me really anxious.

If Call My Name is any indicator, Cheryl Cole's next album is going to be the biggest thing that ever happened to the summer of twenty-twelve & then the most forgotten thing since video cassettes or the Balkan wars.  I happen to quite like Cheryl.  She is a very good saleslady, & boy, can she wear colorful pants (when she decides to wear pants).  I am pretty excited to go digging for treasure on A Million Lights, with its Lana Del Rey-penned tracks & Calvin Harris nap sessions.  Do my ears deceive me, or do I hear a smidget of dubstep on the track she previewed? This should be a good 'un...
Then there's Ke$ha. K-dolla is a divisive figure on our blog. Gregory finds her boring, I find her fascinating.  Most of the time I feel like we're the only goddamn blog who hasn't heard her new material, which the web keeps sampling for 12.378 hours then pulling off immediately (where the hell is Pretty Lady? Record execs, email us!).  But with the sheer genius of Wayne Coyne on board, how could her next musical venture be anything less than explosive? I'm expecting brilliance from Lady Ke$ha, while Gregory expects next to nothing.  We need a song already. The sooner the better.

Speaking of Ke$ha, we can't forget about the lovely Neon Hitch, one of the most talented & intriguing mainstream POP projects with one of the worst, worst marketing teams.  Instead of working with Neon's earthy sexiness & natural knack for performance to develop a unique POP act, the Hitch-team decided to adorn her in a sub-Rihanna barrage of body oil & sex mannequins & sell her, unconvincingly, as the next Ke$ha.  Grave mistake.  Even if Benny Blanco is on board, it's hard to get excited just yet.  We already have Nicki Minaj; nobody needs another POP star with an identity crisis.
Thankfully some musicians know exactly who they are & roll with it- Little Boots, Little Boots, Little Boots, will you stop your silly juice diet & release an EP already?  Even if Every Night I Say a Prayer is a snore, Shake is brilliant & Headphones is above average.  The year is fundamentally lacking in disco-bliss, so we need you to come and deliver! 

Finally, we are left awaiting a teaser of new material from Ellie Goulding, Diana Vickers, La Roux, & the Voice herself, Christina Aguilera.  I have an irksome feeling that Xtina's "album" (if she decides to grace us with one) may be a hot mess, no matter how many Max Martins she's working with.  As for Diana, Ellie, & La Roux, there's not much to work with yet, meaning we're probably going to have to wait until 2014 for any good leaks. Labelmates Colette Carr & Kay are expected to release some goodies this year, but mums the word as of yet.  Moreover, VV Brown's album has been pushed back to "summer," & Charli XCX's to "September," both anachronisms for "sometime before 2014." So what is there left to do but to sit back, twiddle our thumbs, buy some neon headphones & pray for a miracle? Surely one of the aforementioned POP artists is sure to release something that can turn this dreary year in the right direction.  Who it will be is the real question.




  1. Christina's album will likely come out in December or early next year so she has time to drop the first single on "The Voice" this fall and start her promo. December is a MASSIVE sales month, like two or three times bigger than any other, but you do get left off the critics' "Best of the Year" lists because most critics do them early (though it's good timing for Grammys, whose eligibility year ends in August).

    I worry it will be like "Circus," playing it too safe after a fiasco. I'd rather a hot mess, because even "Bionic" was better than "Circus." But this is Christina Aguilera we're talking about here; she's never been one to play it safe. That's why my eyebrow was raised at the Max Martin thing (besides, he's Britney's man!).

    1. I agree that Bionic was better than Circus (never liked it). I just want her to ka-POW us. If it's December, I guess well have to wait.


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