Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Unapologetically POP Comprehensive Guide to Upcoming Album Releases

BIG DAY ALERT! Nelly Furtado, The Killers, Carly Rae Jepsen & P!nk have all picked today, September 18th, to grace us with their latest albums.  While we spend the next few days listening to our new CDs (Carly! Nelly! P!nk!) we decided to put together a list of all the upcoming POP albums that we have to look forward to this fall.  Without further ado, I bring you Unapologetically POP's Comprehensive Guide to Upcoming Album Releases:

Alphabeat - Express Non-Stop (September 24)
Excitement level: Moderate. ALPHABEAT IS BAAAACK.  It's fair to say that I have been waiting for this album since my college graduation.  This Danish POP band is massively underrated. As I pointed out last week, Carly Rae's latest single sounds quite a bit like Alphabeat... so perhaps, finally, with late-80s-early-90s-influenced jams on the radio, the public may be more open to Alphabeat's retro sound.  If nothing else, we're glad to see a happy colorful album cover for a change!  Everyone else's album cover is just a lame, over-sized picture of his/her face (Bieber, je vou accuse).

Matt & Kim - Lightning (October 2)
Excitement level: Moderate.  Matt & Kim consistently release delightful tunes, but their latest single, Let's Go, seemed quite tame.  That aside, Lightning will surely be nothing less than an indie POP pleasure.  I have always loved these two for making fun music on their own damn terms.  Any year that Matt & Kim release a new album is a good year. Let's go let's go let's go!

Mika - The Origin of Love (UK Release October 8)
Excitement level: almost high.  Gregory & I are both a bit astounded by how excited we are for this album, neither one of us being die-hard Mika fans in the past (although I did love We Are Golden, especially the Calvin remix, back when Calvin was amazing).  This time around Mika seems to be benefiting from hiring grade A collaborators - namely the Benassi clan & Nick Littlemore of  Empire of the Sun.  The way things are going, The Origin of Love could very well be our biggest surprise album of 2012.  Listen to the album sampler here (prepare to be intrigued).

Ellie Goulding - Halcyon (October 8)
Excitement level: HIGH.  To put it quite simply, both of us here at Unapologetically POP are expecting this to be the album of the year.  And that is all there is to say.

We're curious: of these 4 albums, which are you most excited for?



Monday, September 17, 2012

We've finally heard Kiss by Carly Del Rae & here are our 3 favorite songs

So FINALLY, here is our the verdict on Kiss by Canadian dance POP starlet Carly Del Rae Jepsen.

Tiny Little Bows - As I wrote before, this opening track is brutally good.  It reminds me of a modern Jamiroquai jam that could slide gracefully into the soundtrack of the brilliant 2000 dance drama Center Stage.  Read more on the song here.  I dare you not to sing along.

Curiosity - Simply POP perfection.  Gregory & I both agree that is is our #1 favorite on Kiss.  Despite its noisy new production, the album version of Curiosity is listenable (though the original produced by Carly Del Rae's bff Ryan Stewart alone is a much better POP song- listen to the EP version of Curiosity below).

Turn Me Up - This is the best dance track on all of Kiss.  Many will disagree with me about this, pointing instead to Max Martin's Tonight I'm Getting Over You or second single This Kiss.  I stand firm in my assertion that this is the closest Carly sounds to a modern dance diva a la Robyn.  A particularly magical moment is Carly's rallying cry, "I'm givin' up & going out toniiiight."  At its finest moments Turn Me Up sounds like a Kylie song (a high compliment).  This one's a keeper.

So what do we make of all this?  In short, Kiss is a very good POP album.  Its down sides are few but notable; Kiss lacks an overall variety in production style, the paucity of which can make your head hurt from the sugar rush (see: This Kiss). At times there are too many fluffy pink ponies & happiness rainbows to make it through more than 3 songs in a row. Lyrically, Kiss is is an album about high school problems, stuffed with far too many "I'm going out tonight"s & "my big bad boyfriend broke my heart"s (notable exception is Turn Me On, where Carly sounds less like she's kvetching & more like she's singing a grrrl power chant).  That said, Kiss is a DANCE album clearly modeled after Robyn's Dancing On My Own.  Carly, a self-professed admirer of Robyn, should be very proud of Turn Me Up. Wrong Feels So Right & Tonight I'm Getting Over You are also solid dance songs but sound slightly wrong for Carly's characteristic voice- she's too saccharine for gritty dancefloor numbers.  Rihanna can take those. That's what she's good at.

All in all, Carly Del Rae has released an album that is not perfect, but full of dance gems that will make many a girls' night for years to come.  Welcome to POP, Miss Jepsen!



Sunday, September 16, 2012

Piping Hot Piano

Nothing moves me quite like a piano ballad. Here are two of my recent faves:

Laura by Bat For Lashes (aka Natasha Khan) - This ballad is the best thing I've heard in a while. The piano melody possesses a typically British campiness that is brought to life in the video. The song floats along with beautiful horns conjuring up very regal, sailing around the British isles type imagery. Natasha gives into her powerful voice, howling through the chorus. I just love any song about a has-been celebrity pining for the old days. Don't you?


Not Even The King by Alicia Keys - Yes, I do think her best days have passed. Alicia lost any semblance of pop identity when she removed Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation-era key earring. However, her ode opposing materialism in favor of love is breathtaking. Her vocals are different here. Typically, Alicia tries to wail and ends up sounding raspy. For once, she gives into the softness of her voice, singing ever so delicately as though the tune is a lullaby. Just gorgeous.




Saturday, September 15, 2012

She just wants to love your body

Is Mimi being emancipated again? 
Oh wait, it's Christina...

And she's back. Your Body isn't great. It isn't terrible. The melody is just okay and the tempo progresses a bit too slowly for the dancefloor, but the production is rich, and Christina's voice is captured perfectly. She's not oversinging (as usual) or undersinging. The balance is ideal.

As for the single cover, Christina looks like Mariah. In shots from the upcoming video, she appears as a pink wigged Minaj wannabe. It seems like Miss X is having an artistic identity crisis, trying to remain relevant in a POP radio world that's long passed her by. We're hoping she can reclaim her rightful space.

Listen to the song on Idolator's website, here



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Friday, September 14, 2012


Triumphant by Mariah Carey– Mimi has been emancipated once again. Triumphant is a perfectly average song. What happened to the Mariah Carey who fused R&B and bubblegum POP (Always Be My Baby, Fantasy, Dream Lover)? Someone please tell Miss Cribz that hip hoppity POP hasn't been relevant since 2006. Mariah is pushing herself into irrelevance by sounding like a has-been. Triumphant is completely generic. If she had played with some more experimental production (a la Azealia Banks), she could at least be considered an innovator. Instead, Mariah has made something that sounds far less fresh than the hits that made her, and in the process, she’s shitting on her iconic status. It’s really a shame and makes me quite sad. Also, Mariah is a DIVA who doesn’t need to perpetuate this pink, Paris Hilton doggy in a Louis Vuitton aesthetic – it cheapens her.
Gold by Neon Hitch – The start of Gold is some gorgeous emotional POP balladry, yet eventually the production shifts into Ke$ha territory. Why is everything sounding the same same same? Benny Blanco has crafted some beautiful tracks in his short career, so I don’t understand why his work with Neon is a mashup of everything I’ve heard in the last two years. Let’s move POP forward! Also, what is with this Tyga feature? I don't recall Madonna's Holiday featuring LL Cool J.  Plain. Simple. Period.

What do I consider innovative POP? Winner, the first single and best track off of Contact, the new album from The Noisettes. Soul, synthesizers, and tinge of electric guitar are just what the doctahhh ordered.



Wednesday, September 12, 2012

So Cher Lloyd's new song, "Oath," is pretty great, right? There's only 1 problem...

Wait, where is she from again??
A few days ago we were graced with the latest single from Cher Lloyd, a remarkable POP act birthed by the Fame Monster known as... The X Factor. Don, I mean, DOCTOR Luke, the notorious mob boss behind modern POP music, is also the producer behind this song. It comes as no surprise that Oath is quite catchy & uplifting, perhaps one could say it is even quite good.

There's just one little problem. When Cher sings: "Laughing so damn haRD/ Crashed yoUR Dad's new cAR," placing paRtiulAR stress on the "AR"s, something seems to be missing... Namely, her accent. It is a slight change but nevertheless a noticeable one (especially of you've listened to the UK version of Sticks & Stones as many times as I have). The end result is that Cher Lloyd doesn't sound like Cher Lloyd- she sounds like Travie McCoy & Ke$ha's daughter. And a very American daughter at that.

The cautionary tale here, people, is that it is one thing to moderately Americanize your product for American audiences, but quite another to make your product generic. As delightful a tune as Oath is, it does indeed border on American "vanilla POP," which may sound like a soda but I intended it to mean, essentially, bland.

Let's hope that Oath does well regardless. Because by all accounts it is quite good. So go buy the single and listen for the "AR"s.



Hmm, Carly Rae's next single sounds a whole lot like an Alphabeat song...

Well, POP-lovers, the good news is that Lady Carly del Rae has announced that her next single is, indeed, This Kiss.  The bad news is that This Kiss sounds quite close to songs by the criminally underrated ScandiPOP group Alphabeat.  Judge for yourselves.  But we've still got the Alphabeat album pre-ordered, thank you very much.



Check out the new video for MIKA's latest, "The Origin of Love"

I was so excited today to see that BritPOPster Mika recently released a clip for his upcoming single, an excellent song called The Origin of Love.  Ironically, Gregory & I were just discussing Mika a few nights ago after having listened to his exceptionally exciting album sampler.  The Origin of Love, the opening track for Mika's album of the same title, has a super dreamy feel that the film manages to capture quite well.

Mika had this to say about the video:
"This latest short film is a collaboration with the Chilean director Cristian Jimenez. After seeing his film Bonsai, this seemed like an exciting match. I wanted to take the kaleidoscopic dreaminess of the song and pair it up with Cristian's more realistic, surreal and moving imagery. When making these films, I give complete freedom to the director we are collaborating with, in a way that is never possible with a music video. This short film was made in Santiago with Cristian's close team and friends, and with a lot of love. I hope that watching someone else's visual reaction to the song is as surprising and moving for you as it was for me."

Check out the video below:

Pre-order the single at www.mikasounds.com

We're quite looking forward this!



Monday, September 10, 2012

"Tiny Little Bows" by Carly Rae Jepsen sounds, well, really flipping good

Warning: This may excite you.

I would like to dedicate this blog post two 2 of our readers, Leah & Megan, of Washington DC.  Ladies & gentlemen, please listen to the track below: it is the opening song from Carly Rae Jepsen's upcoming album, Kiss.

5 Things To Love about Tiny Little Bows.

1 - "I wish we could be holding haaaaands."
2 - It reminds me of an ambrosial, post-Alphabeat 90s throwback without trying too hard to be an ambrosial, post-Alphabeat 90s throwback.
3 - The delightful Jamiroquai-ish strings halfway through the clip.
4 - The way she sings "and everywhere you are," switching keys at the beginning of "everywhere," giving us little pleasure butterflies.
5 - Carly Rae wrote this song! Take that! This girl is a songwriter, suckas!

Listen to the whole album sampler here.  We couldn't figure out how to embed it.  And we have yet to hire an Unapologetically POP technician here at our spacious studio.



What can we expect from the upcoming P!nk album?

Gregory & I both adore POP guru P!nk, although sometimes her music is a bit to rock-heavy for our ears. Nevertheless, we've been super excited to hear anything & everything off of The Truth About Love, especially since it features the work of our favorite producer, Greg Kurstin (AND a collaboration with the Princess of Modern POP Music As We Know It, Lily Allen [Cooper]). Personally, my all-time favorite songs by P!nk are U + Ur Hand & Who Knew, one ballsy & one beautiful, penned & produced by hit-makers Dr. Luke & Max Martin. I've never given up hope that one day I may love a P!nk song as much as I love either of those two. Funhouse was not my cup of tea, so can The Truth About Love be the ticket?

So far, I'm not so sure. Let's evaluate:

Blow Me (One Last Kiss) - We're glad to see it doing moderately well on the charts, but Blow Me in no way lives up to P!nk's nor Kurstin's talents.  A mixed bag at best, and a less than stellar first single.

Try - This is a lovely track, & certainly better than Blow Me at the very least.  It is melodic & inspiration- an above average second single (for those of you who haven't heard it yet, listen to P!nk's next single here- you'll like it).

Slut Like You - I'm sorry, but the 45 minute clip of this song sounds atrocious. When I realized, to my despair, that "I'm a slut like you" & "wooo-hooo" form the main chorus I had to look up the idiot who wrote it... & to my utter shock, I discovered Max Martin/ Shellback are behind this song. WHAT?  This can't be true.  I knew that the creative decline of Dr. Luke was in full effect, but MAXY & SHELLY TOO?  This is simply too much... but let's move on.  And oh, if you'd like to subject yourself to Slut Like You, it's below:

Just Give Me a Reason ft. Nate Ruess - this should be a very, very interesting track. After the resounding success of Fun.'s Some Nights, Jeff Bhasker & Nate Ruess should breathe life, love, & rock 'n roll into this ballad (& hopefully rock 'n roll with a beat, not just noisy guitars). Anything less than incredible song will be a let down. Surely this will be a 2013 single? If it's up to par, of course.  Expect a whomping Jeff Bhasker backbeat.

My final prediction is that some of the most beautiful songs on The Truth About Love will be the ones that P!nk herself co-penned with Greg Kurstin & Billy Mann (the latter of whom she has a longtime work relationship with, creating songs as memorable as Dear Mr. President & Stupid Girls). Particularly exciting is True Love (WITH LILY!), a real POP song at it's finest, which we would love to hear in full right about now...

But it looks like these two music outsiders will have to wait until September 18th like everyone else... unless RCA decides to send us some samples.  It ain't easy not being Popjustice.

Share your thoughts y'all!



[Update: Look at that! They heard our prayers: listen to the album sampler here]

Friday, September 7, 2012

A banana mix is not a fruit smoothie, it's a new mixtape from YADi

I just gave a little listen to YADi's newest mixtape, Banana Mix (which is not a fruit smoothie, though that does sound really good right now in the typical Tel Aviv heat).  My thoughts on the mix are pretty much overwhelmingly positive.  Lady YADi demonstrates loads of imagination & great taste for music from all over the spectrum (Alt-J, the Weeknd, Frank Ocean). The end result is multi-layered mixtape of compositions just as evocative & cinematic as those of Lana Del Rey, but in a sense, more globalized. Particularly moving are the North African influences on YADi's music, which you hear straight from the beginning of this mix.  YADi has told Unapologetically POP before that she would love to learn Arabic, & after hearing this mix, we want her to as well! (I'd also like a cover of Cheb Khaled's Aicha, please).  The mix also features a new track called Banana Tree.  Have a listen below.

Big thanks to Earmilk for this one.  Keep it up YADi!




Oh HEY THERE we're back from summer!

Summer's over, Cheryl...
A wise man once sang "my love for you will still be strong / after the boys of summer have gone."  This, dear readers, is quite true.  Although we just took a summer vacation of sorts, our love for POP is still goin' strong, even now that all the pretty boys of summer have flown away.  As a welcome back gift, I just put together a little list of 3 excellent POP songs to play when you find yourself nostalgic for the summer, gone & past...

Nicki Minaj - Whip It
Words evade me when describing this song.  It is, perhaps, even more infectious & ridiculous than Pound The Alarm, which is pretty damn infectious & beyond ridiculous.  Complete with "na na na na"s & real whip sounds (particularly pleasing), the result is a 90s throwback ala RedOne that is so campy & so shameless, that it's actually kind of amazing.  It's also worth noting that on Whip It, Nicki achieves the perfect rap :: "sing" ratio, unlike on some of her other tracks.  But we needn't go there.

Cheryl - Under the Sun
Under the Sun may not have climbed super high on the charts (as it is not a cookie-cutter Calvin jam) but it remains, easily, one of the best Cheryl songs released in ages.  Glimmery, shimmery & luscious as ever, born POP star Cheryl Cole demonstrates her genuine POP grace over a luscious mixture of hip-hop beats & light synthesizers. Producer Alex da Kid did a fantastic job with Under the Sun, making him one to watch in the upcoming years.

Passion Pit  - Constant Conversations
Constant Conversations, a lugubrious R&B slow jam & a definite stand-out track on Passion Pit's recent release, Gossamer, is also a much-needed & refreshing break from most current hyperactive & frenetic POP songs.  It comes with quite an excellent music video as well, where front man Michael Angelakos goes to an upper-crust Gossip-Girl mansion party filled with hedonistic rich white people, scotch, & snakes.  You half expect him to run into a silk-laced & Lana Del Rey in a smokey corner, cooing at him. If you haven't seen it, well, I posted it below for a reason, didn't I?

Of course, several late summer songs will be carrying us into the fall as well, like We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together & that Calvin Harris-Example collab that I don't want to admit that I love... but you see what I'm getting at.  Even though summer is fading away, we still have HUGE songs to support us through the tears.

And don't forget! Summer may be over, we have MUCH to look forward to this autumn, including NEW Natalia Kills, Charli XCX, & apparently, if we believe him, Calvin Harris will be gracing us with his goddamn album as well.  But we'll see about that.

Basically, we're BACK, POP-lovers!