Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Charli XCX (otherwise known as Blu Cantrell)

I just heard Charli XCX's new track, Cloud Aura, featuring Brooke Candy (because she's edible?) from Charli's Super Ultra Mixtape, out on Wednesday, November 7. The electro-POP confection is quite tasty. However, is it just me, or does the melody sound suspiciously similar to Blu Cantrell's Hit 'Em Up Style (Oops!)? I'm not complaining; that song was my bedroom jam in 7th grade.

Actually, scratch that. I am complaining! Charli is a good songwriter. I'm tired of hearing old melodies in new songs by REALLY GOOD SONGWRITERS. Let's use our talents to come up with some original-sounding material, please! Kthnx.

Am I delusional? Do these two songs sound nothing alike? Tell me what you think.



Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Heroin-Chic is Back

And her name is Sky Ferreira. Ever since Kate Moss and Fiona Apple slipped to pop-culture's perimeter, I've been staring out my bedroom window, singing Celine's All By Myself (a la Joey Tribbiani from Friends), wondering who would be the goddess to bring back heroin chic? Who would reinvigorate the revolution?

Here she is, our messiah. The girl who has been the music industry's next big thing for the last 5 years has reinstated the movement. Yes, Sky has just released yet another EP. This one is titled Ghost. Like Sky, I find ghosts incredibly inspiring (Happy Halloween). Plus, the almost-POP star seems to mimic one on the cover, appearing freshly powdered from H2T (or H2H - it's a head shot). It's all about the look, honey - retro hipster 90s grunge heroin chic. Get it right and keep it tight.

But that's not the point. The point is, I'm loving two of her songs, which has never happened. I never like her songs, until now...

Choose from one of the following 2 options:

1. You can either live Sky's American Dream, which is an alternative POP masterpiece. Super POP yet super original. Super accessible in a way we've yet to access. Produced by Frankmusik (who produced Ellie Goulding's Wish I Stayed & his own Better Off As Two).


2. You can get Lost in [Sky's] Bedroom. Sometimes I think Sky is a bad songwriter, and then I hear tunes like Lost in my Bedroom and the aforementioned American Dream that change my mind. Maybe she only needs the right collaborators to bring out her best. This piece of magic was produced by Pitchfork approved producer, Ariel Rechtschaid, who is made all the hipsterierererer by being friends with Diplo. Surprisingly, it's gorgeous and melodic. It's just really pretty and dancey, but not Rihanna or Gaga-dancey. This song is its own brand of dancey. It's smoke a joint dancey.

Don't forget to remove all your self-tanner and only get 3 hours of sleep before you go out this weekend. We want bed hair. Remember, heroin-CHIC.



Sunday, October 28, 2012

'90s Sunday - This is Your Night

We gays love us some Amber (sexual, la di da), so I figured why not post her '90s hit, This Is Your Night? Seriously, why not?

The video is '90s camp epitomized:

Happy Sunday!



Monday, October 15, 2012

Ethereal Ellie's Halcyon

I love this album. I love love love Ellie Goulding's Halcyon. Maybe I love the idea of it more than I actually love it, but I really do love it, really. It's everything that it should be. It's everything that she should be. And it feels true to her. This is what Florence Welch could have sounded like on Ceremonials if the songs weren't so busy, and if Florence's voice wasn't ice cold. This is what Marina & the Diamonds should have striven for on her too Top 40-esque Electra Heart - songs that are real, songs that are POP without striving to fit an overdone POP mold. This is what Bat for Lashes' Natasha Khan could have created with The Haunted Man if she wasn't so busy being the High Priestess of Pitchfork - songs that are unique, but aren't so alternative as to feel inaccessible, and thus, unemotional. For where Ellie is in her musical trajectory, Halcyon is perfect.

A lot of critics don't like this album, and I've come to the conclusion that they will never like what Ellie does. She is too POP for the hipsters. Heaven forbid something is catchy enough to not sound like a carefully crafted compilation of beat-driven farts. God forbid something actually contain a semblance of musicality. Unfortunately, Ellie is also too alternative for the mainstream POP crowd. Thus, when mentioning that you are a fan of her's, you will be met with awkward glares from people thinking you're posturing as a Williasmburg-ite with non-prescription glasses, when in fact, you are indeed legally blind! (or close enough, anyway...)

Ellie's melodies are real melodies. Her choruses soar. Occasionally, though, she will veer off in an unexpected direction with chords that don't fit the rest of the song. This is a choice Katy Perry would not have made. With only one hit single to her name, Ellie is unidentifiable to most Americans, who likely don't even know what she looks like or what any of her other songs are aside from Lights.

So I guess, in the end, Ellie fans will never be cool in America, and that suits me perfectly. I was never the popular kid, nor was I one of the goths smoking pot by the dumpsters only to become a bonafide Animal Collective fan wearing oversized Weezy scarves two years later. Nope, I was and still am the kid with an oversized backpack and sinus issues, the outsider of outsiders, and Ellie suits me just fine.

My take on the tracks:

1. Don't Say A Word is worth listening to simply for the haunting falsetto that opens the album.
2. My Blood - This is just pretty. I like pretty, sparkly things.
3. Anything Could Happen - I thought this song was so weird at first, but after listening to it 20 times in one hour, I loved it. Halcyon is a relatively low-key, mournful album, but this song has an air of optimism I can hold onto.
4. Only You is a bit too weird for my taste. It features tribal beats, and I'm an urban/suburban boy. I don't do well in the jungle.
5. Halcyon - Boring. I don't even remember what it sounds like.
6. Figure 8 - I hear Skrillex's influence on this dub-steppy track. This song combines ballad-like verses with a chorus that's ready for the club. Really interesting and catchy. It's easy to get sick of, though.
7. JOY is really gorgeous and catchy. It's happy and sad. It's amazingness squared.
8. Hanging On - Ellie's cover of The Weeknd's song is better than the original.
9. Explosions - Beautiful and heartbreaking.
10. I Know You Care - Also beautiful and heartbreaking. Ellie wrote it with Justin Parker, who co-wrote Video Games with Lana Del Rey wannabe Turner. This is so much better than Video Games. Ellie mentioned that it's about her dad leaving her family when she was quite young. I love any song that's not centered on romance.
11. Atlantis - More gorgeous falsetto. This may be the best song on the album.
12. Dead in the Water - Very simple and sad. It shimmers.
13. I Need Your Love ft. Calvin Harris - Sounds a bit like MSTRKRFT's Heartbreaker ft. John Legend. This is the best thing Calvin Harris has done since We Found Love. Thank GOD, as I was getting sick of all his other crappy collabs.
1. Ritual - Once again, a song that is way too tribal for my liking. I have jungle fever and am in desperate need of some air conditioning.
12. In My City - Love love love! Ellie's ode to her hometown was written with and produced by Billboard, who has worked on hits with Robyn (Call Your Girlfriend) and Britney ('Till the World Ends). Another non-love song. Holler!
13. Without Your Love - Jungle-ee. Currently running away from the tigers. Unfortunately, I don't run. (I occasionally elliptical.)

Rawrr! You sexy beast, you.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Faithful Cover

I shall get to Ellie's album soon. I need some solace to absorb it's beauty during my weekly Sunday champagne bubble bath (cheers!). In the meantime, I've been thinking about Paloma Faith's cover of INXS' Never Tear Us Apart. It was created for the UK John Lewis Christmas advert. Every year, they have a British artist record a cover. A few years ago, the commercial featured Ellie G's take on Elton J's Your Song.

Paloma's an admirable pop chick, but her voice has always sounded a bit forced. Yes, she can sing, but that's not what I mean. In the same way that she assumes a classically campy persona, Paloma often pushes her voice into this sort of campy territory that's not so cute after a few listens. It grates. Here, for the first time, her voice sounds natural. I really enjoy hearing her sing so purely. Nellee Hooper (who has produced for Gwen Stefani, No Doubt, & Bjork) has rendered a recreation that is quite faithful to the original, which I'd never heard until this past Monday's episode of Revenge, as I'm not the '80s hair metal type. (What is hair metal?)

Anyhow, enjoy! And don't forget to notice the gorgeous single cover above. I just purchased the dress for Halloween. Paloma's coming trick-or-treating this year, kids!



Monday, October 1, 2012

Dying Young in Diamonds

That's how I plan to go. Cut, color, carat, clarity, and coffin sheen, girls.

Here's my take on two singles from POP's reigning princesses:

Die Young by Ke$ha
I'm severely unimpressed by this song. When Ke$ha indicated that she intended to, essentially, reinvent POP, I expected something amazing. I hoped for some super fresh sounds. Instead, we get Dr. Luke production that sounds like everything from the last Ke$ha album, which is frustrating, because both Dr. Luke and Ke$ha could do so much better. They're incredibly talented. Die Young's one redeeming quality is a contribution by Nate Ruess, fun.'s frontman. You can hear his writing style in the melody, and it gives the song an ounce a freshness. However, this freshness doesn't necessarily work in the song's favor, as the chorus goes up and down so many times that it's difficult to follow and even harder to remember. I had to listen to this song about ten times before it stuck in my head, which was not the case with Tik Tok, Take It Off, or Blow. I think the fault of this song lies in the fact that the track (the music you hear without the singing), was likely crafted before the melody. Thus, the melody was restricted to what Dr. Luke and his proteges, Cirkut and Benny Blanco, had assembled. Nate Ruess is able to create experimental choruses that are far catchier by simply brainstorming melodies in his head, after which a producer will add various accoutrements, as was done by Jeff Bhasker on fun.'s album, Some Nights. Dr. Luke should let go of the reigns a bit by letting the artists write their own music. He might make less dough doing so, as he won't get a writing credit, but at least he'll still be relevant and have some longevity, as will the artists he works with. At this rate, Ke$ha won't be relevant in 5 years (like Avril Lavigne isn't relevant now).


Diamonds by Rihanna
Once again, I had very high hopes for Rihanna's new single. After last year's We Found Love, arguably Rihanna's best song, I was crossing my fingers for something just as incredible. Instead, we have the dance diva doing some mid-tempo balladry that's less emotional than the aforementioned club anthem. Produced by Stargate and Benny Blanco, with a writing contribution from Sia, Diamonds should have been better. This song could be quite good if the beat was faster and the backing synths were more lush. Instead, it sounds cheap. It's clear that Rihanna's team wants her to leave the dance party before everyone takes their last hit (of dance music, that is). However, RiRi is the only one who does dance music really well relative to all of her contemporaries (Katy, Ke$ha, Gaga, Usher, etc.). Girl is familiar with the club - VIP. Madonna made dance music even when it wasn't popular (a la 1990's Vogue and 1998's Ray of Light), and she consistently killed because that was her strong suit (until she started making shitty dance music a la the half-assed, crap album that is MDNA). Rihanna is not very talented, and she is not an artist by any extent of the imagination, but through constant performing, her voice and stage presence have developed to a point where she translates more emotion into her songs than somebody with twice the vocal prowess (...Beyoncé, can you hear me?). She actually feels what she's singing. If paired with the right material, she can unite the balladeer with the club kid, as she did so successfully with We Found Love, and as Robyn (Robyn Robyn, not Robyn Rihanna Fenti) has done time and again with all of her Body Talk singles.

I'm hoping for better from both of these gals with regard to their upcoming albums.