Friday, March 30, 2012

Keep Climbing!; The Songs We Wanna See Go Higher

We are ALL about diversifying the POP landscape... & let's face it, the Billboard Hot 100 could certainly use some more variety. Recently, we've noticed a shift in popular tastes in our native USA. We hope that this trend continues, & by doing so, adds some spice & flavor to the POP music charts & airwaves. Here are the 6 songs to which we scream "keep climbing!"

Calvin Harris - Feel So Close (#15) - Oh Calvin! The Scottish raver behind international hits deserves another chart-topper of his own. It's that simple. And after the smash success of We Found Love, America will easily welcome him with open arms & neon disco balls (we feel so close to you Calvin, it's a force-field).

Fun. - Some Nights (#70) - Although a bit more complex than other tracks on their second record, Some Nights has the potential to become a collassal hit-- especially with its accessible chorus & witty lines like "here they come again to jack my style." But for now, Fun.'s current reign at #1 with We Are Young will continue to reinvigorate the POP-friendly indie band.

M83 - Midnight City (#75) - Fellow blogger Nico Lang wrote an excellent article entitled "Why We Should Make M83's 'Mightnight City' the #1 Song in America," encouraging POP-savants to mobilize behind Anthony Gonzalez's alternative masterpiece. We completely agree with him. Midnight City has earned an outpouring of critical acclaim since the release of Hurry Up, We're Dreaming last year. M83 has produced some incredible cult classics during its 10+ year lifespan, & it is about time for the band to reach popular music audiences. The beautiful & expansive Midnight City could be the ticket.

Adele - Rumor Has It (#44) -We're so proud of Adele. As someone who started as an indie singer-songwriter and catapulted to mainstream stardom, she hasn't compromised her vision nor her sound. She's still writes from the heart and puts out singles that aren't standard POP tracks in the vein of Rihanna or Katy Perry. Though she works with some big name producers, she's able to get a sound of out them that is unlike anything they've done for their other POP clients. Rumor Has It is the best example. Produced and co-written with Ryan Tedder, the One Republic frontman behind Beyonce's Halo and Leona Lewis' Bleeding Love, Rumor Has It is missing his signature synths and bum ba da bum bum bang beat, instead sounding like a bluesy time-capsule to another era. Our favorite part is the bridge, when Adele puts the uptempo attitude on pause and balladeers with a piano accompaniment. Without a doubt, this is the best song on the album. It most definitely deserves the top spot on the Hot 100.

Ellie Goulding - Lights (#66) - Across the pond, Ellie Goulding has turned her electro-folk into a POP staple. She's a bit like Taylor Swift, but with a larger vocabulary, writing songs that possess catchier hooks and more experimental song structures than any of Swift's recent singles. Lights is Goulding's most straightforward pop song to date, written with and produced by Richard "Biff" Stannard, the man behind the Spice Girls' biggest hits. Together, they've created a track about Ellie's childhood fear of the dark. Cute.

Gotye - Somebody That I Used to Know (#4) - Though this song has finally made it to the Top 5, it's still not regularly played on Clear Channel stations, which boggles our minds. Such a high climb without much airplay indicates that it would be a surefire hit on radio. Times are-a-changin'. We're entering a '90s like period where indie bands (Fun., Foster the People) and singer-songwriters (Adele, Gotye) sit beside manufactured POP on the Hot 100. It's time for radio to catch up.

Unapologetically,

Gregory & Minna

Thursday, March 29, 2012

JFF - The Young Professionals, "Video Games" Cover


Just when you thought you may have tired of Video Games, along comes some sort of unearthly POP concoction to remind you why the song is completely brilliant...

ElectroPOP duo The Young Professionals caught the attention of popular music bloggers like our friend The ElectroQueer since 2011, when they released their super catchy, tongue-in-cheek single D.I.S.C.O.. The duo is a little bit Pet Shop Boys, a little bit Chromeo, with a dash of Robyn. Listen to the Young Professionals' cover of Lana Del Rey's Video Games below & SOAK IT IN:



During his sensational solo career Ivri Lider always had the ability to cover feminine POP ballads in a way that added a twist, but did the original justice.  Now, teaming up with Yonatan Goldstein, he creates pure techno-POP glory that is totally unlike his earlier work.  I am so excited about what this group will do next!

Unapologetically,

Minna

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

JFF - Offer Nissim & Mr. Black Remix The Young Professionals, "D.I.S.C.O."

You're going to be hearing a lot more about The Young Professionals soon... but for now, Offer.

I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw that none other than Offer Nissim (as well as another one of my favorites, Yuksek) was pulled aboard to remix TYP's D.I.S.C.O.  For those of you who don't know Offer quite yet, he is basically the Israeli equivalent of a gender-bending David Guetta. A tenured performer in the Tel Aviv club scene, Offer's remix of Madonna's Girl Gone Wild recently got a mention on the popular blog Muumuse & made it into the commercial for Madge's new fragrance.  He has done remixes for international stars like  Christina Aguilera & is a steadfast supporter of the LGBTQ community.

Check out Offer's remix of The Young Professionals' D.I.S.C.O. with Mr. Black below: 



Unapologetically,

Minna

Monday, March 26, 2012

Antoinette & The King's Men Make a Name with "No Name"

In case anyone had doubts about Antoinette's art, leave them at the door.  A series of new demos are here to blow away your incredulity with the power of melody.  No Name, originally posted on Soundcloud 2 weeks ago, proves that Antoinette is committed to developing her sound & her story.  As we pointed out in our last post on Antoinette, her music evokes memories of Natalie Merchant's breakthrough music of the 1990s.  No Name is further marked by precocious wisdom & an uncanny understanding of lyricism.  Even more impressive than the lyrics, however, is the level of authority with which Antoinette crafts her songs.   Who else can sing with authority on the nature of life, love & anonymity?

No Name highlights the fearlessness of Antoinette's character.  Where will she venture next?

No Name (demo)

Check out Antoinette & the King's Men on Soundcloud for more impressive demos.

Unapologetically,

Minna

JFF - Lectro Lips, Free Download, "Resurrection"

Little known fact: About half of our readers live in the UK (holla Google statistics!)  This means, lovely readers, chances are you have probably heard Lectro Lips before... & didn't even know it!  Their tracks have been featured on Hollyaoks, Channel 5, as well as on BBC 6.  So where did these dudes appear from?  Actually, Leo & Anthony have been making tunes together for a while now (since 2009, to be exact) & carry a strong, supportive fanbase through social networking.  However, it was only recently that their newest track, Resurrection, caught my attention & really hooked me in.  Coincidentally, it is also a free download! Listen below:

Resurrection *free download by LectroLips

In case you couldn't tell, this shit is legit.  Resurrection does not sound like your everyday made-in-my-bedroom electroPOP - it is darker & much richer. Surprisingly, this is actually the first song I have heard that reminds me of GaGa's Born This Way (an album which, I contend, was ahead of its time) - if not a bit more POP-friendly without the noisy electric guitars.  If Lectro Lips continue to produce textured, club-friendly electroPOP tracks like Resurrection, they stand a good chance of setting themselves apart from other internet-savvy POP duos.  

For more Lectro Lipssssss (we love that name), check out their Soundcloud page & this awesome interview with So So Gay Magazine.  As always, we encourage our readers to spread the word if they really dig the music.  It's up to you guys, as much as us, to promote & support emerging artists!


I have another brilliant independent artist coming your way today, so stay tuned.

Unapologetically,

Minna

PS - Lectro Lips has a BLOG, holla!

JFF - Amy Correia, "Coney Island USA"

Who here is a fan of Cat Power, Fiona Apple, or Carole King?  Because I have an underexposed artist to introduce to you: the lovely Amy Correia.

Folk-POP can be a little too sparse for my tastes, but Amy's songs are bolstered by her bluesy vocals and uncommon mastery of the string quartet.  Both NPR & The New Yorker have reviewed Amy's rhythmic folk-POP, & today it is Unapologetically POP's turn, starting with Coney Island USA. I simply adore this song because it sounds just like its title.  Listening to Coney Island is like picking up a dusty old photograph or exploring a cluttered old attic.  I would call it "vintage POP" for modern nostalgics.

To listen to Coney Island USA, click here & press play.
Recently, Amy has been nominated for 3 Independent Music Awards, including "Singer-Songwriter of a Folk Album" (vote here to support her).  Congratulations Amy!

Be sure to to check out amycorreia.com for a free download & tour information.

Stay tuned for another independent artist pick-o'-the-day.

Unapologetically,

Minna

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Does Time Off = Irrelevance?

Will they still love me, Jay?

Being a POP star is serious work.
Rumor has it that Beyoncé has entered the studio to record tracks for her next album. Many also allege that she’s signed a $150 million contract with Live Nation for a world tour this coming year. Some argue that this is a good thing, stating that although Beyoncé has a newborn at home, she needs to get back to work. Otherwise, she'll soon find herself irrelevant in a POP music world currently dominated by Rihanna and Katy Perry. I disagree. If one has a good promotional team behind them, and top-notch songs to boot, s/he will find him/herself back on top in no time. Look at Katy Perry. I Kissed A Girl, topped the charts in June 2008. From June 2008 to June 2009, Katy released the following singles from her first album, One Of The Boys: I Kissed A Girl, Hot ‘N Cold, Thinking of You, and Waking Up in Vegas. After Waking Up in Vegas slid down the charts and her Hello, Katy World Tour concluded, Ms. Perry took a well-deserved few months off, followed by six months in the recording studio to complete her follow up, the Teenage Dream album. When the first single, California Gurls, was released in May 2010, people were excited to have Katy back with some fresh material. Though she may have been presumed dead due to a year without new radio tunage, that waiting period made it all the more exciting when California Gurls came out. The Katy-free year gave her new music a stronger impact, and is part of the reason why California Gurls was such a monstrous hit.

I'm so much better than you.
P.S. Don't you love my Princess Leia side-buns?
Some may cite Christina as an example of how a long period between albums leads to irrelevance. I disagree with them. I think her album’s failure can be attributed to three main points: 1) Assuming an image that wasn’t true to who she was, 2) Mismanagement on the part of her promotional team, and, most importantly 3) Releasing a terrible single (Not Myself Tonight) that was actually much different from the rest of her album. I don’t have any proof, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the label forced her to record what they thought was a radio friendly track after listening to her album, which they likely considered too experimental for mainstream POP audiences.

So that’s my take on it…if Beyoncé’s label and management (Roc Nation) push her material like they push Rihanna's, and if her songs are as good, then she should have no problem. She’s the most talented of all those POP biotches, anyway! Miss Irreplaceable knows how to WERK.

Unapologetically,

Gregory

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

JFF - Calvin Harris & Ne-Yo, "Let's Go"

My obsession with Calvin Harris bordered on mania during my college years (my roommates would probably have a few words here).  I have been meaning to write a comprehensive piece on Calvin for weeks... but, unlike all y'all fancy bloggers (pros), I have a day job.  It's exhausting to buckle down & write a long, detailed work on someone so massive after working 9-5.  Where do we begin? Perhaps with a song?

Today, in the middle of structuring a future article on Calvin I heard, to my ears' delight, Let's Go, a breezy dance smash with POP-R&B artist Ne-Yo.  Once again, Calvin proves himself to be the King of "good decision" collaborations, & Let's Go it clearly another one under his belt.


I'm really waiting for Calvin to make a bad song. So far it seems implausible.  This man even made Rihanna sound good...

Unapologetically,

Minna

JFF - Grouplove, "Naked Kids"

Last week I saw Grouplove open for Young the Giant at Center Stage in Atlanta. I've blogged about Grouplove before, but as this song was particularly good live I thought it warranted its own JFF.  Gregory is always describing songs as "summery" & I think this is the perfect way to introduce you to Naked Kids.  Bring on the beach.



Unapologetically,

Minna

Sunday, March 18, 2012

'90s Sundays

DreamLover by Mariah Carey

The perfect POP song/video for the perfect spring weather day. Enjoy!

Unapologetically,

Gregory

Friday, March 16, 2012

Gossip is Back!... With a Not-So-Perfect Single


I. love. Gossip. Beth Ditto is a star. Hannah Blilie is the shit. And if Bruce Pain was running for President, I would vote for him. So when I read that MARK RONSON (!!!) was producing their new album Joyful Noise, I expected nothing less than an ear-gasm... but then I heard their latest song Perfect World.
Listen below.

At first listen I was excited by the badass opening.  But then... I got to the chorus. When I heard "we can be more than before" I had to do a double take. What? NO! Who processed out Beth's voice! No! Gah! Wrong! Why?

By the end of the song I was just plain confused by the absence of Beth's characteristic punk-rock vocals.  After a few more listens I came to the conclusion that Perfect World is simply not the perfect single. I don't want Gossip to start the Joyful Noise era with what I consider to be a mediocre track.

What do you think of the new song? Is it good material for a single? Our friend the Pop Sucker quite likes it, & he has great taste. Am I, perhaps, overreacting to a very minor change?

Unapologetically,

Minna

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

JFF - Zowie, "My Calculator"

Zowie is an act I've had my eye on for a little while now & frankly, I couldn't be more impressed.  The punky & spunky Kiwi starlet is back with an all new track hyper-energetic electroPOP banger called My Calculator. It's totally Zowie - futuristic, fashionable, & ULTRA modern. I'm basically waiting for the Big [Blogger] Fish ArjanWrites & Popjustice to feature this immediately... because if you can't rock out to My Calculator, well... to use Zowie's words: "it could be a digital mistake / & such a big one to make."  Listen below.




Unapologetically,

Minna

PS - Our friend The Electrocutie loves Zowie too! Read more here.

POP Expectations

 Is it too much to ask more of our POP stars?

I've been feeling a bit disillusioned since seeing the viddy of Katy Perry recently meeting Karl Lagerfeld for dinner at Paris fashion week. You know me - I love Katy's music, Katy's look, everything Katy Katy Katy. Do I think she acts as a responsible role model? No. She objectifies herself, literally acting like a tantalizing piece of candy. What a great example for all the young women idolizing you, Ms. Katy. Hurrah hurrah. As a gay man with a penchant for all things drag (and drag-like), I thoroughly enjoyed Katy's whipped cream bra act enough to let its regressive aspects slide off my back. However, meeting Karl at fashion week? Did she not hear the incredibly offensive and sexist comment he made about Adele's weight? Adele is the one realistic role model we have. She's the only one that we, with unideal body types, can relate to, thus finding perfection in our own. And Katy meets with him? While I respect Karl's ambition and diligence, I feel he represents the worst that us gay men have to offer. He channels the taunting and teasing he's fallen victim to throughout his life into superficiality and catty judgment (which should be restricted to the kitchen table with friends, as Miss Wendy Williams would say; not publicly broadcast through a global media outlet like the Metro Newspaper). I'm certainly not perfect and have partaken in this type of behavior myself. A Judgey McJudgerson comment will occasionally slip from my lips, but even on my worst days I will not attack someone's body size/image, particularly because I suffer from my own body image issues. I would most certainly not negatively comment on another person's appearance to any sort of publication - how stupid!

It bothers me that Katy met with Karl. I know joining him for a soiree is utterly high-class and chic. I'm sure she enjoys the cache of a brand like Chanel rubbing off on her. I'm even more sure that she enjoys having one of the world's premier fashion icons stroke her ego with compliments, free clothes, and (alleged) potential offers to star in a Chanel ad campaign. She doesn't need to tell him to F off, but as a role model for so many young women growing up in a society that values a singular, practically unachievable body aesthetic, she should.

Onto the next. I despise POP stars' complete lack of acknowledgement of the major divide between them and their fans. None of them publicly acknowledge their wealth. Some pop stars show off their material purchases, driving their Maseratis in front locales where paparazzi tend to swarm. Others spend hours talking about how dedicated they are to their art, while, behind the scenes, instructing their management to exploit their fans to the Nth degree in order to maximize their earnings. Then there are those who complain about how constricted they feel by their record labels when, truly, they are living THE life, residing in multimillion dollar pads in NY and LA. I'm all for monetary success. I don't want to deny any celebrity their wealth, but I wish POP stars would straight up acknowledge their ca-ching, and admit that sometimes, it's not all about the art. That way, when it is about the art, we will actually believe them!

Examples:

1. Jay-Z. I realize how much of an icon you are, and your accolades are well-deserved. You are a creative man who truly cares about his musical output. However, I don't want to hear that it's all about the art when you (allegedly) get paid approx $100,000 to make 30 minute club appearances where you are provided with free booze. By all means, collect the easy money! I would, too, if I were you. It would be stupid not to, but ACKNOWLEDGE IT. Don't pretend that it's all about the music when, sometimes, it's NOT!

2. Fiona Apple. As much as I love you for your originality in an industry filled with monotony, I'm annoyed hearing you (allegedly) complain about feeling creatively stifled by your label when you are more than fairly compensated for your contributions to the musical landscape. I don't want you to feel guilty for your success. You've earned it, fair and square, but acknowledge and APPRECIATE it, as you are so very lucky to be successful in an industry that, financially, outrageously over-compensates the few who succeed within it. There are a million struggling artists who would be happy to trade places with you. They would love to 1) have access to the world-class producers and artists you regularly work with, 2) work FULL-time on their art without worrying about monthly bill payments, and 3) reside in your house by Venice beach.

3. Rihanna. Stop saying that you are an artist. You record thoroughly entertaining songs that we all love to dance to (better than you do, I might add), but you don't write your own songs and your voice is not very good live. You're just a pretty, unoffensive girl who someone thought would be easy to sexualize and mass market. You agreed because of the potential for free clothes, million dollar payoffs, and artificial validation from millions of people you'll never meet. If you were honest about it, I would have so much more respect for you. There's nothing wrong with wanting to be rich and famous, as long as you remain a kind and grateful person. Just be real with us. Don't tell us that you're an artist when you (allegedly) care more about your Loubotins than your lyrics. We won't hold it against you. I pinky swear.

Harumphh.

Unapologetically,

Gregory

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Having Fun. in Atlanta

  

Fun.'s sold out show at in Atlanta fell on a balmy Friday night. After what felt like hours of searching for parking (welcome to Midtown), I arrived at Center Stage to a positively packed theater. After hurriedly finding my seat, the fanatical crowd ROARED when a black and white banner reading "FUN." descended upon the stage. At that moment I knew the show would be more than worth the scalper's ticket price (I aint no fancy blogger, just a lil ol' fan).

As the lights dimmed, Andrew Dost, Jack Antonoff & Nate Reuss appeared to great fanfare - cheering, whooping, jumping, & lord knows what else. Finally situated onstage, Fun. opened with Some Nights and Walking The Dog, two incredibly catchy & massive jams.  As the band performed the third song on the set-list, All the Pretty Girls, I noticed that nearly everybody knew the words to the perfectly-crafted POP choruses; the "na na na"s and the "wooa ooa ooa"s came from a long-standing Fun. fanbase.

The chemistry between the band-mates created an environment quite like that of meeting up with old friends. I thought, damn, you can really tell these guys are buddies... especially by the way they complement one another's styles. Nate Reuss was emotional & motivational, especially on songs like Why Am I the One (a real tear-jerker) & Carry On.  Jack Antonoff, who sported the LGBTQ T-shirt that he helped design with Revel & Riot, lurched into each guitar solo with gusto (he rocked it on The Gambler). Equally impressive was Andrew Dost's Mary Poppins-esque bag of musical instruments: one minute he was singing and playing piano, the next he was on keyboard & trumpet. I'm pretty sure I even saw him whip out a flugelhorn. Good lord, I thought, is there anything this man can’t play? 

But the show did not just revolve around the band. Nate, Jack & Andrew actually engaged their audience in friendly conversations from the stage - shmoozing about everything from Russell Brand to the movie 300.  "What do you say we raise the dead tonight?!" Nate asked the crowd while entering into a blasting performance of Barlights When I listened to the audience recite the chorus to All Alone, I thought, perhaps this is what makes Fun. so damn relatable; their ability to draw inspiration from many genres, their mastery of the POP chorus, & most of all, their ability to pack complex emotions into an accessible POP package.  Somehow this crowd is chanting "I feel so all alone" happily & it sounds... honest.

Fun.’s performance stayed true to the band's signature sound. The set-list drew evenly from songs off of Aim & Ignite and their recent album, Some Nights. Operetta elements were still present in the live show, especially on songs like Be Calm. Songs that seemed mediocre or out of place on the second album, like All Alone, One Foot, & It Gets Better, sounded absolutely symphonic when performed live.  It was a crowd-pleaser, for old and new Fun. fans alike.


Halfway through the night's performance, Nate took off his jean jacket. Standing in the middle of the stage in jeans and a T-shirt he looked totally boyish & animated, like a child before opening Christmas presents.  Beaming, with a red solo cup in his hands, he addressed the cheering crowd, "I am having such a good fucking time! I want to thank you all so much.  We've had some amazing things happen to us... but nothing beats this right here" and gestured towards the stage and the audience.

Nate's words were sincere, just like Fun.'s performance.

Unapologetically,

Minna

Monday, March 12, 2012

Marina Begins Electra Heart Era with New Single: "Primadonna"


Gregory: I love Primadonna's melody & production. It's perfectly POP. Marina is not yet at the level of a Katy or Ke$ha, so she gets the simplest tracks from Dr. Luke (because Katy and Ke$ha have the financial resources to outbid her for premier material). Fortunately, the simplicity works in Marina's favor. The song glitters and sparkles. The verses and chorus are so catchy! However, I agree with Minna in regard to the lyrics. Marina is a poetic genius, but here, her words are vapid reflections of her own ambition, lacking the tinge of societal analysis present on The Family Jewels. The song is quite like GaGa's Paparazzi, blurring the line between love for a lover and love of fame. I'm undecided about the vocals - Dr. Luke auto-tuned out her signature operatic quality. To be honest, I quite like it, but I hope this isn't the case throughout the whole album. Her upper-register possesses a warmth that I can't seem to find in any other singer. 

Minna:  Setting aside my dissatisfaction with what I perceive as changes in Marina's persona, I am incredibly proud of her for Primadonna.  The production is expensive. The chorus is memorable. And, most happily of all, Marina's "characters" are finally in high-definition.  My main complaint with this track, however, is that the lyrics are watered-down.  Coming from Marina Diamandis, this is rather surprising, as her poetry from The Family Jewels era is completely unparalleled.  I fear that working with hit-makers while crafting the Electra Heart album may have stunted her prose... still, it is too early to tell; moreover, what Primadonna may lack in lyricism is more than made up for with vocals, presence, performance & vision. I end my day feeling more prepared for the Electra Heart era than before.  While, personally, I may have preferred a sophomore album featuring feminism & scathing social commentary, I will have to let that go. My personal tastes are not the public's.

Simply stated, Primadonna is the perfect first single. If all Marina wanted was the world, she is getting there. 

Unapologetically,

Gregory & Minna

And the Diamonds Have Spoken - A Group Review of "Homewrecker," PT 2

Today was a very big day for Marina and the Diamonds (how are we spelling this now? "and" or "&?").  But before we get dizzy from playing & replaying Primadonna, let's take a second to finish our final review of another track off of Electra Heart, Homewrecker.  This time, like the last, we are letting the Diamonds do the talking.

-------------
Sam @SaminLillytown
 "Marina's voice is sidelined, the lyrics are decent but not up to the poetic brilliance we are used to...in light of what Marina's capable of I can't help but want more."

I don't dislike Homewrecker just as I don't dislike any of Marina's work to this date. Only, when it's compared to other recent tracks it comes out lacking something. I think it's a little soulless compared to the instantly-relatable Starring Role and Living Dead, the brutally honest Fear & Loathing and the drama of Radioactive. Marina's voice is sidelined, the lyrics are decent but not up to the poetic brilliance we are used to being treated with, and all that's really left is a stomping beat. I love a stomping beat and Homewrecker is undeniably catchy and a real grower, but in light of what Marina's capable of I can't help but want more. Let me put it this way, if I had never heard of Marina before and I listened to this song, I would be impressed. However, because I know the stunning brilliance of Marina's past work and know she is way beyond impressive, I'm disappointed. Nevertheless, all the other songs I've heard from Electra Heart are just as good, if not better, than the best of The Family Jewels, so I remain positive.

Jack @JackKenny
"Homewrecker, in essence, is the perfect POP song."

It’s always a bit more magical when the first time you hear a song is live in concert. I felt this magic back in November 2009 when Marina Diamandis excitedly purred ‘this is a new song… it’s called Hollywood (my shaky camera-phone recording perfectly captures my genuine, audible awe at hearing ‘Actually, my name’s Marina’ for the first time). So when Ms. Diamandis decided to give out a track from the forthcoming Electra Heart album, I decided to wait a few days to hear it live at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush. Surrounded by dozens of die-hard Diamonds, whom I had met for the first time earlier that day but had been in regular Twitter contact with thanks to our mutual Marina appreciation, there was an almost tangible air of apprehension and anticipation, emanating from Marina herself, as she introduced Homewrecker I was shocked, in a very good way. Homewrecker, in essence, is the perfect POP song: the Britney-esque sing-speak verses; the incredibly catchy chorus; the flawless vocals; all thrown together with some wonderfully cynical, yet terribly clever, words on love. Yes, gone is the Marina who once defied to ‘never write a song about love’, but this is not a love song, it’s an anti-love song. Marina tears up the idealistic image of love and shoves it back in our face to show us how vacuous and lonely our constant pursuit of love often is. It’s disheartening to see Diamonds misread Marina’s apparent irony in ‘Deception and perfection are wonderful traits/One will breed love, the other, hate’. Just like the ‘only after success’ persona of Oh No!, Marina voices a similarly ruthless, determined character who doesn’t care who gets hurt in the process. She’s not talking about herself; she’s making a daring social commentary. It is, quite frankly, refreshing. 
-------------

We have a lot more coming up about Marina (we're a little behind as we're on America-time), so be sure to make it back to Unapologetically POP this weekend for your fix.

Unapologetically,

Minna

Friday, March 9, 2012

"Some Nights" is Something Special

Tonight Unapologetically POP is very excited to see Fun. perform at Center Stage in Atlanta, Georgia. In anticipation of the show, we wanted to highlight our favorite parts of their latest album, Some Nights.

Some Nights opens with what can only be described as a POP operetta that would put a smile on Freddie Mercury's face. But it's what follows that packs the ultimate punch; the album's second track, the eponymous Some Nights, is arguably one of the best indie POP songs to come out this year. It's bombastic but not excessive, featuring Fun.'s signature harmonies & Nate Reuss's vocals at their very best. The confessional lyrics, the sonic stampede, & even the use of auto-tune create a powerful & well-rounded POP song. This is easily Jeff Bhasker's best work on the album.

Some fans have decried the "electronica" elements on the album (which are, at most, minimal).  I, too, loved Fun.'s first album, Aim & Ignite, & agree that Some Nights is probably a less progressive album.  However, shining moments like Why Am I the One & Carry On remind you that Nate, Jack & Andrew are still there, unchanged & uninhibited.  Above all, we're happy that Fun. had fun making this album!   Even throughout it's more tender & depressive moments, Fun.'s spirit leaves listeners uplifted at the end of each song.

Both Gregory & I applaud the band for their massive success ( a #1 song on the Hot 100!) & wish them even more success on their upcoming tour.  We're excited to see ya tonight, boys!

Unapologetically,

Minna



Fun. - Some Nights

JFF - Rizzle Kicks, "Traveller's Chant"

I've had a really rough week for a number of reasons, one being the fact that I was forced to cancel my vacation to Florida due to schedule changes at work.  Let's face it, all of us working our day jobs desperately need a change of scenery, especially in the dreary month of March.  Thankfully, while we wait for our next vacation, Rizzle Kicks have hooked us up with an awesome music video that transports viewers from Times Square to Thailand, all in a 3 minute track. The song is called Traveller's Chant, their next release off of Stereo Typical.

Rizzle Kicks is such a high-quality hip-hop act that I often feel ashamed of the vulgar garbage my birth-country shoots up the Hot 100 (I mean please, have you heard Rack City? atrocious). Traveller's Chant features relaxed, seemingly effortless rap verses evocative of early Example over a solid POP chorus. All in all, its a good single & a refreshing video, especially for those of us who are craving some sand, beach, & sunshine.  Watch below.



Unapologetically,

Minna

JFF- More Goodies by Britt Love: "Playing the Game"


Our favorite rising Euro-dance-diva, Miss Britt Love, has finally released the full version of Playing the Game, originally teased in 2010.  Let's just say, it was worth the wait- it's full on, unbridled disco-deeelight. If Britt Love keeps it up, it looks like we will have new EuroPOP royalty on our hands!

Click on the banner below to view Britt Love's Facebook Page & to hear the whole track.  Don't forget to "Like" her page for more updates.

Keep it up, girl, & have a great gig in Florida!

Unapologetically,

Minna

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Wanted Conquer US; Prove Americans Still Have "a Thing" For Boybands

We are not above this.
Unless you are a POP-lover who lives under a rock (as if!) you have probably heard about British boyband The Wanted's recent conquest of the US charts.  Along with our blogger buddies Popledge & What's That Music Guy, here at Unapologetically POP we were counting down the days until Glad You Came, the #1 Brit-POP banger, climbed its way to the Top 5.  We believed in them, & so we sat.  We waited.  But alas, the Wanted had oh so many obstacles in their way: close-minded American radio stations, musical xenophobia, & moreover, an American bias against anything "boyband."

Yes, that's right.  For years "boyband" has more or less been a dirty word here in the USA. As a lover of both Brit-POP & boybands, I have often felt ostracized by those who repeatedly told me that "boybands are SO 1996" & "the Backstreet Boys are GAY" (to which I promptly punch them where it hurts... love you BSB).

This American mentality made the Wanted's US chart-topper all the more exciting. Glad You Came peaked at #4 on the Hot 100, was the #1 POP download on iTunes, & was even covered by the popular American TV series Glee!  THIS IS NO EASY TASK.  Coupled with American biases, the last time a quality British boyband hit the US charts this hard was Take That back in 1995 with Back For Good (oh, the amazingness)! 


How did they do it, you ask? How did a cheesy 5-man Brit-POP band suddenly conquer our hearts & our airwaves? The answer is surprisingly simple: we Americans are NOT above a good boyband [& their music video, featuring bikini-clad models romping around Ibiza, doesn't hurt either].



So get off your stiff a$$es, America, & welcome back the boyband! Cause guess what? We know you know you really liked them all along.

A big whopping congratulations to the Wanted! You did it, boys!

Unapologetically,

Minna 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Rita Ora's "How We Do (Party)"


Meet Jay-Z's Rihanna replacement/revamp, otherwise known as Rita Ora. Born in Kosovo and raised in London, this 21-year old was signed by Roc Nation, the label famously founded by Shawn Corey Carter.

Overall, I find Rita a bit bland, but I do love her Gwen Stefani-esque quality. Nothing gets to me quite like peroxide platinum locks, red lipstick, and colorful '90s attire. Unsurprisingly, Gwen Stefani is her primary POP role model and style icon. Her song, R.I.P. featuring Tinie Tempah is bad, but thankfully, her first official single, How We Do (Party) is super fresh. It's fun, it's chill, and it's as colorful as a beach day in July. This song is everything that Rihanna's Cheers wanted to be. The perfect summer track, How We Do (Party) has all the POPpiness of a Dr. Luke production without those grating synthesized guitars he and his protege, Cirkut (not his baptismal name, I would imagine), are so fond of. Who produced it? We don't know...

I wish Rita wrote her own songs, but she didn't, and at least she's not pretending to have. Ultimately, her music is not profound in the least, but I doubt anyone will turn to her work for enlightenment. She's giving us brainless party tracks, and that's alright with me. As long as she doesn't claim to be a musical DaVinci, I'm down for any soiree she's throwing. See you there!

Unpologetically,

Gregory

Q&A with Conor Maynard


Eek! I'm excited to present our interview with none other than budding pop star Conor Maynard, winner of MTV Brand New 2012. For those of you who are not already familiar with Conor, you may check out our previous post on him HERE. His first single, Can't Say No, will be released in the UK on the 15th of April.

1)You've done some pretty great covers of everyone from Drake to Kings of Leon.  Do you have a broad taste in music?
Growing up, my musical taste always varied, although a lot of my musical influences were always RnB based. Listening to people such as Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Usher, Mario... I was also really into other acts such as Good Charlotte and Green Day. I just think when I hear a really good song, I will listen to it regardless of what genre it's placed in...

2) When did you start singing?
I've always sung, ever since I was a kid. When I was really little, whenever my mum took me to the doctors, I would stand in the middle of the waiting room and sing the Barney theme song... So embarrassing as it was for my mum it seemed to pay off, lol.

3) Why did you start posting your videos to Youtube? Was it your intention to get people’s attention and seek out a record deal? Did you always want to sing professionally?
I started posting videos when I was 16 so that all my friends could listen to the covers via a link rather than sending videos out separately. It was always in the back of my mind, "imagine if..." - but I wasn't completely strung on it, as I was at school at the time. My main interest was actually acting at that point, so that's what I wanted to do until my videos became popular - which was a massive surprise!

4) It seems that a lot of artists these days want to be viewed as credible (as opposed to being viewed as manufactured), but also hope for mainstream success. Do you worry about being too pop or too indie?
I'm really lucky to be in a situation where I have a lot of creative input and am surrounded by people that understand me musically. I think part of being an artist is that your fans accept you for what you are, so I'm just doing me!

5) If you could magically learn one instrument today, what would it be?
The guitar gets the ladies every time! *Laughs*

6) You communicate with fans regularly through social media, like Twitter, but also through your Youtube videos.  Do your Mayniacs inspire you? If so, how?
Being an artist is hard work, but fortunately having the amazing support from the Mayniacs consistently inspires me to keep going! Regardless of whether someone is a Mayniac from day one or from yesterday, it still means a lot.

7) Just out of curiosity, how did Ne-Yo get your phone number?
Someone contacted me through Facebook, claiming to work closely with NeYo - and next thing you know I'm on skype with NeYo just after midnight in my house whispering because my parents were sleeping!

8)  "Girls girls girls / I just can't say no!"  Is Conor Maynard a ladies' man?
Of course ladies love me, however they all seem to be over the age of 34 *giggles* ha, no I'm joking! The song was written as a catchy melody, and coincidentally ended up being about girls... ;)

Thank you to Conor Maynard for responding to our questions, as well as to Stuart Freeman at EMI UK for providing us with this wonderful opportunity! Make sure to check out the video for Can't Say No, posted below. Also, don't forget that Can't Say No will be released in the UK on April 15th. You may pre-order the single here -  http://bit.ly/wd3RNy
http://twitter.com/conormaynard
Unapologetically,

Gregory 

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Diamonds Have Spoken - A Group Review of "Homewrecker"

Hello POP-lovers!

As you know, Gregory & I are long-time fans of Marina & the Diamonds.  Although we have reviewed her work on many occasions (read our latest here), what we are most interested in is creating a discussion - this blog is as much for you as it is for us.  Last week we asked a few of our readers to submit their thoughts on Marina's latest track, Homewrecker.  Here is part one of our very exciting group review:

-------------
"It feels to me that she is telling a story, not necessarily her own - as is the concept of Electra Heart."

When I first heard Homewrecker I was taken aback. At first play the pre-chorus sounded magnificent. A few plays after that, the chorus was stuck in my head. Now, after playing it an obscene amount of times, I'm not a victim to the hooks, I can see the track a little clearer, and I am actually very impressed. Getting the negative out the way; I have to argue that the chorus ends up being a bit of a non-event. It isn't anything special for me. It's fun to sing along to but it grew old quickly and though it's not offensive, it could have offered a little more. But for me, the star of this show is the spoken verses. Her voice sounds innocent and the lyrics are simple, but effective. It feels to me that she is telling a story, not necessarily her own - as is the concept of Electra Heart. I am hoping, though, that with the remainder of Electra Heart we will see a more of the smart quirk in the lyrics that we have come to expect of Marina.

Antoinette (@AntoinetteKings):
"What is already absent is the Marina that screamed independence and intelligence; who philosophized with her Diamonds (yes, actually conversed with them)."

The initial reaction of horror, distaste and a grand loss of hope remain when having to replay this track (in the faux-optimism that I may just fall in love with it). Consider me dramatic, but I believe the façade of Electra Heart lies in the critical loss of Marina’s prior style – the panache that had her out-stand amongst the others as an artist of the utmost creation.  I understand that any artist must enter an evolutionary phase in their career to keep their creations fresh and to bring about the anew; however, no other phase of artistic evolution has had me whispering my “Resquiecat in Pace’s” more quickly. Homewrecker as a taster song from the upcoming Electra Heart has only left my heart with a sinking feeling.  It follows the style of ‘talk-sing’ beginning with, "every boyfriend is the one until otherwise proven" – what ever happened to keeping both feet on the ground? What is already absent is the Marina that screamed independence and intelligence; who philosophized with her Diamonds (yes, actually conversed with them). As for the chorus - “I’m a homewrecker; I break a million hearts just for fun” – if this is not the song about Theo Hutchcraft (her loved and lost) that we have all been waiting for, then I do not know what is. Conclusively, Homewrecker does not hold a torch to the comparatives of Radioactive and Fear and Loathing. Those two songs hold an aspect that Homewrecker does not: Marina Diamandis.

"Although some fans may find it fake and forced, I truly believe that [Homewrecker] is Marina opening up."

The archetype in Homewrecker is an interesting one. Marina was never one to sing about love during the Family Jewels era, but Homewrecker beckons the thought that Marina must have a love life...  The track to me is honest, playful, and catchy. Although some fans may find it fake and forced, I truly believe that this is Marina opening up. Marina has always wanted to do 'POP' but never had the right tools: this track is a great example of what can come from having an experienced producer to work with.  A lot of people have labeled the song as an "album track," but everyone I have shared the track with have fallen in love with it, like me.  Homewrecker does justice to Marina's lyrical talents and is a taster of what is shaping up to be a brilliant POP album.
-------------

Marina & The Diamonds - Homewrecker by Marina and The Diamonds

Do you have any thoughts on Homewrecker? Please feel free to leave your comments below & be sure to come back in a few days for a second installation of our group review.  As always, thanks for reading.

Unapologetically,

Minna

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Who's Who? We're Gettin' Confused.


It's hard to be a sexy brunette in POP music these days. It's like, "Oh my god, bitch stole my look!" We know what you're thinking: how do you tell them apart? Don't worry, we'll help you navigate through the trendy-brown-hair-hurricane-going-trendy-bangs-bang.  Let us begin.


Lights 
Delightful Canadian electroPOP darling of despicable, immeasurable beauty.  Apparently she also likes cookies.
Immediate point of recognition: Look out for tattoos &/or flannel. And large crowd of drooling men who may/may not be fondling themselves.
Best Song: Siberia 


Yasmin 
An exotic fashionista with musical abilities to match.  She worked as a disc-jockey in London before launching a very promising career as a singer/songwriter.  We wonder if she DJs Bar Mitzvahs. (Call us).
Immediate point of recognition: Fuzzy hat. The look: "I'm like a trendy Bolshevik Princess. I love caviar and romantic vacations in Siberia!" (see song by Lights, above)
Best song: Finish Line

Foxes (such a FOXAY name)
She's signed to Neon Gold, which automatically makes her très très très chic.  Expect vigorous, smokey vocals a la Florence Welch & Clare Maguire.  
Immediate point of recognition: We're working on that one.  (It's a tie between a cigarette or animal ears).
Best song: Youth


There you go everyone!  Today's handy-dandy guide to who's who in young, trendy, up&coming POP musicians.  We'll be back with more updates ridiculously soon, as a new POP starlet is born every 2 minutes & 34 seconds, we are told.

Unapologetically,

Gregory & Minna

Thursday, March 1, 2012

JFF - The Ghosts, "Ghosts"

I was a huge fan of Ou Est Le Swimming Pool, so when I heard that their former keyboard-player, Alex Starling, had formed his own band - I nearly tripped over myself running to hear their music. To my joy what I found turned out to be absolutely superb synthPOP act: The Ghosts.

Featured by The Guardian and NME, The Ghosts began when Alex Starling met drummer Ian Palmer following the tragic death of Charles Haddon in 2010.  The two bonded musically & personally; The Ghosts were born (eh... can ghosts be born?)

Considering the loss & misfortune that plagued the inception of this band, The Ghosts are anything but self-important or histrionic. My favorite aspect of their music is the easy balance struck within each song. In Ghosts, their second single, Ian's drumming carries Alex's singing which carries Dan's guitar, and so on. Not one band-mate overpowers the other; it's a sonic harmony rarely found in POP acts these days.

Ghosts is a breezy, fresh gem of a synthPOP song & a very good selection for a second single. I must be in a really spooky mood this week (see my post on the amazing Kyla La Grange), but the music video is as catchy as the track itself. It reminds me a bit of Ladyhawke's Dusk Till Dawn... Watch below.

Check out The Ghosts on Facebook & keep an eye on these guys: they are a band worth watching & are already off to a very strong start!  At Unapologetically POP we are looking forward to the release of their first album, cleverly entitled The End, this year.

Unapologetically,

Minna