Monday, December 24, 2012

BG's POP 2012 in Review


Fave POP Albums of 2012

1) Ellie Goulding - Halcyon - Ellie Goulding exceeded my expectations. I listened to this album for 20 days straight non-stop. It's mournful. It's alternative. It's POP. All of that makes it the most exciting record we've heard all year. Check out our review: http://unapologeticallypop.blogspot.com/2012/10/ethereal-ellies-halcyon.html

2) Regina Spektor - What We Saw from the Cheap Seats - Yes, Regina's orally created faux drum beats are incredibly annoying, and it's true, she's not one for album to album reinvention. However, we can always rely on her for a beautifully composed piano ballad. In an era of constant change, Regina makes music we can hold onto.

3) Lana Del Rey - Born to Die - The Paradise Edition - Though she's hypersexualized, Lana/Lizzie's music is pretty fresh, so much so that mainstream American radio DJs won't play her tracks. The mix of classical music with hip hop beats hits the spot. The Paradise edition really satisfied with great production by Rick Nowels on American, Pussy Cola (see what we were saying about the oversexing? I'm sure Lana's pussy tastes delicious, but I'm allergic to cats), & Body Electric. Marina, you got the short end of the Rick Nowels production stick. Compared to his work for Lana, Nowel's material on Electra Heart sounds like a drunken night on Garage Band. I think we can guess who makes him more moolah...

Most Disappointing POP Album of 2012

1) Rihanna - Unapologetic - No, I don't find this album disappointing because she's back with Chris Brown. In fact, one of my favorite tracks is Nobody's Bitness, their collab which samples Michael Jackson's The Way You Make Me Feel. This album simply sucks. I expected something that would top #TalkThatTalk's We Found Love. I was told we would get more collaborations with Calvin Harris and his protege, Burns, and so I expected some glorious four to the floor anthems a la Robyn. Instead, we got Diamonds, in which Rihanna intentionally mispronounces diamond in the last verse without the "M" so as to sound more ghetto-fabulous. STOP. It didn't work for JLo, and it won't work for you. The filler dance tracks with David Guetta aren't even songs. They're just sythns sequenced together into danceable nothings. Yuck. Fortunately, the album does have one saving grace: Stay, the gorgeous piano ballad composed by frequent Lana Del Rey collaborator Justin Parker. I could listen to it forever and be happy.

Unapologetically (it was our blog title first, RIRI!!!!),

Barry Gregory

Sunday, December 16, 2012

'90s Sunday could never be your woman



I heard this on the radio today. Boston's 92.9 FM had their very own '90s Sunday. Who knew? Anyway, something about it sounds so modern; the dirty bass in the bridge seems like a predecessor to dubstep.

Why do I love this song? I'm sure each person has his/her own interpretation, but I always pictured it as a drag queen's victory. A frat-boy jock falls head over heels for her, and she says, "I could never be your woman." For once, she's the winner and he's the one left in the dust with a broken heart. Empowering, until I paid attention to the rest of the lyrics (just now), which I will promptly forget. I prefer my own depiction.

Unapologetically,

Barry Gregory

Saturday, December 15, 2012

An email from one blogger to another reflecting on 2012. It might make you laugh, or cry, or perhaps both.

Once upon a time I was commuting to class & writing my dear friend a frustrated email.  This dear friend also happens to be Barry Gregory & we run this blog together.  He told me to post the email. Reluctantly, I have done so.  Forgive me if I seem rather grim; this was not the best year for mainstream music.

Unapologetically,

Minna

------------------------

I have some time on my hands (I'm om the bus) so I'm writing you a disjointed reflection on the pop music of 2012. I honestly think the best pop album of the year was Halcyon, hands down. I am continuously surprised by what a good album Mika made, I think The Origin of Love is my #2. The thing with Mika is that his vocals are f'ing exhausting- same with Nate Ruess's sometimes. There are some wack missteps on Mika's album-- namely the Origin of Love & that other terrible song, which are blech-- but overall it's an incredibly well-produced album & well written too. And it tackles subject matter which is NOT JUST ABOUT LOVE!!! (see: Heroes) Only Mika & Ellie really did that WELL this year. Good Lord I miss Lily.


Indie Pop, like regular pop, sucked this year. Passion Pit & Fun. made the best / catchiest albums in that "altpop" category. Exciting indie electropop seems to be over :( No Cut Copy, no MGMT, no Empire of the Sun. Kesha P!nk Taylor and Carly (& Rihanna) made a few great songs, but honestly their albums, in their entirety, don't stand on their own. Calvin's album is good.  I wish we had Girls Aloud in the States. And that is 2012!

In terms of Lana, I think she may be our first example of the modern hype-backlash.  As fresh as her music is, her entire persona-package is so damn disappointing. I'm guilty of being overexcited about her. Now we have 3 Rihannas: RiLana & Rita Ora. Enough. 

As for Marina, the poor girl got the shit end of the stick. We all know that she is an incredibly talented artist, but listen: Ellie did the "Greek tragedy" theme better. Ellie did "cool" better.  Lana did the "Americana" element better. Katy did cute & colorful better. Rick Nowels didn't do shit for her tracks (not to mention Dr. Luke). And Marina wrote, recorded & released Heartbreaker way too late.  I think she's left "picking up the peiiiiiices" (in Paloma's voice) instead of being a truly exciting pop star. But I can't feel that bad for her because, please: look at her. She's fine.

Another rant:: as an EDM lover (electronic dance music) I'm really frustrated with the domination of straight, white men in this genre. EDM used to be so much more inclusive & now it is soooooo not. And have we mentioned sexist? It's all about girls in bras and g-strings on MDMA jumping around in strobe lights.  Look who we have at the forefront: Calvin Harris, Diplo, A-Trak, Deadmau5, Skrillex, Swedish House Mafia, Nero-- the list goes on. Even the up & coming ones meet the mold: Dillon Francis, Zedd, Madeon. And all of them are in one way or another THE SAME: goofy white boys with funny twitter accounts. It's hard for me to get really excited about anyone in that scene anymore... the oppressive heteronormativity is becoming too much to handle. Ugh. Diversify, please, I beg you!

Also, fat ppl in music videos, please (and not just as comic relief). Or just chubby. Or hairy. Or ANYTHING.

And that is my rant. Thoughts?

Xx Minna

Monday, December 10, 2012

This Warrior Won't Last Long




Do I like Ke$ha's new album? Yeah, it ain't half bad. I listened to it at work for three days straight over eight hour stretches, so obviously, the dirty glitter queen did something right. However, my overall sense is that Warrior sounds too much like Animal, Ke$ha's first record. This cements the notion that this girl is a moment in time and that moment is passing. Her look, her sound, everything about her screams 2010. Proof? Despite having a #2 single on the American charts, Warrior is expected to sell only 80k - 85k albums in its first week, which isn't too shabby except for the fact that its predecessor debuted with sales of 152k and it's competing with the likes of Rihanna's Unapologetic (238K), P!nk's The Truth About Love (281K), and Taylor Swift's Red (1.21 million). An album that likely cost upwards of $2 million to make needs to sell more. That's the bottom line.

It's hard to tell whose fault this is. I imagine it's a combination of both Ke$ha and Dr. Luke's. Dr. Luke and his co-producers (Cirkut, Benny Blanco, etc.) seem to be stuck in a cycle, releasing what sounds like the same old stuff. I'm surprised, because Dr. Luke is incredibly talented and had no trouble reinventing his style in the past, moving from POP-rock hits like U and Ur Hand to electro-POP like 'Till The World Ends. Should Ke$ha take some of the blame? She does seem like a free-spirit, but at the end of the day, her career is handled by Dr. Luke and his label, Kemosabe Entertainment, an imprint of Sony, so I'm suspicious of how much decision making power she actually possesses. When you (allegedly) operate as a corporation, as any global POP star does, various precautions are likely taken to ensure the business runs smoothly. Ke$ha's PR team seems to have done a great job organizing interviews in which she claims to be the person behind it all, but PR is PR (aka bullshizzle), so who knows what is in fact true?

What are my favorite tracks? C'mon, the proper successor to Tik Tok, is incredibly fun. Thinking of You has a beautiful, heart-wrenching chorus. In fact, the best parts of the record are the melodies that sound as though they were initially crafted as country ballads, which also include Wonderland - an ode to nostalgia and old friendships that features The Black Keys' Patrick Carney on drums, Last Goobye, and The Flaming Lips' produced Past Lives, which describes romance as time travel. These are the warm gooey insides, the pieces of molten chocolate cake savored by the fire with tall glasses of milk that every record needs.

Yes, Ke$ha will probably not experience the long stretches of POP-cultural impact enjoyed by Britney or Beyonce, but she will surely stick around in the more modest way Avril and Alanis have. Fortunately for us, Ke$ha holds so much talent, as indicated by the gorgeous tune she composed with The Flaming Lips. Past Lives proves that she can achieve greatness with just a guitar and Dr. Luke out of sight. I can't wait until the time comes when she stops attempting to be the POP-cultural juggernaut she once was.

Unapologetically,

Barry Gregory

Sunday, December 9, 2012

BETTER than the original


Don't the first few chords remind you of Just Like A Pill? Awesome job, P!nk. 

Unapologetically,

Barry Gregory



Thursday, December 6, 2012

YES! New music video by the Young Professionals! Happy Hanukkah to all!

OH GLORIOUS DAY.

It appears our favorite TLV electroPOPpers have been busy lately with touring France & signing to Universal Records.  They've even caught the attention of big-people-bloggers & won an MTV EMA for Best Israeli Act! And now, BEHOLD... the sheer brilliance that is The Young Professional's latest music video for Be With You Tonight.

There is so much going on here that I don't even know where to begin. The slow motion walks.  The amazing Ivri Lider seducing us all simply by extending his right arm across a table (professional indeed). Yonatan's Mad Men tie. The Sam Sparro lookalike (is that Sam Sparro?).  The vampiric, creepy pale children dancing in pairs. The zebra with its head stuck in a wall. It all makes you kind of expect a cameo from Chromeo or Bad Romance-era Gaga ~ but it's okay because instead we have Uriel eating a pita, so no worries really.

The video also features the "fire on ice collection" by Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, who, I will take the liberty to assume, is a French fashion designer (French people tend to do that).  Quite fitting, wouldn't you say?



Oh, & if you'd fancy some remixes I've posted them below.  As to be expected, the Offer Nissim one is kind of excellent.



I dedicate this post to all my friends in Tel Aviv.  You know who you are *glittery wink*

More, please!

Unapologetically,

Minna

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Currently #1 on the BBC Top 40: "Troublemaker" by Maroon 5! Oh, wait...

I'm just SO bloody charming.
We seem to be living in an era of POP music deja-vu. Jessie sounds like Katy. Britney sounds like Nicki.  Carly sounds like Alphabeat.  Rihanna & Lana are actually the same person. And now Olly Murs sounds like Maroon 5. Why?

Basically, Troublemaker is basically what Maroon 5 should sound like in 2012 if they had stayed even a little bit closer to their original sound & "woaOOhOOh" hooks.  It's not by accident that Olly's new song sounds like something straight off of Songs About Jane just as more & more UK X Factor graduates seek to conquer North America (I just saw you on the Disney Channel, Cher, don't think I didn't). This is all fine & dandy, but what does this mean for the USA?

Well, Troublemaker is not as cute or catchy as Heart Skips A Beat, but the Flo Rida addition coullllld just make Olly break the American market (I'm skeptical, as much as I like the song).  All in all, the song is an innocent little earworm; what it lacks in creativity it makes up for in a candy-coated chorus. Hey, at the very least it's not Troublemaker featuring Pitbull produced by RedOne, right?



Only time will tell, Olly.  You can't charm your way across the pond too easy, can you?

Unapologetically,

Minna

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

so TayTay is dating Harry Styles now? IS NO ONE SAFE?!?!

All-American princess Taylor Swift now appears to be dating none other than teenage heartthrob Harry Sytles of OneDirection (yes, that OneDirection). As Taylor slowly dates her way through the world's most crush-worthy men, we can't help but ask... IS NO ONE SAFE FROM TAYLOR'S CHARMS?!???!!

We've said it before & we'll say it again...

WATCH OUT PRINCESS KATE

Unapologetically,

Concerned Citizens

Sunday, December 2, 2012

'90s Sunday...Then & Today


Of all La Bouche's '90s hits, Be My Lover is my fave. How did I rediscover this lovely little powerhouse of a dance tune? Walking into Urban Outfitters, I heard a '90s banger. When I came home, I wanted to Google it but didn't remember which track played over the loudspeakers so I searched "'90s dance songs." I arrived at the following list: http://www.digitaldreamdoor.com/pages/best_dance-90s.html where I have yet to find the song I heard at Urban (it's a long list) but where I re-encountered this gem from my past.



Now to today. If you're searching for modern tunes with '90s flair, look no further than Lovers In The Parking Lot from the EP True by Solange, Beyonce's little sister. Listening to it fills my mind with Aaliyah flashbacks. Do I wish Solange capitalized a bit more on the choruses? Yes. However, the stellar verses are so catchy, they compensate for any blahhness creeping through the rest of the song. I also love that Solange is trying something new. Yes, we all know she's a hipster and made this record with Pitchfork fave Dev Hynes of Blood Orange. However, anyone who can find a fresh, electronic way to deliver African beats is a hero in my book. Lastly, I adore that she's promoting this EP with Hynes by her side in interviews. Too often, we see the  artist taking the front seat though the producers and engineers are the true geniuses. Thus, her ability to give credit to whom its due is a testament to her controlled ego. However, I'm not surprised. If you're going to grow up as the sister of one of the world's biggest superstars, you'll either be incredibly resentful and jealous, or learn to be proud and enjoy the perks, like getting your own record deal without most of the struggle. Fortunately, Solange's talent warrants one.



Enjoy!

Unapologetically,

Barry Gregory


Saturday, December 1, 2012

I'm Screaming


Though the song is just okay, I like will.i.am's Scream & Shout ft. Britney Spears for the following reasons:
  1. The high-tech, high-fashion, high-gloss camp will.i.am is clearly fond off.
  2. Seeing Britney look somewhat like she did before...everything.
  3. will.i.am's gold King crown hat. I need one like yesterday. I'll take mine as Queen, please.
  4. Britney's British accent.
Unapologetically,

Barry Gregory