Monday, January 26, 2009

Young Punx ft. Laura Kidd - Mash It Up  

Ever wondered what a combination of the Spice Girls, Kelis and Fedde le Grand would sound like? Well no, neither had I, but now I know I'm quite pleased that I do. This certainly won't be to everyone's taste, but I think there's something quite brilliant about it. It's worth hearing if only for Laura's weird pronunciation of "Go girls!" This is a girls night out anthem, but I can't imagine any girls I know ever playing it, and I kind of wish I did know girls as confidently, energetically hedonistic as those evoked by this song. When she sings "we're gonna take this town tonight", you really believe it. I suppose this kind of music is somewhat aspirational, in the sense that when you hear it in a club you feel you can be that kind of girl. A pretty unrealistic aspiration in most cases, but fun for 3 minutes anyway!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Party like it's 2005!  

Here is my Spotify playlist of the songs posted on ITG in 2005: http://open.spotify.com/user/poptasticuk/playlist/7zyVhyuc15SNxp9symOorB Enjoy, and I would love to hear your opinions and favourites.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

O.A.R. - Shattered (Turn the Car Around)  

I've learnt over the years of writing this blog that great pop music can come from any kind of act in any genre, and even if it's a genre which is generally oppositional to the sound and values of pop music, the first rule of being a true pop fan is to look past those things and concentrate only on what you hear. The American MOR-rock man-band genre is one which most people with good taste despise, and they're quite right to, because it has spawned some absolute horrors, from Nickelback to the Dave Matthews Band and Matchbox 20. However, the fact that it is a mainstream genre means that the bands become popular, and if they/their management are open-minded, they will try to either write for themselves songs with great hooks, or get in a talented and successful mainstream songwriter to do that for them. In the case of O.A.R (abbreviating Of A Revolution - obviously they realised they weren't at all revolutionary!), it was singer Marc Roberge with MOR-rock hit-machine Gregg Wattenberg. The result is reminiscent of Ryan Tedder's work with his own band, One Republic, as well as the singles by The Fray, but since these kinds of acts seem to only be allowed a couple of catchy songs, it's worth keeping an eye on the new ones so you can basically grab the ace song and leave the rest to silly people who haven't caught on to this trick yet. Most bands who want success will record something good at some point, and I'm doing my best here to present those songs for you without you having to listen to all the boring rubbish first. If you don't love the "turn the car around" hook in this song, you need to listen again, letting go of the repression of what you think you're supposed to think of this type of music. If you can manage that, it's extremely rewarding.

Friday, January 16, 2009

ITG goes interactive!  

Firstly, I would like to alert you all to my new Twitter account which I have set up to go alongside my blogs. If you have Twitter, click here to follow me.

Also, I have been listening to stuff on Spotify for a few months now (the advantage of all the acest things starting in Sweden), but I had no idea until today that you could share playlists online. I knew there had to be some fantastic use for this, and I've just come up with it: I am going to make a playlist for each year that Into The Groove has been going. If you haven't downloaded Spotify yet, I suggest you do so right away. If you need an invitation, just e-mail me and I'll send you one as I have loads spare.

So far I've only done one playlist, Into The Groove 2004, so here that is for your enjoyment, and I'll sort out the rest when I get time: http://open.spotify.com/user/poptasticuk/playlist/4yI3S9ZlU019tjGIpOYdDL

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Christina Milian - Us Against The World  

Fear not, she hasn't covered Westlife! This is the first single from her new album. I think it's interesting to see how acts like Christina and Brandy, who were around pre-Rihanna and have been away a while, will fare with their new material now that female r'n'b acts are so prevalent in America and internationally. Will they adapt to the new sound or stay true to what they were known for? Will they be able to compete in a now very competitive area of music? Christina has released quite varied music in the past, and her voice and persona are flexible enough that she can change with the times, which I think she has managed to do here. Us Against The World is a ballad, and there's something very familiar about it (I'm wondering if I've heard it before, but can't think where or when), but what I'm pleased to hear is that it's not just another rehash of Irreplaceable. I love Irreplaceable, but it's great to hear something which fits current trends (should please Umbrella fans, and is reminiscent of Love In This Club and Apologise) while retaining some originality.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Danny - Just Like That  

I was really disappointed with Radio, the lead single from Danny's second album, and the next single Need To Know was equally underwhelming and disturbingly high-pitched. It sounds like a Bosson album track, and I love Bosson but let's just say he picks his singles wisely. Anyway, after much procrastination, I eventually listened to the rest of the songs on the Danny album and thankfully found that some of them were just as good as the classic Europop anthems we know Danny for, Tokyo and Play It For The Girls. The one I instantly loved was Just Like That (featuring Swedish rapper Lazee, who's lived in London, hence the accent), so I was very excited to find that it will be the album's third single. Better late than never! It is like a dancier and cheesier version of Darin. My other favourite is Kiss You All Over, and Utopia and Emely are pretty good. Overall I'd say it's just as enjoyable as his last album - he's just sold it terribly, but thanks to his current prominence as member of Sweden's only (and therefore very popular) boyband, EMD, he is doing very well anyway.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Karl Wolf - Princess  

Many months ago I promised a post on Karl Wolf, and here, in typical procrastinator style, it is! He is a Lebanese-born Canadian popstar who also writes and produces music for other acts, such as Émily Bégin, whose brilliant single Au Grand Jour I posted in 2008. He has also worked with Taio Cruz and appears on a version of Taio's album track Driving Me Crazy. Princess is an electro-r'n'b song, but it's not much like Ne-Yo or Kanye West. It's pure cheesy pop, although I'm not sure it was entirely meant to be. With lyrics like "she's my special princess", it's kind of unavoidable. It's very summery and sweet, and super-catchy. The act it reminds me of most is the 90s boyband Ultra - this could easily be by them. I haven't been so impressed by his other solo work, but if he's capable of this as well as Émily's ace album, then he's definitely worth keeping an eye on.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Noisettes - Don't Upset The Rhythm  

I thought the new Noisettes single, Wild Young Hearts, was brilliant, but this other song that's currently being used in a Mazda car advert on TV is even better. It's super-infectious and sassy, with fun lyrics, and it gets me bopping along every time it comes on TV. I feel pretty confident that this advert placement will do wonders for the band, who only had small success with their last album, but have come back fighting with the two excellent tracks we know about, and who knows how many more! If the rest of the album is like this, it'll be one of the best of 2009 without a doubt. Perhaps the actual one to watch in 2009 is in fact going to be the act that I put as my one to watch in 2007! The full version is now posted for your listening pleasure.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Kesha - Backstabber  

Kesha is the singer featured on Flo Rida's surprisingly brilliant new single, Right Round. She seems quite feisty from her MySpace and her song lyrics, but I think it's great to have an artist with attitude, as it really adds character to the music. I probably wouldn't want to hang out with her, though. She's working with a lot of big names (Gad, Garibay, Bogart etc.) so the record company obviously have high hopes for her. She's kind of like Fergie but with good songs, meets a version of Gene Serene with the right connections to win the fanbase that Gene has always deserved. I'm not sure if there's a really strong single in any of her MySpace tracks, although Backstabber is a real grower, but if the Flo Rida track does as well as I think it will (i.e. VERY well), then she will probably be offered some better songs from songwriters who may not have given them to her otherwise. It'll be interesting to see how her career progresses, especially as her list of influences include such pop maestros as Richard X, MIA and... erm... The Cardigans?! Anyway, get to know Kesha now cos you might well be obsessed with her by this time next year.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Meg & Dia - What If  

I'm not sure why, but I seem to be particularly prone to getting songs stuck in my head at the moment. I couldn't get to sleep the last few nights because I had If I Could by The Yeah Yous circling around and around in my brain, but this morning it has thankfully been replaced by a new song, my newest obsession. What If isn't exactly the new single by Meg & Dia (who I've posted here before with their ace song Monster), but it was given away in conjunction with Seventeen magazine. Their third album is out in March and if this is any indicator, it's going to be great. The American (and often Canadian) girl-rock genre is an interesting one, because it provides us with some of pop's biggest names, all of whom (except for Avril - I've called a truce) I cannot stand, but it also produces some of the best and most underrated pop acts, such as Fefe Dobson, Lillix and Lucy Woodward. Since those acts have fallen by the wayside I haven't been thinking a lot about that side of the genre, but having recently discovered this new song by Meg & Dia, as well as a fantastic new act called Mixi, I'm reminded of how brilliant it can be.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Yeah Yous - If I Could  

I have discovered a fantastic new band... and they're BRITISH!! They're actually a male duo, and so far they are so unknown that they have never ever been listened to according to Last FM. So they may not be quite on the brink of stardom, although they do have a major record deal and an album released this year. The Yeah Yous have what I loved about The Feeling, which Dan and co.'s recent material has sadly been lacking. The music is so jolly, catchy and fun (even their manager is called Adrian Jolly! I'm so envious!), giving off a lovely, positive vibe, helped especially by the vocal harmonies which show off the influence of the Beach Boys on the group. Fans of Alphabeat should definitely give them a try. It certainly is a great year so far for cheery pop - let's hope 2009 has started as it means to go on! The only problem at the moment is that their name is written all over their website ungrammatically, as "The Yeah You's". It's all quite upsetting, and an e-mail about it will definitely be heading Mr Jolly's way to save them any further embarrassment.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Annie Lennox - Shining Light  

You would think that someone covering an Ash song and making it sound a bit like Texas would not be the most amazing thing ever, but actually Annie's cover of Shining Light is quite brilliant. It's fantastically jolly, bursting with joy, and adds more of a soulful twist to the song than a girly one. Most of these covers of recent songs by other artists are nothing special, but every so often there is one which totally works and this is a great example of that. Knowing the song already makes the love for the cover instant, if it's a good new version. I didn't expect to be posting a new Annie Lennox song before I posted another by Annie, but it's nice when life surprises me like that. Apparently a video is being made, so this will probably be the new single. Also, if you want to hear another ace Ash cover by a girl, head over to Emmy the Great's MySpace for her version of Burn Baby Burn.

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