Monday, September 29, 2014

LIVE FROM NEW YORK: Lily Allen is 'Sheezus' at Terminal 5

If you had spoken to me over the summer, I was literally seeing so many artists live over the course of a week, I was this close to being burnt out (waking up at 4AM to see them perform probably had something to do with it). Now, it's nearly October and my concert dry spell had clearly gone on for so long I couldn't even remember the last artist I saw live (for those keeping track, it was Jennifer Lopez). But, huzzah! For the clouds have parted and I'm back on the concert train. On Tuesday night, I headed uptown to Terminal 5, meeting up with Jamie, the fab voice behind Music Is My King Size Bed to see Lily Allen knock it out of the park in all her Sheezus glory.

If you've never seen Lily perform live before, I'm here to tell you that she lives up to expectation of being full of candor and fun. Her live set was littered with waist-high, oversized plastic baby bottles that provided light sources throughout her performance. She also traveled with a live backing band and a troupe of female dancers -- the latter being something I wasn't really expecting. When I think of Lily Allen, I don't typically see a lot of popping and wiggling around unless its in the ironic sense but she certainly proved me wrong and in stiletto heels, no less. She also offered up not one, not two, but three costume changes (#ProperPopstarAlert).

Much of the material stemmed from Sheezus, which of course is a great thing. The album is fantastic and in my opinion her most reliably cohesive. But old favorites from previous albums were also joyfully batted around with (especially from previous album, It's Not Me, It's You), including "Not Fair", "The Fear", "22", "LDN" (in several choruses, she replaced "London" with "NYC Town"), "Everyone's At It", and especially "F*ck You" (complete with Lily and the crowd's middle fingers in the air throughout).

Sheezus-fueled highlights included my favorite cut from the record, "URL Badman" and the hand-clappy "As Long As I Got You", as well as -- of course -- the encore jam "Hard Out Here". The latter was performed with her dancers wearing dog masks. Yup, it happened. But suspiciously missing from the Sheezus cuts offered? "Air Balloon". No sign of the single at all throughout the set. It wasn't really missed -- it is kind of a red herring on the album, now isn't it -- and perhaps its a reference to Lily's own feelings about the song? Who knows...

In addition to released material, she offered up an unexpected cover of Jhene Aiko's "The Worst" (when introducing the song, she talked about how she was immediately impressed after hearing it on the radio and was happy to hear "real music"). She also asked the crowd to get properly "turnt" with her to "Bass Like Home", a song she'd only released on SoundCloud during the World Cup madness. According to Lily, she tried to release the song this way but "some c*nt" at the label thought they could make some money off it and it was pulled. To be quite honest, it's a shame this wasn't a proper single or released with Sheezus -- it's a banger full of loud, house-fire bass. But you can score the song for free when you give Warner your email addy so...worth it in the end.

The pinnacle moment came when she began introducing "Smile", the song that started her career. She snarked that the song came out ten years ago (can you believe?!?) so she is officially old and if we all remember it, than we are, too. She performed the song live with a bit of a reggae-esque dance breakdown twist toward the end with lots of audience call and response.

Overall, Lily was so much fun to see live. She seemed so happy and feeding off the energy of the crowd. Sheezus is available for purchase now and if you have the chance, check out Lily live during the rest of her Sheezus Tour! Keep preachin' for the ladies, Lily!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

PLAYING CATCHUP: Pentatonix, Nick Jonas, Tove Lo and more...

It's been a hot second since I've done one of those Fresh Out The Box posts but that doesn't mean I'm not keeping tabs on the new releases. Here's what I've been listening to most since we last chatted new music...

While the rest of the world seemed to be clamoring over Ariana Grande's sophomore disc, I found myself vastly underwhelmed. Instead, I've been playing the ish out of Be Impressive, the debut disc from Aussie act The Griswolds. The entire set is earwormy and well..."impressive", something I definitely cannot say for Ariana's set which came out the same day.

The boys in Maroon may be truly back to form with their latest set, V -- it's arguably their most cohesive set since 2007's It Won't Be Soon Before Long. My favorite vacillates by the day and while the singles are good, I'm currently hooked on the falcetto-heavy "Feelings".

PENTATONIX - "La La Latch"
The upcoming release from these a capella maestros is proving to be very exciting indeed. Their revamp of the aforementioned Ariana's hit "Problem" breathes fresh life into the fun but increasingly overplayed jam and this mashup of Naughty Boy's "La La La" and Disclosure/Sam Smith's "Latch" shows just how inventive and talented they really are. 

As I've stated before, I haven't really been much toward Prince's more recent work but "PretzelBodyLogic" opened up the doors of inquiry and my excitement grows with each successive offering.

It may be ridiculously long, but Banks' debut album Goddess is heavily stacked with incredible tuneage. It's hard to pick a favorite.

I sincerely hope that Ms. Trainor doesn't end up 2014's best remembered One Hit Wonder. Her reggae-bounce meets Hawaiian-ukulele meets retro-swing is in full tilt in her Title EP and the title (ha!) track is a lyrical gem that serves as a commentary on how vague modern (young) relationships can be. Also it includes the lyric, "Don't call me 'boo' like I'm some kind of ghost." Meghan, you and I should be BFFs.

NICK JONAS - "Jealous"
I'm still Team Jonas BAND (because I'm corny that way) but as I've stated time and time again, youngest (in the music business) bro Nick remains to be a force to be reckoned with. Punchy "Jealous" has exactly the kind of attitude Joe (timidly) attempted with his own solo bow, complete with a catchier chorus. It also kind of reminds me of Miguel's "Adorn" which is a comparison I was not expecting to make to a Jonas. We shall see if it sticks with the public.

Because flawless is as flawless does.

FALL OUT BOY - "Centuries"
I (outwardly anyway) loathed the emo-pop movement but I always felt Fall Out Boy weren't really the trailblazers but more like the exception to the rule. "Centuries", the lead single for their upcoming record, includes a sample of "Tom's Diner" by Suzanne Vega and is a call to arms battlecry for the our misfit generation. 

My mantra for life, really.

Bow to your Queen, thanks.

TOVE LO - "Moments"
Another shiny dark pop offering from this Swedish dark horse full of epic 80's mid-tempo drumbeat crashes. Her lyrics make her so utterly relatable and therefore "charming as f#&*."

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

TAKE NOTICE: Paloma Faith's 'A Perfect Contradiction'

Tonight, I will be headed back to Terminal 5 (if you recall, I recently saw HAIM perform there) to see one of the UK's most promising soloists, Lily Allen. But there's some fab news to share about another particular songstress...

Her third album set was released in her native UK back in March and has been her most commercially successful yet and now us fans in the United States don't have much longer to wait. Paloma Faith's A Perfect Contradiction is scheduled to hit our shores in just a few weeks, on October 7th.

In preparation for this exciting event, I've been playing the emotionally haunting, Diane Warren-penned "Only Love Can Hurt Like This" ad naseum (and so should you!).

This Friday marks the beginning of her short US tour jaunt in promotion for the album's release -- beginning where else but right here in New York City with a sold out show at the Highline Ballroom (coincidentally, I've seen two other Brit acts perform there as well: The Saturdays and Little Mix).

Headed to the show? Be sure to tweet me @melismaticdiva with all the juicy deets!

Monday, September 22, 2014

BACK IN THE DAY: Janet Jackson Preaches for a 'Rhythm Nation'

"We are in a race between education and catastrophe."
- "Interlude: Race", Janet Jackson

Celebrating album release anniversaries like holy days is just another day in the life of a music nerd like moi.

When an album you love is released, its essentially a time stamp -- of what's happening in the world, what's happening with that artist, and what's happening with you. It's a powerful form of nostalgia.

Now, to be quite fair, I don't really remember September 1989. Back 25 years ago, I was just past 2 years old. But in the years since, I've become quite attached to a project that saw release on September 19th, 1989 -- an album that was a turning point into true, unequivocal greatness. It was the day Janet Jackson's fourth and first real "concept" album was released.

Rhythm Nation 1814, made in tandem by Jackson and the Creative Genius that is Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis has since sold over six million copies in the United States alone. A followup piece to her game-changing and independence-verifying Control album, Rhythm Nation was serious commentary on the world around us, a snapshot of life in the United States.

In the 25 years since Rhythm Nation's release, it's presence is still being felt with a menagerie of contemporary artists sourcing influence from Jackson during this incredibly potent stage of her career. And the content of what makes up Rhythm Nation is still poignant to this day.

While there are certainly still poppy love songs to be found here ("Escapade", "Miss You Much", "Love Will Never Do (Without You)"), the weight of the project rests in its more serious titles, like its namesake. Janet doesn't forsake the dancefloor, but only once her statement has been established ("Get the point? Good. Let's dance.")

With music by our side to break the color lines
Let's work together to improve our way of life
Join voices in protest to social injustice
A generation full of courage, come forth with me

People of the world today
Are we looking for a better way of life?
(We are a part of the Rhythm Nation)
People of the world, unite
Strength in numbers
We can get it right one time
(We are a part of the Rhythm Nation)

This is the test
No struggle, no progress
Lend a hand to help your brother do his best
Things are getting worse
We have to make them better!
It's time to give a damn!
Let's work together
-"Rhythm Nation", Janet Jackson

Small Soapbox Moment: It's hard to believe that it is now 2014 and still the social injustice in a country like the United States -- a country who claims to pride itself on equality and freedom -- continues to be a problem that needs solving. As the hateful Conservative versus Liberal divide grows more bitter by the day, as more riots happen in reaction to action that should have never been taken, as gay marriage continues to be a hot topic in politics when religion and state are claimed to be separate, and as our very own Congress chooses to not pass an act focused on equal pay for women, is it really that surprising that a song like "Rhythm Nation" still rings true as a call to arms?

When you listen to songs like "Rhythm Nation", such a strong piece of work in illustrious and incredible career of someone like Jackson's, it raises an important question about our (pop) musicians of today and whether or not they choose to take a stand. Lines can be drawn to activist-minded artists who write their own material like say J.ColeChildish GambinoDemi Lovato or Alicia Keys. It's not to say that all music should be about serious matters, but I do feel like as a celebrity with a voice, an influence upon the masses, to use that voice for the greater good is an important quality that our generation is lacking in.

Prior generations had songsmiths like John Lennon. Twenty-five years ago, Ms. Jackson -- then just 23 years old -- chose to release the symbolic Rhythm Nation rather than the true "sequel" to Control her label desired. As she herself stated in Essence Magazine back in 1990, "It pleases me when the kids say my stuff is kickin', but it pleases me even more when they listen to the lyrics." Who else from our generation of artists will choose to take up the reigns to join this Rhythm Nation toward something better?

Talib Kweli recently Tweeted, "If you as a celebrity wait for CNN & Fox to talk about problems in our community before you do then YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM." I think he couldn't be more correct, but it goes even further than just toward celebrities. While any great movement needs a rallying cry, true change is only enforced when multiple voices are heard -- and at the end of the day, in a country that celebrates equality for all, one singular voice should not heard more clearly over another. Together, we all need to join in to this Rhythm Nation of change.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

NOW KPOPPING: Super Junior looks for "MAMACITA" (Ay Ya Ya Ya Ya!)

A part of me desperately wanted to get this "review" (term is used loosely with these hooligans) out there as soon as possible but the music nerd inside of me wanted to actually digest Mamacita - The 7th Album before spewing squeeing nonsense. So I decided to close my lips, shut my tongue, and thoroughly enjoy my boys being back before getting to you all. I hope you forgive me.

Spoiler Alert: Some of this will inevitably viewed as ELF propaganda but listen to me now when I tell you ahead of time -- I'm quite pleased with my boys in Super Junior's latest release. (Shocking, you say?) Also, this will inevitably be a very long post. I promise I tried my hardest to reign myself in. Sigh.

First, a little background for you non-ELF crazies who are still open toward the KPOP genre. Super Junior, my arguable second biggest bias in KPOP, are going on nearly 10 years strong in the industry and are bonafide trailblazers thanks to the scorching success of "Sorry Sorry" back in 2009. At one time, they were 13 members large which was unheard of in Korea at the time. Now, "large and in charge" pop groups of either gender are the relative norm. 

Currently, SuJu has returned to close to possible full strength (given the official exit of now Chinese popstar Han Geng and unofficial exit of youngest member Kibum): leader Leeteuk has returned to the lineup after completing his mandatory two-year military service back in July and Heechul, who exited temporarily following 2010's Mr. Simple - The 5th Album for his own military service, has also returned. The one glaring omission is Yesung -- the group's requisite vocal heavy lifter. While I feared the worst with his absence, I was pleasantly surprised by how the (large gaping) hole left with Yesung out was filled in, but we'll get to that in a few. Comedic Shindong is next on the docket to leave, most likely once promotions for Mamacita wrap up, followed shortly by Sungmin and odds are pointing toward (sob sob sob) my beloved Donghae and his Eunhyuk.

Before I get to the title track and its cracktastic music video accompaniment, let's talk about Mamacita, the album itself.

Top (L to R): Donghae, Kangin, Ryeowook, Eunhyuk, Leeteuk
Bottom (L to R): Sungmin, Kyuhyun, Shindong, Siwon, Heechul
As much as I love Super Junior for their hyper ridiculous personalities, whether in a live concert format or a televised variety show, I hold no allusions regarding their vocal output. There are talented musicians in Super Junior to be sure, but true ELFs should not be naive that the group itself should be more considered entertainers (and damn good ones) rather than goosebump-inducing vocalists (exception: Yesung). With Yesung out doing his duty as a Korean man, much of the vocal lines were obviously handed to the rest of the -KRY ballad sub-vocal line in the group's youngest Kyuhyun & Ryeowook but Donghae also picked up quite a few more lines while a lot of the rapping was spread out from just Eunhyuk (and occasionally Shindong) to gleefully include Heechul. The rest -- Leeteuk, Kangin, Sungmin, Siwon -- are basically there to provide alternate vocal color and to mean mug the hell out the stage (what's up, Siwon). (Although, I will say -- Kangin, Sungmin and even Eunhyuk have really audibly improved quite a bit.)

Despite the fact that Super Junior's vocal abilities are modest, the group often still insists upon a ridiculous amount of ballads on their full albums that would always really bother me. It's not that they shouldn't ever perform ballads. If it's the case of "Sorry Sorry - Answer", the feel is unique and sexy and plays to the members involved strengths. But just tacking on generic ballads to full album sets, when the majority of the vocals are given to Yesung, Ryeowook and Kyuhyun anyway, never made much sense to me. Personally, I don't go to a Super Junior party to hear them sing weepy ballads. Maybe once in awhile ("Marry U", anyone?) but now seven albums on, they should be realizing just where there strengths lie and that was part of my problem with Sexy, Free & Single - The 6th Album

Maybe it was because of Yesung's absence (I hope not), but this problem seems to have remedied itself on Mamacita. All of the cuts are of mid-tempo or quicker with the exception of the gorgeous final cut, ballad "Islands". I call out "Islands" first because it adequately features all of the members involved. While the song itself tells the story of overcoming countless trial and tribulation, most likely in a romantic relationship, the group attributes it toward their strength and connection as a band of friends. "After barely crossing the wave that is this world / I'm getting a little closer to that place that we promised / To you / Closer, closer."

Upon my initial first listen, even cuts that initially felt like they'd be ballads ("This Is Love", "Evanesce", "Raining Spell for Love") happily proved me wrong by employing more walking basslines and more of a faster feel. This overall makes the whole set fly by quicker and feel much more cohesive and this should be applauded.

"Midnight Blues" stands out in particular for its smokey, jazz club kind of feel. It's much more of a sophisticated, adult sound from a group that prides itself on its childish behavior. Love One Direction? "Too Many Beautiful Girls" sounds like a catchy cast-off from their catalog with the lines colored in by Super Junior's gleeful energy. I'm picturing this being performed live during the next Super Show in swim trunks (and nothing else). Make it happen, boys.

"Let's Dance" is a fun disco-lite romp that sounds like it wouldn't be so out of place on a Donghae & Eunhyuk full length. For this reason, I assumed it was Team One Sound like "Oppa Oppa" or "I Wanna Dance" but no! It was actually produced the euro DSIGN Group, who've provided a variety of SMTown smashes in the past ("Rum Pum Pum Pum", "I Got a Boy"). They do tend work more with the JPOP side of SM however, so maybe the connection to "Oppa Oppa" makes sense. (They also tackled "This Is Love", a lovely listen as well).

When KPOP idols come to music shows for their big comeback, they also perform one b-side from the album as well and imagine my utter euphoria when it was announced the b-side for this comeback would be "Shirt" -- a silly, pop romp ("Sugar! Sugar! Hun-eh Huneh!") written by my love Donghae. It's about time the boy got some recognition for his composition contributions! The song is ridiculous but also ridiculously catchy and features all of the guys being pseudo-sexy (some are better at it than others...just saying), fake instrument playing, and a handful (ha!) of pelvic thrusting for good measure. Bless you, Hae. You know exactly what the fans want, don't you.

This brings us to "Mamacita".

"Sorry Sorry" (part 4) it is not. So snaps and claps to SM, Yoo Young-Jin, and the team for attempting to do something different for the guys this time 'round. Perhaps this was thanks to a little help from Teddy Riley, who's been skulking around the SM Studios since Girls Generation's "The Boys". Given "Mamacita" has a "latin" swing to it, Teddy's influence is revealed in the roll of the beat and the inclusion of horns in a less big band-y way that has been Young-Jin's drug of choice lately. The trumpet flares feel less vintage and more sexy -- which is exactly what they were aiming for, I'm sure.

The choreography is fantastic in some places, totally unimaginative during others (smacking your head? really?) but given that we actually got a video that had a plot (we'll use that term loosely again), beggars can't really be choosers. The song is definitely a new spin on the group without going 180 and the chorus is super catchy. A+, in my book. the video. If you dislike the crack plot, you must be new here. I for one am jumping up and down that Super Junior are FINALLY being their weirdo selves with this!

I'm replacing my patented, bullet-pointed thoughts (which I realize I haven't done in what feels like a million years...) with the "plot" of the story. If you feel confused by this, just imagine three or four of these being included in literally every Super Junior live show and you'll start to understand the plight of the ELF fandom.

The Full "Plot": Criminal Mastermind Leeteuk breaks out of jail, complete in hat, poncho and spanish guitar. This makes the Town Sheriff (who else but the modelesque Siwon complete with yet another ridiculous moustache) very twitchy, so he goes to get drunk at Heechul's bar. As a totally unrelated, totally random bullfighter (Eunhyuk) shows off in the street to impress women (appropriate choice of role, Hyuk), the "Director of the Bank" Sungmin waddles around with an ornate jeweled crown (um...okay) and hides it basically in plain sight in a carriage in the street FILLED WITH PEOPLE WHO SEE HIM. One such person is Leeteuk who salivates over the prize. Blacksmith Shindong is apparently a corrupt accomplice to this Thief and distracts Sungmin while Leeteuk flails in happiness and goes to take the crown for himself. He runs off and Sungmin angrily tries to go after him -- but is held back by Shindong who knocks him uncouncious with his Blacksmithing mallet (Where's the Sheriff when you need him? Off crying in a corner. Literally. Damnit, Siwon -- focus!). 

Barber Ryeowook sees Shindong's dirty deed, freaks out and screams for help from Siwon who finally comes running (seriously -- Worst. Sheriff. Ever.) With Sungmin still uncouncious, Siwon goes out seeking vengence and Gamblin'/Magician Man (okay?) Kyuhyun sneaks over and apparently steals money from Sungmin's coat pocket (A scheming no-good with no respect for his elders? Again, appropriate choice of casting.) CLIMAX MOMENT: Fruit Seller Kangin, wearing a platinum-blonde wig (presumably a woman's) is entirely too affectionate with the fruit he sells. In his haste to get away, Leeteuk crashes right into him and Kangin's beloved son/watermelon falls to the dirt ground, smashing and smooshing into pieces. Kangin crumples to the ground in utter agony. Someone give this boy an Emmy. That poor, poor Watermelon Baby! SIWON, SERIOUSLY!! CHILDREN ARE DYING HERE! Out for blood, Kangin runs after Leeteuk. 

Meanwhile, Eunhyuk is still dancing in the street as Kyuhyun steals all the female attention by performing random magic tricks (are you lost yet?), and in enters Donghae, The Bounty Hunter. I'm guessing the reason for this choice of role was the pun on his name with "Dog, The Bounty Hunter"? No? Well, otherwise it makes LITERAL NO SENSE that the most child-like member would be the one with the gun to haul in criminals. Oh, Hae, you troll. He's also trying to track Leeteuk, and is clearly unsure of where to go as he's unsurprisingly the worst Bounty Hunter ever. He enlists the help of Eunhyuk (sigh, again unsurprising) to help find Leeteuk. As they discuss their plan of attack, Leeteuk walks RIGHT BY THEM. Way to do your job, Donghae. Clearly, this is the job you were born to do. Not only does he not notice Leeteuk walking by, he STOPS HIM AND ASKS HIM IF HE'S SEEN LEETEUK. (This is the part where Mel realizes this really was the perfect role choice for Donghae. Because he would be that much of a Spacey Stacey.)

Best. Screencap. Ever. You're welcome.
The puzzle piece comes together too late for Hae and Teuk runs off. Kyu appears to be in cohoots with Teuk, too, and does some kind of magic trick that sends all of the women in a stampede (AH, THE BULLFIGHTER REFERENCE MAKES SENSE NOW) toward Donghae & Eunhyuk. Donghae ducks out and after Leeteuk while the women crowd Eunhyuk. Shindong, Kyuhyun and Leeteuk regroup (and yet by this time, Donghae and Siwon still have not done a damn thing to catch them -- beauty over brains, I guess) to clamor over their prize (well, mostly Teuk and Shindong -- Kyu's too busy doing magic tricks to the camera, whoops! Everyday he's shufflin'.). Trying to make a getaway, Shindong again proves his violent tendencies by sneaking up on innocent Ryeowook (WAE!) but Donghae does us a solid and comes out of nowhere, snarling with very intense eyebrow acting (he learned from the best...Siwon). But of course, because he's Donghae, he keeps his eyes on Shindong and Leeteuk sneaks by him. AGAIN. (Head smacks forehead.) In the struggle for the gun (which Donghae enjoys wayyyy too much), the gun temporarily points at poor Ryewook again who flips the *&$% out, screaming and shouting until both Hae & Shindong fall to the ground. He proceeds to assault Shindong's nether region (because this is Super Junior) with his only weapon -- a barber's brush.

With the Shindong threat handled (again, loosely defined term), Siwon appears out of nowhere to try and be of any help to this unfortunate town. He finds Eunhyuk macking on -- wait? -- a white girl?!? -- and asks him for help on Teuk's whereabouts. Unsurprisingly, Hyuk is of 0 help and Siwon pouts like a child (with a gun). Teuk suddenly appears and shoots Siwon. Siwon "dies" a Wild Wild West style death as everyone looks on in shock and agony (except Kyu...because...well, he's Kyu). Heechul steps up to the plate and grabs a gun to shoot Teuk who runs off just as Siwon sits back up, revealing the bullet hit his metal Sheriff's star, which is apparently impenetrable. (Guys, it's a tin-foil star, not a bullet-proof vest...)

Leeteuk runs to Heechul's bar (wait, wasn't Heechul just? But...what?) to cash in on his Crown on his own (if it's Sungmin's crown and he's the head of the bank, shouldn't he be going to the bank?) and Heechul grabs a gun but then GIVES TEUK THE MONEY. He celebrates (as he should -- none of this would happen in real life!) and as he walks out, he's met with the rest of Super Junior who are none to happy with him for a variety of reasons and rationales.

Siwon walks out with a gun to Heechul's head and then -- the twist -- Kyu walks out and hands the crown to Siwon and pulls out a shiny Sheriff's star, too! He pins it on as everyone gapes at him. Wait -- so there are two Sheriffs? If Kyu was undercover, why didn't he book Teuk (that rhymed) before when they were alone? It's clear he did it -- he had the stolen goods with him and just escaped from jail! WHAT THE ACTUAL F*&#^?

Everyone celebrates in the street as Leeteuk, Shindong, and Heechul are tied up to pay for their crimes, and Siwon taunts them with the Crown just out of their reach. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

INTERVIEW/HEAR THIS: Molly Roth Says "Pin Me Up"

It's been a hot second since I've pulled on my cutest Interviewing Mel outfit and gone a little deeper with a new potential popstar...and so I've remedied that via my little chat with Molly Roth

Molly is fresh on to the music scene by way of her first single, "Pin Me Up", a primo pop jam doused with a little bit of retro pastiche. Ms. Roth is a classically trained singer and pianist with a unique, colorful timbre to her strong voice. Many of her available tunage including "Pin Me Up" displays the different characters and shades of her personality with a more complex type lyrical style that is definitely missing from the mainstream. Comparison's to Lady Gaga's more dramatic ballads and mid-tempos would be quite apropos -- indeed "Pin Me Up" sounds like a missing puzzle piece to the Born This Way album.

Like what you hear? "Pin Me Up" is available for purchase on iTunes or for streaming on Spotify. You can also follow her on Twitter via @mollyrothmusic. Her debut EP is slated for release this fall.  

Molly and I talked about her experience in the music industry, what makes her tick in the studio, meeting Lana Del Rey, current artists she is really digging, and of course, which Spice Girls song is her ultimate favorite.

Read on for my exclusive interview with Molly herself...

MEL: Let's jump right in -- Your musical background is full of classic training via the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles, Kilburn in the UK, and UC Berkeley. Clearly you're a big believer in being well-versed. Can you describe your educational experiences and how it influenced you as a songwriter, musician, and performer?

MOLLY: I do happen to have a lot of musical training but what I have learned through it all is that your natural ear for music/melody/harmony is the most important thing to being successful as a musical artist. I am just one of those people (or nerds?) who happens to love breaking down music and understanding the theory behind it all. I also love being able to communicate to my band or other musicians not like your typical/standard vocalist. I like being able to use my training when I get stuck in deciding which chord I should change to with a song. I like knowing that I can write and play anything on the piano because my classical training on piano has enhanced my technical abilities. I’m not saying my path is the “right path”. But, it was right for me. I actually never would have attended UC Berkeley but I received a full scholarship, which I guess influenced me enough to go.

In addition to your voice, you also play piano. Do you play on all of your songs? Do you plan any other instruments as well?

Yes, I have played piano on all my songs so far. I can play ukulele as well. 

Like you, I also worked at a record label while in college studying music. What was your
experience at the Universal Music Group like? What did you get to do with them?

My experience with Universal Music Group was awesome…the highlight of my college experience really. I was their lifestyle and marketing representative, which means I basically stood as the liaison between the label and the school. I would attend shows in both the Easy Bay and in San Francisco and write recaps on how the show was perceived, the demographic of the audience, and had opportunities to meet and/or assist the artist backstage after the show. I also held promotional listening parties for UMG’s artists where I was given free CD giveaways and merchandise items to give to attendees and to college radio stations, etc. I was always sporting a Tyga t-shirt with The Weeknd buttons all over my handbag. 

My favorite experience was assisting Lana Del Rey at an Amoeba show and signing in San Francisco. I met her and her band. She was a sweetheart and the band was so cool. I also hung out with Far East Movement….hanging out with artists isn’t part of the job but every time I was at one of the events I would end up chatting with someone who knew the band and the next thing I know, I’d be invited to the after party! I never talked about my own music- I was always very professional when representing Universal- but, I was just genuinely interested in hanging out and I got lucky!

You have a really fun, descriptive lyrical style that really stands apart from a lot of modern pop stars. Do your songs typically stem from real life experiences?

Thanks! Ummm… mostly yes! I like to use metaphors and word-play a lot. I think, “Pin Me Up” is a really fun song but there are a lot of adult topics that are implied. (Ex: “Dirty Shirley’s dancing in the dark”. Also, “Driving down the west coast blazing” isn’t about just driving fast…) These are taken from my real-life experiences. Most of my songs definitely are but there are a few exceptions.

What is the studio process like with you? Do the lyrics come first or do you have a fun groove or hook that you build on?

I write each song entirely at home at my piano. If you listen to the home demo of “Pin Me Up”, it’s completely different. In fact, all my songs sound like musicals before the production aspect kicks in. I usually start with a cool chord progression, which inspires a melody, which sometimes, simultaneously transforms into a lyrical hook that I then base the entire song around. I never go into a songwriting session knowing what will come out. 

A lot of the songs available on your SoundCloud have a decidedly throwback, stripped down vibe. Will this be the main concept for your upcoming release? What inspired you to take this path?

A lot of the older songs I have posted are like pieces from my diary. I love the songs and they have a lot of sentimental value but they aren’t the artist I am today. Don’t get me wrong- my favorite song of mine is one called, “Imaginary Friend”- I wrote it when I was 19. But, I am way more structured now as an artist and I have a very focused path due to my experience working in the music industry. Today, I have a creative team and producer I am working with (Daniel Ford/Dr Ford) and I am excited to debut the new EP. It’s my first “official” release of anything. 

In addition to your vintage flair, do you draw inspiration from any modern day artists? 

Many. Sia, Amy Winehouse, Katy Perry, Ariana Grande are ones many have heard but right now I am really into FKA Twigs and Banks. I also am inspired by a model named, Ophelia Overdose. You should check her out.

Will do! Your first single "Pin Me Up" is described as being based on different elements of your personality. How so?

I love playing characters. I actually use to be a professional faerie, mermaid, and pirate. It’s not that I actually have multi-personalities, but I guess I am some sort of performer of my own world. (I also once took an office job so I could wear a sexy pencil skirt and button-up shirt.) “Pin Me Up” opens with the “dramatic and classic vocalist Molly” at the piano, goes on to be the America’s sweetheart type of girl, becomes the naughty/ misbehaved “Dirty Shirley” (my favorite drink) and then in the bridge it’s all a fun party, we’re dancing, and we’re on a road trip with the top down and bass up! Wow. Should I go into therapy?

Finally, your bio mentions your first dalliance with the music industry was attempting to put together an all-girl pop band inspired by the Spice Girls as a child (amazing!). What's your favorite Spice Girls song? 

Wow. That’s a tough question for me because as a child, each song meant so much to me. I probably loved either “Say You’ll Be There”, “Wannabe”, or “2 Become 1”. 

In closing, any words for your fans out there or for folks just checking out your music for the first time?

Check out my first single, “Pin Me Up” on Spotify, iTunes, and Soundcloud! It’s totally a great summer jam and I hope you enjoy it and get my EP this upcoming Fall!

My thanks to Ms. Molly Roth and the LaFamous team for this opportunity!

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