Tuesday, January 31, 2012

HEAR THIS: Rebecca Ferguson's "Too Good To Lose"

I usually file UK X-Factor runner up Rebecca Ferguson along the likes of Leona Lewis or Emeli Sande -- she has a big soulful set of pipes (in Rebecca's case -- in a very jazzy tone), but the material is often so slow or moody, I really have to be in the mood to want to actively listen to it.

However, that all changed when I heard this ace little remix of her upcoming single. The song, "Too Good To Lose," is due for release to radios in the UK in late February/early March. Co-written by Rebecca herself, "Too Good To Lose" is exactly that, especially in its Seamus Haji Remix incarnation. Take a listen to the remix below. It's unsurprising that I adore this version -- as I enjoy the vast majority of Seamus Haji's remixes. He has a real penchant for fusing genres -- his remixes are so much more than just slapping some heavy beats and synth underneath a pop cut and calling it a day.

This is not to bemoan the original, which I enjoy very, very much. On the whole, I find it much stronger than her debut single, the more unassuming "Nothing's Real But Love," which went to Top 10 in the UK. In my opinion, "Lose" is much more radio friendly, accessible and singable in general -- and plays to her vocal strengths.

With the remix, the song completely transforms and takes on an almost 70's disco feel meets current club fare. Ferguson's vocals verge on the Whitney Houston-esque (especially cerca "It's Not Right But It's Okay" -- think Thunderpuss Remix). It's proof positive that when remixes are done right, they can be a really great thing. My only complaint is the remix stripping the song of its heavy piano chords, but overall, it's a really great re-invention of a great single.

The full album, Heaven, has already been declared platinum in the UK.

Monday, January 30, 2012

MAILBAG MONDAY: Lady Pista, Official Hot Mess, Verona

Want to submit your tunes for future Melismatic Mailbag Mondays (try saying that one aloud three times fast)? Send anything and everything to submissions@melismaticblog.com! :) Read on for this week's ear candy...

"Fatal Love"
Genre: Dancehall meets chilled-out club-dubstep meets R&B
File Near: M.I.A., Kid Sister

Canadian songstress Lady Pista has an interesting mix of genres stirred up in her body of work to create something uniquely her own. "Underground Dancefloor" has elements of reggae mixed in with chunky electric guitars and a slight dubstep feel, while softer ballad "Fatal Love" (below) has more of an R&B lean to it mixed with club-ready beats. The Lady's debut EP, Ritual, was released last year, and a full LP release is due sometime in 2012.


"Money Makes the Girl$ Go Round"
Genre: Pop Rock
File Near: Lillix and Aly & AJ, shook up in a Ke$ha blender

Official Hot Mess (or OHM) is a pop rock band fronted by Kristy and Lindsey Landers Niedenfuer, the offspring of actress Judy Landers and baseball famer Tom Niedenfuer. Their debut single, "Money Makes the Girl$ Go Round" was a hot commodity over at MTV, and as also featured on Showtime's "The Real L Word" as well as the reality show following those crazy Kardashian sisters. Kristy & Lindsey are plotting a reality show of their own, starring themselves and their run at pop rock stardom. The song has a kitsch to it that makes it sticky and likeable in that glamorous hot mess kind of way. The video for their other single, "Sexy Face," is set to debut on MTV tomorrow.


Genre: Hazy, Dreamy Electro Rock
File Near: M83

This Aussie rock troupe has found a niche in this slo-rock jam sound set to electro beats, with the proof being the single "Hero", released back in November. They also recently released an original mashup of various current hits in the Verona "style", including Flo Rida's "Good Feeling," Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy", Rihanna's "We Fell In Love" and LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem", dubbed "Music That Makes You Explode (Pop Mini Mix)" with "Hero" mixed in.You can download both for free at their Facebook.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

WGO: Chart Watch

Below denotes songs and artists of note featured on the Billboard Hot 100 (USA), Hot Dance/Club Play (USA), UK Hot (UK), Japan and KPOP (South Korea) Charts. Italicized items have been discussed on Melismatic.

Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart:
1. Adele - Set Fire To the Rain (AIRPLAY GAINER)
2. Rihanna - We Found Love (feat. Calvin Harris)
3. Flo Rida - Good Feeling
4. David Guetta - Turn Me On (feat. Nicki Minaj) (DIGITAL GAINER)
5. Katy Perry - The One That Got Away
6. Bruno Mars - It Will Rain
7. LMFAO - Sexy and I Know It
8. Kelly Clarkson - Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You...)
9. Jay-Z/Kanye West - Ni**as In Paris
10. Jessie J - Domino

Friday, January 27, 2012

IN REVIEW: TVXQ!'s Different 'TONE'

This one was a long work in progress. Forgive me.

Call it bias (because it is), but formally writing a review for TVXQ! (in this formation, as it's a Japanese release, known as Tohoshinki) and their most recent album release in TONE was painstakingly difficult for me. Now, as the duo embarks on their first official concert tour stage since DongBangPocalypse, their first formal headlining tour since 2009's 'The Secret Code', also in Japan, there is no better time than the present to reflect on this not new but certainly different version of TVXQ!

TONE is TVXQ's fifth release in Japan, but unlike its counterpart in fifth Korean release Keep Your Head Down, TONE feels more full, more confident and less jumbled. On the whole, while I'm not nearly as knowledgeable about the Japanese music scene, I've always personally felt that TVXQ's Japanese releases were their strongest (case in point - fourth album 'The Secret Code' being their strongest release top to bottom ever, in any language, period). The reason for this to me is clear -- this material allows them to express what in their native country they couldn't. Part of that comes from the emotions that are exuded through the material. Since Japanese is for most members of 5-TVXQ! their second language, they are continually forced to dig to the heart of the material in order to breathe life into it, whereas, with their Korean material, understanding would come to them naturally.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

HEAR THIS: Flawless & Steph Jones Say "Ah Yeah"

Confession Time: Ever since the Pastele showcase I attended a few weeks back, I've had one song on constant replay and that is "L.I.E.", a collabo jam between dance rapper Flawless and Amy of Karmin (performed live that night with Pastele supplying the female vocals). So much so, that looking into the rest of Flawless' material seemed like a no-brainer, and when I did, I was momentarily stunned.

A native of Queens, he's opened Ray J, Fabolous & Trey Songz, toured across the US, the UK & China, and was an original finalist for Diddy's first 'Making The Band' (remember The Band? No?). His path to independant success has been non-stop ever since, earning attention from industry elite on the back of his own hard work, so when he says he's on a grind, he really means it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

HEAR THIS: Neon Hitch can "F*ck U Betta"

Few things that I wanna say
Still got my dignity
No one will love you like me...
She's prettier than I'll ever be
Got yourself a beauty queen, yeah
But there's one thing I gotta say...
-Neon Hitch, "F*ck U Betta"

A sure lot has changed since I last formally checked in on Brit (and now Warner Brothers-recording artist) Neon Hitch two and a half years ago. She wrote tunes for Ke$ha & Sky Ferreira, released an ace buzz single in "Get Over U" (co-written by Sia) and nabbed featured tags alongside 3OH!3 and most recently Gym Class Heroes (on their current radio gem "Ass Back Home").

As for herself, Ms. Hitch has a brand new single that stands apart from the musical identity of when I first discovered her in favor of more scandalicious club beats. Last year saw the release of club single "Bad Dog" -- a hooky piece of innuendo in tribute to bad boys. This year, we have a formal single release, dubbed "F*ck U Betta", and its is the lead release off her upcoming debut album, Beg, Borrow and Steal, due for release later this year. File this one under Guilty Pleasure Club Pop in the very best sense.
With a name like "F*ck U Betta", you can already guess it's a floor-stomping, in-your-face, pompous party cut. It's exactly that, plus a bag of chips. Neon's trademark baby-voiced cooing comes full-Auto-Tuned-throttle, drawing you in to the brash and repetative hook amid smokey synth thumps. The ultimate self-righteous kiss-off to an ex who's moved on? Pretty much.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

BACK IN THE DAY: It's A 'Blaque Out'

2012 brings the revival of my Back in the Day columns, speaking about pop music material from ten years prior, so from here on out, our Year of Pop 2002. In January of 2002, I was still a Freshman in High School (waiting on bated breath for a fourth *NSYNC album that would never come). First up is a girl group I've mentioned once before in this column.

Blaque, a pop-meets-urban trio who saw some success in the late 90's with their Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes-assisted 1999 debut album Blaque, has always remained a question mark in my mind. The majority of this reasoning is becaue their debut record became more than a staple to me during this period.

Their sound and appeal was basically a younger version of TLC gone pop, trading the Fanmail era's space-suits for neon color blocking, bubble wrap and pacifiers (in fact, they even opened for the ladies during the Fanmail tour). Many tossed them off in favor of some of their contemporaries, the biggest being 3LW. Not I -- as Blaque was fully stacked to yours truly. Admittedly, I gathered interest at first due to a bemusing collaboration with *NSYNC's other frontman, but I stayed for other, more R&B-flavored cuts, like "808".

Monday, January 23, 2012

MAILBAG MONDAY: Eva, Kazaky, ControlFreaksUK & Nicole Lawrence

Keep sending in your stellar tuneage to submissions@melismaticblog.com! I don't know why I didn't think of this column idea sooner, but I'm glad I did! On to this week's gems:

Genre: Four-on-the-Floor Electro
File Near: Katy Perry
I've mentioned Eva once before on the blog thanks to her dancefloor romp (co-written by Ke$ha herself), "Ashes". She's still on the dancefloor, and chasing the rising dubstep trend with her latest single, sexy "Body On Mine," featuring Young Money protege of the moment, Tyga. While I'm a bit more partial to the club-ready "Extended Dubstep Remix", the radio edit (see below) could very well have legs...


Genre: Fierce 90's Eurodance meets 2012 House
File Near: Visually, these boys have NO competition.
Picture this: four metro!glam boys from the Ukraine, better known as Kazaky, working it out to House Music in stilletto heels. The video for their most recent single, "Dance and Change," is honestly a piece of art in its simplicity as the main spotlight is on the stellar choreography. While the song doesn't exactly move mountains to my ears, it's the visual that draws you in. This boy band has set the bar for dancing so high, it's almost not even fair. How is it that they can do this in heels in the club, while I can barely make it through one song?

Mod-Day Radio Dance meets 60's Soul
File Near: C + C the Music Factory, (a 2012 version of) Gloria Gaynor
Burgeoning Brit production duo ControlFreaksUK (or CF-UK to those in the know) have enlisted an 2009 Brit X-Factor flameout Nicole Lawrence and her big soulful pipes in their self-penned current single "Won't Look Back." The cut is a decidedly sunny and tre soulful romp that immediately put a smile on my face and is currently my sing-in-the-shower song of the moment.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

WGO: Chart Watch (1/28/2012)

Below denotes songs and artists of note featured on the Billboard Hot 100 (USA), Hot Dance/Club Play (USA), UK Hot (UK), Japan and KPOP (South Korea) Charts. Italicized items have been discussed on Melismatic.

Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart:
1. Rihanna - We Found Love (feat. Calvin Harris)
2. Adele - Set Fire to the Rain (AIRPLAY GAINER)
3. Flo Rida - Good Feeling (feat. Sia)
4. Bruno Mars - It Will Rain
5. LMFAO - Sexy and I Know It
6. Katy Perry - The One That Got Away
7. Jay-Z/Kanye West - Ni**as In Paris
8. Tyga - Rack City
9. Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa - Young, Wild & Fire (feat. Bruno Mars)
10. David Guetta - Turn Me On (feat. Nicki Minaj)

Friday, January 20, 2012

RIP Etta James

I still can't believe today is real.
RIP Ms. Etta James, an essential part of my musical history.
1938 - 2012

CLUB SETLIST: January 2012

In an on-going effort to introduce new article ideas to Melismatic, each month or so I'll be releasing a "set list" of my some of favorite current club jams (that's DJ Melismatic to you...). This month, I managed to keep it fairly well balanced in the gender department. Introducing to you...

Melismatic's January 2012 Club Set List:

01. Erika Jayne - Party People (Ignite the World)
02. Lady Gaga - Marry the Night (R3HAB Remix)
03. Wonder Girls - The DJ Is Mine (feat. School Gyrls)
04. Blush - Undivided (feat. Snoop Dogg) (David Aude Radio Mix)
05. Enrique Iglesias & Dev - Naked
06. David Guetta - Turn Me On (feat. Nicki Minaj)
07. Chris Willis - Too Much In Love (Gina Star Dub Mix)
08. Porcelain Black - Naughty Naughty
09. Skrillex - Summit (feat. Ellie Goulding)
10. Tiesto - What Can We Do (Deeper Love) (feat. Anastacia)

Listen to the majority of this set via my Spotify playlist (and subscribe), or click the cut below and listen to the entire thing online now, complete with commentary (because I wouldn't be me if I didn't).

Thursday, January 19, 2012

IN REVIEW: Jada Goes 'Supersonique'

My favorite American foursome in Boston-based Jada are going full steam ahead with their brand new EP release, now available on iTunes and Amazon!

The set is titled Supersonique, after their new single to followup last year's "This Party's On Fire" (which is included in its original form, along with an "extended" remix), and also contains three other brand new cuts.

All of the new cuts, along with "This Party's On Fire" were produced by up and coming producer (and Boston's own!) RIO, and were co-written by the Jacyn, April, Lauren & Elle (see left to right in the cover art you see to the left) themselves. The genres represented are a good smattering in sound, not totally unlike Jada's previous releases in the RedOne-produced uptempo "American Cowboy" and tear-jerking mid-tempo ballad "Break Up Song". Supersonique takes Jada's ease with genres and runs with it, with very good results in a very short span of elapsed playing time.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


I plead the fifth, boys. Just don't hurt me...

If you told me in early 2010 I would become blackhole obsessed with not just one, but two stellar cuts by South Korean boy band five-piece MBLAQ (part of the last generation of Korea's boy bands that are actually around my age -- sob!), I would have told you you were crazy.

Sure, on paper, MBLAQ looks like a stellar troupe to beat. They have capable vocalists (who sound just as good live as they do on their recordings -- very important), tight dance moves, and were mentored by an insignificant solo artist you might have heard of called Rain (insert Mel fanning herself here). But in reality, in a genre that's literally stuffed to the gills with prominent and well-produced boy bands, their debut single "Oh Yeah" just didn't stand out to my ears (the entire hook: "Oh Yeah!/Oh Yeah!/Oh Yeah Yeah Yeah!", in English).

Fast forward to now. 2011 was already pretty good to the Music Boys In Absolute Quality, thanks to the little latin-twinged gem "Mona Lisa", which literally grabbed both my shoulders, shook me, and said, "Hey, we deserve your attention." But it proved to be just the appetizer to the main course -- as MBLAQ has officially declared 2012 their year, via their most recent mini album release, 100% Ver. The entire record is produced by Chance of One Way, including the string- and piano-assisted, swoony and rightfully intense dance ballad "This Is War." The song is a symbolic statement and in my opinion, it could just be the spark MBLAQ needs.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

HEAR THIS: Anjulie 'Stands Behind' Her Tunes

"Yeah, I'm a big dreamer
I'm a believer
Just try to tell me 'no'
I'ma go full steam
No, can't slow me down
I built this house
From the inside out
Block by block
From the bottom to the top
I know just who I is
And I know just who I'm not"
-Anjulie, "Stand Behind the Music"

Canada's Anjulie is quickly creeping up my Stan List for a multitude of definitive reasons. The main one is obvious: she makes catchy hooks that are not only danceable, but lyrically empowering and creative. But really, I love her because she is who she is with no apology. She's a genre-bender in the best poppy sense ("Just name a genre/Yeah, I've tried it.") and it works for her because the common denominator is her attitude.

Her latest single, "Stand Behind the Music," is the second offering from her still untitled sophomore record, following the dance hit "Brand New B*tch." The song is a warrior's battle cry, proclaiming Survival in the Music Industry for a female artist who kind of fits in that other category. She's no sex kitten popstar and nor does she want to be, but she's not a sole soulstress or a serious alternative either. Basically, she's the Every Woman. She's a little of this, she's a little of that -- and she doesn't need labels to pin her down.

Monday, January 16, 2012

LIVE FROM NEW YORK: Pastele, Benatton, Jay Saint & Flawless

In lieu of Mailbag Monday this week, I'd like to share my experience at Studio 9G in Midtown Chelsea last Thursday, attending a truly well-balanced live showcase featuring four promising indie artists (including party trio Benatton, pop/R&B solo star Jay Saint and established rapper Flawless) that was headed up by one of my favorite popstars-in-training Pastele. Please continue sending in your tunes in to me for future Music Mondays via submissions@melismaticblog.com or via my SoundCloud DropBox.

Pastele, whose single "Tabletops" was among my Top 40 Fave Cuts of 2011, performed both acoustically and with a DJ & two dancers, opening and closing the night and debuting a few new never-before heard songs including her upcoming single. As she put it, art inspires music and music inspires art, and that was the theme of the night.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

WGO: Chart Watch (1/21/2012)

Below denotes songs and artists of note featured on the Billboard Hot 100 (USA), Hot Dance/Club Play (USA), UK Hot (UK), Japan and KPOP (South Korea) Charts. Italicized items have been discussed on Melismatic.

Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart:
1. Rihanna - We Found Love (feat. Calvin Harris)
2. LMFAO - Sexy and I Know It
3. Bruno Mars - It Will Rain
4. Adele - Set Fire to the Rain (AIRPLAY GAINER)
5. Flo Rida - Good Feeling
6. Katy Perry - The One That Got Away
7. Jay-Z/Kanye West - Ni**as in Paris
8. Jason Mraz - I Won't Give Up (DEBUT)
9. LMFAO - Party Rock Anthem
10. Adele - Someone Like You

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

MIXTAPE: In Homage To...with Florrie, Penguin Prison, Darren Hayes & Vanbot

One of my New Year's Resolutions, along with writing more period, is to be more invested in my little Blogger Community of Comrades, developed over the years through snarky @replies on Twitter and on blog posts as well as through friends of friends. This week's mixtape  highlights a few songs that I've started spinning completely ad naseum over the past few weeks, and it's all thanks to some folks I truly admire (and who should definitely grace your Bookmarks List). All of these were mentioned as among these blogger's faves for the Year of Our Pop 2011.

PENGUIN PRISON - "Don't F*ck With My Money"
Props To:
D'Luv @ ChartRigger
The artist Penguin Prison is actually one person -- Chris Glover -- who has been gaining momentum over the past few years for some truly ace remixes. I was already quite fond of his remixes of Ellie Goulding and Marina & The Diamonds. This led me to associate his moniker as a remixer only but boy, was I wrong (and when I'm wrong, I say I'm wrong). After his initial deal with Interscope went south, he signed up with the indie fabulousness that is Neon Gold here in NYC (which is also the US home to the two aforementioned ladies, amongst a myriad of others). He released his debut record, also titled Penguin Prison, last year, and my, is it listenable in a very wonky Mika meets Jamaroquai kind of way. "Don't F*ck With My Money" stands out for its sunny, 80's-esque bravado, coming complete with biting delivery...with a smile.
Other Notable Cuts: "A Funny Thing", "Something I'm Not", "Pinocchio" ...basically the entire record.

VANBOT - "Make Me, Break Me"
Props To:
Yuri @ Olga Loves Yuri
So here's something you should know about me. If someone who shares a similar musical taste to mine says there's an awesome pop artist out there who is 1) electro, 2) Swedish, 3) sounds somewhat similar to Robyn, I'm there. Period. No questions asked. In the case of Ms. Vanbot, that dalliance was extremely successful. The dark dance record that is her self-titled debut is somewhere between Body Talk!Robyn and Little Boots (especially in looks and choices of cover art). I was torn between highlighting the lyrical vision that is "Numb" or the more accessible "Make Me, Break Me" (and decided on the latter), but to be perfectly honest, my favorite from this record changes daily. With just over 11,000 hits on her "Make Me, Break Me" video, it's shame more people the world over aren't as aware of her awesomeness.
Other Notable Cuts: "Numb", "Ringing", "Bitter Is The Sweetest Part", "Bad Day (feat. Sebastian

DARREN HAYES - "Bloodstained Heart"
Props To:
Paul @ My Fizzy Pop
Confession Time. Me circa my middle school years, I was all about Savage Garden. To this day "To The Moon & Back" is one of my favorite songs of all time. Despite this (and the vast majority of my blog buddies suggestions), I've never really felt any desire to look into Darren Hays solo material. Until now. His fourth solo release, dubbed Secret Codes and Battleships, was released in October and is often noted for being his most commercial-accessible, which is perhaps why I fell in love at first listen. My entrance into the album came through "Bloodstained Heart" at Paul's suggestion, primarily used for promo in Australia. The song has a shimmering vulnerability to it that reminds me a lot of Savage Garden's A-Material, and that's a very good thing indeed. That and a lot of gorgeous falcetto (which is always a good thing).
Other Notable Cuts: "Talk Talk Talk", "Black Out the Sun" (originally written for Leona Lewis), "Cruel Cruel World", "Don't Give Up"

FLORRIE - "I Took A Little Something"
Props to:
Stephen @ XO's Middle Eight
Florrie is a little over a year younger than me, and already she has racked up a resume I'm beyond jealous of as a member of the Xenomania collective in the UK, playing drums for the legendary Girls Aloud amongst others. Thanks to her relation to the much revered Xenomania, her projects have gained a lot of hype around the blogosphere, and while the majority of her Introduction EP left me interested but not excited, her more recent EP, Experiments, did much more to stoke the fire. At the helm was "I Took A Little Something." Florrie is an interesting oddity to my words because she defies what I tend to classify as the "Xenomania Sound", but still sounds familiar in a good way. I will remain forever jealous of the UK's brand of witty dance-pop.
Other Notable Cuts: "Begging Me", "Speed of Light"

Monday, January 09, 2012

MAILBAG MONDAY: Woman E, Sing Me Insomnia, Emeli Sande, Patrick Hagenaar

I only started this column idea last week and already I have received a TRUCKLOAD of awesome cuts -- which made it actually really difficult to narrow down! You all are amazing! Keep sending your submissions in to submissions@melismaticblog.com! If I didn't get to you this week, rest assured -- so many different e-mails are starred and songs have been spinning in my Spotify. I will get to you eventually!

90's Influenced Electropop/Eurodance
File Near: the Minogue Sisters, Mini Viva
Woman E is an indie London meets Berlin duo and have released a couple of stellar dancey singles ("Few and Far Between" & "Another Renaissance", both available on Spotify) between 2010-2011. They are currently gearing up for their third release, dubbed "Desire," in late February. "Desire" has a twinge of dreamy Kylie Mingoue meets "Video Killed the Radio Star" kind of club groove with an unrelenting bass pulse. Basically, it has club smash written all over it.
Linkable: here here
Listen to a teaser of "Desire" below.
Desire (Teaser) by Aztec Records

Radio-Friendly Pop Rock with a Punk Edge
File Near: Hot Chelle Rae
Sing Me Insomnia (or SMI to the kids in the know) is a four-piece outfit based in Virginia that have developed a sizeable online presence through YouTube videos. Considering how well produced this little nugget of power pop is, I'm shocked these boys haven't yet been approached by a label! "Miss Me Now", their latest single released last month, is available through iTunes) and comes complete with solid vocals from their frontman, blazing guitar riffs and a Whoa-oh Whoa-oh Whoa-oh Whoa-oh hook that I've had stuck in my head all weekend.
Linkable: here
Watch the lyric video for "Miss Me Now" below.

Massive Dancefloor
File Near: Fedde Le Grand, Seamus Haji, Tiesto
Huge Dance Record Alert! If you like your subwoofers bouncing and to get lost in a swirl of blackhole repeat at the club, you need to give the Emeli Sande vs Patrick Hagenaar one-off bootleg of "Heaven" a try. It's one of those dancey mixes that within four seconds, you already like it -- mostly because it employs all of the necessary attributes of a super dance record. Best part, you can download it for free. Cha ching.
Linkable: here
**FREE DOWNLOAD** Emeli Sande vs Patrick Hagenaar - Heaven (Whitelabel) by Patrick Hagenaar

Saturday, January 07, 2012

WGO: Chart Watch (1/14/2012)

Below denotes songs and artists of note featured on the Billboard Hot 100 (USA), Hot Dance/Club Play (USA), UK Hot (UK), Japan and KPOP (South Korea) Charts. Italicized items have been discussed on Melismatic.

Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart:
1. LMFAO - Sexy and I Know It
2. Rihanna - We Found Love (feat. Calvin Harris)
3. Katy Perry - The One That Got Away
4. Bruno Mars - It Will Rain
6. LMFAO - Party Rock Anthem (DIGITAL GAINER)

7. Jay-Z/Kanye West - Ni**as in Paris
8. Adele - Set Fire to the Rain
9. Adele - Someone Like You
10. Gym Class Heroes - Stereo Hearts (feat. Adam Levine)

Thursday, January 05, 2012

IN REVIEW: Mandy Ventrice's '1985' Plays Like A Soundtrack To My Life

I'm not gonna deny I waited a long time for this one, friends.

1985 was a great year for pop. It saw Whitney Houston's official debut. Lisa Lisa & the Cult Jam, Tears For Fears and a-Ha were on the radio. Madonna was just starting to get "Into the Groove". And it was also the year Mandy Ventrice was born.

Mandy Ventrice, who quite possibly holds the honor of being the solo indie artist with the longest-running stanship by yours truly (we're taking long before Melismatic existed - back in Mandy's girl group days of yore long), finally released an album to the masses this past Tuesday. Do yourself a favor right now and purchase the six-song EP. Like right now, right now. Don't worry, I'll wait. If you're not an Apple person, it's also available on Amazon in addition to iTunes. Just $5.99 nabs you six nuggets of under-appreciated pop and the bragging rights to say you were a fan of Mandy Ventrice when. Just saying. At the very least, peruse the album on Spotify. You shan't be disappointed. Case in point, "Paradox"...

1985 does what good introduction pieces do (although to be fair to Mandy -- this is hardly an introduction for those of us who've been following her for awhile now) -- it plays to the artist's strengths and broadcasts a large range of supreme listen-ability to tug at the heartstrings of just about any type of music listener. At the same time, Mandy manages to establish her "sound" while still being entirely versatile in terms of true "genre". Her true calling card is her penchant for writing familiar, relatable and singable hooks (complete with plenty of ooh-whoa-ohs) that get stuck in your eardrums, but in a pleasant kind of way. 1985 also works rather effortlessly as a kind of concept album; heavy or light, many of the songs can be described with a 80's influence.

EDIT: Added Bonus --> Mandy has offered the one-off "Die Happy", which was also recorded during the 1985 sessions, as a free download via her SoundCloud.

In my personal preference, the six-song set reads a bit like a dalliance in my daily life -- the tip of the iceberg kind of soundtrack in terms of how I feel as a young woman, lyrically painted much more poetically than I could have ever hoped or done myself. Click beyond the cut for a track by track breakdown.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

NOW KPOPPING: Trouble Maker, T-Ara & Infinite

For this offering of Now KPopping, we have a collabo "sub-unit" from Cube's finest, a promising new-ish boy band & a sophisticated version of a sophmoric girl group. I'm refraining from squeeing over the latest Eunhae (Super Junior's Donghae/Eunhyuk "disco" romp, "Oppa Oppa (Oppa Has Risen)") -- I think its needless to say that it's brie cheese rolled in gorgonzolla and dipped in Velveeta, right? I'm totally side-eyeing Lee Soo Man for reportedly thinking that was the song to promote officially over the gorgeous "I Wanna Love You". But still, they are so pretty and do look like they are having a blast when they perform it live...Yes, Donghae, you are a yeoja kee-lah. ::sighs:: Anywho, where was I?

TROUBLE MAKER - Trouble Maker
Cube Entertainment has announced plans to create a string of "sub-units" for its three main idol artists -- 4minute, BEAST & soloist G.NA (pronounced like Gina, not like DNA, like I originally thought) -- and first out the gate is Trouble Maker, featuring one of BEAST's lead vocalists, HyunSeung(dubbed JS), and 4minute's resident sexpot HyunA. I have to admit the concept behind these sub-units is very promising, and I really love the cross-promotional idea helping keep their idols relevant and allowing them to explore new genres.

Trouble Maker is of a lounge, mellow kind of vibe, complete with a whistled hook that you can't get out of your head if you try (I blame Maroon 5 and OneRepublic for making this a global trend) and lots of at times awkward shimmying on each other. Given South Korea's at times ridiculous censorship cries, much of this is considered very risque, but in terms of an international view, it kind of helps make KPOP reachable, especially to a jaded, oversexed American public (just saying). I kind of wish more Idols would be willing to be so touchyfeely with the opposite gender, as often when they do, it's a huge deal. Whether or not we'll see this sub-unit pairing again is anyone's guess, but there is no denying there is a bit of a spark with this one.

For those of you who aren't as familiar with 4minute & BEAST, I suggest you get to know them better with some of their best offerings: "HuH" and "Breathe", respectively.

T-ARA - Cry Cry
Sexy seven-tet in girl group T-Ara (like tiara) has been making big moves since I first joined the KPOP scene in late 2009. I originally wrote them off as being too cutesy musically for my taste ("Bo Peep Bo Peep" anyone?), but after taking that very song in its Japanese incarnation to the #1 Position in Japan (a first for a "rookie" KPOP girl group...ever), I was forced to take a second glance. They wowed Asia with their summer single "Roly Poly", but for me, it doesn't get better than their latin- twinged, smokey sizzler "Cry Cry", off their most recent EP, Black Eyes. It's reminiscent of Oops! or Britney era Britney in a very good way, and shows the group in a more sophisticated light than previous releases. Since it's debut on the charts a few weeks back, it's remained in the Top 10.


Really, Mel? Another boy band? (If you have to ask, you clearly don't know me at all.)

INFINITE is a seven-membered boy band (ranging in age from 18 to 22, so I don't feel too old) signed to the same entertainment company that brought the KPOP world the hip hop troupe Epik High. The group debuted in 2010, but really gained momentum this past year, blowing past other rookie boy band competition. While their original EP, First Invasion, did nothing for me, their slickness and sheer appeal was brought to the forefront with their full Korean release, Over the Top (and even more recently with its repackage, dubbed Paradise). They also quickly embarked into the Japanese market.

Their music is distinctly different from my usual faves in the KPOP boy band spectrum (read: the SM Entertainment Aesthetic), as they rely less on party-time synth and more on the tried-and-true boy band themes of yore. "Paradise" sounds like something straight out of the early to mid 90's (not complaining), but if I have to pick a must-hear, it's "Be Mine". The 'Orchestral Remix' of the song often used on music performance shows harkens to a bit of Ace of Bace's "Beautiful Life". Below is the original music video.

Infinite is a glaring reminder to my heart that there doesn't have to be an American boy band to keep me content -- South Korea can get the job done very well.

Monday, January 02, 2012

MAILBAG MONDAY: Mike and Cody, John Rowley, Chanelle Ray & Dolly Rockers

I recieve so many awesome demos and music suggestions from YOU everyday it has often become overwhelming to me to keep up with. Enter Mailbag Monday -- a new feature I am incorporating for 2012. Here will be a weekly wrap-up of the little golden nuggets that grace my mailbox from week to week.

Want to submit your music to Melismatic? Send anything and everything you got to submissions@melismaticblog.com!

File Near: The Sounds, Outasight

Boston-based (told you it was a groundswell!) Indie 'lectropoppers (and do-it-yourself-ers) Mike and Cody released their seven-track digi EP, Let's Go!, back in October. I really like mellow "Headphones On" and the underdog anthem "I'm Gonna Steal Your Date" is downright brilliant. The whole thing is really very enjoyable without coming off as hipster pretentious, and is even more impressive when you realize these two talented dudes do all of the heavy lifting themselves (production, instrumentation and vocals). You can listen to the whole EP here (as well as purchase it -- highly recommended). FYI - for the Spotify set, the record is also available there. They also spun out a just-for-fun 8Bit-esque cover of TLC's "No Scrubs" that's very smile-worthy.
Linkable: http://mikeandcody.bandcamp.com/
Twitter: @MikeandCody

File Near: FrankMusik, Sam Sparro

Super adorbs Australian teen synth up-and-comer John Rowley has a handful of demos on his Soundcloud page that make me more than a little excited for what's to come with surprisingly witty lyrics and catchy lyrics (example: "This pop is just so throwaway / It's gone tomorrow, but it's here today" -> story of my life, right?). While the demos are promising (especially "Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder"), I'm a HUGE fan of his cover mashup of Marina & The Diamonds's "Radioactive" with Foster the People's "Pumped Up Kicks" (affectionately dubbed "Radio Kicks").
Best part? All is downloadable for free. Boom.
Linkable: http://soundcloud.com/john-rowley
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/johnrowleymusic

File Near: Keri Hilson, Aaliyah

I've mentioned my adoration for Chanelle Ray & her big bro Sean Ray several times on my old radio show at Resolution Radio, and more recently on the blog with their cover of DJ Khalid's "I'm On One". Chanelle is back with a fresh jams "Like a Drum" featuring rapper Zikki, detailing a love affair as a lesson in percussion. It blows my mind that this chick (and her equally talented brudder) are still indie. Banger Alert!
Linkable: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYi03kVPXLY
Twitter: @ChanelleRay

File Near: Belle Amie, The Saturdays

Three-piece UK girl group Dolly Rockers recently sent out a video blog outlying their recent visit to Paris to record with their main producer, RedOne (wait, don't get turned off yet! It's all good, I promise!). Their sound has morphed quite a bit from their true wonky pop days of yore years back (circa "Je Suis Une Dolly" and "Gold Digger") if the snippet of new cut "Spin The Bottle" is anything to go by. For a RedOne standard, its still very straight ahead pop, but has flashes of electric guitar which makes me kinda psyched. Not gonna lie. Last month, they also put up this cover of Demi Lovato's "Skyscraper" which I also really like (perhaps because it's downright The Saturdays-esque), especially since it shows off their true vocal chops.
Linkable: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v18-urFuSQc&feature=relmfu
Twitter: @TheDollyRockers

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