Sunday, April 29, 2012


My faves in the UK are projecting my birthday month of June to be a great one for pop. Huzzah...

Club dance is clearly the direction A-Burke is heading toward for her sophomore disc, titled Heartbreak On Hold (lovin' the name!). "Let It Go" follows up "Elephant" which produced mixed feelings for her fanbase (but went to # in the Charts), and has much more of an immediate impact than the first single. It's more of a straight-ahead, 90's-esque dance track, which is never a bad thing, and sounds very good at 11. Heartbreak On Hold is set for a June 4th release in the UK, and there is still no US release in sight.

CHERYL (HOLD THE COLE?) - "Call My Name"
While the news that Girls Aloud will be reuniting at some point in 2012 in honor of their ten year anniversary (what those details will entail is left purposely ambiguous and vague) truly trumps any of the releases by its member bretren as we lie in wait, unarguably the group's most famous face, Cheryl (apparently going mononymously for the time being) is making an attempt at solo album number three. "Call My Name" is the first offering from A Million Lights, set for release the day after my 25th birthday (holla!) on June 18th. The album is set to have production by (unfortunately) and Alex Da Kidd amongst others, and has whispers of potential duets or collaborations with Rihanna, Christina Aguilera, Far East Movement, Usher and Taio Cruz. "Call My Name", produced by the now in-demand producer Calvin Harris thanks to Rihanna's "We Found Love," feels like it could have been truly immense had a vocalist with more oomph been laced with the cut, but now it kind of feels like two songs fitted together for the benefit of the club. Whatever. It's definitely a grower and will help tide us all over till the eventual Girls Aloud comeback ishstorm that you know is coming.

PIXIE LOTT - "Dancing On My Own (feat. GD&TOP)"
I never would have thought it would be in the hands of Pixie Lott that my love for Britpop and KPOP would merge, but it has. Lott has enlisted the help of boy band Big Bang's most recongizable faces in G-Dragon (GD) and TOP (probably thanks to their win of Best Worldwide Act at the MTV Europe Music Awards) in the re-recording of her album cut "Dancing On My Own" (no, not a cover of the Robyn song) from her cooly recieved sophomore album Young Foolish Happy, no doubt in an attemp to re-light the fire beneath the album. While I love me some Pixie, I'm more of a fan of her uptempos and found "Dancing On My Own" rather throwaway during my original perusal. I know it's KPOP bias, but the boys GD&TOP help refocus interest in their first official Western-World release. Both artists shine brighter on more party-ready cuts, but I appreciate what this record represents and for that reason alone, it's hard for me to stop playing it over and over.

STOOSHE - "Black Heart"
"Love Me" made me fall for them earlier this year and rose #5 on the UK Charts. Now, the UK Motown-esque-with-a-hip-hop-twist girl group Stooshe returns with their second official radio cut in "Black Heart", a relatable midtempo. "Black Heart" strips out the cheek and exposes the group for what they are at their core -- a trio of very capable sangers (insert acapella clip here). While the timing of this as a summer track leaves me a little bit confused, it doesn't make the song itself any less gush-worthy.

I really don't think my ire with The Saturdays and their continuing penchant for moving on to the next in chasing that first #1 hit (yes, ladies - I get it - three albums and a mini gone and you've still been deprived) is a mistake. On the Radar gave us two stellar singles ("All Fired Up" and "Notorious") and an alright one ("My Heart Takes Over") but a mere FIVE MONTHS after their third album was released, we recieve "30 Days", a fun club romp to be sure, produced by Steve Mac (who wrote previous Sats' hits "Ego" and "Notorious") but a new cut nonetheless, relatively ixnaying any other single releases from On Your Radar. Had "30 Days" been promoted as a re-release cut, I would be less upset, as it clearly lends itself well to the club vibe of the album, but alas, this is a preview of the Sats' upcoming fourth record (dare I say, the potential try-to-transition-to-America album). Come on girls -- with Girls Aloud coming back and the Original Sugababes reuniting, you know you gotta come harder than this. Grousing aside, "30 Days" is a great club cut, but it's no better or worse than other gold On Your Radar jams like say, "White Lies." Or "Promise Me." Or "Faster." Or "For Myself." Or "Get Ready, Get Set." (Here comes that angry rant again.)

LITTLE NIKKI - "Intro Intro"
The recently solo (as in as of just a few weeks ago!) Little Nikki is a former 1/3 of the UK girl group SoundGirl, who caught my attention in early 2011. The group found little success in the official sense, but did manage to snag opening billing slots for The Wanted and (scream!) Justin Bieber. Despite this, SoundGirl is officially a wrap, and 16 year old Nicole Shortland needed little prodding. Re-emerging as Little Nikki, her first buzz song is "Intro Intro" complete with a Rihanna meets Katy B kind of feel that's distinctly more grown up than her age would suggest. Get it, girl.

I'm really not sure why the US even bothered with their own X-Factor. We'd be much better off just re-airing the British version. The 2010 series alone is currently launching a crazy plethora of goodies, via runner up Rebecca Ferguson, third place One Direction (yoo-hoo, hello boys!), my guilty pleasure in Belle Amie (now down another member, oyevey) and also Cher Lloyd. The latest launching is in Aiden Grimshaw, who was let go early on in the semi-finals and yet scored a deal with RCA. One listen to the first single "Is This Love" and you realize why. It's grown-dance-pop gone well-done complete with a rollicking back beat and a swoon-worthy falcetto that literally soars. Out of nowhere, Grimshaw is the word on the lips of some of my very favorite blogger friends. Incredible.

LITTLE BOOTS - "Every Night I Say A Prayer (Tensnake Remix)"
Taking a page out of Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" book with the chosen beat and blares, Little Boots returns (finally!) with "Every Night I Say A Prayer," co-written by Hercules and Love Affair. The song first appeared on her most recent mixtape, Into the Future, and is decidedly more etheral than her previous material but no less captivating. It lacks a spotlight chorus, something to me Little Boots would always do so well, but no matter -- in that sense "Prayer" comes off fresh and new, something unexpected from her camp.

RICKI-LEE - "Do It Like That (Fred Falke Remix)"
My other favorite Aussie popstar (the other being obviously Queen Kylie Minogue) is back for album number three, on the back of two quality singles "Raining Diamonds" and especially "Do It Like That." The latter has a distinct summery feel and the ante is upped in the Fred Falke Remix (unsurprising -- Falke rarely does us wrong!). What I love about Ricki-Lee is her big voice feels so very effortless and lends itself so well to dancey smashes such as this. Primo, indeed.

JOHN ROWLEY - "Stones From Glass Houses"
I first mentioned John back in January thanks to his inventive cover mashup of Marina & The Diamonds' "Radioactive" and Foster The People's "Pumped Up Kicks". He has recently released a brand new original single in the subtle and quite dark "Stones From Glass Houses", complete with a sparse piano baseline competiting with the synth. I really think the DIY vibe suits John's material well, and every original cut he produces is one step better than the prior. You can grab it for yourself know via one of those nifty "set your own price" deals at BandCamp.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

PLAYING CATCHUP: Alphabeat, Dragonette, Pastele, Eva Simons, Kat Graham, The Wanted and More!

This is what happens when I'm forced into "hiding" when it comes to this blog: my Spotify continues to whirlygig and I end up with a monster list of tunage that I'm enjoying 'round the clock that I never get around to clamouring over here in my online musical diary. Consider these your homework in terms of what to check out (if you haven't yet), as it pretty much sums up what's really blown me away since I've been able to blog properly (from an English-language perspective at least. KPOP comes this weekend, followed by a listing of UK-based tracks that the US Spotify chooses not to service...the nerve!).

ALPHABEAT - "Vacation"
All glitter, sunglasses, sparkle and 80's summer fun. This has literally kicked off my morning every morning since it's launched worldwide on iTunes. It makes me wanna wear legwarmers and a ponytail to the side (like I don't do that already...oops). Oh, Alphabeat - how I've missed you!

The kids in Dragonette are undoubtedly the artist I'd most like to see succeed in a mainstream way here in the States in 2012. Their two previous records were electro gold and their upcoming third release, helmed by "Let It Go", should prove to be nothing less. Plus there's word they may include their original version of Nicola Roberts' "Lucky Day" (which they co-wrote). Get excited.

MARINA & THE DIAMONDS - "Primadonna"
Electra Heart, come to me. Dear Selfish PopStar Wannabes, take Marina's advice and stop being so damn annoying. Love, The Rational and Intelligent Femmes of the Universe. (Oh, I went there.)

NEON TREES - "Everybody Talks"
What a singable, radio-ready alt-pop jam! 2012 is shaping up to the year that America starts to (re-)embrace the irreverant pop tune, what with fun. and Gotye soaring to the #1 position on the Hot 100. Definitely falls into a similar vein.

EVA SIMONS - "I Don't Like You"
The Dutch dance artist that so many confused for Lady Gaga when she blasted onto the "she has potential" scene with 2009's "Silly Boy" has returned to us with this dancefloor smash. While it starts out feeling like it might be slow and somewhat generic, once that chorus heats up ("Oh Nooo!/I've gone coooolllllld!/In the hearttttttt!"), you just can't deny it.

JENNIFER LOPEZ - "Dance Again" (feat. Pitbull)
And the winner of the most uninventive, if-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it mentality goes to....But seriously. It kind of is "On the Floor" all over again. Complete with Pitbull. Again. And RedOne at the helm. Again. Ready to dance? Again? Uh, duh. (But yeah -- derivative of "On The Floor", party of 3.)

PASTELE - "Step 2 This"
My girl Pastele recently released her debut solo EP bow, City of Pastele, via her website for free, on the back of this summer anthem and as soon as I heard it in full, it was forever stuck on blackhole repeat. So many cute quotables in this, I can't count ("Howya doin', Brad Pitt?"). Video here. Go step 2 this beat (beat beat). Also worth checking out -- "Comin' With Me".

THE WANTED - "Chasing the Sun"
Where I stand on the very important Team The Wanted/Team One Direction debate vacillates by the day (by the hour, really). "Chasing the Sun" is very good indeed, and considering I literally wore out "What Makes You Beautiful", this is very me right now. Plus, looking at them doesn't make me feel all pervy like looking at 1D does...just saying.

I'm sorry - I think the burgeoning Brooklyn Hipster in me is showing (pray for me, fam). This fusion of DJ (A-Trak), underrated solo songstress (Kimbra, featured on Gotye's "Somebody That I Used To Know" smash) and the 'underground'-turned-'mainstream' frontman (Foster, who helms Foster the People) converge in this humdinger. Try getting this repetative chorus out of your head. I double dare you.

KAT GRAHAM - "Put Your Graffiti On Me"
Dear A&M/Octone Records, I'm side-eyeing you. You nab yourself a young, electro-wizzing dance/pop female after I leave your offices as an intern? Yeah, way to be. Bitter Betty Thoughts aside, "Graffiti" is the biz. For those of you who are like moi, Kat Graham is best known for her central role on the CW's other 'Supernatural'-themed show ('The Vampire Diaries'), but don't let that discourage you. This one has all the bells and whistles -- it's loud, it's sassy, it's in-your-face. Dig.

JACKIE SCOTT - "Love Sick"
While her debut single "Don't Mess With Me" was a little too Ke$ha for my taste, the more melodic "Love Sick" is definitely my speed. And that chorus? ("Music makes my world pop/But your lovin' makes my heart stop") Yeah. I can get down to that.

NICKI MINAJ - "Pound the Alarm"
This album cut from Minaj's recently released sophomore record (also titled Pink Friday, but with a colon and a Roman Reloaded tacked on, leading me to falsly believe it was a re-release at first...but that's another story) is produced by RedOne and sounds like it. But like lead single "Starships" before it, I'm impossible to resist Nicki when she goes all electro/Top 40-radio-accessible.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

HEAR THIS: Demi Gives My Heart A Break

"Don't wanna break your heart
Wanna give your heart a break
I know you're scared it's wrong
Like you might make a mistake
There's just one life to live
And there's no time to waste
So let me give your heart a break..."
-Demi Lovato, "Give Your Heart A Break"

April 2012 is proving to be one tough month for yours truly. Work has been stressful, and my four month old computer (aka the gateway to you all) decided to completely pass out on me. Everyone's allowed to melt down sometimes, and I've had my share in these past two weeks. All this only to find out late last night my grandmother, who's health has been on the decline the last few years and especially so since the unexpected loss of my grandfather this past August, was taken off her Insulin and placed onto Comfort Care. She passed away early this morning.

Sometimes it takes little reminders like these to throw life into perspective.

In the grand scheme, one should always be grateful for what they are blessed to have, rather than spending too much time worrying or thinking about the what ifs. My grandmother taught me this today. It was hard enough to cope with the passing of my grandfather, a man who I dearly looked up to, who was always so encouraging of me and my love for music, so to suffer that loss again in less than a year, hits doubly hard. Life is fragile, and its important to stop sometimes, smell the roses and really take it all in.

In an attempt to form a parallel, freshly revitalized Demi Lovato's latest single "Give Your Heart A Break," a prettty, melodic midtempo, took on a new meaning for me today. It's time to stop stressing on things I can't change, to take charge of what I can, and live my life the way I'd like. Being truly happy and living life to the fullest  -- that's the best gift you can give in circumstances like this.

Forgive the spotty postings in the days ahead. They will resume as soon as I'm able. I encourage all of you reading this to take some time for yourself, to give your heart a break, and tell those around you that you love them. That is, after all, the most imporant thing.

Monday, April 09, 2012

HEAR THIS: Karmin is "Brokenhearted"

See, I've been waiting all day
For you to call me "baby"
So let's get up
Let's get on it
Don't you leave me brokenhearted tonight
(come on, that's right)
Honest baby, I'll do anything you want to
So can we finish what we started?
Don't you leave me brokenhearted tonight
-"Brokenhearted", Karmin

Before you groan, yes. It may seem like I've slept on this Epic Records' polished pop duo. Seem being the operative word. I've been a fan of Karmin back in their Youtube days of yore (oh, it seems so long ago), and while their relevancy as a serious pop act may still be kind of questionable, there is absolutely no question that their spotlight breakthrough single "Brokenhearted" (one word) is hooky pop gold.

Oh the obscene amounts of plays this has racked up on my Spotify. I really can't even begin. It's also my shower song of choice (disjointed "rappy" bits included).

That's all. Cheerio.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

WGO: New Releases, Mel's Top 10, Chart Watch (4/17/2012)

Below denotes songs and artists of note featured on theBillboard Hot 100 (USA), Top 40 Radio (US), Hot Dance/Club Play (USA), Heatseekers Singles & Albums Charts (USA), UK Hot (UK), Japan and KPOP (South Korea) harts. Italicized items have been discussed on Melismatic.

2. Justin Bieber - Boyfriend
The time has come to discuss the Bieber. Debuting at #2 is huge, and "Boyfriend" is suggesting Bieber on is the very cusp of quite possibly his biggest era yet. The song suggests his hair flipping cutesy days aren't exactly behind him but is an obvious attempt to transition himself as a career artist (a la Justin Timberlake from teen idol days of yore). The Biebs is no chump. He's well aware of his teen fandom status and has no qualms about milking it for all its worth (a duet with One Direction?), but at the same time, I'm not afraid to admit that there is an incredible musician inside of him that we're only seeing shades of at present. While "Boyfriend" (co-written by one-hit Mike Posner) is filled with ridiculous, quasi-whispered/quasi-rapped pickup lines and the repetition of the cooed "swag" (oh Sweet Mary, please make the "swag" trend STOP), once you get past that, quasi-falcetto chorus is quite minimalist and very hooky. Therein lays my issue with the single. Justin - I'm all about you being you, and if this "swagalicious" insistence is really you, then perhaps you really aren't my thing. But if you can get past the whole attempt to appeal at the masses with faux posturing (just 'cuz you roll with Usher, you don't have to do the "Yeahhh, girlll" bit) and continued exploring your vocal range, maybe we could be friends. Just saying.

65. Trey Songz - Heart Attack
Playing off the momentum of Usher and Chris Brown, Trey Songz collaborates with producer Rico Love (aka the "Turn the Lights Off" guy) with an aggressive midtempo with a driving drumbeat that allows him to show off his capable power pipes. "Heart Attack" sounds like it could have been material for either of those two artists and yet, it works well for Songz without compromising him as a legitamite R&B vocalist. Quite possibly his best mainstream bow to date.

78. Sean Paul - She Doesn't Mind
Anyone else surprised by the re-entrance of Sean Paul back on the scene? This song, the second single from his fifth album, Tomahawk Technique, released back in Janaury, and was produced by Benny Blanco (Katy Perry, Britney Spears, frequently works with Dr. Luke). It doesn't differ too much from the Sean Paul's golden days of the early 00's ("Get Busy", anyone?) save for the the throwing of falscetto in the chorus. The song has already spent two weeks at #2 in the UK and recently splashed onto the charts Stateside. Sean Paul is certainly a "if it ain't broke don't fix it" kind of artist, and this is both familiar and works for today's dance/pop market. Could this be his sixth Top 10 US single?

79. Pitbull - Back In Time
"Mr. 305" took some time off from guesting on every female artist RedOne has ever produced (and Enrique Iglesias) to provide the soundtrack single from the upcoming Men In Black threequel. "Back In Time" sees Pitbull take a brief break on relying on synth and floorstompin' beats by heavily sampling Mickey & Sylvia's "Love Is Strange". Unfortunately, I think most people will connect this song with the timeless film Dirty Dancing than some inevitably forgetable sequel. I'm not sure what is more of an insult -- Pitbull providing a single for a "blockbuster", the gratutious use of a great song, or the fact that we're actually talking about Men In Black III. Ugh.

99. Dev & Enrique Iglesias - Naked
I included this stomper back on my club set list for January. Hurrah for Mel being ahead of the curve. Still sounds as good as when I first heard it, even though the Dev/Catoracts production is a carbon copy of their other works. I definitely prefer Dev singing than her rap-talkin'. Enrique helps season this club cut enough so that it doesn't feel too derivative.

1. Big Bang - Fantastic Baby
2. The Wanted - Glad You Came
3. fun. - Some Nights
4. Bella Thorne - TTYLXOX
5. Civil Wars - Barton Hollow
6. Havana Brown - We Run the Night (feat. Pitbull)
7. One Direction - What Makes You Beautiful

8. Karmin - Brokenhearted
9. Blush - Up Up And Away
10. SHINee - Stranger

Florence + The Machine - MTV Unplugged
Monica - New Life
Bonnie Raitt - Slipstream
Prince Royce - Phase II

1. fun. - We Are Young (feat. Janelle Monae) (AIRPLAY GAINER)
2. Justin Bieber - Boyfriend (DEBUT)
3. Gotye - Somebody That I Used To Know (feat. Kimbra)
4. The Wanted - Glad You Came
5. Kelly Clarkson - Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You...)
6. Nicki Minaj - Starships
7. Flo Rida - Wild Ones (feat. Sia)
8. Katy Perry - Part of Me
9. One Direction - What Makes You Beautiful
10. Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe (DIGITAL + STREAMINGGAINER)

Thursday, April 05, 2012

HEAR THIS: Bella Thorne & Zendaya 'Shake It Up' + A Mini Disney Playlist

I'm not sure how many pop music critics would be totally willing to admit to this but I have a guilty pleasure addiction, folks -- and the recurring theme that links these tunes is often the (Diabolical) Disney Channel.

It started off innocent enough with the positive reinforcement of *NSYNC & Britney Spears' then fledling pop careers, and later with the launching of  Hilary Duff (With Love is proof positive Hil's got the goods), which gave way to the High School Musical franchise (again, guilty) and then along came Hannah Montana and the Jonas Brothers and my fate was cemented (and in college, no less).

Since Miley Cyrus' & JB's heyday of plastering their mug over literally every Disney "commericial break" (read: insider plug for more Disney media blitz), The Mouse House has broken two more serious contenders into the pop music scene by way of Selena Gomez (& her mysterious "Scene") and Demi Lovato.

Now that all of the aforementioned have left the compound, Disney has yet to truly provide their next "big" hit with the kid set (that very well could translate to mainstream recognition), but all directions are pointing toward Shake It Up, a show centered around two teenage girls (Bella Thorne, left, and the monomyous Zendaya, right in the above soundtrack album cover) as backup dancers on a local dance show while maintaining "normal lives" as schoolgirls (and also features former Camp Rock-er and current Dancing With the Stars competitor Roshon Fegan. It's one part Hannah Montana, one part Sonny With a Chance, one part High School Musical -- so basically, how could it not be a hit? The show is currently in its second season, and recently dropped its second soundtrack.

Here is where I come in. I'll admit I've never made it through an entire episode of Shake It Up, but who am I to judge -- as it's clearly not aimed at someone in my demographic (let's call it twentysomethings). But as a pop music enthusiast, I found my ears officially turned on to this burgeoning new source of teen pop thanks to a little gem called "TTYLXOX."

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

COVER WARS: Travis Garland vs. Usher, Jamie Bendell vs. fun., Mike & Cody vs. Britney Spears, Henry Lau vs. Pitbull

In continuation my first amalgamation of the current coverscape as it were two months ago, fate has intervened and presented me with three awesome covers by some of my favorite (and most promising) up & coming musicians -- and allowed me to also fangirl squeal a semi-recent cover by a "forgotten"(-ish) KPOP star (who happens to be Chinese...I'll explain later).

First up, the gorgeous Travis Garland, who has been the inspiration for no shortage of posts here at Melismatic. His latest cover contribution comes hot on the heels of his beautiful rendition of John Mayer's "Slow Dancing In A Burning Room" in the form of Usher's Diplo-produced single "Climax". You just know there is a pun in this statement that involves both my love for that song, Travis & Travis' buttery vocal chords just itching to be used, but I'm choosing to be professional and just say this...listen.

It's been a second since I've formally checked in with indie songstress Jamie Bendell (as in back in the summer of 2010 -- where have I been? Seriously?), but she's been chugging along, regularly recording her own material, released a music video (for "Five Little Minutes") along with a new EP to iTunes  and has been doing a few shows. A few days back, she sent me to the link to a YouTube video of her latest cover -- of fun.'s "Some Nights"! Insert me salivating here. Jamie strips out the Queen-grandiose vibe in favor of her more usual softer bravado, and truly gives "Some Nights" her own trademark vibe. Check it out below. If you like what you hear, I seriously urge you to follow her on the Twitters. Kind words don't do her justice -- she's beyond a sweetheart!

Next, the boys in Mike & Cody, a duo whose array of offbeat pop cover choices only continues to make fans wait in anticipation for what they will think up next. We've seen them pull off "Hot In Herre" and "No Scrubs", but now Mike & Cody tread dangerous waters -- in the form of covering Britney Spears' iconic bow with "Toxic (do do doooo-oh do). "Toxic"'s trademark bubblegum is slowed down, balanced out with a full live band in place of AutoTune there's a different use of AutoTune. With every cover video these dudes release, I become increasingly amazed by their creativity! Remind me as to why this has not "gone viral" already (as the kids say)? Do yourself a favor and subscribe to their YouTube. You will not regret.

Which brings to Henry Lau, the somewhat overlooked North American member of Super Junior-M, the Mandarin subgroup of Super Junior (the other members currently are Korean SuJu members Sungmin, Eunhyuk, Donghae, Siwon, Ryeowook & Kyuhyun, along with Chinese member ZhouMi). I say overlooked because SuJu-M only promotes heartily in Mandarin speaking countries, and while Henry & ZhouMi are often invited to the ELF Squee Fest Super Show tour shows, there have been a few instances when Korean ELFs (read Korean fangirls of Super Junior) show visible...shall we say...discontent with the "additional" members of SuJu (another story for another time). Henry is actually from Canada (like Justin Bieber but more me anyway) and has openly stated that although his lack of super-packed schedule with his hyungs (he is officially the youngest of the pack of 15 boys associated with SuJu) is a little dissapointing, he's used his "spare time" by brushing up his own musical prowess (songwriting, violin, keyboards, etc. etc.) and attending college (in North America). Below is a result of that spare time via this excellent cover of Pitbull, Ne-Yo, Afrojack & Nayer's "Give Me Everything Tonight" with a smattering of friends. Watching this makes you wonder why some K-ELFs get their panties all twisted, right?

Monday, April 02, 2012

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