Friday, June 29, 2012

HEAR THIS: Cheryl Gets "Sexy Den A Mutha"

Eurotrash clubbanger alert.

Girls Aloud's requisite "face", Cheryl (hold the Tweedy/Cole), has officially unleashed to the world her third solo effort, A Million Lights, on the back of the Calvin Harris produced thumper "Call My Name". The Alex Da Kid produced "Under the Sun" is the second offering, set for a September release (with a live tour to follow in October). So I'm guessing the GA reunion will be after that. (sigh)

I'm pleased to say that the majority of A Million Lights is not quite as synthtastic everything-in-the-sink as "Call My Name" is. It even includes a Lana Del Rey co-write in "Ghetto Baby" and a Taio Cruz co-write in "Mechanics of the Heart". But the one I've been spinning most is the unfortunately titled "Sexy Den A Mutha", crafted by one of my fave producers of the mo', Jim Beanz. Jim, if you recall, gave us this little gem by JoJo (Hey Interscope/Blackground, where the hell is Jumping Trains?).

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

WORLD PREMIERE: 1,2,3 Pops Some "Confetti"

If you love "True Blood" (and it's freaky theme sequence) and rockin' tunage (which I think is a pretty safe bet), I've got some exciting news to report.

Melismatic is officially proud to premiere to you all the brand new video from indie pop-rockers 1,2,3. The song's called "Confetti" (!! -- insert pop metaphors here) and is contrasted by dark, somewhat disturbing visuals. Says Nic Synder, the lead singer, "Even though the song is called "Confetti" and is upbeat, the album is about death and things I'd been thinking about a lot. But I love juxtaposing things." The cinematography is phenomenal -- and the video was shot right here in Brooklyn! Yay for promotional synergy!

1, 2, 3 fit into the rising tide of irreverent pop/rambling rock that is currently stalking a radio/Billboard chart near you. "Confetti" is the most recent spin-off from their New Heaven album (available at iTunes & Spotify).

Without any further ado, check out the video below. FYI, bits are a lil' NSFW. Just saying. ;)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

HEAR THIS: Crystal Kay Says "Forever"

I'll be honest. My JPOP knowledge is nowhere near as extensive as my KPOP knowledge. But that doesn't mean I don't know a good song or artist when I hear one.

Crystal Kay is a bit of an anomaly in the JPOP music market because she's birracial. Born to an African-American father and a Korean mother, Crystal grew up in Japan and made her Japanese musical debut in 2000 at age 14. Her young age and tireless work ethic is comparable to a KPOPstar I know and love -- BoA, whom Crystal is close friends with (they even recorded a duet together called "Universe"). Her current style is also considerably more urban (read: less nausatingly cutesy) than the "typical" JPOP that seems to do so well in Japan (I'm looking at you, AKB48 -- I tried, I really did). In the 12 years since her debut(!), the now 26 year-old Crystal is about to release tenth Japanese studio album, VIVID, this week on the back of a stellar summer single called "Forever".

The player is in Japanese, so press the blinking red play arrow and wait for the commercial to finish to watch the video.

The video gives me serious Janet Jackson vibes and that is never, ever a bad thing. And she can really sing. I'm loving the summer feel of the video as well -- it's something Japan does so well.

For those of you who are looking for something bit more American-familiar, Crystal is also fluent in English and recently was featured on Far East Movement's lastest disc, Dirty Bass, via the club thumper "Where the Wild Things Are".

Monday, June 25, 2012

WGO: New Cuts from Far East Movement, Justin Bieber, Adam Lambert and more...

Summer is here -- the kids are out of school (you know who you are), the heat is downright unbearable and audiophiles like yours truly are spoiled rotten with the sonic overload of new tunage to spazz over (no, no - I'll get to KPOP in a second). You should all stand to be super impressed with the amount of (English-speaking) testosterone running in the veins of the records I've been spinning a lot lately. Without further ado...

FAR EAST MOVEMENT - "If I Die Tomorrow" (feat. Bill Kaulitz of Tokio Hotel)
FM finally unleashed their followup mainstream album in Dirty Bass on the back of their Justin Bieber-assisted single "Live My Life" (more on The Biebz in a few). The majority of the production was handled by Stereotypes (who took the reins for the main high points of Free Wired) and RedOne (well, they are on Cherry Tree/Interscope after all). The record features collabs with JPOP star Crystal Kay, Flo Rida, Tyga, my new found fave in My Name Is Kay and more but I'm most fond of this surprisingly viral dancefloor stomper. Even if Bill Kaulitz does steal the show with that searing chorus...

JUSTIN BIEBER - "As Long As You Love Me" (feat. Big Sean)
Nope, it's not a Backstreet Boys cover (although I'd be down for that mashup). OK - so, I'm not The Biebz biggest fan. I admit it. But when the material speaks for itself, it's hard to ignore. Just as Chris Brown, Jesse McCartney and (yep, you knew it was coming) Justin Timberlake before him had star-making moments, perhaps JB's Believe, released this past Tuesday is his. I'm not quick to call it his Justified moment just yet, although it's clear the Bieber has severe R&B leanings (I blame Usher), but he's learned a lot since blasting onto our radar screens "One Time" in 2009. Sure, there's some filler, but a lot of the disc surprised me by how listenable it is and more importantly how age-appropriate and genre-spanning it is. Bub - I may have underestimated your ability to step up to the plate. While "Boyfriend" and "Die In Your Arms" do little for me, "All Around the World" and "As Long As You Love Me" have been repeat offenders and "Maria," an ode to the crazy "fan" who accused him of being her baby daddy a la Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" (except sonically nothing like it) really creeped up on me. Bravo.

ADAM LAMBERT - "Trespassing"
I fell off the Idol train a few seasons back, but Adam's talent is kind of undeniable. His contribution to bold, brashy pop (the control! the confidence! the falsetto!) is so singable and hooky, it's a real shame he's not embraced more in the mainstream. The comparison's to Freddy Mercury are not unwarranted and the ire I initially felt upon hearing his debut single "For Your Entertainment" quickly dissipated once I heard the rest of the set. Sophomore record Trespassing is full of more scorchers including current single "Never Close Our Eyes" (co-written by Bruno Mars and Dr. Luke), but the title track immediately stood out long before I realized it was co-written and produced by Pharrell Williams. Get a load of that bassline...

GRACE POTTER & THE NOCTURNALS - "The Lion, The Beast & The Beat"
Epic and expertly crafted. It's basically three songs seamlessly woven into one. If the drums don't get you tapping your feet, the guitars will. If you love the bombast of Florence + The Machine, you really need to hear this one.

"Where The Boys At?"
Unfortunate name not withstanding (Officially Miss Guided...really?), the trio who puts #OMGonERRthang return with their comeback single, midtempo "Where The Boys At?" It feels very much like a 2012 3LW (right down to the water/rain sequence...see L-Dub's "I Do (Wanna Get Close To You" -- although with more restraint on the sexuality, thankfully) with a Keri Hilson "Pretty Girl Swag" spin, which makes it much more listenable and less like a secret guilty pleasure for those beyond their high school years (see "Gucci This, Gucci That"). Trust - Pink-Haired "Miss Beauty" has some pipes on her...

EMELI SANDE - "Heaven"
The UK's most buzzed about new soloist recently just dropped her debut album Our Version of Events here in the States after winning a Brit, opening for Coldplay, and writing for a slew of UK popstars (Cheryl! Leona! Parade! Alesha Dixon!). It doesn't get better (at the moment) than her debut single, "Heaven", which went to #2 in the UK (although "My Kind of Love" and "Next To Me" come close).

Saturday, June 23, 2012

WGO: Chart Watch, Hot Debuts (6/30/2012)

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

From now on, I will also include the United World Chart (UWC) to help put in perspective how popular the tracks are on a global scale. UWC tracks songs by paid download, single sales and overall airplay all around the world. It's very interesting to see songs popular in the American Top 40 tend to take the lead, but songs from the UK, Australia, Japan and Korea also rank high when put into proper perspective.

New Additions to the Hot 100 of Note:
21. Justin Bieber - As Long As You Love Me (feat. Big Sean)
Stay tuned for actual thoughts -- suffice to say, I dig it.

75. Cher Lloyd - Want U Back 
My thoughts are here. Happy to see this chart in the US. Another proof positive the US is gobbling up UK X-Factor (and not it's own X-Factor...).

91. Matchbox Twenty - She's So Mean
M20 is a cornerstone of my life and it's really hard for them to go wrong for my ears. "She's So Mean" doesn't offer such instant gratification as their previous hits (especially during the Yourself Or Someone Like You era - what a great album!), but if Rob and the boys wanna rock, I'll be there. Grower.

96. Lee Brice - Hard To Love
Listenable country -- not too twangy for those of us of the pop persuasian.

Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart:
1. Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe (AIRPLAY GAINER)
2. Gotye - Somebody That I Used To Know (feat. Kimbra)
3. Maroon 5 - Payphone (feat. Wiz Khalifa)
4. Katy Perry - Wide Awake (STREAMING GAINER)
5. fun. - We Are Young (feat. Janelle Monae)
6. One Direction - What Makes You Beautiful
7. Nicki Minaj - Starships
8. Rihanna - Where Have You Been
9. Flo Rida - Wild Ones (feat. Sia)
10. Justin Bieber - Boyfriend

United World Chart: (global paid downloads, sales & airplay)
1. Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe -- (Canada)
2. Maroon 5 - Payphone (feat. Wiz Khalifa) -- (USA)
3. Gotye - Somebody That I Used To Know (feat. Kimbra) -- (Australia/New Zealand)
4. fun. - We Are Young (feat. Janelle Monae) --
5. Flo Rida - Whistle -- (USA)
6. Rihanna - Where Have You Been -- (Barbados/USA)
7. Pitbull - Back In Time -- (USA)
8. Nicki Minaj - Starships -- (USA)
9. Usher - Scream -- (USA)
10. Katy Perry - Wide Awake (BIGGEST GAINER) -- (USA)

Friday, June 22, 2012

HEAR THIS: Cassie Gets 'Shifty'

Oh, Cassie...

The name Cassie Steele may be a little unfamiliar to you if you weren't like moi -- glued to Teen Nick watching the Canadian teen drama "Degrassi: The Next Generation" shamelessly a few years back.

Cassie played Manny Santos, the requisite hyper innocent "romantic" turned wolfish hussy you loved to hate for ten whole seasons (and two TV movies) on the guilty pleasure hit before taking a cue from some of her fomer cast mates and heading south to the States for a leading role in "The L.A. Complex", a hyper-sexualized teen drama series on the CW (Nina Dobrev plays the central female role in "The Vampire Diaries" and Shenae Grimes is pivital on the "90210" revamp -- both ladies were "heavily" featured in the large ensemble cast at "Degrassi").

Along with her acting talents, Cassie is also an burgeoning musical tour de force, releasing her debut album How Much For Happy in 2005 during one of "Degrassi"s first peaks. In 2009, she followed it up with the excellent Destructo Doll (singles "Mr. Colson" and "Go Dark" are must listens; I also enjoy "Monster", "Check It" and especially "Hollywood"), a raucuous jaunt of Hollywood, sex, drugs and rock & roll -- not too far of a cry from her character on the show at that point. However -- don't be too quick to write Cassie off as a string-puller getting a record deal from a hit show. Both records were released independantly and almost all of the material was written by Cassie herself.

If you were expecting some stomping electro dance floor beats through AutoTune, perhaps you should try a different post here at Melismatic. Cassie's music has always stood out for its tough exterior, more along the lines of a sexed up Skye Sweetnam or Fefe Dobson (both, coincidentally, Canadian).

With her re-emergence on "The L.A. Complex", this past April Cassie released a new EP, Shifty, consisting of three tunes -- including the excellent "Shape Shifter." Shifty itself holds a central theme of the life cycle of a relationpship, occasionally using supernatural metaphors to describe lust ("Shape Shifter" - the seduction; "I Want You" - the romance; "Try Baby" - the fallout).

"Shape Shifter" is no doubt my favorite, mostly because it's the dark, snarky Cassie I've come to adore so much through Destructo Doll. The song is highlighted by wolf whistles (Get it? Shape Shifter?), slightly dubsteppy wob wobs and electric guitar and is proof positive of Cassie's penchant for catchy hooks. With each subsequent release, Cassie just gets leaner, meaner and better with age. Dig.

Shifty is available for purchase on iTunes (yes, even in America) and on Spotify (yes, in the US).

Thursday, June 21, 2012

NOW KPOPPING: Super Junior 6JIB Spazz...Don't Mind Me

So this popped up on my radar today...

It's the second photo "teaser" released by SM Entertainment regarding Super Junior's impending sixth album comeback, called (wait for it) Sexy, Free & Single, set for July 1st in South Korea. They have already released Eunhyuk's teaser, featuring questionable mullet hair, a bubble and a flower headband covering his eyes. Now, we have the second of the expected ten teaser photos (along with confirmation that fresh-from-the-military Kangin is hands in) -- Donghae's.

The sheer shirt and the return of the long hair (even though I fear it's extensions, along with Hyuk) almost make up for his posture, his lack of facing the damn camera with that beefy chest of his and the random addition of the wedding-like veil on his head. I don't know how wedding veils provoke a "Single" feel but OK, whatever you say, SM. Silly Fishy, I'm supposed to wear the veil when we get married (now, quick - hide before Changmin catches us and kills you both with his words and his fists).

Also - Donghae unleashed the pic to the ELF fandom via his Twitter account, along with the following message in English:

"Super Junior Sexy, Free & Single Dong Hee....SJ Show Time...."

::smacks forehead:: He spelled his own name wrong. This right here - that's why I love you, dearie. Still - SM, if you need a token American/English-speaking friend to help your artists with English, I'm more than willing to volunteer.

JUST SAYING: It's Like A "Heatwave"

90+ Temperatures in New York City. Welcome back, Summer - my (despised ex) old friend.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

HEAR THIS/INTERVIEW: Kady Z is a "Beautiful Disaster"

"When I crossed my heart
And we said forever after
Through the hurricanes and harm
We're a beautiful disaster
Let your guard down
Make my heart pound
We'll make it through somehow
When our worlds fall apart
We're a beautiful disaster"
-"Beautiful Disaster", Kady Z

OK, so June is almost out. Summer 2012 is offish upon us all. And as much as you loved and adored Carly Rae Jepsen and "Call Me Maybe" (who doesn't?), now that the rest of the world country has too (US Hot #1! Kicking Gotye to the curb!), you're itching for something else to fill your summertime feel good gas tank. I know I'm right. Have no fear, fam. Mel's got you covered.

Kady Z (the 'Z' is short for Zadora), a student of pop at the alter of Robyn, is the daughter of a Broadway actress turned aspiring popstar herself, Pia Zadora (her single "Rock It Out" gained a Grammy nod. She recently released her debut EP, One Million Pieces, featuring a smattering of different flavors in the pop realm, all co-written by Kady (save one cover), that is definitely worth your perusal.

There's a cover of Robbie Williams's 2002 hit "Feel". "Fun" is quirky, snarky synth pop (written by Kady about her ex-BFF). "Save Me From Yourself" is a darker, multi-layered midtempo that is arguably my favorite of the set. Namesake "One Million Pieces" is begging for a slightly harder, relentless beat to be a banger for the underground clubs. And then there's the lead single of the set -- "Beautiful Disaster" (not to be confused with the Kelly Clarkson jam of the same name).

"Beautiful Disaster" couldn't have fit better into a post-"Call Me Maybe" Top 40 if it tried. Try and get that chorus out of your head. I triple dog dare you. And yes, that is former "7th Heaven" bb David Gallagher in the video.

The EP is available for purchase on iTunes and perusal on Spotify and "Beautiful Disaster" is up for airplay at a number of radio stations (including iHeartRadio!). She's also a Tweeter.

I was lucky enough to ask Kady herself a few questions to get to know her just a little bit better. Click the cut below to read my interview with Kady and to learn more about her & her excellent EP, One Million Pieces. Thanks again to Ms. Kady & her PR for giving me this great opportunity to learn about a great new artist! Looking forward to see what's next...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

HEAR THIS: Jackie Scott Covers The Wanted "Chasing The Sun"

Indie darling and daring genre-jumper Jackie Scott has recently taken a vacation from her "Love Sick" electro feels and debauchery in favor of a much softer, dreamier ballad-ized version of The Wanted's latest hit "Chasing the Sun". Her cover comes complete with a gorgeous music vid to match.

Loving the shots of my current home in the background (if you look hard enough, you might spy my old apartment in Battery Park City). 

Homegirl ripped out the pomp and circumstance that make The (American) Wanted singles sound so utterly bombastic and created a whole new feel for the song. I wonder if the lads are aware their tunes are so flexible? In fact, her cover quite reminds me of Pastele's cover of their other hit "Glad You Came".

These ladies should come together and collaborate. Methinks the outcome would be pretty grand indeed.

Jackie's cover of "Chasing the Sun", along with her most recent EP, Pink Hot Blush, is available for purchase on iTunes and for perusal on Spotify.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

WGO: New Releases, Chart Watch (6/23/2012)

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

New Additions to the Hot 100 of Note:
22. Justin Bieber - All Around the World (feat. Ludacris)
Epic space-age of a dance tune -- Bieber's "Forever"...somewhere Chris Brown is jealous (probably in a club scuffling with Drake, no doubt) and it's clear The Canadian Stallion snatched Jesse McCartney's Departure wig with this one with optimum results. If you were waiting for a Bieber cut to make you feel less guilty-pleasure shamefaced, it's this one.

51. Little Big Town - Pontoon
Should I be worried that more and more of these Top 40 Country Cross Overs sound better and better to my ears? Veteran country outfit LBT (to those in the know) is basically like the modern day, country-fried Fleetwood Mac, and that's hardly a bad thing. The group's fifth album, headed up by "Pontoon" is due soon.

90. The Lumineers - Ho HeyMore proof that commercial marketing works, the Lumineers are the latest gainers of synch royalties. "Ho Hey," their breakthrough cut, was featured in a recent commercial for Perhaps the groundswell of country and folk inspired music is a direct answer to the overload of dancey-Autotune infiltrating the radio?

93. Imagine Dragons - It's TimeSxSW and MTV(Indie) darlings Imagine Dragons broke through to the mainstream with this dreamy alt rock offering off their fourth EP, Continued Silence -- released through Interscope this past February and surprisingly produced by Alex Da Kid (best known for his hip hop tingled collabs with Nicki Minaj and Rihanna but has also worked with Alesha Dixon and more recently with Cheryl (Hold the) Cole and is also tee-ed up work with Nicole Scherzinger). Definitely ones to watch.

97. The Black Keys - Gold On the Ceiling
The followup single to last year's breakthrough "Lonely Boy", and every bit as instantaneously rewarding. The album, El Camino, is a must listen.

Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart:
1. Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe (NEW #1!)
2. Gotye - Somebody That I Used To Know (feat. Kimbra)
3. Maroon 5 - Payphone (feat. Wiz Khalifa)
4. fun. - We Are Young (feat. Janelle Monae)
5. One Direction - What Makes You Beautiful
6. Nicki Minaj - Starships
7. Flo Rida - Wild Ones (feat. Sia)
8. Rihanna - Where Have You Been
9. Katy Perry - Wide Awake (AIRPLAY GAINER)
10. Justin Bieber - Boyfriend

Thursday, June 14, 2012


I'm turning 25 on Sunday. Did I broadcast that enough for everyone? I suggest you all throw parties on Saturday/Sunday. For my international friends, the Melismatic Birthday is totally an American holiday. Call in to work on Monday. It's all good.

Also keep your eyes open for a brand new (purple!) layout landing here shortly...Let me know what you think!

Forgive the sparse updates. I shall be indisposed (drinking whatever Ageless Potion that is handed out to the members of Super Junior, no doubt). Instead, pump up my Birthday Playlist, now available for perusal on Spotify.

The complete playlist is available under the jump.

Thanks for another year, ya'll. I love you - and wish you were here partying with me. :)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

HEAR THIS: Queen of Hearts Goes 'Neon'

If you ever need proof that the UK does it better than us when it comes to pop music, I could give you a list a mile long. Latest to be added to the list -- Queen of Hearts.

The Queen of Hearts project has been spinning in the hype machine since around 2011. That's when The Arrival EP landed and brought us some really great pieces of pop ("Where Are You Now?" and "Shoot the Bullet" come to mind). Recently, Her Majesty has reared her head again, even deeper into her image development via the double A-Side Neon/Tears In the Rain.

"Neon" harkens feels for Goldfrapp's "Train", et. all -- meaning, basically, it's a dark, electro stormer. "Tears In the Rain" is the real 'queen' -- quietly unassuming, haunting and slowly building to a gorgeous climax of subdued emotion. Both are incredible.

If homegirl's face or voice sounds familiar, it should. She is actually 1/3 of the former Red Blooded Women, a group I stanned for in the early days of this blog. To keep up the mystique swirling around the Queen of Hearts project, I won't point out which 1/3 she is, but you can read an interview I snagged with the group in its original formation back in March of 2009(!) here.

For the sake of nostalgia, I'll just leave this one here...

Monday, June 11, 2012

NOW KPOPPING: f(x) vs. Wonder Girls in the Repetative Yet Catchy Showdown

June is/was shaping up to be the month of the Return of the KPOP Superiors (female edition), with comebacks by JYP's Wonder Girls, SM's f(x) (and Girls' Generation in Japan) and YG's 2NE1. You can probably guess who I'm most excited about sinking my teeth into (hint: there is four letters/numbers in their name and it rhymes with 'shoe-many-one'), but until that newness hits us, I've been rocking to what has already come through in the past few weeks.

First out the gate was Wonder Girls, with their new mini album called Wonder Party, helmed by their new dance jam "Like This". The album also includes a Korean version of their English sparkler "The DJ Is Mine" (swoon!).

Wonder Girls - from left to right: Yenny, SoHee, Yubin, Sunye & Lim
"Like This" completely lacks the big, singable, I-Want-It-Right-Now chorus of previous Wonder Girl hits like "Tell Me" (Tell Me, Tell Me, Teh-Teh-Teh-Teh-Teh-Tell Me!), "Nobody" (I want nobody, nobody but you! Clap Clap! Clap Clap!) or "Be My Baby" (Please! Be My Baby!...Make Me Your Lady!), and in comparison comes off kind of...well, sparse. But that was the idea.

The main focus is put on the backsliding jangly backbeat (dare I say giving a bit of a 2NE1 vibe...kind of) and the breezy choreography that WG is telling to you dance to (Like This, Yo! Like This!). An English version is also available, which means it will probably make an appearance on WG's upcoming English release (sometime this millenium, JYP, kthanks).

My hopes were really high for Wonder Girls after last year's Wonder World, so I can't quite say I'm stoked by what we recieved with Wonder Party. For a mini with "Party" it its title, I'd expect much more uptempos, but really, only "Like This" and "The DJ Is Mine" bring it to the floor. I was surprised by the obvious American-influence in the synthy backbeats, but when I know for a fact a few of the girls can sing and sing well, yet they get overridden by noise...that's not so great. As for "Like This", a lot of people are bemoaning it but I won't. It's incredibly catchy and is a bit of a grower. Pardon me while I go learn the dance while putting my hair in aquamarine pigtails (heyyyyy, Lim!).

Meanwhile, just a few days ago, SM hit back with their favorite (forgotten) fivesome in f(x) (that's a lot of 'f's, Mel) with their second mini album, Electric Shock (LOVERHOLIC! ROBOTRONIC! FANTASTIC! ELASTIC!...oh, wait).

Yes, that's really the cover to the right, and no - the music video has nothing to do with this creepy animal fetish-esque cover image. I'm convinced the folks at SM enjoy trolling fans just for the sake of sh*ts and giggles. Yes. Let's put our youngest female group (both in tenure and in age -- baby Krystal is just 17, while leader Victoria is a few months older than yours truly at 25) in creepy horse-head masks and take photos of them in the middle of the forrest wearing awkwardly non-matching clothes. Let's face it - f(x) has always gotten no love in the wardrobe department (I mean, really with the "Hot Summer" cover art?) but this is a new low. Even for SM.

"Electric Shock" follows much of f(x)'s previous sound, a la "Pinocchio (Danger)" but takes it to a new level. AutoTune and dancefloor synth abound like laser beams ricocheting around the discoteque, combined with floor-stomping bass shakes. It's the first proper f(x) single that feels SM-epic (get out of here with your "La Cha Ta"). And it wouldn't be an f(x) single if it didn't have a nonsensical hook (E-E-E-Electric! / Na Na Na Na Na! / Electric Shock!).

The Electric Shock mini is in my opinion f(x)'s best yet. I'm very fond of the more laidback album cut "Beautiful Stranger" which is another cut that feels very American-urban featuring raps by Amber that don't totally make me cringe ("Hot Summer" comes to mind). So much so I kind of wish it was the lead single, but then again, it doesn't exactly follow the f(x) formula. It only features rapper Amber, maknae Krystal and power belter Luna, hence being relagated to the "to be forgotten about" bin. Sad face.

Verdict - Wonder Girls may have won the battle (in terms of single), but f(x) won the war (in terms of album). Insert MBLAQ dance moves here.


Dear 2NE1, my birthday is June 17th. Anytime now with the new music would be nice. Thanks. Love, Mel

Sunday, June 10, 2012

WGO: New Releases, Chart Watch (6/16/2012)

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

New Additions to the Hot 100 of Note
17. Justin Bieber - Die In Your Arms

I give the Biebs props for further exploring his sound, but this one just ain't for me. Fingers crossed for Single #3, bud.

85. Jay Sean - I'm All Yours (feat. Pitbull)
If Jay wants another American #1 ("Down"), he needs to come harder and with another dude by his side. Can we stop with the Pitbull please?

93. The Wanted - Chasing The Sun
It's no "Glad You Came" but it's better than One Direction's follow up single so...

Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart:
1. Gotye - Somebody That I Used To Know (feat. Kimbra)
2. Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe
3. Maroon 5 - Payphone (feat. Wiz Khalifa)
4. fun. - We Are Young (feat. Janelle Monae)
5. Nicki Minaj - Starships
6. One Direction - What Makes You Beautiful
7. Flo Rida - Wild Ones (feat. Sia)
8. Justin Bieber - Boyfriend
9. Rihanna - Where Have You Been
10. The Wanted - Glad You Came

Saturday, June 09, 2012

CELEBRATION DAY: Solunatic 10 Year Anniversary

Exactly one week from tomorrow, I will be a whole year older officially. I'm turning 25 (gasp!) and in the words of Jessica Simpson, that practically makes me mid-twenties.

While turning 25 in this year of 2012 is a big deal (it's the last "big deal" birthday that doesn't totally make me cringe), I couldn't help but notice that if you walk down memory lane to ten years ago today (June 9th), it was 2002. I was a freshman in high school getting ready for my 15th birthday (and summer vacation), and was attending a little music festival in Upstate New York called Fly 92's FLY FLING.

That show featured, amongst others, Naughty By Nature, Fabolous, Amber and was headlined by (wait for it) Sugar Ray. You know, Mark McGrath's old band before he went all 'Extra' on us and tried to assert himself as a "host". I know. It doesn't get more famous than that. The most important of the performers list though was of course my beloved foursome in Soluna, the first musical group I actually reached out to back in late 2001. It was the first time I had ever gotten to see them live (I would go on to see them perform twice more as a foursome) and was less than a month after their debut album, For All Time, was released. They were still promoting the single "For All Time" and were about to shoot the music video for the song during my birthday later that month.

Soluna, as I remember them from back in the day. Left to Right: Jessica Castellanos, Aurora Rodriguez, T Lopez and America Olivo.

I still remember that day clearly. As the girls performed their short set, Jessica Castellanos actually shouted me out while on stage, saying something along the lines of "LeAnna, if you're out there, wherever you are..." You better believe I lost my mind. As soon as they left the stage, it was announced they would be outside signing autographs and that was my cue to finally meet these young women I looked up to in person after speaking to them and fan-stanning them for so many months. I wasn't the only bonafide Solunatic present -- my friend Scott was also there (proud that we're still friends ten years later!). I remember being so beyond nervous, my heart was thumping in my chest. I sincerely thought I might pass out.

All four of the girls were so sweet to me, despite the fact that I was held in shock that a musical group I admired actually acknowledged my existence. I sat with America Olivo as she and the other girls signed my cover art for their album (along with signing for a group of others). As people went through the line, they kept staring at me, wondering why in the hell this 14 year old on the verge of tears was sitting with this group.

I had brought an audio recorder with me to record their live concert, in the attempt to rip it to an MP3 for my fansite for the group, Soluna Online (ahh, 2002), and Jessica took one look at my recorder and asked if I wanted to do an interview with them on the spot. In that moment, my career as a music blogger/promoter began.

After the group finished their signing, the four of them, me, my mother and their tour manager headed backstage to their small dressing room at what was then known as the Pepsi Arena (now known as the Times Union Center, but details, details). The girls had to do a short video shoutout to Transworld Music Distribution, and then their tour manager left us be as the four of them gathered around me (literally - Jessica on my right, America on my left, Aurora and T sitting on the floor in front of me), crowding in front of my audio tape recorder as I nervously asked them questions as they popped into my head. Afterward, I asked them to sing acapella for me, and they sang the chorus to "For All Time" with me literally within their circle of quartet harmony. It almost makes me cry now to think of it.

We took pictures together which I still have (one in which all four of them picked me up and held me sideways, but I digress) framed in my parents home. Ahhh, childhood.

Thanks to the wonder that is YouTube, I still have my early beginnings saved forever, which you can listen to below.

After all that, I shakily hugged them all goodbye and went back to enjoy the rest of the concert (which included seeing Sugar Ray. Mark McGrath ran into the audience right by me and I reached out to touch his hand and ended up palming his sweaty back on accident. Nausating. It's literally all I remember from their set.).

Long story short, Solunatic for life, bro. 10 years on since our first meeting and it still feels so good. Listening to that again, and it really does make me tear up...

"Hello, I'm LeAnna's number one fan..." - Jessica Castellanos. Insert me bawling. Kthanks.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

HEAR THIS: My Name Is Kay Sings "Diddy Dum"

I need to get me a job at Cherry Tree Records. Their brand of dirty pop is just so undeniable.

The lastest in the Interscope/"Cherry Cherry Boom Boom" assembly line, which has brought us Far East Movement, Colette Car, Natalia Kills, a handful of Lady Gaga's The Fame material and the US careers of Robyn and Ellie Goulding, is irreverant Canadian songstress Kay Boutilier (another Canadian!), better known by her catchy moniker My Name Is Kay.

Punchy buzz single "My Name Is Kay" drew me in like a moth to a flame, if only for that "Hollaback Girl"-esque handclappy, floor stomping groove and chanthy chorus ("My Name is Kay! Eh-Eh-Eh-Ehhhh!"). It's easy to put Kay in a proverbial genre box (sigh, Another Ke$ha), but after perusing her debut EP, also handily titled My Name Is Kay, Kay's vocal talents really shine in a variety of ways beyond the Fergie rap-singing feel she was introduced with. Every song on the five-piece EP is solid, but my fave was her "official" debut single, "Diddy Dum".

Hey there, Ke$ha - step yo' game up.

Be prepared to see a whole lot more Kay. She is featured on Cobra Starship's latest (and OneRepublic co-written) single "#1Night (One Night)" and has a bow with labelmates Far East Movement in their upcoming album, Dirty Bass. Her second single, "Strangers", features Clipse member Pusha T, and her full length album is due later this summer.

Monday, June 04, 2012

HEAR THIS/INTERVIEW: Manika is a "Good Girl"

It's almost been a year to the day since I first stumbled upon popstar-in-training Manika through her debut single showcase here in NYC. Now at 18 years old, the hustle train is definitely bustling for Team Manika, as homegirl not only has recently debuted single #2 in the SoulShock-produced "Good Girls," she has also released her first EP, dubbed The Middle of Hollywood.

Oh, and she scored an opening slot alongside Olly Murs for some boy band you might have heard of called One Direction (insert fangirl shriek here).

I was lucky enough to ask Manika some questions about her career, being a "Good Girl" both in song and in general practice, her mentor and champion Frank DiLeo, and yes, One Direction. But before we get to that, take a listen to "Good Girls" below:

As a single, "Good Girls" definitely crackles with sass and teenage petulance with a noticably harder edge than her previous single. This is much more in the pop-rock, "Katy Perry-esque" vein Team Manika seemed to be shooting for when I saw her at her showcase. In the song, Manika bemoans being played a fool by her shady BF, despite doing everything right (She is nice to animals! She even does charity!). Show me one teenager who can't relate to this at some point in their lives. Seriously. Just one.

The Middle of Hollywood, named as such from a lyric in "Good Girls" chorus, is available for purchase at iTunes and for perusal on Spotify. Bubblegum debut single "Just Can't Let You Go" (featuring rapper Lil Twist) is included, along with the sunny, very California "Woo Hoo" (defintely not to be confused with the Christina Aguilera dirge single of the same title), which I mentioned as a highlight from her showcase.

Check out my interview with Manika beyond the cut below. My many thanks to Manika for taking the time to answer my questions.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

WGO: New Releases, Chart Watch (6/9/2012)

Below denotes songs and artists of note featured on the Billboard 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.

New Additions to the Hot 100 of Note:

10. Phillip Phillips - Home
I've fallen off the "American Idol" train, but apparently, the tragically named Phillip Phillips was named winner of Season 11. Wait -- another passable attractive dude with a alt-rock voice that plays guitar won? Really? Really, America? We all know that worked so well for Kris Allen and David Cook, so this kid should have nothing to worry about. ... Shade aside, the song isn't shabby and is certainly one of the better "Idol Coronation" songs to come along the pike in awhile (because usually they are forgettable as hell). I mean, a bluegrass "Idol" song and it connects? I'm shocked, too. Best of luck, Phil(2X).

35. Katy Perry - Wide Awake
Good Lord, I'm such a sucker of Katy Perry singles these days. I don't know what Teenage Dream did to me, fam. I find this ballad much mor interesting than "The One That Got Away" (by a long shot). But I think we can all agree, it's time for Ms. Perry move on to the next era, please.

89. Chris Brown - Don't Wake Me Up
The latest single from Brown's upcoming fifth album Fortune is this climactic grower. It was co-written by William Orbit (Madonna's Ray of Light, MDNA) and Brian Kennedy (Brown's "Forever" and Rihanna's "Disturbia"). As much as I still enjoy "Turn Up the Music", this is probably the single Brown should have led with from this album project...minus the AutoTune, which was/is/will always be unnecessary when it's Brown at the vocal helm.

90. Jason DeRulo - Undefeated
He's the poor man's Chris Brown (or the Mr. Jordin Sparks depending on who you talk to). While his latest is a perfectly radio-ready pop smash, it lacks the earworm quality of "Whatcha Say" or "Don't Wanna Go Home".

96. Rita Ora - How We Do (Party)
Brit Rita is from Jay Z's Roc Nation collective (Willow SmithJ.Cole) and is clearly the supplier of the Rihanna sound. I much prefer her current UK single "R.I.P." (feat. Tinie Tempah) to this "party" jam (Party! And Bull Sh*t! And Party! And Bull Sh*t!) -- to me, you just have to come harder than this your first time out.

Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart:
1. Gotye - Somebody That I Used To Know (feat. Kimbra)
2. Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe (AIRPLAY + STREAMING GAINER)
3. Maroon 5 - Payphone (feat. Wiz Khalifa)
4. fun. - We Are Young (feat. Janelle Monae)
5. Nicki Minaj - Starships
6. Flo Rida - Wild Ones (feat. Sia)
7. One Direction - What Makes You Beautiful
8. The Wanted - Glad You Came
9. Justin Bieber - Boyfriend
10. Phillip Phillips - Home (DEBUT)

Saturday, June 02, 2012

NOW KPOPPING: Big Bang's No "Monster"

Ever since the release of their latest Korean mini album, Alive, back in February, the boys in Big Bang have been virtually untouchable in terms of consistency in 2012. They return to us now with the album's re-release, Still Alive, with five new songs alongside the singles "Blue", "Bad Boy" and "Fantastic Baby".

One of the new cuts is the re-release's backer, "Monster", which takes a page out of the Michael Jackson "Thriller"/Backstreet Boys "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" book, displaying South Korea's loveable group of bad boys into creepier hellions. Big Bang has always stood out in this way (much like their labelmates/little sisters in 2NE1) when compared to the rest of Korea's flower boys and when the material is ace to back up their daring imagery, it's hard to look away. "Monster" is not as instantaneously earworm-y as "Fantastic Baby" (because very little is...seriously), but is proof positive G-Dragon can really write a hook.

If you've yet to check out Alive, I think now is the time. 2012 is halfway through and its fair to say its the strongest male release so far (while SHINee's flaw-free Sherlock mini comes in a close second)...However, late 2012 is pointing toward a sixth Korean album from both TVXQ (HoMin) and Super Junior (be still, my heart!), so the competition could go any number of ways...

Next up on the KPOP docket -- my birthday month of June seems to be the month KPOP's Queens return to battle it out. Wonder Girls' fresh EP, Wonder Party, is due this week on the back of the single "Like This" (and will include their recent US release "The DJ Is Mine"), and given how strong last year's Wonder World was, it is easily my suprise excitement for the summer. However, my girls in 2NE1 are also due for a comeback this month. While details are not truly nailed down, its rare for them to dissapoint. Both groups are also due for full length English-language albums that I am positively salivating for.

And that's not all! I'm hearing word that SM's little sisters in f(x) are planning a summer comeback to follow up last year's "Pinocchio (Danger)"/"Hot Summer" one-two punch and their reigning Teen Queens in Girls' Generation are returning to Japan at the end of the month with another supposed uptempo called "Paparazzi". If it's anything like "Bad Girl", I will be a very happy camper.

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