Saturday, July 27, 2013

HEAR THIS: Teen Scene Triple Feature with Ariana, Zendaya & Fifth Harmony

Just when you start to fear for the American Teen Idol Market, what with Miley turning into Rihanna, Demi gearing up for another round of X-Factor, the Jonas Brothers refusing to confirm a release date for that mysterious new record, Justin Bieber jumping off the deep end and Selena falling asleep at the wheel (sorry not sorry, Stars Dance turned out snoozy), pop music proves there's room for errbody at the party. A crop of not-quite-newbies have been waiting patiently to step in and take over the spotlight. The time is now. Insert me dancing like a mid-20's version of Camila Cabello, rockin' out and fist pumpin' to the music. Go on, girls.

ZENDAYA - "Replay"
Now that Miley, Demi and Selena are all out of the Disney nest, the stars of the Channel's Shake It Up (currently in its final season) are being primed to be the next Teen Princess. While Bella Thorne's "TTYLXOX" was a fun little tongue-in-cheek pop jam, her co-star in Zendaya is the first out of the gate of the pair while Bella goes the acting route first. After a successful run with the past season of "Dancing With the Stars", Zendaya's performance points were stacked quite high in her favor and it should be noted her brand of Disney Magic is decidedly all age-appropriate and not to be slept on. Her previous single, "Swag It Out," was heavy on the Rihanna/Willow Smith mindset and "Replay" continues in this vein, albeit in a more polished way. Sparse vocals with a trampoline-inspired synth beat lead to a climatic, repetitive chorus that chants "Wanna put this song on replay/I can listen to it all day." Subliminal messaging? A band of remixes of "Replay" were also released and that Jump Smokers Mix is not to be ignored.

20-year old Nickelodeon starlet Ariana Grande drew comparisons to Mariah Carey with her breakthrough "The Way". Don't expect those feelings to cease anytime soon -- her follow up cut, "Baby I", by Kenneth Edmonds (better known as Babyface). A young popstar with a single written by Babyface? When was the last time that happened? If that doesn't get your attention in itself, the track will. It opens with an all-eyes-on-me sonic blare (reminiscent of Sugababes' "Get Sexy") and pounding synth taps before the vocal kicks in with soft hand snaps. This is decidedly more R&B than "The Way" and it's the type of mainstream soul we haven't seen much of from the ladies in a hot minute. This is the kind of A-Material we should have seen on that alleged third JoJo album that got shelved by Blackground. Ariana's debut album, Yours Truly, is due in the fall and is if the rest of the material is anything remotely close to the quality of "The Way" and "Baby I", Ariana is going to be a huge star.

FIFTH HARMONY - "Miss Movin' On"
USA X-Factor offspring Fifth Harmony (or 5H) quickly gained momentum as the American Little Mix with focus being on their cute looks and vocal delivery. They also have the distinction of being the frontrunner in terms of pop girl group signed to a major label in the US. Ally, Camila, Lauren, Dinah and Normandi placed third on the show's most recent second season back in December, and are now signed to their mentor Simon Cowell's Syco Music (by way of Epic). "Miss Movin' On", an anthematic midtempo is my favorite style of teen single. It's empowering, strong and filled to the brim with potential. The vocal delivery is somewhere between Demi's "Skyscraper", Jordin Spark's "Battlefield" and Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone" and that sure is a great place to be. My only hope is they stay this way -- relatable like they could very well be any five girls you'd see at any American high school (with popstar hair and an ideal wardrobe, of course). Their debut album is due for later this summer and a tour with UK X-Factor album Cher Lloyd is also in the works for the fall.

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