FRESH OUT THE BOX: Paloma, Shakira, Rihanna, Bastille

Many moons ago, I attempted to keep up with the weekly documentation of Billboard charts. The sheer intensity of what goes into building a weekly post like that was super discouraging for me -- simply because it took so long. (Hence why I give such props to Pop! Goes The Charts for how detailed he is with his personal chart tabulations!) In 2014, I'm tentatively setting up a new column idea dubbed Fresh Out The Box (Stop, look and watch! All That reference? Anyone?...Yup, confirmed. I'm old.) featuring single releases that are brand new to the chart race (meaning: they saw "release" this past week). This week we have...

BASTILLE - "Of The Night"
This song has been floating around the Internetz for a few months now (the video popped up in October, guys), especially the pop blogs. And for a very good reason -- it contains interpolations of the iconic 90's jams "The Rhythm of the Night" by Corona (recently covered by Cascada) and  "Rhythm Is A Dancer" by Snap!. (It'd be fair to argue that both songs are a great reflection of those who can recall a 90's childhood -- especially the latter. Bastille isn't the first to applaud that one either. Girls Aloud alum Nicola Roberts mashed up her single "Lucky Day" with the song in a flaw-free remix back in 2011.) 

Bastille made serious waves in the UK thanks to the hit "Pompeii" (insert catchy Ehhhh Eh Oh Ehhh Oh here) but the single underwelmed Stateside (because our general populace is made up of fools, obvi). They recently reissued their debut album, available here in the US as All This Bad Blood to feature "Of The Night" (which topped out in the UK at #2). It might be a little too dancey for American listeners, but it sincerely hurts my heart that we can eat up regurgitated hip hop pieces by Pitbull and Flo Rida but can't jive to this. It's fantastic. And available now.


SHAKIRA & RIHANNA - "Can't Remember To Forget You"
Island-esque beats with crunchy electric guitar. Both Shak & Rih sound right there in their element. It's undoubtedly the most interesting thing either has done in a while in the pop realm. (I don't care what anyone says -- "The Monster" was a snore to me. Yeah, I said it.) I'm thoroughly enjoying the sheer romp and pomp of it -- proof that both ladies don't need a rent-a-rapper tacked on to be relevant in the marketplace.

The online reaction was expected to be immediate and it was -- a total outpouring of love. At first listen, I found the song to be pretty generic. The verses seemed promising but the chorus felt too familiar and not nearly strong enough for a collab featuring two such heavyweights. Perfect example -- Shak's other major collab with Beyonce in "Beautiful Liar" was a fantastic weaving of the two's voices and styles that came together with a power chorus. "Can't Remember To Forget You" falls far short of that.

It's grown on me a little as time passes, but I'm still not over the moon by it and truth be told, as a cynic I question how much excitement about it there'd be if RiRi had not been involved. I'm here for Shakira all day -- She Wolf/Loba was criminally underrated as is so much of her catalog on the whole. Her being so undervalued makes this collaboration even more jarring and interesting a choice as it's arguable that Rihanna could be labeled as one of the most overrated popstars, simply because it feels like literally everything she touches gains a level of some acclaim and success.


PALOMA FAITH - "Can't Rely On You"
Fudging the "release" mentality of this column slightly -- this song was officially revealed this week and is available for pre-order in the UK. The official pre-order is currently not available in the US (territory marketing, how I hate you).

2013 was the Year of Pharrell -- we had "Get Lucky" and the other Daft Punk assisted good 'uns, his genre-defining moment in the sun with Robin Thicke via that song that I dare not name, and his songwriting dabbles with Beyonce with "Blow" and "Superpower" of her sneak-attack fifth record. I'm sure as the weeks progress, more Pharrell-assists will come to light -- in the wake of that Power Trinity, everyone (and their A&R rep) will want "the Pharrell sound". 

One artist I did not peg to be waiting in line for the special treatment was Paloma Faith -- a relatively underground name here in the US (although she's much more well known in the UK). "Can't Rely On You" is the lead single from her upcoming third record, dubbed A Perfect Contradiction, and was produced by Pharrell. I can't be the only one who found this collab even more surprising than that of Shak & Rih. While I tend to characterize Paloma more along the "sad, introspective girls" brigade somewhere between Lana Del Rey and Rebecca Ferguson, "Rely" is decidedly more funky, invigorating and shaking up what I've come to expect (and I'm sure that's Pharrell's doing). There's an argument for it feeling contrived -- it does feel very Paloma x "Blurred Lines" (blechhhh even just typing the name bothers me) -- but the soulful quality binds to Paloma's signature vocal surprisingly well.

Here's to hoping it's not a red herring for what's to come from A Perfect Contradiction.

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