As summer inches closer and closer, the music release schedule ramps up and up and up. Here's a snippet into what I've been listening to in terms of new releases in the past weeks:
ADELEN - "Olé (Stadium Anthem Mix)"
"My name is Adelén / From Rio to Berlin / Now let me see some hands in the air..."
Sexy Norwegian popstar Adelén has mad a huge bow this past week with the international release of her latest single "Olé" via 2014 FIFA World Cup compilation disc One Love, One Rhythm. Now, if you're like me, you're probably thinking -- what the hell is a Norwegian popstar doing singing a latin-tingled jam for the World Cup? Adelén is actually half Spanish herself (her mother is from Spain) and much of her singles prior to "Olé" are also have a latin feel. Still, her Europop sensibility is also ever-present -- "Olé" boasts a very prominent callout to Steam's "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye". In fact, she came very close to representing Norway in Eurovision in 2013 with her single "Bombo" but lost out to the obviously worthy competitor in Margaret Berger's "I Feed You My Love" (still one of my absolute favorite cuts from last year). Something about this artist tells me she is on the precipice of something big -- and apparently Idol hitmaker Simon Fuller agrees. He's signed her up to a production deal.
"Game is changing / Can't just come back / Jump on the mic / And do the same thing..."
Lily has finally come back to us in her trademark snark and pomp with her latest disc Sheezus. Singles "Hard Out Here" and "Air Balloon" still sound fab but the album on the whole was much stronger than I was expecting. It's full of caustic lyrics as expected but her earned pop sensibility wasn't forsaken like it was on prior albums. Overall, the sound of the album is much more mainstream familiar...and then you hear the lyrics. "Sheezus" is a fun teaser into Lily's petulant style of humor -- calling out Rihanna, Katy Perry, Lorde and Lady Gaga. Zing.
BLEACHERS - "Shadow"
If you were resisting Bleachers on the basis that its are one of those hipster hype names, don't. Created as a side-piece solo project "group" by Jack Antonoff (aka the guitarist for fun.) as the dust settled following Some Nights, the material unveiled by Bleachers is decidedly more synthpop. Something about the guitar and tribal-like chant verses reminds me of summer-y vacation trips to Florida with my family in the early 90's. I really don't know why. Pretty sure David Byrne would approve of this one.
You know them and you should love them. Blondie released a fresh Greatest Hits set this past week, dubbed Blondie: 4(0)-Ever, paired with latest new album, Ghosts of Download, in honor of their fortieth anniversary (can you even believe). The majority of their biggest hits were re-recorded for the set (sans "Maria") and I easily could have named any of them here. Blondie is iconic and regardless of time or reason, you don't need an anniversary to blare Debbie Harry.
BROOKE CANDY - "Pop Rock"
"I'ma spice it up / I'ma leave you red hot..."
As I mentioned on Twitter, if you are falling victim to this onslaught of Iggy Azalea just in time for the summer months, you need to not sleep on Brooke Candy. Both ladies are known for their sexualized, pro-power femme, somewhat aggressive lyrics and both have trademark, unique vocal timbres. She jumped onto my radar in 2012 when she dabbled into trend pop with Charli XCX (who's also worked with Iggy) via "Cloud Aura", my favorite "b-side" on Charli's debut bow. Not since Lady Gaga, have we seen such eccentrically beautiful images stand out in the mainsream. After a handful of risque single releases, Brooke dropped her EP Opulence recently on the back of the single of the same name (also great and catchy). My favorite from the project is the slightly reggae-bent, slightly-Rihanna-esque "Pop Rock".
CHROMEO - "Lost On The Way Home (feat. SOLANGE)"
"I know it's gonna take time..."
"Jealous (I Ain't With It)" remains to be the big, fantastic 2014 summer jam Canadian quirk-act Chromeo needed to truly push themselves from the festival circuit into the mainstream. Their latest disc, White Women, dropped recently and offers this album cut (and given the Met Gala controversy, who knows if it will be serviced as a single). If you're a fan of this 80's synthpop, male vocalist trend but also enjoy humble-pie lyrical style, it's worth a few rotations.
MICHAEL JACKSON - "Do You Know Where Your Children Are"
"If they're somewhere out on the street / Just imagine how scared they are..."
I'm not a huge fan of posthumous releases period, especially not when it comes to the King of Pop, but Xscape boasts production from Timbaland, Stargate and Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins on demo recordings that span the time frame from Michael's glory years in the 80's leading up to the title track, which was recorded for the Invincible album in 2001. The lead single, "Love Never Felt So Good", includes a supplemental vocal by the obvious -- Justin Timberlake. Despite the inclusion of my childhood hubby, it's hardly my favorite cut on the record. Hands down, that goes to lyrically dark "Do You Know Where Your Children Are", which feels like classic Michael from when I first fell in love with him in my childhood in the early 90's. Unsurprisingly, it was recorded for the Dangerous album but was left on the proverbial shelf until now. In Timbo's capable hands, the new mix doesn't feel like an old demo attempting to be new -- it's believable that the result was like what Michael would have wanted.
LA ROUX - "Let Me Down Gently"
It's nearly been five years since Elly Jackson and the crew from La Roux wowed the world with their 80's-inspired synth sound. The singles from La Roux plays together today like one big mashup of fantastic, a big symbol for the breath of fresh air that Elly represented in 2008/2009. The longer it took to produce a follow up, the greater the pressure that was placed but finally this week the wait was over with the first glimmer of the incredibly anticipated sophomore offering in "Let Me Down Gently". The new single is still decidedly synth-tastic but much more melancholy and emotional, truly the definition of a sonic storytelling piece that gradually builds as the song progresses.
JENNIFER LOPEZ - "First Love"
A for Effort for Ms. Lopez for offering us a catchy pop jam that sticks the landing (albeit a little generically) and doesn't include a rent-a-rapper (what's up, Pitbull) as so many of her recent singles have done. It's the second unveiling from her upcoming album, A.K.A., rekindling the heat and energy for it following the yeesh-worthy "I Luh Ya Papi" ("Luh"? We can't even be bothered to say "Love" anymore, Jenny? Really?). Fingers crossed.
"That's a fact / Knock your train right off the tracks..."
I like to toss jokes at the KPOP music scene in that legit all the male artists are attempting to copy Justin Timberlake (Super Junior-M's most recent "Swing!" took musical elements from The 20/20 Experience, and then added dubstep and...it was just a mess). It's surreal that he can drop one thing and suddenly it becomes a "trend" (whether he inspired the trend or was simply the first out the gate in the mainstream is another topic for debate, I guess). But it's not just Korea that is loving on the JT. I'm sure Jesse McCartney feels a kinship to Justin -- they both are former boy band vocalists (never forget, we walked down on Dream Street, Jesse), have been admirably re-inventing their sound from album to album, and have written for other artists. But despite reaching new heights of solo fame with "moment" album Departure in 2008/2009, Jesse had been fighting with Hollywood Records (a common theme for a lot of post-Disney popstars) leaving his proposed fourth solo record shelved and finally exited the label officially in 2012. Now independent, he released In Technicolor, Part 1 in late 2013 on the back of the single "Back Together" which very much fit into the 20/20 swing of 70's funk meets 80's dance. His latest single, "Superbad", hit iTunes recently and while so many are quick to also call it a Justin carbon-copy, I think the better comparison would be to Michael Jackson himself and that sure ain't no joke (and neither is "Superbad"'s bassline).
BEBE REXHA - "I Can't Stop Drinking About You"
You might not recognize the name Bebe Rexha outright if you are outside of the dance circle (then you'd know her for the modest hit with Cash Cash, "Take Me Home") but allow me to educate. Rexha originally got her "big break moment" when Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz walked in on her during a demo recording session (or so the story goes) and invited her to be the lead vocalist for his side project dance band Black Cards. This is how I stumbled upon her originally, via the underappreciated disco-lite, reggae-twinged jam "Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Fame", released back in 2011. The project fell through, the album was shelved and Rexha exited to work on her solo offerings, including writing for other artists including Selena Gomez's "Like A Champion", Nikki Williams' "Glowing" and the song that would become Eminem & Rihanna's "The Monster". And ready to really have your mind be blown? She's dabbled with writing alongside KPOP-heavyweights Ryan Jhun and Adam Kapit and co-wrote a little jam you might have heard of once or twice called "Lucifer" for SHINee. Yup. That happened. Back Stateside, Bebe's solo train is finally pulling out of the station via "I Can't Stop Drinking About You" which feels very much like a dancey Paloma Faith number with auto-tuned growl drops a la Krewella or Zedd. Get on board.
RUPAUL - "Sissy That Walk"
"Ain't No Tea / Ain't No Shade..."
Okay, so this isn't new and yes, I did 'Fresh Out The Box' it before but it warrants a second mentioning because feels. Born Naked was released back in Feb-RU-ary (get it?), carefully timed to coincide with the latest installment of RuPaul's Drag Race. "Sissy That Walk" was a recurring theme for the show this season, featured during every runway sequence, and was officially serviced as a single this past week (complete with a music video featuring the Top 4 Queens of the Season: Adore Delano, Courtney Act, Darienne Lake and Bianca Del Rio). It's a jam. I don't care who you are. Blare it loud. Party! (#TeamBiancaDelRio...also known as the most gif-able queen ever and that's no BALONEY!).
TIESTO - "Let's Go (feat. ICONA POP)"
I will never not be on IconaPop's side (I am their unofficial official third member after all) so don't fault me for wanting the replication of "I Love It". Obviously they do too, as almost every post-"I Love It" single sounds a bit like their breakthrough. Their latest is a featured tag with dancefloor dynamo's Tiesto. IP is always good for the party, even if originality is questionable. Shrug. Hair flip.