Everything about this screams hit, let alone Max Martin's hand in penning it. Released at the end of July, in less than a month its shot up the Billboard Hot 100 (thanks in no small part no doubt to Ms. Grande supplying the second verse). Here's to ladies with enviable vocal chops, right? Even Nicki's verse slings and swats without feeling unnecessarily tacked on for show. It's not quite the "Lady Marmalade" reboot we all have been screaming for but it's a pretty easy guess that anything this girl power-y (and downright melismatic) will have my stamp of approval.
IGGY AZALEA - "Black Widow (feat. RITA ORA)"
Upon the release of Iggy's debut set The New Classic dropped earlier this year, this tune automatically stood out to me as a keeper -- easily my favorite of the non-single "new" jams featured. Setting aside the bringing to light of Iggy's "questionable" past as a femmcee (my thoughts: she makes jams now and writes them so...) and a now somewhat common complaint that it sounds "too close" Katy Perry's "Dark Horse" (my thoughts: Ms. Perry co-penned "Black Widow" so...I guess you just have good ears). I'd rather field the more obvious -- who exactly is Rita Ora playing to in the US? She's best known here as an ex to the male Kardashian and her vocal contribution here sounds a bit like a Perry/Rihanna rebirth -- a far cry from her best known US hit, "R.I.P." No matter, this one cooks.
KIMBRA - "90's Music"
Welcome back to that other alt-popstar from New Zealand, Kimbra (the other being Lorde, obvs)! Following a pristine bow with her debut set, Vows, and a star-making turn as the featured artist in that Gotye smash "Somebody That I Used To Know", Kimbra dropped her sophomore album The Golden Echo yesterday and it has a handful of late 80's/early 90's synth sparklers that seem to be so en vogue now. Difference is with Kimbra it doesn't sound forced or jumping on a bandwagon -- it really fits and fuels her jazz-y, ethereal voice. "90's Music" is quirky, a little bit weird, and my favorite for the Mary J Blige and TLC homage mentions alone, but I also quite like "Miracle" and "Madhouse".
NEON HITCH - "Yard Sale"
The Gypsy Queen of the Indie Grind has offered quite a bit of fresh material since I saw her perform at CMJ last year in two stellar alt-pop mixtapes (that are both available to stream on Spotify so get on that!). Her latest is the single "Yard Sale", a salty in-your-face Neon-ized version of "Irreplaceable". It reads like an Eff You to an ex who's done you wrong (or, if you want to read into it, perhaps directed at a former label who's done her wrong by "giving away all of the things that [she] used to call [her] own"? "Giving 'em all away for free?" Who knows?). As Neon warbles, "There is a person that could love you/But that person is the old me." Oh, and there's an accordion riff in it. Win.
If 20-year-old Christina's name only sounds slightly familiar, get ready for a potential onslaught. She began her career singing covers on YouTube, which led to a game-changing run on The Voice this past season (she placed third this past May) and a barrage of record deal offers. She ultimately signed with Island Records and her debut major release single, "Must Be Love" hit the decks at the end of July. It's an incredible earworm to say the least, owing to Grimmie's power pipes that could easily compete in this post-Ariana big voiced teenage popstar world.
Halsey continues into this dark electro pastiche with some seriously noteworthy results. "Ghost" was distributed through AstralWerks, who also handle the catalog of Nervo, Empire of the Sun, Kraftwerk, and Goldfrapp to just name a handful. Halsey has just jumped aboard The Kooks live tour as an opening act. Put her on your list as one to watch.
An "indie" alt-popstar along the likes of Charli XCX and Jessie Ware, Ryn Weaver's entire career blew up overnight thanks both of those ladies giving her some props and promo pointing to her SoundCloud page. Her song, "OctaHate", is distributed through Interscope, along with a new EP that was unleashed yesterday. While there's a bit of controversy regarding her actual "indie" status, it is clear she's Interscope's new viral pet project (not unlike Lana Del Rey) to build a story around her straight out the gate. So far, this does not bug me -- the music is standard pop fare and much more listenable than droll Lana any day.