Saturday, January 17, 2015

FRESH OUT THE BOX: Kelly Clarkson, Ivy Levan, Kerli, MisterWives, Halestorm, Taylor Bueno

Happy Weekend -- hope you had a great week! I think it's official in that we've really started settling in to 2015. We saw the return of a Superstar with a Capital S (Kelly Clarkson), some great pop albums (Meghan Trainor = Queen), as well as some unexpected primo pop nuggets. Here's some of what I've been spending my time jamming to this week. Click the song titles to hear the songs...

It's not the big Kelly Clarkson sing-a-long smash that we all have been waiting for since her last original single (the underappreciated "People Like Us" from her Greatest Hits collex) but it does the job well enough. It was produced by Greg Kurstin (P!NK, Tegan & Sara, Lily Allen, Kelly's Stronger album) and written by Kara DioGuardi so it can rely on that talent plus Kelly's vocal strength. Something tells me this may just be the "Mr. Know It All" to the "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" hiding around the corner. The upcoming album, Piece by Piece, is looking at a March release.

Orlando-based indie singer-songwriter Taylor Bueno dropped her Unseen EP this week containing singles "I Like" and "Lucky In Love" (which have both gained some support from Radio Disney). It sounds to me a bit like if Carly Rae Jepsen went the Colbie Caillat direction instead of working with RedFoo -- very organic but still very catchy and sweet. 

Getting "hard rock" recommendations from me is a weird kind of thing but in the case of Halestorm, there is a bridge to poppy sheen. Lead vocalist Lzzy Hale is a modern day Pat Benatar (in my opinion) and prior single "I Miss The Misery" alone would have proved it. Then last year, she broke through the Pop Pandora officially when she assisted on the glorious (and underrated) hit "Shatter Me" with Lindsey Stirling. Halestorm, the band, is signed to Atlantic and could be now poised for a mainstream marketing push with their latest, "Apocalyptic", the first single off of the upcoming Into the Wildlife.

The minute I first heard this song -- despite its provocative not-so-double-entrendre -- I was already hooked. So it came as no surprise to me Ivy is a Cherrytree Records signee. Her debut EP, Introducing the Dame, was out in 2013 but "Biscuit" marks her first real run-for-it attempt at radio. Remember when Christina Aguilera was awkwardly singing about her "Woo Hoo" and it was catchy but weird at the same time? Ivy takes the reigns and the fears are eliminated. She has the voice, the confidence, and the kookiness of Lady Gaga that we all dug in her The Fame / The Fame Monster days. I want this (and her) to be huge. C'mon 2015, don't disappoint us. 

Let's hear it for the Hometown Kids -- this NYC-originated pop band have really hit their stride with this hit. The chorus is so much fun and is complemented with horns and disco guitar. 

Today actually marks two years since I saw The Saturdays live at the Highline Ballroom, so it's also two years to the day since I (re-)fell in love with Estonian pop artist Kerli. Since I've seen her last, her should-have-been-huge album Utopia, filled with dance-y bangers, has been left in the rearview since she left Island Records in favor of indie label Ultra. I'm here for new Kerli material in any vein I can take it and "Raindrops" is a fun club dance jam.

JAZMINE SULLIVAN - "If You Dare" / "Stanley"
I was expecting Jazmine's latest album bow, Reality Show (out this past week), to be much more of a traditional R&B affair but what I got instead (happily) was a mixed bag of genres. I enjoy the set a great deal and definitely recommend it to anyone who loves a good sanger. Both "If You Dare" and "Stanley" stand apart to me because of their hand-clappy backbeats that remind of 70's disco (especially the latter). Good stuff

I knew I'd be happy with Meghan's Title album before it dropped this past Tuesday and boy, was I right. In fact, I'm bumming that I didn't try to get tickets to see her live earlier (even if it is at Irving Plaza....side eye) because now seats for her early March show there are at least quadruple their original value! Meghan knows her lane and she does it spectacularly well -- her quirky blend of panache and lyrical snark is all over this record and it all feels so intrinsically Meghan. Add to this that she co-wrote every song and she's even more embraceable. Much of the album reminds me of Little Mix's latest -- they may not all sound like singles but it's definitely all fun pop. However, the fact that "Credit" is relegated to a bonus cut from the Deluxe Version is so criminal. It's a must hear. But for those of you who don't really "get" the Meghan Trainor kitsch, give "Like I'm Gonna Lose You" a listen. It features John Legend(!) and it's gorgeous.

1 comment:

D'luv said...

I'm really not on board with Kelly's new single, I'm afraid :( I did hear it at Midtown Comics last week and thought it sounded okay as background noise, but it's soooooo boring.

That said, she's really only launched an album with a strong single once (My Life Would Suck Without You)...maybe twice, if you consider Miss Independent to be the lead single off Thankful and not A Moment Like This.

Fingers crossed there's better stuff in the wings.

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