Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Catch Up - Best of Lists, Beyoncé and Collected Columns

If you're stuck at home for a few days for all things festive and want another option for when you've done your boxset binge then here's a selection of stuff I've done recently that might help while away the hours.

I did a rundown of my favourite 40 singles released this year for GCN which you can read here. It also includes a full Deezer playlist of all the songs. There are some tunes I wish I'd added in now but for the most part it's a fairly accurate look at what I listened to and loved this year.

There's an album list too with full Deezer links to each underneath their respective blurb which might help you pick which albums to spend that Christmas gift of an iTunes gift card on.

I've been keeping up the regular writing for the Independent's Day and Night mag too. My last piece for 2013 looks at how the pop diva pack fared this year and where they might go next. I also recently discussed pop's "real music" fascination and also looked at how the music video is in rude health this year.

I also did a review of Beyoncé's self titled fifth album for the Independent online, delving into why this is such an impressive pop collection.

And there's been some fun radio show bits with the Dave Fanning show over the last while. I talked about Lady Gaga and her current career trajectory with Dave back when ARTPOP came out, there was a fun chat on the 30th anniversary of the Thriller video and just last weekend myself and the amazing Jenn Gannon gave our review of 2013's music moments.

2013 was a busy one so I'm delighted to do nothing for a few days before appearing at The George with Davina Devine to ring in the New Year on the 31st (poster below). Have a wonderful Christmas!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Friday tunes, Gaga chat and a new venture

Happy Friday! If you're looking for new tunes than this week's Friday Four for GCN is heavy on dance duos and the new Britney tune.

Also, Una Mullally had me do a guest post for her Irish Times blog where we hash out our differences on Lady Gaga as new album ARTPOP arrives on Irish shores.

On the Gaga tip, I'm chatting about her in today's Irish Independent as part of the Day and Night magazine. I've a regular column starting this week which is exciting in the extreme.

And if you're at a radio at all tomorrow I'll be discussing the current trajectory of Gaga's career with Dave Fanning on 2FM around 10:30am and reviewing the album for Spin 1038 on Plan B at 1:45pm that same day. Phew.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Recent Work: Talking about Cher in the Irish Independent

If you weren't all Cher-ed up when her album came out here a few weeks ago, you should check out this piece I did on her admirable honesty in pop for last week's Irish Independent in the Day and Night mag.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Sex and Smarts: Lady Gaga and R.Kelly team up for Do What You Want

In just over five years Lady Gaga has achieved the kind of success most popstars would struggle to achieve in ten. And as much as she's a star whose success relied on the always-on 24 hour media whirl we live in now, it's the same system that can make her seem she's no longer "relevant". She's griped recently about feeling misunderstood (like this excellent Guardian interview) and made a video that played with all the internet chatter about her just before Applause dropped.

Yesterday ahead of new song Do What You Want (one of a handful of songs that aren't singles that she'll be unveiling before new album ARTPOP arrives next month) debuting Gaga went on a Twitter rant, linking to videos and images of things people have said about over her career from her weight to what Madonna thinks of her. In one way it can be seen as her throwing her toys out of the pram (and how boring is it when popstars say they don't write for the charts? sigh) but it's an oddly self aware flip of the bird from someone who has more of a mask up in public than her contemporaries.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Self-help Quotes, Bubblegum and the Big Leagues: Katy Perry Prism Review

Banal yet brilliant, cutting yet corporate, Katy Perry occupies a strange place in the pop sphere. 2010's Teenage Dream was only her second album but it turned her into a chart juggernaut. From California Gurls through to Firework and then two huge hits from a reissue, Perry ended up with 6 number ones on the US' Billboard Hot 100, the kind of staggering feat that comes from a heady mix of big tunes, big marketing and a star relentlessly out to up their pop game.

Katy and co bring you some new tunes

Head over to GCN.ie now and you'll catch this week's Friday Four with the new Katy Perry single, James Vincent McMorrow, Ghost Beach and the amazing Lulu Jones.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Review: AlunaGeorge and MØ at The Academy Dublin (16/10/13)

Before either Aluna or George arrive on the stage at The Academy they've nearly had the whole thing whipped out from under their noses. It's rare to find yourself won over by an opening act but between gyrating on the floor and throwing herself on top of every available surface Mø does a fine job of just that.  

A look at the casual homophobia of Eminem's new tune

After some tweets on this yesterday Una Mullally asked me to do a guest post for her Irish Times blog Pop Life on the new Eminem tune Rap God and his use of homophobic language. It surprised me how few people were talking about it and realised that it's part of a wider acceptance of what made him so shocking in the first place.

Read the full piece here

Recent Pop Tunes You May Enjoy

I'm about to prep tomorrow's Friday Four post for GCN.ie but if you missed last week music from Lady Gaga, TLC, Bastille and Jessie Ware and Julio Bashmore are still worth a look

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Lorde, New Stuff And A Hidden Gem: Mutya Keisha Siobhan's Amazing Acoustic Session

Pop music geeks have been in a tizzy over the reunited Mutya Keisha Siobhan (aka the original Sugababes line-up aka the Origibabes aka the Pop Reunion Nobody Expected) and in a way it's hard not to blame them. The Sugababes may now be tarnished by line-up changes and an ever changing sound but the bones of what their voices did together on those early songs still sound fresh and interesting.

The group's first release proper as MKS was rather brilliant Flatline which sadly didn't set the charts on fire. Given how the girls have said they reformed for themselves it's easy to see why they might want to be something of a cult proposition but in a climate when Pop Acts That Are Pop Acts But Everyone Pretends Aren't like HAIM and Chvrches are flourishing it doesn't seem odd to think MKS could have a broader appeal.

The album is due early next year (This Billboard article has some interesting detail on tracks on it including a track from Sia) and while the band performed some new stuff at a gig in August, this acoustic session that's just appeared online is a reminder of just how promising this whole affair could be, offering up a forgotten Sugababes gem, a promising new song and a cover that offers up something fresh.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Cher's Closer To The Truth - Track by Track On Her Pop Comeback

Cher's new album is arriving in Ireland on Friday and in the UK Monday following her appearance on The X-Factor this weekend. It's easy to dismiss her but the new album is half pop-dance gems and half well realised ballads. If you're in Ireland you stream it in full at GCN now and wherever you are you can read my track by track thoughts on the album there too.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Female Rebel Yell: Miley Cyrus "Bangerz" Review

"I'm a female rebel, can't you tell?" Miley Cyrus deadpans early into new album Bangerz. And given the year she's had (and we've had with her) it's hard to disagree with that kind of sentiment.

Bangerz comes just as MTV debuts a documentary where she talks "talking over the whole world" with "more than just a record" and a year that's had her "shock the world" via the MTV VMAs and respond rather rudely to Sinead O'Connor's open-letter hand wringing over her new found love of using her body to mark out her adulthood. 

The teen star grows up by getting sexy thing is a mold that certainly fits where Cyrus has landed but there's more to it than just "I'm grown now so there goes my clothes". 

Cyrus has always been something of a gawky presence even at the peak of her Hannah Montana fame, her stage presence having a kind of off beat energy that suggested that her drawly, country-tinged voice and her knack for fanning controversy would see her past her TV days.

So in an odd way, for her to swing her sound into a country-pop-R'n'B hybrid seems like the awkward and all over the place a move as you'd expect from a 20-year old multi millionaire who has spent a chunk of their almost-adult life in public.

You desperately want Bangerz to be a killer pop album. Especially as the Sinead O'Connor back and forth exposes Cyrus in lacking a degree of tact and yet another over the top collab with Terry Richardson emerges showing even more of the starlet. But can it ever really live up to such controversy-baiting hype?

Britney's Hidden Gems and New Music on GCN

If you've not been over to GCN today then there's a playlist of hidden gems of a one Miss Britney Spears that is worth a look and also this week's Friday Four which is loaded with incredible songs from Sia, Sky Ferreira, Charli XCX and Katy B. Consider it a nice little kickstart to the weekend on me.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Rihanna Debuts Pour It Up Video, Pop Continues to Worship The Pole Dance

Rihanna hasn't made any secret of her love for strip clubs as evidenced by her many Instagram shots of her pole dance related nights out. And her single Pour It Up, the woozy Mike Will Made It produced cut from 2012's Unapologetic already had something of a strip-club anthem status before the much-delayed video ever saw the light of day.

This evening RiRi finally debuted the clip (After a Twitter spat with it's director and her working on the promo for next single What Now) and as expected it's got ass shots everywhere and plenty of undeniably impressive pole aerobics.

6 Things You May Have Missed in Britney's Work Bitch Video

The new Britney video is here! And in less than 24 hours it's clocked up plenty of chatter and had us wondering if sharks, large cars and questionable S&M imagery will feature in Miss Spears' much hyped Vegas residency.

There is lots to love about Work Bitch. Britney looks present and into it in a way she hasn't been in years. She's doing dancing that's actually faintly intricate and impressive, even if there's plenty of fast cuts away so we never see her do too much back to back. It's kind of like one of those really stupid Michael Bay directed ads for Victoria Secret given a Britney makeover.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

5 Pharrell Songs That You Should Give A Second Look

Photo via Flickr / Avi Loud

Summer is now but a distant memory but the impact of Pharrell Williams on the pop landscape after that season is still being felt. From singing on Daft Punk's Get Lucky, the universally loved pop earworm of the year to producing Robin Thicke's controversial but massively successful Blurred Lines he placed his stamp on two songs that are likely to inform much of how the chart sounds over the next year.

He's back as a producer du jour now assisting Kelly Rowland, Jennifer Hudson, Nelly et al on songs and lending his weight to Miley Cyrus' hip-hop tinged reinvention, which comes full circle this week with the world getting to listen to her new album Bangerz, on which Williams has produced several tracks.

Of course this isn't the first time Williams has been in demand, the early 2000s were dominated by Williams and Chad Hugo using The Neptunes mix of brittle funk and sleek R&B to give every second song on the charts a shot of cool. But as much as we know the big hits there are some other songs that Williams has sang on / produced in / been involved with that which should have been huge. Here are handful of ones I think are worth a look.

Madonna - Beat Goes On

Madonna's 2008 opus Hard Candy was unfairly maligned if you ask me. Pharrell handled production on several key tracks, including the underrated single Give It 2 Me (I wrote about that song for Idolator's Hard Candy piece). The real gem though is this shimmer-y 80s tinged number that sounds bouncy and forward thinking but also has a simplicity and ease that recalls Into The Groove. The Kanye West feature is the icing on an already sweet, sweet pop treat and it's a real shame this wasn't ever a single. At least the live performance on The Sticky and Sweet Tour was amazing:


N.E.R.D - Hypnotize U 

The success of N.E.R.D was really a testament to the kind of golden touch Pharrell had at one point and also N.E.R.D's killer mix of rock and hip-hop that made genre straddling classics like She Wants To Move. 2010's album Nothing wasn't much of a success for the group but the Daft Punk produced Hypnotize U is an absolute lost gem. Given the success of a Daft Punk produced song with Pharrell on vocals this summer, it's a shame someone didn't think to re-release this and cash in. 


Leah LaBelle - Lolita

This summer this slinky cut debuted with a video directed by Diane Martel who also helmed the clip for Blurred Lines. While Blurred Lines blew up this failed to set the charts alight which is a shame. LaBelle has been floating around YouTube for a few years and had a short stint on American Idol but her work with Jermaine Dupri and Pharrell suggests she may have a hit in her yet. It really should have been in the shape of this track which has an easy groove but plenty of bite, even if this weird popcultural fixation on Lolita is in fact a tad creepy. Still, what a tune:

Jennifer Lopez - Fresh Out The Oven feat. Pitbull

When J Lo and Pitbull made On The Floor one of 2011's biggest hits I'm sure Pharrell was a bit miffed, given that he'd put the pair together on a fair less successful single back in 2009. Fresh Out The Oven was meant to tease a new J Lo album Love? which took a couple of years to finally arrive which also saw this tune flatline on the charts. 

This is still an unusual sound for J Lo. Her delivery on the verses isn't the best, a slightly grating tone to her voice ruining the would-be sexy come-ons but that chorus is still delightfully kooky. It's all feathery and to the point but also a proper ear-worm. And even the Pitbull bit isn't too awful. Plus it all drops out at the end for a weird post chrous production meltdown that still sounds deliciously odd. An interesting moment for both Pharrell and J. Lo.


Adam Lambert - Kickin' In

Adam Lambert's 2012 album Trespassing boasted impressive work with Nile Rodgers, Pharrell and Bonnie McKee among others. The result was mainly interesting if hardly groundbreaking pop but on certain tracks Lambert let his voice and personality really run riot and the results were often impressive. Amongst those is this stellar cut from Pharrell that's got tumbling snyths, sass by the bucketload and even some cowbell. It's got buckets of charm and it shows that even when he wasn't landing a trillion singles in the top 10, Pharrell was still making killer pop songs. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Vegas, Vogueing and Bros Fist Pumping: Britney's Work Bitch reviewed

It's already something of a ridiculous time in pop with Katy Perry and Lady Gaga being pitted against each other and a "fourth quarter" schedule that sees everyone from Cher to Miley Cyrus unload a high profile pop album before the year is out.

But there's always going to be some space for whenever Miss Britney Spears decides to bring us some new stuff ahead of album number eight arriving before the end of 2013.

There's been a drip feed of collaborators mentioned all year and while some fans winced at the involvement of Will.i.am as executive producer  his touch seems to be bringing interesting people onboard, from Naughty Boy and Emeli Sandé (who could easily adapt the emotive pop-soul they've been huge with over here to Britney and take it to a new audience) and even possibly the likes of Charli XCX.

The general message seemed to be "this is going to get personal" and the dance side of Brit Brit might take a break.

But then comes along new single Work Bitch which is neither personal or as "urban" as we may have been lead to believe. But is this all part of a Vegas ready strategy behind Britney's next move?

Work Bitch is a hyped up dance tune (I can't bring myself to embrace the horrific term "EDM" when it comes to talking about commercial dance music) that riffs on the kind of giant, wall of sound electronica favoured by Swedish House Mafia et al. 

In fact it was thought that Sebastian Ingrosso, one third of SHM, had worked on the song but it's in fact one of the acts he handles, Otto Knows (whose Million Voices is one of the biggest crossover dance tunes of the last 12 months) who is responsible for the beat on the Will.i.am produced track (Which also features Irish pop songwriter Ruth Anne Cunningham on co-writing duties). 

Still, it's easy to see the DNA of tunes like Million Voices or Swedish House Mafia's Greyhound in the sense of build and frenzied, thumping bass that form most of Work Bitch's production. There's definitely a sense that melody has been sacrificed for raved-up excitement at times but thankfully there's enough sass and Britney talk-singing to elevate the enterprise. 

It's got a bit of a weird structure and while it rubs shoulders off  of every enormous dance-tinged pop single of the last few years it has a slightly more aggressive and demented swing that makes it feel like a bold move for her. And like the best Britney singles it manages to fit in with where pop is and feel slightly in it's own lane.

Basically we're talking Swedish House Mafia's Greyhound, the British-ney bits of Scream and Shout (and sadly of some of Britney's oddest run ins with the paparazzi making it something of a fan reference point), the energy and stomp of a track made for vogueing too (the rumours that it samples RuPaul are sadly false but Britney screaming "WORK BITCH" definitely channels the same kind of idea as Ru's signature hit Supermodel) and the kind of weird vocal delivery that summed up Blackout highlights like Toy Solider and Hot as Ice.

And it's obvious that Las Vegas has been factored into this single too. From the forthcoming confirmation of her long mooted Vegas residency to the cheeky Vegas sign in her single cover, it's obvious that this is a big part of the next phase of Britney (and probably a big money deal).

And Britney going to Vegas isn't just going to compete with the Cher, Celines and Bette Midlers of this world, she'll be expected to pull in a younger skewing audience. 

With Calvin Harris and co. packing out clubs along the Vegas strip, this new investment in dance music for young partiers heading towards Vegas is surely an influence on this new tune. One that will sound as good reswizzed in a Vegas superclub as it will opening her own headline show. Certainly what TMZ reported about the Vegas show and it's aimed audience today would confirm that. 

It's likely that we'll get a more "straightforward" second single before we get the album (As is now de riguer these days and likely a ballad) and it's still a bit of a jolt to hear Britney half singing / half talking over such an aggressive electronic-driven cut but it's got enough humour and camp thrills to suggest that Britney is going claw her way back to the top of the pop heap by fitting right in and doing her own thing all at once.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

In case you were wondering...

....why this has been a bit of a graveyard posts wise it's because my main job over the last few months (alongside DJ stuff and other freelance things) has been writing for DailyEdge.ie

I'm writing about pop culture stuff, internet things people are obsessing over and other stuff in that vein.

You can click here to see all the stuff I've written so far should you want a browse. And it's worth keeping tabs on The Daily Edge generally too for an Irish slant on pop culture and the web.

There's still the small matter of my GCN music work too whether you wanna check out this month's issue and my music page (and some brilliant new columnists) and the music posts on the site. They've added lots and lots of content online and given that GCN just hit 25 years going (!) it's amazing to see them offer up even more for their readers.

I'm beavering away on ideas to get this blog going a bit more regularly but do say hello on Twitter should you feel the need.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Sharon Needles and New Music Catch Up for GCN

Busy busy week with writing for GCN has slowed me down somewhat here but it's all stuff you might want to check out.

Winner of Season 4 of RuPaul's Drag Race, Sharon Needles was in town last weekend and I interviewed her for the mag. It was quite the experience. You can read the interview in this months issue here (on page 15) and also I've a pile of extra juicy quotes here. If you're a fan f the show or drag in general you'll find some fun lines.

Also the music column in the new issue has been revamped to include a playlist and picture of my mug. Hurrah. And there's a jam packed Friday Four post on the website to gawk at with some killer tunes from MS MR to Disclosure. Hurrah.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Alexis Jordan Returns With a Another Big Sample In Tow

Alexis Jordan is sort of a baby Beyonce with a twinge of Rihanna whose 2010 hit Happiness still sounds rather great. It cleverly worked a Deamau5 sample into a chilly, nicely produced dance pop single with a sharp uplifting vocal. Although her big label support from Sony/Jay Z (after a stint on America's Got Talent a few years earlier and some popular Youtube covers) only snagged her a dance hit in the US she built up a decent profile on charts in Europe include the UK / Irish charts where she managed a second semi-hit in Good Girl. Her self titled album was pretty solid too. Jordan has a great voice and her ongoing relationship with production geniuses Stargate has worked out really well for her (they've of course produced numerous Rihanna hits amongst others)

Now, Jordan has finally debuted some material ahead of her second album's release. Acid Rain is a clear attempt to recreate the magic of Happiness with a slightly harder feel. There's 2 verses from labelmate J.Cole (Which work much better than your standard rap feature on a pop single), production from Stargate again and Sia on co-writing duties (according to Idolator) and a more importantly another huge sample. This time it's the dutch-house hit Rattle from Bingo Players. A club hit in it's own right (and officially released with a new rap from Far East Movement as single here this week) it's the kind of tune that was begging for somebody to nab it for a hit single.

It's an interesting idea and it's obvious that Stargate want to use the sample to build up the tension around Jordan's towering vocals and the Titanium-y feel of the chorus and eventual rave-pop break at the song's core. It's thumpy, will surely eat up the dancefloors still not tired of the dance-pop deluge and she sounds great. BUT it does feel rather shoe-horned in, the obvious hook of Rattle feeling like a huge distraction on the verses.

Acid Rain should help Jordan make a return to the charts on this side of the pond but it falls short of the same magic that Happiness such a killer pop single. Still, having such a killer team in her corner suggests that Alexis Jordan could be aiming on a proper jump into the pop big leagues.


Cheers to We Are Pop Slags for bringing this to my attention today. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Surprisingly Subtle Return of Justin Timberlake

Image courtesy of Sony Music Ireland.

We've already chatted about Justin Timberlake teasing with the details of his return late last week. Earlier today, JT finally gave us Suit & Tie the opening gambit from new album The 20/20 Experience due later this year (as confirmed by Timberlake in an open letter on his website). The production comes via Timbaland and also features Jay-Z. So far, so starry. But what's really impressive about Suit & Tie is just how "subtle" it is.

After a slow-mo opening with a judder-y hip-hop beat it bursts into a sprightly R&B groove that feels like the kind of fusion of radio-ready R&B, soul references and shimmery pop that only a Timbaland/Timberlake production could provide. It's got a grown-up air to it, like a logical follow on from the overall feel of his Futuresex/LoveSounds album.

The consensus from fans and pundits today (speaking of, both The Prophet Blog and The Guardian's Michael Cragg have good takes on it here) is that it's not a Sexy/Back style banger, a big lead single that announces a triumphant return to chart dominance. But in a odd way this feels like a good thing. For starters, Suit & Tie may not sound like some kind of huge comeback song but it's sophisticated, infectious and has a sort of lived-in confidence that only a huge star could pull off. Timberlake is effectively taking a look at what's huge and doing his own thing.  Given that his previous material was produced by Timbaland who then went on to enjoy a ubiquity that would see a certain production style seem played out it's a smart move. For an artist that prides himself on keeping a fairly low musical output (as that now infamous video speech suggests) it's a good fit to keep things moving at a pace that feels like his.

Whether the R.Kelly/Robin Thicke vibe of this will comfortably land with radio and big audiences is hard to debate but as an opening gambit Timberlake has got us talking with a tune that feels like a solid mix of throwback and something fresh. By doing his own thing Justin has probably made the most interesting move of all. 

Suit & Tie is on iTunes now, you can stream it in full here. The 20/20 Experience is released later this year.

Friday, January 11, 2013

What We Can Learn from Ke$ha and The Saturdays In Their New Videos

Maybe you have a degree. Maybe you are still in school. Maybe you were home schooled or maybe you say things like "WELL I REALLY LEARNED AT THE SCHOOL OF LIFE TO BE HONEST" at house parties. Either way, you probably still love to learn. Who doesn't? And where better to learn about life than from pop videos? You're in luck because The Saturdays and Ke$ha are here to school you! Hurrah. Now, quiet down the back!

Ke$ha - C'mon

What is it: Single no. 2 from K$ not-selling-that-well-so-far 2nd album Warrior which is actually great despite the fact that this and single no. 1 Die Young don't do the album justice. Oh well.

What We Learn: 

- Ke$ha would clearly make a terrible waitress what with her insistence on ignoring customers and ruining their "cup of joe" and then quitting her job and calling her boss a "dick". It's a good thing she has that pop thing to fall back on.

- Leaving your job can be amazing however. As soon as she leaves a bunch of guys in animal onesises take her in a van, K$ hops in a jacuzzi (IN THE VAN) and flops around in a one piece. Then they have a dance party in a corner shop. Who knew unemployment could be so.. fruitful.

-Revenge is a dish served dance party. Hate your bold boss? Then run into his premises with your friends dressed as giant animals and dance around. Huzzah.

- K$ new blonde wig/weave/whatever it is ain't cute and we learn that we shouldn't get our hair done that way.

The Saturdays - What About Us

 What Is It: The new single from The Satz whose fourth album The Chase is out later in the year. This is also their first US single as they try to break into the American market (As we mentioned yesterday). It's all synths and dramatic rave-pop/dubstep builds and drops but it's still sort of mid-tempo. This has actually grown on me alot but I'm still not convinced that they'll score an American hit with it. Sadly.

What We Learn: 

- The Saturdays are having a GREAT TIME IN AMERICA OMG!1! There they are, walking down some boulevard, then hopping into some lovely vintage clothes emporium for chic buys. Playing pool with cute boys, lounging around pools and breaking into football fields to ... eh, dance around.

- The Saturdays need to work on their dance moves. WHAT are they doing during that dance break? Really. If you're going to break into a football field with some attractive blokes shouldn't you be doing some seriously intricate moves? They seem to find the most basic of routines very streneous. It's all a bit "five girls on the piss, have a twirl" but maybe this is to make them seem more relatable etc etc.

- You know you are in America when everything looks a bit sepia-ish. The lighting/colour palette is the music video equivalent of a Instagram filter. The whole thing looks a bit bleached out like they thought things would make things more "Californian". Weird.

To Sum Up:

Today we learnt that if you hire Ke$ha to work for you she won't be very good at her job and she may wear a bad wig. BUT you might get to see some guys in animal costumes which is quite cool. And that if you want to be in a girlband and "do America" you need to make sure everything is a bit sepia and that you can't do a basic dance routine. Hurrah!

Ke$ha's second album Warrior is out now including C'Mon. The Saturdays have released What About Us for American audiences now and release it as a single here on the 15th of March (Ireland) And the 17th (The UK)

Friday Four - Charli XCX, Zebra Katz, Ne-Yo & Nelly Furtado on GCN

Feeling like four pop tunes to kick start Friday? Duh, of course you do. New Friday Four post on GCN.ie has Zebra Katz, Ne-Yo, Nelly Furtado and Charli XCX music up for you to check out now.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Beyonce and Justin Timberlake Leave Us All Punk'd

Popular Musician / Punk'd Victim Justin Timberlake
The last time you were probably still buying CDs and getting new Destiny's Child music was 2004 and you were probably watching Punk'd. And in 2006 you were probably dancing like a sexy man/woman to Justin Timberlake's SexyBack at Da Club and laughing at Justin's mama's boy emotional meltdown on Punk'd. 

It should be apt then that these two musical powerhouses managed to Punk everybody today getting Twitter based pop fans in a lather with slightly misleading announcements.

Destiny's Child was the real IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING MOMENT and probably the most disappointing. Just over an hour ago Beyonce's website posted this announcement with B's apparent delight at the first "original" music by the group in eight years. Cue tears, screams and all caps joy from pop fans whose memory of everything from Bills, Bills, Bills to the unintentional hilarity of Cater 2 U

Beyonce's face everytime she sees Kim Kardashian. Maybe.

Never mind that the album was called Love Songs which sounds a bit compilation-y, that Beyonce is in the middle of pushing her new album and about to do the Superbowl THEY ARE BACK EVERY ONE. But sadly, we were Punk'd by Team Beyonce (do you remember when she was on it?). It's in fact a compilation with one new song. It sounds to be frank, ropey but maybe the new song will be a "hidden gem"
OMG!!11 IZ DIs Daa Nu dCtHREE alBum?!

The thing is as annoying as this it's also hilarious. Purely because it's so deliberate on Team Beyonce's part (you just know they worded that way to get a bit of attention) and also for the idea that somebody did this to try and outdo the Justin Timberlake announcement. Meanwhile, Christina Aguilera is probably throwing darts at pictures of everyone who was big in 2000-2004's and while crying softly.

"Don't make me hit like you I maybe did with Michelle!"

Now Justin has sort of Punk'd us too. Which is apt given that he was on the first episode of the show and his baby-ish crying to his mom over a broken guitar is one of The Greatest TV Moments of All Time. A tweet about some kind of announcement today at got everyone in a lather about a new song appearing out of nowhere although many had pointed out that some hastily deleted tweets from a radio station suggested a Monday play. Nonetheless plenty of fans flew to Justin's website a little while ago to see what the deal was.

And AGAIN we were Punk'd. No new song, just a pretentious YouTube video and a countdown. In a way this is still exciting because it's been so long since Timberlake has done any music that we can probably wait a few days. Still it's funny how instead of spending our weekend getting down to JT's latest we'll just have to watch him moodily walk around and say things like I CAN'T JUST KNOCK AN ALBUM OUT EVERY 5 MINUTE ...RIHANNA! (And as I said earlier this Billboard piece hints at some interesting stuff on the album and this MTV look at Justin's work the last few years is also fascinating)


With Beyonce and Justin joining Britney, Kylie, Cher and Lady Gaga in the Big Pop Acts Bringing Out New Material stakes 2013 is going to be an absolute mess. I can't wait.

Pop Roundup: The Original Sugababes, Beyonce & Justin Timberlake and more

Thursday means you nearly have the weekend to look forward to. Or something. But either way it's the end of our first full, not sort of stuck between New Year's Eve week of pop excitement and it's already been quite something. Here are some pop bits I've been enjoying this week.

Mutya Keisha Siobhan Finally Sort of Unveil a Song

The reunion of the three girls that made up the first run of the Sugababes has many pop fans in hysterics. They've been fairly quiet bar some red carpet apperances and promising press rumblings. After they sang some songs on New Year's Eve they unveiled an acapllea version of upcoming tune Boys and Popjustice have more info and a studio clip. This is not just one of the most exciting things of the week but of THE YEAR SO FAR. Which is about two weeks long but whatever.

Beyonce is Going To Be Everywhere This Year

Beyonce's GQ cover has had everyone going in to a tizzy this week but the interview accompanying it is possibly more illuminating. The real revelation is that she's creating an archive of all of the images, interviews, performances she's done. Incredible. There's also some tidbits about the new album with plenty of references to 90s r&b etc. This whole "90s R'n'B" has been bubbling under with indie/dance artists for ages so it looks R'n'B is "back" again. As in BACK all over the charts/radio/to the point of it being annoying not just "Jessie Ware covers Brownstone" back.

Justin Timberlake is Also Back

Later today apparently JT will announce a single or debut a single or give us something musical. THANK GOD. THANK. GOD. Billboard are saying that he's done "around 20 tracks " with Timbaland. How exciting. There are also whispers of Jay-Z and Beyonce being on the song (and Beyonce does mention working with Justin in the GQ interview above). I need to lie down. 

The Saturdays "Conquer America"

The Saturdays are, I suppose, quite successful here and in the UK and their attmepts to do the same Stateside will be followed by a new TV show on E! Basically Ryan Seacrest is putting his TV muscle behind them to make them Kardashian-size famous. I'm not convinced this is going to work but given that their first US TV interview is with Chelsea Handler, at least we're getting a solid laugh out of it. Although my fave, Irish Stunner Una, doesn't get my chance to talk. Disappointing.

Robyn's Stylist Sounds Very Interesting

This Spin interview with Robyn's stylist is fascinating. (Thanks to Idolator)

I'll be doing a new music post on GCN.ie tomorrow too but for now enjoy that lot and perhaps you too would like to start working on your personal archive? If Beyonce can do it then so can you!

Friday, January 4, 2013

10 Ways Katy Perry's "Part of Me" Could Have Been Vastly Improved.

I knocked this together around Christmas when I noticed that Katy Perry's "Part of Me" documentary was being flogged as Christmas gift idea. And even when the likes of Jessie Ware were saying how the film was like, well insightful. Eh, what? It wasn't. This is sort of a sister piece to the time I wasn't impressed with her Wide Awake video. I quite like KP, I just find her a bit disappointing sometimes. Like a wayward cousin I only see during big holidays. Anyway, enjoy!


Katy Perry’s “Part Of Me” the 3D Concert Film Documentary thing arrives on DVD this week. While it was a moderate success at the box office it will likely be a “stocking filler” choice by many harassed parents as they sail past bargain DVDs and One Direction merch in whatever supermarket is doing a sideline in entertainment products this Christmas.

Unlike say Madonna’s infamous In Bed With Madonna (aka Truth Or Dare aka THE GREATEST FILM EVER) Perry’s film never really gives you any sense of what she’s really like or allows anyone other than her to speak about life on the road. Apart from the rather upsetting sequence where she breaks down in Brazil after divorcing her husband it’s all fluffy as can be, a 90 minute advert on LIVING UR DREAMZ!1!! and NEVAH GIVN UP!1!. It’s a shame, because as bubblegum as her songs may be, Perry regularly displays a sharp wit and a camp self-awareness that makes for engaging interviews. Instead we’re left with a bargain basement E! True Hollywood Story with a few pop songs scattered throughout.

How could we improve it then?

Below are 10 Ways In Which Part Of Me Could Have Been A Bit Less Rubbish.

10: Less Whitewashing: The story arc of Katy’s struggle to find stardom is a lynchpin to the film. There are some fun details about how she barely made money but the mini controversy over her buzz single Ur So Gay that garnered blog attention both good and bad before I Kissed A Girl blew up is never touched on. In fact discussing how Perry weathered this and how it could have derailed her eventual big break is an interesting plot point completely ignored for a chance to go WOW SHE JUST GO SO BIG SO FAST.

9: 3D Grandma: Katy’s surly 90 something year old grandma is the highlight of the whole film and the fact that she never gets a moment to loom out at you in 3D is a disgrace. A DISGRACE.

8: More Celebs: The bit where Adele turns up and says SHEZ JUZ GOD A LODDA ‘ITS ‘ASNT SHE? Is so unexpected and delightful that you wish that she’d been a talking head throughout. AH REMEMBAH AH KISSED A GIRL BIT UHV A CATCHY SONG WUZN’T IT? And so on.

7: A Proper Performance of Part Of Me: Despite a sense of fatigue with Katy’s never ending slew of chart smashes the film’s title track is actually a solid gold stomper. How fun would it have been if there had been an elaborate performance of it over the end credits? Feather boas, explosions, glamour etc etc. It would certainly make up for that risible video she did for it. Shudder.

6: A Proper Rihanna Cameo: We all know Katy and Riri are best mates so why there isn’t a extended sequence where they braid each others hair, have a sleepover and talk shit about boys is beyond me. Imagine a documentary film that was basically a pop version of Thelma and Louise, with Riri n KP prank calling Lady Gaga, eating too much junk food etc etc. It would be incredible.

5: Wigs : A discussion of what it must be like for KP to wear so many wigs and perhaps a gratuitous of her Wig Room (because she must have one. She must) would have been nice. I’m just saying.

Here are some wigs. But not Katy wigs : (
4: Acknowledgement: The bit where a bunch of teen girls singing the nursery rhyme hook of Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F) as if getting so drunk you blackout is as casual as your morning Cheerios is oddly disturbing. It would have been fitting for someone as self as aware Katy Perry to go “Um, that’s weird, nervous laugh, oops, moving on” etc (This parody of the song kind of sums up my feelings on this)

3: More Cats Please: The bit where Katy and friends visit the Cat Café in Japan should have been extended to be about 30 minutes of the entire movie to be quite honest.


1: No, Really, Katy’s Grandma: Not only should have been in 3D she should have been in every scene. Katy’s Grandma is a Honey Boo Boo style scene-stealer.  Now there’s a reality show we’d watch.

To sum up: Someone get Rihanna and Katy Perry their own film, someone get Katy’s granny her own TV show and someone make sure they don’t get me this DVD for Christmas.


Disclaimer: I've bought both her albums so Katy Perry is basically laughing all the way to the bank/vault/whatever she uses to put all her money in

Back In The Game: New Music Post for GCN

2013 is here (I'm still in shock and think it's November 2012, SERIOUSLY) and am trying to get back into the swing of things after a Christmas break and lots of DJing. Head over to GCN.ie now to see the return of The Friday Four including the new tune from Hurts. Beavering away at some new ideas for things around here so keep an eye peeled and feel free to tweet me with anything you'd like me to cover.