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 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 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 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.