Monday, May 11, 2009

Guess you better go and get your armor

There's been a lot of buzz, and often deservedly so, around some up-and-coming British female pop artists. There are, though, some new female American singers who have songs that have caught my ear lately. They don't share much in common beyond the fact that they're women, American, and making pop, but I've been meaning to write about the songs for long enough that I'll take any sort of gathering principle, flimsy as it may be, as the basis for a post.

I've mentioned Kimberly Cole's "Superstar (Smash It)" before. Featured in the TV show Dollhouse (though there with an actress pretending to sing it and Kimberly appearing as a backing singer), the song is vaguely Britney-esque--maybe just to say that it's up-tempo pop created electronically with some nice deep pulses and floatier effects on top of those melding with a catchy if sometimes very processed vocal part.

If "Superstar (Smash It)" is in some distant way a bit like a Britney song or two, Kristinia DeBarge's "Goodbye," based on a sample of Steam's "Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye)" (a song your average American will know quite well from sporting events), shares a similar proximity to some of the things Rihanna has done. It feels like it has slightly less edge than Rihanna's work--even, say, "S.O.S.," which is maybe its closest cousin--though part of that may be a function of Kristinia's voice being much more "average" in its tone than Rihanna's, but it sounds great playing on American radios and is very much a welcomed force there.

The niche Kaci Battaglia seems to be trying to carve out for herself is one a bit akin to the one Willa Ford chased in the Britney, Christina, and Mandy battle of the late '90s, though Kaci's "Crazy Possessive" isn't in that Cheiron-mimicking style. It, too, is one of the songs you could maybe push into that "S.O.S."/"Womanizer" style (which there really needs to be a better name for) and even uses Britney's line "I got your crazy," though Kaci positions herself as the supposedly more aggressive, less clean-cut option in comparison to "Goodbye." The thing is, though, that I actually think the censored version is a lot catchier than the original version (which I could have sworn I heard at some point but now can't find to confirm that fact). Anyway, "Crazy Possessive" is totally ridiculous (and totally different from her earlier material), but I've also had way too much fun listening to it recently.

Out of all these songs, though, Brooke Hogan's (yes, the daughter of Hulk Hogan and she of one previous album) "Rough Me Up" (featuring Flo Rida) is the closest to "Womanizer." It could even be by the same producers--I've yet to read anything about who created it. I'm not sure if the American public can ever be sold on the idea of Brooke as a popstar, but from the sound of it in the below video clip, I'll be buying the song the day it comes out--I love it and it's the sort of music that would make me welcome having her around the fringes of the music scene.

Jessica Jarrell is, at fourteen, the youngest of these singers, but her "Armaggedon," featuring a welcome mix of piano and strings in addition to the usual electronic production, is great. It's the least "club song" sounding out of all these tracks, though it's got some speed to it--it's just mixed that speed with some ballad elements. I wasn't too sure about some of the vocal processing in the chorus the first time around, but I've since grown to accept it.

Cheating a bit to include a singer who's already fairly if not unshakably established, we've got Jordin Sparks and her new Ryan Tedder-penned "Battlefield." Yes, it sounds like Ryan Tedder--think Leona Lewis's "Bleeding Love," Beyoncé's "Halo"--but there are enough tweaks to the formula (including making the song more mid-tempo than we're used to from Tedder) and the parts of the song (including the key line of the middle 8, "Better go and get your armor") add up to something good enough on its own that I've been playing it off and on today. I've been pretty excited for Jordin's new album and "Battlefield" does nothing to change that.


Aaron said...

Loving what I've heard of Kristina and Kaci - and Can't wait for the album from Jordin!

Anonymous said...

I actually can't get over how amazing the new Jordin Sparks single is.
Ive not felt the need to listen to a song on repeat so often since Darins 'Breathing Your Love'.
Its miles better than 'Halo' or 'Already Gone' for me.

The Kristinia DeBarge track is also fantastic to, it took a while to grow but ive not been able to get the 'na na na na hey hey hey goodbye' hook out of my head.


Mike said...

I hate that bland Jordin Sparks
rubbish. "Halo" is much better.

However, I LOVE Brooke Hogan. She is a trash lover's wet dream. I can seriously picture her pole dancing or giving her dad a lap dance in the video. Yes, she's really that classy. I'll be buying it too.

Nikki said...

That Jordin Sparks song hasn't convinced me yet, it sounds far too formulaic than your run of the mill hit song.

As for 'Halo', I used to adore it but when I heard 'Rock' I was in awe. hahah.

Poster Girl said...

Aaron, even if only for "Walking On Snow" (and "Let It Rain," to a slightly lesser extent), I'd be looking forward to Jordin's album. Kaci's song is definitely the one on this list that I'm playing the most.

Now Conor, THAT's love! I'd agree that it's much, much better than "Halo" and "Already Gone." I don't worship the song yet, but I do really like it. Kristinia's song was one I liked and was enjoying listening to on the iPod but figured it was a passing fancy until I actually heard it on the radio and realized just how great it sounds in that context--the radio can somehow really change my perception of songs.

"Battlefield" > "Halo" for me, but Brooke for the win! She needs to release that song already. Disturbingly, I can picture that, too.

"Battlefield" is definitely in the "good"/"getting plays at the moment" category for me--it's just not in "full on, jaw-dropping amazing" (yet).