Thursday, June 25, 2009

Can't find a reason why I shouldn't try

With a hat-tip to EQ, while we're on the subject of this blog's icons, Blake Lewis performed some of his new songs at LA Pride. I'm pleased to say that, though the instrumental of "Please Don't Stop" does sound dance/spiky electronica-influenced, it sounds like the overall product is much more pop than I thought independent Blake would go.

I can't really judge the song without hearing that backing in higher quality, but this does up the (to be fair, already very favorable despite concerns) odds of me getting the album, due out in October. My fears have not all been allayed, though.

(There's another song, "Rapture Of Love," here; h/t to Yuri. More of a ballad, and less interesting to my ears.)

I think I wanna stay single, maybe we're better apart

You can never know for sure how you're going to react to a song. I mean, yes, I would have probably predicted that the Backstreet Boys doing a song kind of like Chris Brown's "Forever" would win me over, but given that when the buzz around the Claude Kelly-penned "Bye Bye Love" started--up-tempo, possible single contender--I had hopes of a Backstreet song like "The Call" or "Get Another Boyfriend" (admittedly probably misplaced hope, but they're the songs I think of when I think of backstreet doing full-on uptempo well), the considerably gentler actual result could have felt like a let down. The lyrics may reject an old lover looking to restart the relationship--"see, I don't want a girl that only wanna comeback 'cause some other man broke her heart"--but the vocal melody and delivery is much more casual, less pressing and insistent; the song doesn't turn its rejection into a musical attack.

The point of all this is that "Bye Bye Love" doesn't have the attention-grabbing advantage of storming the pop barricades with all guns blazing, even if it does live up to the up-tempo promise in its "Forever"-reminiscent synths. As a result, on the first play, over poor speakers, I thought it was good but wouldn't have any sort of sticking quality.

I didn't know the way it would have me half-hopping, half-dancing around the kitchen a few minutes later, happily jumping from foot to foot and hip to hip as I listened to it for the second time. Or mumble-singing the chorus while doing summer cleaning a few listens later. Or returning to again and again.

A song like "Masquerade" has more presence, maybe calls out for attention more, but "Bye Bye Love" has me continuing to marvel how the group that hasn't made more than a handful of worthy songs over the past two albums seems to getting it right on more songs out of the candidates leaked in advance of their upcoming album than altogether over the last eight years.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Get up and listen

Pessimistic fears proven unfounded: Ola's "Sky's The Limit" is NOT a misguided attempt at R&B-ifying his sound--it's as poppy as any of his previous singles. The new single from the Swedish singer has the summery guitar strums of "Feelgood," some horns, and that typical Ola summer single sound, even if it's by some new collaborators (though apparently Bassflow helped out). Up-tempo, poppy in an electronically created but not electro way, catchy, summery...sigh. We don't have a new Rihanna single to make it feel like summer, but at least Ola has kept his side of the bargain up.

The single cover is, um, unforgettable. I do like the color palette, at least.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Dealing with the mainstream

(The song which is the subject of this post is not available on YouTube if you live outside the UK, but you can stream a low quality version of what is probably a radio rip on this non-official MySpace site.)

There's a probably undeserved sense of self-satisfaction that comes from loving a song not fully embraced by others (whether "others" is the general public or a much smaller segment of the people you usually interact with) and then seeing that song's artist fully bloom in a way that consolidates your original belief in that first song while also creating the perception that they're only getting better. That really awkward opening is my way of leading into the fact that Tinchy Stryder's new single is fantastic summery pop. "Take Me Back," his Taio Cruz-featuring breakthrough single taken from his upcoming album Catch 22, deservedly went to #1 in the UK, but I didn't see it get too much blog love (even I was guilty of not writing about it here, though I praise it elsewhere).

Follow-up single "Number 1" was even better, with a perfect pop chorus--in fact, perfect pop everything, even though Tinchy's more hip-hop (grime?) style gave the song a welcome additional flavor.

I couldn't tell you yet whether Tinchy's latest single, "Never Leave You," featuring Amelle of the Sugababes, is better than "Number 1," but it's certainly yet another fantastic song with a sound that is both exactly the sort of thing that should be in the charts in 2009 and yet is totally refreshing. Tinchy's kept the strings around and, if it's possible, its chorus is even poppier than that of "Number 1." Breezy, poppy, summery, lovey-dovey pop-meets-hip-hop? Yes, please.

So leaving me behind was your first step

I LOVE the final single version of Frankmusik's "Confusion Girl." It's the perfect balance between Vince's quirkier side and the more mainstream intermediate version of the song we heard, with an end result of a fully charming pop song that's the best version of this track we've heard. The single is out July 12 in the UK.

On the Frankmusik front, a new song, "Dancing In The Dark," is streaming on his MySpace, along with previews of the remix version of Vince's album.

The lead single from Ola's new album is called "Sky's The Limit" and will be premiered via a performance on June 22 and released that same day, I think. It's written by KeiOne, Json, and Ola, which does make me a bit nervous--that could mean it's a step closer towards R&B, while I tend to prefer Ola as a vehicle for the pure pop songs of Tony Nilsson and Bassflow. Still, ideally it could mean Ola releasing something that stirs up more excitement about him (though in terms of chart success pop seems a surer bet than pop-&B in Sweden); plus, he's definitely spent time with Tony and Peter "Bassflow" Boström, so maybe we could get a great mix. I do love Adam Tensta's "80s Baby," KeiOne-produced hip-hop meets pop with just the right combination of hardness and breeziness; I'm just worried about how Ola's voice will match with this sort of music as well as quality overall.

Speaking of Peter Boström, he's just done a remix--or, as it's more accurately being called, a remake--of Mando Diao's "Gloria." I'm not going to put it up there with his best work on, say, Martin Stenmarck's singles, but listen to it 20 minutes into the 10-10:30 block here.

Since the sporadic nature of my recent posts meant I never did a fully rundown on the American Idol finale, I'd like to add that I am happy for Kris, not angry with the result (and hoping I'll end up wanting to buy his album--no one's going to agree with me and it's probably best for his commercial viability that he doesn't, but I'd love him to be singing songs like Ryan Cabrera's best work), but I stand by my earlier comment that I'm "hoping Adam ends up being the best popstar America has" (maybe you could qualify that with "male popstar," given the real lack of competition on that front--I'm not talking just about music, though obviously that's important, but all-out exciting popstarness--but even that caveat is probably unneccesary) "Kiss & Tell," which #1 Hits From Another Planet posted a few months ago, still gets frequent plays from me--I want Adam to make the glam rock which suits him so perfectly and which the U.S. could really use a dose of, but I also want him continuing down an electro-pop route like that of this old demo song, too.