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Posts Tagged ‘Pop

Getting lovingly reacquainted with some old favourites

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I am loving Apple’s new music streaming service: Apple Music, which is initially available on a three month free trial basis before introducing membership fees from ¬£9.99 per month for individual users.

I tired of Spotify a while ago and only occasionally listen to user playlists, mainly due to the complicated navigation required to access your favourite genres or albums. This is the best feature of Apple Music in my opinion – you’re asked for your favourite genres and artists and your ‘For You’ tab is customised on a daily basis with albums which fit in with your preferences.

Unsurprisingly I have fitted firmly in to the country-pop-rock category and have been getting lovingly reacquainted with some old favourites : Carrie Underwood’s ‘Some Hearts’ (2005), Alicia Keys’ ‘The Element of Freedom'(2009) and Bon Iver’s ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’ (2008) to name but a few. I also love that Apple compiles playlists of notable songwriters and producers such as Max Martin and Xenomania.

Pop is unashamedly my greatest passion; artists such as Jennifer Lopez, Janet Jackson, Backstreet Boys, Madonna, Christina Aguilera and of course, Britney Spears, just sound better with each passing year. 1998 to 2005 has to be the amongst the best seven years of music to date, surely?

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August 5, 2015 at 3:34 pm

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The beautiful and beguiling Benjamin Button of pop rock

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The beautiful and beguiling Benjamin Button of pop rock is back.

Natalie Imbruglia returns with a new album ‘Male’ (released August 21st, 2015 via Sony) and a cover of the Daft Punk¬†(featuring Julian Casablancas) classic,¬†‘Instant Crush’.

This will be Imbruglia’s fifth studio album, following the likes of ‘Left of the Middle’ (1997), ‘White Lilies Island’ (2001) and ‘Counting Down the Days’ (2005), which feature some of my favourite tracks of the late ’90s/early noughties including ‘Torn’, ‘Shiver’ and ‘That Day’.

‘Male’ is a 12 track album featuring covers of songs that were originally performed by men including, ‘Cannonball’ and ‘Friday I’m in Love’. After its release, Imbruglia is said to then be working on an album of original material.

It would be fair to say that I am in awe of the endeavours of this singer-songwriter/actress/businesswoman/model/human and animal rights activist. If I could be her for a day, I would simply walk down the street singing my songs and looking at myself in shop windows. It would probably look strange, but I would be pretty happy about it.

@natimbruglia /

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April 21, 2015 at 12:38 pm

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“Pop in disguise”; the kittenish sounds of new singer-songwriter, Fiona Bevan

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Fiona Bevan

I was reading the list of ‘Most Successful UK Songwriters of 2013’ over the weekend, as published in The Independent on February 11th, 2014.

It was Music Week that collated the list and to clarify – the songwriters did not have to originate from the UK as the list was compiled based on songwriters’ “shares” of the credit for the UK’s 100 biggest-selling singles of the year. The list reads as follows:

1. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

2. Pharrell Williams

3. The Smeezingtons (including Bruno Mars)

4. Ryan Tedder

5. Mike Rosenberg (Passenger)

6. Dan Smith (Bastille)

7. Avicii

8. Thomas Bangalter and Guy Manuel (Daft Punk)

9. Jeremy Fraites and Wesley Schultz (The Lumineers)

10. Max Martin

I found the absence of any double x chromosomes particularly depressing, especially given the number of great female songwriters that the music industry has to offer. Obviously this is just a snapshot in time and isn’t meant to reflect the state of the industry as a whole, but it kind of does…doesn’t it? There are clearly several prolific and widely regarded female songwriters on the scene at the moment: Sia Furler (who occupied the number 2 spot in 2012),¬†Ellie Goulding (19th, 2013), Taylor Swift (11th, 2013), Lady Gaga (100th, 2013), Laura Marling and Emile Sande to name but a few, but it would appear that either a. their sales are predominantly album-driven or¬†¬†¬† b. they are co-writing some of their most successful material. Max Martin co-wrote Swift’s ’22’ and ‘I Knew You Were Trouble’,¬†as¬†well as Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’ and¬†quite evidently has the¬†golden touch when it comes to penning hit¬†records. He gave us ‘Baby One More Time’ and the wondrous Britney Spears, need I say more.


One such female who is hoping to navigate her way to the top of this list is Suffolk-born, Colchester-raised, Fiona Bevan. Bevan has already established herself as an in-demand songwriter on an international scale. As well as commissions for film, classical compositions, and a Tate exhibition, she also co-wrote¬†‘Little Things’ with Ed Sheeran, which went on to¬†become a No.1 single for One Direction.¬†¬†Bevan releases her debut single, ‘The Machine’ on March 1oth, 2014 on Navigator Records. The track¬†is the first single to be taken from ‚ÄėTalk To Strangers‚Äô, Bevan‚Äôs debut album set for release on April 28th, 2014.

Bevan describes her debut album as ‚Äúpop in disguise‚ÄĚ. An accurate depiction of the material I’d say; I hear strong folk and acoustic rock influences coming through which put me in mind of Joanna Newsom, Bella Hardy and Lisa Hannigan. Fine company, folkies amongst me will agree. Bevan’s vocals, like Hannigan’s, are beautifully hypnotic, perfectly blending her¬†delicate, kittenish tone with¬†the jaunty beats of her acoustic guitar. Bevan’s look is as unique and stunning as her artistry and I predict big things for her in 2014. /

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February 17, 2014 at 5:36 pm

If Paloma’s music be the food of love, fans show no signs of sickening

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The album I am most looking forward to this year has got to be Paloma Faith‘s ‘A Perfect Contradiction’.

As well as being consistently amazed at Faith’s vocal capabilities, I also love her theatrical presence, ability to laugh at herself and assured femininity. She exudes confidence in her performances, yet is able to deliver fragile lyrics and heartfelt metaphors without¬†even a¬†hint of irony. I relate to Faith in a number of ways, particularly in the quote below, where she speaks to Stylist magazine about the films which influenced her second album, ‘Fall to Grace’ (May, 2012)

I’m a fantasist and I like to make my life like a dream, all the people around me do the same. There is something about making dreams possible that really attracts me. Tim Burton transports me to a place where I feel everything is possible.

Faith is discussing her love of Edward Scissorhands (1990), which is also one of my favourite films, and says that, “if you take away the literal nature of the work, there is something na√Įve and beautiful about him and I can see why she [Kim] would fall in love with a man-made person with scissors for hands”. I¬†know for a¬†fact that I too would¬†have fell for Edward and¬†been blissfully untroubled by the potential health and safety risks¬†– I think that someone allowing you to see a glimpse of their¬†naive or vulnerable side is what love is all about and it doesn’t happen¬†all that often. And who doesn’t love¬†a¬†man¬†that can make it snow, cut your hair and¬†save you a lifetime’s cost of Timpson’s key cutting services!¬†It won’t always be easy –¬†you¬†may end up feeling as sliced and diced as one of Edward’s ice sculptures –¬†but the notion that¬†love can overpower you,¬†make you do and say things you never thought possible, make your dreams a reality¬†and the awareness and deep-set fear on your part that¬†you have to succumb to those feelings because one day they might just¬†float away – or evade police capture by¬†living an exiled existence¬†in the eerie mansion at the top of the hill…surely these are the feelings which make life anything other than a series of learned routines?¬†I totally should have progressed that Critical Film Studies elective...

Faith has been teasing fans with snippets of new tracks off the album and posted a link on her official Facebook page this week, to a stunning acoustic performance of, ‘Only Love Can Hurt Like This’.

The 15-track deluxe album is released on March 10th, 2014 in the UK and is set to continue Faith’s unblemished record of chart-topping hits and exciting collaborations. On this, her third studio album, Faith collaborates with Pharrell Williams, John Legend and Plan B. ‘Can’t Rely on You’, which she co-wrote with Williams, will act as lead single and will be¬†available for purchase from February 23rd,¬†2014. The track is classic funk-soul and certainly meets Faith’s objective to write a more upbeat album by going back to her artistic roots. /

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February 12, 2014 at 11:51 am

Kate Mara and other bright, shiny things courtesy of Broken Bells

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Broken Bells release¬†their second studio album ‘After The Disco’, on February 3rd, 2014. In support of the new release, they have collaborated with The Creators Project and POPfilms to produce a short two-part film, starring Anton Yelchin and Kate Mara. Directed by Jacob Gentry, the film focuses on the meeting and subsequent relationship between the ‘Angel and The Fool’, all set against the backdrop of a futuristic world where dreams and synths weave to create an ethereal and eerie setlist for, what appears to be, the school disco from hell.

Broken Bells is James Mercer (The Shins) and Brian ‘Danger Mouse’ Burton. You may recognise Kate Mara from Brokeback Mountain, she played the equally beautiful Heath Ledger’s daughter, Alma Jr. In this story she plays an elfin-like otherworldly creature, who is awoken by a rather handsome yet shifty character (Yelchin) only to discover that she has no recollection of where she is or how she got there; haven’t we all been a victim of the same fate on holiday after five mango daiquiris and an ill-advised offer to be¬†the¬†human pinata?¬†No? Yep, me neither…



The music clips featured in each film are all taken from ‘After The Disco’, giving an insight in to the kind of shiny dance vibes and chilled out euphoric states¬†that we¬†might expect to experience from future live performances. Actors talk about ‘light and shade’, which is defined as: different parts of the character of a person or the quality of a thing. I think the reason why I love dream-pop¬†so much is its ability to produce something so bright, shimmering and piercing yet which, when opened up, ¬†is filled with the suggestion of sadness and of something much darker. I like this facet of the human character too – that if you allow yourself to be drawn in by something or someone, there is always¬†that moment when you’re afraid that you won’t be able to¬†find your way¬†back, but you do it anyway because you want to believe that the bright, shiny thing is as real and as true as it appears to be. I also have recurrent dreams about falling…maybe they’re related! /

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January 16, 2014 at 5:06 pm

This week I’m mostly listening to: Banks, Charlene Soraia and James Vincent McMorrow

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This week I’m mostly listening to…

Banks is an electronic soul singer, keyboardist and songwriter from LA. ‘Waiting Game’ is the first track to appear on her debut EP entitled ‘London’ (September 10th¬†, 2013). The EP showcases Banks’s sultry, emotive and soulful vocals perfectly and as a result, critics and musical peers alike have been quick to namecheck the LA native in their top tips for 2014. Katy Perry is a big fan and she has excellent taste in music; she brought the amazing School of Seven Bells to my attention. Banks is a highly commercial and image-driven artist, in a similar fashion to Lana Del Rey. She appears to have the full package and I would be very surprised if she wasn’t sitting firmly in the UK album charts by this time next year.


Charlene Soraia has released a new music video for her track, ‘Standing Stone’, which is also free to download on¬†her Facebook page. The music video was¬†a collaboration between Soraia and her fans – she asked fans to send in pictures of themselves with family and loved ones, in the hope that they might be featured in the retrospective visual.

Soraia is preparing to release her second album ‘Love Is The Law’ later this year. Like many people, I’ve been a fan of hers since hearing her cover of ‘Wherever You Will Go’ in 2011 and it’s been great to see the development in both her songwriting and artistic style. Soraia has a close relationship with her fans and facilitates this through her various social media channels. You get the impression that she is just an ordinary, down to earth girl with an extraordinary vocal talent that even she doesn’t quite know what to do with yet. Unaffected: the best quality one can have.


‘Cavalier’ is taken from James Vincent McMorrow‘s upcoming second album¬†‘Post Tropical’, to be released on January 13th, 2014 (UK/US). The record features music that¬†McMorrow describes himself as preferring to listen to. Debut album ‘Early in the Morning’ (2011) was heavily folk-influenced, whilst this collection leans more towards the softer side of R&B and has been categorised somewhere between Antony And The Johnsons and James Blake. McMorrow’s appeal for me has always been his lyrical sentimentality delivered¬†via¬†his stunning falsetto.¬†He makes these¬†songwriting and vocal qualities appear effortless and simplistic and these elements of his artistry are as prominent as ever on this record. I expect this album to do very well in 2014. / @hernameisbanks / @CharleneSoraia / @jamesvmcmorrow

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January 10, 2014 at 4:01 pm

The Queen and the King of the superlatives; Britney Jean has arrived

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Last week saw the UK release (December 2nd, 2013) of Britney Spears’ eighth studio album, ‘Britney Jean’.

It wouldn’t be a hugely intuitive leap to say that Britney has probably reached that level of celebrity whereby she doesn’t have to outsell her peers, or impress every critic, or even every fan. I think it is clear for all to see that she is content in her personal life; more visibly so, some might say, post-Trawick break up…hmm, well we’ve all heard ‘Perfume’ haven’t we?! (or I have, and I like to read into things, so…) I think this record echoes that sense of security in herself – she made it clear from the start which writers and producers (Sia, William Orbit) she wanted to work with, she chose an Executive Producer ( that she considers a friend and she produced a collection of tracks that she was proud of.

Britney likened the writing process for this record to therapy – a sentiment shared by Katy Perry in her latest offering, ‘Prism’. Wouldn’t it be amazing if everyone had the opportunity to write and record an album after a break up…i’m guessing the death metal genre would have a serious influx of talent if this were the case! Less zen, more venom.


The standard edition of the album features ten tracks, with the deluxe version offering fourteen including¬†the rather brilliant,¬†‘Now That I Found You’., David Guetta and Danny O‚ÄôDonoghue (The Script) share writing credits on this one and it is electro-dance Britney at her finest. Guetta’s influence is clear; the track immediately reminded me of ‘Without You’ (ft. Usher), which is another of his collaborations that I love. My favourite tracks from the album so far include ‘Alien’, ‘Perfume’, ‘It Should Be Easy’ and ‘Tik Tik Boom’. I love, the king of the superlatives; particularly his lyrics with¬†the line, “If there was a scale from 1 to 10, then my love for you is a million, billion…” (‘It Should Be Easy’). A million, billion…I do appreciate the over-dramatics.


In celebration of Britney’s return to the charts, the Official Charts Company ( @OfficialCharts ) and Amazepop webzine (@AMAZEPOP ) have been counting down her top 10 biggest selling singles in the UK and her top 50 tracks, as voted for by the fans. Topping the official best selling singles chart in the UK was ‘…Baby One More Time’. Britney’s iconic debut track was released in 1999 and went on to sell 1.5 million copies. It was also the first of seven consecutive top 10 hits for the Britster. Fun fact: the track is still a download favourite, with 11,000 people doing so in 2012. To date, the music video has been viewed over 88 million times on You Tube.


Regularly-cited critic and fan favourite, ‘Toxic’, was voted the winner of Britney’s top 50 tracks by readers of Amazepop webzine¬†( The 2004 track topped charts across Europe and Britney herself has named the Bloodshy & Avant written and produced hit as her personal favourite of her career to date.


Readers were asked to pick¬†up to 10¬†of their favourite Britney tracks, from a list of 123 of her singles, album tracks and B-sides. My personal favourite is ‘Everytime’ and I’d be surprised if anything to come ever topped this for me. I also voted for ‘…Baby One More Time’, ‘I’m¬†A Slave 4 U’, ‘Boys’, ‘Stronger’, ‘Sometimes’, ‘Work Bitch’, ‘Piece of Me’ and ‘I’m Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman’. It was a tough elimination process though, much soul-searching and re-evaluating of values ensued before the final decision was made.

I do enjoy a good poll.

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December 9, 2013 at 1:00 pm

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