Monday, December 24, 2012

BG's POP 2012 in Review


Fave POP Albums of 2012

1) Ellie Goulding - Halcyon - Ellie Goulding exceeded my expectations. I listened to this album for 20 days straight non-stop. It's mournful. It's alternative. It's POP. All of that makes it the most exciting record we've heard all year. Check out our review: http://unapologeticallypop.blogspot.com/2012/10/ethereal-ellies-halcyon.html

2) Regina Spektor - What We Saw from the Cheap Seats - Yes, Regina's orally created faux drum beats are incredibly annoying, and it's true, she's not one for album to album reinvention. However, we can always rely on her for a beautifully composed piano ballad. In an era of constant change, Regina makes music we can hold onto.

3) Lana Del Rey - Born to Die - The Paradise Edition - Though she's hypersexualized, Lana/Lizzie's music is pretty fresh, so much so that mainstream American radio DJs won't play her tracks. The mix of classical music with hip hop beats hits the spot. The Paradise edition really satisfied with great production by Rick Nowels on American, Pussy Cola (see what we were saying about the oversexing? I'm sure Lana's pussy tastes delicious, but I'm allergic to cats), & Body Electric. Marina, you got the short end of the Rick Nowels production stick. Compared to his work for Lana, Nowel's material on Electra Heart sounds like a drunken night on Garage Band. I think we can guess who makes him more moolah...

Most Disappointing POP Album of 2012

1) Rihanna - Unapologetic - No, I don't find this album disappointing because she's back with Chris Brown. In fact, one of my favorite tracks is Nobody's Bitness, their collab which samples Michael Jackson's The Way You Make Me Feel. This album simply sucks. I expected something that would top #TalkThatTalk's We Found Love. I was told we would get more collaborations with Calvin Harris and his protege, Burns, and so I expected some glorious four to the floor anthems a la Robyn. Instead, we got Diamonds, in which Rihanna intentionally mispronounces diamond in the last verse without the "M" so as to sound more ghetto-fabulous. STOP. It didn't work for JLo, and it won't work for you. The filler dance tracks with David Guetta aren't even songs. They're just sythns sequenced together into danceable nothings. Yuck. Fortunately, the album does have one saving grace: Stay, the gorgeous piano ballad composed by frequent Lana Del Rey collaborator Justin Parker. I could listen to it forever and be happy.

Unapologetically (it was our blog title first, RIRI!!!!),

Barry Gregory

Sunday, December 16, 2012

'90s Sunday could never be your woman



I heard this on the radio today. Boston's 92.9 FM had their very own '90s Sunday. Who knew? Anyway, something about it sounds so modern; the dirty bass in the bridge seems like a predecessor to dubstep.

Why do I love this song? I'm sure each person has his/her own interpretation, but I always pictured it as a drag queen's victory. A frat-boy jock falls head over heels for her, and she says, "I could never be your woman." For once, she's the winner and he's the one left in the dust with a broken heart. Empowering, until I paid attention to the rest of the lyrics (just now), which I will promptly forget. I prefer my own depiction.

Unapologetically,

Barry Gregory

Saturday, December 15, 2012

An email from one blogger to another reflecting on 2012. It might make you laugh, or cry, or perhaps both.

Once upon a time I was commuting to class & writing my dear friend a frustrated email.  This dear friend also happens to be Barry Gregory & we run this blog together.  He told me to post the email. Reluctantly, I have done so.  Forgive me if I seem rather grim; this was not the best year for mainstream music.

Unapologetically,

Minna

------------------------

I have some time on my hands (I'm om the bus) so I'm writing you a disjointed reflection on the pop music of 2012. I honestly think the best pop album of the year was Halcyon, hands down. I am continuously surprised by what a good album Mika made, I think The Origin of Love is my #2. The thing with Mika is that his vocals are f'ing exhausting- same with Nate Ruess's sometimes. There are some wack missteps on Mika's album-- namely the Origin of Love & that other terrible song, which are blech-- but overall it's an incredibly well-produced album & well written too. And it tackles subject matter which is NOT JUST ABOUT LOVE!!! (see: Heroes) Only Mika & Ellie really did that WELL this year. Good Lord I miss Lily.


Indie Pop, like regular pop, sucked this year. Passion Pit & Fun. made the best / catchiest albums in that "altpop" category. Exciting indie electropop seems to be over :( No Cut Copy, no MGMT, no Empire of the Sun. Kesha P!nk Taylor and Carly (& Rihanna) made a few great songs, but honestly their albums, in their entirety, don't stand on their own. Calvin's album is good.  I wish we had Girls Aloud in the States. And that is 2012!

In terms of Lana, I think she may be our first example of the modern hype-backlash.  As fresh as her music is, her entire persona-package is so damn disappointing. I'm guilty of being overexcited about her. Now we have 3 Rihannas: RiLana & Rita Ora. Enough. 

As for Marina, the poor girl got the shit end of the stick. We all know that she is an incredibly talented artist, but listen: Ellie did the "Greek tragedy" theme better. Ellie did "cool" better.  Lana did the "Americana" element better. Katy did cute & colorful better. Rick Nowels didn't do shit for her tracks (not to mention Dr. Luke). And Marina wrote, recorded & released Heartbreaker way too late.  I think she's left "picking up the peiiiiiices" (in Paloma's voice) instead of being a truly exciting pop star. But I can't feel that bad for her because, please: look at her. She's fine.

Another rant:: as an EDM lover (electronic dance music) I'm really frustrated with the domination of straight, white men in this genre. EDM used to be so much more inclusive & now it is soooooo not. And have we mentioned sexist? It's all about girls in bras and g-strings on MDMA jumping around in strobe lights.  Look who we have at the forefront: Calvin Harris, Diplo, A-Trak, Deadmau5, Skrillex, Swedish House Mafia, Nero-- the list goes on. Even the up & coming ones meet the mold: Dillon Francis, Zedd, Madeon. And all of them are in one way or another THE SAME: goofy white boys with funny twitter accounts. It's hard for me to get really excited about anyone in that scene anymore... the oppressive heteronormativity is becoming too much to handle. Ugh. Diversify, please, I beg you!

Also, fat ppl in music videos, please (and not just as comic relief). Or just chubby. Or hairy. Or ANYTHING.

And that is my rant. Thoughts?

Xx Minna

Monday, December 10, 2012

This Warrior Won't Last Long




Do I like Ke$ha's new album? Yeah, it ain't half bad. I listened to it at work for three days straight over eight hour stretches, so obviously, the dirty glitter queen did something right. However, my overall sense is that Warrior sounds too much like Animal, Ke$ha's first record. This cements the notion that this girl is a moment in time and that moment is passing. Her look, her sound, everything about her screams 2010. Proof? Despite having a #2 single on the American charts, Warrior is expected to sell only 80k - 85k albums in its first week, which isn't too shabby except for the fact that its predecessor debuted with sales of 152k and it's competing with the likes of Rihanna's Unapologetic (238K), P!nk's The Truth About Love (281K), and Taylor Swift's Red (1.21 million). An album that likely cost upwards of $2 million to make needs to sell more. That's the bottom line.

It's hard to tell whose fault this is. I imagine it's a combination of both Ke$ha and Dr. Luke's. Dr. Luke and his co-producers (Cirkut, Benny Blanco, etc.) seem to be stuck in a cycle, releasing what sounds like the same old stuff. I'm surprised, because Dr. Luke is incredibly talented and had no trouble reinventing his style in the past, moving from POP-rock hits like U and Ur Hand to electro-POP like 'Till The World Ends. Should Ke$ha take some of the blame? She does seem like a free-spirit, but at the end of the day, her career is handled by Dr. Luke and his label, Kemosabe Entertainment, an imprint of Sony, so I'm suspicious of how much decision making power she actually possesses. When you (allegedly) operate as a corporation, as any global POP star does, various precautions are likely taken to ensure the business runs smoothly. Ke$ha's PR team seems to have done a great job organizing interviews in which she claims to be the person behind it all, but PR is PR (aka bullshizzle), so who knows what is in fact true?

What are my favorite tracks? C'mon, the proper successor to Tik Tok, is incredibly fun. Thinking of You has a beautiful, heart-wrenching chorus. In fact, the best parts of the record are the melodies that sound as though they were initially crafted as country ballads, which also include Wonderland - an ode to nostalgia and old friendships that features The Black Keys' Patrick Carney on drums, Last Goobye, and The Flaming Lips' produced Past Lives, which describes romance as time travel. These are the warm gooey insides, the pieces of molten chocolate cake savored by the fire with tall glasses of milk that every record needs.

Yes, Ke$ha will probably not experience the long stretches of POP-cultural impact enjoyed by Britney or Beyonce, but she will surely stick around in the more modest way Avril and Alanis have. Fortunately for us, Ke$ha holds so much talent, as indicated by the gorgeous tune she composed with The Flaming Lips. Past Lives proves that she can achieve greatness with just a guitar and Dr. Luke out of sight. I can't wait until the time comes when she stops attempting to be the POP-cultural juggernaut she once was.

Unapologetically,

Barry Gregory

Sunday, December 9, 2012

BETTER than the original


Don't the first few chords remind you of Just Like A Pill? Awesome job, P!nk. 

Unapologetically,

Barry Gregory



Thursday, December 6, 2012

YES! New music video by the Young Professionals! Happy Hanukkah to all!

OH GLORIOUS DAY.

It appears our favorite TLV electroPOPpers have been busy lately with touring France & signing to Universal Records.  They've even caught the attention of big-people-bloggers & won an MTV EMA for Best Israeli Act! And now, BEHOLD... the sheer brilliance that is The Young Professional's latest music video for Be With You Tonight.

There is so much going on here that I don't even know where to begin. The slow motion walks.  The amazing Ivri Lider seducing us all simply by extending his right arm across a table (professional indeed). Yonatan's Mad Men tie. The Sam Sparro lookalike (is that Sam Sparro?).  The vampiric, creepy pale children dancing in pairs. The zebra with its head stuck in a wall. It all makes you kind of expect a cameo from Chromeo or Bad Romance-era Gaga ~ but it's okay because instead we have Uriel eating a pita, so no worries really.

The video also features the "fire on ice collection" by Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, who, I will take the liberty to assume, is a French fashion designer (French people tend to do that).  Quite fitting, wouldn't you say?



Oh, & if you'd fancy some remixes I've posted them below.  As to be expected, the Offer Nissim one is kind of excellent.



I dedicate this post to all my friends in Tel Aviv.  You know who you are *glittery wink*

More, please!

Unapologetically,

Minna

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Currently #1 on the BBC Top 40: "Troublemaker" by Maroon 5! Oh, wait...

I'm just SO bloody charming.
We seem to be living in an era of POP music deja-vu. Jessie sounds like Katy. Britney sounds like Nicki.  Carly sounds like Alphabeat.  Rihanna & Lana are actually the same person. And now Olly Murs sounds like Maroon 5. Why?

Basically, Troublemaker is basically what Maroon 5 should sound like in 2012 if they had stayed even a little bit closer to their original sound & "woaOOhOOh" hooks.  It's not by accident that Olly's new song sounds like something straight off of Songs About Jane just as more & more UK X Factor graduates seek to conquer North America (I just saw you on the Disney Channel, Cher, don't think I didn't). This is all fine & dandy, but what does this mean for the USA?

Well, Troublemaker is not as cute or catchy as Heart Skips A Beat, but the Flo Rida addition coullllld just make Olly break the American market (I'm skeptical, as much as I like the song).  All in all, the song is an innocent little earworm; what it lacks in creativity it makes up for in a candy-coated chorus. Hey, at the very least it's not Troublemaker featuring Pitbull produced by RedOne, right?



Only time will tell, Olly.  You can't charm your way across the pond too easy, can you?

Unapologetically,

Minna

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

so TayTay is dating Harry Styles now? IS NO ONE SAFE?!?!

All-American princess Taylor Swift now appears to be dating none other than teenage heartthrob Harry Sytles of OneDirection (yes, that OneDirection). As Taylor slowly dates her way through the world's most crush-worthy men, we can't help but ask... IS NO ONE SAFE FROM TAYLOR'S CHARMS?!???!!

We've said it before & we'll say it again...

WATCH OUT PRINCESS KATE

Unapologetically,

Concerned Citizens

Sunday, December 2, 2012

'90s Sunday...Then & Today


Of all La Bouche's '90s hits, Be My Lover is my fave. How did I rediscover this lovely little powerhouse of a dance tune? Walking into Urban Outfitters, I heard a '90s banger. When I came home, I wanted to Google it but didn't remember which track played over the loudspeakers so I searched "'90s dance songs." I arrived at the following list: http://www.digitaldreamdoor.com/pages/best_dance-90s.html where I have yet to find the song I heard at Urban (it's a long list) but where I re-encountered this gem from my past.



Now to today. If you're searching for modern tunes with '90s flair, look no further than Lovers In The Parking Lot from the EP True by Solange, Beyonce's little sister. Listening to it fills my mind with Aaliyah flashbacks. Do I wish Solange capitalized a bit more on the choruses? Yes. However, the stellar verses are so catchy, they compensate for any blahhness creeping through the rest of the song. I also love that Solange is trying something new. Yes, we all know she's a hipster and made this record with Pitchfork fave Dev Hynes of Blood Orange. However, anyone who can find a fresh, electronic way to deliver African beats is a hero in my book. Lastly, I adore that she's promoting this EP with Hynes by her side in interviews. Too often, we see the  artist taking the front seat though the producers and engineers are the true geniuses. Thus, her ability to give credit to whom its due is a testament to her controlled ego. However, I'm not surprised. If you're going to grow up as the sister of one of the world's biggest superstars, you'll either be incredibly resentful and jealous, or learn to be proud and enjoy the perks, like getting your own record deal without most of the struggle. Fortunately, Solange's talent warrants one.



Enjoy!

Unapologetically,

Barry Gregory


Saturday, December 1, 2012

I'm Screaming


Though the song is just okay, I like will.i.am's Scream & Shout ft. Britney Spears for the following reasons:
  1. The high-tech, high-fashion, high-gloss camp will.i.am is clearly fond off.
  2. Seeing Britney look somewhat like she did before...everything.
  3. will.i.am's gold King crown hat. I need one like yesterday. I'll take mine as Queen, please.
  4. Britney's British accent.
Unapologetically,

Barry Gregory

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

I love you, Paloma, BUT...



The following interview makes me incredibly nauseous. Please turn down the cheese factor.

Unapologetically,

Barry Gregory (experimenting with using my first and middle name)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The new Icona Pop EP doesn't quite surpass "Manners," but a few good songs are packed in here

When our friend Vertigo Shtick asked the Popologist Panel to review Icona Pop's new EP I was thrilled.  I think Icona Pop are one of the best electroPOP acts to surface this year.  These 2 have the potential to be big, & I want them to be.

Alas, the ladies' latest single, I Love It, was a let down-- & unfortunately, so is half of this EP.  Ready for the Weekend is a frenetic fright-fest while the hipster name-dropping on Sun Goes Down is clearly designed to titillate the Neon Gold bandwagon. The best stuff on Iconic is stuffed in the middle: Good For You (a stellar song), Top Rated and, of course, the unbeatable Manners.  Gregory doesn't like Icona Pop too much, but I see tons of potential in these two.  Their current status as indie darlings doesn't hurt their popularity either (they are currently touring with Marina & the Diamonds).  I'm looking forward to hearing their upcoming album-- more girl power, please. (lord knows we need it)


Unapologetically,

Minna

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

JFF - Matt & Kim, "It's Alright"


Matt & Kim's latest album, Lightning, was released last month to less than stellar reviews.  Paste Magazine even suggests "forgiving the total banality of its content" in order to enjoy "the album as a whole."  But guess what?  I DON'T CARE.  Matt & Kim are wonderful and ALWAYS WILL BE.  Yes, their second album was their best.  Yes, I recognize that their unabashed exuberance is no longer "cool."  But somewhere deep down I need a childishly upbeat POP song. And I know I'm not the only one.

It's Alright, the third song on Lightning, is an immediate mood-booster.  I'm not sure if it's going to be a single or what, but below is a characteristic happy-core lyric video.

 

Not bad, is it?  That's right, because Matt & Kim are not bad at what they do: they make high-strung, happy POP music.  On some level, you have to admire their can-do attitude.  It has its place.

Unapologetically,

Minna

Monday, November 12, 2012

JFF - Miniature Tigers, "Female Doctor"

It's no secret that my tastes gravitate towards "indie" POP acts (don't ask me to define "indie," I have no flippin idea how to anymore).  That's one of the reasons I love that I co-blog with Gregory, because not only is he my good friend, but he knows much more about the Rihannas, Beyonces, & Katys of the world than I ever will.  I think this makes for a really fun & diverse blog... but then again I'm a little biased.

To get to the point, I'm really impressed with Miniature Tigers this year. I adored these guys when their first album Tell It To the Volcano came out in 2008 but virtually forgot about them until 2012. Thankfully the year has been good to them-- they've released their their third album, Mia Pharoah, & toured with one of the year's best break-through bands, fun. (perhaps you've heard of them?).  Female Doctor is a catchy little number off of their latest album; for those of you who haven't heard it, check out the music video below.  Be warned: it's a little "racey" -- but not in a NickiMinajRihLannaDelRey kind of way (don't worry, bountiful breasts are involved).


If you find you enjoy this mild brand of nerd POP as much as I do, catch these fellas on tour.  Yay for Miniature Tigers!  You silly bastards.

Unapologetically,

Minna

Sunday, November 11, 2012

When in Doubt, Pout; The Plight of Male Popstars

Once, this was Calvin Harris.
I'm going to go ahead & say it people: it is simply unbelievable what men need to do to become POP stars these days . It's almost as if they were, dare I say it... WOMEN.  I mean of ALL THINGS, really.

Perhaps my favorite example is Calvin Harris. Calvin, who once reveled his lovable dorkyness, has sexed it up immensely since the international mainstream success of We Found Love.  Of course, he looks great & should be lauded endlessly for his transformation blablablabla... because what is more valuable than a sexy celebrity?  Answer: NOTHING.  But still, alas... sometimes I find myself missing the Calvin of yesteryear... pineapple on his head & all...


But before I wander too far astray: without further ado, I present some of the world's most cherished male POP stars who, by no coincidence, also happen to be the world's best pouters.

Calvin Harris has definitely practiced perfecting his pout since 2008.  Thumbs up: you're famous!

Drake: Pout-extraordinaire.

Example was fortunate enough to born with a natural, pronounced pout, so he probably didn't have to attend the corporate-sponsored pout-practice sessions.

Trey Songz is also gifted at the art of pouting (it's all about the prominence of the lower lip).

British POP duo Hurts have mastered the "serious" pout, which is sexy enough for mass media distribution but also scary enough to intimidate others at a board meeting.  Particular narrowing of the eyes is required for this one. Careful not to squint your eyes too much: obstruction of vision may occur.

Oh no! Not Liam Gallagher too?!  This has gone too far, people.

Forgive me, everyone.  It's not easy being a thinking person with a POP music blog.  Sometimes I truly cannot resist the urge to mock it all.

Semi-unapologetically,

Minna

Friday, November 9, 2012

So what's with POP lately?

Marina still wants to teach you how to be a bitch.

Your favorite music outsiders here at Unapologetically POP have been on a bit of a hiatus lately.  It feels like tons of time has passed but when we take a step back & assess the POP music landscape... not much has changed after all.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Charli XCX (otherwise known as Blu Cantrell)


I just heard Charli XCX's new track, Cloud Aura, featuring Brooke Candy (because she's edible?) from Charli's Super Ultra Mixtape, out on Wednesday, November 7. The electro-POP confection is quite tasty. However, is it just me, or does the melody sound suspiciously similar to Blu Cantrell's Hit 'Em Up Style (Oops!)? I'm not complaining; that song was my bedroom jam in 7th grade.

Actually, scratch that. I am complaining! Charli is a good songwriter. I'm tired of hearing old melodies in new songs by REALLY GOOD SONGWRITERS. Let's use our talents to come up with some original-sounding material, please! Kthnx.

Am I delusional? Do these two songs sound nothing alike? Tell me what you think.




Unapologetically,

Gregory

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Heroin-Chic is Back



And her name is Sky Ferreira. Ever since Kate Moss and Fiona Apple slipped to pop-culture's perimeter, I've been staring out my bedroom window, singing Celine's All By Myself (a la Joey Tribbiani from Friends), wondering who would be the goddess to bring back heroin chic? Who would reinvigorate the revolution?

Here she is, our messiah. The girl who has been the music industry's next big thing for the last 5 years has reinstated the movement. Yes, Sky has just released yet another EP. This one is titled Ghost. Like Sky, I find ghosts incredibly inspiring (Happy Halloween). Plus, the almost-POP star seems to mimic one on the cover, appearing freshly powdered from H2T (or H2H - it's a head shot). It's all about the look, honey - retro hipster 90s grunge heroin chic. Get it right and keep it tight.

But that's not the point. The point is, I'm loving two of her songs, which has never happened. I never like her songs, until now...

Choose from one of the following 2 options:

1. You can either live Sky's American Dream, which is an alternative POP masterpiece. Super POP yet super original. Super accessible in a way we've yet to access. Produced by Frankmusik (who produced Ellie Goulding's Wish I Stayed & his own Better Off As Two).


ORRRRRRR

2. You can get Lost in [Sky's] Bedroom. Sometimes I think Sky is a bad songwriter, and then I hear tunes like Lost in my Bedroom and the aforementioned American Dream that change my mind. Maybe she only needs the right collaborators to bring out her best. This piece of magic was produced by Pitchfork approved producer, Ariel Rechtschaid, who is made all the hipsterierererer by being friends with Diplo. Surprisingly, it's gorgeous and melodic. It's just really pretty and dancey, but not Rihanna or Gaga-dancey. This song is its own brand of dancey. It's smoke a joint dancey.



Don't forget to remove all your self-tanner and only get 3 hours of sleep before you go out this weekend. We want bed hair. Remember, heroin-CHIC.

Unapologetically,

Gregory

Sunday, October 28, 2012

'90s Sunday - This is Your Night




We gays love us some Amber (sexual, la di da), so I figured why not post her '90s hit, This Is Your Night? Seriously, why not?

The video is '90s camp epitomized:



Happy Sunday!

Unapologetically,

Gregory





Monday, October 15, 2012

Ethereal Ellie's Halcyon


I love this album. I love love love Ellie Goulding's Halcyon. Maybe I love the idea of it more than I actually love it, but I really do love it, really. It's everything that it should be. It's everything that she should be. And it feels true to her. This is what Florence Welch could have sounded like on Ceremonials if the songs weren't so busy, and if Florence's voice wasn't ice cold. This is what Marina & the Diamonds should have striven for on her too Top 40-esque Electra Heart - songs that are real, songs that are POP without striving to fit an overdone POP mold. This is what Bat for Lashes' Natasha Khan could have created with The Haunted Man if she wasn't so busy being the High Priestess of Pitchfork - songs that are unique, but aren't so alternative as to feel inaccessible, and thus, unemotional. For where Ellie is in her musical trajectory, Halcyon is perfect.

A lot of critics don't like this album, and I've come to the conclusion that they will never like what Ellie does. She is too POP for the hipsters. Heaven forbid something is catchy enough to not sound like a carefully crafted compilation of beat-driven farts. God forbid something actually contain a semblance of musicality. Unfortunately, Ellie is also too alternative for the mainstream POP crowd. Thus, when mentioning that you are a fan of her's, you will be met with awkward glares from people thinking you're posturing as a Williasmburg-ite with non-prescription glasses, when in fact, you are indeed legally blind! (or close enough, anyway...)

Ellie's melodies are real melodies. Her choruses soar. Occasionally, though, she will veer off in an unexpected direction with chords that don't fit the rest of the song. This is a choice Katy Perry would not have made. With only one hit single to her name, Ellie is unidentifiable to most Americans, who likely don't even know what she looks like or what any of her other songs are aside from Lights.

So I guess, in the end, Ellie fans will never be cool in America, and that suits me perfectly. I was never the popular kid, nor was I one of the goths smoking pot by the dumpsters only to become a bonafide Animal Collective fan wearing oversized Weezy scarves two years later. Nope, I was and still am the kid with an oversized backpack and sinus issues, the outsider of outsiders, and Ellie suits me just fine.

My take on the tracks:

1. Don't Say A Word is worth listening to simply for the haunting falsetto that opens the album.
2. My Blood - This is just pretty. I like pretty, sparkly things.
3. Anything Could Happen - I thought this song was so weird at first, but after listening to it 20 times in one hour, I loved it. Halcyon is a relatively low-key, mournful album, but this song has an air of optimism I can hold onto.
4. Only You is a bit too weird for my taste. It features tribal beats, and I'm an urban/suburban boy. I don't do well in the jungle.
5. Halcyon - Boring. I don't even remember what it sounds like.
6. Figure 8 - I hear Skrillex's influence on this dub-steppy track. This song combines ballad-like verses with a chorus that's ready for the club. Really interesting and catchy. It's easy to get sick of, though.
7. JOY is really gorgeous and catchy. It's happy and sad. It's amazingness squared.
8. Hanging On - Ellie's cover of The Weeknd's song is better than the original.
9. Explosions - Beautiful and heartbreaking.
10. I Know You Care - Also beautiful and heartbreaking. Ellie wrote it with Justin Parker, who co-wrote Video Games with Lana Del Rey wannabe Turner. This is so much better than Video Games. Ellie mentioned that it's about her dad leaving her family when she was quite young. I love any song that's not centered on romance.
11. Atlantis - More gorgeous falsetto. This may be the best song on the album.
12. Dead in the Water - Very simple and sad. It shimmers.
13. I Need Your Love ft. Calvin Harris - Sounds a bit like MSTRKRFT's Heartbreaker ft. John Legend. This is the best thing Calvin Harris has done since We Found Love. Thank GOD, as I was getting sick of all his other crappy collabs.
1. Ritual - Once again, a song that is way too tribal for my liking. I have jungle fever and am in desperate need of some air conditioning.
12. In My City - Love love love! Ellie's ode to her hometown was written with and produced by Billboard, who has worked on hits with Robyn (Call Your Girlfriend) and Britney ('Till the World Ends). Another non-love song. Holler!
13. Without Your Love - Jungle-ee. Currently running away from the tigers. Unfortunately, I don't run. (I occasionally elliptical.)

Rawrr! You sexy beast, you.
Unapologetically,

Gregory

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Faithful Cover


I shall get to Ellie's album soon. I need some solace to absorb it's beauty during my weekly Sunday champagne bubble bath (cheers!). In the meantime, I've been thinking about Paloma Faith's cover of INXS' Never Tear Us Apart. It was created for the UK John Lewis Christmas advert. Every year, they have a British artist record a cover. A few years ago, the commercial featured Ellie G's take on Elton J's Your Song.

Paloma's an admirable pop chick, but her voice has always sounded a bit forced. Yes, she can sing, but that's not what I mean. In the same way that she assumes a classically campy persona, Paloma often pushes her voice into this sort of campy territory that's not so cute after a few listens. It grates. Here, for the first time, her voice sounds natural. I really enjoy hearing her sing so purely. Nellee Hooper (who has produced for Gwen Stefani, No Doubt, & Bjork) has rendered a recreation that is quite faithful to the original, which I'd never heard until this past Monday's episode of Revenge, as I'm not the '80s hair metal type. (What is hair metal?)

Anyhow, enjoy! And don't forget to notice the gorgeous single cover above. I just purchased the dress for Halloween. Paloma's coming trick-or-treating this year, kids!

Unapologetically,

Gregory

Monday, October 1, 2012

Dying Young in Diamonds

That's how I plan to go. Cut, color, carat, clarity, and coffin sheen, girls.

Here's my take on two singles from POP's reigning princesses:

Die Young by Ke$ha
I'm severely unimpressed by this song. When Ke$ha indicated that she intended to, essentially, reinvent POP, I expected something amazing. I hoped for some super fresh sounds. Instead, we get Dr. Luke production that sounds like everything from the last Ke$ha album, which is frustrating, because both Dr. Luke and Ke$ha could do so much better. They're incredibly talented. Die Young's one redeeming quality is a contribution by Nate Ruess, fun.'s frontman. You can hear his writing style in the melody, and it gives the song an ounce a freshness. However, this freshness doesn't necessarily work in the song's favor, as the chorus goes up and down so many times that it's difficult to follow and even harder to remember. I had to listen to this song about ten times before it stuck in my head, which was not the case with Tik Tok, Take It Off, or Blow. I think the fault of this song lies in the fact that the track (the music you hear without the singing), was likely crafted before the melody. Thus, the melody was restricted to what Dr. Luke and his proteges, Cirkut and Benny Blanco, had assembled. Nate Ruess is able to create experimental choruses that are far catchier by simply brainstorming melodies in his head, after which a producer will add various accoutrements, as was done by Jeff Bhasker on fun.'s album, Some Nights. Dr. Luke should let go of the reigns a bit by letting the artists write their own music. He might make less dough doing so, as he won't get a writing credit, but at least he'll still be relevant and have some longevity, as will the artists he works with. At this rate, Ke$ha won't be relevant in 5 years (like Avril Lavigne isn't relevant now).

 

Diamonds by Rihanna
Once again, I had very high hopes for Rihanna's new single. After last year's We Found Love, arguably Rihanna's best song, I was crossing my fingers for something just as incredible. Instead, we have the dance diva doing some mid-tempo balladry that's less emotional than the aforementioned club anthem. Produced by Stargate and Benny Blanco, with a writing contribution from Sia, Diamonds should have been better. This song could be quite good if the beat was faster and the backing synths were more lush. Instead, it sounds cheap. It's clear that Rihanna's team wants her to leave the dance party before everyone takes their last hit (of dance music, that is). However, RiRi is the only one who does dance music really well relative to all of her contemporaries (Katy, Ke$ha, Gaga, Usher, etc.). Girl is familiar with the club - VIP. Madonna made dance music even when it wasn't popular (a la 1990's Vogue and 1998's Ray of Light), and she consistently killed because that was her strong suit (until she started making shitty dance music a la the half-assed, crap album that is MDNA). Rihanna is not very talented, and she is not an artist by any extent of the imagination, but through constant performing, her voice and stage presence have developed to a point where she translates more emotion into her songs than somebody with twice the vocal prowess (...Beyoncé, can you hear me?). She actually feels what she's singing. If paired with the right material, she can unite the balladeer with the club kid, as she did so successfully with We Found Love, and as Robyn (Robyn Robyn, not Robyn Rihanna Fenti) has done time and again with all of her Body Talk singles.


I'm hoping for better from both of these gals with regard to their upcoming albums.

Unapologetically,

Gregory

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Unapologetically POP Comprehensive Guide to Upcoming Album Releases

BIG DAY ALERT! Nelly Furtado, The Killers, Carly Rae Jepsen & P!nk have all picked today, September 18th, to grace us with their latest albums.  While we spend the next few days listening to our new CDs (Carly! Nelly! P!nk!) we decided to put together a list of all the upcoming POP albums that we have to look forward to this fall.  Without further ado, I bring you Unapologetically POP's Comprehensive Guide to Upcoming Album Releases:

Alphabeat - Express Non-Stop (September 24)
Excitement level: Moderate. ALPHABEAT IS BAAAACK.  It's fair to say that I have been waiting for this album since my college graduation.  This Danish POP band is massively underrated. As I pointed out last week, Carly Rae's latest single sounds quite a bit like Alphabeat... so perhaps, finally, with late-80s-early-90s-influenced jams on the radio, the public may be more open to Alphabeat's retro sound.  If nothing else, we're glad to see a happy colorful album cover for a change!  Everyone else's album cover is just a lame, over-sized picture of his/her face (Bieber, je vou accuse).

Matt & Kim - Lightning (October 2)
Excitement level: Moderate.  Matt & Kim consistently release delightful tunes, but their latest single, Let's Go, seemed quite tame.  That aside, Lightning will surely be nothing less than an indie POP pleasure.  I have always loved these two for making fun music on their own damn terms.  Any year that Matt & Kim release a new album is a good year. Let's go let's go let's go!

Mika - The Origin of Love (UK Release October 8)
Excitement level: almost high.  Gregory & I are both a bit astounded by how excited we are for this album, neither one of us being die-hard Mika fans in the past (although I did love We Are Golden, especially the Calvin remix, back when Calvin was amazing).  This time around Mika seems to be benefiting from hiring grade A collaborators - namely the Benassi clan & Nick Littlemore of  Empire of the Sun.  The way things are going, The Origin of Love could very well be our biggest surprise album of 2012.  Listen to the album sampler here (prepare to be intrigued).

Ellie Goulding - Halcyon (October 8)
Excitement level: HIGH.  To put it quite simply, both of us here at Unapologetically POP are expecting this to be the album of the year.  And that is all there is to say.

We're curious: of these 4 albums, which are you most excited for?

Unapologetically,

Minna

Monday, September 17, 2012

We've finally heard Kiss by Carly Del Rae & here are our 3 favorite songs

IT'S HERE.
So FINALLY, here is our the verdict on Kiss by Canadian dance POP starlet Carly Del Rae Jepsen.

Tiny Little Bows - As I wrote before, this opening track is brutally good.  It reminds me of a modern Jamiroquai jam that could slide gracefully into the soundtrack of the brilliant 2000 dance drama Center Stage.  Read more on the song here.  I dare you not to sing along.

Curiosity - Simply POP perfection.  Gregory & I both agree that is is our #1 favorite on Kiss.  Despite its noisy new production, the album version of Curiosity is listenable (though the original produced by Carly Del Rae's bff Ryan Stewart alone is a much better POP song- listen to the EP version of Curiosity below).


Turn Me Up - This is the best dance track on all of Kiss.  Many will disagree with me about this, pointing instead to Max Martin's Tonight I'm Getting Over You or second single This Kiss.  I stand firm in my assertion that this is the closest Carly sounds to a modern dance diva a la Robyn.  A particularly magical moment is Carly's rallying cry, "I'm givin' up & going out toniiiight."  At its finest moments Turn Me Up sounds like a Kylie song (a high compliment).  This one's a keeper.

So what do we make of all this?  In short, Kiss is a very good POP album.  Its down sides are few but notable; Kiss lacks an overall variety in production style, the paucity of which can make your head hurt from the sugar rush (see: This Kiss). At times there are too many fluffy pink ponies & happiness rainbows to make it through more than 3 songs in a row. Lyrically, Kiss is is an album about high school problems, stuffed with far too many "I'm going out tonight"s & "my big bad boyfriend broke my heart"s (notable exception is Turn Me On, where Carly sounds less like she's kvetching & more like she's singing a grrrl power chant).  That said, Kiss is a DANCE album clearly modeled after Robyn's Dancing On My Own.  Carly, a self-professed admirer of Robyn, should be very proud of Turn Me Up. Wrong Feels So Right & Tonight I'm Getting Over You are also solid dance songs but sound slightly wrong for Carly's characteristic voice- she's too saccharine for gritty dancefloor numbers.  Rihanna can take those. That's what she's good at.

All in all, Carly Del Rae has released an album that is not perfect, but full of dance gems that will make many a girls' night for years to come.  Welcome to POP, Miss Jepsen!

Unapologetically,

Minna

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Piping Hot Piano

Nothing moves me quite like a piano ballad. Here are two of my recent faves:

Laura by Bat For Lashes (aka Natasha Khan) - This ballad is the best thing I've heard in a while. The piano melody possesses a typically British campiness that is brought to life in the video. The song floats along with beautiful horns conjuring up very regal, sailing around the British isles type imagery. Natasha gives into her powerful voice, howling through the chorus. I just love any song about a has-been celebrity pining for the old days. Don't you?

 

Not Even The King by Alicia Keys - Yes, I do think her best days have passed. Alicia lost any semblance of pop identity when she removed Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation-era key earring. However, her ode opposing materialism in favor of love is breathtaking. Her vocals are different here. Typically, Alicia tries to wail and ends up sounding raspy. For once, she gives into the softness of her voice, singing ever so delicately as though the tune is a lullaby. Just gorgeous.

 

Unapologetically,

Gregory

Saturday, September 15, 2012

She just wants to love your body

Is Mimi being emancipated again? 
Oh wait, it's Christina...

And she's back. Your Body isn't great. It isn't terrible. The melody is just okay and the tempo progresses a bit too slowly for the dancefloor, but the production is rich, and Christina's voice is captured perfectly. She's not oversinging (as usual) or undersinging. The balance is ideal.

As for the single cover, Christina looks like Mariah. In shots from the upcoming video, she appears as a pink wigged Minaj wannabe. It seems like Miss X is having an artistic identity crisis, trying to remain relevant in a POP radio world that's long passed her by. We're hoping she can reclaim her rightful space.

Listen to the song on Idolator's website, here

Unapologetically,

Gregory

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Friday, September 14, 2012

Generica



Triumphant by Mariah Carey– Mimi has been emancipated once again. Triumphant is a perfectly average song. What happened to the Mariah Carey who fused R&B and bubblegum POP (Always Be My Baby, Fantasy, Dream Lover)? Someone please tell Miss Cribz that hip hoppity POP hasn't been relevant since 2006. Mariah is pushing herself into irrelevance by sounding like a has-been. Triumphant is completely generic. If she had played with some more experimental production (a la Azealia Banks), she could at least be considered an innovator. Instead, Mariah has made something that sounds far less fresh than the hits that made her, and in the process, she’s shitting on her iconic status. It’s really a shame and makes me quite sad. Also, Mariah is a DIVA who doesn’t need to perpetuate this pink, Paris Hilton doggy in a Louis Vuitton aesthetic – it cheapens her.
 
Gold by Neon Hitch – The start of Gold is some gorgeous emotional POP balladry, yet eventually the production shifts into Ke$ha territory. Why is everything sounding the same same same? Benny Blanco has crafted some beautiful tracks in his short career, so I don’t understand why his work with Neon is a mashup of everything I’ve heard in the last two years. Let’s move POP forward! Also, what is with this Tyga feature? I don't recall Madonna's Holiday featuring LL Cool J.  Plain. Simple. Period.

What do I consider innovative POP? Winner, the first single and best track off of Contact, the new album from The Noisettes. Soul, synthesizers, and tinge of electric guitar are just what the doctahhh ordered.

Unapologetically,

Gregory