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Posted on 14, October 2014 October 14 2014 2014年10月14日 by headphoneicon

Taylor Swift - Out Of The Woods

Now, this is far more what I was expecting when Taylor announced her assault on the world of pop.

The thing is, like we all said then she first said that, Taylor’s music has never been too far from pop music to begin with. She’s always known her way around songwriting, and even as far back as her second album her music relied on hooks, scaled Top 40 charts across the world and generally was pop music in all but name. “Out Of The Woods” trades on those similar qualities, unlike “Shake It Off” which felt like a vapid shedding of them. I mean, regardless of how many synths are blasting away behind her, the crescendo is classic Taylor Swift with the emotional climax, the ad-libs, and every other little touch that helps “Out Of The Woods” feel authentic to her.

As far as changing sounds go, you’re never going to convince me that Taylor wasn’t going to end up doing something like this eventually. “Shake It Off” was admittedly terrible and out of character, but “Out Of The Woods” sees her go pop in a way like never before without sacfricing any familiarity. It’s basically like if “All Too Well” went out to the club instead of the piano in the library to make the pain go away.

Keep it up, T Swift

Posted on 13, October 2014 October 13 2014 2014年10月13日 by headphoneicon

Album Review: Tinashe - Aquarius

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At the end of the opening track to Aquarius (Which is also the title track, coincidentally.) we have Tinashe close things out with a whispered, “Welcome to my world.” which really should incite mass eye-rolling the moment you hear it. However, it actually ends up entirely justified as you traverse through one of the most solid debuts of the the last few years.

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Posted on 13, October 2014 October 13 2014 2014年10月13日 by headphoneicon

Ryn Weaver - Octahate

I’m not really sure what the strategy with Ryn Weaver is at the moment. It feels like we’ve had “Octahate” for about four thousand years with nothing really coming of it, so to have a video pop up for it is a bit of a surprise. Perhaps she’s getting a proper push next year? Everyone else seems hellbent on making this the most boring Q4 in pop’s existence, so it makes sense that even the new artists are fleeing to 2015.

She definitely comes together a bit more as a visual artist, and that galloping chorus is still wonderful. I mean, the lyrics throughout are total nonsense, but that’s not really something that should be held against any pop song.

Also, the Lady Gaga is strong in this one, isn’t she?

Posted on 13, October 2014 October 13 2014 2014年10月13日 by headphoneicon

Marina & The Diamonds - FROOT

Almost every single bit of this song is overlong, and it’s so frustrating because it’s basically amazing, but would be even more amazing if I didn’t need to hear it for an additional twenty seconds.

Marina, why have you teased us with perfection like this? In what world is it acceptable to wait nearly ninety seconds for the fucking chorus (And what a chorus.) in a pop song? Girl. At least you sound better than ever. Give me more songs like this, only make them about four minutes long please. THANKS.

Posted on 13, October 2014 October 13 2014 2014年10月13日 by headphoneicon

Cheryl - Only Human

I’ve given Cheryl a very hard time in the past for her questionable (UNDERSTATEMENT.) material as a solo artist, but this is the first time that one of her songs has properly arrested me on first listen. It caters to her strengths as a vocalist (EXAGGERATION.) while masking her limits. It’s suitably moody and grand without being too cloying or insincere, and Cheryl’s tone gives the verses a softness that they benefit from.

Chorus is a total wind-machine-on-X-Factor moment, which I assume she’ll utilise around the time of the final. But yes, a solid 8/10 from Mrs. Fernandez-Versini. Hallelujah.

Posted on 06, October 2014 October 06 2014 2014年10月6日 by headphoneicon

Zara Larsson - Rooftop

If there’s such a thing as being too good at pop, Scandinavia is exactly that. Scandipop is like crack to pop fans; impeccably produced with electronic influences, dripping with melody and usually flawlessly performed by some obscenely gorgeous person (Man or woman, it doesn’t fucking matter. There’s no such thing as an ugly Swede and if there is, they’re kept underground.). However, I can’t help but feel that shifting trends have taken the sheen off this pop sub-genre somewhat. I mean, all the above is still undeniable, but there’s so much of it that its effect isn’t what it used to be. Take this year’s Queen Of The Clouds by Tove Lo. It leaves me with nothing I can’t get from Robyn four years ago.

That said, this still does the business. God help us if a song about a rooftop party had landed in the hands of someone from America or the UK. It wouldn’t have turned out nearly as lovely as this. The fact that Zara is only a teenager comes as a surprise too; she handles herself with a self-confidence not found in the ever-insecure hell that is being a sixteen year old. It’s really quite impressive.

Posted on 01, October 2014 October 01 2014 2014年10月1日 by headphoneicon

Nick J”ø”nas - Jealous

Does the graphic designer responsible for this cover know that the ø is a legitimate character that can potentially change the pronunciation of Nick’s name or are they intentionally courting that Norwegian smash? Get it, I guess.

This track is basically a rip-off of Miguel’s incredible “Adorn”, but I do feel like writing it off as such does it a bit of a disservice. I mean, it could easily be such a disastrous fit given that this is a Jonas brother we’re dealing with, but Nick seems to have found enough sensuality to carry it without sounding absurd but not to the point where a little creepy. It’s a careful balance to strike. It seems poised to do very, very well too.

Poor Joe, though.

Posted on 01, October 2014 October 01 2014 2014年10月1日 by headphoneicon

Cheryl [This Week’s Surname] - I Don’t Care

Cheryl doesn’t care, which is hardly news to anyone who has heard her albums.

Cheap shot aside, this is okay. The production doesn’t sound like the scraping of the bottom of the bargain bin for a change, but the lyrics get pretty repetitive by the second verse, and she sounds like death and destruction on the chorus. Like, is that noise supposed to represent her carefree spirit? Because if so, bravo for being that carefree, Cheryl. Good vocal takes be damned, I say! Let’s let Cheryl be great.

Posted on 01, October 2014 October 01 2014 2014年10月1日 by headphoneicon

Lady Gaga - Bang Bang

Look, guys. This whole jazz thing isn’t entirely bad when we get stuff like this. It is remarkably easy to forget how amazing a singer Gaga is when so much more goes into her than just the voice. Admittedly, when she’s constricted by an outfit or trying to nail a dance move, it doesn’t always sound as good, but the point still stands.

Basically, let’s take the vocals and the looks and run far, far away. Although part of me wouldn’t mind her throwing out a little collection of jazz re-imaginings of her hits. Some of them would probably lend themselves to it.

Posted on 30, September 2014 September 30 2014 2014年9月30日 by headphoneicon

Clean Bandit & Jess Glyne - Real Love

Okay, so it’s a little bit of a retread of what is sure to be one of the year’s best selling singles and possibly one of the best selling singles ever in the UK, but who can blame them when the outcome to this is so pleasant? Jess has never sounded better, and the production is better than anything on Clean Bandit’s 8-bit nightmare of an album.

MORE LIKE THIS FROM BOTH OF YOU PLEASE.

Posted on 18, August 2014 August 18 2014 2014年8月18日 by headphoneicon

Ben Howard - I Forget Where We Were

Here is the first official single from Ben Howard’s new album that shares its name with said single.

Good thing I love it, because you know Radio 1 are going to be hammering it for the next two months. Love the slightly higher tones to his voice in this; they give it an oddly uplifting tone. There’s a lot more contentment in this than there was in any of Every Kingdom, which was so fraught with restlessness. But yes, bring it on.

Posted on 18, August 2014 August 18 2014 2014年8月18日 by headphoneicon

Charli XCX - Break The Rules

This track almost feels like satire that Charli has put out as some kind of social experiment to see just how much the brainless masses gobble it up. The bridge is a whole load of fun, but Charli could have written this in her sleep. Even “Boom Clap”, which was similarly twee, came across as more genuine and overall stronger.

And of course you don’t want to go school, Charli. You’re twenty-fucking-two.

Still, the album is out in two months, which is refreshingly soon in an age where most artists piss away hype and the opportunities that come with surprise success. Hope it’s of a higher standard than this though.

Posted on 15, August 2014 August 15 2014 2014年8月15日 by headphoneicon

Ella Henderson - Glow

Is it already time to start cranking out the Autumn second single torch ballads made for X Factor performances? I’ll admit that I actually loved this when I heard it a couple of days ago, only for “Ghost” to overtake it in those stakes.

It has that irritating thing where the second verse is shorter than the first. Arg.

Posted on 15, August 2014 August 15 2014 2014年8月15日 by headphoneicon

Ariana Grande - Best Mistake (Feat. Big Sean)

As a predominantly pop blog, I feel rather obligated to cover Ariana Grande despite her not really doing anything for me (The howling void of charisma she is in the “Break Free” just beggars belief.) outside of her songs making my head vaguely nod for about two minutes.

However, this latest cut from My Everything is brilliant. There’s a proper atmosphere to it that, for once, is entirely down to Ariana’s rather low-key vocal delivery. Whereas “Problem” and “Break Free” clobber the listener with their overall scale and noise, this trades on proper heat and intensity. A big fan of Big Sean’s more laidback verse too; it gives the song a call-and-response feel as if it’s a dialogue between two people, and expands it even further. More of this, please.