Monthly Archives: March 2012

BREAKING & ENTERING

Keeping with the tradition of the last post, another British artist, Emeli Sandé, is set to make her American debut next month. “Next to Me” impacts April 17th, coming off the heels of its #2 peak in the U.K. Being a British, female recording artist will obviously garner comparisons to Adele, whether fair or unfair. With that said, I’m going to compare her to Adele. “Next to Me” is sonically reminiscent of “Rolling In the Deep.” It builds in a similar way and fuses elements of soul with modern pop. Thematically, however, it’s more similar to Joan Osborne’s 1994 hit, “One of Us.” Like the aforementioned singles, will Sandé get her breakout hit in the U.S. with this track? I’d say so. A year ago, I was unsure about Adele’s prospects for Top 40 radio success, but she’s undoubtedly opened the doors and changed radio’s climate over the past year. “Next to Me” sounds like it would fit perfectly among “We Are Young” and “Somebody That I Used to Know,” showing that we are truly in a new era of pop radio.

Two for the price of one today. European artists are really killing it lately, and this track is no exception. There’s been buzz building around Marina and the Diamonds for the past couple of years, but she still hasn’t scored a true breakout hit. “Primadonna” could change that. Having been produced by Dr. Luke, it obviously sounds like another Dr. Luke production. This time, it borrows from “Hold It Against Me,” with hard hitting, electropop verses accompanied by a melodic, glistening chorus (check out that acoustic guitar). The lyrics, however, are a step up from “Hold It Against Me,” and actually would have been fitting for Britney. Alas, it’s a Marina track and she delivers it perfectly, complete with throaty Katy Perry-esque vocals. All in all, it’s a perfectly crafted pop song and I would expect nothing less from this pairing. However, I’m not so sure of its hit potential. It reminds me of Sky Ferreira’s ill-fated, Ryan Tedder-produced “Obsession.” Hopefully radio’s more receptive to this one.

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Filed under Europop, Future, New Music

COWELL CONTINUES THE CROSSOVER

Like One Direction, Olly Murrs got his start on The X Factor in the U.K. and was subsequently signed to Simon Cowell’s label. This summer, he will be opening for One Direction on their American tour, and attempting to crossover with his own #1 U.K. hit, “Heart Skips a Beat.” One Direction’s success proves that Cowell has a knack for recognizing what’s missing in the American music market, and like the boyband, male popstars are few and far between. Sans Justin Bieber (and since the other Justin decided to be an actor), it’s been awhile since we’ve had a proper male popstar in the United States. “Heart Skips a Beat” is a current, catchy track for summer, and if Columbia pulls out all the stops with Murrs like they did for One Direction, I expect there to be a few more similarities between them. I wouldn’t be surprised if they decide to trade out British hip hop duo Rizzle Kicks for a more well-known American rent-a-rapper (see: “Break Your Heart” Taio Cruz featuring Ludacris). Regardless, the song’s a hit. It looks we’ll be hearing more form another British import soon.

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Filed under Europop, New Music

THE NEW MUSIC TELEVISION

Before banking on newlywed pop stars, drunken guidos and pregnant teens, MTV actually lived up to its name and offered music programming. I grew up during the TRL era, where I could count on coming home from school and being exposed to new artists and music on a daily basis. Without TRL, we may not be still enjoying artists like Britney Spears, Eminem, Justin Timberlake, and Beyoncé. But, with the rise of streaming video sites and interactive social media platforms, TRL’s novelty wore off.

Since the rise of the internet, MTV has all but abandoned music programming. I get it. People can go on YouTube and watch whatever they want, whenever they want. While I don’t necessarily miss the abbreviated music video clips played on TRL, I do miss MTV as a tastemaker. I miss Carson Daly and the VJs who facilitated discussion about music and allowed viewers to call in and send messages. The scrolling comments at the bottom of the screen acted as Twitter before Twitter. Yes, while the majority of them may have been, “I love Backstreet Boys!! *NSYNC sux!,” it was nice to see people interacting and talking about music. But, who’s to say a similar platform can’t exist online? While the internet may have killed traditional music television, it’s the perfect place to usher in a new wave of music programming.

MTV could have easily moved some of its music programming online. Shows like TRL, or even Say What? Karaoke, would have thrived as steaming, interactive online programs that integrated social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. But, when it comes to music, MTV’s the old model–stuck in the past. They’ve certainly adapted to make money, with successful reality shows like The Hills and Jersey Shore, but have undoubtedly lost sight of the music in music television. That’s where YouTube comes in. Much like MTV in its prime, YouTube is the place where people go to watch music videos and discover new artists (Justin Bieber, anyone?). It only makes sense that with YouTube launching 100 new digital channels this year, one of the first would be dedicated to discovering what’s next in music: myISH.

The recently launched myISH YouTube channel already has lots of promising content. Their hosts, or VJs (maybe we should call them YJs, YouTube jockeys?), post daily ISHpicks, featuring both established and undiscovered talent, ranging from Madonna and Nicki Minaj to Chairlift and John West. While the hosts, Elliott Aronow, Anthony Hull, and Hesta Prynn shine individually, it’s even more fun when they’re together. On the first installment of Open Mic, they shoot the shit about J.Lo’s “supposed” nip slip at the Oscars. Beyond discussing famous areola, these guys really know their music and make a great team. They’re likable, witty, and have good taste. It’s nice to see people actually discussing music and serving as tastemakers again. Sure, you can read blogs (much like this one) to discover new artists. But, seeing the videos and getting to know the hosts, adds another dimension of personality and entertainment to the mix. For some comedic relief, YouTube sensation Michael Buckley countdowns the top 7 “I am beautiful no matter what they say” songs on the first ISHlist. Considering we’ve been inundated with with these songs over the past year or so, it’s a timely feature that’s a great pick-me-up when you’re feeling like a plastic bag.

myISH also has active Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Tumblr pages, adding even more interactivity beyond YouTube’s platform. The hosts encourage comments and actually engage in discussion beyond the videos. Essentially, myISH takes what killed music television and uses it to its advantage. People are still interested in music-related content. However, where and how they get it has changed. myISH capitalizes on that, combining the best of music programming, with the interactivity of the internet.

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Filed under Future, Music on TV, New Music, Successes

BREAKING & ENTERING

Now that Rihanna’s flown a bit off the hinges, Jay-Z has a new pet project at Roc Nation: Rita Ora. Her debut U.S. single “How We Do (Party)” is a perfect summer jam and has the same 80s throwback, shaky-groovy sound as Jessie J’s “Domino.” The song samples The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Party and Bullshit” and even borrows the “put your arms around me baby” hook from Sugar Ray’s “Fly.” It’s instant, catchy and she has Hov in her corner. Although he’s had some misfires (anyone remember Teairra Marí? No?), Rita’s working with proven hit makers like Stargate, The-Dream, Chase & Status, and The Runners on her new album. If that list sounds a little familiar, it’s because they’ve all collaborated with Rihanna… Coincidence? I don’t think so. (Also, check out her debut UK single, “R.I.P.” featuring Tinie Tempah, which sounds like it could have fit comfortably on “Rated R.”)

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Filed under New Music