Friday, September 28, 2012

Marina and The Diamonds Unveils "How To Be A Heartbreaker" Video

This has been quite the banner year for Marina and the Diamonds with album number two, Electra Heart finding her critical and commerical success. It's a triumphant and intelligent pop album that does big choruses and big ideas with aplomb. There was little need to add a new song after it's release but How To Be A Heartbreaker (Added to the US releases of the album and a proposed reissue over here) is such a strong slice of contemporary pop that it's easy to make excuses.

The bubbly Dr. Luke/Benny Blanco/Cirkut cut (co-written with Marina of course) plays like the twin sister to Primadonna, a clever take on that polished American pop sound that will make a perfect radio hit while still allowing some personality to shine through.

After a delay over releasing the video because she looked "ugly" (According to her tweets anyway) the video is finally here and it's a slideshow of painfully hot male models in swimsuits and barely there outfits who look on as Marina flirts knowingly. It's a slick and engaging visual mashing up 50s/60s teen culture references with some late 90s bubblegum pop references too (there's also quite the feel of Bruce Weber and Herb Ritts to the way the models are photographed, that glossy fashion mag goes pop feel is laced throughout). Indulge in plenty of male flesh and nudge-nudge-wink-wink Marina moves below:

It's funny how this contrasts with Christina Aguilera's Your Body video which arrived today also. Both songs and videos paint the female popstar as in control and seducing men with their knowing feminine wiles. Marina, in contrast to the colorful splatter movie take of Xtina's effort, is a tad more subtle however neatly turning the notion of a female character left wanting by a no-good male of a million teen movies on it's head while appreciating male beauty and sending up the objectification of both male and female bodies in pop videos. Both videos are laced with a camp wit, although Marina also scores points on the "just look how many boys in speedos I have" front.

How To Be A Heartbreaker is available on the US edition of Electra Heart and will be released here in mid October.

Christina Aguilera Debuts Video for "Your Body": Twirls Hair, Offs Unsuspecting Males

There is a veritable glut of big pop singles, albums and videos flying our way at the moment all looking to grab a chunk of the 4th quarter pie as people buy more music than usual. We've had two new tunes from Ke$ha and Rihanna alone this week and now big-voiced pop icon turned TV judge Christina Aguilera unveils the next phase of her comeback with the video for her current single Your Body

Of all the new pop numbers I've heard in the last few months Your Body is my personal favourite. The Max Martin penned cut is the poppiest thing we've heard from Xtina in forever but it also has a bold, sexy feel that allows her to go to town with the vocal gymnastics while still serving up her most radio friendly hook in eons (looks like Moves Like Jagger rubbed off on her then).

Christina has been teasing clips from the Melina Matsoukas directed video all week (Melina famously worked with Beyonce, Gaga and Rihanna incl. many key Riri clips such as We Found Love) and just in the time for the weekend is Xtina's eye-popping new visual.

The plot (ahem) is basically: Christina lives in a trailer, consults an internet psychic, twirls her dip-dyed tresses alot (ALOT) and goes on a weird killing spree of random hot men who die in an explosion of pink, a splatter of blue paint and an explosion of pink glitter respectively.  Peep the video below:

The whole thing is as camp as 12 hour marathon of RuPaul's Drag Race and Christina herself is oozing plenty of drag-queen glamour, coming off like the love-child of RuPaul and Honey Boo Boo at times. It's all very knowing and over the top and in alot of ways is so bullish and brash that it feels very Christina Aguilera.

That tongue in cheek quality doesn't help mask the fact that it's a video about going around killing people as a form of empowerment, and if the genders reversed everybody would likely cry foul. Still, Xtina has always taken what she considered objectification and turned it on it's head as a form of expression. It's a mixed message and probably not a very clever one but again, feels in line with the view of female empowerment she's always had.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to dip-dye my tresses and twirl around a trailer park. It is the weekend after all.

Your Body is on iTunes now. Christina's new album Lotus is released on the 9th of November in Ireland, the 12th in the UK and on the 13th in the US.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Rihanna Shines on "Diamonds" Recalls her Own Chart Past

At this point it's not surprising to hear that come close to the end of the year Rihanna will release a new single and a new album. Of all the artists on the treadmill of big hit singles and even bigger tabloid headlines Rihanna is ruling the roost and maintaining an enviable chart run.

This time last year We Found Love matched Rihanna's already impressive run of hits (Especially with  less agressive feel of Loud allowing Riri to knock up some of her most successful tunes to date) with the pop-dance nous of Calvin Harris for that perfect storm of a pop single. It still sounds amazing despite constant radio play worldwide, one of those pop songs that crosses over to everybody.

Despite this the following album Talk That Talk didn't offer up a near-perfect run of singles like Loud, maybe because the songs just weren't strong enough and that other then the frantic Where Have You Been little else on that album really stood up to chart scrutiny (not that TTT didn't provide some interesting numbers, Cockiness is a fantastic slice of jerky R&B pop and the title track is an enjoyable mid-tempo cousin to What's My Name)

So it would be correct to expect Rihanna to unveil a new single with a similarly dance-tinged flavour yes? Wrong! Diamonds debuted earlier today and it heads into different territory. Produced by Benny Blanco and Stargate and written by Sia it's certainly not a piece of thundering rave-pop but a radio-ready ear-worm with plenty of charm.

To compare it other Rihanna songs, you can feel the sweep and mid-tempo gloom of Umbrella in it's DNA, the production with it's drum beat, glittering piano riffs and church organ vibes recalls her duet with Coldplay, Princess of China and the vocal delivery with it's inherent Sia-ness recalls the likes of Russian Roulette.

Diamonds is compelling, hooky pop that is a reminder of Rihanna's skill as a blank canvas for strong, boldly drawn pop music. Little is known about the album but hopefully it'll feel a little less rushed than previous efforts and serve up some more memorable moments.

Listen to Diamonds here, it's due to be released on iTunes worldwide later today.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ke$ha Komes Back, But Is Pop Stuck In A Rut?

Ke$ha's new tune Die Young appeared online late yesterday before a lyric video (and what I'm sure was in no way a label placed tweet from Britney) surfaced today as K$ rolls out the album campaign for second album Warrior (not counting the reissued mini album buzz of the Cannibal release). Die Young set Twitter alight when it leaked although reaction was mixed with plenty suggesting the track was a disappointment.

After repeat listens it's obvious that Die Young is no stinker but it just feels a little too similar to every second pop smash of the last 12 months to get really swept up in it. It's got snatches of Flo-Rida, Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry, fun. and One Direction in it's DNA yet never quite jumps to undeniable smash status.

The hook-y chorus with it's chanting feel is fun and the verses have plenty of the spoken-word charm of the best Ke$ha moments but it feels like this either needed to go into harder dance-pop territory (i.e. a bigger drop) or strip away the generic Dr. Luke vibes for something a bit quirkier.

It says alot about how pop music has been in such rude health that a song with as much as catchy appeal as this might seem a bit disappointing but perhaps we've reached a tipping point. It certainly feels like the Dr. Luke & co school of shimmer-y guitar driven synth pop has reached it's apex as much as the rave-pop stylings of Guetta and Calvin Harris. Here's to the full-length album allowing Ke$ha a little space to serve up something different (she's already been talking up something more experimental in various interviews) while we all try and get the chorus to this one out of our heads: