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In Case You Haven't Heard Part II

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

In Case You Haven't Heard Part II

Promises promises. I know I promised a more POP-focused post following my rock-themed update back on September 9th, but life happened. Apologies.  Now the tunes I wanted to mention here are even more outdated but that's OK.  There are still some quality tunes here worth talkin' about. In this post we cover new stuff from X-Factor winners, Little Mix, UK dreamboat Ben Montague, pop cutie-patootie MIKA, Canadian popstar Esthero, plus a couple more. Enjoy!

Little Mix Wings

How this little JAM slipped by me I'll never understand, especially considering how invested I was in season 8 of the ORIGINAL X-Factor.  Little Mix (formerly known as Rhythmix) are a four-piece girl group comprising members Perrie Edwards, Jesy Nelson, Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Jade Thirwall and have the distinction of being the FIRST group to ever win it all on The X-Factor.  While they took their sweet-ass time to release any new tunes, first single "Wings" proves that these girls are well worth the wait.

Following the release of the girls' first #1 single, a decent enough POP cover of Damien Rice's tear jerker of a singer/songwriter ballad "Cannonball," they unleashed a proper up-tempo dance/pop tune on Great Britain in the form, of the TMS-produced hit "Wings," which went on to become the girls' second consecutive #1 hit single. You go girls!  The single was released on August 26th, backed by a tight remix package, featuring dance floor makeovers by The Alias and Sunship.  As nice as the remixes were, the song really shines brightest in it's original form.  It's a forceful little stomper of a pop tune, chock-full of plenty of soul and punchy attitude.  

Upon first listen, you could swear Little Mix has been singing together for years, rather than being the prime example of "manufactured" pop, a group made up of four solo singers plucked from the X-Factor reject pile by mentor/judge Tulisa Contostavlos.  The girls prove themselves and THEN some in their first official single, taken from their forthcoming debut album, DNA, which is scheduled to drop November 19th via Syco/   Here's hoping they do well enough in their native land to warrant a trip over here to the States.  If Cher Lloyd could do it successfully, I see no reason why these girls can't!

Download "Wings" on UK iTunes and check out the colorful and fun video ABOVE.

Ben Montague Another Hard Fall

If you'll recall, mega-hot UK singer/songwriter Ben Montague was one of Music Is My King Size Bed's 'Ones to Watch' back in the Spring, and for good reason! Not only is he drop dead gorgeous, but he sings heartfelt, soulful pop/rock songs and plays the guitar.  Win win!  New single, "Another Hard Fall" follows Montague's debut single, "Love Like Stars" and continues on in the same pop/rock tradition as it's emotion-riddled predecessor, albeit a bit more John Mayer-like in that rock vein.  "Another Hard Fall" dropped back on August 26th (via Nusic Sounds/EMI) and was written by Montague alongside Jim Duguid (Alex Clare, Paolo Nutini). Solid stuff.

According to Ben, "This song has to be one of my favourites on the album and the one that's most significant to me. It was the first song I wrote and the one that shaped the sound of the rest of the album."  Well, I have to say if this is what we can expect from Montague's debut album, Tales of Flying and Falling (due later this year) then I think we've got something here.  Ben spent the better part of the last two years writing and recording Tales at Rockfield, alongside producer Dave Eringa (Manic Street Preachers, Idlewild).  According the press release, the album "has a very pop rock influence but also has quite an acoustic singer/songwriter sound."  According to Ben, "[Dave Eringa] is a rock guy and I write pop songs, we met in the middle."  

Catch Ben on the last date of his September tour when he plays at The Louisina in Bristol.  Download "Another Hard Fall" on UK iTunes and check out the beautiful video ABOVE.

MIKA Celebrate

MIKA MIKA MIKA. I've been crushing on you hardcore ever since you sang about Grace Kelly back in 2006-2007.  While you certainly have dazzled us with quite a few quality pop songs in the years since then (i.e. - "Love Today," "Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)," "We Are Golden," "Rain," "Kick Ass (We Are Young)," and "Elle me Dit" to name just a few) "Celebrate" might very well be one of my favorites.  The song was released June 15th via Barclay/Casablanca Records and features co-writer Pharrell Williams of Neptunes fame in a guest vocal spot (but not in the video unfortunately).  Produced by Peter Hayes and Nick Littlemore (Pnau, Empire of the Sun), "Celebrate" is absolutely cause for celebration! It's joyous, oh-so-infectious pop beats encourage listeners to dance their little MIKA-loving tushies off and dance they certainly will.

"Celebrate" serves as the OFFICIAL lead single off MIKA's forthcoming new album, The Origin of Love, due out October 8th (iTunes UK) and October 16th in the States (US iTunes).  While "Celebrate" is the first international single, a lovely little ditty called "Elle Me Dit" was released as the album's first single in France back in June, followed by the release of an equally charming buzz track, "Make You Happy."  Next up for MIKA, the release of his third French single, "Underwater," due November 11th and "Lola," his second European single which is due out November 19th.  The Origin of Love features production and songwriting assistance from the likes of Greg Wells (P!nk, Katy Perry), Benny Benassi, Ben Garrett, Wayne Hector (Cheryl Cole, The Wanted), Klas Åhlund (Robyn, Britney Spears), Broadway lyricist and composer Stephen Schwartz (Godspell, Pippin, Wicked) and a guest appearance by singer/songwriter Prisceilla Renea.  AMAZING. One of the most anticipated albums of the year for sure!

Download "Celebrate" (iTunes US/iTunes UK) and check out remixes by Peter Rauhofer and Robbie Rivera while you're at it.

Esthero Never Gonna Let You Go

My girl Esthero dropped a pretty sweet new video for her brand new single, "Never Gonna Let You Go."  The single itself came out back in June but the video came out only last month.  Shot in black in white, this innovative little black & white clip features Esthero as a drunk, down and out 1950's mother-type who's adorable, albeit-neglected little girl starts acting out in a desperate bid for her mother's attention.  At first glance, the video appears to be an unlikely bedfellow for the punchy, up-tempo song but if you really listen to the lyrics, it works.  

"Never Gonna Let You Go" is the first single taken from Esthero's forthcoming third album, Everything Is Expensive, due October 30th.  While Esthero has a major label record deal in her native Canada (signing with Universal Music Canada), she's indie pretty much everywhere else in the world.  To combat the high cost of album promotion, the resourceful Canadian chanteuse set up a PledgeMusic account to help offset some of this cost.  According to Esthero on her PledgeMusic page,
"While the recording of the album is complete, I've still got tons of work to do. Now that I'm independent for most of the world, it's great to be the HBIC - but I've gotta find ways to promote this thing and get it to the people and my favourite part - getting the band together and rehearsing so we're able to give you a show that'll blow yer hair back! I can't do this without you."
While most of the money pledged by fans will cover promotion costs, a portion will be donated to The Van Ness Recovery House.  Among some of the exclusive offerings listed on her page, we have signed CDs, an outfit assessment via Skype, a finger-painting by Esthero, UNO games at an LA coffee shop and a promise to get YOUR initials tattooed on her beautiful Canadian long as you can cough up $150,000. Hey, you can't really put a price on new music from Esthero, right?

Check out the "Never Gonna Let You Go" video ABOVE and download the single on iTunes (iTunes US/iTunes UK) and make sure you grab the remix EP featuring dance mixes from Cajjmere Wray, Russell "Chuck" Morgan, Studio Matt and Awesome vs. Procon.  Also worth a listen? This little album teaser from Universal Music Canada's Vimeo page, featuring short clips a few new Esthero jams. So excited for this album!

Agnes All I Want Is You

So...Swedish dance diva and "Release Me" hitmaker Agnes released a new dance-tinged pop single towards the end of last month called "All I Want Is You."  While nothing groundbreaking on the Swedish pop spectrum, it's a solid effort from Ms. Carlsson, the winner of the second season of Swedish Idol back in 2005.  Sonically reminiscent of some of her more popular dance-pop SMASHES, "All I Want Is You" was co-written by Agnes alongside Ana Diaz and Jonas Quant (Hurts), the latter whom also serves as the track's producer.  The song's mesmerizing string-laden melody is complemented nicely by the aggressively housey dance beats, pushing the lovely 24-year old Swedish chanteuse one step closer to becoming a full fledged dance diva.

"All I Want Is You" is the second single released off of Agnes' fourth studio album, Veritas, which dropped September 5th in Sweden via Roxy/Universal Music.  It's predecessor, a beautiful electro-pop ballad called "One Last Time" dropped on May 28th, backed by remixes from Orion and John Dahlbäck, which peaked on the Swedish download chart at #1 and on the official chart at #33 eventually going gold.  While follow up single "All I Want Is You" failed to chart on the official Swedish Singles chart, it did manage to crack the top 10 on the download chart.

Veritas, which peaked at #3 on the Swedish Album chart following it's release, is available now in Sweden (SE iTunes) and should be out later this year in the rest of the world, so stay tuned! Check out the lyric video for "All I Want Is You" ABOVE.

The Veronicas Lolita

Towards the end of last month, everybody's favorite Aussie twin pop outfit The Veronicas released a companion music video for their not-surprisingly BRILLIANT comeback single, "Lolita."  I won't delve TOO deeply into the song, considering I already wrote a fairly comprehensive review back in August, but I will say that the song remains pretty much FLAWLESS, despite the obvious Ellie Goulding "Lights" homage that serves as the song's intro.  Written by The Veronicas (Lisa & Jessica Origilasso), Toby Gad and Laura Pergolizzi, "Lolita" is the first single to be lifted off the girls' upcoming third studio album, Life On Mars, due early next year via Sire Records.

In the STUNNING Spencer Susser-directed clip, The Veronicas play bad ass chicks with guns, fighting the good fight against the alien menace.  The video takes on a very cinematic feel, especially during the EPIC gun battle against the aliens.  Scenes of the gun-toting sisters marching around darkened streets and alleyways of some un-named town are interspersed with clips of the girls dancing and gyrating in front of a number of effects-laden backdrops, one with neon lights, one with shrapnel flying all about like an exploded disco ball.  There's also some interesting footage of one (or both?) of the Veronicas splashing around in some milky white substance.  Definitely a lot going on here, but in a good way! The theme of the video certainly correlates more with the album title, Life On Mars, rather than with the song lyrics but I'd rather see a video like this than a video mirroring the story of Lolita.  Yuck...

Download "Lolita" on iTunes now (iTunes US) and check out the video ABOVE.

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