“Music makes me feel good, this does something short of the opposite”: New music roundtable reviewed.
“Music makes me feel good, this does something short of the opposite”: New music roundtable reviewed.
Surprise, this week’s not entirely about Splendour In The Grass…
When Miley Cyrus attempted to break from the Disney mould in 2010 with Can’t Be Tamed nobody could’ve anticipated just how far she’d go. Since then she’s gyrated Robin Thicke and her vagina with a giant styrofoam hand live on stage, stripped off for most magazines and even rapped on a Mike Will Made It track, however, this latest one seems to be the most surprising. Back then it would’ve almost been impossible to anticipate a drug-influenced Miley Cyrus collaboration with The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne packaged as a 23 track free album. Actually, two weeks ago it would’ve been impossible to anticipate that but it’s happened and well, it’s not all bad.
The fact is Cyrus broke away from the Disney mould a long time ago. Nowadays, nobody expects her to be Hannah Montana on stage nor on record and we’re somewhat not shocked by her nudity and drug-use now. She’s at the point at her career where she’s an actual grown-up evolving sonically just like Madonna did and even Beyonce to a certain extent if you look at Dangerously In Love as compared to her surprise album. Miley Cyrus And Her Dead Petz though goes from one extreme to the other in a heartbeat. She’s gone from rebellious pop princess to drugged-up alternative singer in a matter of months and the issue is her fans may not be heading down the same path quite as fast, if at all.
First the bad. The 23 track collection just drags on far too long. Cyrus seems to have been influenced by Coyne’s inability to self-edit and instead of cutting the dead-weight and delivering a knockout, she’s let down the golden moments by a few real shockers. Opener Dooo It! is obnoxious and painfully literal almost acting as a foreword to the album that says “I take drugs, I’m grown and if you think I’m going to stick to the same sound you can fuck off.” Thankfully this one is a stylistic outcast on what is mostly a heartfelt record but her desire to ostracise the old-Miley listener continues on Milky Milky Milk and BB Talk, although the latter is one of the more entertaining moments on the album. She also ruins 1 Sun’s ‘80s-inspired energy with a preachy, ill-informed save the earth lecture.
If you pulled out a chisel and chipped away at this record, you’d uncover a gem. Unbelievably, the good actually outweighs the bad and for all its weaknesses, this is actually some of Cyrus’ best work. Her voice is in its best habitat here and the roughness of the production throughout houses her better than some of the crisp, manicured work on Bangerz.
Coyne’s involvement is the weak link for most of it but he does help out on a few moment of brilliance. Karen Don’t Be Sad is beautifully sparse and benefits from Coyne’s comfortability in imperfection while Tangerine is a woozy daydream weighted by Big Sean’s impressive verse. It seems the pair work when they’re mixing said with elated euphoria and avoiding hallucinations that are really hard to connect with. On Evil With A Shadow, the pair take a trip down a rabbit hole that seemingly just keeps going and going with no resolve. It’s clear both of them suffer from getting carried away and it just happens on so many occasions.
Thankfully Coyne isn’t the only collaborator. Bangerz champion Mike Will Made It is back and unsurprisingly contributes most of the best moments of the LP. Most of his inclusions are on tracks about relationships rather than trips or dead pets and it’s really refreshing. Fweaky is the album’s first really intimate, slow-burning number and acts as a companion to a career highlight for Cyrus. Both of them use notions of drug use but compare them to that feeling of euphoria in a relationship. “When I need the fire, you’re always my lighter,” she sings on Lighter grabbing at the heartstrings ‘80s-tinged thundering percussion. Mike Will even manages to tap in on some of the weirder tracks like I Forgive Yiew which feels like 4×4 replaced country with psychedelia.
Oren Yoel who worked on Adore with Cyrus, returns here for a number of great tracks. Like Lighter and Fweaky, his tracks feel as if they’re channeling the comedown when real life realisations rear their ugly head. I Get So Scared is beautifully tender and forthright with Cyrus singing, “I get so scared thinking I’ll never get over you.” It’s a reminder that while she’s great at being weird and OTT, she’s actually a really honest songwriter with a voice that cuts through emotionally. “I get so high because you’re not here smoking my weed,” she sings on Space Boots, once again combining drugs and relationships for a lonely but poignant image.
As for her dead pets – the dog and the blowfish – they both get a song. The Floyd Song (Sunrise), about her dog that died a few days before her tour feels like another Coyne/Cyrus tangent which is let down by its lo-fi production while Pablow The Blowfish’s melody is touching but its lyrics are hard to swallow, particularly when she breaks down towards the end.
In many ways Miley Cyrus And Her Dead Petz is exciting. It’s exciting that an artist of her age is willing to take changes and give us something completely off the beaten track, particularly when she is a pop icon. It’s hard to imagine any pop star taking on a song like BB Talk and go on a fuck-filled tangent about cutesy shit and actually pull it off. There’s so much to enjoy here but that’s only if you can stomach it long enough.
Here’s some advice – listen through once, cherry-pick 12 to 14 tracks and make your own Miley Cyrus album. Then you’ll fully be able to sit with the songs and realise that at its core, this album has a really tender heart, beautiful melodies and a voice behind it that’s actually captivating, if not at times infuriating.
First Impressions is an interns roundtable review of songs on their first (or second) listen. Each week we review six new songs from the past week, each giving them a score out of five and awarding our pick of the week. This week we pick apart tracks by Kelela, Miley Cyrus, Basenji, Tory Lanez, Club Cheval and Her.
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/kelelam/rewind[/soundcloud]
Michelle: What’s with the high-pitched range? Despite Kelela’s soulful vocals, the high pitch of this song has the unfortunate side effect of transforming an otherwise soulful song into something strangely saccharine. The ebbs and flow in tempo keeps the tune interesting and while the bridge stuns, the echoes are somewhat (entirely) excessive. 2
Annie: Kelela has been showing up everywhere lately, and this song is the perfect example of why I don’t mind. Her vocals remind me of a young Janet Jackson, but rather than overpowering, they work with the beats behind them to create the ideal modern R&B track. 3
Sam: Wow, what a production team on this one – Nugget, Kingdom and then bits by Obey City and Girl Unit. Despite the massive team behind it though Kelela still manages to remain front and centre with her distinctive brand of future R&B translating immediately. I love how she’s gone for a bit of a banger with this one, rather than serving out another slow-burner. In some ways it reminds me of like a pared-back I Wanna Dance With Somebody, probably due to the ‘80s-tinged beat and full-bodied chorus. It feels sexy and joyous which is a rare combination for Kelela but it really works. She’s easily one of the best new artists, if not the best, out there right now and deserves every accolade she gets. 4.5
Michelle: Coyne, we know how much you love the fuzz pedal but Miley’s voice could have done with a lighter touch on the damn thing. The lead single on her experimental / dancing unicorn / psychadelia record comes from left field but still manages to pay homage to the dance-heavy hip hop vibe of Bangerz. However, this track is hardly representative of the rest of Dead Petz – it’s quite possibly the most energetic of the 23-track LP that’s all mild guitars and whimsical ballads. The lyrics, meanwhile, sound like she’s trying too hard to cement her position as the biggest happy hippie there ever was. 3.5
Annie: Anyone that knows me, knows how much I love Miley Cyrus. Even through the Robin Thicke debacle I defended her, ‘she’s just expressing herself!’ I said, ‘let her explore!’. But no, this is too far. I am so pissed off at this song and the album that came with it. Firstly, I knew that this musical ‘evolution’ was impending (anyone that follows Miley on instagram would), and yet that still doesn’t soften the blow of this god-awful piece of work. Secondly, it’s just shit. Like, really, really shit. The song itself is boring as fuck, and the lyrics are so embarrassing they bring literal tears to my eyes. Am I being too dramatic, too sensitive? Absolutely. But listen to the rest of My Dead Petz, and I assure you, you will come out of that 24 track monstrosity feeling the exact same way. 1.5
Sam: The Miley album surprisingly has some really beautiful moments – mostly the MikeWillMadeIt-produced tracks. Unfortunately Wayne Coyne really hasn’t done anything of value for a while now and he’s just shat all over this track, not that Miley delivers much either. It’s obnoxious, shouty and try-hard and barely delivers any melody. I understand that she wants to do something different and evolve but this was just a shocking end to the VMAs and a really alienating first single – if that’s what it is. Lighter or Fweaky would’ve been a much better introduction to the album and actually much more indicative of what the album is. This just sucks arse, really. 1
Can’t Get Enough
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/futureclassic/basenji-cant-get-enough-1[/soundcloud]
Michelle: The melody works but I don’t know what’s with the preschool vocals. It could have done without the prepubescent singing because the tune is quality on its own – that is, until the breathy, mismatched vocals come in. Luckily, the horns, backed with hints of jazz piano, save an otherwise average brass-influenced track. 2
Annie: I already liked Basenji on a ‘can listen to, but probably won’t download’ level, but this track may have just made a real fan out of me. The vocals add a certain cuteness to the track that makes it sweet enough, but when the horns start to play it brings it up to a whole new platform. I can’t get enough of this song. 4 Annie’s Pick
Sam: Basenji is just absolutely nailing it right now. He’s taken that cutesy, kawaii sound that has been doing the rounds on Soundcloud and really cleaned it up, adding pop sensibilities at the same time. Petals perfected that formula and this one goes even one better. It’s so euphoric and gives off so many warm and fuzzies while also hitting with a really killer brass-driven instrumental. Right now I think Basenji could be Australia’s answer to SOPHIE and could actually work with mainstream pop artists and give them something really interesting. People are going to have problems with this vocal but that’s a shock to no one, it’s meant to be divisive but if it’s your kind of thing it’s like a brilliant sugar-rush. 4
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/torylanez/initiation[/soundcloud]
Michelle: Above-average hip hop but Initiation isn’t striking. It’s delicate and well-constructed with cadenced melodies yet unlike Lanez’ past releases, it doesn’t have much built into the track. Slow-moving and unremarkable and, having heard his last few releases, I suspect Lanez can do better. 2
Annie: The introduction to Initation gave me high hopes, but they were quashed pretty quickly. It’s not altogether a bad song, it’s just really forgettable. With that said, I definitely don’t have the finest ear for hip-hop, so that may just be my lacking knowledge of the genre. 2.5
Sam: Tory Lanez is kind of like the new Jeremih. He’s good at the mainstream R&B stuff but he’s also been really open to working with different producers like BenZel (like on this one) and the WeDidIt crew. On Initiation, BenZel really build the production around his style coming into Lanez’s world rather than the other way around. I really like BenZel’s much softer approach to urban production and it means Lanez is left to bring a tougher edge with his voice. The hook really doesn’t grab me too much but it’s a cool song, I’m just not going crazy for it like I was with Say It. 3
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/clubcheval/discipline-original-mix[/soundcloud]
Michelle: While not terribly original, Discipline is another solid, heady club beat from the DJ supergroup. What it lacks in originality, however, it makes up for in melody, and despite its repetitive and unoriginal rhythm, it’ll still do brilliantly in most strobe-filled rooms. 1
Annie: To be honest, I’ve never listened to Club Cheval before this, but knowing that they’ve mixed with the likes of both Brodinski and Gesaffelstein, I had relatively high expectations. Discipline met none of them. It’s not a terrible song, if anything it’s standard EDM, but it doesn’t feel like a solid track. It just feels really lazy. I would hate to hear this in a club, but obviously there’s a huge market for tracks like this so undoubtedly it will be successful. 1.5
Sam: I love that DJ Dodger Stadium and Club Cheval are really championing that hard-hitting brand of nostalgic techno. While DJDS use repetition where Club Cheval have used a more conventional verse, there’s still that really thumping beat and alarm-like synth that really smacks hard on the dancefloor. It’s really cool to hear an R&B type verse amongst a track like this but it’s that synth-line in the chorus that is getting me really excited. It feels like so many styles have been combined here and it just works so well. There’s so much trendy electronica floating around at the moment but this feels detached to any kind of movement. I just bloody love this. 4.5
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/thebandher/five-minutes[/soundcloud]
Michelle: I love how stripped back Five Minutes is – it maintains a perfect balance between the lyrics and sparse instrumentals. This is the very definition of minimalism because there’s enough to fill the voids but remains empty enough for the listener to cleanly focus on the groove. Shame it doesn’t make it all the way to five minutes. 4 Michelle’s Pick
Annie: Such a good display of minimalism. Through stripping back this song it allows the listener to pay more attention to the beautiful lyrics that come with. The vocals too, are stellar. They’re so strong in a way that fits superbly with this song. 4
Sam: Her’s debut Quite Like made me take an invested interest in this band immediately with only one track to their name and in some ways that’s been justified after hearing song number two Five Minutes. This one’s a little less sexy and sounds more Jungle than alt-j but it’s another really smoothly-produced track that triple j listeners would just eat up if they added it to heavy rotation. I like it and I think it will probably grow on me even more but it doesn’t really blow me away completely – maybe it’s that the chorus doesn’t hit hard enough. It could’ve probably done with a bit of amping up for the final part – some more vocal layering. 3.5
Now time for your vote:
This week started off with a blast thanks to the MTV VMAs which seemingly featured more controversy than ever and left us with a new Tay Tay video, a new Bieber video and an entire Miley Cyrus album. With that in mind, we’d like to award every artist who released a track this week off the back of that a bravery award because it takes something really profound to outshine a shit storm like the VMAs. Luckily, there were plenty of tracks this week that did exactly that and to them we say well done and acknowledge them below with a short spiel of sorts.
Can’t Get Enough
Basenji is destroying it right now. His last single Petals picked up rotation on triple and is undoubtedly one of the strongest local tracks of the year, now he goes even one better on his new track Can’t Get Enough. It’s more of his cute poptronica hybrid driven by melodic, high-pitched vocals and a perky brass-line that are headed straight for the heavens. It’s taken from his Trackpad EP which will be sold as a USB that looks like an Evian water bottle which is just fantastic news for all involved.
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/futureclassic/basenji-cant-get-enough-1[/soundcloud]
Marc E. Bassy
That’s Love (Feat. Ty Dolla Sign)
LA singer Marc E. Bassy has enlisted a big name in Ty Dolla Sign for his latest single That’s Love. The track is a total throwback to smooth, mid-tempo R&B bangers with Dolla Sign killing it with a much gentler edge than we’re used to with him. There’s a bit of autotune at play here, but it really works within this aesthetic and somehow smacks you more in the heart than untampered vocals would’ve. These two are excellent duet partners to, we must say.
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/marc_e_bassy/thats-love-ft-ty-dolla-sign[/soundcloud]
Kelela‘s A Message was a stunning start to her 2015 and ever since we’ve waited for the EP is was supposedly off. Well no more supposedly because the EP is definitely coming on 9th October. It’s called Hallucinogen and it will feature the aforementioned as well as this new track Rewind. Rewind was produced by Kelela herself with help from Nugget and Kingdom – the latter had a big hand on her excellent mixtape Cut 4 Me. This one’s more upbeat than what we’re used to from her but she really delivers serving up silky vocals and crisp ’90s-tinged production.
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/kelelam/rewind[/soundcloud]
Miley‘s surprise album Miley Cyrus And Her Dead Petz is a real mixed bag. A REAL MIXED BAG. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t
some plenty of gold on there. In fact, Mike Will Made It, who had a big hand on Bangerz, delivers most of the good stuff on the LP including this one Lighter. Lighter is a beautiful, lingering ballad driven by big, punching drums and a raw vocal from Miley herself. It essentially uses smoking weed as a metaphor for someone always backing her (“when I need the fire, you’re always my lighter”) but it’s really not as dumb as it sounds.
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/mileycyrus/lighter[/soundcloud]
Ryan Hemsworth & Lucas
Last year Seattle producer Lucas dropped a ridiculously beautiful remix of Ryan Hemsworth‘s One For Me, then later Hemsworth dropped one of Lucas’ originals through his Secret Songs project. It makes total sense that the pair have now come together for a collaborative EP led by this track Angel. It’s one of the more emotional Hemsworth tunes we’ve heard with the chopped vocals really heading straight for the heartstrings. Goosebump-inducing is the general consensus on Soundcloud and we have to agree.
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/shhsecretsongs/angel[/soundcloud]
Empress Of‘s debut album Me is released next week and we’ve been given plenty of reason to get excited about it. First there was Water Water then there was Kitty Kat and this week we got How Do You Do It? and this one Standard. And it may just be the best one yet. Built upon industrial, post-pop production, Empress Of howls throughout really lengthening her notes and hitting giddy heights on many. Calling it now – Me will be one of the year’s best albums.
Pedal To The Medal
Nicholas Brown and Misha Grace are Melbourne duo Friendships who are making really tough, forceful electronic music that demands your attention on first listen. Pedal To The Medal is one half of their new double-sided single that also includes Ded Soun Konduktah and it’s a primal, tribal-inspired track with heavy-hitting bass and a grinding, repetitive vocal sample. It may sound like audible murder but it’s one hell of a thrilling listen – one that feels like your simultaneously listening to dancehall and heavy metal.
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/friendships/sets/p2m-dsk[/soundcloud]
Future Classic have become known for signing some of the finest electronic acts in the country but there’s something slightly different about Julian Sudek and Will Campion’s World Champion. Their debut track Avocado definitely has electronic stylings but it also has a dreamstate, indie-rock vibe – one that we haven’t heard any Future Classic artists dabble in until now. It feels sleek and sexy bound for intergalactic travel. If we had to make a comparison we’d say there a definite nods to Jagwar Ma (probably because it was co-produced by Jono Ma) but even then this feels more bare-boned.
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/futureclassic/world-champion-avocado-galaxy[/soundcloud]
Florence + The Machine
Queen Of Peace (Hot Chip Remix)
Florence + The Machine‘s Queen Of Peace centres around it’s massive chorus which on the original is elevated by huge stabs of brass. But in many ways it was crying out for a dance remix where the brass was replaced by climatic synths and that immense amount of energy was translated into euphoria. That’s exactly what Hot Chip have done, rebuilding the song on a minimal beat that just continues to build and build until we get that chorus blanketed by dense synths. It sounds just as triumphant as the original but in a completely different way.
Janet Jackson is well and truly back, gearing up for the release of her first album since 2008, Unbreakable. We’ve already heard the excellent first single No Sleeep and now we have the title track. It’s definitely not as modern and forward-thinking as its predecessor but there’s a certain charm to Janet singing about undying love over a vintage-sounding beat. The album is out 2nd October via her own label Rhythm Nation.
As was kind of expected Miley Cyrus closed the VMAs, performing a new song and has now followed it with an entire album that can be downloaded for free. It follows on from her 2012 effort Bangerz and if we could hear it we would tell you what it sounded like but alas the website crashed almost immediately. It would’ve been nice if it was Frank Ocean or Kanye instead but we can definitely handle a new Miley album. You can get it here when the website eventually sorts itself out. Be patient.
EDIT: Hear the whole thing here.
Here’s Wrecking Ball because it’s a certified banger.
Here at the interns we give our ears and proper workout so we thought we would give our eyes a chance to prove their worth. Trash or treasure gives us a chance to look over the week past’s most eyeball worthy looks and decide if we’re going to copy them or appreciate them from afar.
Beyoncé has bought out a line of temporary tattoos and has announced this with a smouldering black and white photo series featured in CR Fashion Book. Because if you want to make your product launch cool, who else to associate yourself with but Carine Roitfeld. The new festival accessory. Still… Chanel did it first.
You’re not my favourite person right now Frank. He was looking very unimpressed in New York last week, probably because he’s sick of being heckled. I get it, it’s annoying but god dammit Frank, hurry up, just HURRY UP! Ooo is that an Acne bag I see.
Well isn’t this a nice change from those Borat mankini things Miley frequently seems to wear. She should definitely channel this Edie/Twiggy look more often. Whilst the dress screams disco chic, her hair and make-up are the flawless feature of this cover. One of her best looks to date.
Vic Mensa & ASAP Rocky
Lollapalooza attendees were prettyyyyy excited to see these two together on stage. Chilling backstage at the festival posing with some major attitude, this duo has legit street cred in the fashion world (Vic Mensa has his own shoe deal with Puma and well A$AP is the number one pretty boy).
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Dear Lord. She looks like she could easily fit into the Capulet party scene in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet, which has pretty much been my costume goals ever since I saw that movie 17 years ago . So in my eyes, she’s winning. The native was attending the Barbados Crop Over Festival which held annually to celebrate the end of the sugarcane harvest. She wearing a custom made Kadooment Day ZuluIntl Mockingjay costume.
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“I like to wake up with none of my clothes or phones by me and just not know what happened and try to spend the next day figuring it out.” But by the look of his colour coordinated outfit, I still think he has his shit together.
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Music is a huge part of the brand Burberry. If you didn’t know this, just have a look at one of their advertisements and fashion shows frequently featuring new musicians. More so they have dedicated a component of their website to showcasing them. In 2010, Christopher Bailey (Creative Director) established Burberry Acoustic to use the brand as a platform to expose local music talent.
17 year old indie folk singer songwriter Rachel Clark from Cambridge, who plays the guitar, cello and piano was selected for the latest shoot. Judging by her online following she is still very unknown. For now.
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Stealth. The new face of Balenciaga has definitely upped his fashion game since he emerged onto the scene.
An icon photo series shot by icons themselves. Carine Roitfeld and Jean Paul Goude have collaborated for Septembers issue of Harpers Bazaar and Willow Smith was chosen to represent one of Carine’s favourite figures, Hindu goddess Kali of power/empowerment.
Woah… Drop it like it’s hot Lenny. The trending story last week: Lenny’s wardrobe malfunction. This guy really does stay true to his style, accessories are his thing…. His necklace. I was talking about his necklace.
Here at the interns we give our ears and proper workout so we thought we would give our eyes a chance to prove their worth. Here are the best threads worn (or not worn) this week by people in the music biz, from stunning fashion campaigns to some questionable birthday suits.
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While the brand may have been cooler in the ’90s, Katy’s a devoted fan and her fun and quirky style makes her a very fitting choice to be the new face of Moschino.
Lionel Richie + Tinie Tempah at The Ivy Club.
One of the best dressed men in music today standing alongside a veteran whose style expands way beyond his fashion choices; the hip hop artist and the soul singer both look incredibly stylish at Tommy Hilfiger’s dinner celebrating London Collection Men SS16.
Jennifer Lopez in Prince Royce’s and Pitbull’s Back it Up video
Still refusing to give up her ‘girl from the hood’ style in her forties, the ultimate diva’s sexiness is undeniable. Seen here in Mugler.
Lorde on Vogue’s July cover
Chosen to front the cover of Vogue’s July Music Issue, Edwina McCann (Editor in Chief of the magazine) said it perfectly: “She is fiercely intelligent, equally talented, and I am very proud of this, her first Vogue Australia cover.” Congratulations, Lorde!
Foxes in an upcoming H&M campaign
Are we not all sick of festival fashion yet? Although a step down from her usual looks, Grammy winner Foxes still looks beautiful as the new face of H&M.
Miley Cyrus on Paper magazine’s cover
Carolina Herrera can add another celebrity to her list. Commenting on dresses worn by Beyonce, Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez at the Met Gala this year, Herrera states “In life, there should be a little mystery. They’re supposed to be fashion icons and they’re not wearing anything.” Speaking as an animal right activist throughout the article though, I say Miley gets the benefit of the doubt.
Mark Ronson & Keyone Starr on the Alan Carr Finale
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Just like their performance, the duo’s look epitomises retro chic with that soulful vibe.
Every bit the gentlemen, Ronson yet again puts his own spin on tailoring and unknown musician Keyone Starr (who features on Ronson’s album, Uptown Special) is a like a modern Donna Summers.
Anthony Kiedis and his son for Marc Jacobs
Marc Jacobs is all about the musicians this season. In the evolving campaign Jacob explains that the ads “feature friends, each of whom evoke a sense of intrigue and inspiration and collectively provoke a true consideration for individuality”. So far each choice has reflected exactly that.
Justin Bieber at Calvin Klein Event in Hong Kong
Standing next to Kendall Jenner in Hong Kong promoting Calvin Klein, Justin Bieber looks every bit the model she does (shockingly). First it was the car ride with James Corden, now this. I have to say I kinda get what all the beliebers are going on about.
Mariah Carey – The Elusive Chanteuse
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Jean Paul Goude, Carine Roitfeld, Stephen Gan and….. Mariah Carey? And she had to wear pink to meet them, didn’t she…
The spookiest event on the social calendar has finally arrived and time is running out for you to find the perfect Halloween outfit. Instead of going down the regular sexy bunny or vampire route, why not be creative and emulate some of the most notable musicians of 2014? Allow our handy list to inspire and guide you, allowing you to truly stand out this October 31st.
Sia was one of the most talked-about pop producers this year with her anthemic Chandelier making waves on an international level, thus putting the Australian singer, and her trademark blonde bob, on the map. Immortalised by the likes of Lena Dunham, Hilary Duff and Maggie Ziegler of Dance Moms fame, it seemed as though everyone was keen to go platinum in honour of the influential songstress. Follow their lead and pop into your local wig shop to get the shortest, blondest, fringiest blonde bob on offer to wear this Halloween. If you really want to pull out all the stops for this costume, go the Ziegler/Dunham route of taking on the role of Sia by picking someone to party in your place so you can stay home to finish a bag of candy corn as they pretend to be you, pretending to be Sia. How meta is that?
Pro: Blondes have more fun.
Con: If you enlist someone to party in your place à la Lena Dunham, you won’t be partaking in any of the fun.
Miley Cyrus is always one to make it into the headlines but her glamorous ‘outfit’ that premiered at the Alexander Wang after party gave TMZ writers enough icy fodder for days. Show off your Joseph Pilates-sculpted body to the whole world, with a couple of nipple pasties for a touch of modesty, and stick some of your Mum’s vitamins onto cat’s eye glasses for good measure. Don’t use Inner Health Plus or anything like that, ‘cos that shit’s expensive. Enlist a party partner to pose as Miley’s most infamous muscle to make your costume that much more
Pro: What better time to brush up on your twerking skills?
Con: Weather in October can be fickle and those ice cream pasties won’t be providing you with too much warmth. This may illicit elicit two large scoops of fripples.
Recreate the second most famous picture in the world, succeeded only by the Mona Lisa itself, by enlisting the help of your partner and your favourite subtle smiling, third-wheelin’ friend. Word on the street is that Queen Bey got herself some Grimes-style bangs today so better get those scissors out while you’re at it.
Pro: You’ll be highly topical and will also get to be Queen Bey for a night.
Con: No one can truly pull off this look other than the Queen herself. But you can at least try your best.
If you’re up for a wild night come Halloween, why not replicate the stylings of party girls Elliphant and MØ from their One More music video? Do this by donning yourself, and your BFF, in head-to-toe Adidas, teaming funky slides with a pair of socks, slapping on some Geisha-style makeup and poking a pair of chopsticks in an oriental bun. Go that extra mile and attach LED light strips to your shoes for true dedication to the project.
Pro: Looking like badass, Scandinavian bitches.
Con: May induce drinking, vomiting, kissing, peeing in streets and other types of reckless behaviour (unless you consider this a ‘pro’).
There are Two Weeks to go until Halloween which means that time is running out for all the best costumes to be shipped from the US. Why not save the time, and the shipping costs, and emulate the captivating appearance and innovative stylings of London artist and producer, FKA Twigs instead? Simply head to your local chemist for a toothcomb and a jar of gel, smack on some maroon lipstick and pierce your nose septum for the full Twigs treatment. Completely nail the ‘baby hair’ style currently #trending amongst future RnB producers with the handy video tutorial below.
Pro: Save wearing your heart on your sleeve by wearing it on your forehead instead.
Con: Finding a Twilight treat like Twig’s current BF, Robert Pattinson, to accompany you for the night might be a bit tricky.
If you don’t know QT, it’s high time you familiarise yourself with her. Born from the collaborative project of enigmatic producers and PC Music-promoters, A.G. Cook and SOPHIE, this “sparkling future pop sensation” is a fake figurehead of sorts who perfectly blends the genres of K-Pop, electrotonica, chiptune and trance, all before rolling them into a pile of sugar and glitter. Cutesy and kitsch, she’s the perfect way to honour both past and future with her nods to both ’90s fashion and millennial ideologies.
Pro: Reliving your holographic-wearing days of the ’90s.
Con: You’ll be hard-pressed finding any drunkards traipsing around Oxford St who will actually understand your costume’s significance.
Halloween is all about mystery and disguise, so what better way to fulfil this than to replicate the likeness of the enigmatic producer, SBTRKT? Instead of carving a custom mask out of wood, unless you have time for that kinda thang, we’ve designed a replica for your convenience, to print out, tie elastic through and place onto that face of yours. Download here.
Pro: The mask will be your key to anonymity.
Con: Good luck trying to drink out of this thing.
London pop songstress, Lily Allen, graced our shores for this year’s Splendour in the Grass, and brought along with her a plethora of outfit inspirations. With pinky purple hair, a colourful neon top and bottom combo and a Unif blotter kimono, she was a display of all things tight and bright. Emulate her style with an oriental kimono, her very own line of fake London-inspired nails and a tube of hair dye of desired colour. Also honour Sheezus’s penchant for emojis with a pair of bikinis or any other suitable item of that ilk. Feel free to take cues from her SITG set design by dragging along a giant, blow-up baby’s bottle for the night.
Pro: You get to show off that really great London accent that you seem to pull off really well after having a few too many.
Con: Fake nails + giant, inflatable object = tears.
When Kanye West embarked on his Yeezus tour in Australia this past September, he amazed, inspired and enraged his fans, and the greater public, with his mesmerising performances and supplementary rants and on-stage antics. His shows consisted of minimal set design and props, with one of the most captivating sights being the slew of embellished masks that Yeezus adorned throughout. While these Maison Martin Margiela-branded, 2,400 crystal-embellished masks may be a little too Haute Couture for a raucous event like Halloween, you’re only a packet of Spotlight-sourced, plastic rhinestones, a glue gun and a balaclava away from emulating the Messiah himself.
Pro: Inflate your ego for the night and blame any infractions on Yeezus. However, just be sure not to offend any people with disabilities in the process.
Con: You may be mistaken for a menacing, albeit fabulous, robber.
Mirror the look of this fiesty feline pop star with a pair of cat ears and a giant, fake, clip-in ponytail to make up for what you lack in the height department.
Pro: You’ll fit in with all the other ‘sexy cat’ costumes on October 31.
Con: You must remain on your (more flattering) left side for the duration of the night.
Something’s been happening in the world of pop this year. Well, duh. Let me rephrase. A lot has been happening in the world of pop this year. From Beyonce’s sly-dog release of Beyonce, to the alarming growth that’s firmly attached itself to Nicki Minaj’s behind, to Tay Tay getting busy exacerbating racial stereotypes while she’s shaking it off to Lily Allen’s comeback tour, it’s been a busy year for pop and its chart toppers. Controversial MTV appearances and obligatory twitter beefs aside though, what’s really interesting is that, in its fatigued 2014 state, pop just isn’t pop anymore. Blame exhaustion or simply growing out of that awkward preteen stage, pop is increasingly becoming less and less like the pop of the the late ’90s and early 2000s.
Once guarded by boy bands in matching outfits and bad die jobs, pop was a pristine domain reserved for the Britney Spears’ and Christina’s -before she was X-tina – of the world. A clearly defined realm, with the occasional true diva slash pop princess flourishing amongst a sea of Mandy Moore’s and Jessica Simpson’s. This year however, those same pop princesses that, in say 1999 or even 2009, would’ve been left to their preordained place on So Fresh of Summer and Ryan Seacrest’s weekly Top 40, have become, for all intents and purposes, transcendent. Chameleon-like, female pop artists of 2014 are opting to work with some seriously unlikely producers, and no, we’re not just talking about the David Guetta’s and Calvin Harris’s of the world. Suddenly, Ariana Grande is bosom buddies with Cashmere Cat and Miley’s a female rebel with Alt-J. And, do you know what’s even more interesting? As pop fatigues of its own pop game, and grows out of its own pop boots, those same unlikely producers are choosing to work back and undeniably helping to carve a new path for the future of a now more mature, dynamic pop. Here we have a look at just 5 unlikely pop princess pairings released over the last year that are helping to push the boundaries of the genre ever onward.
Ariana Grande and Zedd: Break Free
When Break Free dropped earlier this year, Grande’s Zedd produced mega hit broke all the rules on its way to freedom. Music camps everywhere sat perplexed facing the same conundrum, to like or not to like. Here was a song with undeniable pop appeal. With vocals bellowing out from yet another sequin-clad Disney Channel escapee, and a house-anthem quality to its thumping bass and roller coaster rise and falls, this song was surely destined for Top 40 success, buoyed by the starry eyed 12 to 16 year old girl market, while simultaneously anticipating ridicule from more discerning music snobs. Remarkably, however, it wasn’t just the aspirational tweens that found themselves crooning along to Grande’s grammatically incorrect chorus. Zedd’s production gave not only the song a level of unexpected credibility, but Grande herself. Instead of lampooning the 21-year-old for, well, what else are Disney graduates for? Pitchfork evoked comparisons to “Swedish pop mastermind, Robyn,” while noting Grande’s “sky scraping voice” was in top form. And Slate called it a “soaring pop ballad… propelled by synth chords and a pounding bass beat.”
Ariana Grande and Cashmere Cat: Be My Baby
Grande’s debut album My Everything is riddled with collaborations from Nicki Minaj and Jessie J, to The Weeknd and Childish Gambino. It’s well and truly old news, but in case you’ve been living under a rock, everyone wants a piece of this intergalactic pop princess. Perhaps the album’s most unexpected cameo however is by Norwegian producer Cashmere Cat who, not only produced Be My Baby, but in more recent weeks has released an alternative version to the sanitised edit that made its way onto Grande’s album. Brimming with blippy synths, all out gun shots and punch-packing chorus breakdowns, Cashmere’s re-edit is effortlessly cool in a way that the original could never be. While superficially the two artists find fans in diametrically opposed walks of life, collectively the same-same-but-different tracks somewhat unashamedly demonstrate a rumbling conversation currently taking place between chart toppers and the underground. It seems intrigue and a genuine desire to bust genre wide open is a priority on all fronts at the moment: Alien-pashing pocket rocket or super-side fringed cat alike.
Miley Cyrus and Alt J: Hunger of the Pine
Of all the pop princess collabs on this list, Miley’s sample on Alt-J’s track Hunger of the Pine was critically the least well received. Lifted from 4×4, a non-single track on Cyrus’s Bangerz album, Sam called the sample “beyond clumsy,” while Bianca vilified Cyrus for bringing her “big wrecking ball” in and ruining the track’s chance of truly “happening.” Billboard simply lamented Alt-J’s oversight in not sampling Nelly’s verse from the same song. A non-appearance by Nelly on any track is already disappointing enough, let alone when it’s replaced by Miley. Hunger of the Pine remains however, a crystalline example of how reworks, samples and collaborations between unlikely bedfellows attribute a fresh sense of credibility artists and their music. Suddenly Miley was not just Miley of Robin Thicke infamy, but Miley, an artist in the eyes of incomparable (thank god) Alt-J.
Jessie Ware and Cyril Hahn: Tough Love
Labeled breakout producer of 2013, Cyril Hahn has steadily been making a name for himself remixing and sampling the lofty vocals of female artists at the top of their game. From Destiny’s Child, to baby sister Solange and Californian outfit HAIM to a truly x-rated, quivering pants-party rendition of Mariah’s Touch My Body, it’s not surprising that the Swiss R&B re-animator quickly turned his hand to Jessie Ware’s Tough Love. Described as “the missing link between SBTRKT and Sade,” Ware was praised for the release of her down-tempo R&B, synth-infused pop album (yes, there is such a thing), Devotion, earlier this year. While there ain’t nothing tough about the original Tough Love, when in Hahn’s hands, the breathy pop-ballad is easily transformed into a house beat that bubbles frenetically under a vocal tapestry rich in high highs and slow burn crescendos. A Hahn remix is quickly becoming the tell tale sign of a true pop princess. Watch out Ariana Grande, he’s coming for you.
Sia and Four Tet: Chandelier
Sia’s Chandelier caught attention for a myriad of reasons. Firstly it was her bold, unapologetic announcement of return after an extended hiatus between albums. Secondly, dat video clip, am I right? And thirdly, the incredibly powerful press and TV talk show performances that accompanied its debut, all seeming to herald the return of this unique artist, while firmly maintaining her shadowy space, just beyond the limelight’s desperately creeping finger tips. Read, Lena Dunham’s doppleganger act on Late Night with Seth Meyers and her back-to-the-camera recreation on Ellen. Pitchfork claimed Chandelier made “her previously released solo material seem impossibly minor by comparison,” while our own writer Sam noted a presences of guts in Chandelier absent in the work of contemporaries like Katy Perry. In the face of such pop stardom, producers and DJ reactionaries have two choices, run in the opposite direction, save daring to take on soon-to-be pop classic or conversely dive straight in, rework and take the track in a totally new direction. For his take on Sia’s Chandelier, British producer Four Tet chose the latter. Stripping out the instrumentals, Four Tet left Sia’s impossible audio intact, twanging over an fresh hip-hop inspired beat and softly sparkling keys. Like the Cashmere Cat re-release of Grande’s Be My Baby, Four Tet’s Chandelier is more than a remix or mere dialed up BPM. It reinforces pop’s sky rocketing power to transcend what has been a chaste genre and a willingness on the behalf of certifiably non-pop producers to encourage this fresh approach to limits and genre. As Sam says, the Four Tet interpretation just “adds extra edge as if to take it from the hands of Commercial Radio and plop it in Triple J’s lap.”