Charli XCX – “Break The Rules” (video) Jun16

Charli XCX – “Break The Rules” (video)...

Only because I am so infatuated by Charli, here’s a video I was supposed to post a while back. Now I’m just creating enough text to fill the preview. That should be enough. Enjoy the video by Charli XCX from her album, Sucker....

Jacob Whitesides – “You’re Perfect” Aug22

Jacob Whitesides – “You’re Perfect”...

I don’t know who this dude is, but Twitter told me today with this #perfectonyoutube hashtag. Social media POWER! Then I go down the rabbit hole and learn that he sings acoustic covers with his guitar. And he looks like a Southern-fried 2nd gen Bieber without the attitude. I can see the A&Rs salivating. When you click on his videos, naturally YouTube will offer more acoustic covers to watch and the occasional fan video. Whoa boy! I’m sure this is perfectly chaste, but I have never been a little girl. And my sister never look this sprung over anyone. Jacob Whitesides was already a star before he released a real single. I mean his fans are wild. But what’s the upside? It’s clear that this is the new pop music model of discovery, grooming, and release. Rather than going to open mic nights and passing out demo tapes, kids are sitting in their bedrooms covering songs while scouts comb through YouTube click-to-click. I mean, I’ve known this for a minute, but now it’s looking like the tried-and-true way to make it in the music biz. It helps that Whitesides lives close enough to move to Nashville, a legit home to grow musical talent of his ilk. I don’t how calculated this dude’s cover choices were. They look like safe-pop songs. Since he writes, my guess is he’ll toe the same line Taylor Swift created: singer-songwriter pop with slight country overtones. He admittedly can’t dance which should steer him away from anything rhythmic. BTW I’m not a fan of ascendant pop love songs. It’s cloying and does not grab me. I’m sure 8- to 18-year-old girls eat this shit up. This is middle school homecoming quality music, but I can’t deny his marketing muscle. In...

Ariana Grande feat. The Weeknd – “Love Me Harder” Aug20

Ariana Grande feat. The Weeknd – “Love Me Harder”...

The marketing push for Ariana Grande is ramping up as her A&Rs aggressively carve out space in the crowded pop world. At the same time Ariana has to fend off feud reports from her ex-co-star on “Sam & Cat” and endure criticism on her lack of dance talent. It all seems so ridiculous, so let’s get back to the music. The first track is a winning collaboration with The Weeknd. Even at a fraction of his powers, he is still a quality, impassioned vocalist who can elicit the best out of Ariana. The rest of the songs show her vocal range and talent. She is playing to her strength in this 4-song package. Good work, A&Rs! My Everything will be out on August 25th, but can be pre-ordered on iTunes now. (OnSmash) Get More: Ariana Grande, Ariana Grande...

Taylor Swift – “Shake It Off” Aug18

Taylor Swift – “Shake It Off”...

First things first, Taylor Swift‘s single, “Shake It Off,” is a hit. Can’t front. Moving on. Because I’m not a music theory guy or a real music critic, just some dude killing time to talk about music and looking for new angles. Here’s how I found out about this single. Country and Pop weren't enough for Taylor Swift. Now she has to invade Rap #ShakeItOff http://t.co/bzNgHWilwB pic.twitter.com/XIbC2dFBMm — OnSMASH (@OnSMASH) August 18, 2014 OnSmash is one of my primary rap resources which will extend out to pop culture topics. I will say this is not a shitty Manning brothers rap or Iggy Azalea retread. Then on the other side is the money quote from some country music blog Google found for me. “The song is an uptempo pop song that will do nothing to appease her country music fans.” I can’t speak for country fans, but this ain’t “going back to her country roots.” I made an analogous statement about Common’s new album, Nobody’s Listening, being a very Chicago “street” album. However, Common has never been a gritty rapper, just an honest one whose hometown is really going through terrible shit. Taylor Swift is 24-25 whatever years old. Her love life, the songs she writes about her love life, and unfathomable way she manages to maintain a wholesome All-American image are the tentpoles of the Taylor Swift machine. As I have learned from her dustup (ha!) with Kanye West, her fans are ravenous, so I will say it again: “Shake It Off” is a great pop record. It will dominate the autumn. But this is not an urbanized version of Taylor Swift nor a complete rejection of the country-pop genre she propped up. I see this single as an evolutionary step for a woman...

Charli XCX – “Break The Rules” Aug18

Charli XCX – “Break The Rules”...

Is Charli XCX’s “Break The Rules” the record that finally breaks through and properly introduces her as a major pop star? Doubtful. The track is too good. The hook is catchy. Charli’s voice is still youthful but powerful. But the production is not pop, it’s pink punk pop (I think that’s how Buzzfeed…yeah fucking Buzzfeed… described it). I don’t wanna go to school. I just wanna break the rules. Boys and girls across the world Putting on our dancing shoes, Going to the discotheque Getting high and getting wrecked. I don’t wanna go to school. I just wanna break the rules. Sure there are classic trap and drop elements in the song, but I feel like this song could’ve been a hit in the 90s and 00s. I want this song to succeed. I want Charli XCX to succeed; she has talent for days. But in the jaded world of 2014, Charli’s pink anarchy anthem will likely need a supplementary boost from a commercial outlet. Or maybe I’m just out of touch and that goofy cancer movie she wrote a song for will propel Charli XCX to pop stardom. That would be nice....

Ariana Grande feat. Zedd – “Break Free” Aug13

Ariana Grande feat. Zedd – “Break Free”...

First things first, this track is a very polished example of EDM pop capped with a more-than-capable vocalist. Ariana Grande can make a song like this every year and make a lot of money. I’m not saying it’s my favorite. I’m saying people will really like it, DJs will remix it, and the song can become ubiquitous all on the strength of her voice. But the video is a hot fucking mess of Nickelodeon-styled sets and acting. The set and artifacts are rife with fake Illuminati symbols that idiots like Mark Dice will actually spin into real Illuminati mumbo jumbo. But come on, this is really just an Astronaut Jones skit bacon-wrapped in EDM and Ariana anti-gravity cheesecake shots. I feel bad for Jeannette McCurdy, who is probably sitting at home in Studio City or Santa Monica or wherever snorting her last line of coke from the baggie she stole from her ex-boyfriend director (You’re the Worst reference…WATCH THIS SHOW!). RIP Sam & Cat Anyways I hate that I chose sleep over writing this blurb last night, because I so many more funny bits. The camel toe. Ariana’s washing her hair move. How Big Sean sidegraded from one hot Hispanic actress/singer to a waifish Hispanic singer/actress. How distraught I became when an ad-free video finally succumbed to the cliché Beats headphones, speaker, and app combo at the very end. Seriously does anyone outside of a music video set actually use the Beats Music app? If you say you do, I won’t believe you. And what the fuck is a Zedd? Don’t tell me is the crane operating fake DJ white boy at the end of the video spliced between the kissing male dancers? It is. ffffffffffff. “Break Free” will be Ariane’s My Everything album....

Usher – “Good Kisser” May05

Usher – “Good Kisser”

For the first single from his yet-to-be-named 8th album, Usher enlists a slew of producers to create “Good Kisser.” As listed on 2dopeboyz, these dudes are Pop, Flip, JProof, Terry ‘Tru’ Sneed, Natural and Oak. I don’t know who these dudes are except for Natural who I know worked on Looking For Myself. The big difference is Usher has distanced himself from the electronic fuckery which have dominated his last two albums. This is not “OMG” or “Scream,” but “Good Kisser” is equally as danceable. Clearly with the dominant drum break flowing through out the track, there is an organic, visceral feel to the record. Usher growls, raps, coos, and wails in such a familiar, easy manner. Some folks might call this record a comeback, or at least a throwback to the approachable boy-next-door Usher. I guess that’ll happen when you divorce a succubus and have to rebound via a network singing contest show. I’m going way off track. This single is hot. It’s available on iTunes, but I’m sure you’ll listen to the track on repeat on Vevo....

Ariana Grande feat. Iggy Azalea – “Problem” Apr29

Ariana Grande feat. Iggy Azalea – “Problem”...

Damn Idolator and Pitchfork already beat me to punch. That ubiquitous saxophone bleat is making a comeback here and here and now here with Ariana Grande’s monster hit. Shit the track just dropped on Sunday night during the Radio Disney Music Awards. I’m pretty sure that screaming girls at a teen-oriented award show presents a highly bias opinion, but even in a vacuum this track is a bio-engineered hit. Trap-lite. Rapper of the moment: Iggy Azalea (who I assumed replaced Big Sean who is relegated to hook whispering duty…the check still clears). But Ariana glides through “Problem” like young Mariah. You know she can sing stronger and higher, but this is dance-pop. Coast through and save the pipes for a real torch song....

Caitlyn Scarlett – “Bad Love” Apr29

Caitlyn Scarlett – “Bad Love”...

So you press play and think this record sounds like Fiona Apple redux. Plaintive voice over an upright bass and strings, then the slaps and drums come in…you know it’s building to something. Then 57 seconds…WOMMMMP WOMMMMMMMMP. Did I mention Caitlyn Scarlett is British? Production from Ayo Beatz. Look for more in 2014 and beyond. (OnSmash) LISTEN to her EP, Jurassic Jukebox & Other...

Devonté Hynes – “Palo Alto” Apr25

Devonté Hynes – “Palo Alto”...

When the bassline and melody kicked in, I immediately thought of another soundtrack record from a Coppola-helmed movie about dysfunctional white kids. Not to disparage Air, I am definitely a fan of their music and style. Hell, “La Femme d’Argent” is my go-to mood music. ahem…I digress, while not as rhythmically driven and sinuous as his Blood Orange work, Dev Hynes has created a lush canvas of melody and groove to set the stage for his soundtrack work on the upcoming movie, Palo Alto. Apparently the soundtrack is already on sale. The movie…I may watch it....

Timeflies feat. Katie Sky – “Monsters” Apr23

Timeflies feat. Katie Sky – “Monsters”...

A few hours I never heard of Timeflies. I think I saw the name here and there. Looked like 2 JewBros built for pop music. After a quick Google search and some listening, I’m impressed as fuck. Their website header says, “Electro Hip Pop Dub-Something” which is damn accurate. You really need to listen to a lot of their songs to get a real sense of their pop alchemy. Here I’ll help you out. The Warning Sign EP is a good start. (link) Then their two lead singles off the After Hours album, “I Choose U” and “All The Way,” are compelling Millennial pop records. OH SHIT they worked with Fabolous on this “Fall” track. FYAH! They might be legit. Actually folks…maybe you should start with the track below. At first blush I pegged this dude as the evolution of Drake, but this is really polished work. Forget what I said, start with “Monsters” below then listen to everything above. Then consider buying the album, After Hours, when they drop it on April...

Lily Allen – “Sheezus” Apr23

Lily Allen – “Sheezus”...

Lily Allen has bounced back from miscarriages, terrible boyfriends, assaults, shaky claims of racism, and body image bullies to come back with a new album, Sheezus. She’s already pushed out 3 singles for promotion: the rollicking “Hard Out Here,” the terrible “Air Balloon” (my thoughts natch), and the already forgotten “Our Time.” I didn’t even know there was a 3rd single. (ed. note – I did go back and listen to “Our Time,” and it’s…slipped my mind.) Well, here’s the 4th single and title track which name drops like an early (The) Game record and has the production level and vocal honesty of two female artists she didn’t name, M.I.A. and Santigold. Lily definitely falls somewhere in the middle between the tiers of female pop stardom, and that’s the point of the song. She just wants to write REAL songs with good music. But her handlers are (rightly) concerned about release dates, public perception, and all the other bits that make the money flow. The irony is she co-opts the name of her record and album off another recent album (hint) and mentions a slew of her more successful contemporaries. Both of these are great clickbait and basis for many articles to be written. Hell, look how long this article is. And I’m not even a big fan of the song. I highly recommend listening to “Sheezus” first before watching the video. The blacklight/neon shit is visually stimulating and you’ll miss the goddamn point of the song which is already bacon-wrapped in pop melody....