What the hell happened on Vevo\YouTube last week? And not only that, but its unnerving impact on the current UK Top 40? With new releases from Lady Gaga and Katy Perry, music video uploads from Kelly Clarkson, the return of the Arctic Monkeys, the latest addition to the Disney Music Princesses, Ellie Goulding bursting back onto the scene and Miley Cyrus trying to keep her number one spot and title of “Teen Queen” it was certainly a somewhat frightening week to be in the music industry.
Firstly, let’s look at the return of Mother Monster, Lady Gaga, whose new single “Applause”, was met with a mostly positive reception when the audio track exploded onto YouTube at the beginning of last week. Some critics compared it to the work of David Bowie, while others were disappointed in it not being as ‘experimental’ as Gaga seemed to have promised following the wrap of ‘Born This Way’. Personally, I’m intrigued by the track. You can tell it’s Gaga and you can tell she’s trying something ‘new’, but I feel like it has echoes of ‘The Fame’, like it was something she wrote for the second half of that that didn’t quite make the cut.
There’s no denying, however, that it’s incredibly catchy and within a few plays I was finding myself singing the repetitive, yet not boring, chorus around the house. The video, however, marks the biggest progression for Gaga, unreservedly embodying the ‘art’ aspect of the ARTPOP album title. We have the iconic hands-centric dance routines, yes, and the flamboyant costumes and props but it all seems rather reserved and conservative for Mother Monster. One can’t deny, though that it’s an explosion of style and expression that we’ve come to expect from the Lady herself. I expect we shall be smothered in “Applause” at the clubs in the upcoming weeks, until it’s played within an inch of its life, but by then we’ll have the rest of ARTPOP (out November 11) to turn to.
The fierce competitor for “Applause” was Katy Perry’s new release “Roar”, which is the first single from upcoming album ‘Prism’. True to form, it’s fierce. It sounds a little like a mash up of P!nk’s last single “True Love”, Cher Lloyd’s “With Your Love” and VV Browns single “Children” from the unreleased album ‘Politics and Lollipops’. Despite this, the track doesn’t fail to impress as well as bring something of its own. Also, it’s clearly got Perry’s stamp on it – empowering, catchy and strong. Like “Applause”, “Roar”’s chorus is incredibly catchy, but I don’t see it sitting so well in clubs; it hasn’t got the right beat yet – we’ll have to wait for the remixes to come pouring out for that. I get the sense that Perry will be sticking to what she knows with ‘Prism’ though, which is by no means a bad thing; it’s done her in very good stead so far, after all. ‘Prism’ is out October 22.
Speaking of VV Brown, she’s making an astonishing comeback next month with her complete reinvention and experimental album ‘Samson and Delilah’. The lead single from which “Samson” was released July 14th but, like much of Brown’s music, was desperately under the radar. I was devastated that it has received next to no airplay as of yet as the single is so fantastic and you can tell she’s been working so hard on this follow up album to her debut album ‘Travelling Like the Light’ (2009). ‘Samson and Delilah’ will be released on September 8th in the UK and on October 6th Worldwide (fingers crossed).
Another video which premiered on Vevo this week and went surprisingly unnoticed was the new standalone single from Kelly Clarkson “Tie It Up”. As you might have guessed, the song is about getting married, but what stands out for me about the track is its feature of a gay wedding in the accompanying music video. Clarkson invited fans to submit clips of their own weddings to be featured in the video, some of which are from gay weddings. I would have thought that, despite the song being a great, sassy country-meets-pop/rock tune (which you would expect from Clarkson), the feature of gay weddings – given the recent change in UK and French law – would have given it more airplay? Maybe that’s just me being optimistic, but nevertheless you should give the track a listen. It’s definitely one to ‘shake-ya-booty’ to, whilst you’re getting dressed…
I was surprised to hear the latest single from the Arctic Monkeys played on Radio 1 whilst I was driving back from London the other day. I’ve never been the biggest fan of the band in their previous efforts, but the new “Why D’you Only Call Me When You’re High?” (which entered the charts at number 5) left something surprisingly pleasant in my ears. The accompanying music video is both disturbing and genius at the same time – I implore you to take a look. The song itself reflects the subjects somewhat in its laid back, funky, almost ska feel but ultimately keeps to the bands iconic indie-rock sound. It’s short and sweet at 2.41 which leaves it feeling a little unfinished, yet this seems to work with the themes in the song. It’s interesting, certainly and has encouraged me to take a listen to ‘AM’, the upcoming album released September 9.
Ellie Goulding has released another synthpop anthem onto us, with the latest offering from her EP reissue ‘Halcyon Days’, “Burn” which has also exploded onto the charts, and fought hard for the number 1 spot all week. It sits well with the sound of the rest of the album and the music video seems to compliment the song itself. I prefer the Goulding’s sophomore album to her debut ‘Lights’, it’s more mature and this is shown with “Burn”. It’s not trying to be innocent and delicate like I feel most of the tracks on ‘Lights’ did, which became almost annoying and sickly because it’s what you’d expect from someone with a voice like Goulding’s. ‘Halcyon’ pushed it a bit further out and used her voice in a very different way, which I think was very clever. Nevertheless, I expect we’ll be hearing a lot more of her everywhere from now on. Although I’m unconvinced that the Tïesto remix of “Burn” betters the original as an anthem, but we’ll see.
Naturally, with Goulding at number 1, this meant that once-upon-a-time Disney Queen Miley Cyrus was knocked off the top spot, which I think was probably a surprise to many. The grown-up sound of Cyrus certainly turned some heads and her iconic “twerking” showed that she’s come a long way from the make-believe world of Hannah Montana (thank god!). There’s no denying that “We Can’t Stop” could easily qualify as a guilty pleasure, but the truth is that it’s actually rather enjoyable. It’s relaxed, chilled beat works for a party atmosphere which is, after all, what Miley is imploring us to do. The almost rap-like elements of the song “it’s our house, we can do what we want to” etc. , again, are catchy and the infectious groove get into your head with shameful ease. Despite the video being more than a little bizarre, it’s certainly set expectations high for her upcoming album ‘BANGERZ’, due for release in October.
With the demise of one Disney Musical Princess however, there has to be another to fill the spot and one which Vevo have been keen to push. “Replay” comes courtesy of 16 year old Zendaya who, apparently, is already a Disney actress and, like Miley and Selena and many before her has made the inevitable progression into music. The track comes somewhere between Selena, Rihanna and, somewhat ironically, Chris Brown. What’s really annoying about it, though, is that it’s actually listenable and I can hear it making its way into some clubs across the country. It’s smooth, R&B influenced pop that makes you want to inexplicably sway from side to side but at the end of the day, it’s a bit of Disney fluff that will undoubtedly go as soon as it came. But hey, maybe we’ve got another future Disney star. We’ll have to wait and see.
Clearly, it was a busy week for the music industry last week and with the astonishing volume of new music coming in the next couple of months, I’m going to have to keep putting pennies aside so I can buy it all, and find somewhere to store it all. Lord help me.