11 Songs That Were Perfectly Appropriate to Have Been #1 on Valentine’s Day

My colon is clean. I don’t have two-shits to give about Valentine’s Day but since I woke up this morning with a sudden, uncontrollable desire to revisit Celine Dion‘s love songs compilation (and have been merrily screeching along to all the top notes), I started to wonder what songs happened to have been #1 on Valentine’s Day over last 30 years or so.

February 14th is such a major date in the marketing calendar and no “””holiday””” has been better constructed with the sole purpose of exploiting romance and loneliness quite like this one, so it actually made sense to look back on what records were being pushed to death around this time of the year.

For every strategically timed single release that failed to top the charts, (Hi ya, Victoria Beckham ‘A Mind of Its Own’ circa 2002!) there were plenty who hit the mark and either had us all giddy with euphoria or weeping into a tub of Häagen-Dazs.

Here are 11 perfectly spot on Valentine’s Day chart-toppers:

Whitney Houston ‘How Will I Know’ (1986, US)

Believe it or not Whitney‘s first banger was actually a Janet Jackson reject. This joyous, fluorescent pop tune brings all my favourite elements of 80s pop, yearning and sentimental lyrics with really vibrant synths, big drums and big vocals. It doesn’t matter where in the world I am, I’ll feel instantly at home at any gay dive bar that plays this.

Cher ‘Believe’ (1999, Australia)

Speaking of gay dive bars! I guess we are where we are. I’m picturing a sea of blonde highlights in cargo pants in a heaving nightclub, green laser lights catching the sweat on heavily plucked brows. Everybody here is picturing someone they’d love to sing these words to. A survivalist dance anthem like ‘Believe’ and ‘I Will Survive’ really only comes around once every 10, 20 years or so – if we’re lucky. It took less than two months for this to become the biggest-selling hit of 1998 in the UK, and the excitement soon poured over internationally the following year when Australia made ‘Believe’ it’s Valentine’s Day anthem of 1999.

No Doubt ‘Don’t Speak’ (1997, Australia)

A gut-wrenching and quintessentially 90s rock break-up classic. I’m surprised to learn that despite this being the most played song on radio in 1996 in America, it never charted on the Billboard Hot 100 because ‘Don’t Speak’ was not released as an actual commercial single there. The single did however hit #1 in several international charts including Australia when we were all nursing heartbreaks that year to Gwen Stefani‘s aching tones.

George Michael ‘Careless Whisper’ (1985, US)

I get chills every time I hear that sax intro. Seriously, what a bloody god-sent masterpiece. ‘Careless Whisper’ topped the US charts in February 1985, six months after it was already a huge #1 hit in the UK. George would go on to have another Valentine’s Day #1 two years later with Aretha Franklin in ‘I Knew You Were Waiting For Me’.

Kylie ‘I Should Be So Lucky’ (1988, UK)

We all know the story behind this career-launching hit that almost wasn’t to be. But all I can say is thank god for Kylie sticking around the Stock Aitken and Waterman lobby and not storming out in a huff when those guys completely forgot she was scheduled to work with them, because the few minutes they had to scramble something together for her became ‘I Should Be So Lucky’. Who knew 30 years later it’d remain such a bittersweet and persistent metaphor for our perpetually unlucky in love pop princess?

Toni Braxton ‘Un-Break My Heart’ (1997, US)

Did I ever tell you guys that my father was obsessed with this song? Like capital ‘O’ obsessed. Like, Beyoncé playing a woman dressed by Target Obsessed. He had the Secrets album on cassette and would literally only rewind back to this song every single time. Then when CDs became popular, I think he went out and bought the album on CD because it was easier to keep the track on repeat in this format.

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert ‘Same Love’ (2013, Australia)

A beautiful and political declaration of equal love that very much reflected the cultural shift of the time. It’s so beautiful to see that this was #1 in Australia where sadly, the fight for marriage equality still continues. It’s actually odd looking back and seeing how much Macklemore was killing it at the time. Through all the years I’ve looked back on Valentine’s Day #1s, I’ve not come across one artist who had total dominance on US, UK and Australian charts like Macklemore and Ryan Lewis did in 2013 (‘Thrift Shop’ was #1 in US and UK that week).

Atomic Kitten ‘Whole Again’ (2001, UK)

I will never not have time for Atomic Kitten. It’s just one of those things. I won’t even call it a guilty pleasure because I don’t feel any way guilty for liking it, and neither should you. I literally screamed when I found out ‘Whole Again’ was #1 this week… 16 years ago! To think these girls were hanging onto their record deal barely by the tips of their acrylic nails before the label agreed to release ‘Whole Again’ is ludicrous. They had ‘Whole Again’ the whole time but chose to release four other tracks, which got virtually zero-cares from everyone. Thank god common sense prevailed!

Sinead O’Connor ‘Nothing Compares 2 U (1990, UK)

It’s been seven hours and fifteeeeeeen days… DEAD. I am dead. I forgot Prince actually wrote this one. This is may be a Prince song but it is a Sinead O’Connor classic, you feel me? The super chilling and despondent ballad was a massive fuck-off global hit for the Irish singer, shifting platinum sales in the UK and becoming the biggest selling single of 1990 in Australia. Part of me wishes Prince had written more break up songs for other people.

Jennifer Lopez ‘All I Have’ (2003, US)

That scene in the video where J.Lo is wiping her nose and lugging all her shit through the snow is literally what comes to mind every time I picture myself in post-break up glamour!     2002-2003 was the era where J.Lo was literally killing everybody in the game. She was dominating the box office with films like Maid in Manhattan, she had launched a successful fragrance collection, the tabloids were lapping up her Hollywood fairytale romance with Ben Affleck, she was massive on the radio with hits like ‘Jenny From The Block’ and this one… we didn’t quite catch it at the time but we were witnessing the building of one of America’s most enduring pop entertainers and media moguls with an empire that would keep expanding 15 years on. I’m literally too embarrassed to ask myself what I’ve done with my life in that time.

Whitney ‘I Will Always Love  You’ (1993, US and Australia) 

An appropriate and painfully obvious Valentine’s Day chart-topper. It spent a mind-blowing 14 weeks at #1 on the US Billboard chart. Oh yes… all through Christmas, Boxing Day sales, Hanukkah, NYE messiness and New Year’s resolutions that were broken before she came back for the big final chorus. The iconic song made a return on sadder terms this time five years ago after Whitney’s death. The surge of emotional purchases saw ‘I Will Always Love You’ top the iTunes charts and return to the US Billboard Hot 100 for the first time in 20 years.

Here is a playlist of 40* best Valentine’s Day #1 hits. All in one convenient music streaming receptacle. *’Nothing Compares 2 U’ is not on Spotify though….  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Carelessly whispering on Twitter as always – @feedlimmy.

 

 

 

A Rose is Still A Rose: Checking for Aretha Franklin’s 90s and 00s material

OG diva and “the undisputed Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin announced earlier this week she was hanging up her microphone after one final album of originals this year, which will be produced by another influential music legend no less, Stevie Wonder.

For a generation that didn’t grow up with Aretha topping the charts and being a mainstay in the spotlight, she is probably better known for that wig-snatching gif and various viral moments. There’s the iconic Inauguration Hat memes and that time we gagged at Cissy Houston rolling her eyes and half-arsing her way through Aretha’s performance of ‘Rolling In The Deep’. The internet has also kept a catalogue of her shadiest moments like when she snatched her arm away from Patti Labelle when the singer tried to congratulate her and let’s not forget that masterclass in top shelf shade when Aretha was asked her opinion on Taylor Swift and only offered: “Okay… um. Great gowns. Beautiful gowns.”

In a time where ‘icon’, ‘diva’ and ‘queen’ titles are thrown at anyone with a big enough Gay Twitter following, I like to think that individuals of cultural impact on Aretha’s stratosphere (of which there aren’t many) are still regarded with a special, untouchable kind of status.

When we think of Aretha Franklin, we think ‘Empress Diva of Soul with zero fucks to give’, we think of ‘Respect‘, we think of ‘Think‘, we think of the 98’ VH1 Divas Live concert (which also featured other greats like Mariah, Celine, Shania, Gloria Estefan and Carole King). But we don’t seem to check for the latter part of her career as much. Sure she’s not as active as she was in her hey-day but Aunt ReRe was definitely still putting down some moments in music over the last 20 years or so.

So, in light of this retirement announcement, I’ve decided to sift through some of her original records from the 90s onwards and see what we might’ve missed.

‘A Rose Is Still A Rose’ (1998)

A poetic feminist jam written and produced by Lauryn Hill especially for Aretha’s 1998 album of the same name. Now, I actually remember this one because there was a time where MTV played music videos and there was a time where music video stations played the latest hot hit by Aretha Franklin.

Looking back, this video is like the most amazingly 90s thing I’ve ever seen. Those massive bomber jackets that were a staple in mainstream R&B music videos, and Queen Aretha posted up in some of the best wigs of her career, looking like Earth Mother draped in luxurious fabrics, trilling life advice by the piano in some kind of synthetic Garden of Eden in the projects? I live.

The album, which also featured songs written by Puff Daddy, Faith Evans, Jermaine Dupri and Dallas Austin, was a remarkable exercise in modernising the diva’s sound and reconnecting her with a younger audience. It remains Aretha’s most critically acclaimed and best-selling album of the 90s.

 

‘Never Gonna Break My Faith’ with Mary J. Blige (2006)

A stirring gospel anguish written by Bryan Adams for the Bobby soundtrack. This Golden Globe-nominated song is a powerful meeting of two of America’s most prominent female soul singers. It also showed us that while demand for a full album of Aretha’s originals were at an all time low, you could still 100 per cent count on her to deliver that one king-hit performance. One big performance is all it takes. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am!

 

‘Don’t Waste My Time’ – Mary J. Blige with Aretha Franklin (1999)

From Mary J. Blige‘s critically-acclaimed album Mary, this hefty, angst-filled duet where a larger-than-life Aretha urges Mary to move on from a deadbeat relationship is mostly the former diva hollering over the latter. But for lovers of this kind of over the top and gospel-derived style of singing, it really doesn’t get any better than this. The pair even picked up a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo. It really makes me yearn to see more female artists coming together and showing solidarity and sisterhood in songs.

‘Put You Up On Game’ with Fantasia (2007)

I’ve always enjoyed the back-and-forth kind of duets Aretha’s done in her career. Check the sassy and brashly 80s pop shakedown with Whitney in ‘It Isn’t, It Wasn’t, It Ain’t Never Gonna Be‘. Here the OG diva plays a nosy, older woman giving a young and seemingly naive-in-love Fantasia some relationship advice on a modern R&B ballad format, produced by The Underdogs.

Fantasia is without question one of the most brilliant and under-appreciated old school soul singers we have today. She is part of a dying breed and I fear almost daily that she’ll never achieve the mainstream recognition she deserves. The ad-libs at the end of this song gives us just a hint of what could have been had these ladies been able to perform this live and just jam with no restrictions.

‘Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool’ (2003)

A pensive ballad, written and produced by Janet Jackson‘s hitmakers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, where Aretha shakes off a shady frenemy who constantly pokes at her relationship, questioning if she knows where her man’s been and what he’s up to etc. LOL. Sounds like a scene straight out of Real Housewives of Atlanta.

Despite appearing blind to his bullshit, Aretha reasons, “a little bit of my man’s sweet love is a whole lot better than none of it”. Queen of Drama and Real Talk.

‘Mary Goes Round’ (1991)

Aretha’s brief and poorly-received foray into New Jack Swing is probably best left in the crypt of the 90s but this What You See Is What You Sweat (I know right?!) album track is nonetheless an interesting showcase of what happens when you infuse her style of spirited soul with the exuberant, dominant dance music style of the time. Here ReRe manages to throw everything at you, from deep growls to even a hint of vampy dance captain realness in the spoken word bits (“Turn the corner right! Turn the corner left!”). Very much a product of its time, as they would say.

 

Until next time, you can catch me tweeting here at @feedlimmy.

 

‘The Hits & Beyond’: A retrospective journey of my past selves

I just woke up in my own bed for the first time in three weeks after a nice holiday to my home countries Australia and Malaysia. Jet lag crept up behind me a few short hours after I marched into my flat, following the initial burst of energy that saw me whizz through a truckload of laundry and frantically unpack misshaped snacks I’d dragged with me on two long flights across the Earth.

While my body adjusts to the time difference, my brain and its inner monologue is recalibrating from Malaysian English to Australian/British English. I think we can call this a rather successful holiday by the sheer fact I was able to detach enough from my life to re-immerse – albeit temporarily – in another. Sure I was still checking Twitter, replying to the occasional work emails, and liking thirsty selfies on Instagram where wifi was available. But on the whole, the goal of this trip was to reconnect with family and my Malaysian-Chinese and Australian roots, and see it from where I am right now in my life… as a single man approaching 30, living in his third country.

In a sense, this trip for me was a retrospective look into my past selves. Like a brainstorm session for a ‘best-of’ compilation, the kind they used to issue in a haste to wrap up an increasingly unprofitable recording contract with a flagging popstar. There won’t be a photo shoot for this one, they’ll just pick the cutest publicity shot from the last album campaign.

My sense of self has undergone stages of reinventions over the years. Much like Kylie Minogue’s career. At 7, I learned about ethnicity and nationality, what it meant to be a child of Chinese heritage growing up in a Muslim country and educated in a Malay school while speaking English at home with parents and two different dialects with both sides of the family. At 12 in Australia, I became an immigrant for the first time – I wasn’t just ‘Malaysian’ anymore, I became just ‘Asian’. Even though I’d spoken English my whole life, for the first time, I was told it wasn’t good enough. I changed my accent for the first time.

At 18, I came out as a gay man and started to understand what it means to not only to live as another type of minority, but as a gay Asian in a Western LGBT community. While I wasn’t particularly bothered by the lack of attention from girls at school, I craved attention and validation that I was attractive to other gay men. By this stage, I had already been through years of seeing mostly white men only in the media depicted as desirable, from James Van Der Beek to Jesse McCartney, Ben Affleck to Zac Efron etc. I’d go on to experiment with going blonde – to varying levels of failures – and even frequently wore coloured contact lenses to disguise my dark brown eyes. At 21, I became a presenter on Australia’s only gay and lesbian radio station. The attention wasn’t enough and the dates weren’t pouring in.

At 23, I hit my ‘Indie Kylie’ phase. Clever girl... I was no longer a student and I was trying different things. I was tired of working at call centres and telling myself ‘this job isn’t forever’. I had spent so much time figuring out my self in one aspect and going through that awkward phase you were only meant to have once during your teens that I had neglected to steer my career. What the fuck was I to do with my life? I tried to figure it out when 26 came along and I became an Australian living in London. Here my ethnicity and sexuality wasn’t as big a deal, whenever I speak, I was just another Aussie passing through this heaving and wonderfully multicultural city of 8 million people. As Taylor Swift would say, everybody here was someone else before. Now at 29, to people back home, it would seem I’ve arrived at my Light Years era. Independent, living overseas, exciting career in showbiz.

As I sat in near-empty carriages chugging past Melburnian stations I used to be familiar with – not missing the peak hour mayhem of Liverpool Street Station – I started to wonder what my train journey would be like I still lived here. As I hugged my cousins who have grown taller and become adults since I last saw them in Malaysia and overindulged in lavish Chinese banquets over the Lunar New Year with the family, I wondered what kind of job I might have, what my friends might look like, and what my taste in music would be (maybe I’d be really into Mandopop!) if I’d stayed.

‘What ifs’ are cute for a visit but not for a stay. There’s a real danger swimming in nostalgia because our memory is unreliable and filtered, much like our Instagram posts. But what I can take with me from looking back is this joy of being part of so many cultures and communities, and how it has enriched me and made me adaptable. I realised that through my growing pains and different stages of reinvention, I haven’t necessarily left anything behind… I have always carried traces of my culture with me. Eastern, Western, traditional, modern, liberal, conservative. It’s in my values, it’s in my philosophy, you hear it my accent, you see it in my personality, it’s in the way I relate to people. I think after years of trying to fit in with different groups and situations, I’m starting to figure out who I am and what works for me. I haven’t got a five-year plan, although I often tell myself I should probably have one. But I’m hoping this richer appreciation for what I’ve been through and refreshed perspective would give me the self-confidence I’ve been searching for to take on the next chapter. Bring on the Fever era.

I’ll be back with pop music musings next week. In the meantime, you’ll probably catch me tweeting about the state of Mariah Carey’s career here

Some Predictions for The State of Pop in 2017

It’s that one time of the year where I trawl Chinese horoscope and astrology sites to see what my fate and fortune holds for the year – and then invariably forget about them by lunchtime.

It’s no different in the music world with predictions flowing in from industry types now on the impact of streaming and how it’s changing the whole music business, and hot-takes from tastemakers about what the top trends and ‘sounds’ of 2017 will be. Now that streaming is king and the consumer’s attention span is getting shorter and shorter, how will this affect the way hitmakers create songs? It’s a good time for jingle writers… that’s all I can say!

The music industry is a fascinating beast because at the heart of it, music is such a huge part of our personal life and our culture, but at the same time the business itself is constantly bending and adapting to challenges posed by tech and consumers’ changing behaviours. It’s amazing to observe and be a part of.

Here’s basically how I see it for us in 2017.

Sound of the underground: sombre vibes and alternative sounds to the front

Pure pop is over – or at least, it’s taking a backseat. I was listening to my RedOne playlist on the way home from work this week and it really hit me that the optimistic and hopeful days under Obama’s ruling, which saw RedOne, Dr Luke and will.i.am‘s party rocking pop to flourish has well and truly passed.

As I highlighted last year in reference to Tove Lo and Alicia Keys‘ new albums, in this time of great divide and political unrest triggered by Brexit and Trump’s America, people are looking for something real to connect with. So for me, 2017 is going to see the re-emergence of ‘realer’, more left-field sounding music and harder-edged sounds. Hip hop, grime, neo-soul, indie and icy, moody electro-pop will make a deep impact. Pop as always will evolve to adopt these genres’ qualities. When Evanescence and Linkin Park were really huge… so was rock-tinged pop in the shape of Avril, Kelly Clarkson and P!nk.

Pop in 2017 will feel more urban yet minimalist. Gone are the ostentatious big bubblegum melodies, thrashing synths and excessive productions of ‘Till The World Ends’, and in comes something a bit more sombre, stripped back and bootleg – it’ll be most noticeable in dance music. Vocals and songwriting with earthy qualities of soul and indie-folk music will be highly sought after. Simplistic, effortlessly chic styling and 90s streetwear influences will become your main popstar looks. It’ll be less about the glamour and flashiness in pop, but more about ‘what have you got to say for yourself’, ‘what is your message?‘ and ‘what do you stand for?’. More so than ever the empowered and free-thinking popstar with attitude is needed, so look at the likes of Zara Larsson, Anne-Marie etc.

I’m also throwing all my love to South London R&B/hip  singer Ray BLK (pictured above), who I first came across when I worked on the MOBO Awards last year. Her seven-track debut Durt is incredible, I will say it again. This week we found out she won the BBC’s prestigious Sound of 2017 so I’m totally looking forward to all the great things she’ll be doing and – hopefully – prolonged industry support she will also receive this year.

Check out her incredible freestyle track ‘Patience’:

 

Nostalgic re-issues of classic, 90s albums on vinyl will be a thing.

News broke this week that in 2016 vinyl sales were at a 25-year high, which is pretty incredible but also very telling looking at the top vinyl sellers itself. It’s dripping with nostalgia and a haven for legendary musicians – dead or alive – with die-hard fans.

I’m not surprised that in 2017 – as my generation gets a bit older, more nostalgic for our teens and perhaps even start getting into serious record collecting – we will see re-issues of massive pop albums by our childhood faves like George Michael, Spice Girls, Backstreet Boys, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, Shania Twain, Alanis Morrisette, Destiny’s Child etc.

We’ve seen Kylie‘s Stock Aitken and Waterman back catalogue re-issued with great finesse, featuring comprehensive biogs and thorough assembly of recorded material. Why can’t the same be done with the aforementioned artists? I’d imagine they’d be snapped up pretty quickly by sentimental fans, which is all of us. Imagine if Britney did the same with unreleased tracks, demos, rare b-sides and unseen photos and videos?!

Expect unexpected collaborations

Start the year as you intend to go on… and topping the UK singles chart (for the ninth consecutive week) is Clean Bandit featuring Anne-Marie and Sean Paul‘s ‘Rockabye’, an infuriatingly infectious hybrid of dance music with pop and reggae, created by a classical crossover band, a rising popstar with plenty of Essex swagger and charm, and a Jamaican rapper. Brilliant!

In 2017 we’ll see genres continuing to erode and meeting of vibes will be king. We’ve already seen pop songwriter and bonafide British girlband royalty Nicola Roberts co-writing songs for alt-R&B siren Tinashe (that’s Tinasha, if you’re Britney) and K-pop siren TIFFANY from Girls’ Generation (pictured above) last year. Sam Hunt, an American country singer with the classic Abercrombie college jock looks, who is sings and rap and is probably closer related sonically to Drake than Keith Urban. It probably won’t be long until grime weaves its way into K-pop too. I’m seeing all these grime artists already touring internationally to places like Australia where I really didn’t think it would be a thing.

Albums I’m looking forward to in 2017? 

Zara Larsson, MNEK, Rita OraDua LipaChristina Aguilera, FergieBritneyLorde. I was gonna say Mutya Keisha Siobhan/Sugababes for the third year running or something but then I thought, best leave this open wound to heal, yeah?

ICYMI – here are my 40 Favourite Songs of 2016. Why don’t you tell me about your favourite moments in Mariah’s World here at @feedlimmy?

 

Feed Limmy’s 40 Songs of 2016

In keeping with this annual tradition that stretches back to a land before Snapchat and Gigi Hadid, I am here to present you Feed Limmy’s Songs of The Year.

Over the years it has become more of a documentation of songs released in the past 12 months that I have really enjoyed or have soundtracked a special memory. I think for that reason, these lists of the more intimate nature perhaps carry a bit more meaning and weight, as they’re not critically-inclined but are measured by the standard of one’s enjoyment and personal connection. Which after all, is what music is all about.

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Why We Need Madonna Now More Than Ever, Carpool Karaoke Hot Take, and New Tunes by M.O, Raye and K.I.D

I’m not a hardcore Madonna fan. My admiration for her, at times, comes from a rather cerebral place. It’s a place of awe and reverence. And while I don’t necessarily know or love every record, I would always tune in to see what she’s got to offer. I will always make time for her performances and albums. If I’m at a house party and a complete stranger asks me what’s my favourite Madonna album, I would have a well-articulated and meaningful response ready. And depending on how drunk I am, I may or may not be prepared to accept your critique of it. (The answer is American Life, by the way. I knew you’d ask. And there’s probably a Buzzfeed quiz that analyses what kind of gay I am, based on my favourite Madonna album, which Attitude Magazine has probably probably shared. So make of it what you will…)

Madonna is an icon and trailblazer, and she continues to be an icon and trailblazer to this very day. Regardless of debates surrounding her relevancy, dress sense, behaviour, music style, and choices in young collaborators. She is still a multi-million yielding top touring musician. And she puts on a fucking big show, mate. You simply cannot fuck with those cold, hard facts. She is also incredibly switched on and is a force, in spite of the very many hurdles she faces as a woman in this industry, which I’m glad she continues to speak out about.

In her brutally honest acceptance speech at the Billboard Women in Music Awards, where she was honoured as Woman of The Year, she said, “I think the most controversial thing I have ever done is to stick around.”

She had this to say in her epic speech about what it’s like being a female entertainer in the music industry, and really, you should read the whole thing. She’s buying us all round after rounds of home truths and spilling scalding hot T left, right and centre for your nerve.

“If you’re a girl, you have to play the game. You’re allowed to be pretty and cute and sexy. But don’t act too smart. Don’t have an opinion that’s out of line with the status quo. You are allowed to be objectified by men and dress like a slut, but don’t own your sluttiness. And do not, I repeat do not, share your own sexual fantasies with the world. Be what men want you to be, but more importantly, be what women feel comfortable with you being around other men. And finally, do not age. Because to age is a sin. You will be criticized and vilified and definitely not played on the radio.”

I hate to bring up the age thing because all this ageist shit she’s had to endure is so boring, but it has become this thing that has shrouded her career, particularly in the past 10 years, and we can’t ignore it. Every time you feed into diatribe about how she should ‘dress for her age’ or when they stress the age difference between her and the men she’s reportedly with. It’s cringeworthy and demeaning.

How many female popstars of Madonna’s age do you see still releasing original pop music (not covers) and touring as successfully as she does? She is a trailblazer. Again, I’m not a massive Madonna stan or anything, but truth be told we fucking need Madonna more than ever, to remind us and urge us to not live our lives restricted by patriarchal norms that are perpetuated again and again by both men and women. Her success, resilience and longevity sets the bar. Madonna stands for something bigger than just Madonna and album sales, radio playlists or streaming stats combined. She is here using her celebrity and the power of entertainment as her platform to remind us to always question the media, and call out sexist, ageist, homophobic, racist and discriminatory behaviour.

Speaking of Madonna, I saw this wonderful and hilarious read on James Corden‘s excessively flogged Carpool Karaoke series passed around on Twitter. I think the dragging is warranted to a certain extent. The execution borders on grating at times but most of the time, at least for the first three minutes, I do get some joy out of it. I think the next turn (pardon the pun) Corden should take on this is to actually go around picking up band members of defunct pop groups, and trigger a completely ‘spontaneous’ and unplanned reunion, where grievances can be aired and ‘where are they now?’ type curiosities can be satiated… with it all ending, of course, in a big sing-a-long to some of their biggest hits. First stop, Mini Viva, who sound like they actually might need to air things out after a low-key flaming Twitter spat (much of which has been deleted but hey, screenshots, and some remnants remain).

Top Tunes of The Week

M.O ‘Not In Love’ featuring Kent Jones

I’m not trying to stir the pot or anything, so stop handing me the ladle. I’ve been rooting for M.O for ages now, but equally, I also have a lot of love for Mini Viva. They could’ve been the Mel & Kim of the streaming generation. Back to this song, I actually think this pop/R&B trio has hit another peak with ‘Not In Love’. Instantly infectious reggae rhythm that is flavoured to perfection with sweet melodies and sour lyrics. Throw on them big hoops and cue my Sassy & Seventeen playlist.

Jax Jones featuring Raye ‘You Don’t Know Me’

Charlie XCX-endorsed rising star Raye is on every ‘ones to watch’ list right about now (I actually stood next to her at the bar at MTV’s Brand New 2017 party on Thursday… cool story, right?) and while I didn’t really catch a feeling about her earlier, I now get the vibe. This delightfully feisty dance collabo is everything I imagine the term ‘really lit’ would sound like in 2017.

K.I.D ‘Taker’

It is quite rare to catch me openly admiring guitar-driven pop songs, unless we’re reminiscing on Ashlee Simpson‘s first album or Stacie Orrico‘s ‘Stuck, of course. But Toronto alt duo K.I.D‘s ‘Taker’ is definitely hitting the spot for me. Produced by Mike Crossey (Arctic Monkeys and The 1975), this spiky call-out of a narcissistic, selfish c-bomb, would probably go down a treat at a live show.

For more of my favourite tunes of the moment, check out my NEWEST playlist.

And finally… 

Are we all watching Mariah’s World? I downed the first episode and it totally wasn’t what I was expecting. I know she’s said this is an eight-part documentary but what I read and wanted to believe was that this was a high-camp Bravo kind of reality dramedy. I was wrong, Mimi was right. And it is quite surreal to think that she might just be the most low maintenance person on this show.

BBC Sound of 2017, Kylie’s Retro Hits Suddenly Appear on Spotify, and New Tunes by MUNA, Nicole Millar and Girls’ Generation’s Hyoyeon

It’s barely lukewarm let alone been a hot take, so I reckon let’s not jazz it up too much around here. For the past few weeks I’ve been getting my ass into the habit of blogging once a week (because I really miss doing it). I couldn’t think of a proper catchy way to package this whole weekly pop opinion piece/ round-up of things that caught my eye shebang, so my brain in a hungover state farted ‘Limmy’s Hot Take‘, which let’s face it… wasn’t all that great or accurate. So scratching that title. That title is cancelled. She is done.

A lot has changed in the pop blogging world since I started Feed Limmy in 2008 (I had another pop blog on Blogspot for like two or three years before that). Lots of people from when I started aren’t doing it anymore – real life happens, they end up getting very good jobs and you know, you get too busy to keep it up.

In the last 10 years I’ve met so many amazing people through doing this. I found my tribe on Twitter. People who were into this stuff as much as I was. Growing up in Melbourne suburbia, I didn’t come across very many people who were as passionate about pop music as I was. Pop was frowned upon as ‘guilty pleasure’ and somehow it was made even more unbearable for me to express my love for it when people started calling me ‘faggot’. I’d dread every single time Geri‘s ‘It’s Raining Men’ or Christina Aguilera and co.‘s ‘Lady Marmalade’ came on the radio after the lunch time bell. So after leaving high school and having my own little corner on the internet to write about all the great stuff I was listening to and being able to share it with like-minded Twitter friends was a real game changer for me.

Now that I guess I actually am part of this industry, I do see things a little differently and have to obviously, you know, gurl’s gotta eat and gurl’s got bills to pay so he’s gotta be careful of how he frames his opinions. I also now see hype and media coverage very differently. I appreciate it more, of course, knowing how much goes into it. I am more sympathetic to artists as well and I am also increasingly aware that the more I see the less I know. And I’m OK with that. It keeps me on my toes. This is such a rapidly evolving industry that it’s now more important than ever to question what is really important and relevant.

Everyone in the music industry is going crazy over ‘ones to watch’ type lists right now -i.e. the BBC’s Sound of 2017, Brits Critics’ Choice Award, MTV Brand New, VEVO dscvr, … *Shirley Caesar voice* YOU NAME IT! They are all huge targets for label marketing and music PR types because they are, of course, a really big stamp of approval for any emerging artist and it’s what separates them from other newcomers. It’s the difference between getting booked to play Wembley or a dive bar as the fourth support act, shopping at Selfridges vs. living on Lidl vouchers – you get the picture. The success story that gets wheeled out a lot: Adele. Her career started with a bang when she won the BBC’s Sound of 2008 and then her debut album 19 went on to win the Brits Critics’ Choice Award and then came a Grammy nomination and so on and so forth.

You also tend to notice the same names being hyped and thrown back and forth around this season. Sometimes people still talk about them after a year, sometimes they barely get a mention after three months. The hype can fade as quickly as it rose. As the years go by, however, it seems increasingly difficult to call who might actually their way to the top as the true rising star of the next 12 months.

BBC Sound of 2017: Could an urban artist win it – and actually dominate the year?

This week the BBC announced their Sound of 2017 longlist, informed by tips from 170 critics, DJs and music writers. You know, people in industry who really know their shit. While it’s obviously a practice of self-fulfilling prophecy, I do find it quite exciting to discover new artists this way and see who is tipped for big things.

These are the ones tastemakers are not only predicting will shape the sonic trend of 2017 but also represent what will be most commercially successful. It’s actually incredible that the list is dominated by urban music acts. MTV UK also released their shortlist of Brand New 2017 acts with the same handful of urban music rising stars AJ TraceyNadia RoseRay BLK and Stefflon Don.

It would be great to have a real and raw British R&B star like Ray BLK reaching Adele and Sam Smith level of mainstream dominance. Hailing from a working class background in South London and proudly embracing her roots (‘My Hood’ is basically her ‘Hometown Glory’ but less vanilla and tea cakey), I so want to believe the UK is ready to really big up an artist like her instead of another prosaic guitar noodling substitute for Ed Sheeran, but from what history has informed us that is rarely the case. It’s been years since we’ve seen a super real and distinctly British R&B act embraced by the mainstream. Seriously, please name me one. Whoever it is that ends up taking home the Sound of 2017, I hope we don’t see a repeat of what happened with this year’s lot.

Jack Garratt, who won Sound of 2016 was literally everywhere at the start of the year. After being announced as the Sound of 2016, he went onto collect the Brits Critics’ Choice Award and then wasted no time in releasing his debut album in February, which entered the charts and peaked at #3. It only stayed in the Top 20 for two weeks and then he sort of vanished. By summer, the name seems like a vague memory. Runner-up Alessia Cara, a soulful teen Youtube sensation from Canada, didn’t manage better either. While the brilliant breakthrough hit ‘Here’ flexed for a really bloody long time, her album only managed to peak at #14 and subsequent singles missed the Top 50 altogether. She was nominated for New Artist of The Year at the American Music Awards but lost to ZAYN. I only remembered I had bought her album when I saw her pop up as a feature creature on a Troye Sivan single a few months ago.

Maybe part of why Garratt’s hype wasn’t sustained was because there are literally hundreds of artists doing the type of electronic-R&B fusion with scratchy soulful, folk singer vocals. The market was already saturated by the time he came into primetime attention. But perhaps maybe why it didn’t work was because the tunes just weren’t memorable at all. They go to great lengths to stress he is a multi-instrumentalist, which you know, instills a level of authenticity, and his work is very immaculately produced but where are the tunes? Where is the song that makes people feel something?

Sometimes I think people in our industry forget that all these accolades and lists don’t really matter to the vast majority of the record buying public. Most people don’t care. People will buy records they connect to. People will support artists people they like.

Every single one Kylie’s retro hits are now on Spotify

On Friday, without formal warning, all of Kylie‘s Stock Aitken and Waterman era releases (her first four albums, which were all bloody huge) suddenly appeared on Spotify. I am talking not just all the albums but all the remixes, the B-sides, you name it. I am literally gagging.

This is sort of a nice reminder of one of the many highs in Kylie’s long pop career. While the Christmas stuff she’s doing now is a very clever and savvy business decision, I can’t stress how much I need for her to return to making brilliant pop for the other 11 months of the year.

Check out my 30 favourite ‘retro’ Kylie tunes:

Top tunes of the week

MUNA ‘I Know A Place’

L.A. girl band MUNA has delivered a shimmery, feel good song for the LGBT community. According to Time, ‘I Know A Place’ is “meant to be a rallying cry and a reminder that safe spaces can exist”. If you’re into HAIM, you need to get into this.

Nicole Millar ‘No Bad Vibes’

Smoky-voiced Australian singer Nicole Millar definitely should be on everyone’s pop radar. ‘No Bad Vibes’, taken from her new EP Communication, is a calypso pop treat with trap beats about blocking out negativity.

Decco featuring Mapei ‘Shooting Stars’

It’s good to hear from Swedish-American soul pop singer Mapei. Can’t believe ‘Don’t Wait’ came out three friggin’ years ago. This twinkly radio-ready club pop tune is possibly the most commercial sounding record she’s done and I’m here for it. Part of me wishes Alexis Jordan would come back with something like this right about now.

Hyoyeon (from Girls’ Generation) ‘Mystery’

I’m still shook from Tiffany‘s “I Just Wanna Dance” earlier this year so it’s great to see that K-pop’s longest running girl band Girls’ Generation has yielded yet another solo star. Hyoyeon‘s debut solo single ‘Mystery’ (“Miss Terry” if you’re nasty and singing along) is much more rhythmic, giving you Bhangra beats that nod to Selena Gomez‘s ‘Come and Get It’ but much spicier.

And finally…

On this day 10 years ago, Emma Bunton released her last solo album Life in Mono. I’d be quite happy if she banged out another Free Me, which I guess was what Life in Mono was meant to be but not quite on the same breadth of excellence. Although I still enjoy the title track, ‘Wasn’t Looking (When I Found Love)’, ‘All I Need to Know’ and ‘Take Me To Another Town’.

The album features her cover of ‘Downtown’, as you might remember. It was the BBC’s Children in Need charity single that year and reached a peak of #3 on the UK charts.