Limmy’s Hot Take: What we can learn from Vanessa Amorosi’s comeback in a Trump PTSD week, Alicia Keys and Turning 30 with T-ARA

This week on Limmy’s Hot Take: I have been thinking a lot about fear over the past few days. I mean, where do we even begin with a week that left us with Donald Trump as the new President of the United States?

Fear is such a powerful feeling. Fear changes people; it cripples you and cuts you down. It eats away at your self-confidence. They are the words that put you back in your box and keep you in your place; from progressing, from changing, from becoming a better version of yourself, and from making moves that you know are ultimately right for you.

After awhile that fear becomes real comfortable and familiar. It might even start to sound like common sense to you. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” “Why would you leave all this behind and start over?” “You can’t stop now! If you do, your fans will forget about you.” “‘You know it’s true what they say, it’s better the devil you know!” Nope. Maybe that last one was Kylie.

One who has grabbed fear by the ball sack and given it a firm-but-threatening squeeze is Aussie popstar Vanessa Amorosi, who shortly after the height of her 2009 comeback decided to change direction and give up the comfort of Australia for a new life in Los Angeles.

Widely regarded, yet lately often forgotten, as one of Australia’s most powerful vocalists of this generation (even Mary J. Blige fucks with her), Vanessa reached national treasure status by the time she was 18. Mostly thanks to the ubiquitous banger ‘Absolutely Everybody’, which probably still haunts regional community centre aerobics classes frequented by about five retirees.

Even better yet, Vanessa came smashing back A DECADE after with a multi-platinum-selling #1 hit ‘This Is Who I Am’ and an equally popular album. That was her last album.

 

In the seven years that passed, she could have remained in Australia where she would have been guaranteed work for a lifetime to keep her profile up as a minor celebrity. She could have appeared on Dancing With The Stars (Down Under’s version of Strictly), she could have been a judge on The Voice (imagine the tabloids jizzing over a rivalry between two of Australia’s greatest pop divas! ARE YOU TEAM DELTA OR TEAM VANESSA? *Cuts to cleverly edited side eyes and stony-faced hair flicks*). Vanessa Amorosi could have even gone into the jungle! Because we now have I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! in Oz too. But instead, she followed her gut and took a massive risk by moving to L.A. and disappearing from the limelight. In the entire time Vanessa Amorosi had been away from the public eye – Snapchat was launched, One Direction was created and disintegrated, “Tindering” had become a thing, and humans have now evolved to screen grab at lightning speed.

This week she emerged to announce a soul gospel album due for 2017, which she has worked on for the past five years with Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics (!!). By the sounds of things, it’s a labour of love she is very proud of. Will it be a massive success? Will she top the charts again and sell out arenas? Maybe! But that almost doesn’t matter. Perhaps, quite admirably, what we can take away from her story in this Trump PTSD week where many of us feel perhaps quite helpless and uncertain of the future, is that we need to have courage to rebuild. Change is inevitable, and life is too short to stay unhappy and comfortable in the fear of the unknown.

The Gospel according to Alicia Keys

I’ve been massively impressed with the new Alicia Keys album. Listened to it from start to finish and again yesterday. I said a couple of weeks ago, in relation to Tove Lo’s album, that there’s a wave of realism coming to mainstream music and that is what we are all connecting with right now, and it couldn’t be truer of HERE.

Alicia’s musical output has always remained very close to her Harlem roots but this particular album just feels more like home. It is almost quite documentary-like in its execution, in the way it invites you in and has you completely immersed in its world without leaving your seat. The beauty of which is brought to life visually in this mini-movie that accompanies the record. It won’t take up as much time as the Lemonade movie but it is just as important viewing.

 

Top Tunes of The Week

St. Beauty ‘Borders’

Is anyone else watching the Issa Rae HBO series Insecure? Solange has done an A+ job curating music for this because I swear I’ve got Shazam running every episode. One of the gems uncovered through the show this week was St. Beauty, an American soul duo signed to Janelle Monae‘s Wondaland Records. ‘Borders’ is one for the midnight drives.

 

Washington ‘Saint Lo’

Australian singer-songwriter Megan Washington is back with her first new material in two years, ‘Saint Lo’. The whispy electronic pop piece came about from her songwriting sessions in the States. This actually sounds like it could slot quite nicely between Tegan & Sara and Shura‘s latest albums!

 

 

Gabrielle Aplin ‘Miss You’

Okay, there’s definitely a theme emerging with this week’s Top Tunes. Gabrielle Aplin is not one I thought I’d be checking for but since the surprisingly good deep house remix of her 2013 single ‘Salvation’ that dropped earlier this year, it shouldn’t come as a shock that she’s headed in a dancier direction. ‘Miss You’ still bears the signature of her piano-based singer-songwriter brand but just every so lightly sprayed with a mist of bubblegum-flavoured, tropical house production.

 

047 feat. Linn Öberg ‘Wilderness’

Here come the Swedes, in their element with a frosty and folky electronic pop moment. Melancholy folk singer-songwriter Linn Öberg is giving us all a bit of raw, earnest vocals for the dance floor and I can’t even pretend that I haven’t already fantasised about figure skating to this. (I do not skate. I normally even hate the thought of skating. I avoid Winter Wonderlands all together because I know there are people ice skating.)

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

And finally…

To kinda cheer myself up this week, I’ve made a playlist of T-ARA bangers you never thought you needed. So if you are in need of a lift with high-fructose K-pop – I got you. This was partly prompted by this lite shade interview where the band was asked about turning the ripe old age of 30!

“We do not feel pressured about entering our 30s. It does not really strike us that we are near our 30s since we live in a group rather than living alone.” – Some comfort to the hundreds of 30 somethings flat-sharing in London, I guess.

 

Tweet me shady memes about Trump on @feedlimmy.

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Limmy’s Hot Take: Christmas dread (already), Tinashe and delayed albums, and my new fave girlband BLACKPINK

This week on Limmy’s Hot Take: I’m operating on zero sleep and most definitely on zero chill after a stressful week. I come home to dead flowers and various receptacles spilling out with dirty laundry and empty wine bottles. Things are simultaneously winding down for the year as they are ramping up, and it’s really fucking with my calm.

Christmas-themed foods have started creeping into our shelves (Yesterday, I discovered “Christmas sarnies”. What a time to be alive), I’m beginning to wonder (no Dannii) if my plan to AT THE VERY LEAST stop at one bottle a week is looking the slightest bit possible. People are starting to gasp things like, ‘Where has the year gone?’, and with it inevitably comes the much-dreaded cue for reflection. WHERE HAS THE YEAR GONE, SIS? WHAT HAS IT LEFT US WITH? With the US Election looming, I pray it’s not another bad news for us all.

Reflecting on what’s been both a super and crappy year is one of our faves Tinashe. The R&B singer’s much-delayed sophomore album Joyride continues to be much-delayed. Sis was forced to axe her tour dates in the UK and Australia, and there’s still no sign of when they might be rescheduled. Now it seems all this pent up frustration and murkiness with her own album plan has led to a brilliant new creative output in the shape of a 15-track mixtape called Nightride.

It’s raw, it’s dreamscapey. It’s ambient yet really present at the same time. And also, quite nicely features a track called ‘Ghetto Boy’, co-written with the critics’ fave Girls Aloud, Nicola Roberts, and Dev Hynes, who also produced the track. She’s got her fingers in all the right pies. Joyride or no Joyride, Tinashe is not about to disappear, I swear. Maybe we need to address fans pestering artists for an album? CC: Zara Larsson.

Top Tunes of the Week

BLACKPINK ‘Playing With Fire’

I keep yo-yoing between slightly bored to comatose right now with the current output from Little Mix and 5H, so I genuinely couldn’t be more excited to come across this new girlband. From the creators of 2NE1, comes a new generation of K-Pop girlband in the shape of BLACKPINK. These four girls have very quickly become quite a massive deal in South Korea since their debut in August. Sonically, they’re a bit of a dog’s breakfast at the moment. While their style is definitely a winning fusion of big pop melodies and rap, each of the four singles thus far have taken on completely different personalities and genres, which I actually don’t hate.

There’s also something rather international about BLACKPINK’s make up that perhaps gives them a bit of an edge? One of their members, Lisa (the one with the bangs), is Thai and is the first non-Korean artist signed to YG Entertainment after she was discovered at their audition in Thailand five years ago. Another member, Rosé, hails from Melbourne, Australia, and Jennie was raised in New Zealand.

Check out the videos for their newest offerings ‘Playing With Fire’ and ‘Stay’.

Tom Aspaul ‘Messy’

If you have ever woken up still-fully clothed and stained in cheap red wine from the night before, desperately trying to locate your phone and wallet, and struggling to recall what the fuck you said to whom at the pub after the fourth round, then first of all, welcome to my world, and second – this song is you. ‘Messy’ is one of four soulful, electropop gems on the brilliant Tom Aspaul‘s new EP Left. Rightfully heaped praise for its shiny melodies and production aside, I have to say I’m more drawn to that hint of emotional truthfulness and humanity in each of these songs.

Tayá ‘Deeper’

She first caught my eye with the gorgeously honeyed R&B tones of ‘Sweet Waste of Time’ now Liverpudlian singer Tayá is back with ‘Deeper’ – a soulful jam with crystalline electronic beats. There’s not really too much out there about this Atlantic Records UK signee as yet but I sense it will all change in 2017.

Kiiara feat. Ashley All Day ‘dopemang’

Another one we’re all keeping a firm eye on for 2017 is Kiiara, who was one of the shining breakout artists of Q1/Q2 this year with ‘Gold’ and her debut EP low kii savage. Here she is, dropping a totally badass new track to remind us all of her potential, just as bloggers start to prep their ‘ones to watch’ lists.

Avelino ‘Late Nights in The 15’

One of the many great pleasures I get from working on the MOBO Awards every year (for the past three years) is discovering new artists. The Best Newcomer category is one I always check for and this year’s nominees were exceptionally strong, including a certain hotly-tipped London-born rapper called Avelino.

Known for his collaboration with Wretch 32 and praised by key tastemakers from Noisey to Annie Mac and Charlie Sloth, I reckon it won’t be long before Avelino achieves mainstream recognition. Don’t worry, pop fans, I’m not trying to bring you a bit of grime or anything like that. Give his F.Y.O. (Fuck Your Opinion) album a spin.

This is ‘Late Nights in The 15’, which dropped a couple of months ago.

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

And finally…

We need to talk about how next level Tina Knowles Lawson is as a proud mama. .

This is my rendition of Solange❤️

A post shared by Tina Knowles (@mstinalawson) on

This is my rendition of Beyonce'

A post shared by Tina Knowles (@mstinalawson) on

Don’t @ me re: my love for M&S’s Prosecco and Winterberries crisps. Show me love instead @feedlimmy.

Limmy’s Hot Take: Tove Lo’s sweariness, Destiny’s Child “reunion” and Paulini on The Bodyguard

This week on Limmy’s Hot Take, while you embark on the annual adventure of reaching into the back of your closet to fish out that Poundland shake-and-go wig that looks like it should be read its last rites but is still holding on to some fake blood from three Halloweens ago, we are recapping shit that went down in pop.

Some people can’t help but notice there is swearing and real shit going on in Tove Lo’s new album.

The Guardian summarises in the title of their review: “Joyful sexual liberation and lots of swearing”. The Evening Standard muses, “could do with fewer F-words and more bulls-eye choruses”. “Once more, she flaunts words that would be bleeped on the radio,” pointed out the New York Times. “There’s one in the first line of the album’s opening song”, the reviewer gasped. Blimey! Won’t somebody think of the children?

I mean, you’d think they were clutching their pearls at some BBC children’s show presenter, but no, this is Swedish pop sensation Tove Lo who has made her mark for being wonderfully real and uncensored about sex, drugs and fuck-ups in irresistible electro pop feasts. Where she comes from, they don’t censor nudity or swearing on television. The realism and emotional honesty she bares in her work continues to make some people slightly uncomfortable – and dare I say, I’m slightly more intrigued by that than this album.

“We’re so terrified of emotions,” she tells GQ. “We live on top of each other in cities like this [The chat took place in New York but you get the picture]. We all make ourselves smaller so that we don’t annoy each other. You can say ‘Oh, we’re being respectful of each other’ but why is it so? ‘Don’t laugh too loud. Don’t lash out. Don’t be angry. Don’t be sad.’ I think it hurts us. I think it makes us sick, really. To be able to have your lash-outs or crying, being an emotional person, that’s what a real, strong person is.”

I think we’re entering a new phase in the pop cycle right now and 2017 is going to look a whole lot more like Tove Lo than you’d think. Not saying swapping ‘O’s for vaginas on album covers are gonna be the new thing, but more like, we’re gonna experience more realism and rawness in mainstream art, and it’s not just because we’re in a post-Lemonade world. People are going to respond more to records that are honest, that reflect the pain and confusion they’re trying to calmly mask while they carry on their 9-to-5. We’re in a bit of a shitty place right now – there is a lot uncertainty particularly with people in our generation, Brexit is looming, there is financial turmoil and a tide turning with conservatism.

And that was probably a touch too deep for a Saturday afternoon from someone who wrote about Little Mix last week, but if I haven’t lost you…

 

Destiny’s Child is officially on Instagram and people are losing their shit

For some reason, there is now a verified Destiny’s Child Instagram account and people, INCLUDING MYSELF, are getting flustered at the slight chance of a reunion. Beyoncé’s is probably thinking, ‘I did not sign off on this. Who let my father on Instagram?’.

Honestly, whatever reunion there is will probably never happen on the scale we want (album of new material, world tour, HBO documentary, another McDonald’s advert, merch, line of wigs) but, like, there’s probably some contractually-obligated ‘best of’ in the pipeline.

If we had a brand new Destiny’s Child single, it better be a sultry, urban low-key banger in the vein of Tinashe/DJ Mustard production/’Motivation’-meets-‘Drunk in Love’-meets-‘2 On’.

 

Paulini is doing The Bodyguard Musical in Australia!

The musical theatre production has already done wonders for reviving Beverley Knight and Alexandra Burke’s careers here in the UK, so I’m bloody excited to see what it’s going to do for Paulini.

I mean, I really hope Australia gets behind our girl in this exciting new role, but not so much that it gives her the courage to release some strawberry daiquiri Eurodance covers album of Whitney’s hits. We mustn’t let it go to her head because, remember, somebody let this happen.

 

Top tunes of the week

Ray BLK ‘Baby Girlz’

South London singer-rapper Ray BLK is 100% compulsory listening for every single one of you. I was immediately won over when I heard her singles ‘My Hood’ with Stormzy and ‘Chill Out’. Her seven-track album Durt, which hears her pair velvety vocals that would sound at home on American urban music airwaves with truthful lyrics about her life, relationships and struggles in London, is my favourite new release this week.

‘Baby Girlz’ sets the scene telling a story of a girl named ‘Keisha’ who fell pregnant in her teens and turns into a wider commentary on the cycle of hardship Ray sees in her community.

“You know the Tories wanna trap you in the cycle, either you’re carrying a baby or got a rifle. And you know the streets always looking for disciples to follow the roads and have your growth stifled.”

 

 

Ralph ‘Busy Man’

Rocking a slightly more laid-back groove this time is electropop chanteuse Ralph, who of course dazzled us all with the rather brilliant ‘Cold to The Touch’. There is something quite alluring about her desire and steely determination to get her message through to this bloke. I can imagine myself trying to slow dance my way out of the Friend Zone with this one.

 

Alex Maxwell ‘Ghost’

London alt-pop singer songwriter Alex Maxwell is giving me throwback to the dreamy 90s psychedelica of Mazzy Star here with ‘Ghost’. It’s totally one for laying on the grass in the countryside with a joint, definitely not wearing a flower crown because that shit is lame, and staring at the stars. The track, which Alex co-wrote with Carey Willett from Athlete, is on her debut EP Signs.

 

Ryland Rose ‘Polaroids’

Independent Australian rapper Ryland Rose sounds ready for prime time slot after the 7 o’clock news on this polished production of swishy synths and urban beats.

 

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

And finally…

Turns out, the Sugababes were #1 on this day 13 years ago with ‘Hole in The Head’ (Mutya’s look in this video is so Halloween goals) and nine years ago with ‘About You Now’. What. Major. Tunes.

If you haven’t already lost hope <insert Titanic ‘It’s Been 84 Years’ gif>, apparently very early 2017 will finally bring us the long awaited new album by Mutya Keisha Siobhan.

Let’s talk shit and share playlists on Twitter. Follow me on @feedlimmy.

Limmy’s Hot Take: Joanne, Melanie C and Dami Im’s New Banger

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Limmy’s Hot Take: another hot take you didn’t need on shit that went down in pop and my favourite new releases this week.

I’m shaking off the dust bunnies on this blog and training it to stop autocorrecting ‘Limmy’ to ‘Jimmy’ because I miss writing about pop music and while I’ve been active on Twitter during my hiatus, I realised there’s nothing quite like having a soapbox of your own to look back on in five years and deepen your frown lines with than a ‘weekly hot take’ blog.

There’s something about Joanne

The water cooler chat of the week, depending on where you are and the discerning care-factor of the company you keep (*Tatianna voice* “Choices!”), will either be about the Trump/Clinton debate or where you stand on Lady Gaga’s career-reshaping new album Joanne.

To save you time, as a concept, I am actually here for this album.

I think it’s fucking great that she wants to shake it up and revisit her Stefani Germanotta Myspace-era, dive bar roots. Why the hell not? Lady Gaga does not owe us a lifetime supply of RedOne bangers. She has already given us quite a few. And you can search elsewhere if that’s strictly what you want. I’m not saying I wouldn’t be pleased with more ‘Sexxx Dreams’/’Dance In The Dark’ et al, but for those who are interested in this particular performer’s journey and expression – whatever it might look like and wherever the hell it might take us – you can stay buckled in. Refreshments will be on their way.

Now, onto Madonna-gate in the above interview, it’s fair to say early chapters of Gaga’s mainstream success would not have been possible without Madonna paving the way, as she did for many female pop entertainers today. In Gaga’s attempt to separate her shit to Madonna’s, and crucially, to sell-in the musical authenticity of this project, her comments came across implying she’s more talented than The Queen of Pop.

If there’s anything that irks pop fans more than terrible album covers, it is when popstars suddenly get a Pitchfork-shaped epiphany and start talking about making “real music”. And that is what this fucking feels like. On a personal level, it feels like betrayal for fans who have, and might still be battling, slights for worshipping pop and shouldering all the criticisms of its innately manufactured nature.

Being able to play multiple instruments and produce every piece of music doesn’t necessarily make you great. It means you have skills that might be great embellishments on your LinkedIn profile, I don’t know. Actors don’t write their own scripts, and there is something to be said about the intangible quality and essence that great popstars and entertainers all have that cannot be taught at stage school, music college or YouTube tutorials on how to use LogicPro. Gaga, hopefully, when she’s not trying to convince the world she has all the long been the female Beck, will see she is one of pop’s elites.

It is Q4 2016 and we have a new Mel C album

I mean, this was the kind of week we’ve been through, ladies and gentlemen. That we have to chalk up Melanie C‘s new album in one column and Joanne on the right. Is this the new ‘Out of Your Mind’ vs ‘Groovejet’ chart showdown? Are we really troubling the fire department with flame wars like these?

I have mad respect for Mel C for being consistent in her solo output and carving her own lane post-Spice. I’ve enjoyed quite a lot of her solo material (I sat out of the musical theatre covers album because that is something I really don’t have the time or space for). I completely get that Version of Me is something of a personal record. Darker tones of oppression rears its head on ‘Our History’, which to my delight, kind of throws me back to her Beautiful Intentions album. I’ve even read that she’s trying new things (sis, are those feathery urban beats and tropical house influences I hear?) But where are the tunes?

Shout Out To My Ugly Heart

Congratulations, you made a wonderfully observant tweet about how much Little Mix’s ‘Shout Out To My Ex’ sounds like G.R.L.‘s ‘Ugly Heart’. Guess who is not caring about that or about “dressing like strippers”? The fabulous reigning queens who have hair-flicked and four-part harmonied their way to the top of the charts with their fourth UK #1 hit this week. The biggest opening week download sales for a song this year, mind you.

People might’ve clocked that despite all the juicy tabloid headlines about Perrie getting even with Zayn on this track, none of the girls have had a hand in writing ‘Shout Out To My Ex’. But think about how ‘Sweet Dreams My L.A. Ex’ was written by Cathy Dennis for Britney with her break up with Justin Timberlake in mind. The real T is how this debate has distracted us from realising Little Mix hasn’t quite topped the lead single excellence of ‘Move’.

Top tunes of the week

Dami Im ‘Fighting For Love’

Remember when Australia’s Dami Im gave us the Eurovision Song Contest moment of 2016? Here she is back with a tastefully-fashioned emotive banger with very 2016 chopped-up synths in the chorus, brought to us by DNA, the same Australian producers behind ‘Sound of Silence’ and The Veronicas‘ super-snatched uptempo ‘In My Blood’. So glad we hadn’t lost her to the Carpenters covers album.

Leo Kalyan ‘Fucked Up’

Alt-R&B artist Leo Kalyan is giving you something you can feel here with ‘Fucked Up’. It is vulnerable, confessional and beautifully insular, like a sonic version of my evening with red wine and pain. Full marks for the spirit-stirring wailing at the end.

Becky Hill ‘Warm’

I’ve never had any qualms with Becky Hill‘s feature creature duties and her prime solo output ‘False Alarm’ was a proper ear worm, but there’s something rather top of the class about ‘Warm’. The restraint and soulfulness she is displaying here with the Shift K3y-produced track almost feels like she’s signalling a reintroduction, and I am all ears. Could 2017 be the year she comes into her own and into the spotlight?

Ronika ‘Principle’

Funky, slinky and like some kind of bridge between Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis‘ world and Roisin Murphy‘s Overpowered album, ‘Principle’ is a jam of the highest order from Ronika, who is no stranger to power pop lovers on Twitter. If anything it’s a jolt to say, ‘don’t fucking write me out just yet’.

Jade Zhang feat. Timbaland ‘Dust My Shoulders Off’

A tidy and lightweight, kinetic R&B bop from one of China’s biggest pop queens Jade Zhang, in tandem with none other than the almighty Timbaland. It’s more of a feel-good Radio Disney jam than the slutdrop-worthy ways of ‘Promiscuous Girl’ or ‘The Way I Are’. With any luck, that will follow.

For more of my favourite new tunes, slide into my NEWEST Spotify playlist.

And finally…

Australian Pop deity, LGBT warrior and The People’s Minogue, who turned 45 this week (check out that fucking cake!), is performing at Feast Festival, an annual gay and lesbian street party in Adelaide.

 

Sister Kylie, who is also an Australian pop deity and LGBT warrior, in her own right reposted this pic with her own well wishes.

 

Playlist of the week

MASC4MASC – For when you feel like getting the jump on your workmates who think you listen to nothing but Ariana. Once you lull them into a false sense of security with The Who, Johnny Marr, Stevie Nicks and The Rolling Stones, that’s when you spring on your one true favourite rock artist Ashlee Simpson.

Check out more embarrassing-yet-rather-on-point themed Spotify Playlists.

Let’s talk shit and reply with shady Mariah gifs on Twitter. Follow me on @feedlimmy.

Feed Limmy: Top 30 Songs of 2015

This has been a tradition since the land before time and Snapchat. While I’ve taken a long break from pop music blogging (the commentary still very much lives on in Twitter), I’m usually tempted to come back to this increasingly unfamiliar Wordpress interface every year and rank, hyperlink and embed my personal favourite tracks of the last 12 months. This year for the first time, I will be blogging with emojis. #downwiththekids

I imagine it’d be nice to scroll back through the passage of time one day to see that once upon a time, Carly Rae Jepsen overtook Robyn as the gays’ new queen of Bubbling Under pop. Once upon a time, Halsey was the flavour of the moment. Popstar of the Future Troye Sivan made an album (how traditional!). They sent troops to Syria but couldn’t extract a record from MKS. Nobody has time for the games Rihanna‘s playing anymore. And two unfuckwithable singer-songwriters in their 20s called Adele and Taylor Swift scrapped everyone’s life force with their massive-selling, Spotify-shunning, numerically titled albums. And where you were when you heard Zayn had left 1D?

Never mind. Here are 30 songs that I really, really liked this year.

Spoiler alert: At some point you might say, this list is really crap. Why isn’t Lana on here? 

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