Reactions to My 2017 Predictions

I had completely forgotten that I had done a 2017 predictions in music post at the start of the year. A Raven Symoné-esque gaze into the future, it was not. Upon reflection, some of the themes I had expected to come true have, while others, just like my diminishing annual promise to get in shape, have not.

Let’s recap, shall we?

“Sombre vibes and alternative sounds to the front”

‘Pure pop is over’, I declared, with the blow of a whistle and precise waving of arms like a referee in a boxing ring. I had said that in light of a post-Brexit Britain and Trump-reigned America, music was going to reflect the harsher socio and political climate. This was clearly written before I learned about “woke”, a widespread sun-blotting ‘movement’, fortified through social media, and peaking at its glossiest, most marketable zenith when Katy Perry hopped out with ‘Chained to The Rhythm‘ and Kendal Jenner with a Pepsi commercial she’d rather forget.

Grime and hip hop have certainly charted healthily in 2017 – any broadsheet would tell you that. This year saw Stormzy become the first ever grime artist to score a #1 album to a chorus of critical acclaim and screaming fans at sold out shows. We’d all soon stan Stefflon Don if ‘Hurtin’ Me’ or her feature on Jax Jones and Demi Lovato‘s bossy ‘Instruction’ haven’t already put her on your radar.

In the same gaze where I had pointed out artists such as Ray BLK would prosper, this year saw heads turned by the likes of alt-R&B dreamcatchers like Kelela, SZA, Sampha and Kehlani.

To say that the heartbeat of pure pop dimmed this year would be a reach, even for someone as naturally over-dramatic as me. The party raged on. The blood cells of eager-to-please Western pop fused with the viral sensation of its infectious, rhythmic Spanish cousins and out came cross-polinations of artists growing in different nurseries of major label divisions across the world, spawning global hits such as ‘Despacito‘ (Puerto Ricans Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee with Canadian Justin Bieber), ‘Reggaeton Lento‘ (Miami-founded CNCO with Britain’s pride Little Mix), ‘Mi Gente’ (Colombian J Balvin and French Willy William with Texas’ most prolific hot sauce carrier, Beyoncé).

Stan Twitter gurgled over Dua LipaRita Ora and Camila Cabello in the same breath as Taylor Swift and Little Mix. And whether you were checking for it or not, we’ve had a record number of solo One Direction records flood the market. 2017 is to the solo 1D harvest what 1999 was for the Spice Girls. Marinade on that fact.

“Nostalgic re-issues of classic 90s albums on vinyl will be a thing”

According to the Official Charts Company’s October publishing of the 40 biggest selling vinyl albums of 2017 so far… this was not what I had in mind. I am seeing Ed Sheeran, Radiohead, Amy Winehouse, Beatles, David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac, even Rag ‘N’ Bone Man. There’s a still lot of nostalgia, alright, but not the kind I’m here for. Dondé está Shania Twain “Come On Over”, Alanis Morissette “Jagged Little Pill”, Janet Jackson “The Velvet Rope”, Spice Girls “Spice”, Madonna “The Immaculate Collection” etc. etc.? If you are a hipster vinyl hound, find yourself a pop friend this Christmas and gift them a legendary 90s album of their liking this season. If you want to be a true friend – the kind of friend they sing about in the Golden Girls theme tune – I have seen Lisa Scott-Lee‘s ‘Lately’ and Nicole Scherzinger’s scrapped ‘Puakenikeni’ lying unclaimed in a bargain crate out in East London somewhere. You are welcome.

Speaking of pop nostalgia, take a huge fucking bow Team Steps and Bananarama for staging absolutely solid gold comebacks this year. Especially you, Steps. New music in 2017 that was on brand, on point and on the top of the bloody iTunes charts.

“Expect unexpected collaborations”

Well, that’s a fucking given. I was not exactly the Book of Revelations now, was I? This was a pointless prediction. A piece of recycled oxygen. Like the breath you just exhaled while you were diving deep into your car boot to fetch an oversized Ikea bag for your shopping.

I wasn’t completely off the mark here though. One certainly did not see the returned popularity of Spanglish pop. Not since Ricky Martin‘s hip-twisting World Cup anthem ‘The Cup of Life’ have we seen such unity of the two languages on a global spread – thanks to the aforementioned rather exciting and unexpected collaborations.

Where I was expecting more vibrant gumbos a la Cambridge classical-electronic band Clean Bandit meets Jamaican dancehall sire Sean Paul and karate-chopping Essex pop newbie Anne-Marie, it seems like what works is sticking with your peers. Calvin Harris grouped artists on the same eye-level of success for ‘Feels’ – Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry and Big Sean. Similarly, DJ Khaled drafted Justin Bieber and Rihanna for the respective hits. It just makes good commercial sense. So until there is a verifiable market for a Chainsmokers featuring Shirley BasseyLindsey Stirling and Mr Eazi collab, then I will just stay put.

At some point over the next couple of weeks I will be sharing my fave tracks of 2017 and my predictions for the state of pop in 2018. Now if that isn’t something to look forward to, I don’t know what is.

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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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Limmy’s Hot Take: Kanye and M.I.A. come for Beyoncé, and New Music by Bruno Mars, ZAE and Kate Miller-Heidke

This week on Limmy’s Hot Take: Kanye simply living his truth – hashtag no filter – continues to be one of the most entertaining things happening in music right now. It’s so rock and roll.

Yesterday he arrived at his Sacramento show reportedly an hour and a half late, only to scrap the whole thing after performing just two songs. But not before adding some real value to the evening with an epic rant aimed at pals Beyoncé and Jay Z.

As NME reports, he called out Bey over her alleged condition that she would only perform at the MTV Video Music Awards if she was awarded Video of The Year over rivals Kanye and Drake.

He tells the crowd: “Beyoncé, I was hurt! ‘Cause I heard that you said you wouldn’t perform unless you won Video of the Year over me, and over ‘Hotline Bling.’ In my opinion — now, don’t go tryin’ to diss Beyoncé, she is great. Taylor Swift is great. We are all great people, we are all equal. But sometimes, we be playing the politics too much and forgetting who we are — just to win. Fuck winning! Fuck looking cool! Fuck looking cool! Fuck being cool! Fuck all that!”

I mean I do see a few points here that aren’t at the end of a finger. But fuck that, everybody wants to win, everybody wants to be cool. I don’t think Beyoncé’s alleged request is that outrageous, do you? You’d almost expect it. I definitely would if I were her. I mean, you won’t see it come from me via email, text or DM but I’d definitely make sure someone in my team gets on the phone and takes care of that. Also, how you gon’ have Beyoncé bring the kind of elaborate performance she always does to your show and not honour her in some way?

I know she was up for 11 VMAs this year, which by the way is the most amount of nominations she’s ever gotten in a single year, but let’s face it Video of The Year is the one. Also, let’s be real, out of Adele’s ‘Hello’, Bieber’s ‘Sorry’, Kanye’s ‘Famous’ and Drake’s ‘Hotline Bling’, ‘Formation’ was surely hands down Video of The Goddamn Year, mate.

Ye’s rant trying to expose Beyoncé as a greedy, game-playing, scheming corporation is not exactly a new angle. And better yet, the reality of that is not something you can change by being mad about it either. There are tons of super talented musicians and entertainers that fall to the wayside. Talent is not enough. You need more to slay in the game. You need great business acumen (thank you Mathew Knowles), power and influence. This empire was not built in a day. And it sure as hell wasn’t built on unprofessionalism and cancelling shows 10 minutes into it. But you know what, they’re both different artists and Kanye has real moments of greatness that is undeniable. What he does have, in place of Video of The Year, is a real candid quality about him. For better or worst he is himself, and that is actually really entertaining and refreshing in a world of heavily media-trained and overly cautious stars.

In other news, M.I.A. has also called out Beyoncé (and other A-listers like Madonna  and Rihanna) for stealing from her. According to Idolator, here’s what the British rapper and producer told Q Magazine:

“I’m fine with Madonna or Beyoncé or Rihanna being ‘inspired’ by my work. But I would like them to then go, ‘Yeah, this immigrant who came out of nowhere influenced us, so maybe not all of them are fucking terrible’. They don’t even think like that. They go ‘Yeah, maybe me stealing the stuff says she’s all right. She should be thankful we’re stealing it’. But sometimes you just think, ‘Fuck, I have to pay some bills,’ you know? Beyoncé comes from the school of Michael Jackson-ness. Where the family built an entire world to support you. From when you were a child. I never had that luxury. If you’re working class, music doesn’t belong to you like it used to – it would be really hard for Oasis to happen now. I’m just fodder. A template for pop stars to create more content. We constantly feed the top of the pyramid.”

I’m dead curious to know which tracks she is specifically referring to now. But overall, this is giving me pains circa Kat Deluna when J.Lo hooked up with RedOne and started jacking her sound for the very lucrative, career CPR-ing ‘On The Floor’/Love? era.

We’ve seen this happen over and over again, and it isn’t fair. It must be hard for an artist who is, I suppose, ‘not mainstream’ by nature, with very brilliant and occasional commercial crossovers, to straddle those worlds. It must be soul-crushing to be in those circles and see the money and opportunity, and be on the radar where people are watching, listening and having their creative team pin your shit to Pinterest boards, and you are not getting any recognition for it. It is also shit when you’re repeatedly told you’re ‘underrated’. That shit can take a toll – case in action, aforementioned Kat Deluna and the artist formerly known as Wynter Gordon, now relaunched under her real name Diana Gordon, who I’m very happy is winning now (you should read her interview with Fader).

I know this won’t help pay the bills but I take comfort in knowing that the age of the internet has opened so many more doors for artists. Real talent always shines, and I believe when you’re creating something of great quality that is also truthful to you, there will be an audience there. In a time where genres are breaking down and listeners are more guided by recommendations and artists that sound similar to the ones they like, things like playlists and those ‘Related Artists’ steer our consumption a lot. Perhaps there might be something in fostering a network of like-minded artists on your level that respect your craft and complement your artistry and brand, and pull each other up together. Collaborate! Create cool shit together! Do promo together! Go on tour together! Unite your fanbase! People seem to only be out for themselves now, trying to be the next mononym star. But seriously, come together!

Update: This thread by a songwriter, which came into my periphery after Guyliner retweeted it, is a good read.

 

Top tunes of the week

Bruno Mars’ entire 24K Magic album

I’m genuinely surprised I’ve chosen the new Bruno Mars album over Little Mix‘s. You know I love my pop girl bands. But to be honest, Bruno’s 24K Magic is everything. Nine tracks of hedonistic, solid 90s R&B and funk. I went through a phase of immersing myself in lots of New Jack Swing earlier this year so this couldn’t have come at a better time.

ZAE ‘Letting Go’

If you like Banks, chances are you’re gonna enjoy West London singer ZAE‘s ‘Letting Go’. She told The Line of Best Fit that the song was directly influenced by the singer and was in fact the very first song she wrote. Not a bad place to start, mate. Although that story is almost too good to be true. But what is good and certifiable true though is the intimate music video that comes with it, portraying a two young men in a volatile and emotionally-fraying stage of their relationship.

Kate Miller-Heidke ‘You’ve Underestimated Me, Dude’

I’ve always loved me some Kate Miller-Heidke. Unquestionably, the Professor Dumbledore of what she does, which is cleverly observant and sensitive lyrics and, every now and then when the mood calls for it, a theatrical performance like this one. ‘You’ve Underestimated Me, Dude’ is a nails down the back, bluesy rock clapback at misogyny.

Jhene Aiko ‘Maniac’

The camp-as-tinsel-on-Alan-Carr kid in me immediately thought of the Michael Sembello/Flashdance song but no this is something more of a sexier outing. ‘Maniac’ could have easily been mistaken for a Tinashe banger or a very slick Kelly Rowland comeback single (Sis, take notes!). It doesn’t sound like the Jhene Aiko I know but it’s definitely closer aligned to her joint album with Big Sean as Twenty88. “I’m a low-key freak you don’t know me yet”, she coolly sings over crystalline trap beats. That may be the case.

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

And finally…

Quite a few tweets this week reminiscing on the great pop songwriting output of Cathy Dennis, who of course, is responsible for Britney‘s ‘Toxic’, Kylie‘s ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’, Sugababes ‘About You Now’, and a couple of good Heidi Montag tracks you should not be ashamed to say you like (this is a safe space). So here’s a playlist of songs she has written for other artists and some performed by Cathy herself.

Tweet me your fave pop songwriters over at @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.

Feed Limmy Top Albums of 2013: Kelly Rowland “Talk A Good Game”

There isn’t a female R&B artist today who can walk a mile in Kelly Rowland’s shoes. For a woman who is perpetually pitted against her iconic ‘sister’ and former band mate, Beyoncé, Kelly hushes the trivial talk with enviable grace and a formidable new album of her own.

Kelly Rowland Talk A Good Game

Talk A Good Game is unquestionably Rowland’s finest work yet. For anyone who has followed her solo career trajectory from day dot, this album is the pay off you have been waiting for.

It is a focussed and fully-realised modern R&B album, unlike its predecessor Here I Am which was faintly flawed by its forced inclusion of some Ibiza-raided dance numbers.

Kelly co-wrote every track (except the electrifying Jamie Foxx cover ‘Freak’) with some of the industry’s most in-demand writers and producers. Mike Will Made It (hitmaker for Miley Cyrus and Ciara) hemmed the cheeky cunnilingus anthem ‘Kisses Down Low’, which complements Rowland’s back catalogue of brazenly sexual songs. Even though it was the lead single, ‘Kisses’ is by no means representative of the broad topic Talk A Good Game covers.

Watch the video for Kelly’s single ‘Kisses Down Low’:

For the most part, this album conveys an honest and confessional tone on topics surrounding relationships, served with Kelly’s irrepressible southern belle sass.

The gritty standout track ‘Dirty Laundry’ has Rowland taking a tear-streaked flashback to an abusive relationship. The confronting lyrics ripped gossip blogs a new one, especially the lines that echoed her belittled self-esteem when Beyoncé’s career took off. “When my sister was on stage, killing it like a motherfucker. I was in rage, feelin’ it like a motherfucker… Bittersweet, she was up, I was down. No lie, I feel good for her but what do I do now? Forget the records, off the record I was going through some bullshit. Post-Survivor, she on fire. Who’d wanna hear my bullshit?”

Check out the video for ‘Dirty Laundry’:

‘Down On Love’ is one for the small hours spent in solitude when you’re mindlessly thumbing through Grindr and thinking to yourself, ‘What even is love, y’guyz?’. Despite the subtle pace, at its peak, this song packs some of Kelly’s most outstanding vocals on record yet.

Elsewhere, the alluring ‘Red Wine’ is a slow burning number, best served right after a meal of Drake’s ‘Hold On, We’re Going Home’ and the bossy bonus track ‘Sky Walker’ (featuring The-Dream) boasts some of the most deliciously cocky lyrics I’ve heard all year. “You need a main girl that fucks you like a side chick, let go and stop fucking around.” She will take your man, honey.

Talk A Good Game strikes the perfect balance of my dream R&B album: slick, sexy and vulnerable.

Chart Feed – 24.09.12

We’ve seen the charts light up like it was Christmas this month, thanks to the heavy flow of new albums taking over the shelves.

CHART FEED

For only the second time in history, the entire top six spots on the US Billboard 200 are filled with debut entries. Here in Australia, we have eight new albums scaling our ARIA Top 20, while over in the UK, they have six.

Y’all can obviously expect for it to get even more competitive in the coming months as all the strong sellers come out to play for your seasonal spendings.

This has been a good week for Pink, The Killers, Carly Rae Jepsen, Kanye West and – definitely more than ever – PSY, the K-pop icon responsible for ‘Gangnam Style’.

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Chart Feed – 17.09.12

No need to front like you haven’t been doing the ‘Gangnam Style’ routine down the supermarket aisle.

chart feed

This has been a good week for K-pop icon PSY, Amelia Lily, Taylor Swift and Pet Shop Boys.

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