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?

 

Advertisements

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.

Quick Feed: Pink, Mutya Keisha Siobhan + Shaznay, The Presets and Brandy

Pink is now a Covergirl.

PINK COVERGIRL

There’s something seriously cool about Pink stepping out as the new face of Covergirl. I love that she’s always been a gritty tomboy but when duty calls, bitch can scrub up just as well as your other pop princesses. Check out her stunning new promo shot for the cosmetics giant above and while we’re at it, there’s the new single artwork which blatantly rips off Kylie’s X.

PINK TRY

Do we have a Tumblr blog called Popstars Who Steal From Kylie yet?

Continue reading

Chart Feed – 26.09.11

Gotye and Kimbra‘s ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ is once again on the edge of chart-defining glory. As y’all know, I don’t usually care to report on serial #1 space invaders but when they clock a major milestone, it’s only polite to acknowledge and golf clap. ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ is now the longest staying #1 ARIA single by an Aussie artist since Savage Garden‘s ‘Truly Madly Deeply’ in 1997. If it remains at #1 this time next week, it’d be an equal tie with ‘Truly Madly Deeply’ which reigned for eight consecutive weeks at #1. ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ has also gone #1 in Netherlands and New Zealand. Gotye‘s Making Mirrors is perched at #3 on the ARIA albums chart this week while Kimbra‘s own Vows slides to #8. The Kiwi songbird’s third single ‘Good Intent’ becomes the eighth most added new song to Aussie radios this week.

Adele has now clocked over 10 million sales worldwide for her defining 21 album. That’s 10 million copies in the nine months it has been out – three million of those coming from the US alone where she has experienced unprecedented chart success this year. It is quite easily the best selling album in the UK,US and Australia this year with Lady Gaga‘s Born This Way being the next best contender. 21 hangs on to #1 in Australia this week, beating off five new entries in the Top 20 who all fell in line accordingly: The Jezabels Prisoners (#2), Lady Antebellum Own The Night (#5), The Funkoars The Quickening (#11), Opeth Heritage (#12) and Pearl Jam‘s Twenty soundtrack (#14). Over on the Aussie singles chart, Adelegend is turning tables on her three Top 20 hits. The newest one ‘Set Fire To The Rain’ leaps to #11 while past glories ‘Someone Like You’ and ‘Rolling In The Deep’ slide off to #12 and #14 respectively.

I know I normally embed performances or music videos in my Chart Feed but today I’m feeling like a little Adele cacklefest. Y’all don’t mind, right? It’s Monday. Treat yourself to this side-splitting compilation of her funnies:


 

Coldplay‘s ‘Paradise’ rises to #37 on our ARIA charts this week but y’all can expect for shit to pick up because it was the third most added new track to Aussie radios this week. Over in the US, ‘Paradise’ is the biggest new entry debuting at #16 on the Billboard Hot 100. The band’s much-hyped new album Mylo Xyloto arrives on 21 October in Australia – the same day as Darren HayesSecret Codes and Battleships, Kelly Clarkson‘s Stronger and Washington‘s I Believe You Liar/Insomnia repackage. It’ll be a hectic week for new releases, won’t it? Well, it depends on who you ask.

Darren Hayes‘ second Aussie single from this era – ‘Bloodstained Heart’ – is still a no show in the ARIA Top 100. I don’t see it slapped on the front of our iTunes store beside new releases from the aforementioned artists. Do people actually know it is out? ‘Bloodstained Heart’ is understandably not in our Aussie iTunes Top 200 and I am a little startled to see it overtaken by other new tracks like Demi Levato‘s ‘Fix A Heart’ and Emeli Sandé‘s ‘Heaven’. Well, if it’s any consolation, at least he’s still got a cracking loyal fan base.

Bryan Adams‘ new album Bare Bones enters at #38 this week after shocking the nation with his X Factor appearance last week. The general Twitter consensus was basically, a) “he hasn’t aged well” and b) “how good is ‘When You’re Gone’ – like, still?”

Jessie J‘s Who You Are album cops a surprise sales surge this week, possibly thanks to renewed interest via her current Top 10 single ‘Domino’ – which mind you, isn’t actually included on the album. We can also weigh in on the X Factor bump – remember Young Men’s Society performed her smash ‘Price Tag’ last Monday night? Meanwhile, if one is to forecast – ‘Who You Are’, her major tear jerker ballad, is set to impact UK markets on 7 November. It’ll serve as the album’s fifth overall single.

The Wanted‘s ‘Glad You Came’ breaks the Aussie Top 20, as I predicted last week. This is some well deserved success for the lads who came out on a promo trip two weeks ago, pretty much building mainstream awareness from scratch after a year of online buzz from the UK.

Check out the video for The Wanted‘s next single ‘Lightning’, which will arrive on British store fronts on 30 October:


 
David Guetta and Sia‘s ‘Titanium’ returns to our ARIA Top 5 this week after reigning as the most played song on Sydney radios last week. It’s funny how different Guetta tracks take precedence at different parts of the world. It seems like the US and UK crowds are losing their minds to the Usher collabo ‘Without You’ (which, mind you, is also a ARIA Top 10 smash here) but no one else seems to get ‘Titanium’ like we do. Sia is very much still an Aussie thing. Is she that much of an acquired taste? Nothing But The Beat clings to #4 position in Australia and #7 in the UK, but drops from #18 to #39 on the US Billboard Hot 200.

Vanessa Amorosi‘s ‘Amazing’ drops to #20 on the ARIA Australian singles chart. Well, we can expect for things to pick up after her AFL Grand Final warble this week, right? Meanwhile, ‘Amazing’ is nowhere to be found in the ARIA Top 100 and neither is another new smash ‘Big’ by Sneaky Sound System, which appeared at #15 on our ARIA Australian singles chart this week. At least the ‘Big’ remixes are tearing up the club charts. They just moved to a new peak of #4 there.

Altiyan Childs‘ new single ‘Ordinary Man’ – which was penned by Ryan Tedder – shows up at #159 on our Aussie iTunes chart. Was anyone actually notified of its release? This promo campaign really could be a whole lot better. Can I just say, I know the song’s sounding more contemporary than the old school rocker vibe he normally gives but I really dig it. ‘Ordinary Man’ was despatched to Aussie radios last week alongside current Aussie X Factor judge Natalie Bassingthwaighte‘s new single ‘All We Have’ and Sophie Ellis-Bextor‘s ‘Starlight’ [Editor’s note: !!! at the latter].

Take a look at Altiyan‘s video for ‘Ordinary Man’, which was directed by Peter Ireland who has admittedly done far more exquisite clips for Aussie artists like Brendan Maclean (‘Cold and Happy’) and Scott Spark (‘Fail Like You Mean It’):


 
Kelly Clarkson‘s ‘Mr Know It All’ isn’t exactly moving in the right direction. The lovely new piece slips to #28 here this week while over in the US, it registers a worrying drop from its #18 debut last week to #35. You’ve all seen the nice-ish screen grabs from the forthcoming music video, right? Let’s hope the whole thing surfaces soon enough.

Dev‘s ‘In The Dark’ ascends to #46 in Australia this week, making this her first solo appearance here. The single also rose to #16 over in the US, which is probably sufficient to help the girl shed her feature creature persona. You wanna have hits of your own, don’t you? Meanwhile, a similarly styled track – ‘Mr Saxobeat’ by Alexandra Stan – makes a belated leap to #19 in Australia this week, carving itself a new peak while over in the States, success is mirrored in a new position of #29 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

Side bar: call it premonition but I sense something wicked this way comes. If some Dev and Havana Brown collabo is to eventuate over the next 12 months, please remember you heard it here first. Dev‘s next appearance will be on Demi Levato‘s single ‘Who’s That Boy’.

Check out Dev‘s stylish video for ‘In The Dark’ here:


 
Havana Brown‘s bilious new single ‘Get It’ sinks to #47 in its second week. The unimaginative club stomper is once again produced by More Mega and co-written by Cassie Davis, the team who delivered excellence in her breakthrough single ‘We Run The Night’. The video for ‘Get It’ is set to drop this week and with any luck, the DJ-ing memaw might win me over with her stunning video vixenry once again. If these glowing words of review have inspired you to find out more about Ms Havana, please don’t hesitate to check out this interview she did with my friends at auspOp.

Alexis Jordan returns to our Top 50 via Sean Paul‘s ‘Got 2 Luv U’ this week at #48, almost a month ahead of its UK release. The single also managed to debut at #99 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Look, I’m really not wild about this song in any way shape or form. I still don’t get how the world slept on her stunning last single ‘Hush Hush’ but as far as I’m concerned, we’re done with Ms Jordan’s album. Well, apparently it’s not up to me because the project’s yielding its fourth single ‘How You Like Me Now’ in the next month or so. There you go.

Wynter Gordon‘s flawless ‘Buy My Love’ is set to hit the UK on 24 October while the long-awaited With The Music I Die album arrives 7 November. Both single and album are nowhere to be found in our Aussie Top 100 at the moment which is extremely tragic. Just like Alexis, Ms Diana Gordon found solo success in Australia with her first two singles, went to notch a Top 50 charting collabo, but failed to see their ace third singles do better. I refuse to believe it’s the end of an era for With The Music I Die here but I feel like I might be only one left stanning.

Florence + The Machine‘s roof-raising new single ‘Shake It Out’ becomes the fourth most added new song to Aussie radios this week. By the looks of things, this should have no problem bettering the success of its predecessor ‘What The Water Gave Me’. The flame-haired warbler will launch her sophomore Ceremonials next month.

Y’all can listen to ‘Shake It Out’ here:


 
N Dubz‘s Dappy enters the UK charts at #1 this week with his debut solo single ‘No Regrets’. He’s been fast working on his solo album while the group’s on hiatus [Editor’s note: his cousin and band mate Tulisa is a judge on X Factor, in case you’ve been living under a boulder the size of Ghana]. The spanking new entry is yet another week of scorn for Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera‘s ‘Moves Like Jagger’, who’s still fighting hard at #2 just like they are here in Australia. Will they ever ascend to the top?

Jason DeRulo‘s cringeworthy ‘It Girl’ enters at #4 in the UK, ahead of his sophomore album’s arrival. Future History will come out in stages around the globe – first arriving in Australia last Friday, then it’ll hit US stores tomorrow, before finally coming to UK audiences on 10 October.

The Saturdays‘All Fired Up’ tumbles to #15 in the UK this week. Look, I didn’t actually expect for it to stick around the Top 20 for this long, given the band’s reputation as front-heavy sellers. The girls’ next move is said to be a track titled ‘Heart Takes Over’. Meanwhile, Sugababes 4.0 seem to have given up on their ‘Freedom’ campaign, offering the single up for a free download. The tale of two British girl bands – watch this space.

Nicola Roberts‘ utterly irresistable new single ‘Lucky Day’ debuts at #40 on the UK charts, easily becoming the lowest charting solo Girls Aloud release since Nadine‘s ‘Sweetest High’ which by the way didn’t enter any Top 100 whatsoever. This embarrassing floppage really shouldn’t be happening. I see Team Ginge going hard on promo with various TV appearances but with virtually no radio support for ‘Lucky Day’, it’s no surprise that it charted where it did. Nicola’s Cinderella’s Eyes comes out in the UK today and despite being one of the best pop album’s I’ve heard all year, I’m really not holding my breath for a Top 20 entry. I don’t think my heart can handle charting this era any more. I’m just gonna excuse myself now and rock back ‘n’ forth in a corner listening to ‘Yo Yo’ on repeat.

Check out Nicola‘s G-A-Y performance of ‘Beat of My Drum’ last Saturday. It kicks in at the 1:30 mark or so.


 
UK X Factor has once again rejuvenated interest in some forgotten gems with their hit auditions. Damien Rice‘s ‘Cannonball’ bullets to #9 this week, Jennifer Hudson‘s Dreamgirls classic ‘Love You I Do’ charts for the first time at #80, while K-Ci and JoJo‘s 90’s anthem ‘All My Life’ returns at #89.

Kasabian‘s Velociraptor enters the UK charts at #1 this week, leading a string of notable new album entries – ie: Tony Bennett‘s Duets II (#5 – his much-hyped Amy Winehouse collabo ‘Body & Soul’ sits at #67 there and debuts at #97 in Australia this week), Christina Perri‘s completely forgettable Lovestrong (#9) and Tori Amos‘ rather orchestral Night of Hunters (#27).

Will Young‘s Echoes is still holding tight to the UK Top 10 as radio support for the album’s first smash ‘Jealousy’ still stays strong. Meanwhile, for those looking ahead, the project’s next single ‘Come On’ will arrive on 21 November. That gives us something to look forward to, right? I secretly want for Will to release ‘I Just Want A Lover’ as a sly club promo. Y’know, just as a little treat on the side while he satiates the adult contemporary crowd with stuff like ‘Come On’? Side bar: ‘Come On’ is a cover of a 2009 Kish Mauve single. The British electro pop duo’s last mainstream crossover was when Kylie covered their track ‘2 Hearts’ some four years ago.

Melanie C appears to have picked the next single to set sail from The Sea [Editor’s note: this album title is the pun-gift that keeps giving, innit?] ‘Weak’ has appeared on the UK release schedule with a drop date of 7 November. This whole era is floundering so bad and frankly, I feel that ‘Burn’ would’ve been the stronger choice of ballad. Why the ominous ‘Weak’?

Check out Old Sporty performing her current single ‘Think About It’ on Alan Tirchmarsh. So very plain.


 
The Wombats are set to release one of my favourite Modern Glitch tracks ‘1996’ on 7 November in the UK, making it the sixth single launched from this era. What’s their motivation with multiple singles, really? The lead ‘Tokyo (Vampires & Wolves)’ managed to go #23 in the UK last year but all its successors haven’t done any better. ‘Jump Into The Fog’ made #35, ‘Anti D’ peaked at #42, ‘Techno Fan’ went #60 and the last one ‘Our Perfect Disease’ was launched last month to no effect.

Leona Lewis scores her very first US Billboard Dance/Club play #1 with ‘Collide’. Meanwhile over in the UK, she drops to #18 on the singles chart and nope, she’s nowhere to be found in our Aussie ARIA Top 100. Thanks for asking, though. I know if it had been adult contemporary slash Ryan Tedder-aided Leona track then Aussie radios would have no problem spinning it but LeLew doing Ibiza-fashioned dance? It’s a tough pitch. Even though our Top 40 is arguably more dance inclined than ever before, it’s a certain sleazy and frenetic kind of dance music that thrives – not the wholesome, euphoric vocal pop variety that ‘Collide’ or even Kylie‘s ‘Put Your Hands Up’ (another US #1 dance smash) is. Side bar: Avicii is set to drop his “version” of ‘Collide’ titled ‘Fade Into Darkness’ next week in the UK – perhaps that will conquer the dance charts over there?

Jennifer Lopez‘s brilliant ‘Papi’ ascends to #19 on the US Billboard Dance/Club play charts. With all hopes dashed for a full scale tour after she signed on for another season of American Idol, I really don’t know what the future holds for ‘Papi’. Let’s hope her delightful set at the iHeartRadio festival yesterday inspired some kind of sales action.

Take a look at her first ever live performance of ‘Papi’. The jury’s still out on whether she’s just getting better with singing live or if it’s merely a pre-recorded live vocals we’re hearing here:


 
Rihanna‘s ‘California King Bed’ drops to #9 on the US dance charts, expect for it to quickly phase out of the scene now that she’s flogging a new dance pop piece in ‘We Found Love’ (featuring Calvin Harris). Love it or loathe it – that Rihanna reign won’t let up, ho! Elsewhere on the dance charts: Luciana‘s ‘I’m Still Hot’ rises to #3 thanks to buzz from that new Betty White remix, Gloria Estefan‘s ‘Wepa’ moves up to #4, and former Pussycat Doll glamazon Jessica Sutta‘s ‘Show Me’ ascends to #14.

Lady Antebellum‘s Own The Night debuts straight in at #1 in the US this week, dislodging the almighty Adele with 347,000 first week sales. This is the biggest first week sales for a country record America has seen since Taylor Swift‘s Speak Now dropped last year.

Beyoncé‘s gonna have to do something fast – her shit’s sinking like dead weight. The platinum-selling new album 4 took a major drop from #9 to #20 on the US Billboard 200 while the dazzling track ‘Love On Top’ is anything but, plummeting to #96 on the US Billboard Hot 100 after just three weeks. Looking on the US Hip Hop/ R&B charts – things aren’t nearly as dramatic: ‘Best Thing I Never Had’ clings to #4, ‘Party’ moves up to #33, ‘Countdown’ pretty much remains at #80 while ‘Love On Top’ charts at #86. Meanwhile across the Atlantic, ‘Countdown’ and ‘Love On Top’ are both slated for UK release on 30 October.

First we saw a US Top 10 singles chart without Katy Perry for the first time in over a year, now the album’s Top 20 is clear of the pyro-titty popstar too with Teenage Dream plunging from #12 to #38. Her California Dreams tour just wrapped its first North American leg last week and now she’s almost through with her first ever concert dates in South America. The second leg of her US tour will kick off in November with a new opening act – Ellie Goulding – after Jessie J recently pulled out due to prolonged foot injury.

Kelly Rowland needs to motivate record buyers a little harder while she’s on tour with Chris Brown. Her current album Here I Am continues to tumble two months after it was released in the States, landing at #85 this week. She’s not opening for the F.A.M.E. tour at every single North American show due to X Factor commitments but damn, you’d think things would pick up now with ‘Lay It On Me’ on the up and coming, right? The new urban single moves up to #47 on the US Hip Hop/R&B charts.

On the flipside, Kelendria shan’t be denied of British chart action for too long. Her first international Here I Am single, ‘Down For Whatever’, will hit UK stores on 30 October. Let’s pray to Her Holiness Michelle Williams for some Aussie radio success. Speaking of Kelendria and Tenitra, y’all need to check this shot of them former children of Destiny backstage at Kelly‘s show with Ms Jennifer Hudson.

Sugababes ‘Freedom’ (Acoustic) Live at Super Saturday

I can’t decide whether going acoustic for this festival was a good idea or just unnecessary risk for Sugababes 4.0.

There were some moments of magic when Heidi, Amelle and Jade smooth out the harmonies together but on the whole, I don’t think the arrangement worked overly well in selling the song.

‘Freedom’ is billed as the all important new single for the ladies on their new label. The reception has been somewhat lukewarm and none of the live performances I’ve seen thus far have really convinced me that it’s gonna set the charts alight when it drops later this month.

You gotta give them snaps for trying to make it work though but personally, I’d start testing the waters with another track now. Y’know, like maybe start performing a prospective second single just to see if people are any more excited to hear that?

Watch Sugababes do ‘Freedom’ acoustic style live at Super Saturday:

 

Once again, it’s another painful wardrobe situation where Amelle and Jade look like they were dressed by proper pop star stylists and Heidi just came in whatever she found in the recycle bin out the back. There’s nothing flattering about them high waisted pencil skirts on her. The only time I’ve seen it kinda work on Heidi was when she was posing the house down in them for the Sweet 7 cover art but even that deserved a little side eye for photoshop assistance.

Footnotes:

Sugababes will release ‘Freedom’ on 25 September in the UK. Should we be expecting a Top 10 entry?

Sugababes ‘Freedom’ Music Video

Y’know, what? “Sexy, fierce and relevant” sounds good on paper but it’s not until you put this lot in front of a camera that you realise not every pop group can pull it off.

There’s too much at stake at this point for Sugababes 4.0 to not get it right. Just when most long-time fans have already packed their bags and are waiting for the next bus out of Sugatown, I actually thought I’d stay in the cheer squad a little longer just to see if ‘Freedom’ is something I can stan for.

When I first heard a snippet of the track and clocked them premiere it live on T4 On The Beach, I caught a feeling of fierce nouveau En Vogue realness, but it wasn’t until I heard the proper studio recording and saw this video that I realised I had been sorely mistaken.


 
Everything at this point feels like it is functioning at 45% capacity. Vocally, you know these three can hit harder with the harmonies and there really is no need for Glee-type intense pitch correction on Amelle’s vocals. Visually, you know the choreography – if there were really any at all in this video – could have been fiercer and the overall clip could’ve benefited from more pace and energy.

Here are three points to be made about the ‘Freedom’ video:

1) Is there any life at all in ‘Freedom’? Serious question.

For an emancipatory, fist-in-the-air styled pop song – ‘Freedom’ sure served up some cold, damp energy in the video. The general pace of this production feels like that of a make-up commercial, not a proper pop music video. I know the lines are blurred in this day and age but never should it come as a disservice to the song’s spirit and energy. Where’s the ferocious hair flicks? Where’s the strutting? Where’s the fire? Where the fuck is Keisha? We need her to beat these bitches back in line.

Director Sean De Sparengo had said in the behind the scenes footage that the mission here was to make the Babes look good and to establish an image of a relevant, “top of the game” girl band. There lies the problem, really. The immediate focus was on style over substance and for a band with such a history and edge, this whole ‘Freedom’ package really bastardised any unique identity left in the Sugababes brand. I know a lot of you would begrudgingly pull me out of the rubble now and chastise me for not getting out when Sweet 7 caved in, but I had to stay and see how this panned out.

2) Lesbi-action in a dark seedy club.

So original. It’s totally what all the cool kids are doing these days, so why the hell not? I honestly think that if they had spent more time coming up with interesting sets, camera shots and maybe even a real plot, this video wouldn’t look like such a flop attempt at sexing up brand Sugababes.

When will Team Sugababes realise that the band was never meant to sound and look like a Robin Antin-manufactured pop group? Therefore, any attempt at sexing up their image and Americanising their sound will always come off forced and unnatural?

3) Please look after Matron Heidi.

She’s getting on with age, just let her have her moment. I’m glad to see the lady turning out such elegance in this video. She’s owning every shot in front of the wind machine and sometimes, that’s all you can ask for with Ma Heidi.

Perhaps this post is just another mindless bitter ranting of a disgruntled old school Sugababes fan who has lost touch with reality and really should be confined to slagging matches on Popjustice forums.

Maybe it is not the band’s minders that need to come to a realisation. Maybe it is I who need to let go and allow JadeAmelle and Heidi to steer the ship and accept that the Sugababes is just a house now, no longer the home I once adored that was brought to life by the unique characters and flavours of its previous members.

Footnotes:

Sugababes will release ‘Freedom’ on 4 September in the UK. An album is expected to be out later in the year.

Sugababes ‘Freedom’ behind the video

“It was about making a video where the Sugababes felt like they were on top of their game…” – It could not have been clearer in the director’s brief that Heidi, Amelle and Jade are poised to strike hard with their new single.

‘Freedom’ is meant to give the world a proper take on Sugababes 4.0 after the embarrassing fizzer of Sweet 7. Needless to say, with the new label and team backing the Babes, there is pressure to perform and regain their place in the pop industry. But will this video and single take the band back to the top?

Take a look at the behind the scenes teaser:

 

Director Sean De Sparengo – the man behind Girls Aloud‘s ‘Call The Shots’ and Westlife‘s ‘Safe’ videos – has set the scene in a dark underground-looking club with every intention to make these three divas look fierce and as marketable as possible to the new generation.

They’ve even hired the same designers behind outfits for Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and the Black Eyed Peas, for gawd’s sake.

Footnotes:

Sugababes will release ‘Freedom’ in the UK on 4 September. Expect the video to arrive soon. Are we gagging for it, folks?