Not hugely (remotely) familiar with the original, but as a big fan of Mike G’s raps and The Internet’s general existence, there’s plenty of attraction to the track, and it actually stands up fairly well.
The video is trippy, deliberately rough looking and mostly random-everything you’d expect from an Odd Future involvement. There’s little more to say besides it’s hypnotising and works strangely well with the audio. It’s completely bizarre and yet I just can’t stop watching it.
Matt Martians (who I’m assuming helmed most of the production work as part of The Internet) does a great job with the beat, keeping it funky and bouncy throughout but throwing in those spacey, atmospheric, Jet Age of Tomorrow-esque synths where he can, making for a good overall beat that’s prevented from becoming annoying by simply being quite short. The highlight for me is undoubtedly Mike G’s verse, with his relaxed yet ever-slick flow being a great contrast to the psychedelic production, whilst his lyricism works within the confines of the track well without stunting his naturally clever style. The YouTube description suggests this is out on 19th August, so keep an eye out for it to hit iTunes then.
I don’t normally do ‘mashups’ but this one’s been getting a lot of traction over the last few days and hence it’s worth giving a chance at least. Or, so I thought. Maybe it’s my all-consuming dislike of Drake’s Take Care single (mainly because it desecrates the Gil-Scott Heron version), but there’s something about the track that seems to permanently keep me at arm’s length.
It could be that it feels like one long intro, with no clear anchor point, though with that said there are some high points, most notably toward the second half of the track where the Drake/Rihanna samples are dialled back in favour of The Weeknd and JoJo’s vocals and production. There are certainly other points where the remix works, however as with all mashups come the moments where too much is happening, confusing the listening experience. Good, but the Take Care sample ruins it for both overcomplicating the production and generally existing in life. For the download, head to the stream’s official page where one is hosted in the description.
One of the few decent pop efforts to have been released in recent months, coming from the duo who’ve sporadically released material in recent years and finally drop off their sophomore album tomorrow.
It’s undeniably a song heavily anchored around the hook, and rightfully so in this case as the girls have nailed down a simple and incredibly catchy hook, combining an electro-infused production with airy, atmospheric vocal work for a nice blend of styles. That’s probably a good description of the rest of the track too, as it seems to continually hover that line between club track and chillout and when done correctly as it is here, the combination is usually an effective one.
The visual sticks more with the style of the hook for the verses, with smoky images and a dark filter on the screen adding a little mystery and intrigue, before throwing in scenes of folk dancing in slow-mo to add some more energy to the hook, and ending the video with fireworks and general positive vibes. A good track that could very well be their route back to mainstream success, and look out for that album tomorrow to grab this song.
Another one I’m not going to give much love in my spare time, but Ne-Yo’s definitely got one here with the first single from the R.E.D. album.
I’ve got no doubts that this will go on to absolutely dominate the clubs over the coming months, with a paint-by-numbers electro-pop production that’s upbeat, uptempo and a heavy hook focus, the contents of which are extremely catchy even by Ne-Yo’s consistent standards. The video’s high octane stuff, with plenty of rave scenes coupled with lots of choreography routines from the fleet-footed Ne-Yo. Honestly, there isn’t a great deal else I can say about this one as it’s identical to any other pop track by an ‘R&B artist’; let’s just hope the album has a couple of R&B-style jams for the rest of us.
Makes you appreciate the likes of Frank Ocean that little bit more eh?
It’s been 11 years since they released an album, off the back of which Gwen Stefani went on to have a hugely successful solo career, and the group return today with their first single from the Push and Shove album.
Truthfully, I’m not a huge fan of the song but it’s great to have them back. The track has heavy influences of Gwen’s solo pop work, with an earworm of a hook that will be sung all over for the rest of the summer (and an appearance by her famous Harajuku girls), undoubtedly making it a prime contender for some serious radio time. Though the band manage to sneak in a hint of alternative influence on the hook, it’s not quite enough to bring some of that old school edge back, and it’s clear the target here is mainstream success and in fairness that’s to be expected given Gwen’s aforementioned solo success. The video is bright and colourful, working with the bouncy and upbeat nature of the audio via plenty of of partying scenes, and I’m sure its an audiovisual that will win many of the younger fans over.
Does Gwen Stefani not age? She’s still looking absolutely fantastic. Nice.
It’s been a while since Akon dropped off a new project, and to set things up for that heavily-delayed fourth album Stadium, he drops off 13 tracks to tie the fans over until that LP’s released.
I’ve not heard anythng from this tape so I’ve got no judgements to offer here, though the list of features does contain mostly rappers, which suggests we could be in for a more hip-hop themed tape than the usual Akon fare. Sadly, the likeable Hurt Somebody isn’t on this one, but nonetheless the R&B heads will be looking to grab this one to see what sort of form he’s in before that album drop. Free grab below.
Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz don’t just make babies, with the husband and wife combo working excellently as Swizz lays down a beat for Alicia’s first single from her upcoming album.
The production is very lively, with a marching band-esque percussion really injecting some power and energy into the track, whilst the progressive keys and thick synths add an uplifting vibe to the track. Of course, Alicia rarely disappoints with the vocals and delivers a rousing performance, matching the positive style of the beat step-for-step with a lyrical and vocal set that moves away from her usual melodic style into a more pop-driven fare that feels much more positive than previous material. Probably one that’ll get much more club airplay than her back catalogue, this is one the mainstream heads will definitely enjoy.
One from the vaults that has emerged this weekend, presumably recorded in his previous musical stint as part of The Noise.
In honesty, this track isn’t one I’ll be playing again. Clearly, this was a formative period for The Weeknd, shown by the relatively bland pop style of the track which is extremely simplistic from start to finish: the lyricism is paint-by-numbers pop stuff, the hook is worryingly lightweight, and the production doesn’t really bring anything to the table. However, to reiterate this is clearly very old material during the early part of his career, and hence you can’t really criticise the guy. Instead, it’s a good look into just how his material has evolved, and proof that some good can come out of talents who are seemingly generic pop voices.
For the most part, I was quite disappointed with Mylo Xyloto, but this was undoubtedly one of its highlights and was always destined to be a big single from the album.
The video has a nice consistent theme running through it, injecting a heavy Chinese/Asian influence into a set of very diverse scenes, and where the audio doesn’t necessarily stick to the title in terms of using those influences, the video fills the gaps. The clip almost plays out like a martial arts film, with Chris Martin and Rihanna living very different lives, Rihanna’s of opulence and Chris’ of fighting/discipline, before the video alternates between a loving bond and a combative rivarly with one another. Clearly, that parallels the lyrics and hence the visuals are a good compliment for the audio, whilst also embellishing it with some nice imagery throughout. The only criticisms I’d have are that at times it feels a little parody-esque, and also that it just lacks a sense of grand scale that a song like this deserves. A decent watch nonetheless, and you can grab the album on iTunes now.
Risky. Ellie hooks up with Xaphoon Jones of Chiddy Bang to take one of the The Weeknd’s finest tracks to date, and given that his fanbase is increasingly a combination of hipsters and clueless girls (I’m flouncing around somewhere in between), it’s one that will inevitably be met with instant skepticism by many.
It’s a different take on the track, moving away from the original’s lush, atmospheric soundscapes into a more minimal, electronically-driven style. Truthfully, I’m not sure it completely comes off as you’re left waiting for something to really grab you, but whilst it’s not as addictive or instantly loveable as the original is, it deserves credit for trying to put a twist on the formula rather than attempting to recreate it. The primary criticism I’d have is that the Autotune really doesn’t suit Golding at all and she’d probably have done a fine job going for some natural vocals on this, but nonetheless its worth a listen or two, even if it just means you end up appreciating the original even more.
If Pharrell and/or The Neptunes didn’t produce this then they’ve strongly influenced the duo: the electronic-style production has a very strong Neptunes feel about it from start to finish, combining a base pop element with an infusion of alternative lashings for a great production that boasts energy, power and a touch of cool, making it one that could certainly be a favourite with the mainstream. The Autotune is initially a little offputting, but gradually it works well enough with the instrumental and the whispery nature of their vocals. Inevitably, the track would be better without it, but it works well enough.
The video’s a good accompaniment to the track, using a mostly-monochrome filter and general minimalism to take the audio away from feeling like a pop track and further into a less-definable realm. Worth a watch, worth a listen, and a duo to keep your eye on.
After a few weeks away, R&B Fridays is back and swollen with star quality for this week’s edition. Of course, in keeping with tradition, it’s also released on a Sunday. Nice to be back into routine eh?
I find it hard to separate this track from Drake’s demo that leaked the other year. Obviously we were never supposed to hear the Drake version as he wrote it for a female lead in mind, but he did a damn good job of it! Once it had leaked I didn’t think we’d ever hear a singer take and finish it, but eventually it’s found its way to new Roc Nation signee, Rita Ora. Those who aren’t familiar with that name should know that she’s a British singer, who’s creating a lot of buzz at the moment, so get in on the hype now.
The video itself is nothing special but does well as support for a big single. I do think that getting Tinie Tempah in as a feature is a good attempt to add some original flavour to a song many had rinsed when the Drake version had leaked. You can pre-order this single by clicking on below.
A really likeable track from Usher and Diplo that I’ve had in rotation since its release, and Usher treats fans with official visuals for the effort, suggesting its probably the lead single from an upcoming album.
The video captures the complexity of the audio well, combining slower, isolated scenes of Usher’s reflective moments with speedy, intense ‘action’ sections into a cohesive and enjoyable experience. The duality of both the lyrics and production is used superbly, as Usher’s recollective mindstate is visualised with lonesome scenes alongside flashes of action, and equally the peaks and troughs of the production are emphasised appropriately within those scenes. Other plus points include the closing section of the video, which brings a nice finality and structure by suggesting that most of the encounters we see were indeed reflective inner thoughts, whilst the lighting and scenery used throughout give the track a darker, more serious vibe that removes the gloss from the house-inspired production and gives the track more depth.
No artist in the R&B and pop genres has generated the buzz Rita Ora has over the past week, so it’s only right that the Roc Nation signee and London native gets the headline spot for yet another milestone episode.
A very slow week for R&B/pop music this week (those new Chris Brown/Rihanna collaborations don’t count as music), and as a result it’s a pretty short, and stream-heavy, episode this week.
I’ve made this statement before, but R&B really is in a bad spot at the minute, with a serious lack of both quantity and quality as many of its stars are either inactive or pursuing pop careers. It’s a sad state of affairs, but I retain hope that the likes of The-Dream will be back soon to restore the natural order.
Diplo tweeted a track earlier, amusingly claiming it was with a ‘promising young artist’, for it to be revealed as a new effort from none other than Usher. You probably figured that last part out from the title of this post.
The collaboration is a successful one too. Diplo’s served up a progressive production that has a quiet intensity in the verses, building slowly to what actually ends up being a gentle climax in the hook (calm down). It’s an effective twist that throws you off, and increasing awareness of the second layer of progression in the track, as it builds towards the final third, and once again, it switches to the slower style. Clever. Just as much credit goes to the evergreen Usher, whose vocal versatility draws you in time and time again on this one, with his work on the hook being a particularly good performance. One that threatens to be a club banger at times, but in each instance surpasses that ‘easy’ option for increased listenability.
Grab your scarf and gloves, stick on a pair of headphones and warm up with the second volume of our Winter EP. There’s been a rather large gap between this edition and the first instalment, but it’s arrived eventually and couldn’t be better timed with the weather getting much colder recently.
Once again, our resident designer (Indi) has lovingly put together a crispy new artwork, which adds a nice touch of visuals to accompany the listening pleasure of the 5 tracks included below. As per the previous edition, there’s no restriction on genre, artist or anything else: if it feels wintery, it’s got a chance of making the cut!
Click here for volume 1, and head below for volume 2.
Eric Turner’s Youtube channel mentions Turner’s “stadium sound“, and that’s a rather accurate description. I’ve had this song on repeat ever since it was released a short while ago, and it’s stadium pop style is a big reason for that, making for an uplifting and engaging listen that feels suited to any listening environment.
Eric’s been involved in some big tracks with both artists in the past, as Indi’s already covered in the audio review, and their inclusion makes for a big duo of co-signs. I’m a fan of Lupe’s verse on this, with his speed and timing sliding in nicely with the production, whilst Tinie’s contribution is surprisingly enjoyable, alongside the huge Eric Turner vocals which are an excellent listen that really anchor the track.
The video has a likeable spray paint effect throughout, as the respective performers are visualised in an exciting, perpetually-moving art style that adds an unpredictability and uniqueness to the visual, in a relatively simple manner. Decent watch that brings the audio to life.
All caught up? Good. Feel free to resume your browsing by clicking below for this week’s instalment. There’s also a surprise new feature included in this episode that we’ve been requested to add for some time. Mysterious. → Continue Reading R&B Fridays: Episode 135
A highlight from his debut project, Those Who Wait, the soulful tones of Daley are brought to life with this very watchable visual.
The monochromatic filter throughout the video is a perfect fit for the intense, slightly dark lyricism, and its straightforward nature contrasts well with the diverse set of genres Daley crosses with the audio. The finer complexities are embodied in the more artistic elements of the video, with the various painted women adding a mystical, ethereal aspect to the video, whilst the gradual development of the scenery and weather conditions progressively heightens the intensity of the clip.