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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

It's science: the 45 best songs of 2013

While most mainstream acts were very disappointing, 2013 was a good year for under-the-radar pop (my favourite kind). Without further a do, I'm happy to present the 45 songs that made me happy this year. Now can we please have proper Robyn & amazing Kylie comebacks in 2014?

I've made a handy Spotify playlist of the 45 tracks (minus 6 -including my #1- which are not on Spotify, because why the hell would they be?).


45/ Robin Thicke - Blurred Lines feat. T.I. & Pharell Williams

So catchy, yet so annoying. But so catchy.



44/ Avec Sans - Hold On

Keep these guys on your radar, they have "amazing" written all over.
Other songs worthy of your attention: Shiver, The Answer, Heartbreak High (lots of free stuff on their Soundcloud).


43/ Jeremie Whistler - Cold Heart 

It's not often something this good comes from France. So ENJOY. Get it for free here.



42/ Phoenix - Entertainment (Blood Orange remix feat. MKS)

MKS! MKS! MKS! MKS! MKS! (love you too Phoenix! In my top 3 shows of 2013).




41/ Matt Cardle & Melanie C. - Loving You

I am a Spice Girls fan, okay? So I take what they give (in any form). 


40/ Katerine - Efféminé

If you don't understand French, now's a good time to start learning (or use Google Translation).


39/ Diana Vickers - Cinderella

As if any song on Katy Perry's latest shit album was in any way as good as this. Great choice, people.
Other songs worthy of your attention: Boy In Paris, Lighning Strikes


38/ MS MR - Think Of You

In a parallel universe, 2013 was their year, this song is a proper hit and the video has more views than that of a cat that hiccups and farts at the same time.
Other songs worthy of your attention: the whole album "Secondhand Rapture"


37/ Hurts - Cupid

The only song on the second Hurts album that really did something for me. But it did a lot.




36/ Margaret Berger - Human Race

Norwegians do it better. Sometimes twice (see higher).


35/ Gaël Faure - On dirait l'Islande

Beautiful song, melody, video, guy. Oops.



34/ Franz Ferdinand - Right Action

These guys still know a thing or two about a catchy tune.


33/ Mikki Ekko - Kids

This proves you can feature on a (good) Rihanna song and not be doomed your whole life. 


32/ Banks - Fall Over

My money on her for 2014. (Sorry). 


31/ Julien Doré - Viborg

Oh Julien. Chills & tears.
Other songs worthy of your attention: Paris Seychelles, London Nous Aime, Heaven


30/ Janelle Monae - We Were Rock'n'Roll

This song alone should have you look into Janelle if you haven't already. What a life you're living.



29/ Yuksek - Last Of Our Kinds (Michael Garçon Remix) feat. Oh Land

A perfect Summer song for when it's not even Summer anymore. 


28/ Arcade Fire - Reflektor

2013: the year I actually enjoyed loved a 7'42" Arcade Fire song (and a half album, for that matter).



27/ John Newman - Love Me Again

This sounded amazing from the first seconds I heard it. Still does.




26/ Miley Cyrus - We Can't Stop

I can really relate with the subtlety of the whole thing. (What a song).
Other songs worthy of your attention: #getitright, Wrecking Ball (see higher)



25/ The Saturdays - Disco Love

Just to think What About Us did way better than this makes me sick like a post-VMAs Miley.
Other songs worthy of your attention: the amazing Starlab Disco Radio Remix, Gentleman.


24/ One Direction - Story Of My Life

Come here Harry Zayn Louis Liam whoever, I'll tell you the story of my life in details. (Seriously: that's how you do a "song Mums, Dads and elder brothers will like without even noticing" boyband song.)
Other songs worthy of your attention: Best Song Ever, Midnight Memories


23/ Union J - Carry You

A typical case of "didn't do as well as it should have because the guys were wearing too much make up in the video".


22/ Britney Spears - Work Bitch

She's Britney, she can do anything she wants, even have only one good song on her new album and sing in funny accents. WITH SHARKS IN THE VIDEO!!


21/ Arthur Beatrice - Carter (Cut)

Their debut album will probably the first thing I'll fall in love with in 2014.
Other songs worthy of your attention: anything you can find!



20/ Amelia Lily - Shut Up (And Give Me Whatever You Got)

A great example of "Amazing post-Girls Aloud Xenomania song that should have been a Girls Aloud Song a Nadine Coyle song".



19/ Ciara - Livin' It Up feat. Nicki Minaj

I'm as surprised as the next man with this: a Ciara + Nicki Minaj song at #19. BUT IT'S SO SLUTTY GOOD


18/ Justin Timberlake - Mirrors

There might be one really good song on all of JT's 20/20 borathon of a double album, but this one's classic Justin. Even if it's 23 minutes long. 



17/ Linnea Dale - A Room in a City

Is there some kind of magic barrier that prevents songs this amazing to spread out of Norway and be massive all over the world??!


16/ Miley Cyrus - Wrecking Ball

I'm very sorry to be featuring Miley twice in this top 45 thing, but this song has the best verses of the year. 



15/ Little Boots - Satellite


You can always count on Little Boots to deliver brilliant pop tunes and this one is the most brilliant on her second album Nocturnes, which contains a lot more brilliant tunes.
Other songs worthy of your attention: Shake, Crescendo, Motorway



14/ Goldfrapp - Annabel

If you're not in love with Goldfrapp, then your heart is probably made of stone. The whole album is a thing of pure beauty and this is just one example. Stunning. 
Other songs worthy of your attention: Jo, Thea, Drew, Clay


13/ Foals - Late Night

In the "rock band making incredible moody song" game, these guys came and won. 
Bonus: this video of the song, shot by La Blogotheque in Paris' townhall library is splendid.


12/ Annie - Back Together

Her latest EP, recorded with Richard X (RICHARD X!!!), was totally worth the wait. Once again, Norway proved they have "awesomeness" written in their DNA (D-D-D-DNA). Warning: the video contains a Girls Aloud moment.
Other songs worthy of your attentionInvisibleHold OnMixed EmotionsRalph Macchio (Yes, that's the whole EP).


11/ Charli XCX - Superlove

The fact this song debuted at #62 is a strong warning that we're living in very dark times indeed. Superpop. 
Funfact: when you watch the video on Youtube from France, you get to watch an ad about diarrhea. 


10/ Thomas Azier - Ghostcity

Finally a properly epic indie pop song by a male artist! I could make love to this tune. 


9/ Margaret Berger - I Feed You My Love

Deep down we all know this was the real winner of the 2013 Eurovision song contest.



8/ VV Brown - The Apple

I can't quite understand how a song can be so good and so overlooked at the same time.
Other songs worthy of your attention: Faith, Substitute For Love, Nothing Really Matters, I Can Give You More



7/ Tove Lo - Habits

Hopefully this fantastic song will follow the "out a whole year before being a proper hit" trend known as "the I Love It path". From Sweden obviously.


6/ Jessie Ware - Imagine It Was Us

Indie disco diva. Who would've thought this a year ago? 


5/ London Grammar - Wasting My Young Years

Mayyyyyybeeeeeeee my love for this song is bordering on insanity.



4/ Arctic Monkeys - Do I Wanna Know?

When you've found out how to make such sexy songs and become Alex Turner, please give me a call, we can work together. 
Other songs worthy of your attention: the whole AM album is a triumph, but don't miss Arabella, Snap Out of It, Knee Socks, I Wanna Be Yours


3/ Katy B - 5AM

Sad dancefloor triumph.

``

2/ Little Mix - Move

Perfectly-produced-ambitious-yet-super-accessible girlband tune? I'M HERE! And it's only their second album.


#1 MUTYA KEISHA SIOBHAN - FLATLINE

MKS teased and teased. For months. Then they properly came back. With this song. A perfect pop song with a chorus as big as the anticipation they'd created. It was a relief to hear that they perfected the Sugababes 1.0 formula and showed that this wait wasn't all for nothing. Their London show in November truly was a life moment. 
Let's forget the disastrous strategy surrounding the release of this instant classic and let's focus on what's (hopefully) to come: an gem-filled album that will re-establish these ladies where they belong: on top of the pop game. 




And there you have it. Merry Christmas y'all!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

[Live Report] Beyoncé "The Mrs Carter Show" live à Paris-Bercy (24/4/13)


Après avoir vu le premier show que Beyoncé donnait ce mercredi soir à Bercy, il semblerait  qu'on ait tous mal compris l'objet de la tournée "The Mrs Carter Show" : elle n'a pas pour but de promouvoir un hypothétique nouvel album, mais bien de présenter en live "4", son album paru il y a deux ans. Bee, sans doute frustrée de n'avoir pu performer les titres de son quatrième disque en live (à l'exception de quelques shows articulés autour de sa performance à Glastonbury en 2011), pour cause de "grossesse", s'est dit qu'elle allait s'offrir une tournée en attendant d'en sortir un nouveau. Car c'est bien à elle-même qu'elle fait un cadeau plus qu'au public, tant on ressort déçu et frustré de ce show qui tourne souvent à vide.


On passe énormément de choses à Beyoncé, sans doute grâce à son charisme hors du commun, ses quelques tubes en or massif (Crazy In Love, Single Ladies, Halo) et cet indéniable sens de l'entertainment. Elle a tout compris, et depuis bien longtemps. Sauf que sous ce vernis, on a du mal à ne pas voir les gros défauts de son show. 
Beyoncé chante finalement assez peu. Remarquablement assistée de trois choristes de haut vol, ainsi qu'un groupe entièrement féminin, trop souvent dans le noir derrière l'écran, elle assure globalement les couplets des titres up-tempo, quasiment jamais les refrains. Elle ne danse pas non plus. Elle maîtrise en revanche à la perfection le bootyshake et la hairography, cette fausse chorégraphie consistant à secouer les cheveux le plus souvent possible en arpentant la scène d'un bout à l'autre. Mention spéciale au technicien chargé d'envoyer de l'air dans la chevelure de Bee EN PERMANENCE. Il assure à la perfection !

20h15 pétantes dans un Bercy plein à craquer, Beyoncé entre en scène après la première d'une très longue série de vidéos aussi vides que mégalo, qui entrecoupent les différentes parties du show et permettent à l'artiste de se changer. Plus encore que chez Madonna, qui y a elle aussi beaucoup recours, chez Mrs. Carter tout est terriblement prétentieux et preachy. Mais c'est plutôt joli alors ça passe. 

Run the World ouvre le spectacle de manière efficace, surtout avec l'excellent End Of Time à sa suite. Malheureusement il est vite suivi d'une abominable version de If I Were A Boy, mixé pour l'occasion au Bitter Sweet Symphony de The Verve. 
La scénographie s'avère elle extrêmement réussie, les lumières étant le plus souvent à couper le souffle et prenant le pas sur les projections vidéos, ce qui est désormais suffisamment rare dans les gros shows pop pour être noté. Le son est quant à lui si fort qu'il est à la limite du supportable (j'ai du sortir me procurer des filtres auditifs pour la suite du show). 
Le titres s'enchaînent vite, très vite. Trop, puisque sur nombre d'entre eux, Beyoncé se contente d'interpréter un couplet et un refrain (Baby Boy, Naughty Girl, Get Me Bodied, Diva, Love On Top, I Will Always Love You). Le plus frustrant intervient lorsqu'elle nous gratifie d'un Survivor inespéré sur la scène installée au milieu de la fosse (et sur laquelle elle arrive en volant)... qui dure environ 43 secondes ! On est dans un format zapping qui fait penser à quelqu'un qui passerait d'une vidéo à l'autre sur Youtube. 

Le final, qui enchaîne Crazy I Love, Single Ladies, le nouveau titre Grown Woman (interprété en avant-première mondiale) et Halo est presque suffisamment impressionnant pour balayer les réserves émises plus haut, mais il demeure après ces deux heures -1h20 de présence effective de Beyoncé sur scène- d'entertainment haut de gamme un léger sentiment de s'être fait avoir. Elle sait qu'elle peut tout se permettre ou presque et en profite allègrement en sombrant dans la facilité et le culte de la personnalité à la limite du risible.

Mais à voir les légions de fans apparemment conquis à la sortie du POPB on en viendrait presque à penser qu'on est un peu trop sévère. Ou alors plus exigeant qu'avant avec les grandes stars de notre époque !

Teaser du show

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The end of Girls Aloud : a celebration of 10 years of first-class pop


So it's finally here: that moment all Girls Aloud fans have been dreading. Last Wednesday, after the final show of their Ten Tour in Liverpool, the UK's number one girlband of the 21st century officially announced they were splitting up, after a decade together. While this is sad news, it seemed inevitable and it's here to reminds us of the longevity of the band, pretty unusual for this kind of acts. But even more so, it's a great occasion to celebrate the amazingness of Girls Aloud, their music, their tours and all of those things that made the past decade a freaking amazing one for pop fans. 

Nearly three weeks ago I went to London to attend one of three Girls Aloud shows at the O2 Arena. It seemed just right to make the trip to see the band perform on what was likely going to be the last ever GA tour. I had managed to avoid all spoilers, so I had no idea about the setlist, the stage, the costumes the inclusion of Untouchable in the show or the presence of amazing props. And I couldn't be happier for not giving into my need to compulsively watch Youtube videos and learn the setlist by heart weeks before attending. I was blown away.


Unsurprisingly, the show was amazing. A 90-minute pop marathon of the grandest kind. It had everything you wish for in a show of that nature. An eye-popping entrance (the five girls standing atop a suspended platform made of the letters GIRLSALOUD, looking proud and fierce from the first second), multiple costume changes, dancers (both male and female this time!), giant video screens, top-notch lighting, feathers, platforms, stairs, a second stage in the middle of the arena (to which they flew singing Sexy No No No), confetti, flames etc. But above all, there were songs. Amazing songs. 

The biggest strength of that ultimate Girls Aloud tour in undeniably the song catalogue. Even more so than their sassiness, their ability to put on a great show and their generally good vocal skills ("excellent vocal skills" if you're talking about queens Nadine and Nicola), what made this show way better than your average arena concert is this unique and fantastic catalogue of pop songs. 
In a little under two hours, Cheryl & co reminded the audience of what no other girlband has ever achieved: maintaining consistence in sonical excellence. All thanks to Brian Higgins and his team, who spent the last ten years carving custom-made tunes for the band (and countless others, too), allowing Girls Aloud to distance themselves from a genre that is too often overlooked as "mainstream pop". 
But I don't agree with that. These songs are not just "mainstream pop". They are a statement. A statement that says "we've made pop songs for a girlband, but we've made excellent songs above all". Girls Aloud were the living proof that pop has to be innovative, mind-blowing, exciting, surprising, yet accessible and in some way, simple to truly mark its time. There's no doubt they did. 

Quite brilliantly, they chose to showcase this string of hits in a sort-of chronological order. What a trip down memory lane when the first twenty minutes of the show consisted of Sound Of The Underground, No Good Advice, Life Got Cold, Wake Me Up and Jump! These songs are ten years old, yet they sound as fresh and exciting as they used to in 2002/3. The greatest time machine ever never stopped and barely disappointed. 

Of course, there's always *that* song missing (in my case: Every Now And Then and a b-side like It's Your Dynamite, Memory Of You or Dog Without A Bone that would have been nice surprises), the awkward cover of Call Me Maybe (I can't believe they had to do that given all of their songs they could have performed instead) or the unnecessary non-hit ballad (Beautiful Cause You Love Me). Apart from that -and let's admit it I sung along to Carly's song- what an enjoyable set. 


Now who knows what the future holds for the members of Girls Aloud? They know, probably. Cheryl will presumably get back to releasing very bad albums with one good single on them. Will Kimberley become the West End queen she dreams of being? Will Nicola release a second album as great has her first one? What will Sarah do? Is Nadine going to release the amazing pop record she deserves and establish herself as the best UK solo artist? Better put Xenomania on the job and forget about Tesco exclusive deals. Whatever happens, we'll be there. 

So today isn't a sad day. It's a day for celebrating one of the best music catalogues of the past ten years, countless memorable moments, and also the next ten years whatever is coming our way. 
Go girls, go go go. And thank you for everything.

Let's all remember one of the most epic Girls Aloud songs: Untouchable (from 2008's Out Of Control Tour).



Oh and: Girls Aloud top 10:

#1 Untouchable
#2 Biology
#3 Sound Of The Underground
#4 Call The Shots
#5 Every Now And Then
#6 Wake Me Up
#7 Something New
#8 Sexy No No No
#9 The Show
#10 Love Machine.

Agreed?

Monday, March 18, 2013

[ALBUM REVIEW] Zazie - Cyclo


Photo en noir et blanc, graphisme sobre et élégant, air mélancolique de l'intéressée : le nouvel et huitième album studio de Zazie est à l'avenant de sa pochette. Un opus inattendu et brillant, s'éloignant considérablement des disques précédents de la chanteuse sans pour autant dérouter complètement.

On avait laissé Zazie en 2012 au terme d'une longue tournée, suite à la sortie un an plus tôt de Za7ie, son projet de 7 EP de 7 chansons ou vidéos chacun. J'en avais largement parlé ici, et avais eu le plaisir d'en discuter avec elle et d'autres camarades du web. Un projet certes ambitieux, mais finalement assez décevant dans son exploitation sur disque comme sur scène. 

Mais avec Cyclo, c'est du contraire dont il s'agit. Plus dense, plus sombre, plus risqué, il surprend et demande du temps pour se laisser apprivoiser complètement. J'ai la chance de vivre avec ce disque depuis deux mois maintenant, d'en avoir fait le tour et de l'apprécier à sa juste valeur. 
On le sait, Zazie ne fait pas les choses comme tout le monde ; plutôt que de proposer un album facile, rempli de singles, qui s'ingère en une écoute sur les plateformes de streaming, elle offre onze titres plutôt downtempo, qui s'étirent au delà des cinq minutes pour cinq d'entre eux, qui montent en tension (Cyclo, Si Tu Viens) et ne lâchent pas l'auditeur. 
Si c'est finalement 20 Ans, l'un des seuls titres uptempo qui a été choisi comme single, le premier extrait, Les Contraires a immédiatement donné le ton : sombre, sans refrain évident, il a d'emblée affiché les ambitions de l'album. Ici pas de tubes à la Rue de La Paix ou Zen, mais des chansons excellemment écrites et produites (par Olivier Cousier, moitié d'Aaron), des moments sublimes -Je ne sais pas, Si tu viens, Temps plus vieux- habités par une voix elle aussi plus sombre qu'à l'accoutumée.


A l'aube de sa cinquantaine et après un semi-échec, Zazie choisit donc d'aborder ce moment charnière de sa carrière avec un album d'une classe folle qui fait fi des exigences commerciales qu'on imagine peser sur ses épaules. Un album qui n'engendrera peut être aucun tube radio (quoique Tout, pépite centrale du disque, a tout pour en devenir un), mais qui fera sans aucun doute avancer son auteure et interprète vers la prochaine ère de sa carrière avec grâce et intelligence. Si l'on n'attendait pas Zazie en caricature d'elle même, retouchée et pathétique, on est d'autant plus rassuré par ce parti pris d'honnêteté. 

Cyclo permettra à Zazie de renouer avec les grandes salles, puisqu'une tournée des Zéniths débutera à l'automne. On s'étonne de ce choix de salles au vu de la tonalité l'album, mais après un marathon des petites salles décevant, on n'est pas fâché de retrouver l'artiste aux commandes d'un show qu'on espère tout aussi étonnant et prenant que son disque.

En tous cas, Cyclo ravive la flamme. 
-
Zazie - Cyclo (Mercury/Universal)
Disponible en CD / Digital et dans une superbe édition collector (mon anniversaire est dans 15 jours).
En tournée à partir du 12/11 et au Zénith de Paris les 27, 28 et 29/11. Toutes les dates sur www.zazieonline.com

Monday, January 14, 2013

An open letter to the singer Justin Timberlake regarding his new single Suit & Tie


Dear Justin Timberlake

I'm not very happy with this new single of yours. Suit up all you want, but damn this is not comeback single material. You've been away from the music scene for longer than Taylor Swift has been slutting hey way to Hollywood so you should have thought it through better. 

Suit & Tie works on some level (aka it's a new JT single, so it's better than nothing) but let's be honest, it's less exciting than when your demo for Ciara's Love Sex Magic leaked a few years back. We all know you've been very busy lately acting in movies I'm yet to see (except the one where you played a hot piece of ass soldier doing Christina Ricci), and marrying the hottest girl in the world. 
That being said, I have to say I like the part when Jay-Z says "All Saints were my angels"(does he?). I really do hope he's rapping about Shaznay, Melanie, Natalie and Nicole. It was high time they got a shout-out in a pop song. 
Other than that, the chorus is okay, bringing that undeniably hot falsetto of yours just like Cry Me A River happened last week. 

If this song teaches us anything, it's that your pal Timbaland doesn't have "it" anymore. The mould is broken, and that futuristic trademark sound of his... now belongs to the past. While pretty much everything on FutureSex / LoveSounds actually sounded like Future AND Sex, the production on Suit & Tie sounds somehow dated although the tracks has a certain retro feel. Let's say it's more a Senorita than a Sexyback.

Dear Justin Timberlake, I was expecting more, and slightly better. I guess that's what happens when you keep people waiting for years. I'm confident you'll bring sexy back with the next release though. Cause I'm like that: confident. And you're like that: a fucking great popstar.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Friday, January 04, 2013

Hurts' new single Miracle: let's not get carried away


I've LOVED kings of '10s moody pop Hurts from day one. Their debut album Happiness is still one of my favorites of the last few years. 

One thing I like about bands: when they release new music.
One thing I don't like about bands: when they release disappointing new music.

The new Hurts single, Miracle, is not bad per se. It's just happening in a post-Mylo Xyloto (Coldplay's latest album) world. I'd be surprised if Chris Martin's band didn't give Theo & the other guy from Hurts a call to discuss royalties. Miracle just sounds like a mashup of Princess Of China and Paradise, though let's be honest things could have been worse: Hurts could have enlisted Rita Ora for a duet. 

Previous "buzz" track (which made no "buzz" at all) The Road was already a let-down now the new single just sounds like the result of an A&R brainstorming named "how do we make Hurts a proper mainstream act?". This new album of theirs, Exile (out March 11) better be more Hurts-y.

I'm disappointed and a bit angry. An totally hungover, which isn't helping.