Sneaky Charlotte Aitchison! Apparently a brand new Charli XCX track has been officially out since May, but no one noticed because she is uncredited! “Smile” is her collaboration with British dubstep producer Benga, and for unknown reasons, it was quietly put on his second album “Chapter II” without her name on it. The track sees her momentarily away from her brand of Tumblr-pop to a more commercial, radio-ready crossover sound, but the vocals are unmistakably hers, down to the infectious cheerleading chants “C.R.Y.S.T.A.L. LOVE.” It’s an above average addition to Charli’s list of collaborations, among those with Alex Metric and Starkey (and of course, that obscure Icona Pop one). Though as I took a glimpse at the Benga album tracklist, it is strangely missing a couple singles he released last year, so there might be more to this story behind the scenes…
Stream the track below and tell me what you think!
STREAM: Benga – Smile (feat. Charli XCX)
Keeping up with Charli XCX-related news, her debut album “True Romance” is without a doubt one of my favorite pop releases of 2013 so far. I had my reservations about it at first, but it eventually grew on me. At the moment, the track I keep coming back to is “Set Me Free (Feel My Pain)”, which needs to be a single at some point.
STREAM: Charli XCX – Set Me Free (Feel My Pain)
The Beyoncé PR machine is running on overload. $15 million Pepsi endorsement deal, rumored H&M campaign, Destiny’s Child reunion, new HBO documentary, the inaugural concert, and of course, the Superbowl Halftime show! Her team deserves a gold medal for pulling out all the stops this time. She literally CANNOT fail can’t she. Since there’s little we know yet about the lead single, let’s focus some attention on the one that started her solo career, the horn-blazing, Rich-Harrison-produced “Crazy In Love”. Did you know Beyoncé features a bootleg dubstep remix on the trailer of her forthcoming HBO documentary “Life Is But A Dream”, one that only has about 6,000 views on Youtube prior to this? A Google moment and it turns out this remix is made back in 2010 by a guy called Sebastian Nahi, aka FeelX, who now goes by the name VÄRT. It’s actually quite impressive for an unofficial remix, it’s very “now”, with dark undertones, slightly sinister pitched-down vocal samples and of course, some big ol’ silly wobble-wobble bass.
One question remains unanswered: Does Queen B look up fan made remixes in her spare time when Blue Ivy’s asleep?
For her new single, British songstress Delilah goes back to the beginning with “Breathe”, a track previously given away as a free download last year, and now gets a revamp for its single status. At first I wasn’t sure about this single choice, since both “Go” & “Love You So” were so brilliant, but the new mix added the bells & whistles while still keeping the subtleties of the original demo. The demo sounded like Zero 7 to my ears, but this new version is closer to the Portishead school of hopelessly sombre and bleak night music. Those haunting strings at the end are just masterful.
The suitably moody video reflects the urban decay in the song. And is it only me who never noticed the scar on her left cheek before?
I kept half-expecting the song to drop into a drum & bass breakdown. Thankfully, the Sub Zero remix does just that while maintaining the atmostphere. There are few cases where I prefer a remix over the original but this might be one.
STREAM: Delilah – Breathe (Sub Zero Remix)
And if you prefer to put a womp on it, there’s Emalkay dubstep take, which you can download for free below.
MP3: Delilah – Breathe (Emalkay Remix)
A fan of duets? There’s one with fellow Chase & Status collaborator Liam Bailey. She really covers all bases, doesn’t she?
STREAM: Delilah – Breathe (Duet Version feat. Liam Bailey)
Tove Styrke proves that Swedish popstars are not above Western sales-boosting tactics, by adding a rapper feature for the single version of “Bad Time For A Good Time”. However, it’s one of the rare cases where the amped up version is actually an improvement on the original. Even though I never heard of this Gnucci Banana before and she gives me unpleasant Karmin vibes, she did a good job of giving more oomph to the track. Tove’s vocals on the album version sounds too polite to match the brattiness of the production. Is it me or is this more of an Icona Pop song? This suits them down to a tee, considering both Tove and Icona Pop share the same producer Patrik Berger. Check out the budget music video below, and stream the original version after the jump.
Reworking and sampling ’00s r&b hits into abstract electronic loops is the trend du jour in the postdubstep world nowadays. British bedroom producer Memotone is the latest to join the bandwagon, by recontextualizing Aaliyah‘s Timbaland-produced stone cold classic “Try Again” into a beat-heavy, cowbell-adorned number, while still retaining some of the hip-hop flavor. And it’s surprisingly replayable. The chipmunk pitch shifts are expected, but the drumwork here is really impressive. It couldn’t be released at a better time, as today would have been her 33rd birthday. Sometimes I do wonder how different the R&B scene would be if she were still around…
Emeli Sandé‘s debut single “Heaven” gets a moody rework from pop-noir duo Alpines. It’s suitably nocturnal, with a dubstep flavor. I really like it better than some of the official remixes, actually.
Emeli Sandé’s forthcoming album “Our Version Of Events” was one of my most anticipated for 2012, until PopJustice’s review got me worried. Her next single, “Next To Me”, does not wow me the way “Heaven” & “Daddy” did. Regardless, I look forward to a thorough listen soon.
London-based AlunaGeorge is the latest on my list of favorite up-and-coming pop acts. Even though their new single has been knockning about since last summer, I only discovered it recently. “You Know You Like It” is a sexy, slinky piece of post-dubstep R&B, a firecracker loaded with infectious hooks that will get stuck in your head for days. Aluna Francis’ voice is a cool mixture between Santigold and Martina Topley-Bird, and to me they sound like a modern-day Moloko, which is always a good thing in my book. 2012 will see the release of their debut album, so hopefully they’ll have some more ace tunes up their sleeves. I highly recommend them if you like Little Dragon, Katy B… or have a thing for boy/girl electro duos. They’ve also been doing some high-profile remixing work, including one for Lana Del Rey which you can download right below.
STREAM: AlunaGeorge – You Know You Like It
UK’s pop-noir duo Alpines have joined forces with DJ/producer Maya Jane Coles for a spooksome cover version of Carly Simon‘s 1980 hit “Why”. They managed to turn the sunny reggae-lite original into a strictly nocturnal, bass-heavy trip. Expectedly, it’s moody and dark, but still quite danceable.
STREAM: Alpines + Maya Jane Coles – Why (Carly Simon Cover)
There’s no word yet on whether the cover will see an official release soon, but for now, in case you’re not yet familiar with the duo’s work, start with “Cocoon” or “Drive”. Check out the video for their most recent single “Cocoon” after the jump.
Say what you will about Lana Del Rey and the controversy surrounding her, but the immense amount of genuine talent here is hard to ignore. The official remixes of “Video Games” are doing the rounds on the interwebs and I have to say, it’s quite interesting to hear her sultry, enigmatic voice in a more dance-oriented context. British-Iranian DJ Omid 16B gives the swooning, harp-laden original a dubstep treatment with squelchy bass, while White Lies‘ rework opts for a space-rave sound. Stream both below.
Lana Del Rey – Video Games (Omid 16B Remix)
Lana Del Rey – Video Games (White Lies Remix)
Meet Delilah, Britain’s latest up-and-coming post-dubstep popstress. Having lent her vocals on Chase & Status’ single “Time” before, she has finally found the time (ha..) to unleash her solo ambitions. Her first single “Go” is a quite the seducer, with an insidious, moody electronic production, on which Delilah’s voice purrs, flicks and drips sensually. I quite like how the track shamelessly nicked the verses of Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody”, Liberty-X-style, and patched on a bit of Beyoncé’s “Green Light” for the chorus too. As for the music video, she suitably vamps it up by patrolling London streets at night with a canine friend.
Even though some of her vocal affectations could be handled better, I’m intrigued by the direction she’s taking. “Breathe”, a string-addled downtempo number by way of Zero 7, is another early highlight. However, her “Go” EP seems to divide between the trip-pop sound, and plodding Sia-esque piano lounge ballads which I’m not as keen on.
Imagine a modern-day one-girl equivalent of All Saints. That’s what I’d like her to be. She’s definitely got the looks and voice to fill that void. Dear Delilah: might we have some more dark, chill, urban-tinged pop, please. Thank you.
Stream “Go” and a great drum’n’bass remix by SPY below. Then get here for a free download of “Breathe”.
Delilah – Go
Delilah – Go (SPY Remix)