Dig These Discs :: Ke$ha, Robyn, Daft Punk, Sunlounger, and More
Ke$ha’s one of those artists who steps out and is instantly loved or hated, or loved and hated, by everyone. Her suicide soda combination of hyper-studioed, over-produced, electro-pop, slut-wave styling, "just been fucked" hair, and unashamed love of glitter and Jack Daniel’s demands a response. Regardless of your feelings about her and her music, at least she evokes a reaction as strong as a bottle of bourbon. Cannibal is the 9-track follow-up EP to her debut LP of endless Top 10 hits, Animal, and it guarantees that she’s anything but a flash in the pan. The lead single "We R Who We R" is her take on the current personal empowerment craze in pop (see also Pink’s "Raise Your Glass," Katy Perry’s "Fireworks," Gaga’s forthcoming "Born This Way"), and is her perfect slant on the topic: "I’ve got that glitter on my eyes/Stockings ripped all up the side... /You know we’re superstars/We are who we are!" Expect another wave of undeniable hits, including "Cannibal," "Blow," and maybe even "Crazy Beautiful Life." The party started in 2009, and it’s still going strong.
In this third and final installment of the "Body Talk" series, Robyn has successfully relaunched herself yet again after her staggering resurfacing with the 2007 album and solidified her title as Swedish pop royalty. When she first stormed onto the scene back in 1997, Robyn was a finely crafted product made specifically to appeal and sell. After battles with labels and a determination for creative control, Robyn has left the commercial machine behind and reemerged as a seasoned artist with a sound and style that have earned her a rabidly loyal following. Concluding the two previous EP installments, Body Talk is an LP collection of new tracks as well as a compilation of the previous singles from parts 1 and 2, amounting to 15 tracks of candy pop bliss. New tracks include the lead single "Indestructible," new fan favorite "Call Your Girlfriend," the radio-perfect "Time Machine," plus "Get Myself Together" and "Stars 4-Ever." Also included is the Diplo remix of the previously released "Dancehall Queen."
The Beach Side Of Life
Despite the Mai Tai cocktail not changing much since its creation, its continued formulaic composition has never affected its reputation as "the" tropical drink. Like that umbrella-clad libation, so too has Roger Shah’s rock-steady reverence to beachy ambience over pounding big room beats made his Sunlounger moniker a staple of the Ibiza-style sound. The third album is the same dune bike we’ve been riding the last three years, just a different color and with new spokes. What defines the Sunlounger brand is Shah’s ability to create an atmosphere that feels so recognizably summer: the watery synth textures, the whining guitars, the soft-edged bass pulse. Close your eyes, and it’s impossible not to picture gently pawing waves, the sensual flicker of torch light, and the taste of sea air on your lips. Already on its fourth single release, the album maintains the double-disc Sunlounger trademark of dual presentation of all songs. One is an ambient chill breakdown and the other a bangin’ club track; both offer unique ways to appreciate the instrumentation and ethereal vocals. Head straight for "Beautiful Night," "Found," and "Breaking Waves."
In the last decade, filmmakers have come to view electronic artists as the perfect go-to for unique soundtracks that punctuate and sonically explain their narratives in a way that straight orchestral and instrumental music could never touch. Electronic music in itself is an alternative expression that departs from the acoustic world that surrounds it and creates moods and metaphors that have always felt more akin to a modern urban reality. For a movie like TRON: Legacy, anything less would have been a violation of the film’s intention. Mixing the band’s robotic persona with the 85-piece London Orchestra and guided by music supervisor Jason Bentley (Los Angeles’ KCRW), the TRON score creates a digital soundscape that translates the film’s dynamics into pixelated emotions accented by taunt strings and cold brass. Notably, the film was actually cut to the French duo’s score - the complete opposite of the way soundtracks and films usually inform each other during production. After two whole years DP spent creating the sound of Legacy, there couldn’t have been a better nod to them. Perfect mood music for late nights spent intimately with machinery.
You Haven’t Seen The Last of Me
When we found out that Cher was going to sing in a movie, there was a collective gay gasp that swept the globe. And when I found out they were going to remix the hell out of it, my gay heart leapt from my chest and curtsied to the gay goddess. In the true tradition of Cher, this is yet another sad song-cum-empowerment power ballad. While it might specifically relate to a stubborn club owner in Burlesque, it also couldn’t be more appropriate for where Cher is in her own career right now. One thing’s for sure: It puts to bed any doubt that Cher’s past it. Girlfriend’s still got notes in her tonsils that those wannabe starlets can only dream about (or electronically alter). What’s also amazing is the song’s not-so-delicate placement in the movie: Cher’s on her way out the door, bags in hand after a long day of fighting for her club’s existence. The DJ asks if she wants to rehearse "that song." Despite the late hour and her obvious exhaustion, she drops the bags, straddles a chair, finds herself looking down the barrel of a soft spotlight and belts it out the park. What’s illogical about that? But hey, it’s Cher, we don’t need a reason for anything she does. Remixes include interpretations by Dave Aude, Almighty, Stonebridge, and a late add of several by Johnny Vicious.
This one perplexes me. At press time, "Stereo Love" is #17 on the American Top 40, placing before Katy Perry, Chris Brown and Enrique Iglesias, and the first Euro dance song on the chart in what feels like years. Now where I can’t help but get all over-analytical is asking, "Why this one?’ It’s not a bad song, it’s actually gorgeous and instantly recognizable for its unique use of the accordion alongside Vika’s melancholy voice, trance keyboards and a dancefloor beat. It’s just that ... this isn’t any better than any of the other beautiful Euro dance music out there. But for whatever reason, Edward Maya’s specific combination of elements has the power to appeal to a nation whose playlists are otherwise dominated by hip-hop, pop and dance music. I just wanna know what radio stations are playing this. "Stereo Love" currently holds the record for longest time spend on the European Hot 100 at 52 weeks since it was released in 2009. Remixes abound, the digital single including a total of 12 tracks, and a controversial cover version exists by Canadian artist Mia Martina.
Tonight (I’m Fucking You)
Call me puritanical, but this title threw me off guard. True, we’ve been heading in this direction for a while. We’ve had little blips of this in pop music - Willa Ford’s "Fuck the Men," Lily Allen’s "Fuck You." But it struck me as a revolution for a mainstream pop artist to use the F-bomb in the chorus of a radio single. Ten years ago, you’d never catch a vanilla pop artist like Enrique taking a chance like this. In 2000, Enrique was crooning how much he "just wants to be with you." Ten years on, we’ve got the full disclosure of what he wants to do once he’s there. Following the Latin house sound that put him back on the map with "I Like It," "Tonight" has a galloping beat and "we’re being naughty" keyboards, and sticks in your head like silicone lube on cotton sheets. Enrique’s simple voice continues its tasty love affair with Auto-Tune and is nicely punctuated by Ludacris’s breaky dub. In its edited version it becomes "Tonight I’m lovin’ you" so the teens and tweens can keep up the belief that Iglesias is just a doe-eyed Latin lover with nothing but the most romantic of intentions. Remixes, both official and bootleg, are trickling out, including club rubs by Dresden & Johnson, Chuckie, Bit Error and Richard Vission.
Take Over Control
If you listen closely you can hear the collective eye roll of the entire feminist movement - but for you lazy bottoms, you’ve finally got your own national anthem. "Take Over Control" is a salute to submission, as she declares, "I want you to take over control/Plug it in and turn me on." Not a lot of confusion with that statement. Beautifully voiced by Eva Simons, 2004 winner of the Dutch reality TV contest Popstars (like American Idol, another Pop Idol clone), "Take Over Control" is one of those songs you don’t need to think too hard about; just appreciate the dynamic hooks and catchy beats. The video is an equally guilty pleasure: Eva in thigh-high boots and a chain-mail top dancing with hot girls in cheerleader outfits in a beat-up yellow school bus. A wide range of remixes were commissioned for this one, including retouches by Adam F, Apster, Ian Carey, Spencer & Hill and Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano.