Sunday, 30 January 2011

Blue to represent the UK at Eurovision!!!

Reformed 00's boyband Blue have been announced to represent the United Kingdom at this year's Eurovision Song Contest. After years of shameful songs and bottom place finishes, the BBC have gone all out this year to secure an act with decent credentials rather than a talentless nobody, and I for one will be backing Blue in May, well, providing that they have a decent song of course!

Launched to mass fanfare in 2001 as a cooler boyband after Another Level and 5ive had all but disappeared, Blue scored a clutch of UK and European hits and sold millions of singles and albums. They topped the UK charts three times - with Too Close, If You Come Back and their Elton John duet Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word. Still radio staples today with these songs as well as their other classics All Rise, Fly By II and One Love (for the mother's pride - who could forget that tribute to sliced bread!). The song will be called I Can and the boys, Simon Webbe, Lee Ryan, Duncan James and Antony Costa, all of whom scored some solo success outside of the band, will embark on promotional duties across Europe in the coming months.

They're certainly not nobodies in Europe either, having scored huge hits across the continent, especially in the returning Italy, where classy ballad Breathe Easy was a mammoth #1 in 2004. Can they win Eurovision for the UK? Who knows, but they've certainly given us our best chance in a long long time - unless the song is truly dreadful, it seems unlikely that they'll be in sniffing distance of last place like most of our entries.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Echoes of Ed Sheeran and Sheelah


What's this? A new male electropop duo - after Hurts, The Sound of Arrows and of course Pet Shop Boys, consider me interested! And you can certainly hear influences of the latter in the music of Echoes. The pair have been remixing for rising stars Florrie, The Good Natured, Lights and The Joy Formidable but also have some songs of their own out there, and it's fair to say that they're very impressive.

Listen to some of their songs/remixes here:

And here is my favourite of their songs on Youtube, the melancholy It Goes On, sounding like a lost 80's gem but simultaneously making a lot of sense in 2011;

Ed Sheeran

I feel like I'm a bit late to the party to just start writing about Ed now, but this guy cannot be ignored. As a big fan of Leddra Chapman, a friend and collaborator of Ed Sheeran, I became aware of his music at some point early this year. But despite being tipped by approximately none of the 'Sound of 2011' type polls, Ed looks like he's about to become a major star. His latest of many EP's, No.5 Collaborations Project, climbed as high as #2 on iTunes UK without any sort of major label backing, with only the force that is Rihanna blocking a #1. He clearly has a quickly growing fanbase and deservedly so. The 19 year old singer/songwriter is unique in that he works with a lot of the current big grime artists, particularly on his current EP - this hybrid genre is incredibly fresh and his soulful voice really stands out and adds weight, and a sense of hope or sorrow to the rapper that each chorus accompanies in the verse. Even Elton John's declared himself as a fan! The most hard hitting track on the EP is Little Lady, a collaboration with Mikill Pane. It's gritty and shocking, almost like a UK version of Eminem's Stan lyrically - but definitely well worth a listen;


I covered Sheelah on the blog last year following their frankly astonishing Scandipop/electro/pop-rock hybrid Psycho. The duo, formerly part of the group Caracola, who participated in Melodifestivalen 2008 with the chirpy Smiling In Love, are set to be launched properly now - in Sweden at least - and the first proper single from them is The Last Time. Not a million miles away from Psycho, the lyrics are perhaps more commercial so it makes sense to lead with this song. The electro production gives way to a When Love Takes Over style broken piano chord before launching into a brilliantly euphoric Scandipop chorus and that's before even getting onto one of the greatest middle eight's I've heard in a while! Roll on Sheelah's album - I'll be first in line to buy it, or rather import it!

Monday, 17 January 2011

Max Martin's a bit busy at the moment isn't he...

Not content with only working on worldwide smash hits for Britney, Taio Cruz and anyone of note, he hasn't forgotten his Swedish routes and has teamed up with Euro legend E-Type to help resurrect his long career. Written and produced alongside Shellback and Savan Kotecha it's no surprise to hear that Back To Life is an instantly catchy Eurotrance/pop anthem not dissimilar to recent singles from Taio Cruz, Rihanna et al. E-Type's vocals sound more like Eiffel 65 than ever before but it's good to see him back on the scene. Active since the early 1990s, he was huge across Europe, particularly in his native Sweden where he's had five No.1 singles and appeared in Melodifestivalen with Paradise in 2004 and Line Of Fire in 2008. A UK launch was attempted more recently courtesy of dance label AATW, with singles True Believer and Rain being given a push here (and featuring on the huge Clubland compilation series), but sadly they didn't really take off. One would imagine that AATW will definitely be attempting to push this one, it certainly sounds current to the charts of today - and naturally it will succeed in Sweden!

Saturday, 15 January 2011

How long could I get away without mentioning Britney?

...Not very long! Now I'll admit, I've always found Britney's single releases to be hit and miss, but you can't ignore the fact that each era has thrown up at least one pop classic - Baby One More Time, Oops...I Did It Again!, I'm A Slave 4 U, Toxic, Gimme More, Womanizer and this time around Hold it Against Me. An absolute triumph of a comeback single, Max Martin and Dr Luke working together never results in an end product that is anything less than spectacular. Surely the two most on form songwriter/producers in the world, they have an uncanny knack to move forward with every trend, never sounding tired or sticking too long to the same sound (Timbaland/RedOne). It became clear at some point during last year that dubstep would be the 'sound of 2011'. So the pair, who have dabbled in clunky piano pop in the late 90's, pop/rock in the mid 00's and electro-pop and urban-dance more recently have turned their hand to the genre. And who better to bring it into the mainstream than Britney Spears?

Hold It Against Me seems understated at first, a chorus perhaps not as instant as those on the hits that she is famed for. But the production hits you straight away. The crashing intro and first verse clearly borrows from Eurodance, my first thoughts were that it sounded like a more fierce version of In My Eyes by Milk Inc. Fast forward through various 'Britney-isms' such as her pronunciation of hazy ('hazaay') and a spoken/sung middle eight, leading to what is already destined to be 2011's best breakdown, only two weeks into the year! Dubstep pulses and electro synths simmer before exploding back into that chorus, which by the third listen is guaranteed to have you hooked and coming back for more. Her ever loyal (sometimes scarily so) fanbase unsurprisingly believe that this is the best thing since sliced bread, and for the first time since Toxic, they could well be justified.

I'll always remember our summer in Hawaii...

RedOne's Swedish protege Mohombi seems to be getting a lot of big names appearing on his records recently, one would begin to think that the proudcer is trying to engineer him into a superstar! Debut single Dirty Ride was cheeky but fun and catchy, and less enjoyable collaborations with the likes of Nelly and Akon have followed in quick succession. But Coconut Tree just screams 'summer smash' and features none other than Pussycat Dolls' and now solo star (although that's debatable I guess) Nicole Scherzinger.

The song won me over on first listen from Nicole's spoken intro and outro 'I'll always remember our summer in Hawaii, aloha nui loa' but Mohombi's input is no less enjoyable as he provides an infectious chorus and 'ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh's. With typical RedOne beats and synths meeting a sort of dancehall bassline, this could have either come out in 2003, alongside Lumidee, Sean Paul and Wayne Wonder or let's be honest here - 1997. It sounds like the spiritual successor to Mr President's Coco Jamboo and that's before we even consider how similar the spoken intro sounds to the 'I had a dream last night' intro to Stay by Sash! Nonetheless though, it doesn't take itself too seriously, but it would be nice if this wound up as his biggest hit to date.

Friday, 14 January 2011

A note to new acts and music promoters

Doing this blog last year, I was blessed with the amount of tracks that came my way to review and cast a critical eye over. It reached a fairly large audience, mostly pop fans like myself, so if you've got anything you'd like to feature on this blog that you think I (and the typical reader) might like, please get in touch and I'll have a listen. I won't always necessarily feature it as I don't know that I'll be able to give a particularly objective review if you send me screamo or heavy metal (!) but I'll always consider it. And until then, why not enjoy my favourite song of 2011 so far, a dubstep classic in the making, Me & You by Nero!!! If all dubstep is this enjoyable then it may be one of my favourite 'sounds' since the nu-soul boom of 2008!

It's been a while...but it was worth the wait!

So, after taking a 4 month hiatus, Pop Love Dance is back in business and raring to go for 2011, and with a lot to look forward to judging by rumblings of the first couple of weeks. And what better way to start than with my slightly late, but promised top 100 songsand top 20 albums of 2010!!! Et voila;


1. Lena Meyer-Landrut - Satellite

2. Kylie Minogue - All The Lovers
3. Take That - The Flood
4. Stromae - Alors On Danse
5. Roll Deep - Green Light
6. Salem Al Fakir - Keep On Walking
7. Rihanna feat Drake - What's My Name
8. Tove Styrke - White Light Moment
9. Kylie Minogue - Get Outta My Way
10. Leddra Chapman - Story
11. Boyzone - Gave It All Away
12. Le Kid - We Should Go Home Together
13. Staygold feat Spank Rock, Lady Tigra and Damien Adore - Backseat
14. Timoteij - Kom
15. Sheelah - Psycho
16. Alicia Keys - Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart
17. Cheryl Cole - Promise This
18. Roll Deep - Good Times
19. The Saturdays - Higher
20. Shakira feat Freshlyground - Waka Waka (This Time For Africa)
21. Caro Emerald - A Night Like This
22. A1 - Don’t Wanna Lose You Again
23. Marina & The Diamonds - Hollywood
24. Katy Perry feat Snoop Dogg - California Gurls
25. Shackles - Breaking the Silence
26. Bruno Mars - Just The Way You Are
27. Zowie - Broken Machine
28. Niamh Kavanagh - It’s For You
29. Robbie Williams & Gary Barlow - Shame
30. Edward Maya feat Vika Jigulina - Stereo Love
31. Robyn - Dancing On My Own
32. The Saturdays - Missing You
33. Anna Bergendahl - This Is My Life
34. Yolanda Be Cool & D Cup - We No Speak Americano
35. Tom Dice - Me & My Guitar
36. Hera Björk - Je Ne Sais Quoi
37. Nadine Coyle - Insatiable
38. The Band Perry - If I Die Young
39. The Naked & Famous - Young Blood
40. Nicole Scherzinger – Poison
41. Erik Hassle – Hurtful
42. Take That – Eight Letters
43. Robyn – In My Eyes
44. Cee Lo Green – Fuck You
45. Safura – Drip Drop
46. Leddra Chapman – Summer Song
47. Elsiane – Vaporous
48. Lady GaGa – Bad Romance
49. Elin Lanto – Funeral
50. Ellie Goulding – Your Song
51. Cheryl Cole – 3 Words
52. Lady GaGa – Alejandro
53. Alexis Jordan – Happiness
54. Sugarland – Stuck Like Glue
55. Lena Meyer-Landrut feat Ellie Goulding – Not Following
56. Jenny Berggren – Here I Am
57. Sky Ferreira – One
58. Alphabeat – DJ
59. Kylie Minogue – Better Than Today
60. Diana Vickers – Notice
61. Rihanna – Only Girl (In The World)
62. Pepper & Piano – You Took My Heart
63. Katie Melua – The Flood
64. Timbaland feat Katy Perry – If We Ever Meet Again
65. Cheryl Cole – Parachute
66. K'Naan – Wavin' Flag
67. Katy Perry – Firework
68. Glee Cast – Don't Stop Believin'
69. Richard Vission and Static Revenger feat Luciana – I Like That
70. Jason DeRulo – What If
71. Jenny Berggren – Gotta Go
72. Alcazar – Headlines
73. Boyzone – Love Is A Hurricane
74. Jessy Matador – Allez! Ola! Ole!
75. Agnes & Bjorn – When You Tell The World You're Mine
76. The Pipettes – So I'll Say Goodbye
77. Didrik Solli–Tangen – My Heart Is Yours
78. Leddra Chapman – Fooling Myself
79. The Saturdays – Ego
80. Petter feat Veronica Maggio – Langesen
81. Rumer – Slow
82. Girls Can't Catch – Echo
83. CC & Lee – Better Best Forgotten
84. Tone Damli feat Vinni – Stuck In My Head
85. Diana Vickers – Once
86. Agnes – Secret Love
87. Nina Lassander – Cider Hill
88. Robyn – Time Machine
89. JLS – Eyes Wide Shut
90. Fallen Millie – Want To Be (Under Your Christmas Tree)
91. B.o.B. Feat Hayley Williams - Airplanes
92. Alexandra Burke feat Pitbull – All Night Long
93. Venke Knutson – Jealous 'Cause I Love You
94. Take That – SOS
95. Eliza Doolittle – Pack Up
96. Rihanna – California King Bed
97. David Guetta feat Rihanna – Who's That Chick
98. Ellie Goulding – Little Dreams
99. Rihanna feat Eminem – Love The Way You Lie
100. Monrose – Breathe You In


1. Kylie Minogue - Aphrodite
2. Leddra Chapman - Telling Tales
3. Lady GaGa - The Fame Monster
4. Robyn - Body Talk
5. Take That – Progress
6. Rihanna - Loud
7. Boyzone - Brother
8. Lena Meyer-Landrut - My Cassette Player
9. The Saturdays - Headlines
10. Ellie Goulding - Bright Lights
11. Diana Vickers - Songs From The Tainted Cherry Tree
12. Elin Lanto - Love Made Me Do It
13. Katy Perry - Teenage Dream
14. Alicia Keys - The Element Of Freedom
15. Anna Bergendahl - Yours Sincerely
16. Tone Damli - Cocool
17. Hurts - Happiness
18. Shakira - Sale El Sol
19. Marina & The Diamonds – The Family Jewels
20. Cheryl Cole – Messy Little Raindrops

What did we learn in 2010;

> Eurovision wasn't as good as usual except for Queen Lena, cheers all round for Germany and we will welcome her back with open arms in May when she represents her country once again. Will she become the Roger Federer of Eurovision?

> Reformed Take That 1.0 are just as good as Take That 2.0 as the big mature pop anthems, but even better at doing things that are a bit different (see Progress).

> Kylie Minogue is most definitely back on form after a couple of questionable album campaigns. Now the very different campaign begins to persuade Radio 1 to stop snubbing her!

> Roll Deep punched way above their weight in terms of making joyous club anthems. The Avenue showed potential in 2005, but two UK #1's!?!

> Rihanna truly does get better and better with each release. Imagine how good she'll be when she's 30!

> In a year of mild disappointments for the genre, Leddra Chapman proved that the singer/songwriter genre is still thriving with an excellently produced confident yet gorgeous debut album. Why she's not massive yet is a mystery to all.

> Ellie Goulding was the latest in a growing list of acts to prove that album re-releases aren't always entirely pointless, by saving some of her best material for Bright Lights!

And onto 2011 we go...