Thursday, 4 July 2013

NMEeeeeeh: Mutya Keisha Siobhan, Azealia Banks and Natalia Kills.

Mutya Keisha Siobhan - Flatline
Released 1st September

Well it's about time, am I right, folks?

There've been rumours that the original lineup of the Sugababes (Mutya Buena, Keisha Buchanan and Siobhan Donaghy) would be reforming ever since Jade Ewen joined the group way back in 2009 and Keisha Buchanan was given the old heave-ho. The speculation intensified when it emerged Mutya Buena had gone to court to try and gain the Sugababes name, though what she ended up with was the right to create any Sugababes-brand erasers, pencil cases and other stationary bric-a-brac. Lucky her, eh?

It was officially announced in July 2012 (otherwise known as "twelve months ago") that the original line-up of Sugababes, who had all quit or been sacked from the band at one point or another over their time as a band, had reformed under the imaginative new name "Mutya Keisha Siobhan" and the blogosphere went mental for it, and over the last year they've been releasing 30 second teasers and guest appearances and all kinds and Twitter have been excitedly eating it up--- and I just don't get it. If you ask me...the original Sugababes lineup just weren't that great.

Let's break this down. Sugababes 1.0 released four singles over their time together as a band; Overload (which continues to be one of the group's signature tunes even 13 years after it was released), New Year (which dealt with the unusual theme of breaking up on Christmas Day, ho ho ho!), Run For Cover (which is OK) and Soul Sound (a song I have never heard in my life). Then the group got dropped, and Siobhan left the group. Heidi Range was announced as her replacement. And the rest is history. 

I don't know why people have such a romantic idea about the original lineup of Sugababes, let's not forget that Keisha essentially bullied Siobhan out of the group, so why people were so keen to see the girls back together is beyond me, especially given that Sugababes 4.0 just weren't as terrible as everybody wanted to make out they were. I, for one, would rather listen to Wear Your Kiss or About A Girl than Run For Cover or New Year.

So here we are today, where one year after they announced they'd be recording material together (and 11 months after Siobhan Donaghy tweeted that she thought the album was almost finished!!), the group have unveiled what is essentially their debut single Flatline. It's produced by Dev Hynes, who also produced Solange's gorgeous single Losing You as well as songs for Diana Vickers and Florence + the Machine.

And do you know what? It's great. It is absolutely great. It starts off sounding very minimalistic and stripped back but then when the chorus kicks in their are LOVELY HARMONIES. Basically, their voices sound brilliant when they're all together, and they sound lovely when they're singing by themselves. Lyrically, it's a song about struggling with the end of a relationship "like a pack of cards, the King and Queen of hearts, all fall down".

For all I've just been praising the Sugababes' latter day material, listening to Flatlines compared to something like Get Sexy really shows you how far away from what they were originally about the Sugababes managed to drift. Flatline sounds gorgeous, it sounds grown-up and for all its wonderfulness, it doesn't sound like there's a lot of bells and whistles- it actually all sounds pretty effortless.

You can hear it here:


Does it live up to the hype surrounding it? Honestly, no, but then that's not what Flatlines is about. Rather than making a huge-sounding song that's going to make a massive impact and make everyone sit up and take notice, the beauty of Flatlines is in its simplicity.

Let's be honest, if I were one of those remaining Sugababes I'd be shitting myself.

In honour of current 'babe Jade Ewen's show-stopping appearance on Splash!, let's see where on the "Jade Ewen on Splash" scale the new Mutya Keisha Siobhan single lies...


Well done, lasses!

Azealia Banks - ATM Jam, feat. Pharrell Williams
Release TBA

While I might not agree with everything she does (and, yes, I am talking about calling Perez Hilton a "faggot" on Twitter), you can't deny that there are few people in the music industry at present who are as exciting, as unique and as unpredictable as Azealia Banks. Her upcoming album Broke With Expensive Taste is one of the most anticipated albums of 2013, and following a performance at Glastonbury last weekend her latest single ATM Jam has been played in full on US radio.

Pharrell's influence on the song is apparent right from the offset, the beat sounds like a 2000s N.E.R.D. song, but in the best possible way. ATM Jam sounds a lot more commercial than her previous single Yung Rapunxel, which is probably for the best because for all her ego could fill the Grand Canyon, Azealia Banks is still technically an emerging artist and she needs to try and get people listening.

ATM Jam doesn't really ever reach the heights of her breakthrough single 212, though this particular clip is pretty poor quality so perhaps when a better quality version is online, especially when accompanied by one of her ever-intriguing music videos, then it'll be easier to praise.

Judge ATM Jam for yourself here:



Aaaaand finally...

Natalia Kills - Saturday Night
Available now

The problem with Natalia Kills was always Lady GaGa. For all her debut album Perfectionist probably couldn't have existed without GaGa's The Fame, and more to the point The Fame Monster, to pave the way for it, the similarities both in sound and the album's themes (the opening of her debut single Mirror genuinely sounds like it's going to break into a parody of Poker Face) meant that a lot people, myself included, didn't want to give Natalia Kills. This, combined with the shite she spouts about "sex, love, control, vanity" and her off-putting interviewing technique (being deliberately difficult is fine once you've sold millions of records but if you want to be a successful pop act you need to play the game at least a *little*) meant that her album Perfectionist was only actually heard by a handful of people.

When Lady GaGa took a little break over the past year or so, I decided to revisit Natalia Kills's music. I actually saw her live as the support act for Ke$ha a few years ago but, given how dedicated I was at that period, couldn't look past the fact she seemed to be Lady GaGa Lite. It's true there are a great number of similarities between GaGa (especially her early work) and Natalia Kills, but it's not fair to write her off completely, and listening to her album it was clear there was potential there.

What really got me into her was when she released the music video for buzz single Controversy last year (it's not even on her official YouTube page, it's actually on an account called CONT20V325yK1LLS- amazing) that I finally got what Natalia Kills was about, and I liked it.

This week she put another single from her upcoming album Trouble online, called Saturday Night. Far from being a Ke$ha-esque romp about clubbing and dancing and drinking on the weekend, however, this is actually another complete 180 for Natalia Kills, and talks about loneliness and isolation and, desperation. It sounds like Robyn remixing a Lana Del Rey track, and if that is something that sounds appealing to you then I'm not sure we can be friends.

What's really great about this compared with Natalia Kills's music in the past is that the music is so simplistic, it's basically a synth loop and some drums, that it really shows off her voice, as well as the lyrics which are so descriptive and sad that you believe and feel every single word she says.

Listen to Saturday Night here:


"I'm a fucking teenage tragedy". Amazing.


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Laters!

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