Pop Goes The World: Say Hello To John Newman, Claire, Janet Leon, The Preatures & Jenny Langlo
It’s another week and another round of Pop Goes the World, where I bring you the coolest pop emerging from around the world — the stuff that hasn’t made it to American shores yet (but hopefully will pretty soon).
This week, there’s a super-schlager Swedish track from an ex-girl group superstar, a likably twee Norwegian Idol, a British neo-soul crooner who’s tipped to break out big, a German synthpop act with hooks to spare and Australia’s answer to HAIM.
Get your passport ready. We’re going all around the world.
Janet Leon, “New Colours”
Despite a little internal rhyme in their titles, “New Colours” isn’t quite Cyndi Lauper‘s “True Colors” (a more established gay anthem), but the latest single from Janet Leon, Swedish chanteuse and former member of girl group Play, is a big, unapologetically gay dance song. (It comes as no surprise that it’s the theme of Stockholm Pride 2013.) With production credits from Jorgen Elofsson (who helmed Kelly Clarkson‘s “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)”), it’s euphoric and celebratory. Pride, y’all!
Jenny Langlo, “Mockingbirds”
Another Norwegian Idol alum (following in the footsteps of last week’s Astrid Smeglass), Jenny Langlo has just released a single called “Mockingbirds” that’s a little bit twee but rockets into high gear with a properly enormous chorus; the video, in which she slinks and prowls in a white fur, is appropriately drenched in white light. Somehow, the song is, too, in a way that feels quintessentially and effortlessly Scandinavian.
John Newman, “Love Me Again”
John Newman is best known for featuring on two excellent singles from drum-and-bass quartet Rudimental, but on the other side of the pond, the Brit is launching as a solo artist in his own right, and his first single “Love Me Again” is a pretty striking debut. First off, it’s an instantaneous pop-soul smash with a huge singalong chorus that sounds like an iPod commercial (in a good way) — but the real star is his voice, unusual and tangy and hyper-listenable. It just works.
German synthpoppers Claire might be from Munich, but there’s something about the visuals for their new single “Games” that evokes the Americana imagery of Lana Del Rey (even if the plates are all EU). But the song does feel distinctly European, with its too-alt-for-radio sensibilities but too-catchy-for-the-hipsters songcraft — it’s a sun-dappled dance party.
The Preatures, “Is This How You Feel”
I’m not sure if The Preatures are giving me shades of HAIM or giving me shades of Fleetwood Mac with ’80s synths and I just can’t tell the difference, but no matter — the Australian band are doing everything right. “Is This How You Feel?” is sharp and modern with a velvety hook, and on the heels of a five-album deal with Mercury Records, it’s hard to imagine that they won’t take off in the States, too.