Lorde pops up in the strangest places. Like on Alternate Worlds — the latest EP from New York City-based post-rock pioneer Son Lux. She beautifully reinvents a track called “Easy”, which originally appeared on Ryan Lott‘s (his real name) 2013 album Lanterns.
“Easy” is an exceptionally good fit for Lorde. It taps into the teen’s gothic outlook — sounding like a (strangely sexy) horror movie soundtrack with its smattering of spooky synths and tinny beats. Her vocal feels at home in the gloomy soundscape, adding even more texture to an already dense and atmospheric song. Listen to the Kiwi’s collaboration after the jump. More »
Katy Perry‘s traveling Down Under and for her latest trick, she stopped by Sydney’s 7 Sunrise today (March 5) to take a stab at being a meteorologist. Brandishing a ”nifty wand that all weather reporters use,” the superstar stepped in front of the LCD screen showing a map of Australia and delivered the day’s forecasts, mispronouncing several major city names along the way.
By the end, she gave up, calling Hobart “Hogwart’s” and channeling Kristen Wiig for the big finish at Perth. It was stupidly amusing, but I feel bad for the people who actually needed a weather report. Although, as Perry pointed out, “If you don’t understand all this, I’m sure you have an app on your phone.”
Check it out up top. More »
It’s been a couple weeks since Phantogram dropped their sophomore album Voices, which has quietly climbed its way to the No. 11 spot on the Billboard 200. The week of its release, they brought “Black Out Days” and “Fall In Love” to Jimmy Kimmel Live, which probably gave them a sales boost, and on their Letterman stint last night (March 4), they performed deep cut “The Day You Died.”
The plaintive song brings to mind a more expansive version of The xx, and it makes Sarah Barthel’s vocals the centerpiece, which seemed to be a theme on the album. Check it out up top. More »
With her CUT 4 ME mixtape, Kelela was another voice entering the increasingly crowded realm of alt-R&B last year, but she set herself apart by matching the type of earnest, evocative vocals you’d hear in the ’90s with squiggly, unpredictable productions that seemed to come from the 2090s. After that, the L.A. singer landed on the Solange-curated Saint Heron compilation, along with Jhene Aiko, Sampha, Cassie and more. Now she has linked up with British producer Bok Bok (who had some credits on her mixtape) for “Melba’s Call” off his forthcoming EP.
The beat is a thing of stuttering beauty, with slap bass and synths transformed into hiccuping clips, like another dimension’s version of Janet Jackson‘s Control. With such a distinctive arrangement, you’d think it would be easy for Kelela’s vocals to get lost in all the syncopation, but those pipes are the foundation of the whole song, and her voice ably floats and falls to keep up with the choppy beat.
Check out the video below. More »
Perception is thrown for a loop in Sleeper Agent‘s video for “Waves,” the lead single off the Kentucky alt-pop band’s upcoming sophomore LP About Last Night (out March 25 — and, incidentally, no relation to the recent feature film of the same name). In the clip, frontwoman Alex Kandel lays on a bed of dolls and gets her upside-down head dipped in a fish tank while fellow vocalist Tony Smith sits on the ceiling and is later doused in milk, which is pouring from the side of the screen.
“Waves” director Chris Grieder and the band members give an inside look at how those tricky shots and various others were done during the two-day shoot via a behind-the-scenes video Idolator is premiering today. Head below to get a peek behind the curtain on the set of Sleeper Agent’s latest visual. More »
Sky Ferreira took to Facebook to make a plea against online bullying, slamming those who have lobbed abusive comments her way (sexual or otherwise) recently. “I’m exhausted of (more than some) people telling me how I should look or be if I want to be a ‘pop star’ & how they think it’s okay to say vile & (sexually) abusive shit to me on a daily basis over the internet,” she starts. “I’m not only writing about myself…because almost every person has to deal with this.”
The “pop star image” is something Sky has been battling since it was foisted upon her at a young age, and part of why her debut Night Time, My Time was so great was because she so brazenly ignored industry standards — angst instead of glamour, scuzzy guitars instead of bass drops, a topless cover — to make a pop album on her own terms.
Ferreira signed off with a bit of advice that she hopes will stop abusive Internet behavior: “If you see hateful/disgusting/abusive comments, please start reporting it or deleting it. I think that’s the only way we can start to lower that sort of thing from happening. Use the internet as a way to connect with others & LEARN.” See her full Facebook post below. More »
In February, Toronto songbird Allie X swooped into our lives and dazzled us with her shimmering synth-pop gem “Catch,” causing us to declare it was the best song of 2014 so far. (One or two others have cropped up since then, but “Catch” is still soaring pretty high in our book.) Now fellow Canadian Billboard (real name: Mathieu Jomphe) has remixed the track, thus slowing it down and giving it a moodier, synthier makeover.
“The first time I heard Allie X’s distinct music and voice it grabbed me right away and I knew I wanted to be a part of her project,” Billboard, who’s written and/or produced for the likes of Robyn, Ke$ha and Britney Spears, tells Idolator. “In remixing ‘Catch’, I was inspired by the darkness in the lyric to make something deeply emotional.”
Hear Billboard’s atmospheric re-tooling of Allie X’s “Catch” below. More »
Popping Up is our recurring look at new artists making noise on the music landscape. Because, hey — Madonna and Britney were once unknown, too.
When you watch Lorde giving one of her trance-like performances, or hear Lady Gaga philosophizing in an interview, it’s easy to think, “Hey, chill out, it’s just pop music.” But if this era of poptimism has taught us anything, it’s that pop music can be just as transportive and transformative as the most subversive rock or euphoric electro or revolutionary rap. I haven’t seen 25-year-old Dutch musician Thomas Azier perform, but after talking to him, it’s clear he also comes from the Pop Is A Very Serious Matter school of thought.
Of course, once you accept the seriousness of the genre, it’s easy to be playful within that framework. For instance, Azier, who has lived in Berlin since he was 19, jokingly refers to his music as GDR&B, as in, R&B spawned in communist East Germany. And he’s right about that — his epic synth-pop debut, Hylas (out March 10), has some of the hooks and raw emotion of R&B, mixed with the synthetic churn and metallic clanging of ’80s European electro.
Azier recently stopped by our New York studio on what was, very literally, the sloppiest day of this disgusting, demoralizing NYC winter, but he handled the slushy trek from Brooklyn to midtown with the stoic efficiency you may expect from a Berliner. We chatted about his debut album, the factory he recorded it in and the thin line between love and pain. Shit got deep. Check out the interview up top, and read on for more about the pan-European pop wiz. More »
Picky, picky, picky! As Blake Shelton, Shakira, Adam Levine and Usher’s contestant slots fill up, The Voice coaches are getting stingier with their red buttons. Coach Levine only spun once on Tuesday night (March 4) and has yet to file a complaint that his chair is broken.
This season’s crop of talented contestants has all four coaches compiling some of the strongest Voice teams to date. So…yeah…no more “so so’s” have been sneaking through the Blind Auditions. Sorry, kids: this isn’t Season 1.
The standards are high, but some contestants are delivering. Here’s who wowed their way to the next round. More »
The seniors at McKinley High are already getting sentimental for their impending graduation. (We seriously don’t think Tina’s fully prepared for this emotional roller coaster. It’s Season 5 — has she looked into therapy yet?) Between their nostalgia and the bickering between former roommates Rachel (Lea Michele) and Santana (Naya Rivera), tensions are running pretty high this episode. More »