Pop Goes The World: Get Down With Leah McFall, Empire of the Sun, Tommy Burr, Elliphant & Diandra
Ahoy! All aboard the Pop Goes the World cruise around the globe. This week, I’m taking you to Sweden twice — sorry, it’s just that unbeatable Scandinavian magic — with a masterful singer-songwriter and the second coming of Grimes, then introducing you to a hotly tipped chanteuse from the UK version of The Voice whose swag is positively Bieberesque (in the best way), vibing with the best song off an Australian pop duo’s spectacular new LP and rocking out to a monster dance smash with a Finnish Idol.
Hope you got your visa — you might end up staying awhile.
Leah McFall, “As Long As You Love Me” (Justin Bieber cover)
It’s hard not to be obsessed with the breakout star from this year’s series of The Voice in the UK, Leah McFall, who has defied the odds to enter the Top 20 of the British charts with her cover of Gloria Gaynor‘s “I Will Survive” before the show has even reached the semifinals. More impressive still might be her cover of Justin Bieber‘s “As Long As You Love Me,” featuring Beat Fox on beatbox. Her vocals are sickening and her attitude is commanding; a future in which she’s not a huge star is borderline inconceivable.
Empire of the Sun, “DNA”
Empire of the Sun had my full attention with their lead single “Alive,” a shimmering slice of radio candy that took their glacially twee alt-pop and injected an even hookier sensibility into it, but the Australian duo are going straight for the mainstream jugular with “DNA,” a standout from their new album Ice On the Dune (and the supposed next single); producer John Hill uses a twangy guitar loop to thrilling effect, coupled with a chorus that just soars.
Elliphant, “Down On Life”
So I’m ridiculously late on this one (to the tune of six months or so, oops!) but Swedish chanteuse Elliphant‘s video for “Down On Life” is an absolute winner: In the same vein as fellow Swedes Kate Boy, Icona Pop and Lykke Li (with a little Grimes thrown in for good measure), it’s percussive, synth-driven and immediately infectious electropop that has a surprising dancehall influence — like M.I.A. if she were straight out of Stockholm. Recently signed to Sony and prepping for a global debut, expect to hear great things from her this year.
Finnish superstar Diandra rose to fame on the Finnish version of Idol (oh, you didn’t watch? Shame on you now) before making a major impact with her dance number “Outta My Head,” but her latest single “Lost” might be her best yet: A stunning midtempo ballad with a pounding dance chorus, it’s the sort of cut that Leona Lewis should be recording right now — and her vocal delivery is nothing short of extraordinary. Let me know when American DJs pick up on this.
Tommy Burr, “How You Let Me Down”
First of all: Take in the fact that as of this posting, this video has 774 views on YouTube. And it’s been up for a month. Mind, it’s not much to look at — the clip is a little DIY, so you can focus on the music — but the song is dazzlingly commercial, a big American-sounding midtempo pop track that sounds like the second coming of Erik Hassle, or what we all privately want Maroon 5 to sound like right now. (He’s Swedish, of course — there’s just something in the water.) Paging the music supervisors for every CW drama ever: Set your next montage to “How You Let Me Down.”