Pop Goes The World: Meet Ailee, Little Nikki, Inouwee, Cape Lion & Bjorn Olav Edvardsen

Sam Lansky | July 15, 2013 1:56 pm

Something about summer makes me really want to travel — just run away from it all. London! Stockholm! Copenhagen! Seoul! But if I can’t satisfy my wanderlust, a little sonic journey around the world is the next best thing, and this week’s Pop Goes The World is a truly global expedition: From the retro stylings of a K-pop ingenue to the flashiest new songbird waggin’ out of the UK, it’s high time you filled up your passport.

Musically, if nothing else. Jump on board — our destination is international. 

Ailee — “U&I”

K-pop superstar Ailee‘s “U&I” is a smash, period. As Popdust’s always-reliable K-pop guru Jacques Peterson notes, the track’s blaring horns and retro production evoke Beyonce and Amerie — there’s shades of both “Crazy In Love” and “Gotta Work” in this — but the track’s layered dynamism is all K-pop. Ailee, a relative newcomer to the charts, even made enough of a splash to dethrone reigning girl group 2NE1. That’s a real coup.

Little Nikki — “Little Nikki Says”

Little Nikki is easily one of the most promising solo stars rising out of the UK: After cutting her teeth as one-third of the defunct girl group SoundGirl, she’s forged out on her own, and her debut big single is “Little Nikki Says.” You already know it’s good because of the eponymous title (how can it go wrong?), but the ’90s influence in the instrumentation and the brilliantly catchy chorus make her the most likably domineering dancefloor dictator since Kelly Rowland commanded us to dance. Get into her groove.

Bjorn Olav Edvardsen — “Mountains”

Bjorn Olav Edvardsen (have you ever in your life heard a more quintessentially Scandinavian name than that?)  rose to fame on Norwegian Idol a few years back, but “Mountains,” his debut collaboration with producer Arcteec, is his best offering to date: A skittering, dubsteppy midtempo confection with gorgeous, almost androgynous falsetto and a chorus that soars and crashes like, I dunno, a car driving off a cliff into the fjords. It’s no surprise that a remixed version is the soundtrack for Oslo Pride 2013.

Inouwee — “Essence”

Danish pop duo Inouwee are relatively new (according to the excellent resource Scandipop), but there’s a maturity to this single — “Essence” — that belies that. “Essence” and its accompanying video are uncanny but not sinister, with a cinematic sweep to the sound that evokes an airier, spacier MS MR.

Cape Lion — “Jennie”

Cape Lion are my new favorite Swedish pop outfit (although admittedly, there’s a new one in a week — what is in the water over there?), due to their lead single “Jennie,” a perfectly glacial synthpop nugget with vocals like early MGMT and production like Pet Shop Boys. It’s a more blog-friendly track than many of their more schlager-styled Swedish contemporaries — and it makes me think they might be tipped for greatness.

What’s your favorite song from Pop Goes the World? Sound off in the comments, then tell us on Facebook and Twitter.