Always wondered what pop stars themselves listen to whenever they are not on stage or writing new music? It’s time to find out! Every week, A Bit of Pop Music will bring you Friday’s Five Tunes, a selection of five favourite songs by a current pop artist. This week we learn all about the five favourites selected by Mo Brandis!
Mo Brandis is a London based singer and songwriter who made a career writing for others and tours around the world as part of Incognito, the soul and funk collective. He now decided it is time to take matters into his own hands and he decided to share some of his solo music with the world. The seductive first single ‘Undercover’ was launched earlier this year and now he is back with the funky bop ‘Red Lights’. He proved he is capable of writing a superb chorus. Enough reason to chat to Mo about his absolute favourite songs!
Prince – Musicology
“I think this is a good place to start, because this tune has been my ringtone for several years now! I have actually missed a call once because I was rocking out to it a little too long. No need to say much about Prince… I just love the punchy but laid back groove on this record, that super funky guitar riff, the killer lyrics, and that usual Prince swagger! So every time my phone rings I’m back in that zone…”
Donny Hathaway – Thank You Master (For My Soul)
“Ah man. For me, this song is an absolute masterpiece by a musical genius. More importantly, I can feel Every. Single. Word. Donny sings from the depth of his soul as he always does, but when I heard this particular song for the first time I was just completely overwhelmed. I think after the bridge when he starts singing again (3:50 – 3:53) I must’ve stopped breathing, it just killed me and still gets me every time. And then he follows it up with that laugh! Musically it’s very sophisticated and a brilliant arrangement, but Donny pulls it all together with this unbelievably emotional and tasteful vocal performance. I also love little details like the organic delays (echoes) he sings and sometimes changes up. One of my all-time favourite pieces of music.”
Michael Jackson – Stranger In Moscow
“I know, I know. Michael might be an obvious choice, but I don’t think this particular song is. I’m a diehard fan and to me, this is without a doubt one of the best songs he has done. It’s pure genius. The whole mood of the song pulls you in right from the start and the lyrics are so deep when you really take them in. I love the vocal cluster harmonies. The colours that the carefully placed instruments add. The broken up beat that’s spread across the stereo image. And the heart-tugging, subdued tension that’s bubbling underneath the surface until Michael finally breaks out 3,5 minutes into the song. I don’t know any other song that captures the feeling of loneliness the way ‘Stranger In Moscow’ does.”
Katy Perry – Power
“I could go on and on with my favourite classic records that I love and studied, but this one is a current tune by Katy Perry that I discovered a couple of months ago. It features a sick production by Jack Garratt. I love the sonics and textures on it and there’s some very cheeky musicianship thrown in for good measure too – YES Jack, I mean those fills, breaks and passing chords! Don’t hold back now! I’ve always really respected Katy Perry as an artist and songwriter, no wonder she’s one of the most successful pop artists of our time, and the lyrics on ‘Power’ are also, excuse the pun, really POWERful. A tune you might wanna consider adding to your workout playlist!”
Natalie Williams – The Flame
“Last but not least, ‘The Flame’ is a song from a soulful jazz album I listen to a lot called ‘Where You Are’ by Natalie Williams. It’s just an amazing piece of art with beautiful arrangements and performances. I have many favourites on the album, but ‘The Flame’ at the right moment really takes me somewhere else with its pristine and delicate melody, the dreamy lyrics and Natalie’s warm and soothing voice. Natalie is a friend of mine and I must’ve texted her a dozen times about the album. For a long time I listened to it every day. It just puts you in a nice and calm mood whenever you need it.”
Thanks for this great list and beautiful descriptions, Mo! Now it is time for us to do a little dance to your latest track. Ladies and gents, this is ‘Red Lights’. Let it be the soundtrack to you getting ready for a night out, the song that puts you in a good mood on your way to work in the morning or literally any other moment you might need some energy or a little smile on your face! Oh and check out the video for the groovy ‘Undercover’ too!