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It is time for the last list of 2013. It was a good year of music. Here are my favourite pop singles of the year.
25. Karise Eden – Threads Of Silence
Karise Eden won The Voice Australia last year and launched her first self-written single ‘Threads Of Silence’ a while later. The song is a heartfelt piano ballad where she shows the strength of her vocals in the big chorus. It kind of reminds a bit of Adele’s more stripped down tracks, which is obviously a compliment. Impressive debut!
24. Tom Odell – Another Love
Tom Odell launched his career successfully with the beautiful and heartbreaking single ‘Another Love’. The lyrics are touching and definitely relatable and Odell’s delivery is heartfelt. The moment where the second verse kicks in, always gives me goose bumps. Those lyrics are so honest and powerful. What a song people, what a song!
23. Laleh – Colors
Laleh had to follow up the huge success of ‘Some Die Young’ and the album Sjung. She came back with a single and album called Colors. The single is not miles away from the sound ‘Some Die Young’ has, but it is even more catchy and a little bit more uplifting. Her style of both her voice and her writing are distinctive and ‘Colors’ is a typical Laleh track in that sense. Absolutely nothing wrong with that!
22. Céline Dion – Loved Me Back To Life
I have never been a big fan of Céline Dion, but in collaboration with Sia, she managed to create on of the best singles of the year. ‘Loved Me Back To Life’ is a ballad with a modern sound and of course Céline’s voice sounds strong and emotional. For Sia, it was one of the many successful jobs as a writer for other artists. They should work together more often, because Celine’s voice fits this type of songs perfectly.
21. Lorde – Tennis Court
Lorde, the young singer from New Zealand, was one of the biggest discoveries of the year. While her song ‘Royals’ turned out to be a worldwide hit, I still think ‘Tennis Court’ is her best track. Everything is so on point here: her distinctive vocals, the fresh production, the honest lyrics and that undeniably catchy melody. Such a smash!
20. Tove Lo – Habits
This Swedish young woman came seemingly out of nowhere with one of the best pop tracks of the year. ‘Habits’ was her first single, but the heartbreaking character of the lyrics in combination with that immensely strong chorus is such an event to listen to. She showed she has more up her sleeve with single ‘Out Of Mind’ that almost made this list as well. Welcome Tove, you are one of my favourite pop stars from now on.
19. Cassadee Pope – Wasting All These Tears
Cassadee Pope won The Voice USA last year and followed her mentor Blake Shelton’s path and started to make country music. Her first single ‘Wasting All These Tears’ is a big pop/country belter, that you could expect from the likes of Carrie Underwood as well. It is a brilliant song with a huge chorus and strong lyrics. Cassadee has such a beautiful tone to her voice which makes this song all the more special.
18. Marco Mengoni – L’Essenziale
Famous Italian pop star Marco Mengoni won the San Remo Festival and represented Italy in Eurovision with the beautiful ballad ‘L’Essenziale’. The lyrics are touching, the melody is beautiful and Mengoni has got a distinctive and incredible sound of voice. Who does not melt when he sings in Italian about how he would create new places for you when your world falls apart? Lovely!
17. Birdy – Wings
Birdy came back swinging this year. She left behind the piano covers and presented a different sound with the single ‘Wings’. It is such a good song with a melancholic atmosphere, beautiful lyrics and one hell of a strong chorus. Birdy’s soaring vocals top it all off. This single definitely shows her potential as an interesting pop star.
16. Agnetha Fältskog – When You Really Loved Someone
ABBA’s Agnetha Fältskog made a comeback with new original material. She released the beautiful song ‘When You Really Loved Someone’ as the first single. It is a traditional pop ballad with a quite modern production. The lyrics about losing the love of your life are simple, but really effective and Agnetha gives them more meaning with her fragile delivery. She shows that she has still got it vocally as well.
15. Lady Gaga – Applause
All eyes were on Lady Gaga to make a big comeback. The opinions differed a lot when she first premiered lead single ‘Applause’, but the strong pop song turned out to be a success in the charts and on the radio. It is not the best thing she has done so far, but the chorus is great and the lyrics are sharp as ever. Gaga one again showed she is still relevant in the pop world.
14. Florence + The Machine – Over The Love
Florence + The Machine took a break from recording, but still found time to create a song for the soundtrack of the fantastic movie, The Great Gatsby. It is a beautiful song with touching lyrics and of course Florence makes it even better with her impressive powerhouse vocals. The build-up towards the last chorus is very well executed. One more The Great Gatsby track to come in this list!
13. Icona Pop – I Love It (feat. Charli XCX)
This was one of the biggest hits of the year and probably one of the catchiest hooks that I’ve heard in quite a while. This pop banger works very well on the dance floor and it is hard to resist screaming along to the chorus. It’s is a great track to let off some steam and frustration. Such a deserved worldwide hit for these girls.
12. AlunaGeorge – Your Drums, Your Love
AlunaGeorge’s first official single is still their best song to date. ‘Your Drums, Your Love’ is a song that is built completely around an immense chorus that gets to you every time you hear it. Aluna’s soft vocals work brilliantly in combination with George’s productions. This song shows off their lovely style best.
11. Charli XCX – You (Ha Ha Ha)
Pumping beats, screaming synths, smooth vocals and feisty lyrics. These are the four elements that make Charli XCX’s ‘You (Ha Ha Ha)’ into a geat track. The production sounds great and it is so hard to resist singing along to that ‘in your face’ chorus. It still sounds fresh every time I hear it.
10. Amanda Fondell – Dumb
It is a shame Amanda Fondell did not get far in Melodifestivalen, because ‘Dumb’ is such a great pop song. The verses are even better than the chorus, but the repetition of ‘done/gone’ etcetera, works haunting as well. The middle-eight that almost feels like an emotional breakdown is stunning and her delivery is convincing. I don’t care what the Swedish people voted, this remains a fantastic pop song.
09. Veronica Maggio – Sergels Torg
Swedish singer Veronica Maggio made a big comeback with her single ‘Sergels Torg’. The lyrics are sad and heartbreaking, but the melody is quite catchy and uplifting at the same time. You do not have to understand a word of what she sings in order to feel the emotion in the last part where she almost screams her frustration and desperation away. Such a heartfelt track, I love it.
08. Anouk – Birds
Anouk gave The Netherlands a spot in the final, and even a top 10 position, for the first time in years at the Eurovision Song Contest. She performed her heartbreaking, cinematic, melancholic and above all gorgeous ballad ‘Birds’. The orchestral sound works well with her voice and the track is grand, moving and captivating.
07. Miley Cyrus – We Can’t Stop
2013 was a huge year for Miley Cyrus, who transformed into the most talked about pop star with her controversial performances and outfits. However, miss Cyrus has the material to back it up, because ‘We Can’t Stop’ is a brilliant party track. It is insanely catchy and the production is great. Wouldn’t we all like to twerk a bit to this track? I thought so!
06. Haim – Forever
The girls of Haim broke through in 2013 and their first single ‘Forever’ is definitely one of the best things this year in pop had to offer. The production is perfect, their voices sound wonderful together and that chorus is just undeniable. The track swings and it immediately showed the sisters already found their own style and sound with their first single. Impressive, indeed!
05. Miley Cyrus – Wrecking Ball
With ‘We Can’t Stop’, Miley Cyrus showed she knows how to party, but she also showed her even better emotional side on ‘Wrecking Ball’. This is one of the best pop ballads released in recent years. Miley’s delivery is heartbreaking, especially in the bridge where she sounds fragile and completely honest. The chorus literally hits like a wrecking ball and this all results in one huge pop ballad.
04. Emmelie De Forest – Only Teardrops
Emmelie De Forest managed to win the Eurovision Song Contest in 2013 with her song ‘Only Teardrops’. Although the song sounds tailor made for Eurovision, it has something fresh and contemporary at the same time. Above all, the melody is just irresistibly catchy. The flute, her voice and the drums all complement the strong melody and it made ‘Only Teardrops’ a deserving winner in Eurovision and one of the best tracks of the year.
03. Laura Jansen – Queen Of Elba
Laura Jansen surprised me with her fantastic single ‘Queen Of Elba’. From the moment I heard this song for the first time, I knew there was something special about it. The lyrics about crowning herself the queen of Elba and coming to terms with a life on her own are brilliant. The melody is lush and her voice is enchanting as always. More of this please!
02. Lana Del Rey – Young & Beautiful
‘Young & Beautiful’ was the only new single by Lana this year, but it is once again an incredible song. The melancholy in the lyrics fit the sound of the song very well and the movie The Great Gatsby could not have wished for a better soundtrack than this. Lana sounds beautiful and her delivery of the lines “Will you still love me when I’m no longer young and beautiful?” sounds honest and fragile. What an utterly gorgeous song!
01. Margaret Berger – I Feed You My Love
The best song of the year for me is ‘I Feed You My Love’, the song that represented Norway in the Eurovision Song Contest. From the first seconds on I am captivated by it. It sounds dark and fresh at the same time and the heavy beats and production are definitely ‘in your face’. The lyrics of the song (‘You put a knife against my back and you dare me to face the attack’) fit the dark atmosphere very well and it just sounds so effortlessly cool. Margaret’s voice is perfect on ‘I Feed You My Love’ and I really need her to release a new album soon.
Because it is almost the end of the year, I will present you some lists of the best things that happened in pop music in 2013. Today, it is time for the list of the 20 best pop albums released in 2013. Let’s have a look!
20. Bastille – Bad Blood
Bastille is one of the most exciting new acts that broke through this year. Bad Blood is a great record with a distinctive sound, mostly because of the singer Dan’s warm vocal style. ‘Pompeii’, ‘Things We Lost In The Fire’ and ‘Laura Palmer’ are all brilliant songs with a great production and instrumentation. Impressive debut!
19. Sara Bareilles – The Blessed Unrest
A deserved Grammy nomination for this one. Sara Bareilles released an impressive album with amazing songs like ‘Brave’, ‘Hercules’, ‘Cassiopeia’ and the gorgeous ballad ‘Islands’. Sara always released good albums, but it feels like this time, everything is even a little better and this style fits her completely.
18. Marco Mengoni – #ProntoACorrere
Marco Mengoni represented Italy at the Eurovision Song Contest with the wonderful ballad ‘L’Essenziale’. On his album, he shows he also sounds great on up tempo pop songs like ‘Non Me Ne Accorgo’ and the title track. His voice is amazing and the hooks on the tracks are extremely catchy. No wonder this was one of the most successful albums of the year in Italy.
17. Emmelie De Forest – Only Teardrops
The Danish Emmelie De Forest won this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, but ‘Only Teardrops’ was not the only good song she put out this year. Her debut album was full of good pop tracks in the same style as her Eurovision song. She shows she is more than a one hit wonder with this album and I hope we will get to enjoy more of her music in the next few years.
16. Ellie Goulding – Halcyon Days
Ellie Goulding came up with a re-release of her brilliant album Halcyon, now called Halcyon Days. She had huge hits with ‘Burn’ and ‘How Long Will I Love You?’ and the other tracks on this new version are great too. It is not the best collection she released so far (how could she ever top Halcyon?), but still she once again managed to put out wonderful songs like ‘Hearts Without Chains’ and ‘You, My Everything’.
15. Janelle Monáe – The Electric Lady
Janelle Monáe’s eclectic mix of R&B, soul, pop, funk, hip-hop and more, delivered us some amazing songs on her debut record The ArchAndroid. Her second effort does not disappoint with some of the best songs in her career so far, like the beautiful duet ‘PrimeTime’ with Miguel. The album has great variation but still feels like an extremely cohesive work of art. Janelle Monáe never disappoints.
14. Natalia Kills – Trouble
Natalia Kills came back with a surprisingly strong second album. Where her first record was quite hit and miss, Trouble is a more cohesive body of work with a higher quality of songs throughout the album. From the emotional ‘Saturday Night’ to the bonkers ‘Rabbit Hole’, Natalia Kills impressed with a great collection of strong pop songs.
13. AlunaGeorge – Body Music
AlunaGeorge was one of the most promising new acts this year and they absolutely delivered with their album. Their electronic style with Aluna’s distinctive vocals are immediately recognizable. Their singles ‘Your Drums, Your Love’ and ‘Attracting Flies’ are the best songs on the album, but almost every track has a memorable chorus and a great production.
12. Anouk – Sad Singalong Songs
Dutch singer Anouk left rock music behind for a bit and made an orchestral album full of beautiful ballads. She represented the Netherlands at Eurovision with the gorgeous ‘Birds’ and songs like ‘Kill’, ‘Stardust’ and ‘The Good Life’ all have that same cinematic and captivating quality. The lyrics are heartfelt and personal and Anouk’s voice sounds better than ever.
11. Icona Pop – This Is…
These Swedish girls had an enormous hit with the amazing single ‘I Love It’, but they showed they have more to give with their album. Their music is a bouncing mix of pop, electro and dance and literally every track has a huge chorus with a great hook. Absolutely one of the best and catchiest releases of the year.
10. Diana Vickers – Music To Make Boys Cry
Diana Vickers took some years to record her second album, but it was definitely worth the wait. She changed her style a bit and focuses more on electro pop these days. Music To Make Boys Cry is a cute little record with a handful strong pop songs with great hooks and memorable choruses. The title track, ‘Cinderella’, ‘Boy In Paris’ and ‘Dead Heat’ should have all been hit singles.
09. Lady Gaga – ARTPOP
Lady Gaga will always have to deal with huge expectations when it comes to the release of her albums and there will always be people who are disappointed with her new output. For me however, ARTPOP is a decent pop record with some great tracks on it. It is not her best work so far (The Fame Monster says hello), but still ‘Applause’, ‘Sexxx Dreams’, ‘Do What U Want’ and ‘Venus’ show she still knows how to write huge choruses.
08. Beyoncé – BEYONCÉ
I waited until the last day of the year to complete this list, as I could not predict if any artist would ‘pull a Beyoncé’ and release a record out of the blue. She surprised the world with this interesting, cohesive and captivating album. Almost every track on there sounds fresh and it seems Beyoncé found the style that fits her best. ‘Haunted’, ‘XO’, ‘Mine’ and ‘Jealous’ are all brilliant tracks and with every listen another song stands out. Great work Bee, we now understand why it took you so long!
07. Lorde – Pure Heroine
The success of the young singer Lorde from New-Zealand might be one of the biggest surprises of the year. It is still hard to imagine how a then sixteen-year-old was capable of creating such a cohesive, well-written album full of huge tunes. Not only singles ‘Royals’ and ‘Tennis Court’ are great songs, but she shows her talents on beautiful and catchy songs like ‘White Teeth Teens’ and ‘Buzzcut Season’ as well. If she is this good at the age of 16, what will happen when she is a grown woman?
06. Birdy – Fire Within
If any artist this year showed how she grew and matured musically, it is Birdy. After releasing an album full of covers as her debut, she did co-write her whole second album with a surprisingly strong record as a result. Beautiful ballads like ‘Words As Weapons’, ‘Strange Birds’ and ‘No Angel’ are still an important part of her music, but she also tries new, more up tempo sounds on ‘Light Me Up’, ‘Wings’ and ‘Standing In The Way Of The Light’, which fits her wonderful vocals perfectly. Definitely one of the most impressive albums of the year.
05. Charli XCX – True Romance
Charli XCX, known for her feature and co-writing on Icona Pop’s ‘I Love It’, released a brilliant debut album herself this year. True Romance is an album full of slick, stylish and pumping electro pop. Her lyrics are sharp, the beats are fat and her vocal style is immediately recognizable. Tracks like ‘You (Ha Ha Ha), ‘You’re The One’ and ‘Nuclear Seasons’ all have huge choruses with killer hooks. This young woman knows how to write some perfect pop tracks, ladies and gentlemen!
04. Gabrielle Aplin – English Rain
Gabrielle Aplin has been working very hard for quite a few years, but in 2013 she finally dropped her first record ‘English Rain’. Her voice sounds angelic, her lyrics are strong and often relatable and the melodies are beautiful. The album deals with a broad range of emotions and Gabrielle is convincing as the teller of the stories. She is angry on ‘Keep On Walking’, thankful on ‘Salvation’, done with a relationship on ‘Panic Cord’ and cautious on ‘Please Don’t Say You Love Me’. This album has a great variety of strong songs and that voice is just lovely.
03. Miley Cyrus – Bangerz
The most talked about pop star of the year did not only twerk, she made a pretty great album as well. Singles ‘We Can’t Stop’ and ‘Wrecking Ball’ are both brilliant, but Miley proved to be capable of even more. There are a few missteps on this record (‘SMS (Bangerz)’ and ‘Love Money Party’), but the heights, such as the singles, ‘Drive’, ‘FU’,‘4×4’ and ‘Someone Else’ are all so good that it makes you forget not every song is perfect. Miley Cyrus proved herself to be an interesting pop star with some great tracks!
02. Haim – Days Are Gone
Band of sisters Haim started the year with huge expectations after they won the Sound of 2013 poll. They did not disappoint with their debut record ‘Days Are Gone’ with a great recognizable sound and eleven strong tracks. The first single ‘Forever’ is still the standout track, but songs like ‘Falling’, ‘Days Are Gone’ and ‘Let Me Go’ all show their song writing talents. The sisters created an own sound and delivered a cohesive album that never bores.
01. Laura Jansen – Elba
The best album of 2013 came from an unexpected place for me, but Dutch singer-songwriter Laura Jansen delivered a truly impressive album. First single ‘Queen Of Elba’ is one of my favourite songs of the year and basically all tracks on the album are great. The lyrics are all well written, touching and tell very personal stories and the melodies are utterly gorgeous. From the uplifting ‘Golden’ to the emotional ballad ‘A Call To Arms’ and the more electronic ‘Lighthouse’ and from the great mash-up ‘Smalltown (Come Home)’ to the heartbreaking and personal ‘Pretty Me’, literally everything about this album is right. She crowned herself the queen of Elba, I crown her the album queen of the year!
Birdy captivates audience with her voice
Birdy is currently on tour throughout Europe in order to promote her new record Fire Within. On the 5th of November, the singer visited Amsterdam for a concert in the venue Melkweg. At the beginning of the show, Birdy told the audience she would play a mix of songs from her new record and some of the tracks from her self titled debut cover album. With an excellent set list and a great band behind her, Birdy first and foremost impressed with her voice and musicality.
Although Fire Within does not revolve around the piano as heavily as her debut did, Birdy still sings the majority of her songs playing it. The placement of the piano on stage is not the best, as a lot of fans in the front rows are not able to see the singer when she sits behind it. This would not have been a problem if she only sat there for a few songs, but there were only four songs for which she stood up and came to the front of the stage. Still, this is only a minor detail in an otherwise good performance.
After supporting act Richard Judge warmed up the audience with a few lovely songs on acoustic guitar, Birdy started off the show with ‘Strange Birds’, one of the best songs on her new record, co-written by Sia. It immediately becomes clear that her voice is flawless and powerful live. Her mature sound would almost make you forget that Birdy is only seventeen years old. She continues with interpretations of one of her biggest hits ‘People Help The People’ and ‘Shelter’, on which it is just her and her piano. For ‘All About You’ she steps away from the piano for the first time and shows to be a skilled guitar player as well. She gives a vocally outstanding performance of the single worthy ‘Heart Of Gold’ and the lyrically brilliant ‘Words As Weapons’ comes across very well in a live setting too.
On ‘No Angel’ and ‘Home’ Birdy’s voice melts beautifully together with her piano playing and she manages to get the audience, for a large part consisting of girls around the same age as the singer, quiet and captivated. On strong versions of ‘Terrible Love’ and ‘Standing In The Way Of The Light’ her band gets a little more room to shine. It is a welcome change of pace after quite a few ballads. The moment a large part of the audience was waiting for, her biggest hit, cover of Bon Iver’s ‘Skinny Love’, opens the encore. Once again, Birdy impresses with a flawless and emotional rendition, on which the audience softly sings along. The show comes to an end with new single ‘Light Me Up’ and ‘Wings’, the first hit and probably the best track of her new record.
There is still room for Birdy to grow when it comes to stage presence and interaction with her audience, but considering her young age, this will also get better in a few years time. Musically, she seems at the top of her game already. Her voice matured and sounds even more impressive in a live setting then it does on record. Birdy and her band performed a solid show which gave the sole most important factors of the night, Birdy’s voice and her piano, plenty of room to shine.
Concert Recensie: Birdy in Melkweg
Birdy weet publiek te boeien met enkel haar stem
Birdy is momenteel aan het toeren door Europa om haar nieuwe album Fire Within te promoten. Op 5 november bezocht de zangeres Amsterdam voor een concert in de Melkweg. Aan het begin van de show vertelde Birdy dat ze een mix van nieuwe songs en een paar tracks van haar cover debuutalbum zou gaan spelen. Met een uitstekende setlist en een sterke band achter zich, wist Birdy vooral met haar stem en muzikaliteit indruk te maken.
Hoewel Fire Within minder gebaseerd is op de piano dan haar debuut, speelt Birdy toch het merendeel van haar songs vanachter het instrument. Het is jammer dat de piano voor het publiek niet heel strategisch is geplaatst, want veel fans op de voorste rijen kunnen de zangeres amper zien zitten. Dit zou niet zo’n probleem zijn geweest als ze er slechts een paar nummers had gezeten, maar ze kwam slechts voor vier songs achter haar piano vandaan. Gelukkig was dit maar een klein detail in een verder uitstekend optreden.
Nadat voorprogramma Richard Judge de zaal heeft opgewarmd met een paar mooie liedjes op zijn akoestisch gitaar, begint Birdy haar optreden met ‘Strange Birds’, één van de sterkste tracks van haar nieuwe album, medegeschreven door Sia. Het wordt meteen duidelijk dat Birdy’s stem live loepzuiver en krachtig is. Door haar volwassen geluid zou je haast vergeten dat we te maken hebben met een slechts zeventienjarige zangeres. Ze gaat verder met haar interpretaties van ‘People Help The People’, één van haar grootste hits, en ‘Shelter’ die ze alleen op de piano uitvoert. Voor ‘All About You’ stapt ze voor het eerst naar de voorgrond om vervolgens te laten horen dat ze ook een getalenteerde gitarist is. Ze geeft een vocaal fantastische uitvoering van het singlewaardige ‘Heart Of Gold’ en het briljant geschreven ‘Words As Weapons’ komt live ook zeer goed uit de verf.
Op ‘No Angel’ en ‘Home’ smelt Birdy’s stem prachtig samen met de piano klanken en ze weet het publiek, dat voor een groot deel uit meisjes van haar eigen leeftijd bestaat, stil te krijgen en te fascineren. Op wat stevigere versies van ‘Terrible Love’ en ‘Standing In The Way Of The Light’ krijgen haar bandleden wat meer ruimte om te laten zien wat ze in huis hebben. Het zorgt voor een welkome afwisseling na de vele ballads. Het moment waar een groot deel van het publiek op wachtte, gebeurt aan het begin van de toegift. Birdy laat een prachtige en emotionele vertolking van haar grootste hit ‘Skinny Love’, een cover van Bon Iver, horen, waarop het publiek zachtjes meezingt. De show komt tot een einde met de nieuwe single ‘Light Me Up’ en ‘Wings’, de eerste hit en de sterkste track van het nieuwe album.
Er is zeker nog ruimte om te groeien voor Birdy als het gaat om hoe ze zichzelf presenteert op het podium en qua interactie met het publiek, maar vanwege haar jonge leeftijd is het te verwachten dat ze hierin beter zal worden de komende jaren. Muzikaal lijkt ze al een behoorlijk eind op weg naar de top van haar kunnen. Haar stem is snel volwassen geworden en ze klinkt nog indrukwekkender in een live setting dan op plaat. Birdy en haar band gaven een solide show waar de belangrijkste elementen, Birdy’s stem en piano, constant centraal stonden.
Little Birds grow up
In 2011 Birdy surprised everyone with her angelic voice and sudden success. The singer who was only fifteen years old at that time, impressed the international public with her emotional cover of Bon Iver’s ‘Skinny Love’. Two years and a few hits later it is time for Birdy to do things on her own. She replaced the covers with her own material and does this surprisingly well.
For her second record called Fire Within, Jasmine van den Bogaerde (Birdy’s real name) asked some big names in the pop industry for help. She wrote songs together with Sia Furler, Ryan Tedder (singer of OneRepublic who also worked with artists like Kelly Clarkson, Beyoncé and Adele), Dan Wilson (Adele, Taylor Swift, P!nk) en Jake Gosling (Ed Sheeran, Paloma Faith). The first single ‘Wings’ immediately shows how these collaborations slightly changed Birdy’s sound. The song written by her and Tedder sounds more powerful and has got a strong and catchy chorus. At the same time it is obvious that Birdy’s voice sounds more powerful, but at the same time she did not lose that little bit of vulnerability.
‘Heart Of Gold’ is one of the tracks that shows Birdy’s development as an artist best. The song sounds mature and has a great pop hook, but at the same time Birdy’s style is still very much audible. A song like ‘Heart Of Gold’ would sound great on today’s radio. The same goes for songs like ‘Light Me Up’, that shows Birdy in her most up-tempo style so far and ‘Standing In The Way Of The Light’, that sounds a bit like a Coldplay song at times and will not leave your head anytime soon after hearing it.
Fans of Birdy’s emotional ballads on her debut record, probably will not be disappointed when listening to Fire Within. With ‘Words As Weapons’ she delivers one of her best ballads to date, mostly thanks to the great lyrics, especially when taking into consideration they are written by a 17 years old songwriter. Parts of the song like “My windows cracked, they can be replaced, but your arm will tire throwing stones my way” and “if you use your words as a weapon, then as a weapon, I’ll shed no tears” are definitely impressive lyrically. On the second single ‘No Angel’, she proves that she is capable of writing catchy, but emotional piano ballads herself as well.
The earlier mentioned Sia Furler seems to bring out the best in Birdy’s talents. Sia, known for her collaborations with David Guetta and her own hits like ‘Clap Your Hands’, penned global smash-hit ‘Diamonds’ for Rihanna and recently wrote Céline Dion’s stunning comeback single ‘Loved Me Back To Life’. With Birdy she worked on the outstanding song ‘Strange Birds’. The strong and expressive lyrics are carried by a soaring melody that explodes into a brilliant chorus that only exists of the word ‘no’. The intense dynamics and structure give ‘Strange Birds’ an extraordinary atmosphere. This is definitely one of the highlights in Birdy’s early career so far.
Birdy delivers an excellent sophomore album, on which she shows an impressive growth, musically, vocally and lyrically. Furthermore, the young singer shows she is capable of more than piano ballads only and I’m sure we will hear a lot more of this in the near future.
Must-listens: Strange Birds, Wings, Words As Weapons, No Angel, Heart Of Gold, Home.
Kleine Vogeltjes worden groot
In 2011 was ze daar ineens, de piepjonge Birdy met haar engelenstem. De toen slechts vijftien jaar oude zangeres wist internationaal indruk te maken met haar breekbare cover Bon Iver’s ‘Skinny Love’. Twee jaar en enkele hits later is het tijd voor Birdy om op eigen benen te staan. De covers hebben plaatsgemaakt voor zelfgeschreven materiaal en dit gaat de Britse allemaal verrassend goed af.
Voor haar tweede album Fire Within heeft Jasmine van den Bogaerde, zoals Birdy eigenlijk heet, samengewerkt met flink wat grote namen in de popwereld. Zo schreef ze nieuwe liedjes met Sia Furler, Ryan Tedder (zanger van OneRepublic, maar ook bekend door zijn werk voor onder anderen Adele, Kelly Clarkson en Beyoncé), Dan Wilson (Adele, Taylor Swift, P!nk) en Jake Gosling (Ed Sheeran, Paloma Faith). Dat dit een enigszins nieuw geluid met zich meebrengt, is gelijk te horen op de indrukwekkende eerste single ‘Wings’. De track, die ze samen met Tedder schreef, heeft, net als haar stem, een steviger, voller geluid meegekregen. Het refrein is krachtig en pakkend, maar toch is dat beetje kwetsbaarheid in de lyrics en haar stem niet compleet verdwenen.
Ook op een track als ‘Heart Of Gold’ laat de jonge zangeres horen dat ze zich goed heeft ontwikkeld. Het lied klinkt volwassen en beschikt over een catchy poprefrein, maar klinkt tegelijkertijd nog steeds onmiskenbaar als Birdy. ‘Heart Of Gold’ zou dan ook zeker niet misstaan op de radio. Ditzelfde geldt voor tracks als ‘Light Me Up’, waar Birdy zich overtuigend van haar meest uptempo kant tot nu toe laat horen en ‘Standing In The Way Of The Light’, dat in de verte soms doet denken aan een Coldplay-track en na het horen niet snel meer uit je hoofd zal gaan.
Liefhebbers van Birdy’s emotionele ballads, waar haar debuut mee vol stond, zullen op Fire Within ook zeker aan hun trekken komen. Zo levert ze in de vorm van ‘Words As Weapons’ één van haar beste ballads tot nu toe af, wat zeker te danken is aan de onverwacht sterke lyrics voor een 17-jarige songwriter. Passages als “My windows cracked, they can be replaced, but your arm will tire throwing stones my way” en “if you use your words as a weapon, then as a weapon, I’ll shed no tears” zijn absoluut indrukwekkend geschreven. Op de tweede single ‘No Angel’ laat ze horen dat ze zelf ook prima in staat is pakkende en gevoelige pianoballades te schrijven.
De eerder genoemde Sia Furler weet Birdy op Fire Within naar ongekende hoogtes te brengen. De zangeres, bekend van haar samenwerkingen met David Guetta en eigen hits als ‘Clap Your Hands’, pende eerder wereldhit ‘Diamonds’ voor Rihanna en schreef recentelijk de prachtige comebacksingle ‘Loved Me Back To Life’ voor Céline Dion. Samen met Birdy werkte ze aan het pareltje ‘Strange Birds’. De sterk beeldende lyrics worden gedragen op een zwevende melodie die tot een ontlading komt in een briljant refreintje, dat slechts bestaat uit het woord ‘no’. De dynamiek en opbouw zijn van grote klasse en maken van ‘Strange Birds’ een plaat die een bijzondere sfeer ademt en daarmee als één van de hoogtepunten uit de prille carrière van Birdy kan worden gezien.
Birdy levert met Fire Within een ijzersterk tweede album af, waarop ze een indrukwekkende groei laat zien, zowel muzikaal, vocaal als tekstueel. Daarnaast laat de jonge zangeres horen meer in haar mars te hebben dan enkel pianoballads en daar gaan we de komende jaren ongetwijfeld nog veel van meegenieten.
Dit moet je gehoord hebben: Strange Birds, Wings, Words As Weapons, No Angel, Heart Of Gold, Home.