British pop girls ready to take over
We all know there are quite some British female pop singers that have been very successful over the past few years. Think about Ellie Goulding, Florence + the Machine, Marina & the Diamonds and of course the likes of Amy Winehouse, Adele, Jessie J and so on. I listed seven pop girls that released a single recently and will try to be the next British sensation. Some of them we have seen before, other are rather new, but all sound fresh and promising!
As 2014 already started, it is time to take a look at new artists that stand a good chance of having their big breakthrough this year. Of course some artists already started to gain some successes, but these new(ish) artists have in common that 2014 will have to be their year. Check out the 10 most promising new artists that will make 2014 an exciting year in pop!
Mapei is what you call an international artist. Her father is American, her mother is Liberian and when she was ten she moved to Sweden where she grew up. She has lived in Portugal, Brazil and Tunesia for a while and these different cultural backgrounds are apparent in her music as well. Mapei was mostly active as a rapper in the Swedish underground scene, but with the single ‘Don’t Wait’, released in October, her style changed. The song is soulful, driven by great beats and a guitar riff, and features some baile funk drums. The lyrics about trying not to ruin a friendship or love affair are from the heart. Mapei’s voice sounds warm and a little raspy at times. She is working on an album in a similar style to ‘Don’t Wait’ and I for one cannot wait to hear it!
ALECS, a young new London based artist, will release his debut EP The Fulham Tapes later this month. In December, he already posted the tracks on his Soundcloud page and this sounds surprisingly good. Inspired by artists like Frank Ocean and The Weeknd, ALECS created his own sound, which could be described as electronic, synth heavy, dark R&B mixed with pop. He mixes this sound with great hooks in his choruses which make the tracks somewhat more accessible. He has a great and distinctive sound of voice to top it all off and here’s hoping that we will hear more from him in 2014.
08. Saint Raymond
Saint Raymond had a great year in 2013. Young singer-songwriter Callum Burrows and his band mates released the EP Escapade and toured through Europe with Gabrielle Aplin and Haim. 2014 is off to a good start as well as the single ‘Young Blood’ is released. It is the best Saint Raymond song so far in all its uplifting catchiness. The song has got more than one great hook and it takes the catchy pop/rock they produced on the first EP to another level. The Young Blood EP will be out the 21st of January and it could well be that an album follows later this year.
There is a lot of hype around American electro pop artist BANKS lately. She finished third in the BBC Sound Of 2014 Poll. The Los Angeles born and London based singer gained attention by releasing two EP’s in 2013. In March, she released Fall Over and in September her London EP came out. The singer went on tour with The Weeknd and there are some stylistic similarities in both artists’ music. BANKS’ music can be described as a mix of dark R&B and pop with a heavily electronic twist. Her distinctive vocal style might not be suited for mainstream radio, but it works perfectly on refreshing tracks like ‘Fall Over’ and ‘Waiting Game’. Her style is cohesive, but does not bore at the same time, so a full album could be potentially great!
Foxes has been working her way up in music for a few years now and in 2013 she had her first international hit with ‘Clarity’, a song by producer and DJ Zedd on which she features. The big dance anthem showcases her beautiful vocals and the singer went on to have another hit in the UK with ‘Youth’, a slightly more alternative and electronic sort of pop song. Foxes will release her debut album Glorious in March and although half of the tracks have already been released (great pop song ‘Echo’ was used as a single, ‘Holding Onto Heaven’ and ‘Shaking Heads’ are already released on iTunes), there is still more to come. She released the video for single ‘Let Go For Tonight’ earlier this week and this huge, catchy, carefree straightforward pop song might bring her the big success she deserves.
Hozier managed to catch a lot of attention in October last year when he released his single ‘Take Me To Church’ and an accompanying video with a strong message against homophobic violence. The 23-year-old Irish musician released a free EP on his website including the single and three other songs. ‘Take Me To Church’ is a dark song with an ominous atmosphere, but with a big and bright in-your-face chorus at the same time. Hozier impresses with his deep tone of voice that works perfectly with the style of his songs. An album this year would be very much appreciated, thank you very much.
04. Chlöe Howl
The 18-year-old British singer Chlöe Howl is set to release her debut album in 2014. The BBC included her in their long list for The Sound of 2014. Based on the three singles she has released so far she could become one of the most exciting new artists this year. ‘No Strings’, ‘Paper Heart’ and ‘Rumour’ are all catchy up tempo pop tracks with killer choruses. Chlöe’s voice sounds very strong and mature, considering her age and her ability to write songs with sharp and smart lyrics is impressive. In the first months of 2014, Howl will be touring with Ellie Goulding and in June it is time for her to launch her first album!
03. Lea Michele
Although Lea Michele is not really a new face in the entertainment industry, I included her in this list because she is just starting a solo career as a pop artist. Many of you may know her as Rachel in the series Glee, but Michele decided to focus on a music career as well. The singer released the Sia-penned single ‘Cannonball’ in December and that was quite a brilliant power ballad. Along with the pre-orders of her debut album Louder, that will be released on the 4th of March, she premiered the track ‘Battlefield’, also written by Sia. Once again a beautiful ballad. The album features a co-write by Christina Perri as well and I have faith this record will be very, very good.
02. Say Lou Lou
The Swedish/Australian twin sisters of Say Lou Lou (formerly known as Saint Lou Lou) are expected to have a big breakthrough this year. They already made the long list of BBC’s The Sound of 2014. 2013 has been a great year musically for the girls as they released the singles ‘Julian’, ‘Better In The Dark’ and ‘Beloved’. Although ‘Beloved’ is my favourite, it has to be said that all three songs are exceptionally well-written and beautiful. An album full of their dreamy and melodic pop would be great, now wouldn’t it?
01. Tove Lo
Frequent readers of my blog might already realize I am a fan of this Swedish girl and I predict big things for her in the near future. 2014 has to be the year of Tove Lo. She gave us the singles ‘Habits’ and ‘Out Of Mind’ in 2013, which are both no less than brilliant pop songs. With these tracks, she shows she knows how to write great pop choruses and her lyrics are powerful and heartbreaking at the same time. Recently, she announced on Twitter that her new EP is in final stages, so that should see the light of day soon enough. Fun fact: she also co-wrote the track ‘Thousand Needles’ for Lea Michele’s debut album. I am desperate for new Tove Lo songs in my life and so should you!
In the next few days I will publish some end-of-year lists to show you what my favourites were in pop music this year. I will start with the best 15 pop music videos that were released in 2013. There were quite some great videos to see the light of day this year, here is my pick:
15. Antti Tuisku – Rakkaus On.
Finnish pop star Antti Tuisku made a comeback this year with the single ‘Rakkaus On.’. The video for the song features Tuisku in various gorgeous landscapes with beautiful colours that symbolize the four elements. The parts where he is partly buried in sand are gorgeous and Antti standing on a mountain with his clothes flowing in the wind is a tad dramatic, but pretty great to look at. Visually, this is one of the most beautiful videos I have seen this year.
14. Chlöe Howl – Paper Heart
Chlöe Howl is a newcomer in the British music scene, but she will probably be one of the biggest new acts next year. The video for her single ‘Paper Heart’ has a simple concept, but is very effectively executed. We follow Chlöe when she gives a show in a park to break up with her boyfriend. The video plays nicely with the words of the song and this could definitely be called an epic way to break up with some douche bag. Well done Chlöe, we’ll hear more from you next year!
13. Gabrielle Aplin – Salvation
2013 was a big year for Gabrielle Aplin, as she released her successful debut album. She released ‘Salvation’ as the last single this year, with a gorgeous and fitting video, directed by Zaiba Jabbar. The story of needing someone to get through a tough period in life is perfectly depicted in the choreographed video. The movements, setting and atmosphere of the video all complement the song and Gabrielle herself looks stunning throughout the whole thing.
12. Jenni Vartiainen – Junat Ja Naiset
2013 has been a good year when it comes to videos by Finnish pop stars. Just like Antti Tuisku, Jenni Vartiainen made a gorgeous music video in breathtaking landscapes. In comparison to Tuisku, Vartiainen’s ‘Junat Ja Naiset’ is depicted way darker and more mysterious. The video is intriguing with all its metaphors and dark costumes. Almost every shot is beautiful and leaves you wanting to see the video again and again.
11. Diana Vickers – Cinderella
Sometimes, all a good music video needs is a cute love story. Diana Vickers must have known this when she filmed the video for her single ‘Cinderella’. The video is basically a modern take on the fairytale in which Vickers escapes from a party with a cute looking guy she just met. The two steal some drinks and end up in a pool. Nothing complicated, but just a beautifully depicted little love story of a cute and gorgeous couple.
10. Tom Odell – Another Love
This beautiful song by Tom Odell has two different videos which are both worthy of a place in this top 15. The first one was released in November 2012 and features Tom Odell in a room stoically singing the song to the camera while his girlfriend is putting op a fight with him. This was quite a hypnotic and impressive visual. In the second one, we see Odell spreading pictures of a missing girl through the city while he does not recognize her when he meets her. It is a beautiful story that goes well with the touching song. Two great videos for one song, impressive stuff!
09. Lily Allen – Hard Out Here
This, ladies and gentlemen, was the big comeback of the enfant terrible in pop music, Lily Allen. She came back in style with a funny and cheeky video that caused some controversy. The video criticized Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ with some satire, including the line ‘Lily Allen has a baggy pussy’. The video, directed by Christopher Sweeney, in which the judgement on women in the music industry is criticized, sparked some controversy, because people thought Allen was objectifying black women. To all those people, Allen can only say: ‘If you can’t detect the sarcasm you’ve misunderstood’.
08. Justin Timberlake – Mirrors
This was the year of the comeback of Justin Timberlake as well. He released some music after quite some years of focusing on his acting career. ‘Mirrors’ was his most successful single and by far his best video. The video, directed by Floria Sigismondi, depicts the love of two people throughout their lives. We see different phases of getting to know each other, a first pregnancy and the death of one of them. It is al beautifully acted and shot and in the finale, we see a beautiful scene with Timberlake surrounded by mirrors. This video was definitely the best part of his comeback.
07. Veronica Maggio – Sergels Torg
Veronica Maggio is one of Sweden’s most popular artists and she made one of the most touching and heartbreaking videos of the year for her gorgeous single ‘Sergels Torg’. The video, directed by Mans Nyman, is shot in sunny territory, which contrasts with the feelings the song and video are about. Maggio, preparing for a party on her own in an apartment with a swimming pool, is beautiful to watch and her frustration and loneliness are intense in the climax of the song. We literally see her fall apart and this never looked so beautiful before.
06. Britney Spears – Work Bitch!
And then there was a not so impressive new single by Britney Spears. The video, directed by Ben Mor, however, was quite spectacular, when compared to her visual output in recent years. She showed us some attitude and the settings in the desert, at the pool with the sharks and some of the dance scenes were all very pleasant to look at. Britney looks better than she did in years and the whole vibe of the video comes across like she had a lot of fun at the shoot. Shame about the song, but that video was pretty great!
05. Katy Perry – Unconditionally
Actually, the same goes for Katy Perry. ‘Unconditionally’ might be her weakest single so far, but that video, directed by Brent Bonacorso, is just undeniably beautiful. Perry looks gorgeous, the sets are breathtaking and the slow motion/fast forwarding editing is completely in line with the melody and beat of the song. Great dancing scenes, beautiful owls and that car crash scene, all completely gorgeous. The ‘Roar’ video was fun, but this is absolutely impressive. One of her best videos so far!
04. Anouk – Birds
Anouk, the Dutch pride at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, not only did a great performance at the show, but recorded a beautiful video for her song ‘Birds’ as well. She worked together with director Dana Nechushtan and gave the song a whole new meaning. The music video kind of feels like a short film and breathes a similar atmosphere to Black Swan. Anouk herself only plays a small part as ballet teacher. The story about suicide is not what most people had in mind with the song at first and therefore gives the song a new dimension. That is quite something to achieve with a video!
03. Beyoncé – Pretty Hurts
One of the hardest tasks in making this top 15, was choosing just one Beyoncé video from her visual album. Quite a lot of videos on this album would be good enough for this list, but I wanted to pick only one per artist. The most meaningful and impressive video on BEYONCÉ was for ‘Pretty Hurts’, directed by Melina Matsoukas. We see Beyoncé participating in a beauty pageant and the peek behind the curtain shows she is not that happy with her life. The scene halfway through where the host asks her what her aspiration in life is, which seems like an eye-opener for her, is beautifully depicted. It tells the story of the song perfectly and this is definitely one of the best videos in her career.
02. Hozier – Take Me To Church
This is the video that surprised me the most out of all the things I have seen in 2013. I was absolutely moved and impressed by it. The video, directed by Brendan Canty, shines a whole new light on the meaning of the song and it is definitely a very powerful message of love and acceptance. It is obvious that this video is saying something about the new laws in Russia that make it harder for LGBT people to live their own life and easier for hateful people to discriminate them. It is a brave step for new Irish artist Hozier to record such a video and song and I will definitely look forward to new material next year!
01. Miley Cyrus – Wrecking Ball
Most of all, 2013 was the year of Miley Cyrus. Hit after hit, controversy after controversy. Her video for the single ‘Wrecking Ball’, directed by Terry Richardson, truly delivered some iconic visuals of her naked, swinging on a wrecking ball. These images will still be remembered in a few years time in pop culture. The video is daring, but Miley at the same time acts out the vulnerability that is described in the lyrics of the song. I am not a huge fan of the hammer licking, but other than that, everything in the video perfectly complements the song. Not only did this video have a lot of impact, it is executed very well and deserves it to be crowned as best video of the year!
Last but not least, some honourable mentions: Lana Del Rey’s stunning short film Tropico, did not qualify as a music video, Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’, Beyoncé’s ‘Mine’ and ‘Haunted’ and Miley Cyrus’ ‘We Can’t Stop’ did not make it, because other videos by the same artist did and Ellie Goulding’s ‘Burn’ just missed out in 16th place.