Single Reviews: The best new pop singles from March 2014

In case you have not been paying that much attention to the new releases in the pop scene over the last few weeks, I’m here to help you out. I listed the five best new pop releases from the past month for you to enjoy! Yes, you’re welcome!

05. Cher Lloyd – Sirens
Cher Lloyd participated in X Factor UK in 2010. She wowed the judges with a rendition of ‘Turn My Swag On’ during her audition and managed to finish in fourth position in the competition. She released an album afterwards and even had a hit single in the USA with ‘Want U Back’. Last year she started promoting the release of her upcoming new album ‘Sorry I’m Late’ with the song ‘I Wish’ and now she is back with new single ‘Sirens’. Lloyd drops the hip hop influences for a moment as ‘Sirens’ is a full on pop belter. The chorus is immense and Cher shows the strength and power in her vocals we usually do not hear that much. It sounds like she has grown a lot since her participation in X Factor and it will be exciting to see what she will come up with over the next few months.

04. Lykke Li – No Rest For The Wicked
Lykke Li took quite some time to work on new music after she finished promotion for the album Wounded Rhymes and the single ‘I Follow Rivers’ grew out to be a worldwide hit. A few weeks ago she returned with the heartbreaking and pure new song ‘Love Me Like I’m Not Made Of Stone‘. Somewhat later the new track ‘No Rest For The Wicked’, also taken from her new album I Never Learn that will be released in May, was released. Stylistically, this one is reminiscent of the sound of the Wounded Rhymes record. The production is big and the chorus is strong and captivating. Lykke’s quirky vocals come across very well and her lyrics are poetic and interesting as always. It is good to have her back!

03. Say Lou Lou – Everything We Touch
I already wrote about Say Lou Lou when I reviewed their amazing double single ‘Better In The Dark’ and ‘Beloved’ and named them as one of the most promising artists of this year. Now they are here to prove me right with a new track called ‘Everything We Touch’. The production of the song is lush and their dreamy vocals sound as great as ever. The floating chorus is beautiful, but the pre-chorus is without a doubt the best part of the song. Especially before the second chorus where the rolling drums kick in and they sing, ‘Days of ashes and nights of flames’ is one of the best pop moments so far this year. If they can keep up this high standards, their debut album will be out of this world.

02. Sia – Chandelier
This woman has been focusing on writing for other artists for quite some time now and I think we can all agree on the fact that it was time for Sia to come back swinging with some solo material. And a swinging comeback it is, from a chandelier actually. I can understand if her fans from the earlier albums had to get used to ‘Chandelier’, as it is more in the style of the tracks that she wrote for others, but to be fair, it is one epic anthem. The chorus is huge and the song is basically built up out of strong hooks. From the moment it starts, it is just hook after hook after hook. I particularly love the moment late in the chorus where her voice cracks a bit, showing a vulnerability which makes her delivery sound even more pure. Then you think it is over, but the post-chorus hook of ‘I’m just holding on for tonight’ kicks in. What a song people!

01. Ace Wilder – Busy Doin’ Nothin’
Those of you who have been following the Eurovision Song Contest and its preselections probably already know this one. Ace Wilder particpated in Melodifestivalen, the Swedish preselection for Eurovision and one of the biggest music events of the year in that country, with the track ‘Busy Doin’ Nothin” finishing as the runner up, missing out on winning by only two points. In Swedish iTunes and other charts, this is the highest charting song however, so Ace managed to get a big hit out of her participation. ‘Busy Doin’ Nothin” is an infectious and insanely catchy pop track with a pumping post-chorus. Ace’s delivery of the song about being lazy and not wanting to work is convincing and the song is just so much fun. When it just came out I could not stop playing it and I am still not tired of it. The accompanying EP with some more Ace tracks is also great. A new Swedish pop star is born!

Single Reviews: Margaret Berger, Emmelie De Forest & Maja Keuc

In recent weeks, most countries in Europe decided who they are going to send to the Eurovision Song Contest in 2014. Often this decision is made in a national final show with different artists and songs. Of course there also needs to be an interval act and this is a great opportunity for past participants of Eurovision to promote their new music. This is exactly what Margaret Berger, Emmelie De Forest and Maja Keuc did. They all have a new single out and promoted this during the national final season.

Margaret Berger Scream cover

Margaret Berger – Scream
Margaret Berger represented Norway last year with the outstanding electro-pop anthem ‘I Feed You My Love’. The singer managed to achieve a great result for her home country, finishing in fourth position. She basically deserved to win, but a position in top 5 is still very good. Since this achievement the singer released a single called ‘Human Race’ in September, and is now back with ‘Scream’. Of course, Berger continues her electro-pop trend and the production of the track is once again delicious. Just like ‘I Feed You My Love’, the verses sound somewhat dark, but when the catchy chorus kicks in, everything lights up a bit. Margaret’s sweet and soft vocals match very well with the banging production. Once again, the Norwegian ice queen releases a great track, which makes me even more excited for a new album. Nice Eurovision fact: Margaret wrote this song together with Ace Wilder, who finished as runner-up in the Swedish Melodifestivalen with the great ‘Busy Doin’ Nothin”.

Emmelie de Forest Rainmaker

Emmelie De Forest – Rainmaker
As you probably all know, Emmelie De Forest won the Eurovision Song Contest last year with ‘Only Teardrops’ and thus managed to bring the contest back to Copenhagen. ‘Only Teardrops’, a strong and undeniably catchy song that mixed pop with some folky influences, was the favourite to win the contest all along and Emmelie did not disappoint with a professional and beautiful performance. This year, she was asked to sing the official theme song for this year’s Eurovision, called ‘Rainmaker’. The song is quite similar to her Eurovision song when it comes to the style and instrumentation, as ‘Rainmaker’ is based on drums and has got some flute in it as well. The chorus is powerful, also thanks to the choir that plays a major part in the track. This adds some Disney-vibes to ‘Rainmaker’ as well, like it could have been on the soundtrack of The Lion King. De Forest promoted the song in different national finals across Europe and will sing it again on the big stage in Copenhagen in May.

Maja Keuc Close To You cover

Maja Keuc – Close To You
In 2011, Slovenia had their best result in Eurovision over the past ten years, when Maja Keuc participated with the outstanding power-ballad ‘No One’. She finished in 13th position, as the televoters did not vote as much for her as the juries did. Although she deserved a much higher position, Maja should be proud of bringing her country some success in Eurovision. Later that year she released a debut album and went back to college, but now she is back with the new single ‘Close To You’. She performed it for the first time during EMA, the Slovenian national selection for Eurovision. Just like ‘No One’, ‘Close To You’ is a powerful ballad, but where Maja, whose voice is often compared to the likes of Christina Aguilera and Anastacia, fabulously belted all the way through her eurovision track, she toned things down a bit on the new song. Still she shows the power in her vocals during the chorus, but during the verses and pre-choruses, she sounds somewhat more fragile and the higher register of her voice is actually really pretty. It is good to see Maja, who by the way changed her stage name into Amaya, is still going strong!

The best pop singles of 2013

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.

Single Review: Margaret Berger – Human Race


Margaret Berger plans to leave earth on new single

Some of you might already know Margaret Berger, as she participated in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. She reached the fourth place for Norway with the outstanding song ‘I Feed You My Love’. This piece of dark electro pop with heavy beats and an atmospheric sound, is absolutely one of my favourite songs of the year so far. It is always hard to follow up such a good release, but Margaret manages to bring us another banger, called ‘Human Race’.

Where ‘I Feed You My Love’ sounded somewhat darker and had some rock influences, ‘Human Race’ brings us full on electro pop with an up-tempo dance sound. The production is great and the electronic bleeps fit in very well with the melody and instrumentation of the track. Margaret’s light, soft and charming voice matches perfectly with the sonic experience the song creates. The chorus and the build up to it, are very solid and make the song stick around in your head. The sound might remind a bit of Swedish act Robyn, which is meant as a compliment as she is at the top of the electro pop game. Still, the combination of Margaret’s characteristic vocals and the sound of ‘Human Race’, makes it definitely recognizable as a ‘Berger-track’.

Lyrically, the song is about Margaret being disappointed in the greediness of mankind and she therefore dreams about leaving this planet, in a mission to outer space. The brilliant thing about this track is, that not only the lyrics talk about a trip to space, but the song actually sounds like it would perfectly fit as a soundtrack to a science fiction film, that futures a scene where a rocket is sent into space. The lyrics and sonic elements seem to strengthen each other, into an ‘out of this world’ atmosphere in the track.

Here is some bad news for Margaret. There is no way she will leave this planet before she delivers us a new album. Both ‘I Feed You My Love’ and ‘Human Race’ deserve to be surrounded by other great tracks on a record full of outstanding electro pop. Please Margaret, we need you here on earth and we need that new album!


Margaret Berger verlaat de aarde op nieuwe single ‘Human Race’

Sommigen van jullie zullen Margaret Berger al kennen van haar deelname aan het Eurovisie Songfestival dit jaar. De zangeres kwam uit voor Noorwegen met de fantastische track ‘I Feed You My Love’ en behaalde er een vierde plaats mee. De donkere electropop song met zware beats is absoluut een van mijn favoriete liedjes van dit jaar tot nu toe. Het is natuurlijk altijd moeilijk om zo’n sterke release op te volgen, maar Margaret krijgt het voor elkaar ons een volgende knaller te serveren, in de vorm van ‘Human Race’.

Waar ‘I Feed You My Love’ wat donkerder klonk, mede dankzij wat invloeden uit rockmuziek, brengt ‘Human Race’ een iets lichtere electropop sound met een uptempo dancebeat. De productie is sterk en de elektronische piepjes komen goed tot hun recht in de melodie en instrumentatie. Margaret’s lichte, zachte en charmante stemgeluid past perfect bij de sfeer en sound die het lied creëert. Het refrein en de opbouw daarnaar, staan als een huis en zorgen dat het lied door je hoofd blijft spoken. Het geluid van ‘Human Race’ doet bij vlagen wat denken aan de Zweedse Robyn, maar dit is een compliment sinds zij nog steeds aan de top staat als het om electropop muziek gaat. Daarnaast weet Margaret met haar karakteristieke stemgeluid en de herkenbare productie, het lied toch te laten klinken als een echte ‘Berger-track’.

De song gaat over Margaret’s teleurstelling in de hebberigheid van de mensheid. Ze droomt daarom van het verlaten van de aarde om op een missie te gaan in de ruimte. Het briljante van deze track is dat niet alleen de tekst over een buitenaardse trip gaat, maar de sound van het lied klinkt ook alsof het perfect onder een scène met een vertrekkende raket uit een sciencefiction film zou passen. De songtekst en het geluid van de track vullen elkaar perfect aan in het creëren van een buitenaardse sfeer.

Er is echter slecht nieuws voor Margaret. We kunnen de zangeres namelijk niet zomaar de aarde laten verlaten, voordat ze een nieuw album heeft afgeleverd. Zowel ‘I Feed You My Love’ als ‘Human Race’ verdienen het om een plekje te krijgen tussen andere sterke tracks, op een album vol kwalitatieve electropop. Alsjeblieft Margaret, we hebben je hier op aarde nodig en we kunnen ook wel een nieuw album van je gebruiken!