Gig Review: Miley Cyrus at Ziggo Dome

Miley Cyrus Ziggo Dome

Miley brings Circus Cyrus extravaganza to Amsterdam

Not even a year ago Miley Cyrus went from being an innocent Disney girl, to one of the most talked about pop stars in the world. Her new coupe, risky outfits, provocative dancing and other stage antics were a constant topic of conversation and discussion. When seeing her concerts for the worldwide Bangerz Tour, it is not surprising that people tend to forget Miley is actually a very talented singer, because after the show it is not really her voice that will be remembered, but all the crazy stuff that happened in almost two hours of Circus Cyrus Extravaganza. On sunday night, Miley finally brought her show, that was delayed in May, to the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam.

Miley Cyrus Ziggo Dome

Miley would not be Miley if she did not start her show with some kind of wacky and memorable entrance. She enters the stage on a slide that symbolizes her tongue that comes out of her own portrait. This was only the first act in a long row. Miley changes one racey outfit for another almost every two songs and so do the dancers. We see them as monsters, animals and half naked in some occasions. Stage props vary from a huge dog to a dancing bird and from a car to a flying hotdog. To be fair, the Bangerz show needed all this distraction during the first part, as it all started with some of the weaker tracks on her most recent album, like ‘SMS (Bangerz)’ and ‘Love Money Party’. From the very strong power anthem ‘F.U.’ onwards, everything goes in a much better direction musically.

Miley Cyrus Ziggo Dome

She gives very strong vocal performances of beautiful songs like ‘Drive’ and ‘Someone Else’ and she finds the perfect balance between performing a song and hosting a freak show on tracks like ‘We Can’t Stop’ and ‘Do My Thang’. When two thirds of the show are done, Miley walks to a small stage in the back of the venue to perform a few acoustic tracks. She starts with a Flaming Lips and Smiths cover and adds a rendition of The Arctic Monkeys’ ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?’. The singer admits she cannot hear herself over there and her microphone seems to have some troubles as well, but, as Miley reckons, nobody would even notice, because she firmly believes everybody in Amsterdam is stoned 24/7. She proudly presents her country roots on a cover of ‘Jolene’, whom Miley of course calls a ‘slut’ in her modern take on the song.

Miley Cyrus Ziggo Dome

When Miley says goodbye on her flying hotdog everybody knows she will come back once more to sing her biggest hit to date, ‘Wrecking Ball’. When the first notes of the song are finally played, the Ziggo Dome explodes and almost 15.000 people sing along passionately, which is quite the goosebumps inducing moment. Miley once again proves she is a very strong vocalist, but of course this is not really enough to close this show. She comes back once more with all her dancers dressed in typical American monuments, singing ‘Party In The U.S.A.’, back from when Miley was still a school girl with long brown hair. Although Miley did find a good balance between the freak show and the at times really good pop music, she absolutely is aware of the fact that she is more of an entertainer than a singer in this stage of her career and judging by the funny and self mocking graphics on the background she does not take herself to seriously either. This makes The Bangerz tour a highly entertaining self aware, musical circus.

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Concert Recensie: Miley Cyrus in de Ziggo Dome

Miley Cyrus Ziggo Dome

Miley Cyrus brengt extravagant Circus Cyrus naar Amsterdam

Het verhaal van Miley Cyrus is zacht gezegd opvallend. In minder dan een jaar tijd wist ze van een braaf Disney meisje te transformeren in één van de meest veelbesproken popsterren. Haar blonde korte coupe, de uitdagende outfits, de provocerende dansjes en andere gekkigheid op het podium waren allemaal het gesprek van de dag. Als je haar shows voor de Bangerz tour bekijkt, is het ook niet vreemd dat mensen af en toe vergeten dat het hier eigenlijk om een heel getalenteerd meisje gaat. Want laten we wel wezen, uiteindelijk is het toch vooral de opeenstapeling aan bizarre taferelen op het podium die de aandacht krijgt in plaats van haar stem. Op zondagavond bracht Miley haar extravagante circus eindelijk naar de Amsterdamse Ziggo Dome, na een uitgestelde show in mei.

Miley zou Miley niet zijn als ze niet met een in het oog springende opkomst zou komen. Die volgt dan ook zeker in de vorm van een glijbaan die dient als haar tong in een portret. Dit is de eerste in een lange rij opvallende podiumfratsen van de slechts 21-jarige zangeres. Miley wisselt om de twee nummers van gewaagd outfit en de dansers doen gezellig mee. We zien ze voorbij komen als dieren, monsters en vooral ook regelmatig halfnaakt. De attributen op het podium variëren van een immense hond tot een dansende vogel en van een auto tot een vliegende hotdog. Om eerlijk te zijn was deze afleiding in het eerste gedeelte van de show wel welkom wanneer vooral wat zwakkere liedjes van haar meest recente album worden gespeeld, zoals ‘SMS (Bangerz)’ en ‘Love Money Party’. Vanaf de uitstekende, krachtige popsong ‘F.U.’ komt de show ook muzikaal wat beter op gang.

Miley Cyrus ZIggo Dome

Ze geeft vocaal foutloze optredens van de mooie liedjes ‘Drive’ en ‘Someone Else’ en weet uiteindelijk ook de perfecte balans te vinden tussen het zingen van liedjes en het hosten van een freakshow tijdens ‘We Can’t Stop’ en ‘Do My Thang’. Na twee derde van de show verplaatst Miley naar een klein podium achterin de zaal waar ze een akoestische set vol covers speelt. Ze begint met liedjes van The Flaming Lips en The Smiths en speelt vervolgens ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High’ van The Arctic Monkeys. Er zijn wat problemen bij het geluid, want Miley kan zichzelf niet horen, maar volgens haar maakt dit allemaal niet zoveel uit, omdat iedereen in Amsterdam toch constant stoned is. Ze sluit het akoestische gedeelte af door terug te gaan naar haar country roots met ‘Jolene’, die ze in haar moderne versie voor het gemak maar even een ‘slet’ noemt.

Als Miley na ruim anderhalf uur show vaarwel zegt op haar vliegende hotdog, weet de hele zaal dat ze nog eens terug zal komen om haar grootste hit tot nu toe, ‘Wrecking Ball’, ten gehore te brengen. Als de eerste tonen klinken ontploft de Ziggo Dome bijna als vervolgens bij 15.000 mensen uit volle borst meezingen, zorgt dit wel voor een kippenvelmoment. Miley laat wederom horen toch wel een erg sterke zangeres te zijn, maar natuurlijk is dit niet genoeg om de show mee af te sluiten. Ze komt nog één keer gezamenlijk met al haar dansers in Amerikaanse monumenten gehezen om ‘Party In The U.S.A.’ te vertolken, een hit van toen Miley nog een braaf meisje met lange bruine krullen was. Hoewel Miley uiteindelijk de juiste balans tussen show en muziek wist te vinden, lijkt ze zich er maar al te goed van bewust dat ze in deze fase van haar carrière meer een entertainer dan een zangeres is. Oordelend op de vaak grappige, karikatuur-achtige plaatjes op de achtergrond van het podium, lijkt Miley zichzelf ook niet al te serieus te nemen en dat maakt van de Bangerz tour een zeer vermakelijk, zelfbewust, muzikaal circus.

Miley Cyrus Ziggo Dome

Valentine’s Day: Ten lovely current love songs

Mariah Carey You're Mine Eternal cover

It’s that time of the year again! It’s Valentine’s Day! A romantic day for some couples, a nightmare for some single people out there, but either way it is a good excuse to listen to some great songs about love! I collected ten lovely current love songs for you to enjoy during a romantic date or a night alone.

10. Mariah Carey – You’re Mine (Eternal)
If there is one lady who knows all about all kinds of love songs, it’s Mariah Carey. She performed lots of songs about break-ups and heartache, for example ‘Without You’, ‘We Belong Togeter’ and the recent ‘The Art Of Letting Go’, but she also recorded tons of happy love songs like ‘Always Be My Baby’, ‘Dreamlover’ and ‘#Beautiful (feat. Miguel)’. Now she is back with a song, especially released for Valentine’s Day, called ‘You’re Mine (Eternal)’. It is a traditional R&B ballad which suits Mariah perfectly. The great thing about a Mariah ballad is that you know that there is a huge note about to come in the last chorus and when that moment finally happens, I am a happy man!

09. Annalisa – Tutto Sommato
A song in the lovely Italian language could not be excluded from this list. Annalisa’s ‘Tutto Sommato’ was recently used in the Dutch movie De Toscaanse Bruiloft (The Tuscan Wedding) and it is a very catchy and infectious little track. The upbeat and feelgood vibe of the song matches perfectly with the movie and it instantly gives you butterflies. Annalisa sings that love gives her life and that is exactly what we need to hear today!

08. Miguel – Adorn (feat. Jessie Ware)
Of course duets are probably the most romantic form of songs. Especially the smooth and sweet R&B kind. When making this list, I found out Miguel is a master in this craft. He recorded the lovely ballads ‘PrimeTime’ and ‘#Beautiful’ with Janelle Monáe and Mariah Carey, but he also re-recorded one of his own tracks to make it into a duet. He invited Jessie Ware to add her vocals to his biggest single to date, ‘Adorn’. The result is smooth, sweet and sexy.

07. Coldplay – Atlas
Although Coldplay’s ‘Atlas’ is not really a love song in the most traditional sense, it is one gorgeous track that deserves every recognition it could get. It was featured on the soundtrack of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, which worked surprisingly well. But let’s be fair, did anybody every tell you something more romantic than: ‘I’ll carry your world and all your hurt’. No exactly, that is what I thought!

06. Sophie Ellis-Bextor – Young Blood
Sophie Ellis-Bextor is back with her new album Wanderlust, that performs pretty well in the UK charts as it already stayed in the album top 10 for three weeks. The leadsingle ‘Young Blood’ is an exceptionally romantic song about growing old together but never losing the feeling of youth, because the other keeps you young. Other than the beautiful lyrics, the song itself sounds sweet and lovely and we hear a whole different side of Sophie’s gorgeous vocals.

05. Ellie Goulding – How Long Will I Love You
Ellie Goulding and her wonderful cover of ‘How Long Will I Love You’ absolutely deserves a place in this list. The lyrics could not be anymore romantic and Goulding’s delivery with her soft and cute voice take this to a whole other level. One could say the song sounds kind of cheesy, but I would like to disagree, because she made this song completely her own and managed to keep the honest sound. And even if it is a little cheesy, it is Valentine’s Day!

04. Beyoncé – Drunk In Love (feat. Jay-Z)
Who said Valentine’s Day always needs to be about romantic things? For Beyoncé and Jay-Z it is probably another hot, steamy and passionate day at their office full of surfboarding and waking up in the kitchen wondering what happened before. And why wouldn’t they? After the fancy dinner by candle light, you might take your date home and that is the point where the sensual and sexy ‘Drunk In Love’ could be helpful as a soundtrack…

03. Clean Bandit – Rather Be (feat. Jess Glynne)
‘As long as I am with you, there is no place I’d rather be.’ That is quite a romantic statement. And when this statement is packed in such a swinging and catchy track, it is not a surprise that this song performs so exceptionally well. Clean Bandit already charted three weeks on number 1 in the UK and they are coming to take over the rest of Europe and probably the rest of the world. What a tune!

02. Miley Cyrus – Adore You
Who would have thought that the controversial popstar who shocked the world with her twerking to her own track ‘We Can’t Stop’ and riding a wrecking ball naked, would follow those releases up with a stunning ballad about love, called ‘Adore You’. Of course the accompanying video had to be a little naughty, but the song itself is beautiful and Miley’s voice does it absolute justice. Absolutely one of the most beautiful, honest and heartfelt love songs released in the last couple of months.

01. John Legend – All Of Me
I honestly could not think of a song that is more romantic and full of love than John Legend’s ‘All Of Me’. In The Netherlands this song has been a huge hit for quite some time now and I would expect the rest of the world to follow sooner or later. ‘Cause all of me, loves all of you.’ This song just screams to be played at weddings! Melodically the moment he sings ‘my head’s underwater, but I’m breathing fine’ is gorgeous. If this song does not give you Valentine’s Day vibes, I don’t know what will!

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.

The best pop albums of 2013

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 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
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-pronto a correre-cover
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
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-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
theelectriclady
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
KillsTrouble
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-Body-Music-2013
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
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…
IconaPopThisis
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-Music-to-Make-Boys-Cry-2013-1500x1500
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 artpop cover
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

Beyoncé BEYONCÉ album cover
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
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
Birdy-Fire-Within-Deluxe-Version-2013-1500x1500
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-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 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

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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
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
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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!

The best pop videos of 2013

Best Videos pop 2013

The fifteen best videos in pop in 2013

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.

Album Review: Miley Cyrus – Bangerz

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Controversial Miley Cyrus presents hyped album Bangerz

When Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Britney Spears all announced their comebacks this summer, not many people would have guessed that, instead of them, Miley Cyrus would actually be the talk of the town for months. The controversy started with her daring party video for first single ‘We Can’t Stop’ and reached another height with her twerking performance at the VMA’s. If that all was not enough to keep people talking, she appeared naked in the video for ‘Wrecking Ball’. So far, she backed the controversial outings up with two great singles. Now the question is: is her new album, Bangerz, good enough to live up to the hype around her persona?

My answer would be; partly. Bangerz, produced by hiphop producer Mike Will Made It, is not really the groundbreaking album you would expect after seeing her MTV documentary ‘The Movement’. Cyrus talks about how she wanted the record to surprise everybody. She explains how every song should cause reactions like: “Wow, what was that?”. To be fair, Bangerz is not surprising or unpredictable enough to achieve this goal, but apart from a few ‘misses’, the album is pretty much a ‘hit’.

Let’s start with the ‘misses’ to get the negative part over with. ‘SMS (Bangerz)’ is the worst song on the album. It is tuneless and does not go anywhere. It is quite surprising Britney Spears agreed to collaborate on this track. Her verse does not add anything to the song. The idea of a duet by Miley and Britney was definitely promising, but both should have known better than to release this. ‘Love Money Party (feat. Big Sean)’ is not one of the highlights either, with an uninspired chorus and unimpressive lyrics.

The good news is, that these are the only two songs that completely missed the mark. The rest of the album’s ‘bangers’ range from decent to outstanding. Both successful singles, ‘We Can’t Stop’ and ‘Wrecking Ball’, are part of the last category. These songs are definitely among the best singles released in 2013. Especially ‘Wrecking Ball’ is among the best ballad-like songs released in quite a while and it is not the only good song in this genre to be found on this album. ‘Drive’ is a dark, captivating track that you cannot help but come back to. Miley’s emotional vocal style works very well and this might be a good choice for a future single. Also, the sweet opening track ‘Adore You’ is one of the better tracks on Bangerz.

Still, most of the tracks, like ‘Wrecking Ball’ and ‘Drive’ deal with a break-up. On the climax of the strong closing track ‘Someone Else’, Cyrus sums up that for her “Love is patient, love is selfless, love is hopeful, love is kind”, but at the same time “Love is jealous, selfish, love is hopeless, love is blind.” On the unusual, but pretty brilliant ‘FU (feat. French Montana)’ Miley is not happy with an ex-lover and she tells him in simple wordings what she thinks he should do with himself. Miley’s vocals are on fire on this track, which matches brilliantly with the aggression in the lyrics. She definitely shows some personality here.

Luckily for the fans of ‘We Can’t Stop’, Bangerz is not all heartbreak and angry feelings. A song like ‘4×4 (feat. Nelly)’ is one of the more straight forward uptempo tracks. It mixes a hiphop-beat brilliantly with slight country influences. The pre-chorus where Miley sings “I’m in the passenger seat, riding high in the air”, is one of the best moments on the album in terms of melody. If Miley and her label want a third world wide hit out of this album, they should release this song as a single.

While everybody is busy talking about Miley’s controversial behaviour, she released a strong album that mixes pop, with a bit of hiphop, which gives the young singer some identity as an artist. It might not be the groundbreaking record she initially wanted to make, but it is a solid effort, full of good productions. And as everybody keeps criticizing her, she will laugh in the corner with her next number 1.

Must Listen: Wrecking Ball, Drive, FU (feat. French Montana), We Can’t Stop, 4×4 (feat. Nelly), Someone Else.

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Album Recensie: Miley Cyrus – Bangerz

Veelbesproken Miley Cyrus brengt album Bangerz uit

Toen Katy Perry, Lady Gaga en Britney Spears allen hun comeback aankondigden deze zomer, zullen maar weinig mensen hebben verwacht dat niet zij, maar Miley Cyrus maandenlang het onderwerp van gesprek zou zijn. De controverse rond de zangeres begon met haar uitdagende party video voor ‘We Can’t Stop’, maar bereikte ongekende hoogten dankzij haar twerken tijdens de VMA’s. Alsof dat nog niet genoeg was om de boze tongen bezig te houden, verscheen ze ook nog eens naakt in de video van ‘Wrecking Ball’. Tot nu toe ging het controversiële gedrag gepaard met sterke singles. Nu is de vraag: is haar nieuwe album, Bangerz, goed genoeg om de hype rond de persoon Miley Cyrus te rechtvaardigen?

Het antwoord is; gedeeltelijk. Het grotendeels door hiphop producer Mike Will Made It geproduceerde Bangerz is niet het baanbrekende album wat je zou verwachten, na het zien van Miley’s MTV documentaire ‘The Movement’. Cyrus vertelt daar dat ze een album wilde maken dat mensen zou verrassen. Ze wilde met elke song een reactie uitlokken als: “Wow, wat was dat?”. Om eerlijk te zijn is Bangerz niet verrassend of onvoorspelbaar genoeg om dit doel te bewerkstelligen, maar afgezien van een paar missertjes, is het album zeker de moeite waard.

Laten we maar meteen met de missertjes beginnen om het negatieve gedeelte maar gedaan te hebben. ‘SMS (Bangerz)’ is het slechtste lied op het album. Het heeft amper een melodie en bouwt nergens naartoe. Het is dan ook verrassend te noemen dat Britney Spears heeft willen meewerken aan deze track. Haar coupletje voegt totaal niks toe aan het geheel. Het idee van een duet tussen Britney en Miley was veelbelovend, maar ze hadden beide beter moeten weten dan deze track uit te brengen. Ook ‘Love Money Party (feat. Big Sean)’ slaat de plank mis met een ongeïnspireerd refrein en een flauwe tekst.

Het goede nieuws is, dat dit de enige twee complete missers van het album zijn. De rest van de ‘bangers’ variëren van degelijk tot uitstekend. Beide succesvolle singles, ‘We Can’t Stop’ en ‘Wrecking Ball’, behoren tot de laatste categorie. Daarnaast vallen ze zeker ook tot de beste singles van het jaar tot nu toe. ‘Wrecking Ball’ behoort zelfs tot de beste ballad-achtige songs van de afgelopen jaren en het is niet de enige sterke track in dat genre op dit album. ‘Drive’ is een donkere, meeslepende song waar je naartoe terug blijft komen. Miley’s emotionele stijl van zingen komt goed tot zijn recht en dit zou een slimme single keuze kunnen zijn. Daarnaast is er de lieve ballad ‘Adore You’ die het album opent. Ook dit is één van de betere tracks op het album te noemen.

Toch richten de meeste tracks, net zoals ‘Wrecking Ball’ en ‘Drive’, zich qua tekst op een break-up. Tijdens de climax van de sterke afsluiter ‘Someone Else’, somt Cyrus op wat liefde voor haar is. “Love is patient, love is selfless, love is hopeful, love is kind”, maar tegelijkertijd “Love is jealous, selfish, love is hopeless, love is blind.” Op de ongebruikelijke, maar briljante track ‘FU (feat. French Montana)’ is Miley niet bepaald blij met haar ex-vriend en ze vertelt hem dan ook in simpele bewoordingen wat zij vindt, dat hij met zichzelf moet doen. Miley gaat vocaal helemaal los wat perfect bij de agressie uit de songtekst past. Op deze track laat ze zeker persoonlijkheid zien.

Gelukkig voor de fans van ‘We Can’t Stop’, bestaat Bangerz niet alleen uit gebroken harten en boze gevoelens. Een song als ‘4×4 (feat. Nelly)’ is één van de meer recht toe recht aan uptempo liedjes. Het mixt hiphop-beats met country-invloeden op een zeer slimme wijze. De bridge waarop Miley zingt “I’m in the passenger seat, riding high in the air”, is qua melodie één van de beste momenten van het album. Als Miley en haar label een derde wereldwijde hit willen scoren, moeten ze deze track als volgende single uitbrengen.

Terwijl iedereen druk is met het bespreken van Miley’s controversiële gedrag, heeft de zangeres een sterk album gemaakt, dat pop mixt met een beetje hiphop. Het geeft de jonge Cyrus wat persoonlijkheid als artieste. Het mag dan wel niet het baanbrekende album zijn waar ze in eerste instantie voor ging, maar het is een degelijk album geworden, vol goede producties. En voorlopig zal ze om alle kritiek blijven lachen, omdat ze weer een nummer 1 aan haar lijst kan toevoegen.

Dit moet je gehoord hebben: Wrecking Ball, Drive, FU (feat. French Montana), We Can’t Stop, 4×4 (feat. Nelly), Someone Else.