Friday, 22 May 2015

DIGITAL WORDS / Brandon Flowers Live Review

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Photo by Torey Mundkowsky

Like any really good album, Brandon Flowers’ latest solo release, The Desired Effect, is too short. Ten supreme tracks that flash by and leave you wondering, “Wait, what just happened there?” The same can be said for the opening night of Mr. Flowers’ tour debut in support of his new LP.
Admittedly, he does make a noticeably late arrival on stage but all is forgiven when he appears and suitably begins with The Desired Effect’s expansive opener ‘Dreams Come True’. It’s a rousing start that’s upped by an immediate transition into what is arguably his best composition yet, ‘Can’t Deny My Love’. It’s dark, powerful, intense, glossy – in essence, pop perfection. And Flowers is looking and sounding better than ever too. Dressed in skinny black jeans and fitted tee, topped off with a golden blazer, his vocals and stage presence are faultlessly commanding.
Not that he has to do much to win over an unexpectedly dedicated audience. Flowers encourages the occasional call and response and espouses some genuine sentiments of thanks, but the power is all in the music. “Remember this one?” he asks before kicking into ‘Crossfire’, and the appreciative reception it receives answers Flowers with a resounding, “Hell yes.” ‘Only The Young’ and Flamingo album cut ‘Magdalena’ go down equally well. “Do you know this one yet?” Flowers faux humbly wonders before playing another one of his crowning recent singles, ‘Lonely Town’. The Bronski Beat-sampling ‘I Can Change’ is yet another winning performance moment.
Photo by Torey Mundkowsky
In fact, attaching a chorus of ‘Smalltown Boy’ to the end of ‘I Can Change’ is just one of many unexpected and pleasantly surprising additions Flowers inserts into the set. So robust is the strength of Flowers’ solo material that he doesn’t have to, but he does, obligingly, play some Killers’ hits. ‘Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine’ is stripped down to an acoustic ballad and ‘Mr Brightside’ pared back to slithers of synth. Regardless, the crowd belt out the lyrics true to the original recordings and their enthusiasm is rewarded with a full-on rendition of ‘Read My Mind’.
Similarly unexpected is an appearance from Chrissie Hynde. Flowers reveals that he’s pissed off that journalists have failed to recognise the influence The Pretenders have had over The Killers, so decides to make it clear by teaming with Hynde for a run through of ‘Don’t Get Me Wrong’ – during which the pair of them sweetly try but fail to co-ordinate a shoulder dip dance. Chrissie stays for a further duet on the touching ‘Between Me And You’. A final guest appearance comes from Mrs Brandon Flowers and two-thirds of the couple’s off spring, who has to be coerced to coming on stage to give an awkward wave to the audience ahead of her beaming husband dedicating his ode to fidelity, ‘Still Want You’, to her.
Photo by Torey Mundkowsky

The slow burning ‘The Way It’s Always Been’ makes for a strange parting number. It effectively returns the crowd and performer alike to a state of calm after an elongated singalong to ‘Still Want You’. But it feels like it all ended too soon. Even after the house lights come up, some fans stay awaiting more, convinced that there simply has to be something else coming. Nope, that’s your lot. Dumbfounding flawlessness that leaves ‘em begging for more is apparently what Brandon Flowers is all about now. The desired effect? We think so.
Written for FMS

DIGITAL WORDS / Bebe Rexha Live Review

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Wednesday night saw the debut London show of – we’re saying it – our (and by extension, your) favourite new pop star, Bebe Rexha.
In a former musical life the 25-year-old New Yorker sang alongside Pete Wentz in his Fallout Boy side project, Black Cards. She also previously had a contract with Island, but it fell through. Island’s loss was Warner Bros. gain, but the emotional fallout from this let down has proved instrumental in the rise of Ms Rexha.
Succumbing to depression and self-doubt, Rexha’s time spent being prescribed pills and bad advice from a therapist feeds directly into her defiant single ‘I’m Gonna Show You Crazy’. In fact, raw, first-person narratives are what drive many of Bebe’s best songs to date. Her two-man band leave the stage whilst she concentrates on the fragile delivery of ‘I Don’t Wanna Grow Up‘ and she positively drowns the stage in energy and attitude when it comes to ‘I Can’t Stop Drinking About You‘.
Oh and then there’s just the small matter of ‘Monster Under My Bed‘ – just a little track inspired by Charles Darwin a quote she found on Tumblr ("We stopped looking for monsters under our bed when we realised that they were inside us") that she co-wrote and donated to Eminem and Rihanna, which they re-named ‘The Monster‘ and took to No. 1 on both sides of the Atlantic.
Bebe also performs the other major league chart hits she already has under her belt: Cash Cash’s ‘Take Me Home’, David Guetta’s ‘Yesterday’ and the Nicki Minaj featuring ‘Hey Mama’, plus Pitbull’s ‘This Is Not A Drill’. Whilst she performs these club bangers with aplomb and shows off that she can twerk, grind and slut drop as good as the rest, it’s when she performs her EDM pop-meets-actual sentiment numbers that she sincerely bursts with passion.
Opener ‘Pray’ sees her vocal chops and intensity immediately proven, and so excited is she about an empowering feminist anthem called ’24/7′, taken from her upcoming debut album, that she can’t stop herself from airing an A cappella preview (FYI it’s as sassy as anything on her ‘I Don’t Wanna Grow Up’ EP but sees her moving past the heartbreaks and disappointments of times gone by).
Bebe stomps her patent Doc Martens, thrashes and whips her hair tirelessly in an effortless display of confidence, as if getting up on stage is the most natural thing in the world – as any decent performer should.
Amongst the music, Bebe talks extensively and honestly with the audience and makes a quick connection, particularly with female members of the crowd who can be heard whispering to one another, “I love her” at the close of each song. And we’re inclined to agree. Bebe Rexha is a true talent and personality unafraid to say and sing exactly what she thinks and feels.
Written for FMS

Monday, 18 May 2015


In the newly re-launched issue of Notion magazine you'll find interviews conducted by yours truly for a feature titled Punk LDN which looks at a set of Londoners "who embrace the modern ethos of punk". 

Pick up a copy and check it out. 

Please note this magazine cover is one of four (the others feature Adam Lambert, Lindsay Lohan and Pixie Lott). This one is my favourite because, well, Carly Rae Jepsen is alright, isn't she? And she's eating a burger. What's not to like?

Sunday, 17 May 2015

DIGITAL WORDS / Quick Fire! Q&A w/ Emilie Nicolas

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Currently a favourite artist at FMS HQ is Emilie Nicolas and her chill dub-pop vibes. The Norwegian vocalist’s upcoming single ‘Pstereo’ has a bewitching Scandi sound and the video boasts an equally remote and enchanting look.

We shot some quick questions to the upcoming talent and she fired her answers right back, managing to cover language translation issues, her forthcoming album and some of her favourite artists.
‘Pstereo’ is a cover of a song by the DumDum Boys – why did you chose to record this track and are you a fan of the band?
It was actually by request from a festival in Norway. So I just made it for  them and then it became my first single.
Umm… What does ‘Pstereo’ actually mean?
Good question! I have no idea! The original song is as vague as my version  since I just translated the lyrics to English. I think the only one who knows  this is Dumdum Boys.
Your album, Like I’m A Warrior, is soon to follow. Is ‘Pstereo’ symptomatic of the LP’s sound?
I believe ‘Pstereo’ might be the more of a “hit” than the rest of the tracks on the album. Since I wrote it for a festival and didn’t think it would be a single, it is maybe not as personal for me, but the sound and the electronic vibe to it is the same.
Which musical artists did you grow up listening to?
I listened to Bossa Nova and Keith Jarrett, and then Sade, Jeff Buckley and Radiohead etc.
Are there any particular artists or albums that you’re really into at the moment?
I don’t listen to that much music, so when I first find something I like, I listen to it a lot over a period. Right now I don´t have any but I listened to a lot of Popcaan in the winter.
What do you think are the defining characteristics of Scandinavian pop music?
I don’t think there are any, but I believe that if you give something your  undivided attention, in this case music, that things will blossom.

Written for FMS

Monday, 27 April 2015

DIGITAL WORDS / Why did Britney Spears just quietly drop an album then take it down again?

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When Beyonce won the universe by dropping her fifth album with no prior announcement in December 2013, I never thought that less than two years later I’d be bemoaning “surprise releases”. But let’s face it, they’re getting really fucking boring.

It was impossible to get even vaguely excited about Bey serenading Jay Z in their latest corporate romance Tidal-exclusive video. Nobody I know signed up to 'Dubsmash' to access Rihanna’s surprise drop of “Bitch Better Have My Money”. And Madonna’s decision to shock premiere her latest video on the Meerkat app was a bombshell on mute.

But even in my jaded state, I had a deep well of shitting hells reserved for the surprise album that dropped a few weeks ago on Good Friday. The very same day Jesus died for our sins, a mysterious new Britney Spears album rose from the void, and - despite being placed on both Spotify and iTunes - hardly anyone outside of her most dedicated fans even noticed. Not even the gutter-end of pop music managed to drop a single news story.

Titled Life Is a Beach: Live in Miami, this Britney live album appeared to be released via SnapShot Records and distributed by Interra Music Publishing. It was available to purchase via iTunes and Amazon, and to stream on Spotify.

Worldwide, hardcore Britney fans started buying into it. It broke into the Top 30 on iTunes in various South American countries, Mexican Britney fans had it charting at #20, and in, erm, Costa Rica it went top ten! There wasn’t as much enthusiasm in the UK mind, where it languished in the uncharted waters of #747. Still, the Twitter hashtag #buylifeisabeachonitunes became a rampant social beast for at least 48 hours. And the more I listened to this bizarre pop artifact, the more I became overwhelmed by its many WTF aspects.

Let's just take a second to consider the mere concept of a Britney Spears live album. Understandably, she’s never released one of these before. Don’t get me wrong, I adore her key vocal ticks – the breathy/raspy sex kitten delivery, the way she goes “baaaaabaaaaay” and “meeeeeh” – but vocal prowess has never been her USP. I’m not saying Britney should be seen and not heard, but her theatrical performances are a major part in turning her songs into visual experiences. On my deathbed, I will regret how many hours my teenage self spent watching Britney Spears: Live and More! on VHS. You don’t get that on a live record.

But, even weirder than Britney’s decision to release a live album, was the tour it commemorated. The album recording was taken from the March 28, 2004 Miami date of Spears’ The Onyx Hotel Tour, or as we call it now: The One That Went Horribly Wrong.

Frolicking around a satin bed with a dancer while dressed in lingerie for “Breathe On Me” and performing her ode to masturbation (‘Touch Of My Hand’) while appearing naked in a bath tub, The Onyx Hotel Tour was marketed at an older, pornier audience than Britney’s dependably loyal teenage following. As a result, ticket sales took a big hit. After she sustained a knee injury, it was eventually cancelled after just three months. Britney had to sue a number of insurance companies to try and regain over $9 million in failed reimbursement payments. Commemorating this tour was like celebrating the day you sharted on the way to work, got laid off, and then returned home to find your significant other's belongings boxed up by the front door.

The moment Life is a Beach tries to capture, in 2004, was the beginning of pop music's biggest ever freefall. The few instances when Britney speaks to the crowd serve as uncomfortable reminders of where she was at. During "(You Drive Me) Crazy" she jokes about her 55 hour Las Vegas marriage that had taken place just a couple of months before: “I’m seeing a lot of cute fellas in the audience tonight. Are any of you guys feeling lucky? Who knows, maybe if you’re really lucky... *creepy stage whisper* I might marry you.” She even slags off her own back catalogue: “I have to go? I haven’t even sung ‘Sometimes’ yet… Oh God! I never liked that song anyway!”

Then, just as I was kind of getting into this Britney record, Life is a Beach was quietly yanked into extinction by the shepherd’s crook of a higher power. Its digital footprint was all but erased, aside from scattered YouTube uploads that were done in time. It was gone.

When questioned about the mysterious release, Britney's publicist could only say that despite it clocking sales and charting around the world, the release was unofficial. But she had "no idea" if Spears' label, RCA, had been behind the clean-up process to delete it from digital stockists. (And on a similarly unhelpful note, Sony, RCA's parent company, stated that only the aforementioned PR rep was at liberty to comment). 

But this is 2015 and the media is no longer a truly top down operation. In order to get some real dialogue going I spoke to Jordan Miller, the owner and editor of pop music website/the Internet's greatest Britney resource, Breathe Heavy. Some facts: Jordan works full-time on the website; his favourite Britney era is Blackout; he’s seen her current Las Vegas show six times - and on one occasion was pulled up onstage to dance with and be spanked by Britney.
Miller discovered the album's existence via the shared-knowledge cavern that is Exhale – the fan forum section of his music site. He also wrote the only English-language news post that ran about it. "It's interesting that it was being packaged and marketed as an album,” he explains, “because it landed on iTunes and Spotify. I streamed it there myself. I listened to the whole thing. I thought it would sound mastered but to me it didn't sound like anything special."

Even if it was just a professionally marketed bootleg, it serves as a reminder that Britney's no titan when it comes to recorded music sales anymore. I mean, even her 2013 record Britney Jean only peaked at No. 34 in the UK. Spears admitted in a recent interview with Billboard when asked about new music that whilst she is aiming to produce "an amazing album" it is just not her "full priority right now." 

When you really think about it: why would it be? Spears' Las Vegas residency show, now in it's eighth leg, is still killing it at the box office. Her Intimate lingerie line has now been extended to swimwear. Her latest fragrance (number 17), Rocker Femme Fantasy, is in stores now. Britney’s music is now her business card. 

Sure, she's currently prepping for her standalone “Pretty Girls” single release in May and has even drafted good-for-chart-bait-and-little-else Iggy Azalea to add to the hype, but this isn’t a ‘comeback’. These days, her Elizabeth Arden perfume lines have won her more beauty awards than Grammys, and her fragrance sales are currently estimated to total $1.5 billion. She might not hold rank on the Billboard chart anymore, but Britney puts the likes of Rihanna, Katy Perry and Beyonce on the bargain shelf next to Stacey Solomon, Ashanti and Tulisa when it comes to battling in The Perfume Shop.

So while her record company and PR team seemed happy to innocently shrug off and ignore a bootleg album that managed to chart globally, you can bet that anyone daring to release a phoney Eau De Britney would get shutdown quicker than a sex party in Times Square.

Written for NOISEY

Monday, 30 March 2015

DIGITAL WORDS / Nicki Minaj Live Review

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It’s sad but it’s edifying: whilst one rap pretender, who shalt remain nameless, postpones an entire tour due to “production delays”, Nicki Minaj presses on with her Pinkprint arena shows in the wake of her tour manager’s murder just a month before the premiere date.
She’s said it before, but it bears repeating: Nicki Minaj is the best. And all these bitches is her sons. It’s not egomaniacal delusion. It’s cold, hard proven fact. The Pinkprint Tour is further conclusive evidence.
Support comes from Minaj’s ‘Touchin’ Love’ collaborator, Trey Songz.
Trigga Trey gets the warm kind of reception that most opening acts would donate an organ for. He’s made in the R&B heartthrob mould – all glistening tattooed muscles, a solid voice, and, yes, his vest top comes off whilst trilling on about “swimming in your body” (‘Dive In’). He’s a definite contender for those looking for a new infatuation more relevant than Usher and without the endless moral implications of Chris Brown.
It was a bold move to open The Pinkprint album with three intensely personal slowies, and it’s even bolder for Nicki Minaj to begin tonight’s set with that same trio. ‘All Things Go’ and ‘I Lied’ show off that rap rarity of vulnerability, and add a whole new shade to Minaj’s already established lyric and performance mastery. These emotionally intimate tracks are clearly important to the rapper, as a person and an artist, not a sales-baiting star.
Jessie Ware turns out for a guest appearance to provide the rousing chorus for Nicki’s most effective rap ballad to date,’The Crying Game’. So sublime is the show’s opening that it makes a later set of ballads seem slightly laboured in comparison. ‘Pills N Potions’, ‘Save Me’ and ‘Grand Piano’ are all excellent fare but the hammy ‘Marilyn Monroe’ is overkill.
The flipside to all this is the fiery as fuck, “abusive by nature not, cause I hate ya” Nicki that everyone is more accustomed to. And she holds nothing back. ‘Moment 4 Life’ is the first true “moment” of the night and typifies the life-positive attitude Nicki effuses.
For the easily distracted the girl-power-on-steroids strength Minaj preaches, embodies and encourages can get lost in translation, what with the cartoonish silhouette and unapologetic delivery. But if womankind could muster up the balls Nicki has when spitting the lyrics of a single line from ‘Lookin’ Ass’, ‘Did It On ‘Em’ or ‘Beez In The Trap’, feminism would be an open and shut case. The way that the crowd hollers en masse the opening lines from ‘Only’ (“I never fucked Wayne, I never fucked Drake/On my life, man, fuck’s sake”) implies that progress is already in motion.
Whilst it’s worth noting that Nicki Minaj doesn’t patronise her audience to do anything as vacant as scream or clap or whatever, and instead tells us all to come back with new accomplishments the next time she plays London, there is plenty of playfulness during the 27 song set too.
Her choreography, for example, is better than ever; slick and assertive, she’s playing (and beating) pop’s biggest stars at their own game. Now the face of Cavalli and being styled by Rushka Bergman, Minaj’s personal style is chicer than ever, but she still keeps her look ultra risqué on stage with various bejewelled undergarments layered with mesh and lace body stockings. Huge hits like ‘Anaconda’, ‘Super Bass’ and ‘Starships’ are tireless crowd-pleasers. And whilst the RedOne-moulded likes of ‘Whip It’ and ‘Pound The Alarm’ are banger fodder, Minaj’s latest party anthem, ‘The Night Is Still Young’, shows her stepping up her pop credentials once again.
The Pinkprint Tour is a concentrated distillation of everything that makes Nicki Minaj the all-conquering queen of all she sees. She’s a multi-faceted force for good. Any girl idolising a female music star other than Minaj is doing both herself and Nicki a grave disservice.
Written for FMS

Friday, 27 March 2015

DIGITAL WORDS / Allyson Ezell 'The Ease of Remembering Sparks - Part 1' EP Review

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Mature pop is tricky. Few do it well. But Allyson Ezell is an upcoming talent firmly in that minority.
On her current ‘The Ease Of Remembering Sparks – Part 1’ EP (out now via Universal Music) Ezell shows off how classy, intelligent and affecting leftfield pop can be.
Opener ‘Pick It Up’ is as irrefutably catchy as it is beautifully built. The track evolves from a breathy whisper to a sing-along chorus, all the while Allyson’s voice performing understated feats. She could probably match one Florence Welch in a lungful sing-off, but chooses to exercise some of the restraint the latter refuses to employ.
The gulf between Ezell’s vocal prowess and the minimal electro twinges and beats gives off a refined finish. The chilled ‘Talk To Me’ is a perfect example of Allyson’s contrasting sound. Her distinctive vocals are given room to wax and wane whilst the laid-back percussion meanders in the distance.
‘Disappear (What I Do)’ shows off the attitude that allowed this Franco-American songstress to breeze her way into a recording contract. “I’m sorry I made you love me, I’m sorry I made you care”, she sings, unperturbed and actually not really sorry at all. We like it.
From the sprightly poise of the single ‘Pick It Up’ to the darker sentiments of ‘Landmine’, this EP is a fine taster of Allyson Ezell’s varied charms.
Written for FMS

Monday, 23 March 2015

DIGITAL WORDS / The Garden Live Review

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In between playing support slots for Warpaint, Cali twins Wyatt and Fletcher Shears are spending their time wisely by bolstering their live reputation with headlining shows of their own.
Winning over the 100 Club is no mean feat, but The Garden unequivocally did so with this, their third ever visit to London. With the recent release of Dazed & Confused’s short documentary on the Shears brothers, Twinheads, they have hugely amped up their intrigue factor and made it patently obvious that having modelled for Saint Laurent and being plucked from obscurity by Hedi Slimane’s talent spotting team is actually the least fascinating thing about them.
Playing a solid hour set with unrelenting energy and merciless pace, The Garden are a thrilling live act. They thrashed through the already wide ranging material they have to their name with never a willing break in between numbers. Actually, the only halt to proceedings are unwelcome technical issues with Wyatt’s bass – but it’s a problem dealt with calmly and covered by impromptu drum fills from Fletcher.
The gorgeous grunge fog of ‘Crystal Clear’ creeps past within the first few minutes of the show. ‘Slice ‘Em’ provides around 120 seconds of menace. ‘Apple’, ‘Surprise!’, ‘I’m A Woman’ and the freshly unveiled ‘I Want That Nose I Saw On TV’ go down as the biggest crowd pleasers of the night. The latter of which made up an electro break in proceedings, along with schizophrenic ‘Cloak’ and the panpsychism-inspired ‘Everything Has A Face’, where instruments are abandoned in favour of a programmed backing track, allowing the brothers to show off their physical freak-out moves, including multiple stage dives from the now freed-up drummer.

Whilst we had hopes for a musical duo with the intense shared intuitive playing of music’s last great mysterious twosome, The White Stripes, The Garden, interestingly, barely interact while on stage. Maybe it’s down to the ever-problematic stage layout of the venue. Perhaps they’re so in sync that both verbal and eye contact are rendered unnecessary. So it’s interesting that their individual performance styles vary so wildly – Fletcher, the unpredictable wildcard and Waytt the controlled frontman. But together they combine to form an intense performance mode that they eerily snap in and out of, dependent upon the sharp punk timings of their songs.
It’s only fitting that The Garden close with two rounds of their 20-second manifesto piece ‘Vada Vada’. It causes a temporary stage-invasion frenzy, something which phases the band not one iota and shatters the moment the last “vada” is uttered.
This is a band with distinct stage presence and refreshing disregard for expectation. Like the audience who hang around for a further half an hour to fawn over The Garden, we want more Vada Vada.
Written for FMS
Photos by Andreia Lemos

Sunday, 22 March 2015

I Hate... When magazines don't have the guts to call out rubbish music acts / Dirty Pop

PREFACE: So... The writing below was supposed to be for an online column about my favourite topic: pop music. The magazine website that was supposed to publish it didn't like the funny lines and were not up for running anything even mildly amusing about acts that they have worked with in the past or hope to in the future (totally forgetting the fact the NME used to refer to Bryan Ferry as "Byron Ferrari" in the '70s even though he was one of their most popular cover stars...). If they're not willing to compromise then neither am I. Here's my first and last Dirty Pop article... 

Welcome to the first ever installment of Dirty Pop – a new column named after a lyric sung by Nsync some 14 years ago which aims to illuminate all the goings in pop music through some sharp observations and lively discussion. Dirty Pop will look at the real news, you know, actual events and significant developments (as opposed to an artist getting out of a car at a public event, going into said an event, and leaving again etc).

We know what you’re thinking, “Thank goodness. This couldn’t have come sooner. I’m constantly bombarded by popular culture news updates and am inundated with think pieces but what I really need I just one insightful source to guide me and shape my dinner party conversational fodder.” We hear you. So let’s get on with it.

February, of course, was awards season! So undernourished are the rich and famous when it comes to recognition and praise that they require numerous annual events to tell them, “Hey, just keep on keepin’ on”. Such troopers.

The Grammys were the biggest let down of the crop. Having AC/DC open the ceremony was extremely misleading as what followed was ballad, after ballad after ballad (apart from Sia’s ‘Chandelier’ performance, which, like Sia, kicked ass in many ways). You know it’s been a bad night when “Kanye doing a Kanye” is the talking point of an event. Literally, Kanye West semi recreating the same thing he did six years ago was as exciting as things got. As a result, the politics of Katy Perry’s presidentially sanctioned and Brooke Axtell prefaced performance of ‘By The Grace Of God’ to promote the It’s On Us campaign pledge to eradicate domestic abuse and sexual assault, in front of an invited audience that included Chris Brown, fell by the way side.

Every year at the Oscars actors are all forced to recognise their own uselessness when none of them are able to put on a three minute skit to amuse their peers and the viewing public. Thus pop stars (and Rita Ora) are recruited to provide some actual entertainment on the night.

Lady Gaga’s performance to mark the 50th anniversary of The Sound of Music made her the biggest winner overall. She did what Madonna would never have the guts to do – stand still and sing for her life. Her marvellous medley provoked positive but, ultimately, patronising reactions: “Oh, wait she can really sing?” Yes. Duh. It’s a continuation of the widely and wrongly held consensus among too many critics that the best parts of Lady Gaga’s concerts are when she sits down at the piano and sings a cappella. Let’s clear this up once and for all; a true artist can make equally compelling auditory and visual impacts simultaneously. They need not be exclusive. Furthermore, Lady Gaga’s triumph provided further proof, alongside her recent announcement of starring in the upcoming series of American Horror Story, that she is a true pop renegade with the ability to live and thrive outside of album campaigns and tour schedules. Forget awards, Lady Gaga is winning at life.

Oh wait, don’t forget about awards as we had one final event to attend in the shape of the BRIT Awards. Ant and Dec were a great choice for hosts but the biggest laugh of the night had to be Lily Allen’s inclusion in the British Female Solo Artist category (her last three chart positions tot up to N/A, #93 and #43…). 

But just when we all thought there was going to be no headline moment, Madonna unwittingly delivered. Madonna, of course, made the most relevant move of her career since slipping her tongue in Britney Spears’ mouth over a decade ago by succumbing to gravity.

It was a definite tectonic plate shifting moment in the pop hemisphere, but let’s not forget the other significant outcomes of the night, such as One Direction’s lack of presence. Obviously they couldn’t attend, they are on a world tour that had them stationed in Japan at the time, but the fact that they only won in a category that relied on social media interaction from fans was telling. And that they didn’t even pre-record a thank you message for an award they were clearly going to win was even more pressing. Pharrell Williams managed to find the time to send along a “sorry I’m not there but ta all the same” VT – what, do One Direction think they’re busier than Pharrell Williams? Apparently so. It just served as yet another sign that the end is nigh for One Direction. Good luck, Niall!

The one life and industry affirming artist of the night was Paloma Faith who has too often been harshly overlooked. Finally, her strong voice, vivacious personality and determined attitude was formally recognised and physically rewarded. With or without a Tracy Emin designed statue, her obvious flair would be the same but it clearly mattered a great deal to her. As well as proving that true talent can win out, Paloma also stands as testament that anyone with or wanting to pursues a useless MA, such as the Time Based Arts masters she herself possesses, can still make something of themselves.

Dirty Pop’s (Inaugural) Star of the Month Prize Goes To…
*Drum Roll* *Confetti cannon burst* …Max Martin!

As proof of how hollow and ultimately meaningless officially sanctioned recognition can be, Max Martin, the hallowed father of everything that truly great modern pop is, won his first ever Grammy this year (for producer of the year). Yeah, WTF? The man who delivered unto us the likes of ‘…Baby One More Time’, ‘Teenage Dream’ and too many other mind-bogglingly perfect pop songs to recount, has only just received his gold plated gramophone-shaped acknowledgement from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. So, no wait here. Right off the bat – Max Martin you are the man of the hour. Long may those ego-driven souls seeking pop immortality suckle from your bountiful teet of talent. 

Wednesday, 18 March 2015