Saturday, January 31, 2015

Singles Summary: January 2015


Ellie Goulding // "Love Me Like You Do"
50 Shades of Grey OST, Interscope / Cherrytree
★★★★☆

Ellie Goulding has been working hard on her third full-length studio album to follow up to 2012's Halcyon, but the Goulddiggers now have something new to hold them over until the new album drops: Goulding's contribution to the soundtrack of upcoming romance-erotica film 50 Shades of Grey. While Goulding normally writes her own material, this track was actually penned by Tove Lo and Max Martin, with production credits going to the latter. It is a different pace for Goulding to be singing such a sensual song, but it fits both her voice and the theme of the movie well. With its popularity holding steady, this could be Goulding's next big American follow-up to "Burn."


Charli XCX feat. Rita Ora // "Doing It"
Sucker, Atlantic / Neon Gold
★★★☆☆

It looks like those Iggy Azalea collaborations did a world of good for both Charli XCX and Rita Ora, who have dropped Azalea in favor of a collaboration together. The United Kingdom will be receiving a single remix of XCX's "Doing It," featuring Ora. The pair sound nearly identical in the choruses of this bratty 1980s prom song, but Ora manages to vocally upstage Charli XCX in her own song when she forgoes the second verse solo. Overall, the duet doesn't add value to the song but it doesn't destroy it, either. It does, however, add some more suspense for Ora's upcoming album (her debut here in the United States, and her sophomore attempt in Europe after 2012's Ora.)


Kelly Clarkson // "Heartbeat Song"
Piece by Piece, RCA
★★★☆☆

Top 40 radio airwaves lacked new pop material from American Idol alumni Kelly Clarkson for the past few years, but that doesn't mean that she hasn't been hard at work. She nailed through a greatest hits package in 2012 and a Christmas album in 2013, but now she's back on track with a new full-length album. Titled Piece by Piece, the album is slated for release on March 3 and is being preceded by "Heartbeat Song." The chorus of the Greg Kurstin-produced track gives a strong nod back to Jimmy Eat World's "The Middle," which was released well over a decade ago. Overall, though, "Heartbeat" is an average attempt at best by a talented duo that should be able to spark so much more.


Sia // "Elastic Heart"
1000 Forms of Fear, Monkey Puzzle / RCA
★★★★☆

After having the biggest year of her career to date in the United States and nabbing four Grammy nominations for next month's ceremony, Sia wasted no time choosing a new single to follow up to "Chandelier." Her next single choice, "Elastic Heart," was originally released as a duet with The Weeknd on the soundtrack of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire before being released as a solo on 1000 Forms of Fear. The song's video, featuring "Chandelier" dancer Maddie Ziegler and actor Shia LaBeouf metaphorically battling in a large cage, shot the song into stardom early this month, but I'm sure the song's Diplo-crafted production and Sia's shattering vocals will keep it afloat.


Betty Who // "All of You"
Take Me When You Go, RCA
★★★★☆

Despite producing glittery pop tracks that sparkle with '80s influences and radiating strong vocal confidence, Australian native Betty Who silently released her debut album last year and fell through the cracks of the public eye. Her first taste of stardom came from "Somebody Loves You" acting as the soundtrack of a viral gay marriage proposal, but she has now dropped "All of You" as a new single from Take Me When You Go. Oppositely of John Legend's song of the same name, Betty Who's "All of You" is a driving synthpop gem that could catch fire on dance charts. While she is only making small ripples in the ocean of the public eye's radar, she is offering high-quality, feel-good pop.


Fifth Harmony feat. Kid Ink // "Worth It"
Reflection, Epic / Syco
★★★☆☆

As Fifth Harmony approaches the February 3 release date of their debut album, Reflection, the group has prompted the release of a new buzz single. "Worth It" follows "BO$$," which sizzled through the summer, and the radio-geared pop bit "Sledgehammer." This new tracks channels radio hits like Jason Derulo's "Talk Dirty" and "Wiggle" with R&B influences and a loud, wobbling horn taking over its chorus. While not their strongest track, "Worth It" proves that Fifth Harmony is fulfilling their promise of moving towards a heavier reliance on R&B and hip-hop. 


Emile Haynie feat. Lana Del Rey // "Wait for Life"
We Fall, Interscope
★★★★☆

Emile Haynie's list of production credits has grown significantly over the past few years as he opened his market from hip-hop to pop, and now he has been handed the opportunity to release a full album of collaborative efforts under Interscope Records. After producing a vast majority of the songs off of her debut album, Born To Die, Haynie has enlisted the help of Lana Del Rey for "Wait for Life" off of his own upcoming album, We Fall. For this song, Haynie dropped the trip-hop beats in favor of hazy strings and guitar plucks while Del Rey opts for an airy upper register that nods back to some the work on her latest release, Ultraviolence.



Rihanna, Kanye West, and Paul McCartney // "FourFiveSeconds"
R8, Roc Nation / Westbury Road
★★☆☆☆

She teased us for months with cryptic hints and big expectations for a new studio album, but Rihanna pitched one sad curveball. Just as Lady Gaga did with her jazz expedition last year on Cheek to Cheek with Tony Bennett, Rihanna uses the acoustic country feeling of "FourFiveSeconds" as her way to prove her own vocal grace. The Barbados native teamed up with the odd combination of Kanye West, who offers duet vocals to the track, and The Beatles front-man Paul McCartney. Rihanna's goal was clear with this song, but sadly the tune just isn't strong enough to carry itself with only vocals and guitar strums. Hopefully, the rest of R8 doesn't take after this song and fall flat on its face.



Marina and the Diamonds // "I'm a Ruin"
Froot, Atlantic / Neon Gold
★★★★☆

Welsh singer-songwriter Marina Diamandis has embarked on a very unconventional promotional pattern for her upcoming third studio album, Froot. The album's release sits at the beginning of April, but up until the album's release, fans will receive one "froot" (or new track from the album) every month. The froot of the upcoming month was revealed to be the lemon, represented by "I'm a Ruin." The song leaked earlier this month. "I'm a Ruin" is a summery track and marks an improvement from the lukewarm "Happy" and "Immortal." The release of this track brightens the outlook for the quality of the rest of the album, which will be the first album with Diamandis listed with production credits on every track. She also wrote the lyrics to every track completely solo.


Allie X // "Catch"
CollXtion I, Label X
★★★★☆

The Internet makes a new star every day in nearly every realm of the entertainment industry. Don't believe me? Just ask Allie X (born Alexandra Hughes), who first sparked interest in Katy Perry when the Super Bowl performer tweeted a word of praise towards Allie's song "Catch." The song has now re-surfaced with a new video and is building steam again as preparations begin for Allie X's debut body of work, CollXtion I. Visually, Allie X comes off as a Tumblr-using reincarnate of Lady Gaga, but soncially, she hugs a light synthpop style that Chvrches is best known for. "Catch" suggests that there are big things to come from this girl; however, until CollXtion I drops, Allie X's three released songs will have to suffice.

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