Popjustice » The Briefing http://www.popjustice.com Sat, 20 Dec 2014 10:28:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 2014 A-Z: H is for HALF-FINISHED SONGS http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/2014-a-z-h-is-for-half-finished-songs/133227/ http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/2014-a-z-h-is-for-half-finished-songs/133227/#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 18:30:01 +0000 http://www.popjustice.com/?p=133227 pj_337

2014azIt’s fair to say that Madonna hasn’t exactly kept her recording sessions a secret. And it would be easy to say that if you’re going to spend a year building up demand for a new album, you shouldn’t be surprised if someone, somewhere, does something to meet that demand.

But on the other hand, that’s bollocks. Nicking an album and putting it online when it’s not ready just isn’t on. Clips and maybe one or two tracks is alright. A whole album is just absurd.

Anyway, here are some songs we all know to be amazing, which didn’t sound quite so amazing to start with.

Lady Gaga – ‘Bad Romance’

Backstreet Boys – ‘I Want It That Way’

Girls Aloud – ‘Something Kinda Ooooh!’

Pet Shop Boys – ‘West End Girls’

Madonna – ‘Deeper & Deeper’

Madonna – ‘The Power Of Good-Bye’

Madonna – ‘Hung Up’

Fleur East – ‘Uptown Funk’

All those songs sound pretty good in their unfinished states, of course, but the finished versions were better. And if we’d heard all these versions before we heard the final ones, would we ever have fallen quite so deeply in love with the songs?

(The exception to that point is ‘Bad Romance’, which did leak ahead of the proper one, but that’s the best song of the millennium and it would have been amazing even if your first listen had been Lady Gaga shouting it down a paper tube in a shopping centre.)

http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/2014-a-z-h-is-for-half-finished-songs/133227/feed/ 0
2014 A-Z: G is for GET ON WITH IT http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/2014-a-z-g-is-for-get-on-with-it/133224/ http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/2014-a-z-g-is-for-get-on-with-it/133224/#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 18:00:43 +0000 http://www.popjustice.com/?p=133224 mks-strip
2014azThe Top 10 Get On With It artists of 2014:
1. Mutya Keisha Siobhan
Despite promising something new, something exciting, something big, something anything at various points during 2014, the ladies came up with somewhere in the region of bugger all. (ie They performed with Metronomy at the NME Awards and that was about it.)
2. AlunaGeorge
“We have nearly finished our next album,” they said in May. Where is that album? Nowhere.
3. Lady Gaga
She teased ‘ARTPOP: Act II’. She said she also wanted to release a jazz album. So she released a jazz album, while the ‘ARTPOP’ sequel sat on a shelf, growing old.
4. Madonna
Madonna is a slightly odd Get On With It entry in that – as we are now all too aware – she had indeed been getting on with it, with an album’s worth of songs in various states of completion. We’ll cover Madonna’s album leak in a future 2014 A-Z item, but for now let’s just say that if Madonna had got this album out in November, the debacle we’ve just witnessed would never have happened.
5. Tamera Foster
It was announced in March that promising X Factor star Tamera Foster had signed to Syco. She could easily have used an X Factor performance to get a single out this side of Christmas, and may even have been able to release an album. Instead: nothing. And now there’s every chance Fleur East will nick all her decent songs.
6. Say Lou Lou
Apparently this duo’s album was recently mastered, for 2015 release. Here’s a tip: if you master an album in October, you can have it out in November.
7. Adele
By the end of 2015 the Adele album will be so omnipresent that we’ll curse the day we ever expressed any desire to hear a single note, but she could easily have boshed this one out by now.
8. Brandon Flowers
B-Flow confirmed in October LAST YEAR that he was working on a solo album. This could have been out in the summer.
8. Little Mix
This lot cancelled their US tour in order, THEY SAID, to work on their album. That was back in July. How long does it take to sing a few songs? Yes, obviously, you need to spend time formulating a plan on how to drip-feed 120 different teaser campaigns across eight different social media platforms, but you can get people in to do all that important stuff.
10. Rihanna
Let’s not go there.
http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/2014-a-z-g-is-for-get-on-with-it/133224/feed/ 0
Which X Factor finalist would have the lowest-selling Christmas Number One? http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/which-x-factor-finalist-would-have-the-lowest-selling-christmas-number-one/132977/ http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/which-x-factor-finalist-would-have-the-lowest-selling-christmas-number-one/132977/#comments Wed, 30 Nov -0001 00:00:00 +0000 http://www.popjustice.com/?p=132977 x-factor-logo-2014

Following news of its release being pulled forward yesterday evening, we put a bet on Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ ‘Uptown Funk’ being this year’s Christmas Number One.

It’s already Number One on iTunes (with Fleur’s version at Number Two), but its main competition comes from this year’s X Factor winner, so it’s important to figure out which winner would achieve the lowest first week sales, then vote for that finalist.

To start with, let’s have a look at the week one sales (nicked off Twitter’s Samuel Bailey) for all X Factor winners so far.

  • Shayne Ward 742K
  • Alexandra Burke 576K
  • Leona Lewis 571K
  • James Arthur 490K
  • Joe McElderry 451K
  • Matt Cardle 439K
  • Leon Jackson 276K
  • Little Mix 210K
  • Sam Bailey 149K
  • Steve Brookstein 128K

As you can see, last year’s winner Sam Bailey only achieved 149,000 sales, while the previous year’s winner James Arthur shifted almost half a million copies of his own winner’s single. It’s therefore fair to say that some winners connect with a record buying audience, while others simply don’t.

So where does this leave this year’s finalists?

Andrea Fauxhumble-pugjumper


The threat of a full Andrea artist album is not a pleasant one, but Andrea’s whole mum-loving, jumper-wearing schtick is Christmas catnip. Still, while children like him and The Olds like him, what about pop’s squeezed middle?

Predicted first week sales: 290,000

All-bets-are-off secret weapon: We’ve said this every year for the last however-many-years-it’s-been-since-the-song-came-out but one day an X Factor winner will cover Carolina Liar’s ‘Show Me What I’m Looking For’, and it will be an extraordinary pop moment. If Andrea performs this for his winner’s single it’s game over for Ronson & Mars.

Fleur East


She should win and she should have the full might of Syco hurled in her direction during 2015, but would Fleur East be the biggest-selling winner out of this year’s final three? Well, yes, probably. Her appeal crosses numerous boundaries, she’d be unlikely to inspired a ‘protest vote’ for Ronson & Mars simply because there’s nothing shit about her, and goodwill towards her ‘Uptown Funk’ cover will carry on over into purchases of her winner’s single, even if it’s not ‘Uptown Funk’.

Predicted first week sales: 410,000

All-bets-are-off secret weapon: Ideally we’d like her to cover Tove Lo’s album, Charli XCX’s album and Rita Ora’s album so that each of their release dates is brought forward to 2014.

Ben Haenow


Without a doubt the most useless of this year’s three finalists.

Predicted first week sales: 149,000

All-bets-are-off secret weapon: If he covers Crowded House’s ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’ the “hey now, hey now” bit could secure a romp to festive victory.

Wildcard: Bootcamp Girlband


It’s not too late for the potentially brilliant girlband from earlier in the series to be sensationally brought back into the show. They should call themselves Wildcard.

Predicted first week sales: 5,000,000

All-bets-are-off secret weapon: It’s been a while since the quintessential girlband Christmas Number One, ‘Sound Of The Underground’, has had a go at the festive top-spot. If Wildcard covered this, they’d be laughing all the way to the bank (in order to point and laugh at us not depositing our winnings).


Please vote for Ben Haenow this weekend, we stand to win over £300 if Ronson & Mars hit Number One and a win for Ben Haenow would give us the strongest chance of scooping the prize. Cheers!

http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/which-x-factor-finalist-would-have-the-lowest-selling-christmas-number-one/132977/feed/ 0
Invader Girl’s next single is as good as her last single, ie very http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/invader-girls-next-single-is-as-good-as-her-last-single-ie-very/132961/ http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/invader-girls-next-single-is-as-good-as-her-last-single-ie-very/132961/#comments Mon, 08 Dec 2014 14:42:30 +0000 http://www.popjustice.com/?p=132961 invader-girl

Invader Girl is a brilliant pop thing.

Earlier this year she chucked out a great song called ‘Starting Fires’ (which was accompanied by a very excellent MSMR remix).

But the past is the past. “Yesterday is history,” as Justin Timberlake once put it. We all move on and so does Invader Girl.

Below is your first look at her next track ‘Stuck On Me’, which is a teaser in the very literal sense in that it cuts out just before the song ‘goes off’, but you can hear enough song to know that what we’re dealing with here is a very interesting tune.

Very good.

In case you missed it when it came out, this is the brilliant ‘Starting Fires’.

The full version of ‘Stuck On Me’ will probably turn up on another website in due course so your best bet is to follow Invader Girl on Twitter and she will let you know not only when but also where the song appears.

http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/invader-girls-next-single-is-as-good-as-her-last-single-ie-very/132961/feed/ 0
2014 AZ: E and F are for East, Fleur http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/2014-az-e-and-f-are-for-east-fleur/132951/ http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/2014-az-e-and-f-are-for-east-fleur/132951/#comments Mon, 08 Dec 2014 12:26:24 +0000 http://www.popjustice.com/?p=132951 fleur-east2

2014azIn case you are interested, the definitive ranking of 2014’s UK X Factor finalists – three of whom made such little impression that we had to Google Image search them when we were copying this list off Wikipedia – is:

=1. Fleur East
=1. Only The Young
3. Stephanie Nala
4. Stereo Kicks
5. Lauren Platt
6. Overload Generation
7. Blonde Electra
8. Andrea Fauxnaive-Pugjumper
9. Jack Walters
10. Stevi Ritchie
11. Lola Saunders
12. Jay James
13. Paul Akister
14. Ben Haenow
15. ‘Jake Quickenden’
16. Chloe Jasmine

That list’s in order of actually wanting to sit through an entire album by an artist.

We’ve already written about the potentially mighty Only The Young but Fleur East’s been the best solo act since Judges’ Houses and her weekend performance of ‘Uptown Funk’ was the most exciting moment of the entire series.

More exciting than David Guetta waving his arms around near four CDJs. More exciting than ‘Reece Bibby’ trying to get Only The Young voted off the show. Even more exciting than Fifth Harmony performing a b-side. And what you have to remember here is that Fleur didn’t even perform the best bit of the song. Perhaps this was for health and safety reasons. If she had done the ‘Oops Upside Your Head’ bit, there may now just be a crater where Fountain Studios once stood.

Considering ‘Uptown Funk’ isn’t out in the UK (and pretty much just the UK) until next year, Fleur’s was a performance that threw up a lot of questions. Why did Simon Cowell only hear the song five days ago when the song’s amazingness has been established for well over a month? If Mark Ronson’s version of ‘Uptown Funk’ had suddenly appeared on iTunes on Sunday morning, would it be sailing up the charts now, or is it best to keep building anticipation for a big 2015 release? Did everyone know the performance would be really amazing, or was there a genuine sense of jeopardy?  Is it annoying if the performance was some sort of Sony inside job aimed at promoting a forthcoming release, or – considering the fact that it’s nice to think someone, somewhere in the music industry occasionally comes up with some good ideas when it comes to getting great new songs some attention – would it actually be more annoying if one of Q4’s greatest marketing masterstrokes had actually been a complete accident?

Either way, Fleur’s version of ‘Uptown Funk’ is the first of this year’s X Factor contestant performances to hit Number One on iTunes.


Whichever act wins The X Factor this coming weekend, Fleur’s now established herself as the one who deserves and will undoubtedly get The Full Ella (FKA The Full Leona) when it comes to career rollout. All she needs now is a debut single as good as ‘Uptown Funk’.

http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/2014-az-e-and-f-are-for-east-fleur/132951/feed/ 0
2014 AZ: D is for Discography with a ‘Bangerz’-repack-shaped hole in it http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/2014-az-d-is-for-discography-with-a-bangerz-repack-shaped-hole-in-it/132933/ http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/2014-az-d-is-for-discography-with-a-bangerz-repack-shaped-hole-in-it/132933/#comments Fri, 05 Dec 2014 23:37:34 +0000 http://www.popjustice.com/?p=132933 bangerz miley cyrus artwork

Seriously though. What cruel twist of pop fate dictated that one of the only 2013 albums screaming out for a 2014 repack is about to end the year completely unrepacked?

Think of the potential titles.

  • Bangererz
  • Crasherz
  • Bangcrashwhalloperz
  • Prime Bangerz
  • More Bangerz
  • Extreme Bangerz
  • Ultimate Bangerz
  • Uberbangerz
  • Bangerz & Mash
  • Fucking Bangerz
  • Bangerz Bangerz All Over You
  • Bangerz: The Re-Bang
  • Big Bangerz Theory
  • Bhangraz
  • ‽nterrobangerz
  • Cheers Sinead

Yet DESPITE the potential for amazingness in the repack-titling arena, no new ‘Bangerz’ material appeared. Six to eight new Miley songs in 2014, building on ‘Bangerz’ and pushing things forward, could have been just what the year needed. Instead: nothing.

The only sensible explanation for this is that Miley’s label wanted to avoid a Q4 2014 ‘Bangerz’ repack getting in the way of a Q2 2015 BRAND NEW ALBUM. For that reason, and that reason alone, we can’t stay angry. But that’s not to say we’re not disappointed.

While we’re here, can we just discuss how great the ‘physical product’ of ‘Bangerz’ was, all those years ago, back in last year?

miley cyrus bangerz full cd artwork1 miley cyrus bangerz full cd artwork2

miley cyrus bangerz full cd artwork3 miley cyrus bangerz full cd artwork5 miley cyrus bangerz full cd artwork6 miley cyrus bangerz full cd artwork7  miley cyrus bangerz full cd artwork9 miley cyrus bangerz full cd artwork10 miley cyrus bangerz full cd artwork11 miley cyrus bangerz full cd artwork12 miley cyrus bangerz full cd artwork13  miley cyrus bangerz full cd artwork15  miley cyrus bangerz full cd artwork17

And that wasn’t even the version with the free stickers and alternative cover.

What an album campaign that was.

http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/2014-az-d-is-for-discography-with-a-bangerz-repack-shaped-hole-in-it/132933/feed/ 0
Thomston certainly knows one end of a pop melody from the other http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/thomston-certainly-knows-one-end-of-a-pop-melody-from-the-other/132929/ http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/thomston-certainly-knows-one-end-of-a-pop-melody-from-the-other/132929/#comments Fri, 05 Dec 2014 18:42:46 +0000 http://www.popjustice.com/?p=132929 thomston

At the start of the year we were nosing around on the website of Lorde’s management company to see if they had anyone else half decent on the way.

As it turned out they did – a chap called Thomston, who was born in London but grew up in New Zealand, where he still lives. He’s 19 now and makes synthy, contemplative pop, all of which does, we suppose, make him a bit like a male version of Lorde, except that would probably make him a Ladye, which doesn’t work at all.

Thomston released an EP over the summer but we’re mentioning him now because he whacked a brand new video online yesterday, and it’s jolly good if a little light on LOLs.

This, meanwhile, is the whole EP, which is good for umpteen listens. (‘Motley Crew’ is our favourite.)

If the timing of his video release is anything to go by this seems like a case of Thomston intentionally going under the radar (or over the heads) of the end of year lists in the hope of becoming really quite massive at his own pace at some point in the middle of next year, which sounds like a decent plan although we do worry that by next summer the endless Lorde comparisons may have sent him on a murderous rampage. Still, that in itself a strong press angle.

If you too would like to follow Thomston’s progress he’s on Facebook and there’s an interview with him here, but he’s a lot funnier on Twitter and is worth a follow at @ThomstonMusic.

http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/thomston-certainly-knows-one-end-of-a-pop-melody-from-the-other/132929/feed/ 0
2014 AZ: C is for Charli http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/2014-az-c-is-for-charli/132910/ http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/2014-az-c-is-for-charli/132910/#comments Thu, 04 Dec 2014 23:11:45 +0000 http://www.popjustice.com/?p=132910 charli xcx straddling an animal

2014azIt’s tempting – and easy – to fall into the trap of saying Charli XCX was always a superstar, and that the world just didn’t know. Her debut album should have been Number One. If only people had realised!

Actually, that’s bollocks for a couple of reasons.

First, while ‘True Romance’ definitely was the best album of last year, if you listen to it with a level head it probably did about as well as it could have done. Sometimes good stuff just isn’t supposed to sell.

Also, Charli XCX was not always a superstar. She was kind of brilliant when we saw her play live at age 14 and she was rather more brilliant when we saw her play live a few years later, but it was only in 2014 that absolutely everything fell into place. Charli’s been waiting for people to listen for a long time and in 2014, when people did start listening, she rose to the occasion and knew exactly what to do. This year her interviews have been great, her music’s been top notch and when we watched her on stage at Heaven a month or so ago she looked – and sounded – like a festival headliner.

Charli finishes 2014 (UK readers: starts 2015 but let’s not go into that) by releasing ‘Sucker’, which is an extraordinary album. There’s pop that sounds like rock, rock that sounds like pop and pop that sounds like pop. There are ballads, there are bangers. It’s loads of things you might have hoped for after ‘True Romance’ and it’s loads of things you wouldn’t have expected after ‘True Romance’. It sounds like a globe-straddling chart behemoth who’s stomped around for as long as you can remember just as much as it sounds like the arrival of a brand new pop queen. Some songs are precision tooled to be Number One, others are designed to be nothing of the sort. There are ups, there are downs. There’s truth, there’s romance. There are booms, there are claps. There’s swearing.

We’ll give it this mark.


http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/2014-az-c-is-for-charli/132910/feed/ 0
2014 AZ: B is for Boybands http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/2014-az-b-is-for-boybands/132882/ http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/2014-az-b-is-for-boybands/132882/#comments Wed, 03 Dec 2014 22:30:03 +0000 http://www.popjustice.com/?p=132882 BOYBANDBOOKSHELF

2014az2014 has been bookended by two key boyband moments.

In January, The Wanted announced that their bantercentric glory days were over, or nearly over, or at least likely to be over once they’d got their tour out of the way and done some more gigs for whoever wanted them regardless of which members of the band were and were not available.

At the other end of 2014 we said goodbye – for now – to another UK boyband, Stereo Kicks, who left The X Factor last weekend.

In between all that 5 Seconds Of Summer blew up thanks to a load of great singles, One Direction released an incredible album so immersed in ideas of change, reflection and the passing of time that it was pretty much the quintessential boyband farewell album, The Vamps trod water, Take That lost one member and McFly gained two.

But the Stereo Kicks debacle is the one that really boils our piss.


In 2014 the idea of an eight-piece boyband should (and easily could) have delivered something exciting, daring and unprecedented. And people were ready to like it. When X Factor octoboyband rumours first filtered through, the idea seemed audacious, ridiculous and genius in equal measure.

At the very least, an eight-piece boyband was a talking point. Everyone wanted to see how it would work. They just needed to be really good.

The reality was underwhelming.

It goes without saying that Stereo Kicks weren’t exactly what you might call the greatest reflection of multi-cultural Britain. But they weren’t even a reflection of multi-haircut Britain.

You could argue that there’s some merit in putting together a band of interchangeable members: dress them almost identically and they could come across like an unstoppable army of amazing pop replicants, overwhelming the planet with synchronised winks. That could have been a decent plan.

Actually, as became evident when The X Factor deployed increasingly desperate tactics in a fruitless attempt to establish each of the lads’ individual personalities – including a ‘Spice name’ incident so trite that Mel B should have walked off the show – the eight-headed pop monster idea hadn’t been the plan at all. It was an accident that the lads were so similar. It was also a mistake. Basically, the chaps in the Stereo Kicks lineup weren’t similar enough to make sense, but they weren’t different enough to make sense either.

Stereo Kicks could have been two Ed Sheerans, a Rizzle Kicks, and a Union J. Their performances could have been multi-act, multi-genre extravaganzas. Stereo Kicks could have been more of a collective than a boyband, with members appealing to all sorts of fans and sub-units splintering off all over the place.

They were none of that. They were eight boys standing in a line singing the same song, and their best singer couldn’t bang out a decent note without pulling the sort of face most people reserve for thumb-up-the-arse ejaculation.

Even if their immediate future is uncertain there’s probably a decent amount of money to be made from Stereo Kicks, but the endorsement opportunities – just like the band’s performances and fanbase – could easily be limited by the uniformity of the band’s members.

(Maybe we’re just annoyed they didn’t use any of our name suggestions.)

http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/2014-az-b-is-for-boybands/132882/feed/ 0
2014 AZ: A is for Ariana’s ascension http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/2014-az-a-is-for-arianas-ascension/132838/ http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/2014-az-a-is-for-arianas-ascension/132838/#comments Tue, 02 Dec 2014 11:42:30 +0000 http://www.popjustice.com/?p=132838 ariana-grande-floating
2014azAt the beginning of 2014 Ariana Grande was best known on these shores for ultrasonic wailing, Mariah comparisons and a high ponytail. Her biggest collaboration was with one of The Wanted.

Things started to change when we reported that Ariana was working on her next album with Max Martin, Savan Kotecha, Benny Blanco and Ryan Tedder. An “unexpected” male singer was also involved, she’d announced.

We now know that the album was partially amazing, that the unexpected male was The Weeknd, and that Zedd, Iggy Azalea, Harry Styles and Childish Gambino also made their way onto the album.

If you were in a tight corner – or desperate to convince yourself that Grande had not jettisoned the understated R&B styling of her first album – you might have been able to put forward a semi-coherent argument that lead single ‘Problem’ was an extension or exaggeration of the musical persona Ariana established on ‘Yours Truly’, but by the time ‘Break Free’ honked and clattered its way into view it was very clear that subtlety was out, rocket-blasting bras were in, and Ariana was determined to shamelessly stomp her way to pop supremacy.

The exquisite, Weeknd-featuring ‘Love Me Harder’ was more in line with Ariana’s earlier work, but that almost seemed coincidental. ‘Love Me Harder’ might have been a dreamy R&B tune but it was, primarily, a supercharged pop banger. This bootleg 12″ mix gives the track plenty of room to breathe, and we’ve listened to it a lot over the last few weeks.

You’d be hard pushed to claim that 2014 belonged to any pop artist other than Taylor Swift, but Ariana’s ascension was perfectly executed. Everyone around Ariana still seems to be working a lot harder than Ariana herself when it comes to justifying Grande’s new position as the planet’s second-biggest popstar, but ‘My Everything’ has set the stage for an even bigger third album, and pop is all the better for having an multi-platinum artist whose biggest, best album is still to come.

http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/2014-az-a-is-for-arianas-ascension/132838/feed/ 0