Popjustice » The Briefing http://www.popjustice.com 100% Solid Pop Music Fri, 31 Oct 2014 09:52:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The 2014 Popjustice Twenty Quid Music Prize: as it happened http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/the-2014-popjustice-twenty-quid-music-prize-as-it-happened/132047/ http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/the-2014-popjustice-twenty-quid-music-prize-as-it-happened/132047/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 11:47:26 +0000 http://www.popjustice.com/?p=132047 Little Mix

As you now know, Little Mix’s ‘Move’ won last night’s Twenty Quid Music Prize.

As ever, judging was a complete bloody shambles but it did follow a strange sort of structure so if you weren’t there – and even if you were there – the below account of what happened when, and to whom, and why, might help make sense of the whole thing.

(Please note that we put together the Storify while battling a fairly epic hangover, so let us know if any of it’s a bit all over the place.)

http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/the-2014-popjustice-twenty-quid-music-prize-as-it-happened/132047/feed/ 0
Only The Young could be 28 hours away from being the best pop group in the country http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/only-the-young-could-be-28-hours-away-from-being-the-best-pop-group-in-the-country/131963/ http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/only-the-young-could-be-28-hours-away-from-being-the-best-pop-group-in-the-country/131963/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 15:39:50 +0000 http://www.popjustice.com/?p=131963 only-the-young

‘Not being funny right’ but every time we see Only The Young on The X Factor we’re struck by the thought that they could actually be an insanely brilliant pop act if only they stopped singing songs that are completely ludicrous.

Well, judgement day comes TOMORROW because as part of X Factor’s ‘Movie Week’ Only The Young are due to perform Charli XCX’s ‘Boom Clap’.

Imagine that lot in the picture above singing this song in the YouTube embed below.

It won’t be as easy as Charli makes it seem but if Only The Young pull this off they’ll be unstoppable.

And yes, by unstoppable we mean out in Week Six, but there’s so much potential for this band to be great that we just want to believe in the idea that sometimes pop miracles happen to the right people.

http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/only-the-young-could-be-28-hours-away-from-being-the-best-pop-group-in-the-country/131963/feed/ 0
1,989 words on the new Taylor Swift album http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/1989-words-on-the-new-taylor-swift-album/131956/ http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/1989-words-on-the-new-taylor-swift-album/131956/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 14:33:55 +0000 http://www.popjustice.com/?p=131956 taylor-swift-1989

On ‘1989’’s opening track ‘Welcome To New York’, Taylor Swift sings of “searching for a sound we hadn’t heard before”. To many of her younger fans this albums 80sisms – more subtle, it turns out, than initially hinted – might well be a fresh sound, but Taylor Swift has cultivated and earned a fanbase that extends far beyond teenagers. ‘1989’’s sound will not represent an unheard musical palette for the over-35s who actually lived through it, or those in their twenties who’ve already been through one 80s revival. Whatever the frame of reference, a huge proportion of this album situates itself outside the sounds that dominate Top 40 radio on either side of the Atlantic, just as Taylor has nurtured a popstar persona that contrasts with the public images put forward by most of her peers.

Sonic landscape aside, the vital element in the brilliance of ‘1989’ is that the songwriting is of a phenomenally high standard. As well as being expertly written the majority of these songs are also skilfully structured – ‘1989’ is an album of great post-choruses and great middle eights accompanying the expected barrage of extraordinary choruses. Repetition is used sparingly, repetition is used knowingly, repetition is used to great effect. ‘1989’ is the sound of a popstar whose powers are scaling new heights finding the perfect executive producer in the shape of Max Martin, whose formidable talents are going at full throttle on a number of these songs. Ultimately, there’s a clarity of vision that’s virtually unrivalled in the current pop scene.

Fans of Taylor’s earlier work complain that this former country singer (was she ever, really, an actual country singer?) now makes electronic pop music ‘like everybody else’. The truth is, nobody else is making electronic pop music quite like this.

There are incredibly few artists who could carry off at least three quarters of this album. Ironically, given the presence of much-discussed beef bonanza ‘Bad Blood’, one of the few albums on which some of these songs would fit is Katy Perry’s ‘Prism’, an album that flirted with full-on pensivepop via songs like ‘Double Rainbow’, but bottled it and found it necessary to counteract that elegant sophistication with too many tracks like ‘Birthday’ and ‘This Is How We Do’. ‘1989’ isn’t full-on pensivepop either – ‘Bad Blood’ and ‘Shake It Off’ stand out a mile – but it still feels like a body of work in the same way classic Madonna albums always did.

The supposed 80s sound, by the way, is a slight red herring – there are references to the likes of OMD but Taylor hasn’t exactly stormed along with an album that sounds like T’Pau and Bucks Fizz. Still, the synths soar, the drum machines patter along and the powerful melodies are old-fashioned in the best possible way at a point in pop history when traditional songwriting has, largely, been barged aside by tracks built around hooks and little else.

In any case the 80s references that do underpin the album never overwhelm: this isn’t pastiche, songs such as ‘I Know Places’ and ‘I Wish You Would’ sound really fresh, and there’s a strong influence of Joel Little’s work with Lorde on the likes of ‘Blank Space’ and ‘Bad Blood’.

The edges of that Lorde sound are smoothed off, just as ‘Out Of The Woods’ feels like Chvrches fed through the pop machine. But Taylor Swift is in the business is making Actual Pop, and smoothed edges come with the territory. Actual Pop is a metagenre whose gravitational pull reels in everything from orbiting genres and does whatever the hell it likes with the raw materials. That is why it’s amazing. Critics might identify the resulting music as a watered down sound. Actually – if we’re going to run with the watered down idea and situate this whole metaphor in the kitchen – it’s a reduced down sound. To put it another way, it’s pop stock.

The base ingredient for most pop from the last seventy years is Stuff About Love. Stuff About Love is simply the default lyrical setting for most chart music. Obviously there are hits that are all about going out and dancing around on a table, and there are hits about how amazing the singer is at everything they do or how the haters are going to hate, and you’ll occasionally find hits that completely bash down all the boundaries and discuss something totally different. But Stuff About Love is what pop is all about. For this reason – because almost everyone sings about love, and has done for the best part of the century – finding a new way to talk about it is the Holy Grail of pop songwriting. It’s tough, but there are several moments on ‘1989’ when Taylor completely hits the spot. ‘Out Of The Woods’ is just one song that feels like it innovates in this area, or at least takes a look at love from a new perspective.

Equally the desolate and jarring ‘Clean’ takes a brutal look at the part of a relationship where everything’s gone tits up. “The drought was the very worst,” Taylor sings, “when the flowers that we’d grown together died of thirst … The rain came pouring down, I punched a hole in the roof, let the flood carry away all my pictures of you … When I was drowning that’s when I could finally breathe.” The song wrings dry the dead horse of mixed metaphor by adding that the cleanliness felt in the wake of this watery scenario is a bit like being clean following a spell in rehab (“ten months sober, ten months older, now that I’m clean, I’m not gonna risk it”) but the song’s a belter nonetheless.

The album’s centrepiece – to these ears, anyway – is ‘Style’, a track for which iTunes’ single song repeat function could well have been invented. There’s a great detail in the middle eight when Taylor sings “I heard that you’ve been out with some other girl”, then admits, “I’ve been there too a few times”. As jolting middle eight turnarounds go, this is a plot twist right up there with The Human League’s ‘Human’.

Stuff About Love often feels so bland because lyricists dilute and blur their experiences in an attempt to make them relatable to every listener. Actually, as Taylor Swift proves on ‘1989’, the best way to conjure the true feeling of love in the listener’s mind is to describe one’s own experience of romance in such specific terms that it reminds the listener of their own private moments. This is why lines like “we moved the furniture so we could dance” on ‘Out Of The Woods’ and “it’s 2am in your car” work so well.

Studies of lying show that when telling a lie, most people are tempted to add a huge amount of detail to their stories; they believe that the more detail they add, the more believable their stories will be. ‘1989’ does not feel dishonest, but you could argue that the suggested extent of this album’s intimacy is an illusion of sorts, or at least an example of sleight of hand.

In media training, artists are often advised that the best way to avoid difficult personal questions is to pre-emptively offer up personal information. Divulging personal information whose boundaries you’ve defined allows the interviewer or reader to feel like their thirst for hot gossip has been quenched, so they move away to a different area. In order to do this effectively you must compartmentalise your personal life into areas that seem off-limits and those that actually are off-limits. And that in a sense – probably instinctively, rather than as the result of media training – is what we have with Taylor Swift. You end ‘1989’ feeling like you know what it’s like to be in a relationship with Taylor Swift, and maybe one or two other popstars to boot. In fact, we know none of the ‘interesting’ stuff – all that nonsense that would crash the servers of most gossip websites. But we feel like we know enough.

Nowhere is this perceived intimacy as well-honed as in ‘I Know Places’, a song about hunters and foxes, which promises “I know places we won’t be found”. Once ensconced in these places, the couple in the song will leave the hunters “chasing the their tails trying to track us down”. On first listen this seems to be a song about photographers, but given the circumstances of the relationships covered by this album the song could just as easily be about attempts to escape the glare of two different sets of fans.

In 2014 fans are a paparazzi swarm in their own right; Taylor herself recently wrote that these days fans just want pictures instead of autographs. But then nobody else understands 21st Century pop fame the way Taylor does, or if they do, they don’t demonstrate that understanding like Taylor does. The ‘Shake It Off’ video was either too clever for its own good or too dumb for its own good, or perhaps a combination of the two. Either way it misfired, but at its heart it was a shrewd way of Taylor recognising – then owning – the pop space she occupies.

Does she occupy that space by accident? Does she bollocks. Nothing about this album or Taylor’s career seems left to chance. That’s not to say this album feels stilted. On the contrary, she seems to have fun with the space she’s in. In ‘Blank Space’ – as in the opening lines of ‘Shake It Off’ – she plays on the way she’s caricatured. With lines like “hey, let’s be friends, I can’t wait to see how this one ends”, “oh my God, look at that face, you look like my next mistake” and “I’ve got a blank space baby, and I’ll write your name” she seems to be singing from the perspective of the woman she’s made out to be, satirising the snark cloud that hovers above her public image.

That caricature is one she might not encourage, but she certainly does little to dispel it. Naturally, that’s to her own advantage – all fame is about caricature, and just like she’s managed the private details she wants the world to know, Taylor’s effectively defines her own caricature, nominating the parts of her personality she permits to be exaggerated.

Waffle aside, there are loads of top tunes here. ’1989’ feels effortlessly enchanting, and of course, it’s not effortless at all – this is a laser-guided pop – but there’s a feeling of relaxed charm to most of these songs, and it’s a feeling many artists find hard to engineer. Taylor pulls it off. This is not a perfect album, but it does contain enough perfect songs (three) plus enough 9/10s (three) and few enough sub-5/10s (none) to make it the best album of the 2014, not to mention the best of Taylor’s career.

Problems with this review

1. Where are the jokes? This is too serious for an album that in parts feels so joyful. There could at least be a GIF.

2. Ineffective in terms of describing what the songs actually sound like. ‘A bit 80s’ and ‘pensive’ doesn’t really cover it.

3. Too bogged down in half-baked ‘grand’ theories about pop.

4. Some of the lyrics are probably slightly wrong.

5. tl;dr

6. It doesn’t even mention what Taylor’s voice sounds like.

7. Surely all reviews based on 1.4 listens run the risk of being unreliable.

8. The writer probably missed an explosive lyric that blows the lid off pop.

9. There’s too much repetition of points about Taylor doing things on purpose rather than by accident.

19. You’re likely to be better off with Sam Lansky’s review for TIME, or Alexis Petridis’ review in The Guardian, both of which probably deal with most of these problems and, undoubtedly, do so with considerable flair.

http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/1989-words-on-the-new-taylor-swift-album/131956/feed/ 0
S Club 7: BACK BACK BACK BACK BACK BACK BACK (but who were they?) http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/s-club-7-back-back-back-back-back-back-back-but-who-were-they/131887/ http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/s-club-7-back-back-back-back-back-back-back-but-who-were-they/131887/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 11:58:46 +0000 http://www.popjustice.com/?p=131887 s-club-back-back-back

That picture above is the first one we ever saw of S Club 7.

A lady from their management company came to see us and brought the photograph with her. She also brought a 21st Century Girls VHS but let’s not dwell on that because the exciting thing about that day back in the late 1990s was that mysterious photo of seven popstars.

There wasn’t much extra information given at the time, other than some names on the back of the photograph.


We don’t know when ‘John’ decided to be Jon but we do know that over the next few years S Club refined and redefined the pop-as-a-brand malarkey and made some amazing songs.

Here’s how it all happened.

S Club was a second attempt at the Spice Girls


Two of the biggest pop acts at the end of the 90s were actually previous pop acts done properly. With Westlife, Louis Walsh figured out what all the shit bits had been about Boyzone, and created a far better group.

With S Club, Simon Fuller had a look at his success with the Spice Girls and perfected the formula.

That’s not to say S Club were a better act than the Spice Girls, but they were a more efficient and well-rounded pop entity. Most importantly, while the Spice Girls were simply a pop group that ended up being a brand, S Club was a brand with a pop group at its heart. Over the years that followed, this allowed S Club to become a range of merchandise, a TV programme… Even another pop group.

S Club launched off the back of a BBC TV programme

The first sight of S Club 7 was actually on Miami 7, a ‘dramedy’ effort shown on CBBC or whatever CBBC was called in 1999.

While not groundbreaking as a way of introducing a pop band (North & South had attempted something similar a couple of years earlier), Miami 7 was a stroke of genius in one important respect: its worldwide syndication was an extraordinarily clever way of shoehorning a new pop band into the consciousness of the entire planet. Miami 7 was seen by 90m people in over 100 countries.

They released some very good pop singles

‘Reach': amazing. ‘S Club Party': amazing. ‘You’re My Number One': amazing. ‘Never Had A Dream Come True': amazing. ‘Don’t Stop Movin”: amazing. ‘Have You Ever': amazing. ‘Alive': amazing even though it was just trying to be ‘Don’t Stop Movin’ 2′. ‘Love Ain’t Gonna Wait For You': we’re still fuming this was relegated to AA-side status.

Most of the best S Club songs were written by Cathy Dennis, who seemed to find that the band provided a good clearing house for her INCREDIBLE POP STUFF. In 2014, ‘Reach’ and ‘Don’t Stop Movin” are both solid gold wedding disco bangers that every DJ should have somewhere in their box.

Then S Club TV happened

S Club TV was an attempt at a TV programme. (It wasn’t very good.)

Here the hosts are, plugging it on a better TV programme.

Excellent cross-promotion with the ‘Reach For The Stars’ segment though, right?

(Holly from S Club TV went on to be Holly Willoughby, while Ben had a picture of S Club in his attic or something.)

Then S Club Juniors happened

S Club Juniors were like S Club, but smaller. However, because there was one extra member in S Club Juniors, the two bands were actually exactly the same weight.

As well as nicking S Club’s logo and songwriter (Cathy Dennis wrote their first single), S Club Juniors even appeared with a familiar first photo.




S Club Juniors ended up rebranding as S Club 8 and they knocked out some good songs (AND SOME SHIT ONES) during their time together. Among the best were ‘Fool No More’ and ‘New Direction’, the latter of which sounded a bit like ‘nude erection’ which as you can imagine was incredibly funny in 2005 and remains fairly amusing today.

(At the end of 2002 we joined S Club Juniors for two days for a piece for The Guardian, which is quite funny.)

When S Club 8 went tits up Simon Fuller invented a fame school-centred kids TV drama called I Dream, which featured Frankie and Calvin from S Club 8. That didn’t go very well.

As you well know, Frankie and Rochelle from S Club 8 ended up in The Saturdays, and one of S Club Juniors’ songs ended up being released in the US by American Juniors, who were a band formed by a reality show, but that’s just adding an extra layer of complication to the whole thing so let’s not get bogged down.

S Club 7 became S Club

In 2002, Paul from S Club 7 cleared off in order to be in some sort of bloody awful nu-metal outfit. He stayed with S Club for a few months – with hindsight he was basically working his notice period – before disappearing for good.

S Club 7 renamed themselves S Club and made an astonishingly shit film called ‘Seeing Double’.

It was written by Simon Fuller’s brother Kim, and directed by Nigel Dick, then man who’d also directed Britney’s ‘…Baby One More Time’ video. It didn’t do very well at the Oscars.

S Club and S Club 8 all went off on tour together

The S Club United tour was supposed to be a joyous coming together of 14 pop behemoths.

Sadly it turned out to be more of an elaborate attempt at handing over the S Club baton, and it ended quite badly.

That’s a fairly epic interpretation of “we’ve got good news and bad news”, isn’t it?

S Club eventually said goodbye for good

S Club’s final single was ‘Say Goodbye’.

The song was sent out to the media with promotional handkerchiefs, which seemed to be making light of an incredibly sad moment in the history of pop, but we all deal with grief in different ways and over the intervening years we’ve found a way to forgive S Club’s label for their terrible lapse in judgement.

‘Say Goodbye’ and its accompanying video remain one of pop’s best “it’s all over let’s just put everything in a box and have a cry” farewell moments.

Classic Cathy Dennis. Classic Dennis. CLASSY DENNIS.

Then Rachel Stevens was briefly responsible for a load of tremendous tunes

When the S Club party was in its ‘putting out the bins and clearing up the wine stains’ stage, Rachel Stevens decided to be a solo artist.

Things kicked off extremely well with the Top 3 single ‘Sweet Dreams My LA Ex’.

The song had been written by Cathy Dennis for Britney Spears as an answer record to Justin Timberlake’s ‘Cry Me A River’, but Britney was an idiot and Rachel got the song instead.

Then Rachel released a bizarre postmodern second single called ‘Funky Dory’, which sampled David Bowie’s ‘Hunky Dory’ album track ‘Andy Warhol’, and referenced pop art in its lyrics.

THEN – this is the really good bit – Rachel accidentally released one of the greatest albums of the 21st Century in the form of ‘Come And Get It’. (It got to Number 28 because the record buying public were extremely irresponsible.) The album included the Number Two single ‘Some Girls’, which was produced and written by Richard X and Hannah Robinson.

Geri Halliwell was so furious she didn’t get this song that she locked herself in her car, an event later referenced in the X-and-Robinson-helmed Annie song ‘Me Plus One’. (‘Me Plus One’ ends with a sample of Geri Halliwell’s dog.)

Jo O’Meara released an amazing single…

…and a shit album. Then she went on Celebrity Big Brother and everything went a bit wrong.

S Club 3 became ‘a thing’

Jo, Bradley and Paul weren’t really fooling anyone with the whole ‘four backing dancers’ debacle, but they did a load of student gigs and nightclub PAs. They also appeared on Australian television. :(

You would have thought that this sort of behaviour would put S Club – or S Club 3, or S Club 4 or whoever was available – into classic Big Reunion territory. But S Club did not appear on The Big Reunion. Could it perhaps have been the case that Simon Fuller was looking at The Big Reunion – much like he’d looked at the TV programme Popstars – and thinking, “I can do that myself”? Was he DEVISING a CUNNING POP PLAN?

Look this post’s going on a bit now so let’s just cut to the chase: S Club 7 are back together.


For a band that launched off the back of a BBC TV programme, it makes sense that S Club should relaunch off the back of a BBC TV programme.

This morning the BBC announced that S Club 7 – that’s all of them, even Rachel – would be performing together for the first time in however many years it’s been on this year’s Children In Need. (Last year’s Children In Need was also the location for McBusted’s first TV appearance.)

There hasn’t been an official announcement regarding new material, but if you think that’s not on the cards you’re a fool to yourself. Could there also be a tour?

Whether or not the band manage to pull off a McBusted remains to be seen; McBusted announced 13 live dates and ended up selling out over thirty – the genuine public demand and affection for that band has been extraordinary. But while McBusted benefit from Busted splitting before their time was up and McFly’s continued existence providing a clear line from the past to the present, S Club ended a few months after it should have done and the profile of S Club’s individual members has gone slightly adrift in recent years. Theirs is a proper revival in the way McBusted’s kind of wasn’t.

Anyway, the success or failure of any full S Club comeback rests on the reappearance of the most important person in S Club’s history. It’s not Rachel, and it’s not Paul. It’s not even Simon Fuller.

Five words:

1. GET.
3. ON.
4. THE.

http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/s-club-7-back-back-back-back-back-back-back-but-who-were-they/131887/feed/ 0
Taylor Swift shat in a yellow bucket and Canada took it to Number One http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/taylor-swift-shat-in-a-yellow-bucket-and-canada-took-it-to-number-one/131865/ http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/taylor-swift-shat-in-a-yellow-bucket-and-canada-took-it-to-number-one/131865/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 08:50:55 +0000 http://www.popjustice.com/?p=131865 yellow-bucket

Three years ago we devised an idea that we hoped would change pop forever.

We were bored by acts with millions of intensely engaged fans (and millions of pounds’ marketing budget thrown at gaining those fans) being judged in the same Top 40 as artists with modest fanbases or modest marketing budgets.

Our idea was this: every popstar should be required to record the sound of themselves shitting into a yellow a bucket; the recording would then be put on sale on iTunes and the resulting sales (or lack of sales) by each artist would be fed into a Bucket Index, which would itself then be added into an equation that could then help make more sense of music sales.

For instance, you’d expect One Direction to be somewhere near the top of the Bucket Index. That Bucket Index placing would mean that if they scored a Top 5 single, we’d know that ‘hit’ was actually worth less than if, for instance, Gorgon City – whose Bucket Index rating would be comparatively low – also scored a Top 5 hit. The point is that if an act’s fans are so engaged that they will literally buy the sound of someone shitting in a bucket, and if the quality of all that act’s musical releases is therefore irrelevant, the act is not really selling songs and music – it’s selling an opportunity to ‘vote’ in the charts for 99p, which is quite different.

Sadly for reasons we still cannot fathom, and despite presenting many artists with their first and last opportunity to claim a full writing credit and production credit on a single release, our amazing idea did not catch on.


This is Taylor Swift.


Taylor Swift is probably the planet’s best popstar at the moment.

Taylor’s got a new album coming out soon and, as she recently wrote on Tumblr, she’s experimenting with a couple of different release strategies as that release date approaches.

Some strategies, such as only releasing instant grat tracks to certain counties, have been controversial but not too out of the ordinary. Yesterday, however, Taylor Swift stepped things up a level or two, by releasing a rather strange piece of music. It wasn’t quite the sound of Swifto shaking it off into a bucket, but it served a similar purpose.

‘Track 3′ is eight seconds of white noise. Within hours, it was Number One on the Canadian iTunes charts.


In fact, at the time of writing, it’s still there.

Slate report that the release was due to some sort of glitch but Taylor’s Tim Berners-Lee in sheep’s clothing routine doesn’t fool us. We think this was a carefully planned step in Taylor’s ludicrously well-orchestrated album campaign and, while she’s yet to take credit for this bold move, we can only applaud the way in which Swifto has embraced not only this brave new release strategy but also, of course, our Bucket Index idea.

What can we learn from Taylor Swift’s shite bucket challenge?

Naturally, the Bucket Index will only become truly useful when other artists also start to release eight seconds of white noise and we’re able to throw the resulting data against chart performance in order to recalibrate our understanding of the Top 40.

Additionally, when you consider that ‘Track 3′ has appeared at a point in the ‘1989’ campaign when four excellent songs have already been made public, its usefulness as a proper Bucket Index entry is diminished. The success of ‘Track 3′, rather than proving that Taylor Swift fans will simply buy any old rubbish, is actually more likely to show that people liked ‘Shake It Off’, ‘Out Of The Woods’, that one off the cat advert and ‘Welcome To New York’ so much that they have complete faith in the quality of everything from this album, and will confidently download a song without listening to the music first.

In a sense, then, ‘Track 3′ goes against everything the Bucket Index stands for.

But that’s not to say Taylor’s brave experiment is without merit. She has truly pushed an important pop boundary with this eight-second, tune-free, lyrically obtuse release. But we’ll only really know how far she’s prepared to push that boundary when the ‘Track 3′ video appears on VEVO.

http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/taylor-swift-shat-in-a-yellow-bucket-and-canada-took-it-to-number-one/131865/feed/ 0
Sportsman has done a pensive cover of a Taylor Swift song http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/sportsman-has-done-a-pensive-cover-of-a-taylor-swift-song/131824/ http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/sportsman-has-done-a-pensive-cover-of-a-taylor-swift-song/131824/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 11:38:28 +0000 http://www.popjustice.com/?p=131824 sportsman

Sportsman is a chap from Sweden who recently had an EP out on Best Fit Recordings.

Anyway he’s making his debut album at the moment but has decided to put all that to one side for a moment in order to knock out a SAD but HOPE-FILLED cover of Taylor Swift’s ‘Begin Again’ with producer HNNY.

This is it. If you have had a ‘heavy weekend’ it might make you cry a little bit.

How very nice. Here is what ‘Sportsman’ says about it all.




Thanks for that Sportsman, and thanks for the jolly nice cover version of the song by Taylor Swift.

(If you are interested in future stuff Sportsman – maybe he’ll do ‘Shake It Off’ – he’s over on facebook.com/therealsportsman.)

http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/sportsman-has-done-a-pensive-cover-of-a-taylor-swift-song/131824/feed/ 0
Nine key points about the song Nicola Roberts wrote for Cheryl’s album http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/nine-key-points-about-the-song-nicola-roberts-did-for-the-cheryl-album/131600/ http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/nine-key-points-about-the-song-nicola-roberts-did-for-the-cheryl-album/131600/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 16:40:51 +0000 http://www.popjustice.com/?p=131600 Cheryl black dress hi res

1. The tune in question is called ‘It’s About Time’.

2. Robbo wrote it with The Invisible Men and James Draper, who then also went on to produce it. The last time Cheryl, Nicola and The Invisible Men worked in a similar way a rather good tune called ‘On The Metro’ was magiced into life, so this is a popmaking outfit with form.

3. The music is breezy and carefree with housey pianos and a very distinct whiff of Bobby Brown’s ‘Two Can Play That Game’.

4. Lyrically, on the other hand… Well, the breeziness is not constant. This is an oscillating fan of a pop song. ‘It’s About Time’ is a song that says, “look, do you know what, everything’s been a bit shit of late on the romance front but I’ve given it some thought and I’ve decided that I’ll give this old ‘love’ business another go and see what happens.”

5. However, given the involvement of eminent tunesmith Nicola Roberts on songword duties, it says all that with a considerably higher level of lyrical aplomb. The song opens with Cheryl explaining that she’s been “asking myself if living without a feeling is really living; is having everything any good if everything’s all you have?” By this she means that she has a nice house, several enviable frocks and a box in the garage containing more fake eyelashes than she could ever want, but that’s all just rubbish without a nice bit of love. Then things get a bit dark. “I locked myself away,” Cheryl explains. “I became untouchable, got colder by the day.” But then there’s light! Cheryl realises that there’s “nothing in my way – just the person in the mirror”, before exclaiming “take me to the flame, it’s now or never!” An emotional rollercoaster we’re sure you’ll agree, and it’s not even at the first chorus yet. For that chorus Cheryl decides that it’s about time (hence the name of the song) she starts loving again. “I won’t give in til my heart beats again,” she sings. “Will somebody show me what I’ve been missing?”

6. Given that Nicola – unlike a lot of the people who’ll tend to fling songs in Cheryl’s direction – is Actual Friends with the person she’s writing for, you would do well to surmise that the emotional states outlined above are an unusually accurate account of what it’s like to have been Cheryl during dark times. And you’d also guess that it’s a realistic portrayal of how and why Cheryl eventually chose to propel herself out of GLOOM AND DESPAIR. “For all that time I was so scared of flying so I stuck to the running,” Cheryl sings in the second verse. “But I’m not running any more – I’m dancing my nights away.”

7. Despite only featuring 40% of Girls Aloud this is well over 40% as good as a Girls Aloud song, which must be a good thing.

8. In the middle eight Cheryl sings of “each bottled up emotion, each tear I never cried – I need a big explosion, it’s time for me to fly”. Nicola often has a rather beautiful way of looking at life and “I need a big explosion” is indeed a beautiful description of the way we must all, at one point, have looked at The World Of Romance. After all, who shouldn’t be allowed a big explosion every now and again? Terrorists, obviously, but apart from that? Exactly.

9. Good work ladies.



http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/nine-key-points-about-the-song-nicola-roberts-did-for-the-cheryl-album/131600/feed/ 0
Q4 In Crisis: 49 things pop must deliver before January 1 http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/q4-in-crisis-49-things-pop-must-deliver-before-january-1/131467/ http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/q4-in-crisis-49-things-pop-must-deliver-before-january-1/131467/#comments Wed, 08 Oct 2014 12:45:00 +0000 http://www.popjustice.com/?p=131467 q4-in-crisis

Right, we’ve given it a week and we’ll be honest with you: Q4 is underperforming.

Yes, the David Guetta single is good in ways nobody could have expected. Yes, Avicii and Robbie’s single is ‘a big thing’ and bad in ways most people would have expected. Yes, McBusted’s single announcement is a pretty Q4 event. And yes, we’ll accept that the BBC did pull a big rabbit out of the hat last night with the One Direction and Jake Bugg collaboration.

But where’s everything else?

As we outlined last year in our introductory guide to all things Q4, Q4 is the most special time of year for pop music.

Qthousand4teen needs to buck up its ideas, and here’s what we want to see before 2015 comes along and ruins all the Q4 fun.


1. Let’s have a Rihanna single. We don’t even need a whole album. Just a single. We’ll take anything at this point.

2. McBusted’s ‘Air Guitar’ video needs to be set at a karaoke night; the full McBusted album must include a song about the demise of Busted.

3. Will Young doing The Beloved’s ‘Sweet Harmony’ for the John Lewis ad please.

4. Actually, thinking about it, let’s have a Rihanna album after all.

5. Gwen Stefani’s single has to be almost supernaturally incredible.


6. We don’t care if it’s finished or not: Tamera Foster’s debut single needs to come out this year and we don’t want any of this Sade bollocks people were talking about earlier this year. This needs to be balls-out amazing.

7. The only person allowed to release an album that sounds like Sade in Q4 is Sade, and even that’s pushing it a bit.

8. Almost one year ago to the day we tweeted about a new Calvin Harris album coming in 2014. This was based on an email we’d just got from his label but in a reply Calvin seemed quite surprised by the news. He’s since deleted that tweet but ‘Motion’ is indeed coming, and its release date falls in the pop calendar’s most exciting 25%. So we were right about the Calvin Harris album and Calvin Harris was wrong about the Calvin Harris album. The Gwen track obviously needs to be completely amazing, and the album’s not out for a few weeks so there’s still plenty of time for Calvin to release a few more singles, thus achieving the impressive ‘half a greatest hits’ feel he pulled off on ’18 Months’. (We also like the American Horror Story-esque ‘returning cast’ feel of Ellie Goulding and Theo Hurts coming back to do some more songs.)

9. It’s yet to be officially announced but The Saturdays’ Christmas album must be completely ridiculous, but it must also not be total shit. As well as sleighbell-strewn original songs the album must include covers of Low’s ‘Just Like Christmas’, Saint Etienne’s ‘I Was Born On Christmas Day’ (with Marvin Humes as Tim Burgess), Hurts’ ‘All I Want For Christmas Is New Year’s Day’ and Leona’s ‘One More Sleep’, plus the greatest festive single in recent history – Paul Holt’s ‘Fifty Grand For Christmas’. It must be called ‘On Your Reindeer’.

10. Something about Adele.

11. One Direction’s farewell album must follow in the pensive footsteps of ‘Fireproof’.

12. Sorry to go on about this, but about this Rihanna album. We’ve heard murmurings of guitars. But Charli XCX’s involvement has also been mooted. The latter would be acceptable, as would a combination of both.


13. Taylor Swift’s album must be the album of the year. To give you some idea of the scale of this album’s power, Max Martin’s done at least nine songs. Don’t let us down Max.

14. In other Max Martin news, we’d like to hear the fruits of Tove Lo’s writing sessions as part of Max’s team, and in total we’d like to hear three different Max Martin-helmed singles by three different non-Swift US recording artists before Q4 is out.

15. She might be the planet’s least self aware popstar but even Jessie J must know that this new album of hers is make or break, at least in terms of the international superstar status she covets. The good news is she’s got form when it comes to decent songs.

16. Emeli Sandé’s already sidled her way into one big Q4 release (ie that BBC ‘God Only Knows’ single) but there’s still time to whack out a single and album before the end of Q4. Obviously, as she’s discussed in the past, she has strong feelings about how exploitative shows like The X Factor can be. The good news is that she’s more than happy to put her strong principles to one side if there’s a chance of flogging some music, so maybe she could appear (yet again) on one of the live shows.

bangerz miley cyrus artwork

17. If a ‘Bangerz’ repack called ‘Banger2′ definitely isn’t happening we want to know why and we want the names and addresses of everybody involved in this heinous decision.

18. It’s increasingly hard to see where Madonna’s music promo ends and her hashtag addiction begins, but an album definitely exists and while it’s scheduled for 2015 we mustn’t forget that she’s managed by the same man who ‘masterminded’ the U2 iTunes release, and Madonna’s still one of the few artists who could just about cause the necessary fuss a semi-Beyoncé requires.

19. Speaking of U2, isn’t there supposed to be another album on its way? Not the forthcoming physical release of ‘Songs Of Innocence’ (which is a release that takes the one good thing about that album – the artwork – and changes it). A completely different one. Given how long they spent between albums there must be several potential U2 albums knocking around. They could chuck an LP onto iTunes once a week for the rest of Q4 if they wanted to, but the one we’d be interested in hearing is the one that contains the RedOne sessions.

20. We’re going to set ourselves up for a fall here but we’re crossing our fingers for a Cheryl album with more than three good songs on it.

21. More importantly, would a surprise Nicola Roberts track between Christmas and New Year be too much to ask for? She’s been in the studio, at least one of the songs must be SoundCloud ready.

22. Do you think it would help if we just phoned Rihanna every two days to ask how she was getting on?

Olly Murs album

23. ‘Oily’ Murs has an album on its way. The first single’s not great, but he usually manages a few decent tracks from each album campaign, and given Olly’s standing in the British male pop ‘community’ we’re going to have to demand at least one all-out triumph. “I want to be the biggest male artist in the country,” he recently told Music Week. “I might never get there but I’m going to keep going until that day when you know it’s over.” We’re not sure what to make of that; nor are we entirely sure what to make of this: “I look at the market and always try to challenge myself. So if I hear an Avicii song I might want to write an Avicii song.” (Apparently one song on his album, the Steve Mac and Wayne Hector track ‘Stick With Me’, does indeed sound a little bit like an Avicii song.)

24. The Nicki Minaj album is going to be great, right?

25. One of the things we really love about the current Kylie ‘era': the way Kylie’s letting leftover tracks find their way to fans. Another thing we like about the current Kylie ‘era': loads of these songs are actually really good. We’d like to see another surprise EP release on the morning of December 25.

26. David Guetta‘s new single is great. Will the album also be great? No, it will contain a large amount of old nonsense, but ‘Dangerous’ is a good reminder that Dave should never be underestimated.

27. Susan Boyle’s album features a version of ‘You Raise Me Up’ featuring the Lakewood Church Choir. This must have a massive donk at the end of it.

28. Iggy Azalea‘s reissuing her album. It’ll include new songs with Charli XCX and Ellie Goulding which is all very well but Azo needs to bin off the title (‘The New Classic: Reclassified’) and call the reissue ‘First Things Second’.

Ella Henderson

29. We’re afraid we’re going to have to insist that Ella Henderson – whose album is out next week – stages a stupendous X Factor performance with fire and a choir. Fire And A Choir should actually be deployed on all X Factor performances.

30. This isn’t a demand as such but bear in mind Status Quo have an acoustic album coming out. It’s called… ‘Aquostic’.

31. The thing is, Rihanna’s at a point now where if she doesn’t want to release an album, she just won’t. That’s the problem. She’s too big. This is our fault, and your fault. We created a monster.

32. Released on November 3, James Blunt‘s ‘Moon Landing (Apollo Edition)’ is perhaps the quintessential Q4 release. You know those ‘hilarious’ videos of posh actors reading out deranged tweets and YouTube comments? We would like this James Blunt release to include a hidden track in which James Blunt’s tweets are read out in a posh voice, ie by James Blunt.

33. Do you think Sia might release a second single at some point?

34. The BBC Music Awards – which take place on December 11 – need to be properly amazing and they need to be a proper snapshot of what people around the country actually enjoy listening to, ie it can’t just be a wobbleboard player off Jools Holland, Clean Bandit, and a ‘once in a lifetime’ collaboration between Tinie Tempah and some sort of symphony orchestra. It’ll be hosted by Fearne Cotton and Chris Evans.

35. Speaking of Fearne Cotton, don’t panic guys – there’s a Radio 1 Live Lounge compilation album out on October 27! We’d like to see Fearne Cotton write track-by-track sleevenotes for this one, and under each and every song title we’d like to see one of these three phrases: “Goosebumps.” “Real talent.” “Just wow.”

36. The 2014 Popjustice Twenty Quid Music Prize has to be won by a brilliant song. This year’s shortlist is the strongest in years; if you’d like to join us in London to be part of the judging process see this page for details.

37. Sam Bailey’s due to appear on the X Factor semi-final, flogging the new edition of her album ‘The Power Of Love’. We can’t seem to find the artwork online yet so we’re hoping there’s still time for her label to consider one of these suggestions.


38. ‘Christmas At Downton Abbey’ is out on November 10. It features cast members singing and if there isn’t a version of ‘Fancy’ by Hugh Bonneville and Maggie Smith the whole release will be entirely pointless.

39. Seriously, if there isn’t a sniff of Rihanna by the first week of December we’re hiring a lookalike, a soundalike, some songwriters and a video director and sorting this out ourselves. Someone has to take responsibility for this shambles.

40. Right. Sugababes. Mutya Keisha Siobhan. Whatever they’re called these days. Something, as they posted just yesterday, is actually happening. We know ‘something’ is ‘happening’ every fortnight with that lot, but it does seem like something’s moving along this time. Moving forward we should probably look at Sugababes not as potential chart-toppers whose releases should be judged on their commercial success. Instead we must see this whole thing as a beautiful pop miracle that we are privileged to witness. They’ll put out some music at some point. It’ll be great. And that, really, should be enough.

41. Is there any chance Little Mix could pull their forty fingers out please because a lyrically generic but sonically fantastic empowerment banger is exactly what we all need during the cold Q4 months.

42. December 13 is Beyoncé Day. Beyoncé Day is the day on which any artist whose release schedule has gone a bit wonky during the preceding twelve months is required, by law, to just chuck an album on iTunes. It’s the day on which artists and labels cut their losses on slightly messy attempts to make or release an album. In a way, Beyoncé Day is a solid incentive to labels not to mess around. They can’t say “oh dear radio isn’t playing the single we thought we’d launch the album with, let’s try again with another one in four months and hope for the best”. Artists, meanwhile, can’t say “I’m not sure if this album is cohesive as a body of work, let’s scrap everything and start again”. The rule is this: if you’ve recorded an album’s worth of songs (which is twelve of them), it goes on sale on December 13 whether you like it or not.

43. Beyoncé should beyoncé an album on Beyoncé Day. (NOT A REMIX ALBUM.) (MAYBE THE BEY & JAY DUETS ALBUM.)

44. It goes without saying that if the music industry agrees to stick to the rules outlined above, Beyoncé Day may well be the day we receive a surprise Rihanna album.


45. Remember that thing the other week where Robyn was saying she’d recorded a new EP with Markus Jägerstedt and the late Christian Falk? Well let’s have that in the middle of November please, because nothing says Christmas quite like Robyn. If we could have another EP of the Jam & Lewis stuff in Q1 that’d be brill, cheers.

46. Do you think Adam Lambert might sneak a new single out over the Christmas period?

47. The biggest release day of Q4 comes just over halfway into the season of goodcashcows: on November 24 alone there are album releases from David Guetta, Nicki Minaj, Olly Murs and Susan Boyle. You know it’s an important date – the latest Now compilation’s out too. On this date we’d also like a surprise release of a Britney EP.

48. A number of proposed Q4 UK releases by Popjustice-approved solo singers of song have slipped back to 2015. These include albums by Tove Lo, Ella Eyre, Charli XCX, Indiana and Rita Ora. Ironically, by attempting to avoid a Q4 solo singer bottleneck, these artists may collectively have created a brand new one in Q1. Many of these will probably leak in the tail end of Q4, so that will be something to spice up the BLOODY BORING period between Christmas and New Year.

49. Did we mention Rihanna?


http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/q4-in-crisis-49-things-pop-must-deliver-before-january-1/131467/feed/ 0
25 name suggestions for The X Factor’s absurd eight-piece boyband http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/25-name-suggestions-for-the-x-factors-absurd-eight-piece-boyband/131357/ http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/25-name-suggestions-for-the-x-factors-absurd-eight-piece-boyband/131357/#comments Sat, 04 Oct 2014 13:38:17 +0000 http://www.popjustice.com/?p=131357 8-piece-x-factor-boyband-fiasco

It is claimed that The X Factor’s ludicrous/possibly amazing eight-piece boyband are still looking for a name. They are even running a competition to look for a suitable moniker.

Let’s assume for one moment that this is a genuine predicament and not one that has been invented in an attempt to increase #engagement in the run-up to the live finals. Let’s just go with it and accept that this band does actually need a decent name.

Here are 25 suggestions, any one of which would surely be perfect.

1. Better Eight Than Never

2. Huit Just A Goddamn Minute

3. #8anter

4. It Must Be Something I Eight

5. Love Octually

6. 8 Seconds Of Q4

7. A Huge Evergrowing Pulseighting Boyband That Rules From The Centre Of Fountain Studios

8. Byte

9. Variable Interest R8

10. Middle Eight

11. Bottom Eight

12. Maids-A-Milking

13. One Fat Lady

14. Magic 8 Ball

15. Magic 16 Balls

16. TUV

17. Identical Hairpieces Of Eight

18. 5ive And Some Spares

19. Green With EnVIII

20. Triple 8 ÷ 3

21. 2w0Cub3d

22. Myriad Directions

23. Eight Boys One Haircut

24. Leave It M8 It’s Not Worth It

25. OctAve A Banana

You’re welcome, mystery X Factor boyband. You are so welcome.

(Readers – if you’d like to use one of the above names to enter that competition please go right ahead – they do st8 “don’t use the number or word 8″ quite clearly but we think some of our suggestions are strong enough to make them change their minds.)

http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/25-name-suggestions-for-the-x-factors-absurd-eight-piece-boyband/131357/feed/ 0
Jennifer Davies has the biggest roll of Bacofoil you have ever seen http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/jennifer-davies-has-the-biggest-roll-of-bacofoil-you-have-ever-seen/131351/ http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/jennifer-davies-has-the-biggest-roll-of-bacofoil-you-have-ever-seen/131351/#comments Fri, 03 Oct 2014 14:14:03 +0000 http://www.popjustice.com/?p=131351 jennifer-davies

We’ve been following Jennifer Davies‘ pop adventures for a few years now.

We’ve covered her as she’s made music in a number of guises whose names have become less and less unorthodox: first she was the singer in Soft Toy Emergency, then she reinvented herself as Vela, then she had a bash at being Jenn D. Now she’s just Jennifer Davies, but while her moniker’s about as down to earth as it can get her music’s hit a bold new creative streak. We’ve liked each of her varied incarnations in different ways, but it’s this latest one that makes the most sense.

Jennifer recently whacked online a free EP of tunes; we’ll chuck all the tracks at the bottom of this post but first up here’s a premiere of dramatic electropowerballad ‘Choke’.

Pretty good right?

This is ‘Silhouette':

This is the just-very-slightly-Kylie-esque video she and her longterm collaborator Maxx Peter made for ‘Lapse Of Time':

This is ‘Cant Get Used To Losing You':

And this is ‘Disconnected’.

As we mentioned, you can get the whole EP as a free download…

…and you can keep up with Jennifer on Twitter and Facebook.

http://www.popjustice.com/briefing/jennifer-davies-has-the-biggest-roll-of-bacofoil-you-have-ever-seen/131351/feed/ 0