Popjustice » Interviews & Features http://www.popjustice.com 100% Solid Pop Music Fri, 25 Jul 2014 11:13:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8 100 Questions with Nicole Scherzinger http://www.popjustice.com/interviewsandfeatures/100-questions-with-nicole-scherzinger/128131/ http://www.popjustice.com/interviewsandfeatures/100-questions-with-nicole-scherzinger/128131/#comments Tue, 15 Jul 2014 14:46:28 +0000 http://www.popjustice.com/?p=128131

…with Nicole Scherzinger.


Here are some facts about Nicole Scherzinger. She has nice hair, a lovely singing voice and, when the mood takes her, she can bash off an amazing song like nobody’s business.

The mood has obviously been taking her of late because her current single ‘Your Love’ is a thing of pure wonder built around a wordless chorus that miraculously still doesn’t grate after the fiftieth listen.

To celebrate (take advantage of promo time relating to) Nicole’s new single we asked her 100 questions that were in urgent need of 100 answers.

Here’s what happened.

Where’s the strangest place you’ve ever put your hand?
I’m sorry? Where’s the strangest place I’ve put my HAND? (Thinks for ages) Simon Cowell’s cheeks. On his face.

The title of your autobiography would be…
Nicole The Great? (Thinks) No. Balls To The Wall.

Is it time for people to stop wearing stripes?


Have you ever seen a ghost?


Ellen or Oprah?

Did you go anywhere nice on your holidays?

Yes! Always.

What is your favourite chocolate bar?

Picnic. So good.

Which animal would you gladly never encounter in your lifetime?
Are there any animals that fart or are smelly? Eels.

Who is your best friend?
I’ve got a bunch of best friends. I’ll say my sister.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
I put eye drops in my eyes.

Who do you think has a perfect face?


Are you in love?

Could you write Britney Spears a hit single?
(Emphatically) Yes!

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever put in your mouth?

The strangest thing I’ve ever put in my mouth? Oh my God… Blowfish semen. It’s a delicacy in Tokyo! Don’t do it when you’re drunk man.

Do you worry about your weight?

Yes and no.

What did you have for breakfast?
Eggs and avocado and toast and custard croissant.

When did you last take a ‘selfie’?
Yesterday on a double-decker bus because I’d never been on one and I was super stoked.

What does Simon Cowell smell like?

How many pints can you drink before you fall over?

Endless. No I don’t drink that many pints.

What would you like for dinner tonight?
I’d love a truffle pasta but that’s not going to happen.

Where is your favourite place to be on a Sunday?

How old is too old for a man to go skateboarding?

Never too old.

How do you feel about flip-flops?

Live for them. I’m Hawaiian. I live for flip-flops.

Which member of your family is the worst cook?
No answer, everyone’s a good cook in my family.

What colour are your pillows?
Soft creme.

What was your worst subject at school?

In college I got an F or an X in Economics once because I couldn’t stand the teacher so I went back to show off and got an A+.

What is the worst day of the week?
Oh fart, well Taco Tuesdays is pretty cool but Mondays aren’t that great.

Which side of the bed do you sleep on?
The right.

X Factor or The Voice?
X Factor.

Sea or swimming pool?


What’s your favourite cereal?
Special K.

Surf or turf?

What’s your favourite breed of dog?
English Bulldog.

Do you ever feel like a plastic bag?

A plastic bag? What’s that? [Is regaled with a bit of Katy Perry's 'Firework'] No. I’ve felt many things but I don’t know if I’ve ever felt like a plastic bag.

How many hours’ sleep do you need in order to function properly?
One or none. I don’t need to.

Are you left or right handed?

I’m right handed.

How often do you get your haircut?

Like never. Until somebody’s like ‘your hair’s looking really scraggly’.

What’s the best freebie you’ve ever been given?

I love it when I’m given diamonds.

What’s the hardest word to spell?

What is the rudest word you know?

The c-word. [She means cunt]

Have you got any tattoos?

Are you bored of these questions yet?


If you could force two popstars to mate who would you choose?

Prince and Whitney Houston. Or, like, Michael Jackson and Whitney.

Did you expect the Lady Gaga album to do better or worse than it did?

I don’t know how it did. But I would only wish her the best.

New York, London, Paris or Munich?

Right now, London.

What does TMZ mean to you?


What’s the best day of the week?

Saturday even though I’m usually working. Actually Sunday.

At what age were you happiest?

Oh fart. I’ll say, now.

Double denim – amazing or awful?

I know it’s fashionable but I’m a bit scared. It could be amazing or it could be awful.

What’s wrong with pop?

That it doesn’t always think outside of the box.

What’s right with pop?
It’s what we thrive off of. It’s what’s infectious.

Are you good in a fight?

Can you ride a bike?


What word do people incorrectly use to describe you?


What word do people correctly use to describe you?

Sweet. Or compassionate. Or goofy and funny.

What is your favourite flavour of yoghurt?

Anything Müller!

What is the most expensive thing you have ever bought?
My house.

What is your favourite fruit?


Would you rather not eat or not speak for 24 hours?

Not speak.

What is your least favourite TV show?

I don’t watch TV.

What was the last thing you read about yourself on the internet?

Oh shit what did I read? I think you guys. You wrote about it being a strong song to come back with.

Bath or shower?


Diet or full fat Coke?

Full fat.

Would you rather have no teeth or no hair?
That’s horrible. I guess no teeth.

Why do we have dreams?
To live in our subconscious minds.

Commercial success or critical acclaim?

Critical acclaim.

When was the last time you wet yourself?

Oh my gosh. When I was laughing really hard.

Fried, boiled, poached or scrambled?

I like the six minutes eggs, whatever those are. Boiled.

What was the last film you watched and enjoyed?
That movie… Fart. What’s that movie? Think Like A Man Too.

Dogs or cats?

Rock or roll?

Rock and roll. No, I’ll say rock.

What are the names of the people you live with?

My cousins are staying with me, but they don’t pay rent.

What do you have on your bedroom walls?

French tapestry.

Do you pair up your socks before you put them away?


Do you iron your underwear?


What did you do yesterday?

I worked all day doing promo then I practiced acoustic and then I practiced dance and then I went to see Dionne Warwick perform at the Arts Club.

Christmas or birthday?


Town or country?


Comics or cartoons?


Biscuit or cake?


What do you say to people who think pop is for teenage girls?
Oh that’s foolish – look at Michael Jackson, he’s the King Of Pop.

Which supermarket do you shop in?

Crystal Farms.

Where do you buy your pants?


Which reality TV show do you most want to go on?

I don’t watch TV but I’m going to create a show called The Ass Factor and I’m going to go on that. I’m joking.

How fast is too fast?

Never go too fast.

Three words that best describe you in the morning are…

Oh god, in the morning… A Hot Mess. (Thinks) No. Fresh Hot Mess.

Have you ever fallen off a ledge?


What is the name of the first person you kissed?

You must be bored of these questions now?


What was your worst ever injury?

I haven’t had a lot of injuries but I was burnt as a child and have a big scar on my hand because of it. I was also burnt on my face and my Grandmother put this Hawaiian plant on it and it healed.

How much money have you got on you?


What’s the worst Pussycat Dolls song?
Doesn’t exist.

Are you a fan of Soduku?
Oh yeah, I like those.

Which member will be the first to leave One Direction?
Harry. Even though [HERE COMES A MASSIVE CLANG] when I put the group together, Liam was hesitant about it because he wanted to go solo.

Twitter or Instagram?

If you were twice as talented would you sell twice as many records?

No, I still wouldn’t because that’s not how the industry is, dammit!

What percentage do you tip in a restaurant?

20% always, or more.

Would you like to do some more acting?

What could you do to get played on the radio more?

I can’t even say that. No, just be great!

Can you parallel park?
Like a hot crazy bitch.

‘Your Love’ is out RIGHT NOW!

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An amazing Charli XCX interview-slash-chat http://www.popjustice.com/interviewsandfeatures/an-amazing-charli-xcx-interview-slash-chat/128483/ http://www.popjustice.com/interviewsandfeatures/an-amazing-charli-xcx-interview-slash-chat/128483/#comments Thu, 26 Jun 2014 15:52:32 +0000 http://www.popjustice.com/?p=128483


Charli XCX feels like she might do something magical this year.
It’s June and she’s already made
two albums.
So what comes next?



Interview by Peter Robinson
Published on June 26, 2014

Without wishing to sound too dramatic about the whole thing, Charli XCX might be the perfect modern pop entity.

She sounds like a popstar, she thinks like a popstar, she looks like a popstar. She even writes like a popstar, and not the sort of popstar who turns up near the end of a writing session and throws in a couple of ‘baby’s.

During the course of what follows you will hear Charli talking about various things. The punk album she recorded and ditched, the new album she’s nearly finished, the Britney song that nearly happened, and what lies ahead for pop. You will also bear witness to a trick question so disgraceful that it could set back the public’s view of journalism more effectively than a million Leveson inquiries.

There will also be talk of ‘Boom Clap’, a forthcoming single so amazing that we’re going to plug it at the start of the interview (PRE-ORDER ON iTUNES) as well as the end.

Hello Charli! What are you doing at the moment?
I’m rehearsing for Glastonbury, and I’ve been having a meeting.

What was the meeting about?
Lots of things. Lots of things I can’t tell you. But it’s good. It’s all good shit.

Was it a meeting about big important stuff, or just people banging on about social media stats and that sort of bollocks?
Oh no I don’t go to those fucking meetings, they’re stupid. It was a big important meeting about big important things that are great.

Who was it with?
OH MY GOD STOP. I’m not telling you anything about it. But it’s great.

Was it about your career or somebody else’s?
A bit of both! But that’s all you’re going to get out of me, so calm down.

That’s a classic Charli XCX sort of meeting isn’t it – a bit of your career, a bit of somebody else’s.
Yes exactly.

Do you not think other people haven’t already benefitted quite enough from your hard work?
(Laughs) Well I mean I enjoy it! I think I’ll always keep writing for other people, if that’s what you’re talking about specifically. I have millions of songs that I’m never going to sing but someone else could sing a lot better than I could, so I’d rather give them to other people than have them sitting in my brain, festering away.

You say you have millions of songs. What’s a more realistic number?
Probably about 500.

Fucking hell!
Yeah! I write – since ‘I Love It’ blew up – every day. Every single day. And I’ve been in LA on and off for the past three months and sometimes I’ll do two to three sessions in a day. I feel quite creative right now. I feel like I’m kind of doing something right at the moment.

And this coincides with your profile perhaps opening doors now that weren’t open a year ago, but are you going hell for leather because you’ve never hit this creative streak before, or because you’re worried it’s going to end, you’ll never hit it again and you think you’ve only got another three months before you burn out?
I’ve always been on a creative streak! My songs have always been amazing. But now it’s just like people want to listen to them because I wrote a couple of big songs. I’m excited by the people who are contacting me at the moment. I don’t think I’ll burn out – the only problem is that because I’ve been in the studio so much I haven’t done as many things. I haven’t gone out and… Well, I have partied, but not loads. So I feel like I need to do that then go back into the studio and write about it.

So realistically, can you go out, get completely smashed and put it through as a legitimate business expense?
I’d never thought about that but you’ve just given me the best idea. Life itself is a business expense when you do this kind of thing. So yes, I’ll try that.

When you’re writing, do you always start off writing songs for yourself, or do you specifically set out to write for other artists? Some writers find the latter more liberating because they’re not constrained by the question of ‘would I stand on a stage and sing this’.
When I’m going into a session for an artist I’ll think about that artist, but I never write a song that I don’t think is cool. I feel like people ask me to come to sessions because they like what I do and they like my style, so I won’t then change it once I’m in the room. If I don’t think it’s cool it’s not going to end up on the record. I like having my stamp on things – I don’t just want to make generic music that’s not recognisable as something that’s come from my brain.

How finished is your album? Wasn’t it supposed to be out last month?
(Laughs) Well, yes. Shit changed.

What shit specifically?
Everything! I was making a punk album! I was over the music industry, I was over all of it. And I went to Sweden and made a punk album. And I think you tweeted something about “oh God it’s noise” or whatever and I was like well OBVIOUSLY you’d say that.

The track on SoundCloud was a bloody racket though to be fair. Although, yes it did have a ring of ‘here’s someone who’s a bit sick of what’s happening’.  Which is a valid artistic statement obviously but that doesn’t mean you have to release it.
(Laughs) Well yes, I mean I made a record that was like that. There were still elements of pop, but… And pop still is the general vibe. It’s [she's talking about the proper new album now] pop. I’ve made a pop record. I think it’ll be completely finished by the end of July, I’m not doing any more writing sessions now.

Are all the tracks on this new album fresh songs from this year?

So basically you’ve made two albums this year and it’s not even July?
Well yeah. And I still want to put out all the stuff I did in Sweden. That is going to happen at a later point.

You don’t sound very excited by that.

Maybe it’s something for the anthology box set in fifteen years. 
Maybe I’ll take your advice on that, although I probably won’t. I mean I’ve probably written five albums this year, really, if you count all the songs I’ve written. But yes, it’s done. It’s definitely a step away from ‘True Romance’, that’s for sure – it’s less electronic, and it’s more live. And I suppose yeah it is punk, but it’s not pop-punk in an Avril Lavigne kind of way. It’s not that. But it’s awesome. I feel like every song could be a hit.

Do you think about hit potential when you’re writing? Of that catalogue of 500 songs you have, how many are million-dollar megahits?
Probably only like 35.

That’s not bad to be getting on with. 
For a minute it was really hard for me not to be thinking about ‘hits’. Because that was the word that was brought up in my life every day.

Because once you’ve actually had a hit, people expect more. 
Yeah, after ‘I Love It’ and then ‘Fancy’ everyone was talking about HITS. ‘Keep the hits for yourself’, ‘don’t go into writing sessions because the label will be angry if you give hits away’, all that kind of thing. And after a while it all got a bit, like, ‘you know what, fuck off’. It was stupid. I’ve always done this my own way. I’ve passed up on many a thing that could have made me a big artist or something. Like I was offered a feature on a Christina Aguilera song and I turned it down. It just wasn’t right. She’s cool, but it just wasn’t right. And now I feel like I’m kind of ready to do that: I understand what the world is about a bit more. I’m in a very lucky position now – I feel like I’ve grown up through this so I understand most of the bad things about the music industry now. And I feel like there are people I can trust, and also people I can boss around very easily now, which is cool.

When you say you know what the world’s about, what do you mean?
Well I mean specifically the weird, small part of the world that I’m in. Who’s a good person, who’s a bad person, when something’s real, when I feel like I’m uncomfortable with something… I understand that a lot more now. When I was writing ‘True Romance’, even though I was in very good hands and really trusted Ariel and I love him, I was still figuring everything out. I didn’t really understand how vital my voice was. I think people can tell, even from the difference between ‘True Romance’ and ‘Fancy’ and ‘I Love It’, just how much more confident I am in my own voice. ‘Fancy’ and ‘I Love It’ feel like 100% me.

What percentage you was ‘True Romance’?
When I was making ‘True Romance’ I was really worried about being cool. As most 16-to-18-year-olds are. Whereas now I don’t care about being cool because now I’m cool anyway. In a really weird nerdy uncool way. I don’t care. I’m really into this record I’ve made because I feel like it’s all me.

Who have you worked with on the new album?
So – the list! Weezer, Rostam from Vampire Weekend, Stargate, John Hill… I did a session with [Dr] Luke but that wasn’t for me.

Who was that for?
I can’t tell you! I can’t tell you any secrets, that’s not how it works! You can guess.

Katy Perry?
No. And that’s it, you only get one guess because I’m not very good at lying and you’ll break me down! But yes, there are a lot of people on the album. When I started working with Stargate I was worried because when I was growing up there was always a stigma attached to those producers and I was still in my (adopts absurd posh voice) ‘I USED TO GO TO ART RAVES!’ phase. But actually I feel very connected with those people: they really understand music, and they really understand how to get the best out of me. I really trust them. We’re writing amazing songs together and I feel like they really want my voice to come out. I never thought I’d be on their side, but I kind of am.

Was it a question of confidence? Is it easier to feel you’re part of that world when you can look them eye to eye as someone who’s also had a big hit?
I guess when you have that success with a hit single people are always like ‘oh I always loved your early stuff’ but with them it felt like they knew what was up – they knew that maybe I didn’t fully get the credit I deserved for that song ['I Love It'], and they wanted me to get that credit. (Pause) Also I’m published by them which was handy. (Laughs) But I think I’ve kind of done things the long way round, and they’re like, ‘it’s your time’. And I think it’s my time now as well. I think I’ve paid my dues. And there are lot of people I want to give a ‘fuck you’ to.

It’s exciting having seen you when you were 14 and all over the place, and not really seeming like the sort of person who could have hits, and then having seen it all gradually change over a pretty long period. 
Now here I am.

Do you like ‘Boom Clap’?
I do.

You know how sometimes people release singles because they sort of have to due to them being on a soundtrack or something, then a year or so later they go ‘this was shit all along’? Anyway I suppose the point I was leading to was to ask if it’s in any way indicative of what will be on the album.
It’s definitely on the soft side, for sure. But it’s definitely part of the record. Do you know who doesn’t like that record? Which I was really bummed out about because I really wanted to give it to her? HILARY DUFF. Which sucks.

Some people don’t know what’s good for them.
I sent it to her, well I didn’t – Patrick Berger actually sent it to her because his first ever production was a Hilary Duff album track called something like ‘Punk Rock Kiss’. Anyway we sent it over and her people were like, ‘this is NOT cool enough for Hilary’. And now I’m glad she didn’t want to take it.

Maybe they were right though – in her hands it could have sounded quite uncool, whereas because you are actually inverted-commas-cool, you can get away with something uncool?
HEY. I don’t think ‘Boom Clap’ is uncool.

No, but you can imagine a shiny pop person singing it and it being too much. 
Okay, I take that.

Will it be a hit in the UK?
I don’t know. I have a strange relationship with the UK, I don’t know what’s going to happen over here. My new attitude is: fuck everything. Which is the attitude I took when I was going to make that punk album. And when I was making that album I was like, I’m going to Sweden, I’m not going to talk to my record label, I’m gonna turn my phone off and I’m just going to write this album and not care about anything else. And as soon as I stopped stressing and having panic attacks about tiny minute details everything started being cool again. So I’m not worried about anything now. If things are doing good that’s great, but I don’t get worked up.

Do you feel that too much power in the music industry is held by people with little to no taste in music?
I think that’s half true. What I think is that there are some people with great taste, who are at the top of their game, in the music industry. People who enjoy starting trends. But I feel like a lot of people at the top of the music industry don’t keep things moving fast enough. And I understand why it takes such a long time for music to translate far and wide, but I feel like we’re in an age now where things can move so fast that there isn’t a need to be listening to, say, house music any more. That’s not a diss to house music, but do you know what I mean? I feel like things get stuck on a loop and there’s so much more exciting music underneath that might eventually come through but it just takes too long. People are too fixated on replicating trends to a lesser level, know what I mean?

Well that loop you mentioned – the start of that loop is always interesting. So the deep house thing was interesting, but the upshot of that is a load of chart music with no tune that misses the point. 
It’s so easy to make music now, as long as you have a computer and the desire to make music, and that’s a great thing, but there needs to be a harsher filter. Also what I’ve definitely learned is that people always talk about ‘taking risks’ but nobody takes fucking risks! ‘I Love It’ was seen as a risk – now when you listen to that song, it just sounds like an EDM song. That song was considered something really different…

But it did sound different though, it only sounds more normal now because it was so popular. 
Right, but what I’m talking about is that there’s like, millions of artists who actually sound different. And I know it has to translate to ‘people who like Pitbull’ or whatever but I don’t feel like there are really that many boundaries.

When your stuff didn’t make it onto the Britney album were you philosophical about it or were you a bit ‘oh fuck off will.i.am we’ve given you amazing stuff here’?
Well the thing is, I know this sounds like me covering my ass now, but Starsmith and I were a bit shocked that they wanted us to finish that song for the Britney album. Because we didn’t think it was amazing. It was good, but it wasn’t next level. But we finished it anyway and they were into it, but it didn’t end up on the album. I didn’t actually buy the album – maybe that makes me a bad fan but I liked ‘Perfume’ and ‘Work Bitch’ which I thought was really interesting – but I’m not mad at all. I’m down with will.i.am. I’m really into ‘Feeling Myself’ at the moment, it’s a next level song.

will.i.am has about one great song a year, then four shit ones. 
I’d give him more than once a year! To be fair. I don’t know how much he plays a part in his lyrics but some of those lyrics on his songs are incredible, I personally think.

What’s the next corner that pop’s going to turn? You’re probably in sessions with people hearing stuff that’s going to come out next spring, or next Christmas. So what’s pop going to sound like in 2015?
Maybe it’s just me but I’m hearing a lot of kind of dancehall, reggae-influenced songs. So that might go down. Maybe that could be something that’s going on, I don’t really know. I just go into a room and do my thing. Maybe that’s the corner it will turn! A Charli XCX corner!

What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever seen on one of those lists record labels send round when they’re looking for songs to give to artists?
The one time I actually saw one of those lists was when Lindstrøm’s manager sent it to me – because I was on it! It had ‘Charli XCX – looking for atmospheric tracks that could have been on the Drive soundtrack’. And I was like, ‘hold on! Who’s fucking done this?!’ I got so mad. I think it also had something really funny like ‘Crystal Castles looking for reggae songs’ or something weird.

Just to recap on a couple of points, did that Britney track ever leak?
It didn’t.

What was it called?
I’ll tell you what, William Orbit tweeted about it the other day so why don’t you ask him? Hit him up.

Is it alright with you if he puts that song on his SoundCloud?
No. Because I don’t think it’s good, remember? I don’t want that song to be out in the world.

It’s interesting that near the start of this interview you were saying you need to think a song is cool in order to give it to someone, but in this instance you were happy to let out a song you didn’t think was good. 
Er… I don’t know. I just don’t think it’s that great. But do you know a song that is great, that I wrote? The Ryn Weaver song! That’s pretty sick. Yes. She’s very cool and that song’s very good, I’m glad people are listening to that.

And what else do you have coming up?
Everything else is going on behind the scenes right now, but I’m cooking up a storm. I have a feeling that I might do something kind of magical this year. That’s how I’m feeling right now.

And how has the Rihanna stuff been going?
(Stupendous pause) Fine! (Another pause) I haven’t really done anything for it, so…

No, I haven’t done anything for it.

That was a disgraceful trick question wasn’t it. I didn’t even have any inkling that you had or hadn’t been working on Rihanna. 
I haven’t! I haven’t been working on that.

And you’re not going to?
I’m actually not.

And what was the meeting you were in before you picked up the phone?
Oh my God! Please! I’m going to hang up!

Anything to add?

Anything you’d like to retract?

Anything else?
Is this bit all going to go in?

Oh my God. Leave me alone. I’m going to hang up now.


‘Boom Clap’ is a) amazing and b) pre-orderable now.

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A nice chat with Josh from Union J http://www.popjustice.com/interviewsandfeatures/josh-union-j-interview-2014/128036/ http://www.popjustice.com/interviewsandfeatures/josh-union-j-interview-2014/128036/#comments Thu, 19 Jun 2014 07:09:45 +0000 http://www.popjustice.com/?p=128036


Josh from Union J is looking pretty pensive in the photograph below, but don’t worry he’s still his usual chipper self.


Interview by Peter Robinson
Published on June 18, 2014

The good news is that Union J have a new single, called ‘Tonight (We Live Forever)’.

The bad news is that none of us will live forever. We we all die, if not tonight or tomorrow night then definitely at some point in the future. Everyone reading this will die. Everyone in Union J will die. 

Despite all this, Union J’s Josh Cuthbert was on good form when he picked up the telephone earlier this week for a chat with Popjustice.

Our conversation lasted around 29 minutes and the following words were said.

Hello Josh. So from what I gather the general idea is this: Union J! They’re back! They’re a bit more about ‘the music’! There you go! Right?
That is the idea, yes. Hopefully the second album is going to be a real statement that we make about being here to try different music, try different things and hopefully have some more success.

Which is all very well but the big question is what’s going to be happening with your hair during this album campaign because as you’re no doubt well aware, you do have some of the most beautiful hair, on a man, in pop.
I’m not sure about that.

People talk about ‘difficult second album’, but what about the difficult second haircut? To be fair Emeli Sandé will have exactly the same problem.
Well my hairdresser was talking to me the other day about this, and he did say that what we’re going to do is step it up for the second album. I said, “I have no idea – you’re the expert.” And he likes the idea of a kind of rockabilly thing. So… Maybe that will be the second haircut. A bit of a curl in the middle.

Maybe, but maybe not as Alex Turnerish. A bit more Josh Cuthbert, you know? I don’t even know what Josh Cuthbert means, but whatever it does mean, that.

We’ll come closer to defining what Josh Cuthbert means later on in the interview but for the time being, please discuss your new single for readers who may not have heard it yet. You’ve got about thirty seconds. 
Okay. Well obviously the World Cup is currently kicking off and the song – in a weird way – has a bit of a World Cup feel to it. It’s got some chanty “oh”s, it’s a feelgood song. It’s a summery song. It’s funny how a lot of songs in the summer don’t sound very summery, isn’t it? Hopefully people will enjoy listening to it with their roofs down in the summer.

You specifically mean people in cars, right?

You don’t want people having the roofs removed from their houses.
No. Although I’m sure all the roofing people, and the loft insulation people, will love me for suggesting that people take their roofs off.

Have you gone into business with a load of builders, meaning that you get a cut of all their fees?
Yes. We’ll earn a fortune. We’ll probably earn more than we do from music sales!

It’s important to find innovative new revenue streams. 
Times are tough – you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.

Most songs sound like at least one other song. What would you say your single sound like? 
Don’t laugh but it sounds like ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ from The Lion King. The chants are very similar to that. But in terms of another band or another style, and I was saying this to the head of our label the other day, but do you remember Keane? The band Keane? If you can imagine what Keane were like ten years before they came out, so when they were our age, that’s what it sounds like.

I think Keane were actually about your age when they came out.
Really? I didn’t know that. They must have just looked a bit older.

Is your new single as good as the current 5 Seconds Of Summer single which is, let’s face it, amazing?
I definitely think it stands up to some of the stuff those guys have done, yes.


On the landscape of pop as it stands, where and what are Union J?
Well with the exception of George we don’t play instruments so therefore we’re more of a stereotypical boyband than some of the others out there now…

How about ‘classic boyband’?
Yes. Yes that’s the way to describe it. We’re a classic boyband trying to have the success that a lot of the other classic boybands have in the past. That’s the best way of describing where we are.

You mentioned the head of your label earlier. And just to recap on what’s been going on: you came out. You released an album. It was a modest success, shall we say?

It wasn’t a multi-platinum behemoth, it wasn’t a complete fiasco, it just came out, some people bought it, they liked it, you got dropped anyway, but now you have a new label and things are fine. Is that correct?
That’s correct, except we didn’t get dropped from the label. After the first album sort of happened, we sat down with our management and Sony and talked about the best step forward, and we all decided that the best step forward was to move from RCA to Epic. Basically because they’ve got an international vision for us that perhaps we didn’t have before. And Epic have already put us with some great writers and producers who we’ve been so lucky to work with, and it’s a match made in Heaven so far.

And RCA were just like “okay, fair enough, see ya”?
Well we had a great working relationship with RCA, and we’re thankful to them for giving us the first opportunity to release music because without them we wouldn’t have released an album. So we have nothing but the utmost respect and gratitude towards RCA, but sometimes things just don’t work out.

Re these great writers and producers. Are they really great, or is it just whoever’s around?
We went to LA a week or so ago to work with Diane Warren, and you can’t get much more successful than Diane Warren.

Well there’s Ryan Tedder. 
Yep. And we’ve got a record off him as well.

Yes, we’ve put the vocals down. We hope it will make the album – we’re working on the overall sound of the record now and it’s down to decisions made by the label in the next few months. But yes, we’ve been working with incredible writers and producers.

Surely if you’ve got a decent Ryan Tedder song you don’t go “ooh, is the album going to be cohesive”, you go “bugger cohesion, let’s whack in some Tedder”?
Well yes. We’ve got the song, we’ve recorded it…

What’s it called?
I’m not allowed to say.

That would actually be a goodish name for a song. 
It would! But yes, obviously a Ryan Tedder song is a Ryan Tedder song and they’re all incredibly well written, so we’d be silly to let a Ryan Tedder song slip. If it has a different sound to the rest of the record, it can easily be tweaked.

A little tweak of the nipples. 
EXACTLY. Just like that. Nice and firm. (???)

Imagine Ryan Tedder has one of those nice Bisley filing cabinets with six drawers in it. Songs of varying quality divided between the drawers. Top Drawer, Bottom Drawer, four in between. Which of the drawers did he have your song in? 
I’m going to go for nearer the top than the bottom. We’re yet to hear it back with our vocals on. Fingers crossed we’ve done a great song justice and that when the song comes back it sounds like something from that top metal drawer with the star on it.


Do you think in general Union J are more top than bottom?
I think we’ve got some unfinished business. We’d love this second album to be more successful – we’re bang on in the middle at the moment. We had a successful first year, not just with records but with merchandise and things like that.

The dolls!
Yes the dolls, and a fragrance and a deal we’ve just done with Claire’s Accessories. So as soon as our music’s success matches our merchandise’s success we’ll be all good.


Do you think the extra cash coming in from your other endeavours made the band more appealing for Epic, in that they might not have taken you on without it?
I think anyone, regardless of how many records they sell, will always be more appealing to a label if they have more money coming in from merchandise. It helped us, I imagine, but they never really spoke to us about that specifically. They basically said, “we see a lot of potential in you – if we give you the right songs and the right platform and put you in with the right producers then the world’s your oyster.”

When they said “we see a lot of potential in you”, was there someone in the corner activating a comedy cash till ‘KERCHING’ sound effect?
There actually was, it was our day-to-do manager. He sits under the table playing sound effects. That’s what he’s employed for – he’s got to do something with his time.

Of the top writers and producers you’ve been working with, who wrote and produced the single?
It’s actually written by guys who haven’t actually done too much, but who are hungry for it.

Which sometimes makes sense, because then you get the top drawer stuff, rather than the two-drawers-down stuff.
Exactly. Actually I was a bit unfair on them – they’ve had some success. It’s a company called Red Triangle, and Josh Wilkinson. They’ve had cuts with 1D and 5 Seconds Of Summer and stuff like that. They’re up and coming, is what I mean. And in a way we are too. And we wanted to go with the song that makes most sense as the first single.

And also, much as we might get excited in interviews like this about who’s written a particular song, people don’t really listen to the radio and go “hm, who wrote that song”. They just think, “was that song amazing, or was it not?”
Yes. If it’s the right song it’s the right song.

It’s interesting that you said you were up and coming, considering the profile you already have.
It’s just a question of keeping our feet on the floor. The first year was great: we had a lot of success with what we did, but this feels like a fresh new start for us. It feels like we’re just beginning now, really. We’re really involved with the A&R decisions and we’ve been writing on the album – we’ve written six or seven songs that might be on the album – so without wanting to take anything away from the first year we had, it feels like a fresh start.

Which is a better attitude than behaving as if you’d definitely made it. Because then you probably would get dropped. 
Well yes. We’re very hungry. Particularly myself – I’ve played sports all my life and I’m always competitive in what I do. It’s what drives me on to get up in the morning, do long days and work.

So with that in mind were you disappointed with how the first album did?
No, not at all. The first album could have done better, but it could have done worse. All we can do is make sure we put in 100% effort every single time we leave our front doors as Union J. We’ve never had it easy – X Factor was tough for us when we were in the bottom two those times, for instance. But we got through that, and that’s the mentality we have: we’re fighters. We put in a lot of hard work and, fingers crossed, it’ll pay off.

Do you look back on things not going better with a sense of rage and resentment, or are you more philosophical about it?
We had a year doing what we love doing, as we’re still here today so that’s great. We look back and take the positives and work on the negatives.

What do you consider to be the central tenets of your own, personal philosophy?
I try to do as many things now that I did before I was in Union J. I try to keep up with friends and family, play sports, things like that. Life’s too short not to have fun.

What do the rest of you do once George is tucked up in bed?

He’s probably asleep by about eight, right?
Are you saying that because he looks a bit younger?

Yes, it is a hilarious joke.
Bless him. Well to be honest all I do is play FIFA. That’s literally all I do. It sounds sad but that’s pretty much my life. At the moment my life is dominated by the World Cup and Union J, it’s like being in a relationship with two different people. I need to juggle them and make sure I give each as much attention as I possibly can. And the World Cup only comes round every four years!

A chance in pop comes once in a lifetime Josh.
That probably wasn’t my best answer, was it?

And actually chances in pop do come around more than once, because at one point you were nearly in The Wanted. Are you glad you didn’t end up in the 21st Century’s most charmless boyband?
Do you know what, The Wanted had a really successful career. They released some great songs, they had some success over in America which is easier said than done, and if Union J have the same career as The Wanted then I certainly won’t go to my coffin wishing we’d done better. And we know the boys personally and they’re wicked fellas.

Are they?

Are they though?

Aren’t they a bit ‘hashtag ladbatz’?
Well they’re not your stereotypical boyband but maybe that’s why they worked, and why they had a great fanbase while they were around.

You don’t have an individual Wikipedia page, just an entry on the main Union J one. What do you think this says about your role in the world of pop?
Do you know what, I quite like that. I quite like that we’re just there as Union J. The people who get behind us and get us in the charts and stuff know our individual personalities, but I quite like the idea that we’re on there as a group, it feels like it reflects how we want to work as a team and fight the world together.

Your individual entry on the band’s Wikipedia page says this: “Josh is loud and is known to swear a lot.”
That hasn’t changed since The X Factor. I have no idea why people think I swear a lot.

What’s the best swear word?
I think watching Harry Potter, when Ron says “bloody hell”, is the best swearing. It’s not too offensive, but it gets all the anger out.

Also on your Wikipedia page: “He’s also known as the ‘Funny One’ in Union J.” FUNNY ONE IN INVERTED COMMAS.
(Laughs) Oh dear. One inverted comma would be fine but two seems a bit harsh. The thing is, when we all get tired, I’ll always try to make a joke regardless of whether it’s funny. And people laugh if it’s funny, but they’ll also laugh if it’s really not funny. So, er, it’s win/win, isn’t it?

Well this interview has gone quite well.
It’s gone alright considering I’m driving.

You’re driving?
I’m driving up to Nottingham to pick up my car.

Have you stolen a car?
Yes, I’ve nicked a Ford Ka. (Pause) No, it’s a hire car.

Thank goodness. Goodbye!

‘Tonight (We Live Forever)’ is out later in the summer.

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Interview: The Internet versus Lily Allen http://www.popjustice.com/interviewsandfeatures/interview-the-internet-versus-lily-allen/126434/ http://www.popjustice.com/interviewsandfeatures/interview-the-internet-versus-lily-allen/126434/#comments Thu, 24 Apr 2014 08:44:59 +0000 http://www.popjustice.com/?p=126434 A-LONG-POPJUSTICE-INTERVIEW



Interview by Peter Robinson
Published on April 24, 2014

It’s a Thursday afternoon, and Popjustice joins Lily Allen high above the streets of London.

For this chat we have agreed to do an interview based on questions tweeted in by Popjustice readers. It is agreed by all parties that this will be jolly entertaining.

A tweet is sent, alerting people to the existence of an interview scenario, and while we wait for questions to come in we start things off with some general chitchat.

This is how it all unfolds.

How ambitious are you? Sometimes you seem like you don’t give a fuck.
I do give a fuck. You know what, my new mantra is this: ANT AND DEC. Ant and Dec. I might get their names tattooed on each wrist. Because they smile, and they never complain, and it seems to work for them and I wish I could be more like that. My other mantra is that I don’t seem to have any long term goals, it’s not about world domination, I just want enough people to buy this record for my record company to let me do it again. It’s a great job and I really enjoy the process of making music. And if I can keep doing that then I’ll be really happy.

But you do see it as a job, rather than as some sort of calling or a thing you feel emotionally or spiritually compelled to do?
Well I think we all have to work. Just for our own sanity – we have to get up in the morning and do something. And this is the only thing that I know how to do. So yes I do see it as a job in a simple sense, but I also know that I’m really lucky to be able to do this for my job.

tovebig2There’s quite a lot of complaining on the album.
I didn’t really notice that until I did a track-by-track interview about it. (Laughs) “And this is ANOTHER one where I’m really grumpy and hate everyone…” I’m probably more moany on this record than I have been on past records because I wrote the majority of it while I was pregnant and hormonal and feeling a bit miffed at not seeing any of my mates, and none of my mates coming to see me. And having gone through some pretty shit stuff. So yes, I felt pretty moany.

Do you think it’s interesting that one of the first popstars who arrived through the wonders of social media…
Hates it?

Well, more that it seems like you live through social media, and your only connection with where you came from is through other people’s Instagram and Twitter accounts? Is it quite tragic?
Yes it is tragic… But I don’t think it’s necessarily true. These days everything is driven by the internet. But there’s just so much shit on there that’s not real, you know?

What’s your favourite least favourite Lily Allen fact off the internet?
I can’t think off the top of my head. But, like, Wikipedia is not a real reference. Just because something’s on Wikipedia, THAT DOESN’T MAKE IT REAL! That’s what makes me come across as a cunt! I sit down in interviews and people go “YOU SAID THIS!” and I’m like, “no! I didn’t say that! I was misquoted!” And they go “OOOH, ANOTHER ‘MISQUOTE’!” And I go, “but it WAS a misquote!” And so it continues.

Is there anything you’d like to set the record straight on in this interview?
No! I don’t care any more! But I just find it odd. Odd and funny. And you say that I only exist in social media, but no. What you see of me only exists in social media. It’s the only place where you can see me.

So are you saying the image you put across of yourself is dishonest?
No, but if you saw me in my house, then you’d see that what I put across on social media is perhaps 20% of my day, and the other 80% is changing nappies and doing bathtime and making dinner for my babies. I don’t tweet about that because some things should be left untweeted.

But your big thing as a popstar seems to be “I am honest, this is me, I am very much on the level with my fans”… So is it therefore dishonest if you don’t show parts of your life?
The reason I leave that stuff out is that there’s a sort of grey area within British media and the press: I don’t know where the line is drawn where my children are concerned. So I don’t mention their names in interviews, I don’t put pictures of them online and I don’t talk about them on Twitter. Because I don’t think it’s my right to say that they’re for public consumption. It’s their lives. We all know that when children turn into teenagers they’ll throw any fucking thing at their parents, and I don’t want to be responsible for them screaming at me going “WHAT FUCKING GAVE YOU THE RIGHT TO MAKE ME FAMOUS?”

tovebig2Maybe they’ll be annoyed that you chose not to make them famous!
Maybe they will! And I can say, “if you want to be fucking famous go and do it yourself like your mum did.”

What’s the best song that didn’t make the new album?
A song called ‘I Don’t Mind Babe’.

What’s that about?
Some bitches.

Specific bitches?
No. Bullying bitches. Nasty girls. Like school bullies, but grown ups.

Which brings us to one song that is on the album: ‘URL Badman’.
Have you heard it? (Bursts out laughing) It’s not about you, honestly.

It’s a dismissive song about online commentators – there’s a line spoken from their perspective, “it’s not for me, it must be wrong”. What’s the difference between you ‘just being honest’, which seems to be the ultimate defence rolled out by people when they’re being fucking rude, and the people you dislike also ‘just being honest’? Is having an opinion only alright if you’re Lily Allen?
Well they’re just being driven by something else, which isn’t honesty as much as it’s about [website] hits. I’m already famous, I don’t need to pull people in. I don’t need to make a shock or a song or a dance about everything.

If you were a successful artist returning to the world in 2006, and you saw new artists like Lily Allen coming through social networks like MySpace, you would probably have been a bit “I don’t understand this, what’s going on, I can’t get my head around it and these new artists completely get it”. And now it’s you coming back into a pop landscape that depends on an even more advanced version of all that. And I wonder if you look at artists who are digitally native pop acts… Well, do you feel separated from the pulse of pop in the same way an older artist might have in 2006?
I always found insincerity a bit difficult to sit with. When I look at other people’s Twitter feeds there’s a lot of that… Listen. I love my fans. They bought me my house. They pay for my children’s existence and I couldn’t be anything but grateful for everything they’ve ever given me and the opportunities they’ve let me have. BUT. There’s something a little bit patronising about telling people that all day every day. ‘Retweeting’ this, ‘favourite for this, retweet for that’. Who’s got the fucking time. Who’s actually got the time? And is it actually the person it seems to be?

It’s the social media manager at the label.

What’s the main difference between this album and your previous two releases?
The difference is that on my first two albums when I’m angry on those records it’s generally directed towards one person. Specific people who’d pissed me off, usually in the ‘love arena’. And happier and cheerier songs were on a larger scale – songs like ‘Everything’s Just Wonderful’ were directed at the world. Whereas this time round the happy songs are directed at my husband and family, and the angry songs are directed at the world.

Who do you think is actually fine?
My husband. And Adele – I think she’s incredible, and I love the way she does things on her own terms. She did that before she was successful, actually – I have a lot of love and admiration and respect for her. She’s not scared of losing anything, you see – it doesn’t mean anything to her. She’s not materialistic.

It would be quite good if she beyoncéd an album.
If she what?

tovebig2Beyoncéd an album. Just suddenly released it.
I think she will do that. I have an inkling.

Just a hunch?
Just a hunch.

Based on nothing?
Based on nothing.

What’s Adele’s new stuff like?
I have no idea.

How many songs have you heard?
I… Haven’t heard any. (Laughs)

It’s very difficult, in this post-Beyoncé landscape, for a pop fan to go to sleep at night. Is it safe to go to sleep tonight?
I think you can overthink these things. What Beyoncé did was amazing in a lot of ways just because it got everybody in a tizz. I have to say, I only listen to ‘Drunk In Love’. They spent a lot of money on that album and people spent a lot of money buying it, but I’m only listening to ‘Drunk In Love’. It was very clever.

Apart from your husband and Adele, who do you like?
Who else do I really like and think is doing great? I’ll tell you who’s been getting a hard time: that Michael McIntyre. I really like his chat show.

I enjoy it!

Are you just saying this because it makes you feel better about your own chat show?
No, I just think… Well, I sometimes peruse the Daily Mail of an afternoon. And I can see when people are gone for, just because viewing figures haven’t been ‘successful’ even though they don’t work in TV and have no real idea what a good viewing figure is. People who are good at what they do, they’re just getting on with it… There’s something about us as British culture that we like to just drag those people through some shit.

So you like your husband, Adele, and Michael McIntrye?

That’s it?
That’s it! Everyone else is a cunt! Oh, I like Beyoncé as well.

You mention Beyoncé on your album, in ‘Come On Over’.
A few people have said to me, “you’re going to piss off so many people by namechecking this person and that person” and I think, “well, yes”, but I’ve always made a thing of social commentary and commentary on pop culture, and I don’t think you can do that unless you namecheck the people at the forefront of that culture. Actually I still need to write letters to Rita Ora and Cara Delevingne. In actual fact the song where I appear to slag off Rita and Jordan ['Insincerely Yours'] is very much the same premise as ‘Cheryl Tweedy’ all those years ago. It’s not about them, it’s about the idea of them – how the media perceive them. It’s about how the way the media perceive them as entities and how that actually has nothing to do with how they are in real life. And Delevingne rhymes with magazine.

You’re actually going to write a letter saying no really, it’s fine, your name just rhymes with magazine?
YES! (Laughs)

Shall we have some ‘reader questions’?


I will hopefully continue to make music.

Depending on what?
My record company picking me up for another option.

How likely is that?
Ask me in a month. No actually, I will always make music. Whether it’s under the Lily Allen ‘brand’ or not. Actually the dream for me is to write musicals.

How’s the Bridget Jones musical going?
It’s finished and it’s brilliant. But I don’t know if it will ever see the light of day.

I cannot divulge.

What’s the best song you’ve written for Bridget Jones?
It’s called ‘Yummy’ and it’s Bridget singing to a fridge.

A love song to a fridge.


Lily is coming to France on Monday, so yes.


FLEET. No, actually, Chieveley. It’s where I get my last coffee just before I go home. It’s got a drive-thru Starbucks.


Seven. Ten being covered in crap.



Would you like to work with William Orbit?
I’d prefer to work with Stuart Price.

Why haven’t you?
I don’t know. I was sitting next to him at the Brit Awards and found him to be a truly jolly fellow.

He is, by literally all accounts, a joy to work with. Maybe you could do a disco album with him.
If enough people buy this one I’ll give it a go!


I wouldn’t say that was sweet. I’d ask how they got into my dressing room!


No, but I will refer you to ‘Insincerely Yours’ and hope that you enjoy that just as much.

A lot of people are just asking for your favourite song off ‘Sheezus’.
Well, it’s ‘Sheezus’. Do you like the title?

I thought it was a joke to start with.
I’m still LOLing to myself. I think it’s hilarious. Some people are just so offended by it, it makes me laugh how up in arms people get about these things.

[At this point please note that in typically unprofessional fashion we can't now find all the relevant Twitter questions for screengrabbing purposes so basically if you see a blue bird it's a question off Twitter.]

New-Twitter-Bird-LogoAre you okay with ‘Our Time’ being a single?
Yes! (Pulls face)

‘Pulls face’ in brackets.
Love it.

New-Twitter-Bird-LogoIf you didn’t have to sell any records to people, what would the first three singles have been?
‘Hard Out Here’, ‘Sheezus’, ‘Insincerely Yours’. Or ‘Close Your Eyes’. Or ‘As Long As I Got You’.

New-Twitter-Bird-Logo‘Pure Shores’ or ‘Black Coffee’?
Black Coffee. It’s one of my most played on iTunes.

New-Twitter-Bird-LogoAre there any sad songs you can dance to on ‘Sheezus’?
Sad songs you can dance to?

The best type of song. Robyn does those well.
‘Hard Out Here’? That’s a sad song. Because it’s about something that’s quite sad. And it’s danceable, I think.

New-Twitter-Bird-LogoCan you rank your albums 1-3? Which is best?
Well I thought they were all the best at the time of release but I’d say this one, ‘Sheezus’, is Number One, ‘It’s Not Me, It’s You’ at 2 and ‘Alright, Still’ at 3.

New-Twitter-Bird-LogoWhat’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Just to be nice to people on the way up because they’re the ones who’ll be there for you on your way down, which is inevitable. It happens to everyone.

Are you on your way up or your way down at the moment?
I don’t know. I’m figuring that one out. I’m surfing the wave between success and failure, and praying for a good outcome.

New-Twitter-Bird-LogoCan you do Eurovision next year please?

Has there ever been a point…

…where you’ve thought…

“Maybe I could do Eurovision”?
No. No. Just, no.

New-Twitter-Bird-LogoWho prepares your tax return?
O J Kilkenny Associates, although I did get one of those letters yesterday that said something about self assessment. In the bin.

New-Twitter-Bird-LogoWhy did you release ‘Hard Out Here’ while ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ was still riding high in the charts?
The record company came to me with the idea of doing ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ and there was a negotiation between me and the record company: I said, “okay, I will do ‘Somewhere Only We Know’, for which I will not take a fee and will probably see no financial gain, only if you pay for a video for ‘Hard Out Here’ just for it to appear in its viral capacity.”

Well that went well.
Well I think it did actually. If you look at the thumbs up versus thumbs down on YouTube, there are more thumbs up than there are thumbs down.

So you didn’t want to do ‘Somewhere Only We Know’?
No, I did. I knew that ‘Hard Out Here’ as a song – before the video was shot – was one of the more important moments on the album. But I also thought that because it had the word ‘bitch’ on it, it wasn’t going to get played on the radio. So the only place for it to exist was on the internet in a viral capacity, but I wasn’t going to be able to get the label to pay for a video unless I had some kind of bargaining tool. So when John Lewis came along and said “would you pitch for this?”, I was like, “yes, if you guys put up the money for this”. And they said, “yeah, yeah, sure we will, oh hang on we haven’t got any money so let’s get E-Lites and Beats By Dre and a load of other people to pay for it instead.” (Laughs) I do actually really like ‘Somewhere Only We Know’, and it’s come in handy for those little acoustic gigs.

No. Because I don’t think we exist on levels, I think we exist in our own right.

But you could say, for instance, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Rihanna are all on a certain level. And…
Do you know what, I don’t want to hear this! (Laughs) I don’t want to know! The thing is I don’t really put people in bands. I’m sure the marketing people at my label could tell you exactly what level I’m on, but I don’t want to know about it.

Have you ever had any market research done about yourself?
I accidentally got copied in on a whole bunch of it and reading it was one of the most horrible moments of my life. They don’t actually tell the people what it is that they’re listening to. So a lot of it was just people going “is this Lily Allen? IT FUCKING IS LILY ALLEN”. “IF THIS IS HER I THOUGHT SHE’D FUCKING RETIRED THE STUPID CUNT!” (Laughs) This is about six months ago, too, so it really set things off well. The thing is, people who take part in market research: are they really representative of the marketplace? Probably not.

I find that kind of thing really interesting.
I find it totally unhelpful. My mum’s a film producer and they do these market research screenings, and more often than not it’s just like school – people don’t have opinions but because they’re asked for them they come up with something and then it becomes a statistic. It’s like, he didn’t actually think that, he was just trying to impress the bored-looking girl on Row 3 and he thought this could be his in with her. I’m yet to see an example of market research where it’s actually good.

New-Twitter-Bird-LogoIs that fringe the basis of a timeshare arrangement with Jessie J?
Yes. I’m now bisexual. The fringe and sexuality are interlinked, we’re going to swap back and she’s going to be bisexual again when her fourth single is out, and I get my fringe back.

New-Twitter-Bird-LogoWhat’s your favourite beverage?
Vodka, and tea. I do like a vodka and soda water at the end of a long day.

New-Twitter-Bird-LogoHow do you stop your fringe getting greasy?
There’s been much talk of my greasy fringe on the Mail Online comments section. People are always talking about how grubby I look and how greasy my fringe is. (Laughs) It’s the source of much amusement for me and my husband. Why do people care about my fringe? Dry shampoo kind of works but I’d have to do it three times a day – I’ve got quite a big forehead, you see, and the sweat from my forehead goes into the fringe.

So if you had a smaller spam this might not be a problem?
Well I can only speak from my own experience but I imagine if my forehead was slightly smaller… Well, maybe I wouldn’t even have a fringe, it’s only there to cover up my forehead.

How much smaller, in centimetres, would you like your forehead to be?

New-Twitter-Bird-LogoDo you like the Rita Ora single?
Yes, I think it’s great.

Air Balloon would have suited her quite well.
Do you think? (Pointed pause)

Would you like to write for other artists?
I have! I wrote ‘Mr C’ for Nina Nesbitt, which is her next single I think. I wrote it with Steve Mac and Karen Poole.

Beyond Nina Nesbitt is there anyone in the world of pop you’d like to write for?
Well! I ‘may’ have a pseudonym. I ‘may’ have a writing name, and I ‘may’ have written other songs!

Has that happened?
I don’t want to divulge.

This is an interview. Answer questions. Has that happened?

With whom?
I’m not going to tell you.

Male or female?

A band?
You really care! (Chortles) One day you’ll find out.

Is ‘one day’ a clue?
(Shrugs elaborately, pulls frog face)

Is it actually a good song? Or was it just so shit that you wanted your name off it?
(Elaborate shrug, frog face)

Is this all bollocks?
(Another elaborate shrug, ludicrous frog face) COME ON! MOVE IT ON! NEXT QUESTION!

Okay. But has it come out in the last twelve months!
SHUT UP! SERIOUSLY! (Pause) It might be more than one…

If I tweet you a link to a song will you admit if it’s you?
(Olympic-standard shrug and frog face)


You are being deliberately arseholey about this.
I am.

To conclude, then, is there anything you would like to say to the people of Popjustice?
Yes: come on guys, don’t spend as much time on Popjustice. There’s more to the world than that. (Laughs) Now that was arseholey.

‘Sheezus’ is out May 5, and you can pre-order it on iTunes now.

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A chat ‘chez’ Bright Light Bright Light about twelve of Rod’s favourite 12″s http://www.popjustice.com/interviewsandfeatures/a-chat-chez-bright-light-bright-light-about-twelve-of-rods-favourite-12s/125727/ http://www.popjustice.com/interviewsandfeatures/a-chat-chez-bright-light-bright-light-about-twelve-of-rods-favourite-12s/125727/#comments Thu, 10 Apr 2014 13:03:23 +0000 http://www.popjustice.com/?p=125727 A chat with Bright Light Bright Light about twelve of his favourite 12″s


Pop’s nicest man Bright Light Bright Light, aka Rod Thomas, has a new EP out this week featuring friend and upcoming talent, Elton John.

Not only that but he’s also recently finished his second album, ‘Life Is Easy’, which will be out at some point in July.

Exciting times.

To celebrate all this, the other week Popjustice invited itself round to his flat in Hackney (obviously) for a new regular feature that will probably never happen again based on popstars chatting about their twelve favourite 12″ records.

He also took this opportunity to played a selection of new songs from his album.

This is a photograph of those songs in a playlist.


If you would like to hear some of the music in that specially-curated playlist you can hear a tiny bit of the excellent ‘There Are No Miracles’ below.


Armed with a plate of biscuits (FUN FACT: Rod doesn’t eat chocolate) and lots of tea, we had a chat about how the songs and albums he selected have influenced his life, inspired his new album and helped him forget that time someone shat all over the floor of the McDonalds he worked in.

Dubstar – ‘Disgraceful’

Dubstar“I’m obsessed with Dubstar. It’s really embarrassing but I’ve got everything they’ve ever released. When I was really young on their website there was an email address for Steve from Dubstar so I emailed him and we started chatting. I did a midi cover version of one of their b-sides! When they broke up I emailed saying it was a real shame and would he mind if I sent him a couple of sleeves to get signed. I sent them and it took him a while so to make up for it he sent me a CD-R of songs no one else had but the band and now me. I thought that was the most amazing thing anyone could have done. That was way beyond my expectations.”

“I’ve listened to ‘Disgraceful’ every week since it came out in 1996. I first heard ‘Anywhere’ when it was Number 31 on the Top 40 countdown and I’d never heard of them before. I looked them up and nowhere near me sold it but the next single was ‘Not So Manic Now’ so I got that and then the album afterwards. I went back and brought all of the other formats and fell in love with them. It was really pop but really morose in parts. Songs that are really dreamy and really kitsch but not shit. The lyrics are really interesting and really well-executed. I liked the colourfulness and fun of the artwork too, at a time when most indie bands just had really shit press shots of them stood in front of a wall.”

Emiliana Torrini – ‘Love In The Time Of Sceince’

Emiliani“I was at a  friend’s house watching MTV and I saw the video for ‘Easy’ for the first time and I really liked her voice. When I was growing up in Wales I was quite geeky and used to look up albums on those discography websites and I found her album and bought it. I used to work at McDonalds at the time, which was bleak, and every night after I’d finished work at about 1am I’d come home and listen to this album from start to finish with a piece of toast and a cup of tea. It would help me relax after a horrendous shift. In fact, once, someone shit down the walls of the women’s toilet.”

“Anyway, I relate to a lot of tones and sounds on this album because I grew up next to the coast as well, and it did sound like something that was made on an island or by the sea [Emiliana is Icelandic you see]. It sounded really full of soul and heart. I listen to it all the time and it’s probably in my Top Ten albums of all time. One track on it, ‘Sea People’, inspired me to write ‘Debris’ on my first album.”

Eternal – ‘Always & Forever’

Eternal“I remember hearing ‘Just A Step From Heaven’ when I was 11 and thinking it was just the coolest track. I hadn’t really  heard much stuff like En Vogue on the radio, so I was listening to Atlantic 252 and they were playing ‘Just A Step From Heaven’ all the time. But Atlantic 252 used to fade the songs in and out so I never really heard the whole song, and so when I bought the single I was like ‘fuck, it’s amazing!’ I got really obsessed with them and I really loved ‘Crazy’ too.”

“My favourite bit of ‘Crazy’ is Louise’s bit at the start where she goes “this is why”. Amazing. That might have been the only bit they let Louise do. I thought the arrangements on this record and the songs and harmonies were super cool and un-British. But it sounded really full too. I was really fooled into thinking this was some sort of superstar group. I don’t think any of my friends liked them – I was pretty much flying solo with this to be honest. I remember going out to buy the ‘So Good’ single and you know you used to have CD1 and CD2, well CD1 didn’t have the radio edit and I had to get my mum to drive me back to Woolworths to get me the right one. We were both furious.”

Billie Ray Martin – ‘Your Loving Arms’

Billie“I just remember hearing the production on this song and thinking it was super cool for a pop song and her voice is quite unusual. I remember listening to the rest of the album and realising BT was involved and this song was produced by The Grid who I really liked at the time as well. I think ‘Your Loving Arms’ is amazing.”

“It’s one of the most gorgeous and euphoric songs. It was that real Robyn crying-on-the-dancefloor sort of moment, where it’s about working out whether something’s hurting you or making you happy. People still seem to love it too.”

Röyksopp – ‘Junior’

Royksopp[Rod couldn't find the vinyl version of this one hence him holding a compact disc.]

“I obviously loved their first album and I actually worked their second album when I worked for a record label, so I’ve been following them for a very long time. When this album came out I couldn’t believe how gorgeous it sounded.”

“The production is really incredible – it’s so incredibly put together, especially listening to it on headphones. It takes you off into this crazy world where things are flying around your head. It’s such a clever record. The songs are great and the vocalists are really well chosen and it really made me think about getting other voices involved on my album and how you could play around with different people’s tones and it made me work a lot harder on mixing and production and where I place things on a track.”

“This one really made me rethink what I wanted to put into a song. I wanted my album to sound like it wasn’t made on a computer – I wanted it to have a heart and so much of what’s on ‘Junior’ has that. I like the fact that they create a sort of network of people, so Robyn reappears over and over so it feels like a little family. They actually care about these people and that’s what I’ve tried to do on mine too.”

Frou Frou – ‘Must Be Dreaming’

Frou Frou“When I was a student I thought I might be a music journalist. I used to write for my student paper and one of the first things I was allowed to write about was the Frou Frou single, ‘Breathe In’.”

“I loved Imogen Heap’s voice form her solo record before that and when her voice popped up on this I was like ‘oh God’. It was a nice way of realising how a different sonic landscape can really tease out different qualities in a voice. She sounded a lot more confident. I also loved Guy Sigsworth’s production and the combination of these two people made a really incredible album and it’s one that a lot of people mention. It’s a real fan album.”

“I used to follow Guy’s remix stuff and production and I’ve got the same PR as Alison Moyet in the States and he sent me her album and I was like ‘this sounds like the second Frou Frou album’ and then I found out Guy Sigsworth produced it so that made sense. You can recognise his production a long way off.”

Angelo Badalamenti – ‘Twin Peaks OST’

Twin Peaks“I love it. I probably got into Twin Peaks quite late, probably at University. I just love Angelo Badalamenti’s sounds. A lot of the synth pad sounds I use on this album were very influenced by him and by a lot of the music he did for the Dario Argento movies.”

“I really love the drama in the music – I love that it’s so over the top but in a really enjoyable way. It doesn’t sound cheap or shit, it sounds really sentimental and really affecting. It can be hard to do that with imagery. The minute the episode starts or this album starts I’m in a completely different world.”

“I grew up in a valley with pine trees and mountains all around me – there was nothing around apart from a sawmill and a coal mine. It was quite scary where I live when it’s dark, so it really spoke to me in terms of the setting. A lot of the arrangements are quite sparse and there’s a lot of build and I really enjoy the journey it takes you on and so I wanted a few songs on my album to be like that.”

Björk – ‘Vespertine’

Bjork“I love this album so much but the reason I’ve chosen it here is because all of the other ones I’ve got of hers are on the wall!”

“I remember when I first heard this record it didn’t sound like anything else I’d bought. It’s so cool and it’s a world from start to finish that you get so encompassed by. Her voice in this really pared down landscape compared to her other stuff just made me think ‘fuck, you’re a real artist’. Of course she was an artist on those other albums, but I can’t even fathom how these songs were written. The songs with a much looser structure – I just don’t know how a human being could have composed them. At what point in a studio do you start with that? It makes no sense to me. Songs like ‘Unison’ and ‘Hidden Place’ have had an influence on my album in that some of it’s quite sparse but there’s still a pop hook there too. Plus it’s a bit more fragile and layered too.”

“Mind you, my one will sound shit next to this. (Laughs) Plus the cover’s amazing.”

Kylie Minogue – ‘Enjoy Yourself’

Kylie“Here she is! This is the only Kylie album I’ve got on vinyl but ‘Hand On Your Heart’ is one of the best songs. It’s so good. I love the confidence of it and it’s really fun.”

“It reminds me of a time when you’d hear it all the time on the radio and it was fun and everyone loved it – there’s not as much of that these days. Now that you know how much effort goes into pop it doesn’t seem as fun. Back then those power houses made pop, put it out and didn’t really discuss. Now with The X Factor it’s sort of de-mystified it all and taken the joy out of it, so I love this period of pop music where everyone seemed like a popstar.”

“It was one of those albums that made people dance and you could forget about homework and jobs. It would bring everyone together too. The first time I heard Kylie was in my grandmother’s car and she was picking me up from school and going to get some chips. My cousin had brought it and she just left it in my gran’s car and we were just listening to it down the M4. I didn’t give her much time until I put that tape on and realised how catchy and well put together those songs are. There’s nothing wrong in these songs and that’s amazing. I really love her.”

Grace Jones – ‘Slave To The Rhythm’

Grace“I first was aware of Grace Jones watching Vamp, the film. I thought of her as this terrifying creature which I kind of still think she is but I love the humour in a lot of what she does – how campy it can be but also how iconic and groundbreaking it can be as well. Not many people can do both things. No one can really challenge the fact that she’s redefined a lot about fashion and music.”

“Look at the cover – it’s so cool. I love her delivery on all the songs – the confidence and the sass. I think I heard ‘Slave To The Rhythm’ first at the time but I didn’t really pay attention and so I got into again when they did that Love To Infinity remix in the ’90s. I loved the production on that.”

“In a similar way to Kylie, she’s everything you want in a popstar. It’s like different versions of sexy, different versions of confident, different versions of playful and they’re a really nice flip side to each other in very different musical worlds and challenging what pop can be.”

Depeche Mode – ‘Ultra’

Depeche“This is the first Depeche Mode album that I actually remember listening to. I remember hearing ‘Barrel Of A Gun’ on the Chart Show and watching the video and just being like ‘fuck, this is so dark and brooding’. But it had such great pop production. It didn’t sound like anything that I’d bought before.”

“I love the singles from it and ‘Home’ and ‘Useless’. I think it’s quite cleanly produced and very sharp and I really enjoyed that it gave his voice space to shine.”

“It’s just a really cool album. The songs stand out and are quite raw and singular.”

Ace Of Base – ‘All That She Wants’

Ace of Base[He's holding a tape in this one because the vinyl is quite literally stuck to the wall.]

“Look at how cheap this cassette is. It’s a pixelated image of not the lead singer of the band. This is the first cassette I ever bought and I remember lots of friends I met two or three years later, this was the first cassette we all bought.”

‘I remember we’d all sit down with a pen and paper and press play and then pause and then rewind and write down all the lyrics. I thought when they said “gentle voices” that they were saying “dental voices talk to you”. Why would a dentist talk to you?”

“Anyway, this was always on the radio and I’d go into Woolworths and it was always at Number One so I just bought it. It was one of those songs that everyone seemed to have bought. I have no idea what’s it about but I try and sneak it onto Christmas compilations by saying it’s about the Virgin Mary, who wants a baby of her own. I very much doubt it’s the original meaning of the song. It’s so catchy and it changes between major and minor and you don’t notice that happening. It’s really smart. It’s such numb delivery. The number of records they’ve sold given where they came from and where they were is amazing. I have the album too. I love that album a lot. ‘Fashion Party’, ‘Dancer In A Daydream’, ‘Living In Danger’ and ‘Young And Proud’ are my favourite songs off it.”

Vlimey. Cheers Rod!

The ‘I Wish We Were Leaving’ EP is out now.
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100 Questions with Sky Ferreira http://www.popjustice.com/interviewsandfeatures/100-questions-with-sky-ferreira/125278/ http://www.popjustice.com/interviewsandfeatures/100-questions-with-sky-ferreira/125278/#comments Fri, 21 Mar 2014 10:09:07 +0000 http://www.popjustice.com/?p=125278


…with Sky Ferreira.

Four years, about five aborted albums and quite a few money-earning fashion campaigns later, Sky Ferreira’s debut album ‘Night Time, My  Time’ is finally out to buy in the UK.

To celebrate the happy day we never thought would come, we asked Sky 100 questions and demanded 100 answers.

This is how it went.

Where’s the strangest place you’ve ever put your hand?
Where’s the strangest place I’ve ever put my HAND? (Laughs) Well I touched a human brain once in fourth grade. I was learning about the brain and had to dissect it. I also had to dissect a mouse brain or something, or a pigeon brain, or something really small anyway.

The title of your autobiography would be…
It would be probably be untitled because I can’t ever come up with titles.

Is it time for people to stop wearing stripes?
Yeah. I mean, I’m a big fan of stripes though.

Have you ever seen a ghost?

Ellen or Oprah?

Did you go anywhere nice on your holidays?
No, not really. Holiday is at home really.

What is your favourite chocolate bar?
I’m not really a chocolate fan – I like sour candy.

Which animal would you gladly never encounter in your lifetime?
Do insects count? Any type of insect beside butterflies or something.

Who is your best friend?
I have a few. Greg is one of them.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
Open my eyes.

Who do you think has a perfect face?
Angelina Jolie.

Are you in love?

Could you write Britney Spears a hit single?
I think so.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever put in your mouth?
Mayonnaise. I really don’t like mayonnaise. I can’t.

Do you worry about your weight?
Erm, yeah.

What did you have for breakfast?
I haven’t eaten today yet actually.

Have you ever done the Harlem Shake?
No I’ve never done the Harlem Shake.

What does Miley Cyrus smell like?
She smells clean. Good I guess. I don’t know her exact scent.

How many pints can you drink before you fall over?
I don’t drink beer, but I’m a lightweight with alcohol that’s for sure.

What would you like for dinner tonight?
I really want a smoothie because I don’t see them in the UK ever.

What would you do with a million pounds?
I’d buy some new clothes. I’d buy an apartment probably and then I’d help my family out. I do get sent clothes but I never get to keep the stuff I actually like.

How old is too old for a man to go skateboarding?
I mean, maybe if they’re a professional skateboarder it’s not that weird but I feel like outgrew skateboarders when I was in high school. I have a thing against long boards for some reason though.

How do you feel about flip-flops?
They’re not okay to wear unless you’re on a beach and even then it’s not great. I don’t like feet really.

Which member of your family is the worst cook?

What colour are your pillows?

What was your worst subject at school?

What is the worst day of the week?

What side of the bed do you sleep on?
Erm, it depends where I am. I think I actually sleep on the right side usually.

Major label or independent?
No label. Just kidding!

Sea or swimming pool?

What’s your favourite cereal?
I’m trying to think which one I really like. I like Life. Maybe that’s an American cereal. It tastes like maple syrup sort of.

Surf or turf?

What’s your favourite breed of dog?
I think I like pitbulls the best.

Do you ever feel like a plastic bag?
Blowing in the wind? Only if there’s wind involved.

How many hours sleep do you need in order to function properly?
Four. I’ve always had insomnia my entire life.

Are you left or right handed?
I’m right handed.

How often do you get your haircut?
Not very often. Like every six months or something. I’m usually forced to cut my hair and then it kept getting shorter because of all the dyeing, so now I’ve had to dye it dark to grow my hair back.

What’s the best freebie you’ve ever been given?
A free trip is always a good one.

What’s the hardest word to spell?
I can’t spell anything right.

What is the rudest word you know?
There are a few. There are a lot of rude words. There are some offensive ones but then there’s rude. The c word is offensive.

How many tattoos do you have?
I think I have eight altogether.

Are you bored of these questions yet?
No it’s fine.

If you could force two popstars to mate who would you choose?
Madonna and Michael Jackson. You can’t go wrong there.

Did you expect the Lady Gaga album to do better or worse than it did?
I thought it would do better.

New York, London, Paris or Munich?
New York.

What does TMZ mean to you?
(Laughs) Silence. It’s fine. I mean, they haven’t really messed with me too badly so it’s alright.

What’s the best day of the week?
I’m always pleasantly surprised with Saturdays.

At what age were you happiest?

Double denim – amazing or awful?
It depends on the denim really. It also depends on what the actual article of clothing is.

What’s wrong with pop?
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with pop.

What’s right with pop?

Are you good in a fight?
Yeah I’m good at fighting.

What’s the best location to park a caravan?
To park a caravan? I don’t know… An empty space.

What word do people incorrectly use to describe you?
(Laughs) There’s a few that I can think of. I guess when people act like I’m a hot mess or something because I’m actually not. In a lot of ways I’m actually not.

What word do people correctly use to describe you?

What is your favourite flavour of yoghurt?
I don’t eat yoghurt. I don’t really eat dairy.

What is the most expensive thing you have ever bought?
I’ve had some plane tickets that have cost a lot of money.

What is your favourite fruit?

Would you rather not eat or not speak for 24 hours?

What is your least favourite TV show?
I don’t like Roseanne.

What was the last thing you read about yourself on the Internet?
That I’m a huge Justin Bieber fan because I said it was wrong that people are exploiting him.

Bath or shower?

Coke or Diet Coke?
Diet Coke.

Would you rather have no teeth or no hair?
No teeth.

Why do we have dreams?
To tell the future. I feel like fear comes through in my dreams.

The red pill or the blue pill?
What’s the difference? I haven’t seen The Matrix actually.

When was the last time you wet yourself?
Last time I wet myself? Well I almost did at the hospital after I cut my leg. I couldn’t get up and I kept trying to and I was on an IV and all this shit and they were like ‘use a bedpan’ and I said no and just held it.

Fried, boiled, poached or scrambled?

What’s your favourite Friends episode?
The ones with the monkey in it. I just like monkeys.

Dogs or cats?

Rock or roll?

What are the names of the people you live with?
Cole Smith.

What do you have on your bedroom walls?
A lot of movie posters.

Do you pair up your socks before you put them away?
No. It depends actually. If I really like the pair of socks then yeah.

Do you iron your underwear?

What did you do yesterday?

Christmas or birthday?

Town or country?

Comics or cartoons?

Biscuit or cake?

What do you say to people who think pop is for teenage girls?
That’s stupid.

Which supermarket do you shop in?
The one two blocks away from my house.

Where do you buy your pants?
[She thinks this is about pants as in trousers] Someone gave me these pants actually (points to jeans). It was on a photoshoot. They’re Calvin Klein jeans from the 90s or something.

Which reality TV show do you most want to go on?
Star Search.

How fast is too fast?
Not fast enough.

Three words that best describe you in the morning are…
Drowsy. Unaware. Tired.

Have you ever fallen off a bike?

What is the name of the first person you kissed?

You must be bored of these questions now?
A little bit.

What was your worst injury ever?
It happened last week. I got sixty stitches in my leg.

How much money have you got on you?
Not much. I have two credit cards but I don’t have any cash on me.

Which member will be the first to leave One Direction?
Harry Styles. My boyfriend who I’ve never met in my life.

Twitter or Instagram?

If you were twice as talented would you sell twice as many records?
Not necessarily.

What percentage do you tip in a restaurant?

Can you leak some of the songs from those aborted albums of yours onto the internet please?

Can you parallel park?
No. I don’t know how to drive.

What could you do to get played on the radio more?
We’re working on that now! We’re going to Radio 1 every two hours, so.

When’s the next album out?
Whenever it’s done. I’m doing stuff now but I don’t know if it’s for an album. Just songs for different people.

How good out of 10 was the Lord of The Rings film you kept counting down to on Twitter?
It was alright. (Laughs)

‘Night Time, My Time’ is FINALLY out now.

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An interview with Zhala http://www.popjustice.com/interviewsandfeatures/zhala-interview/125483/ http://www.popjustice.com/interviewsandfeatures/zhala-interview/125483/#comments Tue, 18 Mar 2014 12:25:14 +0000 http://www.popjustice.com/?p=125483 “I’m trying to be honest in my music – that’s a risk I have to take.”

Zhala is so amazing that Robyn signed her to her record label. Here’s a chat with her

Words: Peter Robinson


Hello Zhala. Your first video, for ‘Slippin’ Around’ appeared a couple of years ago. Then it went quiet. What were you up to?
I didn’t want to rush things. And I had some time to make music and only that.

And during that time did you change the style of the music you were making?
I’ve always been clear, and I’ve always known how I wanted it to sound. And I think you can probably hear that in my music. But it has developed. It’s always developing depending on what phase I’m in.

If it’s always developing, how do you know when a song’s finished?
I think you just know. It’s when it’s the right picture, I think.

Do you think visually when you’re making music?
Yes, a lot.

Some people make music then once it’s finished they think, “right then, how am I going to bring this to life?” But you know all the way through?
Yeah – it’s something that grows. But I might have a vision in my head then when it’s finished new images appear. I create new images for the song depending on what time it is and what place I have to express it in.

We know Robyn’s involved, as your label boss, but it seems like there’s a collective around you too?
You could say that. Yes, I like the collective idea.

Who are the key people?
I work with Mathias Oldén on the music – we’ve done everything together so he’s really important to me. To me it’s really great to be able to just work with one person. I get confused when I have to work with lots of people! It’s luxurious and great to be able to work with one person and really get into the project. That’s with the music part – when it comes to other stuff like videos and visuals I love working with people I know.

When did you first meet Robyn?
We met through some mutual friends a couple of years ago, and she asked if they wanted to open for her in London and Berlin as a support act a couple of years ago.

How did your friends introduce you?
Stockholm is pretty small when it comes to the music industry and if you don’t know someone you know someone who does know them. I think it was through a friend of mine who works with Robyn that we first met.

Is she mentoring you, is that the right way of phrasing it?
Hm. Well, I think both Robyn and I, we have this collective way of thinking. She’s a person I really love working with. She definitely inspires me and helps me a lot – in that way she’s definitely mentoring me. She has so much knowledge of the industry and to me that’s really a great thing that I’m able to be part of all the experience she has. As well as that it’s FUN working with her. We have a good time.

Can you explain the background to your Nirvana-inspired performance of ‘Prophet’ at the Swedish Grammis?
Well, their theme this year was old music videos. We started discussing videos, me and Robyn. I don’t remember who it was but we discussed it and…

Which other videos did you discuss?
It could have been a different video, but I’m not going to say which one. (Laughs) But I felt that ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ was the right choice.

Obviously your single and the Nirvana one sound completely different, but there’s something quite disruptive about both songs, isn’t there?
I understand what you mean by that. I suppose influences are completely different to how they were in the 90s – I listen to playlists, of all sorts of things, and I can mix it all in a different way.

What’s on your favourite playlist at the moment?
At the moment I’m listening to ‘Gue’ by Tirudel Zenebe.

I saw an old interview where you said you used to enjoy go-go dancing at what you described as your lesbian club in Stockholm. Does that still exist?
I used to have a club that I ran with two friends, it was like an installation-slash-performance club. It was a lesbian club, but it was open for everyone. And you know what, we were one of the first that did that in Sweden – most lesbian clubs are quite separatist in Sweden, and we wanted to do something else. Somewhere I could bring my gay friend and my straight ex-boyfriend or whatever. You could be curious or queer or lesbian and everyone was welcome. We’d make these really big installations.

What sort of installations?
One time we had a Kurdish wedding.

Do you have music coming up that would be more suitable for daytime radio, or is it all in a similar vein to the EP?
I don’t know because I don’t think about that when I’m creating. That can change, you know? I have some more songs that I think are more pop but it will be interesting for me too.

Robyn does this well doesn’t she: half the songs on an album can be quite experimental or avant garde, and half sound like radio hits.
Yes. She’s great at that. But you know, they play ‘Prophet’ on the radio now. Well, not on all stations, but on P3 here in Sweden for example. And that’s great. So sometimes it happens! My music is like dead pan humour, that’s how I see it: and that can come across in so many different ways. When I made this album I thought about playlists and hit CDs – a mix of different pop songs. A fast song, a ballad, you know?

What’s your favourite Britney Spears song?

Can you tell us ONE THING about Robyn’s new album?
I haven’t heard it. Well I’ve heard some stuff, but I haven’t heard the album.

Was it good?
It’s always good!

Easy question: what’s the best song ever recorded?
That’s such a hard question!

Shall I ask a different question?

What’s the worst song ever recorded?
OH MY GOD. That’s also a difficult question! There’s so much bad music! Do I have to answer those questions?

Let’s have another one then. What’s the most average song ever recorded?
OH MY GOD THAT’S JUST AS HARD! Being average is even worse than being bad! At least when you’re bad you can be good at being bad!

Not to say ‘Prophet’ is bad, but it’s definitely the sort of song that will divide people. You can’t imagine anyone listening to it and thinking, “hm, I suppose that was alright”.
Well that’s nice. I hope so!

It seems that you’re quite ambitious in terms of wanting your music to make an impression.
I think so. I’m really personal in my music. And that can be a really scary thing, you know.

Scary because you’re letting other people know what you’re thinking?
Yes. It’s not always pleasant or easy… Like you say, it’s not for everyone. And that’s a scary thing to express. I’m trying to be honest in my music – that’s a risk I have to take. I don’t have a choice really. It’s the music I make, and it’s the only thing I can do.

When you say you don’t have a choice, do you feel you have to make this music?

What will happen to you if you don’t make it?
I’m a pretty creative person and if I don’t get to be creative, I get depressed. And now I get the opportunity to do what I want more and more I’ve become a pretty happy person. If I couldn’t do that, I don’t know what I’d do.

If for some reason I had to ban you from making music is there something else you’d like to do?
I think about that every day. (Lengthy pause) I have no answer. I can’t… I can’t do anything else.

Zhala’s ‘Prophet’ EP is out now on iTunes.
You can find Zhala on Twitter and Facebook, and at her official site.

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An interview with Tove Lo http://www.popjustice.com/interviewsandfeatures/an-interview-with-tove-lo/124165/ http://www.popjustice.com/interviewsandfeatures/an-interview-with-tove-lo/124165/#comments Mon, 17 Feb 2014 09:44:26 +0000 http://www.popjustice.com/?p=124165
A new superstar is about to light up the pop cosmos.
She is a singer, songwriter, accidental hair arsonist and “normally depressed young person”.
Her name is Tove Lo.


Interview by Peter Robinson

Tove Lo is one of Popjustice’s favourite new pop people.

As a vocalist she hints at euphoria and melancholy in equal measure, as an artist she delivers a winning combination of ambition, passion and proper pop magnetism, and as a songwriter she’s achieved the not inconsiderable feat of being picked to work with both Xenomania and Max Martin.

Best of all, she has big tunes. Tove recently signed to Polydor and her debut EP, ‘Truth Serum’, is out in April. It’s brilliant. Really very brilliant indeed.

We had a chat with her recently, and here’s what happened.

Hello Tove. On your Facebook page you describe your music as ‘Dirrrrty POP!’. Can you explain what that means?
Well for me it means that it’s raw, not filtered, and I suppose the vocals are about meaning what you sing, and not being afraid to show your bad side.

Showing your bad side is interesting. Because a lot of artists when they’re writing about love and life do so from the perspective of someone who’s been wronged by the other person. But in your songs there’s a feeling of “I’m an idiot as well”.
Yes. I guess I have a harder time saying that to a person in real life, but in my music I can say: “I fucked up, I’m sorry.” My songs are an opportunity to be honest. I take that to deal with my own issues. There are a lot of ways to blame other people, but it’s always two people in a relationship. I get sick of hearing people going “oh, he or she was such an asshole to me, he cheated on me sixty times”, and you’re like, “well why did you stay?”. The answer is always: “Because I love him.” And, you know, if you love a broken person you’re going to get hurt.

tovebig2Have you ever set fire to anything you shouldn’t have?
Yes I have, actually. I set a girl’s hair on fire once. It was kind of an accident.

Kind of?
Yes. She said something really dicky and I was a bit drunk and I just kind of threw the lighter out and swooshed it, as if to say to my friends, “I should light her hair on fire”. But then it actually did catch on fire so I had to start patting her on the back trying to put it out. And she thought I was trying to hit her. It was all a big misunderstanding.

Do you think decent pop needs an undercurrent of despair?
It doesn’t have to, but for me to really feel something for it, it does. I can listen to something and think “this is a great song, but I’m not moved by it”, and I probably won’t listen to it again. It needs a sense of desperation, especially in the vocal. I like to listen to desperation.

Is it harder to write a happy song than a sad song?
For me it is – I’ve tried, and I’m useless at it. Oh look, there’s some beer coming for me! [General Swedish chattering in background] You should see this room I’m in. I’m lying on one of these lounge beds that women in the olden days who wore corsets sat down on if they were going to faint. One of those.

Is it a bit like a therapy session?
Kind of.

Tell me about your dreams.
Well, my dreams are kind of coming true right now, or I’m hoping they will. To go around the world playing live and writing songs with amazing people – doing that forever is my dream, along with having tonnes of people singing my lyrics.

From where you are now, it seems like you could become either a Robyn-type popstar or a Katy Perry-type one. From what you’ve just said about people singing your lyrics it seems like you would like to be quite huge. Is that true?
Everyone always says “I’m not doing it for the fame”, which is true for me too, and I’ve always said I don’t care if there’s three or 10,000 people in the audience, but I remember when I did that feature on ‘Strangers’ with Seven Lions and I saw a clip from when they did a concert, and there were 7,000 people singing along to my voice and my lyrics. And I watched it over and over again. And I was thinking, “what if I’d been there, and they were singing with me?” Thinking about what you asked, and wondering who I identify with, and I think I can’t identify with ‘Roar’, but I can identify with ‘Call Your Girlfriend’. So I’d say I identify more with Robyn, but I’d love to have as many people come to my shows as Katy Perry.

Surely the ideal situation is Katy Perry releasing ‘Call Your Girlfriend’.
Exactly! I’ll be the good mix between them!

And you’ve got an EP coming out soon, but you’re still writing for other people as well?
I’m focusing more on me at the moment. Things come up from work I’ve done before – “this artist is doing this song now” – so for example I’ve got a song with Lea Michele, I think. But those songs seem like a while ago now. Now I want to focus on getting an album together and I’m just picking through my demos seeing which ones will make it through.

How many have you got it down to?
Well, I think there will be a few from the EP because I’m really happy with the songs from there, then I have about ten or fifteen more that I’m picking from, and I’ll write some new songs too. It’s going to be tough.

Why don’t you send your demos over and I’ll tell you the best ones?
Oh that could be fun! Sure. I’ll send them over! That would be perfect. They’re all quite rough, but I’ll send them over.

I was kind of joking but please do.
Well, why not?

If I’d said that to Britney she’d be like, a) I don’t actually have any of the songs I’m working on, b) sign an NDA, c) no.
Well I think as soon as you start making everything about being a business rather than people who love music, it goes wrong. Anyway you’re getting the songs.

Good stuff. Apart from what’s likely to be on your album, have you kept back a killer song? A song so amazing that you haven’t dared release it because you know one day a Madonna or someone will call and need a career-reviving megahit?
Oh, let me think. I don’t think so. I’m not secretive enough! I’m not patient enough! I try to be. I do have a few things that I’ve written recently and when I think of them I think, “wow, this is huge – should I do this or should I see if someone big wants it”. But I usually move on pretty quick. Maybe you can decide that for me when I send over my demos.

What is one of the titles of those songs, so if it pops up in two years as a Madonna hit we’ll all know what you were talking about? Or if not Madonna, another ultimate artist?
Well Katy Perry would be amazing – if I write something powerful I know she’ll definitely deliver. I would love to have a guy sing one of my songs. Someone like Mikky Ekko, definitely. If he did sing one of my songs I would probably die of happiness.

Let’s say Katy Perry shall we.
Well I have a song called ‘Imaginary Friend’. That would be a good one for Katy Perry. But I might do it myself. (Laughs)

If someone from Sony phoned you and said, “right, Tove Lo, we’ve invented a computer program based on Michael Jackson’s voice which means we can make him sing any song we like, and we’re basically making a brand new Michael Jackson album using new songs and our computer program”, would you give them the song?
I don’t know. I don’t think so. A computer is not a person.

It would sound just like Michael Jackson.
Yeah. It would be so cool to hear it. But you know it’s like when someone says “look at my bag, it looks just like a super expensive brand”, but deep inside you know it’s not the real bag. So I would say no.

Is it strange to have worked on a song two years ago, and then for someone to suddenly go “here’s my new single”?
It’s crazy – you remember doing the song, and you remember being excited about it, and then you pitched it and nothing happened. Then a year later, it’s like “oh, this artist wants to record it”. Then a year after that they’re actually releasing it. It makes you realise that you should never give up on songs: if you believe in them they’ll find their home.

Do you write better songs in the winter or summer?
It all depends what’s happened to me at the time. Usually the winter: I write when I’m on my own and isolated and it’s better to be like that in the winter – it’s easier to hide away.

You know in Batman at the start when his parents get killed and that one moment is what defines who he will be for the rest of his life?

tove400armWhich one event in your life made you the woman you are today?
Wow. That’s a hard question. I think it was when I was 15, when I decided to apply to a hippie musical school. I’d maybe been on stage twice by that point, and I just sat at home writing all these lyrics that nobody ever saw. All these posh people around me were going to the ‘good’ school where you go if you get the good grades. Actually I got good grades too and I applied to the good school too, and I got in. But I also applied to the music school, got in, and decided to go there. My life changed a lot both for better and worse after that, but that was a really big choice for me.

Where were you when you made that decision?
I was sitting with the applications, and I was in my room listening to music.

What do you think the Stockholm music school taught you that one in London might not have done?
Well, the thing with that school was that it was very anti-pop when I went there. It was very much “you either do soul or rock or jazz”. I wasn’t very good when I started. What I really learned was to overcome any fear you have about getting up on stage. It was hard. I got a lot stronger from going there. It’s scary at first, when you’re a teenager and people are watching you: you fuck up and it feels like the end of the world. Then you realise that actually, nobody died. And you move on.

Do you see yourself as being in competition with other artists, or do you exist in a vacuum?
When you’re a girl-slash-woman writing pop there is obviously competition coming from all the acts coming out of Sweden, but I don’t feel like I’m competing with anyone. People will say, “you sound similar to this, or similar to that” but I don’t mind that. If it’s someone I like. There’s more space for more music now, with Spotify and the internet and that kind of thing. Nobody will cancel out someone else – there’s space for everybody. You’ve just got to make good stuff.

Well yes, kind of. But twenty years ago when people bought music they’d play it loads, and they’d develop a personal connection with it. And with there being so much music available now, you know that no matter how much you love something another great song will pop up in three hours. So you hear more great music but you don’t have an intense relationship with it.
That’s the bad thing, that makes me a bit sad. That it’s so disposable: “That’s good, but I’ll play with something else for a bit.” I mean I want to release the album of my dreams, but at the same time do people even really care about albums any more?

I suppose what it means is that as an artist you can’t make the assumption that people are going to spend time getting to know your music, and I suppose the point I’m leading to is that one of the things I like about your songs is that they make a strong melodic impact, but also a strong emotional impact, the first time you hear them. So obviously repeated listening is still rewarding, but it’s not necessary in order to get deep into the songs. They’re quite complex but very immediate too, and at a point when everyone is fighting for attention your songs grab attention very quickly.
Well that’s nice to hear. That makes me feel good.

So anyway congratulations on that. Can you describe the house you grew up in?
Well I grew up in a kind of posh area in Stockholm. The walls of my bedroom were yellow with flowers on them when I was little, then when I was 13 I painted them black.

Classic teenager behaviour.
Exactly. Anyway, we lived by the water in a two-storey house and my brother and I had rooms next to each other. From the kitchen there were big windows and you could look out straight to the ocean. And there was an island where one of my best friends lived. I had a bit of a crush on him, I would take my binoculars and try to see if he was down by the jetty. This was before we became friends. My door was full of stickers of Leo DiCaprio, then later Kurt Cobain.

What did you parents do?
My mum’s a psychologist. My dad has had a bunch of different companies. They’re both academic, there’s no real music history in my family. They weren’t very happy with my choices at first but now they’re very proud. Worried, but proud.

Do you worry that your mum analyses your lyrics?
Yes I do worry, and yes I know she does. She can’t watch the ‘Habits’ video. She sent me a text saying: “My dear daughter, I started watching the video, I realised it was not a mum-friendly one, I hope your life is good and not like in the video.” I called her and I was like, “mum, I’m fine, you did bad things when you grew up!” She was like, “I did not”.

Drugs pop up a lot in your songs and they seem to be associated with bad times, but isn’t the main point of drugs that they’re supposed to be fun?
Yes. I think they’re good fun.

But you associate them with bad times.
Well when you’re really really down and nothing brings you up, then that’s something that definitely will, without a doubt. You let your mind go and you let your heartbreak go. So even if I associate it with bad situations, it’s more like… The difference is between doing it for fun and doing it because you need to. Obviously it’s better to do it for fun than because you need to cloud your real emotions. But both ways it works pretty well.

Obviously when you’re down that’s the worst time to be taking drugs, because then you need to deal with the comedown.
That’s usually what you realise afterwards yes.

love-lo-in-colourLyrically the thrust of your EP seems to be “I am troubled”, “there is a darkness to my life” and so on. And I’m wondering if that’s a realistic description of your life, or if it’s a caricature, and if in fact you’re fine and just have bad points every now and again.
Well, obviously, being raised by a psychologist you do see a lot of psychologists, so that has always been my thing: I have the good and the bad sides that I go between. I feel like one part of me wants to be a great person, quit everything I’m doing, go and fight for nature and animals and people who are suffering and do something real and meaningful with my life. Then the other part of me wants to fuck up and die in a year and do everything that’s bad for me and have a lot of fun along the way. I’m always between those two people. That’s a very honest answer isn’t it? I really am having a therapy session here on this sofa. I can let things go easily, but when I’m very sad I do dive very deep into it. I need to do that to get out of it: it’s always up and down. I know I’m not alone in that. I’m a normally depressed young person.

It seems like perhaps you get happier and more euphoric than most people, and perhaps more down and depressed than most people get too, swinging between two greater extremes than average people?
I think that’s exactly it. You nailed it. Yes. That’s what it is: I feel a lot more. I feel a lot of feelings, either really happy or really sad.

Who were your role models as a teenager and do you think you’d be a good role model for teenagers now?
I was really into Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love who probably weren’t the best role models for a teenager but I was just amazed by them. I grew up very protected and very happy with great parents and I was just looking for trouble because I was really fascinated by it. I don’t know if I’m a good role model, I think in some ways I might be and in other ways definitely not. I don’t think a teenage guy will want a teenage girl to watch my videos, for example, but I do think if you’re strong and you do your own thing that’s a good example for anyone.

Do you feel like you’re in control of yourself?
No. Not at all.

When you’re out of control what do you do to get back in control?
I need someone I trust to tell me. To confront me. And to say: “What are you doing right now?”… And I have that in my life, so that’s good.

Whose advice do you listen to as an artist?
I have a really good team around me – my new managers are really amazing. The ones that have been with me through the whole thing – my publisher, he’s been really amazing too, he’s been holding my hand the whole way through. I trust him.

Do you endlessly analyse your decisions or are you impulsive?
I’m impulsive. I follow the first feeling – usually that’s right. Every time I’ve let myself be convinced to do something, and I see the result, it’s always what I didn’t want. So I try to trust my gut.

How’s that going so far?

Pretty well. I’ve questioned it a few times, but now I’m happy.

Is there anything else we need to discuss?
No, I’ve think I’ve already told you way too much!

The ‘Truth Serum’ EP is out on April 7 2014, via Polydor. Tove is on both Facebook and Twitter.

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The Top 33 Albums Of 2013 http://www.popjustice.com/interviewsandfeatures/top-33-albums-of-2013/122888/ http://www.popjustice.com/interviewsandfeatures/top-33-albums-of-2013/122888/#comments Mon, 30 Dec 2013 14:54:25 +0000 http://www.popjustice.com/?p=122888 albumsof2013header

Albums are shit aren’t they?

Well not all albums are shit. Some are actually quite good.

2013 was a reasonable year for albums that were actually quite good
and here are 33 of the best.

Living For The Weekend
The Saturdays

We still reckon The Saturdays should sack off ‘releasing albums’ and stick to singles, but ‘Living For The Weekend’ was one of their better long-playing efforts. Top track: Darkchild-produced ‘Lease My Love’.

Body Music

To say ‘Body Music’ lacked a sense of light and shade is a bit like saying a packet of Jaffa Cakes is a bit predictable, ie you wouldn’t say that because the whole point is that they’re the same and you want to eat an entire box in one go.


A bit serious in parts but generally a job well done.

Rebecca Ferguson

The sort of album you forget exists for about five years then one day, when you’re minding your own business, it pops up on iTunes and reminds you that Rebecca Ferguson did indeed exist and was very good at the old pop game.


When it comes to whacking a donk on songs, not crediting the vocalist properly then fronting the whole thing with impressive cheekbones, Avicii is the leader of the pack.

Jessie J

If you can see and hear past the indignant posturing there’s a lot to love in these tracks. She’s currently planning to release a revised version in the US, which might throw up a few more belters.

Natalia Kills

An impressive, atmospheric album from an undervalued pop chameleon.

Midnight Memories
One Direction

The best-selling UK album of 2013. Ludicrous in parts, fantastic in others.

The Electric Lady
Janelle Monáe

In its best moments, ‘The Electric Lady’ pulls off the trick of homaging multiple sources while sounding like nothing else out there. Also, it’s got Prince on it.

Future Bible Heroes

Imagine what would have happened if Future Bible Heroes and One Direction had swapped songs.

Secondhand Rapture

Listening to this as we write these notes we wonder if in some ways ‘Secondhand Rapture’ is, at least in part, the Mutya Keisha Siobhan album 2013 didn’t manage to produce.

Bad Blood

The best Basically An Indie Album album of the year.

]]> http://www.popjustice.com/interviewsandfeatures/top-33-albums-of-2013/122888/feed/ 0 2013 Popjustice Readers’ Poll: THE RESULTS http://www.popjustice.com/interviewsandfeatures/2013-readers-poll-results/122789/ http://www.popjustice.com/interviewsandfeatures/2013-readers-poll-results/122789/#comments Mon, 30 Dec 2013 12:54:52 +0000 http://www.popjustice.com/?p=122789 readerspollresultsheader


You voted.

We counted.


1. The ‘Prism’ truck
2. Volantis (Lady Gaga’s flying dress)
3. The Wanted
4. The ‘ARTRAVE’
5. Stooshe
6. Pitbull
7. ‘ARTPOP’ app
8. Britney in the desert
9. Beyoncé’s non-album
10. 1D Day
Popjustice notes: Disappointing results. That ‘Prism’ lorry was 100% amazing.
1. Elastic Heart (Sia feat The Weeknd & Diplo)
2. Loved Me Back To Life (Celine Dion)
3. Beautiful Pain (Eminem feat Sia)
4. Standing On The Sun (Beyoncé)
5. Double Rainbow (Katy Perry)
6. Perfume (Britney Spears)
7. Passenger (Britney Spears)
8. Acid Rain (Alexis Jordan)
9. Cannonball (Lea Michele)
10. Kill & Run (Sia)
Popjustice notes: If you think this list of songs is good, wait until you see the same category in 2014.
1. Tamera Foster
2. Hannah Barrett
3. “None of them”
4. Rough Copy
5. Sam Bailey
6. Luke Friend
7. Miss Dynamix
8. Lorna Simpson
9. Kingsland Road
10. Shelley Smith
Popjustice notes: She can’t remember her words, she needs a bit of a brush-up in the choreography stakes, but who cares – she could be the British Rihanna.
1. Abi Alton
2. Sam Callahan
3. Nicholas McDonald
4. “All of them”
5. Hannah Barrett
6. Kingsland Road
7. Lorna Simpson
8. Luke Friend
9. Sam Bailey
10. Shelley Smith
Popjustice notes: 2013′s finalists were the worst in The X Factor’s ten year history, but Alton managed to be the worst of the lot. Still, this is just the beginning etc etc.
1. Mutya Keisha Siobhan
2. The Saturdays
3. One Direction
4. Stooshe
5. Sugababes
6. The Wanted
7. Union J
8. The Killers
9. Kingsland Road
10. Neon Jungle
Popjustice notes: Let’s get that album out first though ladies.
1. Little Mix
2. One Direction
3. The Saturdays
4. Adele
5. Atomic Kitten
6. Charli XCX
7. Ellie Goulding
8. Geri Halliwell
9. Hurts
10. Marina & The Diamonds
Popjustice notes: Any of these suggestions (except Halliwell) (or Atomic Kitten) would be brilliant.
1. Gary Barlow and Compare The Market and Coronation Street
2. Beyoncé and Pepsi
3. Nicole Scherzinger and Muller
4. Alicia Keys and Blackberry
5. Katy Perry and Pop Chips
6. Avril Lavigne and Sony
7. Assorted mentions of Capital FM adverts
8. The JLS X Factor competition ads
9. Rihanna and River Island
10. Union J and Pokemon
Popjustice notes: That tram crash came three years too early.
1. Taylor Swift
2. Ellie Goulding
3. Kelly Clarkson
4. Rebecca Ferguson
5. Katy Perry
6. Lily Allen
7. Jessie Ware
8. Adele
9. Beyoncé
10. Sky Ferreira
Popjustice notes: You’d trust Taylor Swift to come round your house without observing your paintwork with disdain, wouldn’t you?
1. James Arthur
2. Lady Gaga
3. Azealia Banks
4. Justin Bieber
5. Kanye West
6. Lorde
7. Jessie J
8. Miley Cyrus
9. Nicole Scherzinger
10. Robin Thicke
Popjustice notes: Gaga wasn’t far off winning this, but James Arthur romped to victory for thinking he was Professor Green, but being more like Professor Plum.
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