7 TERRIFIC SONGS WHICH HAVE THE WORD ‘BLACK’ IN THE TITLE

This week the Amy Winehouse documentary, Amy, is released, and you should all go and see it because it’s equal parts haunting and extraordinary. In honour of the late and great Empress of British Jazz, we’ve compiled a list of other fantastic songs with the word ‘Black’ in the title, inspired by Amy’s devastating masterpiece ‘Back To Black’. And why have we done this? Why not, really.

1. BACK TO BLACK – AMY WINEHOUSE

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Ms. Winehouse provided us with countless breath-taking songs all of which are special if only for the fact that they possess that voice, a tool which is now heartbreakingly exclusive and irreplaceable. ‘Back To Black’ stands above the rest of Amy’s discography as perhaps the most emblematic of her career, and most powerful of her music, being a mesmerising lamentation of how inescapable her depression is, all set to cabaret-ish, punky, jazz music. The style is unlike that of any of her contemporaries, drawing influences from Jazz, Soul, Funk, and R&B, and with lyrics that are wound-inducingly personal and dark; each and every one of Winehouse’s songs are masterclass’ in music, with ‘Back To Black’ being the pinnacle of her career. The British music scene lost one of its very best when Amy died, but she will always be immortalized in her timeless and unique music.

2. BLACK COFFEE – ALL SAINTS

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Why is it that songs with the most random titles are always the best? ‘Liquorice, ‘Biscuits and Gravy’, ‘Chewing Gum’ – the pop sphere is filled with song titles seemingly plucked from a shitty café menu. AND WE LOVES IT. All Saints were a very decent girlband back in the day, and they were lucky enough to catch producer William Orbit during his most productive and interesting years, resulting in some of his best music outside of Madonna’s Ray Of Light album. ‘Pure Shores’ is the true masterpiece of All Saints, but ‘Black Coffee’ comes a close second, being the more subtle and subdued of the two, with a floaty and harmonic chorus which straddles the line between R&B and euphoric dream-pop. The sound of the girls’ marshmallowy voices as they seduce ‘I wouldn’t wanna chaaaaaange, anything aaat all’ is one of the best girlband moments ever.

3. BLACK SKINHEAD – KANYE WEST

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‘Black Skinhead’ is Angrye West at his best. The galloping, pulsating, slamming and banging production is such a rush of adrenaline and power as the drums lash down and the King of Rap stutters and screams lyrics utterly loaded with racial intensity and cultural grievances. It’s literally quite a difficult listen, such is the strength and anger that is conveyed alongside the tough-as-nails production, with West encouraging a debate on the myth of a Post-Racial America. West rides the ebbs and flows of the rhythm giving us one his best raps, and perhaps one of the best ever. He works against the music, and then with it, and then on top of it, evoking an image of two rollercoasters whirling and interlocking around one another, hurtling across the tracks almost smashing into one another but always dodging a collision at the last second.

4. BLACK HEART – STOOSHE

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Ahh Stooshe. Remember them? Of course you do, ‘Black Heart’ was the soundtrack to your 2012 summer. It’s always difficult for girlbands to stick, even if we recognise them as the most efficient providers of pop music known to gay. Stooshe were no different, and their breakout hit was also kinda their downfall. Prior to ‘Black Heart’, the band consisted of three chavvy, potty mouth Laaaandoners strutting and chat-rapping about the underbelly of working class London, alcohol, drugs, and rubber duckies. The chorus to their first single was literally ‘Hurry up and hurry up and HURRY UP AND…… fuck me’. Basically, they were fab. But then came ‘Black Heart’, and that was still fab, but it was…different. In a post ‘Black Heart’ world, they soon realised that in order to achieve chart success they had to sacrifice everything that made them unique. It’s not that ‘Black Heart’ was in complete contention with everything they stood for previously, it’s just a shame that their breakout hit was their most accessible and ‘’’’normal’’’’ song so far, meaning that when they returned to their funky, alternative, Lily Allen x3 schtick the damage was already done. We don’t know what Stooshe are up to now, although their Twitter suggests they’re still performing at high profile gigs like the opening of a new Esso Garage down the road, but we would welcome their return with open arms – there can never be too many girlbands in this cruel world of ‘sad men with guitars’ that we live.

5. BLACK MAGIC – LITTLE MIX

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We’ve spoken about this recently and it’s still one of the best songs of the year. THOSE DRUMS. THEM VOCALS. THAT CHORUS.

6. BLACK OR WHITE – MICHAEL JACKSON

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If there ever was a pop-culture thing which epitomizes the Nineties so profoundly, it’s the video for ‘Black and White’. It is classic in how naff it looks now, as Jackson trots all over the world, and the on-the-nose message of love and acceptance surely inspired a thousand Lady Gagas. It features Macaulay Culkin for Beyonce’s sake! The song itself remains supreme, with the guitar riff that permeates the song being as electric and invigorating as it ever was, whilst the post chorus finale of ‘IT’S BLACK, IT’S WHITE!!!’ is a quintessential moment of the growly, rockstar MJ that we all know and love. In a catalogue filled with majestic examples of fantastic pop & rock, ‘Black and White’, still stands out.

7. BLACK JACKS – GIRLS ALOUD

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Girlbands LOVE songs with ‘Black’ in the title, hey? ‘Black Jacks’ is breezy and bluesy, and features the classic Girls Aloud structure of sounding like 17 different songs thrown together to create one beautiful Frankenstein’s monster of a song. ‘Black Jacks’ has verses from a 60’s Jazz club, mashed with tribal Avril Lavigne-esque chants during the bridge, and a pop chorus straight from mid-noughties electropop. This was released on the girls fourth album, Tangled Up, as the stars began to align and Girls Aloud were beginning to experience a late-career renaissance with both the public and the critics – and it’s hard to deny that experimental and zany, but ultimately aggressively fun songs such as ‘Black Jacks’ had something to do with it.

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AN INTERVIEW WITH JAMES SANGER, MASTERMIND BEHIND SIOBHAN DONAGHY’S ‘GHOSTS’

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James Sanger is possibly the Greatest Producer of Modern Music you haven’t heard of, whose worked with all the greats of British pop you have heard of. It would be easier to list the artists he hasn’t worked with, such is the extensity of his list of eye-wateringly successful clients, but we’ll tell you who he has worked with just in case. It goes something like this: U2, Madonna, Dido, Phil Collins, Manic Street Preachers, Kylie Minogue, Mel C, Brian Eno, Keane, Sinead O’Connor, The Cardigans, Roxy Music, Bryan Ferry, Pet Shop Boys, Joe Satriani, Bryan Adams, Siobhan Donaghy, Annie Lennox and The Cure. Caught your breath yet? We love approximately 100% of those artists.

Sanger kindly allowed us an insight into his world and answered some of our questions about his life and his process. We’ll start at the beginning; how he started in the music business, his inspirations, and his influences. Ever since he was a child he has always had a passion for music, saying ‘I attribute my love of music down to the fact that as a child I had really bad asthma. When I woke up unable to breathe, my mother would sing to me and calm me down’. He cites the likes of Jona Lewie, Adam and the Ants, Pink Floyd and New Order as his greatest influences. Furthermore, he claims ‘I really liked Phil Collins, The Pet Shop Boys and U2… I ended up working for all of them at different times, which was a great personal achievement’.

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Sanger has clearly always been a creative being, saying ‘I started by writing poems. Very soon after that I got into writing songs at school. When I left school I went busking around Australia and then on my return, I started my own little studio teaching people how to use computers to make their own music. Basically, I had an Atari computer running a very early version of Cubase and an Ensoniq EPS sampler and people would come around to the studio and pay £10 an hour and I’d make records with them. Some of these artists ended up being quite successful, and my clients were DJ’s, songwriters, musicians and artists… very much like the same group of people I still work with.’

Indeed, his career doesn’t seem all that dissimilar today to how it was then, just on a much larger and more prolific scale – he continues to programme and produce music with other artists and musicians to this day. Sanger is clearly an artist who thrives on collaboration, and he recalls how his career developed following his studio sessions as a young music enthusiast. ‘A few years later I got signed to a small label called Triumph records. I released a single as ‘SkyArk’, and after that I got signed to IndoChina Records as ‘Arc In The Sky’ and released a few more EP’s and singles’. Eventually, he signed a much bigger deal with Echo Records / Chrysalis Publishing as ‘Arc Angel’, releasing an EP which was playlisted by Radio 1.

Sanger’s career properly took off when he received a call from Bryan Ferry, enquiring about whether Sanger could come to his studio to programme for him for a day. ‘One day became a few days, then a week, then a month, and in the end, I worked with Bryan Ferry for many months.’ The pair collaborated on Ferry’s eleventh studio album, Frantic, which was released in 2002. Sanger’s networking and rapidly increasing quality of programming and productions paid off, as soon Brian Eno entered the equation. ‘I met Brian Eno at Bryan Ferry’s studio and then worked with him setting up his studio, his synths and programming for him in his studio for another eighteen months.’ Sanger soon acquired an even deeper understanding of sounds and synths, and before long his works became esteemed in reputation and he became more and more in demand.

Sanger has worked with a wide array of contrasting and differing artists, and he says ‘artist development is a process that is unique to each separate collaboration. For example, Keane had no real experience with synthesisers before I signed them up to my Vibey development deal. Their music was heavy guitar rock, and I helped them find out about synths and sound design, and created a sound that fitted the idea that I had for a band already. You see, I had just been working on Dido’s album called No Angel, and I wanted to create the same kind of sound but with a proper four part band, like Coldplay, but with a Dido-y sonic fingerprint. Keane were the band I picked out for that project.’ Sanger is essentially a mastermind of sound who creates aural adventures for his artists to embark upon.

He elaborates on his process; ‘I work on songs on my own, and then sometimes work on them with artists. I’ve got too many songs that have not been released yet because I have not found the artist to develop the song with. Often I end up writing a whole lot of new songs from scratch with a new artist, which only compounds the issue. For example, on a band development gig we might write 40 songs, and only use 12.’

Across his career as a programmer and producer, his works have amassed over sixty million record sales, three Brit Awards, eighteen Grammys, and two Ivor Novellos – that felt a bit like the introduction to the guest performer on The X Factor, but nonetheless Sanger is a mastermind of music who commands the attention and respect of any devout pop fan. Sanger himself analyses his music in the following way, saying that the ‘psycho-acoustic potential of music has always fascinated me. You will find that my own private ambient music is very trippy and moody…I like to think that my productions create enharmonic binaural entrainment with sub-harmonic beating to create altered states, alpha and theta states of consciousness – all wrapped up as pop music.’ Couldn’t put it better myself! Indeed, his productions are completely exceptional and inimitable, and this is reflected perhaps most profoundly in his collaboration with Siobhan Donaghy for her 2007 album Ghosts which is, at least in my eyes, the greatest achievement in his illustrious career.

Ghosts is indescribably unique, possessing a sound unlike any other album in existence. The soundscape is ethereal and fantastical, and it sounds like the sort of music that exists in an other-worldly magical land. In fact, it was created in such a place, although some people just describe that place as ‘France’. Indeed, it transports its listeners away from this planet, and into the mind-set and deepest emotions of its vocalist. The production is naturalistic and yet synthy, with delicious violins and guitars existing alongside mythical whirls and beeps, all the while retaining hooks, melodies, harmonies and choruses to rival any mainstream pop album. Lyrically, it explores the darkest secrets of Donaghy’s mind-set, but the tone is consistently euphoric and jubilatory, primarily down to Sanger’s uplifting and exceptionally beautiful production. Sanger is immensely proud of the album, saying ‘I love the music, and am listening to the album now’, although he does admit ‘I only really wanted a slightly different order of the songs on the album, but it was decided to go ahead with the order you have by the record company’.

Sanger and Donaghy during the 'Ghosts' recording sessions.

Sanger and Donaghy during the ‘Ghosts’ recording sessions.

Ghosts sounds like nothing that was released at the time, has been released since, or will be released in the future. It’s very pop, but very alternative pop and not necessarily the type of music to be played on the radio, with Siobhan herself describing the sound of her work as ‘difficult’. Sanger muses that ‘the record sounds fresh now because there is nothing in it to date the record – nothing faddy, or gimmicky, or ‘cool’ in it. I don’t believe in using the latest drum sound or the latest auto-tune effect or genre, because if it is the latest thing one minute it will be the oldest thing the next minute. I stay out of cool new genres because if you get into them you’re just engineering your own planned obsolescence into the music.’ This idea makes a whole lot of sense, and the music industry would be in a much healthier position today if artists stopped trying to chase sounds, and instead tried to make them – something which Sanger and Donaghy absolutely achieved. Sanger even says ‘it does sound like it was made yesterday – it should be re-released! Perhaps a ten year anniversary re-release?’ Sounds good to us!

So, how did Donaghy and Sanger arrive upon the incredibly distinctive and unique soundscape? Sanger says that ‘Siobhan and I spent hours and hours and hours experimenting with sounds and vibes and ethereal sonic texture’s, varying degrees of consonance and dissonance. [Siobhan] is really adventurous and brave – we were fifty / fifty equal partners in all artistic decisions. I think there is a temptation to think of female artists as just the front end of some kind of cynical corporate song factory. That might be true of other groups, I don’t know, but it definitely is not true of Siobhan Donaghy. Siobhan is a hugely talented songwriter and vibe-mistress. She really IS Ghosts. My job was really finding the sound of her artistic vibe. Ghosts was an attempt to distil her etheric vibe into sound waves.’ It’s clear that the process was conscientious and detailed, and such intricate creativity resulted in an album that is incredibly dense and layered.

Siobhan’s vocals work so meticulously with the production that her voice almost sounds like another instrument or element of the music. As a result, Ghosts sounds like an album that only Siobhan Donaghy could make. Sanger agrees, commenting ‘Siobhan’s voice is the instrument. We had such fun recording vocals many, many times and getting the sound just right.’

The albums lyrics appear to be incredibly personal to Siobhan the person, but most were co-written by Sanger. He says ‘some lyrics are mostly Siobhan’s words and some lyrics are mostly mine, but we both had an ‘un-quibbling right of veto’ which means that if she felt uncomfortable about using a particular lyric we re-write and vice versa. Sometimes the music would be written first and it would suggest a type of theme or feeling that we would write to and cut and paste lines between us.’

Ghosts is such a fantastic body of well-crafted songs, that I wondered if Sanger ever listened to it despite the fact that he worked on it, or indeed how often he listens to any of his own works. ‘When I’m working on new music, which is most of the time, I only listen to what I’m working on, apart from when I’m listening to something forensically, or to work out how I did something before. Actually, if I’m out and I hear music I’ve made on the radio or sound system, I find that I tend to go quiet and blank everyone and everything else out, just to listen…’ But still, he says ‘I don’t really enjoy it. I like to listen to my music properly rather than just have it on in the background’.

As for Sanger’s favourite piece of music that he’s ever worked on or produced, he names ‘Medevac’ and ‘Ghosts’ by Donaghy, as well as Dido’s ‘Here With Me’, and ‘Sunshine’ and ‘Walnut Tree’ by Keane, saying ‘they all share a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’. In terms of his career highlights, he recounts that ‘Dido was a really interesting gig. Phil Collins is a truly fantastic great bloke. Also, BBC Radio 2 listeners voted 3 of my records into the Top 5 records of all time. That was quite a buzz! I suppose my records winning three Brit Awards was quite cool…’ Yeah, that’s alright.

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And what of the future? What are his plans? ‘I’d like to do another record with Siobhan Donaghy. But I am also working with some great new acts. My heart is with developing new artists, helping those that are unknown become well known. Anyone, (well not everyone!) can take an established artist and continue their success. The challenging thing is finding and developing new fresh talent and then breaking it. That is where my heart lies. I’ve got a gig starting with a new artist development later this month which I’m super stoked about. It is a three month full album development, and I am really excited about this artist.’ To be honest, if Sanger is excited about this artist, and if he has any input creatively, it is sure to be nothing short of a triumph. Ultimately however, Sanger aspires to heavily involve himself in video and film production, saying ‘We have just set up a film studio here at Vibey Studios and have started making green screen animations’. If you’d like to read more about the facilities and opportunities which are offered at Sanger’s great castle of music, head over to their website. 

If I thought the man was a genius before, I certainly do after hearing his thoughts and processes. His words are as intelligent and insightful as his lyrics, and it’s utterly fascinating to hear the secrets behind the making of one of the world’s greatest and most underrated albums. Whatever he gets up to next, it is sure to be magnificent, and if it involves Siobhan Donaghy in some capacity – even better.

Thank you once again to James Sanger himself for answering my questions! I will forever be indebted to you.

Follow @JamesSanger on Twitter here.

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11 OF THE BEST THINGS ABOUT LITTLE MIX’S PERFORMANCE AT HEAVEN

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1. HEAVEN IS A GREAT VENUE FOR A POP CONCERT

We gays love our divas almost as much as we love brunch, short shorts, and complaining about people who start drama at parties, before ourselves starting drama at parties. But chuck a thousand of us into a hot sweaty room and get us all inebriated, and the potential for homoerotic carnage is high. The acts who grace the iconic stage of Heaven, a space previously ‘werqed’ by Lady Gaga, Kylie Minogue and Britney Spears as well as many more of your gayvourites, are simultaneously playing to their most adoring fans but also their harshest critics. It’s a difficult accomplishment to achieve, and Little Mix utterly smashed it, proving why they are the most triumphant victors of The X Factor thus far. The venue is so nice and small that even if you’re far away you’re actually very close, and don’t catch us admitting it, but the savage crowd makes it a lot more fun.

2 THE SETLIST WAS HIT HEAVY AND GAY FRIENDLY

The setlist was short but sweet and they kept it to the hits only, with the bombastic ‘Move’ and ‘Salute’ in particular being the two masterpieces in their catalogue which really demand that all pop fans pay respect to these girls. They are grimy and dirty, and almost quite dark, but still utterly massive and completely dependent on the fierce-ness that Little Mix exude with every step they take.

3. ‘BLACK MAGIC’ IS EXACTLY THE TYPE OF SINGLE LITTLE MIX SHOULD BE RELEASING IN 2015

The Eighties revival which is omnipresent in all the best popstars at the moment couldn’t be more profound than in ‘Black Magic’, which openly and proudly takes influence from ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ by Cyndi Lauper. The strutting guitars are reconciled with euphoric synths which permeate the chorus and create a wonderfully throwback sound, and yet it still retains Little Mix’s charisma and magnetism. It becomes 10x bigger in a live setting, with the drums being ramped up to become denser and harder, whilst the cheerleading chants that reside within the middle 8 absolutely demand to be hollered out by the girls with their fists a-pumping.

4. COVERING RU PAUL WAS A STROKE OF GENIUS

Jade is a self-proclaimed stan of our King, our leader, Ru Paul, and apparently commanded that they cover one of his songs for their set at the largest gay club in Europe. ‘Sissy That Walk’ went down a storm and the accompanying routine which included a completely fabulous and instantly historic hair-grab to end all hair-grabs, was a wonderful homage to the sashay-ers of Ru Paul’s iconic stage.

5. THEIR ATTIRE WAS FIERCE

As the blaring and imposing sirens of ‘Salute’ accompanied their entrance on stage and they calmly and modestly strutted into their positions, a wave of reverence overcame the room. They were draped in cloth down to their ankles with massive slits on either side, showing off their enviably toned and admirably sweaty thighs – literally they were dripping in sweat so that they looked like half melted caramel, and yet still they retained that #popstar quality that we all love. Little Mix might be humbly commercially successful, but in terms of their performance they presented like they are the biggest pop act on the planet.

6. THE CHOREOGRAPHY WAS TRIUMPHANT AND BEYONCE-ESQUE

The choreography was so expertly executed and each and every one of the girls can boast such technical skill and ability, that it all results in a pop show unrivalled by any of their contemporaries. They clearly draw inspiration from the great girl bands of times gone past, taking the best elements and moulding them into their own unique niche. Little Mix are a 90’s band existing in a 00’s world.

7. JADE IS A FANTASTIC GIRLBAND MEMBER

Vocally, Jade might be the star of the group. She’s emerged out of nowhere as vocal powerhouse, having developed and nurtured her vocals inexplicably in her days since that ITV stage, with the massive note at the end of ‘Black Magic’ echoing and reverberating around the room in a moment of power only the best popstars can bestow upon us. Her cute-ness should fool nobody, as she embodies the FIERCE DIVA persona exceptionally convincingly.

8. JESY IS A FANTASTIC GIRLBAND MEMBER

Jesy carries the group’s dancing. Her moves are so tight and controlled, but still possess a relentless and loose ability, and she stomps and struts like she was born to perform. She might not be the strongest member vocally, but that’s the point of girlbands – every member provides something different, creating a whole being which falters in absolutely no element.

9. LEIGH-ANNE IS A FANTASTIC GIRLBAND MEMBER

Fierce epitomized. She looks like a model who mercilessly storms across the stage. Her sultry stares and fiery beauty make her a crucial part of this game.

10. PERRIE IS A FANTASTIC GIRLBAND MEMBER

Them vocals. THEM VOCALS. They soar. She soars.

11. LITTLE MIX ARE THE BEST ACTIVE GIRLBAND CURRENTLY

Ultimately it’s impossible to identity the MVP in the team of Little Mix. In a world in which the British music industry is obsessed with being COOL and AUTHENTIC, Little Mix are completely refreshing in how pop-starry they are. They wear leotards and do dance routines and sing pop songs and they are FAB. It’s also uplifting how genuinely successful they are – ‘Black Magic’ has just been added to the Radio A List. If Spice Girls and Beyoncé had a little pop baby (SOMEONE PLEASE GET WORKING ON THIS??) then Little Mix would be the result – and in taking inspiration from the high and mighty of pop, Little Mix are surely on their way to themselves becoming the high and mighty of pop.

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11 THINGS ABOUT ‘EMOTION’ BY CARLY RAE JEPSEN

1. IT’S UNASHAMED IN ITS POP-NESS 

This album is like a gay pride parade for pop music. It’s loud and blaring and camp and every song is so openly and proudly POP without any pretences about trying to be anything else. This album is strutting down the street with a POP PRIDE flag and screaming and dancing about how fucking fantastic pop music is. It’s the pop album THE WORLD (the gays) have been waiting for since… well, Carly’s last album.

2. THIS CURRENT TREND OF EIGHTIES INSPIRED TUNES IS MASTERED WITH THIS ALBUM

Is it that Swifto impact? Possibly, but it’s undeniable that there is a current trend in the underbelly of pop music of taking a leaf from the Eighties when it comes that synthy, nightclubby production which can be found in the Brandon Flowers album and the new Foxes single. The trend is one of the better things to happen to pop in a while, with every chorus being as soaring and electric as the caramelized production it reconciles itself with. But with this album, it feels like the trend can stop now thanks, because Carly’s mastered it. Other popstars can try, but they may as well not bother because they will fail to come up with anything as convincingly Eighties as this.

3. CARLY RAE’S VOICE IS HEAVENLY

Her voice is just so sweet and cute that it can only be accommodated by songs as sweet and cute as these, but her strength has also greatly benefitted from her brief stint on Broadway. (But what was the about? Couldn’t she have sacked that off and we could have had this album two years ago?) ANYWAY, her vocals are stronger and more powerful than ever, as evidenced on the likes of ‘Your Type’. But it’s still the quieter moments when her voice truly shines – we don’t listen to Carly Rae to hear whistle notes and screaming ad libs, but for her wispy and soft purring like the pop cat that she is.

4. IT HAS MORE VARIATION THAN KISS

Whilst Kiss was a relentless adrenaline rush of bubblegum pop being chucked at us from every angle (and fuck was that AMAZING), Emotion makes a few changes along the road. All of the tracks on Kiss rarely deter from the same basic model, whereas on Emotion, Carly embraces low-key R&B with ‘All That’ and UK House with ‘I Didn’t Just Come Here To Dance’. It’s a nice change of pace and it makes the album more diverse without ever losing its cohesion, and the songs are united by Carly’s alluring vocals and colourful melodic touch.

5. BUT IT’S NOT QUITE BETTER THAN KISS

Perhaps it’s a little too early to make this claim, but Kiss is literally a masterclass in pop, an album which is truly up there with the Mona Lisa in terms of classic works of Art, that it would be almost impossible to surpass it. But Carly absolutely gives it a fair shot with Emotion, and perhaps in time Emotion will reveal itself as superior to her breakout album.

6. BUT ‘RUNAWAY WITH ME’ IS BETTER THAN ANYTHING  THAT CARLY HAS EVER DONE, IS DOING, WILL EVER DO

This song is probably the Best Of The Year. Maybe even one of the Best Of All Time, no hyperbole. Every single element of the song is just outstanding. The Trumpets. The Horns. The chorus! The Britney Spears-esque screams of ‘RUN AWAY WITH ME!’ that holler on in the background. It’s Carly Rae’s best song without a shred of doubt, and the fact that she wrote it completely solo is just incredible, and it gives such a rush of power and euphoria that is unrivalled by any other song released this year.

7. THE LIST OF PRODUCERS IS LIKE A POP FAN’S WET DREAM

If you asked any pop fan to formulate a list of the best producers it would not look wildly dissimilar to the credits of this album. You’ve got Sia, Shellback, Ariel Reichsteid, DEVONTE FUCKING HYNES (a stroke of genius to pair these two up – so strikingly different but somehow so complimentary). But in spite of this, the thing that makes these songs so special is Carly herself, proven by ‘Run Away With Me’s’ one and only writer. Similarly, she worked with King Max on Kiss, and his presence is not particularly missed here – there’s not many artists who work so fantastically on their own that they don’t need Max bloody Martin.

8. THE LYRICS ARE SO CUTE

‘Be tormented by me babe, wonder how I do? What’s the weather?’

Only Carly Rae. It’s a shame that people brand Carly as some sort of immature pop tween, when she is so much more than that. It’s insulting to assume her music is juvenile, when it’s full of heart and lyrical quirks that make her music transcend such accusations of basic-ness. ‘Call Me Maybe’ works because of how fantastical the lyrics are. And who else has the nerve to release a song whose chorus is ‘I REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY LIKE YOU’? No one, that’s who.

9. CARLY RAE CLEARLY ADORES POP MUSIC

This lady has a talent for songwriting, and she chooses to channel that into making adorable pop songs.  THANK YOU SO MUCH CARLY FOR MAKING THAT CHOICE. She doesn’t possess any pretence about being ‘’’credible’’’ or ‘’’’serious’’’’. She just loves fun, and this shows in how FUN her songs are. It’s a shame that she is probably perceived to be generic, when this albums pure and utter embracing of the pop genre makes it anything but generic.

10. THE QUALITY LITERALLY NEVER DIPS

There is but one song which could be described as ‘less than stellar’, and that’s ‘Boy Problems’. Other than that, each and every song is crucial to the experience, and the boundaries between the original tracks and the Bonus Tracks is completely blurred due to consistency of the quality.

11. JEPSEN MIGHT BE THE NUMBER ONE CRAFTRESS OF POP SONGS CURRENTLY RESIDING ON PLANET EARTH IN 2015

If Kiss is the soundtrack of a Romantic coastal drive along a San Diego beach as the sun dips behind the horizon filling the sky with purple and orange beauty, Emotion is the sound of 2AM in New York City as the bright and colourful neon lights shine upon you.  Carly Rae Jepsen really is the premiere producer of pop music in 2015, and the pop landscape would be really really really really really really lacking if she wasn’t a part of it.

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7 ASPECTS OF A TAYLOR SWIFT CONCERT IN HYDE PARK

1. HYDE PARK IS AN APPALLING PARK VENUE TO HOLD A CONCERT

The Park Of Hyde is just much too big to adequately accommodate a show such as a Taylor Swift pop concert. It’s not that the spectacle of the show could not fill the venue, or that her voice could not fill the venue, or that her songs could not fill the venue. Taylor can do all those things, as she is a majestic and beautiful mistress whose existence on this planet we should be forever grateful for. Live music is about intimacy, and about feeling like the performer is just as much here for you as you are to them and even though I was as close as I could quite physically get to Taylor, she still felt more distant than Britney’s lips from a live microphone. But not through any fault of her own – she reminded us every three minutes about how grateful she was that we were there. It’s just that when it comes to Popstars, the enclosure more suited to their size is the O2. Big enough that we’re in awe of it’s size, but not so big that Taylor is the size of Katy Perry’s shelf of Grammys.  The entire decision to place the gig at Hyde Park possesses a subtle scent of Taylor not quite being bothered enough to do three shows at the O2, when she could just squeeze in the one if she went to Hyde Park.

ANYHOW, the gig was going to happen and it was going to happen at Hyde Park so I may as well get over it and get ready to BOP.

2. TAYLOR ALISON SWIFT LOVES TO APPEAL TO THAT ELUSIVE AND DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND CREATURE, ‘THE FOURTEEN YEAR OLD GIRL’.

The audience who attends the concerts of Popstars, particularly in the utter MOSH PIT that is ‘General Admission – Standing’, is typically constructed of gay men – a prospect terrifying for all involved, but alas needs must. But Taylor’s appeal, much like in Real Life, transcends such minorities. She appeals to ALL. Your Nan loves Taylor. Your sister loves Taylor. Your BOYFRIEND loves Taylor. YOU LOVE TAYLOR!!

Similarly, her concert was absolutely inundated with young teenage girls who aren’t dissimilar to the sprightly young blonde cutie who first came into our lives wiping the teardrops from her guitar (thank you Beysus for allowing Taylor to escape such basic-ness – we’ve all been there). When Taylor somewhat patronisingly dishes out advice about loving yourself and treating yourself and ignoring the haters, these girls went crazy – it’s what they came here for. They hear these speeches on Tumblr and now they want to hear them in real life. Cool! At least I came out of the gig with a bit of a confidence boost so thanks for that babes!

3. TAY TAY DOES NOT ATTEMPT CHOREOGRAPHY, AND THAT IS FINE

For a popstar who doesn’t embrace choreography and who’s live vocals are, shall we say, ‘’’’’inconsistent’’’’’, Taylor has no right to produce a pop show as convincing as this. Taylor Swift, the Persona, is one of the most conspicuous personalities that currently exists within pop culture. In a world in which Beyoncé avoids interviews more than she avoids carrying children, and Katy Perry has that vague look of ‘fuck I hate my music’ behind the eyes, Taylor spends every waking minute exuding just how #GENUINE, #GROUNDED and #RELATABLE she is. Maybe it’s all a façade. But maybe it’s not. And she’s done a great job of convincing us that it’s not. Taylor’s personality carries the entire show, and when coupled with a sleuth of fantastic dancers (BUT DON’T MENTION THEM TO PERRY) and a show so extravagant that even Gaga looks on in approval, the entire show amounts to what can only accurately be described as a triumph.

4. ALSO FINE: THE ISSUE OF LIVE VOCALS

Did she mime a bit? Probably. Do we give a fuck? Hell naw.

5. SWIFTO POSSESS SOME ABSOLUTE FUCKING BANGERS

For the 1989 album, Taylor made the crushingly good decision of hooking up with none other than the GRAND MAESTER of POP MUSIC, SER MAX MARTIN of HOUSE BRITNEY SPEARS.

And holy fuck.

Are the results.

Incredible.

The duo of Max and Taylor is surely up there with Mary and Joseph in terms of pairs of people so destined to be together – one of these pairs produced something so life giving and life saving that humanity weeps tears of happiness for its mere existence, whilst the other had baby Jesus.  When Maxlor™ collide, the results are so just so full of SUGAR, the listener cannot help but feel absolutely jubilant.  ‘YOU GOT THAT JAMES. DEAN. LOOK IN YOUR EYEEEEE’. How is that chorus even real? ‘AND THAT’S HOW IT WORKS, IT’S HOW YOU GET THE GIRL’. Why is it possible for such beautiful sounds to even be created? ‘COS BABY I COULD BUILD A CASTLE!!!!!! OUT OF THE BRICKS THEY THREW AT ME-E-E-E-E’. Who did Swifto sell her soul too in order to achieve such choral euphoria?

6. NO SERIOUSLY. COMPLETELY EARTH SHATTERINGLY FANTASTIC POP SONGS

The songs are outstanding on record, but Taylor recognises that perhaps some of them require a little ‘revamp’ in order to be more appropriate for a live setting. Where the original succeeds in its ‘thin-ness’, ‘Blank Space’ is now as layered as an onion, or indeed an ogre, whilst the live version of ‘Bad Blood’ introduces the aggressive synths and pulsating beats that we’ve come to know and love from the video version of the song, which I’ve only watched once an hour since release.

7. TAYLOR SWIFT’S 1989 WORLD TOUR IS THE POP SHOW THAT ALL POP SHOW’S SHOULD ASPIRE TO BE LIKE

The evolution of Taylor Swift has been absolutely incredible to witness. Literally our faves could never. And they won’t probably. This show with all of its spectacle and leotards and dance routines is completely emblematic of what a Powerhouse of Pop Taylor has become. In years to come our grandchildren will ask ‘Where were you when Taylor released her 1989 album Grandpops?’ and I’ll say ‘In Hyde Park, questioning the sound system’.

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