Ray Charles

Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to Abbey Road Studios for the EMI 2012 showcase. Lots of people from radio to digital to press to tv and so on were all gathered together for a few songs from lots of artists across the Parlophone / Virgin / EMI stable on what was the last day before EMI was sold. On the bill was Leeds band To Kill A King, Morning Parade, The Good Natured, Professor Green, Emeli Sande and Kylie headlining and revealing her orchestral album for 2012.

Emeli Sande was an utter superstar live and I can’t wait to see her do a full live show, but the most obvious radio hit out of the lot of them was the new one from Chiddy Bang.  The duo from Philadephia released the brililant MGMT sampling Opposite of Adults and Passion Pit sampling in 2010 but nothing else seemed to happen. It’s all go now though with the release of their debut album Breakfast set for Spring 2012. This is the lead single and it’s a smash. Craig Charles can certainly make a good jingle out of it for his radio show if nothing else.

Somewhere in Italy

US r&b producers love to come out into the spotlight at the moment, and the latest are The Stereotypes now performing as Jon MCXRO (amusingly pronounced Jon McEnroe).

They’ve just released their debut album for free download (get it legally here) and a video for the fun electro-rap of LEGO.

The standout track for me though is ‘Somewhere in Italy’. Featuring former US boyband member Travis Garland (he was in a group with Artie from Glee), it samples Piero Umilani’s Crepuscolo Sul Mare, composed for the Ocean’s 12 soundtrack, and is just 4 minutes of a lush r&b groove.

Utterly gorgeous

Tanya Lacey

The name Tanya Lacey is probably a little familiar thanks to her feature earlier in 2011 on Loick Essien’s How We Roll. Signed by RCA earlier in the year she’s just about to start releasing her own material starting with the incredible ‘Letters To My Ex’. Super soulful, Tanya started her career in Bristol reggae band, Laid Back, when she was 16 and after learning her craft went her own way a few years later.  Now she’s been working with Roc Nation and Labrinth for her debut album and we’re told we can expect some of her reggae rapping abilities to present itself on forthcoming tracks. She can also play the steel drums! Bring it!

Currently she’s being introduced via specialist media, but the old school Alicia / Mary J / John Legend / Lauren vibes to this track feel like it would be enough to break her through so hopefully they’ll return to this song next year when it’s time to go mainstream.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NqG7p21D2Ys&feature=channel_video_title[/youtube]

A sound of 2012 contender for sure.

The House of Annie Lennox

I have a rather unfair opinion of Annie Lennox as a woman who doesn’t half bleat on. Thankfully it tends to be about amazing, worthy things that she’s upto or supporting. She’s certainly the most obvious AIDS activist I can think of. Had however, I have been about (in non toddler format) at the height of her fame I suspect I’d be a huge, huge fan and she would have been right up my street.

A strong, confident woman with able to manipulate her image, play with her sexuality, become an icon and put on a fierce show. What’s not to love? I’m a fan of the Eurythmics and solo songs I’ve just come across in my life but they’re another one of those bands that are on my very long list of people to properly invest time in when I have it.

This weekend I happened across The House of Annie Lennox at The V&A. We had half an hour in the museum and were quickly running through to see what we could find. I’ve only ever been around the fashion galleries there (currently closed until April 2012) and my childhood memory was that that was the entire museum. How wrong I am. I need to go back there and do some proper exploring.

This time however we were lucky enough to discover this nearly hidden room. It’s a gorgeous one room display, curated by Annie herself, that pumps out songs and displays some of her famous outfits, her awards, and various handwritten lyrics, notes and memories. Centered around what looks like a small wendy house, it’s really worth popping in quickly and checking it out if you’re in the area. It’s definitely reignited my interest and jumped the Eurythmics to the top of my bands to listen to list.

The exhibition is free and runs until the end of February 2012.

BETTER THAN SOPHIE HABIBIAS

… even possibly in name. Meet Phlo Finister – her real name is Elijah (even though she is a girl!). 19 years old and from LA, she’s obsessed with Edie Sedgewick and has reversioned Nancy Sinatra’s ‘Bang Bang’ with a bassline sample from Mobb Deep’s ‘Shook Ones’. It could still do with a bit of an Audiobully’s DOWN DOWN DOWN DOWN breakout.

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/31053578[/vimeo]

Classy American swagger without the surgically enhanced lips.

Oh My – Dirty Dancer

Earlier in the year I was very excited to put new girl duo Oh My on our Future Hits Live bill. Since the summer, the Example managed girl group have beenslowly building themselves up with buzz releases like ‘Run This Town’ and ‘Kicking & Screaming’ but now they’re launching properly with the girl power smasher ‘Dirty Dancer’.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEd6VjOlM2g[/youtube]

A great video and a perfectly timed release to push them further in the mind of Sound of 2012 voters. Jade’s face / hair / everything is packed full of attitude and together they happily combine cuteness with some kick-ass moves.

Delilah

Delilah – what a brilliant name to be given if you’re thinking about growing up to be a popstar.

You might have heard the temptress in question when she appeared on Chase & Status’ ‘Time’. Now signed to Atlantic Records the ‘Ain’t Nobody’ sampling Go is her debut solo single.

Dark and brilliantly wobbly, Go creaks with so much sexiness it’ll take only one listen for it to head straight on your down and dirty playlists.

iFFY The Bad Man

A bit of ‘Forget You’, a slice of Bruno Mars – this is the most immediate radio-friendly song I’ve heard in ages. It’s ridiculously so. Also he’s super cute – swoon!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lkK-mmtZ85U[/youtube]

Information is lacking – I think he’s just being launched in the States and hopefully will be out over here on Island next year. He’s from Miami, moved to Harlem as a teen and developed a passion for hats. I guess you can’t have everything.

Selena Gomez

The whole Disney doing music with pretty young things escapade has pretty much passed me by as I was too old for High School Musical which is when everything really blew up. Jonas Brothers-wise I only care about my hope that Nick never returns to his ‘trying to squeeze a poo out’ acting face as Marius in Les Mis. Miley though admittedly did raise the game dramatically with the absolute excellence of ‘See You Again’ and then the not quite as good but still ace ‘Fly On The Wall’.

Selena Gomez, despite her fabulously pop star name, has never quite made it into my musical radar. She’s a beautiful china doll but the only real interest I had with her was the decision to curiously name her pop outfit ‘Selena Gomez and The Scene’.

Regardless of her background – if you were a the two seminal pop albums of our time (State of Mind & Come and Get It) then you need to hear her new single.

‘Love You Like A Love Song’ is furiously icy and robotic. Selena however reckons it’s ‘talking about how crazy you are about someone whenever it’s the beginning. It’s the honeymoon stage if you will.” Of course we all know that frigid pop music is the best kind particularly when it’s paired with a video that must have been storyboarded when someone was completely high. In contrast her last single ‘Who Says’ was warm and bubbly but absolutely diabolical.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EgT_us6AsDg&ob=av3e[/youtube]

COLDEST GIRLFRIEND EVER.

Jess Mills

Jess Mills‘ first slice of chart power came earlier this year when she was the featured vocalist on Breakage’s Fighting Fire. I think this type of thing is described as post-dubstep or some nonsense, but let’s all be honest here… this is stone cold trance.

Jess was a member of a slightly blogged up group called His Girl Friday which is an awesome name for a group and should be reused immediately. Now she’s hanging out with this Mr Breakage and making songs that don’t sound like much else at the mo. I think it’s the spaced out echoey effects on her vocals that really get me.

Her new single ‘Live For What I’d Die For’ is out August 1
Jess Mills - Live For What I'd Die For by Jess Mills

And make sure you listen to her awesome cover of The Cure’s ‘A Forest’. It’s a joy to hear a Cure cover that isn’t in the bossa nova style for once and instead sounds like something you might be sliced to death by a serial killer too. Love.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1waYjYguKOk[/youtube]

p.s. Florrie can bore off already