In high school I was an insufferable music snob, in that extra-insufferable way only teenagers can manage while still taking themselves utterly seriously.
My appreciation for music was directly proportional to the degree to which nobody knew about said music. I actively rejected popular music, and I accused bands that enjoyed any modicum of success of “selling out,” because WOW does it ever suck when creative people can make a decent living doing something they love.
Stupid creatives. You should be TOILING in the DARK so that I can impress the teenage nobodies I hang out with by ranting about how unappreciated you are! JUST NEVER BECOME APPRECIATED, OK? That would ruin everything.
Yeah, it doesn’t make sense to me now either. Also, the result of all this was that I listened to a lot of terrible music.
I haven’t fully broken the habit. I had friends raving at me about some new lady called Robyn as early as 2008, but because I’m still immediately suspicious when it seems like everyone I know is raving about something, I decided not to investigate. Thus it wasn’t until I saw last summer’s video for “Call Your Girlfriend” that I realized I was totally missing out on something amazing.
Much of pop music is pretty vapid, I’ll admit, but these days I have cultivated an appreciation even for vapid pop music (Britney’s last album is AMAZING and I will fight anyone who argues with me on this). And while it may sometimes be that people like pop music because it’s ubiquitous and unchallenging, the harsh truth is that sometimes people like pop music because it’s good. Or, at the very least, they like it AND it’s good.
Having supplied this overwrought preamble, I want to tell you about three seriously-not-obscure new releases I’m really, really excited about, expecting you all to shrug noncomittally and go "WHATEVER, LESLEY." Ready?
I was a latecomer to Ladyhawke’s eponymous first album, which was released in 2008; I didn’t discover it (and play it to death) until 2010. Her music is clearly 80s-flavored but not so much as to sound dated or overdone; she has credited Electric Light Orchestra’s “Time” as one of her favorite albums of all time, and you can hear it in her music. Also, OMG ME TOO.
The first single off Ladyhawke’s upcoming album is “Black White & Blue”; her new full-length, “Anxiety,” hits your favorite site for music-procurement on March 27 for US consumers.
Next up: Gossip, everyone’s favorite dance-electro-punk ultraqueer superstars, have just released the first single off their latest effort, “A Joyful Noise.” Gossip’s last full-length was 2009’s excellent disco-esque “Music for Men,” and since then frontlady Beth Ditto also released a solo EP, which was great, but I think secretly we were all thinking of that as the apertif for a new Gossip album.
No? Just me? Oh well.
The new album is co-produced by Brian Higgins and Mark Ronson (best known for producing Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black and Adele’s 19), and is due to drop on May 22. Ditto says of the time spent recording that she “spent the whole year listening to ABBA.” That can only bode well for the result, so far as I’m concerned.
The new single is called "A Perfect World," and fits nicely with Gossip’s ever-evolving brand of soulful punkish pop.
Finally: My love for Marina and the Diamonds is pretty much all-consuming, and just when I thought I couldn’t possibly BE any more excited about Marina’s soon-to-be-released album, "Electra Heart," she goes and drops a video for a track called "Primadonna."
Marina makes brilliantly self-aware pop music. Much of the material on her first album, “The Family Jewels” playfully interrogated consumer culture and gender roles, as well as the uniquely American ideology of wealth and beauty (Marina herself is Welsh, so she has a bit of an outsider perspective), wrapping in all up in a pink fluffy package. Like a teddy bear with a bomb in it.
“Primadonna” is no different, with Marina taking on the persona of a spoiled rich girl in a perfect life to explain, “You say that I'm kinda difficult/But it's always someone else's fault” and “I know I've got a big ego/I really don't know why it's such a big deal, though.”
I have been playing “Primadonna” almost continuously since the video was released last week. I’m actually a little obsessed with it. I’m ACTUALLY going to admit that the whole point of this post was to make you watch this video, so. Watch it!
"Electra Heart" comes out on April 30. Obviously, I am excited.
Is there any new music you’re excited about? Is there any new music you’re excited about that I also should be excited about? Do you hate everything that I love? Excite us all with your comments.