Once upon a time, pop and rock came together and made a baby, and its name was Pop-Rock. Very strictly speaking, Pop-Rock is a fusion genre that mixes a catchy pop style and light lyrics in its (typically) guitar-based rock songs. Other genres that bear similar traits would be Powerpop, Melodic Rock, Soft Rock, Jangle Pop, Glam Rock, New Wave, Indie Pop and of course, Rock ’n’ Roll.
Back in the early 90s, when Nirvana were top of the charts, alternative rock became the ‘in-thing’ and suddenly, the so-called ‘corporate rock’ of the 80s was something to be disdained by the grunge generation. Despite being critically reviled, here are seven examples of great rock songs that deserve a revaluation.
The Beatles 1 album compiles all the #1 hits that the Fab Four issued during their career & always provides a concise history of the band’s popularity. The original compilation was released 15 years ago and this reissue pairs the 27 tracks with videos (it is the Youtube age, after all).
It’s always intriguing to have two opposing ideas build up to a contrast in a music video. And this is why the music video for THELIONCITYBOY’s new single “All Night Feat Sezairi, Mr Boo” works despite the inevitable clunky acting.
The song itself is quite lightweight pop with local crooner Sezairi providing the sweetness but there is a edgy underbelly when you appreciate where THELIONCITYBOY’s lyrics are coming from. It’s a refreshing take on hip hop’s usual concerns about partying and hooking up with the opposite sex.
The video is altogether a different proposition. Ostensibly, it may seem corny and cliched to come up with a horror story before Halloween but it seems that the zombie motif is really a deep commentary on relationships and it resonates when the actress involved is THELIONCITYBOY’s own better half, Aarika Lee.
I mean, that scene where she’s asking her zombie partner why he’s so slow (riding his bicycle at the beach – what a twist on the cliche!) is hilarious. So when the ending comes, it makes so much sense and the viewer is nodding in a knowing agreement. Which is why I have always appreciated THELIONCITYBOY’s work – it lures you in with superficial hip hop tropes but then slays you with a meaningful thought-provoking message.
Punk trio Dirt Radicals began life as Pug Jelly and earned a reputation as Singapore favourite “pop punk ang mohs”, became Saw Loser and settled for The Dirt Radicals. Whatever. What matters is the music and in that department, The Dirt Radicals continue to deliver melodious, chirpy punk rock in spades. The Dirt Radicals are set to release their new EP “Duder.” on November 3rd, with pre-orders available now. The debut single “Your Heart” is already circulating on Lush 99.5fm. See music video below.
This October 17th, 2015 the band will be performing a free show at Hood Bar & Café at Bugis Junction, Singapore. Local heroes Caracal will be opening the show. Doors open at 6pm. For more information, log on to www.thedirtradicals.com.
If I wasn’t aware that “Magic Cup” was a new song, I would be at a loss to identify which decade it was made in.
The blues riffs, the swampy rhythm section, the distorted vocals and the general shambolic vibe evoke 60s garage rock effortlessly. I would not have been surprised to find out that this was a Sonics or even Blue Cheer track.
But of course, it’s not. It’s Sloom – a rock n roll band from Sydney’s Inner West – with an utterly unoriginal sound that works for the 3 minutes and 33 seconds.
Into their second single for Sony Music, it’s clear that The Sam Willows have honed their pop technique to a tight construct with “For Love” – the chorus comes with soaring banks of vocals even if the familiar melody does not move listeners that much.
The song recalls Imagine Dragons, Of Monsters & Men and even the quartet’s own “Glasshouse”. Not quite as incongruous as its predecessor “Take Heart”, this time the electro-pop elements complement the song rather well.
The message behind the video is strong and to the band’s credit maintains a personal emotional connection. It might be too close to the bone for many people but if pop music can be used to touch hearts, minds and souls in this manner then kudos to The Sam Willows for at least, taking their best shot at making a statement!
English band Japan never hid their influences, with The New York Dolls, Roxy Music, David Bowie and The Velvet Underground, readily apparent from their image and music. Consisting of David Sylvian (lead vocals, guitar), Richard Barbieri (synths, keyboards), Mick Karn (bass, sax, flute, backing vocals), Steve Jansen (drums, percussion, backing vocals) and Rob Dean (guitar), the band would in turn inspire many of the 80s New Romantics (Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet etc) though the band themselves swore off that label.
Quiet Life, their 3rd LP, is significant as it signalled a shift in style as Japan eschewed the glam-rock of their first two LPs in favour of a more experimental synth-based approach, which bordered on art rock. This allowed the creativity of Karn and Barbieri to shine through in their instrumental work and Sylvian began to step of the shadow of his #1 vocal inspiration, Bryan Ferry. Guitars were no longer used to provide chordal accompaniment and where utilised would be more atmospheric in nature. This change in direction probably led to guitarist Dean leaving, subsequent to the album’s release.
Songs like the dance-rocking title track, the mutant groovy “In Vogue” and the Roxy-channeling “Halloween” provided the album highlights, whilst the sublime cover of the Velvets’ “All Tomorrow’s Parties” would make for a particularly memorable single.
As a quartet, Japan would go on to release the successful Gentlemen Take Polaroids and Tin Drum albums before splitting up in 1982 to explore even more progressive rock territories individually.
Not sure what describing your band as ‘romance rockers’ does for your profile but there you go. Lady Low are not 80s ‘new romantics’ in case you are wondering. In fact, if nothing else this new single with its insistent beat and heavy strings is somewhat reminiscent of The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony”. Which might be a good comparison to have actually. In the final analysis, that beat and string hook is quite infectious and it will get stuck in your head, after one listen. Personally, I am thrilled that it’s a pop-rock track that has all the right influences – if that isn’t a recommendation, I don’t know what the hell is!
Although it mainly consists of vocals, guitar, strings and a smattering of piano notes, there is a certain dynamism and power that distinguishes Brett Randell’s new single “Rise”. Randell’s voice isn’t too sugary and in fact is rather nasal at times but it conveys the emotion well on this uplifting song of encouragement. I like how Randell resists the temptation of cluttering up the arrangement and keeps things very spare so that his lyrics shine through. In fact, I almost expect it to break out into a pop-punk anthem but thankfully that never happens. Definitely one to savour, if you are into edgy ballads that carry the weight of a meaningful life message.
I will be honest (when am I not?) – I first noticed Gayle Nerva in a tour video of I Hate This Place in Japan sometime ago and was struck by her effervescent personality. Then, it was her lovely voice and then her heartfelt ballads that got my firm attention. I have always believe that given a chance, her music would appeal to a mainstream pop audience home and abroad.
Well, glad to say that her new single “Pretend” is out – it’s a dark electro-pop number produced by Trick’s Marc Lian – and Gayle will be performing at the Esplanade Recital Studio on Saturday, September 5th. Tickets available from SISTIC. Check out the music video below.
So The Little Giant (aka Hilary Yang) was one of my last NAC Noise mentees last year and the problem with listening to a song in its embryonic form is sometimes it’s hard to accept a radically different version. Thus it’s the case with “You Got Some” which in typical Hilary fashion has something to do with the male obsession with sex. This first single from Hilary’s debut EP – “Let’s Just Be Honest” is now a bit of a rockabilly number which I have an issue with – Hilary’s vocal delivery becomes quite garbled with the increased tempo and God knows it’s all about her lyrics. But the saving grace is this wonderful lyric video (by Annie Hung – well done with the male sexual metaphors!) which sets out the lyrics before your very eyes whilst you hear the song and voila! Problem solved.
The Little Giant “Let’s Just be Honest” EP Launch
Friday, 4th September 7pm
BluJaz Cafe (3rd Floor) 11 Bali Lane, Historic Kampong Glam, Singapore 189848
(With special guests, The MadHatter Project & Anise SG!)
$15 advanced tickets available at : thelittlegiantEP.peatix.com
$20 tickets at the door (subject to availability)
$30 ticket + EP at the door (subject to availability)
If nothing else, the Fantastic Four reboot has gotten us thinking about the worst superhero movies out there – of which there is an abundance, sadly.
Well, first up, of course, the obvious ones from DC’s World’s Finest, no less.
SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE (1987)
How did this franchise go from highly acclaimed (the first two instalments) to an absolute dud?
BATMAN AND ROBIN (1997)
Tim Burton revived the Bat-franchise with two well-received dark movies before Joel Schumacher decided to have some campy fun with the character. George Clooney famously said that he almost single-handedly killed the Caped Crusader! A nadir for the superhero genre.
X-MEN: THE LAST STAND (2006)
Again, two hit movies in the franchise somehow led to a turkey. Bryan Singer abandoned this 2nd X-Men sequel to helm Superman Returns (more of that later) leaving Bret Ratner to pick up the pieces. What he assemble was a travesty that subsequent X-Men movies have barely acknowledged. Favourite line? “I’m the Juggernaut, bitch!”
X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE (2009)
Now, Fox had a huge hit with The Last Stand (based on the goodwill generated by the first two X-movies) so they probably thought, let’s take the most popular X-Man and make an origin movie that is just as bad. Here’s how awful this was – they sowed up Deadpool’s mouth! Seriously WTF!
SUPERMAN RETURNS (2006)
Not content in being an indirect cause for X-Men: The Last Stand sucking so bad, Bryan Singer had to foist on us all this ill-judged sequel to Superman II. C’mon! It was obvious from the beginning that this was the wrong approach for Superman in 2006.
Yes I do realise that there are still many more out there but the ones highlighted above were serious tentpole movies that spent a fair amount of money but failed as creative endeavours (some of them actually made big bucks). Thus, I ignored the likes of Daredevil, Thor: The Dark World, Iron Man 3, Green Lantern, Amazing Spider-Man 2 etc. Considering the only superhero characters at risk now are solely in the hands of 20th Century Fox (Daredevil and Punisher have thankfully reverted to Marvel and SONY is working with Marvel on Spider-Man), there is still scope for bad superhero films with the upcoming Deadpool, Gambit and upcoming X-movies. Fingers crossed, everyone!
“Old soul” is probably an apt description of singer-songwriter Theodora’s muse.
This 18 year old has a perceptive creativity beyond her tender years with an artistic sensibility that reflects a subtle maturity. This is already painfully obvious when listening to her debut single “Lines”, written about the loss about a loved one – “I sit in silence in the memory of you”.
Now here’s a thoughtful video – lovingly crafted by director Leonard Soosay – that represents visually the emotions that “Lines” evokes, with style and finesse.
Theodora’s debut EP is planned for the end of the year – keep a close watch on that, dear readers.
In the meantime, check out the gorgeous video for “Lines”.