Ellie Goulding is an unlikely pop star.
Her public image is subdued, even self-effacing; her voice is a gorgeous, fragile wisp that would sound more at home at a coffee shop than layered over a bouncing synth track; her lyrics are imbued with an aching vulnerability that most singer-songwriters would kill for. But like some other sonic greats who have paired distinctive vocals with dance beats — like Björk or Siobhan Donaghy — Ellie’s music derives much of its power from its pop sound. Likable, accessible, and danceable, her work with producers like Starsmith, Biff Stannard, and Frankmusik makes her poetry radio-friendly.
Since bursting onto the scene with her debut single, “Under the Sheets” — released via uber-hip singles label Neon Gold — Ellie was the top breakthrough act in the BBC’s Sound of 2010 poll and won the Critics’ Choice Award at the BRITs, a feat previously managed only by Adele. Her debut album, Lights, was released to commercial and critical acclaim, cementing Ellie’s position in the English cultural consciousness. But the re-release, Bright Lights, was even better, containing her sharpest work to date — collaborations with Fred Falke and Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons took her glistening folk-dance to dramatic extremes.
Ellie has toured in the U.S. more than most English artists — we don’t usually get so lucky here in the States — and she’s just kicked off her latest stateside tour. Her evolution as a live artist has been an exhilarating thing to watch, as she’s become the kind of pop performer who genuinely lights up the stage with a rare ferocity. If she’s coming to your town, don’t miss her.
A few years ago, you could take a walk down to Bleecker Street and catch a show at a small venue called The Bitter End featuring back to back performances from two of Manhattan’s most up-and-coming artists: Stefani Germanotta and Lelia Broussard.
One would ultimately ask Cher to hold her meat purse and get blasted by Bette Midler for coming out on stage dressed as a mermaid in a wheelchair, while the other would be a final contender to be the first unsigned artist to grace the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.
On August 2nd, Rolling Stone will announce which unsigned artist will be the first to make the magazine’s cover – and the contest has narrowed its way down to two finalists. Will alt-rock quartet The Sheepdogs win or will the quirky Lelia flash her signature facial-warpaint on the most esteemed music journal in the biz?
If anyone is close to stealing Florence Welch’s crown as queen of the indie chanteuses, it’s Lelia Broussard. Ever since her most recent album, Masquerade, came out in November of last year, Lelia has exploded onto the scene. No, really. I challenge you to find a coffee shop, book store, or Forever 21 that doesn’t have her song “Satellite” (written about “a sad robot in love”) on constant loop.
On August 24th, Lelia will be performing a very special one-stop show at the Highline Ballroom in New York. I caught up with Lelia to talk about what to expect from the show, how the Rolling Stone contest has impacted her life, which one of the Spice Girls she most identifies with, and more.
Last Friday night, the boys of the fabulous monthly NYC gay party GUMBO took their show on the road–migrating from their usual locale at the Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn’s DUMBO to the Canal Room in Tribeca.
After a spirited opening (and NYC debut!) by electro-pop vixen 21st Century Girl, “Impossible” crooner and Bajan beauty Shontelle hit the stage to tear into some of her biggest hits off of her last two studio albums, Shontelligence and No Gravity.
But prior to her performance that night, the singer was kind enough to spend some time chatting with all three of MuuMuse’s contributors–myself, Sam and Alex–before trekking upstairs to hit the stage at around 1:30 A.M.
The greatest part about the rapidly globalizing state of the music industry is that, thanks to the the Internet, music lovers worldwide have the ability to indulge in popular music from far-off territories while developing a strong kinship with fellow fans. The downfall, of course, is that no one else around you knows who the fuck you’re talking about.
Ladies and gentlemen, if you haven’t already: Meet Nadine Coyle.
Nadine is best known as one-fifth of a girl group called Girls Aloud.
A super slick, super chic powerhouse quintet originally formed during a UK reality singing competition called Popstars: The Rivals, the Almighty Aloud ruled the UK charts from 2002 to 2009 with their unique brand of edgy, glam pop cultivated and mastered by arguably the greatest pop writing and production troupe of all time, Xenomania.
From kicky drum & bass cuts (“Sound Of The Underground”) to lush disco gems (“Call The Shots”), the Aloud’s chart reign is–pardon the pun–untouchable, having already garnered over 20 Top 10 singles in a row (a Guinness World Record), five platinum selling albums (not to mention a greatest hits collection that went platinum thrice over), and legions of fans the world over. You know, like myself.
On Thursday evening, I somehow found myself sitting down on a bench, outside on a patio in a gorgeous Chelsea loft, with an eager Nadine Coyle sitting directly next to me. “You’ll have to forgive me, I’m trying to keep it together,” I said, nervously fumbling at my phone to start recording. “Oh, yar so togaythur,” she reassured me with her thick Derry accent, adding with a smile: “Ay would have no aydeyuh!”
As I looked down at my barely legible notes where scattered thoughts like “‘Graffiti My Soul’/Britney connection?” and “How are the Mist Burgers at Nadine’s Irish Mist?!” were frantically scribbled and squished together, I could only think to myself: What is my life right now?
You canâ€™t put Jessie Malakouti in a box, and if anybody tries to put me in a box, I will punch the roof out and I will climb out faster than you can chase me.
Fact: I have never had more fun talking with an artist than I did with Jessie Malakouti, the frontwoman, mastermind, and sole animate member of mannequin-backed dance-pop outfit Jessie and the Toy Boys.
The blonde bombshell has already been through a few artistic incarnations â€” first as a pop princess making waves with cuts like â€œTrash Me,â€ then as a dancefloor diva with dazzling single â€œStanding Up for the Lonely,â€ written with legendary global hit factory Xenomania (who counted Jessie as a valued member).
But her latest vehicle, Jessie and the Toy Boys, is more sophisticated than those earlier efforts: Itâ€™s gritter, grimier, sexier, and â€” as she explained to me â€” a more authentic representation of who she is as an artist.
And her new image has paid off, as Jessie has been snagged to open for none other than the iconic Britney Spears on her upcoming Femme Fatale tour. Itâ€™s a hugely high-profile platform for Jessie, and one that should convert countless listeners into unapologetic Fannequins.
Jessieâ€™s music is imbued with a goofy exuberance that distinguishes her from her counterparts. Amid a sea of undifferentiated pop tarts, her genuine enthusiasm, quick wit, and ferocious passion for her music and her fans comes through loud and clear, as she dished to me about spending QT with the Queen B, shooting her first major video, and what happens when people try and put Jessie Malakouti in a box. (Hint: Itâ€™s not recommended.)
With debut single â€œPush Itâ€ rapidly ascending to the top of the dance charts and anticipation running high for the Femme Fatale tour, itâ€™s clear that Jessieâ€™s global takeover is just beginning.