SHAKE DAT ASS, GIRL.
When she’s not passed out in a puddle of urine under an 18-wheeler in rural Mississippi trying to score weed from a drug dealer named Sugar Tits McGee, Ke$ha‘s been busy crafting some sickening new pop.
The latest example? “Pretty Lady,” a new cut from her post-Animal sessions. While our Trash-Pop Goddess is currently in the studio/contributing blood/attempting to drop acid with The Flaming Lips‘ Wayne Coyne, she hit the studio back in February with Tom Neville (and her mom, Pebe Sebert!) to record this little ditty, which happens to a doozy. Or should I say dude-zy?
It’s been what feels like forever and a day (as Kelly Rowland might say) since we last heard from our almighty Ke$ha, Empress of Trash-Pop. But rest assured–she’s coming back, animals.
Earlier this year, the glitter-drenched rock ‘n’ roll pop princess spent time in L.A. recording with unstoppable pop hit-makers that helped shape her debut record Animal, Dr. Luke and Benny Blanco. This time however, she was busy crafting her very own genre, which she lovingly referred to on Twitter as “cock pop.”
Along with the usual suspects however, K$ also took to her Nashville home studio to record with Oklahoma-bred alt-rockers and newfound pals, The Flaming Lips.
As my friends over at Pop On And On initially reported, frontman Wayne Coyne tweeted out a bunch of photos and teaser clips back in January while recording a track for their upcoming Record Store Day compilation, The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends. The end result was “2012″ with Biz Markie, a track centering around “the end of the world.” (Hey, wait–that sounds oddly familiar. I wonder if she’s ever written a song like that before?)
In an interview with Pitchfork earlier this month, Coyne spoke in depth about recording with Ke$ha:
I like her so much because she’s just willing to be a freak. I’m around a lot of rock star people, and there’s just so much fucking pandering and drama. She’s not like that. It’s such a great relief to be around people that are so energetic, creative, funny, and into life.
(You’ll want to read that whole interview by the way, including a fun little anecdote about almost dropping acid with her before recording the track. Silly K$!)
Now, Ke$ha and Coyne have reunited in the studio to record more tracks–and this time, it’s for her long awaited sophomore follow-up. Once again, Coyne’s been tweeting out teasers from the sessions, like a clip of Ke$ha seductively moaning the phrase “You really got it goin’ good now.”
And most recently (as in, just a few hours ago), Coyne tweeted that he was mixing a new K$ track called “You Control My Heart,” including a sneak peek video which you can check out below.
And this is exactly what we’ve been waiting to hear: New Ke$ha. New sound. As she told MTV earlier, it sounds like she’s allowing herself to be much more vulnerable. With The Flaming Lips on board, it sounds as though our drunk-pop darling is navigating into some seriously dreamy, ambient indie-rock on whatever she’s cooking up–and it sounds fucking amazing.
As we know from her leaked demos and tracks penned for other artists, Kween Ke$ha’s quite kapable of penning pop with substance and krooning far better than she’s led the public to believe based on her most popular club-pop smashes. So, if she turns around and delivers a collection of bold left-of-center tunes that still pack a power-pop punch? I wouldn’t be surprised in the least.
This album cannot come soon enough.
Two weeks ago, I presented my Top 25 Albums of 2011. Now…it’s time for the Top 50 Singles of 2011!
If the album list was tough, this was one step short of impossible, Shontelle style. Between rock-solid offerings from my favorite pop princesses, to stunning debut tracks from some of MuuMuse’s Most Anticipated artists, to throbbing dance floor bangers from DJs and producers worldwide–there was simply too much to love in 2011!
As a result, the list took a while. I didn’t sleep. I didn’t eat. I haven’t bathed. I’m literally a disgusting music-minded mess right now.
BUT NOW IT IS COMPLETE!
This is a list of 50 of my favorite offerings of the year (plus one honorable mention which was never actually released as a single.) Since I am giving like the Baby Jesus, I’ve created a full playlist of all my Top 50 tracks on Spotify. You are welcome in advance.
So without further ado, check out the full list below. Remember: If you have a problem with the final ranking, please…don’t hold it against me!
What’s the only thing better than reflecting on my favorite releases of the past year? Why, pondering what happens next year of course!
Below are some of MuuMuse’s Most Anticipated releases of 2012–a round-up of what we already know, what we’ve already heard, what we want to hear in the next year.
Madonna, TBA (Twelfth Studio Album)
What it is: The return of the Queen.
Expected shelf date: March 2012.
Confirmed tracks: “Gimme All Your Luvin,” “Girls Gone Wild,” “Masterpiece”
Production by: William Orbit, Jean Baptiste, Martin Solveig, Benny Benassi
What we know: The chant-ridden lead single “Gimme All Your Luvin” already leaked in demo form weeks ago, though the final version will be getting a (hopefully muscled-up) makeover with M.I.A. and Nicki Minaj when released in January. But between “Gimme” and the tender sound of W.E. closer “Masterpiece”–her best ballad in years–there’s still no telling what the actual direction is yet. Regardless, Orbit claims Madonna has amazed him “in unexpected ways” while recording.
MuuMuse hopes to hear: Madonna doing what she does best–making innovative pop music that sets the bar and stands the test of time.
Marina + The Diamonds, Electra Heart (Second studio album)
What it is: Corruption, immoral behavior, and the death of the American dream–all in a blonde wig.
Expected shelf date: 2012.
Confirmed tracks: “Fear & Loathing,” “Radioactive,” “The Archetypes”
Produced by: StarGate, Guy Sigsworth, Diplo, Greg Kurstin, Dr. Luke
What we know: It’s going to be a concept record (to some degree). As Marina told PopJustice in an interview, the album tells the tale of an American Dream-meets-Greek tragedy through a character she came up with: Electra Heart. Her StarGate-produced alt-dance pop single “Radioactive”–the second part of an ongoing video series documenting the birth of Electra Heart–was easily one of the best songs of 2011, and leaked demo “Starring Role” proved that Diamandis’ caustic writing style is still very much alive and well.
MuuMuse hopes to hear: Sharp-tongued quirk-pop with punchy beats and devastating ballads–just don’t get too mired in the concept, please.
Garbage, TBA (Fifth Album)
What it is: A rock goddess and her talented troupe finally return to save the world.
Expected shelf date: Late March/Early April 2012
Confirmed tracks: TBA
Production by: Garbage
What we know: Apart from a greatest hits package, it’s been almost seven years since Garbage’s 2005 triumph, Bleed Like Me, was released. After taking some time apart as a band (including Manson’s failed foray into crafting a solo album with Greg Kurstin and Paul Buchanan that was rejected by labels for being “too noir” and will forever remain one of the world’s greatest musical injustices), the group is back. As Butch Vig told Billboard, the album will feature “noisy guitars, big electronic beats, atmospheric film moments.” And judging by the samples that they’ve teased to fans over the past few months–they’re hitting harder than ever.
MuuMuse hopes to hear: More head-spinning electronic rock production, mind-numbingly catchy hooks and razor-sharp lyricism from the one and only Miss Manson.
Charli XCX, TBA (Debut Album)
What it is: A young Goth-pop princess on the verge of exploding.
Expected shelf date: TBD.
Confirmed tracks: “Stay Away,” “Nuclear Seasons”
Production by: Ariel Rechtshaid, Patrik Berger
What we know: The 19-year-old UK club kid’s dark, industrial 2011 buzz single “Stay Away” is easily one of my favorite songs of the year, while the bouncy, vintage ’80s sheen and crackle of lead single “Nuclear Seasons” finds the 19-year-old songstress blending elements of Marina + The Diamonds, Kate Bush and Gwen Stefani.
MuuMuse hopes to hear: Gloom ‘n’ doom beats and spooky vocals.
Ke$ha, TBA (Second Album)
What it is: The trash-pop glamazon’s long awaited follow-up.
Expected shelf date: May 2012, according to Dr. Luke.
Confirmed tracks: None
Production by: Dr. Luke, Max Martin
What we know: Earlier in the year, Ke$ha told MTV that the new album was going to be “balls-out, irreverent rock and roll.” Recent leaks like “Shots On The Hood Of My Car” and “Only Wanna Dance With You” suggest more of the same glitter-drenched party pop, although it’s unclear if they’re from recent sessions. The only definite new recording is her sobering cover of Bob Dylan‘s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright.” Why the long wait? Simple. She has a goal: “To reinvent pop music.” Easy, right?
MuuMuse hopes to hear: Crunchy, rowdy beats and even sleazier debauchery. But even as the rough gem she is, Ke$ha shines brightest on her balladry–fingers crossed for at least one or two.
Lana Del Rey, Born To Die (Debut Album)
What it is: The end result of a whole lot of hipster hype.
Expected shelf date: January 30, 2012
Confirmed tracks: “Video Games,” Blue Jeans,” “Born To Die”
Production by: Justin Parker, Robopop
What we know: She’s been unfairly thrust into way too bright of a spotlight for only one or two songs so far (the genius “Video Games” and “Blue Jeans”) thanks to a nearly creepy obsession by indie bloggers both hailing and criticizing the singer (yes, she got her lips done–we get it). But the husky-voiced Del Rey–formerly Lizzy Grant–has since held her own, delivering yet another staggering, weepy-eyed smash with “Born To Die”–the title track off of her upcoming Interscope Records debut. With any luck, the album will follow suit.
MuuMuse hopes to hear: Sweeping, dramatic classics sung atop hip-hop beats and Western twangy noises with all the grandeur of a James Bond theme.
Miike Snow, TBA (Second Album)
What it is: One of pop’s greatest production troupes returns for another moment of left-of-center pop-rock ingenuity.
Expected shelf date: TBA
Confirmed tracks: “Devil’s Work”
Production by: Miike Snow
What we know: Andrew Wyatt and Bloodshy & Avant–here known individually as Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg, delivered one of pop’s greatest surprises with their 2009 record, Animal. After spending over a year recording, the trio returned with buzz single “Devil’s Work”–a sharp, staggering mixture of crashing drums, mighty horns and electronica. The accompanying tease of a video, featuring a man running down an empty desert highway, hints at an upcoming story to be told about the birth of a new human race. It’s weird, captivating and it’s all very promising.
MuuMuse hopes to hear: Strange Swede-pop production and poignant lyricism.
Diana Vickers, TBA (Second Album)
What it is: The delightfully darling X Factor Alum’s sophomore attempt.
Expected shelf date: TBA
Confirmed tracks: None
Production by: Donkeyboy, Amir Amor
What we know: The quirky electro-pop songstress isn’t straying far from the twinkling sound of her 2010 debut, Songs From The Tainted Cherry Tree. Newly premiered buzz tracks–“Music To Make The Boys Cry” and “Kiss Of A Bullet”–suggest both bright, twinkling beats and cutting Rachel Stevens-esque synth-pop.
MuuMuse hopes to hear: More of the same winning electro-pop charm, but with new and up-and-coming producers.
Sky Ferreira, TBA (Debut Album)
What it is: Pop’s most thrilling enfant terrible finally finding her footing.
Expected shelf date: TBA
Confirmed tracks: None
Production by: TBA, presumably Bloodshy & Avant
What we know: Nothing’s guaranteed. In early 2011, Ferreira released the year’s best pop EP–As If!–boasting five crunchy, forward-thinking pop cuts like “Traces” and “99 Tears.” But between album push-backs, label misfires and her own personal rebellions, no one’s certain about the fate of a Sky Ferreira LP. The underrated chanteuse has been leaking songs left and right onto her official SoundCloud, teasing everything from drifting alt-pop rock, to delicious deep disco jams, to crunchy Bloodshy & Avant unreleased gems. According to the singer herself, a new single will be released in early 2012. Let us pray.
MuuMuse hopes to hear: Anything. Sky doesn’t make bad music.
As Rolling Stone reported earlier today, Amnesty International is planning to release a staggering four-CD collection of over 76 Bob Dylan covers in January. The compilation, called Chimes of Feedom, features over 80 artists including Sting, Patti Smith and Elvis Costello. But in between all the rock legends and indie delights, there’s also some rather surprising MuuMuse Approved pop acts thrown in the mix.
For instance, there’s Natasha Bedingfield with “Ring Them Bells,” Miley Cyrus with “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome”, which nicely showcases the puff-puff-pass Disney pop princess pleasantly crooning with a country twang above a guitar strum, and even a RedOne rendition of “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” which isn’t nearly as offensive as how it appears on screen.
But then, there’s Ke$ha‘s cover of “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright”…and it’s incredible.
Now, it’s all well and good to slag off Ke$ha as a beer-guzzlin’, bathroom BJ-givin’ glitter fame hooker prostitute wench (and believe me, I do it often), but that’s only a matter of playing into the persona she’s perpetuating as a pop star. Whether or not she’ll embrace it one day, Ke$ha is a genuinely talented singer-songwriter–she’s got an incredible ear for crafting killer hooks, as well as an impressive voice when its actually stripped of all Auto-Tune (see her pre-K-e-dollar sign-ha days demo, “Goodbye”)–and when she wants to wash off the glitter and turn on the grit, she truly can.
From Rolling Stone:
Ke$ha’s love for Bob Dylan is well known, and she has long touted his 1969 release Nashville Skyline as her favorite record of all time. But when it came time to record something special for Amnesty International, she set her sights on “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” from 1963′s The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan instead. She had no idea that the experience of recording it would turn into the cathartic and emotional experience that it did.
“I didn’t want this to sound like a pop version of a Bob Dylan song,” Ke$ha tells Rolling Stone. “That’s the last thing I wanted this to sound like.”She brought her friend, producer Bob Ezrin, on board, and the two of them discussed an interpretation of the lyrics that positioned the song as a suicide note from the female perspective. But then it became something different entirely; something personal.
Accordingly, her rendition of Dylan’s song is absolutely devastating. Stripped of all vocal editing and floating above only the most minimal instrumentation (a lone string or two and some distorted ambient noise), the pop star cries as she powers through the heartbreaking number, which she originally recorded as a one-take on GarageBand while alone at home: “Goodbye’s just too good a word babe, so I’ll just say fare thee well,” she cries before breaking down into a series of sniffles and whimpers.
The cover is Ke$ha’s most haunting, chill-inducing recording to date (by far) and a very clear representation of Dylan’s influence on her as an artist (yes, I’m being completely serious), and if you can connect to even one-fourth of the emotion she’s poured into this sobering cover, chances are you’ll probably wind up in tears too.
Chimes of Freedom is now streaming on Facebook and will be released on January 24.