Today, the Pet Shop Boys release their eleventh studio album, Elysium. It’s absolutely brilliant and, if I catch a moment in between running after Madonna across the country and awkwardly chatting with Britney via webcam, I’d love to do a proper review.
I’m not religious, but she makes me want to pray.
Several minutes after 10 PM, the lights dropped at the TD Garden in Boston on Tuesday night as a group of hooded priests huddled around a massive censer, praying quietly to themselves. Behind them, a giant cross with the words “MDNA” brightly burned on the screen. Slowly, the vessel–now smoking with incense–was hoisted into the air by a giant rope, eventually swinging madly just above the audience in the pit to the shrieks of both awe and actual terror below.
After more “Isaac”-like chanting from the priests, the MDNA cross behind them slowly split open to reveal a figure kneeling inside of a floating prayer room, hidden behind a white veil. As it drew closer into the stadium, the ever-familiar Act of Contrition began to pour into the speakers. “Oh my God.” A shiver ran through the crowd. “Oh my God.” we heard on repeat–or was it just the crowd? “Oh my God.”
Suddenly, the priests began to run across the stage. And just as quickly, the figure inside the chamber began to rise, grabbing at something and turning toward the sheet. The synthesizers of “Girl Gone Wild” blared into the speakers, the sheet turned to glass, and shattered. And there she was: Madonna–gun in hand–cocked, loaded and ready to go.
While Adele continues to conquer the world with her record-breaking 21, an honest collection of bluesy, rollicking odes to heartbreak and sorrow (which is still the best-selling record of 2012, despite being released last year), England may well have just found themselves their next humble hometown glory by the name of Jessie Ware.
Arlissa is a 19-year-old singer-songwriter from the UK. She also kind of just hit the jackpot.
Having finished her A-levels in the UK (US readers–that’s like the SATs, but like, harder), the up-and-coming London-based singer was only recently recovering from a break-up with her first boyfriend and sorting out her life (TOO REAL) when she cut a track called “Hard To Love Somebody.” The song’s producer, The Fearless, started talking up the track to a publisher, who then passed it on to Nas.
Here comes the jackpot part.
Apparently, Nas loved it so much so that not only did he decide to lay down a few verses on the original, but he flew Arlissa out to LA just to meet the lucky songstress. Jackpot! And thus, a duet (and a video!) was born. Oh, right–and her ex? A massive Nas fan. Too genius, right?
Gliding on top of a swaggering midtempo beat colored by dramatic strings and piano chords, “Hard To Love Somebody” falls in line with other emotive singer-rapper collaborations of the past few years (which are, more or less, all penned by Skylar Grey–including Rihanna and Eminem‘s “Love The Way You Lie” and Diddy Dirty Money‘s “Coming Home”)
“It’s hard to love somebody, when there’s no more left to give/Oh, you took away my sunshine, now rain is all there is,” Arlissa soulfully cries out above the swirling production. I really love Arlissa’s voice–it’s like a melodic blend of Lily Allen and Dido–and that chorus is just endlessly infectious.
The track will be released on September 30–featuring remixes by 88 Keys and The Nextmen, ahead of her debut LP in 2013. Another addition to the One to Watch in 2013 list? Check!
The year: 2002. The planet: Earth. ‘Twas a simpler time. A time when music really meant something. A time when a gorgeous Russian teenage duo dressed in schoolgirl uniforms set the world ablaze with their solid, Sapphic-themed pop classics, including “Not Gonna Get Us,” “All The Things She Said” and “All About Us.”
It was the Time of t.A.T.u.‘s Reign, when we were all truly invincible…and sort of pretending to be lesbians.
But after three incredible studio albums, the t.A.T.u. mega-machine sadly came whirring to a slow finish toward the end of 2010 with their final single, “Sparks.” Since then, the girls have parted ways and thrown in their uniforms to embark on their own solo careers.
While Lena Katina‘s already making her way independently, Julia Volkova has just only begun (having her fun), starting with her debut solo single: “Didn’t Wanna Do It.”