Monday, August 30, 2010

First Listen: Cee Lo Green - "Fuck You"

While debating the best way to kick off Soul Ain't Dead week, I came across a tweet from a friend of mine, emerging young R&B/soul singer Elle B. and needed look no further. Elle has spent much of the last several months gallivanting across the globe backing up Katy Perry on the pop goldmine's promotional tour for the new album Teenage Dream (which as you might have heard dropped a week ago; look for Vertigo Shtick's review later this week). Nation-specific music releasing/availability being what it is, it's a bit of a challenge for our dear Elle to keep up with new releases when the California Gurls are abroad, hence her tweeting search for a killer new track that debuted on YouTube ten days ago and, according to releasing label, has since been featured on over 4500 music blogs. Since I'll do anything for a good friend or a good artist (especially if she's both) and because it's one of the most joyous, deliriously enjoyable new soul tracks in recent history and therefore grade-A evidence disproving the supposed decease of the genre.


You've heard of Cee Lo Green - or at least you've heard him, even if you don't know it. Green is best known as half of the critically worshipped duo Gnarls Barkley (with Danger Mouse), although he had a pair of modest hits in 2002-03 and even sang background vocals on TLC's 1995 megahit "Waterfalls." (He also co-wrote the Pussycat Dolls' debut single "Don't Cha," but bear with me.) Now Green, in advance of his upcoming solo album Lady Killer, has unleashed upon the world a single with a title almost as surprising as how the song more than lives up to the hype such a title invariably (and shrewdly) creates. "Fuck You" is a kiss-off to a gold-digging ex-girlfriend and the fool whose arm on which she now hangs. Not exactly groundbreaking lyrical subject matter, perhaps, but the packaging is a disarming and rare delight: instead of angry guitars and caterwauling, "Fuck You" is a raucus, up-tempo and upbeat 60s-throwback number that could easily be performed by a church gospel choir without anyone raising an eyebrow, so pleasant and joyful is the presentation.

"Guess he's an X-Box and I'm more an Atari," Green sings (not dating himself at all or anything), but after one spin of this I'm guessing you'll be ready to go back and play some Pong.




Check back soon to catch the in-depth Vertigo Shtick interview with Elle B.!

Soul Ain't Dead Week

A month or so ago a name appeared atop the Twitter trending list that hadn't been seen for quite a while, and the music blogosphere was suddenly abuzz with a flurry of excitement and disbelief surrounding a possibly new leaked track and a question suddenly on everyone's lips: had Lauryn Hill returned?

The 35-year-old singer (who famously all but disappeared from music following her smash debut) has hinted ever so slightly that a comeback might be in the works, and will appear at four dates of the Rock the Bells 2010 concert series later this month, but officially the music world continues its vigilant wait, twelve years later, in hopes of another masterpiece from arguably the greatest R&B singer of our time. While the song in question, a mid-groove soul number dubbed "Repercussions," was generally thought at last to be a castaway track recorded for Hill's iconic 1998 album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, the enormous response to the technically new material made one thing clear: a market for the R&Soul music that defined the early- to mid-90s exists in abundance.

Browse the comments of almost any YouTube video of songs by Lauryn Hill, Jill Scott, old Mary J. Blige, Ginuwine, or the like and you'll see scores of lamentations about soul music (often referred to by these commenters as "real music") is dead, or at least how they don't make music like that anymore. Indeed, the soul renaissance of the 1990s gave way to the hip hop resurgence of the 2000s, and the R&B/Hip Hop Billboard charts saw fewer soul entries as the new millenium rang in. 

But now Jay-Z is saying Hip Hop is dead, and despite the fact that one look at the Hot 100 top ten rebuts that opinion handily, it seems that some really great soul keeps popping up here and there lately, and when it does it makes a splash. Even I have embarked upon an in-depth study of the recent history of soul and R&B music as a sort of extra-curricular diversion to inform my pop sensitivities, and I've brought back some souvenirs for the loosely pop music world Vertigo Shtick inhabits and informs. I'll call it Soul Ain't Dead week: an exploration and celebration of some of the newest in soul and R&B that appeals to this readership not so much because the selections are merely pop-friendly, but more because they're mostly just pretty damn good. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Girlicious Songs You May Have Missed...

Matt Burstyn, Vertigo Shtick Contributor

There have been certain pop artists that hold a special place in my music tastes (i.e.: Robyn, Kylie Minogue, Euro-pop etc). Since my first days on the dance floor Girlicious has been part of that category of pop/dance/club music that brings that delicious sensation of droppin’ low. Girlicious is the creation of Robin Antin, founder of the burlesque music group sensation The Pussycat Dolls. After the entrepreneur’s first TV series “Quest For The Next Doll,” which (briefly) added a fifth backup doll to lead singer Nicole Scherzinger via pre-taped CW reality competition show, the second(! - baffling, it's true) season took the reality competition a new (-ish) road: the formation of a brand new all-female pop group. Originally planned as a trio, the final decision at the end of the TV series begat a quartet.

Signed by the girls. They're even more gorgeous in person.
After the group's disappointing first album release and due to differing artistic points of view, the urban pop group eventually decided to go in a more mainstream pop direction, although this decision, amidst other differences and controversy, resulted in member Tiffanie Anderson leaving Girlicious. The line-up change and new direction makes the difference in their new album, Rebuilt, soon to be released (a reported August 24 release date seems to be inaccurate).
I had the pleasure of seeing them live at my favorite gay club, Tigerheat (at the Avalon on Hollywood and Vine in Los Angeles). Seeing an act at a club is always an experience, what even more when you want to see them. *Shout out to my newly met friend, Sharon Wu from NYU. My dance partner on the floor right before the girls went up on stage. "Thank you, gurl."

Back to Girlicious: The act composed of an intro medley with covers of awesome dance tracks that helped pump the crowd and get a good vibe of what Girlicious is made of. My favorite was the cover of "Sexy Bitch," originally by David Guetta featuring Akon. Hearing “I’m a sexy bitch” sung live by these girls proves the statement. The other live performed songs will be featured as the Songs You May Have Missed below. (The autographed picture I managed to get and scan on here totally proves that Girlicious is a great compliment to the pop-world. Robin Antin’s choice in female empowerment via pop music was a damn good one.)


5 Girlicious Songs You May Have Missed 

“Stupid Shit” – Girlicious (Geffen, 2008)
With a ghetto-fab beat, and blunt lyrics like “Let’s do some stupid shit, yeah” and “Wanna g-g-get down, g-g-get down.” Being direct and to the point has never been so hot. Their first single that started it all is a guilty pleasure whenever I’ve gone out clubbing.  Let’s face it:  “Smart Club Song” doesn’t have nearly as much appeal.

“Like Me” – Girlicious (Geffen, 2008)
The follow-up single to the last track. There isn’t murder on the dancefloor, but the knock-out confidence in “Like Me” can bring on a competitive edge. This song has a little less girl-rap and some more harmony. Akin to Fergie’s song lyric: “Them chick is jocking my swagger.” Message is clear: “get your own style before I tear you a new one” (Perhaps not that violent, but I can dream).

The original lineup: Nat, Chris, Nic & Tiff
“Drank”Rebuilt (Universal, 2010)
One of the songs I got a chance to hear live. This song is a great crowd-warmer after their “Sexy Bitch” intro medley. After two minutes of inner diva and demanding threats of: “If I don’t get a glass, you ain’t gettin’ ass. Boy, don’t even ask.” There’s an awesome 20 second break of harmonization. Girlicious is waiting at the club and needs some liquor, fast. Like Oh My God, this track will like, totally grow on you; Even more so if you’ve drank.

“2 In The Morning” Rebuilt (Universal, 2010)
Girlicious pulls a Paradiso Girls (another girl group affiliated with Robin Antin) they’ve gotten a few sips off “Patron Tequila” (margaritas and hopefully a trio of shots). Time to dance until after hours with "2 In The Morning." Sampling the addictive martini clinking beat of early 2000’s dance track: “Around The World (La La La)" by europop group ATC (A Touch Of Class). It’s a great club song and it’s got me singing “La la la.”
 
Nat, Nic and Crys. Rebuilt.
“Maniac”Rebuilt (Universal, 2010)

Also preformed live, this is my favorite track I’ve heard so far off Rebuilt. Once you’ve "Drank" past "2 In The Morning" with Girlicious, why not after party with them? Do you get to see Girlicious’ inner maniac in the bedroom after “Drank” and “2 In The Morning”? I didn’t mean to lead you on (OMG like sorry?). "Maniac’s" powerful pop song that shows the stronger side of their vocals; a crazy high paced tempo that makes you want to lose control on the floor. The live preformance featured sharp dance moves and neon color variations of their skin-tight white outfits (shown on the autographed photo). I took great pleasure of the facial expression and literal eye twitch on cue to: “My eyes begin to twitch. Dr. Jekyll, Mrs. Hyde. ”


Looking at the leaked track list for the sophomore album Rebuilt; it's mashed with some sexy samplings and covers off well-established dance-pop singles plus their own. With limited information on how to buy the album, the release is coming. This hyped up blogger will be checking Twitter @Girlicious and the Girls' website to find out.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Win a Copy of Robyn's "Body Talk Pt. 2!"

For the past nine months since I launched this little pop music blog that could, I have had a blast - and learned a ton - as I've worked on bringing Vertigo Shtick to life and finding its voice and place in the blogosphere. Looking back, I'm very pleased with the result thus far; looking forward, ideas and potential abound and it's time to get some readers!

As part of my effort to get Vertigo Shtick out to the public and the public over to Vertigo Shtick, I'm excited to announce a little sweetener I've added to the deal. As you probably know, my favorite Robyn drops her new album Body Talk Pt. 2 on September 7...and one lucky subscriber will be getting a free copy courtesy of Vertigo Shtick!


To enter for your chance to win the legitimately KILLER dance album from Sweden's pop goddess, simply sign up to become an email subscriber by12:00am PST on September 6, 2010. You'll then get Vertigo Shtick posts delivered, once daily, right to your inbox, so you can follow all the music, the discussion, the reviews, and the fun Vertigo Shtick provides, and you might even get a fantastic new Robyn album as a bonus!

So subscribe today for your chance to win and spread the word to help me get this little pop music blog on the map and out for all to enjoy!

See here for more details.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Song for the (Hump) Day: Madonna "Justify My Love"

Well look at that, folks: it's Hump Day once again, and the associated mood is once again upon me. Today looks to be an especially steep hump for me today at the workplace, too, so it appears necessary not only to choose a great Song for the Hump Day, but to pull out the big guns as well today. Fortunately, a certain special pop legend celebrated her 52nd birthday earlier this week, and the icon in question happens to be one of the great sexual pioneers/"pop perverts" of pop music history. Yes, our lady Madonna is over the half-century mark and still sailing on, boinking 20-somethings with similarly religious names, attempting to adopt much of the non Jolie-Pitt sub-Saharan youth, and bathing daily in hundred dollar bills and caviar.

Those of us who fall firmly within the bounds of the Millenial generation no longer have the same appreciation of Madonna that our very near elders do; children of the late '90s like myself typically see her Madgesty through the post-William Orbit/Ray of Light lens, and are more likely to recall her Hard Candy album cover crotch shot than blonde ambition or conical brassieres. Luckily, somewhere along the way one of my dear friends had enough sense to browbeat me into purchasing The Immaculate Collection and actually listening the whole way through (despite my well documented dislike of most '80s pop), which is how I happened upon a pair of songs that maybe didn't change my life but definitely supplied legitimacy (and more than a few helpful pointers). Eventually I sought out the video for one of them, "Erotica," and found it to be quite what I was expecting, if I was expecting anything in particular. As edgy as it was in 1990 upon its release, the video for "Erotica" isn't quite yet totally tame by 2010 standards, but neither is it anything I hadn't seen before or felt I shouldn't be seeing. Graphic treatment of sexual themes was, after all, my forte.


It was when I encountered the video for the second number of the dirty duo that, for the first and probably only time in my life, I fully appreciated the true power and impact of Madonna's sexuality, in a visceral way I imagine was standard at the start of the 1990s: something from the pop music past that was all but impossible to relive. It wasn't because "Justify My Love" was graphic, though, just as the song itself isn't: in fact, it was quite the opposite quality that affected me so strongly, the subtlety and requirement of imagination finally proving what my dad had told me at the outset of my pubescent years: "Seeing everything is rarely half as exciting as when something is left to the imagination." To this day, the song is one of the few songs that has the capability of turning me on at least a few degrees when it plays, regardless of situation or mood or anything else.

So for this particularly hefty Hump Day, get open and ready, and enjoy Madonna's sexiest track ever, "Justify My Love."




Monday, August 16, 2010

Songs You May Have Missed...

Matt Burstyn, Vertigo Shtick Contributor

Missing some rhythm and blues? This week: passion and soul, provided by Vertigo Shtick.
Dedicated To This Blog’s Creator: David Salter. 
“At Your Best (You Are Love)” Aaliyah  - Age Ain’t Nothin’ But A Number (Jive, 1994)
This Isley Brother’s song cover mixes the funky synthesizor of the original, and the sounds of Aaliyah’s angelic soul. The simple task of letting you know can go a long way.  A lot of love was shared with the late artist’s passing, and she is definitely remembered “at her best.” Read more on Vertigo Shtick about Aaliyah.




“Rain” SWVRelease Some Tension (RCA,  1997)
Their last single before splitting up this Sister’s With Voices (SWV) disbanded after they rained down to #25 on Billboard’s Hot 100 with “Rain.” The month before this single, Destiny’s Child released their first single: “No No No.” The baton of: All Female R&B Group seemed to have passed, but did Destiny’s Child pass it on?  Vertigo Shtick previewed a single of new all-girl group with an album coming later this year. One word: Richgirl.



“They Say Vision” ResHow I Do (Geffen, 2001)
Hitting #37 on Billboard’s Hot 100 Single Sales in 2002, and #1 on Billboard’s DanceChart. This laid-back track and Res’ vocals really gives her soul away into this often glanced over hit. Despite rapid-fire lyrics in the chorus it stays well in time, “They Say Vision” is great pop/soul blend, to take you back to where you want. For more synthesized and pop-like enjoyment of this song (and extended vocals), listen to this remix: “They Say Vision (Robbie Rivera’s Vocal Mix, Part Two).”



“I Get Lonely” Janet JacksonThe Velvet Rope (Virgin Records, 1997)
The Velvet Rope is one of my favorite works by Janet Jackson. Ever. “I Get Lonely” is her third single off this track. Using honest lyrics, smooth beats, great harmonization and Janet’s vulnerability; it’s not surprising it debuted and peaked at #3 on Billboard Hot 100.






“Delicious” Pure Sugar Pure Sugar (Geffen, 1998)
Picking up the tempo, clearing rain, visions and loneliness. Here’s the disco pop funk single by Pure Sugar. Keeping in time with the theme; It’s pretty safe to say this song has love and soul AND 1998’s rendition of disco. Richard Vission (BPM Magazine’s 2nd Favorite House DJ of 2006) was a member of this pop/dance group.  His most recent work being with Luciana’s electro dance track: “I Like That.” (Music Video) You like to disco baby?


First Listen: Robyn feat. Snoop Dogg - "U Should Know Better"

When Swedish pop icon Robyn revealed her unique plans regarding a long-awaited followup to her smash 2005 self-titled album - namely, plans to release no fewer than three albums by the end of 2010 - even the most loyal Robyn fans (myself included) met the news with a mixture of giddy excitement and, frankly, varying degrees of incredulity. Body Talk Pt. 1 dropped in June following by as much as three months the individual releases of no fewer than four of the eight tracks on the album, and though appetites were whetted, timing still caused even major Robyn proponents like Pitchfork to refer to the three-album project with tentative vocabulary. Then came the word, as the diminutive Swede was rounding up a successful U.S. mini-tour with newly dance-oriented American singer Kelis, that Body Talk Pt. 2 was ready for a September 6 UK release (a US release date of September 7 followed, albeit not quite swiftly enough to calm some nervous hearts stateside), and a track listing coinciding with the release of the second album's lead single "Hang With Me" (accompanied by a charming if not exactly wave-making video) confirmed that the penultimate offering of the proposed trilogy would contain the much buzzed-about collaboration with rapper Snoop Dogg, best known recently as the other culprit behind Katy Perry's inescapable summer number one "California Gurls."


Fortunately for this impatient Robyn fan, a certain resourceful significant other of mine has managed to acquire a rather advanced copy of the second of what now looks like it may actually be three albums Robyn drops in 2010. And it's GOOD. (More on that later, but trust me.) And for you, my loyal readers, I hereby offer you a first listen to the fabled collaboration with the D. O. double-G, a raucous, boastful display of entirely deserved superiority sprinkled with plenty of expletives, obligatory and fabulously cringe-inducing rhymes, and carried along by a high-tempo, speaker-bursting bass line. This is not the first time the two pop music giants have shared the same track, although Robyn's participation in the Fyre Department remix to Snoop Dogg's 2008 single "Sexual Eruption" was subsequent to the original track's release and not a "collaboration" in the same sense.

The plot of the new track, you ask? Well, it's essentially four minutes of Robyn and "Big Snoopy Dogg" alternating verses (with the occasional chorus thrown in) delineating all of the supposed tough guys of the world who "know better than to fuck with" them. Among them: the French, the Russians, the LAPD, the CIA, the FBI, the Vatican ("I sat down with the Romans," Robyn says, "And said we need a black pope, but she better be a woman"), the music industry, and the Devil himself.

Sounds pretty badass, but what else would you expect when two of the most consistently enjoyable artists working today team up to throw it down? Check out the new track and let me know what you think!

video

Friday, August 6, 2010

Songs You May Have Missed: Example, Sam Sparro & More

Matt Burstyn, Vertigo Shtick Contributor


“Won’t Go Quietly” – Example (Won't Go Quietly, Data Records, 2010) (iTunes, Spotify)


The lead single that goes by the same name “Won’t Go Quietly.” An arsenal of electro and house beats with Example’s excellent balance of rap and lyrics makes a freaking great pop song courtesy of the U.K.

“Lady (Hear Me Tonight)” –Modjo (Modjo, MCA, 2001) (YouTube)
A French house duo (that isn’t Daft Punk) created a dance track that hit #1 in U.S. Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Play in January, 2001. Another song I have to thank my mother for.

“Music Sounds Better With You” – Stardust (Stardust, Roulé, 1998) (Spotify)

Fun Fact: One of the 3 members in Stardust is/was also one half of Daft Punk! Another house driven dance track with a song title that can melt a heart or two. (Another thanks to mom here.)

“As The Rush Comes” – Motorcycle (Ultra Records, 2004) (iTunes, Spotify)
Another of what is now “Club Classic.”  This song carries hypnotic lyrics and enough trance sounds to put you into a euphoric coma. Billboard’s Dance Airplay rushed this song to #1 in 2004.

“Black and Gold” - Sam Sparro (Sam Sparro, Island Records, 2008) (iTunes, Spotify)
These two colors screamed a sexy voice for the dance floor when I first started clubbing in Los Angeles. The single only came out in 2008, but gained enough popularity to be covered by other artists (that don’t do it justice). This song is infectious.


(Ed: Updated 1/18/12)

Upcoming Pop Album Release Dates

To quote Britney Spears, it's been a while! I know I shouldn't have kept you waiting, but I'm here now, and with lots to cover as we get August underway.

Let me break the ice, if you will, with a little rundown of some of the more relevant upcoming album release dates, which hereafter will be maintained and updated in the sidebar so whenever you get as tired of the scene for a moment, as I admit I did recently, you can hopefully find some beacon of hope on the horizon! Since album release dates are always in flux, especially for newer artists, and because some artists and/or labels are more forthcoming than others about projects in the works, I want to encourage anyone who at any time knows of an upcoming pop release date (or close to it) that is either not listed or differs from what is listed to let me know (email vertigoshtick@gmail.com)!

As a brief overview, the next mainstream release is the debut this coming Tuesday of Mike Posner, the raspy-voiced Duke grad whose inventive and clever debut single "Cooler Than Me," which Vertigo Shtick covered shortly after its release, became one of the big slow burn hits of the year, debuting on the Hot 100 in early May at number 64, then dropping off the chart for a month before rocketing back at number 14 and in the top ten ever since. Industry insiders and indie/pop crossover fans (the few willing to admit it, at least) have been buzzing fondly about 31 Minutes To Takeoff in the non-fanatic kind of way that suggests Posner's album may indeed turn out to be an unflashy summer gem. 

Which is just as well, since two weeks later marks perhaps the longest, flashiest, and undeniably effective pre-launch campaigns of recent memory as Katy Perry drops her brilliantly engineered sophomore effort Teenage Dream with an inescapable summer number 1 and a fast-selling midtempo top ten hit under its belt. With that inevitable distraction it might be easy to overlook new albums from Ciara (whose more traditionally urban R&B direction, while artistically and critically quite successful, has pushed her further toward the mainstream pop sidelines) and Fantasia (who has always resided comfortably within the confines of the genre, from whence comes her long-awaited third album).

Usher's nine-track Versus will follow up on Raymond v. Raymond, the moderately reviewed divorce album was released in March (followed by...you guess it...an extended re-release edition). Following a thrilling and successful quickie club tour of the U.S. with Kelis, Swedish pop queen Robyn drops Body Talk Pt. 2 first week in September, leaving just enough time for another tour stint through Europe and, hopefully, the States and to pull off the ambitious three-part Body Talk album hat trick before the year is out, just like she said she would! 

Further on the horizon are a few exciting projects from the R&B camps, from Jazmine Sullivan's hotly anticipated sophomore album Love Me Back to child of destiny Kelly Rowland's first production after severing artistic ties with her former label and manager (Mathew Knowles, father and champion of Beyoncé and creator of Destiny's Child) and doing some rather intriguing experimentation with different styles, from traditional R&B to David Guetta-produced house. (Rowland recently solicited album title ideas from fans via Twitter before selecting the undeniably appropriate moniker - who was the Twitter genius who suggested such a masterful idea?) 

I'll get more information on these and other upcoming releases as they draw closer, but below is a brief timeline that will henceforth be updated and available on Vertigo Shtick at any time.

Upcoming Pop Album Release Dates*

August 10
  • Mike Posner - 31 Minutes To Takeoff
August 17
    • Ciara - Basic Instinct 
    August 24
    • Fantasia - Back To Me
    • Katy Perry - Teenage Dream 
    • The Saturdays - Headlines
    • Usher - Versus
    September 7
    • N.E.R.D. - Nothing 
    • Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 2 
    • Sara Bareilles - Kaleidoscope Heart
    September 14 
    • David Archuleta - Other Side Of Down 
    • Kanye West - Good Ass Job
    September 21
    • Maroon 5 - Hands All Over 
    • Liza Minnelli - Confessions 
    • Ne-Yo - Libra Scale
    September 28
    • Jazmine Sullivan - Love Me Back 
    • Selena Gomez & The Scene - [Title TBA]
    October 26
    • Kid Cudi - Man On The Mon II: The Legend Of Mr. Rager 
    • Taylor Swift - Speak Now
    November 2
    • Kelly Rowland - Kelly Rowland
    November 23
    • Nicki Minaj - Pink Friday
    November 2010
    • Sophie Ellis-Bextor - Straight to the Heart
    Late 2010(?)
    • Missy Elliott - Block Party
    • RichGirl - RichGirl
    • Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 3

    *Release dates are unofficial and based on best information publicly available.

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