Having survived a second bout with breast cancer, singer/songwriter Anastacia returns to the spotlight. Her music first broke into the international pop and club world fifteen years ago and clubland continues to dance to her anthems. So, it almost makes me feel guilty to think that it has been far too long since we’ve heard new original music from her. Yes, there was the tribal track “If I Was Your Boyfriend” that she did with Tony Moran and the “Pride (A Deeper Love)” update she did with Tiesto, but the last taste of club mixes of her own original songs were from her vastly underappreciated Heavy Metal album back in 2008. Anastacia goes back to her pop/rock/dance roots with “Stupid Little Things,” by co-writing with two of her original collaborators, Sam Watters and Louis Biancaniello. The result is a powerful anthem that’s reminiscent of her early classics and screams radio for 2014. For clubland, Manhattan Clique pumps up the tempo for the verse with a commercial and modern electrodisco vibe but then slows it down to a semi-original tempo for the bluesy feel of the chorus. Often times, remixers use the slowdown trick when they can’t get a vocal to fit at a house tempo (or because they are simply too lazy to make it work, but of course, I won’t name names), but the Manhattan Clique duo (Chris Smith and Philip Larsen) show that they got the skills to make a full-fledged power vocal performance work in any context. Drag queens, twinks, and circuit boys, here is one of your summer anthems for 2014.
Looking for the next insidious earworm after “Call Me Maybe?” Studio Killers is the creation of producer James F Reynold, who has mixed and produced tracks for Tinie Tempah, Selena Gomez, Mark Knight, Jessie J, and The Saturdays. The cartoon virtual band is an update of the Gorillaz model- creating electropop which pays homage to Goldfrapp, Kylie Minogue, and Almighty. “Ode to Bouncer” is singer Cherry’s story of needing to dance but being blocked at the front door by an evil bouncer and trying all of her feminine tricks to get in. Cherry’s voice alternates between sing-talk (a British Ke$ha) and angelic singing for the absolutely gorgeous chorus. The production is ultra-slick electro synth-pop with a key change at the chorus which will burn itself into your subconscience. While the remixes by Fear of Tigers, Lee Mortimer, and Manhattan Clique are all really good, the charming original makes the inclusion of an Extended DJ Edit a very wise choice. The video is a hallucinatory cartoon treat and leaves us anxiously awaiting more graphic depictions of Cherry’s adventures with the Studio Killers.