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.
This is such a fun record, or should I say, a ‘fun. record’ – as it sounds like what would happen if the indie pop band decided to experiment with the current EDM trends. Singer Matthew Koma has an incredible voice and is a powerful songwriter, which is why he is in demand by nearly every major dance producer/DJ- Afrojack, Showtek, Zedd, and Hardwell are all working with him. Following the crossover hit “Red Light,” Tiesto aims for the jugular with this infectious party anthem which melds commercial pop (à la One Direction, fun!) with big room electro and that triplet sound, yet keeps the singalong vocals as the main focus. Honestly, this should be called Matthew Koma ft Tiesto or at least Tiesto AND Matthew Koma – because the catchy vocals are the main attraction and the track, though well-constructed and perfectly-suited for radio, is much more in the background. The topic of the lyrics is a bit of a red flag though, glorifying how being wasted is better and that’s the only time we talk. What else could wasted refer to than drug or alcohol use (a point brought home by the video showing an innocent 50s ladies luncheon devolving into a drunken Girls Gone Wild rage fest.) Is this really the message that an EDM artist should bring to Top 40? As the second single from Tiesto’s forthcoming album, it will be interesting to see if the album goes even further into the David Guetta pop direction (which is a great thing) or maintains a balance with banging club tracks. DJs will reach for the Ummet Ozcan mix which manages to keep the feel and the vibe of the original while pumping it for the big rooms with that festival sound. Don’t be surprised if this ends up on the soundtrack of the big summer movies.
As a DJ/blogger who usually filters through 300 tracks a week, it is sometimes easy to miss a gem during a quick preview. Unfortunately, that was the case when I first heard “Kamikaze” a few weeks ago. Released on Tiesto’s Musical Freedom label, the collaboration between Daniel LeDisko (LA Riots) and chanteuse Polina starts off a bit restrained before the dropdown to vocals and the build to big room electro. When you quickly scan through the track, it doesn’t scream for attention. However, at the suggestion of a fellow DJ, I went back and listened to it from start to finish and it really blew me away. Polina is a singer/songwriter (or what industry people call a topline writer), but with her recent releases she is becoming more and more of an artist, or how I described her- a chanteuse, in the vein of a Sia, Lana del Rey, or Sian (of Kosheen). The strength of her lyrics and performance transcend what you hear on a normal club track. La Riot also steps up his game with a surprise bit of trap after the second break which is raw and a bit disturbing, yet perfectly suited to the vocal themes and yes, the title. DJs who might have missed this when it was released earlier this month should go to Beatport and buy the download. If you are a fan of dance records with darker themes and dramatic vocal performances, like say “Summertime Sadness” or “Titanium,” this “Kamizake” would be a great addition to your mp3 player.