Not everyone is in the mood to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Here are some dance songs to remind you why..
1. Aqua – “Like A Robot”
While Aqua’s second single off their upcoming new album, Megalomania, is technically “Playmate to Jesus”, there’s just something about “Like A Robot” that draws us in. Fans of Aqua will note the mature content of the track, the hook of the track resting firmly on the question “So why do you still f*** me like a robot?” Yes, Lene is explicit in her delivery of this quintessential question that plagues many relationships. Musically, the track in on par with the mainstream, most familiarly sounding like Britney’s “Up N’ Down” bonus track from Femme Fatale. Nothing wrong with this, as “Up N’ Down” is a sizzling club track, and given the right remix, “Like A Robot” will tear dance floors up. Mature content makes Aqua relavent for 2011, no matter how much fun their return single “How R U Doin'” was.
2. Robyn – “Call Your Girlfriend”
Anyone who is a Robyn fan has heard this song. The emotion and caring in her voice really carries through on “Call Your Girlfriend”. She wants him to dump his girlfriend in favor of herself as their relationship has blossomed while his existing one has withered. And Robyn cares, she sympathizes, and she would want her man to let her down the same way. She wants him to be honest and up front without damaging her self-esteem and letting her know it will be better over time, and she does it all on top of a captivating electro-pop production that marks every burst of emotion with a splash of sound. The way Teddybears’ bandmate Klas Ahlund drags her voice into the music itself, diminishing it from her own vocals into an electronic instrument of its’ own, is worth the price of admission alone. Early stages of a mix by Kaskade can be found by those with the time for Easter eggs, but until a full mix is posted we’ll just say that it sounds promising.
3. Clare Maguire – “The Shield and the Sword”
We have a heavy hitter for you today. Sporting a send-off track with grand orchestra sweeps and a rolling drum rhythm, Clare Maguire pulls the heartstrings with “The Shield and the Sword”. Riding on the wave of hugely successful female singers like Florence + The Machine and Adele, Clare Maguire’s deep smoky vocals and organic musicality are a welcome breath of fresh air. The comparison to Adele is strong, as well, and pointed out by Maguire in the video. Of course, not only does the cinematic video draw obvious comparisons to “Rolling in the Deep”, but Maguire also mimics Katy Perry and Lady Gaga wonderfully. Perhaps that bigger than life approach to pop music appeals to electronic producers, because “Shield and the Sword” has been reimagined in a plethora of ways. From Almighty’s energetic house production to the lo-fi Amateur Best mix, then on to the more adventurous stylings of Teenage Fantasy and LoadStar, if you’ve never heard of Clare Maguire, now is the time to sit up and take notice.
4. Beth Ditto – “I Wrote The Book”
Beth Ditto seems intent on reviving the 90’s alone. With a pure diva house sound (can’t you imagine her popping out of nowhere to seduce with this song out at a big club somewhere?) and a video straight out of Madonna’s playbook, Beth lays a 1-2 punch with “I Wrote The Book”. Produced by Simian Mobile Disco, the track shows a huge chasm between her work with The Gossip and this smoother, sleeker, more seductive electronica sound. Her vocals alone show a difference as with The Gossip, it was about belting at the top of her lungs to some truly infectious pop rock versus her understated but still as talented performance here. “I Wrote The Book” is a track dedicated to the pitfalls and high marks of relationships. Revenge, regret, secrets, crying, forgiveness, she’s done it all. Remember, Ditto wrote every trick in the book, so don’t test her.
5. Neon Hitch – “Get Over U”
Written by Sia and produced by Benny Blanco (so that’s a hell of a pedigree right there), this a kiss off anthem that feels completely mournful and yet hands-in-the-air triumphant at the same time, which is a strenuous balancing act. I love the shuffly drum accents at the end of the rhythm loop, and the breakdown-and-bridge on this song is MASSIVE. It pumps a lot of energy, but never feels frenetic or desperate. And Hitch’s vocals can veer from little-girl breathy to pop coo in a heartbeat (imagine Christina Amphlett’s little sister). The kick drum is urgent, but never overwhelming, and when the synth crashes happen, they’re like something ethereal breaking through. More, please…
6. Frankmusik ? “Better Off As 2”
You couldn’t get more buzz on a debut male electropop artist if you tried. Last year’s 3 Little Words EP started people talking about Frankmusik, a 23-year-old college drop out who writes, produces and performs his own form of electronic dance music. Frame of reference – imagine the guy that Robyn and Lady Gaga were fighting over decided to do his own album. The first official single “Better Off As Two” is a breakup song that is equal parts vintage New Order and Pet Shop Boys with a 2008 pop edge. Yes, it’s that brilliant and you will want to purchase his album Complete Me.
7. La Roux – “Bulletproof”
When we mentioned “Quicksand” by La Roux, we referred to them as an electropop duo. With the release of “Bulletproof,” I think its more fair to call them a synthpop duo as it sounds like a modern day Human League/Vince Clark/Flock of Seagulls track. No matter what you call them, they’ve created one of the most brilliant pop records of the year which debuted at #1 on the UK pop chart. The video is incredibly eye catching – almost like a modern day Swatch commercial art that was directed by Piet Mondrian. For the US, label Cherrytree has wisely enlisted Dave Aude and Morgan
8. MSTRKRFT featuring John Legend – “Heartbreaker”
Taken directly from the electronica A&R playbook, when a dance act is ready for mainstream crossover success – enlist the talents of a mainstream vocalist. The Canadian duo MSTRKRFT (say it like Mastercraft-they removed the vowels,) have been touring relentlessly with a combination live show and dj set. Their fusion of rock and electronic sounds have gained a following in the hipster scene with original productions as well as remixes for Justice, Crystal Method and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I am guessing that John liked their remix of his track “Greenlight” and signed on for vocal duties for this 80s feeling synthpopy followup to thier party anthem “Bounce.” Watch out for remixes by Laidback Luke, Wawa and Joachim Garraud on dancefloors everywhere.
9. Bodyrox & Luciana “Shut Your Mouth”
“Hands up, shoot you down” exclaims Luciana over this new energetic electro-house jam from the Bodyrox crew. While you can definitely tell its a Bodyrox tune with their nearly trademark sound, the flavor of old rave a la Calvertron is clearly in effect as an influence, a continuation of their development from “Brave New World.” With the massive amount of records flooding the market each week, this is the first tune of 2010 which grabs the DJ, shakes him by the ears and screams “Play Me!” Hands up, yes indeed.
10. FoxxJazell – “Split Enz”
“Split Enz” is kind of amazing, imagine the offspring of Uncanny Alliance and Lady Gaga making flowing futuristic over a hiphouse beat. Comparing relationships to hair is always an interesting writer’s convention, whether you are washing the man right out of your hair or going back to your roots. With Chris Rock’s documentary Bad Hair fresh in the collective consciousness, “Split Enz” seems even more timely. Already danceable in its original mix, a cute electro mix by the Perry Twins really toughens it up for the club. The video, well, it is as colorful and energetic as Miss FoxxJazzell is herself.
11. Make the Girl Dance – “Kill Me”
The Frenchmen behind “Baby Baby Baby,” return with what seems like a response track. This time sung in English, rather than a song about a girl who wants everything, the vocals are about hedonists spoken over a rocking electro beat. Like the previous single, the video seems to be the main focus. The clip answers the question “What would you do if you only had 8 days left to live?” The hedonistic journey takes them to New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas on a drunken, drug fueled binge full of sex, skating and tattoos. Granted it is not a bad way to end your life (or spend $30,000 dollars), I do wonder if dolls qualify for protection from child abuse. This video (and song) is definitely Not Safe For Work.
12. Erik Hassle – “Hurtful”
Leave it to the Swedes to unleash another incredible pop singer/songwriter on us. “Hurtful” has been bubbling around as a Coldplay-ish pop rock since 2008. I first heard the song on a demo and knew it would be back again. The DC Breaks mix, which is actual more drum and bass sound, was the first remix I heard recently and I was blown away by how incredible Erik’s vocals and lyrics resonated with the more aggressive electronic production. The Roqwell & ISancho mix goes a bit more progressive while the Wideboys mix is the commercial electro sound that we all know and love. “Hurtful” is such a strong song that it will work in any genre.