The One that Got Away: The Singles

Continuing the theme of neglected music, which I have addressed twice previously, my next post regards artists who, in 2013, released pop gems which didn’t manage to do quite as well in the official UK charts as they should have done or worse, fell by the wayside into the eternal pop-scurity. Let’s get into it shall we:

1)      Bastille – Things We Lost In the Fire

Things We Lost in the Fire is the sixth and final single taken from the non-deluxe version of Bastille’s debut album Bad Blood which peaked at number one on the UK album charts on the 10th of March 2013. Peaking at No. 28 on the 1st September, this song is currently the group’s fourth biggest hit in the UK following: Pompeii (No.2), Of the Night (No.2) and Flaws (No.21). Upon listening to Things We Lost in the Fire, it immediately becoming clear that it deserved to peak so much higher. After a slow drawn out introduction, the song burst into the first chorus which features a winning plinkety-plunkety piano line which moves the song along at a gallop and differentiates the song from anything else in the charts right now. You’ll find yourself humming along to the crazily infectious chorus before long I assure you.

(For Leeds students – lead singer Dan Smith also attended University of Leeds)

2)      Agnetha Faltskog  – When You Really Love Someone

2013 saw the welcome come back of a woman presumed lost to pop forever. Agnetha Faltskog first made her name as one quarter of one of the biggest bands ever ABBA and, after their disbandment, forged herself a solo career, releasing three solo albums in the 80’s. Her latest album A is the first time since 1987 that Agnetha has released original material with When You Really Loved Someone being chosen as her comeback single. A good choice as it turns out, seeing as When You Really Loved Someone is by far the most emotive, moving song on the whole studio set. The chorus is admittedly formulaic but ruthlessly effective and the production is top notch, succeeding in updating Agnetha’s sound without making it sound as if she’s trying to be down with the kids. If the world was a fairer place, it would have gone top ten. It peaked at no.115.

3)      London Grammar – Strong

Ok so this one doesn’t really count as it’s not really tailored for the pop charts but still managed to do relatively well, peaking at a respectable No. 16 in September. But London Grammar as a band deserve a good old plug seeing as their minimalist debut album If You Wait is a classic in the making and Strong is the best cut from it. The band has been compared to The XX, Florence and the Machine, Lana Del Rey, but in reality they have cut out a niche all for themselves. Strong is effortlessly mainstream and timeless with its melancholy, hypnotic tones which keep the listener coming back for more every time.

4)      Ke$ha – C’mon

It may seem odd to mention London Grammar and Ke$ha in the same breath as their styles are completely juxtaposed. But both acts were slightly underappreciated this year for different reasons. While Ke$ha’s sophomore album Warrior was a huge improvement in quality on her debut, she was unable to repeat the chart success which she has previously enjoyed with her Animal/Cannibal  set. The first single Die Young was a bona fide hit but, despite positive reviews, the second single C’mon was a massive flop for Ke$ha peaking at a disappointing No. 70 in the UK and becoming her first non-top ten in the USA. Why could this be? The song is in a similar vein to her previous releases, incorporating high fructose beats with hedonistic party lifestyle lyrics. But perhaps this is just it. The world wanted something different from Ke$ha, having grown sick of her party girl shtick. Maybe a change of style is due for the next album? Either way, C’mon is insanely enjoyable and maybe the success of Ke$ha’s latest hit Timber, will give it the breath of life it sorely needs and deserves.

5)      Tom Odell – Another Love

The only single which reached the UK top 10 in this list, peaking at No.10 the 29th of June 2013. However, closer scrutiny will reveal the genius of this song and it will become clear why it should have peaked so much higher.  The song gradually builds and builds for the first 2 minutes with Odell adding and layering all the time. The song finally reaching its crescendo at the 3:14 mark with Tom’s vocals becoming devastatingly effective. The repetitive nature of the song does little to decrease its appeal with the line All my tears have been used up/On another love guaranteed to be stuck in your brain after the first listen. Another Love is without a doubt the best song on Odell’s patchy debut Long Way Down.

6)      Icona Pop – Girlfriend

Although I have already mentioned this song in my first blog post, I felt it deserved further praise for its genius sampling of the line All I need in this life of sin/ Is me and my girlfriend. This is the second time Tupac Shakur’s song Me and My Girlfriend has been sampled, the first time being on Beyoncé and Jay Z’s 2003 hit ’03 Bonnie and Clyde. The hook here is more immediate however, as the Icona Pop duo have used it to create the ultimate best friend song. The song is a high energy dance track which combines one of Icona Pop’s signature shouty choruses with the best in Swedish production. The result is effortlessly current and the impact is immediate. Unfortunately the song did not chart in the UK, which I’m chalking down to lack of airplay. Sometimes Radio 1 doesn’t know what’s good for it.

7)      Mariah Carey – The Art Of Letting Go

This is actually the third single and title track from Mimi’s upcoming eternally delayed album The Art of Letting Go. The first was Triumphant, which barely even featured Carey herself and flopped horrendously to her record label’s embarrassment. The second was the so-so hit #Beautiful which peaked at number 22 in the UK last summer and, whilst it did succeed in regaining some of the momentum which Mariah Carey’s career has lost lately, it didn’t turn out to be the mega hit she wanted and sorely needed. However, Carey has always been tenacious and definitely wasn’t going down without a fight coming back in early November with new single The Art of Letting Go. There are several problems with this track which are clear from the offset: Carey is refusing to follow any of the current pop trends and the song doesn’t really have a chorus. That being said, it seems that Carey doesn’t even care about the lack of commercial appeal of the single which is highly refreshing. And on closer inspection, The Art of Letting Go is the best thing she has released inn years and harks back to her early days. It’s a gorgeous, gospel inspired piano ballad which focuses on smart lyrics which ring true with Carey’s song writing at its very best (what songs have you heard lately that have the words “dominion” and “exceedingly” in). She deserves kudos even just for that. The song actually works in a similar way to Odell’s Another Love in that it builds and builds into a bombastic crescendo which feels like a massive pay-off due to Carey’s restrained vocal performance up until that point. Magical.

8)      Amy Macdonald – Slow It Down

There’s something refreshingly calming about Amy Macdonald’s consistency. In a world where musicians rise and fall very quickly Macdonald has carved out her own middle of the road niche, which keeps her commercial sales at a constant level. While she may never again reach the creative level of 2007’s This Is the Life, she does keep chugging on.  Slow It Down is suspiciously similar to hits such as The Spark, serving to highlight her lack of growth from album to album. However, Slow It Down is still very enjoyable and the repetition of down, down, down will have it stuck in your head for a while. The chorus is anthemic and very catchy as well,  ultimately proving that Amy still has the key to a good soft rock chorus after all these years.

As always, if you have any questions about any of the artists featured, please don’t hesitate to comment by clicking the link at the bottom of the post.

Manic Music Monday

You’d never get that Monday morning feeling ever again with these guys to keep you company. A multitude of stars have decided to release new music on this hallowed day 13 January. Shakira and Rihanna finally premiered their long awaited duet Can’t Remember to Forget You (do I detect a hint of ska). Lea Michele has debuted another single from her forthcoming debut album and this time it’s the title track from Louder. Lily Allen’s new single Air Balloon debuted on radio one. Paloma Faith released her new Pharrell-produced single Can’t Rely On You.

Here’s a run down of all the new music released today with a few recent releases thrown in for good measure:

1) Lea Michele – Louder

The third promotional single to be released from Lea Michele’s album Louder. Hmmm…haven’t made my mind up about this one yet. I can see it being catchy though.

2) Lea Michele – Battlefield.

The second promotional single to be released from her debut album. It takes the form of a heartfelt ballad which sees the talented songstress stretching her pipes to full whack. Classy.

3) Sophie Ellis Bextor – Birth Of An Empire

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A Spanish radio station leaked a song from Madamoiselle EB’s forthcoming fifth album Wanderlust. The song is just as much of a diversion from Sophie’s previous sound as her previous single Young Blood but it suits her to a T. There’s a mystical Arabic vibe going on there as well which adds to the epicness of the whole song. Thanks Spanish radio. Sorry Sophie.

http://www.popelera.net/birth-of-an-empire-tema-nuevo-de-sophie-ellis-bextor/

4) Shakira and Rihanna – Can’t Remember to Forget You

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Finally!!!! It seems like just yesterday that this songs release was announced but every second since then has been torture. Luckily, the track doesn’t disappoint (at least in my opinion) and manages to combine both Shakira and Rihanna’s unique identities without either outshining the other. Rihanna’s brought her Barbadian/Caribbean voice out here and uses it to full effect. There is no competition here, just pure amazingness all wrapped up in one song.

Shakira featuring Rihanna – ‘Can’t Remember To Forget You’

5) Paloma Faith – Can’t Rely On You

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Following her teaser video released last week, Paloma has gone the whole hog and released the video to her new funky stomper Can’t Rely on You. When I heard that Paloma was working with Pharrell I must admit I was nervous. Perhaps he would corrupt her as he corrupted the once Michael Buble-like innocence of Robin Thicke. But luckily Can’t Rely On You is all Paloma. Pharrell’s stamp is evident by the production but this doesn’t obstruct Paloma’s signature style. This is possibly the best of all the tracks released this week. I feel your pain Paloma. I just pity the fool who would dare do you wrong.

6) Lily Allen – Air Balloon

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Well….didn’t see this coming. After the hard hitting Hard Out Here failed to hit hard on the charts peaking at a disappointing no.9 and dropping quickly, while Somewhere Only We Know rode high at no.1, Allen seems to have gone in completely the opposite direction. The production, the message, the singing is much more reminiscent of her old sing song style. Air Balloon is at first listen, hugely annoying, as Lily herself admits:

http://www.craveonline.com/music/articles/629441-listen-lily-allens-self-proclaimed-annoying-new-song-air-balloon

But beware, it’s infectious. That na na na na na na will bury itself deep into your cranium and refuse to leave. You’ve been warned.

It’s just another Manic Monday after all. Here’s to many more of them

Pop Week Roundup

Yeehah! (Sorry) It’s time for this week’s pop roundup featuring all the pop news from the past week (and a few cheeky pop discoveries made by yours truly). If you love hearing about all the latest pop releases and triumphant (or not so triumphant) returns of pop artists, you’ve come to the right place.

Paloma Faith back with new album
Paloma Faith

1)      First up, Paloma Faith’s back! Or should be very soon. A steamy teaser video in Italian was uploaded to her official website this week, which to be honest doesn’t really tell us anything but implies a sexier new image revamp (hope you haven’t gone over to the dark side Paloma). The 32-year old is looking amazing as always and apparently we can expect a bit more of an upbeat style from her new album which is scheduled to be released in the first quarter of 2014. Meanwhile, enjoy the teaser.

http://www.palomafaith.com/

Ellie Goulding -  Goodness Gracious
Goodness Gracious Album Cover

2)      Ellie Goulding released the video to her new single Goodness Gracious this week. The playful video shows her frolicking with friends and having what appears to be loads of fun, but it’s the use of colour that really makes this video worth watching. Plus there’s a great dance off between Ellie and some random guy at the 1:36 mark. Ellie won (but I would say that). Oh yeah and the tunes good too. Either way you may as well get used to it as it’s a dead cert to do the rounds around the clubs. Plus she looks lovely on the artwork. I want to go to that Masquerade Ball!

Elsewhere in Ellie world, her sophomore album Halcyon Days finally got to number one last Sunday on its 65th week on the chart. Screw the hare, tortoise all the way!

Christina Perri back with new single Human
Christina Perri – Human

3) Christina Perri (a.k.a the queen of the depressing heartfelt ballad) released her come back single Human taken from her new album Head or Heart last Saturday. It’s pretty much in the same vein as previous hits like Thousand Years and Jar of Hearts and it comes with a minimalistic video which I guess represents her naked emotions or is that reading too much into it…? Might be a grower this one.

The Fray - Love Don't Die
Love Don’t Die

4) In other news, similarly depressing band The Fray are back who you might remember from the bleak hits How to Save a Life and the You Found Me. However, the band’s new tune Love Don’t Die (despite the name) is a bit of a change of tact as it’s actually quite upbeat and is quite reminiscent of One Republic’s Counting Stars. While it’s not quite as catchy as that hit, this is quite a good comeback for The Fray. The singer is trying and failing to rock the bald look though, which could be a deal breaker.

5)      Anyone remember Alphabeat? It has been a while since their No.6 2008 smash Fascination and, let’s be honest, the Danish group’s fortunes haven’t been great after their 2013 album Express Non-Stop failed to enter the UK charts. Perhaps, because of this Stine Bramsen (the girl from the band) has decided to record some solo material and to get the ball rolling has uploaded a live performance of her first single Prototypical on to YouTube. The song itself is surprisingly good and its stomping bass line is reminiscent of Adele’s Rolling in the Deep. Let’s hope all her solo stuff is like this.

Stine Bramsen - Prototypical
Stine Bramsen – Prototypical
Kylie Minogue new album
Kylie Minogue

6)      Kylie is well and truly back! The diminutive pop princess has finally returned after a long absence from the pop scene. In a week filled with Kylie news first we were told that Kylie will be a new judge on the panel of The Voice (I might even bother to watch it this season) and then she announced that her new single is called Into the Blue and will be released March 16. Let’s hope it’s another smash for the Australian diva.  As the music is not yet available, why not enjoy some vintage Kylie to get us excited:

7)

Shakira and Rihanna - Can't Remember to Forget You
Shakira and Rihanna – Can’t Remember to Forget You

 If this doesn’t start the year off in a big way, nothing will. Shakira is back! And what’s more, she’s teamed up with none other than monster hit maker Rihanna on a track called Can’t Remember to Forget You. This might just be the single of the year already (if it’s not I will be sorely disappointed). Either way it’s bound to be a massive diva off of insane proportions. The track debuts on Monday but for those of us who don’t like waiting, why not enjoy the last time Shak dueted with a global super songstress.

8)      Aloe Blacc is back! Of course, he technically hasn’t been away for very long as he was featured on Aviccii’s 2013 global smash Wake Me Up, but this is his first solo single in ages taken from his Wake Me Up EP which features 5 new songs including an acoustic version of the Aviccii hit and his new single The Man. On first listen the song it becomes clear that the single samples the line “You can tell everybody” from the Elton John classic to great effect, freshening up the 44 year old lyrics (bloomin’ eck that’s an old song). Blacc is clearly aiming for epic on this single with a soul choir joining in two thirds of the way through and to be honest he pulls it off, mostly….

Aloe Blacc - The Man
Aloe Blacc – The Man

9)      While this next song will definitely not seem like news to American readers, I have a duty to inform my fellow Brits that Christina Aguilera has teamed up with new band called A Great Big World to create the beautiful, heartfelt ballad Say Something. Aguilera hasn’t sounded this restrained and classy on a track in ages and it’s reminiscent of the good old days or Beautiful and The Voice Within. Say Something has already been a smash across the pond but has yet to reach the UK. I predict big things though as it seems that lately whenever Christina hooks up with another artists, the product is nailed on to be a massive smash hit (Moves Like Jagger, Feel this Moment), pity about her solo career though….

A Great Big World Feat. Christina Aguilera - Say Something
A Great Big World Feat. Christina Aguilera – Say Something

10)   While Unconditionally proved to be one of Katy Perry’s lowest charting singles in a long time, her follow up single Dark Horse is already making waves in the USA, having reached a peak of number 6 this week (well outstripping Unconditionally already). This has been one of my faves of Prism since I first heard it and I’m very happy about the reaction that it’s receiving in America. Let’s hope it’ll be a similar sized smash in the UK as well!

Katy Perry - Dark Horse
Katy Perry – Dark Horse

 

That’s it for this weeks pop chart roundup. Thanks for reading and as always if you have any thoughts feel free to leave a comment below.

Brit Awards 2014

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It’s that time of year again! Time to look back on the best of the best in the world of pop last year and hand out rewards for good behaviour. Brit Awards nominees were announced yesterday with One Direction leading with 4 nominations (why god why), followed by Bastille and Ellie Goulding with 3. Let’s have a look at the categories:

British Male Solo Artist

David Bowie

Jake Bugg

James Blake

John Newman

Tom Odell

No-one really stands out here. Of course, Bowie’s return at the beginning of last years was a big shock for many and his album opened to both rave reviews and critical acclaim. However, I would bet on John Newman cleaning up here as he’s the most commercial of the five and his single Love Me Again really did kick some serious ass.

British Female Solo Artist

Birdy

Ellie Goulding

Jessie J

Laura Marling

Laura Mvula

Although I do have a special place in my heart for Birdy I have to say that Ellie Goulding really deserves this one. She’s been a chart mainstay throughout the year and has released three exceptional singles Explosions, Burn and How Long Will I Love You? Case and point. Ellie FTW.

British Group

Arctic Monkeys

Bastille

Disclosure

One Direction

Rudimental

I don’t know if I want to live in a world where One Direction wins over Bastille. For the sake of my sanity, please.

British Breakthrough Act

London Grammar

Bastille

Disclosure

Laura Mvula

Tom Odell

Bastille again are probably the most deserving of this award but I’d like to see London Grammar take this one as their album If You Wait was filled with amazing melodies and is undoubtedly one of the best debuts of the year.

British Single of the Year

Bastille – Pompeii

Calvin Harris and Ellie Goulding – I need your love

Disclosure – White Noise

Ellie Goulding – Burn

John Newman – Love me again

Naughty Boy – La, La, La

Olly Murs – Dear Darlin’

One Direction – One Way or Another

Passenger – Let Her Go

Rudimental – Waiting All Night

This is always the hardest category to decide and honestly I would be happy with either Burn, Love Me Again, La La La, Let Her Go or Pompeii winning but it should be Let Her Go if we’re really taking this seriously.

MasterCard British Album of the Year

Arctic Monkeys – AM

Bastille – Bad Blood

David Bowie – The Next Day

Disclosure – Settle

Rudimental – Home

All good albums. Would be happy with any of them winning but I do have a soft spot for Bastille.

International Male Solo Artist

Bruno Mars

Drake

Eminem

John Grant

Justin Timberlake

JT without a doubt. It’s as simple as that. From the very start of the year he’s been an all dominating force in the world of pop and his 20/20 Experience album is head and shoulders above the rest. I haven’t even heard of John Grant (I’m sure he’s lovely).

International Female Solo Artist

Janelle Monae

Katy Perry

Lady Gaga

Lorde

Pink

A very open category this year. Both P!nk and Katy Perry have had great singles this year (who could forget Just Give Me A Reason and Roar) but Lorde was the surprise of the year, springing out of nowhere with her dour, minimalistic style. Still I do love a bit of GaGa and seeing as everyone seems to hate her now I’d like her to take this one.

International Group

Arcade Fire

Daft Punk

Haim

Kings of Leon

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

Daft Punk or HAIM. Probably HAIM because I thought Daft Punk’s album was god awful apart from Get Lucky and Lose Yourself to Dance.

So we’ll just have to keep our fingers crossed that our favourites come out on top. The ceremony is scheduled to be held on the 19th of February.

If you disagree with any of my predictions or want to express your own, please feel free to comment below.

The One that Got Away: Music to Make Boys Cry

Thanks for the great response to my previous article everybody. Here’s the second in my store of unappreciated albums following Siobhan Donaghy’s Ghosts. I’ve already touched upon this one in a previous post, but I felt some expansion was necessary. Enjoy!

Diana Vickers – Music to Make Boys Cry

dia

As a rule, the British public is generally kinder to X Factor runners up than its winners. The rejects are generally allowed more room to stretch their creative prowess without Simon Cowell breathing down their necks. Diana Vickers is one such reject. She spent most of the 2008 X Factor as the front runner, with her quirky style differentiating her from other contestants, and ultimately finished in a respectable fourth. This was then followed by the release of her debut single Once and album Songs from the Tainted Cherry Tree in 2010, both of which topped the UK charts.

The path to the release of her second album, however, was a lot more turbulent. She reportedly started writing as far back as 2010 but July the following year it was reported that Vickers had parted ways with her record label RCA over creative differences. Soon after this, several songs surfaced: Music to Make Boys Cry, Cinderella and Boy in Paris and it was assumed that an album would follow. But no album came. Before long people started to forget about little bright eyed Diana Vickers, until April 2013 when she finally announced her new single Cinderella. This was finally released 21 July and, despite positive reviews, failed to capture the hearts of the British public, peaking at a disappointing 76. Her second single Music to Make Boys Cry did even worse, not even managing to chart in the top 200, while her album slunk into the charts, peaking at 37, leaving as quickly as it came.

Of course, it was always going to be tricky to come back after such a long absence, after all, pop fans are notoriously fickle. But the irony is that Music to Make Boys Cry is actually a huge improvement on her debut. She’s ditched the electro folk style of Songs from the Tainted Cherry Tree, which never really suited her, in favour of Xenomania produced 80’s synth pop, which sees Vickers much more at home. Album highlights are without a doubt the two singles: Cinderella, which is pop perfection at its best with a massive sing along chorus, and Music to Make Boys Cry, which contains one of the most infectious backing beats of 2013 and will undoubtedly have many a tween bopping around their bedroom. Boy in Paris is also more than worth a listen with Vickers painting a dreamy picture of steamy Paris nights, although I don’t quite know how someone can “sit in the front row at a radio show”. The album has been criticised for a lack of substance (admittedly the subjects of most of the tracks is love, which is more than once idealistically underpinned by suave French undertones), but what else would you expect from a normal 22 year old girl. At least Vickers is singing about what she knows and there is no denying that she knows her way around a pop hook. Ultimately, Music to Make Boys Cry is a well accomplished pop album with a good dose of silliness which is sadly doomed to obscurity. However, you have to admire Vickers for shucking current pop trends and releasing the record she wanted.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more post in the near future!

Ghosts: The One that Got Away

As a pop aficionado I see it as my duty to spread the word about forgotten pop gems which never received the attention that they deserve. The first of these is Siobhan Donaghy’s 2007 sophomore album Ghosts:

Imagen

In the light of the recent reunion of the original members of the Sugababes, it seems appropriate to haul this 2007 forgotten masterpiece from pop’s dusty vaults. The Sugababes, for those of you who don’t know (where have you been!) are one of Britain’s top selling girl groups having sold over 8 million records in the UK alone. They burst onto the pop music scene in 2000 quickly establishing themselves as one of pop’s most innovative new prospects, backing up these predictions with a string of hits, including the number 6 smash Overload. (See below).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRva8E770OU

During their time at the top the band managed to release 7 albums and notch up 18 top ten singles, including 6 number ones – who couldn’t love hits such as Round Round, Freak Like Me, Hole In the Head, Push the Button and About You Now. However, during their 13 year career the band has earned itself a fair bit of negative publicity due to supposed infighting and the apparent ease with which members of the band were replaced. This first departure came one year into their career when Siobhan Donaghy left the band in 2001 apparently by escaping through a toilet window mid interview in Japan (a story which was most likely concocted by fellow band members Keisha Buchanan and Mutya Buena). Several other members also left the band amidst rumours of bullying but, for the purposes of this post, we are primarily concerned with this first departure.

Part of the Sugababes’ original appeal was the unique blend of vocals contributing to the haunting ethereal undertone in their first album One Touch. This was mostly due to Donaghy’s unique bewitching voice which was later used to great effect on her solo efforts. Despite her talent however, the flame-haired singer’s career has been riddled with setbacks. Her debut album Revolution In Me was released in 2003 to positive reviews but only managed to limp into the charts at an embarrassing No. 117 with its lead single Overrated also failing to garner success for the singer, only reaching No. 19 (See link below). 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBLMSX09ZME

After these relative disappointments, many had already consigned Donaghy’s musical career to the scrapheap of history. However, in mid-2007 she reappeared out of the blue with her sophomore effort Ghosts, spearheaded by the Kate Bush inspired lead single Don’t Give It Up. Despite receiving overwhelmingly positive reviews, these both also failed to attain chart success for the singer with the single reaching a poor No. 45 and the album failing to reach higher than No.92. This however was partially due to a mix up by Donaghy’s then record label Parlophone with whom Donaghy soon after parted ways. In the words of Donaghy herself, “When Ghosts came out, it didn’t go on a new release shelf in any shop because it got delivered and there’d been a mistake on the production line. I’ve never heard the music that was on the CDs, but it wasn’t my album. When the stores were told about it, the album was lifted off the shelves and taken back. By the time it was ready, a lot of the stores didn’t take it back because they were pissed off.” Another nail in the coffin for Siobhan’s solo career.

But enough about Ghosts’ tragic story, let’s move onto the actual music shall we. From the offset it is clear that this is a masterpiece ahead of its time; channelling future pop trends which wouldn’t appear in the mainstream until several years later. When we put this album next to those of other highly successful artists such as Florence and the Machine’s Lungs, the similarities are undeniable. Of course, both take their cue from Kate Bush but have chosen to develop this style in their own way, creating a niche sound for themselves. Ghosts’ opener and lead single Don’t Give It Up contains a curious backing beat driving the whole track which, coupled with Donaghy’s piercing vocals, establishes an intriguing ethereal vibe which runs throughout the whole album. It’s all about Donaghy’s vocals on this track as she unhurriedly draws out each syllable on the swooping chorus with certain notes lasting well in excess of five seconds. There are relatively few lyrics to this song but therein lies its genius. The current music scene has shifted its focus onto tracks such as Daft Punk’s Get Lucky which take a few lines and repeat them ad nauseum, inevitably causing them to become lodged in your brain. Don’t Give It Up only repeats its chorus three times but drags it out, pronouncing every word, which produces the same effect as Get Lucky but with a longer shelf life.

Dont Give It Up: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgCOxDiN4Bo

The second track lifted from the album was So You Say and is perhaps one of the most accessible tracks on the whole with its understated verses contrasting with yet another powerful chorus, which sees Donaghy showcasing just how versatile an instrument her voice is. So You Say also demonstrates Donaghy’s songwriting abilities much more than Don’t Give It Up with the simplicity of the chorus contrasting with the depth of the verses. The real success here is the contrast between the two, creating a devastating love letter.

So You Say: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QF1UZ_EfVWA

Donaghy’s voice has never sounded better than on There’s a Place which allows the musician to breath with sparse production, which is is immediately juxtaposed with the futuristic production displayed on Sometimes. The latter most of all highlights how ahead of its time Ghosts is, with similar vocal distortion being used on Naughty Boy’s 2013 smash La La La. 12 Bar Acid Blues, while being one of the more experimental tracks on Ghosts, is perhaps one of the most immediate tracks here with its squelchy backing beats underpinning Donaghy’s storytelling lyrics combined with a thumping drum beat driven chorus. Siobhan’s vocals almost sound country here and her frankness exposes a side of her personality which is rarely seen, all of which makes the song stick on the record for all the right reasons.  

There’s A Place: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhBoFKHswI4

Sometimes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMbZ9zBX2fg

12 Bar Acid Blues: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTjURGwlnn8

The next track Make It Right returns the album’s focus to powerhouse choruses and vocals. The highlight of Make It however is the killer bridge, which perfectly introduces the listener to the chorus which features Siobhan alternating between her high and low vocal registers. At first, Coming Up For Air seems to be one of the least distinguished tracks on Ghosts as its chorus is not quite as immediate but given time it worms its way into your subconscious and remains lodged there for a long while. This track and the next Goldfish are more lyrically focused, which makes them perhaps not as catchy, reducing their single potential but as album tracks they fit perfectly into the wider context of the album and hypnotise the listener with the soaring production and vocals.

Make It Right: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQ_WmRzwFrw

Coming Up For Air: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMtqdbLigJs

Goldfish: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GD-OMeTX9vs

Goldfish then gives way to one of the most unhinged, desperate tracks on the album Medevac. This is one of Ghosts biggest successes and achieves its goal of creating a disturbed, confusing atmosphere perfectly. Despite this Donaghy remains in perfect control throughout the song, refusing to be overwhelmed by the powerful production. Her sincerity is impressive and she uses her vocal range in order to create a feeling of insecurity and insanity.

Medevac: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcz8dW90rJ0

The last two tracks on Ghosts are more atmospheric and organic. On Halcyon Days, the singer sounds more relaxed and reflective as the softer production washes over her clear vocals. The title track Ghosts is perhaps one of the least catchy tracks with its more reserved chorus but it serves well as the album closer, pretty much summing up the whole album in one song.

Halcyon Days: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrGfEBbzdRY

Ghosts: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p43CfAVgX2U

The commercial failure of Ghosts is particularly bitter due to the recent success of similarly styled acts but it also serves to highlight the genius of the album. When it all boils down, Ghosts is a well accomplished album, blending equal measures of vocals, song writing and production to provide a channel into Donaghy’s heartbreak and inner beauty. Written off by many as a Sugababe reject, perhaps Siobhan Donaghy was always doomed to be unsuccessful in her solo career but nearly 7 years on Ghosts still sounds as fresh as ever and will forever be known as the one that got away. Quite frankly it’s the world’s loss.

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