The Brit Awards 2016: Everything you need to know

It’s that time of year again! Forget the Grammys! The Brit Awards is the biggest event of the British music calendar. It’s always full of drama, mishaps and general celebrity craziness. There have been so many blunders in The Brits’ long and colourful history that it has rightfully earned a notorious reputation among music fans. Get it right and it can make your career. Get it wrong and it will ruin even the most beloved of celebs’ reputations. Adele’s majestic performance of “Someone Like You” at the Brits 2011  may have shot her to global stardom but you don’t hear much about Joss Stone after her faux-American accent Brits debacle, do you? 

So all eyes will turn to the Brit Awards 2016 tonight the 24th February at 8pm to see who will provide the highlights but, more importantly, the lowlights of the chaotic ceremony. Ever reliable comedy duo Ant & Dec are presenting and they are usually good at reigning in the madness so it shouldn’t go far wrong with them at the helm. Here’s a list of all the performers who we can look forward to seeing tonight:

BRIT Awards 2016 Performers

  • RihannaI wouldn’t be so confident about this one because she did drop out of the Grammys due to to illness so I wouldn’t put it past her to do the same with the Brits. But if she does end up performing we could see a collab like when she hooked up with the Klaxons in 2008. If she performs something from Anti, it’s probably going to be “Kiss It Better” because she was due to perform that at the Grammys and it seems like a potential second single. Popstars love a good promo opportunity. 
  • Little Mix – Reliable, fun and beloved by teenage girls everywhere. Expect a bit of “Black Magic” from these lovely lasses.
  • James BayThis one has had a big ol’ year so he’s more than earned his place performing at the Brits. Ever the straight-laced, good boy, I wouldn’t expect any shenanigans from him, just a straightforward performance of either “Hold Back the River” or “Let It Go”. 
  • Jess GlynneGod I wouldn’t even know which of her 5 chart toppers Jess is going to perform. She could bring Tinie Tempah out and give us a bit of summer magic with “No Letting Go” but it’s more likely that well get a bit of “Hold My Hand” or “Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself”. 
  • Adele – Everyone knows every track on 25 so she could literally perform anything. My bet is on current single “When We Were Young”. It’s pretty emotional so this could be another “Someone Like You” moment. 
  • The WeekndGot to be a bit of “Can’t Feel my Face” please. It’s just so funky. 
  • Justin BieberSpoilt for choice. “What Do You Mean”, “Sorry”, “Where R U Now?” or “Love Yourself” whichever he chooses, we’re happy. 
  • ColdplayFresh from their performance at the SuperBowl, could we see a bit of Beyonce assistance for a performance of “Hymn for the Weekend”?

There will also be a tribute to the late British music icon David BowieWill it live up to GaGa’s Grammy performance?

BRIT Awards 2016 Nominations

Adele, James Bay and Years and Years are all currently leading the pack in terms of nominations with 4 each and Calvin Harris and Jess Glynne have each racked up an impressive three nods. Here’s a rundown of all the nominations:

British Breakthrough Act
Catfish & the Bottlemen
James Bay
Jess Glynne
Wolf Alice
Years & Years

So the Brits have thrown us a bone this year and we can actually vote for this category. They like to make us feel like we have some power. The illusion of democracy. Catfish & the Bottlemen is a bit of a random choice since their album came out in September 2014 and they haven’t had any singles chart within the UK top 190. They’ve definitely been chucked in there for a bit of credibility. I would be happy with Years & Years, James Bay or Jess Glynne. They’re all pretty worthy but probably Jess Glynne deserves it the most for smashing records last year. 

British Male Solo Artist
Aphex Twin
Calvin Harris
James Bay
Jamie XX​
Mark Ronson

Calvin only really released one big single last year so he’s probably not going to win and Mark Ronson seems like ages ago now. After all, Uptown Funk” came out over a year ago and won Best British Single last year so it has been recognised for being the chart dominating smash it is, leaving James Bay to take this one quite comfortably. 

British Female Solo Artist
Adele
Amy Winehouse
Florence & the Machine
Jess Glynne
Laura Marling

Jess Glynne did so well in 2015 but Adele just came along and blew her out of the water at the end of the year, especially in terms of international success so I reckon she will nab this one from the hapless Glynne. 

British Group
Blur
Coldplay
Foals
One Direction
Years & Years

I really would love Years and Years to win this one because they really did have an amazing 2015, racking up a UK No.1 single with “King” and a chart topping album with Communion. I have to hand it to 1D who really upped their game for their latest album Made in the AM so I couldn’t rule them out. Coldplay also had their SuperBowl moment but that was probably too recent to be counted. 

Critics’ Choice
Jack Garratt
Izzy Bizu
Frances

We know this one already. Jack Garratt is pretty much guaranteed to be the next big thing for 2016 and his win should provide a boost for his album Phase which came out this week.

British Single
Adele, “Hello”
Calvin Harris & Disciples, “How Deep Is Your Love”
Ed Sheeran & Rudimental, “Bloodstream”
Ellie Goulding, “Love Me Like You Do”
James Bay, “Hold Back the River”
Jess Glynne, “Hold My Hand”
Little Mix, “Black Magic
Olly Murs ft. Demi Lovato, “Up”
Philip George, “Wish You Were Mine”
Years & Years, “King”

I’m predicting a bit of a clean sweep for Adele this year and British Single could definitely be one of the big ones she nabs. Mostly because it’s a timeless tune with an ultra-classy vocal performance from the biggest person in pop right now. But actually “Hello” is not the highest selling of all the nominated singles. That accolade goes to “Love Me Like You Do”, so Ellie could take the crown just as easily in the name of diversity. 

MasterCard British Album of the Year
Adele, 25
Coldplay, A Head Full of Dreams
Florence & the Machine, How Big How Blue How Beautiful
James Bay, Chaos & the Calm
Jamie XX, In Colour

Has to be Adele doesn’t it? After a lengthy absence she returned in style in the Winter of 2015 with the appropriately-titled “Hello”. Her album sold a ridiculous 800,000 copies in its first week in the UK and immediately outsold everything ever! So in terms of sales she definitely deserves the accolade. 

British Producer of the Year
Charlie Andrew
Mark Ronson
Mike Crossey
Tom Dalgety

For services to music and for being awesome, I give you Mark Ronson. 

British Artist Video of the Year
Adele, “Hello”
Jessie J, “Flashlight”
Little Mix, “Black Magic”
One Direction, “Drag Me Down”
Ed Sheeran – “Photograph”

It should be “Black Magic” but One Direction’s legions of fans will ensure that the boys take home the Best Video accolade. This is pretty much a foregone conclusion. 

International Male Solo Artist
Drake
Father John Misty
Justin Bieber
Kendrick Lamar
The Weeknd

Serious competition from The Weeknd but Justin Bieber was just so dominant in the second half of 2015 to the point where he made history repeatedly so he really does deserve it. 

International Female Solo Artist
Ariana Grande
Bjork
Courtney Barnett
Lana Del Rey
Meghan Trainor

This one will probably go to Meghan Trainor and very deservedly I must say but I wouldn’t mind Lana Del Rey or Ariana Grande winning. They both had stellar years in 2015. 

International Group
Alabama Shakes
Eagles of Death Metal
Major Lazer
Tame Impala
U2

Major Lazer. Just for “Lean On”. Tame Impala are awesome but they aren’t as high profile as the Lazers. 

 

So there you have it. I predict Adele will be the big winner of the night with 3 trophies for Best Single, Album and British Female Solo Artist. We’ll just have to wait to see how accurate I was. I will see you on the other side. Drama et al.

TO THE BRITS 2016! 

 

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Diary of a Pop Fan’s Hitlist 01/02/2016

Rinse and repeat these tracks for they will make your life complete.

January is officially done and dusted so we can all move on with our lives and look forward to Spring. To get everyone in the mood I have created a new music playlist to celebrate all that is shiny and fresh in the world of pop. It features some of my favourite up and coming singers, as well as new music from some old favourites. I’ve also added two odd songs out to the playlist so have a look out for them. The songs aren’t new but if you’ve been checking Twitter recently you’ll be aware that this band in reforming and releasing new music incredibly soon which is mind-blowingly fabulous! Let’s hope their new stuff is as good as their old tunes.

So sit back and enjoy Diary of a Pop Fan’s Hitlist. I promise you won’t regret it. 🙂 Here’s a bit of extra information about some of my favourite picks from the playlist and people you should watch out for:

 

 

Troye Sivan – Youth

Troye Sivan is officially my new favourite person. As a technology-illiterate philistine caveman who only recently started watching YouTube bloggers (I saw it as a waste of time OK!) I had never seen Troye’s YouTube video posts before now, which are actually pretty awesome and entertaining so you should check that out. His “Boyfriend Tag” video with Tyler Oakley is really sweet too. Plug alert! :0

Moving swiftly on, “Youth” is the third single from his first full length album Blue Neighbourhood and the centrepiece of the album. On the track Troye celebrates the joy and craziness of youth. It’s a confusing time full of change and uncertainty but Sivan managed to locate the beauty in the madness. It’s a theme which has previously been tackled but rarely as effectively.

 

Birdy – Keeping Your Head Up

WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN BIRDY! I know “Wings” had a resurgence last year due to the Lloyds advert and she dueted with Rhodes on “Let It All Go”, but it’s been absolutely ages since we’ve had a proper new album from the talented Hampshire-native. Fire Within was two and a half years ago for heaven’s sake. Don’t do that to us again! In case you hadn’t noticed I am incredibly excited for Birdy’s new album Beautiful Lies which is coming out March 25th!!!! One for the diaries people! Lead single “Keeping Your Head Up” is a welcome change of pace for someone who cut their teeth doing stripped back piano covers. It’s possibly the first properly upbeat song I’ve heard Birdy do but she still manages to retain that same ethereal, angelic vibe found in her previous work. If “Keeping Your Head Up” is anything to go by, Beautiful Lies will be a thing of majesty.

 

Nina Nesbitt – Chewing Gum

A little bit of pop brilliance here from someone who I previously felt had never really achieved one iota of her potential. Ed Sheeran’s former beau (“Nina” on his X album is written about her) has gone down an edgier route for her latest EP. The 21-year old Scotswoman had previously underwhelmed with the woeful “Selfies” and its patchy, heavy-handed parent album Peroxide but it sounds like she’s finally found herself on “Chewing Gum”. The beginning sounds a bit like Tove Lo’s “Talking Body” and the piece is clearly lyrically inspired by Annie’s “Chewing Gum” but what is pop if not derivative. Either way, the change in direction makes me very excited for her new EP Modern Love. Time to fulfil all that star potential love.  

 

Lion Babe – Where Do We Go

So it turns out Lion Babe have been knocking at the door of fame for quite a while now with limited success. I am confident however that the relentlessly cheery neo-soul disco jam “Where Do We Go” will give the NYC duo the break their sorely deserve.

 

Foxes – Devil Side

After bursting onto the scene with the flawless Zedd-produced “Clarity” Foxes has enjoyed a considerable amount of solo success with her debut album Glorious going top 5 in the UK. While her debut did have some standout tracks such as “Holding Onto Heaven” and “Let Go For Tonight” generally her music tends to be on the more generic side. Don’t get me wrong, she really does have a lot of personality and pop potential but her lyrics are often very airy-fairy and the tracks overproduced. Her current single “Amazing” is a perfect example of this. Foxes is best when she pairs down the layers and strips the music back to its bare bones which she does on promotional single “Devil Side”. Her second studio album All I Need is out in a couple of days so let’s hope for more of this.

 

Alessia Cara – Im Yours

Woman of the moment Alessia Cara is currently ruling the airwaves with her introvert anthem “Here” but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The 19-year old Canadian’s debut LP Know-It-All has a lot to offer. “I’m Yours” is a witty, well written pop song which plays on Cara’s moody public persona perfectly. This will be her big pop moment.

 

One Direction – History

I have been very vocal about my feelings towards One Direction over the years. They weren’t my favourite on the X Factor and I didn’t feel that their music matched up to the hype but something about their latest (and probably last) album Made in the AM has had me eating my words. I was shocked when I actually really liked “Drag Me Down” which compelled me to buy the album in a state of stunned surprise. Upon listening to it I have to admit that it’s one of the most enjoyable and consistent pop albums I have heard in recent years. I feel like I finally “get” 1D in terms of their music and personalities (their carpool karaoke was great in introducing me to their individual personas). Obviously it’s extremely ironic because they’ve broken up now but hey better late than never! “History” is my favourite track from Made in the AM and a stellar pop song to boot. They could have done some sobby ballad about breaking up but instead they’re celebrating all the good times and moving on with their lives. It’s a true anthem with a shout-a-long chorus and hand claps. IT’S JUST GOT EVERYTHING OK! I’M OFFICIALLY A LAST MINUTE CONVERT! Also, my mum loves this one too so shout out to mum!

 

Dua Lipa – Be the One

So this is a really good shower song. Too good in fact. I was doing handclaps and jigging so much that I almost slipped and cracked my head open in the shower last night. “Be the One” should come with a warning label “Achtung! Dangerously Good Pop!”. On a more serious note, this woman is on the rise. Signed to the same label as Lana Del Rey, Dua Lipa emits the same effortlessly cool vibe as her labelmate but with a totally different sound. Incredibly excited to see what she will do next.

 

Ellie Goulding – Army

In a popscape dominated by romantic love of all kinds it is still quite rare for popstars to write about platonic relationships. So, in a touching move, on “Army” Ellie decides to pay homage to her friend who has been with her from the very first gig. The track itself is from the same epic electro-love ballad cookie cutter as global smash “Love Me Like You Do” but with a little more Ellie personality. Radio 1 have been playing this to death so it should be another hit for the Hereford lass.

 

Coldplay Feat. Gwyneth Paltrow – Everglow

Released as a promotional single preceding the launch of their seventh studio album A Head Full of Dreams “Everglow” has already done the rounds but it’s a track which has a lot of enduring appeal due to its vulnerability and subtlety. It’s not as loud and brash as some of the tracks on A Head Full of Dreams but it’s charms unfold over time, making it ultimately more rewarding. The track was inspired by a surfer dude who mentioned the word “everglow” in a conversation with Martin in the sea and it stuck with him, inspiring him to write this charmingly sincere ballad about the enduring spark of a relationship. It’s also nice to see Paltrow and Martin have ended things on a good note after their “conscious uncoupling”

Phoebe Ryan – Mine

This is a track to make you stand up and take notice. It also comes Taylor Swift-recommended and if Tay-Tay says this song will make your life more awesome you had better believe it’s frickin’ awesome! The green-haired siren Phoebe Ryan will undoubtedly be massive once she gets her break. Previously known for her Miguel/R Kelly mash up, Ryan is a star on the rise who must have amazingly on-point musical sensibilities to create a track like “Mine”.

Here’s a few words from the woman herself about the inspiration behind “Mine”:

“‘Mine’ is kind of about hitting a rough patch in your life. You’re down on the floor, everything sucks. It’s really hard to pick yourself back up,” she explained. “You start putting together all the pieces and you start working on yourself, and then you realize you get to a point where the good and bad mistakes I’ve made — everything is all yours you have to own up to everything, good and bad.”

Be excited.

Sia – Broken Glass

So Sia released her seventh studio album This is Acting last Friday and I have been mercilessly rinsing it ever since. The whole set is a masterclass in powerhouse pop with awe-inspiring vocals and heartfelt lyricism. It keeps switching but “Broken Glass” is currently my favourite which is probably something to do with the fact that I can’t resist a good key change and on “Broken Glass” Sia goes through more of these than a hyperactive, insomniac locksmith. While “Broken Glass” does have some intriguing production, especially the oriental section at the beginning, it is essentially a very simple classic power ballad about not giving up on young love. It’s the perfect song to belt out in the car and a future possible X Factor scream-a-thon for wannabes (if the show carries on after this year…)

 

 

 

Other playlist highlights include:

X Ambassadors – Renegades

Jack Garrat – Worry

Flume Feat. Kai – Never Be Like You

Daughters – Numbers

Rinse and repeat these tracks for they will make your life complete. Thanks for reading and feel free to share, like and comment.

Single Review: ZAYN – PILLOWTALK

 

The race is on! Zayn Malik’s shock departure from one of the most successful boybands ever last March sent One Directioners all over the world into meltdown. Now with 1D’s split official and what is probably their last single “History” bringing us all to tears from over-nostalgia all eyes now turn to the boys’ solo careers. As is the way of these things, now it’s a bitter race to the death to see who will be the most successful post-split member of the band. The rules are there are no rules and may the odds be forever in your favour.

Traditionally, the first leaver is the most successful (see Geri Halliwell from the Spice Girls and Robbie Williams from Take That) of the group so that means that the outlook is good for Zayn Malik, who now goes by the MIKA-esque mononym of ZAYN. Don’t forget the capitals! His debut solo single “PILLOWTALK” (don’t forget the capitals!) is now available to stream, download and we even have a steamy little video available on YouTube. Pop goodness overload!

“PILLOWTALK” is actually a surprisingly mature sound for the former tweeny bopper. We always knew ZAYN had swag but he never really got to show it on 1D’s SYCO censored tracks which were made for innocent fun and nothing more. “PILLOWTALK” is basically everything 1D’s output was not and it’s clear from the off that this style suits Zayn’s personality much more. “PILLOWTALK” shows that our baby-faced ZAYN has really grow up and into his own voice, which is really stretched on this track but holds up very well. The boy can certainly sing. His voice has a Miguel-esque quality which lends itself perfectly to slow jams such as this but the slinky, sultry “PILLOWTALK” boasts just enough guitars to keep things original and completely ZAYN.

I predict a smash! But will Harry, Louis, Liam and Niall be able to keep up?

Thanks for reading and please feel free to comment, like and share.

The Best Pop Songs of 2015: 80-61

Welcome to the second part of Diary of a Pop Fan’s Best Pop Songs of 2015 list. Let’s kick things off with a nice bit of soulful balladeering from Will Young shall we:

80) Will Young – Like A River

“Like A River” may not have been an official single from Will Young’s sixth studio effort 85% Proof but it was certainly the most beautifully understated track on the whole album.  I do love it when songs refuses to follow a traditional verse-chorus structure and on “Like A River” it only helps to intensify the drama on this smoldering, classy production

79) Cheryl – Only Human

Cheryl has produced some thumping good pop tunes over the years but ballads have never been her strong suit…until now. “Only Human” is the title track from Cheryl’s fourth studio album and her most personal effort to date. The Imogen Heap-esque ballad sees the Geordie songstress’ voice layered in vocoder in a not-unlike-Cher cerca 1998 fashion and, interestingly, she has never sounded more sincere.

78) Galantis – Peanut Butter Jelly 

For the fourth single from their debut full length album Pharmacy the Swedish newcomers decided to go disco. As a result, “Peanut Butter Jelly” is one of the most explosive and feel good tunes of the year and it stood out on the radio for all the right reasons.

77) DJ Snake & AlunaGeorge – You Know You Like It

DJ Snake’s remix of London duo AlunaGeorge’s debut single breathed new life into the track, making it an international hit and a radio staple all throughout the summer. Like it or not, there was no getting away from that infectious hiccuping beat in 2015.

76) Zedd Feat. Selena Gomez – I Want You to Know

“I Want You to Know” may be a little by numbers but sometimes there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. This euphoric, joyous pop delicacy comes courtesy of two stars at the top of their respective games and you’d better believe that no one was complaining this pairing.

75) Nicky Jam Feat. Enrique Iglesias – El Perdón

Following on from 2014’s hip-swivelling “Bailando”, Enrique was at it again this year, yet again producing what is undoubtedly THE Spanish language hit of 2015, . “El Perdon” was literally inescapable all summer long.

74) Sara Bareilles – She Used to Be Mine

One of 2015’s most random pop albums came from an unlikely source. Sara Bareilles’ fifth studio album What’s Inside: Songs from Waitress actually serves as the soundtrack to the stage adaption of the 2007 Adrienne Shelly film Waitress and lead single “She Used to Be Mine” perfectly encapsulates the main plot in one beautiful, vulnerable four and a half minute song.

73) Ariana Grande – One Last Time

Grande’s My Everything album was chock full of big tunes but for her fourth single she chose to take it down a notch with mid-tempo EDM ballad “One Last Time”. The production is flawless but it’s Grande’s angelic vocals which take centre stage here.

72) Robin Schulz Feat. Ilsey – Headlights

German producer Robin Schulz followed up a stellar 2014 with more entrancing deep house offerings this year. “Headlights”, the first single from his second studio album Sugar and focuses heavily on Isley’s ethereal, soaring vocals.

71) The Weeknd – The Hills

The Weeknd kept surprising us throughout 2015 and “The Hills” is a prime example of why he is one of the freshest things in pop right now. The spooky track somehow manages to combine hammer horror style screams with The Weeknd’s silky falsetto to create a something truly original and not to mention sexy.

70) Enya – Even In the Shadows

Irish songbird Enya is one of the biggest selling artists ever, having sold an estimated 80 million albums worldwide. After a lengthy 7 year absence, Enya returned this winter with her eight studio album Dark Sky Island which was met with universal praise and returned her to the top 10 across the globe. “Even In the Shadows” is shining example of Enya’s ability to transport the listener to another world and fits neatly into her already existing opus.

69) David Guetta Feat. Afrojack, Nicki Minaj & Bebe Rexha – Hey Mama

We always knew that an Afrojack and David Guetta hook up would be explosive but this four way tag team power tune far exceeded expectations. Tribal wailing never sounded this good!

68) One Direction – Drag Me Down

Among the slew of tears following One Direction’s announcement that they were going on hiatus appeared some of the boyband’s finest work. Made in the AM shakes off the faux rock shtick found  on Midnight Memories and Four in favour of full throttle pop anthems, the best of which is the irresistible lead single “Drag Me Down”.

67) Avicii – Waiting For Love

When I first heard this, I could have sworn it was Chris Martin singing on the track, but it turned out to be Simon Aldred from Cherry Ghost doing his best Martin impression. But once I got over that “Waiting for Love” turned out to be one of Avicii’s finest productions to date and features what is probably his stickiest synth line. Delectable.

66) Years and Years – Shine

This 80’s inspired piece of synthpop ensured that the London electronica trio had longevity past their Spring smash hit “King”. Once that huge chorus kicks in you soon fall under “Shine’s” spell and by the time the breakdown comes around, you’ll be begging for more.

65) OMI – Cheerleader (Felix Jaehn Remix)

Summer 2015’s most ubiquitous tune and one of the highest selling singles of the year. The insanely catchy sax loop on this track just drills into your brain and refuses to let go.

64) Mørland & Debrah Scarlett – A Monster Like Me

Norway has been knocking it out of the park the last couple of years in Eurovision but this year they surpassed themselves. “A Monster Like Me” is an intelligent, brooding classic ballad which boasts some of 2015’s most stellar harmonies. Sadly, the Eurovision 3 minute rule  does this haunting masterpiece an injustice. I could have done with another 2 minutes at least!

63) Iggy Azalea Feat. Jennifer Hudson – Trouble

This jaunty piano jam continued Iggy’s chart dominance into 2015. Her slick, punchy verses marry well with Jennifer’s sassy, soulful choruses. It’s good to hear good ol’ Hudders on the radio again after a series of recent flops.

62) Madonna – Joan of Arc

Not the best year for Madonna by any stretch of the imagination. Her comeback album Rebel Heart may have been a tad patchy but, when it was good, it was very good and “Joan of Arc” is a prime example of this. It’s one of Madonna’s most autobiographical songs and affords us a rare glimpse of vulnerability from the material girl.

61) Leona Lewis – Thunder

After breaking free from the gilded cage that was Simon Cowell’s record label, a newly liberated Leona Lewis burst free from her shackles and made a glorious comeback with this fighter anthem. She may have gone through the wringer to get to this point, but her music is all the better for it.

 

Thank you for reading and feel free to comment and share.

You can also listen to all the tracks on The Best Pop Songs of 2015 playlist:

spotify:user:1151803087:playlist:7fcwgDNbrmE4WWjkoRYAo1

The Smokin’ Hot 11 of September

September has been kind to us and here’s 11 of the hottest tracks at the moment:

11) One Direction – Fireproof

One Direction Four
Two pictures for the price of one. Sadly they look just as gormless in both.

Sorry for the rant but One Direction are one of those annoying boy bands whose careers are primarily fuelled by hysterical teenagers who are in love with at least one of the members of the band. I didn’t like them on the X Factor and I like them just as much in real life. Of all the acts which have emerged from the X Factor in 2010 (let alone from all the other series) One Direction are one of my least favourite. However…..despite my frank disdain for all things One Direction I do believe that they have been very well managed. This is one of the times when Simon Cowell has managed to tune into the public psyche very well. The world was missing a soulful boy band à la Take That and One Direction fit the bill perfectly. Songs like “Story of my Life” did actually manage to give the band a shred of credibility and even made hardened haters like me begin to take notice. So for their fourth album, which is imaginatively titled Four, One Direction have decided to pursue the “Story of my Life” avenue further with the first promotional single “Fireproof”. Although essentially it has only been released to whet the public’s appetite before the release of the lead single proper “Steal My Girl”, I’m betting “Fireproof” turns out to be much better quality. For one thing the group’s harmonies on “Fireproof” are the best they have ever been and the chorus is immediately catchy. The whole piece has a chilled out ghostly feel to it It has made me slightly rethink my attitude towards One Direction. Might have a sneaky snoop at the album when it comes out and decide whether 1D are worth bothering with after all.

10) Meghan Trainor – Dear Future Husband

Meghan Trainor Dear Future Husband
This picture gives me a headache

I did want to put this one higher in the list because it is undeniably a stonking jam of epic proportions. However, I’ve been slightly put off because of the backing beat’s creeping similarity to Olly Murs’ UK No.1 single “Dance with Me Tonight”. It’s such a shame because the lyrics are witty and well written, but the similarity is too clear to overlook. If no-one picks up on this one I’ll be very shocked as its much more obvious than, say, the similarity between “Blurred Lines” and “Got to Give It Up” or “Brave” and “Roar”. This is literally the same beat. I’d be willing to give Meghan the benefit of the doubt as she may not have ever heard of Olly Murs, he has only had the one hit with “Troublemaker” in the US after all. Plus she clearly doesn’t need to copy other people as demonstrated by the success of “All About that Bass”. I’ll let you decide whether she should be condemned and cast asunder.

9) Jennifer Lopez Feat. Iggy Azalea – Booty

Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea Booty
If you want a hit Jennifer you’re gonna have to get greasy with Iggy Azalea. Jennifer: “I don’t mind at all”

What do you do when your album takes a massive belly flop and disappears from the charts only a few weeks after release? What do you do when your last couple of singles failed to garner any radio airplay or chart success? You pull out the big guns, that’s what! And we all know what JLO has got some pretty big ones that she ain’t shy about showing off. Oh yes and you ditch Pitbull because, well been there done that three times (“On the Floor”, “Dance Again”, “Live It Up”), and rope in popstar of the minute, the generously proportioned Iggy Azalea, to add some extra jelly for shakin’. As if JLO didn’t already have enough. The thing is that JLO didn’t even want to include “Booty” on her album in the first place. She thought that the title was too crass and was only persuaded to include it by her children after playing it to them in the car. But really she should be very glad she did record it because it’s the only single on the album that is capable of reviving the flagging sales. “Booty” is, of course, lyrically on trend and acts as the successor to Miley Cyrus’ twerking-inspired hits of last year while she is busy preparing another horrifyingly fascinating LP for us all to enjoy. It also follows on from Jason Derulo’s middle-eastern inspired sound, particularly “Talk Dirty”. Basically, should you choose to look beyond the tacky glitz of “Booty”, you will undoubtedly see that it is nothing more than a cold and calculated career move, but with both JLO’s and Azalea’s booties in the way now, who is going to bother looking past when the view is so good.

8) Jessie Ware – Say You Love Me

Jessie Ware Say You Love Me
Cheer the bloody hell up woman

Jessie Ware is one of those artists who might have slipped under your radar if you haven’t been paying close attention to the British music scene over the past couple of years. Her debut album Devotion managed to peak top 5 in 2012 despite failing to yield a top 40 single and was heralded by critics as one of the best releases of the year. Now Jessie is back and has been slowly teasing the release of her latest soon-to-be masterpiece Tough Love throughout 2014. The campaign started with the release of the fantastic lead single “Tough Love” which managed to peak at No.34, becoming Ware’s first top 40 single, and now she has released the video for the ethereal “Say You Love Me”. The sparse styling of the single lets Jessie’s measured song writing breathe like a fine wine and the Ed Sheeran-assisted epic choral line around the 3:15 mark gives me some hope as to the single’s commercial appeal. This could be the breakthrough Jessie’s been looking for.

7) La Roux – Kiss and Not Tell

La Roux Kiss and Not Tell
Times are hard for La Roux

“Kiss and Not Tell” is the second single from La Roux’s already underappreciated sophomore effort Trouble in Paradise and probably the only song on the album which is capable of reviving the album’s flagging sales. “Kiss and Not Tell” boasts a warmer and sunnier disposition in comparison with, say, “Bulletproof” or “In for the Kill”, but manages to retain La Roux’s quirky signature style. In fact, “Kiss and Not Tell” is an indisputable pop gem which is more than capable of standing on its own two feet. The perky 80’s synth line froths and bubbles throughout the track resulting in a peppy, uplifting bounciness which should provide for perfect radio fodder. After all, in a music world dominated by crashing beats, drops and overproduction, La Roux stands out for their uncomplicated hooks. Sometimes the simplest tracks are the best.

6) Chris Brown Feat. Ariana Grande – Don’t Be Gone Too Long

Chris Brown Ariana Grande Don't Be Gone too long
Watch out Ariana he’s behind you!

I did swear that I’d never listen to another Chris Brown song after “the Rihanna incident”, but seeing as pop-starlet of the moment Ariana Grande has a prominent part on this one I can just ignore Brown and gorge on the Grande goodness. “Don’t Be Gone Too Long” grabs you from the very beginning with that throbbing 808 and Grande and Brown’s perfectly blended voices. Hold that thought, bloody hell their voices blend so well. That’s disturbing. It’s as if they were the male and female counterparts of the same person. Erm…tangent alert. Sorry. Anyway, “Don’t Be Gone Too Long” confirms my belief that anything that Grande is on currently is going to be ridiculously good. Plus, the Game of Thrones-inspired video is pretty exciting. “Don’t Be Gone too Long” is a moody, pensive affair which manages to stay the right side of epic without straying into emo territory. Good for them.

5) Mary Lambert – Secrets

Mary Lambert Secrets
Secrets are meant to stay secret Mary

Best known as the female singer in hip-hop duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ same-sex marriage themed hit single “Same Love”, Mary Lambert is now on the verge of releasing her first major label album Heart on My Sleeve. On lead single “Secrets”, you can’t fail to notice Lambert’s barely-concealed glee in revealing all her deepest darkest secrets in her Lily Allen-esque sing-song voice. This refreshingly candid attitude is reminiscent of Meghan Trainor’s recent booty-themed “All About that Bass” which could be a good move for Lambert as it seems like self-acceptance tracks of this ilk are the order of the day for late 2014. I don’t know what’s so wrong about using an analogue clock though. Still the cheerful trumpeting and good dose of comic relief will surely help this become a breakthrough smash for Lambert. Diary of a Pop Fan likes a popstar with humility and as long as her tracks stay this smart and catchy, Lambert could become a permanent fixture in pop, especially with a video that features her dressed as a Nordic opera singer reaching notes that only bats can appreciate.

4) Nicole Scherzinger – On the Rocks

Nicole Scherzinger On the Rocks
A very lady-like pose

First things first, the title of Nicole’s new album has been announced as being Big Fat Lie, which is possibly one of the most ridiculous album titles I’ve ever heard and suggests that man-celebrating lead single “Your Love” was pretty misleading as to the lyrical direction of the album. Sounds like it’s a bit more heartbreak-centric than “Your Love” would have us believe. And, if second single “On the Rocks” is anything to go by, our Scherzy has been having a pretty rough time of it. “On the Rocks” is a mid-tempo ballad with a prominent, thumping drum line which lyrically relies on the repeated use of the line “serving a break-up on the rocks”. Now correct me if I’m wrong but is our Scherzy trying to make a pun here? A relationship can be “on the rocks”, meaning going through a rough patch, and a drink can also be “on the rocks”, meaning with ice. Oh Scherzy you’re such a wit! Joking aside, “On the Rocks” is a solid piece of R&B pop which will hopefully give Nicole’s career some badly needed street cred. I’m slightly doubtful of its ability to light up the charts though as I don’t think it’s showy or annoying enough, which is a very good thing in terms of quality but not so good in terms of chart position.

3) Mary J. Blige Feat. Disclosure – Right Now

Mary J Blige Disclosure Right Now
Doesn’t she have people to walk for her?

This much is clear. Someone obviously sat up and took notice of Mary J’s collaboration with Disclosure on the exhilarating club smash “F for You”. And thank god they did! That’s why Mary has decided to collaborate with Disclosure again to produce the lead single from her upcoming 13th studio album The London Sessions. However, “Right Now” isn’t the “F for You” rehash that it could have been. For one thing it’s heavier on the lyrics (Mary certainly had something to do with that) and there’s much more personality, something which can easily get diluted amidst the overpowering Disclosure-y synths and effectively convert the singer into a robot. Luckily, if anyone has enough personality to withstand such an onslaught, it’s Mary J. “Right Now” is the most exciting lead single she has released since “Family Affair” and proves that Blige is still as relevant today as she was in 1992 which makes us very excited for The London Sessions.

2) Charli XCX – Break the Rules

Charli XCX Break the Rules
Charli’s mission is to bring duck lips back into fashion

Having already had a hand in two of the biggest hits of the year “Fancy” and “Boom Clap”, as well as on Icona Pop’s smash hit “I Love It”, anything Charli XCX releases now is sure to be a massive hit. Luckily, “Break the Rules” is pretty awesome so I can definitely make my peace with hearing this on repeat for the whole winter. I think “Break the Rules is much more representative of who Charli XCX is than “Boom Clap” as well. She has a very British rough-around-the-edges attitude going on which has obviously translated well into record sales across the pond as well as on her home turf. “Break the Rules” is also infinitely more fun than “Boom Clap” and plays on the classic bad girl rebel at school persona which has become almost a stock character in pop culture. This has all the hallmarks of a huge global smash and that sick, throbbing backing beat would make even a nun feel like grinding up and down on a pole. Fact!

1) Ella Henderson – Glow

Ella Henderson Glow
All good popstars should be possessed by the devil

The past couple of months have seen X Factor finalist Ella Henderson transcended her roots and become a bonafide popstar in her own right which is all down to her dedication, songwriting skills and admirable pipes. Now, as she is looking to solidify her position as the new Leona Lewis, she sneaks into epic ballad territory with latest single “Glow” which will almost certainly keep her from descending into one-hit-wonder territory. This one is more of a grower than “Ghost” and features a weird sighing sound playing during the verses which is slightly reminiscent of a pedophile deep breathing at the other end of the phone. Despite all that however, it works. And very well at that. After a few listens the crashing, bombastic chorus will get lodged in your cranium. In fact, you can even see her performing it in a long flowing dress with moody, spectral lighting (in reference to the name “Glow”) on the X Factor in a few weeks. It’s also kind of Halloween-y in so far as it’s got a spooky vibe going on. Basically, it’s a great song and its release has been time to perfection. All hail the new X Factor queen (sorry Cheryl).

And, seeing as it’s No.1 on Diary of a Pop Fan’s list, here’s a bonus acoustic version:

The Top 20 Best Selling Albums of 2014 So Far…

The first third of 2014 is almost over already and to celebrate here’s a list of the best-selling albums of this year in the UK so far:

 

20) One Direction – Midnight Memories 

Oh just go away. Now!

One Direction's third album
One Direction – Midnight Memories

19) Disclosure – Settle

Despite being released last June this album has been selling constantly throughout 2014, mostly on the strength of a revamped version of the single F for You featuring Mary J Blige, which managed to peak at No.22 earlier on in the year.

Disclosure's debut album
Disclosure – Settle

18) Haim – Days Are Gone

This group have just been going from strength to strength lately and their current single If I Could Change Your Mind has helped keep this album a top 30 mainstay so far this year.

Haim's album
HAIM – Days Are Gone

17) John Legend – Love In The Future

This album was actually released in 2013 but only managed to become a hit after the phenomenal success of single All of Me whcih peaked at No.2 several weeks ago.

John Legend album
John Legend – Love in the Future

16) Bruce Springsteen – High Hopes

Springsteen managed to bag himself another UK No.1 album with his 18th studio release High Hopes which sold just under 50,000 copies to top the charts in January.

Bruce Springsteen
High Hopes

15) Lorde – Pure Heroine

Lorde has been having an amazing 6 months. After the whirlwind success of Royals her second single Team also managed to go top 30 in the UK and propelled Pure Heroine into the top twenty.

Lorde
Pure Heroine

14) Elbow – Take Off & Landing Of Everything

Elbow managed to secure their first UK No.1 album in March with their sixth studio album, whilst garnering rave reviews and keeping Paloma Faith’s new album off the top spot.

Elbow
The Take off and Landing of Everything

13) Paloma Faith – A Perfect Contradiction

Paloma got  the last laugh though, after a performance on the Voice gave her a surge in sales sent her back into the top 2 albums. A Perfect Contradiction has now spent 6 consecutive weeks in the top 10 and provided Faith with her second top ten hit Can’t Rely On You.

Paloma Faith
A Perfect Contradiction

12) Sam Bailey – Power Of Love

X Factor winner Sam Bailey decided to rush release her first studio album in order to reap the benefits of the high-selling Mother’s Day market and for the most part it seems to have worked, with The Power of Love debuting atop the UK albums charts with 73,000 copies sold.

Sam Bailey
The Power of Love

11) John Newman – Tribute

Mr Newman has been benefiting from a kick-ass dance remix of his single Out of My Head which has given his album a new lease of life.

John Newman
Tribute

10) Rudimental – Home

Despite being released almost a year ago, Home has been selling like hot cakes this trimester after sales were boosted on the strength of the band winning Best Single at the Brit Awards with Waiting All Night.

Rudimental
Home

9) George Michael – Symphonica

George Michael managed to secure himself yet another UK number one album when his first album of original material since 2004’s Patience shot straight to No.1 in March selling just under 50,000 copies in the process.

George Michael
Symphonica

8) Gary Barlow – Since I Saw You Last

Gary’s album has been a constant seller this year and has rarely been seen out of the top 30. It also received a boost after the title track was released a week ago.

Gary Barlow
Since I Saw You Last

7) Avicii – True

This one might come as a surprise as dance albums don’t tend to sell very well, but the truth is that Avicii is an exception to every rule and True has been a massive seller this year.

Avicii
True

6) Arctic Monkeys – AM

Despite acting like a douchebag at the Brit Awards Alex Turner’s band has been experiencing something of a career renaissance lately and the fact that AM won a Brit Award for best album didn’t hurt either.

Arctic Monkeys
AM

5) London Grammar – If You Wait

I’m extremely glad that London Grammar are finally being recognised for producing this sensational album. I was sure that If You Wait was going to end up as a forgotten classic, overlooked by the charts, but I couldn’t be happier to be wrong.

London Grammar
If You Wait

4) Pharrell Williams – Girl

The honour of having the best selling album released in 2014 so far goes to the man of the moment Pharrell. Girl has been flying off the shelves ever since it was released and it’s all due to the massive chart success of single Happy.

Pharrell
Girl

3) Bastille – Bad Blood

Bastille reaped the rewards of winning Best Breakthrough Act at the Brit Awards 2014 with Bad Blood returning to claim the No.1 spot for a further 2 weeks.

Bastille
Bad Blood

2) Beyonce – Beyoncé

Beyoncé has been having a great time recently with single Drunk In Love setting the charts on fire and her eponymous fifth studio album has been hanging around the top of the charts for months on end. May Queen B´s reign continue.

Beyoncé
Beyoncé

1) Ellie Goulding – Halcyon Days

Ellie Goulding has without a doubt been the woman of 2014 so far, having bagged another top 20 hit with Goodness Gracious and claimed a Brit Award for best female. To top it off, her album Halcyon Days returned to No.1 for 3 weeks in January and has been lingering in the top 20 ever since. Congratulations to Ellie for having the best selling album of 2014 so far!!!

Ellie Goulding
Halcyon Days

It’s surprising that most of the albums on the list were actually released in 2013, with only Bruce Springsteen, Paloma Faith, Pharrell, George Michael, Sam Bailey, Paloma Faith and Elbow providing 2014 releases. That’s only 7 out of 20. Hopefully the next four months will allow more new and returning artists to shine.

Another noticeable feature is the tangible effect that the Brit Awards has had on the album charts, with Brit Award winners Ellie Goulding, Bastille, Arctic Monkeys, Rudimental, One Direction and Lorde all appearing on the list. This demonstrates the power that the Brits still wields over music buyers.

I would have liked to have seen Shakira, Kylie, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Katy B’s album in the list but it’s only the first trimester of the year and it could all could change still. Here’s to many more great albums coming our way very soon.

Thanks for reading and feel free to comment!

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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.