Introducing Kai Lavatai

This may be the most straightforward ad you’ve ever answered: Do you love stylishly-produced synth-pop lit with the neon brightness of the 80s? If your response is ‘yes, take my money’ then allow us to introduce Kai Lavatai.

Kai Lavatai

The American singer, songwriter and producer is still relatively unknown but the EPs and singles he has uploaded on Soundcloud tells us he really ought to be in more people’s music libraries.

Kai’s music takes you through a mix of nu disco, funk and even a bit of chill wave with narratives told by a gay man for lovers of gay men.

Vocally, he sounds like a finely processed blend of Darren Hayes‘ softer tones with Michael Jackson‘s distinct flow.

Here are three tracks of note:

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Ariana Grande “My Everything”

Pop Bambi, Ariana Grande, has officially made the leap from Nickelodeon star to proper contender in the youth music market, all in just the space of 17 months.

ariana grande my everything

My Everything, her second album, is easily one of the most anticipated releases in any teen pop diary this year. Bolstered by the global success of ‘Problem‘ (featuring Iggy Azalea), her first UK chart-topper, My Everything has been hyped up to be the album that will introduce Ariana to a bigger audience.

The 21-year old singer has been tirelessly hailed as the new generation’s Mariah Carey (probably much to the chagrin of the Elusive Chanteuse herself). It’s something of a badge of honour Ariana wears and flashes with pride every time she ad-libs in the whistle register. The comparisons also stick because of Grande’s penchant for cutting slickly-produced saccharine R&B ballads which has, until now, limited her appeal to mainstream music fans on this side of the Atlantic.

She’s a young female pop performer with a naturally-occurring gay male following but unlike Lady Gaga, Katy Perry or Britney Spears, Little Miss Grande has yet to give us a proper anthem we can really get behind. You know just the kind we’re talking about: a huge dance track with emotional lyrics and bonafide diva vocals. Well, that all changed when ‘Break Free’ went online.

The new single, featuring German-Russian EDM producer Zedd, is a brazen, club stomper with an emancipatory feel. It’s a straightforward survivor anthem for the brokenhearted and fed-up, much in the spirit of Britney Spears‘ ‘Stronger’, Cher‘s ‘Strong Enough’ and Gloria Gaynor‘s ‘I Will Survive’. Ariana digs her heels in and sings, “This is the part when I say I don’t want it! I’m stronger than I’ve been before. This is the part when I break free, ’cause I can’t resist it no more!”.

 

As enjoyable as it was, ‘Break Free’ sadly isn’t a fair representation of the album’s soundscape. For the most part, Ariana remains quietly devoted to the vanilla R&B balladry set out in her first album. Having said that, there is a convincing coming-of-age confidence and feistiness in My Everything that urges its listeners to stick with it for a bit longer.

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Duke Dumont ‘Won’t Look Back’

The pressure is on for British DJ and producer Duke Dumont. His last two singles have both topped the UK charts, so does ‘Won’t Look Back’ have what it takes to follow their fiery trail? My immediate response is a fervent nod.

Duke Dumont Won't Look Back

‘Won’t Look Back’ sounds exactly like the sum of Duke Dumont’s finest and most precise commercial efforts. The new single plugs itself into the current 90s house pop revival that powered his previous hits.

There are urgent house pianos contrasted by big beastly soul vocals by a feature artist that has yet to be revealed. The singer lets us have it when she sings with searing, gospel-like conviction: “Your love it makes me stronger. No matter what we’re going through, I won’t look back! Won’t look, won’t look back!”.

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#ThrowbackThursday: Emma Bunton “Free Me”

This year marks the 10 year anniversary of the best and most consistent solo Spice Girl album to date: Emma Bunton‘s Free Me.

Emma Bunton Free Me

 

While it’s safe to say none of Ginger, Sporty, Scary, Baby or Posh’s albums will ever alter the course of music history like that of their collective endeavours, there is still something special about Emma’s second album that keeps me coming back.

Free Me arrived just a few sleeps before Valentine’s Day in 2004 but love wasn’t particularly in the air for solo Spice Girls records anymore.

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Troye Sivan “TRXYE”

It’s hardly a stop-the-press moment when some 19-year old YouTube sensation from the other side of the world decides to drop an EP.

But when it tops the iTunes chart in 55 countries, you might want to rethink your position. Something tells us that Mr Troye Sivan is about to be Mr Extra Extra This Just In.

TRXYE TROYE SIVAN EP GASOLINE

In an era where having substantial social media clout is everything to an emerging artist, Troye had that in the bag long before TRXYE was even thought of.

The South African-born Aussie talent is a triple threat: singer, songwriter and actor, having starred in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. He’s perhaps best known as a YouTube personality, where he is very much in his element, posting videos to over 2 million subscribers and racking up no less than 91 million views.

There’s no doubt that Troye’s army of online followers is responsible for the big impact he’s had on iTunes. It’s easy to write off the exercise as a mere flex of social media power but TRXYE is so on-point, it’s picking up loiterers in the digital corridors and rapidly recruiting them to #TeamTroye.

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Magalie ‘First Kiss’

We’ve only just met but emerging pop starlet Magalie is already making the first move with ‘First Kiss’. It’s a bit forward but frankly, who doesn’t like a bit of that?

MAGALIE FIRST KISS

The London-based artist counts Taio Cruz as a kinda mentor and has written songs with the likes of Guy Chambers (who has penned numerous hits for Robbie Williams) and Wayne Hector (who has worked with The Wanted and JLS).

Magalie’s debut single ‘First Kiss’ is a stroblit-driven synth pop mania a la Charli XCX. So, like a nod to 80s disco with a modern twist, if you will.

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The Saturdays “Finest Selection: The Greatest Hits”

It may not seem like it to the average consumer but The Saturdays have clocked up quite a chest full of decent pop singles in the last six years.

Finest Selection The Saturdays

It’s only in the context of a well-earned greatest hits package that you notice just how consistent Rochelle, Vanessa, Una, Frankie and Mollie have been in a brutally competitive pop world.

Finest Selection: The Greatest Hits is The Saturdays’ first best-of collection and it’s an all-encompassing package that features 18 singles (13 of which were UK Top 10 smashes) and three new tracks.

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