Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Red Dlicious' Best of November!

Red Dlicious' Best of November Tracklisting!

1) Azealia Banks - 212
2) Drake - Take Care ft Rihanna
3) T.I. - Pyro
4) Dominique Young Unique - Shake My Ass
5) Cher Lloyd - Want U Back
6) One Direction - Tell Me A Lie
7) Youngblood - Blame It On Me
8) The Saturdays - Faster
9) Madonna - Give Me All Your Love (demo)
10) Mylene Farmer - Du Temps
11) Penguin Prison - Fair Warning
12) Rihanna - Where Have You Been
13) Katy Perry - The One That Got Away (R3hab Radio Edit)
14) Sound of Arrows - Wonders
15) Little Boots - Shake
16) Lady GaGa - Bloody Mary (The Horrors Remix)
17) Kelly Clarkson - I Know You Won't
18) Fun - We Are Young ft. Janelle Monae
19) Madonna - Masterpiece
20) Sound of Arrows - There Is Still Hope

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Album Review: Sound Of Arrows - Voyage

Sounds of Arrows - Voyage

There are certain acts in music that come out of nowhere and begin creating exciting and beautiful and instantly classic music. Of course, these are rarely the acts that get the attention they deserve, because let’s be honest mainstream music is rarely about the quality of the product. There are bands such as Sigur Ros, Royksopp, and Explosions in the Sky who are able to create immense and gorgeous soundscapes that transport the listener far, far away. There are pop acts like Robyn, Hurts, and Erik Hassle who create catchy tunes without succumbing to the mindless formula many pop artists do these days. There are even some acts who can achieve all of this and have been for years (Pet Shop Boys come to mind). And now, somewhere in between all of this...is Sound of Arrows.

A Swedish duo (obviously), consisting of Oskar Gullstrand and Stefan Storm, slowly garnered buzz after being selected as an official remix DJ for Lady GaGa’s Alejandro, a sunny rework that outdid the already amazing original. It was obvious they were a force to be reckoned with in terms of production, but it wasn’t until their debut single, Nova, that it became equally clear that they were very much their own artists as well. Taking their time to work off of this buzz and to make a strong debut statement, they took close to a year to release Voyage. I had personally kept only a marginal level of interest until the album was released, but one listen told me all I needed to know about this group.

Voyage is a true album in the way that very few albums are anymore, especially in the pop genre. By this I mean that it is one cohesive statement, masterfully pulling different sounds into one near perfect album. From the first listen I knew that this was an automatic contender for album of the year (and if you have seen the way I gush about Beyonce’s 4 album...you know this is a big statement.) On paper it almost seems like too much. Monstrous orchestral arrangements, heavenly vocals that soar through the music but never overtake it, and sparkling synths that keep the near-classical composition current and exciting. Heavenly gems are plentiful on Voyage, with a couple of the main highlights being the shimmering Longest Ever Dream and whimsical Magic.

What really convinced me of their immense talent, however, is the near 8-minute epic, There Is Still Hope. It starts out with a 2 minute instrumental build-up before breaking into a breathtaking arrangement of vocals that lasts for another 6 minutes. And yet it is such a pressing, gorgeous song that 8 minutes somehow seems way too short. As the swirling synths give  way to the chanting “You’ll come back to me! You’ll come back to me!” I am always hoping it will somehow last longer on each listen. It very much reminds me of post-rock veterans Godspeed You! Black Emperor with their 20 minute masterpieces as There Is Still Hope could go on for much longer and still feel like a perfect song. It all comes down to Sound of Arrows attention to song composition, pop sensibility, and strong musicianship. And it is for that reason that I am positive that this is not the last brilliant piece of work that they will give us.

While Voyage may lose to Bey for my album of the year title (She is my Queen, after all)...Sound of Arrows have done what very few acts in pop, rock, electronic or any other genre are able to: they created a classic debut that made good on all of the previous promise and set themselves up to become trend-setters in the genre. I am already excited to see how they will move forward with their own music, and if they will continue to remix/produce for other artists (Robyn get in on them IMMEDIATELY). Whatever their next move is...they have won a fan in me.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Kelly Clarkson Slays Any and All Live Performances

Sooo...remember a few weeks back when I posted my review of the legendary original American Idol, Kelly Clarkson's new album? And remember how it wasn't the best of reviews because I felt like it showed none of the growth, both vocally and personally, that I know Kelegend had gone through? And how I pointed out that if they had just incorporated more of her live vocals and instrumentation that this album could have been worlds better than anything your faves could ever deliver?


On the highly anticipated Unplugged concert of Kelly's on VH1, she covered equally flawless fellow Idol, Carrie Underwood's "I Know You Won't." Now, while I have always enjoyed this song, it was never a stand-out to me. Clearly it was just in the wrong hands! On this sneak-peak of the concert, we get to watch the full performance...and it is almost other worldly it is so good. I would easily put this in Kelly's top 5 best live performances, of which there are many many good ones. She puts soul and pain into every syllable of the song, cooing delicately one second and belting with angst the next. The whole time remaining pitch-perfect and just completely flaw free.

It is the curse of the talented pop star that led me to disapprove of her latest outing. Because I knew she still had this in her, and couldn't, and still can't understand why we couldn't get this. Also, her live Smoakstack EP similarly outlines how the producers her label has working with her just don't know how to handle this angel's voice. So, if you too felt slightly let down by Stronger as an album...look no further than this performance to reassure you that Kelly Fucking Clarkson is still one of the best vocalists our generation can boast as our own. Watch below. And then keep watching. And never stop.

Album Review: Rihanna - Talk That Talk

Rihanna - Talk That Talk

I was going to wait until the Deluxe version had leaked or maybe the release date...but I think I need to get some stuff about this album off of my chest, so I am going to go ahead and do my review of the standard edition now. I will probably update the review and overall rating once the deluxe tracks leak.

So, Rihanna. The reigning bad girl of pop at the moment. The Bajan hit factory. Fashion and sex symbol. Twitter wig snatcher. More than anyone else right now (yes, even more than GaGa), Rihanna is the it-girl of pop music right now. While this may not always equate to the highest of album sales (our girl still doesn’t have a #1 album) or ticket sales (not her strongest suit), Rihanna’s endless hard work has made her a worldwide sensation and a near guaranteed #1 song with every single release. Sure, she may put out singles a little too quickly and an album every single year is getting to be a bit overkill...but for the most part, new Rihanna music is ALWAYS welcome because it is always going to be sexy, catchy, and getting us dancing. So, just as her last album, LOUD, is wrapping up, we now have her new one: Talk That Talk. After initial reviews citing it to be her most cohesive, aurally satisfying, and dirtiest album to date...I was more than a little bit excited. Let’s see if it lives up to the hype!

The album starts off with 2nd single, “You Da One”, a Carribean-fueled dance track that has Rihanna sweetly declaring her love for her man over Europop and dubstep beats. It is a cute enough song, but not quite as catchy right away as we have come to expect from Rihanna. But while this song may not quite have grabbed me the way I expected, all thoughts of it are gone when the truly spectacular “Where Have You Been” begins. One of, if not THE best dance tracks in her discography, this song takes off on a truly huge beat with plenty of synths and stuttering to keep you dancing for hours (anyone wanna put together an extended remix for me? Please? Please?!). This high-energy track flows seamlessly into the lead single, “We Found Love”, which has annoyingly grown on me after my initial claims that it was too generic to be a great track. Not saying I’ve changed my mind...just saying it doesn’t bother me anymore.

From this energetic intro into the album, we get to the title track, the more urban, and truly spectacular, “Talk That Talk.” The one feature on the album by Mr. JiggaMan himself is good and all, but honestly not so sure he adds that much to the song. It is that carefree, smooth delivery of Rihanna’s on the chorus that really perked my ears up. It is one of Rih’s greatest talents to give that cool edge to a song, and it comes out in full force here. This has been the track I have been going back to listen to the most from the album. So far so good, right? Well here is where the album sort of starts losing me.

The much talked about lyric “Suck my cockiness, lick my persuasion” along with the chattering “I love it i love it i love it when you eat it” made Cockiness probably the most anticipated song from the album. And while those little bits are hilarious and amazing...that’s really the only good thing about the song for me. It is the type of song that seems like they had these few great spare parts that they wanted on a song, so they just threw them all together on one track. It is too all over the place and I can never quite get into the groove of the song. This one is a miss for me. And the fact that the criminally cut off “Birthday Cake” manages to surpass “Cockiness” in about a third of the time is quite telling. Equally lack-luster is the semi-inspirational “We All Want Love” ballad. While I actually like the song, it is out of place on the album and is perhaps the type of song that should have gone to more of a powerhouse singer to really bring home. (No shade, I actually think Rih is a great singer. Just saying...)

The rest of the album brings it back a little bit, with the vocally strong “Drunk On Love” and “Farewell” giving Rihanna some time to shine, and the swanky, sexy “Roc Me Out” and “Watch N Learn” takes us back to the sexual nature of the album as a whole. Overall, this is a really fun album and as always I am ecstatic to have new Rihanna to strut around to. But something about it doesn’t quite do it for me. There are some seriously brilliant songs on here, but others were cut short of greatness (LITERALLY for “Birthday Cake”), and others just never quite connect in the way I was hoping they would (“We All Want Love”, “Cockiness”). Granted, with the deluxe tracks taking the place of the stinkers, my opinion of the album might change. But overall...it SEEMS rushed this time around. 

When LOUD came out, it was the perfect connection between Rated R’s “Rude Boy” success and it was the necessary change in image and sound from the dark period Rihanna had gone through. We were happy to be dancing and flirting along with her again. This time...it feels like she should have taken more time and given us something better. Also, let me point out that I am not particularly pleased that almost the entire album is done by 3 or 4 songwriters/producers. Yeah, sure, it makes it more cohesive. But it also makes it less interesting.

While there is no doubt I will be playing this album out, and possibly changing my mind about some of it the way I did about “We Found Love”...for now I am left simply wanting more.

3.5/5 Wigs Snatched

Where Are The Male Pop Stars? Pt. 3

OK, kids, here is the final installment of my male pop star feature, this time including the vocal and rock/pop artists. This has been really fun for me to write and gotten me back into some of the men I have been neglecting. I hope some of you found some new male pop artists to support, and I hope more will be on the scene soon. Enjoy!


Note:There is a common misconception in the music industry today.. An artist singing a song on a stage: pop artist. A singer performing with a band on stage: rock band. Further muddling everything is the overused term: indie rock. What people fail to recognize is that before the last 20-30 years...all pop music was done via live instruments. Bands such as Fall Out Boy or Maroon 5 are not rock bands at all...they are pop bands. They use elements of rock in their pop music...but so do Pink and Kelly Clarkson. So, here are a few of my favorite pop bands out right now sporting a male singer.


Arguably the biggest “rock” band of this generation in terms of commercial success, Coldplay made an almost instant splash with their debut album in 2000 and have been veritable hit machines from that point. Massive songs such as “The Scientist”, “Viva La Vida” and “Yellow” made them a household name, but it has been their continued pop sensibility and strong live performances that have kept them around. What I personally love about the band is that they have managed the difficult feat of constantly evolving and changing their approach to music while maintaining their sound. It has gone from simple piano ballads to huge arena rock anthems and now foraying into dance music...but always remaining Coldplay. Not that it is possible that you haven’t listened before...but maybe now is the time to revisit the reasons we all fell in love with them to begin with.

Recommended Listening: The Scientist, Paradise, Fix You

Adam Lambert

OK, not a band, and yes arguably not even rock. But I think that he at least has something of a rock sensibility to many of his songs, much the same as the writer of his biggest song Whataya Want From Me: Pink. The frequently controversial and always talented Adam Lambert may have lost the title of American Idol to Kris Allen but it isn't difficult to tell which has been more successful, both in the pop culture sense as well as commercial. Adam is a boy who can blow your fave's vocals out of the water. Sure, he has a little bit of trouble showing restraint...but many great singers have the same problem (Looking at you, Strainguilera). While his debut wasn't quite the smash I think we were looking for, there were some serious pop gems on there and I have faith that his follow-up will be his true blast-off moment. Let's get Glambert.

Recommended Listening: For Your Entertainment, Whataya Want From Me, Strut

My Chemical Romance

The only band of the old emo-pop-punk era that, in my opinion, found its way out of those murky waters and into mainstream success, and even more found a way to stay there. Back in those days, it was always hard to tell who was my favorite of the bands and who would continue to do well because it was a very same-sounding genre. However, My Chemical Romance slowly built their sound to be bigger, more interesting, and much more catchy than the rest of the bands. And as they slowly dropped (even the massive Fall Out Boy is now gone), My Chemical Romance took their time and have created near classics in the genre. While their sound has gotten progressively more rock-inspired, their pop sensibility has remained and they always leave us with catchy tunes to bop around to in our cars. So while I will always love that era of music for nostalgic purposes, it is My Chemical Romance that I will continue to look forward to putting out new music.
Recommended Listening: Welcome to the Black Parade, Famous Last Words, The Only Hope for Me Is You

Bruno Mars

Bruno is an artist that has had a little bit more controversy to him than I understand. Perhaps he led with a few too many schmaltzy love songs. Perhaps he didn't quite deliver on the promise of his debut EP when he released his follow-up debut album. But in my mind, there is no one who is playing the music game better than him right now. Exceptional vocals, one of the strongest songwriters in the industry, and let's not forget his production team The Smeezingtons who have produced a set of knock-out hits. And have you seen the kid perform? For me there is no doubt that Bruno is one of the best overall pop artists we have...the question will be if the public continues to believe the same thing.

Recommended Listening: Talking to the Moon, Runaway, Today My Life Begins

Shayne Ward

I find it difficult to talk about Shayne. He is almost certainly the most talented, attractive, and nicest guy on this list. His X-Factor performances were nothing but sublime, and some of his recordings have made good on that promise. But much of it has been the kind of muddled, overdone pop music that someone with much less talent and initial fanbase would put out. The public agrees. He has been dropped from his label after never finding the success they desired, both locally and internationally. I hear he has a new label...perhaps they will know how to utilize him and his talents more effectively.

Recommended Listening: Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Breathless, Melt the Snow

Erik Hassle
One of my absolute favorite finds in the last couple years is Swedish singer-songwriter Erik Hassle. A beautiful, soulful voice and a set of songs that refuse to have a flaw...each and every moment of an Erik Hassle album or EP have left me craving more. Recently featured on a John Dahlback dance track...Erik is the guy on this list that I want most to find some wider success because I have nothing but faith that he could rise to the occasion. Really the only other thing I can say about him is Go. Go download his music. Go do it right now. Go. Go. Go.
Recommended Listening: Love Me To Pieces, Don’t Bring Flowers, Are You Leaving?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Where Are the Male Pop Stars? Pt. 2

And we're back! Yesterday I covered some of the shining male stars in the R&Pop and Electro genres, and today I am going to tackle the standard Pop artists as well as those who focus on SynthPop. Let's just dive right in, shall we?


Will Young

Now Will is someone I had never paid much attention to before this year. The original winner of the now ever-present singing competitions, Will seemed to be a UK singer of the past and not someone I should be looking into. BOY was I wrong! With the release of his album Echoes and its lead single Jealousy this year, I have become so insanely hooked. Will's music isn't exactly something to light the dancefloor on fire. In fact, it is one of my favorite laying-in-bed albums of the moment. But that is because the music is beautiful, the lyrics are smart and often touching, and Will's voice is so smooth. Put it together and you have one of the best releases of the year, and my favorite male pop singer of the moment. Oh, and did I mention that he is gay?

Recommended Listening: Jealousy, Come On, Outsider

Joe McElderry

UK X-Factor winner Joe McElderry very much surprised me. I thought him to be sort of the UK David Archuleta when I first heard him on the show. Cute, definitely. Talented, ohh yes. A star...not so much. BUT...then his album came out and it was a high-energy, fabulous affair. Borrowing vocal stylings from the likes of Jake Shears, Joe showed that he could lead the charge on a dancefloor igniter just as easily as on a cheesy ballad. While his career has suffered similar fates as many of his X-Factor comrades...I have high hopes for this boy, and hope he brings us another set of music sooner rather than later. Oh and FYI...I did not mention it...but he is gay.

Recommended Listening: Ambitions, Fahrenheit

Justin Timberlake

I almost didn’t do it. I almost didn’t put him on here. He hasn’t released an album in years, and with his forays into cinema, it doesn’t appear he is in even the slightest of rushes to put out another. BUT...as far as male pop stars of this generation goes, Justin is arguably the biggest. Everything he touches turns to gold, his fans jump at the slightest mention of him being on a track, and the boy can seriously sing and dance. While he may not be part of the current pop landscape...leaving him out of the game would be a mistake. All the same...I just wish he would get on with it. Oh, and did I mention that sadly he is NOT gay?

Recommended Listening: Cry Me A River, SexyBack


Darren Hayes

Now, my US readers probably won't recognize this name, but here is one most of them SHOULD recognize: Savage Garden. Remember them? Yeah, me too. I have endless fond memories of Savage Garden’s music. Apparently after they split, the lead singer Darren Hayes went ahead and created quite a solo pop career for himself abroad. All of his music has been extraordinary, and his fans are loyal and proud of the spectrum of work Hayes has put out. This year with his new album, he has won another fan in me. The best way for me to describe it would be ambient-pop. Hayes has the strong and high voice (sometimes wandering into being a bit whiney) that delivers strong songs on top of dreamy productions. Definitely one of the long-term career inspirations that many of the men on this list could learn a thing or two from.

Recommended Listening: Black Out the Sun


With their debut album last year, Hurts set the Eurosynthpop (not a thing, made it up) genre on its ear. Early buzz off of their incredibly strong lead singles seemed to set the two boys up for failure. So what did they do? Produced an album with nothing but expert craftsmanship, a cohesive sound, and one helluva feature for their debut (once again..uhmm..KYLIE MINOGUE?!). Yes, Hurts made almost every pop publication’s Best Of... lists for 2010, and deservedly so. Their music sounds as fresh today as it did last year...and I have a good feeling that classic pop music is exactly what we can expect from the rest of their career as well.

Recommended Listening: Stay, Blood Tears & Gold, Devotion

Sound of Arrows

I have to admit that I didn’t pay attention to this duo in the months leading up to their debut album this month. It all seemed very pretty and nice, but nothing I could really hold on to single wise. Then the buzz for the album began generating like no other album I had seen this year. But still I decided to wait until it came out to listen to their music again. And man...am I happy I paid attention to the buzz this time around. Their album is possibly the best of 2011. SoA have achieved a level of orchestral synthpop that I have rarely heard, and even more rarely seen it be executed so masterfully. They have made a classic album of this era, and will be the electronic album to beat this year without a doubt.

Recommended Listening: Nova, Longest Ever Dream, There Is Still Hope

That's all for now, folks! Check back on Monday for the final installment where I cover Vocal and Rock/Pop male artists! I hope you find some goodies in my suggestions!

Album Review: Coldplay - Mylo Xyloto

Coldplay - Mylo Xyloto
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this album. Having not particularly been fond of their last album, I had all but given up on Coldplay to self-praising arena rock stylings. My interest was piqued when they came out with the decidedly dancier Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall. I liked the song...didn’t love it. But I definitely liked it. Then rumors of further electronic influences and a Rihanna feature began surfacing...and I was back in Chris Martin’s corner. (It does of course help me to like him knowing he is friends with Beyonce...girl has good taste!!)

Having listened to the whole thing for a few weeks now...I have to go with my first reaction to the album: LOVE. IT. Here’s the thing, haters: I get why you don’t like Coldplay in general. I get why long-time fans don’t like this album specifically. I GET IT. But here is the other thing: you are completely wrong. And here is why.

As the dust begins to settle just a little bit on the Europop storm that we have had to sit through for the last few years...it is obvious that we are not done with dance music. BUT...I think many people are looking for dance music that is perhaps not so repetitively high-energy. Perhaps we are getting a little bit sick of being told to put our hands in the air every minute of the day. My arms are tired, tbqh.
 So it makes perfect sense for a huge band such as Coldplay to take their generally depressive yet large sound, and apply some electronic power to it. 

And while this whole thing seems a bit bandwagon-y...once I heard the finished product it made even more sense. Coldplay has, with this album, taken a small step back towards the bands they used to be compared to such as Sigur Ros and Radiohead, and a little further from that other band they have been compared to since Viva La Viva: U2. And I think this is important for them to do because they will never be the type of band that U2 is (thank god...hate that twat Bono).

They are, however, quite talented at creating lush soundscapes and beautiful melodies. It has always been their forte, even back when they were a mostly piano based band. Tracks like Paradise and Charlie Brown maintain their big sound, but it’s been a little bit since we have heard Chris Martin sing as tenderly as on stand-out Us Against The World. Then, of course, the pièce de résistance is easily the Rihanna assisted Princess of China. One of Rihanna’s greatest qualities has always been having an effortlessly cool progression to her vocals, and she brings that to the table on this track. Once her first chorus kicked in, I knew it was something special.

Overall, I am happy that Coldplay decided to get into this lane and make some more electronic based music. I am even happier to say that this isn’t just one of the pop releases or the more interesting electronic releases of the year...it is one of the best albums of the year, period. You almost lost me for a bit there Coldplay...but I am quite happy to be back.

5/5 Wigs Snatched

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Where Are The Male Pop Stars?

Lately...the pop scene just hasn't really been the same. Overwhelmingly controlled by a small handful of artists being produced mostly by an even smaller group of producers and songwriters, all keeping to an EVEN smaller type of sound. Ah, yes. The europop dance trend that took years to catch on in the US has become dominant, successful...and quite boring. Like many good pop music trends, the most interesting and talented artists in the genre are of course the ones being ignored. Instead groups like Black Eyed Peas & LMFAO easily rule the charts and airwaves with rehashes and derivative dance "anthems."

However, despite this rant...this hasn't even been my biggest problem with pop music over the last five years. My concern has been the gaping hole that has been left in the pop scene where male singers used to be. There was a time where boy bands and R&B-cum-pop male stars were as frequent, if not more so, than their female counterparts. And sure some of this is accounted for by the obvious fact that male singers are more likely to be in a rock band, coupled with the increased confusion over when a band is rock or pop.

Regardless of where they fall...the amount of strong male solo artists are pitifully small. I started thinking about this late last year while I put together my Best Of... list. Because while I will always prefer female singers (can men flip their hair to fierce up a performance? No. I didn't think so!), a good male artist is something to praise as well!

So for the last year or so I have been fiercely on the prowl for new or overlooked male singers. And recently I have finally started noticing something of a resurgence. Sure, this might just be because I am looking for it...but they are there nonetheless.

So, for the next few days I am going to be writing about some of the best male singers in their respective pop sub-genres. These are some of the men who have taken a place on my iPod, and how they are not just bringing back a male flavor (phrasing?) to the genre...but also some much needed change from the monotony of basic Europop songs flooding our music scene.

And let me just disclaim that this is not a comprehensive list...there are of course many male singers I have not mentioned. And don’t any of you dare try to point out that I left out Justin Bieber or Joe Jonas. It was on fucking purpose and you will deal. ANYWAY....Let's begin shall we?

R&Pop Men

Usher Raymond
I believe that Usher should be a bigger deal than he is. There is no reason he couldn't be the male version of Beyonce. Stunning voice with a great range. Sexy guy who always had a female fan base. Known to be a good, maybe not great, but good dancer. But he chose to never take it to the next level after peaking during his Confessions era, and has had something of an identity crisis ever since. Even with his most recent successful offering, he was all over the place. Hard-hitting R&B music one minute (Hot Tottie), throwaway dance tracks the next (DJ Got Us Falling In Love Again), and even a RedOne track (More). However, his influence in male pop cannot be denied, and he is still very much a force to be reckoned with.

Recommended Listening: Hot Tottie, Lil Freak, Burn

Chris Brown

Insert Rihanna joke/comment/rant. OK, good that's out of the way. Now on to Breezy. I don't know if it is because of how young he started (he definitely had me sayin' he can't be 16) or because of how much he has been through in the press and the long, tireless quest for a true comeback...but I still have trouble believing that someone this young has put out such an incredibly varied and accomplished set of music. Not only that, but his performance style while lacking a little bit on the vocals side is still consistently thrilling. While Chris has been veering more towards urban and hip hop as those are the fans that stuck by him the most...he could easily be one of our generation's biggest pop stars by the end of his career. I just hope that black cloud doesn't ruin the chances of this happening.

Recommended Listening: Yeah 3X, She Ain’t You, Deuces


Man...who else misses the age of the boy bands? Sexy boys singing sweet, catchy tunes to choreography will always be something I am down for...and I am happy that JLS from UK X-Factor has proven that that age is not over just yet. Sure, the UK has always been a little bit more into their boy bands than the US (see bands like Westlife and Take That’s continued success)...but JLS have great vocals, club-worthy hits, and an even better look. How they haven't tried to take on the American market yet is beyond me...but I think it's time they get a move on it. I need a boy band renaissance and I need it now!

Recommended Listening: Take A Chance On Me, The Club Is Alive


Simon Curtis

Recently there has been an interesting crop of DIY pop artists coming into the scene such as the Ke$ha-like Ro Danishei and the beautiful and talented Adam Tyler. The cream of this crop, however, is one Simon Curtis. With close to a million plays on last.fm, an album on iTunes, and a rabid fanbase that includes almost every pop blog on the internet...you would think that Simon is the next big thing. However, somehow he hasn't been scooped up by a label yet! It is only a matter of time, though...and then the charts had better get prepared for a Robot takeover.

Recommended Listening: Diablo, Beat Drop, Laser Guns Up

Scissor Sisters

While not exclusively a male pop band (the feverishly fabulous Ana Matronic is the co-vocalist) and not exclusively dance music (their music swings from disco to rock and straight into throbbing industrial beats)...this was the best place I could think to put them. Jake Shears, the frontman of SS, is a sexy force of nature that has brought back a renaissance of filthy 70s inspired pop music. Their debut album is a pop masterpiece and was recognized as such immediately. While their sophomore album seemed to slump just a bit, it is their third and latest album, Night Work, that had me booty-shaking for months. With obvious references to pop music of the past, a knack for bringing current pop/dance music, and the occasional famous friends to help out (uhm HELLO, Kylie Minogue!)...Scissor Sisters is perhaps the male-led pop act in the world right now. Any which way you look at it...you can bet I have my eye on them.

Recommended Listening: Any Which Way, Filthy/Gorgeous, I Don’t Feel Like Dancing

Penguin Prison

A newcomer to the pop scene, Penguin Prison's 2011 debut has been nothing short of a burst of adrenaline for me in regards to male pop music. While I try not to make comparisons, something about the seamless music and endlessly cool vibe, I almost found myself thinking that I had found the male Robyn. Every song I have heard from him has been top notch, and this was after he had already gotten a reputation for strong remixes and DJ sets. If PP plays his cards right...he could find himself at the top of the pop heap.

Recommended Listening: Fair Warning, Don't Fuck With My Money, His remix of GaGa's Alejandro

OK...well that's all for now folks! Check back tomorrow when I tackle the men of Pop & SynthPop!!