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Pop Music

As the trends in music evolve, as does the definition of pop music. Pop started as an abbreviation for popular; since the mid-20th-century, it has become the go-to term to define the music currently holding the most favour with the public. The evolving nature of pop makes it hard to pinpoint the pioneers; some say it all started when performers needed a catchy and memorable song in the Victorian area, while others say that pop began with the original crooners in the 30s.

The introduction of the pop music charts in 1952 allowed a cultural shift to form around music. It was at this point in history that teenagers became a massive target for the media. Before this new social reconstruction, there had been no in-between for children and adults. Just as it is now in the TikTok age, where teenagers can make an unknown artist go viral in minutes, teenagers effectively ran the music industry in the 50s too!

After Elvis Presley reigned supreme in the late 50s and early 60s, the Beatles dominated the charts for eight years until they disbanded in 1970. Throughout the 80s, synthpop took the pop limelight until the Boy Band era was born in the 90s. The selling power of East 17, Take That, Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync gave Bob and Chris Herbert the idea to manufacture the world’s ultimate girl group; with the Spice Girls, they discernibly succeeded. After the Spice Girls topped the charts, more manufactured pop acts, such as Britney and Mariah Carey, started to surface. Manufacturing is still a massive part of the pop industry, but more and more pop artists are becoming brave enough to break the mould (think Billie Eilish, St. Vincent and Lorde).

Even though the pop charts are more diverse than ever, with Ed Sheeran sitting next to the Weeknd and Dua Lipa next to Tom Grennan, there are still common factors in their pop tracks. Today, most songs that fall into the pop category follow the extensively tried and tested pop formula. Generally speaking, pop tracks are 3 – 5 minutes in duration, use just one key, contains melodically lyrical soundbites that include the title, have a repeating chorus and keep to 4/4 time signatures. Repetition is quite literally key.

Unless it is a ballad or a stripped back acoustic number, pop tracks usually unfold to danceable tempos and rhythms to complement the lyrical hooks. Elements from every genre can be pulled into pop, the main ones being rock, RnB, hip hop, country, Latin and dance. Indie pop was a force to be reckoned with at the start of the millennium, but two decades in, it has lost its foothold to hip hop and RnB, which have become pop genres in of themselves.

Ava Valianti Became a Matchless Entity in the Music Industry with Her Turbulently Fervent Single, Middle Ground

Ava Valianti set the bar plateau-high with her debut single, Bubble Wrap; with her sophomore release, Middle Ground, the Massachusetts-residing singer-songwriter exhibited how honed her evocative approach to song crafting has become.

The striking tour de force starts with piano keys that would be right at home on a Radiohead LP or the Westworld soundtrack before the instrumental arrangement builds into a synthesis of moodily turbulent electronica and ornate orchestral motifs to reflect the disquietness of emotional upheaval.

The lyrical refrain of “I’m a broken record but at least I’m playing, music blaring louder than the pain” within the monumentally progressive release is a testament to how easily Ava Valianti reached the epitome of affecting alchemy.

Her vocal lines become an anchor in the instrumental storm and fervently resound through her artistic authenticity and determination to pour visceralism into every note of the intensely augmented release. She’s a matchless entity in the music industry, it’s only a matter of time before she ascends through the charts if she keeps producing tracks in the same phenomenal vein as Middle Ground.

Middle Ground will hit all major streaming platforms, including Spotify, on February 23rd.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Neil Young meets Pixies in Ryanne + The Rumination’s seminal single, Waste

Indiana’s Ryanne + The Rumination hit the airwaves running with their stylistically expansive self-titled debut LP, which explores the spectrum of human emotions within the psychological ebbs and flows.

The standout single, Wasting, exhibits the duo at their most ethereally magnetic. Ryanne’s crystalline vocal lines cut right through the Pixies-esque atmosphere manifested through the guitar-driven production that exhibits the duo’s influence of Neil Young.

Intimate and profound in equal measure, the artfully immersive single evolves from a dreamy monochromatic release of pent-up emotions to a melancholically stirring alt-pop anthem that won’t fail to pull you into its raw oscillating core. If Ryanne + The Rumination’s is the future of pop, I’m here for it.

Ryanne clearly found her alchemic match in the multi-instrumentalist, Seth Wyatt. The way the single culminates in a post-punk decorated disquiet crescendo after a lament on the frustrations of stagnation is a stunningly affecting way to make an ever-lasting impression.

Waste was officially released on February 9th and is now available to stream with the band’s eponymous LP via Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Swedish Soul Pop Firebrand, Nadine Randle, Has a New Chart-Topper on Her Hands with ‘Man Up’.

Nadine Randle’s voice has proven to be one of the most magnetic of this era; each of her hits goes down a soulful storm on streaming platforms and in the charts; her latest single, Man Up, is no exception to that rule.

Man Up revolutionises the 90s RnB Pop vibe, with all of the firebrand swagger you’d expect from an artist musing through that stylistically influential epoch. Exuding the same empowering edge as the iconic likes of Destiny’s Child and TLC, the Swedish singer-songwriter delivered a fiery anthem that will speak to anyone who wants to regain their power after suffering through a relationship that was beneath them.

Even though the title of the single has a slight misandrist undertone, when you hit play and sink into the soulfully melodious grooves of the release, you will realise that Randle versed this earworm to deliver vindication hand over fist to the women that need an affirmation that settling for less than what you’re worth is a recipe for destruction and frustration.

Man Up was officially released on February 9th; stream the single on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Ana & Gene Interview: Crafting Harmonies and Breaking Boundaries

In an illuminating conversation with Ana & Gene, the dynamic duo behind the chart-topping hit ‘Narcissistic You’, we delve into the serendipitous beginnings of their partnership, born amidst the solitude of the pandemic and fostered through a shared passion for music and film.

Their journey is a testament to the power of collaboration, where spontaneous creativity and mutual respect for each other’s artistry have led to the birth of sensational tracks. As they discuss the genesis of their unique sound, a blend of retro and modern power pop, and their perspective on the evolving digital landscape of the music industry in 2024, Ana & Gene offer a glimpse into their creative process and future endeavours.

It is safe to say you have both earned your respective stripes in the music industry, what initially brought you together? 

“The COVID-19 pandemic brought us together and we found each other over Facebook.  We started talking about both our careers in the entertainment world of music and film.  We found out that we had so much in common and we appreciated each other’s talents. Then we decided to get together and become a new hit duo sensation to wow the world.”

It’s clear that you both complement each other’s talent and style, but what has been the most gratifying part of the collaborative experience so far? 

“The fact that we just flow so well together while we are creating.  A good example is when Gene started to warm up to play one of our new songs “More Than My Best Friend”.  He stumbled upon some beautiful chords, then I jumped out of my chair and leaned in towards him while he was playing and I started to sing Uh-Oh Who Do You Love.  So that is how our other song was born.”

Your single, Narcissistic You, has become quite the phenomenon on the airwaves and has been in high rotation on radio stations; what do you believe the key to the success of the single was? 

“The key to the success of Narcissistic You comes from the unique way Ana wrote the lyrics and hooks.  She wanted the song to portray as much realism as possible.  Also, the way I played the rhythm helped construct the melody, it brought the song completely together.  But also, our Recording Engineer Joe Bonadonna and our other musicians called “The Scene” including Buddy Woods (Lead Guitar), Michael O’Connor (Bass Guitar), and Rob Lela (Drums), helped and contributed to making the song what it is today.”

We love the retro yet modernised power pop aesthetic of Narcissistic You; were there any bands or artists who influenced the sound? 

“Well, I always loved pop rock, pop punk, and rock music, artists like Green Day and All Time Low.  I always wanted to create my own unique pop rock/pop punk rock music.  So, I explained to Gene what I wanted and then he helped give me his rhythmic flair.”

As you like to keep some of the elements of your music traditional, we’d love to get your take on the music industry as it currently stands in 2024. Is it a digital land of opportunity or a paltry effigy of what it once was? 

“We believe that it is a digital land of opportunity as it currently stands for 2024.  Today’s music Industry isn’t like how it used to be.  But everything is always evolving, and the best bet is to always go with the flow.”

What’s next for Ana & Gene?

“Right now we are in the process of making a new single called “Giving You Love”.  It is a unique blend of Tropical, Pop and Country music.  Just so everyone knows, Gene and I like to create a vast variety of Genres for our fans to enjoy.  Aside from this new single, we are also working on a new EP.  And very shortly, we will be playing with our band The Scene at venues near you.”

Stream Ana & Gene’s EP, Uh-Oh Who Do You Love on Spotify.

Interview by Amelia Vandergast

IzzyG spits fire with irresistible swagger in her RnB Hip-Hop hit, All My Heart

IzzyG, the 24-year-old firebrand from Gateshead, now dominating West London’s music scene, has dropped her latest single ‘All My Heart‘ – a track that doesn’t just push boundaries; it obliterates them. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill RnB track; it’s a gritty, raw, and unapologetic anthem that resonates with the pulse of the streets and anyone who has suffered through the fuckboy era of dating.

From busking the cold corners of Newcastle with sultry covers to crafting this audacious blend of RnB, hip-hop, and soul, IzzyG’s journey is etched into every beat of ‘All My Heart’. Her vocals which spit fire with irresistible swagger, are a fierce mix of rap verses and pop harmonies, are a testament to her versatility.

The track itself is a sonic powerhouse, a slick fusion of snappy trap beats and RnB melodies that hit hard enough to leave a mark. IzzyG’s lyrics are a no-holds-barred exploration of love’s battleground, where vulnerability and strength collide. She’s not playing the game; she’s rewriting the rules, with a voice that carries the echoes of jazz legends and the bite of Nicki Minaj and Cardi B.

Drawing inspiration from the likes of Amy Winehouse and Ella Fitzgerald, IzzyG adds a touch of vintage seduction to her sound. But make no mistake, ‘All My Heart’ is fiercely contemporary. It’s a track that doesn’t just get under your skin; it courses through your veins.

Stream the official music video for All My Heart via YouTube.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Holly Lovelady alchemised around the rough terrain of reality in her scintillated by synths folk-pop ballad, Helvellyn

Holly Lovelady’s latest folk-pop single, ‘Helvellyn‘, is a meticulously crafted piece of aural alchemy. Lovelady, with her arcane vocal harmonies reminiscent of Stevie Nicks and synth lines echoing The Human League, brings a fresh, artful approach to the genre.

‘Helvellyn’ is a scintillatingly spiritual modern ballad that seamlessly blends electro-pop with folk melodies while delving into the highs and lows we’re all fated to traverse. Her enchantingly ethereal vocal timbre effortlessly weaves through the melodies, allowing you to instantly feel at home in her profound presence.

Lovelady’s musical roots, nurtured in the cosy embrace of her grandparents’ home, are evident in the depth and authenticity of her sound. Her journey from covering classics to creating her own path in the music industry is reflected in the song’s metaphorical exploration of the rough terrain of reality.

The single stands out for its balance of artfulness and accessibility. It resonates as an ornate feat, an affecting blend of modern and traditional, without falling into the trap of becoming a dusty relic of bygone eras. Lovelady’s skill in modernising the ballad form while maintaining its soulful core is nothing short of remarkable.

With support from BBC London, BBC Merseyside, and Radio 6, and following a year of personal and creative growth, Lovelady is poised to make a significant impact on the alternative pop scene. ‘Helvellyn’ is more than just a feather in her cap; it’s a bold statement of her artistry and a beacon for the future of modern ballads.

Helvellyn was officially released on February 6th; stream the single on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Isla de Luca redefined the femme fatale archetype in her provocatively liberating alt-pop hit, I Already Am One

https://soundcloud.com/isladeluca/i-already-am-one/s-2uIRmKUEKZz?si=e1ec91131191412ab7cbbe435a4c3782&utm_source=clipboard&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=social_sharing

Isla de Luca riotously fucked the gender binary with the launch of her debut alt-pop single, I Already Am One. With the rock licks augmenting the pop hooks and injecting them with adrenaline, the NYC icon staked a serious claim in the pop domain. After ensnaring just about everyone who crosses her on TikTok and Instagram, she’s more than ready to demurely dominate the airwaves with her scintillating synthesis of electronica, pop and rock.

While trad wives are falling over themselves to appease the male gaze as their sole aim in life, Isla de Luca has asserted herself as an indomitable queer pop icon with the refrain “I don’t need a rich man, I already am one”. It’s a subversive twist to die for and to live for. Through her mission to rip up the exploitative tropes around desire and empower others to embrace their provocative power, she stands just as tall as Kathleen Hanna in the feminist landscape.

If you thought femme fatales were all about seduction, feel the vindication cascading from Isla de Luca’s flawlessly electrifying vocal lines and realise the liberation of living as the archetype in their villain era.

For fans of MARINA, Paramore and Sophie, this single isn’t one you want to sleep on.

I Already Am One will be available to stream from February 16. Stream it and follow Isla de Luca on all major platforms via this link.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Olen Filipe – Home 17: Authentically Augmented Indie Pop

Swiss-based Portuguese artist Olen Filipe’s latest alt-indie-pop single, Home 17, is a firestorm of evocative momentum, alchemised through a stridently lush blend of introspection, innovation, and unflinching soul.

The exposition of the complexities of love and self-discovery is guided by Filipe’s tender vocals and mapped with his candour-fuelled lyrics which transpose aching emotion into nuanced storytelling. The stylised and authentically augmented production ensures that the only thing that’s raw about Home 17 is the visceralism within the expression, which has earned the singer-songwriter a devoted following since his debut.

Filipe’s subtle harmonies leave a profound impact as they juxtapose the oceanic evocative nature of the release, which echoes the pain inflicted by self-conflict. There’s no understating the affecting nature of the production as it simultaneously stirs and comforts your soul.

Influenced by artists like Bon Iver and Neil Frances, Filipe stands out with his distinct sound in Home 17, which stands as a testament to his commitment to crafting music that not only resonates with listeners but also invites them on a passionate, introspective journey.

Home 17 was officially released on February 9th; stream the single on all major platforms via this link.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Buddy John synthesised retro pop aesthetics with contemporary EDM magnetism in his debut release, Don’t You Give Up on Me

Buddy John’s debut single, ‘Don’t You Give Up on Me’, is a vibrant testament to the enduring spirit of retro pop, infused with the pulsating energy of Euro dance beats, and wrapped in the luxurious fabric of contemporary pop production.

Hailing from Nampa, Idaho, Buddy John has crafted a sound that revives the nostalgic pulse of the 90s and 2000s dance clubs, while injecting the bold energy of 80s synth and rock/electronic rhythms. His declaration of romantic resilience bridges the gap between eras, appealing to both devotees of classic pop and the new generation of EDM pop fans.

The track’s snappy grooves and luxe production are a nod to the likes of RuPaul, yet Buddy John carves out his own niche in the pop landscape. His strident vocal lines don’t just complement the instrumentals; they command attention, oozing fervour and proving that passion is the driving force behind his artistry and everything he does.

‘Don’t You Give Up on Me’ is more than a mere homage to the past; it’s a synthesis of retro aesthetics and contemporary commercial appeal. Buddy John understands the power of nostalgia, yet he doesn’t rely on it. Instead, he uses it as a springboard to launch into a soundscape that will speak to your soul as much as much as your rhythmic pulses. We can’t wait for the sophomore release.

Don’t You Give Up on Me is available to stream on Spotify and Apple Music.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Ana & Gene scribed a modern love story with retro tones in their power-pop hit, Narcissistic You

Ana & Gene, the dynamic duo behind the fresh and invigorating EP, Uh-Oh Who Do You Love, have struck gold with their single Narcissistic You. The earworm is an infectious paradox through its synthesis of sticky-sweet retro power-pop and modern fusionist and lyrical touches.

The song is a masterclass in blending genres, contorting classic rock riffs into pop hooks without losing an ounce of their retro charm. Ana & Gene’s commitment to live elements in their recording process shines through, promising an electric replication of this energy in their live performances.

What sets ‘Narcissistic You’ apart is its playful yet piercing commentary on the modern lexicon and societal shifts. The lyrics cleverly weave in the increasing awareness of narcissism, striking a chord with contemporary listeners. The dual harmonies between Anastacia Bella and Gene Roberts are nothing short of magnetic. Their voices intertwine with a natural chemistry, elevating the song’s playful, tongue-in-cheek nature.

The track is a testament to Ana & Gene’s ability to craft music that appeals across generations. Their aim to reach audiences through radio, TV, commercials, film, and social media is not just ambitious but achievable with such a universally appealing sound.

Stream Narcissistic You with the rest of Ana & Gene’s 4-track EP, Uh-Oh Who Do You Love on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast