In The Spotlight: Alicia Keys – Time Machine

The new single from American singer Alicia Keys. Time Machine hails as welcome return for Alicia and sounds altogether different from her material since the days of You Don’t Know My Name, Fallin and Empire State of Mind that hailed her as an R&B star. Though Girl on Fire did see a somewhat noticeable shift in her music. Her new single has a rhythmic back beat that goes on like bump, bump, bump, bump. In a way it’s almost like a pre-hook. As always Alicia’s voice just completely nails it and is smooth, soft and melodic but without overdoing it. Whenever she sings you know that she is going to hit the high note, and with minimal effort.

It’s during the chorus when she sings Go out of your mind (Out of your mind) that she really goes into her own and reminds you why she’s the amazing artist that she is. What I like about this song though imparticular is that it sounds like a change in musical direction, for example Underdog did signify some change but Time Machine takes it further. Almost as if she’s being just that little bit more daring each time till she ends up somewhere new.

The video that accompanies the song shows her at an arcade/roller-skating rink and shows Alicia hanging around with a group of people singing. Every few moments she looks straight into the camera and sing. It’s quite good, check it out.

https://www.youtube.com/watchtime_continue=224&v=NFCsuDcWqY0&feature=emb_loo

In The Spotlight: Aphrodite ft. Wildflower – ‘See Thru It’ (Sigsworth Remix 2002)

What can I say other than this is one drum and bass classic. See Thru It was produced by British Drum and Bass DJ/Producer Gavin King, better known by his stage-name, Aphrodite, and has making music for over 14 years. This version came out way back in 2002 with female vocalist Wildflower. Song wise the lyrics are sharp and quick-paced, and during the verses the do speed up and somewhat witty, also there’s something about them that gets you. Dare you to mime/sing to it at the pace. The back beat is fast-paced and totally energetic but one of the things that I like about it is that police car sirens are used in the background all the way throughout. Overall this was, and still is, a decent track to listen to and if you’re a fan of the drum and bass genre check it out

The video that accompanies the song shows Wildflower sitting in a car with a police car behind her. Just as a man from the police car begins to approach her, she races off and evades them. For the rest of the video it’s just clips of her driving past buildings (computer generated) and occasionally dancing. If anything, 16 seconds into the video it all becomes computerised. Still, it’s worth watching though  🙂

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIq0cJfhkz8

In The Spotlight: Mura Masa – Deal Wiv It

First heard this a couple of weeks ago and just got instantly hooked to it, and it’s actually a really catchy track to listen to. Alex Crossan, better known by his stage-name Mura Masa.  Musically it’s in a similar vein to The Streets and Slaves. In fact, when I first heard this, I actually thought it was from one of them. Deal Wiv It is a good strong record and has an in-your-face rawness about it. The lyrics are somewhat edgy can carry raw emotion, not to mention bitter story telling. Further proof that occasionally writing and singing about one’s own life makes for stronger, catchier songs. The line ‘Deal Wiv It’ becomes a hook in how Mura tells both his peers and himself to deal with things. A bit of a ‘I don’t care what’s going on/what you think. Deal with it. Alex Crossan aka Mura Masa is definitely someone who the music scene’s been waiting for to give it a good shake-down. So far this is the only track I’ve heard from him an I already like him. What I enjoy about the track is the upfront raw, unapologetic, honesty of the lyrics behind the music itself.

The video is a raw as the song itself and it follows a person during a single day as he goes from his house/flat to outside onto the street. At the end of the video he’s in a vehicle with a guy. In terms of the creativity behind the video it’s very similar to the song, and music behind both The Streets and Slaves e.g. low-budget and writing songs about everyday life.

🙂

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0uvt97Xn20

In The Spotlight: The Lumineers – Hey Ho

Perhaps one of their most infamous songs around to date, Hey-Ho, is best described as a folk, indie/rock type of song. It is very much an easy listening sort of song and one that you can just as easily sing along to. In terms of the musical structure of the track it is melodic, upbeat and a rather chirpy one. The song is taken from their self-titled debut album back in 2012 and is one of those sorts of tracks where you can never really tire of it no matter how many times you listen to it. The song itself was written by founding members, Wesley Shultz and Jeremy Fraites. As songwriters they are incredibly talented, even with instruments. Since I first heard this track, I immediately liked it, and if you like indie/folk/rock music you’ll see why. An absolute classic to listen to.

The video that accompanies this song features is a fairly basic one and just features members of the band walking down a corridor just singing and dancing. Now what is also interesting is that the hospital itself looks like it has been unused and there is no lighting except for the light pouring through the windows and outdoor light decorations adoring the corridor. During the video they are accompanied by a young woman then by several extras who are dressed similarly to the band themselves. The video ends with the duo giving a small performance to room full of extras whilst clapping in beat with the rhythm.

🙂

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvCBSSwgtg4

 

In The Spotlight: The Weeknd – The Hills

Literally just a few minutes long and from his second studio album, Beauty Behind The Madness and ironically also the second single by Canadian singer Abel Makkonen Tesfaye better known by his stage-name, The Weeknd, (minus a 3rd E). The Hills has quite a dark, intimate and sinister tone to it which seeps throughout the whole song, to me though, it has a somewhat apocalyptic feel to it. In some ways the darkness in the tone has a type of hook to it where you know that trouble or danger is literally just around the corner. Also, another thing I can’t help but notice is that there is also something quite seductive about the track. One of those where you after listening to the first few seconds you immediately want more. Now this a perfect example of The Weeknd’s talents as an artist as it shows what he is capable of when it comes to song writing.

One of the videos to this song begins with a car that’s been involved in an accident, The Weeknd crawls out of it and walks down a road. The car blows up behind him as he’s walking. He then enters a mansion, goes upstairs where he meets a small group of people where the video then blank. Both videos suit the mood and dark tones of the song as it does refer to deep subject matter in regards to both human behaviour and the human psyche especially as it deals with sex and drug abuse.

For your viewing pleasure.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzTuBuRdAyA

 

In The Spotlight: Grimes & Hana – We Appreciate Power

This is an amazing song by Canadian singer and rapper, Grimes, and features vocals by American singer, Hana. Now what is quite intriguing about this duo is that both artists almost appear to sing at the same time, but either way it adds quite a bit of depth in regards to the song. The line, We Appreciate Power goes around like a catchy hook which you can quite easily sing to. I always found something quite dramatic about certain parts of the song in both the way that the music is arranged and combined with the lyrics. Overall this is good song for anyone who’s into electronic music and shows the best qualities of its two female singers. Why Hana and Grimes aren’t better known, or recognised, in the British music scene is beyond me.

I think there’s something just a bit eerie about the lyrics with some of its lines; Neanderthal to human being, Evolution, kill the gene, Biology is superficial, Intelligence is artificial, submit submit submit submit. In a way it’s almost like a sort of futurist referencing in regards to both evolution and A.I

The video to this is definitely worth a look at and has a sort of Tron/Manga look towards it. Neither Hana or Grimes are seen singing in it and the lyrics are seen in text in several languages. Throughout the video both singers are seen in various poses either holding props or holding each other. Also, there’s some CGI shots of earth in-between

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYG_4vJ4qNA 

 

In The Spotlight: Jess Glynne – Thursday

Taken from her second studio album, Always In Between, and just three minutes thirty-four seconds long the song sounds both heavily filled with emotion and intimate. Thursday is all about feeling beautiful and being able to overcome your personal insecurities and being able to love yourself. Very much like embracing your inner-beauty and being able to love yourself. I feel that this is one of those songs which speak on a personal level whilst carrying the encouragement of self-empowerment. The lyrics are so strong and emotional without being too in-your-face and there is a line in the lyrics where she says “And I just want to feel beautiful” just goes around and round and definitely strikes a chord with you. In another part of the song there’s a couple of lines where she says “Don’t want these tears inside my eyes, yeah, don’t wanna wake up and feel insecure”. What I find quite clever about the song is that its title, Thursday, only get said five times and that’s when she’s referencing accessories or make-up.

The video to this song is entirely in black and white which adds to the sombre tone and, in some ways, carries more meaning. Every so often she looks into the camera and there’s a few clips where is seen looking into a mirror.

I remember watching her perform this at an awards ceremony on TV ages. As part of the performance she was on-stage with other women, all various sizes. At the start of the song they’re all wearing make-up and throughout the performance they wipe it all off.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0v30jKH958

In The Spotlight: Friendly Fires – Love Like Waves

Taken from their third studio album, Inflorescent, Love Like Waves is the seventh single of the record and at only four and a half minutes long and it is undoubtedly a great song. It is definitely one of those type of songs for the summer playlist. As always Ed Macfarlane’s voice is both completely magnetic and smooth and just draws you right into the song, as always, a great listening pleasure. Love Like Waves is a great fusion of dance and pop with some electronic beats thrown into the mixture. Another one you can see yourself moving to on the dance-floor. Ed has one of those voices that fits into the dance music scene with hardly any effort at all and has a wide vocal range which he uses with complete confidence. The line, Love Like Waves, weaves in and out of the song in a smooth and melodic ease.

The video accompanying this song has that summer holiday feel to it as when it starts you are already in what appears to be like sunny Spain or the Mediterranean. It just has the look and feel. Throughout the video the see clips featuring various other people, including members of Friendly Fires reclining, enjoying the sunny weather mixed with the band doing a live gig with people dancing to the music. Now for a band that haven’t released any new material in over six years this is much anticipated welcome back to Friendly Fires and their music. Long may Ed and the gang continue.

🙂

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VEch9Nk1aqg

 

 

 

In The Spotlight: Friendly Fires – Heaven Let Me In

 

After nearly what feels like over a decade away indie favourites, Friendly Fires, have returned with a new album called Inflorescent and brand-new single called Heaven Let Me In. Straight from the start the song is just packed with energy, and a lot of it, and stays faithful to the bands’ musical roots. What I like about Ed Macfarlane’s vocals throughout this entire song is that every so often he sounds like he’s taking a deep breath, which in some ways adds a bit more body to the song. Also, I quite like how he sings cos it shows the range of vocal ability that he is capable of using. Heaven Let Me In shows a steady continuation of their music and how it is gradually evolving. A nice mixture of pop and dance, and plenty to go around. One of the good things that we can be grateful about is that, musically, the band haven’t taken a sudden U-turn and gone into a completely different direction. Ed’s vocals a smooth and have an almost hypnotic quality about them and just have this beautiful fluidic run about them that goes from start to finish. The song has an almost ambient feel to it which kind of compliments the band’s own musical style. For a band that have been out of the musical spotlight for what feels like just over ten years this song is a nice welcome back.

The music video that accompanies this features a young guy listening to music on his headphones, presumably the song itself. In the video he is seen walking along whilst dancing to the music whilst going past various locations and bumping in various people on the way.

🙂

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=117&v=fAMP0MBfGhY

 

Whats On UK: MacMillan Fest 19′ review

My review for the last-ever MacMillan Fest in Nottingham for Whats On UK, have a read, share and enjoy.

https://whatson.guide/2019/09/17/review-nottinghams-macmillan-fest-puts-on-fantastic-finale/