Quite the productive weekend, eh? Hurricane Irene! The 2011 VMAs! Wait…I think that’s it. But still! Those are two very big things!
What with all the wind, rain and power outages that kept us East Coasters cooped up inside all weekend long, this week’s must-hear pop offerings are a little bit darker than usual: toxic relationships! Blackouts! And…MURDER!!!
Sorry, JK. Got carried away. Anyway, here’s this week’s list of songs you should probably be checking out, like, yesterday.
1.) Marina + The Diamonds, “Radioactive”
OK, so I don’t know what’s happening to our favorite pop tarts lately: Demi’s gone and turned into a “Skyscraper,” Sia’s turned to “Titanium” and now Marina and the Diamond’s gone “Radioactive”? Someone call a physicist: Our pop stars are going metal!
After the release of her critically acclaimed 2010 debut LP The Family Jewels (get it?), Ms. Diamond is now knee-deep in a new side project, donning a platinum blonde wig and stirring up trouble on the dusty trails of heartland America as Electra Heart, the morally questionable protagonist of a three-part series born of Marina’s fascination with the American Dream. Still with me? Fabulous.
As the second chapter in her ongoing mini-epic, “Radioactive” finds Marina stepping into the studio with Norwegian Top 40 hitmakers Stargate for a full-on uptempo smash, the first of its kind for the UK quirky-pop princess.
But indie purists, don’t be so quick to call her a sellout just yet: “Radioactive” may throb like one of Rihanna’s latest club bangers, but the cutting, sinister lyricism and vocal acrobatics are strictly within her comfort zone, proving that (CHEESE ALERT!) this Diamond’s just found more than one way to shine. + LISTEN TO MARINA + THE DIAMONDS, “RADIOACTIVE.”
2.) Cady Groves, “This Little Girl”
Like the Wu Tang Clan, Cady Groves ain’t nothin’ to eff with. After winning herself legions of devotees on MySpace, 21-year-old singer-songwriter Cady Groves was quickly picked up and signed to RCA Records last March.
“This Little Girl” is the Okie-bred songstress’ fuming major label debut. Just like Carrie Underwood’s sledgehammer-toting cheater anthem, “Before He Cheats,” Groves has found herself a gun and a guy up to no good–and she’s not afraid to get revenge.
The irresponsibly catchy pop-rock banger produced by Swedish pop genius Kristian Lundin finds Groves cocking the trigger above pounding drums and jagged synthesizers: “You’re not the only one walking ’round with a loaded gun,” she yelps with razor-sharp sincerity. Feisty! + LISTEN TO CADY GROVES, “THIS LITTLE GIRL.”
+ Listen to more Must-Hear Pop Songs Of The Week after the jump!
3.) Charlotte Gainsbourg, “Terrible Angels”
As the daughter of actress Jane Birkin and iconic French singer Serge Gainsbourg, Charlotte Gainsbourg’s fated foray into the arts was already scribbled in the stars long ago. The 40-year-old singer has since done her parents proud as a multitalented force in her own right over the years, working as both an award-winning actress (“The Science of Sleep,” “Antichrist”) and a critically acclaimed musician with three studio albums under her belt.
“Terrible Angels,” which was both penned and produced by Beck, is the title track from Gainsbourg’s upcoming EP due out Sept. 5. “I want release from absolution,” the chanteuse pleads along a sexy, throbbing electro-sizzle, recalling Goldfrapp’s smutty electro-pop masterpiece, “Strict Machine.”
If you think the song’s any good, you must check out the accompanying clip, as a brooding Miss Gainsbourg serves us her best impression of Michael Jackson’s “Bad,” and busts out some wicked choreography in an abandoned parking garage while taking on…well, herself. I won’t spoil all the goods, but you’ll need to watch until the very end.
Honestly, there’s no going wrong with this song-video combination: A badass, leather-clad chick pulling shapes to some dark electro-pop? Marry me now, madame! + LISTEN TO CHARLOTTE GAINSBOURG, “TERRIBLE ANGELS.”
4.) Darren Hayes, “Black Out The Sun”
Formerly one half of Savage Garden, Aussie-born Darren Hayes has since forged an incredible career in nearly every other territory but the U.S. as a solo artist in his own right — and one of the very, very few male vocalists I actively listen to — releasing three studio albums over the past decade.
Filled with gorgeous stabs of strings and a militant marching synth beat, Hayes’ second single from his upcoming studio album, Secret Codes and Battleships, is his most angst-ridden offering in a while, and arguably one of his beautiful songs in years.
“There’s no other way/There’s no joy, there’s no meaning/Just this hollowed-out feeling,” Hayes sadly croons at the tip-top of his vibrato range above the song’s gorgeous chorus. Ladies and gents, break out the hankies: Hayes is seriously coming for your heartstrings with this one. + LISTEN TO DARREN HAYES, “BLACK OUT THE SUN.”
5.) Britney Spears, “Criminal”
I warned you last week about my Holy Spearit fandom, didn’t I? MTV’s own James Montgomery broke some mayjah Spears scoop when he met Brit Brit backstage at the 2011 VMAs, where the living legend was honored with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award winner by Miss Lady Gaga — sorry, Jo Calderone. After being asked about upcoming single plans, Spears looked around quickly and revealed: “I don’t know if I’m at liberty to tell… but I will anyway! It’s ’Criminal.'” While no “Inside Out,” the sex-with-an-ex slow grind we all really wanted as single No. 4 from Spears’ seventh studio album, Femme Fatale, “Criminal” is still an absolutely gorgeous offering from Queen B.
Bolstered by a slow ’n’ steady medieval beat and, Britney’s first foray into balladry since 2003’s soul-crushing “Everytime” (as far as singles go, anyway), finds the Holy Spearit lusting hard for a bad boy: “Mama, please don’t cry, I will be alright/All reason aside, I just can’t deny…love the guy,” Brit Brit sweetly pleads throughout the song, which plays something like an acoustic offering from Madonna’s American Life.
Hooking up with thieving murderers never sounded so, well…adorable! Just be careful, B: We don’t want you winding up as Witness Protectioney. + LISTEN TO BRITNEY SPEARS, “CRIMINAL.”