single-phile, August 2013
With single-phile we take the latest pop singles, break down their pop cultural impact and musical import for you, say some possibly funny things about them and then let you listen to 'em all on an awesome playlist. The last few weeks have seen a couple of trumped-up throw-downs around singles (mostly centering around Katy Perry's latest). So we decided to go with it and pit the 10 or so hottest new singles against each other in a series of duels. Read along while you listen to the playlist, which we power-punched up with a bunch of other hot new songs. (Yes, Carly Rae Jepsen's Little Mermaid turn is there. We know you've been waiting!)
The Competitors: Katy Perry's "Roar" vs. Sara Bareilles' "Brave"
Stats: "Roar" is the plinkety yet soaring, vulnerable yet ferocious "I can do it" anthem and lead single off Perry's hotly anticipated new album, while "Brave" is the plinkety yet slightly less soaring, vulnerable yet plucky (if not quite ferocious) "you can do it" anthem and lead single off Bareilles' just-dropped fourth album.
The Bout: Are they the same song? Kinda -- at least in terms of plinkety keys and overall pluck. Does it matter? Not really. These ladies put distinct spins on the tune -- and have distinct audiences who will really only care about their diva's songs. Anyway, we think they both kind of sound like "It's a Hard Knock Life" from Annie.
Champ: Oh, Katy Perry, of course. She set career records with that baby.
The Competitors: Katy Perry's "Roar" vs. Lady Gaga's "Applause"
Stats: You met the defending champ above. Gaga's latest is the lead single off her hotly anticipated upcoming album.
The Bout: These are two lead singles by two very big pop stars that came out the same week, so naturally, the Internet pitted them against each other. (Totally different from what we're doing. Um.) The songs are equally divalicious and super-characteristic of each artist's particular brand of divadom: Perry is all teen novel drama and motivational, man-in-the-mirror reminders of how fabulous you are (basically, the sequel to "Firework"). Gaga is all high-queen haughtiness and catwalk/dance floor arrogance (complete with a slightly Madonna, circa-Ray of Light beat). You know these kitties can scratch.
Champ: All right, so Perry sold way more copies of her song than Gaga, but we're still gonna grant the round to Gaga, just because she's such a fierce drag queen.
The Competitors: Enrique Iglesias' "Turn the Night Up" vs. The Wanted's "We Own the Night"
Stats: "Turn Up" is the up-all-night lead single off the Latin dance-popper's upcoming album. "We Own" is the up-all-night latest single off the British boy band's upcoming album.
The Bout: The Wanted use this pub-to-club anthem all the kids have been so hot for lately (complete with sing-alongable, beers-in-the-air chorus) as the setting for what's basically a love song. Enrique, on the other hand, is all icy vodka cocktails in a chic club, a perfect setting for what is basically one giant pickup line (aka a "I Like It" or "Tonight" sequel).
Champ: We're gonna go with Enrique. We're sick of the clubby come-ons, but we're sicker of the average-Joe pub pop. Plus Enrique's beats sound like the noise the Jetsons' car made.
The Competitors: Ariana Grande's "Right There" vs. Ariana Grande's "Baby I"
Stats:The hottest new Mariah Carey impersonator to come along since, like, a thousand drag queens, this cute little thing with a smooth, old-school soul-pop style and a serious whistle register is the big! new! thing! in case you haven't noticed. To prove it, she dropped two new singles in the last few weeks.
The Bout: "Right There" picks up where "The Way" left off, a finger-popping, sun-through-the-bedroom-window jam that sounds like a Carey classic you can't quite remember. Wow, it's so good. "Baby I," on the other hand, still sounds Mimi-ish (it's that dang whistle register!), but throws in a bit of Janet and Michael and takes off in a more unique, old school (a little breathless disco funk) meets new school (a shower of beats that bounce off each other) direction.
Champ: We're gonna go with "Baby I." We wanna see what else this kid can do.
The Competitors: Taylor Swift's "Everything Has Changed" (f. Ed Sheeran) vs. Mumford & Sons' "Hopeless Wanderer"
Stats: Taylor's folksy foot-stomper is a duet with her tour mate Ed Sheeran. Mumford's folksy foot-stomper is that song with the video everyone put in your newsfeed a couple weeks ago, the one with Jason Sudeikis, Jason Bateman, etc. doing their best Mumford impression.
The Bout: OK, duetting is hard for Taylor, who has some intonation problems, but dang, that Ed Sheeran is so adorably earnest. And we like her doing this country-fried stuff way more than "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together." Mumford counters with vintage Mumford: lots of fast strumming, sweeping vocals and dramatic tempo changes, bowling you over like a runaway wagon driven by a man in suspenders.
Champ: You know, we thought it might be Mumford because that video was pretty freaking great. But Taylor and Ed together came out quietly swinging like some kind of super-pale Wonder Twins and took the whole thing.
The Competitors: Flo Rida's "Can't Believe It" (f. Pitbull) vs. Pink's "True Love" (f. Lily Allen)
Stats: Flo Rida's duet with his fellow hip-hop-turned-dance-pop Floridian is the lead single off his upcoming album. Pink's duet with her fellow smart-mouthed pop-rocker is the latest single off The Truth about Love.
The Bout: It's the battle of "Duh, how has this never happened before" duets! Pink does her Everywoman thang, airing what sounds like some real-life (but good-natured) dirty laundry about her dude. Flo, though you may not know it from his last several singles, is actually a rapper and returns to his dirty-hop roots (remember "Low"?!) with a 3.5-minute fete of the fanny that utilizes terms like "Bubble Yum bum."
Champ: OK, we know that sounds like Pink was gonna easily take this one because, well, she's Pink and also because Pink + Lily Allen is the diva-off of our dreams. But Lily's part is small and ineffectual and Pink's working a familiar shtick. Flo and Pit, on the other hand, trade off each other nicely on a track that manages to balance an almost intimate club-pop vibe with metaphors that involve Baskin Robbins (seriously). And somehow, it does kind of come off, well, balanced, almost subtle -- or at least as subtle as an ode to the booty can be.