…It’s been a while. (REFERENCE.)
I hope everyone had a lovely and peaceful, turkey-or-alternate-protein-source-filled Thanksgiving break, primarily spent binging It’s Britney, Bitch!, the new podcast for stans, by stans, celebrating 20 years of the Living Legend, Miss Britney Jean Spears, available now at 20yearsofbritney.com, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Soundcloud or wherever you prefer to listen to podcasts.
I took a little time off from the Internet to take some selfies, play League of Legends and go to the gym. It’s only been over a week since I last wrote anything, although it feels like absolute ages…but I’m here now.
There’s some new things, old things, and some things still to come that I’d like to discuss.
First things first,
I’m the realest – I’m a Ritabot.
Yes, it’s true. I’ll allow a few moments for the “Who?” jokes to settle down. But while I’ve been known to dabble in a good “Who?” joke from time to time, I’m also sort of annoyed by the continued “who?”-ness of it all from the locals: she has the most Top 10 UK singles by any British female artist. At this point, it’s like…the joke kind of doesn’t work anymore.
More importantly: Rita Ora makes very good pop music. She does! Imagine not stanning “I Will Never Let You Down”? Can’t relate. If you’re unwilling to accept Rita as a legitimate pop star in her own right, at least begrudgingly settle for the idea that she is a consistent vessel for decidedly above-average pop: “Anywhere” was one of the best pop songs of 2017, and “For You” and “Let You Love Me” are among the top pop songs of 2018.
Also, in case you forgot, pop is dead! Katy‘s out here chucking Christmas songs on Amazon Music! These are grim times, people. Be grateful for what we can get.
To that point: Phoenix is great…and also, it’s basically a greatest hits. Six years after Ora, Rita’s amassed a treasure trove of great singles, and roughly more than half of the songs on her sophomore record, released on Friday (November 23), were already out. “Your Song”? Great! “Lonely Together”? Great! “Girls”? Problematic, but also whatever.
Of the new songs in the set, “New Look” is stellar (if too short), “Only Want You” is fantastic (if too real – “I don’t want another night of trying to find another you, another rock bottom…“), and “Falling To Pieces” is excellent, too. “You’re such a fool but so am I, I may be twisted, you’re unkind…” – now that would have made for an AIM away message, for sure. Also, “Cashmere” is that bedroom banga. There are way more hits than misses, that’s for sure!
Do I think Rita has something Important to say with this music? Not particularly. Is there a Signature Rita Ora sound? Not particularly. But is there even much good pop thriving in 2018? God, no! In terms of Pop For Pop’s Sake, Rita’s one of the few major players carrying the torch in 2018.
Phoenix is solid, and I’ve had the record on loop ever since it dropped. Ritabots, assemble!
If I’m not listening to Phoenix, I’m still listening to Mariah Carey‘s Caution, which was released one week prior (November 16). As discussed while calling for #JusticeForGlitter, we love and support the Elusive Chanteuse in this house.
Caution is one of her sexiest, and most effortlessly start-to-finish cohesive records to date, truly: a tight, flawless 10-track set of R&B seduction, and a bit of late night piano-led introspection in its final moments. The title track is buttah, and “The Distance” and “A No No” scream single-worthy. Naturally, the only dud is the actual lead single, “With You,” which feels relatively uninspired compared to the freshness of the rest of the collection. “Giving Me Life” lives up to the fan-fic dream of a Dev Hynes (Blood Orange) x Mariah collaboration: with lyrical references to Barbra Streisand and Marilyn Monroe, and that moody extended outro, it’s an obvious front-runner for personal favorite of the bunch. I still live for “GTFO.” And for the comedown, “Portrait” provides a real treat of a #SomethingMorePersonal moment, supplying a tiny glimpse into the life and times of the Imperfect Angel.
If you haven’t yet, please watch her Genius Level conversation (above) about Caution and her songwriting process. It’s not just for the Lambily (duh), but for anyone who’s even slightly nerdy about songwriting and the music industry at large. Simply put: we don’t deserve Mariah Carey in 2018.
Speaking of long-awaited returns from music icons: Aliana “All The Way Around” Lohan is back.
Yes, Lindsay’s little sister, the artist formerly known as Ali Lohan, returned just before Thanksgiving Day with a new bop called “Long Way Down” – her first in years ever since inventing Christmas with Lohan Holiday in 2006 and then going “All The Way Around” in 2008 with Living Lohan.
The song was recorded with Ryan Ogren and James Bailey from the band Over It, who are also signed to Prescription Songs. And honestly, it’s not bad! It’s borders on Avril Lavigne-slash-Evanescence rock-pop emotional, end-of-rope angst territory – or maybe even early ’00s Hilary Duff (drama!) or Kelly Clarkson. (Or even her own sister’s sound, to be honest!) It sounds nothing like 2018, that’s for damn sure – but it’s genuinely not bad! As T. Kyle said when I played it for him: it could use an EDM remix.
Aliana’s got an EP planned for 2019 (allegedly). I’d be interested to see where this goes, and whether the next song will also be directional in theme. “All The Way Around,” “Long Way Down” – maybe the next one will be called “Up! Down! Left! Right!”
Unrelated, but incredibly important: did everyone watch the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade? Specifically, Ashlegend Tisdale‘s performance? Anyone?
I’ve not seen nearly enough discourse regarding the fact that Ashley performed not a holiday classic, but her comeback single, “Voices In My Head” – a song about being riddled with anxiety-fueled negative thoughts, which contains the line “All the voices in my head always try to break me, fuck me up and change me” – on top of the Kinder float full of children. Was this a punk move? I think it must be.
There was a woman in the background feverishly milly rocking throughout, which obviously stole the show.
2018 in a nutshell, or something? Everything is insane. At least Ashley was a good sport about it.
Finally, on the K-Pop front, EXID are back together as a quintet (#JusticeForSolji) at last, and their new track – “I Love You” – is pretty phenomenal, a la (a la la la la la la la….) “DDD.” While they served up some fun/fierce concepts in the interim while Solji got her health back on track, something just feels really right again about this particular comeback. And in true K-Pop fashion, the music video makes approximately no sense: it’s like a candy-coated, ’80s-tinged coughing, vomiting and crying nightmare. But in a good way, obviously.
What else is on the horizon? There’s new Miley coming with Mark Ronson, there’s Kim Petras and Cheat Codes, there’s Years & Years with Jax Jones, there’s new Grimes coming too – the girls are giving us some early Christmas gifts, clearly. Don we now our gay apparel, bitches.
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Photo credit: Atlantic Records