TRACK REVIEW: ‘Sucker’ – Jonas Brothers

After six years, its is perhaps surprising that the news that the Jonas Brothers reuniting would be such top trending news. Nick has been making music solo for a number of years and acting in a number of high profile, Joe has had some success with his bad DNCE and let’s be honest, one would be hard pushed to find someone who cares for Kevin more than the two other brothers. However, despite there never being a real lack of Jonas Brother related content (albeit separate), the news that the three brothers would reunite sent social media into a meltdown, and the news that a single was coming did even more damage. So, how is the first piece of music from the trio?

‘Sucker’ is a by the numbers pop-rock track that just could have easily been from the Jonas Brothers’ own discography or a recent hit for bands like Maroon 5, WALK THE MOON or even DNCE. The lyrics aren’t overly inspired, nor is the production but that doesn’t necessarily make ‘Sucker’ bad. The hook, although generic, is still catchy and the vocals from Nick and Joe are very nice (I fail to see what Kevin brings to the table).

Ultimately, ‘Sucker’ is a pretty nice song that could have been made by any number of people and that is pretty enjoyable once one gets over it’s almost painful mediocrity.

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Alternatively Pop’s Top 20 Tracks of 2018

As the dawn of a new year begins, the world takes a moment to reflect on the year gone by. Here at Alternatively Pop, we take that as our chance to reflect on the music released this year. Without further ado, here are Alternatively Pop’s Top 20 Tracks of 2018.

1. Pynk – Janelle Monaé

Janelle Monaé failed to release a track that was anything less than stellar this year, but ‘Pynk’ was by far and away the greatest. If you’re looking for a cry for unity among beings, an immaculate exposé of the construction that is gender and a beautiful ode to femininity, ‘Pynk’ is the song for you. It’s damn catchy as well.

2. God is a Woman – Ariana Grande

Another artist who had an incredible 2018, Grande had some great tracks and some less than so, but ‘God is a Woman’ lived up to its title. A ballsy female anthem that holds no punches, ‘God is a Woman couldn’t have been more poignant in a year where women found their voice. ‘God is a Woman’ also has one of the greatest hooks of the year, and the gospel influence at the song’s climax is arguably the year’s most goosebump worthy moment, leaving you believing that God truly is a Woman.

3. You Say – Lauren Daigle 

From a more risqué portrayal of God to a more traditional Christian offering, Daigle’s ‘You Say’ is a gorgeous ballad that recognizes the comfort, hope, and self-belief that religion and God can provide someone. A straight-up piano ballad thy focuses the ear on Daigle’s vocals and lyrics, ‘You Say’ is a simple yet stunning track in a year full of complexity and boundary-pushing.

4. Alfie’s Song (Not So Typical Love Song) – The Bleachers

A not so typical love song written by a not so typical pairing for a not so typical movie, ‘Alfie’s Song’ is the perfect soundtrack for 2018’s ‘Love, Simon’. Written by Jack Antonoff with frequent hit-maker Isley Juber and resident heartthrob Harry Styles, ‘Alfie’s Song’ is pure feel-good movie magic that is the perfect companion to a rom-com.

5. Not So Bad in L.A. – Allie X

Allie X has been consistently blasting out pop bangers over the past few years, but ‘Not So Bad in LA’ is easily one of her best so far. A searing satirical take on the city of angels delivered in a lazy, disinterested vocal with a touch of quirky thrown in, this is one for the ages.

6. Curious – Hayley Kiyoko

As representation takes hold of entertainment, LGBT artists have begun to rise to prominence. One of “20GayTeens” main breakthroughs was Hayley Kiyoko. Her debut album’s lead single, ‘Curious’, is one of the reasons of why. The nonchalant way that the track doesn’t make a big deal of how it varies from the usual heterosexual break up bop is what sets it apart, but that infectious hook sure helps.

7. Sue Me – Sabrina Carpenter


It’s amazing how far a catchy hook will get you and ‘Sue Me’ is a perfect example of how a brilliant hook can elevate a track even further than where it already was. The sassy vocal of Carpenter perfectly matches the unbothered attitude this track adopts. From its screw you lyrics to perfect synth production, ‘Sue Me’ should have been a surefire hit.

8. Sanctify – Years & Years

Years & Years ‘Sanctify’ is one of those tracks that kind of seeps into your skin until one day you wake up and realise just how well the song is constructed. From those dark, skittish drums to the equally haunting vocal of frontman Olly Alexander to the clever wordplay of the lyrics, ‘Sanctify’ is an immaculate conception.

9. Space Cowboy – Kacey Musgraves

Speaking of clever wordplay, Kacey Musgraves’ ‘Space Cowboy’ dives right into that arena. One of country’s more experimental artists, ‘Space Cowboy’ perfectly showcases Musgraves’ ability to toe the line between classic country ballad and more pop-influenced moments, as she tinges the track with a little something more than just southern charm that elevates the track beyond being just another acoustic guitar moment that gets lost.

10. Moment – Blanche

Blanche is one of the most fascinating artists to ever come out of the Eurovision. All of her 2018 droplets could have made this list, but it’s ‘Moment’ that truly capitalises on what Blanche did on last year’s ‘City Lights’ and raises the level. Here, Blanche goes from sheer potential to full-blown pop star, with her emotive vocal adding dimension to the sensual clap-along beat of ‘Moment’.

11. Bloom – Troye Sivan

Troye Sivan is one of the finest pop artists to come out of this decade, and ‘Bloom’ is the perfect example of how he has matured since his debut. The tongue in cheek lyrics laced over the sweet as sugar synth is the perfect encapsulation of sexual liberation and Sivan’s own quirky brand. Also, it’s the use of metaphor is about as good as it gets, so that earns it points as well.

12. Venice Bitch – Lana Del Rey

Despite rarely varying her sound too much, Lana Del Rey somehow always makes it sound fresh and new. On ‘Venice Bitch’, Del Rey goes back to basics, singing lightly about her sugar baby antics while backed by an acoustic guitar. Oddly the track is nine minutes as Del Rey tacks on some odd psychedelic instrumental at the end that somehow makes the track even more endearing.

13. Party For One – Carly Rae Jepsen

One hit Wonder turned cult favourite Carly Rae Jepsen returned this year following her critical darling of an album, E•MO•TION, and she delivered. Although similar to much of her previous material, ‘Party For One’ is an anthem of self-love (of the very literal variety). The sexual innuendo here is half the fun but the bouncing beat is hard to ignore and when you put them together, you have another banger from Jepsen.

14. God in Jeans – Ryan Beatty

Although not technically a single, this was one of those tracks I just couldn’t ignore. A weird hybrid between rock, country, and R&B, ‘God In Jeans’ takes on the sexes up religion claiming that “God is real and he was sleeping in my bed last night”. The track is one of those perfect blends of genre that exists on a whole level of its own.

15. Youngblood – 5 Seconds of Summer

After a tumultuous few years, 5 Seconds of Summer blasted back to flying form in 2018, and ‘Youngblood’ was the anthem for that comeback. The track’s thumping guitar line gets the blood pumping like no other before letting the calm set in with the minimalistic approach to the track’s verses, resulting in a rollercoaster-esque banger.

16. Miracle – CHRVCHES

CHVRCHES ‘Miracle’ is another blend genres, here blurring the boundaries of big pop and generic EDM. The drop is arguably one of the most satisfying of the year, avoiding the pitfalls of unoriginality, instead of producing a drop that actually evokes a headband instead of a groan. The track’s boldness in its production, as well as the vocal performance, sets ‘Miracle’ apart in a field where it’s very difficult to even try and be original, never mind actually pull it off.

17. Crush – Tessa Violet

A triply little number, Tessa Violet’s ‘Crush’ just oozes summer. The track relies on very little production, with Violet sing-speaking over a sparking kick track until the song climaxes into a slightly less minimalist chorus. Violet also throws in some little effective samples on the bridge to add to the track’s cool edge.

18. 5 In The Morning – Charli XCX

Pop’s resident party girl, Charli XCX released some clunkers in 2018 but who cares when she also dropped her best bop since ‘Break The Rules’. A mix between the oddball production of Pop 2 and more classic pop hits, ‘5 In The Morning’ so arguably XCX’s most on brand track to date. She sings about how great her afterparty game is with her cocky vocal providing serious ‘fuck you’ vibes, ‘5 In The Morning’ is the perfect night out banger.

19. King’s Dead – Jay Rock with Kendrick Lamar, Future & James Blake

Infinitely better than the Black Panther soundtrack’s lead single ‘All The Stars’, ‘King’s Dead’ is a stuttering star turn that showcases the talents of Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, James Blake, and even the ever-mumbling Future. ‘King’s Dead’ does exactly what a great movie track does – standing on its own as a song while also elevating the motion picture it was created for.

20. Currency – Ivy Adara

As I said before, it’s incredible how far a catchy hook will get you. And that’s exactly why this track is here. Ivy Adara’s ‘Currency’ isn’t a slam dunk, in fact, the track isn’t all that great as a whole. But that hook is so good. Although the lyrics are a bit cliché, the production takes all the right cues and Adara gives off such cool girl vibes she somehow gets away with singing about such cliché topics such as dreams and rainbows to the point that she has you singing along with her.

Listen to all of our Top 20 Tracks of 2018 on our official Spotify Playlist here:
https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/ryanxoc/playlist/20DOE9hlGJKC1y7mOcd7cF

TRACK REVIEW: ‘Woman Like Me’ – Little Mix ft. Nicki Minaj

Little Mix is arguably the greatest girl group of this generation. Nicki Minaj is arguably (although that debate is slightly more complicated given recent developments) the greatest female rapper of all time. So what do you get when you put greatness and greatness together? A little track called ‘Woman Like Me’ is what you get. The lead single off the upcoming 5th studio album from the British quartet, ‘Woman Like Me’ is the first taste of what is described as an album about female empowerment. Unfortunately, ‘Woman Like Me’ isn’t quite the slam dunk of female empowerment one might be expecting.

The track is a fabulous electropop-trap-R&B hybrid with perfect flow and delivery from all four girls (particularly Nelson, whose sultry vocal suits this production perfectly) as well as Minaj, who provides one of her better features in awhile, matching the song’s vibe and message magically.

Despite the near-immaculate production and performances, it is the song’s lyrical content that lets it down. It’s not that the song is particularly poorly written, it’s actually quite a smart cut with an undeniably catchy hook. However, the track isn’t everything it could have been. Instead of focusing on the brilliance of women like the Little Mix ladies, the entire song is built on the bones of asking a man whether he could possibly “fall for a woman like me”.

‘Woman Like Me’ isn’t bad. In fact, it’s a wonderful lead single and it has hit written all over it. It just doesn’t have female empowerment written all over it. It is great to see five strong women embrace and discuss their “insecurities”, but that discussion shouldn’t centre around whether those insecurities are too much for some man to ever love them and then be packaged as some female empowerment anthem. The track discusses a universal feeling of insecurity in a relationship, but it isn’t the rallying cry for females around the world that we are being led to believe it is supposed to be, and, unfortunately, that lessens its impact.

Check out the Lyric Video for Little Mix’s latest single ‘Woman Like Me’ ft. Nicki Minaj below:

ALBUM REVIEW: ‘My Dear Melancholy’ – The Weeknd

The WeekndThere is a very fine line between sonic cohesion and a boringly homogenous album. Unfortunately, for The Weeknd, he failed to walk it with his latest effort, My Dear Melancholy. The EP isn’t necessarily bad, but it isn’t necessarily good either instead landing between the two sides somewhere near serviceable.

My Dear Melancholy fails to build on the inspired strength of Beauty Behind the Madness and Starboy, marking the first time The Weeknd has failed to elevate the genre in which he exists. The opening track ‘Call Out My Name’, while lyrically more raw than usual for the star, is predictable in its production and the vocal performance that the R&B star provides. A similar tempo and production appears on ‘Try Me’ and in parts of ‘Wasted Times’ and ‘Hurt You’.

The lyrical content of the EP is it’s strongest aspect, particularly on tracks like ‘Privilege’. Although not overly inspired, the lyrics have some nice moments that when paired with the atmospheric and almost homogenous production of the 6-track offering makes for a decent effort from the Canadian.

Overall, My Dear Melancholy is too structured and too uninspired to ever elevate itself above any other R&B EP that could be released any day. Although it is perfectly serviceable, the EP lacks the flair and identity that usually brands The Weeknd’s music like a hot iron.

Make sure to let us know what you think of The Weeknd’s My Dear Melancholy below.

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ALBUM REVIEW: ‘As She Pleases’ – Madison Beer

IMG_1334The music industry has become very crowded in recent times and as a result, it takes a very distinct personality to elevate an artist. With the release of her debut EP As She Pleases, Madison Beer takes a shot at being the next big thing, and, to a large part, she succeeds. The 18-year-old YouTube sensation turned recording artist was discovered and signed by pop superstar Justin Bieber after he posted a Youtube cover of hers to his twitter. The young star spent the last few years finding her footing releasing singles here and there. As She Pleases proves that was a smart move on Beer’s part.

As She Pleases is a fabulous debut that is teeming with promise and attitude. The opening track, ‘Dead’, is a slick, minimalistic R&B-tinged, tropical toe tapper. ‘Dead’ cleverly plays on the age old phrase “I can’t live without you”, savagely asking “You say you can’t live without me, then why aren’t you dead yet”. ‘HeartLess’ is throbbing, skittering pop-R&B number that harkens to modern hip-hop hits such as Post Malone’s ‘Rockstar’ while referencing vocal styles like Ariana Grande and JoJo.

Elsewhere, Beer incorporates a variety of other styles. ‘Tyler Durden’ is a tender, soft acoustic ballad about unrequited love that is beautiful but relatively uninspired. The floaty ‘Teenager in Love’ adopts a doo-wop/pop sound that songs like Meghan Trainor’s ‘All About The Bass’ and Stooshe’s ‘Black Heart’ brought back into the mainstream. Beer channels the success of Dua Lipa on both ‘Home With You’, a straight up tropical-pop song that is elevated by its unbothered delivery, and ‘Say It To My Face’, a sassy, acoustic pop cut.

The EP is amalgamation of every popular branch of pop music that really shouldn’t work, but it really does. The execution of every track makes it seem fresh despite being done before. Every track hinges on Beer, with her vocal performance and overall confident and genuine delivery heightening the material given to her.

‘Fools’ is the EP’s highlight. The track is an unashamed pop song packed with strong lyricisms and interesting production choices. This is where Beer sounds the most comfortable, sliding up and down her register. The experimental use of vocal alteration on the bridge makes the track even more of a standout.

Overall, Beer uses everything in her arsenal to make her debut EP as strong of a showcase as she possibly can, and she succeeds to a large degree. As She Pleases is a sonic mess that sounds like a perfectly cohesive unit because of the voice of its star, relying heavily on her talent to make it work. And god does it work.

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TRACK REVIEW: ‘The Good Side’ – Troye Sivan

2017 saw a number of pop artists take extremely experimental chances with their sound. Kesha went country, Taylor went electro and Selena went minimal. With the beginning of a new year, more artists have already begun their experimentation. One such artist is Troye Sivan. The YouTube star turned pop star stuck to a pretty signature electro-pop sound until this week with the release of the second release off his forthcoming sophomore album.

Following the release of the album’s lead single ‘My My My!’, Sivan dropped ‘The Good Side’ exactly a week after. Sonically, the track is an acoustic pop ballad with slight electro-pop tinges. An almost complete 180° from the sound that dominated all his prior releases, ‘The Good Side’ makes one wonder why Sivan has yet to go in this direction before. The soft strum of the acoustic guitar provides a perfect backdrop for Sivan’s haunting vocal. His lyrical ability is front and center on the track as he lays his melancholy and heartbreak bare for the world to see as he apologizes to his lover. The latter half of the track harkens back to his roots as the track builds from the tender and sorrowful ballad with a pounding drum line underlying a distorted chorus of backing vocals.

Ultimately, Sivan’s transition from electro and dance-pop to sweet Mumford and Sons-esque acoustic is seamless and masterfully executed. The mismatched construction of ‘My My My!’ and ‘The Good Side’, from both a production and lyrical viewpoint, makes the wait for the entire record even more exciting, as his sonic direction becomes unclear. If the first two releases are anything to go on, whatever that direction is, it will be immaculate.

Make sure to check out the track below and let us know what you think:

 

 

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Album Review: ‘Camila’ – Camila Cabello

Camila_(Official_Album_Cover)_by_Camila_CabelloThe minute a pop band finds success, the first question on the tip of everyone’s tongue is who will be the first to go solo. In the case of X Factor alums Fifth Harmony, the answer was obvious and came in the form of frontwoman Camila Cabello. From her various solo projects, as well as the less than subtle cracks in the group’s united front, her leave was inevitable. When it came, the question turned to how it would affect both parties. Her former bandmates proved that it wasn’t the best thing for them with their less than successful third album dropping last year. Cabello, however, has had better luck, luck that continues on her debut.

top-bgFollowing the failed launch of ‘Crying in the Club’, Cabello found her footing on the latin-tinged smash ‘Havana’ which is a good indicator of what the rest of the album has to offer. Although the track would benefit without the Young Thug and comes a little too close to sounding eerily similar to Selena Gomez’s ‘Same Old Love’, the track is an undeniable earworm. Its follow-up, ‘Never Be The Same’ is less of an earworm. The album opener is a slow EDM-tinged pop ballad that showcases Cabello’s vocal range marvellously, and even if the love-drug comparison that the lyrics are based upon is a bit clichéd, the production makes it sound fresh.

CC-3The album slows way too fast with its second track ‘All These Years’. A straight up acoustic ballad, ‘All These Years’ never elevates itself beyond being just that and never truly finds its groove. The same can’t be said for the album’s other acoustic efforts. ‘Real Friends’ is a wonderfully sassy yet raw up-beat acoustic pop track that is slightly too coincidental to not be about her former bandmates. ‘Consequences’ provides a marvellous raw moment that is heightened from brilliantly sparse production choices backed up by an unusually low-key vocal performance. However, the album’s highlight comes in the stunning ‘Something’s Gotta Give’. The only song on the album where the lyrics, vocals and production all fire on all cylinders and provides one of the most effecting and swelling pop ballads of recent times.

CC-4The Latin-laced pop of ‘Havana’ is used across the album, to varying degrees of succes. The Shrillex-produced ‘She Loves Control’ uses Cabello’s roots to yield one of the album’s most sure-fire hits but manages to never sound like a desperate attempt to replicate ‘Havana’. ‘Inside Out’ is a more tropical but less mature track that, despite the Latin infusion, oddly sounds less genuine than the tracks that surround it, a problem that occurs on the album’s closer. ‘Into It’ is a safe example of an modern electro-pop track that is overly-sexual and never sounds as real as Cabello sounds on the rest of her debut. That’s not to say electro-pop doesn’t work for Cabello. ‘In The Dark’ is a fabulous pop jam that builds from its slow throbbing verses to its beautiful skipping chorus.

Overall, Camila shows that leaving her group behind truly was the best move for Cabello. It uses its biggest asset to its advantage which is its star as Cabello’s voice encapsulates everything the album is – genuine, unique and raw. While it has it’s weak moments, Camila’s strongest moments make for one of the most exciting and promising pop debuts of the decade.