Tag Archives: dance

Double Feature – Better in the Morning and Headphones

WELL, IT HAPPENED. Little Boots heard my plea and dropped the first single from her upcoming album Working Girl. It’s called “Better in the Morning” and here it is!

Those snippets from Instagram were indeed from her first single! And I love it just as much as I knew I would when I first heard them! This light, bouncy melody is infectious – it makes me feel over-the-moon happy. This is the song for people who need a little help getting out of bed in the morning. It certainly got me out of bed when I saw that it had dropped. As I described it elsewhere, I was so excited, I started hamboning. This is my favorite Little Boots single since “Headphones” (which I’ll get to shortly).

I’m just so excited for this album! With each album, EP, or single she releases, I love her sound more and more. This is a grand evolution of style, and I’m so happy because I think that it shows her true self (even if in all the album propaganda she plays the role of a very formal CEO character – it’s been fun though!). I’m hopeful for a fun video as well. “Taste It” was fantastic.

Now, you may have noticed the “Double Feature” up there in the title – I wanted to talk about another single that has nothing to do with this new one or the upcoming album. That would be 2012’s “Headphones.”

I thought it was appropriate to include not only because I mentioned it earlier, but also because this single gave me similar feelings of over-the-moon happiness, especially when I saw the video! It was a standalone single, so it didn’t get released with Nocturnes, even though it came out before that album but after “Shake,” which WAS included on the aforementioned album. It makes sense to me though. It doesn’t quite fit with the themes of Nocturnes.

“Headphones” is much more of a dance track than “Better in the Morning” but it’s still a bouncy and positive tune – and catchy too! Likewise, it features some…Non-lexical vocables? I looked up scatting on Wikipedia, even though that’s not what it is, but my search lead me to this. Basically, it’s when Little Boots sings “La la la la la,” while in “Better in the Morning” it’s “Do do do do do do do.” Sure, it’s a simple thing to do, but it helps carry on the mood of the song and makes it easy to sing along.

What I love about the video is how it fits in with the themes of the song – these people walk into a private booth in a shady, not sure of what they’ll see. Surprise! It’s themselves! But where the watcher is seated and dressed austerely, their counterparts are dressed in vibrant colors and outfits, dancing under flashing lights like they don’t have a care in the world. The sitter seems shocked, confused, and unsure at first, but then when they see how happy their more free-spirited selves are, they finally give in. The older woman crying just gets to me. Everything about this video makes me smile.

If you need a little cheering up, put one – or both – of these songs on and just let them do their thing! Better yet, watch the video for “Headphones” and you’ll smile for sure. Hopefully the video for “Better in the Morning” is forthcoming and just as good! I’ll do another update on the single whenever it comes!

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Hands

There have been stirrings on Little Boots’s Facebook and Instagram accounts and I’m just SO EXCITED. If you’ll notice the funny-looking phone number, that’s a toll-free UK number you can call to get a recorded message about the new album, Working Girl, which is coming out July 10. I hope these song snippets we’re getting are the first single. I just want to buy something while I wait for the new album!

Well, in the meantime, I thought I’d take a look back at one of Little Boot’s past albums, since I’ve only written about her latest EP, Business PleasureLittle Boots is one of my favorite artists, so it’s shocking that that’s all I’ve done!

Hands was Little Boots’s first album, released in 2009. I think I discovered her back when I was listening to last.fm regularly at work. Anyway, I loved her music right away! That was one album that didn’t take me long to buy. It was good fun electropop, catchy and danceable. Looking back on it now, though, there’s really only a handful of standout songs. She’s gone on to make much better music in her so far short career.

I can’t remember what my first song was…So let’s just start with the first track of the album, as usual! That would be “New in Town,” one of my favorite songs on this album (and a favorite Little Boots song in general) not just because it’s fun and catchy and danceable (as previously mentioned) but also because it’s about LA! Little Boots wrote this song as an anthem to this city, where she lived for a time when she was part of an indie band called Dead Disco. And both times that I’ve seen her play live, this one is a crowd pleaser!

I love that the music video doesn’t feature typical LA landmarks, like the Walk of Fame, the Hollywood sign, the TCL Chinese Theatre (formerly Grauman’s) – in fact, there’s not even a single shot of palm trees or beaches! And yet it was all filmed in LA. Fantastic!

“Earthquake” is your standard stuck-in-a-relationship-gone-sour ditty. It’s not a remarkable song for me. The video has some nice visuals.

After that we’ve got one of the great stand-outs on this album, “Stuck On Repeat,” although I MUCH prefer the version she recorded on her 2008 EP Arecibo. It’s twice as long but somehow I feel like it’s simpler and better paced. It’s so hypnotic, which is perfect for this song. That’s exactly the feeling it’s supposed to evoke. Actually, this one might have been the first Little Boots song I heard, now that I think of it. The EP version is the version I remember hearing on last.fm. Anyway, if you get this album and like this song, get the Arecibo version too!

“Click” is another relationship-gone-sour song! This album has quite a few of them, now that I think of it. Funny, since synthpop is kind of a happy-go-lucky sound. I like “Click” better than “Earthquake” though. The chorus has a good beat.

“Remedy” is by far one of Little Boots’s most popular songs. I think it’s her highest charting single. It’s a wonderful, catchy song! It’s definitely one of my favorites – and another crowd pleaser, considering it’s about dancing. The music video visuals are awesome. She had a kaleidoscope theme going on with this album, as made very clear here. It also features her weapons of choice – the keyboard and the Tenori-on, which is the square thing that looks like that Lights Out game from the 90’s. I haven’t yet got to see her use it live! The first time, it wasn’t working so she left it out of the show. The second time, the show was slightly more…acoustic? Anyway, she didn’t have it then either. One day!

“Meddle” is another stand-out, though it doesn’t get as much attention. I distinctly remember her playing this one the second time I saw her and it was AMAZING because it was a sort of rock version. She had a drummer and an electric guitarist on stage with her. It was a brilliant rendition. I need to see if I can find a rock version of it somewhere – anywhere! Anyway, the album version is just fine too! Dig that Tenori-on.

“Ghost” – another bad relationship – yadda yadda – I’m not crazy about this one either! Sorry!

“Mathematics” is kind of fun. She goes though some of PEMDAS and some other math terms. I can hear a math nerd somewhere trying to work out the song in their head like an equation and just coming up with “That’s not how math works!” Anyway, it’s catchy and easy to sing along to.

“Symmetry” is a good one too! Not the best, but good! It’s a bit of a duet with Philip Oakey of The Human League – I don’t know who that is but I have a feeling someone out there will be mad at me for it. His voice fits nice with the melody though! I can feel the early 80’s new wave traveling across the decades to meet with the late oughties synthpop.

Next up we’ve got “Tune Into My Heart.” It’s sweet and I like it, but I don’t have much to say about it! Honestly, this one felt like it could have been the ending track. But there’s a reason it wasn’t, which we’ll get to later.

I like “Hearts Collide” too! The dark, almost seductive sound is very nice. There’s something sirenic about it. It feels like she’s drawing you in. It’s a nice change, and I think maybe an indicator of some of her later sounds.

“No Brakes” is just okay. I generally fast forward through it to get to the hidden track, “Hands,” a pleasant little acoustic track. It’s just Little Boots and a piano, something I really enjoy. I have a handful of songs like that, including a cover of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill.” It’s pretty cool when you can hear how her complex electropop songs are born on a good old-fashioned piano.

There are some extra songs on various “bonus track” versions of this album (gosh, I hate it when they do that) that include “Catch 22” (a great one!), “Love Kills” (a fantastic Freddie Mercury cover), an acoustic version of “Stuck On Repeat” (beautiful), a Tenori-on Piano version of Meddle (fun!), and various remixes.

Overall, it’s difficult to rank Little Boots’s various albums, EPs, and promotional singles, but I would say that, while I still enjoy Hands from time to time, it’s my least favorite of the lot. As I go from her oldest work to her most recent work, I can her more of her unique personality shining through. She sounds more like herself as time goes on, more natural. I brought this up before, but I’m certain I read somewhere that her record label at the time, Atlantic, was trying to make her into the next Kylie Minogue, and it just didn’t work for her. She had to break out and do her own thing for awhile. That explains the four year gap between albums – Nocturnes came out in 2013. Meanwhile, the Business Pleasure EP came out about a year and a half later, while Working Girl is due out less than a year after that. That’s not even including the various EPs and promotional singles I mentioned earlier. And I haven’t even mentioned her mixtapes (have I mentioned she’s a DJ?).

I’m so glad Little Boots decided to make her own record label and do her own thing. Her work just gets better and better. I just couldn’t get enough of Business Pleasure when it came out, and I’m really looking forward to Working Girl! She’s got a great future ahead, and I can’t wait to see what’s next!

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Ride a White Horse

Last month, I wrote briefly about my general distaste for rock videos. I thought, then, that it would be a good idea to show exactly what I believe a music video can be by sharing one of my favorites, and that is Goldfrapp’s “Ride a White Horse.”

Why is it one of my favorites? Because it’s the opposite of you might expect a music video to be. Wait, what? I know what you’re thinking. After going on a mini rant about what a music video should be, I go on to praise a music video that defies that?

Well, sort of. I said that a music video is an art form to be explored. I think what some people might expect a music video to be is something glamorous and beautiful – After all, the artist is promoting themselves (and their song/single). Who wouldn’t want to look good?

But Goldfrapp chooses to be un-glamorous. Alison looks amazing, as always, but what’s the first image you see? A piece of toilet paper stuck to her heel. Very un-glamorous. Then she grabs a microphone made from a cardboard tube and wadded up tinfoil. How tawdry. A series of gross and disturbing images follows, including rotting food and dead fish. Later, she stomps on a dance floor made of cardboard and duct tape, eats a pizza topped with cigarette butts and bottle caps, and dances with dirt-smudged men who crawl out of a dumpster. SO UN-GLAMOROUS.

I generally don’t advise anyone to read YouTube comments, but I’ll share this little nugget of gold from roytheboy68 (I know) who proclaims:

This vid annoys me. Great song, she looks great and then she FUCKS IT UP with that imagery. Give me a break. It’s not “creative” or “edgy” it’s just annoying.

Exactly the point, dude. If this video makes your boner wilt like sad puppy dog’s tail, then Goldfrapp has succeeded. This video is not meant to turn anyone on – It’s meant to do the opposite. Yes, Goldfrapp looks GORGEOUS, but that is not the point. If you are distracted by worms in some kind of brownish juice and a man wrapped in toilet paper eating out of a garbage can – that IS the point.

The title of song refers to Bianca Jagger’s entrance into Studio 54 on a white horse, while the song itself is inspired by the disco era in general. Dancing at the disco (even in the modern sense) has a glamorous feeling to it, as one usually gets dressed and made up very fancy to go there. So Goldfrapp COULD have done a video that followed the theme if the song, but what fun would that be? That would be boring.

So to all the roytheboy68’s out there: I relish your disgust. And I’m sure Goldfrapp does too.

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Y.A.L.A.

M.I.A.’s fourth single from her upcoming fourth studio album Matangi came out last week and I haven’t been able to stop listening to it all weekend. Admittedly when I first heard it (just a snippet at the time), I thought “Yeah, it’s pretty good!” and not much else. Then it came back to haunt me a few days later and I had to find it again. It’s sneaky like that.

“Y.A.L.A.” – an acronym for “You Always Live Again” – is Maya’s response to Drake’s “The Motto,” which popularized that social media buzzword Y.O.L.O. That trite, hackneyed phrase wore out its welcome a long time ago, which is why I love everything about “Y.A.L.A.” Not only does it contradict the meaning of Y.O.L.O., but it also feminizes the phrase in a way. It made me think of that interview she gave to Pitchfork years ago when she called out sexism in the music industry and in music journalism. I feel like “Y.A.L.A.” is also partly a callback to that.

The vocals are a little shouty (I won’t be the first to admit it when I say that M.I.A. isn’t the world’s greatest singer – but she’s not terrible) but also enthusiastic. Besides, after giving a listen to Drake, I can’t say the same for “The Motto.” The beats in “Y.A.L.A.” are fantastically heavy and hypnotic, making this one a club hit for sure.

The primary theme of the song, as implied in the title, is the Hindu concept of reincarnation. M.I.A. invokes this theme in the hook, singing “Up and down that pole/Like you’re goin’ up a yo-yo.” Besides the yo-yo spinning around and around and up and down, I imagine a horse on a merry-go-round pole, also going up and down and around and around. It gives the illusion that you’re going somewhere, but you’re not – you’re literally just going in circles.

M.I.A. makes it clear that she’s sick and tired of people committing the same stupid and senseless acts that we’ve been committing for the entirety of human history. Murder, genocide, war, persecution of groups by other groups. “If you only live once, why we keep doing the same shit?” she asks at the song’s outro. No excuses, she wants an answer. “Back home where I come from, we keep being born again and again and then again and again./That’s why they invented karma.” So that we won’t keep making the same mistakes again and again, so that we can better ourselves and our world. But that’s not what we’ve been doing with our lives, is it?

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