Tag Archives: katy b

Favourite albums of 2011

20. Ghostpoet – Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam

19. Lupe Fiasco – Lasers

18. Lady Gaga – Born This Way

17. Rihanna – Talk That Talk

16. Theophilus London – Timez Are Weird These Days

15. Drake – Take Care

14. Anna Calvi – Anna Calvi

13. Jamie Woon – Mirrorwriting

12. Lil B – I’m Gay (I’m Happy)

11. Selena Gomez & The Scene – When The Sun Goes Down

10. CocknBullKid – Adulthood

9. araabMUZIK – Electronic Dream

8. Cher Lloyd – Sticks + Stones

7. Riz MC – MICroscope

6. Beyoncé – 4

5. The Sound of Arrows – Voyage

4. Toddla T – Watch Me Dance

3. Britney Spears – Femme Fatale

Britney’s people have told her that every song on her album Femme Fatale is inspired by a different femme fatale from history, myth or fiction. Poor Britney just can’t work it out though! Can YOU match the lyrics from the album to the  foxy ladies in question? Answers below.

2. The Weeknd – House of Balloons

Poor Abel Tesfaye has just got the artwork for his epically miserable comedown album back from the designers, but it looks like they’ve strayed from his original vision! Can YOU spot the five subtle differences hidden in the new cover?

If you are having trouble spotting all five differences here are some hints!

  • I wonder who else was at those debauched parties he sings about?
  • There’s a subtle theme running through the album but we’ve “inflated” it
  • “Well doesn’t that put the cherry on top”
  • Track titles ‘MAY’ not ‘ALWAYS’ be correct!
  • A dog’s face

1. Katy B – On A Mission

Here are Katy’s missions explained track-by-track:

POWER ON ME

Attributes: Slowly unfolding; sweeping musical vista; quite long. Mission: 1986 film THE MISSION. (From the IMDB plot synopsis: “Initially, the Guarani warriors prepare to kill him, but after Gabriel plays an unforgettable solo on his oboe, they allow him to live”. And we’ve all had days like that.)

KATY ON A MISSION

Attributes: Bold, purposeful, brill. Mission: KATY’S MISSION STATEMENT

WHY YOU ALWAYS HERE

Attributes: Elegant; structured; accomplished. Mission: MISSION REVIVAL ARCHITECTURE.

WITCHES BREW

Attributes: Startling; Bleepy; Full of twists and turns that leave you feeling dislocated. Mission: Doctor Who‘s 1965 MISSION TO THE UNKNOWN episode with its imagination-gone-mad monsters and lack of regular cast.

MOVEMENT

Attributes: Propulsive; No nonsense; Designed to make you move. Mission: A SEARCH AND DESTROY MISSION.

GO AWAY

Attributes: Dignified; Luxurious; Satisfying. Mission: The DIPLOMATIC MISSION where the Ferrero Rocher-stuffed Ambassador’s Receptions are held.

DISAPPEAR

Attributes: Solid; A bit old-fashioned; Cheery. Mission: THE GLAD TIDINGS MISSION FROM 60s CORONATION STREET, over which Ena Sharples presided; a handy refuge in case of a gas leak on the Street.

BROKEN RECORD

Attributes: Bright; Bouncy; Pretty. Mission: MISSION BELL (the flower, stupid.)

LIGHTS ON (FEAT. MS. DYNAMITE)

Attributes: Passing the torch from one generation of singer to the next; Shiny; Confident. Mission: THE CONTINUING MISSION of Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s Enterprise-D.

EASY PLEASE ME

Attributes: Fun; In your face; Sassy with the fanfares. Mission: The original series of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE.

PERFECT STRANGER (WITH MAGNETIC MAN)

Attributes: Romantic; Irresistible; Destined to help Magnetic Man be warmly remembered even though most people shrugged at their album proper. Mission: A RESCUE MISSION.

HARD TO GET

Attributes: Charming; Laidback; Basking in the glow of all that’s come before. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

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If popstars were… witches

Things are looking up for witchcraft in pop now that Katy B’s thrown her hat into the hexagram. But it’s been a long hard journey to get here.

CLIFF RICHARD — DEVIL WOMAN

In 1975 Cliff denounced his own song Honky-Tonk Angel in a Christian fury after someone told him it sounded like he was singing about a prostitute. Fortunately Devil Woman has a much more positive Christian message.

Kindly, tennis-loving Cliff has a terrible run-in with a gypsy lady who leaves him on the floor after slipping him a potion. He keeps on about how evil she is, but assuming that the potion was nothing more than a Babycham on an empty stomach, her only misdeeds are trying to win him “with her feminine ways” and get him “from behind”.

It’s a pretty good capsule summary of the Church’s relationship with witches over the years: Man is scared of own sexuality and of not being in charge, man decides woman is in league with the Devil. In fact the story goes that Cliff only agreed to sing the song after making the lyrics more aggressive towards the ‘devil woman’, and has since regaled fans at concerts with the inspirational tale of how the song saved one woman from turning to the occult. Congratulations, Cliff.

What does it sound like? It sounds silly.

Which witch? I like to imagine Cliff seeing a paperback copy of How To Become A Sensuous Witch on a bookstall and torturing himself with thoughts of the startling lady on the cover. (Image found on this amazing blog.)

KATE BUSH — WAKING THE WITCH

Here’s an unsettling song. Kate’s having some sort of time-travelling out-of-body experience and endures a medieval witch trial on a ducking stool. If you’re listening in the context of her Hounds of Love album you’ll gather it’s all going on while she’s trying to stay alive in icy water in the present day.

What does it sound like? Trippy piano and half-heard voices give way to manic chopped up beats, church bells and the terrifying voice of the inquisitor. Scary.

Which witch? Before Kate came along I think this was pop culture’s best-known indictment of witch trials. “What else floats in water?” “Gravy!” Logic at its best.

NATACHA ATLAS — I PUT A SPELL ON YOU

What does it sound like? There are so many covers of this great song. I love Natacha’s best because the clattering percussion and woozy strings in her “hello I’m Arabic you know” version properly capture the mad intensity of falling hard and helplessly for someone. It’s as dizzy and intoxicating as you hope being actually bewitched would be.

Which witch? There’s precious little to learn about the nature and practice of witchcraft here. It’s presented as a means to an end to get people into bed with you. (I really wouldn’t want to have to admit that Cliff was right.) But Natacha is as camp and commanding as Faye Dunaway playing Selena  in the 80s Supergirl film.

LADYTRON — SOFT POWER

The idea of Soft Power dates back to Lao Tzu, who said that what is fluid and yielding will always overcome what’s rigid and inflexible. “Water always wins,” as Doctor Who put it. Ladytron’s lyrics are as impenetrable as you like, but they conflate Soft Power with the Witching Hour of their album title so let’s read it as a celebration of witchery’s subtletly and cleverness.  Call it a set of typically feminine qualities, if you must — I’m aware that I’ve ended up writing exclusively about female witches, after all. My one attempt to include a male witch got no further than the line “Do what u like shall be the whole of the law” (Take That featuring Aleister Crowley).

What does it sound like? Hypnotic and beautiful, with menacing synths turning in an endless chord sequence underneath a gorgeous vocal that hovers delicately between emotion and self-control.

Which witch? So very mysterious, so very reliant on what isn’t said or seen, Ladytron in this song (as interpreted through the medium of dance here) are the Blair Witch.

KATY B — WITCHES’ BREW

Finally here’s Katy. If the black goo coming out of the drain behind her head and her psychokinetic frenzy in the video make you think it’s all gone a bit Silent Hill, don’t be alarmed. For all the talk of dusty spellbooks and rosemary potions in the lyrics, Katy’s a very modern witch with a nice Nokia touchscreen and, clearly, some terrific haircare products.

What does it sound like? Like the sweetest amusement arcade you ever visited. I love the alarming drop-down into the middle 8 and its dangerous, random-sounding chord sequence — sorcerous.

Which witch? Never mind that the songs I’ve looked at so far have treated witchcraft as evil, perilous, intense or mysterious. Katy doesn’t care about any of that! She generally sings about having a bit of fun and meeting some boys, and that’s not about to change just because of a sudden onset of occult powers. So I’ve cast her as Sabrina The Teenage Witch and let’s hear no more about it. What we really need to be worrying about is the conjuring that led to this song acquiring an apostrophe between the album release earlier this year and the single this month. Now that’s magic.

Tied up with string: April

SOME albumS:

Katy B’s On A Mission is a brilliant, brilliant piece of work by anyone’s standards. The lightness and breeziness of pop, beefed up with everything that’s good from the current dance scene, and powered along by charm, energy and personality.

There’s a point in Go Away, when Katy’s doing that characteristically amazing thing she does, her voice swooping and pouncing everywhere, but never sounding forced or strained, always effortless and natural, when you think ‘Wow, this has been a superb album’. And then you think ‘Wow, hang on, there are still those three massive singles to come.’  Mind you, since I first had that thought in a sunny garden, Easy Please Me has been announced as the next single. That’s the cheeky one that sounds like it could be a great lost b-side to Erasure’s Drama!. So it’s a month after release and the album’s already back-loaded with four stunning singles. I would say that it’s the sound of London in the spring, but it’s going to be playing all summer as well. And I think Katy’s music is a friend for life.

I’m also taken with the understated electro-soul of Jamie Woon’s Mirrorwriting. Nocturnal and melancholy, organic and urban, delicate and meaty. Very nice indeed.

An advert:

Oh how I dream about eggs. And Scotch eggs! They’re just filthy. In the new Oasis – It’ll Go With Anything ad, a bottle of juice seduces just such a coquettish crumbed treat. “You’re more than just an egg! You’re hard boiled! And meaty! And BREADED.” Speaking for us all there.

When we join them in flagrante, some of her coating’s come off – you see the yolk and everything. “You’d better put your lid back on!” she coos. But no-one’s looking at him.

A POP VIDEO

I love this austere, menacing video for Sadness Is A Blessing, my favourite song from Lykke Li’s recent album. Oh, her luminous sadness. The unspoken grief, the sense of being trapped. I suspect Lykke could be a great actress if she wanted to be.

ANIMAL OF THE MONTH

I’ve been based in a different location with work this month, and as a result I now get a train to just outside of London every morning. Have you seen what’s out there? Fields! With animals in them! People who haven’t spent their whole lives in cities will scoff at me, but I still get excited every time I see ponies, sheep and horses from a train window. PONIES!