Monday, 12 December 2011

The X Factor 2011 - The Results

Who wins? You decide.

Well, actually it's all over now, and Little Mix won. Did you vote for them? Did you vote for any of the acts that made the final?

Chances are, probably not - there were an awful lot of entrants after all, and only three true finalists. And one of those wasn't in the competition for half of the live shows.

However, for better or worse, Little Mix are now vying for the Christmas number one spot, and you can preview and order their single, Cannonball, below.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Dear Reader - Bear (Young's Done In)

The second of today's Free Music Fridays posts is this preview of Dear Reader's upcoming album Idealistic Animals, due out on January 9th 2012.

Bear (Young's Done In) continues the theme of animals, which is apparent in the titles of all the tracks on the disc, and also carries its fair share of vocalist Cheri MacNeil's newfound cynicism.

I have to admit, in my typically lazy approach to having unfounded expectations about music, I was waiting to hear a male voice on this track, but Cheri's relaxed vocals were more than welcome.

Preview below, and click the appropriate arrow to get your free download...

We'll be listening out for the full album and bringing you a proper album review at the turn of the year - personal favourite titles to look out for include Whale (BooHoo).

Until then, you'll have to satisfy yourselves with Bear (Young's Done In)...!

Diana Vickers - Music To Make The Boys Cry

Let's get Free Music Fridays off to a start with the latest effort from another former The X Factor starlet, Diana Vickers.

After the rousing success of My Wicked Heart, Music To Make The Boys Cry has a lot to live up to, and it manages to do so admirably. It's not quite so hit-you-between-the-eyes as its predecessor, but that might be because we've all realised Vickers has grown up a bit, and it's time to take her seriously.

You can, apparently, download Music To Make The Boys Cry for free by surrendering your email address in the box below - although to be honest, we've had trouble getting anything to happen after hitting 'submit'. Still, if your account is reasonably spam-proof, it's got to be worth a try.

FYI, this is the exact same signup form that's on Diana's official website, so we can't control whether or not it works, sorry!

However, just in case the form's broken, you can preview the track either by clicking play on the pic of Diana above, or using the SoundCloud player embedded below.

So, what do you think? It's a different beat to My Wicked Heart, for sure, but I can imagine sticking this on in the car, on a playlist for the way to school or work, or even chilling to it on the dancefloor.

Honourable mention for Steve Brookstein, who pointed out on Twitter the certain similarities between Music To Make The Boys Cry and Fleetwood Mac's Everywhere:

Vickers already got accused of nicking the chorus from the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Under The Bridge for My Wicked Heart, so a few more parallels like this could be dodgy, but personally I think it's a good thing.

So much music tries so hard to be original, that it comes out sounding distorted - literally, in the case of some of the Black Eyed Peas' overly electronic tracks.

Vickers obviously draws inspiration from times past - it's a defining feature of her fashion ranges and her personal dress sense - so it's particularly authentic to see that her music reflects bygone eras as well. Like Rebecca Ferguson's new album, it seems Diana Vickers is bringing good music back to the charts, and there's nowt wrong with that.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Video Special: Rebecca Ferguson - Heaven

Rebecca Ferguson makes me happy. She's got a personality that just radiates goodness, and a voice that changes my world, if only for three to four minutes at a time. She's the silver lining on a cloudy day, and Heaven is her first studio album since coming second to Matt Cardle on The X Factor.

The videos below give an insight into some of the tracks on Heaven - what they're about, when (and why) Rebecca wrote them, and who collaborated on them. They also give a glimpse into why Heaven is vying for the top spot in this week's iTunes Album Chart.

I've been looking forward to this album all year, and it took me by surprise when it seemed to suddenly be released from nowhere, but I'm thrilled for Rebecca that it seems to be doing so well.

From her first performance of A Change is Gonna Come, she effortlessly showed her vocal quality, and I'm delighted that her original music on Heaven lives up to that same soulful style of song. There are instant classics on this album, of a type that hasn't been seen in recent years (with perhaps a couple of notable exceptions like Adele's massive Someone Like You).

This year I've written a lot about what I see as a return to 'real' music - instruments, soaring vocals, tunes - and Heaven wholeheartedly continues that trend.

I can't wait to hear more from Rebecca Ferguson in the future, but for now I'm glad that we've all finally got a full album of her to enjoy.

Heaven - Rebecca Ferguson

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Dan Mangan - Oh Fortune

Dan Mangan's third studio album, Oh Fortune, is a rousing and orchestral delight, without ever becoming indulgent - swells of strings and brass lend energy and emotion where it is needed, but are balanced with simple guitar motifs elsewhere on the disc.

Mangan is Canada's answer to Elbow, at least in terms of anthemic, epic compositions, but is if anything more polished in his delivery. His relative lack of fame in the UK - both compared to his success in Canada, and in general - seems more like a matter of time than a matter of talent.

With Oh Fortune bound to claim a few 'album of the week' accolades, I hope it also claims its fair share of airplay on the nation's radio stations. It is, perhaps, a little mature in tone for the boyband/The X Factor crowd, but there's a plenty sizeable market out there for 'proper' music, and this is that indeed.
Oh Fortune - Dan Mangan

Friday, 2 December 2011

Boy Friend - Egyptian Wrinkle

As part of our (slightly irregular) Free Music Fridays strand, here's a sneak preview at the title track from Egyptian Wrinkle, the upcoming (February 6th 2012) album from female duo Boy Friend.

Continuing the fine tradition of female duos such as Shakespears Sister (well, between 1989 and 1993), Boy Friend's preview track delivers haunting vocals that combine the power of layered voices with dramatic effect.

You may have heard Boy Friend's Sarah Brown and Christa Palazzolo together earlier in 2011, when they put out a self-titled EP, or previously in the band Sleep ∞ Over, but I think this is the first time we've featured them on Popsiculture.

As always, we'll keep an ear open for future releases - you can probably expect to see them mentioned again closer to the February release date of Egyptian Wrinkle - but for now you'll have to make do with the track below, which you can download to keep from the HellYes SoundCloud page.

Wootton Bassett Rocks! - Wake Me Up When September Ends

Wootton Bassett Rocks!' Wake Me Up When September Ends is everything good you could hope for in tackling what is an increasingly desperate situation for many families across the UK.

Regardless of whether you support the wars British troops have been sent into in recent years (and this is not the place to start that kind of debate!), most people have at least some level of support for the families of those killed and wounded in combat.

Wake Me Up When September Ends is Wootton Bassett Rocks!' newly released single in aid of four charities. You can watch it below, download using the iTunes buttons, and learn more about the charities by clicking 'Read more'.