We held off on posting this for a while because we thought we might write about Natasha's album at the same time, but as it turns out, the new Bat For Lashes album is possibly her best ever work, so that'll definitely get a separate post and probably a year end best of, too.

The above video and song are great, but they're just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the great quality of songs on The Haunted Man (in all good stores now!). We always yearned for Ms. Khan to take the excellent but sparse haunting folk work she started on her debut album and go EPIC with it. Go MAJESTIC. Go PANORAMIC and ORCHESTRAL. We hoped her second album might bring the goods, but it didn't. As lovely and charming and complex as it was, it still felt like it was holding back, like it was taking too much pleasure in its subtleties and restraint.

Fortunately Natasha has now abandoned a lot of her seeming coyness and her new record features the kind of lush, open, expansive scope we knew from the start that she could achieve. Seriously. It could be her best album yet.

Well done.

Nicki Minaj went from being our favourite new artist, and great credible new rap star, to the most irritating woman in pop. Really quickly. Her second album, whilst packed full of decent and listenable tunes, was so generic, pandering and free of the hyperactive clever-clever rhythms and rhymes that made us fall for her in the first place, that we handed in our fan membership and abandoned ship for good.

Well maybe we were too hasty because the lead single from the rerelease of her second album (yes, really) is a bizarre, structurally odd, electro hip hop banger replete with her best video since "Super Bass". So maybe all is not lost. Maybe she can reign it back in. We'll see. But for now we quite enjoy this.

Ooh... err... um... yes!

Girls Aloud are back back back back back and here is all you need to know. We mean, we're late on this, so you probably already know it, but we'll tell you anyway.

Above is their new video. It's ok. Some bits are cool, but mostly it's like a very fancy lyric video. Too much writing comin' atcha (Cleopatra). It'll doo though. The song is a bit of a mess. An exciting mess. But a mess. So the video sort of fits. That's a compliment, believe it or not.

With news of a new single and video comes news of a new tour and a new greatest hits album: Ten. The cover art looks like this (below) and it's exciting because they've FINALLY GOTTEN IT RIGHT after some of the worst album covers of all time:

Glorious. Classy. Sexy. Cool. Everything a girl band album cover should be. Of course there's a tracklisting too. You can (or at least you could at some point) vote for b-sides or fan favourites to be on the deluxe second disk, but this is the main cd:

  1. "Something New"
  2. "The Promise"
  3. "The Loving Kind"
  4. "Untouchable"
  5. "Sexy! No No No..."
  6. "Call The Shots"
  7. "Can't Speak French"
  8. "Something Kinda Ooooh!"
  9. "Biology"
  10. "The Show"
  11. "Love Machine"
  12. "I'll Stand By You"
  13. "Jump"
  14. "No Good Advice"
  15. "Sound of the Underground"
  16. "On The Metro"
  17. "Beautiful 'Cause You Love Me"
  18. "Every Now and Then"
Eagle-eyed observers will notice that there are three other new songs, alongside lead single, "Something New". Well come on let's have an album art progression just because. Here goes:


Happy birthday 'Erotica'

Yes, it really has been a whole two decades since 1992. One of our top five Madonna albums, Erotica, turns twenty years old today and should be paid the respect it's due. The first body of work to significantly dent Madonna's reputation, it has in fact stood the test of time and been the subject of many critical revisions, with a multitude of cyber column inches having been devoted to recognising the album as a milestone not only in her career but - similarly to Ray of Light but obviously nowhere as significantly - within pop music as a whole.

The eponymous single remains incredibly sexy today, as does it's filthier B-side counterpart "Erotic". Disco throwback "Deeper and Deeper" (soul sister to "Vogue") is one of Madge's most underrated singles, while the glorious ballad "Rain" was the first Madonna song we ever came into contact with - ever. "Secret Garden" is a fabulous foreshadowing of the San Antonio chilled piano house movement developing in Ibiza and Chicago and "In This Life" is a painfully moving tribute to friends lost to HIV & AIDS - incredibly significant for the time period it was recorded in. "Why's It So Hard" and "Where Life Begins" are two of her best ever album tracks and the video for "Bad Girl" is absolutely in her top 20 (we can make such ridiculous statements with artists who have Madonna's body of music videos). The Erotica era is notorious for her first fall from grace, especially coming on the back of her imperial/Immaculate Collection period when she quite literally ran the world, but it was genuinely artistically daring and the era we most wish we had been fans like we are now. Unfortunately we weren't even two years old.

While the album birthed her most underrated tour (The Girlie Show, an artistic triumph), our favourite child of the Erotica era is a performance on her 2006 tour in support of Confessions. "Erotica" hadn't been performed since 1993 and most had assumed it had been shunned for it's overtly provocative  nature but Madonna's marvellous musical director Stuart Price managed to turn a demo of the song, complete with alternate lyrics, into a shimmering violet bittersweet melancholy - yet still somehow gloriously sexy - disco performance and remains one of our most listened to Madonna songs ever. It's a tour performance we can watch over and over again, and revel in it's simplicity and magic.

Happy birthday Erotica, you filthy cunt.



A few days ago, the above teaser appeared online: we quietly wet ourselves with excitement, and then quietly went to the toilet to clean ourselves up. Ahem. Sorry. TMI!

Then the day before yesterday (or at some point in the past) they released the full track on the internet. Lots of people have complained that (and we haven't had a list in a while, so here it comes):

  • it's too noisy
  • it's a load of noise
  • it's a mess
  • it's ear-hurty
  • it's generic
  • it sounds like The Saturdays
  • it sounds like The Pussycat Dolls
  • it's annoying
  • it's not as good as their older stuff
Controversially, we disagree. It sounds like "Something Kinda Ooooh!" and "Sexy! No No No..." (excellent song title punctuation, btw, guys, still tickles us) had a rebellious bastard child. It probs doesn't have much longevity, listen-wise. We can't imagine popping this on in a year's time and going "oooh this is lovely, I'll just leave it on loop in the background whilst I do the washing up". But it'll be fun to dance to down the discotheque, it's got enough hooks, sass, melody and production quirks to keep us happy for a fortnight. What more could you ask for?

Anyway what do you think?


Well ok then.

Rihanna should be releasing a Greatest Hits album by now. Getting through four successful studio albums in this current music climate is enough to warrant a greatest hits collection but Rihanna is now on album number SEVEN. SEVEN.

Gosh. Quite why she's so persistent, we'll never know but that's that. There was some hullabaloo over the album title. Apparently RiRi has been tweeting the hashtag #sideeffects for a while now and originally announced that the album title was 'written in black' (the tweet was then deleted). Subsequently she tweeted that the actual album title would be Unapologetic.

Well. It's a fittingly immature album title for such immature artwork. That's not a 'read'. We're not being shady or calling RiRi childish, but both the album name and cover art look like the kind of thing you'd expect from a 16 year old emo-tinged pop/rock singer. That's fine. We somehow doubt the music will match up but who knows.

Here is a chronology of RiRi's album artwork:


I'm getting somewhere

So we've been power-listening to the new Ellie Goulding album and so far the biggest stand out is bizarrely a bonus track. One day we'll write a big thesis on the crime of shoving some of pop music's finest gems into bonus track oblivion but for now indulge yourself in this exhilarating rush of P!nk's copyrighted eau de fuck you intertwined with a pulsating Temper Trap-style drum machine and power piano chords. Wonderful.


Ooooh... Intrigue!

If you go down to the woods today, you'll find that clicking on a link to the Girls Aloud website opens this countdown.

Presumably they're reforming to celebrate past glories seeing as it's 10 years since they burst onto 'the scene'.

We're legitimately excited.


Well this came out of leftfield. Perhaps we just haven't been paying as much attention to Björk as we should have been, but suddenly she announces her second full length remix album: Bastards.

First, in 1996, there was Telegram, following the huge commercial success of Post. Now there's Bastards. Björk explains her decision to revisit the remix album thusly:
I picked a quarter of them for one cd for people who are perhaps not too sassy downloaders or don't have the time or energy to partake in the hunter-gathering rituals of the internet
SASSY! Björk has categorised downloaders into two camps: the sassy and the not sassy. Does she mean savvy? Does she literally mean sassy? Is she imagining people sat in front of iTunes or The Hype Machine clicking their fingers in a Z formation as they download the latest Biophilia remix package?

Anyway this is what the tracklist is going to be like:
  1. "Crystalline (Omar Souleyman Remix)"
  2. "Virus (Hudson Mohawke "Peaches and Guacamol" Rework)"
  3. "Sacrifice (Death Grips Remix)"
  4. "Sacrifice ((Matthew Herbert's Pins and Needles Mix) edit)"
  5. "Mutual Core (These New Puritans Remix feat. Soloman Is. Song)"
  6. "Hollow (16-bit Remix)"
  7. "Mutual Core (Matthew Herbert's "Teutonic Plates" Mix)"
  8. "Thunderbolt (Death Grips Remix)"
  9. "Dark Matter (Alva Noto Remodel)"
  10. "Thunderbolt (Omar Souleyman Remix)"
  11. "Solstice (Current Value Remix)"
  12. "Moon (The Slips Remix)"
  13. "Crystalline (Matthew Herbert Remix)"
(Ed: can we just say it's an absolute crime that this wondrous gem, arguably the best Biophilia remix by far, has been missed off?) 

And seeing as we love to do these and we're here, here's what the artwork looks like next to some of her other artwork:


There's not much to say about Peaches' long-awaited (can you believe it's been 3 years since I Feel Cream?) comeback: mostly because it's so fucking good. Produced by Boys Noize and Alex Epton, it's a very literal burst of frenetic electro that reminds us why she's the Queen.



Bow to Buddhist deity Christina Aguilera. Bow to her bizarrely placed belly button and bleached-to-shit hair. Bow to the enigmatic, mysterious light emanating from her godlike vulva. Just bow.

This is the cover to Xtina's fifth landmark musical extravaganza: Bionic. We'll let the image do the talking. It says so much. It is ICONIQUE.

Here's how it measures up to her previous album covers:

Glorious Tori

(picture by Steve Asenjo)

On the 3rd of October 2012, we returned to the Royal Albert Hall to see Tori Amos perform, this time, the quartet of her previous tour having morphed into a 52 piece Dutch orchestra: The Metropole Orkest.

On the 3rd of October 2012, Tori Amos did what most casual fans beg their favourite artists to do: a Greatest Hits tour. For a lot of artists it wouldn't work. For most artists it would come off tacky and desperate, a last attempt to grapple at relevancy by shamelessly revisiting past glories. But most artists wouldn't choose to revisit their back catalogue via lush and exhilarating orchestral rearrangements.

The setting for the concert was typical Tori: bare stage, only embellished with a colourful lighting design (and 52 Dutch musicians). But the music was anything but predictable. Every song was not just souped up or given added colour or arch lushness, but was rearranged rhythmically - an extra bar here or there, a haunting introduction, a rippling countermelody. Even the most hardened Tori fan couldn't help but sit up straight and pay attention to these new mature versions.

Of course, the meat of the gig was made up with cuts from her recent orchestral reworks album, Gold Dust, but Tori loves to throw in rare surprises and this time we were treated to a tender, piano-only "Ribbons Undone" - especially poignant and touching considering her daughter, Tasha, was in attendance - and an orchestral rearrangement of personal favourite and mostly-forgotten early album track "Baker Baker" as well as a jaunty rendition of fan favourite "Leather".

Perhaps most scintillating of all was an orchestral "Edge of the Moon" from her recent western art music-inspired Night of Hunters album. The bubbling and rippling middle section was a joy.

Of course a Tori concert isn't complete without this here writer shedding a few tears, and this time it was to the eponymous "Gold Dust". Tori's knack for moving from one key signature to another to evoke certain emotions is in full effect in this song: "and the sun on your face" being the line to get us weeping.

On the 3rd of October 2012 at the Royal Albert Hall, Tori played:
  1. "Flying Dutchman"
  2. "Cloud on My Tongue"
  3. "Baker Baker"
  4. "Marianne"
  5. "Snow Cherries from France"
  6. "The Fairy Song"
  7. "Ribbons Undone"
  8. "Hey Jupiter"
  9. "Jackie's Strength"
  10. "Winter"
  1. "Yes, Anastasia"
  2. "Flavor"
  3. "Girl Disappearing"
  4. "Silent All These Years"
  5. "Leather"
  6. "Edge of the Moon"
  7. "Gold Dust
  8. "Precious Things"
  1. "Star of Wonder"
  2. "Programmable Soda"
  3. "Our New Year"


B who?

The tragic genius of Solange, if our memory serves correctly, was one of the first topics we ever covered here at Shiny & New. The chances are, that if we're on the same page, you will already be aware of the outrage which surrounds this wonderful woman's total lack of commercial success so we won't delve too deeply. No matter - this girl's ambition and drive hasn't seemed to die in a pit of despair so we have a wonderful new track after a four year wait to enjoy. Exactly what we expected from her, an uplifting yet painfully pining melancholy RnB gem. Make sure you actually buy this from iTunes or whatever, she needs the cash.


We see what you did there...

Four days ago, on the day Marina Diamandis had previously stated her new video for "How To Be a Heartbreaker" would be uploaded, it wasn't. To explain the situation, Marina, much like many people of the modern era, took to Twitter to allay the fears of her fans. This was what she wrote:

To which Little Boots, who is also on the same label, and who similarly had problems with a video ("Remedy") that was deemed unacceptable by someone and quickly reshot, replied: "I think I know that guy!" (or something to that effect... the tweet has now been deleted).

We previously wrote an article, around about the time Ke$ha's aborted and then reshot "Blow" video came out. Basically, we want to know - because we're nosey and obsessed with pop - why these original videos were scrapped! In Marina's case, we want to know why the original video was deemed unacceptable. Marina's label were quick to assuage fans on twitter by saying that they love "M" and think she's not a 'minger'. So what was the reason? Perhaps we'll never know.

Anyway with regards to the final product itself: as always, Marina looks headturningly beautiful, if a little fake-tan streaky. We do wonder what the meeting to come up with the treatment for this was like though. Maybe someone drew a Venn diagram that had two overlapping circles. One said "lovers of gay porn" and the other said "Marina Diamandis fans" and they pointed to the large intersection and said: "THAT, is our concept".

All I wanna do is dispose of your body...

Christina has made a camp feast for the eyes. Well, someone has made a camp feast for the eyes and Christina turned up and went along with it because it probably sounded like a good idea and there was probably a buffet laid out for the occasion and who wouldn't turn up for a free buffet? We wouldn't turn an invitation down.

As well as managing to crowbar in product placement for a psychic website, have a disconap on a sunbed and change wigs at approximately 5 lacefronts per second, Xtina also chooses to glamorously and surreally murder men as a metaphor for one night stands/random hookups (!??). We won't ruin the 'plot' for you, but it doesn't make sense and heads metaphorically roll.

It's quite fun to look at.


Glamorous shrug.

This is Rihanna's new single, Diamonds.

We mentioned in a previous post that the song in question was written by Sia and everyone on twitter is saying you can basically hear Ms. Furler singing it herself, with Rihanna singing over the top. We don't quite hear it.

What we DO hear is a song that doesn't stand 20 feet away and blast our face off with a cannonball. Why would you want a song to do this? Well, maybe because it's fun. Maybe because we expect to have our heads blown off by a lead Rihanna song. This song doesn't quite do it (for us). Maybe it's the repetitive nature, the irksome hook, the flat structure?

We expected more, but it'll do for now.


New Lana *slow ambien clap*

This new Lana track is sort of hard of work. It sounds nice, it's not offensive to the ears. It has a memorable-ish tune. It's her to a t. It's... you know... there's nothing wrong with it that we can directly identify.

But it feels a bit like hard work. It's not quite as effortless as some of her previous stuff. It doesn't really sound like a world wide smash hit. It slogs along a bit without really soaring.

Maybe it's a 'grower'.


No Doubt have made a fairly basic and low-budget-looking video for "Push and Shove", their INCREDIBLE second single from their comeback album of the same name. It's not only their best single in yonks, it's one of the best songs of the YEAR (if we say so ourselves) so even if the music vid doesn't quite blow us away or change our lives, it's the kind of song that's so good it can carry 5 minutes of people larking around in black and white effortlessly.


Twenty four hour shopping in rapture

On Saturday we decided to escape the bleak neon and chain restaurant hell of touristy Orlando to drive up the east coast to the total opposite - the oldest settlement in the entire United States, St. Augustine. An absolutely beautiful town, we just intended on spending the day absorbing as much culture and history as humanly possible with the desire of returning ready to take on another month or so of artificial civilisation - until we drove past the St. Augustine Amphitheatre which happened to be advertising in flashing lights: "BLONDIE, TONIGHT!". As in the real Blondie? As in the legend that is 67 year old Debbie Harry? "I definitely think Lady Gaga copied Madonna, but then Madonna copied me so whatever". Tickets. Bought.

In a spontaneous ticket purchase first, a marvellous concert followed with all the big ones: "Atomic", "Call Me", "One Way or Another", "Dreaming", "The Tide is High" and of course "Heart of Glass" which was cleverly incorporated with Frankie Goes to Hollywood's era-defining "Relax". An amazing cover of American-radio-favourite-for-the-past-two-months-none-stop-if-I-hear-it-one-more-time-my-head-will-explode "Lights" by Ellie Goulding was even thrown in mid-way. More than anything it was an absolute joy to be metres away from a genuine popular music icon and surrounded by drunk mothers reliving an era we would kill to have been a part of. Someone else we can tick off their list and reminisce about upon their impending visit to the pearly gates, eh? 

Someone finally had a word

We think someone's been prodding Madonna in the back with a 'revise your setlist' stick because it seems two great big stonkers have been permanently added. A joyous recital of "Holiday" follows the equally euphoric "Open Your Heart" early on in the show, but more exciting is the addition of genuine MDNA highlight "Love Spent" after the piano waltz "Like a Virgin". An appropriate and fitting use of the song, it sits perfectly in it's set position although we'd always envisioned a poppers storm of lasers, lights and maybe a bit of pyro with some Confessions Tour "Erotica"-style choreo... can we please direct the next fucking tour?

We're gonna die in Miami.