Now I’m not one for hyperbolic titles, but this week’s roundup sings praises for the Eternal Queen of Pop (And Also Everything), 2012′s Most Anticipated Buzz Artist and the UK’s Greatest Girl Group of the 21st Century. Just stating the facts here.
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1.) Madonna, “Masterpiece”
After almost 30 years of dominating the industry, it’s safe to say that Madonna — Queen of Pop — has crafted one or two masterpieces in her day. But now, she’s really gone and done it… literally. Produced by William Orbit (the man behind Madge’s 1998 grand reawakening, Ray of Light), “Masterpiece” is the gorgeous ballad that will serve as part of the soundtrack for M’s upcoming film, “W.E.”
“And I’m right by your side, like a thief in the night/I stand in front of a masterpiece,” the living legend tenderly declares. With lyrics as poignant as Ray of Light‘s “Frozen” and gentle instrumentation like the fragile (and underrated) album track “To Have And Not To Hold,” “Masterpiece” proves that the collaborative spark that began between Orbit and Madonna more than 10 years ago has yet to fade.
And although the final version has yet to leak in full (only a demo exists for now), “Masterpiece” may just be one of Madonna’s best ballads in years, if not decades. Long live the Queen! + LISTEN TO MADONNA’S “MASTERPIECE”
2.) Lana Del Rey, “Born To Die”
After skyrocketing to No. 9 in the U.K. with her viral smash “Video Games” in October (along with the equally gorgeous A-side “Blue Jeans”), the moody, mysterious beauty known as Lana Del Rey returns with the title track of her much-buzzed-about 2012 Interscope Records debut, “Born To Die.” “Choose your last words, this is the last time/’Cause you and I, we were born to die,” Rey damningly declares above a lonesome Western twang, soaring strings and a slow-skipping beat.
Armed with some of the most crushing, Kleenex-fetching lyricism (“I feel so alone on a Friday night/Can you make it feel like home, if I tell you you’re mine?”), the chanteuse’s sobering delivery and a cinematic soundscape, “Born To Die” isn’t just Del Rey’s best track of the bunch so far — it’s one of the better songs released this year. + LISTEN TO LANA DEL REY’S “BORN TO DIE”
+ Listen to more Must-Hear Pop Songs Of The Week after the jump!
3.) Nicki Minaj, “Roman In Moscow”
She did her best to make him behave in the teeth-gritting, quick-spitting Pink Friday track “Roman’s Revenge (feat. Eminem),” but Miss Nicki Minaj just can’t seem to hold her gay boy alter ego, Roman Zolanski. Recently, the female emcee revealed to fans that her next studio album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, will be released on Valentine’s Day 2012. (You see what she did there? Keeping it pink for V-Day!) To keep her Barbz, Kenz and Ken-Barbz satisfied until the record drops, the pink-haired rap princess has just unveiled a brand-new teaser track, “Roman In Moscow.”
Taking the break from the sugary-sweet pop goodness of songs such as “Right Thru Me,” “Moment 4 Life” and “Super Bass,” the 2-and-a-half minute foul-mouthed free-for-all is as delightfully raw ‘n’ rowdy as the genius found on her first two mixtapes, Sucka Free and Beam Me Up Scotty. “I told you b****es last year, I’m a rap b**** nightmare!” she announces off the top of the no-holds-barred verse.
Add in the nearly unintelligible dialects, insane voices and trademark ridiculous lines (“These b****es should be worshippin’ me in the synagogue!”), and you’ve got one healthy helping of a Minaj gone mental — in all the right ways, of course. Now let’s hope it stays that way. L’chaim, Minaj! + LISTEN TO NICKI MINAJ’S “ROMAN IN MOSCOW”
4.) Robin Thicke featuring Lil Wayne, “Pretty Lil’ Heart”
Oh, Robin Thicke. Every time that sweet, smooth crooning slice of man sings, I feel like he’s whispering straight to me while pouring some champagne, lighting a fire in the fireplace, rolling out the bearskin rug, grabbing the massage oils and — wait, what? OH. Sorry. What was I talking about?
Right: This week, the seductive L.A.-bred singer unleashed his fifth studio album, Love After War, featuring his signature brand of breathy come-ons and swoon-y coos.
“Pretty Lil’ Heart,” his latest single off of the collection, finds the singer teaming up with partner in crime, Lil Wayne. “This is for the lovers and the sexy mother, mothers,” the zany rapper warbles off the top of the track. Add in some brass sections and the singer’s soulful croons and you’ve got yet another signature seduction track, Thicke style. + LISTEN TO ROBIN THICKE FEATURING LIL WAYNE, “PRETTY LIL’ HEART”
5.) Girls Aloud, “Graffiti My Soul”
Girls Aloud: It’s not a girl group, it’s a lifestyle. Last Thursday marked the ninth birthday of the unstoppable girl group quintet, which formed during the 2002 U.K. reality series, “Popstars: The Rivals.” Five studio albums, 20 top 10 singles and several sold-out tours later, and The Aloud rapidly became one of the U.K.’s most successful girl group acts since the Spice Girls.
While the girls have since gone on a brief hiatus beginning in late 2009 (don’t worry, they
promised they’d be back for a reunion in 2012!), the members have gone on to have their own successes, including solo records by Cheryl Cole, Nadine Coyle and ginge-pop princess, Nicola Roberts.
To celebrate the genesis of this free-of-flaw group, I’ve selected one of their finest album tracks (which most definitely should have been a single): “Graffiti My Soul.” Originally demoed by the one and only Britney Spears (!), the fast-stuttering, high-octane explosion of gritty electro-pop was featured on the girls’ 2004 sophomore record, What Will The Neighbours Say? “Spike heels and skintight jeans, I got a fist full of love that’s coming your way, baby,” the girls announce above the song’s opening guitar lick.
“Graffiti My Soul” is the perfect representation of the girls’ feisty energy and stiletto sass appeal, which quickly allowed the girls to become one of the U.K.’s most beloved acts of the past decade. Viva La Almighty Aloud! + LISTEN TO GIRLS ALOUD’S “GRAFFITI MY SOUL”
Bradley Stern is a writer from Connecticut. In his spare time, he enjoys organizing his Britney Spears CD collection in reverse chronological order and plotting the various ways in which he will bring down Katy Perry to become Rihanna’s best friend. But most of all, he spends his time tweeting and musing daily about pop music on his blog, MuuMuse.