It’s another week of girl power! (Shocking, I know.) Today’s roundup features two of 2012′s most buzzed-about songstresses, one of the coolest girl group-gone-solo pop princesses in the building, and a living legend (you can look, but don’t touch!) Let’s go!
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1.) Lana Del Rey, “National Anthem”
Lana Del Rey‘s been sending shockwaves through the blogosphere (and beyond) for months as the mysterious doe-eyed beauty behind such hulking, gargantuan ballads as “Video Games” and “Born To Die.” But now, the self-described gangsta Nancy Sinatra has returned with something a little bit more, well… upbeat.
“National Anthem” is the latest leak from Del Rey’s forthcoming Interscope debut Born To Die, which finds the crooner getting slightly cocky above a tripping hip-hop beat and even… rapping? “He loves to romance ‘em/Reckless abandon/Hold me for ransom/Upper echelon,” Del Rey speak-sings with a kind of breathy intrigue.
“Red, white, blues in the sky/Summer’s in the air and baby, heaven’s in your eyes,” the ever calm and confident Del Rey later dreamily croons above a distorted guitar and cinematic strings. The result? Something like what I imagine a board meeting between Nancy Sinatra, Nico and Jay-Z would sound like. It’s insanely replayable, a little mournful and certainly anthemic. I’m obsessed. In fact, it’s so good, I wouldn’t mind scrapping that old American standard we sing before baseball games in favor of this new “National Anthem.” What do you say, Obama? + LISTEN TO LANA DEL REY, “NATIONAL ANTHEM”
2.) Nicola Roberts, “Memory Of You”
Across the pond, in a faraway land called Londontown, there exists (or existed, if we’re being technical) an unbelievably amazing electro-pop girl troupe known as Girls Aloud (or, as soon to be scribed in history books, the Almighty Aloud).
Now on hiatus since 2009 (pop music remains forever flawed until their reformation), some of the Aloud members have been busying themselves with solo careers, including Cheryl Cole, Nadine Coyle and Queen Nicola Roberts.
The ginger pop princess’ solo work has already been featured several times on my Top 5 Must-Hear Songs column, including her brand-new single “Yo-Yo,” which is out this week in the U.K. But along with the release of “Yo-Yo,” Roberts also unleashed a solo version of “Memory of You,” a Girls Aloud B-side and massive fan favorite.
Armed with a chilly disco under-current serving pure Pet Shop Boys realness, an inescapably catchy melody of a chorus, and lyrics that straddle the line between genius and utter insanity — “Wondering if sheep count us when they can’t sleep at night” — the Xenomania-produced track takes on new life under Roberts’ icy disco delivery. The result? Still one of the best, most underrated pop tracks of the 21st century. + LISTEN TO NICOLA ROBERTS, “MEMORY OF YOU”
+ Listen to more Must-Hear Pop Songs Of The Week after the jump!
3.) Britney Spears, “Look Who’s Talking Now”
Even though her record label confirmed that Brit Brit‘s taking a little break in 2012 to spend some time away with friends and family, that doesn’t mean that the pop princess isn’t keeping us entertained in Spearit.
Three years ago, K-Pop sensation BoA came Stateside to release her English language self-titled pop debut, including a bouncy little Bloodshy & Avant-produced track, “Look Who’s Talking Now,” which is one of the songs that had fans buzzing most. Why? A little co-writing credit by the one and only Miss Britney Spears.
Cut to almost three years later, and voilà! The original demo by Miss Spears has made its way to the web. Written around the time of her fourth studio album In The Zone, “Look Who’s Talking Now” sees Queen B in full girlish emancipation mode: “Fast cars and bubble baths/High heels stepping on the gas/Yeah, they’re looking at me,” Spears taunts on the bouncy, bubbly pop number. And don’t forget that extra sass: “Controversy is all they want,” she purrs later on. Oh my God, that Britney’s shameless! + LISTEN TO BRITNEY SPEARS, “LOOK WHO’S TALKING NOW”
4.) Emeli Sandé, “Next To Me”
Scottish singer-songwriter Emeli Sandé is one of the U.K.’s most hotly tipped artists of 2012, having already served up two phenomenal singles in 2011: “Heaven” (which shot straight to No. 2 in the U.K.) and “Daddy (feat. Nasty Boy).”
For her third go-around before the release of her debut album in February, Our Version Of Events, the soulful chanteuse invokes a bit of swinging Motown flavor to celebrate her faithful man: “You won’t ever find him being unfaithful, you will find him/You will find him next to me,” Sande confidently croons on the spirited track, bringing other English neo-soul singers like Adele or Amy Winehouse to mind.
Equipped with crashing drums, powerful brassy horn blasts and an instantly catchy, feel-good chorus (“Next to me, hoo-hoo!”), “Next To Me” seems nearly destined to be Sandé’s next great smash — and perhaps even strong enough to head Stateside before she debuts in America later this year. + LISTEN TO EMELI SANDE, “NEXT TO ME”
5.) Neon Hitch, “F*** U Betta”
No one likes to see your ex-man getting snatched up by someone else, especially someone who isn’t a total dog. (Amirite, ladies?!) Luckily, fiery-haired gypsy pop-princess Neon Hitch knows that even if she’s just been replaced by some goddess, she’s still got one advantage: Her… prowess.
After the release of her springtime Sia-penned break up jam “Get Over U” and her explosive summertime naughty boy power-pop anthem “Bad Dog,” Hitch returns with a no-holds-barred anthem dedicated to sticking it to her ex — with a little bit of sex.
“She’s prettier than I’ll ever be/Yeah, you got yourself a beauty queen/But there’s just one thing I gotta say: She can love you good, but I can f*** you betta!” Hitch yelps before launching into a wild, wicked explosion of Benny Blanco-produced club-pop beats. The result is a whole lot of foul-mouthed fun (isn’t that the best part?) that’s so immediately, aggressively danceable and heart-racing, you’ll probably forget all about what’s-his-face in seconds. + LISTEN TO NEON HITCH, “F*** U BETTA”
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.