We got another week of international explosion! Get ready for two comebacks from the land Down Under, two U.K. “X Factor” chanteuses rapidly on the rise and one very dreamy boy band about to (finally) explode Stateside. The global divide… it’s shrinking!
1.) Ladyhawke, “Black White & Blue”
It’s been a minute since we last heard from New Zealand native, Ladyhawke. After charming us with infectious ’80s-tinged New Wave confections such as “Paris Is Burning” and “My Delirium” back in 2008, the singer-songwriter returns in 2012, and this time around, she’s got more guitars.
“‘Cause this is real life, you can’t fight it,” the singer croons before the crashing chorus of “Black White & Blue,” the newly released lead single from her upcoming sophomore attempt, Anxiety.
Filled with searing guitars, spaced-out electronica and gritty production, it sounds like Ladyhawke’s gone a little more garage rock or riot grrrl than electro-pop for her newest outing. Is this newfound edge? Yep. I’m feeling it. + LISTEN TO LADYHAWKE’S “BLACK, WHITE & BLUE”
2.) Rebecca Ferguson, “Too Good To Lose”
The seventh season of U.K. “X Factor” produced an unusually solid amount of talent from winner Matt Cardle to bossy swag songstress Cher Lloyd to the newest tween sensation, One Direction. Yet one of the strongest debut efforts from the bunch came from the show’s notoriously soft-spoken crooner, Rebecca Ferguson.
“Too Good To Lose,” the upcoming second single off of her critically acclaimed debut album, Heaven, released back in December, is the latest proof that Ferguson might have made a more worthy winner of Season 7. Filled with a feel-good ’60s soul and an unexpectedly modern flair of warm electronica, the song successfully blends classic sound with new innovation, resulting in something fresh and entirely listenable: “Hear my prayer now,” she belts out. “Just say the word and I could be there now.”
Ferguson might have had trouble breaking through her timid persona onstage, but you’d never know it after one listen of this sleek, masterful production. It just goes to show: It really is the quiet ones that’ll surprise you. + LISTEN TO REBECCA FERGUSON’S “TOO GOOD TO LOSE”
+ Listen to more Must-Hear Pop Songs Of The Week after the jump!
3.) The Wanted, “Glad You Came”
U.K. boy band The Wanted are no strangers to my weekly Must-Hear wrap-ups. Given their latest moves on the Billboard Hot 100, it looks like they’re about to get comfy within the playlists of Top 40 radio too.
The handsome troupe is currently making their way across the United States to support their debut American single, “Glad You Came,” released at the end of 2011. Already a No. 1 hit in the U.K. last summer, the band’s explosive dance-pop stormer bursts with hook-heavy lyrics and a positively euphoric energy: “My universe will never be the same/I’m glad you came,” the boys lovingly croon before the track explodes into its Ibiza-lite, hands-in-the-air synthesizer dance break.
We already knew that the resurgence of the boy band is nigh, and judging by the trembling girls that lined the venue when I caught them in NYC at Irving Plaza last weekend and their debut U.S. TV performance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” two weeks ago, it seems America’s pretty glad they came too. + LISTEN TO THE WANTED’S “GLAD YOU CAME”
3.) Diana Vickers, “Boy In Paris”
Quirky U.K. “X Factor” darling Diana Vickers has been teasing out tracks from her widely anticipated follow-up to 2010′s Songs From The Tainted Cherry Tree for the past few weeks now, including the relentlessly infectious “Music To Make The Boys Cry.”
Just this morning, the raspy-voiced chanteuse released a brand-new extended album snippet: “Boy In Paris,” a stomping electro-pop sizzler cowritten by Scritti Politti member David Gamson. “Dancing in the dark with the boy I met in Paris,” she croons across the chorus, which vaguely pulses with a “Hold It Against Me” surge. Vickers told fans that the song has “a kind of early Eurythmics sound with all the dark synths,” and that it was a major representation of the new album’s sound.
If that’s truly the case Ms. Vickers, you might just have yourself one of the finest albums of 2012. + LISTEN TO DIANA VICKERS’ “BOY IN PARIS”
5.) Gabriella Cilmi, “Vicious Love”
Soulful Aussie songstress Gabriella Cilmi has done plenty of shape-shifting over the past few years. After debuting in 2008 with the wonderfully sing-songy “Sweet About Me,” she returned to the forefront in 2010 with Ten, an unexpected collection of disco-tinged space-pop tunes like “On A Mission” and “Hearts Don’t Lie.”
Now, it seems Cilmi’s coming back to Earth with a newly released buzz track called “Vicious Love.” Set against a gentle guitar strum, a hypnotizing piano melody and a lone tambourine, the nearly acoustic number finds the talented chanteuse relying solely on her rich vocal ability — a nod to the throwback ’60s sound of the U.K. neo-soul ushered in by the likes of Adele, Amy Winehouse and Duffy.
Recent interviews suggest that her turn as a disco diva two years ago wasn’t exactly her desired path artistically, so it’s nice to hear that Cilmi’s finally found her groove again. + LISTEN TO GABRIELLA CILMI’S “VICIOUS LOVE”
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.