After the excitement of SXSW and the 2012 mtvU Woodie Awards last week, we’re settling back into the pop swing of things. This week sees two of music’s most legendary divas coming back in tip-top shape, a former “Idol” contestant making a breakaway into the club scene (no, not Kelly), some frothy club-pop fun by a rising starlet and a gorgeous comeback by one of my favorite bands.
1.) Katharine McPhee, “Touch Me”
While Season 5 “American Idol” runner-up Katharine McPhee has been going theater in her role as a Broadway hopeful on NBC’s “Smash,” the singer’s been prepping an utterly explosive dance-floor banger behind the scenes of her hit show. “Touch Me,” penned by Ryan Tedder (Leona Lewis, Kelly Clarkson) and the always-reliable Bonnie McKee (she of Britney’s “Hold It Against Me,” Katy’s “Teenage Dream” and everything else that is objectively free of all flaws), is a searing uptempo club-pop cut that finds McPhee crooning atop a dark electronic pulse.
“Touch me/ I wanna feel it on my body, put your hands on me,” the songstress demands. Cue a countdown (3, 2, 1!) and a deliciously sexy bridge, and you’ve got yourself a certified smash (see what I did there?) — and arguably her greatest track to date. If “Touch Me” is anything like what we’ll be hearing from McPhee on her follow-up to her 2010 sophomore record Unbroken, we’ve got a new pop vixen (with a preapproved set of pipes) ready to rule the airwaves.
Listen to more Must-Hear Pop Songs Of The Week after the jump!
2.) Gossip, “Perfect World”
Three years after their astounding studio album Music for Men, soulful punk rock trio Gossip have just returned with “Perfect World,” the lead cut from their forthcoming LP, A Joyful Noise. The song was co-crafted by U.K. producer Brian Higgins of Xenomania, the powerhouse pop troupe behind Girls Aloud, Kylie, Annie and countless other pop smashes. Accordingly, the track takes on elements of Higgins’ work — slick synthesizers, polished pop production — it’s still got that signature electrifying Gossip live element but glossed over with a slick, Xenomania pop sheen. “Relax, it’s only dreaming fast!” frontwoman Beth Ditto yelps. Gossip gone Girls Aloud? Yeah, um, “Perfect World” is an accurate way of describing this collaboration, I’d say.
3.) Madonna, “I F***** Up”
The language, Madge. The language! I swear, the woman’s gone wild… Madonna finds herself getting introspective on the brand-new weekend “leak” from the Queen of Pop’s upcoming 12th studio album, MDNA. (One more week to go!) “I could have just kept my big mouth closed/ I could have just done what I was told,” she humbly laments above the slowly tripping ambient beat, produced by Martin Solveig.
Later on, she shuffles through a dozen or more coulda-woulda-shoulda moments with her ex (“We could have toured the world in a private jet/ Run naked on the beach all soaking wet”). I mean… a private jet world tour? Really? I’m thinking he’s the one that messed up, Madge.
While it’s fun to hear the Queen getting wild on her latest single, “Girl Gone Wild,” it’s good to know that she’s also digging deep Ray of Light/Music style as well on the upcoming record. Oh, and even if the title offends your delicate sensibility, don’t worry: I’ve never heard the phrase “I f***** up” sound so… delicate and charming? Only Madonna!
4.) Toni Braxton, “I Heart You”
Katharine McPhee’s not the only one doubling as both a TV personality and a club queen: While Toni Braxton and her sisters are busy squabbling on their reality series “Braxton Family Values,” the legendary deep-voiced diva has been hitting the studio to work on the follow-up to her completely underrated 2009 release, Pulse. Her latest? “I Heart You,” a charmingly earnest club cut devoted to the best subject for breaking a sweat on the floor: Unrequited love!
“I love you, but you love her/ Drive me crazy/ What am I gonna do?” Braxton laments. But all’s not lost — just when you think she’s about to dive into a stirring rendition of “Un-Break My Heart,” the beat drops: “I think I’m gonna dance,” she concludes, leading into a sizzling House beat breakdown and lots of punchy beats that’d keep any man off of her mind for a long, long time. Good for you! Get it, Toni!
5.) Kimberly Cole and Eddie Amador, “U Make Me Wanna (feat. Garza)”
Remember dance-pop chanteuse Kimberly Cole, she of “Smack You” fame? Well, the pop songstress has since toned down the violence a little bit since her fierce ‘n’ ferocious uptempo cut, but she’s still just as rowdy and naughty-minded as ever on her new collaboration with House DJ/producer Eddie Amador, “U Make Me Wanna.”
Although the song is a fun, bouncy club-pop ride, it’s all about that chorus: “You make me wanna ooh, aah, na na na, la la la… ayyyo!” Poetry? Perhaps not. (Or is it one of Poe’s lesser known works?) Nevertheless, it’s still just as endlessly infectious as any of Lady Gaga‘s nonsensical repeat-heavy choruses.
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 daily about pop music on his blog, MuuMuse.
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