And for the most part this week, we’re crying! Well, not everyone — Cheryl Cole is dancing. But otherwise, everyone on the Top 5 is very mad, sad or both of these things. Also, more boys than girls are represented for the first time in maybe ever! What a strange and thrilling turn of events. Read on for the debut of an “X Factor” finalist, power-pop defiance from my favorite member of Danity Kane, and heartbreak, Swedish style.
1.) Cheryl Cole, “Call My Name”
It’s been a dark, lonely three years since Girls Aloud announced their hiatus back in late 2009. Rations are low. Morale is down. Life got cold. The only thing keeping us alive through the tough winter months — aside from the occasional tweet or two in between members — is when we’re blessed with another Aloud solo effort to pass the time.
Last week, Aloud chanteuse, former “X Factor U.K.” judge/funny-face maker and most beautiful woman in the world Cheryl (Cole, but we don’t say her last name anymore) released “Call My Name,” the lead single from her third solo album, A Million Lights. Produced by Calvin Harris, “Call My Name” is undoubtedly Cheryl’s most solid dance anthem yet: “How’d you think I feel when you call my name? You got me confused with the way I change,” she croons above the Ibiza-lite rave of a chorus. Basically, it’s her very own rendition of Rihanna‘s “We Found Love,” with some delicious ’90s house influence thrown in for good measure. So go on and say it out loud: Chezza’s back! Next stop? World domination. (And then a Girls Aloud reunion, yes? Sigh. A Boy Aloud can dream.)
Listen to more Must-Hear Pop Songs Of The Week after the jump!
2.) Sam Sparro, “I Wish I Never Met You”
Four years after his electro-pop debut in 2008 that brought us gems like “Black & Gold” and “21st Century Life,” soul-pop singer Sam Sparro returns in 2012 with a new look (macho mustache man!) and a more refined sound, largely inspired by ’70s and ’80s disco. “I Wish I Never Met You,” which was co-penned alongside Swedish super pop star Erik Hassle, sees Sparro bitterly regretting every single second spent with his former flame.
There are roughly a billion incredible moments throughout the song — from the light disco strut, to the soulful vocals, to the tear-strewn lyrics: “It’s been 16 hours and three long years/ Been trying to wipe these memories and dry these tears,” he croons during the chorus. The Prohibition-era clip for the song is a real gem, too: I won’t spoil the details, but know that there’s some fancy footwork involved (and a little bit of drugging).
Hooks for days, melodies for years, Sparro’s got a serious hold on our heartstrings with “I Wish” — undoubtedly one of the best songs of the year so far.
3.) Aiden Grimshaw, “Is This Love”
In the two years since Season 7 of “The X Factor U.K.,” we’ve watched as several of the finalists — including Cher Lloyd, Rebecca Ferguson and a little band called One Direction — suddenly skyrocketed into the pop stratosphere and burst into instant superstars nearly overnight. Now it’s time for one of the most intriguing finalists from the season to get his share of the spotlight: Aiden Grimshaw.
During his time on the show, Grimshaw made his mark as the unofficial dark horse of the competition, providing dark ‘n stormy covers, like his intense renditions of Shirley Bassey‘s “Diamonds Are Forever” and Sinead O’Connor‘s “Nothing Compares 2 U.” Two years of writing and recording later, he’s finally landed with “Is This Love,” the lead single from his long-awaited debut, Misty Eye.
Bringing to mind the folktronica of Ellie Goulding, the grime-pop of Katy B and a little frantic electro-pop energy of Frankmusik, the song finds Grimshaw struggling for a little air: “You better move over/ ‘Cause I can’t breathe,” he cries out above the pulverizing beats. It’s a stunning single and a solid way to kick off a campaign, even with the often-troubling stigma of a reality show attached to his name. So to answer your question: Yes, Aiden. It’s love, thoroughly.
4.) Aubrey O’Day, “Wrecking Ball”
Ladies and gentlemen: It’s a brand-new O’Day. One year after unleashing her dance-pop smash “Automatic,” Aubrey O’Day‘s at it once again with a completely different sound: “Wrecking Ball.” Co-penned by “American Idol” alum Pia Toscano, songwriter Steven Miller and former Evanescence member David Hodges, the track takes the former Danity Kane (RIP) chanteuse into pure power-pop ballad territory. Do, do you got a first aid kit handy? Good — ’cause you’re going to need it.
“Nothing you could ever do could make me stay/ ‘Cause I’ll just break down these walls like a wrecking ball,” O’Day valiantly declares, slaying haters with her delivery, surprising fellow longtime fans with her versatility, and rising above the former flames with her confident strength. Superwoman! If there was any doubt before, there isn’t now: It’s truly all about Aubrey.
5.) Erik Hassle, “Stay”
When he’s not busy writing songs of the year for other pop stars (see above!), Swedish songwriter Erik Hassle is busy crying his eyes out on his own deliriously good records, including his latest masterpiece: “Stay.” Originally written and performed by Malin Dahlström of The Dora Steins (and now of Niki & The Dove), the unbelievably devastating piano-and-strings ballad finds Hassle slowly weaving a mournful tale of a heartbreaking night out at a party. “When you love someone, you should not let it show,” Hassle sadly croons before launching into the simple, powerful chorus: “Come on… Stay with me!” Hassle begs on repeat.
By the time he begins yelping the chorus on repeat with all his might, don’t be shocked if you start to grow a little misty — if you’re not already curled up in a ball on the floor bawling, that is.
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 musing daily about pop music on his blog, MuuMuse.
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