Long Weekend Jukebox: Ryan Star, Tyler Hilton, Cassie, Charly Mae, Will Young, Colin Munroe, Marcus Collins, Tooji

A few of my favourite performers return with new songs, plus of course the requisite bunch of talented newcomers ūüôā

Ryan Star “Stay Awhile”

With crowd-pleasing honesty and passion in his songs and performing, Ryan Star has been keeping mighty busy since the August 2010 release of his last album 11:59 (for which you may recall I attended the CD launch show in New York City). ¬†He’s in the process of recording a new album and released a free download called The America EP which dropped last month (including a cover of Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down”). ¬†“Stay Awhile” however is the first single from his upcoming album and has all the makings of a classic rock ballad, full of warm, understanding lyrics and Ryan’s big, versatile voice. ¬†I don’t say it very often, but I’m predicting great things for “Stay Awhile”. ¬† Ryan Star is currently on tour in the USA with Andy Grammer.

Tyler Hilton “Prince Of Nothing Charming”

After kicking off the year with a big rockin’ bang with the free download of “Loaded Gun”, Tyler precedes his upcoming album Forget The Storm with “Prince of Nothing Charming”, a song that has the witty lyrical wordplay and simple kind of melody that attracted many people to his music in the first place back in 2004/05 with songs like “The Letter Song” or “When It Comes” from The Tracks Of Tyler Hilton album. ¬†This is a great song to tie into the final season of One Tree Hill, where Tyler plays Chris Keller. ¬†Now that Tyler’s signed to Matt Serletic’s Emblem Records (home to Rob Thomas and Matchbox Twenty), it looks like the increasingly common music business hassles that have prevented release of the new album will benefit Forget The Storm in hindsight if the songs are this good. ¬†Get “Prince of Nothing Charming” on iTunes.

Cassie “King Of Hearts”

Another singer who has had many delays with the release of her next album, Cassie Ventura tantalized us back in Fall ’06 with the Ryan Leslie produced pop/R&B ballad “Me & U”, which was positively everywhere for the next six months, getting to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. ¬†And then the bottom kind of fell out with rumours abounding that she had been dropped by P. Diddy from his Bad Boy label. ¬†Apparently not so (distribution switched from Atlantic to Interscope for her), as a few singles did surface in ’09 but failed to click. ¬†So almost six years later and Cassie returns with “King Of Hearts” – which is decidedly unlike her first records. ¬†In fact this is pretty pure dance pop that fits snugly next to Kylie Minogue or Britney Spears songs. ¬†And as with “Me & U”, the production and music is much bigger than her voice, which is not a bad thing at all. ¬†This one’s a tidy surprise and may take a while to catch on, so let’s see if club DJ’s jump on it first.

Charly Mae “For Ya Queen”

Picture yourself as a judge on “The Voice” doing blind auditions. ¬†You hear this big soulful voice, with decided shades of Rihanna and Beyonce with more than a dash of Christina Aguilera. ¬†You turn around and find yourself faced with a 20 year old blonde Brit dressed in trademark pink (as you will see in the acoustic video version below) – that would be Charly Mae Tuffen, whose debut single “For Ya Queen” is nothing short of instantly memorable. ¬†The song goes for the vocal punch, which will grab younger fans that like the style who might be into Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez, while attracting older fans looking for something fun and not so sophisticated. ¬†But there’s more than meets the ear on this one song for Charly Mae – she’s one to listen for in 2012.

Will Young “Losing Myself”

I feel like I somehow missed out on last year’s campaign around Echoes, which resulted in huge UK success for Will Young and appearances on many bloggers’ best lists for 2011. ¬†I like the album but I suppose its songs didn’t stick with me enough, unlike limited freebie single “The Way I See” which somehow did. ¬†At any rate, Echoes does not appear to be out of steam yet, witness the stylish and watchable video for “Losing Myself” which is a good way to bring people like me back around to appreciate the fine song that it is.

Colin Munroe featuring Pusha-T “The Fight Of My Life”

Like with records by Tyler Hilton and Cassie, Torontonian Colin Munroe got swept into a major record label shenanigans which prevented him from releasing his own new music since 2008’s seminal and diverse mixtape Colin Munroe Is The Unsung Hero – you’ll recall “Will I Stay”, featuring Dallas Austin and Wale. ¬†That didn’t stop him from writing for the likes of Sky Ferreira and working with Drake, Travie McCoy, and Donnis in the interim or by releasing another free download EP called The Revox Suite, which is most known for grabbing Nicki Minaj’s rap out of Kanye West’s “Monster” (shortly after it went viral before the official release of Kanye’s last album) and pairing it up with La Roux’s “Bulletproof”. ¬†He’s back with an emotionally powerful song called “The Fight Of My Life”, which is edgy pop/soul complimented by Pusha-T’s nicely contained rap. ¬†“The Fight Of My Life” is a sign of great things to come – can’t wait to hear what’s next from Colin. ¬†You can get it from his official website for free with an email subscription.

Marcus Collins “Seven Nation Army”

The rest of the world has to catch up with Marcus Collins, but UK audiences know him as the runner up to their X Factor competition winners Little Mix last year. ¬†With tutelage from Take That’s Gary Barlow, Marcus grabbed a deal with RCA Records which will see his self-titled debut album released in March. ¬†It’s preceded with an interesting choice for a first single, a soulful take on The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army”. ¬†Marcus makes it his own though, replacing the military thump of the original with a slinky groove, which is played out further by the handful ūüėČ in its colourful video. ¬†Think of him as the UK male version of Janelle Monae – wonder what they’d sound like in a duet?

Tooji “Stay”

Although for me there doesn’t seem to be a song to root for in the lead up to Eurovision this year as with Eric Saade’s “Popular” last year, the backstory behind Norway’s official entry is so fitting. ¬†Tooji Keshtkar was a refugee from Iran who ended up in Norway at age one, eventually becoming a model and MTV presenter, but with always a desire to be involved with the UN to assist children refugees. ¬†But this young man has undeniable talent and stage presence, witness this starmaking performance of “Stay”. ¬†I’m not sure if the song itself has the oomph to capture the Eurovision judges but it’s going to open international doors for Tooji.

Published in: on February 20, 2012 at 12:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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