Pop Weekend: Cody Belew, Blake Lewis, Mans Zelmerlow, Jerry Reid (featuring P.J. Soles!), and i come in PEZ

Edit:  Here’s a link where you can watch the video:  http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XNTIwNDQ0NTky.html

Cody Belew “Purple Rain”

Coming as a Top 10 contestant from TV’s “The Voice”, Arkansas native Cody Belew captured North America’s ears and hearts with his brave cover versions and his genuine personality.  At the time, I said that he was the show’s likeable underdog, and later named him one of my 13 Performers To Watch For ’13.  In advance of his album-in-progress comes another compelling cover, of none other than Prince’s “Purple Rain”.  You know the song as an aching pop/rock ballad about love and, especially sex, with its fierce, climactic guitar work.  Cody’s rendition of “Purple Rain” strips it all away, almost akin to what Sinéad O’Connor did for Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U”, a lesser known Prince song that became the #1 song of 1990.  Well almost all of it – Cody’s version is a minimal, similarly aching recording that pulls the heartbreak in the lyrics all the way up for the listener to confront.  And with the barren scene in the video, the blurry camera movement, the expressions of the singer, and the absent rock trappings, the emptiness is accompanied by a profound sadness.  Even if “Purple Rain” doesn’t end up on Cody’s album – I suspect it won’t, but it should – this video performance is extremely memorable.  It’s difficult not to be moved by this beautiful interpretation of heartbreak.  Keep your tissue box handy!

Blake Lewis, “Your Touch”

With his latest music, I am so glad that Washington-born American Idol season six contestant Blake Lewis has continued to build on the power of his EDM audience, which took the title track from his 2009 album Heartbreak On Vinyl to #1 on the Billboard Dance Club Play chart in April 2010.  That song also reached #4 on my chart and was in the Top 20 on my year end list of 2009.  Emotion is a powerful thing with the right arrangement, and though it’s laden in synths and effects, the result on “Your Touch” is a big sounding song that reaches out.  And this is probably what drew Microsoft in to use the song to promote Internet Explorer 10 in its commercials.  Though it perhaps takes a few listens to gel, “Your Touch” could crossover to pop radio with its exposure.  Blake’s third album, Portrait Of A Chameleon will be released by Republic Records and is due later this year.  While his last album was released almost four years ago, Blake Lewis has never been away and this new music should not be seen as a comeback but more as coming into its own.

Måns Zelmerlöw, “Broken Parts”

Spring 2013 brings us a new album by 26 year old Swedish sensation Måns Zelmerlow, who charmed us to pieces in 2009’s Melodifestivalen with a star-making performance of “Hope and Glory”, and hosted the show for its 2010 edition.  His subsequent sophomore album MZW was a diverse and warm pop album, and that summer I grew quite attached to the song “Rewind”, which peaked at #4 on my chart.  The new album is called Barcelona Sessions and looks towards a softer but more honed sound than in the past.  “Broken Parts” is a beauty in which the singer’s brilliant voice actually rises above the fragility of the lyrics.  I love a singer that transforms the lyrics and Måns has that power in his voice to do so.  Barcelona Sessions will be well worth the wait.


Jerry Reid featuring P.J. Soles, “Tell The Night”

Last we heard from Detroit-based singer Jerry Reid, he was jiving with reknown pianist Ben Waters in my favourite song from the delectable 2011 Ballroom Remixed collection called “Out Without Your Boyfriend”, which posted at #3 on my chart.  Since then, some interesting songs appeared and vanished from his website, and it’s taken a while but now we have the supurbly edgy and dubsteppy “Tell The Night” available for purchase on Amazon in advance of an upcoming album.  Jerry’s commanding vocal makes you a believer fast, and it’s augmented by screams from none other than 70’s movie star P.J. Soles, most noted in the rock music world as Riff Randall from “Rock ‘N Roll High School”, but also in roles in big movies such as “Private Benjamin”, “Stripes”, and “Carrie”.  You can hear an excerpt of it on Amazon right here and as soon as I know of a complete version online I will post it.

i come in PEZ, “You’re The One”

i come in PEZ is the recording name for a new Dutch EDM indie performer who not only knows how to make infectious dance music, but has his head and heart in the right places.  It’s really quite a simple record where less is more – there’s a forlorn feel that fuels your emotions, and then it comes forward with a huge, bouncy hook with production by Toby Traxx.  This could do very well in dance clubs that take chances on records like this.  “You’re The One” is available on iTunes and half of its proceeds go to the Dutch Amnesty International Pride Fund.  i come in PEZ also released his eponymous 7 song EP last week containing two versions of the song.

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