Canadian singer/producer Cugini marries a unique blend of EDM and Hip Hop along with pop/rock in his songs, though on his Facebook page he calls it S.P.E.C.H (Sexy Punk Electro Contemporary HipHop). This came across impressively and confidently in concert when he opened for Mike Tompkins on August 10 in Toronto. Though other songs skew a more dance club friendly pop-oriented sound, Cugini (aka Adam Bertucci, along with vocalist Paul-luca “Pauly” Canzio) delivers a slamming, deep and dirty style on his second single “Activity”, which draws happily from the likes of Skrillex and Eminem as it does from post-grunge rock, and a comparison to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis is not unworthy. Watch for an EP sometime this Fall from Cugini.
JAMIE SCOTT, “Unbreakable”
UK singer/songwriter/producer Jamie Scott is hardly a newcomer to the biz, but suddenly he’s a very hot commodity! His own first releases go back to 2004, he is one half of the duo Graffiti6 (whose own “Free” got to #5 on my personal chart last year), and is a prolific songwriter – Enrique Iglesias’ “Heartbeat”, Matt Cardle & Melanie C’s “Loving You”, 5 Seconds of Summer’s “Over and Over”, The Vamps’ “Wild Heart”, plus new ones by Christina Perri, Colbie Caillat, and Ella Henderson… and of course One Direction’s “The Story Of My Life”, “You & I”, and “Midnight Memories” – are all his co-writes!! This has all led to a solo record deal which will see his album My Hurricane released in October. Ahead of this we’ve had the premiere of the title song but best of all is the warm and affecting ballad “Unbreakable” which shows off his terrific songwriting skills as well as a sound completely unlike Graffiti6. It will take a few listens, but “Unbreakable” will get under your skin, and should establish a long solo career for Jamie Scott.
There’s a whole lot of movement this week on the chart, with one debut… but that only means more new songs will arrive in two weeks! Lots of ‘bubbling under’ happening.
The Top 10
- Sam Smith gets his second #1 after “Money On My Mind” with his pairing with Disclosure on “Latch”. It’s a song that works well as a dance floor killer as well as an acoustic ballad. Cannot get enough of my young last-namesake. His concert in Toronto was an utter delight and I would go back anytime to see a Sam Smith show.
- Look who’s closing in on #1 again… Martin Garrix! His free download “Proxy” (#2) is one of the best songs I’ve heard by him, so get it while it’s free. I’ve already written about other potential Garrix hits “Helicopter” and most recently “Tremor” (with Belgian bros Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike). Watch for more chart entries soon 😛
- “Electric Valentine” by Adam Tyler, also a free download, inches up to #4 and matches the peak of “Friction” from 2010 (has it been that long??) as Adam’s highest charting entry. I’m not sure if “Electric Valentine” will be available on the upcoming Shattered Ice (deluxe edition) album. So give it a listen and get it for free. But Adam’s already posted a new collaboration with Australian producer Paul Hetherington, “Only One”, which has a different but danceable flavour for Adam, and a reloaded remix of “Taking Back My Love” courtesy of “Electric Valentine” producer Sky Felix. Hear them all below!
- Nick Hagelin made his City Lights (EP) for free download last week, and you might want to check out my blog post about it if you already hadn’t! In the meantime, “Finest Clothes In Town” is cooking at #5.
- No shortages of Sam Smith songs on this chart! “Stay With Me” advances to #6 – top of the chart isn’t out of the question sometime soon!
- “Love Space” by Convulsic is such a unique song for the dubstep sub-genre. It climbs to #7.
- The fastest riser on the chart is by Rixton, who in the past week gave a supurb performance on “The Voice”, which won them another performance and fan in Ellen DeGeneres for her show. The distinct “Me And My Broken Heart” soars 17-9.
- The third new song to the Top 10 is by Steve Grand, whose All American Boy album looks to be released now in June instead of May, which means just in time for his tour around North America! The pensive “Back To California” is #10.
7 (Moving) Up!
- Wrathschild (Simon Curtis and Wolfy) are already shooting their next video! While that’s all happening, “Fall Into Love” closes in on the Top 10 at #11!
- I wrote about FrankMusik’s exceptional By Nicole album yesterday, and you can read it here if you missed it. “Dear Nicole” continues to climb at #13. After listening to his album, “Go” continues to be stuck in my head 🙂
- Still more Sam Smith… the heart-wrenching “Not In That Way” moves up 7 to #15!
- Aussies 5 Seconds Of Summer have done a great job in conquering North America so far. “She Looks So Perfect” should be a bigger hit come summertime and it’s now at #16 on my chart.
- Also with a 7 point jump is the taut and inviting “The Day You Left”, the second appearance by Convulsic on the chart, at #17.
- “Back Home” by Andy Grammer looks to be a contender for an end-of-school song this year. It moves up to #22.
- Be sure to catch a set by Kendal Thompson when she plays shows in the Toronto area. Her free download single “Be Mine” advances to #25.
The Lone Debut
- Joining hot song companions by Martin Garrix, Showtek/Justin Prime/Matthew Koma, and Convulsic are Canadian lads DVBBS who have paired up with MOTi for the cinematic and majestic sounding rave up “This Is Dirty”, available on Beatport. It bows at #23. Read my post about it here.
The Full Chart
Listen to the songs or watch the videos using the links on the pictures on the pretty and detailed web edition of my chart.
02 01 LATCH Disclosure featuring Sam Smith
03 02 PROXY Martin Garrix
01 03 CANNONBALL (EARTHQUAKE) Showtek & Justin Prime featuring Matthew Koma
05 04 ELECTRIC VALENTINE Adam Tyler
06 05 FINEST CLOTHES IN TOWN Nick Hagelin
11 06 STAY WITH ME Sam Smith
09 07 LOVE SPACE Convulsic
04 08 FIND YOU Zedd featuring Matthew Koma & Miriam Bryant
17 09 ME AND MY BROKEN HEART Rixton
13 10 BACK TO CALIFORNIA Steve Grand
15 11 FALL INTO LOVE Wrathschild
14 12 I WISH WE WERE LEAVING Bright Light Bright Light & Elton John
18 13 DEAR NICOLE Frankmusik
08 14 MONEY ON MY MIND Sam Smith
22 15 NOT IN THAT WAY Sam Smith
21 16 SHE LOOKS SO PERFECT 5 Seconds Of Summer
24 17 THE DAY YOU LEFT Convulsic
19 18 HORNY Lonnie Gordon
07 19 LOVE ME AGAIN John Newman
10 20 ADDICTED TO YOU Avicii featuring Audra Mae
12 21 DRINK Semi-Precious Weapons
28 22 BACK HOME Andy Grammer
New 23 THIS IS DIRTY DVBBS & MOTi
16 24 READY FOR YOU NOW Sean O’Reilly
29 25 BE MINE Kendal Thompson
20 26 DARE YOU Hardwell featuring Matthew Koma
23 27 TALK DIRTY Jason Derulo featuring 2 Chainz
25 28 F FOR YOU Disclosure featuring Mary J. Blige
26 29 TAKE COVER Neverest
27 30 COLLIDE Jake Miller
FRANKMUSIK, By Nicole
The last few FrankMusik releases have not been easy listens, which in some ways adds up to making them full of some of the best music he’s made to date.
Complex with layers of music and melody, By Nicole is the aftermath of a short relationship which quickly took a downward spiral, though nothing like the subject of Vincent Frank’s last album Between, but still enough to fuel a full album’s worth of intriguing songs. Some of the songs within are simply difficult to immerse yourself in (“Misdemeanor”, “Fire”, and “Stabilizher”), but others pull you in even not if at first listen.
“Go” is one that will get stuck in your head both as a singalong and lyrics that are easily relateable. “Crash and Burn” (listen below) has Vince in a duet with Natasha Bedingfield that scores, though I wouldn’t pick it as a single. That would probably go to “Uh Oh”, which captures the instant when you know a relationship is not going where you thought it was. “Call To Arms” is the strongest and most ferocious song vocally on the record, and “Fled”, which immediately follows, is a close second. We’ve already had another vocal tour-de-force. “Dear Nicole”, as a single, as well as the jaunty postscript “These Streets”, and the reflective “Ephermeral Summer”. A major bonus on By Nicole is having real instruments instead of it all being programmed. The ensemble that Vince has created is tightly supportive of his music with the fine arrangements.
I probably still enjoy Between and Do It In The A.M. more, but I think By Nicole will be a real grower over time and recognized as once of FrankMusik’s best records.
JAMES POOLE, “Dirty Diana”
I don’t usually get caught up in following viral videos by many singers, but for those that I do, and they are few, it’s a great investment in watching the talent develop.
James Poole will be a big star one day. While I’m still wrapped up in his covers of “Titanium” and “Glad You Came” particularly, it is incredibly brave and bold to cover Michael Jackson’s “Dirty Diana”, which happens to be one of my favourites by MJ. For one thing, the song is so goddamn hard to sing!!! It is about something very specific, and if you don’t tap into that, then you might has well be singing just any old song.
James’ version isn’t 100% successful. To me (and I’m not a singer), the beginning is a bit rough, and has to get past the minute mark. BUT by the second minute mark, he is totally nailing it and incorporating his own style too. So don’t get me wrong, James’ cover of “Dirty Diana” is excellent or I would not be writing about it. My reference point for a cover/interpretation of the song though is The Weeknd’s version called “D.D.”.
Bravo James for having the confidence to cover this classic and for keeping it compelling because the last half of the song is brilliant. Keep up to date with James’ videos on his You Tube page.
SIRPAUL, “Black Leather”
As you previously read in these blog post pages, SIRPAUL’s Seventh Star album is an enjoyable hybrid of accessible pop/dance songs and other darker but playful ones that show both sides of what the talented ‘disco ambassador of love and lust’ has to offer. Shot in Amsterdam by the House of XY, “Black Leather” gets as down and dirty as much as a pop video could do and tests any voyeuristic limits you might have if you are not into the sex ‘n leather scene. It’s a great alternate showcase for SIRPAUL as we’ve seen him waiting for his love in the video for the album’s triumph, “Every Single Moment” (which got to #4 on my personal chart). “Black Leather” is still one of my club banging favourites from his album and when I saw the previews of what was coming I knew that it would be with as few holds barred as possible. It’s almost like a very old school kind of soft porn movie fantasy, and if that is your thing then you will enjoy the video. Take a look – or DON’T, it’s your choice. Kudos to SIRPAUL and his team for testing our limits.
ZORRO BLAKK, The Fairy Tale Of Zorro Blakk
The Fairy Tale of Zorro Blakk is about as enjoyably unconventional as a dance/pop album might be. As I posted about his duet with Lulu Bell on the just lovely “Fireworks” a while back (and it’s included in the album), the good Zorro (aka songwriter Daniel Volpe) has crazy way with melody, and he pulls out all stops in various ways, with some addictive ear candy in the mix. Why do I want to write about Jeff Lynne/ELO-like melodic comparisons? 😉
So we are offered ballads like “Fireworks” and “So Beautiful”; emotional, empathetic dance pop like “The Red BMX” and “I Am The Night”; and full throttle dance blasts, which to me are the showcase pieces of the album, namely the opener “Big City Girls (Don’t Fall In Love With Small Town Boys)” (which needs both Matt Stormby and Ricardo Autobahn remixes, pretty please 😀 ) , and the fine collaboration with Deniz Olivieri on the singalong “Good News (For People Who Love Bad News)” (and a rollicking trance-y Tim Tim remix bound to tease and please club-goers and DJ’s).
Zorro has a slight but fine-sounding boy-next-door kind of voice, and I sure prefer it without the effects… the only song truly out of place here is “Red & Gold” which sounds like it was meant for another record. Otherwise The Fairy Tale of Zorro Blakk is beautifully and carefully produced and a great start to the career of Daniel’s alter ego. Buy it on iTunes and listen below to the premiere of “Good News (For People Who Love Bad News)” on Larry Flick’s Sirius-FM show The Morning Jolt, featuring the one and only My Fizzy Pop (Paul Reynolds) himself.
NICK HAGELIN, City Lights (EP)
I’m so very happy to report that Atlanta-based singer/songwriter Nick Hagelin’s 9 song EP City Lights has arrived at last, his first since 2011’s Take Off EP. It’s available on his website for free download. Thanks to Nick, I’ve been predisposed to its fine songs for the last little while. Nick’s sound now veers more away from mainstream pop on a lot of the songs on City Lights, though the delightfully contagious “Trust It” and the breezy “First Move” are certainly more pure pop songs than the rest. There’s a lot of focus on more R&B-oriented pop, which is obviously Nick’s love and forté.
The initial single (currently available for free download) is the offbeat and addictive “Finest Clothes In Town” (currently #6 on my personal chart). It’s a playful, flirty number which revolves around a vocal sample that sounds a lot like Ray Charles or someone similar of the 50’s Blues/R&B school, and is most deserving of attention. You first heard the ballad “Ex Games” when I posted about it over 2 years ago, and it became the 2nd most read post on this blog site. The song is great storytelling with spoken word interludes which give it a 70’s feel. Also harkening back to the 70’s, but specifically to what sounds like Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” period, you will enjoy “Is This Thing On”, highlighting Nick’s softer vocal at its best.
All of the songs are well-rounded and obviously built by a skilled team. But what’s most important here is the performance, because without it being as strong as it is, they wouldn’t sound this good. Nick is as diverse and honest-sounding a performer as the best of them – you’ll reference Justin Timberlake and Usher for sure. His pop songs will certainly charm you, but you will definitely dig the new school R&B with selective old school influences. Don’t miss out on City Lights! I’ve been saying it for the last several years in these pages – Nick Hagelin is going places.
If you’re in Atlanta on Friday, May 2, check out Nick Hagelin at his City Lights release party at Suite Lounge on Luckie Street.
TRISTAN THOMPSON, “Tidal Wave”
I must admit I was just a tad in awe of Tristan Thompson’s soulful and natural voice when my fabulous friend James alerted me to him. Knowing me for over 30 years, James generally sends a lot music my way that I will love 🙂 Tristan is obviously heavily influenced by Michael Jackson and with a gazillion influences permeating “Tidal Wave” that will have you recall Daryl Hall, 98 Degrees, Backstreet Boys, Usher, Jesse McCartney, and many more, the song is so polished and does everything right that it seems surreal. Even more fascinating is that Tristan is only 15, hailing from the Victoria, British Columbia area! His album Here For You was released last week on Chatter Records and you can get it on iTunes. This is an amazing start and you owe it to yourself to listen. So….
Click right here to go to Tristan’s player on his website where you can hear excerpts of “Tidal Wave” and other songs from Here For You.
DIMITRI VEGAS, MARTIN GARRIX & LIKE MIKE, “Tremor”
It had been previewed for quite a while, but “Tremor” finally dropped at last. It’s a wild pairing of the talented young Dutchman about whom I’ve written much lately, with the Belgium-based brothers who have been well established for DJ work and remixes over the last six years. “Tremor” is the perfect companion to (my #1 song on my personal chart) “Cannonball (Earthquake)” by Showtek, Justin Prime & Matthew Koma. It’s a wild ride sending you up and over and around and back again, from sparkling quiet moments, to those massive ones that you want to feel in your bones. And get a load of those crowd scenes in the official video below. Three of a perfect pair (who recently played the Ultra Music festival), for sure – get “Tremor” on Beatport.