ROZALLA, “Magnificent” (Matt Pop radio edit)
Although she’s never truly been away from the music scene, UK-based, Zambia born singer Rozalla continues with another smashing recent dance release called “Magnificent”. The singer has been matched with great songs in the five years since “If You Say It Again” found her back in the clubland limelight. “Magnificent” happens to be another storied and starry Charlie Mason-John Matthews collaboration, so all it takes is the always special execution of a Matt Pop radio edit and Rozalla’s tried-and-true voice to make it soar. Which means you’ll find that “Magnificent” in Club Rozallaland manages to live up luminously to its title. “Magnificent” also comes in a variety of intriguing edits and club mixes for your pleasure.
SONIA, “A Night That’s Never-Ending” (Matt Pop radio edit)
For the 5 years between 1989 and 1994, the voice of Sonia on UK radio was a fierce and unmistakable one, starting with the classic #1 “You’ll Never Stop Me From Loving You” when she was just a teen. Sonia acquired 10 more Top 40 UK hits, and to appease her many fans has released some new music over the past few years. “A Night That’s Never-Ending” is too good to resist, a classic slice of songwriting by Gordon Pagoda (known for his work with Steps) and Joe Faraci that is given even more buoyance and pizzazz in the hands of producer Matt Pop. Sonia’s voice soars gloriously and suddenly it’s 1989 again with 2020 bells and whistles, and it all does not disappoint. You can also check out the holiday edition of the song, appropriately called “A (Christmas) Night That’s Never-Ending”.
BEN DAVIDSON and SEAN SMITH, “Dirty Mirrors”
“Dirty Mirrors” positively sizzles with all kinds of energy and chemistry, courtesy of Scotland’s Ben Davidson and England’s Sean Smith, both of whom you’ve read about a number of times in this blog. It’s actually featured on Ben’s 2018 album No One Knows, but has graduated to its own EP release featuring remixes by Matt Pop and Tmac. It is in fact the Matt Pop edit (above) that to me takes the song to the next level with a euphoric tropical vibe that is so suited to the song, and it warrants being promoted to dance clubs. Both singers show off their versatile voices and how well they go together. In fact, you can check out the guys singing in live performance in the video below, with Ben ever the low key charmer while Sean works up the song with the audience.
JANE BADLER, “I Own The Sky” (Matt Pop remix)
“I Own The Sky”, in its original version, is a deliberately-paced theatrical piece written for Jane Badler by the dynamic trio of Charlie Mason, John Matthews, and Richard Hymus, some of whom also contributed to a similarly dramatic original called “Yesterday’s Tomorrows” back in 2012 when the renown American but Australia-based actress decided to take her side singing career to new pop levels. After some truly memorable pop records and videos (“Losing You” and the totally wacked out video for “Black Silk Stockings”, for example), Jane’s “I Own The Sky”, for Energise Records again like last year’s “Sunburn”, is refashioned by esteemed British producer Matt Pop into an engaging, celebratory dance pop anthem that is totally befitting the singer’s slightly wicked public persona. Jane even takes it to video (above) to put on display, just by herself, everything that is majestic and inspiring about the song. Need a lift and feel like you want to grab the world and shake it by its many heads when you feel things are wrong? Then “I Own The Sky” is especially for you!!
HAYWOODE, “Roses (2018)”
Sid Haywoode had steady popularity in the UK throughout the mid-80’s on the pop and dance charts, which had its apex with “Roses”. It became a #11 hit in a UK reissue in 1986, and could be frequently heard side-by-side hits of the day by Sheila E. and Jody Watley. Although she only released one album in the 80’s, Haywoode’s loyal fan base allowed her a return to the music scene at the top of this decade, and 2018 is the perfect time for a redo of “Roses” courtesy of Energise Records. And when you have invested producers like Matt Pop and Andy Sikorski on the scene to make it work, well you know that the results are going to be even better than expected. “Roses 2018”, particularly in its Matt Pop edit and extended versions, simply sparkles and highlights those important old school touches in a relationship that might be weathered by social media these days. Not being a hit outside of Europe in the 80’s, “Roses 2018” has the benefit of sounding slick and contemporary to blend without issue but more importantly to stand out on its own all over again.
LINDA MARTIN, “Up In A Puff Of Smoke” (Matt Pop Edit)
It’s hard to recapture the halcyon days of early disco pop hits, but Irish Eurovision ’92 winner Linda Martin (for the Irish #1 “Why Me”, also a chart hit in England and The Netherlands) brings her game to “Up In A Puff Of Smoke” for Energise Recordings. It’s hardly the kind of song you might think would see a revival. UK singer Polly Brown, from the band Pickettywitch, had the kind of hit that you don’t see anymore back in 1975. It won over U.S. and Canadian radio and disco fans – a Top 20 hit in both countries, and a Top 5 disco hit on Billboard’s chart – without becoming a UK Top 40 hit. Linda’s vocal sails through the song smoothly, thriving in a buoyant, spot-on mix by Matt Pop. “Up In A Puff Of Smoke”, giddy and fun anomaly that it may be, will definitely leave 70’s pop and disco fans wanting more! Add it to your pure fun Spotify playlist at the link above.
BRIGHT LIGHT BRIGHT LIGHT, “Run With Us”
SPRAY, “Run With Us” (Matt Pop remix)
In one of the stranger coincidences in 2017, “Run With Us”, the late 80’s theme song to a Canadian kids’ TV program – which ran from 1985 to 1992 and itself followed a series of full length animated features starting in 1980 – shows its enduring effects! It gets a new lease on life with two new reverent cover versions of the Lisa Lougheed original (a minor Canadian hit which I know very well and peaked at #69 nationally in 1988, below), one by none other than Bright Light Bright Light, and the other by those cool UK wordsmiths and purveyors of pop, Spray.
Bright Light x2 (aka Rod Thomas) just released his EP Cinematography 2: Back In The Habit, a gloriously curated 6-pack of cover versions, including Madonna’s “Causing A Commotion”, Starship’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”, and Lisa Loeb’s “Stay (I Missed You)” – as well as “Run With Us”. Rod’s rendition could have easily competed with the original in the 80’s, definitely intended as a loving interpretation that was obviously something important to him when he was much younger, and has stuck like glue through adulthood. Needless to say, it’s great!
Spray, the duo of Jenny McLaren and Ricardo Autobahn whose music I have also written about a number of times, actually covered “Run With Us” back in 2007 for their album Children Of A Laser God. With impeccable timing – there is apparently a 2017 “Raccoons Dance” or something like that in the works by original TV show creator Kevin Gillis – they’ve brought their enthusiastic rework into 2017 with a jazzed-up remix by Matt Pop (who recently did similar wonders for Nathalie Archangel’s Billboard charter “Unleashed”) as well as a lyric video. It’s a different take on the song from Bright Light Bright Light’s, but they go kind of hand-in-hand in inspiration.
So all of you lovers of that old “Raccoons” theme can immerse yourself with two solid throwbacks – both available at all digital stores.
NATHALIE ARCHANGEL, “Unleashed” (Matt Pop edit)
I am such a big believer of remixes. They sometimes help make very good pop songs great. Such is the case with “Unleashed”, the new single by California-based Nathalie Archangel. In its Matt Pop edit, the song becomes a not-so-secret 80’s flavoured dance floor weapon, a pleasingly aggressive and effortless mix that has helped “Unleashed” already land in the Top 40 of Billboard’s club play chart. “Unleashed” follows the timeless “A Higher High”, which found its way into the Top 20 of the same chart two years ago. With pretty much the same dedicated and well-established songwriting and production team behind it as with “A Higher High”, may “Unleashed” soar even higher – a tremendous success story for Nathalie, who had her first start in the business in the early 80’s, only to persevere and find greater tidings so many years later now with dance music. Watch the lyric video above.