Category: Music

The best music reviews, news and updates from around the world.

Help This New Charity Single Hit The Top!

The brand new single from Eclipse Stage School to benefit the Irish Cancer Society is here. Download now.

Eurovision 2017: The Rise Of Portugal And Fall Of Ireland

So the Eurovision Song Contest has finished for another year and we have seen some records being made and some records being made even longer in this past week of programming.

First off, after a 53 year participation without any luck Portugal walked away with a victory last night with over 700 points from the Jury and Audience votes. A song which just stood alone, had a great melody and a simple stage design overtook the crazy and elaborate stage shows from various countries to top both the Jury and Audience votes before they were combined to reveal Salvador the victor. Topping both the Jury and Audience votes has become hard in previous years but this song proves that it cut through language barriers, bloc voting scandals and proves that a great song CAN win the contest.

Looking at the entire show and of course the Semi Finals from during the week, the production value was definitely there for majority of the songs with countries trusting some of their biggest names with representing their countries and throwing every graphic, wedding dress and even a milk jug at their appearance in the contest. No stone is ever left unturned in the competition which sees 42 countries participate.

After viewing both Semi Finals and the 6 automatic qualifiers (Big Five plus the host country) I predicted a varied Top 7. As we sat to watch last nights event I promised I would not change my mind and I didn’t which led to my Top 7 being the TOP SEVEN! Yes, I am not bragging but I predicted Portugal would win, Bulgaria would be second and Moldova, Romania, Belgium, Italy and Sweden would round out the top spots on the night. Each song different but all great pop songs with great hooks and nice staging.

So now let’s move onto our own failures: IRELAND
Why have we done so bad in the past few years? For the last 4 years we have not qualified out of the Semi Final which now creates a brand new record for Ireland as the worst qualification record for the country ever. We have gone from the best to the worst country at the contest, but why?

Well, first off our national broadcaster RTE is trying too hard to predict what the audience wants. When they see a ballad win, they throw in a ‘dance anthem’ with drums and when an uptempo song wins, we throw in a ballad that would of suited the contest 20 years ago and we try to do it as cheaply as possible. For the last number of years, the same people have called the shots on the Eurovision selection for Ireland and now the time is right to change that and bring in fresh blood to end our embarrassing failure.

This years entry, Brendan Murray, was internally selected by Louis Walsh who RTE praise at every opportunity and ship himself and Linda Martin (Eurovision winner of the 90’s) into every show possible which leads me to believe they have some hold on the delegation here in Ireland. Ok, both LW and LM have precious history and success with the contest… but that was 25 years ago, it is not the same Contest nowadays.

Louis was tasked with finding the BEST song for Ireland and in a submission process of over 300 songs he chose this:

What’s wrong with this? Well let’s break it down into simple terms. The writers are previous Westlife hitmakers, so did Louis look very far or just accept his friends song. The song builds too far into the song, an audience wants to be brought in from the first verse, not at 2.30. The staging is cheap and tacky, once again RTE looking for staging that can fit into a suitcase to save on expenses but then sends their whole department including Louis Walsh on a holiday to Ukraine. And lastly, the song has no radio or commercial play relatability. My Grandmother loves the song but will she pick up the phone and vote or likewise does she listen to Spotify? No.

Our whole selection process is so backwards it’s funny. A little secret for you all: In 2016, I approached RTE and their Head Of Delegation with a very good proposal from myself and the writer of two very recent Eurovision smashes including a WINNING song in the past five years 😉 who was willing to work with Ireland to create a song and myself a creative stage show. This was rejected. And likewise in 2013, after our first bad result, myself and an American producer with hit singles on Billboard and Worldwide Singles Charts offered ourselves to come up with a Eurovision song for Ireland. This was rejected.

Why do they not want to listen? It’s plain and simple, friends are keeping friends in jobs but they will never succeed at this contest without finding commercial friendly songs, creating an attractive stage show and using our great qualities to our advantage and I am not talking about throwing more Irish dancers on stage!

I have said it time and time again, I would love the opportunity to be involved in the process and I know so many people that are of the same mind from proven songwriters and producers in both this years contest and previous to performers and creatives looking to bring some glory back to Ireland. Let’s call for RTE to open up the process for everyone to enter songs and stage shows, not just selecting a song and artist internally, that does not work. We have proved that now!

Overall a sad year for Ireland in Eurovision, Brendan done a great job but he was flogging a dead horse. His voice with a great modern song like Belgium or Bulgaria would have given us a great chance. Let’s learn and create something special for 2018.

Written by
Kenneth Giles

December Means Christmas Songs!

So every year I try to hold back from listening to Christmas music until Christmas officially starts and for me that’s….. December 1st!

Ok, so I can’t hide from it totally as they are overplayed from the middle of October in most shopping centres and high streets around the world but now I can put the MTV Christmas channel on, Christmas 24 movies and put up the tree with just 3 weeks to go.

So what are the best Christmas songs? Everyone will go to the obvious Merry Christmas Everyone, I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday and even the now rejigged 3 times, Do They Know Its Christmas?, but for me it’s the lesser known ones that excite me.

Here are my top 5 Christmas crackers (go on play them all now!)

1. Kelly Clarkson – Underneath The Tree

2. Michael Buble – Baby Please Come Home

3. COMEDY CLASSIC – Geraldine AKA Peter Kay – Once Upon A Christmas Song

4. GUILTY PLEASURE – Justin Bieber – Mistletoe

5. THE REAL No.1 – Mariah Carey – All I Want For Christmas Is You

And finally if your looking for a good Christmas playlist to put on in the car and sing away too, then check out the Glee Christmas Album from a few years ago….. its cheesy as hell but festive!

Keep it here on PopOnDown for the latest Christmas fashion trends, music news and entertainment coming soon!

Feature by @Kenneth_Giles

Hallelujah! – A Great Leonard Cohen Cover

So we have seen Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah covered numerous times, most notably by Alexandra Burke who won the X Factor and scored a Christmas Number One with the song a few years ago, but was that really a good cover of the track?

Well the answer is NO, especially when you hear vocal group Pentatonix new Christmas version which I am tipping for a top 5 placing on the Christmas Singles Chart.

Lets compare the original, X Factors version and the new Pentatonix version:

For me, you can’t beat an original but Pentatonix have created something rather refreshing with their version…. the X Factor on the other hand, yes it’s a catchy pop version and typical X Factor winners single.

What is your favourite? Let me know below in comments and subscribe to my blog now.

Feature by @Kenneth_Giles

 

REVIEW: Urban Hymn – Official Film Soundtrack

Today I will review the brand new soundtrack from a feature film starring Shirley Henderson and Letitia Wright called ‘Urban Hymn’.

The album plays host to a diverse range of artists such as The Clash, Darrell Banks, TZY, Tinchy Stryder and the films very own Urban Hymn Choir featuring solos from actress Letitia Wright. The politically charged compilation which arrived on 28 October 2016 carries a determined strength to make a change in the world.

Letitia Wright, Guyana born and selected as one of BAFTAS Breakthrough Brits 2015, not only puts on an impressive performance acting, but steals the show with her heartfelt voice. Previously known for her roles in Channel 4’s Top Boy and Cucumber, the ‘Urban Hymn’ soundtrack plays home to Wright’s vocal debut as she joins the choir singing modern-classic such as UB40’s Don’t Break My Heart.

‘Urban Hymn’, directed by Michael Caton-Jones, is a profound coming of age drama, about a young offender, Jamie, played by Letitia Wright, whose life is tainted by unfortunate events following on from her mother’s death at an early age. The film is set amongst the terrifying 2011 British summer riots in which many young adults had a part in. Shirley Henderson plays the role of Kate, an inspiring care worker who gently convinces Jamie to use her voice to overcome the hardships, thus joining the Urban Hymn Choir.

One of the key tracks sung by Letitia Wright & The Urban Choir is a cover of Standing In The Right Place previously by a anthemic, melody-driven UK rock band called Belarus who feature throughout the soundtrack. The director of ‘Urban Hymn’, Michael Caton-Jones, was said to fall in love with lead singer’s, Lee Alder, powerful, searing vocals that were able to elevate music to emotive places and made it the perfect fit for his upcoming film.

The soundtrack features I Keep Faith by Billy Bragg that highlights “you need a bit of courage to go against the grain”. Musician Billy Bragg plays an eminent role in the film playing himself and using his real-life initiative, the Jail Guitar Doors within the story to try to stimulate creativity and give the youth a way of escaping their negative energy when incarcerated. Bragg provides guitars to prisons and teaches music lessons within jails to help with the inmate’s rehabilitation.

In between the belting tracks from the choir, we are also treated to a really cool and funk driven track (which gives a feel of Bruno Mars) from Jamie Joseph with his song ‘Faithful’. The soundtrack brings together rock, pop, hip hop, choral and old school into one playlist which makes it a perfect movie soundtrack.

If you are looking for a playlist with an equal mix of heart wrenching and heart thumping tracks, then look no further than the Urban Hymn soundtrack which is out now on Sony Music.

Although I have not yet seen the film, I am super excited to see it after hearing the quality of music and anthems used throughout. Get out and see it and buy the soundtrack, you will not be disappointed!

Eastenders Star To Release Solo Single!

‘Good Thing’ is the debut single from the nation’s favourite child actor Maisie Smith, who we saw grow up on the set of the award winning BBC show Eastenders as Tiffany Butcher.

No longer a little girl, Maisie proves she is also no longer just an actress but a talented & beautiful pop star in the making.

“I’ve always wanted to make a cool pop record that people could relate to, dance to and feel good listening to. By teaming up with my producer Darren Martyn to make ‘Good Thing’, I feel like we achieved that. I am so excited to finally let people hear it!” Maisie Smith

Maisie (who lives with her family in Leigh on Sea, Essex) has always had a passion for music. She plays the guitar, composes, dances & choreographs her own routines. And all whilst studying for her GCSEs! She has been releasing cover tracks on her YouTube, such as her amazing cover of Justin Bieber ‘Let Me Love You’.

Maisie Smith started her acting career at the tender age of four, starring alongside Scarlett Johannsson in The Other Boleyn Girl where she played Queen Elizabeth I. She started her long Eastenders role at 6, playing Tiffany Butcher where she won various awards.

Maisie has also appeared as a guest in shows including Children in Need, Bookaboo, Sam & Mark’s Big Friday Wind Up and Hacker Time and is confirmed as a guest on The Michael McIntyre’s Show later this year.

Take a listen to the brand new single which is set for release on November 25th right here now:

X Factor Star Returns With ‘Turn Me On’

Cast your mind back a few years when the X Factor produced great pop acts and it was all about fun. Did you do that?

If you did, then one of the first people to pop back into your mind should have been this guy, Sean Smith. You will remember him from brother/sister duo Same Difference who brought High School Musical style performances to the show each week and entertained millions. They even went on to release the super catchy ‘We R One’ which I will admit, I choreographed a stage performance to for a group of young students in Dublin.

However, this article is not about the duo as the focus has shifted and is now firmly on the solo career of Sean Smith (but I will just mention that Sarah, his sister is doing great as well, incase you were wondering).

‘Turn Me On’ is the brand new single from the X Factor star which will drop on September 23rd from Energise Records. The same record company represent and have released music from club legend Rozalla, female powerhouse’s The Three Degree’s and X Factor leaf legend Sinitta, so Sean is in good hands.

The track is full of club beats and even catchier lyrics with a very steamy video to follow I hear. But for now I have a small clip of the remix of the single and if this is anything to go by, it is going to be a sure fire chart smash.

Get the single from September 23rd or pre-order at www.energiserecords.com now.

Feature by @Kenneth_Giles

NEW TALENT: Metaxas

Today I bring you a new voice (to me anyway) and it’s a great one. Metaxas would give Ed Sheeran, James Bay and Passenger a run for their money.

‘Timezones’ is the second single from singer/songwriter Metaxas. His first single ‘Selene’ was supported by London Live TV, Reload Sessions, Promo News (where it was video of the month), winner on VOTD.tv and Metaxas performed the single at an exclusive Wired event and at Busk The Box in Shoreditch.

Timezones is taken from Metaxas’s debut EP, due for release this Autumn.

Timezones is about the difficulties of a long distance relationship. It’s a theme that resonates with me since I had to leave my partner in the US last year to pursue my music career here in London. The song is actually a duet that we co-wrote from opposite sides of the ocean.” Metaxas

Born in New York to Cypriot parents, Metaxas now calls London his home. Metaxas’s determination and love of music was rewarded by a place at the internationally recognized Berklee College of Music in Boston where he honed his skills. His raw, expressive lyrics and his graveled, warm voice have a powerful effect. He will be releasing his 5 track EP this Autumn.

He will also be the tour support for Ronan Keating’s nationwide tour this September/October.

NEW TALENT: Nessi Gomes

‘These Walls’ is the debut single by the British-Portuguese musician Nessi Gomes, a composer and lyricist of rare invention and beauty. Born on the tiny Island of Guernsey to a family of immigrants from Portugal, Gomes channels influences from both sides of her ethnicity, blending the essence of the traditional, ‘larger than life’ Fado folk music with progressive British inspiration.

I wrote the song at a time of great pressure. It was the beginning of something new and it felt extremely frightening. ‘These Walls’ are inside of me, inside of us. It is the imagined expectations we project onto ourselves and the outside world.” Nessi Gomes

‘These Walls’ is the first offering from Diamonds & Demons, Nessi’s debut album out October 14th. For almost two years, Nessi and her producer Duncan Bridgeman (Grammy nominee, ‘1 Giant Leap’) together dug an uncharted tunnel into the artist’s turbulent heart and soul. The album was recorded (on a small boat on Regent’s canal) following a fundraising campaign in April 2015 during which more than $50,000 was raised. Nessi toured in the wake of the campaign, playing in 15 European countries from July to October 2015 to her growing fanbase.

She also played 3 sets at Glastonbury this year and was supported by BBC Introducing (that’s big for new acts, trust me).

#NewVideo – One Republic – Kids

One of the biggest bands on the planet are back with a brand new chart smash.

One Republic, who brought us the anthem that is ‘Apologize’ feat Timbaland as their first release a number of years ago now, are back with a brand new song called ‘Kids’. I am tipping this for the Top Ten around the world following up their chart Number 1 with ‘Counting Stars’.

‘Kids’ is released this month and the brand new video see’s the band travel through a cool city until they reach their true destination, a stage of course.