Sia's new song "Cheap Thrills" should be a Rihanna song
What's Rihanna's deal with turning down decent songs?
Last Thursday, Sia released a single “Cheap Thrills,” the first we’ve heard of her since last year’s album 1000 Forms of Fear. The song was originally written for Rihanna, who turned it down in the end. As Sia said in an interview with Rolling Stone, “I realized just as soon as I was cutting it that it sounded a little bit too Brit-pop for her. It’s more Icona Pop.”
Well, Sia and Grimes now have something in common. In 2014 Grimes released “Go,” a song originally written for Rihanna that she rejected. Grimes decided to make the song herself instead, a respectable “waste not, want not” approach to songwriting—but with, overall, an unimpressive effect. While “Go” is instrumentally interesting, it sticks out like a sore thumb in the context of Grimes’ oeuvre. It sounds, for a good reason, like a Rihanna song performed by Grimes.
Similarly, “Cheap Thrills” is less exciting than what I was expecting next from Sia. It’s a dancefloor gem, with a steady beat and lots of “all hail the weekend” party lyrics — but it’s so lyrically boring that I just can’t get into it. Sia has a knack for slipping razor-sharp commentary into dancy pop gems (see “Chandelier” and “Buttons”), but it’s just not present in “Cheap Thrills.” The ultimate point of the song is “I don’t need a lot of money to have fun!” which, sung by Rihanna (who, if you recall, last made the charts with a track called “Bitch Better Have My Money”), would actually be kind of interesting. But from Sia, it just sounds like fluff.
I’m just hoping that somebody could get in touch with Rihanna’s people and tell them to stop turning down awesome material from great writers? Please, it’ll help the careers of everybody involved.
Rooster Roundabout: This week’s music highlights
Man, them Swedish folks sure know how to craft a nice pop tune. This song may have some bubblegum-ness to it, but damn if it ain't catchy. Oh, I'm talking about Icona Pop's new song. In case you're unfamiliar with the Swedish pop duo, they hit it pretty big with their track “I Love It,” and now they've come out with a new tune that might not have the same edge of the aforementioned ditty, but it's for sure gonna snare them some new fans, if not keep the old ones steady until a full-length manifests. Have a listen to “Get Lost” below.
I'm sure there has been talk of this, but I wasn't aware. Aretha Franklin is recording a divas covers album. Ms. Franklin took the time to speak with Billboard about working with Andre 3000 (who is a co-producer on the record), the status of the album (she's “on it”) and named a few songs she's covering. Among them are Adele's “Rollin in the Deep,” Donna Summer's “Last Dance” and Tina Turner's “What's Love Got to Do With It.” Head to Billboard to read what one of the best vocalists ever had to say about what she's working on.
Some electronica-lovin' folks are 'bout to get super-duper excited. Grimes has come out with a new track (apparently her first in two years), and it was originally written to be performed by Rihanna ... who turned it down. So what was Grimes to do? Why, record it herself! The song (titled “Go”) is a lovely, atmospheric tune that's got a banging beat, background yelps and some smooth, slick production, and it also features Blood Diamonds. Have a listen below.
For fans of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, including myself, it's time to get excited: Karen O is coming out with her first solo effort (Crush Songs). Granted, she already recorded solo material with Native Korean Rock & the Fishnets, but that project only released rough demos, which you can still find on YouTube. But this is an actual full-length endeavor, y'all. That drops on Sept. 9, which isn't too far off, so keep scanning those headlines for more info in the coming months.
While I didn't listen to Robert Plant's last solo record (Band of Joy), I was a huge fan of his collaborative LP with Alison Krauss (Raising Sand). That record was phenomenal; all you have to do is listen and hear how their voices meld together to form a sound that can't be replicated, a sound that is pure magic. See “Stick With Me Baby.” Regardless, Plant is coming out with another solo effort, titled lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar. That'll hit stores on Sept. 9, and you can have a listen to album track “Rainbow” below.
It's here people! Well, the announcement is here. Julian Casablancas + the Voidz have officially announced their debut record (or Casablancas' second solo record). The album (Tyranny) hits stores and online markets on Sept. 23 and will be sold through Casablancas' Cult Records, where it's on preorder now for the mere cost of $3.87. You read that right. Head over to Rolling Stone to read more about the album.
Get ready for the blasphemy because I'm gonna say it: I've never really listened to Radiohead. And it's not because of any disrespect, but mostly because they just haven't crossed my path as much as most. Wait ... does "Creep" count? Okay, back to the point. Radiohead drummer Philip Selway is coming out with a new solo record. There isn't too much info on the release, other than it's called Weatherhouse and comes out on Oct. 7. So keep an ear out for that.
Oh snap! Prince is back! Well, he never really went away, but you know what I mean. The pop diva (erm ... divo? What's the male term?) has announced another album is on the way (on top of his 3rdEyeGirl record, which still hasn't seen a proper release). Good news? Hell, you're getting two for the price of one, or maybe not the price of one, but you catch my drift, right? As for the album, there's no title or release date, but Prince did name a few tracks: “The Gold Standard” and “This Could Be Us.” Head to Pitchfork to read more ‘bout it.
If you've read this column, I'm sure you're tired of witnessing my excitement concerning Veruca Salt's reunion. But hey, it didn't end there, and it won’t end here. The band has now come out with a video to the b-side of their first single, “The Museum of Broken Relationships,” aka “It's Holy.” The video features band footage along with fans listening to the record in the comfort of their own homes. Scroll down a little further to view the little gem.
As Rolling Stone notes, Robin Thicke's new video for the song “Get Her Back” is kind of “awkward.” While I don't indulge in gossip, the track is supposedly a plea to his estranged wife, begging for her to come back. The awkward (and so 2014) parts of the video are the text messages that flash across the screen. I'm not sure if they're real, but either way, it's pretty uncomfortable. But I'll let you decide for yourself. Also, you can pick up the album (titled Paula, yes, after his wife) next week. Enjoy! Or don't.
Rooster Roundabout: This week’s music highlights
For those of you who are wondering whether ‘N SYNC will reunite at the VMAs this weekend ... here’s what Joey Fatone has to say about it.
In case you're still keeping tabs on Nine Inch Nails (I stopped around The Downward Spiral), Trent Reznor shared a couple new songs from Hesitation Marks (out Sept. 3). One song is titled “Everything,” which is streaming at NPR. Newer track, “Find My Way,” you can hear below via Zane Lowe’s BBC radio show:
Jack White, Marcus Mumford, Joan Baez and The Avett Brothers are just some of the acts scheduled to perform at the benefit show on Sept. 29 for the Coen brothers' upcoming film, Inside Llewyn Davis.
Remember John Frusciante? The guitarist who left Red Hot Chili Peppers and disappeared to the nether-sphere? Well, he's back. And instead of returning to rock n' roll, he's back with some “Progressive Synth Pop.”
Lady Gaga shared the music video for the track, “Applause,” the first single from her upcoming album, ARTPOP, thus confirming that if you put a woman in skimpy outfits with dramatic lighting, she'll believe she's an artist. Where's the challenge? Oh, and the album hits stores on Nov. 11.
Let me just say that I never really got Grimes. I guess her brand of electro-pop just went over my head. But people seem to like her. So much so that it's been confirmed she'll be cohost MTV Style's Red Carpet Report, along with designer Rachel Antonoff.
Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond, Jr. is coming out with a solo EP, titled AHJ, via Julian Casablancas' Cult Records. The EP is set to hit stores on Oct. 8.
Former Burqueño Willis Earl Beal, whose new record, Nobody knows., comes out on Sept. 10, can also add actor to his résumé. Beal is set to star in a film titled Memphis, which was written and directed by Tim Sutton.
So Dan, was it really hard to give up Bob Dylan's hair?
I came across this nice little write-up by Sam Hockley-Smith for Stereogum, wherein he sentimentalizes Modest Mouse's The Lonesome Crowded West. It's an oldie but goodie.
Just in case you wanted to see Nirvana's original record contract with Sub-Pop.
M.I.A. released a new track, titled “Unbreak My Mixtape.” Not quite sure if this song is from her upcoming album, Matangi, which her label states is scheduled for a Nov. 5 release. The song samples Blur's “Tender” and Karen Dalton's “I Love You More Than Words Can Say.”