PSY - “Gentleman” (Video)
OK, let’s just get it out of the way… “Gentleman” is no “Gangnam Style”. Mister P does put his best foot foward though (ha ha) to avoid being banished to Novelty Hit Hell with his latest single. Much like its predecessor, “Gentleman” finds PSY in the familiar role of social commentary by zany Asian dude while employing the same tricks that made “Gangnam” a hit: wacky sidekicks, hot girls, various locales and the expected trendy dance tie-in. Unfortunately, lightening didn’t strike twice and PSY might be joining Carly Rae Jepsen as part of the One Hit Wonders New Recruits Program. Aside from the video looking like “Gangnam” outtakes, the main reason why “Gentleman” doesn’t work is simply that the song isn’t that good. Despite the language barrier, there was no denying the hook of his breakout hit and the video-game-sound-effects-on-Red-Bull production that framed the whole thing—- but this new song? Denied.
Daft Punk featuring Nile Rodgers and Pharrell Williams - “Get Lucky” (Teaser)
The Daft Marketing Machine has been going full throttle over the last few weeks airing teasers for their upcoming album release during broadcasts of Saturday Night Live—- are frat boys really into French dance music? Although the track has since been released in full, there was initially a great deal of hype around “Get Lucky”, the Parisian robo-duo’s collaboration with Chic founder Nile Rodgers and One Neptune… aka Pharrell Williams. Although I initially dismissed “Lucky” because I’m more a fan of Pharrell The Producer rather than Pharrell The “Singer”, I also wasn’t really feeling the track cuz it sounded like an uninspired Chic rip-off. I’ve since warmed up to the track but I still feel like hype was far greater than the result with this one.
Basement Jaxx - “Back 2 Wild” (Video)
A week of releases from Daft Punk AND Basement Jaxx??? Dance music fans tired of, or never having been a fan of, the relentless David Guetta/Calvin Harris mainstream takeover could rejoice that two respected acts were back and ready to give clubheads something they could truly feel… right? Well, perhaps I got caught up in the “Jaxx Is Back” hype because “Back 2 Wild” is just as not-quite-mind-blowing as the new Daft Punk. While the Dafts are busy channeling Studio 54 disco with their new single, the B.J.‘s look to Todd Terry-sounding house for their dancefloor return. The video? Typical Jaxx-ian acid trip imagery that might be better appreciated in an uh… altered state.
Daddy Yankee - “Limbo” (Video)
Watching reggaeton staple Daddy Yankee musically distance himself from the genre that made him famous has been interesting as gear-switching attempts like this from other artists have, in the past, either proven to be savvy career savers or an instant early checkout of Hotel Relevant. Yankee seems to leaning more toward the former with his recent reinvention as Mr. Soca-rengue Club Pop courtesy of tracks like “Lovumba”, “Ven Conmigo” and his latest, “Limbo”. Those familiar reggaeton rhythm patterns might now be the Ghost of Yankee’s Past, but the big budget videos are still very much a part of his Here & Now with the latest visual extravaganza boasting exotic locales, an army of beautiful dancers, pyro choreo and yes, a limbo stick.
Jai Paul - “Crush”
Jai Paul first caught my attention a few years ago with “BTSTU”, a buzz track that married laid back spacey R&B theatrics to a boozy vocal suggesting that it was the best, and ballsiest, song Maxwell never recorded—- plus, it didn’t hurt that the opening line alone was a guaranteed “He said wha?” attention snatcher. The U.K. artist has elected to remain pretty much an enigma with both new material and public performances from the artist ranging from “nothing” to “a little more than nothing.” There has been a bit of controversy with this recent release of “Crush” with an all too familiar “unintentionally leaked/stolen laptop” hullabaloo surrounding it that reeks of publicity stunt. The track, featured on an album that may or may not be from Jai’s eagerly anticipated debut, found its way online a couple of weeks ago and is the kind of lo-fi, minimalist funk we’d expect from J.P. that some may remember when it was originally a VH1-friendly Top 40 hit for Jennifer Paige back in the late 90’s.
Alicia Keys featuring Maxwell - “Fire We Make” (Video)
It’s Keys’ Bayou! Alicia teams up with certified panty dropper Maxwell for a Quiet Storm classic in the making as the duo aims to bring the same heat suggested in the song for the single’s video. La Keys re-heats Janet’s “hot ‘n’ bothered bedroom antics” from “Anytime Anyplace” and adds some New Awlins seasoning, casting herself as the lusty concierge to Maxwell’s equally lustful motel guest/lounge entertainment. While everything about “Fire We Make”, from the slow jam steaminess of the song to the sexy vibe of the video, convincingly paints a picture of grown folks’ imminent boudoir boot knockin’, the only thing that ironically leaves me a bit cold is the lack of chemistry between the two artists whose job it was to sell me on the whole thing.
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