Do you remember where you first heard “Royals”? Almost any guess could be correct — and not just because the song achieved the sort of ubiquity you’d expect from a #1 hit. More »
It has been half a decade since Hundred Waters began bringing their creative friends to Arizona’s high desert micro-city, Arocosanti. Now, the OWSLA-championed trio have curated their finest lineup yet ahead of the fifth installment of FORM Arcosanti. The model-challenging festival alternative is gearing up for its biggest edition in yet, with a bill topped by newcomers Chance The Rapper, Charli XCX, The Black Madonna, Fleet Foxes and Beach House. FORM participants experience intimate annual performances by Skrillex and Hundred Waters, along with slated appearances this year by Mija, SOPHIE, Tennyson, Daniel Caesar and more. Local Arizona legends, Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra are also scheduled to make their festival debut.
The weekend-long event applies meticulous focus on creating an inclusive, inviting, and creative space not only for performances and visual showcases, but for education and social discourse as well. This year FORM has partnered with the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and Chance The Rapper’s youth-empowerment initiative SocialWorks.
The fifth iteration of FORM is scheduled to take place from May 11-13.
This is, if nothing else, a feat of scheduling.
This is also 76m combined monthly Spotify listeners.
This is the answer all popstars should give when they are inevitably asked, because they’re always asked aren’t they, who they’d cast in a modern version of Lady Marmalade.
This is a stage school kid whose big break was a telly ad for The X Factor, alongside someone who went to art school and joined a punk band, alongside someone who crashed out of a European version of Pop Idol five years ago, alongside someone who was playing shithole gigs when she was 14, alongside someone who won a Swedish TV show when she was 10.
This is people who’ve pursued success, it’s someone who found herself on the most-streamed song of all time, and it’s one person who’s deliberately swerved chart domination, despite it being theirs for the taking, in pursuit of their own musical vision.
This is three people who didn’t break through with their first album, one person who did, and one who’s TBC.
This is one person smiling like she’s on an 80s pop magazine cover, one person doing that mouth-open thing only popstars can pull off without it looking like they’re in the middle of eating, two people looking like they mean serious business and one person avoiding eye contact all together.
This is, admittedly, not the greatest advert for ethnic diversity in pop.
This is still a hint of what happens when different personalities with different ideas and different experiences and different talents, of different ages, from different backgrounds in different countries, make sense in a room together.
This is a group of people whose ages range from only-just-20 to a-few-months-off-30.
This is five artists nobody who’s currently putting bands together would put in a band together. They’d write their own Number One single and direct their own video.
This is a one-off moment, but why does it need to be?
This is what girlbands could be like in 2018 if the music industry wasn’t such a bag of shit.
There were many ridiculous aspects to Sunday’s Grammy festivities, but probably the most ridiculous was the show’s treatment of women. Although the broadcast made a big show of support for women’s rights by having Kesha and a small army of her peers perform her anti-abuse rebuke “Praying,” the gesture rang hollow in light of … More »
Congratulations to us all! We made it through 2017! Now we’re on to a new year, and you know what they say: New Year, Same Bullshit. Luckily we’re kicking off 2018 with some killer songs. The Stereogum staff took some much needed time off over the holidays, so our five best list this weeks … More »
THEY. stand with one foot in the electronic classification and another firmly planted in hip-hop territory, yet the LA-based producer duo refuse to confirm to either. Which is probably what makes their brand of brooding, urban hip-hop and trap so sophisticated yet altogether absorbing. Following the Mind of a Genius-signed pair’s 14-track Nü Religion: Hyena LP, THEY. are closing out the year with a new remix, finding the perfect specimen in Charli XCX‘s summer hit “Boys.”
Earlier this year, the UK-bred songwriter recruited everyone from Diplo and Flume to Mark Ronson and Chromeo for the “Boys” video, and now the track is getting a deservedly extended shelf life by way of THEY. Laying down their snappy, percussive production style around the track’s infectious vocal offerings, THEY. swap out the original mix’s 8-bit accents and snares for tight hi-hat rolls, going with a futuristic R&B/pop theme on their remix that does Charli XCX justice on one of her biggest tracks to date.
She wasn’t supposed to make it past 25. Charlotte Aitchison’s Charli XCX persona has never been geared toward longevity. Whether braving an apocalyptic day of reckoning on “Nuclear Seasons” or literalizing her mortality on “Die Tonight,” the Cambridge singer has long displayed a sense of fatalism in her music. On True Romance, Charli’s oncoming demise demanded romantic consummation, no matter how transitory. On Sucker, she combated encroaching death with puerile hedonism and carnal distraction. And unlike compatriots and fellow Bacchanalia frontline journalists Arctic Monkeys, whose distaste for English nightlife is so acute you might mistake them for teetotalers, Charli revels in the debauchery of the London club scene, viewing its inevitable hangover as fait accompli and, consequently, a nonissue. This is why her career never seemed likely to sustain itself; the good times were bound to kill this death-obsessed girl. But the joke’s on us: she’s still alive, and on Pop 2, Charli XCX returns for more profligacy, yet this time with a keener perspective recalibrated by the nuances of young adult maturity.
There’s a certain territoriality and arrogance in Charli naming her mixtape Pop 2, but much of her music is spent negotiating the line between admirable confidence and aggressive hauteur. Charli spent roughly half of Sucker explaining that she was too good for you — even if she’ll mete out second and third chances for the sake of comfort and familiarity — while elsewhere flaunting her superhuman tolerance to narcotics and a vast wealth that puts Croesus to shame. And so on Pop 2, we see more of the cocksureness Charli exhibits in spades, as on the escapist-affirmative “Out of My Head” (ft. Tove Lo and ALMA), as well as a self-assured autonomy on tracks like the prurient, cloying “Unlock It” (ft. Kim Petras and Jay Park).
Yet on most of these tracks, Charli XCX sounds to have abjured the truculence and grandeur that granted her notoriety on singles like “Boom Clap,” “Fancy,” and “I Love It,” with much emphasis on her guests, which include Carly Rae Jepsen, CupcakKe, Mykki Blanco, Pabllo Vittar, MØ, Dorian Electra, and more. The Caroline Polachek duet “Tears” finds the singer reckoning with her proclivity for caprice, singing “I killed our life, I’m crazy […] Door shut tight, that ain’t love, no.” In place of her trademark overconfidence, Charli delivers a comparatively unadorned performance, signaling what seems to be genuine feelings of remorse. She may not be the most convincing agent of regret, but Charli didn’t pen these songs in hopes of credence or validation. Instead, she’s singing for her own benefit, to make sense of the needless waffling and unrest in her relationships. More power to her.
In the last 40 seconds of “Delicious” (ft. Tommy Cash), the track shifts from a scrupulously produced club banger to a pristine choir. This is an apt metonym for the instrumentation and arrangements of Pop 2. With production help from the likes of SOPHIE, Life Sim, King Henry, EASYFUN, and executive producer A. G. Cook, the music vacillates between synth-powered spectral screeches and jolts and immaculate choral beds, as if to reconcile the delineation between the impersonal nature of club life, with its ephemeral hookups, and the deceptive jubilance of a real, long-term relationship. The result is mixed bag, with the album’s industrial moments more engrossing by virtue of their immediacy and the more human elements of the production turning into a slog if left alone for too long.
For better or for worse, Charli XCX is embracing maturity on her fourth mixtape. Now 25 years (and some change) old, Charlotte Aitchison looks to be relieving herself of the “born to die young” credo she’s so ardently maintained for the past few years in favor of something more stable. And though she may not find what she’s looking for anytime soon, Charli XCX, on Pop 2, is at least looking down a new path.
The world went through a lot this year — Trump, an investigation into Russian election interference, Nazis, an Arcade Fire album rollout. Twitter also went through a lot this year — Trump, an investigation into Russian election interference, a controversy about verifying Nazis, and, perhaps most shockingly, a new 280 character … More »