God, it’s exhausting being a pop stan sometimes. It’s an unwritten law that for every beloved-by-the-gays act who succeeds, there are another ten who are flopping/being dropped/going through creative turmoil/charting at No1038/being unconscionably problematic.
That’s why it’s SO GOOD when an all-time legend is, instead, fucking thriving.
And ladies, Kelly Clarkson is fucking thriving.
Today she’s announced a new Las Vegas residency for 2020; delivering the news on her new talkshow – reported recently to be one of the big breakout hits of the 2019/20 TV season in the US.
Add to that the fact that she’s still doing great on the US version of The Voice, and that it’s now November 1 and we’re legally allowed to start streaming the hell out of Wrapped In Red again (I started the promo for this back in June, don’t worry lads), Kelly is going through – yet another! – fantastic era of her 17-year career.
The Kelly Clarkson Show – which has a big focus on inclusivity and includes a performance segment called ‘Kellyoke’ in every episode – began in September and currently ranks fourth among all daytime talk programmes in the country. With 1.9 million viewers, it trails only Dr. Phil, Live With Kelly And Ryan and The Ellen DeGeneres Show; and it’s ahead of Maury, The Wendy Williams Show, Dr. Oz and Rachael Ray.
Media analyst Bill Carroll tells CNN Business that a show of this kind hasn’t been “this successful in quite a number of years.”
They added: “At a time where daytime programming on broadcast is competing with cable and streaming and on demand, this is a special and unique situation.
“Clarkson being in fourth place is notable in the sense that the show has had a breakthrough.”
Now, she’s following in the recent footsteps of Gaga, J-Lo, Celine and Britney; and heading to Vegas.
Announcing Kelly Clarkson: Invincible, which begins on April 1, she said: “I have so many jobs going on right now and they all involve me being located in L.A. I love everything I’m doing, but the one thing that bummed me out was that I am so busy I’m not able to tour.
“Vegas was the perfect option for me to still be able to do shows and play music and see the fans.”
Per Billboard, the show will have only 16 performances (for the time being, at least); with dates scattered across April, July, August and September.
“We literally could only fit in the amount of dates that are available because my schedule is so crazy but I hope to have more dates in the future,” she added.
Kelly released her first album under a new record deal back in 2017. Meaning of Life received strong reviews and charted at No2 in the US (No11 in the UK) but didn’t really yield any big hit singles – and as such is now one of those albums that’s wheeled out for “you slept on this!!!” tweets every couple of months or so.
So it’s great now to see her well and truly back, entering a new (albeit very different) phase of her career with massive aplomb.
Don’t get me wrong, the longing for new music is growing – and good grief, it feels like we’ve been waiting for UK tour dates for TWO MILLION YEARS.
But there’s really nothing better than seeing a wholesome fave getting the success she deserves.
Playlisted 2020, week 13: The bangers we can’t go out and dance to
Little Mix, Dua, Hailee and more keep us well-fed into the apocalypse
I mentioned last week that we’ll hit a point – presumably fairly soon – when artists will either run out of music that they’ve been stockpiling, or postpone big releases until they can do more promotion (Gaga – disappointingly but unsurprisingly – has already pulled the plug on Chromatica for the time being).
With that in mind… there is a surprisingly large amount of good stuff out this week. Will this be our last truly fruitful New Music Friday for a while? Maybe so!! But it’s a good’un. Lots of excellent pop songs that… er… we can’t go out and dance to for at least a couple of months.
Here’s everything I’m adding to my rolling 2020 playlist (on Spotify here); and as ever, album tracks that aren’t singles are omitted. So I’ll be listening to the full Dua and 5SOS albums later 🤓
I Love You’s – Hailee Steinfeld
Hailee started the year with a stark little ballad – perhaps released in light of the success of Selena’s Lose You To Love Me – but this is muuuuch comfier territory for her. On I Love You’s we return to the gentle, bubbling midtempo pop that made the Haiz EP such a triumph back in 2015 (this is giving me big Rock Bottom/Hell Nos And Headphones callbacks); and I love it. The Annie Lennox sample is lush, and it’s the second half of the chorus (or is it the post-chorus?) when it really takes flight. She picked a crowded week in which to do it, but she’s back on form.
Wildflower – 5 Seconds of Summer
I’m VERY excited to dig into the full Calm album, which I totally forgot was out today. No Shame remains one of my favourite songs of 2020 so far, and Wildflower is just as infectious: perfect for this current burst of summer weather, brimming with lusty energy, and with a big earworm of a chorus. Their hot streak continues!
Break Up Song – Little Mix
A new era from Little Mix will do quite nicely right now, thanks very much!! And to make it even sweeter, they’ve gloriously hopped aboard the 80s camp-pop revival as well. Gabriella Cilmi would be proud.
Woman Like Me kinda dropped the ball for me, as far as their lead singles are concerned – but Break Up Song is *Cheryl voice* riiiight up my street. The girls sound great on their individual verses (Perrie and Leigh-Anne especially) and I can’t wait for the video.
Like It Is – Kygo, Zara Larsson, Tyga
We, as a music-consuming general public, spectacularly failed Zara Larsson last year, considering Don’t Worry Bout Me and All The Time both deserved to be huge (well, you failed her, I certainly didn’t!!! Tbh!). But with a collaboration like this, she could get just the commercial top-up she needs; and Like It Is is a nifty little bop. Zara always sounds really at home on this sort of dance track, and I truly hope it’s a hit.
Break My Heart – Dua Lipa
Sidenote: Break My Heart is a great old-school Hilary Duff deep cut, just FYI.
For Dua, it’s another ace for her growing collection: not quite as instant as Physical or smart as Don’t Start Now, but still a slick, bass-heavy floorfiller with a topline that feels like the lovechild of INXS and Another One Bites The Dust. And really gay.
Terrified – Emily Burns
I LOVE Emily Burns, and Terrified is my favourite song of hers since Too Cool. It would’ve sounded perfect on the soundtrack of a mid-00s high school movie, and it’s another one that’s arrived just in time for the Spring sunshine. I’m adding “see Emily Burns live” to my post-lockdown to-do-list.
Love + Attention – KAMILLE
Big fan of the piano on this, and continuing to be a big cheerleader for songwriter-to-the-stars KAMILLE to get some breakout success of her own. I dismissed Love + Attention when I first heard it last night but it’s grown on me today: I love the bravado of the chorus, the aesthetic of the artwork… she’s yet to have a chart hit for herself, and I really hope this is The One.
Hold Me Close – Sam Feldt feat. Ella Henderson
Banger by numbers? A little. But I’ll take it. This is much better than that “this is reaaa-ayayayaaal” song Ella did last year, and Hold Me Close will do nicely on my running playlists. Extremely unlikely to stand out as one of 2020’s finest come December, but a distracting little bop for now.
Playlisted 2020, week 12: All the best new Coronabops
Tove, Grace, Sporty and more
A thought: is it inevitable that, in a few weeks’ time, new music will start to become a bit sparse? Like, not only because artists will run out of stockpiled material, but because they’ll want to postpone their big new releases until this hellscape has died down (Lady Gaga: STEP AWAY FROM POSTPONEMENT)? It probably is, isn’t it?
Anyway, here are the five new songs I’m adding to the rolling 2020 playlist, here. Remember I’ve decided against plucking out individual tracks from new albums UNLESS they’re being serviced as singles, which is why there’s no The Weeknd. But what there is is:
I’m Coming – Tove Lo
Under-rated should-be-God-tier bop machine Tove Lo has covered Veronica Maggio’s Jag Kommer for some Spotify-exclusive thing, and I’m not sure to what extent you can count this as a Proper Single but it’s so fucking good, it’s on the list anyway. Those synths, those topline melodies, those yearning vocals… exactly what I need at this exact moment.
Healing – Arlissa
This is the same Arlissa who released that enormous tune Sticks and Stones back in 2013, right? The enormous tune which is, unforgivably, not on Spotify…? This song is such a delight: those extra soothing backing vocals towards the end are angelic, and the voice!!! The voice is amazing. An excellent wistfulbanger for these uncertain times.
Addicted to Blue – Grace Davies
After the hugely promising Invisible earlier this year, Grace lifts the tempo slightly for this beautifully sung, expertly produced midtempo gem. Lauren Aquilina – another of my faves – has a co-writing credit, and I’m very excited to see how the rest of Grace’s upcoming EP plays out.
Paper Moons – Josef Salvat
The production on these latest Josef songs has been absolutely gorgeous, hasn’t it?!!? Melodically I find Paper Moons slightly less… hook-y(?) than his other recent output, but his indisputable hot streak continues apace. Beautiful, beautiful stuff.
Who I Am – Melanie C
After last year’s Sink The Pink hook-up High Heels, Sporty’s still very much in dancefloor territory on Who I Am; the kind of reflective, comfortable-in-my-own-skin bop that’s more than welcome from someone with this much legacy behind them. Is it a bit on the basic side? Yes! But y’know what? At this point Melanie can do whatever she goddamn wants.
Playlisted 2020, week 11: In which Rebecca Black bests Ellie, Rita, Ava
…but the best song of the week is by someone else entirely
Well it seems we’re all going to be living through even scarier times than usual for the next few months, but at least we have some Coronabops to see us through the UK’s first stretch of isolationmania. And given how slim the pickings were last week, THANK GOODNESS.
Follow my rolling 2020 Spotify playlist here, or at the bottom of this post. Here are the songs I’m adding to it this week:
Forever – Fletcher
Last year’s Undrunk notched up 91 million Spotify streams for Fletcher, so she’s properly close to hitting the Big Time now – and Forever might just be the song to do it. Somehow it’s a… kinda chilled-out pop song you can also imagine sweatily dancing to?! I think it’s the combination of wistful guitar moments and a pounding synthy bass track. It’s really good; my song of the week.
Closer – Rebecca Black
Coming up for a full decade on from Friday, and Rebecca Black is still pumping out little electro-bops and… not for the first time!… she’s released a proper good’un. Closer has a touch of the Charli XCXs about it, actually; it’s not quite as innovative and exciting as other tracks in this wheelhouse (and the clanging of pans towards the end is a bit naff) but it’s still really lovely: Rebecca’s voice sounds great, the production is very algorithm-friendly, and it’s actually a darn site better than loads of the more high-profile releases this week.
Innocent – Zoe A’Dore
I’ve never encountered Zoe A’Dore before, but the PopJustice NMF post points out that she seems to… only release one song a year? I won’t get too attached, but Innocent is a great little bop.
Toxic – Kehlani
I’ve ALWAYS got time for a new Kehlani track, and Toxic is another ace. I’ve been regretting not putting Nights Like This on my best singles of 2019 list, so I shan’t be sleeping on her anymore in 2k20, no ma’am!!
Kings and Queens – Ava Max
The Official Charts Company’s New Releases post compared the chorus of this to allSTARS’ Things Go Bump In The Night and now that’s basically all I think about. Kings and Queens is ridiculous and dramatic, and I still haven’t fully fallen for Ava’s actual voice, but she has put out some perfectly decent tracks since Sweet But Psycho and I’m not writing her off yet.
Worry About Me – Ellie Goulding feat. blackbear
So I really didn’t like this on Friday, but of all the songs on this list… it’s been in my head the most over the weekend. I guess it’s hard for Ellie to know where she fits in the current pop landscape, so while she figures that out, I guess this is pretty decent for now??
How To Be Lonely – Rita Ora
This makes the cut based solely on Rita Privileges; I really like her voice on this song and I like the sort of ballpark it’s aiming for but it doesn’t feel quite as impactful as the first few singles from the Phoenix era. Obviously I hope it is a monstrous hit!!! But I’m not sure I’ll still be playing it a few weeks from now.