Connect with us

Music

I saw Natasha Bedingfield in concert for the first time and… it was surprisingly emotional

It’s like music is a time machine FOR FEELINGS(?)

Published

on

It may have been pent-up stress from earlier in the day, it may have been the sheer power of nostalgia, it may simply have been the Red Stripe. To be perfectly honest it was probably all three. But when Natasha Bedingfield sauntered onto the stage at the Islington Assembly Hall last night to the sound of her iconic number one These Words, my eyes were – to by great surprise – fucking brimming with tears. BRIMMING! I wasn’t expecting it, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.

It’s a strange experience, watching one of your teen heroes for the first time when you’re literally double the age you were when you fell in love with them. In 2004, when the Unwritten album came out, I was 15; reasonably sure there was some sort of gaydom brewing, but determined to stay besotted with the girl I sat next to in Biology. It was truly one of my Big Albums growing up: I was a sucker for the gospel choir finale of the title track, I was obsessed with the lyrics of Wild Horses without consciously linking them to my then-TBC sexuality, and I had a full music video mapped out in my head for all-time-great deep cut Silent Movie (in a display of groundbreaking creativity, it was itself… a silent movie).

Natasha continued to deliver: her second album N.B. followed in 2007 and accompanied many an 18-year-old road trip to Norfolk (I even loyally purchased its US equivalent Pocketful of Sunshine when I spent the summer in Michigan the next year), and Strip Me landed in 2010 (the UK in 2011) to see me through some relatively dark patches in my third year of uni (Can’t Fall Down? A wallow-a-long classic!!).

Now she’s back, and last night was the first time I’d ever seen her perform. She’s got a new album out this week – Roll With Me – and she shared a fair chunk of it during the 70-minute set. Brave, given that fans can’t sing along with songs that are unfamiliar, but it certainly paid off: the vast majority sounds ace. Kick It is a bona-fide bop that perfectly bridges 00s Natasha and 10s Natasha, while lead single Roller Skate actually sounds better live than it does on record.

But she absolutely delivered on the old stuff too. These Words, Unwritten, Single, Love Like This (LOVE LIKE THIS! Remember Love Like This?! What a jam), I Bruise Easily, Pocketful of Sunshine and Wild Horses were all aired; while she gamely hummed a few lines of I Wanna Have Your Babies and even added all-time classic Soulmate as an impromptu closer amid in-the-room demand.

The reason, I think, that I found it so surprisingly overwhelming was that many of my favourite artists who were at their most powerful in the 90s or 00s have either continued to make and release music on a slightly smaller scale (Avril Lavigne, Nelly Furtado, some of the Spice Girls, Hilary Duff), or kept themselves famous in other areas altogether (Ashlee Simpson, Louise, the rest of the Spice Girls, Hilary Duff again). Natasha is somewhat different in that she did, to UK audiences at least, sod off completely – and her absence from the public eye made it easier to forget just how much she meant to me in the first place. In those first moments of These Words, not to be too dramatic or slip into “hyperbowl”, but it was like I was suddenly being confronted with my 15-year-old self: I thought about how nervously unsure he was about where his life was going; how afraid he was that he wouldn’t find the love that would go on to materialise in spades; how unprepared he was for the anxiety-laden lows and complications of adulthood. All of it. And again, the Red Stripe almost definitely exacerbated all this, but the point is it was deep, and it’s really stayed with me since.

Isn’t it fucking great how music – pop music for me – can do that? Take you right back to particular moments, emotions, general ~phases of your history; sometimes by sheer stealth? I think Natasha will have that effect on a lot of people. These were the songs of MSN statuses, of CD Walkmans (Walkmen?), of being the profile tune on your MySpace page.

Now she’s back, and who knows: maybe in another 15 years I’ll hear some of this new stuff again and be similarly taken aback by memories of it soundtracking flop tweets, millennial 30-year-old anxiety, and feeling like there’s just too much fucking TV to get through. Who’s to say. The rest is still, and I cannot stress this enough, unwritten.

Roll With Me by Natasha Bedingfield is out on August 30.

Music

100 songs of the decade: Starships – Nicki Minaj

‘I ain’t paying my rent this month. I owe that’

Published

on

Written by: Onika Maraj, Nadir Khayat, Carl Falk, Rami Yacoub, Wayne Hector and Bilal Hajji
Produced by: RedOne, Rami Yacoub and Carl Falk
Album: Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded
UK release: February 2012
UK chart peak: 2

The thing about Starships is… it’s batshit crazy. After moving towards pop with the likes of Super Bass and Fly at the turn of the decade, Nicki Minaj went Full Poppers O’Clock with this and its follow-up Pound The Alarm; both of which are the musical equivalent of being slammed round the face with a brick.

Minaj pulls off the high-high-high-octane banger with her usual charisma, and RedOne’s fingerprints are all over the chaotic production. Starting with a gentle electric guitar strum and ending with full football-stadium-like chants, it’s completely wild – and honestly it’s best to just go along with it and have the time of your life than stop and think about what a RACKET it is.

Ultimately it’s cut from the same cloth as the LMFAO horrifibangers of the time, but like… better?

  • I’ll be writing about my favourite 100 pop songs of the decade; one a day for the last 100 days of 2019. They’re in no particular order, except the Top 10 – which will (obviously) come in late December.
  • See the full list so far here.
  • You can follow the rolling, daily-updated playlist below, or here.

Continue Reading

Music

100 songs of the decade: Anywhere – Rita Ora

‘You’re painting me a dream that I wanna belong in’

Published

on

Written by: Rita Ora, Nolan Lambroza, Ali Tamposi, Alessandro Lindblad, Nicholas Gale, Andrew Wotman and Brian Lee
Produced by: Alesso, Watt and Sir Nolan
Album: Phoenix
UK release: October 2017
UK chart peak: 2

After YEARS of legal difficulties kept her in the musical wilderness, Rita Ora made a solid return with Your Song; but it was Anywhere that really (and I mean REALLY) put her back at the very front of British pop.

Songs that swap a proper chorus for a cop-out ~breakdown have become THE DEVIL in recent years, but there are exceptions, and Anywhere is one of them. Seven credited writers and the chorus is just glitchy vocal effects and the occasional “Oh!”? You bet! Anywhere serves wistful lyrics in the verses and pre-chorus, then gives you the exact payoff you need: a big, balls-to-the-wall slab of surreal perfection.

I made Touch by Little Mix my No1 song of 2017 in the year-end rankings I did at the time (with thanks to the 0 people on whom that list made a lasting impression), and let’s not lie – that tune is fucking enormous – but, given a chance to re-do, I think I’d nudge this almighty, career-redefining gem up to No1 instead.

The Top 10 of this 100 Songs of the Decade project will be the only part ranked into an actual order; but if I were to do it to the whole 100, Anywhere would be very comfortably in the Top 20. What. A. Song.

  • I’ll be writing about my favourite 100 pop songs of the decade; one a day for the last 100 days of 2019. They’re in no particular order, except the Top 10 – which will (obviously) come in late December.
  • See the full list so far here.
  • You can follow the rolling, daily-updated playlist below, or here.

Continue Reading

Music

100 songs of the decade: Hold It Against Me – Britney Spears

‘You feel like paradise, and I need a vacation tonight’

Published

on

Written by: Max Martin, Dr. L**e, Bonnie McKee and Mathieu Jomphe
Produced by: Max Martin, Billboard and Dr. L**e
Album: Femme Fatale
UK release: January 2011
UK chart peak: 6

Pop was well and truly shifting HARD towards the electro ~vibe at the turn of the decade, and when Britney Spears joined in all guns blazing with the Femme Fatale era, it felt so. Fucking. Exciting.

On Hold It Against Me, she not only shifted towards electropop; she also became one of the first God-tier popstars to jump on dubstep. Of course it its use in middle-8s was tired and overused by, like, 2012; but it felt fresh and innovative here. And actually, it felt – as all good Britney singles do – like it was both on-trend and ahead of the curve at the same time; and I’m choosing to attribute any and all credit for that to everyone involved except That Man.

There are so many fun Britneyisms in this, too: the way she says “hazayyy”, the fight she has with HERSELF in the video, the delivery of “YOU! FEEL! LIKE! PAAARADISE!”, the editing of “na-na-na-NAAOW”, the double entendres… it’s among Brit’s more under-rated singles, I admit, but come on now – it is absolutely one of her best.

  • I’ll be writing about my favourite 100 pop songs of the decade; one a day for the last 100 days of 2019. They’re in no particular order, except the Top 10 – which will (obviously) come in late December.
  • See the full list so far here.
  • You can follow the rolling, daily-updated playlist below, or here.

Continue Reading

Trending