Roundup of ListenOnRepeat New Music Reviews (March 2021)

Reviews Roundup March 2021

The 2021 Eurovision song contest might allow nearly 3500 music fans to attend the music competition that is being held next month in Neatherlands. As per Dutch government, singers can represent their countries in the event maintaining the safety protocol. Will you be participating in the event? Let us know in the comments!

Meanwhile check out the latest music reviews of March 2021 on ListenOnRepeat below:

강다니엘(KANGDANIEL) – PARANOIA M/V

Konnect Entertainment is a relatively young company founded by the young K-pop star, Kang Daniel. The singer first experienced the limelight as part of the show “Produce 101,” a K-pop reality competition show that sees production companies snap up young Korean talent. He joined the group Wanna One as part of this show, alongside other finalists and it seemed like the start of a glittering career. Yet, the group disbanded in 2019 and Daniel was given the choice to go solo on the label. His debut solo album, Color On Me was well received and he has gone from strength to strength since then.

Yet while his early material was more focused on dance, dynamism and spectacle, this new track is about inner drama, about the emotions we don’t see. “Paranoia” still has a lavish official video (what else would you expect) that is blockbuster, cinematic and adorned with all the bells and whistles of the K-pop style, including choreographed set pieces. Yet, there are far more calmer scenes where Daniel is pictured in lonely moments while the camera whizzes around him. It is a slightly different tack, but one that will appear authentic and endear him to fans well beyond his die-hard audience.

Indeed, ten million views in two days … these are numbers not often seen by Konnect Entertainment, the label founded to promote Kang Daniel’s music and career. There are some recent videos with less than 100,000 views. “Paranoia,” therefore, could be a turning point that turns the singer into a bone fide star. Fans seem to agree, with one saying: “Kang Daniel doesn’t lie. When he said whatever you’re thinking, “I will surpass your expectations” … Daniel surely outdid himself — again & again! Now my expectations for last album of the Color Series is ↗️… can’t wait!!”

Watch 강다니엘(KANGDANIEL) – PARANOIA M/V

Daft Punk – Epilogue

With 20 million views in just one day, the final instalment in Daft Punk’s staggering career has created more buzz than even their biggest fans would have expected. The electronic duo first formed back in 1993 in Paris. Two friends, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter moved from the Indie world to experimenting with synthesizers and by the late 1990s they had gained popularity in the bubbling French house movement. But their music was way bigger than genre categories. Over the next couple of decades they would become one of the biggest and most influential acts in dance history, but also in modern music. Tracks like “One More Time,” “Around The World,” “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” and, more recently, “Get Lucky” are all part of the modern canon of popular music standards, having left the dance floor and entered the mainstream, directly influencing all manner of artists, from Kanye West to Skrillex.

The duo is characteristic of the coming-of-age of modern dance music, which inevitably bled into pop and everything around it. They carry a huge amount of nostalgia for 80s kids and millennials, especially for the French, who have responded emotionally to their announcement. They gave no reason for their split, but after twenty-eight years, do you need to give a reason?

Instead, they released a video entitled “Epilogue,” which sees them in their signature helmets, walking along a deserted landscape together. It is a rough goodbye, actioned via explosion, but it marks a sufficiently zany exit for a group who broke the rules and made new ones straight afterwards. Fans left comments in praise of the group, with one saying: “My father was 20 years old the year your legendary duo was created, when I was little I used to steal his CDs to listen to them in my room for hours. I was 20 years old the year you separated. I can only say thank you for all that you have brought to this world and to all the children and grandchildren that you have accompanied.”

Watch Daft Punk – Epilogue 

Mariah Carey – We Belong Together (Mimi’s Late Night Valentine’s Mix)

Valentine’s Day isn’t normally a date that artists use to promote their new music. But Mariah Carey is the Queen of holiday songs and it is a theme that has worked out for her very well in the past. Yet, “We Belong Together” is a song that was originally released over a decade ago in March, so where is the connection to the holiday of love? Well, her project for early 2021 seems to be to re-interpret the track, which was first released on an album called The Emancipation of Mimi, with a more romantic vibe. Hence the sub-title for the cover “Mimi’s Late Night Valentine’s Remix.”

On February 12, Mariah did a performance of “We Belong Together” on the Kelly and Ryan show. It was an intimate set that featured just her and three musicians (a drummer, bassist and keyboard player), and fans have praised her confidence and ability, something that just seems to get better and better with age: “Mariah’s musicality is insane. She has retrieved her vocal agility, vocal range, vocal stability, resonance and most importantly her CONFIDENCE. It’s been a long time since I saw her perform with such great confidence. I shed tears listening to this masterpiece. So jazzy and soulful.”

Vocal runs and high notes hit, Carey is as impressive as ever on this stripped back cover of her 2005 R&B hit. She also revealed that the group recorded a seven-minute version of the song, something she might release for the lambiny (her pet name for her fans). The reason for revisiting such a classic is clear – during the pandemic we have all reassessed our perspective as to what’s important in life, she explained: “Now dealing with the pandemic and dealing with everything that we’re all dealing with, ‘We Belong Together’ is really even more of a message than it was when we first wrote this song. So hopefully a little later, as things are getting in terms of the pandemic, we’ll all be together again.”

Aloe Blacc & LeAnn Rimes – I Do (Official Video)

Aloe Blacc has teamed up with LeAnn Rimes for a re-run of his 2020 track “I Do,” a song originally designed to re-affirm his wedding vows: “Never understood why/ People always said love chooses you/ Now I do.” Now it is time for the duet version of the song and LeAnn Rimes is the perfect choice in terms of vocal tone – the two voices compliment each other very well. Rimes is a Grammy-award-winning singer who shot to fame at the age of 13 with a cover of Billy Mack’s song “Blue.” She joins Blacc in a stripped down studio performance of “I Do,” which doubles up as the duet’s official video.

Aloe Blacc has been a semi-famous name for over a decade now. His star rose internationally through his smash hit “I Need A Dollar,” which marked a cross-genre success that nearly made him a household name. Yet, there has always been something mysterious about the singer, partly because he never quite achieved super stardom, as pointed out by one of the fans in the comments section: “Aloe Blacc is so awesome, yet so little people know about him..how is this fair in the world of so many wannabe musicians who are not at his level, but are much more famous?”

In any case, the die hard fans know what’s up, and Blacc has the respect of other musicians. Songs like “I Do” develop the personal side to his music and this reissue comes just in time for Valentine’s day, so fans can share in the love. It was first released as the 10th Anniversary celebration to his wedding and this cover comes as part of a full re-recording of his album, All Love Everything. He recently performed the track on the US reality show, The Bachelor.

P!nk, Willow Sage Hart – Cover Me In Sunshine (Lyrics)

P!nk is an artist that all 90s kids will have grown up listening to, or being aware of at the very least. She is still going strong in 2021 and that is a testament to her strong character branding, plus the many hits she has released along the way. This time she has partnered with Willow Sage Hart, an artist who just happens to be her very own nine-year-old daughter. It is always nice for fans to see family projects such as this, and Willow has a good voice for her age, adding a personal element to the track that might not have been there otherwise.

What’s more, her presence fundamentally influences the song, which could be read as a pact between mother and daughter to care for each other and, as the title suggests, to cover each other “in sunshine.” A chorus lyric reads: “Tell me that the world’s been spinning since the beginning/ and everything will be alright.” In this sense, the general tone of the song is soft, but it belies a strong and universal message, one that is comforting and hard-hitting in equal measure. P!nk’s famous abrasive style has been dropped for something that is founded on gentleness and motherly affection.

One top commenter pointed out: “The way P!nk is raising her kids is amazing ! She has the money to spoil them rotten but no she wants them to learn how it is to work hard for something, be humble, and just be a decent human being.” Fans are able to relate to the song, no matter their life conditions, and this gives it broad appeal that has seen it shoot up the charts. P!nk released the following message to fans: “My baby girl and I recorded a song and made a video together!! We hope it brings you joy and sweetness and sunshine.”

Watch P!nk, Willow Sage Hart – Cover Me In Sunshine (Lyrics)

Fan de Tus Fotos – Nicky Jam x Romeo Santos | Video Oficial

“Fan de Tus Fotos,” which translates as “Fan of Your Photos” is a voyeuristic song about carnal desire. Put in a more PC sense, it is an ode to feminine beauty. The two artists paying tribute are Nicky Jam, an American Latin trap and reggaeton artist with Puerto Rican heritage who hails from Massachusetts and Romeo Santos, another American from New York whose heritage includes both Dominican and Puerto Rican strands. Both have combined over a track sung in Spanish that will surely strengthen their position with one of the biggest, and fastest growing, music markets in the world.

The official video pictures both artists in an office job where they are surrounded by beautiful women. Both daydream and lose focus, imagining scenarios that are very different from the meeting settings they find themselves in. Soon, the women catch on and the two are asked to pack their stuff and exit the office. Cut to a scene of them singing about their strife and, soon enough, we are back in fantasy world where everything goes.

Fans have pointed out the reggaeton influences in the track and though Jam is well known for the sound, Santos is something of a new comer. As one fan pointed out, however: “[Santo is] the only artist from another genre who can’t be despised every time he releases a reggaeton song.” Together, they have combined over a smooth track built on a beat that will get listeners moving without lighting up dance floors.

With about a million views a day so far since the video’s release, it is safe to say that “Fan de Tus Fotos” is a winner and the fact that comments sections are full of Spanish speakers means that the approach is working well. Both artists are Latin stars hailing from the States, a breed of musician that is fast becoming more normal.

Watch Fan de Tus Fotos – Nicky Jam x Romeo Santos | Video Oficial

Crystal Silence

The world recently lost Chick Corea, one of the greatest jazz pianist ever due to his impact, his inventiveness and a repertoire that spread around the world and meant so much to so many people. Corea was an artist who played with Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, as well as so many other inter-cultural collaborations. He was also known as pioneer of fusion, especially with his group Return To Forever. His passing has really affected fans, not least because he is part of a generation of great jazzmen who are getting older, like Herbie Hancock, Roy Haynes and Wayne Shorter. We known longer have Chick in the world, and we are now, more than ever, aware that this generation won’t last forever, either.

He had a singular voice, hands that were precise, playful and delicate on the keys, as well as a style of delivery that hit the listener so keenly, right where the heart simultaneously hurts and sings. In the days following his death, which was due to a rare form of cancer, the jazz community came out with all manner of tributes, from musicians who played with him, to personal friends, to Youtubers like Adam Kneely, to DJs and broadcasters like Gilles Peterson.

Here is perhaps him most famous song (his most listened-to on Spotify, at any rate), “Crystal Silence,” a floating and dream-laden piece that transports the viewer someplace else, perhaps where Chick is now. Before passing he left the following message: “I want to thank all of those along my journey who have helped keep the music fires burning bright. It is my hope that those who have an inkling to play, write, perform or otherwise, do so.”

Watch Crystal Silence

NCT 127 (엔시티 127) – ‘Lipstick’ Lyrics (Color Coded_Jpn_Rom_Eng)

NCT 127 are a subgroup of the larger parent group NCT, who are under the management of the giant group SM Entertainment. They are part of the pop machine in Korea, which is an entire infrastructure converting young talents into bankable, bone fide, stars. NCT stands for Neo Culture Technology, which is the field of entertainment that the act belong to, a structure of pop music that conquered first Korea and then the world. The “127” in the name comes from the longitudinal coordinate of Seoul, where the band originates. Coming up in 2016, they are now comprised of 10 members: Taeil, Taeyong (leader), Yuta, Jaehyun, Winwin, Mark, Haechan Doyoung and Johnny with Jungwoo being the most recent new member after joining in 2018.

Downloads charts are dominated by the group right now, with their new album Loveholic having made waves since its release. “Lipstick” is one of the singles from this release, a track about female beauty, centered around the attraction that lipstick brings, in all its various colors. In fact, each member of the group has their own color they speak about, and the cover for this version of the song pictures each with a filter of their chosen color. Individual tropes and ways to differentiate the different members is a cornerstone of fan engagement in K-pop.

For this lyric video to “Lipstick,” the lyrics have been translated into two languages other than Korean, Japanese and English, covering the three main groups of people in the world that buy and listen to K-pop. The singing is also done in multiple languages to ensure that all fanbases are catered for. Could you imagine American musicians doing the same? Occasionally there are English and Spanish blends but they are few and far between. It is this pluralism that makes K-pop such a popular and fast-growing music group.

Watch NCT 127 (엔시티 127) – ‘Lipstick’ Lyrics (Color Coded_Jpn_Rom_Eng)

KINGDOM – Excalibur Official M/V

With organ music playing in the background, dramatic strings, the sound of swords being unsheathed, “Excalibur” might not have many of the tropes of a K-pop release. And yet, it sounds and looks just as appealing for mainstream fans as any other track. This is the debut from the group, Kingdom, a stylist new outfit that carry their branding in their name. What they offer is theatrical, dramatic, history chic with a touch of video-game glow. New acts need to distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack to break through, and no where is that more difficult than in the high-flying, saturated K-pop milieu.

Yet, it looks as if they’ve achieved just that. By posing as a fantasy, historical group of chevaliers, they piqued audience interest from the word go and the view count will surely reflect that before long. Besides, there is nothing particularly zany about Kingdom – they exist within the cosplay space and their music is produced to appeal to the average listener. It’s just more high-concept in terms of theme than we have seen from most K-pop groups.

The official video is a thrill and an absolute mess at the same time. We see the knights of the round table, wizards, musketeers, ninjas, men from the future, men from the past … it is a wonderful headache to piece together. There is even an instance of samurai hara kiri, which is always good for adding a touch of drama to proceedings. The only precedent we might have seen for this in K-pop is Agust D’s “Daechwita,” which was set in a medieval village. All in all it is cool to see some bold experimentation when it comes to creating new groups and fans are sure to be curious.

Watch KINGDOM – Excalibur Official M/V

Gojira – Born For One Thing [OFFICIAL VIDEO]

“Mortal, spawn on the altar/ Caught in the heart of the blaze/ The primal fear of disappearing/ Becoming a ghost in the void (Death)” … it seems heavy metal music is alive and well, even in the itunes downloads charts. Gorjira is a group that formed in 1996 (originally with the name Godzilla) in Landes, France. The The band’s lineup – consisting of brothers Joe Duplantier (vocals, rhythm guitar) and Mario Duplantier (drums), Christian Andreu (lead guitar), and Jean-Michel Labadie (bass), has not changed since the group took on their new name, Gojira, in 2001. Two decades later, they are still going strong, having racked up nearly a million views in just a couple of days (way more than their subscriber count on Youtube.

“God damn boys, leave some riffs for the rest of us” … so reads the top comment on their official video, setting the tone for a series of jokes about just how skilled this group are at playing their instruments. In what looks like a natural history museum, the group shred it up as a girl in zebra trousers and a guy in a hoodie run through the rooms getting chased by a security guard. Soon, more figures join, all running towards a closet where they lock themselves in as the guard tries to break down the door. Once it opens he is standing in front of a jaguar/ leopard and the message is made.

All of us have a fearsome animal in us somewhere, and “Born For One Thing” is about teasing out the inner beast. It is nice to see plurality of genres in mainstream charts and Gojira must be pleased to be connecting with an international audience that is far beyond their community size.

Watch Gojira – Born For One Thing [OFFICIAL VIDEO]

Olivia Rodrigo – Drivers License (Cover by Coco Quinn)

Olivia Rodrigo’s song “Driver’s License” has been at the top of downloads charts for a long while now, catapulting her to new levels of fame. As a result, there have been many covers of the track on Youtube, which is something to be expected. But perhaps none of those covers are quite like the one done by Coco Quinn, a young singer actress and model who has amassed millions of followers across social media accounts. For her, a “cover” means a professional music video, one that might as well have been an original. Different scenes and outfits, high production value, good acting … Quinn is redefining the possibilities of the humble cover, a far cry from singing your favorite lyrics into a webcam.

But the thing is, Coco Quinn is an artist in her own right – she has a label, a manager and a record deal. She shot to fame through videos on Youtube that she started making at the age of 12. It is her guardian who manages her estate for her, which means she is still too young to have much control over her finances. Quinn is the new breed of teenage superstar and her fans have grown up with her.

There is a large team for productions like this one: a sound engineer, instrumental producer, vocal producer, vocal coach, backing singers, and much more. But it is Coco the fans are interested in, not just the music but her backstory and how it relates to her releases. At some point Coco will start touring and selling out stadiums (if she isn’t already) and the fanbase she’s built is bigger than anything a traditional publisher could have helped her with.

Watch Olivia Rodrigo – Drivers License (Cover by Coco Quinn)

Sam Ryder – Whirlwind (Official Lyric Video)

“Whirlwinds are simple to enter but once you get sucked in it is hard to leave” … Sam Ryder uses natural metaphors to describe the turbulence of love on this latest track, which is proving a hit with audiences as it climbs up the downloads charts. This is the debut single by Ryder, who lived in Hawaii for many years while running a vegan coffee shop before he even picked up a guitar and wrote his first track. That all changed when he started uploading his music to the social media platform Tik Tok, where it really took off and bam! New career.

Such is the power of Tik Tok, and Ryder’s sincere singing style and poignant, easily-digestible songwriting is perfect for the online audience. Ryder even ended last year as the most popular UK artist on Tik Tok, with his music reaching the likes of Elton John, Justin Bieber and Ellen, converting all of them into fans and champions of his music. “Set You Free” was a powerhouse of a track, and “Whirlwind” has a similar, yet softer, power. This is the start of something special for Ryder, who has all the minerals to succeed and a clear path ahead of him.

He released a statement for fans along with the single that read: “To be frustratingly ambiguous about the meaning (I’ll let you make up your own mind) when you’re spiralling, up or down, there are forces at work that are beyond your control. In essence, If you ever find yourself swept up in a whirlwind, it might (or might not) be of some comfort to know that where you end up may not be completely up to you…” With a growing international audience, Ryder is one to watch for at the very top over the next few years.

Watch Sam Ryder – Whirlwind (Official Lyric Video)

픽시(PIXY) – Wings MV

The K-pop scene has yet another girl group who are determined to take a slice of the market. PIXY is made up of six members and has been put together by two companies, ALLART Entertainment and Happy Tribe Entertainment. Their first single, released on February 24, 2021, is a single introducing the group, called “With My Wings.”

One of the first things we notice about this track and its official video is the lighting, choreography and sets – there is a darkness and an allusion to madness in the direction, as if the group have decided to exercise their dark side before showing anything of their light side. This has brought comparisons with the group Dreamcatcher, who are well known for indulging in the more somber aspect of their music from time to time. As one fan pointed out: “As an insomnia since dreamcatcher debuted its so refreshing to see other girl groups try a darker concept because it’s why dreamcatcher caught my eye, I’m sure I’m gonna stan pixy.”

The group’s six members – Ella, Lola, Satbyeol, Dia, Sua, and Dajeong – all take it in turns to sing or rap their section of the song, often with different lighting and a different set designed to give them each a distinctive character and introduce them to fans in an individual, rather than collective way.

Throughout the video, the same duality of prettiness belying darkness is used, both in the lyrics and in the visuals – we see band members with butterflies on their backs, which form several “wings” while the words tell a darker story. We also see one of the artists intertwined with nature, but the vines soon strengthen their hold and trap her. It is an interesting and successful debut for this new group who aren’t afraid to let their darkness show.

Watch 픽시(PIXY) – Wings MV

Sean Williams – Where You Left Me (Official Audio)

“You promised you were different and that you felt the same/ It’s crazy how fast things change/ Because you want me, only when you want me/  But when I need you, you’re not there” … This new track by Sean Williams describes a relationship in turmoil for the most part, but there is also a different perspective brought into view, one that sees Williams looking back, years since the relationship ended, talking about how good he feels and how he can’t remember feeling that way for many years. Indeed, wronged parties are forced to rediscover themselves once a toxic relationship ends, and Williams has done exactly that. 

It is clear that many of his fans are able to relate to the song and its message, with one top commenter writing: This song speaks volumes 🎶 living through these lyrics as I’m sure many are. For me the biggest struggle is trying to walk away from the love of my life, but also reminding myself that I shouldn’t have to beg to be part of someone’s life….” Williams writes country music from the heart but keeps the themes clear and general enough for all listeners to get something from his music.

With a decent Tik Tok following, no Twitter page and a minimal community on Youtube, Williams is just breaking into the mainstream of country music and can only do so with tracks like this that get popular on social media before entering the charts for downloads and plays. He has a strong, sincere tone of voice and is able to inject pain without it feeling self-pitying. “When you broke my heart that is what set me free” … Williams is in a cathartic place and his fans are right there with him.

Watch Sean Williams – Where You Left Me (Official Audio)

 

Mogwai – To The Bin My Friend, Tonight We Vacate Earth (Official Audio)

“To the bin my friend, tonight we vacate earth” … these are the only words on Mogwai’s new album opener, a mystical voyage to somewhere more peaceful, where atmospheric, guitar-centered music lulls you into a blissful stupor. It has been twenty-five years since the Scottish post-rock group have had a number one album. Yet, As The Love Continues has completely revived what many thought of as a respectable but now irrelevant band. Not so – their tenth studio album release has been a revelation – and frontman Stuart Braithwaite described the experience like this: “totally surreal, completely unexpected. At no one point ever has anyone even working with us said we’re going to have a No 1 album – it’s not the kind of thing that enters into our orbit.”

Indeed, it wasn’t even something the group were pushing for. Speaking with the Guardian, he continued: “we’re super-proud of what we were doing, but we’ve been making music for over 25 years and we were happy staying where we are. We had no expansion plans.” It seems fate has decided that, in this moment, more Mogwai is what the people need and it has left fans pondering as to how to categorize their mainstream new iteration.

One top commenter did a good job of capturing the general mood: “there is underground music there is mainstream music and here, there is overground music, the one that levitates you above the earth.” This new track certainly has a slow-burning, transportive power that is reminiscent of other 80s prog rock groups, notably Talk Talk. It is well-pitched, visionary music coming from where you’d least expect it. One of the best, and most surprising, releases of 2021 without a doubt. 

Watch Mogwai – To The Bin My Friend, Tonight We Vacate Earth (Official Audio)

Brandon Davis – What Cowboys Are For Lyric Video

“Girl you don’t need another outlaw/ Ain’t looking for another Jesse James/ Don’t be fooled by my hat and boots no we ain’t all the same” … This new track by Brandon Davis forms a nice counter-point to the bad boy narrative in country that is full of mistakes, broken hearts, whiskey bottles and the drowning of sorrows. Instead, what cowboys are for, according to Davis, is mending broken hearts and sweeping damsels off their feet. Rather than “gambling” with love, like a saloon chancer, these new age outlaws are in the business of securing it forever more.

Fans can’t get enough of the counter-narrative. What’s more, Davis’ soundscape is driving and atmospheric, making it perfect daydreaming or travelling music, as one top commenter pointed out: “When you make an album I hope I have a road trip to go on that day cause I am going to play the hell out of it.” Of course, during periods of lockdown these sensations are even stronger and music has a way of bringing it out of the listener, especially when it includes, mournful nostalgic bottle neck guitar, driving rock drums and a tone like Davis’. 

Like many other examples in the last couple of years, this is a track that has shot to fame via one likely source: Tiktok. Brandon Davis only has 11K subscribers on Youtube and yet this song is in the top five on the itunes downloads charts. Tiktok is the star maker of the moment and you can bet that when Davis decides to release a full project, there will be a ready-made fanbase waiting to buy it as soon as it drops.

Demi Lovato – Dancing With The Devil (Live Acoustic Performance)

“I told you I was okay but I was lying” is the chorus lyric that hits hardest on this new track by Demi Lovato: “Dancing With The Devil.” Lovato has gone through very public scandals and breakdowns over the years and it has been an unpleasant spectacle – the pap media show no mercy to young spiralling stars, especially if they are female and former television/ Disney actresses. We have seen it time and time again and though, thankfully, the conversation is now being had, thanks largely to the New York Times Brittney Spears documentary, young superstars have always been vulnerable in Hollywood … its a cliché to even say as much.

“Dancing With The Devil” is about the sinister ways addiction and self-medication creep up on us: “It’s just a little red wine, i’ll be fine/ Not like I wanna do this every night/ I’ve been good, don’t I deserve it?” The lyrics later move beyond alcohol and into much harder drug use, something Lovato has been confronting in her songwriting ever since her comeback in early 2020. When she says she “almost made it to heaven/ I was closer than you know,” her fans have cause to believe her 100% as they’ve been on this journey with her from the beginning.

One top commenter showed just how aware of her situation they are: “Demi always sang with prestige and with her heart, but this time it feels like she’s singing from her soul as if she has no more lifelines. So. Powerful. Her singing this gave me chills.” Indeed, this live video marks a vocal performance that will prove some of her detractors wrong, the ones who question the difference between her recording and live vocal quality.

Watch Demi Lovato – Dancing With The Devil (Live Acoustic Performance)

Jackson Wang – LMLY (Official Music Video)

Jackson Wang is the founder of the record label Team Wang, the creative director and lead designer of Team Wang Design, a mutli-talented recording artist with an international fanbase spanning Hong Kong, China, Korea, Japan and the US. Here, singing in English, he has released a track that has been finding success at a fast rate, even by his standards. The 80s-influenced mood, with warm synths and echoey drums, has been a feature of K-pop the last couple of months and has followed an expansion of styles in the Asian pop music space.

Indeed, Jackson got his big pop break in the South Korean group Got7, after ditching a career as an Olympic-level fencer, and though many fans didn’t latch onto him then, he has been building a large and loyal fanbase through his solo career. As one top commenter pointed out: “Which KPOP band you stan it doesn’t matter coz I think everyone loves Jackson Wang.” In this sense the artist is a world apart, something helped by his international status, and he has been building an army through the various “Team Wang” brands that encourage a sense of belonging and fidelity.

Inspired by 90s Hong Kong film iconography, “LMLY” is a love story that ends in heartbreak. The official video follows the budding romance shared by two young people in a restaurant, only to have the girl marry another and drive into the sunset at the very end, leaving Jackson looking dejected and alone in the rear-view mirror. The video is a sequel to the clip for his single “Pretty Please,” which was released in 2020 alongside Galantis. Wang co-directed and scripted this new piece.

Watch Jackson Wang – LMLY (Official Music Video)

Sydney Mack – Pretty Boy (Official Audio)

Sydney Mack has been climbing through the itunes downloads charts at a rate that the artist must never have seen before. “Love ain’t pretty boy” is the hook at the end of the chorus, demonstrating the fix she finds herself in with sweet-talking, good looking guys who say and do all the right things until they move on. “I ain’t your pretty fool,” Mack replies, sending a simple message to her fans: true love is rarely found with pretty boys, but it is going to take a lot of heartbreak on the way before you realize it.

Tiktok is the platform behind Mack’s sudden success. It has become a script we all recognize – young up-and-comer posts a track and wakes up the next day with a million followers and a record deal. But for Mack it worked slightly differently: she has been in the industry for a good while, having competed for Season Four of American Idol and opened gigs for the likes of Florida Georgia Line. Yet success never quite came and, as such, this is a different kind of Tiktok success, one that has helped to finally get a hard working and deserving artist over the line.

Fans are both new and old, but all seem to have fallen in love with Mack’s sound. In the modern world of clicks and shares, Tiktok fans have real consumer power, and they tend to follow artists across platforms and into the real world through gigs and shows. One top commenter summed up the mood: “I found Sydney on Tik Tok and I have been counting the days down for this song to drop!!!!!!! So happy it’s out!”

Watch Sydney Mack – Pretty Boy (Official Audio)

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