Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Most people wouldn't guess that I'm a fervent fan of (good) pop music.  Many think I'm just some sort hipster obscurist, but it's not true I tell  you!  I like a good pop tune as much as anyone, but perhaps my definition of good is a bit stricter?  Today, there are a couple of tracks I'd like to write about that I consider to be very poppy, but I'm going to start with a classic from the 80's.  In many ways, the 80's seem like the golden age of pop to me, but I think that's mostly cos the 80's is when I was a little kid.  It was a good time for synth-driven music though, and a lot the poppy music I like now also has a synth-fuelled sound.  Here's some Howard Jones:

Last night I went to see a far newer pop act, AlunaGeorge.  I was in two minds about going to the show, mostly cos I didn't have anyone to go with, it was on a work night, and the band weren't due on til 11.15pm.  I also wasn't sure how AlunaGeorge's pop sound would transfer to a live setting -- I was pretty wary of just watching someone press play on a computer and then have some singing over the top.  I ended up going though, and I'm glad I did, as it was a very good gig.  It was at U Street Music Hall, which has been a consistently great venue in my experience -- good sound, good acts, and a great crowd who are more than happy to get into things and dance.  There's always a good energy there and the acts really seem to feed off of it; last night was no different.  AlunaGeorge are Aluna Francis, singer, and George Reid, producer, but for their live act they also brought along a drummer and bass player.  I love electronic music, but I do think when you go to see someone live it's nice to have some more traditional musicianship on the stage too, and not just a lot (or even worse, a little) electronic equipment.  This way you know that some of what you're hearing is truly live, and you're getting a unique experience, different from what you'd hear just by listening to recorded music.  Of course, there are solo electronic acts who do a great job of transferring what they do onto stage, even while being all by themselves (Shigeto and Four Tet come to mind), but there also those whose "live" sound is so perfect that it's like karaoke (cough cough, Disclosure and Simian Mobile Disco).  Sorry, but a nice light show doesn't make up for that.  Back to the sold-out show -- again, it was a pretty great gig and I'm going to finally say that I'm impressed by DC crowds.  The kinds of electronic shows I like seem to consistently sell out here and at venues like U Street I can't say that the crowd is just full of in-the-know posers who want to be seen at the right place.  Last night's crowd, similar to the one at Bonobo a few months ago, was really into AlunaGeorge's music, so much so that the cliched act of holding the mic out to the crowd really worked well!  People knew the songs, the lyrics, and they really got down in a nice happy way.  Here's the track they ended the show with -- a show that didn't flag by the way, helped by the fact that is was only 45 minutes long, but that length actually felt perfect -- long enough to have a good time, short enough to not get tired or bored.

My last pop-post is by the very non-Icelandic-sounding but apparently Icelandic singer Emiliana Torrini.  Heard her on the radio, this track specifically, and liked what I heard.  A slightly different sound that is still very pop, I think.  I hope she comes to DC.