Music Reviews

Third Time’s the Charm with Sam Smith’s "Love Goes"

Sam Smith's artistry has always been most interesting when partnered with electronic soundscapes.

Sam Smith

On Sam Smith's third LP, Love Goes, the singer excels at exploring the LED glow and disco ball glitter of dance pop and electronica.

Although Sam Smith has made a name for themself in today's pop game as the chieftain of soulful, the multi-platinum singer-songwriter has best showcased their talent when their voice travels across enveloping, electronic soundscapes made for endless dancing rather than elegiac ruminating.
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Music Features

Before Its Time: How EDM Transformed Ellie Goulding's Folk-Pop

The British pop star's career might've looked entirely different if it weren't for the DJs like Bassnectar and Calvin Harris.

In 2010, a singer-songwriter by the name of Ellie Goulding went from a relative unknown to the newly crowned ruler of the British music charts.

Raised in a village of fewer than 1,000 people, Goulding went on to study at University of Kent, where she was spotted by her future manager. After building a presence on MySpace and linking up with various producers, the budding star inked a record deal with Polydor, who released her first EP, An Introduction to Ellie Goulding, in 2009. The Guardian called her a "pop sensation" before the EP had even hit stores.

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New Releases

On New Album "Future Nostalgia," Dua Lipa Takes Female Empowerment to the Dance Floor

The English star's latest album is a fantastic collection of retro funk-pop.

Ever since first declaring her "New Rules" in 2017, Dua Lipa's music has come to represent independence, self-worth, and taking no s--t.

In the grand scheme of things, the English-Albanian singer rose to mainstream prominence fairly recently. But she first started uploading covers to YouTube ten years ago, and her new album, Future Nostalgia, isn't her first rodeo; she knows exactly what she wants, how she wants it, and how to get it. A thrilling dose of funk-pop, Future Nostalgia is the sound of a rising star long ready to stake her claim in the scene.

The title of the record itself even echoes the prestige Lipa has rightfully earned for herself. This is an album that you'll remember years from now, she seems to assert, and the album's glossy aesthetic borrows a handful of yesteryear's trends. The staccato strings of early single "Don't Start Now" demand to be spun at disco dance parties, while the jazzercise vigor of "Physical" nods to Olivia Newton-John's eponymous 1981 hit. "Hallucinate" parrots the oonzt oonzt of the late-2000s bloghouse boom that spawned DJs like Calvin Harris (who, a decade later, would enlist Lipa for their Top 40 hit, "Electricity"). Channeling the brilliance of predecessors like Madonna and Kylie Minogue with a modern twist, Future Nostalgia affirms that Lipa is one of the most important names in recent pop history.

Dua Lipa - Don't Start Now (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com

Much of Future Nostalgia sounds fit for parties and club settings. "When this comes on, I want people to be like, 'OK, we're doing shots,'" Lipa said of "Physical," and her music has always radiated the cool-girl energy that would make you want to follow her on a ladies' night out. But past its disco-ball glow, Future Nostalgia boasts anthems of autonomy and confidence. On "Don't Start Now"—the kind of song that makes you want to lock down a boyfriend just to kick him to the curb—she declares to a pitiful ex that she's "so moved on, it's scary." On the braggadocious title track, she teases: "No matter what you do, I'm gonna get it without ya / I know you ain't used to a female alpha." Even when Lipa is lovestruck, like on the sizzling slow-jammer "Cool," she asserts that she's still "in control" of what she does.

During the album's latter half, Lipa delves further into her romantic side. But even at her most sensitive and vulnerable, sentimental moments like "Break My Heart" come with an impressive poise: "Had to love and lose a hundred million times / Had to get it wrong to know just what I like," she sings, her tone imparting that she won't settle for anything less.

Dua Lipa - Physical (Official Video) www.youtube.com


Future Nostalgia's final moments, however, feel like the club has suddenly been shut down. Slow-burning closer "Boys Will Be Boys" attempts to make a profound statement against sexism, although its half-baked jabs border on cringeworthy. "I know that there will be a man around to save the day / And that was sarcasm, in case you needed it mansplained," she coos, which sounds more like what a man would think mansplaining is. As a girls' choir comes in for the oversimplified chorus—"Boys will be boys / But girls will be women"—the song is a well-intended gesture that mostly winds up awkward and credulous. Female empowerment anthems don't have to be so reductively lucid; Lipa's most genuine girl-power moments meet her in the middle of the dance floor.

MUSIC

Coachella 2020 Might Be Its Most Female-Inclusive Lineup Yet

Though the headliners are all male, Coachella's latest lineup boasts a pretty hefty roster of women.

Coachella 2020 is officially on the horizon.

The most Instagrammable weekends of the year are coming in April, and for those who want to see some live music in-between snapping photos, the lineup has just been released. Surprisingly, this might be Coachella's most female-populated lineup yet.

To refresh your memory on the perpetual gender imbalance of the music festival industry, Ariana Grande's headlining slot at Coachella last year marks only the fifth time in the festival's 20-year history that a woman has held the honor, following Bjork (twice), Lady Gaga, and Beyonce. While this year's Coachella unfortunately boasts all-male headliners, as the font gets smaller on the poster, there's a surprising number of women performing.

The top-billed woman is Lana Del Rey, who—and I say this with utmost respect to Frank Ocean—should absolutely be headlining after just releasing arguably the strongest project of her career. The second slot in each day's lineup includes multiple solo ladies who just dropped notable records of their own: Megan Thee Stallion, Summer Walker, FKA Twigs, Ari Lennox, and Marina. Reigning pop princesses like Charli XCX, Kim Petras, and Carly Rae Jepsen will have their time onstage, as well as rising rappers like Princess Nokia, Noname, and Doja Cat. Sets from newcomers like Koffee, Raveena, Amber Mark, and girl in red are sure to wrangle in a plethora of new fans, but loyal listeners will be happy to see established acts like Bishop Briggs, Jessie Reyez, and Lauren Daigle on the setlist, as well. Indieheads can check out Snail Mail, Weyes Blood, and beabadoobee, but if you're looking to get your dance on, sets from Peggy Gou, Yaeji, and virtual Japanese star Hatsune Miku should strike your fancy.

These and many more female artists prove Coachella 2020 has shaped up to provide the festival's most diverse lineup yet. If we can't have a woman headliner, it'd be nice to see more of these names in larger fonts, but this roundup is a step in the right direction.

MUSIC

DallasK Talks New Single and Favorite Collaborations

His new single, "I Know," premieres exclusively on Popdust.

Brandon Phillips

Unless well-versed in the EDM landscape, chances are that American-producer Dallas Koehlke has flown under your radar for a long time.

It's impossible to escape his influence. From Ariana Grande and Kesha to Lauv, Katy Perry, and Fifth Harmony, Koehlke has curated a staggering number of today's hits, whether behind the scenes or in the production chair. Additionally, Koehlke regularly collaborates with EDM heavyweights like Tiesto and Hardwell under his Electro-pop moniker DallasK, and has seen monumental success the more he's shifted his focus to electronic music. "I'm always working in so many different spaces and on so many different projects," the 28-year-old multi-platinum producer told Popdust. "My goal now is to focus all that energy on one album."

"Sometimes," The DJ's lead single off his forthcoming solo album, has already accredited lots of attention from fans and critics alike. The collaboration with Nicky Romero and XLYO has been highly praised since its debut at Ultra this year, and DallasK's latest single, "I Know," which premieres exclusively on Popdust, is set for a similar fate. We sat down with Koehlke to talk more about his new album and what he has planned for the future.

Tell me about the new song "I Know." What is it about, and how did it come together?

"The [chorus] for 'I Know' was actually written last year. I rented an Airbnb and used it as a studio, and invited some of my favorite collaborators to just work on music for a month. I wrote this song with Coffee Clarence Jr and Sarah Hudson the same day we wrote another one of my singles 'Self Control.' Coffee's performance on the record was unmatched so I decided to keep him on the song. The studio had these huge cavernous ceilings and a lot of the natural reverb on his voice can be heard in the song. I ended up finishing the production on it recently when I was going through some old projects and was immediately inspired to make it what it is today. To me, it sounds like something between Phil Collins and Calvin Harris."

DallasK & Nicky Romero ft. Xylo - Sometimes (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com

I heard that you're really into mentoring young musicians. Tell me more about your workshops and what you hope to teach up and coming musicians. What lessons are you teaching now that you wish you had learned yourself?

"The main reason I like to work with young musicians is simply because I remember what it was like to be one. I'm not pretending to have all of the answers, but I have more of them than when I started. I know that, personally, I had no sense for the business side of how to be an artist or a producer and I think that's the most important lesson that I can impart on people. To teach about the importance of relationships and specifically the longevity of [certain] relationships."

Speaking of relationships, you've worked with so many artists and producers. Which creative relationship do you really cherish, and who are you still dying to work with?

"Lauv is one of my close friends and collaborators, and I love working with him because he's never afraid to explore and get weird especially with his production. I'm still dying to work with Daft Punk or M83."

I heard through the grape vine that you're also working on a Miley Cyrus remix. What made you want to remix a song by her?

"The remix is of her alter ego Ashley O from the Netflix series 'Black Mirror,' and its also a rework of a Nine Inch Nails song. I think that alone is so interesting and is a perfect example of the creative culture we're living in in 2019. I was so excited to be a part of that story. I actually had been sent the song but it came on later that day when I was at the gym and that's when the idea for how it could sound really [clicked.]"

What's next for you?

"Definitely more shows and music. Hard to say more [about the] album but I definitely have all the music. I just need to find the vision for what I want the album to become and execute from there."

What has the response been to your new singles so far?

"My last single, 'Sometimes,' did really well! A ton of support from dance radio and Spotify as well as a lot of people reaching out to say they connected with it. That's the most important thing to me. I want my fans to know that I'm going to be releasing a bunch of new music and THANK YOU for sticking with me on the journey!"

Check out the new single below:

I Know

Music Lists

10 Weird Covers of Summer Songs

They're odd, they're unexpected—and they're better than the originals.

Festival Sherpa

Since winter is the absence of goodness and joy, it's hard to remember if summer 2018 really happened.

If it did, then the only proof is in the playlists–especially the ones Spotify likes to obnoxiously describe as "good vibes," "young and free," and "sunshowers." But as the sun seeps from our days, there's a healing indulgence in listening to our summer playlists, despite the cold.

Even better, reckoning with winter actually becomes worthwhile when listening to odd, unexpected covers of those summer hits with cool or brooding twists. From Hozier slowing down one of Demi Lovato's pop hits to Scottish newcomer Lewis Capaldi giving a gritty rendition of A Star Is Born's "Shallow," here are 10 wintry covers of last summer's hits.

1."Thank U, Next" covered by The 1975 (original by Ariana Grande)

The 1975 - thank u, next (Ariana Grande cover) youtu.be

2. "One Kiss" covered by Rudimental feat. Gabriel (original by Calvin Harris & Dua Lipa)

Rudimental - One Kiss (Calvin Harris, Dua Lipa cover) in the Live Lounge youtu.be

3. "Shallow" covered by Lewis Capaldi (original by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper)

Lewis Capaldi - Shallow (Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper cover) in the Live Lounge youtu.be

4. "Lucid Dreams" covered by Thirty Seconds to Mars (original by Juice WRLD)

Thirty Seconds To Mars - Juice WRLD, Khalid & Post Malone mash-up (Live Lounge) youtu.be

5. "Eastside" covered by Marshmello featuring Bastille (original by Benny Blanco)

Marshmello featuring Bastille - Eastside (Benny Blanco cover) in the Live Lounge youtu.be

6. "Sorry Not Sorry" covered by Hozier (original by Demi Lovato)

Hozier - Sorry Not Sorry (Demi Lovato cover) in the Live Lounge youtu.be

7. "God Is A Woman" covered by Tom Grennan (original by Ariana Grande)

Tom Grennan - God Is A Woman (Ariana Grande) in the Live Lounge youtu.be

8. "IDGAF" covered by Panic! At the Disco (original by Dua Lipa)

Panic! At The Disco cover Dua Lipa's IDGAF in the Live Lounge youtu.be

9. "Breathin" covered by Mumford & Sons (original by Ariana Grande)

Mumford & Sons - breathin (Ariana Grande cover) in the Live Lounge ft. Pêtr Aleksänder youtu.be

10. "Shotgun" covered by The Vamps (original by George Ezra)

The Vamps - Shotgun (George Ezra cover) in the Live Lounge youtu.be


Meg Hanson is a Brooklyn-based writer, teacher and jaywalker. Find Meg at her website and on Twitter @megsoyung.


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