All The Single Ladies: Week #1 - JoJo, Ester Rada, Sinead Harnett, Emily King & The Bangles

To lessen some of my posting load as I embark on new career adventures, I decided give into the ol' 'round-up' cliche, where I gather up a random number of singles/songs that piqued my interest for the week and tell y'all about them in so few words. The post will be weekly, maybe every Thursday depending on my mood. Some surprises, expectations, and maybe a throwback or two will be featured. So if it wasn't a major lit single that deserved to bask in its own spotlight, it's gonna be here with diamond rings on it. Ha. 

JoJo - F*** Apologies

So JoJo is officially, officially back as her looooooooong anticipated third album, Mad Love will arrive October 14th. She even made a birth announcement about it, so the she's serious, y'all. The first single, "Fuck Apologies" is....okay. I could do without Wiz Kalifa --- which is a line that has probably been uttered a few times --- but that's because most rap features don't add anything to the conversation these days and this is no different. Still it's an above average R&B joint, JoJo sangin' and throwin' the proper 'tude towards the boy who's buggin' her (or more than likely calling out the recording contract purgatory she endured for several years). It's some feelings she had to get off her chest, and JoJo is sorry, not sorry for all the right reasons. I think I like this for the fact that this is an actual official single and not something that is "buzzing" or is on a freEP. Progress.

Ester Rada - Cry For Me

Ester Rada released one of my favorite albums in 2014 and it's great to see her back in action again, with a new album (hopefully) waiting in the wings. Sounding less eclectic than last heard, the percussion-packed "Cry For Me" is Ester Rada gettin' her soulful snarl on as she brings truth to power on a track that puts her vocals front and center. Slamming on failed father figures ain't a new a bag (see Christina Aguilera, Sylvia Plath), but Ester Rada brings a new salted intensity to such an open wound, and like JoJo, she's sorry, not sorry about having to turn the hot stage lights on the reality she's facing. Dig the nicely executed performance and its haunting message-heavy visual.

Sinead Harnett - If You Let Me (feat. Grades) 

Veering into new territory can be daunting, but after winning raves for her chilled-out soul of "No Other Way" and "She Ain't Me", Sinead Harnett decides a dip into the ice-water bath of balladry does wonders for the complexion. Tossing and turning amid 'mile-long sheets', Sinead faces the demise of a relationship on "If You Let Me", and she's in and out of denial, lamenting though a tear-stained veneer of moody, trudging synths. This track is begging for a US crossover hit, and if folks would wake up and realize Sinead Harnett is the real deal, this type of track could get Adele to sweat under her collar a bit because she's not the only UK import who can tap on the tears. "If You Let Me" resides on Sinead's self-titled EP, which is out now.

Emily King - Focus 

Emily King's excellent 2015 release, The Switch, is the gift that keeps on giving well into a new year as its deluxe edition extends its conversation with satisfying results. Most deluxe editions don't offer much, and often seem more beneficial for the artist's wallets than the consumers', but The Switch doesn't play that game. It's 11-track swells to a manageable 16, enhanced by a demo version of favored track, "Sleepwalker", and two bonus cuts ("BYIMM" and "Focus"), that didn't deserve to be cut from The Switch's fabric. "Focus" is my favorite of the duo. With its earnest, plucking bass lines and stomping percussion, King is in high spirits channeling a little Prince here and there as she two-steps amid its rapturous melodies. A real beaut this one is.

Throwback: The Bangles - Hazy Shade Of Winter

If you've been following me on Twitter, I've been spazzing out about Netflix's Stranger Things, even right down to its typography (yes, I'm that nerdy). Everything about that show is so up my alley as it's every horror/sci-fi paperback and '80s era Twilight Zone I read and watched in my youth come to life. The soundtrack is also totally 1980s, a pure alternative New Wave affair that seems curated by the hand of John Hughes. Women aren't necessarily represented well on the soundtrack, but that's probably because all the girl power that can ever be created is pumped into Millie Bobby Brown's amazing character of Eleven, still this gem from The Bangles made its presence known during the end credits of the second episode and it was a pleasant and perfectly placed surprise, especially since that episode was pretty intense (Poor Barb...).

As the show is set in 1983, much liberty is taken with this song's inclusion as "Hazy Shade Of Winter" was featured on the Less Than Zero soundtrack back in 1987, but according to nit-picking audiophiles, The Bangles were already performing this song live during 1983, so all is right in the '80s realm of things. 1983, 1987 --- same diff right? Bad ass guitar riffs never have expiration dates though, and this one has one of the greatest, so indulge.
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