We like to reserve the pages of The Recommender for the future of music’s Royalty and today’s selection fits that bill perfectly. Throughout 2011 we’ve been watching the Queen Of Hearts slowly begin to position herself as the next Queen Of Pop. Traditional media, such as The Guardian, The Times and Q Magazine, alongside the online coverage by the likes of Pop Justice and The Line Of Best Fit, have all been waving their approval over her as if they were fanning her with palm leaves, so it seems like 2012 could well be hers for the taking.
We have been chasing her real name through her PR representative to which their response was to state that it has to “remain secret“, which not only adds to the intrigue, but aligns her with the actual Royal world – in which real names aren’t necessary. It’s all rather silly of course and should we ever get to meet her in person you have to wonder if an advisor will pull us to one side to inform us that the etiquette is to call her “ma’am as in jam, not ma’am as in palm“. “Fuck off” would obviously be our immediate response, but let’s quickly move onto the important stuff – her very excellent music.
This is truly (upper) class stuff on show, as she dances along the correct side of those pop lines that have Goldfrapp on one side but The Saturdays on the other. The only time she crosses that line is perhaps when she unnecessarily uses the words “baby” at the end of her sentences – only Kylie gets away with that with her credibility still intact, but in fairness that’s the kind of pop heights that she’s aiming for. Take the first track, Freestyle, which grabbed the media’s attention earlier this year, with it’s first class electro pop production by Dreamtrak. It seduced every ear it reached with her breathy vocals that take more than one note from the sexually-confident world of Donna Summer.
As you can see above, the imagery that’s been handed out to us alongside the music is just as classy. This is music that has to be delivered whilst wearing elaborate headdresses and every video will no doubt utilise dancers. Elsewhere, Devils Gun take over the production, so we get more of a warped, industrial grit in tracks like Black Star, furthering the Goldfrapp connections. Monarchy seem to get involved in the studio with the tune, Perfect Mistake, keeping the synths, but lightening the load considerably.
This shift from one producer to another definitely draws gaps between the available songs, as well as in her overall aesthetic, and they may prove too wide to be bridged, but we should reserve judgement for the full album, which is no doubt set for next year. It’s certainly not an impossible task as it all fits under the synthetic pop umbrella and the one great unifying factor is the addictive vocals, which are perfectly placed and achieve the trick of having you humming along by the second listen. With the song, Shoot The Bullet, we see yet more producers, this time with The Sound Of Arrows on board, creating a delightful track that has equal parts punch and melody. It’s also received a tidy remix by Aluna George which they’ve kindly handed to The Recommender as an exclusive (see below).
On the flipside to all this initial positivity we noticed that there are elements of her music that undeniably suffer under a few cliche lines. Where Are You Now has the line, “you’re just echoes in my mind“, which quite frankly could have Limahl singing it and had us scrambling to see if she’d also got Giorgio Moroder on hand in the production - something she would no doubt approve of! We shouldn’t be too dismissive, as this is potentially the next big pop artist and there really aren’t any rules on how cliche pop can go. At this song’s best it reminds us of Cocknbullkid at her most synthetic and light, so among the negatives there’s still positives to be found.
Her debut EP, The Arrival, was released last week and seems to be out on her own label Nightmoves, but all this studio assistance could surely only come from a major label backing, however we’ve no proof of this yet. To suggest that she’s demanded a string of hand-picked synth pop producers to be made available is perhaps stretching the Royalty claims a little too far, but they could easily have been sourced and paid for by a major. Either way, music this good, which places beauty into dance music and graceful class into pop, is worthy of a Royal stamp of approval, but there’s one remaining, rather refreshing fact that we’ve reserved to last, as although she now calls London home, it turns out that she’s actually from Swindon. It surely doesn’t get any less Royal than that. (MB)
QUEEN OF HEARTS – FREESTYLE
QUEEN OF HEARTS – WHERE ARE YOU NOW?
QUEEN OF HEARTS – SHOOT THE BULLETT (ALUNA GEORGE REMIX)