How do you stand out in an over-saturated market? The Recommender is a music blog seemingly among billions of others out there. What makes our music blog so different? What makes you return to our pages and selections, and what is it that stops you from repeatedly visiting other music blogs? It’s an interesting thought, and in all honesty, it’s a point that you could perhaps answer better than we ever could. We imagine it might be the fact that we research our subjects as thoroughly as possible. Perhaps it’s the quality of the selections, what with us being such a picky bunch? It could be our network of industry professionals, giving us a useful insight to emerging artists? Maybe it’s the witty, insightful editorial? Surely not? Either way, it’s probably not our modesty. Today’s recommendation suffers in a similar fashion, as they aim to stand out from a flooded market. And this particular market is absolutely drenched.
Bluebell is Annabell Jones, alongside a writing partner, Charlie Westropp, with people mentioning them as a duo, something akin to La Roux, and similarly it seems Annabell is to be pushed front and centre. This makes it seem more like a new addition to the list of solo-female-quirky-pop artists, after what seems like a constant stream over the last five years of solo-female-quirky-pop artists. This is an area of music that’s not particularly short of them, having had Marina, Ellie, Florence, La Roux, Little Boots, Birdy, Jessie J, Queen Of Hearts, Kimbra, Nicki Minaj, Lana Del Rey, Pixie Lott, Lady Gaga, CocknBullKid, Florrie, Washington, Rihanna, Ke$ha, Jessie & The Toy Boys, OK, OK, so that last one can perhaps be left off of the list, but for fuck’s sake, it’s a ridiculously lengthy roll call, and that’s barely the tip of the very-feminine iceberg. It’s as if major labels entirely ignore anything to step through their doors with a Y chromosome, (although we’re still not 100% sure about that whole Florence-being-a-man-in-drag argument yet). And so steps up Bluebell, the latest pretender to a throne that’s currently got an over-abundance of perfectly-formed, tight little bottoms perched upon it. The real questions are in fact, is she good enough, and is there any room for her? Well, yes and no.
She happens to be Davy Jones daughter – yes him of The Monkees fame, who tragically died earlier this year, aged just 66. This is obviously something that’s bound to get mentioned with every journalistic introduction written about Bluebell, generating an unwelcome reminder for a young girl that’s just setting out on a career in music without him. In defence of the hacks, the poignancy of such a famous musician passing away just as his daughter sets out to become one, is sadly unavoidable, but hopefully her father’s inspiration will drive her further than any frustrations felt from the initial insensitivity towards her mourning. Most female pop artists don’t have a father as globally respected as she does, and even in his absence we feel that he could still inspire her, as well as open doors and opportunities where others have none. She was apparently also known as the lead singer of the short-lived alternative pop band, Lady & The Lost Boys, suggesting that this is an artist with some experience and form on a stage. These things should only help her stand out in a very tall market.
However, it’s the music that encourages the strongest of spotlights, so where do this duo stand with regards to their output? Well, a demo of their tune, Northern Heights, bounced around not so long ago and got the likes of The Guardian, Neon Gold and Breaking More Waves excited – all of which are seasoned commentators on this crowded market. That’s a good start. The duo are releasing their debut double A-sided single on June 11th through the Killing Moon blog/label, (who happen to be sharing a Great Escape showcase all day with The Recommender next week), and a re-edited version of that same tune has been kindly given to us as an exclusive for you today. The new version has Liam Howe on hand with the production, with his recent studio history working some magic for the likes of Marina & The Diamonds and Lana Del Rey it suggests the level of polish will match the competition’s. Where the tune could have been delivered by almost any of the other female artists, suffering as it does from a slight lack of invention, it still throbs and pulses beautifully, soaring to a fantastic elevation in parts. Teens will adore it, Radio One will therefore lap it up too, so where they may not be re-writing the pop books here, they do deliver on quality and design.
There’s more of a rewarding edge with the other side to their double A-sided single, with the tune Cinderella. It has a machined pace that marches behind Annabell’s floating, layered vocals, as she sings the wonderful line, “this is no Walt Disney, I’m not Cinderella, I’m just a girl“. It’s a clever piece of positioning that has an every-man appeal, (or an every-girl appeal?), that will surely act as the perfect bait required to lure in the youthful fans. It’s a melodic tune that proves she can do attractive pop, successfully packing just the right amount of sugar and that addictive ingredient banned in most other pop products. It never sells out or over-does the Westlife key change and carries a delightful underdog spirit. All of this will help to ensure that she stands out enough in this crowded space. Just like The Recommender in it’s noisy blogosphere, standing out will always ultimately be about trying to raise your standard as high as possible. Just like all of the other full marketplaces, we’re not sure if we actually need another new female pop artist, but at least Bluebell has the right studio assistance to maximise their ideas, the right label backing their early work, a tidy range of media covering their every move, but even more importantly, as a duo they have the quality in their pop music and it’s this that should allow them to stand out. (MB)
BLUEBELL – NORMAL HEIGHTS
BLUEBELL – CINDERELLA