Gwen Stefani Drops New Single, Make Me Like You

Gwen Stefani has shared “Make Me Like You”, the latest track from her upcoming album This Is What the Truth Feels Like.

Gwen will be teaming up with Target for the first-ever music video created live on television. It will happen in a four-minute commercial break aired during the Grammys on Monday night (February 15).


41 Pop-Punk Albums All 2000s Kids Loved

Originally posted on BuzzFeed

1. Blink-182 – Enema of the State (1999)

Blink-182 – Enema of the State (1999)


Though released a year before the 00s got officially underway, this album had arguably the biggest impact on pop-punk for the decade to come. It inspired a generations of poop joke-obsessed middle schoolers to buy their first guitar, learn how to play “All the Small Things,” and invent their own versions of guitarist’s Tom DeLonge’s trademark warble.

Choice Track: “What’s My Age Again”

2. Fenix TX – Fenix TX (1999)

Fenix TX – Fenix TX (1999)


Fenix TX got their break into the mainstream by getting their single “All My Fault” prominently featured on the soundtrack for the MTV movie Jailbreak. It probably helped that their biggest fan, Blink 182’s Mark Hoppus, went so far as to appear in the music video for the single to ensure the band got every ounce of his ringing endorsement. (Hoppus even managed them for a short time.)

Choice Track: “All My Fault”

3. Saves the Day – Through Being Cool (1999)

Saves the Day – Through Being Cool (1999)

Equal Vision

Heavily influenced by fellow New Jersey band Lifetime, Saves the Day released an instant pop-punk classic at the end of 1999. 16 years later, Through Being Coolstands the test of time.

Choice Track: “Holly Hox, Forget Me Nots”

4. New Found Glory – New Found Glory (2000)

New Found Glory – New Found Glory (2000)


Self-proclaimed “easy-core” band New Found glory burst onto the pop-punk scene in a big way with their self-titled second full-length. The huge success of this album combined with Fenix TX’s momentum propelled the bands’ label, Drive-Thru Records, to the top of the pop-punk ladder for the better part of the 2000s. It also won NFG an opening spot on Blink-182’s massive 2001 tour supporting Take Off Your Pants and Jacket.

Choice Track: “Hit or Miss.”

5. MxPx – The Ever Passing Moment (2000)

MxPx – The Ever Passing Moment (2000)


The biggest commercial breakthrough for Washington-based pop-punk trio MxPx,The Ever Passing Moment showcased the band’s most radio-friendly songs to date. The album also featured production from Jerry Finn, who had previously produced or mixed albums from Blink-182, Green Day, and a host of other huge pop-punk bands.

Choice Track: “Responsibility”

6. SR-71 – Now You See Inside (2000)

SR-71 – Now You See Inside (2000)


Seemingly coming out of nowhere, SR-71 blew up when this album’s lead single “Right Now” was featured in the Dude, Where’s My Car? trailer. It’s weird to that that both that movie and this song are 15 years old.

Choice Track: “Right Now”

7. Sum 41 – All Killer, No Filler (2001)

Sum 41 – All Killer, No Filler (2001)


It was a little metal, a little hip-hop, but undeniably held together by trademark pop-punk snottiness. All Killer, No Filler launched Canadian band Sum 41 into heavy rotation on MTV, and the suddenly every knew the rap part to “Fat Lip” by heart.

Choice Track: “In Too Deep”

8. Rufio – Perhaps, I Suppose… (2001)

Rufio – Perhaps, I Suppose... (2001)

The Militia Group

Naming themselves after the hands-down best character in Hook, Rufio had a lot to live up to. On their 2001 debut, they did more than that, introducing a generation of pop-punk fans to Rufio’s trademark brand of what became known as “speed emo.”

Choice Track: “Still”

9. Alkaline Trio – From Here To Infirmary (2001)

Alkaline Trio – From Here To Infirmary (2001)


From Here to Infirmary was Alkaline Trio’s most poppy, mainstream album released at this point in their career. While it rubbed some longtime fans the wrong way, it introduced a generation of new fans to Alkaline Trio and singer-songwriter Matt Skiba’s knack for writing big, memorable hooks.

Choice Track: “Armageddon”

10. American Hi-Fi – American Hi-Fi (2001)

American Hi-Fi – American Hi-Fi (2001)


American Hi-Fi showed up during a period of time when every teen sex comedy required its soundtrack to be comprised of 70% pop-punk. It’s for this reason that almost every song from this album sounds strangely familiar.

Choice Track: “Flavor of the Weak”

11. Sugarcult – “Start Static” (2001)

Sugarcult – "Start Static" (2001)

Rumbo Records

Despite the fact that it’s like single “Bouncing Off the Walls” was basically just about doing a ton of cocaine, Start Static got a ton of radio play. Four of the songs on the album also appeared in National Lampoon’s Van Wilder, because of course they did.

Choice Track: “Stuck in America”

12. Mest – Destination Unknown (2001)

Mest – Destination Unknown (2001)


First off, what is up with this band’s hair? Second, though the hip-hop styling of “Cadillac” seem pretty out of place, remember that Young MC helped produce this album. Super weird, right?

Choice Track: “Drawing Board”

13. Brand New – Your Favorite Weapon (2001)

Brand New – Your Favorite Weapon (2001)

Triple Crown

Before integrating emo, prog, metal, and alt-rock into their later releases, Brand New was just a pop-punk band from Long Island. And even though they stopped doing it after Your Favorite Weapon, their full-length debut, the dudes could write a mean pop-punk song.

Choice Track: “Logan to Government Center”

14. Jimmy Eat World – Bleed American (2001)

Jimmy Eat World – Bleed American (2001)


Emo stalwarts Jimmy Eat World took a leap into the mainstream with this 2001 release. With tracks like “The Middle,” it’s no surprise that the mainstream pop-punk world welcomed them with open arms.

Choice Track: “Sweetness”

15. Simple Plan – No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls(2001)

Simple Plan – No Pads, No Helmets...Just Balls (2001)


Simple Plan’s blend of catchy hooks and potty humor shot them near the top of the pop-punk game with their debut album, which included the word “balls” in it. They were yet another band who got the all-important Blink-182 seal of approval when Mark Hoppus sang two lines in their first single, “I’d Do Anything.”

Choice Track: “Addicted”

16. Good Charlotte – The Young and the Hopeless(2002)

Good Charlotte – The Young and the Hopeless (2002)


Kids these days would probably not believe you if you told them that for a few years, Good Charlotte was one of the biggest bands in the world somehow. They would definitely not believe you if you told them that high school kids used to write “SELF MADE” on their knuckles in tribute to this band. What a weird time it was.

Choice Track: “The Anthem”

17. Millencolin – Home From Home (2002)

Millencolin – Home From Home (2002)


I didn’t want to put a bunch of Epitaph bands on this list, because it causes a long and boring debate over where the divide is between pop-punk and straight punk. No one wants that conversation. In any case, Millencolin’s Home From Home has some great pop-punk songs on it.

Choice Track: “Fingers Crossed”

18. The Starting Line – Say It Like You Mean It (2002)

The Starting Line – Say It Like You Mean It (2002)


So pop it barely even qualifies as pop-punk, The Starting Line’s debut LP was chock-full of breakup anthems and songs about unrequited love. It was totally appropriate then that the music video for “Best of Me” paid homage to the Peter Gabriel part from Say Anything.

Choice Track: “Leaving”

19. Allister – Last Stop Suburbia (2002)

Allister – Last Stop Suburbia (2002)


Another all-star on Drive-Thru Records’ once peerless lineup, Allister accurately captured the joy and frustrations of being a teenager on their second album. Last Stop Suburbia could be simultaneously world-weary (“Overrated”) and nostalgic (“Somewhere On Fullerton”) at the same time.

Choice Track: “Stuck”

20. Motion City Soundtrack – I Am the Movie (2002)

Motion City Soundtrack – I Am the Movie (2002)


Motion City taught a generation that a Moog synthesizer, when played just so, could be the perfect pop-punk instrument. MCS would later achieve even bigger success with their 2005 follow-up Commit This to Memory.

Choice Track: “My Favorite Accident”

21. Midtown – Living Well is the Best Revenge (2002)

Midtown – Living Well is the Best Revenge (2002)


Before singer Gabe Saporta became much better known for his project Cobra Starship, he fronted a pretty great pop-punk band. Living Well is the Best Revengewas Midtown’s peak, before a really intense falling out with Drive-Thru made the internet all like :-O.

Choice Track: “A Faulty Foundation”

22. Home Grown – Kings of Pop (2002)

Home Grown – Kings of Pop (2002)


It seemed like Drive-Thru couldn’t miss in 2002. Even Home Grown, a band that had been around since 1994 with middling success, got a relatively huge fan response to their third album, Kings of Pop. Those were the days…

Choice Track: “Give it Up”

23. The All-American Rejects – The All-American Rejects (2002)

The All-American Rejects – The All-American Rejects (2002)


Propelled by debut single “Swing, Swing,” The All-American Rejects quickly found themselves on MTV, playing Warped Tour and getting their songs prominently featured on The O.C.. They call that the Pop-Punk Trifecta.

Choice Song: Swing, Swing

24. Something Corporate – Leaving Through the Window (2002)

Something Corporate – Leaving Through the Window (2002)


2002 was one hell of a year for Drive-Thru. Something Corporate’s debut album was an instant classic, launching the band into the Warped Tour stratosphere and beyond. It also featured the beloved anti-bully anthem “If You C Jordan,” which solidified their high school fan base.

Choice Track: “Hurricane”

25. Yellowcard – Ocean Avenue (2003)

Yellowcard – Ocean Avenue (2003)


Is there anything more pop-punk than adding an electric violin to your band? Ocean Avenue spawned some massive hits for Yellowcard including the ballad “Only One,” which invaded school dances around the country for a while.

Choice Track: “Ocean Avenue”

26. The Ataris – “So Long, Astoria” (2003)

The Ataris – "So Long, Astoria" (2003)


Though they had been around since the mid-90s, The Ataris didn’t have their breakthrough into the mainstream until their 2003 major label release. Even more weird: The album’s biggest single was a cover of Don Henley’s 1984 single “Boys of Summer.”

Choice Track: “In This Diary”

27. Coheed and Cambria: In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 (2003)

Coheed and Cambria: In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 (2003)

Columbia/Equal Vision

Coheed’s third LP was also the third installment of The Armory Wars, a nerdy, complicated science-fiction story that the band’s music is apparently about. But you didn’t need to know anything about that to know that “A Favor House Atlantic” and “Blood Red Summer” were near-perfect pop jams.

Choice Track: “A Favor House Atlantic”

28. AFI – Sing the Sorrow (2003)

AFI – Sing the Sorrow (2003)


After spending more than a decade as a straight-up punk band, AFI released a pop album for their first major label debut. As you might expect, this pissed a bunch of longtime fans off, that’s the price you pay for frequent MTV exposure and a ton of new fans.

Choice Track: “The Leaving Song Pt. II”

29. Less Than Jake – Anthem (2003)

Less Than Jake – Anthem (2003)


Ska punks Less Than Jake released a ridiculous catchy and sweet pop-punk album in 2003 with Anthem. On top of featuring a music video starring Alexis Bledel for “She’s Going to Break Soon,” the band reworked their older track “Look What Happened” to make it shorter and more explosive.

Choice Track “Look What Happened”

30. The Movielife – Forty Hour Train Back to Penn(2003)

The Movielife – Forty Hour Train Back to Penn (2003)


Before this album, The Movielife stylistically fit the pop-punk moniker easily. For this release, they added a tinge of hardcore to create a one of the angrier sounding records of this era.

Choice Track: “Face or Kneecaps”

31. Say Anything – …is a Real Boy (2004)

Say Anything – a Real Boy (2004)


No band had lyrics catchier, more instantly memorable, or more anthemic than Say Anything did on this album. Who else could make a song about escaping the Holocaust sound so sexy?

Choice Track: “Alive With the Glory of Love”

32. Head Automatica – Decadence (2004)

Head Automatica – Decadence (2004)

Warner Bros.

It was a legitimate shock when Glassjaw frontman Daryl Palumbo launched Head Automatic, a dance-punk band that sounded nothing like his old project. While hardcore purists never forgave him, Head Automatica stood on its own, launching Palumbo into pop stardom for a short period.

Choice Track: “Beating Heart Baby”

33. Green Day – American Idiot (2004)

Green Day – American Idiot (2004)


After Green Day’s lackluster (*cough* boring *cough*) 2000 album Warning, it seemed as though the once proud kings of pop-punk were doomed to slowly fade into obscurity. Then American Idiot came out of nowhere and vaulted them back on top of the game.

Choice Track: “Holiday”

34. My Chemical Romance – Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge (2004)

My Chemical Romance – Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge (2004)


Along with AFI, My Chemical Romance is credited with bringing a goth, Hot Topic-tinged aesthetic into the pop-punk realm of the mid-2000s. Unforgivable.

Choice Track: “Helena”

35. Fall Out Boy – From Under The Cork Tree (2005)

Fall Out Boy – From Under The Cork Tree (2005)


The follow-up to their respected and fairly popular 2003 debut Take This to Your Grave, From Under The Cork Tree unexpectedly pushed Fall Out Boy to the forefront of pop-punk and, surprisingly, pop-rock as a whole. 10 years later, they’re one of the only bands on this list still able to dominate the charts.

Choice Track: “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down”

36. Panic! at the Disco – A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out (2005)

Panic! at the Disco – A Fever You Can't Sweat Out (2005)

Fueled by Ramen

As Blink-182 did before them, Fall Out Boy began strongly endorsing likeminded bands once they began their reign atop the pop-punk throne. Panic! at the Disco was the first, and in the wake of the decline of Drive-Thru Records, label Fueled By Ramen became THE place for pop-punk bands during the second half of the 2000s.

Choice Track: “Lying Is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off”

37. The Academy Is… – Almost Here (2005)

The Academy Is... – Almost Here (2005)

Fueled By Ramen

Another FBR band, Almost Here helped usher in a new era of pop-punk less focused on whiny, nasally vocals and more concerned with traditional musical chops. Frontman William Beckett could sing with the best of them.

Choice Track: “Slow Down”

38. Cartel – Chroma (2005)

Cartel – Chroma (2005)

The Militia Group

You know what’s weird? Cartel just went on a 10 year anniversary tour for this record. If that doesn’t remind you of your looming mortality, what will?

Choice Track: “Honestly”

39. Hellogoodbye – Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs! (2006)

Hellogoodbye – Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs! (2006)


One of Drive-Thru’s last releases, Hellogoodbye’s debut LP cracked the top 15 on the Billboard album charts and catapulted the band into major headlining tours.

Choice Track: “All of Your Love”

40. Hit the Lights – This is a Stick Up… Don’t Make it a Murder (2006)

Hit the Lights – This is a Stick Up... Don't Make it a Murder (2006)

Triple Crown

Basically every song on this album could have been its lead single. Every track on Hit the Lights’ first full-length is a lesson in how to make polished, shiny pop.

Choice Track: “The Call Out (You Are the Dishes)”

41. Paramore – Riot! (2007)

Paramore – Riot! (2007)

Fueled by Ramen

One of the last bands spawned from the 2000s pop-punk bubble, Paramore’s Riot!made them and singer Hayley Williams household names. Obviously, Paramore is one of the few bands on this list still going very strong (if not stronger) today.

Choice Track: “Misery Business”

Enjoy joy this pop-punk playlist while the cold hands of nostalgia choke you unmercifully.

The Sheeran Effect: Observing The Beginnings of Ed Sheeran’s Influence on Pop

Originally Posted on

Ed Sheeran

The “Thinking Out Loud” star’s music has helped shape new projects by Shawn Mendes and Cody Simpson. How far will Ed’s influence extend?

Ed Sheeran turns 24 years old today (Feb. 17). By the time he turns 25, we will have a pretty good idea as to the extent of the U.K. singer-songwriter’s influence on popular music over the next decade. Odds are, we will be hearing the reverberations produced from a hit single like “Thinking Out Loud” for years to come.

Sheeran’s current single, an endless-love waltz diabolically programmed to appear at wedding receptions for the next half-century, has climbed to a No. 2 peak on the Hot 100 chart. That makes “Thinking Out Loud” Sheeran’s highest-charting Hot 100 hit to date, zooming past the previous singles from his x album, “Don’t” (No. 9 peak) and “Sing” (No. 13). Both of those songs are less traditional and more conducive to club play than “Thinking Out Loud,” but the tender ballad has been more widely accepted. And while one might expect a song like “Sing” — a sleek dance burner released for summer weather, produced by Pharrell Williams and immediately recalling Justin Timberlake‘s “Like I Love You” — to chart higher than a lovably sappy folk song, current radio trends pointed to “Thinking Out Loud” being the bigger (and, perhaps, more influential) hit all along.

Sheeran arrived at the correct moment with “The A Team,” his somber debut single released in 2011 and peaking in the Top 20 of the Hot 100 in January 2013; at that point, the tempo of popular music had begun an overdue process of slowing down. An immediate antecedent to the dance-pop of the Black Eyed Peas, Kesha, Taio Cruz and Dr. Luke that ruled radio at the start of this decade, the current sound of pop is defined by more contemplative fare like Hozier‘s “Take Me To Church,” Sam Smith‘s “Stay With Me,” John Legend‘s “All of Me” and, most recently, the Rihanna/Kanye West/Paul McCartney collaboration “FourFiveSeconds.”

Happy Birthday Ed Sheeran: 5 Great Performances

“The Calvin Harris music, the Alesso, the [David] Guetta — a lot of that music was great, and performed well at radio,” says Sharon Dastur, iHeartMedia’s senior VP of programming integration and former program director of New York’s Z100. “Because we are very cyclical, when you go with one strong sound with a lot of product, it gets to a point where people are itching for that next sound. I don’t think Ed’s timing could have been better.”

So Sheeran recognized that growing desire for a slower pace, churned out some expertly written pop-rock tracks and made himself an ambidextrous star. In the last three years, Sheeran became a Grammy darling, duetted with Taylor Swift, wrote songs for One Direction and sold enough albums and singles to justify his own arena trek, coming later this year. He has already performed to massive crowds while sharing his stage with just a guitar, drawing raves for his bold performance style. Teens love Ed Sheeran; my mom loves Ed Sheeran; Beyonceloves Ed Sheeran, too. And what’s next for Sheeran does not have anything to do with his continued output, but might become the most important part of his legacy: impacting a significant number of pop artists who crave his type of singular success. Those artists aren’t here yet, but they’re coming.

Consider the rising stardom of Shawn Mendes, the 16-year-old Canadian singer-songwriter who used Vine videos as a launching pad for a proper pop career. Last June, Mendes became the youngest artist ever to debut in the Hot 100’s top 25 with a first chart entry when his first single, “Life of the Party,” a piano dirge with bleeding-heart lyrics about breaking away from social conventions, started at No. 24 on the tally. Mendes followed the song’s record-setting launch by joining the summer 2014 tour of Austin Mahone, a pop artist many expected to succeedJustin Bieber as the next teen male heartthrob to dominate mainstream music; Mendes now seems a safer bet to keep the teens squealing for years to come, however, with Mahone failing to produce a hit from debut EP The Secret and Mendes being recently tapped to open on select dates of Taylor Swift’s upcoming stadium tour (a slot Sheeran filled on her last stadium tour).

But Handwritten, Mendes’ debut album due out in April, is less influenced by Bieber’s dance swagger than by Sheeran’s earnest folksiness. The sticky-sweet sentimentality of “Life of the Party” is duplicated on tracks like “Stitches” and “Never Be Alone” — rousing sing-alongs with acoustic finger-picking up front and compassionate lyrics that the production never obscures. Mendes shines on these songs, and Sheeran’s shadow looms over a lot of them — meanwhile, the rollout of the album has presented Mendes as a performer cut from the same cloth as the British star. In the new video for album track “A Little Too Much,” for instance, Mendes is seen in black-and-white, strumming a careful ballad to an empty theater with only a pianist accompanying him onstage.

Another pop artist who has recently name-checked Sheeran as an inspiration isCody Simpson, the Australian singer-songwriter best known for dance tracks like “On My Mind” and “iYiYi” featuring Flo Rida. Unlike Mendes, who is beginning his career with guitar in hand, Simpson is actively transitioning away from dance music and embracing an easy-listening vibe on his upcoming independent album,Free. His new single, “Flower,” captures the same gentle shimmer as a Sheeran track like “Tenerife Sea.”

During a recent visit to Billboard, Simpson acknowledged the importance of Sheeran’s success in allowing him to pursue a new sound, and says that he wants to be part of the “next generation of authentic musicians” to bring guitar-driven music back to Top 40. “I think people now are accepting of all kinds of [pop] music,” says Simpson, “especially even now, hearing things on the radio that you wouldn’t have heard like three years ago. You’re starting to hear all live instrumentation on the radio again, and it’s so cool.”

Granted, neither Mendes nor Simpson is a household name in the U.S. yet, and there’s no guarantee they will be. But Dastur believes that Sheeran’s success is allowing these two artists — and possibly many more to come — to be given a mainstream shot with quieter material, not dance music, at the forefront. “From all genres, people see what a unique path Ed’s created, and I can totally see people like Cody and Shawn being inspired by that,” says Dastur. “I think that’s something they’ve always had inside of them, but they weren’t sure how the audience would accept it. And now they see the audience accepts it in such a big way.”

So how far will Sheeran’s reach extend within, and change, the genre? It’s hard to say since it’s just beginning, but we can certainly look to the influence of another guitar virtuoso with a knack for crafting melodic tunes for clues. Following the teenybopper explosion at the beginning of the 2000’s, John Mayer‘s 2001 debutRoom For Squares was heralded as a refreshingly guitar-based pop effort for all ages. Mayer collected the younger fans who had outgrown their boy band phases, and spent the next decade producing hits, touring arenas and, in hindsight, bringing every guitar bro out of the woodwork for their 15 minutes. Would Jack Johnson, Gavin DeGraw or Jason Mraz broken through to Top 40 without Mayer leading the way? Would Howie Day‘s “Collide,” James Blunt‘s “Beautiful” or (gulp) Daniel Powter‘s “Bad Day” been nearly as ubiquitous without “No Such Thing” coming before them? Mayer’s success allowed these artists and songs to shine on a grand stage — at least until high-BPM pop returned at the turn of the decade.

Earlier this month, Sheeran and Mayer shared the stage at the Grammy Awards, with the elder guitarist supporting the young star on “Thinking Out Loud” alongsideHerbie Hancock and Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson. Sheeran shares the appreciation of musical legends that made Mayer endearing and older listeners accepting. His albums are critically acclaimed, his singles are commercially successful and now he’s starting to sway the musical direction of hopeful male pop artists. The best thing he can do at this point? Avoid doing an interview with Playboy.

The 10 Steps Sia Took To Becoming a Pop Star

Originally Posed on Billboard
Sia, 2014
Retiring, writing hits for others and reviving the music video: these are the ways Sia went from outsider to pop icon.

It’s been a big week for Sia — one that was impossible to imagine just a few short years ago. Days after Sia performed at the 57th annual Grammy Awards, where her smash hit “Chandelier” was nominated for the two top song prizes, the Australian singer-songwriter’s voice appeared on “Wolves” a new song by Kanye West (also featuring Vic Mensa) that will serve as the opening track to his hotly anticipated seventh studio album. Oh, and two of Sia’s songs, “Chandelier” and current single “Elastic Heart,” are currently in the Top 40 of the Hot 100 chart.

All in a typical week for the fascinating 39-year-old, who effectively ended her singing career following the release of her 2010 album We Are Born and morphed into a legitimate pop star over the next half-decade. No one expected this, least of all Sia, who released her first album in 1997 and spent years trying to carve out a niche in the U.S. pop landscape. Now is as good a time as any to declare that Sia has unquestionably arrived, and did so following the unlikeliest of paths.

So how did Sia pull it off? Here are the 10 steps that Sia took to reach the critical and commercial acclaim she currently enjoys:

Step 1: Retire. After a string of moderately successful full-length releases that resulted in more burnout than big hits, Sia Furler decided to end her solo career and focus on writing for other artists. In her 2012 Billboard cover story, Sia professes that this decision was a genius move, especially for someone suffering from an addiction to Vicodin and Oxycodone: she got to spend time on self-improvement, relax and work in his Los Angeles home, bring in new income from writing projects and generally re-charge her creative batteries. She also happily signed a contract with RCA Records that made sure she didn’t have to tour or do press to promote any future projects: “It shows the power of saying ‘no,'” she said.

Step 2: Guest on two Top 10 hits.

On both David Guetta‘s “Titanium” and Flo Rida‘s “Wild Ones,” Sia recorded vocal demos that eventually were chosen for the final singles; both songs also blasted up the Hot 100 chart, to No. 7 and No. 5, respectively, when they became pop hits in 2011. The unwitting collaborations with Guetta and Flo Rida resulted in lots of “Who’s singing that?” inquiries from unfamiliar Top 40 listeners, and not-so-quietly re-introduced Sia’s name to diehard genre fans.

Step 3: Co-write for superstars. As if appearing on two Top 10 hits as a featured artist in 2011 wasn’t enough, Sia’s career accrued more positive momentum when the veteran songwriter started taking on more co-penning projects with top-line talent. Some of these tracks, including singles by Britney Spears, Celine Dionand Christina Aguilera, never caught on at U.S. radio, but two of them did:Rihanna‘s “Diamonds” and Ne-Yo‘s “Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself).” Both songs were smashes co-produced by StarGate that returned Sia’s name to the upper reaches of the Hot 100 chart.

Step 4: Refuse (most) interviews. As Sia’s fame as a songwriter and a supporting artist grew, interest in the Australian artist also flourished — but Sia refused to place herself back in the spotlight, and explained why in an anti-fame manifesto in Billboard in 2012. Sia very rarely discussed her career on the record (and still does) and declined to be photographed in support of her music (she appeared on the cover of Billboard with a paper bag over her head), but her selective anonymity only generated more interest in her career, to the point where another solo outing made sense for the reclusive artist.

Step 5: Appear on some big-name soundtracks.

After contributing the song “Kill and Run” to Baz Luhrmann’s star-studded soundtrack to 2013’s The Great Gatsby, Sia linked up with Diplo, Greg Kurstin and the Weeknd later that year for “Elastic Heart,” from the Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack. Although the song fizzled when it was originally released as a single in late 2013, “Elastic Heart” served as Sia’s first song with top artist billing since her 2010 album We Are Born, and a splashy preview of her solo return in 2014. The single was also revived as a solo single in early 2015, and peaked at No. 17 on the Hot 100 upon the release of its official music video.

Step 6: Save one of your hugest choruses for yourself. No pop song released in 2014 had as epic of a hook as “Chandelier,” the lead single from Sia’s solo comeback album, 1000 Forms of Fear. Yet “Chandelier” was more than just its soaring chorus: Sia delivered its powerful verses in a slurred daze, and the production of Greg Kurstin and Jesse Shatkin proves increasingly dramatic, effortlessly expressing the highs and lows of the singer’s alcohol-fueld trip. Not only was “Chandelier” a towering pop single — named the song thebest single of 2014 — but it beguiled Top 40 radio as well, becoming Sia’s first Top 10 hit as a solo artist.

Step 7: Release an imaginative music video with a tween star.

Who says that the music video, as an art form, is dead? Sia’s “Chandelier” clip, which featured Dance Moms star Maddie Ziegler whisking herself around an abandoned apartment floor in a nude leotard and blonde bob (the latter mirroring Sia’s own hair), became instantly iconic upon its release, and conjured up countless Internet memes, an MTV VMA nomination for Video of the Year and a new level of stardom for 12-year-old Ziegler. Current YouTube view count: 533 million. That’s better than most Katy Perry videos!

Step 8: Team with an expert pop producer. Sia and producer Greg Kurstin worked together on five songs from We Are Born, but 1000 Forms of Fear, her sixth studio album released last July, sounded so cohesive because all of the album’s 12 tracks were co-produced by Kurstin, the alt-pop whiz behind hits fromP!nk, Kelly Clarkson and Ellie Goulding. Kurstin’s lush, cozy approach to pop music proved to be a perfect match for Sia’s songwriting, and 1000 Forms of Fearbecame her first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart last July after receiving rave reviews.

Step 9: Create must-see performances with your back turned.

The best way to perform live on television when you don’t want anyone to see your face: keep the focus on elaborate set pieces and wrangle some guest stars to perform the choreography. Ziegler has been a trooper joining Sia on Ellen andSaturday Night Live, but the singer-songwriter has also gotten Lena Dunham and Jimmy Kimmel to don the blonde bob, turning what could have been an awkward live setup into can’t-miss performances. Speaking of which…

Step 10: Own the Grammys without winning any awards. Sure, it would have been nice if “Chandelier” had cashed in on one of its four Grammy nominations, including for record of the year and song of the year. But once again, Sia used her singular performance approach to command the awards ceremony, powering through “Chandelier” with the help of Ziegler and a wigged Kristen Wiig. The performance was hailed as one of the highlights of the show, and days later, Sia was popping up on Kanye West’s new song, “Wolves.” It’s all in a week’s work for one of pop’s most enigmatic, in-demand heroes.

Why Have Pop Stars Become So Hyper-Sexualized?

From Huffington Post

The discussion surrounding the hyper-sexualization of the music industry is much more complex than pointing out that everyone is wearing thongs now. Things have certainly gotten sexier. But there’s a fine line between defending the artists and slut-shaming them. The precarious divide between sex-positivity and pandering to the male gaze is a challenge all female performers face. With her upcoming film, “Beyond The Lights,” Gina Prince-Bythewood has found possibly the closest thing they have to a solution: authenticity.

“I have two kids, so the normalization of the hyper-sexualization is troubling to me,” she told HuffPost Entertainment. “I thought that it was important to talk about that, the underbelly of the industry. All we see are the fun parts of job and all of the great shots on Instagram. There is another world that we’re not tweeting about. It’s tough for female artists, there’s a blueprint they are forced to follow.”

In writing “Beyond The Lights,” Prince-Bythewood was very interested in the way personas are formed, especially for young female artists. That “blueprint” refers to the way they are turned into brands, forced to throw away any sense of self in pursuit of an image.

“If you are not fully formed yet and you come out with a specific persona, you lose your sense of self,” she said. “You don’t feel that who you are is good and enough and worthy of love. You’re fearful that if you ever drop the persona all that love is going to go. I mean, it is like a drug.”


Prince-Bythewood did a lot of research before setting out to create “Beyond The Lights.” She spoke to a set of female performers in hopes of honing in on the intense pressures at play. (It’s worth nothing that “Beyond The Lights” feels a lot like “The Rihanna Story,” though Prince-Bythewood said she was most directly inspired by Alicia Keys and, counterintuitively, Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland.)

“I was very fortunate to be able to speak with a number of singers who were very honest with me. Some fought against the push of the hyper-sexuality and others succumbed to it,” she said, not naming specific artists, but noting that she was struck by Mary J. Blige’s public struggles. “It was invaluable to hear about these things and the way that some of them fought. It’s out there, it’s happening over and over, so really the question is why and what can we do to change things.”


As Prince-Bythewood sees it, there are some highly sexualized performers who aren’t succumbing to anything at all. When asked if she thinks there are women in the industry who make those sex positive calls themselves, she answered simply: “Beyonce.”

“I actually think it’s authentic to Beyonce,” she said. “I think you can tell when hyper-sexuality is authentic and when it’s honed. Beyonce is a woman who is not surrounded by 100 different people telling her what to do. Maybe early on in her career she had her father and her mother, but you don’t get a sense that she is being handled or pushed to be anything other than who she wants to be. I think that’s the key. Whereas you see some of the younger artists and you know that there is a team of people beyond them.”

Such is the case with the main character of “Beyond The Lights,” Noni (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), a star on the path to mega fame, who struggles to figure out who she is amid the fantasy the studio-created fantasy.

Noni’s story is especially interesting because of its implications about the way we perform gender and race. Her hyper-sexualization is starkly contrasted with the hyper-masculinity of the rapper she is arranged to date. And she is never truly liberated from her persona until she removes her straight purple extensions to reveal her natural hair — a compelling symbol of freedom in light of the rise of cultural appropriation (and another standout parallel to Rihanna).


“What prevents the artist from being able to embrace who they really are?”

“It’s interesting that R&B and hip-hop have become pop music,” she said. “That only happened within the last couple of years. I mean look and see what’s charting. It really is R&B, and it’s interesting to see it being co-opted by all artists.” Prince-Bythewood went on to explain that Noni’s struggle represents the picking and choosing of elements of black culture. “It’s interesting her having a white mother [played by Minnie Driver] who is also her manager, recognizing that as well. [To push for] the long weave and the type of music she’s going to sing and the way that she’s going to dance, and just really pushing that sexuality.”

Prince-Bythewood attributes the rise of this kind of mold to the reality that “success begets success,” but knows change comes from telling these stories, and revealing the truth of what goes in to making the biggest stars. In Noni’s narrative, there is a strong tie to the way she saw success as a little girl. That, Prince-Bythewood thinks, is the key to remembering there is a real person inside these pop confections.

“I don’t think anyone envisioned themselves becoming famous and singing about, you know, getting high and drunk and sleeping with everybody. That’s not what you envision as a little girl,” she said. “So, what happens? What prevents the artist from being able to embrace who they really are? The creation of the persona is the problem. It’s about being authentic. Finding your authentic self, finding your voice. ”

“Beyond The Lights” is out in theaters this Friday.

Artist Who Switched Genres

Taylor Swift is the latest musician who’s made a genre jump by declaring she’s going pop with her new album 1989.  Look below for some other artists who made the switch mid career.

Remember Hootie and the Blowfish? Well, lead singer Darius Rucker found his calling wit

1. Taylor Swift
Country -> Pop

2. Kate Nash
Pop -> Punk

3. Snoop Dogg
Rap -> Reggae -> Rap

4. Bob Dylan
Folk -> Rock

5. Miley Cyrus
Country -> Pop

6. Katy Perry
Christian -> Pop

7. The Go Go’s
Punk -> Pop

8. Lady Gaga
Broadway -> Pop -> Jazz

9. Tinashe
Pop girl group The Stunners -> R&B

10. Fergie
Pop girl group Wild Orchid -> hip-hop

11. Sleigh Bells’ Alexis Krauss
Pop girl group Ruby Blue -> Noisy Pop

12. Gwen Stefani
SKA No Doubt -> Pop

13. Pink
R&B girl group Choice -> Pop

14. Waka Flocka Flame
Hip-hop -> EDM

15. Lil Wayne
Rap -> Rock -> Rap

16. Beastie Boys
Punk -> Rap

17. Darius Rucker
Rock band Hootie and the Blowfish -> Country

18. Kid Rock
Rock -> Country

19. Nellie Furtado
Pop -> Hip-hop

20. Daft Punk
Punk band Darlin’ -> Dance

21. Skrillex
Screamo band From First to Last -> EDM

22. Sheryl Crow
Pop -> Country

23. Kelly Clarkson
Pop -> Country

B*Witched is Back

Who is B*Witched, you ask? The band that sings the catchy 90s tunes “C’est La Vie.. They followed up with “Rollercoaster,” “To You I Belong,” and the cover of “Mickey” for Bring It On. The group sold over 3 million albums at the height of their success in 2002, then split up soon afterwards. In 2006, two of the members—sisters Edele and Keavy Lynch—began a duo sister act, but in October 2012, the group reunited for a British reality show. And now they’ve officially returned.

Here are a few of their new comeback songs:


Watch Tove Lo’s Intense ‘Not on Drugs’ Video

Tove Lo, is a Swedish singer, songwriter and musician from Stockholm, Sweden. She gained attention for her 2013 single “Habits”, and later mainstream success with a remix of the track by hip hop producers Hippie Sabotage titled “Stay High”. Her debut EP, Truth Serum, was released in March 2014 featuring both versions of the song as well as singles “Out of Mind” and “Not on Drugs”. In September 2014, Tove Lo’s debut album Queen of the Clouds, is set to be released in the U.S. through Island Records.

This week, she premeiered her latest video for “Not on Drugs.” Here is what she had to say about the experiance, “I choked on the paint, the smoke made me half blind and here is my three-minute trip that shows the intensity and weirdness I feel when falling in love,” Tove told Rolling Stone, via e-mail. “The main theme we had in mind while making this video was ‘What just happened?’ It was quite amazing making something with the happy piece of my heart this time!”