Representing the USA: Hunter Hayes – Storm Warning
We’ve had Aussie Bieber, Black Bieber and even a Band of Biebers, and none of them have so far had anywhere near the success of the original Biebs. However, I think Hunter Hayes, who shall henceforth be known as Country Bieber, might stand a chance of outdoing them all. He started his career at the age of 6 when he was a child prodigy who performed for everyone from Bill Clinton to Johnny Cash, but the best news of all came when he reached his teens and, as luck would have it, he turned into a good-looking young man! His music is mid-tempo radio-friendly pop with just enough country-ness to allow him onto US country radio playlists. His sound is actually quite similar to David Archuleta, which is a good thing as I’m very fond of David. Hunter seems like a sweet boy and he’s also clearly very talented – he says in this EPK he played 30 different instruments on his debut album. Whether or not it happens with this single or this album, I’ll be surprised if Hunter doesn’t end up being one of the biggest country stars of his generation.
Representing the UK: Patrick Wolf – House
It’s a shame that Patrick’s new album campaign doesn’t really seem to be taking off as he has, at long last, made a video that’s as good as a video by such a unique, creative artist should be. I love the animals and the bit in the clouds and all his amazing outfits. He seems to be turning into a more flamboyant version of Stephen Fry with age, which is not a bad person to be morphing into. I like the song as well, although I do think he’s done better. When I heard some of the new album tracks at his gig last year I was really excited about the album, but I think it was mainly excitement that he was no longer being moody and boring, and my faith at the time that the new album would be Patrick’s best has diminished in the six months since. Perhaps the songs are better suited to live performance. Nonetheless, I’m looking forward to the album and will definitely be buying a copy. If we have to put up with a backlash against pure pop over the next few years as I’m afraid we will, I hope that lots of new quirky pop artists like Patrick will come through. We need some new ones to make that side of the poposphere exciting again.
Representing Australia: Kimbra – Cameo Lover
This is the first I’ve seen of Kimbra but I’m instantly a fan. The song could be stronger but the video is made exactly to my tastes. It’s very fun and colourful with silly dancing, multi-coloured confetti and a girl power theme. It’s ticking all the This Must Be Pop boxes! It reminds me of Feist’s 1234 video, but the difference there was that 1234 was a better constructed song. There are some great elements to Cameo Lover but they don’t seem to work well together and the song takes a long while to get going. At first I didn’t like it at all, and by the end of the song I was enjoying it more as it had a bit more punch to it, but indie-pop songs need to be really well constructed to overcome their lack of full on production (for me, at least) and this isn’t quite there. As much as I love the quirky Aussie female singer genre, they don’t tend to do that well outside of their home country, and if Kate Miller-Heidke, Buttlerfly Boucher and Missy Higgins all couldn’t make it happen then I don’t think Kimbra will be able to either. However, I’ll be looking out for her next video and if quirky popstrels are your thing then you should be too.