If Natasha Bedingfield is about as quirky as you like your female pop stars to go, then you probably won’t care for Kara Keith, but if you’re a bit more open-minded about the sources of your catchy pop fix, then you should give her a listen. She doesn’t have one stand-out track to release as a single and become a worldwide megastar, but like fellow Canadians such as Feist and Arcade Fire, her music works as a whole to be wonderful background music, without being at all boring. It’ll give you a few more cool points with the cute indie boys than Natasha and co. will as well. I like all of the songs on her MySpace, and will definitely consider getting her album when it’s eventually released. If you like I’m From Barcelona and Marit Bergman, give her track Kick This City a go.
Hit potential: 39% Poptasticness: 76%
I can’t say I’ve ever been a fan of a German rock band before, but this lot do have some promise. They worked with Max Martin on their debut single, Do It All, which is quite reminiscent of his work with the Backstreet Boys, but my favourite of their songs is the new single, Desperate, which could be easily mistaken for a new song by the wonderful Espen Lind of Norway. I’ve heard that they are hoping to launch themselves in the USA, and in one sense they have a better chance than other German acts, because their music is up at the same level as American rock bands, but on the other hand, the US music market is already so saturated with this kind of music, and I’m not sure Stanfour have anything unusual about them, other than their Germanness, which would make them stand out.
Hit potential: 26% Poptasticness: 73%
Why Pretend is an interesting track, because the vocals are definitely leaning toward the poppier side of pop-rock (written by Ryan Tedder, and Mandi has quite a gentle, girlish voice), but the music is heavier than most of what we get from singers like Kelly Clarkson or P!nk. Her CD cover reflects this odd juxtaposition, as Mandi herself looks rather girly and polite, a more demure Avril Lavigne, but the backdrop is obviously going for a gothic style. I think there definitely is a market for music like this, for example with fans of Evanescence and Within Temptation, although Mandi’s music is softer than both, and her name does rather scream out all-American high school girl. To become a huge hit, I think she needs a bit more of a distinct direction, but still I think there are loads of slightly angsty but non-aggressive girls who would enjoy this.
Hit potential: 56% Poptasticness: 47%
Remember the ace girl group Shut Up Stella who unfortunately failed to get any success at all when they appeared on the pop scene a few years ago? Well, they’ve now dispersed, and one member, Jessie, is working on solo material. She’s working with loads of cool Swedish people, but I have to say the music on her MySpace lacks the pizazz she showed in Shut Up Stella, and the catchy greatness we’ve come to expect from producers such as Rami Yacoub and Greg Kurstin. Perhaps their tracks aren’t up yet. This stuff would fit on the last Britney album, which did go down quite well with critics, but was by far my least favourite of her CDs. Luckily there are some glimmers of greatness, particularly the fabulously bitchy Trash Me and Commitment Issues.
Hit potential: 46% Poptasticness: 72%