Aural Fixation: 8/12 (Music You Need To Know)

Exciting things are afoot in pop music, darlings.

Just so you’re in the know, Diva Season is about to be in full swing. This fall has had people in serious anticipation for some time now, with promises of new music from big names: Katy, Gaga, Britney, and a much-buzzed about record from none other than Miley Cyrus.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, it hath begun.

New music has begun surfacing from Katy Perry (in case you missed it, she’s lit her blue wig on fire, buried a casket decorated with peppermint pinwheels, grown up a bit, and stepped back into the studio), and Gaga’s much-anticipated lead single “Applause” is being teased in snippets. Rumors abound for other projects to be released soon—rest assured, I’ll try to keep you in the know here on Aural Fixation.

Here’s to the pop life, darling.

— @Litzwich


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Katy Perry: “Roar”

Officially out today, “Roar” is the first single from Katy’s soon-to-debut ‘Teenage Dream‘ follow-up  ‘Prism,’ out October 22. What really shine in “Roar” are, of course, the “oh-ooh-oh-oh-oh-ooh-oh”s; the song is cleverly constructed to build mounting anticipation for its tremendous hook, leaving you waiting for it to return so you can sing it again and again.

And then comes the last chorus.

It’s straight-up inspiring, with Katy’s brilliant knack for harmony on full display as she belts over the crashing guitar and already irresistible hook. From the bridge on, the song soars to new heights, delivering a full dose of the sweet, sticky satisfaction that only a truly killer pop chorus can deliver.

To listen to this week’s full playlist, click here or press play at the bottom of the page.

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Ellie Goulding feat. BURNS: “Midas Touch”

Pop music—indie and mainstream alike—is slowly gravitating back toward a more urban sound as the overwhelming popularity of dance and EDM on the radio finally begins to show some sign of waning. Britney has a list of hip-hop firestarters lined up for her late fall release, and Miley’s had huge success launching out of the gate with “We Can’t Stop”; here, Ellie Goulding‘s also highlighting that shift in sound, her ethereal quaver drifting over a drowsy hip-hop beat. This BURNS collaboration is mellow  and cool, finding a laid-back but engaging groove that suits Ellie’s blend of dance and pop influences.

To listen to this week’s full playlist, click here or press play at the bottom of the page.

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Lady Gaga: “Burqa*” (Unofficial)

“Burqa” is the same brand of madness as Gaga herself: bemusing but beautiful, eccentric but enthralling. The jarring harshness of the verses coupled with the tremendous chorus—one of the most sensationally satisfying melodies I think Gaga’s penned to date—is a bit disorienting, but this isn’t the finished song, either. In all honesty, it’s not the most accessible of songs, but I do think it’s undeniably interesting; the sitar is seductive and lush, and Gaga’s definitely back in the ring and ready to rumble.

Even though it isn’t official, as a taste of Gaga’s upcoming release ‘ARTPOP,’ this early version of “Burqa” (*or “Aura,” as the internet isn’t 100% sure of its official title just yet) is a curious introduction to this new era, but really kind of an exciting one if you’re cool with the kinks.

To listen to this week’s full playlist, click here or press play at the bottom of the page.

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Lana Del Rey: “Black Beauty” (Unofficial)

Rumored to be recorded for Lana Del Rey‘s forthcoming third album, “Black Beauty” is tremendously lovely. Del Rey is one of those artists that I find most people are either very into or passionately neutral about. I, for one, am a huge fan—and this song is another totally satisfying chapter in the slow-burning saga of Del Rey down-tempos.

It’s lovely, and certainly a promising peek at what Lana has in store, but my other motivation for sharing this song with you this week was to give you the original to the beautiful “Black Beauty” response below, just for perspective’s sake.

To listen to this week’s full playlist, click here or press play at the bottom of the page.

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Willis Earl Beale: “Black Beauty” (Response)

Y’all, no lie: I started crying about fifteen seconds into this the first time I listened to it and didn’t stop until it was over. I really adore response songs—a recording designed as an alternative take or rejoinder to an existing recording, often from a different gender perspective. It’s like a whole interactive narrative process unfolding through music, and I love being witness to that; in this case, I think it’s a sensational success for Willis Earle Beale‘s “Black Beauty” response. It’s stirring, sharply crafted, and eloquently simple, highlighting the rich, soulful sound of Beale’s voice over haunting samples of Del Rey’s vocal from the original above.

This is a gem.

To listen to this week’s full playlist, click here or press play at the bottom of the page.

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Taylor Swift feat. Ed Sheeran: “Everything Has Changed”
(Richard Soundz Remix)

So, to end things on a slightly more upbeat note, I thought to share with you all the recently released single remix of Taylor Swift‘s “Everything Has Changed” (featuring Ed Sheeran) as my contribution to the Sheeranmania going on elsewhere here at Literally, Darling today. While searching for it on SoundCloud, I made the most wonderful accidental discovery by stumbling on this Richard Soundz remix. (Soundz is a 17-year-old producer from the U.K.; you can follow him on Twitter @RichardSoundz.) In a nutshell, it’s a feather light love story; this remix is such a dreamy, airy symphony of synths that suits the song gorgeously. Cheers, Richard—can’t get enough.

To listen to this week’s full playlist, click here or press play at the bottom of the page.

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Aural Fixation runs new music every Monday, right here on Literally, Darling. 

Tweet and follow me on Twitter @Litzwich to give your feedback, comment on the column, or just to share your favorite Britney .gif.

I’d love to hear what you’re listening to.


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