Venus and Mars
Venus and Mars is available from February 5th.
GENRES: Pop; Electro.-Pop
I can never claim to be the biggest fan of mainstream Pop music...
but I am always looking for artists that lend credibility and quality to the genre. Away from the powerhouse/big chorus artists- Katy Perry, Rachel Platten etc.- there are a range of upcoming Pop acts that provide a mix of passion and subtlety: Songs that do not grab you by the throat at every opportunity. I shall come to my featured act soon, but for now, it is worth looking at female Pop acts: Leading into investigation of the general Pop market- finishing off with a word on the importance of upbeat/futuristic sounds. Being a big fan of the heavier side of music- Rock and Alternative especially- I do not often dip into the Pop market. I find a lot of the modern, mainstream sounds to be quite particular and basic. Too many artists process their vocals heavily and stuff songs with easy hooks and inane choruses. It is a hard graft to pen a catchy song, mind: If you are able to do so with some intelligence and grace; so much the better. Far too often we get a new Pop act arrives and the same thing happens: Their songs are over-produced and mindlessly simple. That music never sticks in the imagination and you are left feeling a bit cold. While acts such as Justin Bieber are starting to find form- and gain genuine credibility- acts like Rachel Platten- mentioned above- are displaying the ignorance and worst traits of Pop music. With music that relies on cliché subjects and a lack of identity. Whilst the music (and choruses) is big enough to stand an atomic bomb: Listeners want their Pop artists more rounded and unique. The songwriters and artists that will distinguish themselves- stand away from the faceless clan that are coming through- are those that mix emotions, sub-genres and ideas into a cohesive whole. You can have big choruses and something emphatic- it can rally and inspire all listeners- but you need to be smart and offer the public depth and a bit of range. MissDefiant- on paper at the very least- may sound like your average Pop duo and provoke the same thoughts: They are going to be Katy Perry/Taylor Swift-esque and only appeal to fans of those artists.
We are quick to judge artists; when you dig deeper, MissDefiant have a lot more to them than meets the eye. While they have those Pop staples in their stable- contagious sounds and polished production- they manage to present contrasts and surprise. Their songs do not simply rely on well-trodden subjects- hearts broken and fighting against the world at large- while their music has a great blend of Electronica and Pop ideals. At the one moment they can be restrained and melodic: The next, they rise to euphoric heights and sparkle with intensity and purpose. Jordan Cather and Emily Rose Adams are striking to witness- not just in the flesh but through the speakers- and have a look and sound that is ready-made for the mainstream market. Venus and Mars is forthcoming and shows what they are all about: More confident and alive than ever; it is a song impossible to ignore and not be affected by. The girls’ social media numbers are climbing at the moment- they will increase as their new single is unveiled- and there are big hopes for this year. If you consider the Pop market- the artists out there and the great duos- you have a few choices available. I have stated my ’objections’ to the likes of Ed Sheeran and his type: Music that lacks necessary nuance, range and staying power. I know he has his fans- and has collected enough awards along the way- but I always look for something less rote and sugary. There seems to be a calculated effort to make his music appeal to a very distinct market: The pre-teen girls and everyone else seems exempt. I may be off the mark, but with Sheeran, the music is too limited and not all-inclusive. Lyrics that are a bit plodding and over-worn: Music that lacks depth and necessary inspiration means his albums are for a particular time and place. MissDefiant are a powerhouse that certainly cannot be accused of soppiness and lacking any depth. Their compositions and songs are capable of lifting through the atmosphere and eliciting big emotion- whilst appealing more to a teenage audience. Bringing in club shades and Electro.-Pop- inspired by the likes of Calvin Harris and Mark Ronson- and you have a duo that are rounded, original and ambitious. Too many new artists forget to create something upbeat and future-looking. What I crave in music- aside from a lot of other aspects- is music that gets me stood to attention and provokes something positive. That does not have to come at the expense of texture and quality: It is easy enough to create an upbeat song that massages the brain along the way. Our London duo team up with producer Mike Tournier and pen music that not only grabs the club-goers but those who prefer their music Rock-tinged and a little more developed. The girls are aiming for big things this year and it will be interesting to see if they come up with an E.P. or album. Their range of songs already out there shows MissDefiant are more than your run-of-the-mill Pop act: They have the potential to cross boundaries and get their sounds heard by a wider audience.
If you are fresh to Miss Defiant- like I am alas- it is always worth having a look at their previous numbers. In terms of the girls’ influences, the below artists feature:
Lady Gaga, Charli XCX, Rita Ora, Die Antwoord, Katy Perry, Crystal Castles, Madonna, Tinie Tempah, Lana Del Rey, Ellie Goulding, Havana Brown, Fuse ODG, Mark Ronson, will.i.am, Calvin Harris, Swedish House Mafia
Those balking at the idea of a Rita Ora-cum-Katy Perry sound will take a deep breath: There are elements of Mark Ronson and Swedish House Mafia that means their music is not a girls-only sound. Empowerment and defiance are themes that sit alongside sensitive unveilings and lyrics with plenty of heart. Venus and Mars is their most assured and fascinating number to date: It builds on their early promise and stands up to repeated listens and scrutiny.
Mess With You was an early number- released last year- that saw futuristic vocals present rather saucy lyrics. Our girls want to mess with (the hero) and are rather candid in their ambitions and intentions. Not allowing any double-meaning or doubt to come in: The lyrics are pretty direct and do not leave much to the imagination. The composition spars blipping electronics with rushing highs that give the song a constant energy and persistence.
Get Out! has another strong and memorable chorus that sees the girls speaking to a suitor or subject: That desire for them to get away and leave it presented with verve and passion. Like Mess With You, Get Out! contains some processed vocals and relies on a (deliberately) robotic sound to provide urgency and an edginess into the fold.
Innocent showed another leap forward and the girls bring in something more subtle and introspective. Not completely ballad-y- the song still has plenty of energy and attack- the vocals are less processed and it allows their voices to sound more natural and free. Looks can be deceiving and the song’s subject- who has perhaps not been completely free from blame- has been put under the microscope.
The girls seem to be growing stronger with each release and demonstrating personality and originality. In their earlier numbers, I found there was perhaps a committee-led ambition to have them fit into a particular hole. While the songs stand in the memory and have quality, the voices were being distilled and there was too much emphasis on the composition. By the time Innocent arrived, you get a greater sense of roundness and depth. The duo always sound exciting and uplifting: Their music never dips into blandness and is always capable of eliciting a reaction. Innocent was their most authoritative and assured song that has led to Venus and Mars. Taking another step forward, the music is at its very peak. Recalling the 'Girl Power' Pop of the ‘90s- and the wave of acts that followed The Spice Girls- there are clear and unfettered vocals. The production values are still polished but this does not come at the expense of emotion and quality. The girls sound more open and confident here: The vocals really flourish and the composition is their most diverse and compelling. Employing elements of Disco and Pop into Electro.-Pop strands means you have MissDefiant’s defining statement.
Venus and Mars begins with a twinkling and star-gazing sound that is backed by ethereal vocals. Ensuring the song wastes no time getting into the head: You have an instancy and magic that means you are curious to hear what comes next. Before too long- and an unexpected move from the duo- comes in the form a big beat that takes the song into Electro.-Pop/club territory. Not too imposing- but pressing enough to get the feet moving- you have instant contrast that sends the thoughts in different directions. Following that breezy and cosmic beginning: Here is a sound much more urgent and intense. Reminding me of some ‘90s Pop/Dance acts- everyone from Madison Avenue to All Saints- there is a very modern and contemporary essentialness to the opening. I mentioned MissDefiant were influenced by hit-makers such as Calvin Harris, Mark Ronson and Swedish House Mafia: Their influence is felt in these opening exchanges. Previous numbers from the duos have seen female-heavy influences come to the fore- subjects looking at sexual hook-up and rebelling against no-good guys- but the composition here suggests something gender-neutral and more universal. Straying away from pure Pop: That hard-and-heavy blend will hook in the most steely of listeners. Just as you start to predict where the song will lead, our heroine arrives at the mark with her voice sweet and passionate. “Hit me like a falling star” shows someone in love and under the spell of a particular man- my interpretation anyway. Wanting (her subject) to point her to where they are: Here you have declarative and direct words that see a young heart that is in the grip of passion. That said- and given the song’s title- my mind was looking at alternatives. Perhaps the song relates to getting away and escaping life’s stresses: Using Venus and Mars as far-off destinations one could retreat to. The first minute-or-so sees that subtle but powerful composition- a steady beat keeps the energy levels high- and key words repeated. Ensuring the lyrics are easily remembered- and can inspire sing-along chants and accessibility- there is a certainty hypnotic charm to the vocals. Light and airy on the one hand; there is plenty of urgency and soulfulness at work. Once more- and catching you off guard- the song suddenly steps up a gear and explodes into life. Those beats become heavier and the electronic swathes- that were under-the-radar at once- fizz and crackle with life and motivation. Taking its sound into Dance/Electro.-Pop territory, you get hooked by the intensity and catchiness of the unfolding drama. Our lead wants that falling star to hit her- the repeated words “Say something” suggests there is a need for communication- and there are frustrations among desire. Maybe the hero is being too cagey and not letting his feelings out freely.
While there’s that tangible passion and desire- from our lead at the very least- perhaps the lines of communication are blurred and the two parties are on different wavelengths. Maybe I am over-analysing yet that is the nature of the song: Its simply-but-complex contradictions inspire deeper thoughts and investigations. It is perhaps the unflinching and indefatigable energy of the song that will mark Venus and Mars out. Never overly-powerful or generic in its sound: The composition bubbles and explodes with smiles and dance-floor ambitions. Uniting sub-genres and decades into a heady and nourishing blend- that is strong enough to convert Pop deniers and skeptics- those repeatable codas ensure listeners will be quoting the lyrics and singing in unity. After the snowballing codas- where the vocal has a charming mix of Kylie Minogue and Ellie Goulding- the song expands and offers new lyrical insight. Our girl wants her heart touched and the man to be more honest with her. Asking where the two should begin- there is a sense this is a new romance starting to bloom- it is hard not to picture astral and intergalactic scenes- given the song’s title. With its heart pure and a smile always at hand- despite the frustrations at work- it is a rather innocent and original take on love and finding common ground. Too many peers employ clichéd words and cloying sentiments inside one-dimensional compositions- topped off with boring-as-crap vocals. There is no such fate for MissDefiant who ensure every second of Venus and Mars provides something interesting and different. One who has been nervous assessing a Pop song- and has preconceived notions as to its sound- was hugely surprised and impressed by their talent and ability. Riding that insatiable and thirst-quenching backdrop; our lead wants to be lifted from gravity and discover a rare intensity. The song’s title- when you think about it simply- refers to women being from Venus; men being from Mars. The 1990s self-help/relationship guide from U.S. author John Gray was a huge best-selling work. Promoting practical ways to improve communication in relationships, the girls have extrapolated ideas and cores from the book: Venus and Mars sees two lovers with barriers that need overcoming. Maybe here- through the song; following the arc of Gray’s work- there are problems that need resolving or stumbling block: The hero might have one idea of things (that calls for action) whereas our heroine might want a talk-based solution. I am not sure, but one thing is clear: That combustibility and desire never relinquishes from start to finish. Eliciting so much upbeat energy- ensuring the song has cross-party appeal- you will not be able to refute the power and urgency of an immaculately-produced Pop gem. The final moments see that chorus coming back in once more and a tantilsling beat brings proceedings down. By that final second you never relinquish that smile and find yourself coming back to the song and playing it over and over.
Few Pop acts have that nuance and memorability sorely lacking from the modern scene. Too many acts are obsessed with heartache and love: Putting these well-worn issues around vague and slight sounds. I have been looking around for a great Electro.-Pop act that calms my reticence with regards Pop’s abilities. MissDefiant have always been a strong proposition- I am glad the vocals are more natural here- and have hit their stride on Venus and Mars. Gone are the processed vocals and here is something much more appealing and developed. The girls have honed that knack of mixing universal themes inside compositions that have a nice blend of grittiness and sweetness. I cannot wait to hear an E.P. as Venus and Mars surely will have a starring role. Developing and improving as singers and writers: I feel tracks such as Innocent and Mess With You will feature too. It not only shows the differences and sides to their music but how they have evolved over the past year. I have not been excited about Pop music for a while so am glad MissDefiant have arrived on the scene. Cather and Adams are a duo that has a stunning connection and a tightness that comes through in their music. I am not sure whether Venus and Mars was penned solely by the girls- or whether there were a few cooks in the mix- but you can hear that identity and honest come through. The duo is not merely plodding out a committee-approved song that will get chart approval. Whatever the inspiration behind the lyrics you have to tip your hat to the song’s intensity, consistency and originality. Balking against the tired and limited nature of some Pop music- that tends to rule charts and minds- you have a song that gives the genre a much-needed kick in the arse. When the song is released on February 5th, ensure you take time to discover a wonderful song from a talented new act.
I am glad to have discovered MissDefiant as I had some trepidation at first. The Pop market is a hard one to crack and there are so many players out there. The public seem to be rather hard to pin down. Whilst some artists have risen to prominence without deserving it- shall not mention particular names- others have had to struggle for recognition. Too many artists pitch their sounds to narrow audiences a particular type of consumer. The pre-teen market is an important one for sure: Acts emerging seem to fit in by either sounding juvenile or producing something sugar-sweet and bland. Maybe that simplicity and lack of imagination speaks to an audience sector who do not look for depth and nuance in their music. There is that desire to discover something immediate and uncomplicated. Attention spans are shorter; few younger listeners take time to discover what music has already given them- they are all about the here-and-now. Pop music also provides a sense of identity for a lot of listeners (especially young girl). Because of this, the likes of Katy Perry and Rhianna have grown in popularity and prominence. Songs that look at defying the odds and fighting adversity appeal to young minds that struggle with the demands and realities of the modern world. It is vital we have artists that speak to (and for) young girls and resonate with them. The trouble is, too many Pop artists play in this arena and tend to push away other listeners. I do not think Pop is a market reserved for younger audiences- and those that want something disposable- so more artists need to look at what they are doing. There are too many bland and saccharine acts emerging: I would happily embrace Pop music were I to hear more diversity, energy and quality. Perhaps I am being over-demanding: It is just I grow tired of the milquetoast and timid artist. Those that try to subvert that image come off as clunky and a little cringe-worthy. Once in a while you come across a Pop act that provides what you are looking for: Reaches further and gives music that ticks all the boxes. MissDefiant started their careers confidently but were still looking for their voices. The likes of Robot, Mess With You and Get Out! have their charms and pack a punch: It is hard to ignore the intent and authority the girls have. Lots of Pop acts process their vocals if they do not have strong pipes: Our girls have great voices and it is great to hear them unhampered and singing proud. Innocent was the most intriguing move of the girls’ career that saw them at their natural and stunning height. Venus and Mars takes things even further and mix all their sounds and elements together.
A tune that has some grit and hardness among the sweetness- that contrast of emotions makes it so fascinating- you are given elements of ‘90s Pop and the current mainstream acts. Before concluding, I wanted to come back to the Pop market and the importance of bigger, upbeat sounds. If you are tired of the vanilla and serotonin-reducing crop that come through- we hear them across radio all day long- then you will be seeking acts that do things very differently. A lot of our new Pop artists focus too heavily on emotions and heartbreak: This is a tradable commodity but far too many acts do not break from these confines. If you look about the mainstream at the moment and think: How many current Pop artists really linger in the mind? There is a very real danger Pop will start to limit itself to the very young and exclude the more mature. Our up-and-coming musicians are being too swayed and inspired by Rock/Alternative because Pop does not provide any appealing alternative. If you look hard enough, there are a band of young artists that are putting more thought and diversity into their songs. You are not going to balkanise audiences by neglecting issues of love and emotion: So long as you cover them at some point, you can still win and retain hearts and minds. The genre needs a credibility boost, so MissDefiant seem to have arrived at the right time. They have the image and sound that can easily be picked up by teenage audiences. When you look beyond that, you have a duo that produces well-crafted, fun and imaginative songs. Their sapling cuts boasted enough sass and force to ensure listeners were never bored and underwhelmed. If anything, the last few weeks/months has seen the girls up their game and hit their stride. This all bodes well for a prosperous and exciting 2016 for Jordan Cather and Emily Rose Adams. I am not sure if there is a new E.P. coming soon- or whether a fresh single will drop first- but we all will be looking to see how the London-based girls progress. Venus and Mars is a song that you will want to snap up and hold close. Those who are rather nervous with regards Pop- I can be included in this summation- should not fear MissDefiant. They have plenty of quality and ambition that means they could well be a feature across festivals and radio stations before too long. Take a peek into the girls’ past and see a young duo…
WHO is a serious act to watch closely.
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