Eyes on You
Eyes on You is available via:
8th December, 2017
AS the weather howls and the rain...
batters down - there is not a lot to be done outside today! It is just as while I have music to review so, in that spirit, I will come to talk about Elena Ramona. This is not the first time I have reviewed her music on this site – I have investigated her a few times, now. I will talk about consistency and those artists who manage to change their sound whilst retaining their identity; songs that are primed for big-screen exposure; changing the Pop market and adding a little something extra to the pot; what music is looking for in 2018; the next step for Elena Ramona in terms of music – talent who take care of each aspect of their work. I want to talk about consistency because, when it comes to Elena Ramona, I have seen a real development and rise (no pun intended) since her earliest days. A few years ago; I was amazed by her music and how developed it sounded; the fact it was a professional and complete package. Now, in 2017, the sounds she is producing have moved on and incorporated new aspects. From Rise’s purity and tenderness – with impassioned, soulful vocals – what is coming from the songwriter now sounds like a different beast. Elena Ramona keeps her voice and songwriting core but has brought new genres and angles into her work. Lying Blues Eyes – another older song – fizzes and vibrates off the speaker; The Neon Lights kept that energy up but did not repeat what had been done before. In fact, over the past few releases, I have noticed a move from Pop and Electro to Soul and Dance; to Indie undertones – a restless songwriter always eager to push her music forward. Not only have I seen the experimentation and evolution happen: the quality has increased and there is greater confidence coming from Elena Ramona. I will come to look at Eyes on You later but, when listening to the track; it is another step-up from someone who has her eyes trained on big success.
I am always looking out for artists who progress and do not simply bring out the same song. One of the criticisms levied at the mainstream is how unadventurous and static it is. The popular and influential artists feel like they do not have to produce anything deep and original. As such; one finds the Pop scene a little rigid and underdeveloped. I have watched Elena Ramona’s music build and take in new threads over the years and, not that there is subjective leaning, but here is someone who can produce a mainstream-ready type of music but is not willing to compromise and settle. It would be easy for someone like her settle on a particular direction and carry on down that road. She knows the underground market is busy and it is harder to be seen; there are so many out there competing for attention and visibility – you need to have a sound that sticks in the mind and goes beyond expectation. I find, when listening to Elena Ramona’s music, she is determined to preserve that which makes it special and unique: that personality and special songwriting talent will not be distilled and sold in order to fit into the Pop mainstream. I am being a bit harsh on some artists but, as I shall explain later, there are changes coming into play. It appears next year will be a different and exciting year for Pop music; there are acts coming through who have the promise to change things and recruit those who are a little reluctant to embrace the genre. One of the biggest disappointments I have found are artists who create a hit and, when they see it is loved and played, they do not do anything with their music. They will replicate the same song and, over time, people get very bored of that artist. Elena Ramona is certainly someone who keeps things fresh and shows she is one of the most mobile and chameleon-like songwriters out there.
ART CREDIT: Ben Couzens
I would urge people to check out her back-catalogue and past work – check out her Spotify page at the bottom of this review – and see how she has developed throughout the years. One would barely recognise the artist you heard on songs like Rise; come to Eyes on You and there is a totally different sound. Both songs are exceptional but the subject matter is completely different. The latest single from Elena Ramona has a big and impassioned sound but there is another reason why the track gets into the head. There is a campaign running to get the song to the producers of the Bond franchise. In the past, we have seen artists like Adele see their music score a Bond flick – that huge and dramatic voice scoring the opening credits. Elena Ramona could cope with the duties of putting Eyes on You to the screen but there is the aim to have the song used, by an artist like Adele, for the latest film in the series. One can share the song and put the tags #sonypictures , #Adele; #sony and #pinewoodstudios. Make sure, when you do put those tags up; include the tag #EyesOnYouForBond. The more people who do that; the greater chance it has being selected as the next Bond theme. There have been past songs that have not really captured the imagination – efforts by Sam Smith not really hitting the marking; leaving some cold and confused. It is understandable many would doubt the worth of a Popstar producing the next James Bond theme but, when you hear Eyes on You, it already fits in with the history of the series. We are not sure what the next film will be called but that is the gift: having a song that has a title like this means it is adaptable and able to fit with any film. It has the strings and filmic sound; the vocals are big and romantic; there is a sexiness and sauciness that befits a character like James Bond. The campaign is ongoing and, let’s hope, by the time the year ends; signatures will be added and the song will be under the gaze of the film’s producers.
What amazes me about the song is that it definitely comes from Elena Ramona but it could be tackled by other singers. The song has a solid and impressive base but it would easily suit reinterpretation by another singer. If someone like Adele – if that is her vocalist of choice – took it on; more strings could be added or some brass. It could go in a more Jazz-cum-Soul direction or, in fact, there is the potential to turn it into a gnarly and big Rock number. Imagine past artist like Chris Cornell and Jack White. They provided their own take and, given the latter’s gift for reinvention; he is someone who could make the song his own. That goes for any artists: Eyes on You has those strong cheekbones and captivating eyes that can wear any clothes and change its style and still retain that sex appeal and beauty. What I mean is Elena Ramona’s song has a universal core we can all relate to; words that project out and are not specific, necessarily, to her own experiences. I am excited to see whether she can get Eyes on You to the next stage as it is a fantastic number that deserves to be up on the screen. I am sure the song will make its way onto the screen in some form or another. It can easily work in a T.V. drama but has the flexibility to work on adverts, too. I know Elena Ramona will want it on a big stage so all fingers are crossed her latest work makes it to that peak. It is only a matter of time before she gets that big opportunity. One of the most prolific and ambitious new songwriters around; that desire to get the music out to the people is a trait that should not be deterred. Regardless of how far the song goes in the film world; there is every sign next year will be a vital one for the songwriter. She has proven she can pen a song that works on a massive stage; that vibrates and slams – but has a sense of allure and tease.
I have, as I mentioned, followed Elena Ramona for a while and can chart how her music has shifted. What I hear now is someone who has gone from a local artist looking to get gigs where she lives; now, we hear a musician who is ready to go to the next step and wants to take her music to international audiences. I will explore that point in the conclusion but it seems Pop is ready for a revival next year. This year, we have seen great Hip-Hop and Soul being proffered. The Grammy Awards nominees – for the main prize – are the likes of Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar and SZA. Here, the frontrunners, and winner, of the Mercury Music Prize was a Soul artist – Loyle Carner and Kate Tempest were among the artists nominated who are adding their weight to British Rap/Hip-Hop. Look at 2016’s best albums and it was a successful year for artists taking a slightly socio-political bent. This year, the greatest hope for a revival is Eminem. His album (Revival, naturally) is getting early feedback and there are some who say he has lost his edge – he is trying to rehash his Slim Shady persona but, this many years down the line, it sound pale and less authoritative. It seems 2018 is going to be a less assured and solid one for Hip-Hop and Rap. There is a need for female artists to get their say and equal weight. Because of that, the likes of BBC have ensured their long-list of names to watch next year has plenty of great female artists involved – most of them playing in the Pop market. Billie Eilish is one such artist included and there is a lot of talk and speculation surrounding the teenage American. Elena Ramona is someone I can see featuring on the same list years down the line. Look at some of the acts being tipped for success next year (like Superorganism) and she could easily nestle alongside them. Tastes are changing and next year is going to be one to watch if you are a Pop fan.
There will still be some great music from other genres but a market that has been threatening homogenisation and a hefty limp has been aided and undergoing a transformation. I hope there are fewer plastic commercial artists and – as the polls and lists suggest – a move towards artists who have more substance and personality. My favourite artist of this year (Lorde’s Melodrama) is a Pop album and not something I expected to bond with. That, actually, is a name Elena Ramona reminds me of – and someone she can take guidance from. As she breaks into the market and makes her move towards the mainstream; she knows there are two sides of the Pop business. There are the talent-show rejects/applicants having their songs written by someone else and producing cliché, shallow songs. We all know the sort of artists who are more than happy to produce this type of music. Unfortunately; these are the acts who make the most money and are among the most successful on streaming sites. There are the other type (like Lorde) - who take a bigger role in their music and provide the listener with something much more compelling, intelligent and rich. Elena Ramona falls into the latter camp but I know she would not refuse a chance to appear on a talent show – have her music featured on advertising, for example. It is possible to dabble in the commercial side of music but, when it matters, ensure your music holds on to its integrity and quality. Eyes on You is a song that could get onto the big screen but definitely shows maturity and natural ease. It is a track that shows where Pop music is heading in 2018. I will end the piece by speculating where I think Elena Ramona will head in terms of E.P.s and albums. Before I come on to look at Eyes on You; I want to investigate artists who take care of their work and do not let too many other bodies into the mix – those who have the talent and energy to produce music that is meaningful to them.
One of the best things about Elena Ramona’s work is the fact she sees it through from start to the finish. There are artists who farm their music out to others and get writers/producers to mould it in their vision. That is fine if you want something ready for the charts but there are artists who feel that is a cheap and easy way to earn success. Those who expend more effort and have the ability to write their own music are to be commended. Elena Ramona writes her own material but you know how much of her heart and soul goes into the production and videos. Previous songs like The Neon Lights have been filmed on a budget but the videos stick in the mind and impress you with their concept and look. I am not sure whether there is a video coming for Eyes on You but I can imagine there will be something that would fit into that Bond frame. I can picture a bar-set flirtation or something cinematic; the heroine chasing down her prey and overcoming other suitors – as the man fends off the advances of other women. The song has that power and potency so you can picture your own video; there are multiple possibilities and directions the young songwriter can take. I know Elena Ramona will do this because she likes to have a say in how her music sounds and looks. As I head into 2018 myself; I am looking for more artists who refute the need to have others control their music – those artists with greater insight and individual desire. If you look at the lyrics and music for Eyes on You; you can tell the words stem from the songwriter. There are shades of Lying Blue Eyes but, in a sense, the tables are flipped! Rather than accuse a cheating and dishonest man: this is the heroine going after her man and assuming the power and control. There is always the sense of the heroine being in charge but, here, anxiety and anger have been replaced by lust and desire.
She is developing into a bolder and investigative songwriter; exploring sexuality and love in new ways; mixing that with songs about hope, redemption and success – that tackle mental-health stigma and implore the listener to reach high. This all boded well for 2018 and, as I shall discuss, it is going to be a very important one for Elena Ramona. Over the past four-or-so years; Elena Ramona has covered so much ground but, at every phase, not sold her identity or felt the need to have committees write her songs. She works with other musicians and producers but, at the end of it, it’s her voice and mind that takes the music to the people. I have not really mentioned the voice that comes from the songs. That is something that always impresses and stuns. The dexterity, range and ability Elena Ramona displays is very rare to see. There are few singers who can easily move between genres and take their voices in any area they please. Whether she is singing a soulful and touching song or turning up the volume and sticking some heels on – you believe every word and hear an artist who sounds comfortable and complete. I feel that is why 2018’s Pop market will be solid and nuanced: artists who have a greater sense of the eclectic and are less prone to the fake textiles of the mainstream. If anything; I can see Elena Ramona going a step further and exploring new ground. She has a very powerful voice so it would not be inconceivable to find her penning something with a Blues-Rock swagger. I can see her writing a stripped and smoky Jazz-type song that has the flair and magic of those classic recordings – bringing to mind the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. There is so much in her arsenal and I am excited to see how she deploys it. I suppose, given all the build-up and promise, I should come to look at the latest song in question: the intoxicating and enflamed Eyes on You.
The opening notes of Eyes on You subvert expectation. You might expect – for a song that is being shared as a potential Bond anthem – for some big trumpets and shivering strings to get the track underway. Rather than rush out the traps with too much energy and sound; the song puts percussion-march beats together with light piano. It is the vocal that steals the most focus in the early phases. “You’ve got me going crazy” is delivered with all the sense of allure and desire one would expect from a heated line. It is always hard comparing Elena Ramona’s voice with anyone out there right now – one of her biggest strengths, in fact. The soul and smokiness one feels wash over them certainly gets the heart beating a little faster than doctors would approve! The production is thicker and more lustrous than any other song I have heard from her. In the past; the production values have been stronger and befitting of the song but here, with a possible anthem and film-scorer on the blocks, it would need to have that mix of polish and rawness. That is achieved but goes one step further and brings you directly into the song. One imagines they are standing in the corner of a London bar, late at night, as the people are starting to disperse. Taxis are being called and a few figures remain. Our heroine, dressed in black and with a flirtatious gaze, is approaching the suited hero. He is sipping on a drink (one would be tempted to say a Martini) and she makes her way through the crowd. Arriving at the bar; she takes a pew next to him and takes his drink in hand – takes a sip and then passes it back with a smile. Whatever the interpretation of the first verse; the song provokes imagination and all manner of scenes. The girl’s mind is being played with and it seems like this tease is something she wants.
The man is all she needs and this sense of cat-and-mouse is creating shivers and excitement. That palpable sense of seduction and sexuality comes out in the song. The strings, in the background, shimmer and echo; there are slight cracks of beats and electronics and that creates a heady brew that perfectly backs the song. In a way; the composition is the weather – the atmosphere that creates mood but never encroaches in the foreground. Elena Ramona keeps her voice soft but ensures there is a huge degree of seduction coming from her tongue. The tones are delicate and playful but there is that balance of understanding and recklessness. She knows what she wants but not willing to give herself completely without respect and a proper man – it seems like she has found someone who can fulfil her and is good enough to share her arms. The chorus layers the vocals and sees the heroine on a high; not wanting to come down and with her eyes set on the hero – this ecstasy is swimming through the blood and create fire and stirring in her heart. The vocal impact is big and the chorus has that necessary punch and hook – if anything, maybe lifting the strings up in the mix would add that additional tremulousness and sexuality. What we get is a chorus that has Pop credibility and clothing but is a charged and primed for the big screen. The strings do come back in for the second verse and yet another alluring and captivating vocal scores the scenes. The heroine is brand-new and rejuvenated by the touch of the man – that may be because of the mere suggestion of what is to come. The contrast between the bombastic and excited chorus is brilliant! You get verses that have shimmering strings and slight beats; there are vocal echoes and backing but that mood of kitten-tease and bar-dwelling Siren comes out. It is interesting conspiring and imagining where the song went after the final note. The heroine seems content but you wonder whether the man is pure and reliable – or whether he will play with her heart soon enough. The final moments see the vocal sharpen and mixing into a Dance/Trance-like brew. Eyes on You is a song that creates its own cinema and keeps the listener guessing. It is an exceptional song that warrants repeated listens. Whether you are hooked by the yearning strings or that ultra-seductive vocal; the big chorus or the scene that swim into the mind – a song that will bring you back and seduce with ease.
It has been a transformative and busy year for Elena Ramona. She has managed to record a series of songs and, as we can hear, covered so much ground and achieved a lot. Her music has been used on shows like This Morning and covered by radio stations. She has performed in London a lot and taken her music to new crowds. The quality has been exceptional and it has been exciting seeing a hungry and hard-working songwriter get credit and respect. I feel 2018 will be the most important year for Elena Ramona and her music. There will be many who will want to see a new E.P. or album. I feel she has an album in her and, given the fact she has released quite a few songs, there will be ammunition for an L.P. Maybe she will stick with an E.P. but, whatever she chooses; there will be plenty of eyes on her! I know her songs will find their way onto the screen and it would be amazing were Eyes on You to make it to the feet on the Bond producers! I feel there will be huge honours coming her way but the chance to perform her music much further afield. This year; the majority of her performances have been in the local area – London is as far north as she usually plays. I can imagine there are venues in other cities and locations that would love to support her. Money and budget is a concern but I know there are areas like Manchester and Glasgow where Elena Ramona can bring her music to – and it would go down a storm. I have been thinking about her music and, the fact she has been doing this a few years now, there are going to be international crowds who want to see her. I know she has performed in Greece (where her mother lives) but who can ignore the possibility nations like the U.S. are a possibility?! I am not saying she could afford to embark on a huge tour of America but, to get her music to some seriously big producers and names, maybe L.A. would be an area to head to in the summer?!
I am not sure whether that would be unfeasible but there are definitely parts of the U.K. she could explore. I will end this very soon but I mentioned Lorde earlier in this review. Whether Elena Ramona is aware of her music, I am not sure. Here is someone who has taken the expectation of what a young female Popstar is and flipped it on its head. One need only look at an interview with the New Zealand artist and you can hear someone full of life, humour and interest. Lorde collaborates with various others on Melodrama but she is the one in the driving seat. Her music looks at love and relationships but the production/composition sound is exciting and mature; the vocals are constantly stunning whilst the lyrics display intelligence and poetic flair. She is someone who is inspiring many artists out there and I can see Elena Ramona taking the same course. The music she has put out so far is different to what’s out there and I would like to think, in 2018, there is a move from her towards that sort of ambition. I know Elena Ramona has respect for talent shows and contestants that appear on them but her music is more deserving and stronger than that. I can understand the desire to feature on T.V. and have that record label back your music but there are problems with that approach. If she did win a talent show then her music would, despite her immense talent, have a shorter shelf-life and she would find herself forged and directed by management, producers and songwriters. Nobody who has ever won a singing talent show has managed to rival the ‘best of the rest’ – create an impressive career that has the potential to topple the best in music. Elena Ramona has her own mind and sound but has that ambition to get her songs featured in areas like T.V. and film; get her name heard by the masses. That will come and it is her talent, patience and accomplished songwriter that will make her dreams a reality. Whether we see Eyes on You sung by Adele (let’s hope so!) for the new Bond film; I know Elena Ramona will continue to grow and find new fans. She has tackled issues and overcome problems this year and has ended the year with a terrific song and success. This year has been an exciting and promising one for her but, if anything, 2018 is going to be…
INCREDIBLY important and exciting!
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