MIKA FEATURING PHARRELL WILLIAMS
Producer: Nick Littlemore
Just as his Empire of the Sun bandmate Luke Steele has become a hip-hop/R&B staple of late by collaborating with Jay-Z, Beyoncé and Usher, Nick Littlemore is now being courted by the pop world. For Mika's first single in three years, Littlemore layers the U.K. singer's signature falsetto over his own guitar-driven dance beats, with a vocal cameo from Pharrell Williams thrown in for posterity. The cumulative effect sounds heavily influenced by Daft Punk's "Discovery": a chorus that recalls "One More Time" ("I want the whole world to celebrate"), chugging beats highly reminiscent of "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" and a vocoder-enhanced bridge that could easily be mistaken for "Digital Love." The single is bound to be a hit among the artist's core fans, even if Mika's Freddie Mercury-on-helium personality is muffled a bit. More important, "Celebrate" serves as a temporary teaser for the singer's upcoming third album, "The Origin of Love," which will feature collaborations with William Orbit, Benny Benassi, Greg Wells and Klas Ahlund, among others.
She's So Mean (3:51)
Producer: Matt Serletic
Writers: R. Thomas, P. Doucette, K. Cook
In the decade since Matchbox Twenty released its last proper album of new material, lead singer Rob Thomas has released two solo sets that yielded hits like "This Is How a Heart Breaks" and "Her Diamonds." With "She's So Mean," the debut single off the group's Sept. 4 release, "North," it's obvious that the time apart between Thomas and his bandmates served the collective well creatively and sonically. Firmly pop, "Mean" doesn't make any apologies for its repetitive lyrics and serves up simple but memorable guitar riffs. "She likes to stay late at the party/'Cause the fun never ends," Thomas sings, his voice a little more seasoned as he invites listeners to step into his well-traveled shoes. "She's So Mean" comes off as predictable, but at this point in its career, Matchbox Twenty wears the song's conventions on its sleeve.
ZAC BROWN BAND
The Wind (2:57)
Producers: Keith Stegall, Zac Brown
Publishers: Weimerhound Publishing, Lil' Dub Music/Angelika Music, Southern Ground (BMI)
Zac Brown has described "The Wind," the first single from his group's forthcoming album, "Uncaged," as "probably the most country song we've ever done." Even if the ever-evolving Zac Brown Band has toed the line between country and rock more stridently, this short piece of bluegrass stands as one of the most immediately arresting singles of the group's major-label lifetime. Produced by Brown and Keith Stegall, "The Wind" winds around its fiddle riffs and stomping percussion, filling any pockets of sound with the frontman's cozy voice. Yet the song's key component is the looseness of its chorus, in which Brown states, "Where the wind blows, babe/You can bet/I'll be riding high with it," with the fervency and easy demeanor of Mumford & Sons' best tracks. Blowing through the listener's hair on each listen, "The Wind" offers a feeling that's hard to tire of.