Pop Shop Picks: Empire of the Sun, Paramore, Selena Gomez & More

Empire of the Sun Builds Buzz From Out Of Nowhere

Each Friday, Pop Shop will showcase a handful of tracks that have been burning up its speakers over the past week. These can include a brand-new song or a track that's been simmering for a minute; the only rule is that it's worth space in the Pop Shop!

"Alive" (3:24)

Australian synth-pop duo Empire of the Sun isn't afraid of corniness so long as it results in dancing. On its debut album, 2008's Walking on a Dream, the group teetered dangerously close to parody due to its eccentric visuals and Luke Steele's nasal vocal delivery, but the songs were so deliciously enjoyable-blending new-millennium electronica and new romantic synth textures-that it was difficult to mind. Given the five-year void since the band's last studio album, a stylistic shift would seem logical. Instead, "Alive" is simply more campy brilliance: childlike chanting, chirpy vocal loops, four-on-the-floor pulses and, of course, cushioned blasts of synthesizer. "Loving every minute 'cause you make me feel so alive," Steele sings, as the chorus coils around itself like a snake and fades out into an emotive swirl. For fans of Walking on a Dream, it's hard not to love every minute of "Alive." -RYAN REED

"Come & Get It" (3:52)
Hollywood Records

"This love will be the death of me," Gomez croons on her new single, "but I know I'll die happily." That's a heavy assertion for a 20-year-old, but the rest of the cut remains light on its feet, with Stargate's revved-up pop structure housing Gomez's string of come-ons. The songwriting's a bit loose, but Gomez strikes her best Rihanna pose in advance of a presumably more mature album. -JASON LIPSHUTZ

"Gentleman" (3:15)
Silent/School Boy/Republic

Powerful melodies, shouting choruses and a now-familiar dance break give PSY's follow-up to "Gangnam Style" everything a listener would expect from the K-pop phenom. Ironically, "Gentleman" is just the opposite of its title: With lyrics that translate to "Damn girl, you're so freaking sexy," PSY again plays the salacious prankster while goading U.S. audiences to get on their feet. -WILLIAM GRUGER

"Brazil" (5:47)
Notown/Ghostly International

"Brazil" is the type of elongated yet wholly kinetic single that European electronic contemporaries like Four Tet and Lindstrom have become so consistent at producing. U.K. knob-twiddler Gold Panda bottled lightning before with 2010's "You," and while "Brazil" similarly snips its vocal sample, the track arrives with a different veneer, relying upon a more patient structure and more complexly chattering beats. -JASON LIPSHUTZ

"Still Into You" (3:36)
Fueled By Ramen

The second single from the pop-punk group's new self-titled album may not have the bite of "Now," but "Still Into You" makes a greater impact as soon as Hayley Williams delivers the word "butterflies" in the most delirious way possible on the chorus. Bottling giddy infatuation inside its three minutes and 36 seconds, the song radiates more joy than most songs released this year. -JASON LIPSHUTZ


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