Missy Elliot Shakes Her 'Jelly' Perhaps A Little More Arthritically In New Track

11 February 2016 | 1:42 pm | Ross Clelland

"It loops and reverses much as she’s ever done – and didn’t that get old fast?"

As the search for income streams for your music becomes ever more desperate, it appears sometimes you work the marketing - and sometimes the marketing works you.

As the Super Duper Americana Sportsball event earlier this week showed if you’re Beyonce, it can work out that your tour announcement can have some football game going on around it. Conversely, Chris Martin ended up as Left Shark – caught between the Serena Williams of r’n’b, and a Michael Jackson tribute show called Bruno Mars – possibly a division of the Mars Bar confectionary corporation. This of course followed Lady Gaga morphing into Barbra Streisand before the world’s cameras earlier on.

But they weren’t the only musicians of the last 5-to-20 years working it. Various of the ludicrously expensive commercials seemed to have some singer shilling something – Janelle Monae spruiking Pepsi, L’il Wayne, Drake and more all looking to be noticed. And perhaps most obviously, Missy Elliott bantering with some Baldwin or another to slip a snippet of her new single in at the end of an ad for some new Amazon gizmo. So, Pep Rally (Goldmind Inc/Warner) – despite the title, not actually product placement for that aforementioned soft drink conglomerate. It loops and reverses much as she’s ever done – and didn’t that get old fast? – shakes her ‘jelly’, perhaps a little more arthritically than she used, and gets 100,000 views of the tune. But, can that be counted a good return when the original base audience was maybe a billion people worldwide? 

Somewhere else in the biggest media events of the last few months was the ‘new’ Star Wars        moving picture. Now, you wouldn’t probably pick Rick Rubin as most likely guy to do a ‘inspired by…’ music project relating to Luke’s and Leila’s voyage to middle-age. Let alone it largely be electronic and dancey in its mood. Others he’s invited include Royksopp and Flying Lotus, but Rubin offers the first sample of it, under his own name. NR-G7 (Disney Music) is apparently part of the official 40-year master plan for the franchise from the House Of Mouse Corporation, so the man who midwifed Def Jam into the mainstream, and resurrected Johnny Cash’s artistic integrity - among other things – gets to use samples of R2-D2’s and BB-8’s beeps and farts to make fairly bland synth dance music. But some guy with a battery-operated light-sabre will likely rush out and buy it just because it is what it is.  

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Slightly less intent on world saturation, but targeting an unquestionably massive boutique audience, local kids making good Deep Creek Road have already managed to get a song in Nashville (the TV series) by absolutely sounding like they come Nashville (the place). They make big pop-country with Anchor (The Same Tune) going for the ‘uplifting, life-affirming, power ballad’ model, which may likely get them soundtracking another episode’s moment of family drama. Or, at the least, be considered as support act for the next Keith Urban tour. 

Or, you can cut away the gimmickry that a lot of people might expect, and present yourself in the rawest form. With his tour here imminent, Sufjan Stevens releases the title track of his toweringly human Carrie & Lowell (Asthmatic Kitty) in very raw on-stage form, previewing and evidencing what the live experience of Mr Stevens and his combo may well be. This is one of those songs of sincerity that is Sufjan at his unwanky best, which you kind of hope he could achieve more often.

Sometimes, in order to move your art on, you have to leave previous a previous guise behind. Phoebe and Joey were previously part of the ‘close-to-happening’ Snakadaktal. But that band stalled and went the way of all flesh like a million before and a million more will, so they reconvene as the accurately-monikered Two People. The recording of Fading (Liberation) was all done in the loungeroom and a handy warehouse. Her voice floats over an insistent layers of electronics and occasional scribbles of guitar where the pronouncements of “I’m fine…” seem to be convince the person singing them as much as the person listening. That apparent contradiction is one of the things that makes you want to play it again to try and work it out.

The name you may recognise at the centre of Saatsuma is that of Memphis Kelly – but while the genetics of being daughter of Paul and often backing singer for cousin Dan suggest obvious musical talents and knowledge, perhaps you best not approach Storm (Bamboo Flight Crew) looking for Australian stories of sex, death, families, and friends or slightly surreal monologues as offered by her kin. The beds and filigrees of this perhaps owe more to something past like Massive Attack – this is atmospheric mood music, and done in an interesting way. 

More local music not of the guitar/bass/drums/beer model comes from Eilish Gilligan. The electronic washes of The Dogs (Wyatt Style) somehow manage to feel of the loss that’s in its  narrative. Music like this, and a couple of others just above, are part of a change that maybe has to happen, where the traditions of ‘Oz Rock’ and its ilk – which was/is certainly not all bad, and can still make things quite wonderful – need an acceptance that there are forms of pop music beyond that, of which works like this are of international class and worthy of that recognition. Throw yourself to them. 

The flipside of that ‘internationality’ is something like Down Like This (Sweat It Out), absolutely a ‘club-ready anthem’ as it says on the box. Motez makes music for the dancefloor – whether that dancefloor is in Darling Harbour, Docklands, Denver, or Denmark. The also well-regarded Tkay Maidza appears in the ‘Featuring…’ role, and pours the entreaties of the title out with some style, as the machines underneath her voice spiral and go ‘ping’. To me, it’s kind of generic of its form – but maybe that’s the point, and what gets you gigs like remixing Sam Smith songs. If that is what floats your boat. Which may be a yacht moored off Ibiza. Or not.