Would-be pop stars beware – a record deal could end up being the worst thing ever

For every successful act who find their way into the hearts and affections of millions, there are countless more who never live up to billing or expectations

Charli XCX: third time lucky?

Charli XCX: third time lucky?

 

The corridors and box-rooms of record companies are full of pop’s abandoned would-bes and contenders. The discarded merchandise, the torn posters, the unused visuals from expensive photo sessions, the never-played promo samplers of what was going to be on the debut album: here lies the detritus of a thousand acts who never got off the ground.

For every successful act who find their way into the hearts and affections of millions, there are countless more who never live up to billing or expectations. For many of them, getting signed turned out to be the best – and maybe worst – day of their life.

In this category, you have acts where the label took fright when the first single didn’t set the world alight. Or acts where the debut album was released, but never promoted and thus the act died the cruellest of deaths. There may even be acts where a large six-figure sum was spent on preening and prepping but no one was interested in the end product.

Many folks outside the label bubble are often puzzled at this state of affairs. Surely labels sign acts after carrying out due diligence? Don’t the labels have a fairly good idea that their signings have what it takes to make an impact? You’d think this would be so. Yet, again and again, acts are signed – talented, colourful, fascinating acts – and fall by the wayside. It’s The Hunger Games with monster make-up and a wardrobe budget.

Those who really deserve a round of applause in all of this are the ones who take on the major label machine and who succeed in spite of everything that happens to them.

Case in point is Charlotte Aitchison, AKA Charli XCX. She is receiving plenty of praise at present for her excellent new album Sucker. It’s worth remembering, though, that this is her third album, and 2013’s True Romance didn’t exactly set the world alight.

There’s every chance that Aitchison would have been kicked off the record industry carousel after that, were it not for the fact that she co-wrote Icona Pop’s day-glo earworm I Love It and then turned up on Fancy alongside Iggy Azalea. Her label were sensible after that brace of blockbusters, took another chance on Charli XCX and the result is an album doing decent business in the US and elsewhere.

There are other acts you wish could benefit from such fortitude. We’ve been smitten for ages with Indiana’s fascinating Solo Dancing, but chances are few will know about No Romeo, the album from which it’s taken.

Originally due for release six months ago, the album was finally released a few weeks ago to some critical applause, but very little else. You have to hope that Lauren Henson, the woman behind Indiana, finds her own I Love It to ensure the label sits up and pays attention to her talents.

YOU’VE GOT TO HEAR THIS
All Tvvins
Thank You

(Warner Music)
Boom! A gigantic growling, thumper of a tune, Thank You already sounds like the stuff of summer festival main stages. Conor Adams and Lar Kaye are on a heck of a mission and you’d be mad to miss out on it.

 

ETC
Ernst Reijseger is a musician with a large and varied CV in the jazz, improv and soundtrack world. On the latter score, he’s been Werner Herzog’s go-to composer in recent years. He visits Dublin in April to play the NCH on April 10th with Harmen Fraanje and Mola Sylla. Reijseger and his bandmates will also host a a workshop at the same venue on April 11th.

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