Four Essential Pop Albums For Early Summer

Summer time is the best time for good pop music. When the weather is good and you’re on holiday, upbeat sounds feel right on point. Check out these four releases due out soon that will make the beginning of the season sweeter.


All Time Low


All Time Low

Dirty Work, out 6 June 2011

The four guys of All Time Low got their start playing in the underground punk circuit of their hometown, Baltimore, Maryland. By their late teens, though, they had already gained serious traction and by now the guys, especially frontman Alex Gaskarth, are bona fide pop stars — and heartthrobs. The group recently toured the U.K. with Yellowcard, Hey Monday, and the Summer Set, and revealed a couple new songs from this, the band’s fourth album and the first for a proper major label, Interscope Records. The group previously set the bar high with the success of its high-energy, punk-influenced pop, so there are plenty of expectations coming with the record.









Sorry For Party-Rocking, out 2 June 2011

The Los Angeles-based duo LMFAO gained fame — or, to some, infamy — for its 2008 party anthem, “I’m in Miami Bitch.” The group pioneered a mash-up of genres it calls “party rock,” which means dance beats, pop production, splashes of hip-hop, and whatever else sounds good while the drinks are flowing. This album features at least one song that’s already become a huge international smash, “Party Rock Anthem,” which features guest artists Lauren Bennett and GoonRock. Similar cameos will likely abound through the rest of the album.






Sophie Ellis-Bextor


Sophie Ellis-Bextor

Make a Scene, out 13 June 2011

Former lead singer of Theaudience and onetime model, Sophie Ellis-Bextor has had her hand in several entertainment hats. This record, though, her fourth as a solo artist, finds her coming back more lively than ever after giving birth to her second child. Motherhood hasn’t softened her bite at all, and on this record, she keeps things super-danceable with marked disco and synth-pop influences. She’s also collaborated with several marquee producers and songwriters for this effort, including Calvin Harris, Metronomy, and Armin Van Buuren.









Planet Pit, out 13 June 2011

Pitbull is pretty much the only major international pop superstar to come out of Miami in recent years, and the only one to successfully marry rap and dance music in a way that’s been both critically and commercially successful. That’s even when most of his songs liberally switch between English and slangy Spanish! But Pit’s found a party-friendly niche favoring big hooks and memorable lines over increasingly clubbier production. Planet Pit features a couple songs that have already found homes on dancefloors worldwide: “Give Me Everything,” featuring Ne-Yo, Afrojack, and Nayer, and “Hey Baby (Drop it to the Floor),” featuring T-Pain.


Mod Sun: Positivity Through Pop and Hip-Hop

Up-and-coming American pop artist Mod Sun has more than just catchy, electro-influenced hip-hop songs on his side, he says. The 24-year-old rapper, born in frigid Minneapolis, Minnesota but usually found in sunny Long Beach, California, is an outspoken acolyte of the law of attraction. It’s a concept he first discovered, and widely popularized, by Australian author Rhonda Byrne’s book The Secret. In essence, if you believe strongly in positivity, you attract positivity, and a cascade of good things continues to come your way.


The cover of Mod Sun's Health, Wealth, Success, and Happiness mixtape. Image via


So far, they have done so for Mod, whose handle is actually an acronym stands for Movement on Dreams, Stand Under None. As an independent artist with no manager or record label, he’s leveraged the power of social media and his own relentless friendliness to build a following of hundreds of thousands of fans.


The outcome so far? In recent months, it’s been recording session in Miami Beach with producer Dave Siegel — who produced such chart-toppers as T.I.’s “Whatever You Like and Soulja Boy’s “Kiss Me Thru the Phone — as well as a finalist slot in a recent contest for unsigned artists to grace the cover of the venerable Rolling Stone.


Before striking out on his own as a solo artist, Mod played as a drummer in several pop and rock bands, and there is a certain hangover from that experience in the high-powered hooks of his new songs. The rest of his material is relentlessly sunny, aimed at spreading the good news of an optimistic attitude to all of his fans. Or rather, his friends — Mod insists that he doesn’t have a “fan base,” but rather, a “friend base.”


We caught up with Mod not too long ago for an interview; here are some selections from the chat. In the meantime, follow him on Twitter at @MODSUN, and download his free mixtape Health, Wealth, Success, and Happiness below.


Download link:



Essential Pop: You got your start playing drums in rock bands. How did you make the transition to rap?


Mod Sun: I always identified with brilliant sentences. There’s never a song that’s too deep for me. I can really understand what an artist is saying. So I wanted to come from behind the kit and get at the front of the stage and in front of people.


One of the special things that I wanted to do with my hip-hop career — I call it “hippie-hop,” by the way, if I haven’t mentioned that — from the very, very first song, it was released. I’ve released every song that I’ve written, because I really wanted to show progress. So the very first song I ever rapped on, which is me not even knowing how to rap, really, I wanted to show people that it’s all about progress. So at this point I’ve had six releases, and four have been full-lengths, or more than full-lengths, they’re mixtapes.


I wanted to just show that you start at this point, and the goal is to get better. I’m not trying to be the best rapper, or the best musician, or the best artist. I’m trying to be the best human I can absolutely, at all costs, possibly be.


I gave up my life to positivity; all I’m trying to do is spread positive vibes to everybody. All I want to do with my artistry is inspire — I want the next artist to be better than me. I don’t want to be at the top of the list, although I’d love to tie, because I want everyone else to be just as good.


When I quit playing drums, I went back my hometown where everyone knew I was in a rock band that had toured and done everything I wanted to do. And when I told them I had quit to start rapping, they were shocked, obviously.


And it’s all about proving to yourself, and I think it is very important what people perceive you as. I think if you say something out loud, it makes you hold yourself to it. If you say, “I am going to do this” in front of a bunch of people, they’re expecting you to do that, and it’s going to propel you to do it even more. That’s what I believe. So I came out, and I said this is what I wanted to do, and I’m definitely going at it as hard as I can.



When you started out, did you look up to any actual rappers in particular?


Yeah, being from Minnesota, one of the guys I looked up to, and still do to this day, was a guy named Eyedea. He just recently passed away, so rest in peace to him. He was absolutely, hands-down the biggest influence on me to start, to get into hip-hop.


His rhymes and subject matter were different, he’s smart, he’s witty, he can do it all. He won Blaze Battle with the freestyle, even P. Diddy wanted to sign him at one point and he said no. He stayed in Minnesota and that’s what he wanted to do, stay with the Rhymesayers and Atmosphere and Brother Ali. So what got me into it was totally, 100 percent the Rhymesayers crew.


You kind of said that was what you were into to start. Do you look up to somebody else now?


I definitely still look up to them and their movement. In the rap world, right now, who do I look up to? I don’t know. I’m the first to tell everyone that I never really listened to the rap classics, like Biggie Smalls and Tupac and Big L, and even not too much Jay-Z. I’m not the biggest rap-head and I’ll be the first to be 100 percent truthful about that.


So, you know, I don’t really cite those people as having a huge influence on me. But, with the fact that I want to be a better artist in my craft of rapping, I study, and obviously now I listen and go back and better appreciate that they’re doing, and really study hip-hop. But at the beginning, it was all about getting out my voice and not caring who heard it.

Mod Sun



How did you first get into ‘The Secret’ and the Law of Attraction?


One of my friends named Fatty, actually — that’s his actual government-given name — he showed it to me, and I couldn’t believe it. My world changed. Because the biggest thing about it is that everybody watches it and says, “Oh, I do that.” But the people who don’t really identify with it still say, “Well I do that already,” but it’s totally different when somebody sits there and looks you in the eye and says, “You’re doing it, but now try to just do that.”


I think it flips everybody’s world around when I show them. My sister, for instance, she didn’t grow up being all positive, and life wasn’t working that well. But I introduced her to it and she’s 100 percent a different person now. I just think it’s the greatest tool to live life — you adapt it to your own situation.


I don’t ever want to be the type of person that preaches that, this is the way you need to be. I always say, whatever you stand for, don’t judge the person who believes the opposite, because without them, you don’t have anything to stand for. So I believe that everyone should do exactly what they feel inside is right. But I do feel that in my case, I know that the law of attraction works 100 percent, and I’m trying to prove it to everyone else.



Your bio says you literally feel happy all the time. Do you ever feel down, and what do you do about it?


You can train yourself to not feel down, because you control everything. Your brain controls everything, and you control your brain. The fact that I’m talking to you right now, that is a total choice on my part to open my mouth and say these words. I’m controlling everything, and that means I control my thoughts.


So that means there’s a possibility I’m about to think down about something, I know it does no good, so I stop myself from doing it immediately. It says it’s a scientific thought that a positive thought is more powerful than a negative thought, it’s twice as powerful. So say that you do think a negative thought, and make it positive — it’s twice as powerful, so you just erased the bad thought.


That’s how I taught myself, knowing I just thought something bad, so I’m going to take the same thing and feel positive about it, and it completely erases the negative. And I know that.


What’s a concrete example of something you’ve achieved or something that’s happened in your career that you attribute to the law of attraction?


I want to make an impact on the world in a positive way. If you think about Mod Sun out there, the majority of people out there, if not all, think of positivity. So that sends an image of Mod Sun and a thought of positivity into the universe. The universe is then going to take that and send it back to me, because someone else out there is thinking positively about me.


And again, I mean, I could cite a million things to you right now about how, exactly, it has happened. My name stands for Movement on Dreams, Stand Under None. I’d be lying to you if not every single thing that’s happened in my career was not part of a plan, something I had asked for a year ago, two years ago.


Do you have plans to release a proper studio album? What are your latest musical projects?


Yes, I have a fantastic EP that I’ve just released this past December. It’s called In Mod We Trust. Upon release of it, it debuted at number one on the iTunes hip-hop charts above Black-Eyed Peas, Kanye, Kid Cudi. I mean, not for like, a month, but it did debut at number one.


I recorded that EP with a guy named Dave Siegel who’s a fantastic producer down in Miami. He did T.I.’s “Whatever You Like,” Soulja Boy’s “Kiss Me Through the Phone,” and he works off the Billboard charts and makes hits.


Are you looking for a record label deal?


I think music is at the absolute greatest point it’s ever been in the history of music. People complain about it all day, and there are old heads in the industry who don’t want to change, but I think music is so amazing, and everything is possible. People like Owl City went from a basement in Minnesota to number one on the Billboard Charts. That is possible!


So I think being on a label is great, because it means you have people working for you. That’s fantastic. But guess what, I can do everything by myself right now. I am my self-promotion — granted, half my day is spent really promoting the shit out of myself. But I’ve decided to do that instead of working a cubicle, so lucky me, I can sit on my iPhone and be at the beach, smoking a joint, and be doing my promotion!


I think until everything is over your head where you don’t even get to sleep any more because you have so much to do, I think you don’t need a label. You should hold out. I’ve been offered multiple record deals from major labels, independent labels, nothing labels, everything, because people have caught on early to this and knew the potential of it. I’ve been offered plenty of deals, and I’ve just said, you know what, I can do everything myself right now.


Artist Interview – Farahri

Farahri is a singer, songwriter and performer, starting to make serious headway in her home country, Canada. Despite her hectic schedule,  she kindly agreed to complete an incredibly in depth interview with Essential Pop, telling us about what she’s been doing, her musical influences, what her GPop movement is all about.



Q: If you could classify your music in a genre or number of genres what would it be?

Essentially I would classify my music as pop, however you will notice that I also mesh different genres and cultural influences in my songs. The genres I cover include: hip hop, r&b, dancehall, reggae, hindi pop, alternative, rock, dance and electro. The cultural influences include: Caribbean, European, Latin, African, Indian and American.

Q: If you could use a tagline of less than 20 words to describe your music and who you are what would it be?

Award-winning, versatile, passionate, singer/songwriter and fashion icon Farahri, is an explosion of international talent not to be missed!

Q: What is your musical background?

I never had any formal musical training, except for a couple of years of piano lessons when I was a kid. I loved singing and performing from a very young age and that led to me singing in community choirs and school choirs mostly. In high school and university, I participated in several coffee houses, variety shows, and talent shows as well which really developed my love for performing. My love for a diverse range of music and cultural influences definitely came from growing up in a multi-cultural city, and being surrounded by multiple ethnicities. I am of east Indian descent, my parents are born in east Africa, I had friends from all over the world and I just ended up loving all different types and styles of music. In my choirs we also learned to sing in several different languages which has led me to being able to sing in: English, French, Hindi, Swahili, Arabic, Spanish and Jamaican Patois. I guess it doesn’t hurt that I also love learning languages :-).



Q: How was 2010 for you?

2010 was absolutely amazing. The year started off with a renewal of my AMA Swiss watch endorsement in January, winning ‘Most Promising Artist’ at the prestigious Anokhi Gala and Awards show and being featured in the Sexy and Successful issue of the Anokhi magazine. Then, in the summer I was invited to perform at the biggest reggae festival in the world hapenning in Montego Bay, Jamaica – Reggae Sumfest. This was such a crazy event! I was featured on International Night 2 alongside Usher, Shaggy, Beanie Man and more extremely talented superstars. It was a surreal experience. Then we came back and shot the video for my latest single – “Favorite Day”! The year ended off with an amazing New Years Eve show in Montreal at Time Supper Club.

Q: Who inspires you musically?

There are so many people its hard to list them all! Mariah Carey, Bob Marley, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Lata Mangeshkar, Adnan Sami, AR Rahman, Guns n Roses, Dave Matthews Band, Alicia Keys, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan and the list goes on………

Q: Which modern day artists do you look up to?

Michael Jackson for the legacy he left us all, and the standards in music we must all strive to achieve for ourselves -- from his top quality hits, to his positive messages, to his unwavering work ethic and undeniable talent. Beyonce is also another artist whom I admire and respect, also for her overall talent and work ethic. Alicia Keys for her soul, Wyclef Jean and Alicia for their humanitarian efforts, Will.I.Am for his creativity and ability to start new music trends, 50 cent for his business skills and Rihanna, Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj for not being afraid to be who they are and bend the fashion rules. And to be honest, I respect and admire all other artists who are just doing their thing. It’s not an easy industry to penetrate or survive in, so anyone who is still hanging in there is someone who has my respect.

Q: Is there anyone you would like to collaborate or gig with?

I would love to tour and/or collaborate with Usher, Will.I.Am., Wyclef, Nicki Minaj because they are all versatile creative artists like me!

Q: What songs are on your ipod at the moment?

Everything from Guns n Roses, Beyonce, Mariah Carey, classical instrumental tracks, Usher, Lady Gaga, a variety of hindi Bollywood songs and of course Farahri :-).


Q: What is your creative process for creating a track?

It depends on a couple of things. Sometimes I’ll get an idea for a song and just write it, without music and then take it to a producer to create music around it, or search for an instrumental that it fits. Other times, I’ll have an instrumental and write to it depending on how the beat makes me feel and what ideas it gives me. Once the track is written, I usually demo it at home and then take it to the studio. From there, we create it into a masterpiece! I get inspiration from different places too and at very random moments, which is why it’s important for me to have my phone to jot something down quickly or record a melody or idea that pops into my head. Sometimes I like to take a couple of days away from home and go somewhere to focus on writing solely. If I get a chance, I love writing by the water, its so calming and peaceful and I find I’m able to focus fully.

Q: What’s more important, melody or lyrics?

Tough question. In the pop world I think both are equally as important. The lyrics can be great, but if the melody isn’t in the pocket, it might not reach as far as you would want and visa versa. I think it’s important to have a good balance where lyrics and melody compliment each other.



Q: Where are you based?

Right now I’m based in Toronto, Canada.

Q: What’s it like being where you’re from?

Toronto is a fantastic city full of life, diversity, multi-culturalism, music, art and great, friendly people. It’s a city where most people are workaholics though but we also party hard! I grew up in Ottawa, which is quite a bit smaller than Toronto and a great place to settle down and have a family. Ottawa offers a lot of the same things as Toronto but on a smaller scale. In Toronto and the GTA (greater Toronto area) you have beaches, amusement parks, farm land, a plethora of cultural buildings, urban areas, suburban areas and so much more. I live being here and living downtown because you never feel alone.

Q: What are you currently working on?

We recently released the Favorite Day, dance/house beat version of the video and song, which we are in the process of promoting. I’m also working on a new single coming out soon called “Shake Your Body”.

Q: What’s been the highlight of your career to date?

It’s a tie between the award and Reggae Sumfest!


Q: What are you hoping to achieve in 2011?

I’m hoping to release a lot more music in 2011 and to continuously refine my music, making it better and better every day. I also hope to reach a broader fan base and keep them interested with great music, fashion, entertainment and my new movement called GPoP – the Global Pursuit of Positivity.

Q: Do you have any gigs or shows that you’d like to tell us about?

Q: What do you do to relax?

I go for a walk with my toy poodle, Lucky and get some bubble tea. The fresh air is very re-energizing. I also sing to relax, write and workout. It’s important to keep a balance otherwise you burn out really fast and are not as efficient and as productive as you could be.



Q: Is there anything else you’d like to let our readers know about?

I’d love to introduce my GPoP Movement to everyone. Here is the bio for GPoP.


GPoP is a thought provoking movement with the sole purpose of promoting positivity throughout the world. Farahri explains that GPoP is a multi-faceted movement that stems from a very basic concept – love for oneself. Farahri believes a lot of the problems in the world stem from the root cause of people not loving themselves, which yields and breeds negativity and destruction. From a young age, just like many others, Farahri struggled with image, self-confidence, her identity, and how to be happy in a world that is consciously and sub-consciously designed to make you feel inadequate. She was constantly plagued by questions as to why concepts such as racism even existed, why diversity was regarded as ‘weird and wrong’ versus being embraced as ‘interesting and unique’, why some people felt more superior than others and why a random group of people got to decide what ‘beautiful’ is. All her life she searched for answers to these questions and it all boiled down to how people felt about themselves and what they believed which dictated how they led their lives. Farahri wants to help solve the problem at the root of its cause and believes that by loving ourselves more, we will naturally proliferate positivity throughout humanity.

GPoP currently has seven major pillars:

  1. “I love myself, despite my faults and flaws because I am a unique creation with an important purpose in this universe.”
  2. “The purpose in life is to use your talents and abilities for the betterment of humanity.”
  3. “EMBRACING versus TOLERATING each other’s differences is the distinction between an open-mind and an open-heart.
  4. “Blurring the boundaries of artistic expression and amalgamating all types of cultural influences and different artistic styles”
  5. “Keep a balance between your MIND, BODY and SPIRIT to achieve optimal physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.”
  6. “Cooperation versus Competition” – Fostering a more positive environment around you.
  7. “The Positivity Bubble” – being accountable for your thoughts, actions and reactions.

Just like Farahri, GPoP also embraces cultural influences from around the globe, including the Caribbean, Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia, the Middle East and the Americas. GPoP is a growing vision and forum that many people identify with and appreciate. She hopes people will not be afraid to participate with their views, opinions and questions and above all hopes that the concepts will help.

“The root cause of all the problems in the world is a lack of love for oneself. Self-loathing, often subconscious, is the genetic equivalent to Cancer. It’s a small mutation/defect at first and then proliferates rapidly, creating a malignant tumor that invades adjacent tissue and cannot stop killing, suppressing or destroying everything around it. The worst part is, the faster and vaster it becomes, the harder it is to find the origin and stop it…sound familiar? The solution lies in treating the root cause and only you have control over that. Focus on treating, healing and loving yourself and your spirit first. One person at a time we CAN stop physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually annihilating our own race, the human race.” (Farahri 2010)



Editor’s Note: Farahri has the whole package to be a successful performer and recording artist. We hope to see her in the UK soon.

If you wish to learn more about or contact Farahri, please follow the links below:

twitter link:

facebook link:

myspace link:

web page link:

reverbnation link:

Youtube embeds: (all videos are available here)


Anything else: To contact Farahri, feel free to email her at

Management/Booking info: or 416-913-3962

A Cut above the Rest – Adele

Today’s music charts are populated with so much disposable pop music. Amongst the cheesiness, there are a few gems to be admired. Adele is one of them.

The first recipient of Brit-Awards Critic Choice began to flourish when she attracted the attention of XL Recordings, who were impressed with her three-song demo on MySpace and offered her a recording contract (the contract later became a joint-venture between XL and Columbia Records).


The rest was history. The release of the first album 19 (January 2008) brought success beyond belief for the 22 year old Londoner: within the first week of release, the single Chasing Pavements peaked at number two in the UK single charts which has been nominated for two Grammy Awards: Record of the Year and Song of the Year. However Chasing Pavements won a Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. The album 19 went straight to number one in the UK album chart.


Across the pond, the American audience was a harder nut to crack, as the album was positioned at 56 on Billboard 200 and remained there for many weeks .Eventually, Adele won them over when she performed Chasing Pavements on Saturday Night Live. The following day, 19 rose to 46 and then to 11 a week later. After winning two awards, the album peaked at 10.

19 was (well still is) the perfect introduction to Adele’s first-class bluesy voice which is evidently needed in the pop industry today. This album has led her to become a respected artist of her generation.

Adele now releases her second and much anticipated album, 21 this week (24 January 2011).  Already the album received raving reviews from reputable figures in the music industry. It came to no surprise that 21 is yet another prime example of Adele’s signature style -- the deep bluesy voice that, no doubt, tug the heartstrings. The success of this album is definitely on the cards as it stormed in at no.1 on the German iTunes album chart.

It gets even better as 21 is expected to storm the UK album charts, selling way over 100,000 copies since its release. According to the Official Charts Company, the album is outselling the rest of the top ten albums combined.

Rolling in The Deep, the first in-your-face song from the album sees a different side to Adele as she pushes her vocals to the limit. Written by producer Paul Epworth and Adele, the single was release ten days before the album. Since the release, Rolling in The Deep already received roaring reviews and praises from actress Lindsey Lohan.

Overall, 21 is a pure and honest album, produced to the highest quality. Many of the so-called pop artists need to take a leaf out of her book. Adele sings with such maturity – you forget that she’s only 22. With that level of talent, this artist deserves to be taken very seriously.


One to Watch: Electro-Pop Sensation Claire Maguire and Jessie J

Heard of Claire Maguire? You will do by the end of this year. The ex-shop assistant will be releasing her first single Let’s Dance 21 (February) and her album Light After Dark follows eight days after.

Claire Maguire

Armed with a gusty voice (a cross between Alison Moyet and Bonnie Tyler) the 23-year-old from Birmingham was waiting for this moment for an awful long time. Maguire wrote her first songs at the mere age of seven and has performed at family parties. She recalls hopping on the desk and singing at primary school. She adds, ‘The teachers thought I was mad, but it’s how I connect.’ 

Fast forward at the age of 17, Maguire left school to focus on music career. She made an impressive connection with Universal Music (via MySpace) who offered her a recording contract at the age of 20.

This up-and-coming star is determined to find her own route in the music industry despite being offered songs by Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker and Plan B (which is an achievement in itself.) Instead she hooked up with British producer Fraser T. Smith to record the aforementioned album.

With Plan B, Jarvis Cocker, Rick Rubin and Jay-Z as her biggest fans, Claire Maguire is worth the second look.

Jessie J

Jessie J

This pop diva has barely entered the music scene and has already caused a stir. Jessie J has made plans to do a festive duet with past X-factor winner Leona Lewis.

It seems the Essex-born songstress is contradicting herself as she slams X-Factor for giving contestants an easy ride to stardom. However the 22 year old has a soft spot for Cher Lloyd, wishing her all the success in the future on doing her ‘own thing.’

You’re forgiven if you think that Jessie J is a newcomer to the music industry -- the truth is she no stranger! Just like her pop rival Claire Maguire, the winner of the Brit Awards’ Critics Choice has an impressive track record, as she has written hits for Alicia Keys, Christina Aguilera and Miley Cyrus and her debut single Do It like a Dude is ripping up the charts.

But her very first taste of fame was 11 years ago, when she performed in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s West End show Whistle down the Wind.

With Justin Timberlake hailing her as ‘the best singer in the world’ this girl is worth sitting up and taking notice of – it’s hard not to!

The album Who You Are is out on 28 March and 12 April (US release).