Casino slot machines: The next great frontier for pop music merchandise?

Considering the rabid platform-agnostic content consumption of today’s fans, it may even happen sooner rather than later.

When we talk about music merchandise, the first things that usually come to mind (aside from their albums themselves) are clothing lines, paper ephemera like stickers, and maybe a signature scent or a few action figures. For the true hardcore collector, however, there’s another type of extremely valuable collectible to amass: slot machines.

Casino slot machines: The next great frontier for pop music merchandise?

Casino slot machines: The next great frontier for pop music merchandise?

 

While newer artists haven’t really ventured into licensing their likenesses and creative output to slot machine manufacturers and online gaming developers, a number of musical icons have slowly but surely penetrated the realm of real-money gaming.

There are already two Michael Jackson slot machines, for example. These aren’t your run-of-the-mill quick cash-ins, either. The latest, called Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’, features a number of the King of Pop’s most famous songs. It even comes with videos, a virtual concert bonus, and a surround-sound chair.

Genre doesn’t seem to be a deterrent to entry, too. Legendary thrash metal band Megadeth, considered one of the “Big Four” in the world of thrash metal, has its own slot machine. It seems like a strange merchandising venture for a metal band, but it does exist, albeit only as an online game.

The choice seems not so strange for merchandise-heavy band Kiss, whose members have lent their likeness to everything from limp balms and Rubik’s cubes to condoms and caskets. It should come as no surprise, then, that the band has also had a slot machine themed after them.

 

Casino slot machines: The next great frontier for pop music merchandise?

Casino slot machines: The next great frontier for pop music merchandise?

 

The undisputed king of musician-based slot machines, however, is Elvis Presley. In fact, you could argue that without The King, there wouldn’t be a market for these kinds of slot machines at all. IGT, who basically pioneered the modern era of licensed slot machine cabinets, really started the ball rolling with the first Elvis-themed slot machine in the late 90s.

That particular slot machine was the first to incorporate licensed music tracks and videos into the cabinet, something that has since become a staple not only for current-era artist-themed slots but for pretty much every new slot machine.

It was soon followed by a number of other Elvis-themed cabinets. When IGT eventually moved into the online gaming landscape, it brought Elvis with it. The latest title, Elvis The King, debuted on Betfair during the week of what would have been The King’s 78th birthday.

 

Casino slot machines: The next great frontier for pop music merchandise?

Casino slot machines: The next great frontier for pop music merchandise?

 

Licensing has lately become a big enough part of pop music that it wouldn’t come as a surprise if we start to see slot machines featuring today’s crop of artists in the future. Considering the rabid and platform-agnostic content consumption of today’s fans, it may even happen sooner than anyone thinks.

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

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTJkE8Ki3Gg

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.

 

 

 

 

 

LMFAO

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQ6zr6kCPj8

LMFAO

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

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-stWGPtU3U

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Pitbull

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPo5wWmKEaI

Pitbull

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.

 

2011’s Top 40 Chart Acts

Today it’s easy for us to remain deeply engrained in the personal niche of an MP3 player, or our customized stations on Pandora. So the next time you’re riding in your car, give your ear buds a rest and switch on the radio to check out some of the current Top 40 chart acts. Here are some of the artists that are currently at the top of the charts.

 

Katy Perry - Photographed by David LaChapelle

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5Sd5c4o9UM

Katy Perry, E.T.

Lately it seems that, to quote Ms. Perry herself, everyone has been “on board the Katy Perry train.” She has consistently been pumping out catchy chart topping hits for many months now, and E.T., which features Kanye West, is her latest release from her album Teenage Dream.

 

 

 

 

Black Eyed Peas

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OrTyD7rjBpw

The Black Eyed Peas, Just Can’t Get Enough

Lake many of The Black Eyed Peas’ latest hits, Just Can’t Get Enough starts with a melodic vocal hook from Fergie, then evolves into a electronic dance track that is ready to be pumped through dance clubs. It’s a formula that works for them and they’ve stuck with it.

 

 

 

 

Adele

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYEDA3JcQqw

Adele, Rolling In the Deep

Rolling in the Deep, which is Adele’s first single off of her second album, is quickly becoming one of the best-loved songs of 2011. Adele is one of the most powerful and authoritative female voices in music today, and her single’s mix of pop and blues is appealing to a wide range of audiences.

 

 

 

 

Lupe Fiasco

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rmp6zIr5y4U

Lupe Fiasco, The Show Goes On

The first single from Fiasco’s third album Lasers, The Show Goes On is a likable interpolation of Modest Mouse’s popular motivational single Float On.

 

 

 

 

The Script

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3DTQsJ6ZaOQ

The Script, For the First Time

The Script has created sort of a musical cheeseburger with their single For the First Time: A melodic “oohing” chorus is the meat patty, and it’s topped with a cheesy theme about ill-fated lovers, a slightly bitter mustard lyric about trying to make a relationship work in the middle of messy economic circumstances, and some large chunks of piano pickles on top. It’s a combo that listeners are finding quite delicious.

 

 

 

 

Jessie J

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMxX-QOV9tI

Jessie J featuring B.o.B., Price Tag

Although Jessie J is only 22 years old, she has already come a long way from singing songs into the webcam on her laptop and posting them on the internet. She’s penned songs for Alicia Keys and Christina Aguilera, and now found success with her single Price Tag, a super upbeat ditty that’s much less aggressive than her last single, Do It Like a Dude.

 

 

 

 

Blake Shelton

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqrlhNmSZrc

Blake Shelton, Honey Bee

At a time when celebrity’s marital disputes are constantly making headlines, it is no wonder that Shelton’s single has hit a homerun with listeners. The Oklahoma crooner’s song with lyrics such as “you be my sunny day, I’ll be your shade tree” is super sweet.

 

 

 

 

Edward Maya

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_5D4y6x-oo

Edward Maya, Stereo Love

The video for Edward Maya’s electronic anthem has already received over 100 million views on Youtube. The Romanian producer and performer has struck a chord with his latest dance hit, and somehow even managed to make the accordion sound really cool.

 

2011’s Hottest British Pop Singers

Britain has always introduced groundbreaking artists to the music world. For years, music enthusiasts from all over the globe have embraced British artists from a number of different genres, and many English musicians have gone on to claim their roles as some of the most influential pop and rock acts the world has ever known.

From The Beatles and The Rolling Stones to David Bowie and The Who, Britain has been a powerhouse in the music industry since day one, and it continues to produce top-charting artists to the music scene today. The face of pop and rock may have changed since the 1960’s British Invasion, but many modern artists who dominate the airwaves today boast the same UK flavor and catchy tunes that we all love to add to our playlists.

Here are some of the most recent British pop singers to take over the charts, including a few British darlings who have quickly become 2011’s most beloved pop artists.

 

 

Natasha Bedingfield

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P27MPi3ZhCg

Natasha Bedingfield

Although not new to the 2011 British pop music scene, Natasha Bedingfield continues to pump out hit after hit. From her 2004 album, Unwritten, to her 2007 album, N.B., which launched one of her larger hit songs, “Pocket Full of Sunshine,” this Sussex native releases catchy tune after catchy tune. Her latest full-length album was released back in late 2010, but the tracks still receive continuous airplay, making Natasha a regular British pop favorite in 2011.

 

 

 

Jessie J

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSZVYZTze74

Jessie J

Sassy, fun, and straight from Redbridge, London, Jessie J is this year’s pop music sensation. Her debut album, Who You Are, was released on February 25th. Although the album is brand new, Jessie J—whose real name is Jessica Ellen Cornish—is not new to the music industry. Prior to her album release, she had already established herself as a songwriter and was a background singer for Cyndi Lauper back in 2008. She also wrote lyrics for heavy-hitting artists such as Chris Brown and Miley Cyrus. Her latest single, “Price Tag,” was released in January of 2011, and is a feel-good song that keeps your head bobbing and your spirits high.

 

 

 

Lily Allen

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWjNFC-FinU

Lily Allen

Like Natasha Bedingfield, Lily Allen isn’t new to the 2011 music scene by any means, but her influence lingers and is still going strong. She’s recently garnished a lot of attention from the press due to her publicly announced hiatus, but her hit songs “Not Fair,” and “The Fear” are fan favorites that make Lily a 2011 British pop queen. Outspoken, feisty, and a creative force in pop music, Lily continues to mix controversy with clever tracks, and our ears aren’t complaining!

 

 

 

Adele

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYEDA3JcQqw

Adele

Arguably the highlight artist of 2011, Adele is everywhere you turn. It’s hard to miss her soulful, contagious voice, along with her classy style and fresh songwriting skills. Adele, a British pop singer who has won over fans internationally in recent months, has reportedly described her musical style as a “heartbroken soul.” You can’t help but notice this in her hit songs, “Someone Like You,” and “Rolling in the Deep.” Since the January release of her second album, 21, Adele has sold out her entire North American tour.

 

Love Her or Hate Her: Lady Sovereign

After her cringing moment on the last ever Celebrity Big Brother, you don’t hear or see much of Lady Sovereign. It’s not the first time the 25-year-old have ‘cringing moments’. Read on, and you’ll discover there’s other ‘moments’ that makes her appearance on Celebrity Big Brother look like a Christmas nativity play.

Lady Sovereign

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLlOzYM8gak

 

Back in 2007, she assaulted and spat (yes you read it right) at a San Francisco- based MC “Jelly Donut” during a rap battle.

During her first visit to Australia in 2009, the I Got You Dancin’ ‘rapper’ was arrested for drunk and disorderly behaviour for spitting after a nightclub bouncer and a getting into fight with a transvestite. All this fiasco occurred within seven hours after she landed.

 

Lady Sovereign

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p48icgIs4sI

 

Last January, The North-West Londoner had the chance to redeem herself on BBC’s political show, This Week. Instead, poor presenter Andrew Neil had to apologise viewers because she decided ‘to do a runner’.

Lady Sovereign or ‘Sov’ later explained in a Guardian interview that she had a panic attack. She added: My hands went stiff and I started hyperventilating. I didn’t want to do it hours before but I went anyway, then I just changed my mind at the last minute, I guess.”

All these catalogue of disasters would well and truly see the back of the ill-mannered artist. Far from it. Sov -whose real name is Louise Harman -- has struck up a deal with EMI to launch her own record label, Midget Records. Immediately follows the first album Jigsaw. It’s definitely not for the faint-heart, as it’s nothing more than you expect from ‘Sov’ herself: honesty, raw, very much in-your-face. It’s that type of rawness that somehow won her thousands upon thousands of fans across the world.

 

Lady Sovereign

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWauowySBn4

 

Now Lady Sov-who gained her nickname by stealing a sovereign ring from her friend’s boyfriend -- set to release her album of more vulgarity at some point this year.

Since Def Jam giant Jay-Z took her under his wing, Lady Sovereign took the world by storm, selling way over million copies of the single Love Me Or Hate Me. Living the dream of a more deserving musician, she toured with the likes of Gwen Stefani and even made music with Pharrell Williams and The Beastie Boys. After six months leaving Def-Jam, she was producing materials under her new empire.

Let’s pray that her new empire keeps her out of disasters.

 

 

Simian Mobile Disco Go Techno, Release Freebies

London-based duo Simian Mobile Disco first gained widespread fame for their early funky electro-pop sound, which drew heavily from the band members’ rock background. Both of SMD’s members, James Ford and James “Jas” Shaw did, after all, play in an electro-rock crossover band first, Simian, from which they drew their later project’s name.

 

Simian Mobile Disco

 

As Simian Mobile Disco, then, out of the gate they boasted a strong pop sensibility and structure, as well as rock attitude, in their original tracks. They also often remixed other bands’ songs into club anthems, creating a hybrid sound that was vocal-heavy and, unlike much dance music, often provided an opportunity to sing and dance along.

 

 

So when the pair’s last record, Delicacies, came out last year, it seemed like a radical departure. The nine tracks are completely instrumental, long, and deep — pure techno, really, and designed strictly for peak-hour dance floor play rather than earbuds or the car stereo. But really, it wasn’t that much of a surprise.

 

Ford and Shaw have, apart from their own original creations, been DJing for several years. And the years have gone on, their DJ sets have leaned heavily more towards the techno side of things, as has their London club night, Delicatessen. The official new manifesto, perhaps, was the Essential Mix they released for Radio One in 2010, which unveiled the new sound. And it’s behind the latest material that the pair is currently touring.

 

Simian Mobile Disco

 

Still, old fans need not be disheartened about Simian Mobile Disco’s potential gig set lists. As inveterate crowd-pleasers, they’ve vowed to continue to play their older material, albeit with a new twist, and blend it energetically in with the new tracks. Meanwhile, a new, “proper” studio album is due out next year, which will again showcase their more pop-oriented side.

 

To get fans excited about their gigs, though, Simian Mobile Disco has released a series of free MP3s lately. Download a three-part Delicatessen DJ set for free below, and stay apprised of tour dates at simianmobiledisco.co.uk.

 

 

MP3: Delicatessen Warehouse DJ Set, November 2010, Part 1

MP3: Delicatessen Warehouse DJ Set, November 2010, Part 2

MP3: Delicatessen Warehouse DJ Set, November 2010, Part 3

 


Three Essential Pop Tours in March

Music truly comes alive when you hear it performed in person — especially pop music! The best artists not only sing their hits, but they put on a full stage show complete with choreography, costume changes, and even, sometimes, a narrative story line. March promises some marquee names on tour throughout the U.K. So will the three of these deliver?

 

Kylie Minogue

Kylie Minogue

What female wannabe pop singer from the new crop could match up to the legendary Australian queen Kylie Minogue? Not many! Now in her early ’40s, Minogue seems to get better with age — or rather, not age at all. She continues to release high-energy dance-pop anthems that never fail to achieve massive success, and her live shows are prized as all-out sensory extravaganzas. Her eleventh and most recent studio album, Aphrodite, gave her a number-one hit in the U.K. last year in “All the Lovers,” and her spring outing should be celebratory indeed.

 

The tour starts 28 March at Glasgow SECC, and ends 8 April at London’s O2 Arena. Visit kylie.com for full details.

 

 

Rumer - photo by Kevin Westenberg

Rumer

British-Pakistani singer-songwriter Rumer (born Sarah Joyce) is quickly becoming one of the runaway success stories of early 2011. Under another pseudonym, Sarah Prentice, she reached moderate success about a decade ago in a more indie style of group called La Honda, but her debut solo album, released late last year, has proved to be her big break.

Although it’s singer-songwriter music, it isn’t dour, but rather draws from the best pop tradition of artists like Burt Bacharach, a noted fan. He’s not the only high-profile supporter of Rumer’s — Jools Holland, Jamie Cullum, and Elton John have all sung (pardon the pun) her phrases. So her upcoming U.K. tour may be one of the last in which fans can catch her at mid-size venues.

 

The tour starts 21 March at Colston Hall, Bristol, and ends 3 April at Bridgewater Hall Manchester. Visit rumer.co.uk for full details.

 

McFly, performing at the 2012 Party in the Mall, London

McFly

Long after totally manufactured boy bands like N Sync and Backstreet Boys started to fade, McFly found major success by taking the cute-boy formula and pumping it up with actual musicianship. Though they boasted good looks, singalong songs, a powerful management team, and initial promotion by Busted, the quartet actually wrote music and played instruments, and as such have enjoyed a much greater longevity.

Since McFly’s debut in 2003, the band has continued to release albums at a steady clip every year or two, the latest being last year’s Above the Noise, on its own label, Super Records. The third single from the album, “That’s Truth,” is currently making the radio rounds, and the band is playing several U.K. dates throughout the spring to support the record.

 

The tour starts 12 March at the Trent FM Arena, Nottingham, and ends 1 April at Wembley Arena in London. Visit mcflyofficial.com for full details.

 

Pop Duo Nikki and Rich Release Free Debut EP

Up-and-coming California duo Nikki and Rich’s pop stylings are sweet, sassy, and soulful. Its first breakout single, “Cat and Mouse,” was a perfect fit for fans who wish for a nicer Amy Winehouse, a more vocally powerful Duffy, or adore anything that Mark Ronson has ever touched.

Nikki and Rich

Considering the updated-vintage, tambourine-heavy sound of that singalong anthem, then, it’s surprising to learn of the two collaborators’ unexpected and divergent backgrounds. The namesake Nikki was born Nikki Leonti and grew up religious, the daughter of a pastor. She actually got her start singing in church, and wandered around the more country-ish fringes of the pop industry for a while, at one point singing backup for American Idol alumna Carrie Underwood.

Rich (Velonskis), meanwhile, is much more familiar to pop audiences, but not by name, necessarily. Born in Queens, New York, he grew up a diehard hip-hop head and club DJ. Later, under the producer pseudonym Rich Skillz, he worked with a number of leading artists, including Eve, Robin Thicke, Mario, and Ludacris. In fact, his work with he latter included a contribution to Ludacris’ 2007 Grammy-winning album, Release Therapy.

 

Since beginning to work together two years ago, Rich’s industry connections and Nikki’s impressive pipes have made their rise rapid and success pretty much assured. Their songs have been included on American TV shows like Entourage, 90210, Basketball Wives, and The City, and their newest single, “City Lights,” is currently scoring pop radio airplay there as well. It helps, of course, that the track is boosted by a guest rap from Fabolous, who helps keep things moving over a bouncy piano beat.

With all that considered, Nikki and Rich are an act to watch, but for early-adopter fans, they’ve already released a gift: a six-song debut EP, Finally Free. Check it out at nikkiandrich.com or get the direct download link before. It also includes another standout track, “Next Best Thing,” whose video we’ve included here!

 

 

Nikki and Rich

Download: Nikki and Rich -- Finally Free EP

http://nikkiandrich.com/music-downloads/FinallyFree.zip

 

Four Essential Dance-Pop Albums Out in March

February saw the release of several high-profile albums, five of which we profiled here — new efforts by the Streets, Bruno Mars, Jay Sean, Alexis Jordan, and Claire Maguire. So can March match up? Maybe! The fight for top pop contender in the first quarter of March 2011 is strong. Here are five records for which to watch out this month.

Britney Spears

Britney Spears

Femme Fatale

Few starlets have been so obsessively chronicles as poor Britney Spears, who suffered a very public meltdown by her early 20s. Still, pop culture loves a good comeback, and even after the middling quality of Brit-Brit’s last albums, 2007′s Blackout and 2008′s Circus, her millions of loyal fans are still rooting for her.

Femme Fatale is set as a comeback to the comeback, and Britney has a lot to prove. She may have it in her still, though. The new single, “Hold it Against Me,” is a rousing piece of dance-pop that even wanders into dubstep in the middle. If anything, it proves Britney’s sharp business decisions in choosing producers with a finger on the pulse, and she may rise to the top of the club and radio charts again.

 

 

Chris Brown

Chris Brown

F.A.M.E.

Speaking of second chances, Chris Brown’s an artist who’s been lucky enough to be granted one as well. Brown’s battle, however, has been more uphill. Pop audiences are more likely to forgive a star who’s hurt him or herself, rather than someone else, and Brown’s vicious 2009 beating of then-girlfriend Rihanna blackened his public image for long afterwards.

Still, in the following year he seems to have expressed enough contrition and a change in outlook to be granted a career again, and F.A.M.E. (which stands for “Forgiving All My Enemies”) is a musing, somewhat, on the events of the past couple of years. Here, his R&B sound is updated with a heavy dose of synth-heavy dance beats.

On a semi-related note, since he recently collaborated with U.K. rapper Chipmunk on the single “Champion,” could more such team-ups come in the near future?

 

 

Duran Duran

Duran Duran

All You Need Is Now

Possibly most impressive about these originators of electro-pop is their refusal to get tired and lie down. Rather, Duran Duran has been going more or less continuously since their first heyday, in the ’80s, and continues to release musically innovative albums of new material. Their last proper studio album, The Red Carpet Massacre in 2007, saw them teaming up with Timbaland for an R&B energy infusion. Their latest, All You Need is Now, was released this past December on iTunes, but a deluxe physical version comes out this month. Produced this time by Mark Ronson, it brings in a bit of his signature soulful flair and makes Duran Duran truly funky again.

 

The main current members of the Human League

The Human League

Credo

Another ’80s revival? March is great for synth-pop lovers! The Human League — they of “Don’t You Want Me” immortality — are back with their first album in a decade. The disc features original member and producer Philip Oakey, as well as longtime distinctive female vocalists Joanne Catherall and Susan Ann Sulley. Recent new single “Night People” showed that the band hasn’t given up on the style in which it excels: funky electro-pop ready for the dance floor.