This Week In Music: 11th May 2023
ARTIST OF THE WEEK: YUNÉ PINKU “SPORTS”
The barrage of negative press about AI has drawn me to this artist and her latest release, “Sports,” specifically as it sounds like what I would imagine an AI-dominated world might sound like. Watching Malaysian Irish producer Yuné Pinku on the floor, kneeling towards a cornucopia of digital machines strewn about like it was the set from HBO’s “The Last of Us” is strangely captivating. She invites the viewer to see how she manipulates these lifeless “band members” to conjure her songs to life. Electronics have always been a catalyst for dance music, and while it does not hurt that this song has a killer dance-floor-filler chorus, there is something introverted about Yuné Pinku’s work. It is as if she is fighting the loneliness of the digital world with the very objects that dominate it.
AD OF THE WEEK: IKEA
Good advertising is all about good story-telling. This 60-second spot featuring a young boy and his family arriving at a new, empty home rings true from the start. Even the empty echoes from the shoes on the floor of the empty house lends the viewer the sense that the young boy who is the main protagonist is not 100% sure he likes what is going on. And then in a nod to Christmas, the iconic IKEA blue Frakta bag becomes the gift that never stops giving. We have all landed in a new home without furniture and whatever one thinks of IKEA, the retailer has always got us started with the basics – and some of those even managed to last.
Created in partnership with Ogilvy New York.
HMV IS COMING BACK TO ITS OXFORD STREET HOME
HMV, the mecca of CDs, DVDs and band posters is BACK. The store is reopening its iconic Oxford Street location.
After a four-year absence, the flagship will reopen later this year with fresh branding and a new layout. HMV Oxford Street should be live and kicking in time for Christmas, this time called HMV Shop, where instead of CDs and DVDs it will flog pop culture merch, vinyl, film, TV and music technology, as well as hosting signings and performances from up-and-coming acts. HMV also plans to open 24 new sites and resurrect 14 existing stores by the end of 2023.
Westminster city councillor Geoff Barraclough said: ‘It’s fantastic to see this iconic brand back on Oxford Street, where it stood as a driver of music and pop culture in the capital for so long. It’s also particularly pleasing it is replacing one of the many US candy stores which sprang up during the pandemic.
‘The return of this famous name is proof that there is a buzz back in the West End. Established retailers want a presence on the UK’s premier shopping street and as a council, we want to see the nation’s high street reinvigorated and home to brands like HMV.’
GRIMES LAUNCHES NEW SOFTWARE TO MIMIC HER VOICE, OFFERS 50% ROYALTIES
Grimes is encouraging fans and producers to “take advantage” of her vocals by launching a new software that mimics her voice.
Elf.Tech, the AI voice software currently in beta mode, allows users to record and upload their own voice which will then spit it out in the sound of Grimes’ when run through the software.
The Canadian singer announced the new prototype software on Sunday, telling fans that it might be “imperfect” at its beginning stages. “Plz excuse any hiccups or bugs – this is all new and we’re workshopping it,” she said.
The software also allows users to “train” their own Grimes model using stems, encouraging users to “take advantage” of her IP. “Grimes is now open source and self replicating,” she said.
People have started sharing their Grimes-style music, drawing responses from Grimes. “Oh my god this hook is literally crazy” she said on Twitter, commenting a track made by LA-based artist Kito.
ED SHEERAN WINS ‘THINKING OUT LOUD’ COPYRIGHT CASE
Ed Sheeran did not copy Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On when composing Thinking Out Loud, a US court has ruled.
The British singer-songwriter had denied stealing elements of the song for his 2014 worldwide hit.
Heirs of Gaye’s co-writer argued that Sheeran, Warner Music Group and Sony Music Publishing owed them money for copyright infringement.
Sheeran had said he would give up his music career if found guilty at the trial in New York.
A musicologist for Sheeran’s defence told the court that the four-chord sequence in question was used in several songs before Gaye’s hit came out in 1973.
Kathryn Townsend Griffin, the daughter of Gaye’s co-writer Ed Townsend, accused Sheeran of copyright infringement. She walked swiftly past reporters smoking what appeared to be a cigarillo, saying only: “God is good all the time, all the time God is good.”
AKAI MARK 35 YEARS WITH MPC X SPECIAL EDITION SAMPLER
Akai celebrated 35 years since the release of its seminal sampler, the MPC-60, with a brand new model that promises to be its “most powerful” production machine to date.
The MPC X Special Edition is the latest sampling station from Akai with over 100 effects and a new storage capacity of 48GB, far exceeding the previous model’s 16GB.
The sampler retains its “timeless look” in the new model with its notable retro colourway and “time-tested functions” that remain some 35 years on.
“MPC is regarded today as the most influential sampling drum machine ever created, cementing itself into the history of music,” Akai’s website reads.
The MPC X Special Edition is currently priced at $2,499 (£2,000). Check out a video of it in action below, and find out more about the sampler here.
Written by Anthony Vanger
Additional research and reporting by Adam “Badger” Woolf