Music fans favour Sophie Madeleine’s sweet and simple pop over TV Girl track in MusicLab’s mini band-battle this week
Usually the festive period is a time for retreating and relaxing, and temporarily making peace with the world. In MusicLab however, we had some unfinished business to attend to. For the second of our mini battle of the bands, we put two tracks – this time from the pop genre – up against one another, and invited you to sample them, to tell us which you thought was top dog and why.
Perhaps it was the influence of December’s wintry cold and early nights – but those of you who took part were far more in favour of Sophie Madeleine’s soft and sweet ‘Stars’, than TV Girl’s more bop-poppy track, ‘Sarah (Meet Me in the Sauna)’.
Up next in The Battle of the Bands: Gypsy-jazz tracks 'Clambake' by The Mandibles and 'Four Hour Jam' by Toe Rag
1. Sophie Madeleine's track ‘Stars’.
A Brighton-based, ukulele-playing solo singer-songwriter, Sophie has a simple approach to pop. 'There’s only so much you can do [on a ukulele], so it’s down to the bare bones of the song,' Sophie has said in an interview. 'If you can make a song sound full and good on a ukulele with just your voice, then you’ve written a good song.' And she likes to keep her lyrics accessible too, writing about 'stuff that happens to everybody'.
2. 'Sarah (Meet Me In The Sauna)’ by TV Girl.
TV Girl’s pop track was very different however – in fact some of you found it difficult to draw a comparison between the tracks. ‘Sarah (Meet Me in the Sauna)’ was more fast-paced and electronic, and last year’s review in The Guardian described TV Girl’s music as 'mellow gold', comparing the musical output of the San Diegan duo to that of early Beck, if not better. It highly recommended the band’s 4-track ‘Benny and the Jetts’ EP on Bandcamp (the title track is no Elton John cover but a bright original).
But why did participants crown Sophie Madeleine’s ‘Stars’ the victor? Here are some of the reasons they gave:
Here’s how both tracks did, from their ratings out-of-ten for various musical elements, to reviews submitted by those of you who took part. If you didn’t get a chance to review these tracks in the mini battle, why not listen to the tracks below and tell us who would have been your winner in our Disqus comments section?
1. THIS WEEK’S MUSICLAB MINI-BATTLE WINNER: ‘Stars’ by Sophie Madeleine
What did pop fans make of it?
“I do really like the song. This kind of music is fashionable at the moment, so it does go with the flow. Having said that it does hold its own. The singer has got a lovely sweet voice and she does use it well. I like the simplicity of the traditional ukulele against basic electronic drum beat in the background. Overall a thumbs up”
“I could imagine Sophie playing at Latitude :)”
“It's a very relaxed style of music but this doesn't diminish from the enjoyment of the track or Sophie's exceptional vocal performance”
“Boring; needs more buzz”
“This is lovely. I want it now”
“I don't think this song is memorable or catchy, it's inoffensive”
“The track is very catchy and it is very enjoyable. Not as good as some other stuff on the market but the vocals are great and it is a good start. The only way is up”
“Her voice is soft and unique. Fits well with the instruments and it is not that complex but is relaxing and catchy”
“I think this type of song is suited for a more intimate venue”
“Yes, we've all heard this stuff before, and the slow build up and introductions of instruments does only a little to help. Glad it moves a little bit away from the little-girlie vocals that appear commonplace recently, but in all honesty this is bland and inoffensive – so it should do well as a pop track if it gets airtime”
“Good use of the ukelele – an underused instrument in my opinion. Good voice but not a particularly unique one. A pleasant song, good to chill out to, but wouldn't really stand out over similar songs in the genre. However I would still be interested in hearing more of her work”
“Takes a while to get going – starts sounding twee, but builds into something more substantial mid-way. Nice lyrics, the backing harmonies are pleasing ... but that Bontempi style beat is a little simple, and does not do the track credit. Actual drums would have fared far better. Somewhere between a nursery rhyme and Kathryn Williams. As a track I don't feel it is chart material, but I am open to the concept of an album to hear what else she has to offer”
“I love the simplicity. The song is amazing and I could listen to her voice all day long”
“Pretty good voice and an enjoyable enough song, but the music itself is a little 'thin' and there is nothing in the piece that hooks me and would make me want to listen to it again”
“Good voice; could be a big singer if the tune was catchier. I like the fact that Sophie’s voice isn't auto-tuned or drowned out by lots of instruments. Not usually my type of music, but this song could grow on me”
2. 'Sarah (Meet Me In The Sauna)' by TV Girl
What did pop fans make of it?
“It's a good enough song, but it doesn't feel different to other electro-pop combinations there are out there. There's potential, but nothing stands out to me as a WOW moment”
“Can hear similarity with Beck. Catchy tune though; it’s my style of song”
“Fairly forgettable, I like the energetic percussion but it's let down by little melody and a boring guitar riff”
“The tune was catchy and quite upbeat. Not sure about the vocals – not really my type of voice and I think it was very low for most of the verses which meant it could be quite monotone”
“It is original”
“This reminds me of Depeche Mode from the ‘80s. I like this very much, a very catchy tune, a great beat to dance to. All-in-all, a brilliant track”
“Enjoyed the synthy sounds and the overlaid vocals. Immediately grabbed me with the intro, loved the momentum”
“Quite amusing lyrically, but the vocals didn’t make me listen – the whole song had none of that "sit up and listen to me" quality that makes a winner. On the other hand, it’s pretty inoffensive fare, and the excellent title should sell a few copies on its own”
“I think it would benefit from being simplified down a bit, but I like the vocals and the subject matter ... a nice simple song that has certain endearing qualities. Keep it up ...”
“I think the lyrics and vocals are lost, and it's hard to connect with the song because I can't hear the story it is telling”
“Voice is unique”
“A bit jangly and synthesised for my liking and rather repetitious with the melody and the lyrics. Might be OK to listen to live at a festival but not sure about a whole album”
“Sounds quite well done. It is quite ‘Pet shop boys’”
“They wear their influences on their sleeves”
“Sounds professional – but this style is overdone. Perhaps would work as a soundtrack to a movie, but on its own, boring”
“This was quite fun, a bit different and feels underground and serious. Production doesn't quite sound right but I like the homemade feel of it”
“Nice, upbeat song, although I would be concerned about buying an album by this band, as I imagine that most of the songs would sound very 'samey'”
“Good tune, quite catchy, reminds me of MGMT or Foster the People. Original”