If you’re still unsure who Ariana Grande is, it’s time to get up to speed. This overachieving 21-year-old from Florida has already acted on Broadway, starred in a US tween sitcom and released an acclaimed album of throwback R&B: ‘Yours Truly’, which cracked the Top Ten last year. Now she’s all over your radio with ‘Problem’ – the one with the sax loops, melismas and Iggy ‘Iggz’ Azalea – and she looks poised to become this year’s breakout pop star.
‘My Everything’, her superior second album, will surely seal the deal. With Britney/Backstreet Boys producer Max Martin credited on nearly half its tracks, it packs a heftier pop punch than Grande’s debut, but it’s anything but bubblegum. ‘Hands on Me’ is a frisky digital dancehall jam; ‘One More Time’ serves club pop with a side of melancholy; ‘Love Me Harder’ sounds like a gorgeous cross between Robyn and Mariah Carey, and chintzy dance banger ‘Break Free’ will be booming out of gay bars on Old Compton Street until at least June 2015. Grande has a sense of humour, too: ‘Break Your Heart Right Back’ is a song about a boyfriend who two-times with another guy, decorated with an oh-so-knowing sample from Diana Ross’s ‘I’m Coming Out’.
There’s an over-reliance on trendy guest stars like A$AP Ferg and The Weeknd, plus a couple of crushingly dull ballads towards the end – but who doesn’t put a foot wrong when they’re 21? For most of its running time, ‘My Everything’ is an entertaining and ingratiating mainstream pop album from an artist who can really sing.
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In case you didn’t know, Scandinavia is cool right now. The food, the fashion, the facial hair – plus the Vikings have invaded the British Museum. All we need next is a healthy economy, a reliable public transport system and a sense of social justice, and London will be indistinguishable from Oslo. Meanwhile in Hackney, there’s yet another Northern European-inspired incursion. Or apparently so: the website claims this bar-restaurant-club draws on ‘a Nordic aesthetic’, although it’s not immediately obvious within. Oslo occupies the previously deserted old Hackney rail station and takes on a bit of a railway theme with its luggage-rack lighting, plus there are industrial stylings that give the whole place a Janet Jackson ‘Rhythm Nation’ video feel. The restaurant part is rather fancy, its food incorporating a few of the forages, pickles, jellies and marinations of New Nordic cooking. The kitchen is regularly given over to guest chefs, and you have to book – it’s always heaving. Eat in the bar and the food is more straightforward. Where once the standard snack in pubs was a toastie, sausage roll or pork pie, now it’s the slider or fried chicken. These are served alongside frankly obscene portions of chips, slathered with the likes of cured bacon fat and bacon salt, or braised oxtail, gravy and cheese. There’s a commendable range of craft beers from the vicinity, including a couple from Five Points Brewing just five minutes up the road at the Downs.Head upstairs and you’ll find a
Venue says: “Join us every Thursday night until late for Soul Soul Soul – a night of vinyl appreciation with DJs playing soul, funk, disco and more.”