[READY TO POP] Maria K "Starbucks Smile" (Produced by The Stereotypes)


Maria K's sweet and charming "Starbucks Smile" poignantly captures that unexpected moment of meeting a passing stranger and flashing a smile only to never see that person again. The song is about that instant connection between two people that may happen when they least expect it -- whether it's at a Starbucks counter, a grocery aisle or airport security line.

The emerging Pennsylvania pop singer captures the the driving emotion behind "Starbucks Smile" with the help of seasoned producers The Stereotypes. The GRAMMY winning soundboard trio is mostly known for their work with Far East Movement, Justin Bieber and Fantasia, but in their mighty Los Angeles sound lab they are also developing a few exciting upstarts.

"Starbucks Smile" has The Stereotypes' distinct fingerprints all over it. It's a crispy production with subtle electro-pop leanings that puts Maria K's lyrics and distinct delivery front and center. It's a tightly packaged sound that has instant radio appeal.

The video for the song shows Maria K chasing down the man of her dreams by following a balloon all across town in scenes that were inspired by the French short film, "The Red Balloon." Watch the video after the break.

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Ready to Pop: Emile Sande "Heaven"


Not many people know that Emeli Sandé was behind some of the biggest U.K. tracks of 2010. She co-wrote and appeared on hits for Tinie Tempah ("Let Go"), Professor Green ("Kids That Love To Dance") and Chipmunk's top ten smash "Diamond Rings."

After her success as a songwriter and feature vocalist, it is time for the 24 year-old multi-talented Aberdonian singer to spread her wings and go at it with her own artist material. Sandé will be releasing "Heaven" as her official debut single in the U.K. on August 15.

Inspired by iconic singer/songwriters like Nina Simone, Joni Mitchell, Roberta Flack and Lauryn Hill, Sande puts out a soulful, retro-styled sound on "Heaven" that is infused with atmospheric strings and an energetic trip hop beat that is dominated by her powerful, soaring vocals that will trigger goosebumps the moment she hits the chorus. 

"Heaven" is a fantastic start to a very promising solo career. Driving force behind Sande's songwriting is her desire to write songs that will stand the test of time and not cater to the flavor of the moment. "I can still relate to a Joni [Mitchell] song, even though it’s 25 years old," Sandé says in a press release. "That’s the main and important thing to me. I’m not too bothered about my music fitting in to a particular category. There’s no point in limiting who you can reach. But I want to be respected."

Listen to the Emile Sandé "Heaven" after the break.

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Ready to Pop: Alex Boyd "Light Up Tonight"


Meet soul-pop crooner Alex Boyd, one of Jive/Sony Music's most-anticipated new signings who is gearing up to release his debut single "Light Up Tonight." Inspired by artists as diverse as The Beatles, Metallica, Johnny Mathis and Eminem, Boyd combines retro-styled melodies with groovy pop hooks that are dominated by his soaring, soulful vocals.

After growing up in northern Virginia, the hockey-playing suburban teen attended Washington DC's famous Duke Ellington School of the Arts where Boyd discovered his love for soul, R&B and hip hop while learning the techniques of classical voice. After a short stint in Michigan to study opera, he scored a part on NBC's short-lived television show Fame.

After the show was cancelled, the singer started to focus all of his efforts on his music career together with producer Andy Rose. The very first result of their teaming is Boy's debut single "Light Up Tonight,"  a potent soul pop stomper with lovey dovey lyrics like, "The way you shine so bright, girl you could be my lighthouse." The track is taken from his debut album "Commit Me" that will be released later this year.

Boyd explains that he wants to share his vocal gifts with the world for a special reason. "The world is hurting badly, and I hope this music will somehow help to heal people everywhere," he tells ArjanWrites.com. "At the end of the day, that's what all musicians truly are; caregivers. I think it comes with a huge responsibility to deliver the message that you're willing to stand by until the day you die."

Download-mp3 Alex Boyd "Light Up Tonight"

Ready to Pop: Dwntwn "Transition"


When I first heard the music of emerging Los Angeles electro-pop duo Dwntwn I was immediately struck by the lush quality and top-notch production stylings of their music. The group is the teaming of Jamie Leffler and Robert Cepeda who are working with producer DJ Skeet Skeet to tune their striking new pop sound. Check out a totally-guilt free MP3 download of the group's beautifully-crafted "Transition," an escapist dance jam that is filled with shimmering synths and a subtle dance pulse that will move you. Highly recommended.

Dwntwn "Transition"
Dwntwn "Transition" (Dilon Francis Remix)

Ready to Pop: Anjulie "Brand New B*tch" (Exclusive)


You may remember that I blogged about Anjulie back in 2008 when she released her debut single "Boom." Born and raised in Toronto, Anjulie brings a unique perspective to the crowded pop scene. She was raised by immigrant parents from Guyana who fed her a diet of vibrant musical genres, from Afro-Caribbean calypso to reggae, and from Latin rock to straight up pop.

Those inspirations taught Anjulie that great pop music doesn't have to come in one, single cookie cutter package. Pop music can be many different things and on her debut album she experimented with lots of different rhythms that echoed memories of fellow Canadian Nelly Furtado.

Over the past few years, Anjulie has traveled back and forth from Toronto to Los Angeles to record tracks for her new album. Music insiders know that recording a sophomore album can be a painstaking process with lots of turns and twists. Anjulie worked patiently and diligently with different producers to spark an exciting new sound that would still be decidedly hers.

One of the people she has been working with is ArjanWrites.com pal Dr Rosen Rosen who has produced some excellent pop-forward tracks for the singer.

Anjulie gives us a taste of her music with today's release of "Brand New B*tch," which is not only an instantly catchy pop gem but also makes a strong statement in not-so subtle terms. Over the last few years, Anjulie has gone thought many personal and professional changes, and this new tune is a reflection of her emotional journey.

Produced by John O'Brien together with Anjulie, "Brand-New B*tch" is a buzzing, club-sized dance-pop track squeezed into one tight, potent production that underlines once again that Anjulie is a pop chameleon who is not afraid to try and tell it like it is. She's an exciting talent to keep your eye on. (Download)