cleanbanditTo say 2014 has been a slow year for quality pop music so far would be quite the understatement. In 2012, yesteryear’s pop star Limahl made a surprising return with his single “1983” in the second week of the year. In 2013, Justin Timberlake also kicked the year off to a great start with his hit single “Suit and Tie” in January. We have not been that fortunate in 2014. Judging by the fairly lackluster musical output from both veterans and new artists in the last few months, one might have expected to wait till the summer for some real pop music excitement. Interestingly enough, this year’s first great single comes from a band of unlikely pop stars – all of whom graduated from University in the Cambridge, UK. Their career trajectory probably puts a whole new spin on the notion of the “road not taken” relative to their university classmates. They are called Clean Bandit.

Their sonic template undoubtedly represents one of the most innovative blends in modern pop music. It is a potent concoction that borrows elements from classical music overlayed with drum beats that formed the foundation for early 90s dance music. The sound of musical instruments in uptempo pop music is a rare phenomenon – one that Clean Bandit unapologetically showcases in their music. Their hit single “Rather Be” topped the UK singles charts earlier in the year but it is their new single “Extraordinary” that has them poised for success on an even greater scale.

The song opens with featured guest vocalist Sharna Bass singing over a sparse piano and cello arrangement. The beats kick in in the song’s pre-chorus (which is incredibly reminiscent of Cee Cee Peniston’s early 90s hit single “Finally”) and pave for the way for a super-infectious sing-along chorus with a soaring melody. The violin segments in the chorus are bound to induce goose-bumps.

The song’s most sublime moments are on its glorious “Middle 8”.

Just don’t say it will be alright
I’m not holding yourself in your arms tonight
Don’t say it will all be fine
In only a moment you’ll say goodbye

Extraordinary” radiates with a youthful innocence that is rare in today’s pop music and serves as a stark antithesis to music released by the likes of pop starlets like Miley Cyrus. With this single, Clean Bandit defines the golden standard that young artists should aspire to as they hone their craft and prepare for careers in music. Clean Bandit, being the seminal artists that they are, do not shy away from investing in the visual that accompanies their singles. The video for “Extraordinary” showcases vivid imagery from Cuba and truly brings the song to life.

We admire Clean Bandit’s commitment to their artistry and wish them a long and successful career in pop music. Their debut album “New Eyes” is slated for release on May 12, 2014 and we can barely wait. Until then, here is a full-length video clip of “Extraordinary“:

So what do you think? Does our review to justice to the single? Please feel free to comment and share.


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