idk.

music.

Who the F**K is M. Pokora?

with 4 comments

At this point in time, that’s still a good question for most of us. Unless of course you happen to live in France. In which case you already know exactly who this guy is. And you’ve probably seen his nipples. Many times.

Huh?

Okay, let me start by saying it’s not an easy task to find a picture of M. Pokora (né Matthieu Totta, aka Matt Pokora, bka M. Pokora — something about lawsuits — don’t ask, it’s the French) with his shirt on. Kind of like Matthew McConaughey. The guy seems allergic to shirts. Or maybe it’s that shirts are allergic to him. Either way, he’s just that kind of, um, artiste, because what he really is…well, what he really was… is a French pop star. In fact, Pokora even got his pop start in 2003 on a dreadful Euro TV show aptly named, Popstars, which sounds like a gloriously hedonistic mash-up of American Idol and Diddy’s Making the Band: Part 47 on MTV.

In other words, just a level of awesomeness that us Americans cannot even fathom nor comprehend. (Oh well, our loss.)

But Pokora quickly graduated from his role as the frontman for his Popstars-created boy band, Linkup, a briefly successful trio with a chart-topping album in France. And clearly, just as Pokora seems too sexy for his shirts, he was also too sexy to share the spotlight with his two bandmates, Lionel and Otis. (No, seriously. Lionel. And Otis). So after striking out on his own in 2004, Pokora released two successful solo albums, the second of which, called Player (2006), — that’s right America, hide your women — reached number one on the French charts and sold 206,000 copies. Which I guess is like….a lot, over there. (Muahahahahahahahaha). (Sorry).

Two years later, however, M. Pokora has grown up. Having worked on his pecs some more, added to his tattoo collection, polished up his English skills, and somehow roped his label, EMI France, into spending what can only be an immense amount of money to produce an all-English album (save for two songs in French) helmed by super-producer au courant, Timbaland, and featuring tracks produced by two more American hit machines: Ryan Leslie aka R-Les (Cassie’s “Me & U,” Beyoncé’s “Keep Giving Your Love To Me,” and Leslie’s own “Diamond Girl” with Kanye West), and Jonathan “J.R.” Rotem (Sean Kingston’s “Beautiful Girls,” Rihanna’s S.O.S.,” and Natasha Bedingfield’s “Love Like This”).

The relative success or failure of MP3 (Capitol EMI France, 2008), as Pokora’s album is entitled, seems as if it will be driven by the same two factors that drive most of today’s Pop and R&B album sales: the appeal of Pokora’s image to an American audience, and the production of radio-ready, airplay-friendly tracks.

On the first front, Pokora (or his handlers) appears to have it covered; physically he looks like a hybrid version of David Beckham and Justin Timberlake, only two of the most marketable men on the planet. Pokora’s got Beckham’s tats, trick haircuts, and just enough of that metrosexual Euro-flair without it being completely gross. But he also has Timberlake’s carefully measured falsetto, cocky dance moves, penchant for hats, vests, and wallet chains, and of course a perfectly permanent five o’clock shadow. (See above).

Oh, and the second front? Well much like Timberlake, Pokora came up via boy-band and found even greater success, as well as some semblance of respect, as a solo artist. And he’s also got JT’s producer. That Timbaland guy. Did I mention that yet? The one who helped Timberlake to 684,000 units moved in FutureSex/LoveSounds’ (Jive 2006) first week alone, not to mention four Grammy awards. And Pokora’s got another, much more secret, weapon in his musical arsenal — the little known, but freakishly gifted songwriters and vocal producers from Timbaland’s stable, Jim Beanz, who has written for Nelly Furtado, Diddy, Fantasia, Britney Spears, Ashlee Simpson, and Whitney Houston, and produced for many more, and Hannon Lane, who is said to be one of Timbaland’s top ghost producers — always present, not always credited. And if that’s not enough firepower, both Ryan Leslie and J.R. Rotem are no slouches in their own write, as both have penned hits of their own.

So all the right ingredients are there. But what’s the final product like?

While I do have some respect for anyone who can convince more than a million people to buy his or her album (especially in today’s musical climate) I am by no means a pop music connoisseur. In fact, I mostly hate pop music — Britney Spears, Fall Out Boy, Good Charlotte, Rihanna, et al. can go sip on some of Jim Jones’ famous Kool Aid as far as I’m concerned, and the industry wouldn’t be missing much in terms of talent. (This just in: Britney Spears may have already drunk the Kool Aid. In fact it appears she may have finished it. Yup. All of it. It’s all gone).

But Pokora’s MP3 is really a hell of an effort considering English isn’t even is his first language. And much like Justin Timberlake’s FutureSex/LoveSounds album, MP3 doesn’t bother to walk the lines that separate pop music, R&B, and dance music. It basically just takes all three genres and scrambles ’em up into one surprisingly entertaining record that has more soul than a pop record should have, more fun than an R&B record should have, and more uptempo, synth-backed, people-movin’ hip hop beats than anything other than a dance record should ever have.

Of course this is due as much (if not more) to the very costly, yet clearly difference-making, presence of overseers like Timbaland, Ryan Leslie, J.R. Rotem, Jim Beanz, and Hannon Lane, who are all leaders in their fields and who know, above all else, how to make a hit record. Thus, MP3 has more than its fair share of potential hits on board including the already-released first single, “Dangerous,” (featuring Timbaland & Sebastian) which opens with a crescendo of synths worthy of any trance song, before Tim’s beat gets rolling and you find your head has mysteriously started following it wherever it goes. Sure enough, “Dangerous” flew immediately to number one on the French singles chart the day after its release.

But how will Pokora fair in America? MP3 has been out for only a few weeks in the U.S., and has yet to crack any of Billboard’s U.S. singles or album charts, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

Despite the choice of “Dangerous” as the album’s first single, which was likely made in order to get Timbaland’s name out in front of the project, I found several songs on the album that I thought were actually better and would recommend first. The tracks that held up best after multiple spins were: “Catch Me If You Can” (Timbaland) “Why Do You Cry” (Timbaland), “Don’t Give My Love Away” feat. Ryan Leslie (Ryan Leslie), “No Me Without U” (Timbaland) “Tokyo Girl” (Ryan Leslie) and “Treason” (J.R. Rotem).

The best way to hear all the songs off M. Pokora’s MP3 and decide for yourself whether or not M. Pokora has a shot to make it in the American music market is to use the link to his website below, where the album can be heard song by song in any order, for free, via the media player in the upper right corner. Just make sure to crank your volume up.

Then you’ll know who the fuck M. Pokora is.

– Jonathan

M. Pokora’s Website

Live performance of “Dangerous” Feat. Timbaland & Sebastian

“Dangerous” Music Video

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4 Responses

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  1. But, like…Making the Band Season 36 is my favorite show!

    A

    April 17, 2008 at 9:20 am

  2. Watta a fukin prik. Why da fuk is he copyin Justin for ? He aint as good as him anyways.. hes trying 2 move like him , sing and everything ! Omgg im actually REALLY angryy noww!

    Aniika

    May 30, 2008 at 2:31 pm

  3. Well…I like Pokora.I agree with U that there’s a similaruty between Justin and him, but in my opinion Matt is quite good. Justin is my favourite singer…but I like Pokora too..he’s my second favourite. He has several really good songs 🙂

    Cvety

    August 21, 2008 at 3:25 am

  4. i’ve got only one question for you? do you like him? i see you don’t, but maybe i am wrong.
    and if you don’t like what he does, leave him alone, you should not bother and keep writing in your blog about other things that you should caryy about. what you do is what i call missing occupation. there are soooooo many producers and singers, that everybody copies everybody. why does the guy bother you? omg…it’s a pity for you :))))))

    gmc

    December 29, 2008 at 5:37 am


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