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-“There’s no question she is record ready – there’s a real confidence and self-belief in her style. She’s not fumbling around to find her ‘voice’.“

-“A powerful and thought provoking track with a strong sense of itself and produced in and delivered in a very mainstream style.”

-“It comes across like he’s trying too hard to sound authentic and ‘cred’, and in the process narrowing the audience potential.”

picture This month the Professional Demo Review spotlight is trained on POP as our ever-changing panel of industry experts tune their ears into three new tracks by three unsigned artists.

Offering their critiques of songs by Yaana, Anders Fernette and Matt Miller are Mike Puskas, Janski & Thomas Heyerdahl, and Lotte Aagaard. The reviewers analyse all aspects - vocals, production, composition, visual presentation; provide tips on improving the tracks; evaluate their overall potential to get a record deal and achieve chart success, and advise on approaching the music industry.

Remember, demos on review are chosen from the ones uploaded to the A&R Panel. To get your music assessed by our expert panel upload your tracks here.

The Artists

HitQuarters ArtistYaana – US – Pop

In some ways Yaana (a.k.a. Yana Gupta) is already an international artist, having grown up in the Czech Republic, moved on to India, where she found fame as a actor and dance performer in Bollywood movies, and as a model gracing the covers of magazines like Elle, Maxim and Cosmopolitan, before she finally came to rest in Los Angeles, where she is now pursuing her talents in music. Yaana is currently available for record, publishing and management deals.

HitQuarters ArtistAnders Fernette – Sweden – Pop

Pop singer Anders Fernette (previously Anders Johansson) has already achieved some degree of success and recognition in winning Sweden’s TV talent show Fame Factory and by having sold over 45,000 albums in his native land through Kabuki Records/Universal. He is produced by Rami (Britney Spears) and is available for international record and management deals.

HitQuarters ArtistMatt Miller – US – Pop

22 year old L.A. singer Matt Miller is produced by Grammy-winner Jack Douglas (John Lennon, Aerosmith). Matt is available for record, publishing and management deals.

The Industry Professional Review Panel

Mike PuskasMike Puskas – Australia – Producer and Manager

Michael A Puskas, the CEO and owner of Astral Records & Music, DEAD Famous Artists and MPM Artist Management, boasts a proven twenty-nine year track record in the international entertainment industry. Mike has most recently returned from six months working overseas where he produced albums in Boston, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Liverpool and London for a number of new independent artists.

Mac G Janski & Thomas Heyerdahl – Norway – Production and Songwriting

Thomas J. Heyerdahl and Jan ‘Janski’ Lindvaag comprise the music production team DeepFrost, which is based in the Norwegian city of Trondheim. Ensconsed in their state-of-the-art studio complex the R&B, Pop and Hip-Hop specialists have been responsible for over 20 Top 10 hits worldwide.

DeepFrost's credits include among others european #1 hits with the Dutch multi-platinum selling group Chipz, written and produced singles for Anything But Monday, and mixes for Stevie Wonder and Lady Ga-Ga.

Steve Blast Lotte Aagaard – Denmark – Publisher and Creative Manager

Lotte Aagaard is a seasoned industry pro with breakthrough publishing breakthrough credits for Aqua (UK No.1) and Chipz (German Top 3) to her name in addition to her work as a manager, where her clients include the successful production team Hartman / Langhoff.


Song 1:
Yaana – Turbulence

Mike Puskas – 4

“Although the accolades are there, looks can be deceiving. I found this track very contrived and uptight, and all too synthetic, which is not what the market is looking for at any level right now. The structure lacked definition and although she is very ‘Amiel’ and ‘Frente’ in style, her sound is not new. I found the song very repetitive and unimaginatively structured, with little or no dynamics to its credit.

On a positive note Yaana’s voice is clear and strong and I believe with the correct instrumentation, production style and song structure this song could be much improved.”

Janski & Thomas Heyerdahl – 3

“Yaana certainly has a good voice, but it’s a bit generic in the expression. The beat and production are pleasant, however I was wishing for it to be a bit edgier and harder, especially with a title like ‘Turbulence’. As it is, it sounds very mainstream. It doesn’t offer any resistance at all. For instance, I think it would be cool to hear the track with a straight dance-beat.

I can’t see this track breaking Yaana into competitive territories as the UK or US. It would need to be changed. But it’s not only the production that lets it down but also the hookline, which I don’t think strong enough.”

Lotte Aagaard – 7

“What immediately jumps off the stylus on this track is Yaana’s vocal delivery, which is very striking and unique, and really sets it apart. There’s no question she is record ready – there’s a real confidence and self-belief in her style. She’s not fumbling around to find her ‘voice’.

In contrast the production takes back seat, never feeling intrusive or overblown. It has an appealingly fresh, light and exotic feel. I also like the lyrics, although the name ‘Turbulence’ is somewhat ill-advised, immediately making potential listeners think of an unpleasant sensation on a aircraft.

My advice to her is just to write more and more songs, and get them out there to be heard by the right people (I can hear this music on a movie soundtrack). She’s clearly got the voice and the look. But has she got the drive to succeed. Well, we’ll see …”

Song 2:
Anders Fernette – Ready To Fly

Mike Puskas - 7

“I thought this a powerful and thought provoking track with a strong sense of itself and produced in and delivered in a very mainstream style which should appeal to a broad demographic.

The piece is emotionally charged and well executed on both an instrumental and vocal level. I like the build-ups to the choruses, which are quite hooky and have a strong uplifting vibe to them. The track has been produced and mixed in a clever and professional manner, one that is rare in that it allows the varying elements to breathe where they need to, and then tightens up to deliver the storyboard, keeping the interest value high.

A potential mainstream hit and with the right imaging and executive team, the artist has potential to make some waves.”

Janski & Thomas Heyerdahl - 8

I found ‘Ready To Fly’ to be very reminiscent of the Backstreet Boys' finer moments. It’s melodic, and balances itself either on the poppy side of rock, or the rocky side of pop.

It has a nice smooth production, but in my person opinion I would skip the modulation at the end. I think that’s perhaps just a bit too cheesy. All in all though, I think Anders has a great voice and the song is strong. I enjoyed listening to it.”

Lotte Aagaard - 5

“My first thought was, what a sexy vocal and look Anders has. That moody mature look will certainly draw in the young ladies, and many older ones too! What’s more with TV show fame under his belt and attachment to a top name producer (Rami), he has a lot going for him.

It’s unfortunate then that the one element he is missing is the most crucial – an individual and outstanding song style. On pressing play my hopes were dashed when I heard familiar formulaic boy band music. It works well for so many, but as a solo artist with a sophisticated and mature look, I was expecting something more characterful. If he finds his own creative voice, and own lyrics then doors will open - he has everything else.”

Song 3:
Matt Miller – You’re There Somewhere

Mike Puskas - 6

“Here is a refreshing and new ‘Jack Johnson’ type of laidback artist with a penchant for the simple things, which makes the song easy to digest.

What does work at times is his youthful ability to pull off a somewhat more mature and aged sounding track without sounding contrived or like he’s trying too try hard. The harmonies in the arrangement lift the feel of the tune and the chorus does have a hook, but could be further punctuated with a more balanced delivery.

I did feel that there were some obvious contradictions to the trade off in the verses, which seem a bit strained, overdone and a little draining on one's ears. I found the constant piano accenting on each beat of the 4/4 timing also had this effect. More variation in the instrumentation is needed for this song to jump out at you but overall the song works and has potential to be a strong marketable radio hit.”

Janski & Thomas Heyerdahl – 5

“This is quite a fun production. It sounds like they’ve deliberately left in odd bits and pieces in the mix in order to make it sound less ‘perfect’ and more organic. However, to me it just comes across like he’s trying too hard to sound authentic and ‘cred’, and in the process narrowing the audience potential.

The melody is certainly not something instantly memorable, but what you do remember is his voice, which I do find quite interesting.”

Lotte Aagaard - 4

“This song immediately harks back to the good old days of pop music, when rootsy guitar-based music was a familiar fixture of the charts. For someone from that time, it’s refreshing for me to hear.

However, this is not one of those classic hit songs - this sounds like an album track. There’s no killer hook. In fact I’d forgotten it as soon as it had finished. Also, although Matt would clearly like to emulate the look and attitude of the past, the production, image and the vocal are all a bit too lightweight and friendly. All the same, the thing he should be looking for right now is not a grittier attitude but a great song, with a strong melody. Unfortunately, this isn’t it.”

Read the June instalment of Professional Demo Review HERE

Next week: Interview with Andreas Carlsson, hit Swedish songwriter and graduate of Denniz PoP legendary’s Cheiron

Read On ...