Pop Princess Annie’s Triumphant Return

With pop enjoying a sparkly renaissance worldwide this year, perhaps the series of delays prolonging pop princess Annie’s latest record, Don’t Stop, for nearly two years were ultimately serendipitous. Out now, her long-awaited comeback may be a last-minute addition to the inevitable flurry of year-end top tens, as it stands strong start to finish. The return of Annie poetically caps off a year that has seen an impressive new wave of pop stars — from no-brainers like Lady Gaga to on-fire upstarts like La Roux, VV Brown, Marina & the Diamonds, and Florence + the Machine. Annie is sunny as ever when discussing the fumbles of the major label responsible for stopping Don’t Stop in its first go-around. In fact, after the break, she even hints at how it afforded her extra time to make the effort shinier, even though this resulted in accidental cast-offs, later packaged in a special EP. “Hardcore fans are going to like it,” she adds. Although most will find to hard it resist the wiles of an easygoing pop star who can talk about Serge Gainsbourg and Girls Aloud in the same breath.

Well hello, Annie. How are you? Good. There was supposed to be a storm outside, but there isn’t.

Tell me about Don’t Stop. What were you inspired by? I would go into the studio — sometimes after watching TV, bored — and wanted to write about what I saw. “Marie Cherie” was inspired by Serge Gainsbourg. I found inspiration from italodisco and electronic music too. Some clubby music too for “I Don’t Like Your Band” and straight-up pop for “My Love Is Better.”

Speaking of “My Love Is Better,” British pop band Girls Aloud originally sang back-up on that song. But then their vocals were dropped. Why? They were around the studio, recording “Can’t Speak French” and liked the song. So they did the vocals. But then their record label contacted their management. Their management panicked and were afraid it would’ve crashed.

The record was supposed to be released a while ago, wasn’t it? The main reason it took a while to record was because the president of Island Records moved to EMI. So I ended up working with another person. In the end it didn’t work out. Island didn’t listen to what I or my management said.

What about “Girlfriend” — the originally planned comeback single which was out in 2008? The comeback single had no build-up. The “Girlfriend” release wasn’t right.

What did you do then? I left Island and got the rights to the music back. I had to get my own team.

But this wasn’t your first time going indie? I released my first two albums independently.

What was it like to going back to your indie roots? It’s much more work. But it was great. I was more in control.

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