Thursday, January 31, 2008

Wow + IMA = Minogasm!

Christmas came 11 months early yesterday in the form of two new Kylie video clips. "In My Arms" premiered in the morning, followed by the unveiling of "Wow" on Perez Hilton less than 24 hours later. The verdict? Kylie has lifted her game, producing two of the best videos of her entire career. If you haven't seen the clips yet, try youtube. Unfortunately, EMI appear to be taking down the videos as soon as they appear but you can always check them out on the fabulous Kylies Welt. Here are my thoughts on both clips.

In My Arms

The thing I love most about the "In My Arms" video is that it is quintessentially Kylie. Colourful and quirky without trying too hard, "In My Arms" expertly walks the line between camp and cool. It's also a perfect example of a clever idea executed on a relatively small budget. I'm not implying "In My Arms" was filmed on Dannii's mobile phone but the big bucks were obviously put aside for the considerably more glossy "Wow" video clip. If anything, the video benefits from the smaller scale - forcing the entire project to be sleeker and more inventive. The opening scene in the blue recording studio is positively iconic (the hair, that dress, those shades!) but my favourite part is the adorable fan sequence. It's good to know that Kylie still has her sense of humour! The only part of the video I don't like is the use of boxes, which is becoming a boring trend. People have cited the comparisons with Robyn's hideous UK "Handle Me" video but that shamelessly ripped off Dannii's "So Under Pressure". I'm sure Dannii won't mind Kylie stealing the idea back for the Minogue clan.

Wow

After the unexpected magnificence of "In My Arms", it was always going to be hard for the "Wow" clip to live up to expectations. If there is an unfortunate aspect of getting two amazing new videos in the one day, it's the apparent desire to pit them against each other. While the majority clearly favour boxed up Kylie, I slightly prefer "Wow". I love the Little Lord Fauntleroy bob, the bizarre spacesuit and the neon lights. Most of all, I love seeing what Kylie can come up with when her record company throws money at a project. The result is a glossy visual treat. The use of silhouettes and lighting effects is inspired and it's a joy to finally see Kylie dancing again. Then, there's the hilarious set-up. "Wow" being played in a club full of heterosexuals? Get out of here! As usual, the Madonna trolls are crying foul, claiming "Wow" rips off "Sorry". That clip shamelessly stole from Kylie's own "In Your Eyes", so I guess they're even. Personally, I think Kylie was more inspired by Menly C's "I Want Candy"!

US NEWS

In other exciting news, "Wow" has now officially been named as the first US single instead of the previously reported "2 Hearts". I guess that explains why "Wow" got the lion's share of the video budget and the Perez Hilton premiere. I have my doubts how the song will fare on US radio but if Cascada can chart in the US, anything is possible!

B-sides

I can't believe how brilliant the "Wow" and "In My Arms" B-sides sound. I guess I should be used to Kylie's annoying habit of saving her best material for the scrap heap but this is ridiculous. "Do It Again" and "Carried Away" sound like they could be two of the best songs from the entire "X" era. "Cherry Bomb", on the other hand, strikes me as Bloodshy & Avant by the numbers but I'll wait to hear the song in full before making judgement. You can listen to clips of all three B-sides here. I can't wait for the 18th of February so I can get my hands on this fabulous shit! In the meantime, enjoy this amazing live performance of "In My Arms" from France's NRJ Music Awards.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Listening To This Hurts The Most

Even the most casual reader of Pop Trash Addicts has surely realised by now that I don’t give a fuck about musical credibility, originality or artistic integrity. Disco dykes? Yes, please! Poptastic grannies? Gimme more! Foul mouthed trannies? Even better! And yet, as much as I revel in the trashy side of pop, I remain strangely immune to the dubious charms of Cascada – the massively successful Eurotrance outfit fronted by a horse faced German diva called Natalie. A collection of trance cover versions cheesier than a piss pig's cock, their debut album seemed destined for an AATW clearance sale but stunned everyone by becoming a global chart smash despite sounding like it had been dragged kicking and screaming from 1996. Don’t get me wrong – I like Cascada’s music but I fully expected them to slide into oblivion with the grace of 2 Unlimited or the Real McCoy. Their continued success seems, well, completely unnecessary.

Cascada returned to the UK top 10 in December with another craptastic cover version, “What Hurts The Most” and it’s now Australia’s turn to experience the wonder of their latest Euro-turd. Surprisingly, I’m finding it hard to muster a lot of enthusiasm. “What Hurst The Most” is shiny slice of commercial trance that will no doubt compel trashbags across the nation to grab the nearest glow stick but I can’t get past the grimly manufactured sound, the almost clinical lack of emotion and the lazy song selection. “What Hurts The Most” has been covered several times, first by Jo O’Meara (of S Club 7 “fame”) before more recently being given the country treatment by Rascal Flatts. I like both versions but Jo’s lovely rendition is proof that pop and emotion are not mutually exclusive. Shame she turned out to be a suicidal racist. It’s not all bad, I guess. D’Luv revealed his secret heterosexual yearnings by waxing lyrical about Caskanka’s breasts, while Jamie from Poplicious highlights the innate camp appeal of the video clip (below), which finds our beloved Teutonic automaton singing heartbreaking lyrics with a beaming smile while being tattooed –no less!

As rubbish as the song is, I'm still rather taken by Yanou's obligatory Candlelight Mix. Stripped of its cheap trance trappings, this version actually sounds like it was sung by a human being instead of an emotionless robot. If “What Hurts The Most” rings your bell, take heart. Cascada’s new album, “Perfect Day”, serves up more of the same. I could only listen to it a couple of times before putting it to better use as a beer coaster but their version of Avril Lavigne’s “Sk8ter Boi” is a rather delicious concoction. “What Hurts The Most” is released in Australia on the 18th of February. Order your copy here.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Wonder Girls

If I had to choose a theme song for January 2008 it would be a close call between Kylie's "Wow" and "Tell Me" by the Wonder Girls. While Dannii's sister and an obscure Korean girlband would initially appear to have little in common, both songs constitute a three and a half minute trip to pure pop heaven. I expect pop perfection from a Minogue but the magnificence of the Wonder Girls comes as a wonderful surprise.

I've always been slightly wary of Asian pop. As a general rule, I prefer my music in a language I can understand or at least vaguely follow. Then, there are the incredibly annoying J-Pop loons that pollute most music forums. As far as I'm concerned, anyone who can contribute to an Ayumi vs Utada debate most likely has an altar to the dark prince in their bedroom. Despite these considerable hurdles, I've found myself becoming increasingly fascinated by the Asian pop scene thanks to the expert guidance of my friend Nori, who has kindly introduced me to a cavalcade of fabulous acts - including the Wonder Girls.

A manufactured girlband with five members between the ages of 15 and 19, the Wonder Girls strike me as South Korea's answer to the Spice Girls - only with better hair and the ability to dance. The Wonder Girls hit it big with "Tell Me", an unfathomably catchy jam that topped the Korean sales chart for 7 weeks and went on to become the biggest hit of 2007. It's easy to see the appeal. "Tell Me" is undoubtedly a work of pop genius. From the clever sampling of Stacey Q's "Two Of Hearts" to the catchy chorus, the song stands out as an instant classic. Make sure you check out the fabulous video clip (below). The dance routine has become a phenomenon of its own in South Korea and the scene where the girls beat up a flasher belongs in the Pop Trash hall of fame!

Even if you usually steer well clear of foreign pop, take a chance on the Wonder Girls. "Tell Me" is one of those rare songs that transcends language.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Brielle's Blunder

I was happily surprised to see Brielle Davis in yesterday's Sydney Confidential until I read the piece. In a typically vindictive and factually incorrect article ("country music singer Brielle" hasn't recorded a country song since she was 12 and did not won a Golden Guitar Award), the newspaper gleefully reports that Brielle was recently arrested after allegedly crashing her car into a house in Sans Souci with a blood alcohol reading of 0.19. The pop diva was charged with a high level PCA (Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol) and negligent driving. She faces court on the 29th of January.

No one was injured in the incident - not that it excuses Brielle's alleged actions. Drink driving is incontrovertibly stupid. However, good people sometimes do stupid things and Brielle is a good person. I was lucky enough to meet Brielle after a gig at The Vanguard last year and I can't speak highly enough of her. She was warm, friendly and took the time to chat with everyone in the venue. Apart from being an absolute sweetheart, Brielle has also volunteered for a long list of organisations and even flew to the Solomon Islands to perform for Australian troops.

At a time when celebrity drug habits barely raise an eyebrow, Brielle's purported actions seem rather tame in comparison. It would be manifestly unfair if one mistake - however serious - adversely effects a most promising career. I wish Brielle all the best for her court date and look forward to seeing her perform on Saturday as an Australia Day ambassador. Chin up!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Aussie Diva Round Up - Jan 2008

After writing about Ricki-Lee's recent UK signing, I was inspired to find out what my other favourite Aussie divas have been up to in January. I could probably write a ten thousand word essay about Kylie's hectic schedule (when does that woman sleep?) but everything seems to change on a daily basis, so I'll be brief.

1. "Wow" is a great choice for the second single in Australia, Japan and the UK. The countries that have embraced Kylie from the beginning get a glorious dose of nostalgia, while the rest of Europe gets something more contemporary in the guise of "In My Arms". Also, as a Kylie collecting nerd, the prospect of so many different covers and formats makes me giddy!

2. I'm completely ambivalent to "2 Hearts" being selected as the lead US single. No offence to Kylie's small band of loyal American fans but I think a stateside campaign is a complete waste of time. Surely it makes more sense to concentrate on markets where she will actually be played on the radio and taken somewhat seriously.

3. The various "Wow" formats in the UK are fucking AMAZING:

CD1

Wow
Cherry Bomb

CD2

Wow
Do It Again
Carried Away
Wow (Death Metal Disco Scene Mix)

12" Picture Disc

Wow
Wow (CSS Remix)
Wow (Fuck Me I'm Famous Remix By David Guetta + Joachim Garraud)
Wow (MSTRKRFT Remix)

In addition to those three formats there will be two digital bundles with all the remixes from the 12" picture disc as well as Mark Brown's Pacha Ibiza Upper Terrace Mix of "2 Hearts" as an iTunes exclusive! The "Wow" remixes have already leaked and I'm particularly taken with the Death Metal Disco Scene Mix, which transforms "Wow" into the twisted sister of "2 Hearts" with an even darker edge. It shouldn't work but it does - unlike David Guetta's disappointing effort. I can take or leave the CSS and MSTRKRFT remixes but I'm gagging to hear the 3 B-sides! "Carried Away" and "Do It Again" are credited to Greg Kurstin, Kylie and Karen Poole (the same team behind "Wow"), while "Cherry Bomb" is apparently the handiwork of Bloodshy & Avant ("Speakerphone" and "Nu-Di-Ty").

Speaking of Minogues, the more talented and beautiful sister is releasing a new single in Australia this week - not that anyone appears to have noticed. "Touch Me Like That" looks set to suffer the same floptastic fate as it did in the UK. Dannii's brilliant anthem is receiving no airplay and is yet to dent iTunes' top 100. The physical single includes 12 (yes, 12!) remixes, so hopefully fans are stocking up on that instead. Order your copy from Chaos today. Your Dannii needs you!

Yet another diva with a Minogue connection is Kate Alexa. Australian pop fans may remember her top 10 hit "All I Hear" but Kate is probably better remembered for the flack she copped as the daughter of Mushroom Records founder Michael Gudinski - the man who first gave Kylie a recording contract back in 1987. I couldn't care less about the claims of nepotism. Kate's album was a lot of fun and she managed to score 4 top 30 hits, no easy feat regardless of her father's connections. It is something of an understatement to say that Kate's sound and image has had a complete overhaul. Pimped and preened by Kylie's right hand man, William Baker, Kate returns to the pop scene with a scorching cover of Womack & Womack's "Teardrops" featuring US rapper Baby Bash! I can't wait for the video clip!

Another Australian diva spending January hard at work is the legendary Olivia Newton-John, who released a live album in the US this week. If you overlook the hideously cheap cover (above), the album is rather lovely. Recorded at the Opera House with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, "Olivia's Live Hits" boasts stunning renditions of classics like "Xanadu", "Physical" and "Magic". There's still no word on an Australian release but you can order the American version and the accompanying DVD from Amazon. In addition to "Live Hits", Olivia also features on Anne Murray's latest album and is in the middle of filming a television series based on her 1999 film "Sordid Lives". Olivia reprises her role as beer swilling bar singer Bitsy Mae and contributes 5 new songs to the TV soundtrack.

In news that will no doubt rock the gay community to its very core, local legend Melissa Tkautz has been signed to Central Station Records and is threatening to release a new single in early 2008. Mel is performing at Australia Day celebrations in Parramatta this weekend (alongside the equally lovely Brielle Davis) before returning to her gay stomping ground with a show at this year's Fair Day on the 17th of February. Queensland poofs can bask in the glory of Melissa when she catches the bus up to Brisbane for the Big Gay Day on the 9th of March. I'm still trying to get details about the album but it appears to be a mix of tracks from her amazing scrapped opus "The Glamorous Life" together with new material. I'm beside myself!

While Melissa returns to music, the divine Deni Hines (above left) has announced a break from touring to film an Eco-tv series in the Northern Territory! Deni isn't the only diva turning to TV in 2008. Jade Macrae has been announced in the line up for the latest series of channel 7's It Takes Two, which should provide a nice boost for the upcoming release of her second album, "Get Me Home". Jade will be joined on the show by ex-Australian Idol fag Anthony Callea (who is appearing in the Australian production of "Wicked" - as a munchkin!) and the omnipresent Ricki-Lee. Paulini must be spitting chips over losing her spot to a former Young Diva!

Yet another Idol alumni gracing tv screens in 2008 is the fabulous Courtney Act, who will no doubt raise eyebrows as the first tranny to compete on Dancing With The Stars. I really hope she wins! In another exciting development, Robyn Loau is providing the soundtrack to this year's season of The Biggest Loser with her lovely ballad "Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime", which is available to download from iTunes now. Robyn's classy cameo appearance on Neighbours will grace UK tv screens in January, while her collaboration with Josh Abrahams, "Hard", is about to hit Australian clubs. Expect "Hard" to garner a certain amount controversy - it's a dance tune about the Columbine shootings! The song is streaming on Robyn's Myspace, so have a listen. I think it's brilliant. Robyn has come a LONG way since the days of Girlfriend!

Last and least is British nobody turned "Australian" pop princess Amy Pearson. I still can't decide if I moderately like her or hate her but I'm leaning toward the latter if her new "inspirational" anthem for the Beijing Olympics is any indication. "Ready To Fly" is dreary rubbish of the worst kind but I'll reserve my opinion on Amy until I have time to process her debut album, "Who I Am", scheduled for release on the 24th of March.

Phew!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Ricki-Lee Goes International

Just when I thought I couldn't possibly be any more smitten by Ricki-Lee, I stumbled across this picture of her eating McDonalds in her car after the Logie Awards. Nothing screams Pop Trash Addicts quite like a pop star woofing down a Big Mac in a ball gown! While other divas have spent the dawning weeks of 2008 working on their tans and topping up their Botox, this former Young Diva has been busy wheeling and dealing with international record labels. The first exciting development is the Japanese release of "Brand New Day". The Japanese version wisely includes two hits from Ricki-Lee's first album ("Hell No!" and "Sunshine") and boasts a slightly trannytastic new cover - love that leopard skin print! With "Can't Touch It" proving a major success on Japanese radio, Ms Coulter could well have a massive hit on her hands.

In addition to scoring a Japanese deal, Ricki-Lee's management recently announced her signing with Ministry Of Sound in the UK. Watch out for this fabulous diva is your local drive-through when she hits Britain for a promotional tour in April! In the meantime, Ricki-Lee is busily promoting the upcoming release of "Can't Sing A Different Song" - the third fabulous single in a row from "Brand New Day". Ricki-Lee has been everywhere lately, from posing in a bikini on the cover of Woman's Day to performing a showcase at a recent tennis tournament. Not content to belt out her own hits, Ricki-Lee covered Fergie's "Big Girls Don't Cry" (here) and rocked out to Rihanna's "Umbrella" (here). However, the classiest moment involved Ricki-Lee inviting a gay fan to duet with her on "It's Raining Men" (watch clip below). Words can not describe how much I love this woman!

Friday, January 18, 2008

2 Very Trashy Girls!

I've been obsessed with 2 Girls ever since my lovely friend Lexy sent me the link to their jaw-droppingly craptastic "Fallin' Angels" video clip (below). I was immediately smitten by the tacky production and incompetent "special effects", not to mention their disturbingly robotic vocals and tragic dancing ability. However, I became seriously hooked when I realised that these stunning divas were the daughters of Z-grade movie icon Judy Landers and thus, nieces of the delightful Audrey Landers - one of my favourite 80s pop stars! Lindsey and Kristy obviously inherited their phenomenal talent from the Landers' family gene pool but they still have a lot to learn from their fierce mother and auntie (pictured above). Where is the obligatory faux lesbian Playboy photoshoot for Landers siblings? The wooden acting? The fabulously inane lyrics about Spanish beaches? With their indisputable pedigree, I have no doubt 2 Girls will display all of these endearing qualities in their next big budget extravaganza and I, for one, can not wait!


Learn more about these goddesses on their Myspace. Unfortunately I can't find a lot of information about the release of "Fallin' Angels". It appears the lovely ladies have released an album exclusive to US Target stores and American iTunes but there are no details regarding an international version. If anyone knows where I get an MP3 of this masterpiece, I would be eternally grateful! The fabulousness of 2 Girls has inspired me to work on a post about Audrey Landers. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Olivia's Lost Classic - Best Of My Love

The incredible global success of Cher's "Believe" inspired a small army of gay icons to jump on the dance bandwagon. Diana Ross released the exquisite "Not Over You Yet", while Tina Turner dusted off her dancing shoes for the delicious "When The Heartache Is Over". Even Engelbert Humperdinck got in on the act, raising the bar for popular music with his amazing Dance Album! As undeniably fabulous as those offerings are, my favourite slice of middle-aged diva dance pop is undoubtedly Olivia Newton-John's unreleased masterpiece, "Best Of My Love".

Recorded in 2001 with her nephew Brett Goldsmith, "Best Of My Love" was supposed to herald Olivia's return to pop charts courtesy of a contemporary dance sound. At one point an entire album was planned but Olivia feared for her dignity and pulled the plug on the project. I respect Olivia's decision but I can't help but think she overreacted and robbed herself of a huge hit. Even as a work in progress, "Best Of My Love" stands out as the best thing the grande dame of Australian pop has done in over a decade. I love Olivia's new age chanting, drippy ballads and covers albums as much as the next fan but it's such a joy to hear her sing something as bright and catchy as "Best Of My Love". It would be amazing to hear a cleaned up version of this in a club - the adorable lyrics and shiny chorus positively force you to wave your arms in the air.

I really hope Olivia reconsiders her stance on dance in the future. Lovely Livvy still has the voice, stunning good looks and huge gay following to get away with it. There's nothing ridiculous about making your fans happy. Many thanks to Peibols for the fabulous mock cover!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Danielle - Underneath The Radar

Danielle belongs to that most terrifying species of diva - a Big Brother housemate turned pop star. Hitching a ride to the top of the charts courtesy of BB is still relatively uncommon in Australia but occurs with disturbing regularity in Europe. Who could ever forget transsexual Nadia's UK top 40 hit "A Little Bit Of Action" or Christian's German smash hit "Es ist geil ein Arschloch zu sein" (translated - "It's cool to be an arsehole"). Apart from Danielle, the only other Australian example I can think of is Sara-Marie & the Sirens amazing cover of "I'm So Excited" - however Sara Marie actually left all the singing to the Sirens, only contributing her "bum dancing" expertise!

I guess that makes Danielle Australia's first legitimate Big Brother pop star and against all odds her 2006 debut single was rather fabulous. A nifty dance remake of Underworld's 80s classic "Underneath The Radar", Danielle's version immediately won me over but only tickled the charts at #41. Sadly, Danielle is yet to release a second single but her Myspace claims she is working on new material. I only hope Danielle comes up with another tune this catchy and effortlessly entertaing.

Find out more about this stunning talent on her glamorous website and Myspace.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Duet Of The Decade - Beat It

Twenty five years ago Michael Jackson released his second album for Epic Records and promptly revolutionised popular music. "Thriller" spent 37 weeks at #1 in the US, spawned 7 top ten hits, earned 8 Grammy awards and sold more than 100 million copies, becoming the highest selling album of all time. In order to commemorate (ie. cash in on) the anniversary of "Thriller", Michael has re-recorded the album with the who's who of urban music including such luminaries as Akon, Kanye West, will.i.am and the holy queen of American pop - Fergie!

As a massive fan of "Thriller", news of the album's ghetto makeover didn't exactly fill me with joy. Songs of this quality don't need polluting by the likes of Cunt-ye West but if that's what it takes for Michael to revive his career, so be it. The recently leaked tracks from "Thriller 25" haven't done much to allay my fears but the album promises at least one gem - Michael's stunning duet with Fergie! The unlikely duo have collaborated on a fabulous update of "Beat It". Once you get past the dawning realisation that Fergie is now part of the "Thriller" legacy, the new "Beat It" is pretty hard to resist. Staying closer to the original than most of the revised tracks, "Beat It" boasts a slightly rocky edge and a memorable vocal from old meth head. I really hope this is a single. "Beat It" still sounds unbelievably fresh and Fergie's presence should ensure a high chart placing. Just imagine the film clip - Michael groping Fergie's lovely lady humps with his discoloured, band-aid covered hands! HOT. Expect to read a lot more about "Thriller 25" as well as an upcoming retrospective on the original album and its amazing singles.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Aus Pop Flashback - Jackson Mendoza

I hope everyone had a great Christmas and brought in the new year with a bang. I've enjoyed a short blogging holiday but I'm back and ready to explore new lows in popular music! Unfortunately, nothing much is happening in the pop world at the moment, so I thought I would kick off 2008 with a craptacular flashback post about the very short lived but extremely fabulous Australian girlband, Jackson Mendoza.

The group consisted of two sisters, Natalie and Rebecca, who stood out from the crowd due to their exotic Eurasian looks and their unique brand of girl power pop. Jackson Mendoza only released two singles but both "Venus Or Mars" and "Ordinary Girl" climbed into the top 30 in 2000. "Venus Or Mars", in particular, became a huge radio hit and should be fairly familiar to most of you. I'm not sure why the girls quit after two relatively successful singles but it could have something to do with Rebecca being stabbed by her then husband (who subsequently killed himself).

On a brighter note, both sisters went on to enjoy considerable acting success after Jackson Mendoza disbanded. Rebecca appeared in Star Wars: Revenge Of The Sith and The Lord Of The Rings, while Natalie shared the screen with Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge and now appears in the UK television show Hotel Babylon. Eight years have passed since the release of "Venus Or Mars" and "Ordinary Girl" but the songs still sparkle, making Jackson Mendoza one of the more intriguing pop oddities of the decade.