Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Holly Van

After taking a 6 year hiatus to pursue acting, which included playing a corpse on CSI and a Russian stripper on Prison Break, Holly Valance is busily planning her return to the music scene. The former Neighbours star recently revealed that she's working on songs with Frankmusik for her third album and I couldn't be any more excited. Holly always stood out from the other pop zombies. For better or worse, usually the latter, she spoke her mind and refused to play by the rules. This is a woman who basically killed her own career by calling the British public "bitter and twisted" (during a UK promotional tour no less!) and was told off by a Judge for excessive publicity whoring. The amusing list of anecdotes goes on but there's one I can't help but mention - the tragic case of the Holly Van!

Whenever I think about Holly, my mind instantly races to a Christina Aguilera concert in December 2003. It was Christina's first visit to Australia and a huge crowd was starting to build outside the Entertainment Centre. Just as we were getting ready to go inside, someone started playing "State Of Mind" at near deafening volume. I half expected to find a demented fan with a boombox but was surprised to discover the music coming from a van covered in Holly Valance posters, which had just pulled up outside the venue. Using a vehicle to promote an artist is hardly out of the ordinary (Flo Rida's record company recently hired a tank to drive around Sydney blasting songs from his latest album) but actually crashing another diva's concert has to be a first! Naturally, I was drawn to the Holly Van like a rat to the Pied Piper and struck up a conversation with one of the promoters who was trying to give away merchandise to disinterested Christina fans. I think I got a couple of posters but the most fabulous gift was a model replica of the van itself - pictured above on my computer. It remains one of my favourite pieces of music memorabilia, perfectly summing up the sad desperation of Holly Valance circa 2003.

The depressing thing is that Holly really had no reason to be sad or desperate. I personally thought her debut album was a hideous trainwreck but I've been singing the praises of "State Of Mind" to anyone who will listen for years. In my opinion, it's one of the great pop albums of the noughties, right up there with "Neon Nights" and "Fever". "State Of Mind" was also a hugely influential album, not that anyone will admit it. Holly was the first commercial pop star to mix electro into her pop - years before Lady GaGa and Robyn got around to it. In fact, it's quite startling how fresh the album still sounds. The magnificent lead single wouldn't be out of place on radio today, while the stunning video (below) is still a million times hotter than anything Britney has ever come up with. That Ramones singlet is THE SEX!

The rest of "State Of Mind" is just as impressive. Jeff and Mark Taylor (Metro) contribute the dark and brooding "Desire", which was originally slated as the second single before the project was scrapped. Kylie's favourite collaborator, Steve Anderson, delivers the goods on "Hypnotic" and "Curious" but really strikes gold on the incredibly fierce "Roll Over". I'm not surprised that Holly has a writing credit on the track. It's got her mouthy attitude stamped all over it. Chris and Drew Peters (Electric Six) are the biggest surprise. I can't believe these guys haven't been snapped up by every pop tart on the block. They contribute the sublime "Everything I Hate" and fiery "Tongue Tied" as well as my favourite song on the entire album - the gorgeous "Ricochets", which displays a softness and subtlety that I would have thought beyond Holly.

With any luck, "State Of Mind" will be re-visited and re-evaluated by pop fans if her comeback is a success. I just hope the Holly Van stays locked in the garage!

11 comments:

The Prophet said...

DON'T EVEN TRY AND OUT HOLLY ME! I'M THE BIGGEST HOLLY STAN OUT! THANKS FOR FINALLY GETTING IT RIGHT ON HERE!

I reported this a while ago because she's also working with Tah Mac and I've seen some in studio footage of her with FrankMusik. Her debut was not a trainwreck though its AMAZING but State Of Mind is the best, almost flawless!

NOW GIVE ME THAT FUCKING HOLLY VAN!

Guy said...

The fact that the Holly Valance van is giving away a miniature Holly Valance van is so surprisingly self-reflexive...

D'luv said...

When I was photo editor at Instinct Magazine (2003-4) I used to play the Holly album at all photo shoots. "State Of Mind" is a classic.

A friend of mine was at L.A. gay bar The Abbey about five years ago with his British friend who's a club promoter. They began talking to a blonde broad from overseas named Holly, who was sitting at the by herself, who was in town to get her acting career going.

And, well, you know where this is going...

tommie said...

State of Mind sounds like Dannii Neon Nights rejects that wasn't even good enough for Nafensayz to bait the Droids with. *FLUSH*

I'm strangely captivated about what she'll do next - she's okay in my book since she basically told fans of her boyfriends tv show (I think it was Moonlight?) to get a life when it was canned.

tommie Dalberg said...

@ D'luv - they lied that they were casting ages and she had a backdoor party with them?

Jay said...

Beyond Fabulous! With that stunning promo, State Of Mind should have raced to the top of the charts!

Even though I loved the title track, I only bought the album because it was in a 3 for a tenner deal and I needed a third album - and I'm glad I did as it is the best €3.333333recurring I ever spent, though the album loses it a bit towards the end.

Aaron said...

Hehe - That's classic!

Now, I was quite a fan of Footprints, and less so a fan of State Of Mind - but maybe I should go back and give it another listen? - Anyways, Bring on the comeback!

The Prophet said...

Did she really tell the fans to go jump when moonlight was cancelled?

Martin said...

I bought State of Mind for $1 off ebay... single greatest purchase of my life! I love this album.. every track is h.o.t. although Action is a personal fave. Holly singing about how hot she is and how she needs a big d*ck to get off... "Babe I won't complain if you're a little rough... but I will if you are not man enough".. Genuine Class!

Anonymous said...

this is one fine bit of journalism, this needs to be say, page 2 of herald sun quite quickly, or at least, 50/50. State Of Mind is such a captivating 'journey' for a pop singer, I wonder if she filmed the process for a proposed documentary which never aired because of it's non chart success, to reveal fights with the label, fans and the like.
We played the single at a work Christmas party on the year of it's release and it did clear the floor which was a stunning moment, a vacant floor to dance on is a spiritual moment.
I will never diss the Valance because of this very album, I expect a anniversary edition to be reissued in time for the 3rd album, I wonder if Keisha has asked her to call it '3' as a homage to the Sugababes third album?

Jamie_movietrip said...

I'm joining the fans of Holly on this one, I loved this CD, so hot! I need to play it again, Roll Over was my jam!