Sunday, June 21, 2009

Pop Panel 6 - Australian Week

The Pop Panel has undergone a bit of makeover this week. Instead of the usual selection of hyped hits and future flops, I thought it would be fun to focus exclusively on the local music scene for a change. Australian pop music is on fire at the moment with the likes of Jessica Mauboy, The Veronicas, Sneaky Sound System, Cut Copy, The Presets and Empire Of The Sun taking off internationally. Then there's the next wave of talent (Dash & Will, Chris Sorbello, Liena and Zoe Badwi) just waiting in the wings for their turn to shine. This week's song selection represents both the established names and future stars. Given the Australian theme, I gave the usual whores the week off and asked a bunch of local bloggers to take over the reigns. The new line-up is comprised of:

Aaron writer of Fabtastic! Music
Adem writer of Adem With An E
Damian writer of AuspOp
Guy writer of Pop Frippery
Mike author of this classy joint!

In addition to those hos, I've also asked my friend Peter Wilson to serve as a guest judge. As you may remember, Peter is (to my knowledge at least) Australia's only Hi-NRG male pop star with a career extending back to the early 90s. More recently, he moved into production and struck the jackpot by collaborating with Amanda Lear on her big comeback album. Before getting stuck into voting, I asked him about that experience and an exciting project he's working on with a certain alumni of the Stock Aitken Waterman hit factory!

Hey Peter! The last time we spoke you talked about working with disco legend Amanda Lear on her hugely anticipated comeback album. Can we have an update please?
It's called "Brief Encounters" and comes out in October. The album has received so much attention from her fans and I've had great feedback. I ended up doing three tracks - "Brand New Love Affair", "C'est La Vie" and a cover of "Always On My Mind", which I love so much. Amanda even talked about me on Italian TV saying she's worked with Australian disco singer Peter Wilson! LOL. Amanda fans are gonna love the album!

Is it true that you have a new solo track coming out?
Hmmm... I HAVE recorded one but it's not a priority for me. So, I imagine it will turn up on the next "Mad About The Boy" compilation on Klone. I didn't write or produce it. So yeah, I'm much more excited about my producing with (business partner) Chris.

You also wrote and produced a duet for Hi-NRG divas Evelyn Thomas and Carol Jiani. How was that experience?
We did 7 songs with Carol Jiani and "Are You Man Enough" was one of them. I suggested the duet idea to Carol and she liked it. Evelyn Thomas was open to it and before you know it, it was recorded and the single came out in Germany in March. The song was originally written for Sinitta and was to be on her upcoming Greatest Hits. But timing was difficult as Sinitta was very busy and only ended up recording 2 new songs, which were done in the UK with my old producers PMG. But Carol and Evelyn made it their own. I think Carol is even doing a solo version soon too.

I believe you're currently working with Haywoode - one of my favourite SAW divas. Tell us what you guys are working on!
Haywoode's great! We've just done "Getting Closer 2009", which is very Lady Gaga meets Daft Punk I guess you could say. We've co-written a track called "Kiss Me Good", which is awesome and I wrote a song for her called "If You Give Love". I would imagine a release some time this year. Everyone please support Sid Haywoode cos she's so lovely!!

This SAW classic was covered by Kylie in 1987

Ok, here are the results from least to most popular. Let me know what you think of the outcome!

Sarah Blasko - All I Want (Video)

The lead single from Sarah’s third studio album.

Aaron: Sounds a little like a Halloween remix of Duffy's "Mercy". I'm not quite taken by it but it's pretty enough. Sarah's got a fantastic voice but the track just isn't doing it for me. Fairly middle-of-the-road stuff. Great background music. 3/5
Adem: A Bad Seeds-esque release from Blasko, and easily one of her best. Stunning video too. 4.5/5
Damian: Gosh there's some variety here this week!? What starts off as some strange Conway Twitty-esque country affair suddenly turns into a hauntingly beautiful ballad, layered with Sarah's divine smoky vocals. 3.5/5
Guy: The clip sums up my impression of Sarah Blasko. It’s trying to be ethereal and profound, but you just know it was filmed at Sovereign Hill. I don’t actually mind the song – it’s got a nice Emiliana Torini feel to it. But Blasko manages to make it pretentious and annoying. 2/5
Mike: Congratulations, Missy Higgins. You are no longer the most tiresome bitch on the Australian music scene. 0/5
Peter: The 60s pop/soul sound is spreading isn’t it? Though it’s spreading like anal warts on this. This track is just depressing and boring. I just want to force feed Sarah some Prozac and slap some happiness into her. Even a good production can’t save a turkey like this. Vomit. 1.5/5
Total: 14.5/30

The Presets - Kicking and Screaming (Video)

The 117th single from "Apocalypso".

Aaron: Whilst I much prefer "Yippio-Ay" and I think that should have got the complete live video treatment - this is decent. Hooky, pretty impressive but not a patch on "This Boy's In Love". Killer wolf call. 3.5/5
Adem: Odd single choice. But really, by now there's not all that much LEFT to release from "Apocalypso", is there? 4/5
Damian: The Presets almost go 'Prodigy' on what must surely be the final single from their 'Apocalypso' set. Chaotic, industrial electro that makes me want to go have a Bex and a nice lie down. 2/5
Guy: Just makes me think of a bad night out in a club where someone would spill a breezer on me and I’d want to go home. 2/5
Mike: The "Apocalypso" well is now officially drier than a nun's cunt. 2/5
Peter: I don't like this track so much. I have the album and it’s nothing close to "This Boy’s In Love", which is brilliant. This is just really beats, a groove and some random shouting. The sounds they use are great but this one doesn't do it for me. 2.5/5
Total: 16/30

Sally Singleton - Tomorrow (Video)

John Singleton's daughter makes her pop debut.

Aaron: Well, a straight ahead, sunny, pop track that'll definitely do well on radio - Nice enough! 2.5/5
Adem: Terrible. Voice as thin as rice paper and not in the fun way Victoria Beckham's is. To add insult to injury, this song is used in those sickening Sunrise promos. Sally Singleton + Breakfast Television = Instant Heartburn. 1/5
Damian: Not entirely original, but the track's what good pOp should be - fun, uptempo and bright as a button! So bright Channel 7's Sunrise team felt compelled to use it in promotion for their unseatable morning show! 3/5
Guy: Trying to be Kate Nash, and isn’t quite successful. But on the Kate Alexa scale of wanna-be popstar daughters of advertising/entertainment heavies, I think she doesn’t do too badly at all. 2.5/5
Mike: Poor Sally comes across as a mental hospital escapee in the video but the song is exceedingly cute in a Lenka-lite kind of way. 3.5/5
Peter: I like the Motown soul vibe a lot of new pop is tapping into. This track's just like that, really catchy and well written too. Her voice is quite good, not sure about the Missy Higgins style accent on some words, but overall a great song, good to see good pop coming from Australia, from anywhere really! 4/5
Total: 16.5/30

Brecik - Joan Jett (Video below)

Brecik pays tribute to lesbian icon Joan in his poptastic debut.

Aaron: Killer high-tempo electro/pop/rock that actually works quite well. I like the jumpy, fist-in-the-air bits. This song reminds me a lot of James Leon, in a really good way of course! 4/5
Adem: Oh dear. 1/5
Damian: Brecik's strongest offering to date, delightfully electro and most worthy of some chart love. For something to really float your pOp boat, check out their awesome cover version of Shakespear's Sister's 'Run Silent' on their official Myspace. 3/5
Guy: Who is this? I appreciate the jaunty chorus and trashy stage dancers but the production’s just a little Aus Idol. I am however (genuinely) impressed that they included footage of him rocking out in a Mazda (not a rent-o BMW, a la Natalie Bassingthwaighte). 2/5
Mike: I wonder if Brecik would settle for a guy that looks like a butch lesbian from a distance? But I digress. "Joan Jett" is big, dumb fun and I wholeheartedly approve. 3.5/5
Peter: I really wanted to like this so much. I mean I don't hate it but it's just not amazing. It reminds me of a lot of 90s pop and can almost hear a 90s style Motiv8 mix of it. But yeah, not grabbing me. 3/5
Total: 16.5/30

Daniel Merriweather - Red (Video)

Already a top 5 hit for Daniel in the UK.

Aaron: Adorable, string soaked ballad with great lyrics and a fantastic voice. The after-second-verse-beat took a little while to work for me, but I do like it! But what does he have against Red? 4/5
Adem: It's not terrible, but when he's got such a goldmine as "Impossible" on his album and he releases this; then I have to take issue. 2/5
Damian: Cannot speak highly enough about this single. Quite possibly the best and most startlingly beautiful, soulful, impeccable, heart-felt and stirring single of 2009. Now, would Australia please give the boy the support he so rightly deserves. 5/5
Guy: Not quite as dire as Ronan Keating but I still think this is Mothers’ Day stocking filler. The Mark Ronson connection means he’s sure to be played endlessly by Borders once they get sick of Duffy. 2.5/5
Mike: Daniel Merriweather can sit on my face any day of the week but this crap bores me to tears. I miss his bogan rap phase. 2.5/5
Peter: This sounds very English, especially when the chorus kicks in. I’d imagine straight women over 30 will cream over this, bringing on romantic delusions of grandeur. It’s not me, but not a bad track at all. Just not that different to a lot of tracks on radio. 3/5
Total: 19/30

Bertie Blackman - Heart (Video)

The first single from the alternative pop Queen's latest album.

Aaron: Killer beat, really quirky track - but it actually works. I don't mind this one - Surprisingly! Chorus is surprisingly joyful. Bertie sounds great too! The bit towards the end is a bit off though. 4/5
Adem: LOVE Bertie, even if she does look a bit like Kelly Osbourne. Spikey verses, killer chorus; one of the best singles of the year. 5/5
Damian: She scared the crap out of me when I first saw the clip but the track's progressive, daring and a definite departure from her previous material. Sadly, commercial radio's on the whole probably not going to be daring enough to try their luck. 3/5
Guy: A cross between Kelly Osbourne and Diana Ah Naid with some Missy Elliot bass and an unexpected chorus. And dancers courtesy of Gina Riley’s Corallee Hollow dance company. Not my cup of tea, but I don’t mind it. 3/5
Mike: Bertie's new album is a triumph but this is probably the least accessible track on it. "Heart" is disjointed, confronting and slightly scary. It's also the most original thing you'll hear on radio this year. 4/5
Peter: Very different, that’s what I like about it. I really can’t compare it to anything, which is what I’d imagine Bertie would take as a compliment. Not sure it will be a worldwide smash but it’s good she’s doing something different. 3/5
Total: 22/30

Andy Bull - Young Man (Video)

The Sydney singer-songwriter’s follow-up to "Small Town Girl".

Aaron: I quite like this, an entirely pleasant enough track - I like the vocal, and I like the stripped back production - It's nice enough! 3.5/5
Adem: Face of Russell Brand, voice like Vanessa Carlton. Interesting for the first 40 seconds, suicidal therein after. I want nothing more than to take Bull deep into the woods with some hair-clippers and a shotgun. 2.5/5
Damian: Perhaps not quite as instant as his debut single but I'm a big fan of Andy's work. He's another who commercial radio criminally ignores. Kaleidoscopic pOp with an almost timeless flavour. 4/5
Guy: I really like this. Gets me tapping my feet, interesting production, although at one point gets a bit too close to Robin Thicke for my liking. But still good! 4/5
Mike: Andy sounds like a less trannytastic version of Anthony & The Johnsons. And I mean that as a huge compliment! 4/5
Peter: I really like this track, his voice is so unique and the song is awesome. He’s really doing his own thing and not following a formula dictated by radio. Though I can picture it getting a lot of airplay. Hope he does well. 4/5
Total: 22/30


Empire Of The Sun - Standing On The Shore

Nick & Luke continue on their ambient electro journey.

Aaron: Never really loved these guys. This almost works, I'm not so keen on the vocal but otherwise OK. Almost. I think. 2/5
Adem: Weird guys playing dress-up make yet another killer pop tune. What's with the Power Rangers inspired video clip though? 5/5
Damian: While perhaps not as instant as their previous singles, Luke and Nick prove once again that they're some of the cleverest pOp purveyors on the planet right now. The whole 'Empire Of The Sun' project is world class and something we can be very, very proud of. 4/5
Guy: I didn’t know Empire of the Sun were Australian until I noticed all that kelp on the beach. I quite liked "We Are the People", but this seems to adhere to the pointless third single rule (Madonna's "Get Together" excepted). 3/5
Mike: Utterly sublime. This is a four and half minute trip through the looking glass of electropop. The video makes me want to jump on the next flight to Perth! Exquisite. 5/5
Peter: This is weird, but not bad weird. It’s like U2 meets 80s new wave pop with a modern electro twist. I can see radio eating this up and it deserves to do well. I hope it doesn't get stuck in my head! 3.5/5
Total: 22.5/30


The Prophet said...

Yawn @ this weeks pop panel. Such a snoozefest without me and the rest of the gang.

epic fail & pretentious @ spelling pop "p0p"

also epic fail @ me continually using the "@" symbol

Mike said...

Pull your head in, bitch or you won't be asked back!

My favourite quote this week is Guy's quip about the Coralee Hollow dancers. I almost pissed myself!

Paul said...

epic fail for using epic fail. Surely it's time to retire that phrase by now?!

I did miss doing to the pop panel this week, but had a proper titter at the comments of this weeks contributors :)

tommie said...

Urgh, I'm still completely transfixed by Britt so I haven't been able to focus properly on this weeks pop panel, but I will say this - who ever thought fucking Haywoode would make a comeback?! Fab.

D'luv said...

Haywoode's "Getting Closer" was totally my jam when I discovered it in January '96! This guy from France made me a SAW mix tape and he put that on from his scratchy old 45.

The bass in it is klassic!

D'luv said...

P.S. I know they got a brief passing mention at the intro of this week's panel, but Cut Copy are probably the most-played artists on my iPod in the past year and half. And Jason Donovan.

See? I love Aussies.

Jay said...

You know an act is out of ideas and soiling themselves at the idea of releasing another album (that they know will be a massive stinking FLOP) when they release EVERYTHING as a single...

On an Australian note, I bought the Pendulum Live CD + DVD which at its worst shits over this lot from a great height.

Aaron said...

Thanks for asking me to take part, I really appreciate it and I'm happy to help out whenever you want my help!

Kinda unperturbed with who one, not really a huge surprise - but Epic video!

Anonymous said...

Awe so embarrasing to hear Pete Wilson bag someone as good as Sarah Blasko, whilst it's good to go to shops like Dixons, it's frustrating to sort through so many shelves to constantly come across so many second hand pete wilson singles for 50 cents so when the day comes that he makes something relevant then that's when he has an opinion on sarah...but he can speak when it comes to pure pop...

Robpop said...

The return of Pee Double U Ell!



What a weird batch of songs this lot are. Ultimately I agree with the winning song but theres a lot of crap in there.

In general, i am seeing a certain pattern following the winners of each week whether it be Swedish, Australian or normal.

For the next celebrity member Pop Panel, can we get Dannii Minogue.


John said...

It's all so foreign to me.

Definitely enjoyed this. Are these all new releases, or just recent stuff?

Tommy said...

Good one this week! Great intro to the farther reaches of Aus-pop. Well, farther reaches to me anyway. If it's Aussie, and not Cut Copy, or a Minogue, then it's all rather far-reaching, but I digress.. The Sally Singleton vid is nauseating, but I'm suitably impressed with everything else! Bertie Blackman and Empire of the Sun, especially. Great Single of the Week!

Mike said...

Rob - I like the songs this week with one glaring exception. The top 3 are all excellent. As for Dannii, if things work out next week's guest judge will be even classier than her!

John - It's a bit of a mix. EOTS & Sally Singleton haven't been released yet, Andy Bull & Brecik just hit iTunes this week, while Bertie has probably been out for about a month.

Tommy - Glad you like it. The whole point of this was to introduce some new acts that aren't really "pop trash" but deserve some love. I think I might make an Aus Panel every couple of months or so.

And I agree with everyone, the return of Haywoode is AMAZING!!!

Adem With An E said...

Thank you for asking me to take part, was much fun...