D'Luv (US) writer of Chart Rigger
Mike author of this classy blog.
Pablo (Spain) writer of Peibols
Paul (UK) writer of Fizzy Pop
Rob (UK) writer of Don't Stop The Pop
The Prophet (AUS) writer of The Prophet
In addition to those hacks, we are joined by a fabulous celebrity guest judge in the form of Alan Connor, who is burning up the UK club chart with his summer smash "I Love The Sunshine". Over the years Alan has carved out his own little niche in the Hi-NRG dance world with hits like "Let Your Love Flow" and "Dance Away" and is currently promoting the impending release of his second album "Something Going On" on the 3rd of August. Alan was kind enough to answer some questions before getting on with the voting.
Alan, "I Love The Sunshine" has been huge in clubs and even gained support from Tiesto. How did the song come about?
"I Love The Sunshine" came about after I recorded "Let Your Love Flow". We had been shopping that track around Europe looking for partners to help promote it internationally and Deep Melange, a German production team, were very interested. They did some mixes for Germany and the track went out as Mike Melange featuring Alan Connor. They sent me this easy listening type demo called "I Love The Sunshine" which I thought had potential, so I went into the studio, changed the chord structure and added some guitars and it made the song. Beltek in Slovenia then did a mix of it which is when Tiesto picked it up and we decided then to go with it as a single. It's very different from what I have done before but it's found its own audience and introduced a lot of new people to my music.
You've really found a niche with your Hi-NRG dance/pop sound. Have you always been a fan of the genre?
I grew up in the 80s when Hi-NRG was the dominant form of chart music, thanks largely to PWL. A lot of my favourite artists were from that era - Bananarama, Dead Or Alive, Kylie, Hazell Dean, Sam Fox and Lonnie Gordon, who I got to work with. So many great records. I think I was lucky when I teamed up with 7th Heaven because they understood that sound, but were able to put a fresh spin on it as well.
Your second album is about to drop. Tell us about it. Will it feature all your club hits?
The new album is out early August and it's called "Something Going On", which is the last track I wrote for the album. I'm a big fan of Xenomania and I'd been listening to Girls Aloud "The Loving Kind" a lot, so it is my stab at writing something along those lines. It is probably my favourite track on the album. The whole record, bar two songs, is mixed or produced by 7th Heaven, and all of the hits are there - "Let Your Love Flow", "Now The Rain Has Gone", "Walking Away" and "Dance Away" as well as the current single, and the next one, "Sun Went Down". There are a couple more cover versions on there, including The Pet Shop Boys "Heart", complete with brass section, and a great version of Human Leagues' "Love Action" which I had a ball recording.
I think the key thing about the album though is that we didn't rush it. We picked the best songs we could for it so there really isn't any filler there. What you have is a collection of songs that all knit together well, but each one has it's own character, so it makes for a very stimulating dance pop record I think. We're releasing it on CD and download. I still like to have a nice shiny CD wherever possible! The digital version though has a couple of bonus 12" mixes, notably "Walking Away" which seems to have been very popular with Hi-NRG fans, because it really does sound like old skool PWL. There's also a commentary which is exclusive to iTunes. The CD is now available to order at play.com, Amazon UK and HMV among others.
Alan's latest top 10 club smash "I Love The Sunshine"As usual, the songs are listed from least to most popular. Here they are:
Barb@zul - Siente El Orgullo (Video)
Spanish bear band release the theme song for this year's Barcelona Pride.
Alan Connor: Interesting. This is a song you just have to take for what it is. It has a really good Hi-NRG production and nice melody. Very 80s. Also reminds me a bit The Killers “Human”, which is my favourite record of the year so far. I don’t think it would do anything outside of the gay clubs but for its target market it’s a really great track. I am sure the video will be showing in every gay bar in Barcelona this summer until the laser burns through the disc! 4/5
D'Luv: Computer says no. 0/5
Mike: These guys are like Bearforce - only sexy and talented! The song is catchy, uplifting and loads of fun. I love the video and the bad dance routine. Can someone please tell me where I can download this fabulous shit? 4/5
Pablo: Aren't there any other Spanish singles? 0/5
Paul: Now normally I quite like bear bands. There was that Bearforce one who did quite a decent (read: horrific but enjoyable) Christmas number. And oh my, but I really quite like this. I do like a nice uplifting number and the gaytastic video only sweetens the deal. I think when I'm older and hairier I will become a bear and start a band. 3.5/5
Rob: Er....have they ripped off The Killers?!?!?! I think they have! Law suit, law suit! Putting aside the complete and utter clear issue of plagiarism this is a great little pop song for a nice cause. Well done boys but try and be a bit more original next year. 1.5/5
The Prophet: THE HORROR! MAKE IT STOP! JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL AND STEER ME AWAY FROM THE DEVIL'S GRASP! 0/5
Cassie Davis – Do It Again (Video)
Australia's answer to Pink/Fergie releases her 3rd single.
Alan Connor: This started out as a rock track and I could feel myself zoning out, but then the groove kicks in. Love the clapping. Very nice touch. I think overall this is a song that would need a few listens though. Generally it doesn’t really separate itself enough from other acts like Pink, which probably means it won’t do as well as it would if someone established recorded it. Great voice though and I think she will be around a while. 3/5
D'Luv: This sounds like Katy Perry singing through Natasha Bedinfield's snatch and out her ass. Now, I know what you're all thinking, but that's actually not a good thing. 1/5
Mike: Seriously, is Cassie being styled by Jeanswest? She looks like a secretary from Penrith. As for the song - I don't know what to say. It took two months for "Differently" to click with me, so I might be feeling "Do It Again" come September. However, right now I'd rather see Julie from Masterchef naked than hear this shit ever again. 1.5/5
Pablo: Now I understand why Kylie makes such low cost videos! Cos it's the way Australian people make videos! Saving money! The song rocks. Sounds like really, REALLY angry cheerleaders. 4/5
Paul: I really like some of her imagery, but this song isn't the strongest single that she has done or that should have been released. It's got more of a No Doubt vibe about it - some notes in the chorus really remind of that group. I do like it well enough though and I love her talky verses. 3/5
Rob: The song is really interesting. On that note she has so much potential. The jeans are a flop. In many ways this is the song that Kelly Clarkson should have picked for her comeback. Instead, Cassie D has delightfully nabbed this stomper for her own. I think the video really lets it down. However putting aside the presentation this little ditty is a strong song that deserves to do really well. And, more development from the record company. 3/5
The Prophet: OMG is she on her THIRD single? Are you serious? I'm sure she's probably talented but her songs are terrible, and I still haven't forgiven her for flirting up a storm with my man Travis McCoy. 0.5/5
Kim Petras – Die For You (Video)
16 year old German transsexual releases her debut single.
Alan Connor: Is this the first transsexual pop star since Dana International? Is she REALLY a transsexual? At 16?!! She's very pretty, and making a record at 16 is an achievement, but I don't rate the song at all. She has the look to do well but I don't think this is the song to sell her. 2/5
D'Luv: And here I thought BoA was the only transsexual we were getting to review this week! This ranks up there with some of Heidi Montag's so-shit-it's-class material, and it made me laugh. For that alone: 5/5
Mike: Oh bless her. This is one of the most trashtastic things I've seen in 2009. Kim is ten kinds of fabulous! 4/5
Pablo: Ok, I change my mind. THIS is a really low cost video. I have nothing against trannies, really. Actually Mike is one of them I still talk to him. But this song is really boring. 1/5
Paul: My god, she looks like that skinny druggy one from the OC. Marissa Barton! I can't help but feel that Kim is searching for something and that something would be a tune or at the very least an interesting note. Quite bland and boring. 1/5
Rob: Yikes, this is dreadful. More singing lessons will be a key investment for Kim. 0/5
The Prophet: She's cute for a tranny, I would have never known if you hadn't mentioned it. It's a shame then that she couldn't hold a tune in a bucket but I have a feeling she used her sex change for her own promotional gain in order to start a music career, so I love her for being such trash. 3/5
DJ Ella – Shine Like A Superstar (Below)
Latvian pop star unveils her latest dance anthem.
Alan Connor: I like this. She is gorgeous. Great outfit. At first I thought her boobs were hanging out!! I think this is really hooky and it’s the kind of record I would buy. This is from Latvia? Eastern Europe is producing some great new talent. In fact, thank God for Europe because they’re keeping pop music alive. 4/5
D'Luv: Generic. 1/5
Mike: Ella is absolutely stunning and the song is cute but it's all a bit tired and dated. If this were 2002 I'd probably give "Superstar" 5/5 but it's not, so I'm giving it 2 for the music and 1 for her fabulous hair. 3/5
Pablo: (Almost) every song with "superstar" in its title is worth it. At least for me. Easy and danceable. Quite good. 3/5
Paul: Oh "good" - more generic europop. Weren't Cascada doing this 3 years ago before they invented the Lady Gaga sound and then forgot to release it before her? Still I bemoan generic europop and then find myself singing it for days. It sounds like something StarPilots would sing if they were women. Which they are not. 2.5/5
Rob: I love Ella. The review will consequently be ultra biased. I love what they've done to this track. The album version never deserved to be a single. This version does. I've got a feeling this could have the same capacity to be huge like Agnes' "Release Me". Is it too europop though? Could be. It might stay in her familiar Polish territory. Either way, it's a brilliant tune for the summer set. Give a Cicada remix and you've got a UK hit single. 3/5
The Prophet: Eww! She's almost (but not quite) as bad as Colton Ford. 0/5
Jaydn Maria Ft Flo Rida – Good Girls Like Bad Boys (Video)
Former gospel star turned urban pop diva courtesy of Ne Yo.
Alan Connor: Great song title, and it’s probably another grower. Autotune is back. Yay! Not particularly a track I would be listening to much myself though. 3/5
D'Luv: I kept waiting for the deer to put its head up her woodland ditch in the video. JoJo did this schtick a lot better and more scandalous at a much younger age. 2/5
Mike: Jadyn Maria is like Stacie Orrico on crystal meth, which makes her my kind of diva. I've loved this since it leaked under the title "Villain" in January. Sure, it's a bit formulaic and I could have done without the Flo Rida rap but the chorus is catchy and I love the slutastic video. 4/5
Pablo: Oh, how new! I girl trying to look like Megan Fox with sexy costumes! This song is the least catchy in the panel. 1/5
Paul: Good gravy. This has been done a million times before. The verses that is. The chorus is quite enticing in a dark way. If that magic worked its way throughout the whole song, it would be a lot better. I do like it when religious girls go pop (except Katy Perry of course). 3/5
Rob: Flo Rida kinda gets about doesn't he. Sadly, this is another track that sames like everything else out there at the moment. By itself its not bad but when you consider the fact that songs like this are dime a dozen these days it makes the experience tried, tested and boring. If you wanna do it different look at the singer Kesha (another once-time Flo Rida collaborator) 0/5
The Prophet: I love Jadyn because she was after a music career for years but it never worked out, so she dropped the Christian thing and decided to let the pop industry consume and rape her. She's reminds me of a porn star and I've been bumping this song all year. Shame she's going to hell then isn't it? 4.5/5
BoA – Eat You Up (Video)
I stuffed this up. "Eat You Up" is actually the Korean superstar's last US single. I'll include her new one next week - much to the delight of Paul and Pablo.
Alan Connor: Pretty good track with a catchy chorus. It’s very current. They’ve aimed squarely at what would get picked up on US radio, right down to the autotune. Good luck to her. 3/5
D'Luv: At first I was confused — the long hair threw me and I thought for a minute that this was a girl. Anyway, he's got a great jam with this one. Yay, BoA! 4/5
Mike: This is a good, old fashioned fuck anthem. I just feel like "Eat You Up" should be accompanied by some kind of intercourse. Anyhoo, I love the track and the choreography in the video is amazing. BoA takes on Britney at her own game and wins. In a landslide. 5/5
Pablo: A Korean Girl trying to be Avril Lavigne sounding like Britney circa "Blackout" is quite similar to Fergie dressed like a torero trying to sing sevillanas. Picture that. This is the same. 1/5
Paul: It could be that I'm writing this at 4.03am because Mike will shout at me if I don't get it done today but this song has no merit as far as I can tell. She's a bit monotonous over the same old pop-club beat. I couldn't even get through the whole song! 1/5
Rob: Those Danes do it again. Yes, this sounds a lot like a 2009 hybrid of Robyn's "Keep This Fire Burning" and Brandy's "What About Us" but that's its endearing quality. 3/5
The Prophet: This song is so last year but if I think back correctly I was obsessed with it when they first released it. Her dancing reminds me of an Asian Janet Jackson, and the sexually suggestive lyrics are the icing on the cake. 4/5
Beyoncé – Sweet Dreams (Video)
The most poptastic number on "Sasha Fierce".
Alan Connor: I really like Beyonce. She’s made some great records. This is one of the stronger tracks from her album, and being Beyonce it will do very well. She’s a great singer, and I admire the fact that she doesn’t spoil her records with endless vocal runs just because she can do them. Radio will be all over this track. 3/5
D'Luv: Is it me, or does this sound like La Bouche's "You Won't Forget Me"? While I couldn't give a toss about this overrated ho, the probably-nonexistent tie to that late '90s jam gets it a: 4/5
Mike: Beyoncé creeps into Rihanna's urban dance territory with the skill of a ninja and gives that sad wannabe a worse beat down than Chris Brown in the process. "Sweet Dreams" is amazing - great production, evocative lyrics and a very sexy video. Now can we please have "Radio" or "Smash Into You" as the 27th single from "Sasha Fierce"? 5/5
Pablo: The song is good. I like it, really. But seriously I'm tired of Beyonce + 2 girls dancing. It's enough. 3/5
Paul: God help me but I'm really starting to like Beyonce! Oh my days! I wouldn't say that this is her most poptastic number but I do quite like this and am starting to consider even checking her album out. I thought the chorus was a bit bland at first, but by the end of the song I was singing along "turn the lights off" with the rest of them. 3.5/5
Rob: It's incredibly hard for me to be objective about Beyonce. Only because I find her voice grating. I think she is the worse thing ever to appear on the pop scene since whenever. I am constantly open to Sasha and her other alter egos. I always try to see why she sells so much. Why she wins so many appraisals. But alas I am at a loss. With the random exception of that song she did for Goldmember I can't seem to like this singer and this single doesn't change a thing. Absolutely crap. 0/5
The Prophet: LeToya's sophomore album "Lady Love" is now in stores and her new single "She Ain't Got..." is currently available for purchase on iTunes. 4/5
SINGLE OF THE WEEKBluey Robinson - I Know (below)
Debut single from upcoming British urban pop star Bluey.
Alan Connor: Very eye catching video. It’s probably the best of the videos here. Generally I am not into urban at all but I thought this was very good. He’s a strong, emotive singer with a good range. Chorus is memorable, production is top notch and I particularly like the driving force of the drums. I think he’ll be one to watch for and this I think is my pick of the bunch. A hit. Off to look up who produced this now!!! 5/5
D'Luv: Pretty decent, but the chorus feels lazy. Bluey should have spent more time with a pad and pen and less time on his wig. 3/5
Mike: Credit for this selection has to go to The Prophet. He posted it on his blog a few weeks ago and I've been obsessed with it ever since. It's so warm, uplifting and ruthlessly catchy. One of the better debut singles in recent memory. 5/5
Pablo: What is this? Those clothes? That Little Boots background? That red-haired girl? And this song? 1/5
Paul: Blimey. At first I thought who paid you to put this on the list (OVER PRESTON! Look I can shout too Mr Prophet) but then he wears a bow tie in the video so I thought I'll give it a go... It's quite insiduous in that it does get under your skin the more you hear it. He's got quite a nice voice too so overall j'approve. 3.5/5
Rob: Fuck me! This is brilliantly simple. This has made me change all my other rankings. Its so cute. There are shades of Tyler James in this and I wouldn't be surprised to know that he had a hand in Mr.Robinson's material. A great new act to watch out for. I love it. 5/5
The Prophet: Words cannot describe this, but my score can. 5/5