Thursday, August 20, 2009

EliZe - More Than Meets The Eye

When it comes to Europop divas most gays cling to established Scandipop acts like Robyn and Annie, while other lower class individuals worship faux Kylie (ie. Little Boots) and that 29 going on 45 year old Belgian "stunner" Kate Ryan. Personally, I bow down to EliZe when I need a Europop fix. The Dutch Queen of Dance has been an obsession of mine since 2006 when "Automatic" was picked up by Central Station and became an underground pop hit in Australia. I spent a lot of time and money tracking down EliZe's debut album (not to mention the small fortune I dropped on the Japanese re-release) but it was worth every cent. "In Control" ranks alongside "Neon Nights", 'Light Years", "State Of Mind", "Bring Ya To The Brink" and "Sin Miedo" as one of my favourite pop albums of the decade. There's no pretence with EliZe - it's just relentlessly upbeat pure pop, usually accompanied by a sexy video and so bad they're good lyrics. Needless to say, I was extremely excited when the Dutch icon released her sophomore album last month. I finally managed to track it down a couple of weeks ago and haven't stopped playing it since. "More Than Meets The Eye" is another goldmine of cheesy dance anthems and is running neck and neck with Sally Shapiro for my album of the year (albeit for very different reasons). Here is my track by track review of EliZe's latest stunning masterpiece:

Can't You Feel It
"More Than Meets The Eye" kicks off with its misjudged third single, which recently became EliZe's biggest flop in Holland when it stalled at a Dannii-tastic #65. I'm not surprised. "Can't You Feel It" is great fun but it's not singleworthy. The song is a fairly mechanical attempt at recapturing the "Automatic" magic but it comes off sounding like cheaply produced dance trash - not that there's anything wrong with that! The chorus is great but the verses are stilted and it just feels like something is lacking. Like a hook. Think of this as AATW Dannii without her trademark club sample.

Get Up (Do It Now)
Now this is a pure pop trash explosion. "Get Up" represents everything I love about EliZe. The production is total Eurodance cheese and the lyrics are so comfortingly inane that if you close your eyes tightly you could be mistaken for thinking you're back in 1995. EliZe's Hi-NRG beats and repetitive chorus would make her fellow countrymen 2 Unlimited proud!

The album's lead single is something of a grower but it ended up becoming one of my favourite tracks of 2008. I was initially somewhat surprised by the move towards a harder dance sound after the pure pop of "In Control" but it works and gives EliZe a commercial edge that she was previously lacking. As for the song, "Lovesick" is little more than a slick re-working of "Automatic". I love the "Ah ah ah ahs" and the chorus is pretty irresistible. I'm convinced the song could be a radio hit in Australia and the UK. It's every bit as catchy as "Cry For You" but unlike poor September, EliZe doesn't look like a 40 year old housewife. This is top notch pop.

I Can Be A Bitch
Apparently EliZe wrote this song after downing one too many Vodka lime sodas and kicking a guy in a nightclub. Not surprisingly the lyrics are pure gold. Elize warns people to avoid her on "vodka night" before lamenting "I wish you met me at a different hour but you didn't, so go fuck yourself!" For that line alone this trashtastic chav anthem deserves be a worldwide #1 smash! "I Can Be A Bitch" is the album's first taste of Elize trying out a more American pop sound and she almost pulls it off. This is currently my favourite guilty pleasure and was just released in the Netherlands as the album's 4th single.

Mr Know It All
You just know a song beginning with the line "la la la leave me alone" is going to be fabulous. This is another slightly Americanised pop anthem but it stays true to Elize's Europop roots. "Mr Know It All" has more than a touch of Britney's "Toxic" about it but this canny Cathy Dennis knock off is as charming as it as derivative. "Circus" would have far more bearable with this shiny pop gem on it. A definite highlight.

Hot Stuff
Lord knows I worship the ground Elize walks on but this Donna Summer cover is best described as ill advised and tragifabulous. On the one hand, turning Donna's disco classic into something that sounds like it was shat out by Nicki French is actually something of an achievement, on the other hand, EliZe can do so much better than this trashy Hi-NRG cover. That rubbish can wait until she is inevitably snapped up by Klone records! But what do I know? This became Elize's equal second biggest hit when it rocketed to #11 in Holland. Trash lovers may want to check out the craptacular video below.

Shine Like A Superstar
Latvian diva DJ Ella recently released this song as a single and it's hard not to compare
her version with EliZe's. I like Ella's version but criticised the production as being very 2002 on a recent Pop Panel. Happily, EliZe gets it just right. Her version is less cheesy than Ella's and has a harder dance edge. The chorus is still magic and I love the fact that old school trance elements are starting to creep their way back into popular music. This is one of my favourite songs on the album and think not releasing it as a single is a huge missed opportunity.

Favourite Rebound
This classy anthem begins like a Destiny's Child B-side before switching gears and entering familiar dance territory. I love the divatastic chorus and the quirky production. The vocal is great, EliZe really turns it out. With a bit of tweaking, this could be a huge club hit. "Favourite Rebound" is begging for a hands in the air house remix. Cahill, WAWA or Moto Blanco could work wonders with this gem.

Let's Give Love A Try
After trying her hand at a more American pop sound, EliZe returns to her Europop roots with this ultra cheesy dance anthem. Fans of Scandipop divas like Velvet and Therese will love "Let's Give Love A Try". The slick beats come thick and fast, while the chorus is corny enough for a Romanian Eurovision entry. This is perhaps a bit too sickly sweet for me but EliZe delivers another cracking vocal. She doesn't get a lot of credit for her powerful pipes but I think EliZe has one of the most versatile voices in pop.

So Funkable
"He said Señorita, you look like the Mona Lisa" is one of the classiest lyrics I've heard in a long time and that's just one of the many unintentionally hilarious lines on this remarkable anthem. "So Funkable" is possibly the trashiest thing I've heard all year. EliZe's urban makeover is about as convincing as Diana Ross's "Workin' Overtime" album but I love every second of it. Rihanna needs to fuck off. Bitch has nuthin' on the Dutch queen of dance!

Hook You Up
"Hook You Up" is probably my favourite song on the album. EliZe has delivered a pop track of the highest calibre with this gem. I'm not sure if it samples ABBA or just ruthlessly rips off "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)" - not that it matters. The unexpected ABBA flavour helps make "Hook You Up" one of the best pop songs of 2009. It's a hook laden triumph with a glistening chorus and splashes of 90s piano. I have no idea why this wasn't released as a single. If Kylie covered it, she would be celebrating a #1 smash.

First Class Liar
It's a shame that such a strong album ends with one of its weakest tracks. "First Class Liar" is a bit of a throwback to EliZe's 2006 hit "No Latino" with its Latin beats and sassy brass. Unfortunately, it's not a patch on that trash classic but the track is still a lot of fun. This is probably the kind of shit J Lo would be doing now if she tried to revive her early noughties sound.


Automatic (Acoustic Version)
I'm usually not a big fan of acoustic versions of dance songs but this rendition of EliZe's biggest hit is excellent. They have transformed "Automatic" into the kind of earthy torch song that Shirley Bassey normally belts out. It really showcases EliZe's voice and works surprisingly well.

Shake (Radio Edit)
This was probably my least favourite single from "In Control" but it's still a great pop song and serves as a potent reminder of how strong that album was. The heavy synths are still current and the chorus is undeniably catchy. However, I'd still wish they included the ridiculously camp "Itsy Bitsy Spider" instead.

Automatic (Radio Edit)
This is the song that introduced me to the stunning genius of EliZe and I still think it ranks as one of the best pop songs of the decade. If you look past the hilarious "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" rip off video, you're left with a crisply produced pure pop gem with an explosive chorus that grabs you by the balls from the first listen. A modern classic.

No Latino (Radio Edit)
Don't be fooled by the title, this isn't a Cheryl Cole penned right wing anti-immigration anthem but a fabulously cheerful J Lo rip off. As much as I adore "Automatic", this is my favourite EliZe single. I love the cheesy lyrics and the fact that she's referring to herself as "no Latino" (a male) instead of "no Latina" (a woman)! This is as cute as a button and well worth another listen.


Unfortunately there are no plans to release "More Than Meets The Eye" in Australia (that I know of) and the album is yet to grace iTunes with its presence. It took a year for "In Control" to be released internationally, so don't give up hope just yet.


undisco_me said...

Oh Mike, I'm so glad you've gone back to your roots.

The cock-drunk Automatic is the only song I really know and it still blows me away, like a bunsen burner fuelled by I Begin To Wonder and Desire - it's one of my treadmill songs. The 'so it's okay' melody always reminds me of Mouse T's Horny for some reason.

I need to hunt this down.

tommie said...

I'll have to give this a proper listen soon, but I love I Can Be A Bitch and So Funkable - they're just so classy I feel ashamed for being such a non-whore!

D'luv said...

You are a true maestro, and I hope ElizE gives you a proper handjob after this stunning essay.

Talia said...

I don't think I've ever heard her, but now shall. That top photo is so stunning.

Jeroen said...

I love your expertise on my fellow Dutch girl, Mike. I still only know her Tietenlied (Tits Song), as do most people over here in Holland. I'll try to find her first album in the bargain bins.

Jay said...

I think its best if I don't comment on this one...

John said...

Lovesick is good, but Hot Stuff sounds like she's singing phonetically.

Nasty G said...

Love her! A much deserved post. But lordy, how Shine Like A Superstar is making the rounds! For another version, download the Ultrasonics album here and compare:

D.P.F. said...

Great to read this review and its a good one! You made me laugh with ur trashtastic comments LOL
LOL@ September, <--- she is amazing though
Shine like a superstar would be a good choice i agree but i fear they wont choose it. D*mn. EliZe deserves all the success. Love Ella's version too :) Hook you up would be an awesome singlechoice aswell but it sounds kinda summerish imo so dont think they'll go for that one.

Thanks :-)

Mike said...

Wow "Shine Like A Superstar" has been been around the block more times than a $10 hooker! I still think EliZe should try to cut Ella's grass and release it as a single. Thanks for the link.

I think "Hook You Up" is the other obvious single choice. If EliZe can't be bothered, then some other trashy diva should definitely steal it!

BruDé said...

Oh Mike, What my iPod would do without you !!!!! This is very very good !

Nasty G said...

Good Lord, yet ANOTHER version of Shine Like A Superstar, on Tata Young's new album! I've uploaded the track for you...