Sunday, September 06, 2009

Pop Panel - Week 17

After last week's outrageous but thoroughly deserving winner, some semblance of class and dignity has been restored to the Pop Panel - much to my dismay! I don't mind the winner, I just think it's another overhyped blog sensation that will probably stall at #47 in the charts like Frankmusik, MPHO and all the next big things that came before it. The runner up and last place getter are much more to my liking but it's far from the worst winner in Panel history. That honour still belongs to the Norwegian cure for insomnia otherwise known as Annie! Before I introduce the judges I just want to do a little housekeeping and thank the La Toya Experience for inviting me to do a scene by scene review Toy's "Home" video along with the creator of my all time favourite website. What an honour! Ok, back to the business at hand. These regulars are back for more:

D'Luv (US) writer of Chart Rigger
Mike (Aus) author of this classy blog.
Paul (UK) writer of Fizzy Pop
Rob (UK) writer of Don't Stop The Pop
Tommie (Sweden) writer of Donna Martin Graduates

I've been thinking that the Panel could do with a feminine touch and I've managed to con two lovely ladies to join us:

Nikki (The Philippines) writer of Pop Reviews Now
Poster Girl (US) writer of Poster Girl

Nikki's fabulous blog is THE place to visit for quality K Pop appreciation and insightful reviews, while Poster Girl requires no introduction. I think we all know and love her. As usual, the results are ranked from lowest to highest.

Lovestoned - Rising Girl (Video)

Just what the world needs - Swedish reggae!

D'Luv: Swedish reggae is best left to Ace Of Base. 1.5/5
Mike: According to Rob "Rising Girl" is racist, so I guess that makes me the Australian Cheryl Cole because I'm slightly obsessed with this so utterly tragic it's brilliant reggae jam. Seriously, I don't know what's more hilarious - a blond haired, blue eyed boy singing about being from Kingston town or the fact that they're pretending to cruise around the Caribbean with a Swedish flag on their boat. I need an mp3! 5/5
Nikki: I like the guy's voice. Not a big fan of reggae either but this is kinda good. Nothing new, special or ground-breaking but it's competent - there's enough to make you want to listen through the whole song. I honestly think it's the vocals - I'd love to hear him sing Ola-like songs. 3.5/5
Paul: You have got to be fucking kidding me? No one asked for an Aswad tribute band fronted by a white boy with a faux reggae accent. Absolutely dreadful. I rescind my offer of a blowie to you for making me listen to this! 0/5
Poster Girl: I had high hopes for this project- Swedish two girl two boy pop group produced by Bassflow? I expected pure pop heaven, a late '90s throwback, so this slice of '70s reggae-pop has had me too confused to actually figure out what I think of it. The chorus hook is memorable, but that doesn't necessarily mean the song is good...nor does it being different from what I hoped for mean it's bad. I give up. Harmless but pointless, I guess. 2/5
Rob: Wrong. I think it might be a little bit racist too. 0/5
Tommie: This is just all kinds of wrong. Why are they singing about bushmen?! Nej tack. 0/5
Total: 12/35

Lasgo - Lost (Video)

Here's the comeback that no one asked for, or wanted. Except me.

D'Luv: Looks like kinder-hooker charged more leather on Daddy's platinum card and found her way into a studio again. Lucky us. 0/5
Mike: I love Lasgo. Their tacky Eurotrance sound combined with reed thin vocals courtesy of a cheap bleach blond stripper never gets old. Not their finest moment but I like it. 3/5
Nikki: Generic Eurocrap loop throughout - how many times have I heard that used? Vocals are good at most parts and the melody is verging on very good but seriously, whoever thought of using the most unoriginal loop under a great melody should be shot. 2/5
Paul: Oh great, something that will make all the chavs in Mykonos throw themselves drunkenly around the room with their arms in the air, burberry underwear on show. Dream come true. 1/5
Poster Girl: Short of Kate Ryan and Milk Inc.'s "Run," Belgian Eurodance rarely leaves much of an impression on me. "Lost" is no exception, though I'd welcome hearing its spiky synths with the voice of another singer. The cover for the single before this one was fantastic, though. 2/5
Rob: Where Sil fails Lasgo succeeds! This is how to do this sort of pop! Well done Lasgo. 3/5
Tommie: Before I listened to this I wanted to write "Lasgo - get Lost" as an easy way out to actually sitting down and actually listening to the track, but this is the type of Wigan Pier dance trash that I sadly love. 3/5
Total: 14/35

Sil - Love Don't Come Easy (Video)

This delicate flower is hoping to kick Kate Ryan to the curb as Belgium's leading dance diva.

D'Luv: I haven't heard a 47-year-old stripper with a voice this thin since Madonna's first album. 1/5
Mike: I think Sil recorded this on her trusty Commodore 64 before shooting the video on her mobile phone and whipping up the cover in Microsoft Paint. Basically, she's a diva after my own heart and I can't wait to hear her next stunning anthem! 4/5
Nikki: Annoying and boring vocals about 80% of the time, to be frank. Representative Eurocrap but it's not horrid or anything - there's just nothing to make me jump out of my seat. 2/5
Paul: Why must you torture me with these cheap broads who make videos that look like a promo for Secret Diary Of A Call Girl and then warble at me with their whisper thin vocals? Still I'm a sucker for Eurotrash like this, and it is quite catchy. And actually I never underestimate love so I feel she's speaking directly at me. 3/5
Poster Girl: Forgettable, sad Eurodance. There are some moments with interesting potential, but Sil doesn't sell any of them and the producers don't really play any of them up. Could co-writers Jewels & Stone please reclaim the song, produce it themselves, and give it to another singer? Failing that, just listen to the Cicada version instead. 1.5/5
Rob: Wow. This is boring. I am trying to find a catchy chorus in here. But it's deplete of anything of the sort. Its lacking on so many levels. I was seriously hoping all the tension in the verses would build into an amazing trancetastic chorus. Much like Trinity X's glorious "Forever". Sadly this refuses to give me what I want. 0/5
Tommie: Finally, some trash goodness! Looks like an attractive version of that Cascada chick and has the beat to match. Easily a win! 5/5
Total: 16.5/35

Jessica Mauboy - Up/Down (Below)

The 5th single from Jessica's hugely successful debut album.

D'Luv: Sounds like a Sugababes Z-side. And this broad looks like a cheap hooker who got smacked a few times with a brick. Thank goodness for fake tits. 0/5
Mike: This should be another easy top 10 hit for Jess. There are better songs on "Been Waiting" ("To The Floor" and "Let Me Be Me" come to mind) but "Up/Down" is a club banger of the highest calibre. Jessica is really working this sound as well as anyone in pop at the moment and she looks beautiful in the video. 4/5
Nikki: I love the girl, I truly do and her recent single choices have been great ("Been Waiting" was like the most brilliant thing since ever) so although I think this song's not bad, the melody's somewhat catchy and the instrumental is really percussion-based, I don't think it's an appropriate single choice. There are stronger songs on the album. The formulaic and often times effective strategy is to choose one of the ballads but this isn't THAT bad, really. 4/5
Paul: What an innovative, out there, creative, original slice of brilliance. Oh wait, no it's just Jessica. Still there's something quite decent about it isn't there in a Disney channel princess pop star sort of way. 2.5/5
Poster Girl: I've remained so generally unmoved by Jessica's second album, which seems to be pretty popular in Internet pop world. "Up/Down" is contemporary up-tempo urban pop that should appeal to me, but I've forgotten it after each play. Fine but forgettable, and I can't figure out why. 2.5/5
Rob: I have this album & I love it but I think this a slight misfire. The styling and presentation of the video is all over the place and entrenched with things we've seen all before. Liberty X did this sort of stuff a few years ago. 0/5
Tommie: Let's see - an Australian that looks like Queen Kat DeLuna's bastard sister and has an embarrassing faux-American sound? Yes, please from me! 4/5
Total: 17/35

Basement Jaxx ft. Sam Sparro - Feelings Gone (Video)

Floptastic Australian gayer joins forces with legendary UK dance outfit for this collaboration.

D'Luv: Maybe it's the cheesy-poptasticness of the song, or maybe it's Sam's new blonde hair—but this reminds me of an old-school Erasure song. And that's never a bad thing. 3/5
Mike: A disjointed mess. There are moments when I think it's all going to fall into place but it never quite clicks. I guess that's the price Basement Jaxx has to pay for slumming it with Sam Sparro. 2/5
Nikki: It's uh, very.. how do I say this nicely? The arrangement sounds like it's straight out of the 80s. Not meaning to generalize or anything but I generally (personally) don't lean towards that period of music and it just so happens that the arrangement carries the whole song. The melody's not that bad though - stick it onto a funk/old school R&B arrangement and I'd somewhat adore it. 2/5
Paul: I know I should be judging the song, but I can't get past the fact that Sam is now blonde and actually looks very enticing. I had to go relieve some tension before I could review the song, which is actually quite good isn't it? I guess the 90s is the new 80s in terms of music sound pillaging. Works for me. 3.5/5
Poster Girl: I can't stir up the emotion to get actively upset about it, but the end result of this good-in-theory collaboration is just so...uneventful. 1.5/5
Rob: I love clunky electro pop music. Takes me back to 1990 and walking down the Gay Pride marches with my mum. For sure, this is complicated but I love it. Messy pop songs are wonderful even if they don't quite "fit" or are at all fashionable. This is brilliantly euphoric. 4/5
Tommie: I love Basement Jaxx and I might be Sam Sparro's only remaining fan, but this really isn't that good is it? Average at best and both need a real banger to kick them back into relevancy. 2.5/5
Total: 18.5/35

Backstreet Boys - Straight Through My Heart (Video)

90s has-beens return with a RedOne produced jam.

D'Luv: YES. The most exciting these guys have been since their 2000 single, "Shape Of My Heart." This is the kind of shit I'll play 50 times on my iPod in a row. And love how they've swapped out Max Martin for RedOne. Viva la Sweden. 5/5
Mike: You can almost smell the desperation on these middle-aged cunts. In all fairness, this is a semi-convincing attempt at regaining some relevance but it lacks an edge that the Backstreet Boys never had to begin with. I'm giving it an extra point for the glamorous vampire who mercifully diverts attention from the less than attractive band members in the video. 3/5
Nikki: Hands-down one of the best pop songs of 2009. I've said this before - it's like they took a late 90s/early 2000s melody and slapped it onto a 2009 arrangement + instrumental. GENIUS. Enough said, really. 5/5
Paul: What is not to love about the backstreet boys? Sure they go a bit mopey maudlin and Westlife at times, but like Westlife they a) keep coming back and b) still have one member you could quite easily go for a quick bounce all around bounce with. Love this song, think it's a great blend of what they used to do and what is more current. 4/5
Poster Girl: It's less exciting than I wanted the lead single from the album that is probably the boys' last chance at any small degree of crossover modern success to be, but even if "Straight Through My Heart" is the Euro synth-coated version of MOR, 9 times out of 10 I'm going to side with this style of production over the drudgy sound of much of their last two albums. Of course, by the end of the year I'll probably think it's fantastic. 3/5
Rob: Perhaps the most boring boyband after Westlife return. With this they've done something incredibly magical: they've made RedOne sound really tepid. Give the song to JLS I am sure they'd sparkle with this tune. The boys have absolutely no emotion singing this. Its like they're reading out the bus timetable. So, I don't blame the song or RedOne. Rather, the boys themselves. 2/5
Tommie: RedOne - please go home! I'll even pay for the cab ride. 2/5
Total: 24/35

Sneaky Sound System - It's Not My Problem (Video)

A recent #1 UK club hit from one of Australia's most successful electro/dance groups.

D'Luv: Pleasant. Is that the black trannie from The Crying Game singing? 3/5
Mike: I prefer the more subtle album version but the single edit is still brilliant. Miss Connie's voice was made for this kind of bittersweet dance anthem and the juxtaposotition of acoustic guitar against the slick electro beats is beautiful. Another great track from a sorely underrated album. 5/5
Nikki: The instrumental is clearly Eurotrash (Eurocrap, as I call it) but I do like the song to a certain extent. The girl's voice isn't something you'd expect on a techno-ish song and the chorus is surprisingly not THAT techno - I like the contrast. Over-all, not that bad but not something I'd faint and/or walk through fire for. 4/5
Paul: Absolutely adore this. Wasn't expecting to, as the title sounds like a Salt n Pepa demo from 1993. This is a great indie-dance classic though with a really memorable hook and a brilliant vocal delivery. Amazing. 4.5/5
Poster Girl: Gorgeous - the best sort of acoustic-guitar-strums-meet-lush-electro production, and Miss Connie's voice is perfect for it. There could be an entire site dedicated to indie-and-pop-fan-approved brilliant Australian electro-pop, with this song as the centerpiece. 5/5
Rob: This isn't as good as it should bebut a lovely song. 3/5
Tommie: I'm still not head-over-heels with triple S, but this is nice enough. 3/5
Total: 27.5/35


Sound Of Arrows - Into The Clouds (Video)

Another of the 10,000 or so Swedish bands currently trying to crack the UK.

D'Luv: Absolutely perfect pop, from the melody to the chorus to the video. Sure, it sounds like MGMT meets early '90s Madchester rave, with Brett Anderson's early Suede haircut thrown on the lead singer to boot—but who cares, when it's this good? 5/5
Mike: Pretentious name? Check. Style over substance? Yep. Tainted by the curse of Flop Justice? Uh huh. I guess it's official - the poor man's Empire Of The Sun are the next big thing. Fortunately, I'm too busy listening to Sil to care. 3/5
Nikki: Not my type of voice but hey, the start of the song has potential. I hate the flute or whatever that is though - it's the wrong kind of contrast. The rest of the song is boring and the guy sounds like he's about to drop any second now - not even a hint of emotion. 1.5/5
Paul: How totally magnificent is this? Everything about this song works for me on every single level. It's dreamy, catchy, beautifully put together and remains floating in my conscious for hours after I have last heard it. So Mike, you will be absolutely thrilled to know I am giving it 5/5.
Poster Girl: They're a few years too late to arrive in the midst of the Swedish male duo electro-pop explosion, but Sound of Arrows would have stuck out as something special even in the midst of that. "Into The Clouds" is joyous, cosmic, and über sweet but so brilliantly (and electronically) produced that it sidesteps twee. You know how Little Boots started out with unicorns in space imagery? "Into The Clouds" sounds like those pictures looked. 5/5
Rob: Awww, I love this. Everything about this is beautiful. How do you create a flawless track? Listen to this. Video is perfect which is just the icing on the vanilla pie. I prefer "M.a.g.i.c" but this will be tide me over until the album comes out. Kylie should be working with the Arrows on XI. Match made in heaven methinks! 5/5
Tommie: I really like this, even if they won't go anywhere in the charts like most male Swedish bands with an 80s sound (hello Bobby, Universal Poplab, Kamera, Similou... - need I go on?). 4/5
Total: 28.5/35


Nikki said...

ME? 'insightful reviews'? I doubt it.

Am I really the only one who doesn't like the Sound of Arrows single? UGH. hahah.

Craig said...

That sound of arrows song is ok but Heidi was so much better!

And why the jessica hate? She's fabulous!!!

T. said...

Thanks for makin me discover the sounds of Arrow: i really enjoy it! may be because i'm also a MGMT & Animal Collective yet?!

Tony Tornado said...

My love this week goes to: Sil (I was lliving in Belgium, remeber? I love ths shit), Jessica, Sam Sparro (I love him. Full Stop) and obviously my new number ones when I mix: The Sound Of Arrows!!!!

They're FA-BU-LOUS!

D'luv said...

Sorry, Mike, but you've been vetoed with Sound Of Arrows. They'll squash the trash-love right out of you!!

So great to have Nikki and Poster Girl on board this week, too! I think the panel could use the feminine touch of these two hookers more often!

The Prophet said...

Not a fan of this weeks song selection

Mike said...

Don't lie, Prophet. You're probably playing Sil on repeat!

I'm with Nikki. I think Sound Of Arrows is crazily overrated. Sure, the video's pretty and the song is nice enough but it's nothing new.

Chicago_Sexbox said...

The Lasgo song is indeed quite dreadful. Even though the former singer was 10 times as tone deaf, their older tunes had some charm this song is lacking. And I think Kate Ryan is safe for now. What is the point of Sil's song? Is she trying to go solo? Sylver's music had been consistently good over the years. This track is like a watered down, shitty Sylver reject track.

Paul said...

Finally something I gave 5 to comes on top!! Hurrah! Although that probably means you are Pop Class Addict for a week but i'm sure the status quo will be resumed soon. Cheryl Cole's single on next week's panel (complete with brillo homemade sleeve?!)

Robpop said...

I Love this!!! Love love love love the winner this week.

will said...

how could they ruin "feelings gone" with such an atrosh video?!?

Ken said...

I'm jealous (Nikki) LOL.

BSB's new single is ace. I love it but I never got the chance to "LIKE" it as much as I like other RedOne productions.

Single of the Week is phenom. I love everything about it.

SNEAKY SOUND SYSTEM: ok but not as impressed with other tracks.

JM: As much as I like JM's other singles, This one is a bore. I think she should've released Used 2 Be or better yet a new track that nobody hasn't known of.

as much as I'd want to like some of the songs here, the Eurodance tracks are all boring (Sil, Lasgo)


Camera Shy said...

I have always loved the Backstreet Boys even though they are pretty naff. . Everybody (Backstreet's Back) and Larger than Life were amazing.

Straight through the heart is so cheesy and predictable like a lot of their stuff but I still love it, and the obligatory Red One production does freshen up their sound nicely.

Jump! said...

Oh Mike, I have to wonder bout the pop panel when the sound of arrows wins single if the week. This is one group of swedes who needs to stop snorting pixie stix while watching "the neverending story" on repeat. Dull, sad and tragic and not for the right reasons.

markjnr said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike said...

Jump - Good to see you!

And you're preaching to the converted. I think SOA is a massive wank. Sil was robbed!

Nasty G said...

Mike, once again I agree with you on almost every song! I LOVE Sneaky Sound System and we were lucky enough to get them here live recently (but I do think Jessica M is overrated. Look to American Idol reject Jasmine Trias and it's basically the same person). I do have to disagree with Chicago_Sexbox, though, I'm afraid. Sylver's music is consistently bad, and finally the girl has released something that doesn't sound like the last 100 Sylver tracks. She has done a few other solo things. She is getting a bit old for this, though.

Bruce said...

Mike! The pleasure was all MINE!

You and LaToyaExperience are fantastic silent collaborators and it delights me to see you both carry the Universal Love of La Toya to new heights!

Wicked Love,

rcLoy said...

Sound Of Arrows PLUS BSB in the same week? BEST POP PANEL WEEK EVER!
Both songs are MASTER piece. =)

Aaron said...

Great to hear Nikki and Poster Girl are on board!

I think To The Floor will be a great follow-up to Up/Down and I love the track!

Great BSB stuff and the Sneaky Sound System track is just pure brilliance - Video is beautiful too!