D'Luv (US) writer of Chart Rigger
Mike (Aus) author of this classy blog.
Paul (UK) writer of Fizzy Pop
Poster Girl (US) writer of Poster Girl
Rob (UK) writer of Don't Stop The Pop
Unfortunately Tommie was too drunk to take part this week but I've been lucky enough to snag a fabulous celebrity guest judge to take his place. Marc Massive is perhaps best known as the lead singer of UK electro/NRG band Massive Ego but he's become an cult icon in his own right due to his constantly evolving image and outrageous videos. Marc has also modelled for the likes of Dolce & Gabbana and worked as a backing dancer for Boy George. Basically, he's a true pop trash icon and I thought I'd ask him a few questions about Massive Ego's new single and his celebrity connections before getting on with the voting:
Your band's new single "Master & Servant" was reviewed by the Pop Panel last week and drew some rather unkind comments. D'Luv likened you to "Pete Burns' slumped over carcass", while Tommie felt "aurally raped". How do you respond?
We received a worse battering on the Depeche Mode forum where they were all set to burn effigies of us and stick pins into voodoo dolls. The Pop Panel was a walk in the park in comparison! The Pete Burns reference is always going to happen, visually I wouldn't say we're alike, but perhaps my voice has his tone and I wear make-up. He's a mate of mine anyway, in the early days of Massive Ego they (Dead Or Alive) were kind enough to lend us their electric drum kit for a show at Heaven and Pete approved of our cover of "My Heart Goes Bang". He's definitely been an inspiration over the years.
"Master & Servant" has a strong fetish theme. Are you heavily into that scene?
I do own a pair of chaps, although I've never worn them in the traditional manner of everything hanging loose! It's never been a scene I've got into personally, but have worked in some fairly seedy places in my time including a few happy years stint as a coat check girl in an infamous London 'yellow hanky' club so I'm not easily offended or shocked. The whole S&M dress up thing is just like another form of drag really but minus the wigs and make-up. Covering "Master & Servant" and the B-side "Sex Drive" just fitted with the overtly sexual imagery attached to the single. The single sleeve design actually had a big cock featured on it until the label had a re-think!
It's hard enough being a gay pop star but being an openly gay alternative cult pop star is something of a feat. Did you find it difficult to find your niche?
I suppose coming out of the London gay club scene, in particular the more dress up clubs of old like 'Kinky Gerlinky', 'The Daisy Chain' and 'Pyramid', that's where I learnt who I was and got my first breaks. I like dressing up too much to try and hide being gay and nor would I want to. The "cult" aspect of the band I suppose comes out of the fact that we look the way we do, and when on the rare occasion we do a live gig it's more of a performance rather than just turning up in jeans & t-shirt with a backing track. I think our next album will surprise a lot of people who just put us in the "covers band" bracket. We have covered a lot of tracks in the past but we also write and record our own material which unfortunately has tended to take a back seat in the past due to the nature of the labels we have been signed to. I'm excited now about working with Dance Street/ZYX in Germany as they seem keen to hear everything we do rather than just covers.
Is it true you worked as one of Boy George's backing dancers in the 90s? Did you have to sit on his casting couch?
No I don't think I was ever his cup of tea in those days, as I wore nearly as much make-up as he did and that's not a turn on for either of us. It was a great character building period working with him and I got to do some amazing gigs. It also gave me the drive, desire and inspiration to do my own band and music so I've got a lot to thank him for.
Which mainstream pop stars float your boat?
I've always been a major Duranie (much to George's amusement at the time) they are the perfect pop group. And anybody that knows me knows my unhealthy Nick Rhodes obsession. I've really got into Patrick Wolf since his recent "Vulture" track and of all the new breed of artists he's probably one of the most talented and creative I've seen. I'm also really proud of Dan Black, who's becoming quite a name to watch here in the UK and who was originally a member of Massive Ego in the late 90s when we had guitarists and were an indie pop band. I like pop stars to act like pop stars and be slightly removed from reality, have a mystique about them and be untouchable, something that all these X Factor reality types just don't have in my view. They are just churning them out now all pre-packaged with a barcode stuck to their heads only to be dropped after one album, so what's the point in even becoming a fan or starting to collect merchandise for these artists? Although we've never crossed over to mass market appeal, or become a household name, I'm still releasing CDs, making videos and doing the odd show 10 years later - granted not as prolifically as I'd like but least it is still on my terms.
The Double A side single "Master & Servant/Sex Drive" is released in October on German label Dance Street and will be available to download from all the usual sites. Make sure you check out the fabulous "Master & Servant" video below:
As usual the songs are ranked from least to most popular.
Jordin Sparks - SOS (Video)
American Idol flop explores a new dance sound.
D'Luv: See, now I'm conflicted. Jordin seems really sweet, but this boring trash makes me want to kick her in the pussy. 2/5
Marc Massive: I don't think that works at all. It's neither one song nor the other. She should have taken a leaf out of the Sugababes/ Richard X "Freak Like Me" book and maybe not relied on such a big chunk of "Let The Music Play" to fill out her own rather bland song. Didn't flick my switch I'm afraid. 1/5
Mike: It's a crime to blend a true 80s classic into something this dull and generic. Someone needs to do us all a favour and pull the plug on Jordin's career once and for all. 1/5
Paul: Como se nota la inspiración del "SOS"/"Disturbia" de Rihanna. Is it Rihanna tribute week or what?! I mean I like this, but it's generic dance pop and I think Jordin can do so much better. She even took the by the numbers "Battlefield" and made it something quite delightful. Very disappointed in this. 2/5
Poster Girl: I really expected this to be a J.R. Rotem track: sample - '80s sample, no less - put into a modern dance-pop beat. It isn't, though, and maybe that's something we should be thankful for: far surpassing his recent output, it might just be one of the best mainstream-geared, pure fun dance-pop single we Americans have had a female singer deliver to us since Rotem's own similarly-titled song for Rihanna. 5/5
Rob: Written by 6 people and produced the mighty Cutfather of Denmark. Is it any good? Yeah, it's pretty epic and it totally knows it is. 4/5
Beyoncé - Broken Hearted Girl (Video)
The 7th (!) single from "Sasha Fierce".
D'Luv: You know it's hopeless when your song is so boring, Jordin Sparks seems avant garde by comparison. 1/5
Marc Massive: Now strike me down with lightning, but I don't own a single Beyonce record and can't see me ever doing so to be honest, it's just not my kind of music. This track washed over me much like the waves in the video. Yeah she can sing, yeah she's stunning... but the passion for this kind of R'n'B ballad slush just isn't there for me. 1.5/5
Mike: All the Beyoncé haters to the left, to the left. There are much better songs on the album ("Disappear", "Hello" and "That's Why You're Beautiful" come to mind) but this is still rather lovely. 4/5
Paul: 7 singles! Who is she? Janet Jackson? See her wipe away the tears at the beginning?! Amazing acting. This is one of the best videos of all time! The song is ok too... 3/5
Poster Girl: With a couple of exceptions, I count Beyoncé's voice as a negative on my pro/con lists for her songs, so it's telling that here it's one of the least objectionable parts of a song I'll forget moments after it's over. Of course, I still might like it more if someone else sang it. Has "Scared Of Lonely" been a single yet? Sounds like a demo, but sounds better than this. 1/5
Rob: As with every B song that appears on the Pop Panel, I come at it with very biased opinions. I can't stand her voice. She simply grates on me. So, she has a mountain to climb. How does she do with this? Very well. It seems all that over the top mess I am used to with her music has been put to one side and the beautiful simplicity of the song shines through making this one of Beyonce's greatest songs of her career. It's not a screamer. It's more subtle than that which is the key to its success. 5/5
Whitney Houston - I Look To You (Video)
One of the dual lead singles from Whitney's comeback album.
D'Luv: Yeah, honey. And I'm lookin' the other way. 1/5
Marc Massive: No budget video, minimal production... no need for all that razzmatazz it's Whitney bloody Houston darling... the diva, the voice, the legend. For all the comments about her voice not being what it was I still think this lady has what her countless wannabe imitators can only dream of, and that's star quality in abundance and I for one am glad she's made it through the troubled years that she's singing about and regained her rightful crown. This is a lighter out, swaying from side to side, feel good, glad to be alive, power ballad which The X-Factor TV producers would kill for as the winner's track, and that I can imagine is being turned into an Almighty Records dance cover as we speak. 4/5
Mike: Timeless and beautiful. It's far from the best track on the album but I think the message is fitting, her voice sounds great and the production is understated and elegant. 4/5
Paul: Ah whitters. How many first singles is she going to have from this album?! Again this is one of her uplifting ballads and jolly nice it is too. I for one am glad Whitney is back, find her quite lovely all over again and am now eagerly anticipating her doing a storming dance routine for the video of "A Song For You" (which will officially be a crime if not released as a single). 3.5/5
Poster Girl: Whitney's comeback album has some great songs on it... but this isn't one of them. You can see where this song would be a crowd-pleaser live, but in studio, there's no magic, just a striving-to-be-adequate ballad. 1.5/5
Rob: I know Whitney can produce much better than this. A nice ballad that the likes of Leona and Mariah would consider having as a b-side. 3/5
Jose Galisteo - Logicamente No (Video)
Sexy Spaniard and sometime gayer unveils his latest single.
D'Luv: Is anyone really this gay, you ask. Why, yes — Jose Galisteo! 3/5
Marc Massive: Yeah...I love a bit of Europop. This translates as "Logically No" but surely it would have been more logical for Jose to be cavorting around with another Enrique/Ricky look-a-like in the video, not a blonde babe or is that just wishful thinking on my behalf? I like this, it sticks to a tried and tested formula, does what it says on the tin, and doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a great little Euro-pop song. 3.5/5
Mike: I loved Jose's trashy debut album but it's nice to see him try something a bit different - ie. not destroy an 80s classic. "Logicamente No" is pretty forgettable but hopefully he has more up his super gay sleeve. 3/5
Paul: Como se nota la inspiración del "Don't Stop The Music" de Rihanna (which is about as Spanish as I can manage). I'm surprised by how much I like this considering it's ye olde Eurotrash I've heard a million times before. I can only put it down to the fact that I'm off to Gran Canaria in a few weeks so bound to here this in Bar Tubos, and also I'm shallow and I think Jose looks quite fine in the video. 3.5/5
Poster Girl: Spain's dance cover-prone former Operación Triunfo contestant returns with original material which I've seen drawing more than a few comparisons to Rihanna's "Don't Stop The Music." If that beat is similar, though, the catchy (well, mainly catchy in the two lines that give the song its title, but I get those two lines stuck in my head more than I expected) vocal melody is different enough that I can enjoy the song on its own. 3.5/5.
Rob: I am a huge fan of Jose and have been waiting for his much delayed album for yonks. However this chunky clunky slice of europop is pretty awful. The video is perhaps the worst video of the year. Very disappointing. I thought his album was going to be an automatic purchase for me but with this I am not so sure. 1/5
María José - No Soy Una Señora (Above)
A massive hit in her native Mexico, María is now trying her luck in the US with this catchy cover of an 80s classic.
D'Luv: I'm glad that after all that exposure on D Listed, La Pequeña got a record deal. 4/5
Marc Massive: I'm showing my ignorance now as I haven't a clue what 80s track this is meant to be a cover of and I thought I was an 80s aficionado. I like the video... Maria taking a shower fully clothed is always going to be a teenage boy's wet dream, but perhaps this is just a distraction from the fact that the song ain't all that. It's not horrible just not memorable for me. 2/5
Mike: Maria's album of 80s cover versions is a triumph and this is one of the many standout tracks. The production owes a lot to Katy Perry's "I Kissed A Girl" and "Hot 'N' Cold" but I adore the chorus and the sleazy, low budget video extavaganza. One question though - is Maria saying she's not a lady or not a woman? Judging from the film clip, I'm leaning towards the latter. 5/5
Paul: Is it the video or is the song just really badly produced? It sounds like someone has played a backing tape and she is just singing over the top of it! I'm not really feeling this at all, and don't want to waste any more words on it. Oh the chorus is quite good though. 2/5
Poster Girl: This is a cover of an '80s song? Are we sure it's not a cover of "Hot N Cold"? Oh, wait, now the chorus has gone all explosive pop-rock. Either María's singing or the song's production in the verses sounds amateurish, which is a shame; there's a good idea here, but it's not being helped by the song itself. 2.5/5
Rob: Wow. Very, very weak verses. I thought perhaps with this cover she might adapt it somehow so they're not so boring. And it takes a lifetime until the chorus arrives. But when it does it's like a sublime deliverance. Another awful video but I'll let that slip because I Love the high heels at the end. 3/5
Vanessa Amorosi - This Is Who I Am (Video)
Australian icon steals Pink's Swedish producers (and thunder) for her latest lesbian anthem.
D'Luv: Quick, Paul—stuff your lady taco in Vanessa's mouth so she'll stop singing! 1/5
Marc Massive: The best bit in the song is the cut up 'Lene Lovitch' like vocal parts. It's certainly rockin' on all cylinders but the tank is empty for me. And as Shania Twain whom Vanessa reminds me of once said "That Don't Impress Me Much". I, like the whole world, loved "Absolutely Everybody" but I don't think this is destined to follow suit. 2/5
Mike: Ness Ness returns with one of 2009's catchiest pop jams. I love her new electro-rock sound and really think it shows up the likes of Pink and Kelly Clarkson. But what the hell happened with the video? It's the cheapest piece of shit I've seen all year and the styling is appalling. Anyway, fantastic song. 5/5
Paul: Love, love, love the VanAm. She just keeps ploughing on doesn't she? Yes this is a bit P!nk and a bit angry Kelly Clarkson, but it's a rather brilliant 100mph sing a long anthem and she does it very well indeed. Plus it's a bit of a fuck you song and I do like those! 4/5
Poster Girl: "This Is Who I Am" may share musical creators with Pink's "Stupid Girls," but unlike that excuse-for-a-memorable-video half-song, Vanessa's single has a good topline to go with it. What should be generic female fronted pop-rock ends up being a song Kelly Clarkson's latest album would have been better off if it had. 4/5
Rob: Okay the verses drag on and it takes some time to get to that killer chorus but it's a great song. Love this. 4/5
Natalie Imbruglia - Want (Video)
Laura's less talented sister finally gets around to releasing the lead single from her 4th album.
D'Luv: Is this about her ex-husband, whatshisname from Silverchair? If so, I salute him for shaking Natalie out of her dull guitar dirges. Good song, nice tits. 4/5
Marc Massive: Danni Minogue, sorry Natalie Imbruglia just doesn't age does she? "Want" kind of plods along in an inoffensive manor and benefits from an over-use of the chorus, there's no escaping it after just one listen which is surely the sign of a catchy hook line. Certainly more easy on the ear than the first cut "Wild About It". I'm sure the track will benefit from some full on dance mixes. 3/5
Mike: Natalie usually bores the hell out of me but I quite like her first attempt at electro-pop. The passive aggressive lyrics and slutty video are particularly enjoyable. 3.5/5
Paul: You know, I didn't even know her sister was doing music! It's always been about Nats for me partly because she seems to get around a bit in the bedhopping way and also because my other half loves her, so much like Agnes, I get her music rammed down my throat. I do think she always manages to produce elegant classy pop and I like her hypnotic groove on this one. Looking forward to the album. 4/5
Poster Girl: Oh, boy, this is the sort of song I want to rave about as a stunning disco reinvention... but, much as the song is almost endlessly interesting as a topic of conversation, I can't get over the feeling it's melodically half-baked. Still, the idea is good enough to carry the song to a... 4/5.
Rob: So she's jumping on the electro bandwagon. And yet, it sounds so half-hearted. While I can't wait for the album, "Want" sounds so boring. Indeed, it is wanting. A good try though. 3/5
Dragonette - Pick Up The Phone (Below)
SINGLE OF THE WEEK
SINGLE OF THE WEEK
Canada's coolest band debut their new track.
D'Luv: Really great jam! The only thing that would have made the video better is if we got to see them chew tit in the locker room. 4.5/5
Marc Massive: I like Martina the singer... she's an uber kewl popster. Dragonette are the sort of band that it's kewl to like yet perhaps destined to remain a secret unless you're in the know. I think of them as being one of the leading lights of the electro pop Nu wave movement with previous tracks "I Get Around" and "Boys & Girls" being good examples. The new album's title track "Fixin To Thrill" carried on the electro style, yet this new release seems to go off on a more guitar led pop direction and because of that, loses my interest a bit as I'm a sucker for synths, bleeps & analogue which is a shame as the actual lyrics and song are quite good. 3.5/5
Mike: Lovely. Pretty and poetic electro-pop done with style and panache. I think this is Dragonette's most commercial single by far and I really hope it's their big breakthrough. 4.5/5
Paul: This is one of those bands that I sort of feel should be a massive worldwide hit by now and releasing a greatest hits or something. This will do nicely instead. It's powerful pop rather than power pop or aggressive pop, it makes it's statement and gets the job done with some nice melody and a decent beat. 4/5
Poster Girl: Synth-pop-rock - emphasis on the synths here - lusciousness from Canada? More, please. 80s influences are commonplace now, but Dragonette do everything right here. 4/5
Rob: I think this is the kinda pop I think Natalie was trying to produce with "Want". There is something Garbage/"Cherry Lips" about "Pick Up The Phone". Which is great thing as I loved that. 4/5