Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Shakira's Back!

I've been excited about Shakira's new album for months and if the lead single is any indication, it's going to be well and truly worth the wait. "La Loba" (the Spanish version of her comeback song "She Wolf") leaked yesterday and I've been listening to it non-stop ever since. In one fell swoop, the Colombian diva has kicked all the pretenders to the curb with her quirky pop genius. While Madonna desperately jumps on the latest bandwagon and Kylie happily treads water by working with the likes of Xenomania, Shakira continues to take huge risks. "La Loba" is a genuinely odd track that juxtaposes lush disco beats with sleek electronic bleeps. It should be a complete disaster but in a dazzling slight of hand, Shakira makes it work.

A lot of people are describing the song as a massive departure but to a certain extent "La Loba" picks up where "Timor" left off. However, unlike Shakira's curiously upbeat anti-war anthem, "La Loba" doesn't hint at disco. It is disco. The song is so authentic I can almost see the mirror balls and smell the poppers! Part of me wishes she left out the electronic elements altogether but they do add another layer to the track. I'm not sure who produced "La Loba" but they deserve a lot of credit. The swirling strings are sublime and that killer bassline is an almost animalistic call to the dancefloor. This is so good, I almost don't want to hear the English version. Check out Shakira's stunning comeback below:

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Pop Panel - Week 7

It's been a dark couple of days with Michael Jackson's tragic death casting a long shadow over blogland. It almost feels disrespectful to be writing about anything else but I'm hoping the trashy antics of the Pop Panel will help cheer us all up. I'm really excited about our winner but I think a couple of great acts were given a rather unfair battering. Before we get into that, I'd like to thank everyone who took part in Aus-pop Week. It was a fun experiment and I hope to repeat it in the not too distant future. However, the usual suspects return this week for more mayhem. The Panel consists of:

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

I'm excited to announce that we also have a fabulous celebrity judge! The incredibly glamorous Courtney Act has kindly agreed to be the delicate rose between our thorns and assist in the search for a worthy single of the week. In case you've been living under a rock, Courtney is the most successful drag queen in Australian Idol history and subsequently became the first contestant to score a record deal with Sony. The result, "Rub Me Wrong" (below), was a stunning top 30 hit and remains a cult classic to this very day. Courtney was kind enough to answer a few questions before getting stuck into voting.

Courtney, it's been 5 long years since "Rub Me Wrong" revolutionised pop music as we know it. What do you make of the track today? I still hear it out occasionally!
HA! I feel your tongue is firmly planted in your cheek with that one, Mike. It is a little tricky to be objective. I always thought it was a good sounding pop track. Perhaps a little too serious for me at the time. It is camp when it pops up on the Stonewall juke box, or someone says they heard it at the gym. On Saturday night at Starfuckers a girl told me she brought the single in Japan! With Japanese writing on it and all! I have to get me a copy of that!

I know you've been working on your next musical triumph for a long time. How are things progressing?
Well, I was planning on heading to London in April, but then I broke my leg skiing in Whistler so that put a hold on things. I will be in the UK in a few weeks, but only for a quick trip. I still plan on moving there next year... but alas... that is a whole year away.

I'm sure it will be worth the wait! In the meantime, you're the new Queen of Sydney nightclub Disgraceland. What can punters expect from your fabulous show?
There is always something different at Disgraceland. Every week we have a new theme and a new show. So far we have had food fights, strip poker, spin the bottle and all sorts of antics. To have such a pumping club night through the winter has been amazing. Tim Duggan and I will be over in Europe for a few weeks gathering ideas and inspiration for this summer at Disgraceland.


Enjoy your trip and thanks again for honouring the Panel with your presence!


Here are the results in order from least to most popular.

Luciana – I Like That (Video)

The UK's Queen of dance returns with another floorfiller.

Courtney: I quite like this! It has a great build up that really drives the track. It also has highs and lows, so it doesn't feel too monotonous. 4/5
D'Luv: If this were 2002 and we were in some grimy basement club in New York's East Village at 4 a.m. drinking piss-warm beer, this would sound amazing. But we're not. And it doesn't. 0/5
Mike: Luciana is obviously too classy for the riff raff on this Panel - Courtney excepted! "I Like That" is another in a long line of amazing dance anthems that have benefited from the UK diva's glorious vocals. I can't wait to hear this in a club. 4/5
Pablo: Too noisy for me. This song would go top 10 in Spain, for sure, as a tone for mobiles. Not mine, of course. 0.5/5
Paul: When the music started I didn't want to like it, as it's not my sort of song. It's the reverse of how I feel about Cascada - I really like the verses but not keen on the (practically non-existent) chorus. Can't someone talented take the verse of this and put it to the chorus of "Evacuate"? 2/5
Rob: Betty Boo wants her music back. I dislike this soulless dance track immensely. 0/5
The Prophet: Horrible. I don't even listen to much dance music but I feel like I've heard this song a billion times before. It's so "level 2 Stonewall". 0/5
Total: 10.5/35

Colton Ford – Losing My Religion (Video)

The legendary porn star takes pop to the next level with this Hi-NRG REM remake.

Courtney: I think he has said Too Much. I think the track is actually ok, but the clip ruins it a bit for me. I understand his history of being a porn star but I feel the clip could have been given 50% less and delivered 100% more. 3/5
D'Luv: Doll, you're scrapin' the barrel this week. 1/5
Mike: I love Colton's music. He's like the male Amber - only better! "Losing My Religion" was always going to be a difficult song to cover but he does a good job. And I disagree about the video. Colton should go completely X rated next time with a double penetration extravaganza. The haters are never going to give him a break, so he might as well have fun! 4/5
Pablo: Sorry, I can't stand this song. Really. I'm not going to waste my precious time listening to any version. 0/5
Paul: People have obviously paid for moulds of his cock and to see him licking cum out of another man's arse, so I can't see why they wouldn't spend their pennies on hearing him sing. I certainly won't be though. This is not very good in the slightest. It's sad when porn stars get old. Stick to being bound and gagged Colton, it makes your music so much more bearable. 1/5
Rob: Terrible. Dean Monroe (another gay porn star turned popstar) has put out a brilliant pop song recently. Original and fabulous. This is trite and contrived. I hate. And I love it too. I hate that I love it. 4/5
The Prophet: Colton's cover of Britney's brilliant hidden gem "Trouble" is a guilty and extremely shameful pleasure of mine but I cannot and will not endorse this Hi-NRG REM cover. I promise all jokes aside that I almost started CRYING from seeing this and I HAD to turn it off. It's the absolute worst thing that I have ever seen in my whole life and it's scarred me more than the time I accidentally saw somebody fisting up to their shoulder on monstercocktube.com. This almost makes me hate music altogether and I REFUSE to rate this unless I can give it a MINUS SCORE. If this wins I am 100% resigning from the Pop panel. 0/5
Total: 13/35

Girls Can't Catch – Keep Your Head Up (Video)

Yet another UK girlband.

Courtney: The phenomenon of the girl group is so fascinating. I think we should start idolizing their producers and creators. It is really hard to vibe anything from the girls, even Lady Gaga, who we now know is undeniably supreme took a while to break out of the mould of manufactured pop starlet. A mould that these girls seem to fit far too well. Rather than liking the group we should follow the people behind them. Is Peter Lorraine behind these girls too? 3/5
D'Luv: Brilliant! It's like Bananarama got in a time machine and f'd their way to 2009. Sorry, Girls Aloud—it's all over. 4/5
Mike: Utterly foul. These clowns make Stonefoxx look like the Sugababes. 0/5
Pablo: Since the Spice Girls, no girlband has been as successful. Since Girls Aloud, no girlband has such a trademark sound. Sorry, no offence but it's like that. This song is so great but Girls Aloud could have made it ten times better. Fact. 4/5
Paul: Dreadful name of the band (not as bad as rape sounding No Means Yes). Dreadful song title that sounds like it came from an oral sex instruction manual. Fairly decent song that had I written this review on time would've scored much lower but has grown on me over the week. 3.5/5
Rob: When the likes of Pussycat Dolls are releasing amazing songs like "Hush Hush", girlbands really have to up the ante. A nice addition to pop world but Australian girlband Raen have been doing this sort of thing and a lot better too. 2.75/5
The Prophet: I saw this fucking shit earlier in the week. Do these nobodies actually expect some level off success with this? To be honest it's actually not THAT bad, but groups like All Saints, Spice Girls, Atomic Kitten, Girls Aloud, and the Sugababes have all set the bar so high that I expect nothing less than perfection from newcomers vying for the girl group crown. 0.5/5
Total: 15.75/35

Florence & The Machine – Rabbit Heart (Video)

One of the most hyped acts of 2009's latest attempt for chart glory.

Courtney: Meh. Didn't do much for me. I found her very hard to understand so I did not connect with the lyrics that well. 3/5
D'Luv: Tori Amos wants her pussy back. 0/5
Mike: Florence tries way too hard but underneath all the pretense and team of stylists is a great songwriter. The intro is a bit dull but when the chorus kicks in, "Rabbit Heart" turns into an unexpectedly joyous pop tune. I'm giving Flo the benefit of the doubt for the moment. 3.5/5
Pablo: What is Nicola Roberts doing in another video? It's too "Louis XVIII" for me. It goes in one ear and out the other. 1/5
Paul: It's the craziness of Kate Bush mixed with the kookiness of Bjork. At first it sort of meanders but then the brilliance of the song really kicks in and makes it quite delightful. Raise it up indeed. 4/5
Rob: Slightly too much like she's walked out of Beyond Retro (Shoreditch clothes shop) and built her entire direction from a sick weekend furiously taking notes in and around Hoxton Square. 1/5
The Prophet: Me likey. It actually sounds like music and I really like the way she uses her vocals on the chorus. 3.5/5
Total: 16/35

Cascada – Evacuate The Dancefloor (Above)

Cascada returns with a new GaGa-ized sound!

Courtney: Timely lyrics "evacuate the dance floor" and "I'm infected" with the Swine Flu hysteria sweeping the planet. It's a bit run of the mill. Nothing amazing. Having said that I am sure it contains some hypnotic subliminal message that will have me clicking and shimmying all over the dance floor in about two weeks! 3/5
D'Luv: This is just okay. At first I wanted to comment on how she's not doing anything original here, but then, that kind of defines Cascada's entire repetoire. 2/5
Mike: It's great to have Natalie back representing big boned girls around the world! The band deserves credit for not going with another cover but this is just a little too close to Lady GaGa's far superior "Just Dance" for my liking. 3/5
Pablo: I'm not sure if it's Cascada, September or Jo O'Meara. Since Cheryl re-discovered the vocoder on "Tangled Up" everybody is using it. Kind of boring. 2/5
Paul: Everyone says that this is a cheap ass version of the Lady GaGa sound. I'm not sure about that (I could go onto my boring rant about how she stole it from everyone else) but I don't like the verses of this. I do quite like the chorus though. 2/5
Rob: This is how you do it Lady GaGa! Even the rap in the middle works. 5/5
The Prophet: I hate Cascada with a passion. Someone needs to put this horse headed hot mess down at the local pound. Her Hi-NRG cheese was bad enough but now we have to listen to a Z-Grade GaGa? Why does she even want people to evacuate the dancefloor? Aren't you meant to be on it if the song is good? I don't understand! 0/5
Total: 20.5/35

Pink – Funhouse (Video)

Lesbians around the world are clamoring to get inside Pink's Funhouse.

Courtney: How can you not love Pink? She is just so fun and so real. Just listening to her unapologetic lyrics, or raspy vocals... even watching her in her clip all just feels real. She is uber cool! 4/5
D'Luv: I imagine that Pink's funhouse has had many clowns up it. 3/5
Mike: There are a handful of truly amazing songs on "Funhouse" but none of them have been singles. The title track is quite quirky for mainstream pop but it's disjointed and ultimately quite boring. 2.5/5
Pablo: I used to like P!nk when I was a woman. But now I have a penis (it was quite expensive, actually) and I'm really tired of P!nk doing the same kicking and burning things in a video. With her ex-husband. Boooooring. But the song is acceptable. 3/5
Paul: I'm so glad P!nk is on the selection of singles. I think she has had an amazing run of singles that will sound proper decent on a greatest hits collection. I love the guitar in the chorus, and I love that a song about a funhouse is so creepy and depressive. Plus she counts backwards in the chorus which has been proven by Kylie in "Light Years' to be a genius pop move. 3.5/5
Rob: Slightly unusual to be honest. I think I love it. I think the other songs on the album deserved single status over this but hey it works! 3/5
The Prophet: I'm a big fan of Pinks last two albums "Try This" and "I'm Not Dead" but I can't get into her latest. I do love this song though and it was a standout for me, not to mention the video is AMAZING. 4/5
Total: 23/35

Tommy Trash – Need Me To Stay (Video)

The Sydney DJ has set the club charts on fire with this dance anthem.

Courtney: I love Tommy. We worked together a few years ago and he has just achieved such great things. His music is cool and the clip is hot. I love the acoustic guitar riff, if has a bit of a Bob Sinclair vibe with the black male vocal. Feels cool. It is not trying too hard, it just is. And he gets an extra half a point for the hot boy in the clip! 4/5
D'Luv: Kind of interesting. I'd never buy this, though. If I heard it while driving to grandma's for sex, it might sound alright. 3/5
Mike: What is it with dance videos and semi-naked lesbians? At least Tommy is an equal opportunity perv and throws in a hot guy, for which I'm extremely grateful. As for the song, I look forward to hearing it every time I go out. Mr Trash has come up with the perfect Saturday night floorfiller. Love the Bass Kleph remix. 4.5/5
Pablo: A video with a shirtless male, showing his huge nipples is enough for me. Even if he is shaved. I know the old witch Mike doesn't let us speak about the videos anymore, but this is great. Girls electrified seems perfect to me. A little bit of hair in his chest and the video would have been a work of art. The song could perfectly fit into Dannii's career. It's her sound. I kinda like it. 5/5
Paul: I know we're not meant to comment on the video but girls in a shower? Really? Talk about lowest common denominator! It's fairly decent overall and slightly dirty ("I'm inside you") which i like, so it ranks slightly higher than if I just saw the video. 3/5
Rob: Highly unoriginal. I really can't stand this for some reason. I think Uniting Nations were doing this a few years back. Good for a few plays during the summer but pretty sloppy. 1/5
The Prophet: This isn't bad, it's still dance music but it's not cheesy and OTT, and besides the pornographic video I don't mind it. The singing is interesting. 2.75/5
Total: 23.25/35

SINGLE OF THE WEEK

Marina & The Diamonds – I Am Not A Robot

This is the lead single from the Welsh pop star's latest EP "The Crown Jewels". Please note that the Panel are referring to a fan made video, not the official clip (below) which only hit the net a couple of days ago.

Courtney: She has a frank Lily Allen lyrical approach. "Better to be hated than loved for what you're not", the clip is cute and witty. 3.5/5
D'Luv: Another one that would sound okay if I were eating pizza out of some stripper's thong at a church picnic, but I'd probably never pay for it. The music, that is. I'd pay for the stripper. 3/5
Mike: One of the most exciting pop songs I've heard all year. The lyrics are beautiful and Marina's voice lifts them to the next level. This is probably a bit too subtle for mainstream success but I'm now officially gagging for her album. 5/5
Pablo: erm... what? After the robot from Untouchable and the robot from Robyn, I think I have enough with robots in songs. 1/5
Paul: Love love love this. I think it's so elegant and ethereal. Beautiful lyrics too. One of my favourite songs of the year so far. 5/5
Rob: Amazing. Rich, beautiful and powerful. The sound of tomorrow is here! I love that earthy feeling to it. 5/5
The Prophet: I was about to give up on the video when I saw the pictures of the dogs with the robots. I know we aren't meant to review the video but I love it, and I also love when she says "I am not a robot", although she probably means it in some pretentious indie-pop context, but I still like it. 3/5
Total: 25.5/35


Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson - A Tribute

Michael Jackson was the Peter Pan of pop, the man who refused to grow old. It seems completely unfair that something as unremarkable as a heart attack should put an end to a magnificent career that survived scandal after scandal relatively intact. Unlike the majority of increasingly macabre media reports currently flooding the internet, I refuse to focus on the tragic side of Michael's life. The King of Pop clearly had his demons but he achieved more by the time he was 10 than most of us will accomplish in a lifetime. Instead, I'd like to pay tribute to an amazing artist by writing about my brief stint as one of his many devoted disciples. My love for Michael's music might have waned over the years but he never lost my admiration.

In the mid-80s my family finally got around to buying a VCR and one of the first videos we owned was "Thriller". I have no idea who chose it but I'm guessing it was my older sister. The clip was frightening stuff for a 5 year old and I had nightmares for a week. However, as I got older, it became one of my favourites and I watched that battered VHS compulsively. "Thriller" got me hooked on Michael and by the time "Bad" was released in 1987, I was already a loyal fan. More than twenty years have passed but I still remember purchasing the cassette with my pocket money and literally playing it until the tape broke. I listened to the album today and it isn't quite the masterpiece I remember. While "Bad" doesn't match the brilliance of "Off The Wall" or "Thriller", it's so intricately connected with my childhood memories that I find it hard to be objective. There's a bit of filler but time has been very kind to "Man In The Mirror", "Smooth Criminal" and "The Way You Make Me Feel".

I discovered Stock Aitken Waterman in the late 80s and my musical taste evolved radically (many would say in the wrong direction). By the time "Dangerous" was released in 1991, I had already lost interest in Michael. That's not to say I gave up on him entirely. Once you've caught the Havenhurst bug, there's no going back. Instead, I increasingly focused my attention on his fabulous siblings. My undying love for La Toya is pretty well known but I keep my admiration for Rebbie, Jackie, Jermaine, Marlon and Randy on the downlow. I'm starting to ramble now but I just don't know how to end this post without sounding completely trite or overly dramatic. I guess I just want to thank Michael for being the soundtrack to so many happy childhood memories. My deepest condolences to his family and army of faithful fans.

Britt Ekland's Private Party

Sometimes I get a bit carried away with the modern music scene and forget the whole reason I started this blog - to celebrate the glittering underbelly of pop. Two songs that screams POP TRASH in capital letters are Britt Ekland's stunning disco flop "Do It To Me (Once More With Feeling)" and its fabulous B-side "Private Party". From the hilarious cover to the cheap and tawdry lyrics, these sublime anthems represent everything I love about music. They're camp, utterly irreverent and come with a nude foldout poster! Britt's pop career might have only lasted for the one single but she sure did go out in a blaze of glory.

Until recently I had no idea that Britt ever dabbled in music. Like most people, I only knew her as a Bond girl and general media whore. I should have guessed that the Swedish bombshell would have been sucked into the disco craze like every other starlet with a shred of notoriety in the 1970s. And as far as novelty disco anthems go, "Do It To Me (Once More With Feeling)" is surprisingly accomplished. The production - courtesy of Joel Diamond - is vibrant and the chorus is seriously catchy. I love the spoken breakdown in French towards the end and the classy lyrics are an endless source of joy. Admittedly, Britt can barely speak English let alone carry a tune but her vocal incompetence just makes the proceedings even more fabulous. Listen to this hot mess here.

As much as I adore "Do It To Me (Once More With Feeling)", the B-side is even better. "Private Party" is basically a four and half minute party invitation with some of the cutest lyrics in disco history. I particularly love it when Britt purrs "it's a private party and not everyone can come, you gotta know the in-crowd if you want to join the fun!" The song also benefits from a great brass section and more prominent backing vocalists. It's a shame this wasn't the A-side but (given the cover) they were obviously hoping sex would sell and this gem is more camp than sleazy. Listen to "Private Party" below:

Private Party


Unfortunately for Britt, the single was a massive flop and she never recorded another one. It's probably for the best. The world obviously wasn't ready for a 37 year old nude pop star!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Kylie & The Curse Of Xenomania

You'd think ruining the Pet Shop Boys' career would have been enough for Xenomania but, if media reports are accurate, they are now looking to drag Kylie into their two man flop machine. Honestly, the thought of Brian and Miranda producing the majority of Kylie's next album makes my blood run cold. Isn't the hideousness of "Giving You Up" warning enough that Kylie shouldn't be allowed within 10 Kilometres of Xenomania? It's by far the worst single of her 20 year career - and she wants to make half the album with them? Someone please call Susan Powter because we need to STOP THE INSANITY!

I agree that Kylie's next offering needs a more cohesive sound. "X" is my second favourite Parlophone album after "Light Years" but it did suffer from too many cooks in the kitchen. Hiring one or two producers is a great idea but Xenomania isn't the answer. Kylie needs to push her boundaries and keep trying new things, while everything that Brian Higgins touches has that same boring old sound. I'll gladly put up with the occasional "Nu-Di-Ty" for the pristine pop of "The One", "In My Arms" and "2 Hearts". Xenomania is a spent force. Working with them would be two huge steps back. Artistic merit aside, it would also be commercial suicide. Their sound is so English. Exactly how many hits have the ugly trolls from Girls Aloud scored outside the UK? I think you'll find the answer is 0. Has poor Kylie finally given up on international chart success in order to score a few cheap hits in Britain?

If the Xenomania revelation wasn't bad enough, the same sources state that Kylie will work on the other half of the album with Nerina Pallot. Seriously, was Lisa Scott Lee busy? I'm lost for words. I quite liked the flop diva's last album (particularly her cover of "Confide In Me") but I sure as hell don't want Kylie to emulate her sound. Kylie has made such edgy choices in the past, working with the likes of Emiliana Torrini and Kish Mauve. Why is she bothering with this middle of the road has-been? While I run to church and pray that this is all a big hoax, check out Nerina's only "hit" (below). Can't you just imagine this as a Kylie anthem? No, me neither.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Little Boots - A Little Boring?

I was originally going to call this post "The Poor Man's Kylie" but I think that's a bigger compliment than Little Boots deserves. For even at her lowest ebb, Kylie has never put her name to anything as dull and lifeless as "Hands". In fact, Little Boots' debut is perhaps the most brightly polished turd in recent musical history. At first glance, the package is pretty hard to resist. Little Boots has an amazing image, her cover art exudes cool and the electro beats flow with surgical precision. All that's missing is a decent vocalist, some good songs and a little bit of heart. Don't be fooled by the pretty pictures and dazzling lights - "Hands" is all style and no substance.

Despite my general misgivings about the album, there are a couple of highlights. The Greg Kurstin produced lead single doesn't quite live up to the deafening hype but "New In Town" is still a catchy electro anthem with a punchy little chorus. Unfortunately, it sticks out like a boner on a nudist beach among all the other toothless tracks. "Remedy" is probably the best of the rest. With a bit of a polish it could probably pass for a Saturdays' B-Side. I'm also rather partial to "Hearts Collide", which simultaneously rips off Sophie Ellis Bexter's "Another Day" and Cut Copy's "Hearts On Fire". It's not very original but Richard Stannard knows his way around a chorus and this is one of the few tracks that has a discernible hook. The only other track I've bothered to keep on my Ipod is the embarrassing but fun "Tune Of My Heart". It's by far the worst song Pascal Gabriel has ever put his name to but a little more of this cheese would have at least dragged the album into 'so bad it's good' territory.

As for the rest of "Hands", it's incredibly bland and disappointing. "Mathematics" is typically pointless. It's just a string of meaningless words set to an anonymous beat. There's no emotion or intelligence behind it. The same goes for the achingly pretentious "Ghosts" and the incredibly dreary "No Brakes". Things then go from bad to worse on "Symmetry". The track begins promisingly but ultimately reveals itself to be a rather feeble Depeche Mode knock off, while "Meddle" and "Click" are both songs in search of a chorus and melody. I really wanted to like "Earthquake" because it so desperately tries to imitate Kylie but the lyrics are abstract to the point of being ridiculous. However, as dire as those lyrics are, they have nothing on the hideous title track. I honestly didn't know whether to laugh or cry when Little Boots earnestly mused "she went up to the heavens about quarter past eleven" before singing some rubbish about putting her broken heart back together with sticky tape. Honestly, it makes Lady GaGa's legendary"bluffin' with my muffin" rhyme sound like Shakespeare! These are the empty shells of great pop songs. The production is uniformly excellent the album has no guts and more unforgivably, no soul.

So what the hell went wrong? The album features the who's who of hot producers from Greg Kurstin to RedOne. Ultimately, the blame has to lie with Little Boots. She clearly needs to run not walk to the Cathy Dennis school of songwriting to learn the importance of a decent chorus. A better solution would be leaving songwriting duties in more capable hands because it's clearly not her forte. A bigger obstacle for Little Boots, and one that's much harder to overcome, is her voice. I'm a firm believer that you don't need a huge set of pipes to be a good pop star but Little Boots makes Annie sound like Maria Callas. She basically talks her way through songs in an increasingly grating monotone. I think this is indicative of a bigger issue - her total and utter lack of charisma and personality. Little Boots is a blank sheet. Any of these songs could have appeared on any number of pop albums and probably would have sounded a lot better for it. She's not as fun as Kylie, as edgy as Lady GaGa or as clever as Robyn. What exactly is Little Boots' contribution to pop music?

This week "Hands" plummets from #5 to #40 on the UK albums chart. I guess word of mouth is starting to spread.

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

SINGLE OF THE WEEK


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


Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Modern Homosexual's Guide To Barbra Streisand Vol. 3 - 1974 to 1977

Last week's post covered Barbra's early 70s transformation into a contemporary pop artist with albums like "Stoney End" and "Barbra Joan Streisand". While those gems certainly got the ball rolling, Babs' evolution into a modern pop diva was in full swing by the mid-70s. This is one of my favourite periods in Streisand's long and fabulous career. She started taking bigger creative risks (some paid off, others didn't) and explored a plethora of different musical genres. The results were mixed but never boring. This is definitely an era that newcomers should consider checking out - if only for her stunning Bob Marley cover! Reggae Barbra, anyone?

I finished off the last installment by examining 1974's "The Way We Were" (not to be confused with the film soundtrack). Barbra reverted to a more traditional mix of standards and power ballads on that album and scored herself a massive #1 hit. It would have been easy to repeat herself on the follow up but Babs was determined to be down with the kids. Encouraged by her then boyfriend (and producer) Jon Peters, the great diva embarked on what would be her most eclectic album yet. "Butterfly" is a gorgeous little oddity. I love everything about it from the witty cover art to the downright bizarre song selection. After four years of writing this blog, I'm ecstatic to finally have a reason to write about this underrated trash classic.

"Butterfly" probably qualifies as a covers album given that 9 of the 10 tracks have previously been released by other artists but I don't think that term even existed in the mid-70s. A fascinating part of researching this post has been discovering the extent to which songs were recycled back then. Barbra had thrown in a couple of unusual choices on previous albums but "Butterfly" is a veritable treasure trove of bizarre covers. The most infamous cut is probably her fabulous destruction of Bob Marley's "Guava Jelly" but my favourite has to be Babsi's haunting version of David Bowie's "Life On Mars". I love the simple production and think it holds up well against the original. Unfortunately, David wasn't as enthusiastic, describing it as "atrocious" and "awful". I'm surprised Babs didn't have him whacked! Other highlights incude the three R'n'B numbers (Bill Withers' "Grandma's Hands", Paul Anka's "Jubilation" and Ray Charles' "Crying Time") and Barbra's lovely interpretation of "I Won't Last A Day Without You" - made famous, of course, by The Carpenters. "Butterfly" doesn't get a lot of love from the Streisand faithful but I can't recommend it highly enough.

Her next project couldn't be more different to "Butterfly". Barbra packed away her flares to star in "Funny Lady", the tragically titled sequel to "Funny Girl". It's no secret that Babs was contractually obliged to make the film and you can tell that her heart wasn't really in it. In fact, I'm surprised "Funny Lady" turned out as well as it did given the strange cast (who really wants to hear James Caan sing?) and the uninspiring tunes. There's no doubting the genius of Kander & Ebb (Cabaret, Chicago etc) but this has to be the most underwhelming score of their illustrious career. As far as I'm concerned, there's only one brilliant song and that's the bittersweet "How Lucky Can You Get". Having said all that, "Funny Lady" was a box office hit and scored 5 Academy Award nominations. So what the hell do I know?

It's funny how time can change your opinion of an album. I always thought 1975's "Lazy Afternoon" was only good for two things - the hilarious cover photo and Barbra's first foray into disco. However, earlier this week I listened to the album (in full) for the first time in years and was really surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I still think "Lazy Afternoon" is wildly uneven and lacks direction but it contains some real gems. "Widescreen" is totally epic, while "My Father's Song" makes me teary every time I hear it. However, my favourite track is still Barbra's disco debut. "Shake Me, Wake Me" is glorious cover of an earlier hit by The Four Tops but it seems to have been largely forgotten by disco fans. A 12" single was released but I've never heard the extended version. I imagine it's pure disco heaven! "Lazy Afternoon" is also notable for the self-penned "By The Way" and the gorgeous "I Never Had It So Good". Unfortunately, the rest of the album is languid to the point of being stillborn.

Does anyone actually like "Classical Barbra"? I seriously hate to think how many gays are using the album to prop up uneven furniture. Just take my word for it and avoid this opera-lite debacle at all costs! As unfortunate as Barbra's classical detour was, I still admire her for trying something different. Happily, her next musical project was a completely different affair. I'm referring to her multi-platinum selling "A Star Is Born" soundtrack. While the film has its merits, Judy Garland's version is better and I usually find myself fast forwarding between the musical numbers - which are uniformly excellent. I love that they set out to make a rock musical and somewhat surprisingly, Barbra thrives in the genre.

There really isn't a bad song to be heard on "A Star Is Born", perhaps with the exception of Kris Kristofferson's "Hellacious Acres". However, I can forgive that because he was so fucking hot. The soundtrack will always be best remembered for "Evergreen" (below), which earned Babs a Grammy and an Academy Award for Best Song. I worship that gem as much as the next Streisand diehard but I actually prefer the tracks she performs with The Oreos (her backing singers in the film). "Queen Bee" is a funktastic jam of epic proportions, while "Everything" has to be heard to be believed. This camp ballad has some of the classiest lyrics ever committed to record. My favourite line is "I'd cure the cold and the traffic jam. If there were floods, I'd give a dam"! For a completely different side to Barbra check out the rockin' medley "With One More Look At You/Watch Closely Now". Phew! That's all for now. Check in for more Babs next week.

Friday, June 19, 2009

La Toya's Japanese Duet

It's been three long months since the high priestess of pop last graced Pop Trash Addicts and I'm starting to have serious withdrawals. People always think I'm being ironic when I write about La Toya but I honestly can't imagine life without her fabulous flops. Over the past few years I've paid tribute to most of them with one glaring exception - Toy Toy's stunning 1987 duet with Japanese "superstar" Jed. Say what you like about the thinking man's Jackson but you have to admit it takes a special talent to sing out of tune in two languages simultaneously! "Yes, I'm Ready" isn't La Toya's finest moment but it definitely ranks as one of the funniest.

"Yes, I'm Ready" was unleashed on the unsuspecting Japanese public in early 1987, not long after Toy's infamous duet with Cerrone. You think she would have learnt her lesson after that (admittedly fabulous) debacle but I'm pretty sure the Duchess of dance was just happy to be working. There's not a lot I can tell you about La Toya's foxy duet partner - Jed appears to have been a complete nobody. In fact, as far as I can tell, "Yes, I'm Ready" was his first and last recording. The poor guy obviously decided to quit while he was ahead! If anybody has any information on this international man of mystery, please get in touch.

As for the song, it's a surprisingly faithful cover of Barbra Mason's classic 60s pop hit - only with the occasional verse sung in Japanese! Toy Toy's pronunciation apparently leaves a lot to be desired but she gets through it with her dignity somewhat intact. As for Jed, I'm guessing he's not a native speaker either. The result is one hell of an amusing trainwreck. However, it's not all bad. I love the toygasmic chorus and the minimal production allows you to hear La Toya's beautiful voice in all its exquisite glory. If you think you can cope with this much fabulousness check out the magic of "Yes, I'm Ready" below (you might have to press the button twice):

Yes, I'm Ready


In another toytastic development, fans have created a petition to get "Startin' Over" released. The album has been gathering dust for almost 7 years, so I think Dannii has a better chance of scoring a worldwide smash hit than Toy's opus has of seeing the inside of a record store. Life as a Toy Soldier is never easy!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Shena - The Pop Trash Interview

Shena Winchester is a one woman disco revival machine. Earlier this year the English diva announced her arrival with the stunning "Can't Stop The Rain" and further cements her position as one of 2009's essential pop acts with its equally brilliant follow up. "My Fantasy" is a glittering nu-disco anthem that sounds like it has been dug out of a sequin filled time capsule. The track is so incredibly faithful to the tenements of disco without ever sounding tired or derivative, which is an absolutely massive achievement in my book. I couldn't wait to ask Shena about her influences and upcoming debut album when I interviewed her. Hearing about the evolution of her sound was fascinating but I was just as excited to discover that Shena is the voice behind some of my all time favourite dance tunes - starting with JX's iconic "You Belong To Me" way back in 1995. I hope you enjoy my chat with this fabulous 14 years in the making overnight sensation!

Shena, you seem to have come out of nowhere but I believe you're no stranger to the music scene. I was digging through my collection and found a copy of "Let The Beat Hit Em" from 1997. Are you the same Shena and was that your debut?

Yes that was me back in 1997 with "Let The Beat Hit 'Em". That was my second release as a solo artist but not as a dance diva. The first track I recorded and released commercially in the dance world was "You Belong To Me" by JX.


A young, bald (!) Shena helped turn this into a dance classic

Did you actually record an album to go along with "Let The Beat Hit 'Em"? What was it like being with a big label?

No, I didn’t record an album to go with it unfortunately. I did and didn’t enjoy being with a major label because I felt like I was contracted to them in name only. That was because my label was Virgin Club and not Virgin itself, so I got none of the perks that say The Spice Girls got.

I understand you've also been a session singer for some of the biggest names in soul. Who has benefited from your amazing vocals?

The late James Brown, the late Luther Vandross, Joss Stone, Ronan Keating, Heather Small, Amy Winehouse, Patti Labelle, Inner City, Errol Brown, Lisa Stanfield and Angie Stone. These are as many of the big soul artists as I can think of at this moment, but there are plenty of others from many different musical genres that I lent my vocals to.

You've also featured on some of the biggest dance tracks of recent years including Michael Gray's "The Weekend" and Junior Jack's "Dare Me". Was not being credited on such big hits frustrating? Did it spur you on to record your own album?

Absolutely, because as much as I love dance music I have always felt faceless within it. Hence after years of trying to contain that frustration, my husband and I decided that enough was enough and "One man woman" my forthcoming album was born.


It must be great to finally be calling the shots. Did you have an idea of how you wanted "One Man Woman" to sound before you started recording or did it just evolve?

Calling the shots feels very nice indeed. Also no, I had no idea how I wanted the album to sound except that I wanted to create something that I myself would buy as well as a lot of other people of course! Initially we had great songs but were unsure of direction, but when James and I analysed what our strengths were and through some very helpful advice from a ‘tastemaker’ friend we decided to reinvent it into a nu-disco album. It’s hard to break a new act with a sound that is different to the mainstream, but the feedback we are getting is phenomenal, so we’re now convinced that we made the right decision.

Which writers and producers have you worked with?

Too many to mention but the list includes the Freemasons, Alex Gaudino, Michael Gray, Full Intention, Starchaser, Warren Clarke, 7th Heaven, Bimbo Jones, Fraser Smith, Richard Cottle and James Winchester who produced the entire album except for one song, co-wrote it with me and also happens to be my manager and hubby.

"My Fantasy" is such a glorious slice of disco. Have you always been a fan of the genre? What are your favourite disco anthems?

I have always been a fan of the genre and because I was born in the 70’s I never got a chance to really appreciate it the first time round so I am more than making up for it this time. Regarding my favourite disco anthems that would have to be, "I Feel Love" by Donna Summer, "Boogie Wonderland" by Earth, Wind and Fire and "Blame It On The Boogie" by Michael Jackson.

Shena's scorching hot sisters!

The video clip is amazing. I want that disco ball outfit! Is it true that your sisters are the sexy backing singers in the video?

Thank you and yes the three gorgeous ladies who star as my backing singers in the video clip are all my sisters…Nobody believes me when I tell them that!

You've said that Whitney Houston is your ultimate role model. Are you looking forward to her comeback in September?

Oh yes, yes and yes, but she had better be good and not have lost that beautiful gift that she was blessed with or I don’t know if I will be able to forgive her. It’s not nice to see or hear your idol in a bad state, so I’m hoping to be inspired all over again like I was when she first arrived on the scene.

Congratulations on delivering one of the best songs of 2009. I wish you every success with the album!

Thank you so much!

"My Fantasy" is released in the UK on the 29th of June. You can pre-order Shena's debut album "One Man Woman" from HMV and Amazon. Make sure you add her as a friend on Myspace and check out her website.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Kylie & Christophe Get Sensitized

I'm a bottle of Sweet Darling away from being a fully paid up member of Al Kylieda. The pint sized diva could queef her way through the Delta Goodrem songbook and I'd still probably give it a positive write up. That gives you some indication of how much I hated "Sensitized" to only give it 1/10 when I reviewed "X" way back in November 2007. In fact, I believe I even coined the phrase "Senshitized"! Everything about the track just rubs me the wrong way. To my ears it's a shoddy rehash of the vastly superior "Cowboy Style" with an incredibly fucking annoying sample plastered over the top. If the song was written by anyone other than Cathy Dennis, I'm sure it would be currently gathering dust on the studio shelf next to "Sexual Gold" and "Acid Min".

Needless to say, I was less than excited when I heard "Sensitized" was being revived as a duet for Christophe Willem's "Caféine" album. After ignoring it for the past month, I finally decided to give the track a spin reasoning that it couldn't be any worse than Kylie's recent duet with Coldplay. Well, it's amazing how much difference a camp French pop star and significantly less irritating production can make! The grating "Bonnie & Clyde" sample has been toned down and some of the verses are now sung en français. Instead of sounding forced and desperate, the new version exudes a playful sensuality that I find very appealing. "Sensitized" will never be my favourite Kylie moment but this is a massive improvement!

Listen to Kylie & Christophe HERE

"Sensitized" isn't the only Kylie connection on Christophe's album - Guy Chambers and Steve Anderson both contribute tracks. Unfortunately, there are no plans to release the song or the album outside the French speaking world, so I guess we'll all just have to import it. I ordered my copy from Amazon.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Pop Panel - Week 5

I'm so excited about this week's Pop Panel. The results were the closest they have ever been (less than one point separates the top three) and the winner was a total shock. It's a great song (for a change) but this is still a massive upset given the stiff competition it faced from some of the year's most hyped tracks. Apart from a surprise winner, we also have an extraordinarily fierce guest judge - the leading lady of Pop Trash, CC Martini! Australia's Queen of Pip Pop is currently doing her thing in the States but kindly took some time out to answer a couple of questions before getting stuck into voting. Here's what she had to say:

Hey CC, what have you been up to in the US?

Cooking and eating. Playing softball and getting lovin'. The simple life!

Any music news?

I am regrouping and getting ready for phase two. I've been seeing lots of bands and just getting into being a punter and also listening to lots of different stuff. I'm getting inspired. I went to see No Doubt in San Diego and I also checked out a local friend Oona who is about to blow up here check out
her Myspace.

Last and least, D'Luv from Chart Rigger is on the Panel. He memorably claimed to have fucked you in McDonalds' playland. True or false?

Ha ha. Ummm, I errr, don't remember.

Classy. Thanks again for taking part!

In addition to the lovely CC, the rest of the Panel is comprised of the same riff raff as last week:

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

As usual the songs are listed from least to most popular. Let me know what you think of the outcome! Oh and check out CC's legendary jam "Double Dutch" if you haven't already. I never tire of this modern masterpiece!


Hannah – Keeping Score (Video)

Estonia’s most glamorous pop star delivers her debut UK single.

CC: Oh dear. This is absolutely terrible! This kind of music makes me leave nightclubs early. I'm sure that Estonia has much more to offer than Hannah. -1/5
D'Luv: This is okay. A lot of these dance broads blend together, but there's some heart to this one at least. 3/5
Mike: I think everyone has been a bit mean to Hannah. "Keeping Score" doesn't reinvent the wheel but it's a sweet piece of pop fluff. I approve. 3.5/5
Pablo: If you close your eyes hard enough... it's like September. But half the quality. 2/5
Paul: I know you hate her Mike, but if this was a Rachel Stevens comeback single, it would be massively hyped by the blogs and then peak at number 10 on the UK charts. I do think this has a chorus that SAW would be proud of but other than that it doesn't really stand out for me. 2.5/5
Rob: Are we judging the Bimbo Jones Remix or the original single mix? If it's the former then it gets my backing. A nice start for Hannah but she'll need a massive chorus for her second single. If she wants to compete with the likes of Lady GaGa and Agnes Carlsson she'll have to dig deep and blow us away. I am waiting for the big epic part but it fails to give me what I want. As such it only verges on something amazing. 3/5
The Prophet: Oh God who is this, she's horrible! She looks like a skinnier version of Michelle McManus! And why do all Bimbo Jones remixes sound exactly the same?? EPIC FAIL! 0/5
Total: 13/35

Sidney Samson - Riverside (Video)

The Dutch DJ recently scored a very unexpected top 10 hit in Australia with this dance anthem.

CC: I dig this. Great video too. 4/5
D'Luv: Wow, the bar's really been set low for dance anthems. 2/5
Mike: I'm guessing the majority of the panel hasn't seen the inside of a nightclub since the 90s. This is a sizzling slice of rhythmic techno. The beats are killer and I love the naughty hook. 4/5
Pablo: Erm... excuse me? 0/5
Paul: Fucking hell. Talking about dragging the depths of pop depravity. Riverside motherfucker indeed. I kept waiting for it to start in a don't bore us get to the chorus type moment. My fucking ears are bleeding. What tripe. 0/5
Rob: Fucking tragic. Too stupid for words. Why is this even in here? 1/5
The Prophet: I've never heard this before but it's pretty cool. 3/5
Total: 14/35

JLS - Beat Again (Video)

The debut single from last year's X Factor rejects.

CC: Ha ha ha. I laughed at the cliche of this boy band pop song but then it grew on me. By the end of this song I loved it. It's cheezy. It cheers me up. I can't stop singing the chorus. I love it! "I need love CPR!" Ha ha ha, did he really say that? so cheeeezy. It's perfect. 5/5
D'Luv: This follows the perfect boy band formula—minimal melody but one brief, catchy hook tucked away in the chorus (in this case, the "won't beat again, it's killing me" bit). I'd dock it a point for so blatantly ripping off Kardinal Offishall's "Dangerous," but...what a great song to cop from! 4/5
Mike: If you threw every boyband cliche into a blender and sprinkled in some of the worst lyrics ever written, you would end up with something very similar to "Beat Again". It's abysmal but there is a so bad it's funny thing going on. 2/5
Pablo: This is one of the reasons why miss fabulous, glamorous, lovely Cheryl Cole didn't made them winners. 1/5
Paul: Oh Marvin can beat me off again anytime. It sort of sounds like a Chris Brown comeback single (though thank god it isn't with that title!) and it's certainly going for the edgy pop meets electro tag. However, underneath that blustering bravado is a very simple song, with a catchy hook performed by the real winners of last years X Factor. And it's ultimately quite cheap and quite charming. 4.5/5
Rob: Incredibly unoriginal. American boybands have been doing this sort of stuff the past 10 years. Hell, British boybands been and gone have already covered this ground (Blue/Another Level). X Factor showed off their vocals and this simply autotunes their distinct vocal qualities to white noise. Simply shit. Oh, and next time spend more than £1.50 on your video. 1.5/5
The Prophet: This would've been good like 15 years ago! They remind me of a black BSB, and I mean that in a bad way. 0/5
Total: 18/35

Frankmusik - Confusion Girl (Video)

Forget Frank. Holly Valance stars in the video!

CC: Oh dear. Any song that starts off with "I know we've had our ups and downs, at times I would look like the clown..." Yeah that's one of those songs you write and then throw in the rubbish when you play it to yourself again when you're sober and realise it's absolute crap. And who put Holly Valance in that god awful purple dress? It's fugly! She is hot but not even she can save this song or the video. 1/5
D'Luv: Classic pop in every way. I'm not totally aboard the Vincent Frank bandwagon, but this has me thinking about taking a test ride. 4.5/5
Mike: Frankmusik? More like Fuckinshitmusik. And who's Vincent kidding by "dating" Holly? They're clearly the Will & Grace of electropop! 2/5
Pablo: A song that could be for "I have my period but feeling kinda happy". The chorus reminds me of some other song, but I can't remember which one. 3/5
Paul: He's very hyped isn't he? I do quite like this song, but I'm not exactly mad over it. For me, he doesn't really live up to the hype and this has done little to change my mind. Holly's best acting since she unfeasibly turned up as Michael's mail order russian bride on Prison Break though. 3/5
Rob: Absolutely awful video. Billie got there with this a decade ago. Song is pretty sweet. 5ive would consider this as a b-side. 3/5
The Prophet: I only watched this originally for Queen Holly (bow down and show respect!) but now I'm obsessed with Frankmusik and this song! It's been on repeat for me. 4.5/5
Total: 21/35



MPHO - Box N Locks

This hugely hyped diva's debut samples the 80s classic "Echo Beach".


CC: Fantastic looking video. I am all about colourful clips. What's with the brown bangs and the black pony tail though? Great styling. Cute song but kinda boring and forgettable. She's very hot and I think she will be around for a while if she gets some stronger songs. I like the sample. It's a cool jam. 3.5/5
D'Luv: I went to take a piss while this was playing, and when I came back, it was unfortunately still going. 1/5
Mike: This isn't so much a debut single as a declaration of intent. It's a bit clumsy at times but I love the sample and the message behind her lyrics. 3.5/5
Pablo: It's like trying to be a bad girl, sounding pop but wanting to be R'n'B. Quite catchy. 3/5
Paul: I've seen this on popjustice a lot but never really bothered to check it out. I've missed out really because it is a lot better than I thought. Slightly punky, breakneck speed chorus with a catchy hook. It does remind me of someone, but i can't think who. Utterly decent overall though, specially the hand claps in the middle 8! 3.5/5
Rob: Terrible lyrics. Boring music. Trying too hard to fit into that "pop is cool" category. Absolutely fails though. 2.5/5
The Prophet: I did a feature on MPHO the other week on my blog! I love her, the lyrics scream a little "Look at me I'm an individual!" but I understand she needs to do that for the first single. I think she's great! 4.5/5
Total: 21.5/35

Black Eyed Peas - I Gotta Feeling (Video)

The BEP’s latest single was produced by acclaimed French DJ David Guetta.

CC: I was really looking forward to this song. I love the Peas. They are one of my favourite groups. I love them. I can't believe they used a vocoda. They sound like some fucking overproduced RnB band. Boo. Taboo is so sexy and looks hot in this video. For that he gets a point. And fergie rocks, her singing verse is the highlight of this song. This just sounds like a Daft Punk remix. What's the saying I'm looking for here? I like your old stuff better than your new stuff. 2/5
D'Luv: I'm no fan of the Peas, but I'm man enough to set my preconceived notions aside when an artist I don't have a taste for comes up with a decent pop single. "I Gotta Feeling" grabbed my ear the first time I heard it on the radio. That said, "I Gotta Feeling" is almost too gimmicky, and will surely be played to death from here to Guam this summer. 3/5
Mike: This captures that great feeling of expectation before a big night out. It's the musical equivalent of every great Saturday night you've ever had rolled into one. "I Gotta Feeling" is THE party anthem of 2009. 5/5
Pablo: Simply perfection! I totally hate Fergie, I can't stand will.i.am... but this song (and the complete album) is perfect. This song gets much better with the party video. 5/5
Paul: Ridiculously I had a moment this week where I sort of liked their "Boom Boom Pow" single, but mercifully that has passed. And mercifully David Guetta has injected some decent pop magic into this tune. What a relief because I still find them quite annoying and odious. If I was already dancing to "Love Takes Over" and this came on, I wouldn't walk off the dance floor. 3/5
Rob: This sounds like a brilliant eastern European dance record that the types of DJ Bobo would cover and make a smash hit in Switzerland. In other words, very good indeed. 4/5
The Prophet: I love the Peas and this is a hot song but "Boom Boom Pow" is much better. I think this is a little too radio friendly and pop. 3.5/5
Total: 25.5/35

Dan Black - Symphonies (Video)

Dan's debut single borrows elements from "Umbrella" & Biggie's "Hypnotize".

CC: Beautiful, cute song. I love it. Indie simplicity. 5/5
D'Luv: "Symphonies" seems like the type of song Robbie Williams wishes he was still young and interesting enough to make. Luckily, Dan Black's delivery here is more charming than anything Robbie's vomitted up over the past 10 years. 3/5
Mike: Extraordinary from beginning to end. I love the strings, I love the eclectic influences and most of all, I admire Dan's ability to pull everything together to come up with something new. Simple and beautiful. 5/5
Pablo: An epic begining for a song that includes hocus pocus in its lyrics. Bad sign! I like the violins but the song is weird. "Umbrella", ballad and almost a rap. I don't get it. 2/5
Paul: Oh my i love this tune, which is quite surprising considering "Umbrella" just passed me by. I just really like the lyrics and it just grooves along at it's own pace. Very summery and I find Dan's voice quite delicious. Tres bon. 4/5
Rob: Amazing. I love anything that has a slight reference to Star Trek. This is what Darren Hayes has always tried to achieve. Symphonies is in that box marked "probably best songs of 2009". Absolutely inspiring. 5/5
The Prophet: Biggies "Hypnotize" and Rihanna's "Umbrella" are two of the greatest songs ever. Don't sample them so heavily if you can't do it justice. I'd rather just listen to the originals. 2/5
Total: 26/35

SINGLE OF THE WEEK



Shena - My Fantasy

Disco never dies!


CC: Mmm disco music. Never really been my thing. There's nothing really wrong with this song, it's just that this stuff all sounds the same to me. Great soulful voice but I have to deduct points for this just not being my fave genre even though that's a little unfair. 2/5
D'Luv: You can sorta tell Shena probably gives wicked-awesome head. 3/5
Mike: The thing I love most about "My Fantasy" is the fact that it's authentic disco (ie. with real instruments) not some tragic modern day interpretation. Shena could be the cult diva of 2009. 4/5
Pablo: Totally like! Nothing new about this sound, heard it all before, but it's always good to get up and dance. 4.75/5
Paul: Ooh this is bloody ace. It reminds me of that Sheena Easton album of disco covers from a few years back. This is drenched in the super sounds of disco and sounds so familiar that you swear you have heard it before. This is possibly the best song that i have discovered through the pop panel suggestions. Aces. 4.5/5
Rob: Disco arouses me to the core. I think she can do better though. 4/5
The Prophet: Fabulous! Love the 70's disco vibe. This is so good! 4/5
Total: 26.25/35