Thursday, January 28, 2010

The 9th Single From Sasha Fierce?

Now honey, you better sit down and look around, 'cause you must have bumped your head!

Just when you thought Beyoncé had taken off her weave and hung up her heels for the final time in the Sasha Fierce era, the diva has squeezed out yet another single. "Why Don't You Love Me?" is currently sitting at #3 on the US Dance Chart thanks to sizzling remixes from Lost Daze, Jump Smokers and Karmatronic - among others - and is a strong contender for the top spot. I'm pretty sure this is just a club release to keep the gays happy and provide Solange with some much needed pocket money (she co-wrote the song) but I'm still shocked that they bothered. I guess Beyoncé had a spare five minutes and just thought what the hell. Whatever the reason, it's an inspired choice. "Why Don't You Love Me?" has been a favourite of mine from the beginning, probably because it positively reeks of my Sol-Angel. The track is a funkadelic explosion of 70s soul with a killer chorus and truly memorable lyrics. Think of this as Beyoncé's "Sandcastle Disco". None of the mixes improve on the original but the Jump Smokers Remix seems to be getting the most attention from clubbers. My favourite mix comes from Swedish DJ RedTop (below). He retains the old school flavour but takes it a step further by incorporating disco elements for the full 70s experience. I know it's an acquired taste but I absolutely love it. Keep 'em coming, B!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Florence & The Machine 26/01/10

Ok, I have to get two things off my chest. Firstly, if Florence is 23 - then Lady GaGa is sweet 16 and never been kissed. I don't care that she resembles Nicki French circa 1998 (I actually find it endearing) but at least pick a believable stage age. Like 37. Secondly, Florence & The Machine are completely fucking brilliant live. Last night's show was one of the most electric pop/rock concerts I've ever seen. I didn't think "Lungs" could get any better but dirty, old Flo breathed new life into the album, taking each and every song to dizzying new heights. After hearing the indie pop Queen's unfortunate Live Lounge cover of "Halo", I had my doubts about her vocal chops but halfway through the opening number (a wicked rendition of "My Boy Builds Coffins") they disappeared. Florence's voice is an amazing instrument - at times raw and rough ("Kiss With A Fist"), occasionally soft and fragile ("I'm Not Calling You A Liar"), always gripping and powerful. There's just something special about this woman. She's got the love (and hype) from critics but also has the talent back it up.

It's hard to select a single highlight from a concert this good but, if pressed, I'd probably choose the band's primal rendition of "The Drumming Song" or their shambolic sing-a-long version of "Dog Days Are Over". Another favourite was "Howl". Can this catchy anthem please be the next single instead of "Hurricane Drunk"? They're both great songs but one is a sure fire radio hit, while the other is a #87 smash in waiting. I guess it doesn't matter when you already have a #1 album. One of the best things about the show was gaining a new appreciation for tracks I stupidly ignored in the past. I finally get the brilliance of "Between Two Lungs", while "Cosmic Love" is quite possibly the prettiest song Flo has ever recorded. As much as I enjoyed the album tracks, it was only fitting that she keep her two biggest hits for the encore. "You've Got The Love" (one of the band's few duds) sounds much less shit live, while "Rabbit Heart" (their best track) was absolutely explosive. I'm trying to think of criticisms but all I can come up with is the relatively short duration (they played for less than an hour). The band was tight, the setlist was pretty comprehensive and Florence was mesmerising. I have a feeling the next time they play Sydney it will be somewhere a lot less intimate than The Metro.

Still my favourite Florence track

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dannii - A Tribute

A belated congratulations to Dannii for breaking the Minogue curse and getting knocked up before her uterus rusts over. I wish her and Kris every happiness!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Luciana's Australian Smash

There must be something (fabulous) in the water. Last week Sia registered her first Australian hit with "You've Changed" and now UK dance diva Luciana debuts at #35 with her club smash "I Like That". The song has a long history on Pop Trash Addicts. It featured on Pop Panel 7 way back in June last year and shamefully came in last place! A month later I interviewed Luciana about the track and her future plans. At the time I would never have guessed that "I Like That" would become the soundtrack to summer 2010. The song is unavoidable in clubs and finally seems to be taking off on radio. As a fan from WAY back, it's hugely satisfying to see Luciana doing so well in Australia. I actually got to hang out with the dance icon during her recent whirlwind trip to Sydney and I know she has huge plans for 2010 - so I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, download "I Like That" from iTunes (I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a physical single to add to my collection) and watch the brilliant video clip (below). Congrats again to Luci, Nick, Stephen & David!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Kaylah Marin - On The Floor

I was introduced to Kaylah Marin's powerful pipes about a year ago. Her debut album had just been released and was getting a fair amount of buzz among neo-soul fans. "Loving Life" never really took off despite the involvement of super producer Narada Michael Walden (Whitney, Mariah and Aretha) and I completely forgot about the diva until remixes of her latest single arrived in my inbox a couple of weeks ago. Imagine my surprise when I gave them a spin and realised Kaylah had momentarily ditched the R'n'B scene in favour of the bright lights of... gay nightclubs. It's an unlikely transformation but the radical overhaul of "On The Floor" is a stroke of genius. The slow funk of the original has been replaced with trashtastic dance beats and an explosive chorus that allows Kaylah's deep, soulful voice free reign. Think Jocelyn Brown with Kim Sozzi production values. Yes, it's that amazing! It seems I'm not the only gay to fall under the dance diva's spell. "On The Floor" is currently sitting pretty at #9 on the US Club Chart ahead of Ke$ha, Madonna and Rihanna. Speaking of stunning achievements, the film clip (below) has just dropped and it ranks alongside "Single Ladies" and "Bad Romance" as one of the most... unforgettable videos of the past 5 years. And yes, I've checked - this is official! Kaylah's anthem is available to download from iTunes now.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sia Finally Has A Hit!

I know this isn't exactly breaking news but I'm still excited about Sia finally experiencing some much deserved commercial success in Australia. The indie pop icon slowly gained chart moment in 2009 ("Buttons" and "Soon We'll Be Found" scraped into the top 100 at #67 and #89 respectively) but "You've Changed" is her first legitimate crossover hit. The upbeat pop anthem debuted at a lofty #42 and should climb higher this week. Pretty impressive considering the song has been floating around online for over a year and only gets played on one radio station in Sydney! I couldn't be happier for Sia. Australia's second most famous bisexual (after Dannii) has been woefully ignored in her homeland for so long that something had to give and "You've Changed" was just the song to do it. As much as I love the Lauren Flax original, Greg Kurstin's organic disco-tinged overhaul is even better. It's so relentlessly joyous and takes the irresistible chorus to a whole new level. If this is any indication of Sia's forthcoming album, I think we're in for something incredibly special. Make sure you check out the video (above). It's not as epic as some of her previous efforts but I love the bright colours, cute effects and quirky set-up. Sia is on fire at the moment.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Heidi Montag's Pop Masterpiece

In breaking news Madonna just ripped out her chicken cutlets and bought a time share in Florida. Reports also confirm that Kylie has just accepted a job as Dannii's new nanny, while Beyoncé is currently on the phone to Solange getting emergency counselling on how it feels to be a nobody. In yet another shocking development, music lovers are mourning the news that La Toya won't be startin' over for at least another 9 years. What could possibly spook pop's leading ladies to such a devastating extent? The answer, my friends, is an album so magnificent it makes "Thriller" sound like "3 Words". From the moment Heidi Montag unleashed her stunning debut single upon the world, it was immediately apparent that pop music had a new saviour. The reality TV superstar followed that anthem with gem after gem but nothing can prepare you for the genius of "Superficial". Heidi's much delayed debut album raises the bar to such an extent that it automatically makes every other diva in the business redundant. Never before has one reed thin voice belted out so many unforgettable anthems about topical issues like clubbing, shopping and looking hot. Heidi's music will not only make you dance - it will widen the horizons of your mind and help put you on the path to righteousness. Here is my track by track review of 2010's first masterpiece:

Look How I'm Doing

I showed you a kiss that they do in France

Like many of the amazing anthems on "Superficial", the opening number isn't exactly new. In fact, slightly different versions previously appeared on both "Wherever I Am" and "Here She Is" - the two EPs Ms Montag released in 2009. I totally understand why "Look How I'm Doing" has been recycled more often than your average Stargate beat. The Cathy Dennis penned, Steve Morales produced track is one of the album's catchiest tunes. I love the chorus, vocal hooks ("ha ha ha ha") and insightful lyrics about looking sexy. Heidi's breathy voice effortlessly floats above the urban dance beats like an angel in heaven making this a memorable opener.

Turn Ya Head

If you're hungry for pleasure, I'll serve you a measure

Heidi's attempt to revolutionise urban pop as we know it also appeared on both her previous EPs. I'm slightly disappointed that "Turn Ya Head" made the cut while vastly superior tracks like "Overdosin", "Fashion" and "Body Language" were left off. There's nothing wrong with the song itself. It just sounds like an outtake from Britney's "Blackout" album - only with better vocals and classier lyrics. However, a major talent like Heidi deserves more challenging material. I think Cathy Dennis was taking the piss on this one.

Fanatic

Boy, you got me checking that I've got a temperature

Apparently this is going to be the album's second single. I was worried when I read that the producer's previous credits include Z grade losers like Anastacia and Delta Goodrem but "Fanatic" is something of a surprise packet. It's a funktastic mid-tempo pop tune drenched in 80s influences - particularly vintage Prince. That could be the reason it reminds me of Kylie's "Still Standing" so strongly. The song works and I like that Heidi has found the time to experiment with her sound between plastic surgeries but it's not really single material. There are better tracks on the album and the level of autotune on "Fanatic" should come with a safety warning.

Superficial

They say I'm superficial, some call me a bitch
They're just mad 'cause I'm sexy, famous and I'm rich


The album's title track and lead single is a stunning indictment of popular culture and the value judgements made against innocent publicity whores like Heidi. Just because the diva underwent 10 plastic surgeries in one day doesn't make her superficial. It just reflects favourably on her time management skills! Think of this stinging swipe at Heidi's critics as her personal theme song. Furthermore, classy lyrics like "hoppin' out the Maserati, all I see is paparazzi" ensure the track's status as a future trash classic.

More Is More

It's fucking chaos in here

"More Is More" is generally regarded as Heidi's most commercial track, which is reflected by the fact that it is her only hit - reaching a lofty #27 on the US dance chart. Steve Morales really knows how to bring the best out of The Hills icon. She tears up the vocal and injects some real passion into the song. I guess getting wasted in a club is an issue close to Heidi's heart. All jokes aside, "More Is More" would have been a huge hit for anyone else and just proves that evil haters are conspiring to ruin the diva's music career. Have strength, Heidi!

One More Drink

I'm getting lost in this liquid high,
I'm elevated to some new heights


Beer goggles don't get a lot of recognition in popular music but this stunning ode to intoxication rigorously explores the benefits of hooking up while pissed. Legislation should be introduced requiring this song be blasted out of every bar and club on a Saturday night. Heidi is now the patron saint of drunk sex! Inspiring lyrics aside, I actually think "One More Drink" is a brilliant pop tune. The Runners are best known for producing rap acts like Rick Ross and Lil Wayne but unlike some of Heidi's collaborators (I'm talking to you, Cathy Dennis!), these guys have taken the brief seriously and come up with a slinky little anthem that gets stuck in your head and refuses to leave. Worth checking out for camp value alone.

Twisted

You won't let me leave, you want to strangle me

I wanted to strangle Heidi too by the end of "Twisted". It's a pretty standard bad boyfriend song produced by Sebastian Jacome (the man behind hits for A Listers like the Cheetah Girls and Mexican goddess Anahí) but my problem is the grating vocal. I usually love the pop visionary's voice but she sounds like she's choking on Spencer's cock on this one.

Hey Boy

Don't act like you're payin' my bills,
When you know your broke ass can't even pay attention


Sebastian returns with a similarly themed tune on "Hey Boy". Happily, this is a vastly better effort and wouldn't sound out of place on Ashlee Simpson's hugely underrated "Bittersweet World" album. The production is perky - the combination of rock and dance elements works well - and the lyrics have some much needed bite. A lot of haters have dismissed "Superficial" as sounding like the one song repeated twelve times but "Hey Boy" is an example of Heidi switching things up and exploring different genres. I still think her calling is synthpop but this isn't horrible by any means.

My Parade

The main attraction if you're lookin' for some action

Don't be put off by the song's opening verse, which sounds like yet another cheerleading anthem in the vein of Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl". "My Parade" swiftly transforms into a straightforward pop track and is ultimately a fine addition to Heidi's growing library of party anthems. The production (courtesy of Fingazz) is Danja-lite but that's a compliment of sorts. The heavy beats will get your feet moving and mercilessly take the attention away from the inane lyrics.

Blackout

I'm over the stories that we'll never make it,
When I think of losing you, baby I hate it


There isn't a lot more I can say about "Blackout". I already devoted a post to its brilliance and featured it in my best of 2009 countdown. I guess I'd just like to reiterate that this is the sound I think Heidi should be pursuing. Her voice tends to get swallowed by heavy beats, which rules out the vast majority of Britney/Robyn rip-offs she is given. The more subtle synthpop of "Overdosin'", "Body Language" and "Blackout" is where she comes into her own. In all seriousness, I'd love Kylie or Dannii to have a song this good on either of their next albums.

I'll Do It

I fuck to get attention,
I brought some treats,
I know that you're gonna love 'em
Eat my panties off of me


And the award for the best song of "Superficial" goes to "I'll Do It" in a landslide. Yet another Steve Morales production, this sleazy jam is absolutely outrageous. Heidi displays her formidable intellect by dissecting gender roles with probing lyrics like "I'll be your hot mess, school girl with curls - whatever you like, I'll do it". Apart from exploring sexual politics and popular culture's dark underbelly of misogyny, the song also boasts a wicked chorus and dizzying middle eight. I can't get enough of this filth.

Love It Or Leave It

I'm an important lady,
When I show up they pay me


Appropriately, the album ends with another fuck you to Heidi's critics. Unlike the title track, "Love It Or Leave It" actually has a bit of bite and works surprisingly well. The production and autotune overload smoothers her voice but this is the closest you're going to get to the real Heidi. All in all, "Superficial" is a remarkably enjoyable collection of pop tunes that deserved to sell more than a mere 658 copies in its first week! Chalk this up as 2010's first great album.

Rating - 10/10

"I'll Do It" - my favourite track on "Superficial"

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Natalie Miller - Pop Trash Interview


Natalie circa 2010

Welcome back for 2010! I know it's been ages since my last post but I was hoping to give the blog a much needed overhaul and desperately wanted to come back with a bang. Well, I failed miserably on the first count (if someone can help makeover this dive - please send me an email!) but I think I did considerably better on the second. Towards the end of last year I wrote a couple of nostalgic posts about much loved Young Talent Time alumni Natalie Miller. I shared one of my YTT favourite videos and reminisced about what I thought was Natalie's only single. As it turns out, the 80s icon read that post and kindly agreed to be probed about her YTT glory years, bad hair days, her friendship with Dannii, singing back up for Kylie and her (failed but) fabulous music career. I'm hugely excited to have Natalie on Pop Trash and hope you all enjoy this walk down memory lane as much as I did.

Thanks so much for agreeing to chat. Like many gays of a certain age (mid-20s... *cough*), I grew up watching you on Young Talent Time and have been a fan ever since. What are you up to these days? Are you still in music?
Well, I did continue singing for many years, however these days I have stepped behind the scenes and am very busy doing a number of things. I manage a couple of young bands - Chicks Who Love Guns and The Vignettes - with my fiance. I also have a casting company called Citizen Jane which specialises in 'street casting' which is keeping me very busy. I also work in event production and work on a lot of fashion shows as well as parties, etc. I have always liked to keep busy and wear a few hats!


This much glamour should be illegal

YTT was such an iconic show but it also left a bit of a stigma, for want of a better word, on the cast members. In retrospect, do you think the show was a blessing or a curse? Did it help or hinder your career?
I think I can only look at it in a positive light. If it hadn't have been for the show there is every chance I would not have done most of the things I have done in my life. Music is a very hard business to start out in as a complete unknown so the show definitely gave me a foot in the door. Having said that, I do think it gave people - mostly industry insiders such as record company execs - a pre-conceived idea of what to expect from me which was sometimes frustrating. In the long run though, I probably wouldn't even be doing what I do now without that entry into show business at such a young age.

Who were you closest with on the show?
Dannii, Vince and Tim. We were a little foursome and used to laugh and have so much fun.

Do you have a favourite YTT performance? I love your cover of Sabrina's "Boys (Summertime Love)" and "Together In Electric Dreams".
Oh my goodness! You seem to have a much better memory of it all than I do!! I think mine would probably be the medley (ha ha!!) of Janet Jackson hits "Nasty Girls/What Have You Done For Me Lately" that Dannii and I did. It was quite edgy at the time for the show and seeing that I always got the Mother Of The Week soppy ballads, was a great chance for me to show my cool side!! Dannii and I also choreographed that little number ourselves..... I think we ripped most of the moves directly off the Janet Jackson filmclips which we studied in Dannii's lounge room for hours!


Natalie & Dannii show Janet how it's done!

Can you tell us something we might not already know about Dannii. When was the last time you saw her?
I haven't seen Dannii for years! I think I ran into her by chance in London about 9 years ago maybe? All I can tell you is that she was always very fun and had a great sense of humour. We were very close growing up on the show.

Speaking of the Minogues, I distinctly remember you singing back up for Kylie. How did that come about? What are your memories from the Intimate & Live tour? That was the start of Kylie's big comeback in Australia.
Chong Lim who was the musical director for the tour actually called me re that gig, as it was primarily the Farnham Band however Kylie's producer wanted to bring in a couple of extra members. I had known Kylie since I was very young and had also been friends with her manager for some time so strange that it came about that way. I have the BEST memories of that tour! We had a total blast on stage and off. Kylie's popularity had dropped off a little at that point so the shows were in smaller theatre venues but the audiences just kept coming and more shows were being added all the time. The crowds had so much fun at those shows as well. I think it was also great to see Kylie in a 'band' situation like that and I am sure she would also have great memories of that tour. I was so lucky getting opportunities such as that. I also did backing vocals for some other great acts including INXS, Barbra Streisand and Deep Purple. Quite a mixed bag!!!


You also worked with another iconic Australian. Tell us about your stunning 1988 duet with Vinnie Del Tito. Was it a hit?
Ha! Not so stunning I am afraid! We were pretty much fresh out of YTT and we did a tour together... RSL clubs and the like. Very cabaret! During that period we did record a single. I was very young then so I have no idea how it sold etc but I can safely confirm it wasn't a hit! I was kind of in the habit of doing what I was told at that point without questioning the long term advantages or disadvantages. Not that I was forced into it! I had just not thought about what I wanted to do with music as a career at that point. I was only 16.

In an old Smash Hits magazine you mentioned recording a Stock Aitken Waterman song called "When You Gonna". Do you remember anything about it?
Hmm.... I don't remember this to be honest however it is possible I had been sent the song from a publishing company for consideration. You would be surprised how many songs are out there by big hit makers that have never been recorded .... but that is probably for a reason in most cases.


A couple of weeks ago I found a copy of your classy Max22 collaboration in my box of trashy treasures and posted it on the blog. Who was Max22? What do you make of that song now? And most importantly, what the hell was going on with your hair?
OMG! The hair!! Look, I am not excusing the hair however the issue on the cover is more to do with the artwork and the way they have cut around the image to place it on the white background. Still, bad hair but not my first bad hair moment! That whole song came about pretty much by accident. I used to help a friend out demoing vocals for 'pocket money' years ago back in Melb. He was writing with the Max 22 guy and I had done the original demo however I was never meant to be part of the act.... he had 2 other girls in Sydney for that job. Anyway, he ended up getting a record deal and when they recorded the single version in Sydney they flew me up to do some extra backing vocals. This then got sent to Germany to be mixed and came back with ONLY my vocals for the girl parts! So, I was then asked to appear as a guest vocalist which I agreed to. To be honest, I have never really been into that style of music but I was helping out some friends and thought I had nothing to lose if it went well. It has however now haunted me for years... especially in the aforementioned gay community! But better to be remembered than forgotten!


Brat - circa 2003

You disappeared for a while but re-emerged in 2003 with the band Brat. "He Said She Said" (below) was a very different sound for you. Was it a calculated step to distance yourself from your YTT image? (NB - I did some research and was genuinely surprised by the hype surrounding Brat. The praise the band receive in this Sydney Morning Herald article is impressive).
Definitely not calculated. That was actually the most honest representation of me and my musical tastes on record. For years I played with different styles of music but then I discovered a love for rock and indie music. Brat was definitely a lot more of a pop version of these styles however there is nothing wrong with pop music in my eyes. In hindsight, I wish I had of discovered that side of me a few years earlier but I certainly have no regrets.

The song had an amazing B-side "Everywhere You Go". Was that written for the same project? Was an album ever recorded?
Again, a long time ago! I am having trouble remembering the exact timeline.... There was an album recorded which I am extremely proud of. It was however quite a bit different from both those tracks. I think when I recorded "He Said She Said" it was going to be a solo project initially but then I decided I wanted to put a band together. On that initial single I had the drummer from Howling Bells and Gary Beers from INXS on bass. I believe the producer - Barry Palmer from Hunters & Collectors - played guitar. I then put a more permanent band together who went on to record the album with me as well as collaborate on some of the writing. Nothing ever came of it unfortunately. I also moved to London and reformed the band over there as Citizen Jane. We did lots of gigs around London but again, nothing really came of it. I am still very proud of that album, however, so I think that made it easier for me to walk away from the limelight and step into a behind the scenes role.

LOL

You still have a lot of fans. Have you ever considered making a comeback?
Not anymore. I am almost 36 years old... not the time to be starting afresh! I am getting married this year and am finding success in the areas I am now working which is extremely satisfying after years of being the 'on the verge'! You can only be a struggling/starving musician for so long. There is more to life!

Thanks for your time and all the wonderful YTT memories!
Thanks to you and all the fans for enjoying the good and the bad!


Brat's one and only video clip - the brilliant "He Said She Said"