Sunday, February 28, 2010

George Michael - Live In Sydney

As you can tell, I had amazing seats!

It's not easy being a fan of 80s pop icons with highly publicised drug habits. I spent Wednesday night bathing in Whitney's sweat soaked glamour before doing it all over again on Friday at George Michael's Sydney show. The concerts couldn't have been more different - George was actually lucid and sang in tune - but I enjoyed them both equally. Albeit for very different reasons. Whitney was a hot mess but there was something unusually intimate about her trainwreck of a tour. George, on the other hand, was the epitome of professionalism. Everything from the staging to the setlist was immaculate and he cemented his reputation as a consummate live performer. Having just stumbled home from Mardi Gras, I'm not quite up to writing a proper review but here are some random thoughts on the George Michael experience:

1. The man still looks hot - especially for a middle aged pothead. George, call me if you get bored. We'll smoke a bowl and cruise some beats!

2. Time has not wearied the brilliance of "Fast Love", "Too Funky" and "Freedom" one iota.

3. Dita Von Teese almost stole the show with her saucy video montage.

4. "My Mother Had A Brother" gets me every time. Without a doubt one of the most heartbreaking songs about homosexuality ever written.

5. Speaking of gayness, dedicating "Amazing" to (his partner) Kenny was a nice touch. I also liked the banter about Mardi Gras and his amusing warning about over-zealous policemen.

6. I wish he'd leave "Roxanne" to Sting. It was one of the night's few misfires.

7. The ballad section was lovely. George has one of the most underrated voices in pop music.

8. "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go" and "I Want Your Sex" were glaring omissions. I would have also loved to hear "Monkey" and "Precious Box".

9. Vodka and Johnny Walker don't mix. Believe me, I learned the hard way.

10. The highlight of the night was "Outside". The video projections were amazing and George rocked that police uniform.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

2010 Mardi Gras Special - La Chiquitta

Move over RuPaul and Dana International - pop music has a new drag icon! Fresh from the back alleys of hottest club in Hong Kong, La Chiquitta has recorded the campest single of 2010. The title speaks for itself. "Tranny In The House" is an hilarious ode to the glitz and glamour of drag life, making it the perfect Mardi Gras anthem. I really don't know where to start. This is one of the stunning jams that you just have to hear for yourself (see bottom of post). I'm not sure what's more appealing - La Chiquitta's stunning voice (think Heidi Montag meets Kim Zolciak) or the classy lyrics. My favourite line is "if you want it hot and heavy, call the tranny when you're ready". Cathy Dennis is so jealous right now! Produced by expat Australian DJ Stonedog, the song is the latest offering from Volume nightclub's in-house record label and will feature on their first compilation scheduled for release in Summer (ie. our Winter). Can you imagine if someone had the balls to do this in Australia? Courtney Act on Nevermind Records or Maxi Shield courtesy of Midnight Shift Music Pty Ltd? Fabulous. Anyway, enjoy my brief chat with Hong Kong's hottest tranny and grab a copy of her genre defining masterpiece on Ebay. See you on Oxford Street in about an hour. Happy Mardi Gras!

Girl, how did you get into drag? Was it always your ambition to be Hong Kong's premiere drag queen?
If I'd gone to drag school I'd probably get the title "Least Likely To Succeed" in our yearbook. I was the laziest, most half-hearted brat queen when I was starting - I didn't wanna shave my pits and legs, I wore the shortest heels, I only had one wig in my closet and somebody always had to do my make up for me. I started out in a trio called The Glitterazzis and we performed every month at Volume for almost a year until we had to take a break due to exclusivity issues. To answer the second question, I didn't see myself doing anything more than a monthly show for Volume. That was already THE ultimate dream for me. Like I said in a recent blog entry, to dress up in drag is a fantasy for so many gay men. But to dress up in drag and be applauded for a performance is something else. It gives you a certain kind of high. Now, to be a drag queen, and to be given a chance to record your own song, then, be backed up by legitimate media is so much more than I could ever ask for. I can retire now. But of course I won't. I'm only just beginning to conquer the world!

I've been called a lot of things but never legitimate. Thank you! Now, there is a long history of drag queens becoming pop stars - Divine, Dana International, Madonna etc. Were those pioneers an inspiration to you?
No, they weren't. I didn't know them then. My exposure to drag culture was hideously limited. But they are now. It helps to have an idol that, you don't necessarily have to imitate, but whose stature and craft you will want to achieve someday. Like Lypsinka's prolific artistic career, Mitzi Macintosh and her dame-ness, Chelsea Buns and her world-famous dress and costume line, Ru Paul and her fame and beauty and the young but already-famous (and fellow Filipino) Ongina for just being the drag darling of the world.

"Tranny In The House" is amazing. Did you help write the thought provoking lyrics? Tell us about working with DJ Stonedog.
It only really started with two lines and by accident too. "There's a tranny in the house", I exclaimed when the guys were having too much fun and I wasn't getting the attention a queen rightly deserves. "Call the tranny when you're ready!" I said as a final warning. The boys found it funny. They were in stitches and that just pushed me to keep on going. I knew I was coming up with something brilliant, something life-altering, something bigger than all of us! So, I started recording the words that were coming out of my mouth, like a visionary writing down the words of a great apparition. The rest is history, recorded in mp3 format, and sold at HK$80 (about $10 AUD) per copy!

The best thing working with DJ Stonedog is that he owns a bar. You get a free drink for every brilliant idea. So you are motivated to keep your brain working. Other than that, he is down to earth, he doesn't have an ego that you have to constantly massage, he treats you like an equal and he's not imposing. Your input is welcome and he makes sure that you feel comfortable in the entire process. Most of all, he knows exactly how to deal with my whims and tantrums, being a retired drag queen himself!

I understand the gay scene in Hong Kong is relatively conservative. How has your music been received? You must have broken down barriers.
I am backed up by friends from the community. A lot of them are expats who are used to the more liberal gay life and a huge chunk of them are also locals who are pushing for change in the way their culture sees homosexuality, and every concept attached to it, and are embracing "that" more liberal way of gay life. To say that I have broken barriers would be over-glorifying myself. I might have challenged homophobia and dragophobia a little bit by prancing around the stage in a short frilly skirt and sequined panties and then announcing that I'm a top but I don't think that broke barriers. What I think I did, and I will claim credit for this, is that I gave my people a cute, catchy tune to dance to while they're doing the more noble job of breaking barriers. And it comes in five different remixes too!

I believe you had an interesting experience in an elevator recently....
Picture this: 5:30am winter morning. 8 gay guys from the Chinese New Year dance party trapped in a 2.5 by 2.5 foot lift that could only fit seven people. After 30 minutes and eight calls to the Helpline, they finally decided that the gay boys weren't joking and that they, indeed, needed help. At the first sign of help, a knock from the outside, I yelled "Help us, please!" Yelled, literally. Then I was told off. I said, "Everybody, I don't mean to shout, but there's a tranny TRAPPED in the fucking lift!" I finally got to retouch my eyeshadow at 6:30 in the morning.

LOL! Are you interested in recording more stunning dance anthems or was "Tranny In The House" a one off?
There is actually another song in the works and I have recorded it before "Tranny". It was meant to be released before "Tranny" but because we were having so much fun with "Tranny", we ended up finishing that first. Plus, DJ Stonedog had a feeling "Tranny" was a better first release. And he was right.

Will La Chiquitta ever visit Sydney or do we have to fly to Hong Kong to bathe in your glamour?
After my performance for Mr. Gay Hong Kong in October, my partner, who was born and raised in Sydney, started contacting people who were connected with this year's Mardi Gras. And we got an email telling us that there would be something for me for the Fair Day, if we were to go anyway. But we had very limited time and resources to plan it, so we're postponing it to next year. And I hope that the slot is still available then. I will definitely find a way and a chance to perform in Sydney, no matter how small. The most supportive "Chiquitta friends" that I have here in Hong Kong are Aussies. They love me. I have a feeling I can capture the heart of Sydney.

Finally, I have to ask - are you really a top? Gays of Hong Kong beware!
We are about to run out of copies of the CD to sell. Soon, you will find my CD on Ebay. The highest bidder for that will find out for himself!

Ebay will probably crash! Thanks for your time.
Kisses, Mike!


Friday, February 26, 2010

Whitney's Hot Mess Tour

I grew up listening to Whitney Houston. Her debut was the soundtrack to every dinner party my mother held in the mid-80s (along with Sade’s “Diamond Life”) and 1987’s “Whitney” was the first album I bought. My interest waned during the Bobby Brown years but “I Look To You” reignited the flame and I couldn’t wait to see the legendary diva drag her crack ravaged carcass around the stage despite the abysmal reviews. Critics have ridiculed Whitney’s voice, questioned her professionalism and mocked her wardrobe. And it’s hard to disagree. Her rendition of “The Greatest Love Of All” was a travesty, she often appeared as high as a kite disorientated and returned to the stage after intermission looking like she had just crawled out of Ke$ha’s luxury dumpster. The thing is – I still loved every minute of it. Whitney’s voice has taken more of a beating than Madonna’s vagina but her vocal shortcomings somehow made the show more intimate and raw, evoking an unexpectedly emotional response from the audience who took over singing duties when she couldn’t. It would have been easy to come on stage and mime like Britney but Nippy kept it real, flaws and all.

The show started promisingly. Whitney looked amazing in a slinky gold dress and launched straight into two of my favourite songs from her latest album – “For The Lovers” and “Nothin’ But Love”. Her voice was shaky but nowhere near as bad as the reviews would have you believe. It was great to see her looking so radiant and I was happy to see her (clumsily) perform some choreography. Someone needs to sign her up to the Kylie school of hand-dancing! There was a palpable sense of relief from fans when she finally made her way though “I Look To You” after a dodgy start and things genuinely looked up when she performed a brilliant reggae tinged version of “My Love Is Your Love” (one of my all time favourite songs) and endearingly hummed a few lines from “Like I Never Left”. Introducing her daughter to the crowd was a nice touch and I loved her diva tantrum before “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay”. The sound apparently wasn’t up to scratch and she had three false starts before belting out the song in rather fabulous style. A spot on rendition of “If I Told You That” closed the first act, which more than exceeded my expectations.

Unfortunately, the Whitney express was destined for a head on collision. The intermission was her first big mistake. It was great to hear her brother sing and I loved her band’s version of “Queen Of The Night” but the “One Moment In Time” video montage was a potent reminder of the sad decline in Whitney’s voice. She didn’t help her cause by returning to the stage wearing a transparent black top and what at first glance looked like a fluffy car seat cover. Her hair was also sweat soaked and limp, making the entire ensemble less than flattering. The acoustic section that followed was very hit and miss. “Saving All My Love For You” was rough but poignant, while “The Greatest Love Of All” was heartbreakingly bad. Whitney redeemed herself somewhat with a respectable take on “All At Once” before really coming through on “I Learned From The Best”, which was probably her best vocal performance of the night.

More enjoyable still was her increasingly erratic behaviour – she inexplicably stopped singing in the middle of songs, congratulated a lesbian couple holding a 25 Year anniversary banner on being “friends” as long as she has been making music, turned her back on the audience to speak to the band for extended periods, said that she was pleased to see so many people “as old as her mother” in the crowd and talked about missing Michael Jackson before ranting about fans talking to her while she’s trying to eat. It was a complete car crash but I couldn’t take my eyes off her.

Less fun was her extended sermon about Jesus and her woefully inept rendition of “I Love The Lord”. It was around this time that people started to walk out but it was their loss because (the remainder of) the crowd was completely swept up in the warm nostalgia of “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and “How Will I Know”. Her voice was pretty croaky by then but Whitney’s energy and obvious delight in getting her fans on their feet was compensation her vocal problems. I was genuinely worried when she launched into “I Will Always Love You” but it turned out to be surprisingly competent - if you overlook the two minutes of silence mid-song when she strolled to the back of the stage to grab a drink. Whitney’s upper and lower register are intact, it’s just everything else she has a problem with. I loved hearing her belt out her biggest hit and was moved when she hit the big note at the end. She probably should have left things there but she returned for a fun but sloppy version of “Million Dollar Bill”, followed by “I’m Every Woman”. That is until she turned around and left the stage halfway through the song without saying a word, leaving her band and dancers red faced. It was a fittingly twisted end to an emotional rollercoaster that I’d happily take again. Whitney is a lot of things. Boring isn’t one of them.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Elouise - The Stardust EP

In a market flooded with autotuned club anthems, rent-a-rappers and achingly hip indie pop queens, one English diva stands alone in a bubble of glitter and glamour. Her timeless torch songs and heartfelt ballads buck every perceivable trend in modern music by focusing on old school storytelling and sheer vocal talent. Two qualities that are captured perfectly on "The Stardust EP". As far as debuts go, this is very impressive. As it should be given Elouise's list of collaborators. Kylie's right hand man Steve Anderson produced the EP, while Dannii's former gay husband (before Nathan took over) contributed two tracks. That's not even mentioning the input of Rob from Don't Stop The Pop, who has been involved with Elouise from the very beginning and basically ensured that the whole project was fucking fabulous. Mission accomplished! "The Stardust EP" brilliantly pays tribute to the great torch singers of yesteryear without sounding tired or derivative. This woman really knows how to belt out a tune but her greatest skill lies in her unusual ability to interpret lyrics, bringing every nuance to life. Here are some random comments on Elouise's gorgeous calling card:

Another Day

Names like Dusty Springfield and Nancy Sinatra are thrown around when describing Elouise's music but I think she sounds like a cross between Olivia Newton-John and Shirley Bassey. A heady mix of sweetness and frailty with a flair for the bold and dramatic. "Another Day" showcases the diva's full range. Written by Steve Anderson and Terry Ronald, the track is the best Bond anthem never attached to a 007 movie. Steve's production is absolutely epic with the kind of booming chorus that would make most of today's (non-)singers die of fright. Breathtaking.

Pretender

The least hyped song on "Stardust" is probably my favourite. Terry Ronald obviously has most of
these albums in his collection because "Pretender" sounds like it was stolen straight from the Streisand songbook. I wonder if Tezza remembers our chats on the Dannii Board before I was banned for crimes against Nathan (ie. DDB)... but I digress. The piano intro is lovely and I completely identify with the desperate and slightly hysterical lyrics. I just wish Elouise would hold back a little in the chorus. She occasionally veers towards the West End when she goes full throttle and it dates the song unnecessarily. Anyway, it's a very minor criticism of a truly great tune.

Fireman Of My Dreams

This is the campest thing to be released by a (genetic) female in a long time. The double entendres about hoses and poles will ensure "Fireman Of My Dreams" instant cult status, while the genuinely catchy chorus and disarmingly sweet vocal delivery should win over more discerning music fans. Personally, the song reminds me of a naughty update of ONJ's "Hopelessly Devoted To You". In fact, it wouldn't sound out of place on the "Grease" soundtrack - which, in my opinion, is a huge compliment. Listen to Elouise's dirty ditty below.

"The Stardust EP" is available to buy at the Leicester Square Theatre in London from tomorrow with a proper digital and physical release (both domestic and international) to follow in March. The packaging is stunning, so don't be stingy! In the meantime, check out Elouise on Myspace and make sure to add her on Facebook.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Day The Music Died

So I come home after a hard weekend night on the tiles and decide to look at the charts before passing out on the lounge to the soothing sounds of Kelly Llorenna only to be confronted by an ABOMINATION. The evil troll from Girls Aloud somehow squirmed her way into our national top 10 with "3 Words". My faith in humanity has been shaken to the core. Are people mistakenly downloading this anal wart of a song because they usually associate will.i.am with good music or did the Chk Chk Boom Girl start a grass roots campaign to launch her hero's antipodean career? I'm shocked and appalled by this travesty of taste and justice. We have talentless fame whores a plenty in Australia without needing to import them. Hell, Shakaya has more urban credibility than this skank and will.i.am put together! What's next? Jade Ewen climbing to #1 with "My Man"? Jesus take the wheel and steer us towards real talent. Like this.

Friday, February 19, 2010

What Soraya Did Next!

Spain’s undisputed Queen of pop has been busy since coming a respectable second last in Eurovision last year. She re-released her amazing flop album, scored a top 30 hit in Sweden (on the virtually obsolete physical singles chart) and completed her sold out tour (of free shows at radio stations). Unlike desperate Edurne, who is now appearing on the Spanish version of Dancing With the Stars – Soraya continues to go from strength to strength while retaining her class and dignity! A case in point is Soraya’s latest endeavour as the nude cover girl of Must! Magazine’s "Sex Issue". As you can see from the clip above, the stunning diva is in fine form. Her beauty is almost as flawless as her voice and totally non-Botoxed forehead. More importantly, I'm told the song playing in the background is Soraya’s next single – a sure to be #77 smash hit collaboration with French DJ Antoine Clamaran. It goes without saying "Live Your Dreams" is already the best track of 2010 and I haven't even heard it! For more info check out this glamorous post.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Cum Inside Erika's Kingdom

Erika Heynatz has finally released her debut single! The former Australia's Next Top Model host and Farscape actress has been threatening to unleash an album since late 2006. I was played a couple of demos way back in 2008 but assumed EMI had scrapped the project when the stunning triple threat dropped off the radar. After listening to "Kingdom", it's pretty clear Erika spent that time overhauling her sound. The demos I heard were all uptempo numbers, while her debut is a gentle guitar driven pop song. As much as I would have loved another mutton-dressed-as-lamb dance diva to add to my stable of favourites, I really like "Kingdom". The lyrics are surprisingly sweet and the subtle production makes the track something of an oddity given the current trend for overproduced pop. Admittedly, Erika still sounds like she's been sucking on Kylie's helium balloon and the song could easily slot into any album Natalie Imbruglia has released since 1997 but it works. My only gripe is the hideous cover. Can EMI please make sure the diva still has a pulse before her next photoshoot? She looks like an extra from Six Feet Under. Thankfully, the video (below) is a much classier affair. In fact, I think "Kingdom" has higher production values than Erika's last movie! It's simple, suitably moody and vaguely reminds me of Kylie's lovely "Some Kind Of Bliss". Colour me impressed.

Sour 7 - Disappreciation Thread

Mutya gives her verdict on "Sweet 7"

It's a sad day for pop music when the new Sugababes' album is only twice as good as the last Girls Aloud offering. Once upon a time you could bank on The Babes making their rivals look even more tragic than usual. While the racist and her talentless friends churned out the same old shit year after year, Keisha & co continued to mix up their sound and brought some much needed class and dignity to the charts - regardless of the seemingly endless line up changes. The ship really should have sunk with Mutya's departure but the group somehow managed to survive without the realest girl in pop. "Catfights and Spotlights" was disappointing but eventually grew on me and I thought "Get Sexy" was a good omen for their 7th album. The ladies seemed back on track until Keisha was shown the door and it became blindingly obvious that she was the glue keeping the group together all these years. As far as I'm concerned the Sugababes officially died when Jade Ewen signed on. I could deal with horsey Heidi and crazy Amelle as replacements but a floptastic Eurovision failure with the charisma of a burst colostomy bag? Was Mel Blatt too busy?

Despite my disillusion with the brand, I was still genuinely excited about "Sweet 7". The line up of producers is mouth watering. RedOne, Stargate, Fernando Garibay and Toby Gad have created some of the best songs of all time. The Sugababes might be a complete farce but it's impossible to get the music wrong with all these heavyweights, right? Apparently not. I'm a huge fan of American pop but this album represents everything wrong with it - recycled beats, generic lyrics and soulless mid-tempo ballads. There is an obvious hierachy when it comes to working with the A List and the Sugababes got Beyoncé and Rihanna's hand me downs. Hell, I think they got the shit Jordin Sparks rejected! It's easy to point the finger at the producers or the record company for ruthlessly pursuing the US market but other British acts have effortlessly jumped on board the American pop bandwagon (see my recent posts on Livvi Franc and Tania Foster for starters), so the blame has to lie with Heidi, Amelle and Jade. They simply simply don't click as a group and are completely out of touch with their fanbase. The girls need to change their name or pull the plug. "Sweet 7" is the final nail in the Sugababes' rotting coffin.

I'm not going to give the album a proper track by track review because I find it too depressing. However, here is my cheat sheet to "Sweet 7":

Get Sexy

A decent lead single that sounds infinitely better when you're off your face in a club. The song will always hold a special place in my heart due to the band's surprise appearance on Pop Trash Addicts to promote it. Their hints on getting sexy (below) have been a constant source of amusement to me.

Wear My Kiss

"Wear My Kiss" is the best track on the album by a very wide margin. Fernando Garibay has been on a tear recently - delivering killer tracks for Lady GaGa and Whitney - and he continues to impress. I have a feeling this is going to be a massive flop but it's the only song on the album that Version 2.0 would have touched with a ten foot pole. Make sure you download
the glorious WAWA remix from iTunes. It's one of my favourite tunes of 2010. Brilliant.

About A Girl

Keisha's version > Jade's version. But they're both RedOne on autopilot.


Wait For You

This doesn't quite scale the same heights as "Wear My Kiss" but it's a decent slice of uptempo dance-pop with a surprisingly cute chorus. It just sounds suspiciously similar to Lady GaGa's vastly superior
"No Way" - a song Fernando previously submitted for "The Fame Monster".

Thank You For The Heartbreak

The Sugababes go electro with a little help from Stargate. Sounds amazing? It isn't.

Miss Everything (Featuring Sean Kingston)

A three and a half minute lesson in how to be a gold digging skank. Siobhán is lying in the foetal position somewhere clutching her copy of The Female Eunuch begging Jesus for forgiveness.

She's A Mess

This unveiled attack on Mutya is completely unnecessary. It's not her fault "she's sweating bullets" and "her heels are broke". You try dragging
those butt implants around the club! Mut Mut will have her revenge!

Give It To Me Now

The clown behind Cheryl Cole's "Parachute" was responsible for this mess. Enough said.


Crash & Burn

OK, I like this. Toby Gad's ballads have a way of sucking me in - particularly Fergie's "Big Girls Don't Cry" and Bey's "If I Were A Boy". "Crash & Burn" isn't in the same league as those stunning anthems but it is lovely and one of the few songs on "Sweet 7" that showcases the fact that these women can actually sing. Unlike Girls Aloud.

No More You

Stargate's ability to recycle beats should be acknowledged by the Guinness Book Of World Records. I swear I've heard this song 500 times before and I'm pretty sure that almost all of them have been just as shit.

Sweet & Amazing

When I saw the title I expected a much deserved tribute to Keisha but it's just another mid-tempo ballad - albeit an unexpectedly cute one. This is worth a listen.

Little Miss Perfect

Trite, lame and embarrassing. A fitting conclusion to a diabolical album.


RATING: 3/10

R.I.P Sugababes - thanks for the memories!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ami Suzuki's Kylie Cover & Australian Tour!

Today is quite possibly the most important date in the history of popular music. My favourite Japanese diva - the heavenly Ami Suzuki - has just leaked a thirty second preview of her long awaited version of Kylie's "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" AND finally confirmed her first Australian tour (of Queensland nightclubs). I don't know where to start! I'm literally lost for words after hearing Ami's stunning cover, so I guess I'll begin with her tour. First and foremost - why is this living legend confining herself to the Sunshine State? Ami's tens of fans would fill venues right across Australia. I know my local Sushi Train would be packed to the rafters! It's frustrating but I won't let 730 measly kilometres come between me and the pride of Japan. The prospect of hearing the Queen of Avex mime to a bunch of her top 35 smash "hits" is just too tempting. Queensland, here I come! At the moment the diva's Australian tour consists of the following dates:

- The 14th of March at Bedroom Nightclub on the Gold Coast (link)
- The 18th of March at Church Nightclub in Brisbane (link)

I'm not familiar with either venue, so if anyone has any suggestions - please let me know. I just hope Ami belts out a couple of early classics like "Be Together" and "Love The Island" as well as her trashtastic Avex masterpieces "Free Free", "One" and "Can't Stop The Disco". Speaking of that last smash, you might remember my post about the song's video clip. It's basically a frame by frame copy of Kylie's "In My Arms", so I find it only fitting that Ami pay tribute to Australia's own Queen of pop by covering her biggest hit. Needless to say, the Japanese icon does Kylie proud. Changing the lyrics to "I just can't get you out of my hair" was a masterstroke! Ami's breathtaking anthem will feature on this upcoming compilation but until then, enjoy the 30 second preview (below). Ayumi and Utada could never...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Marina & The Diamonds - Remixed

I'm the first to admit that I'm very wary of "hip" new pop acts. As a general rule, they're overhyped (La Roux) or just plain shit (Little Boots) but occasionally someone actually has the talent to match the praise that's been lavished upon them. Marina & The Diamonds definitely falls into the latter category. The Welsh diva's wit, insight and devastating honesty make for a heady mix - particularly when you throw in her quirky vocals and knack for writing a catchy chorus. You didn't need to be a NME journalist to know Marina was destined for big things and I'm genuinely proud to have interviewed the singer before her recent commercial breakthrough with "Hollywood". I'm so excited Marina now has a top 20 hit to her credit but I'm convinced she'd be celebrating a top 5 smash if the Ground Control remix was released as the official single edit. Her record company probably thought it was too fun and fluffy for a rising indie pop star but I think the song's electro-makeover is a work of poptastic genius. "I Am Not A Robot" will always be my favourite Marina track but this gayed up version of "Hollywood" is now a close second. Expect a review of her soon to be released debut album in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, enjoy one of 2010's best remixes (below).

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Fucking Valentine's!

To all of my dear readers in healthy, loving relationships - happy Valentine's Day. Now, fuck off because this post is dedicated to all the single ladies out there! I was originally going to make an anti-Valentine's Day playlist and spent hours listening to lesbian singer-songwriters moan about broken hearts and their impending spinsterhood but it all got a bit depressing. I thought I'd lighten the mood by blasting some Eurotrash and stumbled across a song so accurate in its depiction of modern day romance that I just had to post it. Elin Lanto's "Love Made Me Stupid" speaks the truth. Like for realz. It perfectly captures love's ability to chew you up and spit you out, while still keeping things light and fluffy thanks to its Hi-NRG production and catchy, if devastating, chorus. The Swedish diva has been on my radar since 2008's poptastic "Speak N Spell" and I'm yet to be disappointed. I'd love to get my hands on her debut album ("One") but that fucker is harder to find than Heidi Montag's dignity. Anyway, check out these lyrics:

Love made me stupid
Why does it do this?
Before I met you everything was just fine
And now I am falling apart
It's killing my heart
Again and again and again


I think Elin and I have been dating the same guys! The film clip is an equally classy affair. How do these Swedish nobodies manage to throw together videos that put most American and English divas to shame? I love the part where she wears a fish bowl on her head and fondles the statue. Now that's what I call art!

Ke$ha's Animal - Pop Trash Review

This review took me about six weeks to write. At this rate, I'll be commenting on "Sweet 7" some time in December. The reason for the delay is actually quite simple. Basically, I can't decide whether I should build a shrine to Ke$ha in my bedroom or view her exploding popularity as a sure sign that the Apocalypse is nigh. I initially thought of her as a canny Lady GaGa wannabe but I couldn't have been more wrong. I wouldn't be surprised if the fame monster begins each recording session by pouring over Italian Vogue before masturbating to the latest Lars Von Trier film in a John Galliano gown to get in the mood, while Ke$ha just rolls out of the gutter and sings about her hangover and overworked vagina. The thing is - I really want to be on team Ke$ha. She's a dirty skank who just wants to fuck and party, which makes her indistinguishable from 90% of my friends. The problem is that she's a one trick pony. "Animal" is by no means a bad album - in fact, parts of it compare favourably to "The Fame" - it's just incredibly limited in its scope. I like songs about getting drunk, fucking and fame whoring as much as the next gay but by the 15th ode to excess, I just wanted to gulp down a litre of carrot juice and scrub my genitals with industrial strength disinfectant. I'm not hating on Ke$ha because I genuinely admire her idiosyncratic lyrics, catchy hooks and fuck you attitude. I just hope she follows Lady GaGa's lead and takes things to the next level on her sophomore album. In the meantime, I'll give her the benefit of the doubt. Here is my track by track review:

Your Love Is My Drug

"Maybe I need some rehab or maybe just need some sleep" really sets the tone for the album. However, the opening track is actually kind of sweet. "Your Love Is My Drug" is probably the closest thing to a straightforward pop song on "Animal". The production (courtesy of heavyweights like Dr Luke and Benny Blanco) bounces along happily, while Ke$ha's lyrics are surprisingly cute. I like the line about having "a slumber party in her basement"... on second thoughts that could be a really nasty metaphor! This is an obvious choice for the album's third single but I'd prefer "Animal", "Stephen" or "Kiss N Tell".

Tik Tok

There isn't much to say about this polarising party anthem. I know a lot of people consider it juvenile trash but I think "Tik Tok" is a modern classic that will still be on high rotation at 40th birthday parties in 2030. Give the song's fabulous parody a listen. It's already top 5 on Australian iTunes, which is a testament to the extent to which "Tik Tok" has already become ingrained in popular culture.

Take It Off

Is this jam really about a sex on venue premises? Ke$ha should do a tour of gay saunas. Bitch would be in 7th heaven! I know I complained about the number of slut anthems on "Animal" but this is one of the album's best and holds up as a crisply produced pop gem. Moreover, "Take It Off" has my favourite lyric of 2010: "got my drunk text on, I'll regret it in the morn". I thought I was the only person who goes clubbing and shamelessly spends half the night sending inappropriate texts. I feel so validated!

Kiss N Tell

Max Martin's first contribution to the album is a real standout. Something special happens when the Swede combines with Dr Luke and "Kiss N Tell" is no exception. The production is an interesting Katy Perry meets Britney mash, while Ke$ha's amusing lyrics offer a witty take on the cheating boyfriend genre. Instead of playing the victim, homegirl goes on the offensive by memorably calling her man a slut and ridiculing his manhood. Fair play. Think of this as an inferior but still extremely enjoyable version of "Hot N Cold".

Stephen

Ok, by this point I was ready to devote my life to stalking Ke$ha at underground sex parties. "Animal" begins very impressively but it's all downhill after this song. However, there's no denying the poptastic brilliance of "Stephen". It's so different from everything else on the album. There are glimpses of genuine emotion and even a moment or two of vulnerability. I particularly love the lyrics, which range from amusingly delusional ("I watched your ugly girlfriend sneer across the room, as if I really care that she's here with you") to wonderfully demented - "I'll knit you a sweater, I'll wanna wrap you up in my love forever!" Another highlight is David Gamson's oddball production, which reflects his 80s glory years with Scritti Politti. I'd love this to be a single but it's probably just a tad too weird and wonderful.

Blah Blah Blah (Featuring 3OH3!)

The title sums up this aural turd perfectly. Sorry, slut but Katy Perry did this first and slightly better on admittedly awful "Starstrukk". Whoever chose this as the second single deserves a bullet.

Hungover

Dr Luke and Max Martin return to helm the pop tart's first attempt at a ballad and it's not as awful as some critics would have you believe. Admittedly, autotune is Ke$ha's friend and the lyrics are abysmal ("even my dirty laundry smells like you") but there's an edge to her voice that I actually find appealing and the subtle synths work nicely. Think P!nk's "Sober" sung by a trashed bitch at karaoke and you get the general idea.

Party At A Rich Dude's House

This song is so bad it's amazing! Apparently Ke$ha wrote the song after vomiting in Paris Hilton's closet while laying down backing vocals on "Nothing In This World" - one of my all time favourite songs! For that alone this trash deserves a Grammy. The driving guitar and punk attitude also make a nice change. I would probably enjoy "Party At A Rich Dude's House" a lot more if I were a drink away from passing out in an alley but listening to it sober, there's no denying that it's quite shit. Chalk this up as a twisted guilty pleasure.

I actually imported this shit from Italy!

Backstabber

"Backstabber" is a total grower. I hated it at first but now the song reminds me of the electro-rock experiments on Ashlee Simpson's criminally under-appreciated "Bittersweet World" album. That said, Ke$ha isn't quite in the same league as Ashlee when it comes to musical genius but everyone can identify with these lyrics. In fact, I could dedicate this anthem to quite a few people and probably will when I get my drunk text on! Not exactly single material but accomplished filler nonetheless.

Blind

Copy and paste everything I said about "Hungover". Ballads are clearly not Ke$ha's forte but the guitar driven chorus at least helps "Blind" stand out from the rest of the album.

Dinosaur

If nothing else, "Dinosaur" proves that even Max Martin still has a few new tricks up his sleeve. I can't think of anything in his canon of hits that even sounds remotely similar to this. The production rips off pays homage to that classic Was Not Was jam "Walk The Dinosaur" (fuck, I'm old!) and the lyrics are hilarious - "not long till you're a senior citizen and you can strut around with a sexy tank of oxygen"! It's about time someone wrote a song about dirty old men and I suggest this be played on a weekly basis at The Midnight Shift.

Dancing With Tears In My Eyes

This is a surprisingly insightful dance anthem about regret. After half a dozen mediocre tracks about partying, it's a relief to hear something with a bit of heart. Lyrics like "on the floor I'm just a zombie, who I am is not who I want to be" and "I've wasted the love of my life" are surprisingly self aware by Ke$ha's standards and the Dr Luke/Benny Blanco production is admirably restrained. Fans of Lady GaGa's "So Happy I Could Die" should enjoy this. A definite step in the right direction.

Boys & Boots

Of the 40 or so Ke$ha demos floating around the internet prior to the album's release, Tom Neville's "Boys & Boots" is one of the few to make the final cut. I would have gone with "Friday Night Bitch Fight" for pure comedy value or the surprisingly lovely "CUNxTuesday" (don't be put off by the fabulous title!) but this slinky little pop tune is catchy and cute. It also shows off the diva's versatility. She's not all quirky one liners and autotune.

Animal

I love Greg Kurstin. Anyone who can contribute gems to talents as diverse as Kylie, Sia and Ladyhawke is clearly a genius and he doesn't disappoint here. The album's title track is a shiny pop gem with a genuine hands in the air chorus that doesn't rely on studio trickery or filthy lyrics to be memorable. Ke$ha clearly has a lot of potential, songs like "Animal" stand up to anything on "The Fame". I just wish she'd stop trying to be America's answer to Lily Allen and put a lid on the bratty lyrics.

BONUS TRACKS

V.I.P.

Another song that has been floating around the internet for the best part of a year. It's not particularly good and makes you wonder who culled Ke$sha's impressive stash of demos.

Dirty Picture (featuring Taio Cruz)

Now, this is a fun. I love Taio Cruz and his voice combines surprisingly well with Ke$ha's. The song sounds like a reject from David Guetta's "One Love" album but that's not a bad thing. At all. I like the electro beats and can imagine a decent DJ turning this into something wonderful. Definitely worth hunting down for dance fans.

RATING: 7/10

Friday, February 12, 2010

Livvi Franc's Automatik Classic

I could turn you loose, baby what's the use?
I come back to you like automatic


Last year I chatted with a little known singer called Livvi Franc about her debut single "Now I'm That Bitch". In the interview the upcoming diva boasted about working with super producer RedOne (Lady GaGa, Little Boots, Sugababes etc) on her next single and promised to show a different side of herself by delivering "a club banger". Well, lovely Livvi was true to her word. "Automatik" is a breathtaking dance anthem that should be the Barbadian beauty's calling card to mainstream chart success. I'm not RedOne's biggest fan - it seems like everyone but Lady GaGa gets served up the same old shit - but Livvi obviously caught the Swede on a very good day. The production is less intrusive than usual, showcasing the surprisingly vulnerable lyrics with pristine beats and pretty synths. I love upbeat pop songs with a slightly bittersweet twist (think Kylie's "Better The Devil You Know") and "Automatik" is a superb addition to the genre. I'm not sure about the video (below), which is trying to be Beyoncé on a Michelle Williams sized budget but who cares when the song is this good? Strike up Livvi's jam as one of the first killer pop tunes of 2010.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tania Foster & The Best Unreleased Song Of 2010

One of the best things about writing this blog is occasionally stumbling across a truly brilliant unreleased pop track. I still remember the first time I heard Isabel Guzman's "Love Song". There was just something incredibly special about it and I'm convinced it would have been huge if Isabel hadn't turned into the Swedish Kate Bush and gone into self-imposed exile. Chris Sorbello's "So Lonely" is another gem that immediately comes to mind. With a sexy video in the can and a major label now behind her, you can expect to hear a lot more of that stunning anthem over the next few months. The latest addition to my list of future hits is Tania Foster's fabulous "Supawoman" (below). The British diva is probably best known for providing back-up vocals for Tinchy Stryder but if her demos are any indication, it's only a matter of time before she hits the big time herself. I'm a huge fan of the current urban dance explosion (think Taio Cruz, Jason DeRulo and Iyaz) and "Supawoman" is striking example of someone putting their own spin on the genre by introducing electronic elements and a pure pop chorus. Imagine Keri Hilson crossed with Sugababes circa "Sweet 7" and you get the general idea of Tania's sound. The production needs a bit of a polish and the rap interlude is slightly unnecessary but "Supawoman" is an incredible calling card for a major talent. This has radio hit written all over it.

Check out Tania's Myspace for more info on this amazing diva

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

How On Earth Did This Flop?

In my own little universe Mini Viva's "I Wish", or more specifically the gorgeous Cahill radio edit (below), is a multi-platinum #1 smash hit. I love everything about the poptastic duo's second single. There's an unusual softness to the wistful lyrics, which are perfectly cradled by a lush symphony of synths before exploding into the kind of joyous chorus not heard since the disco era. Just when you thought Xenomania's creative well had run drier than Susan Boyle's ladybits, the producers serve up their best song since Kylie's "Made Of Glass" - only to see it stall at a floptastic #73 on the UK charts. What the fuck? The track is infinitely superior to "Left My Heart In Tokyo" and that landed safely in the top 10. I know "I Wish" was released during the hectic Christmas period but did everyone with taste flee Great Britain in its week of release? If nothing else, Mini Viva's stunning flop makes me less apprehensive about Kylie's rumoured collaboration with Xenomania on her next album. Something along the lines of "I Wish" would suit her perfectly - even if it is chart poison! Hopefully, the girls bounce back with single number three. They put The Saturdays and Girls Aloud to shame.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Mercan Puts The Needle On Dannii

Mercan is officially my new favourite diva. Not only does she have a name that sounds suspiciously like a pubic wig, the hot mess has just unveiled a stunning cover of Dannii's 2002 international smash hit "Put The Needle On It" - in Turkish! Despite minutes of painstaking research, Mercan remains a total mystery to me. I have no idea if she's a superstar or complete nobody in her homeland but if "Sana Değil Kardeşine" is any indication, the platinum blonde goddess deserves to be bigger than Beyoncé. Her version is as slinky and slutty as the original, while her ability to dress like an even less feminine Lady GaGa is quite an achievement. You just know Dannii got her vibe on when she saw Mercan dolled up in that feathered monstrosity! Watching this masterpiece makes me miss the "Neon Nights" era even more than usual. How could the Queen of clubs go from making decade defining hits like "Put The Needle On It" to churning out butchered club instrumentals that would Kelly Llorenna hang her head in shame? I guess that's a question for another day but hopefully this Turkish tribute inspires Dannii to reach for new heights when she finally returns to the studio. A big thanks to Diva Incarnate for bringing Mercan to my attention!

Monday, February 08, 2010

La Toya Covers Whitney - Live In Poland!

I don't know how we all survived before Youtube. One minute you're aimlessly trawling through old Taka Boom videos, the next you stumble across a freshly uploaded clip of the Pope of Pop belting out "I Just Wanna Dance With Somebody" in 1993. Needless to say, Toy Toy's stunning performance is a sight to behold. Anyone lucky enough to own a copy of "Live At Balleys" knows the unparalleled brilliance of a La Toya concert and she really brought her A game to Poland. Believe me, the former Eastern Block was well and truly rocked by our Queen's electric dance moves and magnetic stage presence - not to mention the high budget production values (ie. a smoke machine) and a costume which redefines the very essence of glamour! The highlight for me is Toy's hilarious disclaimer at the beginning that she doesn't require audience participation, closely followed by her orgasmic squeals. The thinking man's Jackson really does have the voice of an angel using a vibrator. I don't think it's a coincidence that Whitney went off the rails in early 90s. She clearly caught wind of this performance and knew that La Toya had her beat in the beauty and talent stakes. It's not easy living in Toy's shadow - just ask Janet!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Sony Drops Amy Pearson

Amy Pearson's next gig?

In the year's most unsurprising development, Amy Pearson has been kicked to the curb by Sony Australia. Rumours have been circulating for a while now but sources close to the singer have confirmed that she has officially "parted ways" with her record company. I'm gutted. Amy's first album was a Delta-lite abomination but I loved her new direction. I know I ridiculed her desperate transformation from girl next door to sleazy dance diva in a post last October but I also hailed "Butterfingers" as the "best song about arse play since Pull Up To The Bumper" and included it in my best of 2009 countdown. Unfortunately, the rest of Australia wasn't as willing to overlook Amy's tragic makeover or her frigid librarian on GHB dance moves. "Butterfingers" ultimately failed to dent the top 100 despite its A List producer and top notch remixes - leaving everyone with egg on their face.

It's a shame because I think Amy was just starting to grow into her new sound. The rest of "Aftershock" (her scrapped album) is much less confronting than "Butterfingers" and contains some killer tunes - especially the title track and "Ten Steps". Either would have made a more appropriate lead single, showcasing the diva's new style but not completely alienating her old fans. Happily, it's not all doom and gloom for Amy. There are rumours that she might release the album "via other means" and I know she recently collaborated with one of Australia's hottest dance outfits on a track to be released later in the year. Until then, I'd like to pay tribute to singer's stint at Sony and wish her all the best for the future. "Butterfingers" might have sank like the Titanic but it made me a fan!

2007 - Don't Miss You (#19)
2007 - Not Me (#37)
2008 - Ready To Fly (#40)
2009 - Butterfingers (Did Not Chart)

Oh and here's Amy working her fabulous butterfingers in a rare live TV performance of her notorious flop. I actually think this is great. She seems much more at ease with the dance steps and her voice sounds amazing.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Introducing Jamila B

My knowledge of Canadian pop is pretty sketchy, so I was intrigued when Jamila B's debut single landed in my inbox. I don't know what I was expecting from "Gamers Love" but it certainly wasn't a sizzling electro infused urban pop tune complete with a wicked sample from an obscure 80s Nintendo video game! It took a couple of listens to click but now I'm hooked. Jamila has a great set of pipes, the production cleverly updates 90s New Jack Swing and I love the gaming metaphors. Listing her influences as Mariah, Aaliyah and Robyn - the Hamilton, Ontario based diva is clearly a woman of exquisite taste and definitely a talent to watch in 2010. Make sure you check out her fabulous video (below), which plays like a cross between Janet's "Rhythm Nation" and Amy Pearson's "Butterfingers". Yes, it's that amazing! Best of all, Jamila has kindly given me permission to post an mp3 of her stunning anthem on the blog. Nothing beats guilt free downloading, so this is a special treat.

LEGAL DOWNLOAD - Gamers Love

Thursday, February 04, 2010

An Interview With Pearly Gates

Late last year I wrote a post about 2009's most unexpected comeback - the charming return of 70s disco diva come 80s Hi-NRG dance queen Pearly Gates. Not only was "Stop For Love" a great tune, the stunning 63 year old became an overnight internet sensation by cavorting with gay porn star Zeb Atlas in the high camp video clip. Since then Pearly has been busy putting the finishing touches on her first (non-compilation) album, the appropriately titled "On A Winning Streak". And if the tracklisting is any indication, it's going to be amazing. There are twenty songs (including previously unreleased material from the 1970s) as well as a bonus disc with 12 videos and an interview. I can't wait to get my hands on it! The ageless diva kindly agreed to talk to me about her new album and the highlights of her five decades in the music business. It was a real honour to speak to such an enduring talent. I hope you enjoy the interview and make sure you hunt down "On A Winning Streak". It's already on iTunes with a physical release to follow on the 20th of February (try ordering your copy here closer to the date). Expect a review as soon as mine arrives!

Pearly, how did you get into the music industry? It must have been tough for a farm girl from country Alabama.
Ha ha, well I guess one could say, I got started in High School when I used to sing at junior and senior proms around the state of Alabama and I was persuaded to continue when I finished high school. So it was a choice at that time to go to college or straight into the industry and I chose the industry. Growing up in Alabama, I wouldn’t say it was hard. But it wasn’t easy either. One thing it did was make you very strong and build confidence that would later see you through the rocky road of show business.

The 60s was a golden era for girl groups. Did The Flirtations (the band that Pearly started her career in) feel a lot of pressure to live up to the success of The Supremes or Martha and the Vandellas?
No, The Gypsies/Flirtations were never a replicate of The Supremes because they had that ease and sexuality. Their songs portrayed that type of aura, which made them the queens of the 60s. Whereas Martha and the Vandellas, had more of a street, soulful feel. The Flirtations, on the other hand, was out and out R&B then stroke POP. Those groups were more smooth and we were more soulful as performers. We met Diana Ross and Mary Wilson and we’ve been on the same bill as Martha and the Vandellas but they had to leave, so we didn’t get the chance to talk to them.

Sexy Pearly in the late 70s

Why did the band move from America to the UK in 1968? Was the transition hard? We came first at the end of 1968 and arrived for good in February 1969. No, not hard at all. It was something that we knew we had to do. Because of the competition in America with so many girl groups at that time.

Your solo career kicked off in the early 70s. What are your favourites from that period? I love “Make It My Business (To Get To Know You Boy)”. It’s so cute and catchy!
Yes, my career as Pearly Gates started in 1974. My favourite has to be “Burning Love”. I love that song. I think it’s so, so, so cool! I also like “Making It My Business”. That’s also a good one. In 1985 I recorded “Action” that's the song that got me noticed on the dance scene BIG TIME!

This is one of my favourite clips on youtube

Olivia Newton-John is one of my all time favourite singers. Is it true you worked with her on Cliff Richard's TV show in the late 70s? What is she like?
Yes, we did do two television series with Cliff Richard. She was absolutely a joy to work with and girlfriend has got a wicked sense of humour. We got together in 2009 and I have to tell you, the sense of humour is still the same and she is still as beautiful as ever. Mind and body.

You mentioned “Burning Love” earlier. Like most fabulous divas, you dabbled in disco in the late 70s. Did you enjoy that era?
Thank you so much to referring to me as a diva. It makes me feel good. The 70s were absolutely amazing for disco music. And I’m glad to have been a part of it. I loved it because I used to go to the clubs and dance from 1am to 6am. There was no such thing as going to the gym. I got my workout on the dance floor!

I read that you recorded a full disco album with Ian Levine in 1979 called “Fading Into The Night” but it was never released. What happened?
That album had originally been intended for an American singer called Cobie Jones. However, she couldn't get a visa to get to the UK when the studio was booked so Ian called me and had me record those songs at London's Trident Studios. It was a very good album but due to the disco backlash, Ian couldn't get it released and it sat in the can for several years. Two of the songs, "Fading Into The Night" and "No Two Ways About It" came out as 12" singles in 1987. The whole album was finally released as part of my CD "The Best Of Pearly Gates" on Hot Productions in the mid-90s.

You then re-emerged in the mid-80s with “Action” - one of the most famous Hi-NRG hits of that decade. Did you know it was special when you recorded it?
It felt very special at the time. It was very happy go lucky in the lives of a lot of people. It was a fun song to sing. It told a story and it was very tongue in cheek and very, very cheeky.

Pearly demands "Action"!

That song (like a lot of your music) has really been embraced by the gay community. How do you explain it?
I would like to think that my music appeals to everybody and if there is a certain group of people who embodies the music more than others I’m very happy for that. I just think the gay community express themselves more than others. They love to have fun and I love being out there performing with them and enjoying myself.

You kind of disappeared in the 90s and early 00s. Were you having a well deserved rest?
No, I was getting married, trying to have a life for once in my life! So to speak. I was always a part of the music scene. I never went away. In the 90s I started my own management company. So I was still very much involved in the industry.

Having worked behined the scenes, what is your opinion on the current state of the music industry?
Yes I did spend quite a few years behind the scene as I still am doing, all I can say about the industry today is... I don’t think it’s as much fun as it used to be. You had a chance to be more hands on,with the people who were in charge, you could meet up, see people, have lunch. And just generally get to know the person you were on the phone to and had to deal with.

Beyoncé or Rihanna?
I absolutely respect them both in different ways. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Beyoncé and the rest of Destiny’s Child. And they were all really, really nice. Suffice to say, I am very happy to see Beyoncé continue on that winning streak - ohh that’s the name of my album (*laughs*). Hence 6 Grammy awards. Rihanna is on another trip all together, she really is new school and I am hoping that her career progresses further.

The comeback album of 2010

Why did you decide to embark on a comeback? Did you ever think you’d be releasing what is essentially your debut album at the age of 63?
I’m not calling it a comeback, I’m calling it a continuation of what I started out doing 45 years ago. I know... Isn’t it wonderful that you can stand up proud and say that your 63? I actually feel very blessed. I feel like RuPaul - “Looking good, feeling fine”!

Tell us about your new album. Are you keeping it old school?
The sound on the album has a little bit of everything. I’m trying to bring it up to date, it has a little bit of something for everybody. And I hope people can look back and reminisce with me on this journey. I hope I’ve come up to the present!

Who have you worked with? I hear there’s an Ian Levine collaboration. Is the old chemistry still there?
On this album producers range from the great H.B. Barnum from Motown Stable to the High Energy giant Ian Levine. Søren Jensen, The Soundcarvers (Frank Savannah & Crazy Pitcher), Alias 1 and Doc B and the late, great Clive Scott all contributed to the album.

Is it true you recorded a song that the Bee Gees originally wrote for Dionne Warwick's "Heartbreaker" album in the 80s?
I received this song in the late 80s in the form of a disco track. And I just couldn’t imagine how I could get my chops around the melody of the track. So I put it aside. But I always liked the words of the song. So when we were putting together the album, I played it to Alias 1 and Doc B, expressing the fact that I’d love to do it but I wanted a complete new concept. And what we came up with, I think, is glorious. And I hope the feedback will be positive from people.

Will there be any old classics on the album?
Yes there is an old classic on the album. An old Marvin Gaye classic “Ain’t That Peculiar”. Yet again I asked Alias 1 and Doc B to give it a new treatment and what they came up with is amazing. There are also four previously unreleased songs from my 1977 sessions in Los Angeles.

Zeb Atlas - Pearly's toy boy

The video for “Stop For Love” (below) has become a youtube sensation! Whose idea was it to involve porn star Zeb Atlas?
Darren Harvey-Beswick thought I should have a love interest for the video. It was just a lot of fun on the day. It was such a joy to work with him. He was such a gentleman. And a lot of fun. We both enjoyed the day. I don’t think I could have found another man better than Zeb Atlas.

What was it like acting out love scenes with Zeb? Was he overcome by your fabulousness?
It was a video shoot, Zeb is a professional. I am long in the tooth.. in this business! We had a job to do that allowed us to have fun and I hope it came out that way that we were having a good time. And it was great because we are two fellow Americans, who really just had a good time on the day.

When is the album released and can we expect more stunning video clips?
The album will be available the middle of February. And yes there are a couple videos in the package and I hope people enjoy listening and watching my work. God knows I’ve had a great time helping put it all together. And BIG UP to Søren and Darren for ALL their support and help.

Thanks so much for your time and good luck with "On A Winning Streak"!
Thank you. It was great talking to you.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

One Inna Million

Brace yourself. Romania's leading dance diva is one hit away from kicking Cascada's Natalie Horler to the curb as the Queen of AATW. Sultry Inna is already a superstar in her homeland and has been on something of a roll in the rest of Europe, topping the charts in 9 countries with "Hot" - her appropriately titled debut single. She now has her sights set on the UK and only time will tell if her success continues or she joins September on the stinking scrapheap of pop. At first, I didn't understand the fuss but by the second listen you'll be humming along to this trash if you want to or not. "Hot" is just one of those incredibly annoying catchy dance anthems that gets stuck in your head and refuses to leave. Produced by Play & Win, the outfit behind Akcent (you might remember their fabulously dirty ode to Kylie) and Alessia, the song is a refreshing jolt of high energy Eurotrash. I just wish AATW went with the original version or the freshly commissioned Cahill remix. The UK radio edit (below) leaves a lot to be desired and the missing minute has rendered the video clip almost unwatchable. Instead of the stripper with a heart of gold subplot, we're left with Inna perving on some bitch in a club. Classy. Anyway, I hope it takes off because I like the diva's follow up singles and think it's about time we had an Eastern European pop star. And no, Ruslana doesn't count.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Australia's New Urban Pop Sensation

The Australian urban pop scene is still pretty much underground. My homegirl Deni and the lovely Jade Macrae have been on the grind for decades but neither woman has bothered the charts in a very long while. The batton has been passed to Jessica Mauboy, who has single handedly carried the torch for the past two years - scoring 6 top 30 hits from her platinum selling "Been Waiting" album. Jessica's success clearly proves there's an audience for catchy urban pop music in this country and it's exactly this gap in the market that newcomer Vera Fernandes is hoping to fill. After first making a name for herself as a model, the 25 year old turned her attention to music and has been making waves in the industry ever since. Vera's debut single "All About You" was a super smooth mid-tempo ballad produced by hitmakers Audius and Leon. Those guys crafted Jessica Mauboy's "Running Back" and were also responsible for one of my favourite tracks of 2009 - Liena's "Go Crazy". Well, the aspiring diva has teamed up with those guys again for her second single and it's another slick urban pop jam with a killer chorus and catchy hook. With "Sometimes We Fall" about to hit iTunes, Vera took some time out to talk to me about her sound, inspirations and future plans. I just can't believe she cited Cheryl Cole as an influence. I'm dying inside!

Vera, you're so exotic. Tell us about your background.
I came to Australia from Portugal when I was 6 with my family and have lived here ever since.

Your bio boasts that you're "one of the most recognisable faces in the car enthusiast industry". Are you some kind of famous driver or did you pose on top of sports cars?
Haha.. I wish I was a racing car driver! I was involved in the car industry as a promotional model for many years representing major sponsors at all the car shows and from there I was featured in Australian car magazines, so that's where that comes from.

How did you make the move from model to pop star? Have you done it all on your own?
I have always been singing and songwriting, that has always been my passion. Throughout school I was performing in bands, groups and solo... basically any opportunity that I had I was there. The modelling work came from friends encouraging me to get involved in that industry, and given it was still apart of the entertainment side of things, it gave me a great insight into the other side of the music business which is all about networking, your image, being business savvy and staying level headed. I am a very ambitious person but I have had a lot of amazing mentors in my life who have guided me along the way.

Who are your musical influences?
Lauryn Hill was a huge influence on me musically when she released "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill" and I've always been surrounded by Hip Hop and R'n'B which I love. I also think that listening to the likes of Nelly Furtado really showed me how artists can evolve and I love the work she did with Timbaland, who is one of my favourite producers. Funnily enough, The Cranberries in the early 90's were also a massive influence on me during high school and that's where I found some of my vocal techniques. And I have to give Mariah some credit because I have always loved her. No matter how much time goes by, her earlier stuff always gives me goosebumps. Right now I'm listening to a lot of Cheryl Cole (OH HELL NO!) and her work with will.i.am - the list goes on! In saying all that, my musical taste is so diverse my friends can never guess what's on my ipod. One day it's Coldplay and the next day it's a Benn Watt minimal house remix. I think that being open to different music broadens your creativity as an artist.


Your first song "All About You" generated a lot of buzz, particularly on the local urban music scene. Were you always interested in that genre?
I still can't believe how much this track has grown on people. It really has taken me on a ride! It's been so incredible to have radio stations such as TodayFM play my first single as an unsigned artist. I still get people who hear it for the first time contact me and tell me that they loved it and that they cant get the hook out of their head. I really live for that sort of response to my music... it's amazing. "All About You" was such a fun track to write and produce, it was my first proper studio recording and I always knew exactly what I wanted my "sound" to be. Urban music is what I feel the most passionate about, which is why I sourced the best urban producers in Australia to work with me on my EP. The urban community is full of passion and I love and appreciate all the support I have received from the local scene.

"Sometimes We Fall" (listen to it below) is another killer serve of urban pop. Is it true that Audius and Leon produced it? How did you get involved with those guys? Yes it is true that they worked on "Sometimes We Fall" with me. They also worked on "All About You". I had wanted to work with Audius for a long time before we actually hooked up to do the first track, Myspace played a huge role in us all getting together because that was what everyone was into at the time and it allowed them to see and hear my potential beforehand. After we met we just hit it off creatively, they really got behind me and wanted to be apart of my dream. You can almost hear the amount of dedication that went into both tracks. We are all perfectionists and there is a lot of passion and respect when we are working on music together. I love what those guys are doing for urban music in Australia.

When is the single being released? How will you be promoting it?
The 2nd single "Sometimes We Fall" will be available on iTunes within in a few weeks you can keep on top of the release date by checking out my website. There will be a string of performances later this year and possibly a showcase on completion of the album.

So, there is an album on the way? Who are you working with on it?
Yes! I'm very excited that I will be in fact continuing to work on my album with Audius and Leon at the Sound Academy as well as sourcing some local producers for the remixes and working on a few one off projects within the dance scene. All very exciting!

Thanks for the chat and good luck with everything!
Thank you!

To learn more about this upcoming urban pop sensation, check out her website and Myspace.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Queen B...

Was robbed of Album Of The Year at today's Grammy Awards by ratfaced Taylor Swift but she still managed to score a record haul for a female artist. All 6 were well deserved but I'm particularly happy about "Halo" getting some love. I have a feeling that song is going to stand the test of time even better than "Single Ladies". Anyway, it's a fitting end to the already iconic "Sasha Fierce" era... although does anyone else think Sony might return to the well one last time and release a "Grammys Edition" of the album - complete with a bonus disc featuring Solange breaking wind to the beat of Kelly Rowland scrubbing floors at the House Of Dereon?

Song Of The Year - Single Ladies

Best Female Pop Vocal Performance - Halo

Best Female R&B Vocal Performance - Single Ladies

Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance - At Last

Best R&B Song - Single Ladies

Best Contemporary R&B Album - I Am... Sasha Fierce


Oh and here's Beyoncé's new perfume ad to celebrate her Grammy success. I'm going to bathe in gallons of this piss while listening to "The Writing's On The Wall" on repeat! Don't judge me.