It's time for another installment of Pop Panel. Yay? The latest edition turned out to be another civilised exercise in music appreciation. Yeah right. The acid-tongued judges had a field day destroying some good and not-so-good tunes. I think I need some fresh meat because these bitches are pressed! The sheer outpouring of hate aside, we settled on a deserving winner. I think there were better songs in the mix but I can deal. Also of note is our stunning celebrity guest judge Zoë Badwi. I don't think the country's reigning dance diva knew what she was getting herself into but she was an incredibly good sport! Ok, let's get started. Tonight's Panel consists of the following regulars:
Robbie (US) writer of Chart Rigger
Mike (Aus) author of this classy blog
Jacques (Aus) writer of The Prophet
Stephen (US) writer of The Middle Eight
We are also joined by the following judges:
Bobby (UK) writer of Don't Stop The Pop
This iconic blogger was one of the original pop panelists (way back in 2007, I think!) and has been a huge supporter of the format. In addition to writing his fabulous blog, Bobby now works with super-talented chanteuse Elouise. Welcome back!
Zoë Badwi (Aus) - Pop star extraordinaire and club royalty
I'm extremely chuffed that Zoë has finally graced the Pop Panel with her glamorous presence! I've been a fan since her stint as one third of Sirens. She turned out to be Beyoncé of that trio and went on to fuel dancefloors across Australia with club hits like "Release Me" and "In The Moment" before hitting it big with her top 10 smash "Freefallin'". She's absolutely adorable and so is her jet-setting mum! With new tunes on the way, 2012 is shaping up to be a big year for the Badwi camp.
Before getting stuck into the judging, I couldn't help being a bit nosy and asking Zoë when we can expect new material. Here's what she had to say.
What have you been up to since the album was released?
Touring my bum off around Australia. Most of this year I gave been in LA recording and writing new material! I can't wait for it all to come out.
Is new stuff on the way? Who are you working with?
There sure is! My next single is called "Shoot Me Down" and I worked with Frank E and Heather Bright on that one. Frank E wrote Jason Derulo's "Breathing" and Enrigue's "Tonight I'm Fucking You" plus many more and Heather is behind pretty much all the AMAZING songs out there at the moment. I was working in the Atlantic studios in LA and the talent they have there blew me away!
When are you going to invite me over for dinner with you and Sal?
Haha Sal (my mum) is a citizen of the world. She is a hard one to catch. She is forever gallivanting around the world. Right now she is sunning herself in South Africa but when she gets back we can lock it in!
Check out Zoë's epic cover of Sarah Connor's "Carry Me Home" below.
Check out Zoë's epic cover of Sarah Connor's "Carry Me Home" below.
The results are ranked from lowest to highest.
Delta Goodrem – Sitting On Top Of The World (Video)
Bobby: Promising start the of the video. It sees Delta cruising in some Sydney park with blown-up condoms. Brilliant. Sadly though doesn't it deliver. A ridiculously cheery pop song that is far too polite to be interesting. 1/5
Jacques: Delta drives me up the wall but this song is wonderful! I love it. It's like a Disneyfied Sara Bareilles. It's also way better than Melody Thornton. 4/5
Mike: Without The Voice Australia's most pointless pop star would struggle to tickle the lower reaches of the top 50 with this inane dose of elevator music. She should just stick to ruining marriages. -5/5
Robbie: Is she still married to that homophobe? Yes? No? She's getting 0 just for taking his cock in her mouth anyway. 0/5
Stephen: This is the ONJ wannabe who goes out with British homophobe, right? The best thing about this song: "The uploader has not made this video available in your country." 0/5
Zoë: The more they trash this on the radio, the more I'm (slowly) getting into it. 3/5
Total = 3/30
Melody Thornton – Someone To Believe (Video)
Former Pussycat Doll takes desperation to new heights by recycling home movies for her latest free download.
Bobby: Wow. Unexpected. She gets a few points for that at least. But, if you're going to break the out of the mould set by your past, do it with a song I can sing-a-long to please. You're called Melody, lets be having one next time. 2/5
Jacques: I just can't with this desperate trick walking the red carpet naked just for attention. I know it's hard to get a break these days, but I'd rather remain a flop than sacrifice my dignity. I used to like her and even bought "Sweet Vendetta" on iTunes, but now I think she's trash. But my personal disdain for her aside, this ballad is woeful. The oriental production paired with that melodramatic screeching is hot mess 101. 0/5
Mike: Possibly the worst thing I have ever seen/heard in my entire life. I thought Jessica Sutta was a waste of human flesh but Melody plumbs new depths with this tuneless mess. The Asian strings kill me. Where is the chorus? And more importantly, where is her dignity? 0/5
Robbie: Honey, no one wants to hear this crap. Hit the pole and start bouncing. 1/5
Stephen: I kept waiting for it to kick in. This is one long intro! Two minutes of pained human rights-y riffing to a violin does not a choon make. Next time she needs to start with – bada bing! - an actual melody. I will give her two stars for superior drag queen hair... I mean this is a man, right? 2/5
Zoë: Not what I would expect from a Pussycat Doll. She's no Nicole Scherzinger, is she? 1/5
Total = 6/30
Beez In The Trap – Nicki Minaj Ft. 2 Chainz (Video)
Bobby: Oooooh, Nicki honey, the best song about buzzing insects is always going to be Billie's "Honey to the Bee". 0/5
Jacques: Hoodrat 101. What is this simplistic shit? This is the type of thing I expect to see on World Star Hip Hop by some stripper-turned-rapper called Mz GolDeN GriLLz. I'm surprised Melody Thornton didn't make an appearance in this video, as this hood porn seems right up her alley given her choice of red carpet attire. 1/5
Mike: This is what happens when you make a bunch of MAGs listen to hip-hop! I'm not a fan of Stinki Garbaj but "Beez In The Trap" is a head-nodding jam. We should be encouraging Onika to focus on this kind of music instead of making desperate Pitbull knock-offs like "Starships". Shame about the video. 3/5
Robbie: Wretched. 0/5
Stephen: I need to hook you up with a proper song next week, Wass. This sounds like something WE could write while drinking whiskey from a jockstrap. And it looks like it was shot with outtakes from the million other videos The Minaj has done in the past six months. Is there a message to this epic? You’d betta wear five condoms if there are bees in that trap. 0/5
Zoë: This would be great for a DJ mix in a break down section. That's about all I've got for this one. 2/5
Total = 6/30
Rita Ora - RIP (below)
Roc Nation's new golden girl unleashes her debut UK single.
Bobby: To borrow Rita's phraseology, akin to shitty ATM. Awful. 0/5
Jacques: This girl is so boring, but it could be worse - she could be Melody Thornton. 2.5/5
Mike: Kosovo's pop princess has everyone pressed. It's not her fault Jay Z needs a Rihanna replacement now that his former rainmaker's career is over! Admittedly, "RIP" is as generic as it gets but I like the verses and suspect it will be massive. 3/5
Robbie: Title says it all. 0/5
Stephen: If this girl has any talent or originality, it’s been mauled by some smug suit at her label. Rihanna should sue for complete thievery. The autotune, the rapper, the rasta colors, the dye job. Has it come to this? 1/5
Zoë: Um... I like Tinie Tempah's part! 2/5
Total = 8.5/30
Jenny is back to dance. And love. And dance. Again.
Bobby: I don't absolutely love this but it's a good try. It is admirable that she hasn't progressed in no way whatsoever from her debut single to this travesty of a pop song. Which means, in over 12 years she hasn't matured at all. Which is remarkable. She refuses to change or evolve. Wonderfully woeful. I'll give her one point for knowing what fans want and what she's good at. 1/5
Jacques: I liked this song more when I first heard it but I've already grown sick of it now. It's still more interesting than Melody Thornton's squishy rack, but it's not slaying me like "On The Floor" did. 3/5
Mike: Jenny and Pitbull are the La Bouche of the 21st century - ridiculous lyrics, thumping Euro-beats and cheesy rapping! That might sound like shade but I love how '90s this is. While "On The Floor" sounded like a Kat DeLuna B-side, "Dance Again" is bizarrely innovative. In an incredibly derivative kind of way. I love it. 5/5
Robbie: I so don't care about this old bat. 2.5/5
Stephen: Another year, another faceless commercial – I mean dance track! - from Jenny. Cars, perfume, Idol: she’s always hawking something. Did she marry one of the dancers, or writhers, I should say, since this was shot? That Caspar kid is no Jesus Luz, m’kay? She has to put on a blindfold, he’s so fug. And don’t get me started on how she’s stolen the Superior Diva Jessie Ware’s hairdo at the end! 2/5
Zoë: Errr I feel like I've seen it and heard it a million times before. The "AGAIN" part is fun haha and damn it she's hot! 3/5
Total = 16.5/30
Norah Jones – Happy Pills (Video)
Bobby: No. 0/5
Jacques: Fucking AMAZING! I've always loved Norah's music over the year but I was a little iffy with her last album."Happy Pills" has made me a fan again. I just wish I had some of these happy pills when you forced me to listen to that heinous Melody Thornton song, Mike. 5/5
Mike: This is one of my favourite songs of 2012. It's so effortless and breezy. Norah embraces her inner-vamp and is forgiven for ten years of drivel. Absolutely gagging for the album. 5/5
Robbie: This is pleasant enough, in a slightly boring way. Reminds me of something VH1 would play if they still aired music videos. 3/5
Stephen: I don’t know why I didn’t come when I heard this song. Or wait, I DO... The LP cover made me think she’d gone all Gogo’s on us, but this sounds like everything else Snorah Jones has done. 2/5
Zoë: It doesn't really tickle my fancy but it's nice enough. 3/5
Total = 18/30
Mandy Capristo – The Way I Like It (Video)
The German diva was part of a hugely successful girlband in her homeland before striking out on her own this anthem.
Bobby: After Nicki, Jennifer, Rita, Delta, Norah and Melody we're finally touching pop gold. Major points for that dress. She's won me already with the overblown pink toilet brush-cum-prom dress. To be frank, a song with the repeated refrains "push a little harder" and "get it up" will always be a winner for me. Love the wet climax at the end too. Full marks Mandy. 5/5
Jacques: Not bad, not good. It's somewhere in between. I'm mostly just glad that Melody Thornton didn't record this. 2/5
Mike: Monrose was a very hit-or-miss band for me but Mandy gets it just right with this saucy piece of Europop. I hope there's a physical single! 4/5
Robbie: Borderline awful/amazing. I'm siding with amazing. But I'll never remember it after this one listen. Oh well. 4/5
Stephen: Unbearable shit. 0/5
Zoë: Don't you think she looks like a cross between J Lo and Beyonce in some parts of the clip!? It's a good dance song. 3/5
Total = 18/30
SINGLE OF THE WEEK
Perfume – Spring Of Life (below)
Japan's hottest girlband gifts the world another electro-marvel.
Bobby: First listen, brilliant. But I take my Pop Panel duties incredibly seriously. I always replay the offerings to hear if I missed something. On its second spin it sounded flat and dull. I really should love this song but I don't. Ultimately, it has a nice scent that refuses to linger. Charmless yet pretty. Like biting into a tasteless yet glorious-looking cheesecake. 3/5
Jacques: Utterly flawless. Japan's best girlband never disappoint. Their futuristic Tokyo techno-pop really shows you how terribly pedestrian the current dance-pop on the Hot 100 is by comparison. This is truly amazing and it's definitely something Melody Thornton would never record. 5/5
Mike: Perfume were my first Asian pop crush along with the legendary Ami Suzuki. Their cyber-beats never fail to stun and amaze but this is a bit of a letdown in comparison to flawless classics like "Dream Fighter" and "Love The World". I think it's the insipid chorus that ruins it for me. Regardless, the production is mind-boggling and the video utterly sublime. 4/5
Robbie: A perfect score for the LED dresses alone. I wonder if these robot broads short circuit when they sit on Daddy's rocket? 5/5
Stephen: Now we’re getting somewhere. Do you ever think these J-pop songs are just exercises to make super kawai videos? It’s fantastically shot, but let’s face it, Perfume are neither Pizzicato Five or Girls Aloud. I wonder if one of them is married to the Japanese equivalent of a footballer? 4/5
Zoë: Oh dear, this one's not for me! Great video though. 0/5
Total = 21/30