Friday, July 31, 2009

Lorena Herrera - Mexican Trash Goddess

Some of you might remember that I started learning Spanish earlier this year at a shady Mexican school run by Colombian refugees. And no, they didn't mention any of that shit in the brochure! Unfortunately I had to drop out due to that whole unfortunate falling into a coma business but I finally re-enrolled and spent Tuesday night learning the names of Mexican vegetables. As undeniably fascinating as that was, I decided to dig deeper into Mexico's rich cultural heritage and hit my friend Joe up for some musical suggestions. I love all the music he sent me but one diva absolutely took my breath away with her unparalleled beauty and stunning vocal talent. Yes, I'm talking about the vision of elegance and class that is Lorena Herrera. Paulina Rubio and Thalia can fuck right off - I've officially found my Mexican muse!

Lorena really knows how to put on a show!

There's so much to love about Lorena. According to her bio, the luscious diva is a "highly acclaimed" actress who has starred in more than 50 movies. I can't be sure but I'm guessing the majority of those co-starred a donkey and were filmed in Tijuana. Somewhere along the way, lovely Lorena became a TV star and eventually began a music career in 1996. Since then she has released 6 albums and filmed some of the classiest video clips ever to grace youtube. Her latest single "Ya" is a perfect example (below). The Mexican beauty doesn't let anything as mundane as middle age (she's 42) stop her rolling around semi-naked with a snake or sucking on some guy's bulging pecs. Happily the song is just as classy as the video. "Ya" is a gloriously low brow dance anthem that sounds like something Melissa Tkautz recorded and ultimately rejected for "Lost & Found". Yes, it's THAT amazing! Apparently Lorena just released a new album in Mexico and I'm dying to hear it. Until I hunt down that masterpiece, I'll have to make do with youtube and her stunning soft porn website. If anyone has any other Mexican pop suggestions, please let me know!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

STOP PRESS: More Stunning Toy News!

Somebody pass me a Valium! The Church of La Toya has just rocked my world with this report:

"La Toya recorded her first music video in over 20 years on Sunday. The clip was directed by Eric Bute and director of photography was Hollywood veteran Reed Smoot. La Toya had three costume changes for the video, all of which were completely white ensembles, keeping with the theme of the single cover. It was shot at the Golden Oak Ranch in Santa Clarita, California, which is owned by The Walt Disney Company and frequently used for film production."

I just know Toy Toy is gonna bring her "A" game to this clip! I'm expecting a variety of crazy hats, stunning costume changes and at least one incredibly tasteful cameo by Michael Jackson's ghost. Given the ranch setting, I'm also hoping to see Toy take a roll in the hay and flash her big back door to a group of lustful cowboys. If the prospect of a new video from the Duchess of Dance isn't enough to give you a screaming toygasm, check out this little tidbit:

"We're also excited for an upcoming project we're working on with a UK record label. We'll have an album full of unreleased and rare La Toya material coming your way soon!"

By unreleased and rare, I think they mean the widely available "Startin' Over" with a few new tracks the Pope of Pop recorded recently including the much talked about but never heard "Love". Not that I'm complaining. I don't care if they re-release "Bad Girl" for the 147th time - anything would be an unexpected and gratefully received treat! Oh and for those of you that didn't believe, roll up your sleeves because The Church has also revealed that "Home" is now Toy's most downloaded song ever. I don't know if I can handle all this stunning $ucce$$!

While we wait for Toy's "Home" video to debut, let's wander down memory lane to 1984 when La Toya released her first and, in my opinion, best video. "Heart Don't Lie" is a much loved camp classic and remains Toy Toy's biggest US hit reaching a lofty #56 on the Billboard chart. I'm sure the video played a large part in the song's success. Only our Goddess could get away with playing a school girl despite pushing 30 and bring in a team of dancing mime artists!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Toymentous Occasion!

Today is a toytastic moment in the history of pop music. Mark the 28th of July down in your diary as the day the (highly disputed) Queen of Pop released her first single in over a decade. Yes, bitches - the legendary La Toya Jackson is back! I've been waiting for this moment ever since Toy Toy first announced that she was startin' over way back in 2002 and now after a decade of false starts, she's finally ready to throw it down and put the haters in check. It's just a shame that it took such sad circumstances for the High Priestess of Pop to reclaim her throne. With any luck, the overwhelmingly positive response to "Home" will inspire Toy to get her big back door into the studio to record new tracks. That is after she hunts down Michael's killer and forces Debbie Rowe to get correct. In the meantime, I've put together a special one off mid-week Pop Panel to celebrate the release of "Home". Today's completely unbiased judges are:

Bomitoni (US) writer of Milk Carton Pop Stars
Chicago Sexbox (US) writer of Chicago Sexbox
Jamie (UK) writer of Tat Parade
Jay (UK) writer of Postcards From Puerto Rico
Mike (AUS) author of this classy blog
Tommie (Sweden) writer of Donna Martin Graduates

Here's what this fabulous group of high brow music scholars had to say about Toy Toy's heartbreaking tribute to Michael Jackson.

Bomitoni: Toy has touched many with her music over the years. This previously unreleased gem is a true testament to what Toy truly is, a music force to be reckoned with. What a lovely tribute to Michael Jackson! 5/5

Chicago Sexbox: Somewhere up above Michael Jackson is smiling down from a celestial Neverland as he is greeted by the sounds of La Toya Jackson's power ballad and soon to be epic anthem for Michael Jackson fans everywhere, "Home". Michael's closest and most talented sister releases this gem from her vault to not only honor her brother and the childhood home they shared growing up but to donate all proceeds to Michael's favorite AIDS charity. While Janet is probably already corrupting poor Michael's children with her collection of S&M anal porn, La Toya appeases the King of Pop's spirit much like she has done with her fans with her previous musical ventures. For those of you who didn't believe roll up your sleeves......cuz La Toya is throwing down with her new spiritual and uplifting sound! 5/5

Jamie: For many years the thinking man's Jackson has tantalised us with pop gems like 2003's Billboard Dance/Club Chart smash "Just Wanna Dance", "Free The World", and her ghetto throwdown to pimps and dealers across the globe - the seminal "I Don't Play That". On her latest opus La Toya gives us a glimpse of the good old days of growing up in the Jackson family home surrounded by the only people she ever really knew. It's just lovely, syrupy, over the top, and melancholy all at the same time. What a poignant and fitting time to release this fan favourite which serves as a perfect tribute to Michael, the King of Pop - 5/5!

Jay: The Pope Of Pop returns to bless us all with a heavenly anthem and a touching tribute to her recently departed brother. What makes this even more touching is Queen Toy showing her forgiveness for him once again sabotaging her career as him dropping his clogs has ensured the much anticipated "Startin' Over" has been delayed indefinitely... just like he ruined "Night Time Lover" and stole "Thriller"! Though I still think a re-issue of "Free The World" would have been far more fabulous. 5/5

Mike: Music fans are used to Jackson sisters being pudgy frumps like Janet and Rebbie. La Toya's curse has always been her exquisite looks and unrivalled sex appeal but hopefully the tragedy of Michael's death will allow people to look past her divine body and finally embrace the powerhouse vocals that have driven Toy Soldiers wild for three decades. "Home" truly is a toyriffic tune. The production is epic, the lyrics are tender and Toy Toy turns it out vocally. A work of genius. 5/5

Tommie: A true triumph in good taste and artistry! Anyone who disagrees has clearly listened to Janet's pussy ballads for too long and shouldn't be taken seriously. 5/5

Total: 30/30

That's highest score in Pop Panel history! I always knew Toy Toy had it in her. "Home" is now available from US and UK iTunes. Please do the poor bitch a favour and download it! The rest of us can bask in the glory of Toy's stunning "Home" by watching the video (below).

Peter Wilson On Mandy Smith - Interview

I've always loved Mandy Smith. She was the bad girl of Stock Aitken Waterman. While Kylie wore pearls and innocently chirped "I Wouldn't Change A Thing", 17 year old Mandy posed for pictures in her knickers and belted out saucy anthems like "Victim Of Pleasure". Despite her incredible lack of UK chart success, I honestly believe Mandy's debut album is a Hit Factory classic. "I Just Can't Wait" (the lead single) is a gorgeous little pop tune that would have raced to #1 if someone less controversial had recorded it, while the ultra camp Daize Washbourne penned "Boys And Girls" was a deserved #12 smash hit (in Italy). My personal favourite is "He's My Boy", which has to rank as one of Stock Aitken Waterman's most intoxicatingly tacky efforts. Unfortunately, Mandy seemed to dropped off the face of the earth in the late 80s and never released another album. I always wondered what happened to her and now I know thanks to Peter Wilson! Apart from producing Amanda Lear and Haywoode, Peter also found the time to interview Mandy about the PWL years and the recent re-release of her album. He also asks Mandy about recording "Got To Be Certain" before Kylie, which I found particularly fascinating. If you want to read more about this fabulous diva, check out the full version of the interview over at the Hit Factory Forum. I'm just printing the highlights (with Peter's permission).

We’ve missed you! Where have you been for the past 20 years?
That's really nice, thank you! Wow! Where do I start? After signing a record deal in the USA, I became quite ill. I already had quite a weak immune system, so with a heavy workload and lots of stress from personal life issues and UK press, my mind and body could take no more. I had to take an early exit from the music biz with a heavy heart. Over the years I have concentrated on getting better and living a life doing the things that I've always wanted to do, like, getting married (twice), having children (like my beautiful son Max aged 8) being a make-up artist, and working with a charity called
Five Star Appeal. I've taken time out to enjoy being a mum and just spend time living and experiencing things that I didn't when I was younger.

How did your signing with PWL come about?
I was 16 at the time and my manager had a call from Pete Waterman's office to see if we could set up a meeting and talk about making a single which is every young girl's dream. I had heard it was the idea of Pete Burns from the group Dead or Alive, who had seen and read about me and put this notion to PW. So, many thanks to PB really.

What was the first song you recorded with SAW?
I remember my first day in the studio with Mike Stock and Matt Aitken, I was nervous but tried not to show it. I was also really excited at having such a great opportunity and experience second to none. The first song I recorded was "Terry" by Twinkle, it didn't get released back then, so I went on to record "I Just Can't Wait" which was my first PWL release. "Terry", by the way, has just been added to my recent re-released album for those of you who would like to have a listen.

What is your favourite song on the album? And when did you last listen to it?
I listened to it recently, because they sent me a copy due to the re-release. My son wanted to hear it, so I put it on and gave him a mini Mandy concert just to make him giggle! I really enjoyed listening to (and singing) "Positive Reaction".

If you could have recorded any other SAW song, what would it have been?
All true SAW fans will know this track, it was by a band called Brilliant and the track was called "Love Is War". When I used to hang out at the studio, I would watch MTV or have a nose around - looking at the albums that had been recorded or get previews of the new Kylie or Jason videos. One day while nosing, I found this song by Brilliant and played it to death, it's a classic SAW production that never really hit the big time! It did in my world!

Do you have any memories of meeting and/or touring (PWL Roadshows) with other PWL acts and who was your favourite?
I suppose the main people I did mini tours with (were) Kylie, Jason Donovan, Rick Astley and Sinitta. We all worked so hard that half the time, we would get the shows done, have dinner together and fall into bed exhausted, ready for the next days work! Sometimes, depending on which town we were in, we'd go to a local club/disco for a good dance and fall into bed at getting up time! Rick Astley was my favourite person, he was so genuine and a real sweetheart.(Great voice too!)

You released 5 great singles in the UK, but the first 4 did not make the charts. However you didn't give up, that's real determination at such a young age. How did you handle it?
I was always a little disappointed when they never made the UK charts, because your home ground is always the place where you would like success! But I think with being so well accepted in Europe and the Far East, I just kept working and hoped that one day the UK would change. I was really happy though with how well the singles did abroad, so that carried me through.

"Don't You Want Me Baby" finally gave you a UK chart placing with hard work starting to pay off. Was this a proud moment for you?
Yes and No really! I think at this point in my life, I was a bit fed up with the British press, as they had given me quite a rough ride, so I was not expecting a hit - and then to have a UK chart placing was a nice surprise. My health at this time was starting to wane a little, which also took the fun out of things.

After "Don’t You Want Me Baby", no more releases followed and you kind of vanished. A lot people missed you, and expected a 2nd album. What happened?
As I mentioned earlier I went to the USA to promote the album and upon my return to the UK I was to make a video for "Don't You Want Me" and finish promoting it. Sadly, that plan didn't come to fruition. I really missed working. It was a frustrating time but I had to learn to cope, by just being positive and getting better.

2005 saw the release of SAW Gold, which included the release of your unreleased original version of "Got To Be Certain". Did PWL let you know this was coming out and how did you feel about it?
To be honest I can't remember them telling me but I do remember feeling really chuffed that people had a chance to hear my version. I did prefer the production on Kylie's though.

Apparently you turned down "Got To Be Certain", is this correct? Did you not feel right about the song at the time, or feel now looking back, that it would have been your breakthrough song in the UK, given it's success with Kylie?
I never turned it down, I think they just tried out songs from the vaults on different artists and went with the one that fitted the artist best. It would never have been my breakthrough song, Kylie had the gold touch at that time and if she'd have sung "I Just Can't Wait", I'm sure that would have been a hit too. Of course at times when I heard "Got To Be Certain" being played on the radio, I would sometimes think, that could have been me! (With a smile!)

After 21 years, your album "Mandy" has been released again in the UK, with the unreleased tracks and rare mixes. What a great CD collection and great achievement. How did you feel when you heard about the release?
With great surprise and I feel more proud of my album now, than I ever did. I was 16, 17 when I recorded most of the songs and I took it all in my stride but looking back, what an achievement/experience.

I remember you coming to Australia, winning many fans when you were here. "Victim Of Pleasure" was charting and getting a lot of radio play. Do you have any memories of coming here?
I loved Australia, I remember describing the people as being warmer than the English and more genuine than the Americans, real cool folk! Not very PC to say that, these days! One of the main memories I have are that of being really tired, because I had just done a mini tour of Japan, but I did enjoy my time there. I got to meet up with Kylie and Jason again and meet a family member of mine that I had never seen before.

You are one of rather few PWL acts who has always spoken to warmly and fondly about SAW and PWL, which is wonderful. What was the best thing about PWL for you?
They really were like a big family, everything was done in house (hence it being called, The Hit Factory) and I always felt protected and cared about, even though they had success on a big scale, they cared about the small stuff!

SAW did receive a lot of stick from the public, music snobs and sometimes even their own acts. How did you feel about that when you would hear it?
It happened to most artists who didn't write their own songs or played instruments, what I mean by that is, their egos kicked in and the critic's words kicked in and they all thought they could do better than SAW. It was a credibility thing. It happens in every walk of life, but the secret with SAW was, if it ain’t broke, don’t try and fix it!

Do you own many SAW records?
Yeah. I have some favourites like Banarama, Mel and Kim and Kylie.

The last CD you bought?
Lady GaGa.

Finally, Mandy there are a lot of fans who miss you. Do you have a message for them?
Thank you so very much for buying the songs that gave me such great opportunities in life, to travel and meet many different people. Every day I learn something new and I embrace it and my many past experiences have made me part of who I am today and that's a very contented, happy person. Thanks again and God bless.

Mandy's legendary debut single!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Pop Panel - Week 11

This is possibly the classiest Pop Panel yet. Not only is the legendary Monica Naranjo observing proceedings from the comfort of her gold toilet like an angelic prostitute but the line up also includes a 16 year old German transsexual, a Spanish bear band and a Latvian pop diva. Annoyingly, none of those acts won but I do approve of the champion and think it's a great "Single Of The Week". As an added bonus, the original panel is back for the first time in weeks:

D'Luv (US) writer of Chart Rigger
Mike author of this classy blog.
Pablo (Spain) writer of Peibols
Paul (UK) writer of Fizzy Pop
Rob (UK) writer of Don't Stop The Pop
The Prophet (AUS) writer of The Prophet

In addition to those hacks, we are joined by a fabulous celebrity guest judge in the form of Alan Connor, who is burning up the UK club chart with his summer smash "I Love The Sunshine". Over the years Alan has carved out his own little niche in the Hi-NRG dance world with hits like "Let Your Love Flow" and "Dance Away" and is currently promoting the impending release of his second album "Something Going On" on the 3rd of August. Alan was kind enough to answer some questions before getting on with the voting.

Alan, "I Love The Sunshine" has been huge in clubs and even gained support from Tiesto. How did the song come about?
"I Love The Sunshine" came about after I recorded "Let Your Love Flow". We had been shopping that track around Europe looking for partners to help promote it internationally and Deep Melange, a German production team, were very interested. They did some mixes for Germany and the track went out as Mike Melange featuring Alan Connor. They sent me this easy listening type demo called "I Love The Sunshine" which I thought had potential, so I went into the studio, changed the chord structure and added some guitars and it made the song. Beltek in Slovenia then did a mix of it which is when Tiesto picked it up and we decided then to go with it as a single. It's very different from what I have done before but it's found its own audience and introduced a lot of new people to my music.

You've really found a niche with your Hi-NRG dance/pop sound. Have you always been a fan of the genre?
I grew up in the 80s when Hi-NRG was the dominant form of chart music, thanks largely to PWL. A lot of my favourite artists were from that era - Bananarama, Dead Or Alive, Kylie, Hazell Dean, Sam Fox and Lonnie Gordon, who I got to work with. So many great records. I think I was lucky when I teamed up with 7th Heaven because they understood that sound, but were able to put a fresh spin on it as well.

Your second album is about to drop. Tell us about it. Will it feature all your club hits?
The new album is out early August and it's called "Something Going On", which is the last track I wrote for the album. I'm a big fan of Xenomania and I'd been listening to Girls Aloud "The Loving Kind" a lot, so it is my stab at writing something along those lines. It is probably my favourite track on the album. The whole record, bar two songs, is mixed or produced by 7th Heaven, and all of the hits are there - "Let Your Love Flow", "Now The Rain Has Gone", "Walking Away" and "Dance Away" as well as the current single, and the next one, "Sun Went Down". There are a couple more cover versions on there, including The Pet Shop Boys "Heart", complete with brass section, and a great version of Human Leagues' "Love Action" which I had a ball recording.

I think the key thing about the album though is that we didn't rush it. We picked the best songs we could for it so there really isn't any filler there. What you have is a collection of songs that all knit together well, but each one has it's own character, so it makes for a very stimulating dance pop record I think. We're releasing it on CD and download. I still like to have a nice shiny CD wherever possible! The digital version though has a couple of bonus 12" mixes, notably "Walking Away" which seems to have been very popular with Hi-NRG fans, because it really does sound like old skool PWL. There's also a commentary which is exclusive to iTunes. The CD is now available to order at, Amazon UK and HMV among others.

Alan's latest top 10 club smash "I Love The Sunshine"

As usual, the songs are listed from least to most popular. Here they are:

Barb@zul - Siente El Orgullo (Video)

Spanish bear band release the theme song for this year's Barcelona Pride.

Alan Connor: Interesting. This is a song you just have to take for what it is. It has a really good Hi-NRG production and nice melody. Very 80s. Also reminds me a bit The Killers “Human”, which is my favourite record of the year so far. I don’t think it would do anything outside of the gay clubs but for its target market it’s a really great track. I am sure the video will be showing in every gay bar in Barcelona this summer until the laser burns through the disc! 4/5
D'Luv: Computer says no. 0/5
Mike: These guys are like Bearforce - only sexy and talented! The song is catchy, uplifting and loads of fun. I love the video and the bad dance routine. Can someone please tell me where I can download this fabulous shit? 4/5
Pablo: Aren't there any other Spanish singles? 0/5
Paul: Now normally I quite like bear bands. There was that Bearforce one who did quite a decent (read: horrific but enjoyable) Christmas number. And oh my, but I really quite like this. I do like a nice uplifting number and the gaytastic video only sweetens the deal. I think when I'm older and hairier I will become a bear and start a band. 3.5/5
Rob: Er....have they ripped off The Killers?!?!?! I think they have! Law suit, law suit! Putting aside the complete and utter clear issue of plagiarism this is a great little pop song for a nice cause. Well done boys but try and be a bit more original next year. 1.5/5
Total: 13/35

Cassie Davis – Do It Again (Video)

Australia's answer to Pink/Fergie releases her 3rd single.

Alan Connor: This started out as a rock track and I could feel myself zoning out, but then the groove kicks in. Love the clapping. Very nice touch. I think overall this is a song that would need a few listens though. Generally it doesn’t really separate itself enough from other acts like Pink, which probably means it won’t do as well as it would if someone established recorded it. Great voice though and I think she will be around a while. 3/5
D'Luv: This sounds like Katy Perry singing through Natasha Bedinfield's snatch and out her ass. Now, I know what you're all thinking, but that's actually not a good thing. 1/5
Mike: Seriously, is Cassie being styled by Jeanswest? She looks like a secretary from Penrith. As for the song - I don't know what to say. It took two months for "Differently" to click with me, so I might be feeling "Do It Again" come September. However, right now I'd rather see Julie from Masterchef naked than hear this shit ever again. 1.5/5
Pablo: Now I understand why Kylie makes such low cost videos! Cos it's the way Australian people make videos! Saving money! The song rocks. Sounds like really, REALLY angry cheerleaders. 4/5
Paul: I really like some of her imagery, but this song isn't the strongest single that she has done or that should have been released. It's got more of a No Doubt vibe about it - some notes in the chorus really remind of that group. I do like it well enough though and I love her talky verses. 3/5
Rob: The song is really interesting. On that note she has so much potential. The jeans are a flop. In many ways this is the song that Kelly Clarkson should have picked for her comeback. Instead, Cassie D has delightfully nabbed this stomper for her own. I think the video really lets it down. However putting aside the presentation this little ditty is a strong song that deserves to do really well. And, more development from the record company. 3/5
The Prophet: OMG is she on her THIRD single? Are you serious? I'm sure she's probably talented but her songs are terrible, and I still haven't forgiven her for flirting up a storm with my man Travis McCoy. 0.5/5
Total: 16/35

Kim Petras – Die For You (Video)

16 year old German transsexual releases her debut single.

Alan Connor: Is this the first transsexual pop star since Dana International? Is she REALLY a transsexual? At 16?!! She's very pretty, and making a record at 16 is an achievement, but I don't rate the song at all. She has the look to do well but I don't think this is the song to sell her. 2/5
D'Luv: And here I thought BoA was the only transsexual we were getting to review this week! This ranks up there with some of Heidi Montag's so-shit-it's-class material, and it made me laugh. For that alone: 5/5
Mike: Oh bless her. This is one of the most trashtastic things I've seen in 2009. Kim is ten kinds of fabulous! 4/5
Pablo: Ok, I change my mind. THIS is a really low cost video. I have nothing against trannies, really. Actually Mike is one of them I still talk to him. But this song is really boring. 1/5
Paul: My god, she looks like that skinny druggy one from the OC. Marissa Barton! I can't help but feel that Kim is searching for something and that something would be a tune or at the very least an interesting note. Quite bland and boring. 1/5
Rob: Yikes, this is dreadful. More singing lessons will be a key investment for Kim. 0/5
The Prophet: She's cute for a tranny, I would have never known if you hadn't mentioned it. It's a shame then that she couldn't hold a tune in a bucket but I have a feeling she used her sex change for her own promotional gain in order to start a music career, so I love her for being such trash. 3/5
Total: 16/35

DJ Ella – Shine Like A Superstar (Below)

Latvian pop star unveils her latest dance anthem.

Alan Connor: I like this. She is gorgeous. Great outfit. At first I thought her boobs were hanging out!! I think this is really hooky and it’s the kind of record I would buy. This is from Latvia? Eastern Europe is producing some great new talent. In fact, thank God for Europe because they’re keeping pop music alive. 4/5
D'Luv: Generic. 1/5
Mike: Ella is absolutely stunning and the song is cute but it's all a bit tired and dated. If this were 2002 I'd probably give "Superstar" 5/5 but it's not, so I'm giving it 2 for the music and 1 for her fabulous hair. 3/5
Pablo: (Almost) every song with "superstar" in its title is worth it. At least for me. Easy and danceable. Quite good. 3/5
Paul: Oh "good" - more generic europop. Weren't Cascada doing this 3 years ago before they invented the Lady Gaga sound and then forgot to release it before her? Still I bemoan generic europop and then find myself singing it for days. It sounds like something StarPilots would sing if they were women. Which they are not. 2.5/5
Rob: I love Ella. The review will consequently be ultra biased. I love what they've done to this track. The album version never deserved to be a single. This version does. I've got a feeling this could have the same capacity to be huge like Agnes' "Release Me". Is it too europop though? Could be. It might stay in her familiar Polish territory. Either way, it's a brilliant tune for the summer set. Give a Cicada remix and you've got a UK hit single. 3/5
The Prophet: Eww! She's almost (but not quite) as bad as Colton Ford. 0/5
Total: 16.5/35

Jaydn Maria Ft Flo Rida – Good Girls Like Bad Boys (Video)

Former gospel star turned urban pop diva courtesy of Ne Yo.

Alan Connor: Great song title, and it’s probably another grower. Autotune is back. Yay! Not particularly a track I would be listening to much myself though. 3/5
D'Luv: I kept waiting for the deer to put its head up her woodland ditch in the video. JoJo did this schtick a lot better and more scandalous at a much younger age. 2/5
Mike: Jadyn Maria is like Stacie Orrico on crystal meth, which makes her my kind of diva. I've loved this since it leaked under the title "Villain" in January. Sure, it's a bit formulaic and I could have done without the Flo Rida rap but the chorus is catchy and I love the slutastic video. 4/5
Pablo: Oh, how new! I girl trying to look like Megan Fox with sexy costumes! This song is the least catchy in the panel. 1/5
Paul: Good gravy. This has been done a million times before. The verses that is. The chorus is quite enticing in a dark way. If that magic worked its way throughout the whole song, it would be a lot better. I do like it when religious girls go pop (except Katy Perry of course). 3/5
Rob: Flo Rida kinda gets about doesn't he. Sadly, this is another track that sames like everything else out there at the moment. By itself its not bad but when you consider the fact that songs like this are dime a dozen these days it makes the experience tried, tested and boring. If you wanna do it different look at the singer Kesha (another once-time Flo Rida collaborator) 0/5
The Prophet: I love Jadyn because she was after a music career for years but it never worked out, so she dropped the Christian thing and decided to let the pop industry consume and rape her. She's reminds me of a porn star and I've been bumping this song all year. Shame she's going to hell then isn't it? 4.5/5
Total: 17.5/35

BoA – Eat You Up (Video)

I stuffed this up. "Eat You Up" is actually the Korean superstar's last US single. I'll include her new one next week - much to the delight of Paul and Pablo.

Alan Connor: Pretty good track with a catchy chorus. It’s very current. They’ve aimed squarely at what would get picked up on US radio, right down to the autotune. Good luck to her. 3/5
D'Luv: At first I was confused — the long hair threw me and I thought for a minute that this was a girl. Anyway, he's got a great jam with this one. Yay, BoA! 4/5
Mike: This is a good, old fashioned fuck anthem. I just feel like "Eat You Up" should be accompanied by some kind of intercourse. Anyhoo, I love the track and the choreography in the video is amazing. BoA takes on Britney at her own game and wins. In a landslide. 5/5
Pablo: A Korean Girl trying to be Avril Lavigne sounding like Britney circa "Blackout" is quite similar to Fergie dressed like a torero trying to sing sevillanas. Picture that. This is the same. 1/5
Paul: It could be that I'm writing this at 4.03am because Mike will shout at me if I don't get it done today but this song has no merit as far as I can tell. She's a bit monotonous over the same old pop-club beat. I couldn't even get through the whole song! 1/5
Rob: Those Danes do it again. Yes, this sounds a lot like a 2009 hybrid of Robyn's "Keep This Fire Burning" and Brandy's "What About Us" but that's its endearing quality. 3/5
The Prophet: This song is so last year but if I think back correctly I was obsessed with it when they first released it. Her dancing reminds me of an Asian Janet Jackson, and the sexually suggestive lyrics are the icing on the cake. 4/5
Total: 21/35

Beyoncé – Sweet Dreams (Video)

The most poptastic number on "Sasha Fierce".

Alan Connor: I really like Beyonce. She’s made some great records. This is one of the stronger tracks from her album, and being Beyonce it will do very well. She’s a great singer, and I admire the fact that she doesn’t spoil her records with endless vocal runs just because she can do them. Radio will be all over this track. 3/5
D'Luv: Is it me, or does this sound like La Bouche's "You Won't Forget Me"? While I couldn't give a toss about this overrated ho, the probably-nonexistent tie to that late '90s jam gets it a: 4/5
Mike: Beyoncé creeps into Rihanna's urban dance territory with the skill of a ninja and gives that sad wannabe a worse beat down than Chris Brown in the process. "Sweet Dreams" is amazing - great production, evocative lyrics and a very sexy video. Now can we please have "Radio" or "Smash Into You" as the 27th single from "Sasha Fierce"? 5/5
Pablo: The song is good. I like it, really. But seriously I'm tired of Beyonce + 2 girls dancing. It's enough. 3/5
Paul: God help me but I'm really starting to like Beyonce! Oh my days! I wouldn't say that this is her most poptastic number but I do quite like this and am starting to consider even checking her album out. I thought the chorus was a bit bland at first, but by the end of the song I was singing along "turn the lights off" with the rest of them. 3.5/5
Rob: It's incredibly hard for me to be objective about Beyonce. Only because I find her voice grating. I think she is the worse thing ever to appear on the pop scene since whenever. I am constantly open to Sasha and her other alter egos. I always try to see why she sells so much. Why she wins so many appraisals. But alas I am at a loss. With the random exception of that song she did for Goldmember I can't seem to like this singer and this single doesn't change a thing. Absolutely crap. 0/5
The Prophet: LeToya's sophomore album "Lady Love" is now in stores and her new single "She Ain't Got..." is currently available for purchase on iTunes. 4/5
Total: 22.5/35


Bluey Robinson - I Know (below)

Debut single from upcoming British urban pop star Bluey.

Alan Connor: Very eye catching video. It’s probably the best of the videos here. Generally I am not into urban at all but I thought this was very good. He’s a strong, emotive singer with a good range. Chorus is memorable, production is top notch and I particularly like the driving force of the drums. I think he’ll be one to watch for and this I think is my pick of the bunch. A hit. Off to look up who produced this now!!! 5/5
D'Luv: Pretty decent, but the chorus feels lazy. Bluey should have spent more time with a pad and pen and less time on his wig. 3/5
Mike: Credit for this selection has to go to The Prophet. He posted it on his blog a few weeks ago and I've been obsessed with it ever since. It's so warm, uplifting and ruthlessly catchy. One of the better debut singles in recent memory. 5/5
Pablo: What is this? Those clothes? That Little Boots background? That red-haired girl? And this song? 1/5
Paul: Blimey. At first I thought who paid you to put this on the list (OVER PRESTON! Look I can shout too Mr Prophet) but then he wears a bow tie in the video so I thought I'll give it a go... It's quite insiduous in that it does get under your skin the more you hear it. He's got quite a nice voice too so overall j'approve. 3.5/5
Rob: Fuck me! This is brilliantly simple. This has made me change all my other rankings. Its so cute. There are shades of Tyler James in this and I wouldn't be surprised to know that he had a hand in Mr.Robinson's material. A great new act to watch out for. I love it. 5/5
The Prophet: Words cannot describe this, but my score can. 5/5
Total: 27.5/35

Friday, July 24, 2009

La Prohibida > La Roux

So La Roux scored a Mercury Prize nomination for best British album. Are you kidding me? They have a couple of good tunes and make a fairly convincing Eurythmics tribute band but that's about it. If you want a truly classy electro/synth-pop listening experience look no further than Spain's La Prohibida. The stunningly gorgeous drag sensation has recorded the album that La Roux and Little Boots tried and ultimately failed to make. "Sr. Kubrick, ¿Qué Haría Usted?" ("Mr Kubrick, What Would You Do?") is a beautifully conceived exploration of different dance sub-genres from the 70s, 80s and 90s - blending elements of space disco, Hi-NRG, Italo disco, Eurobeat and French house music. I guess you could even call it a concept album of sorts. The predominant themes are sci-fi and space related, making it an extremely fabulous homage to David Bowie's "Ziggie Stardust". However, don't make the mistake of dismissing "Sr. Kubrick, ¿Qué Haría Usted?" as a camp novelty. La Prohibida has created one of the year's best pop albums. An astonishing achievement when you take into account the fact that she probably funded it by giving blow jobs in the toilets at Polana. Here is my track by track review:


Valentina Terechkova was the first female astronaut and this beautiful song pays tribute to that Soviet maverick. In fact, I think La Prohibida is channelling Valentina on the album cover as well. The track itself is an incredibly convincing attempt at reviving the now defunct 70s genre of space disco. I love the wistful chorus, which shines against a galaxy of beautiful bleeps and beeps. This is stunning opening number.

Cuando Dos Electrones Chocan (When Two Electrons Collide)

The 80s synths arrive for this brilliant dance anthem. "Cuando Dos Electrones Chocan" is one of the most straightforward pop numbers on the album and I think it would make a great single. At times I even hear a slight Stock Aitken Waterman influence but overall the sound is definitely more continental. The likes of Sandra and Spagna would be proud to call this track their own.

One Way Interrail

Eurovision fans might remember this as La Prohibida's entry in Spanish qualifying a couple of years ago. The fact that it wasn't selected is the biggest scandal since Las Supremas de Móstoles were robbed in 2005. Anyway, it's probably for the best. Eurovision isn't ready for this much glamour. "One Way Interrail" is the campest thing on "Sr. Kubrick, ¿Qué Haría Usted?" but it's still a great hands in the air anthem. I'd love to meet La Prohibida at Atocha for a nice train ride.

La Conexión (The Connection)

"La conexión" proves that La Prohibida is not a one trick pony by belting out this touching ballad with as much conviction her dance anthems. I love the space imagery, the soft synths and the sweetness of La Prohibida's vocal delivery. Despite the fact that I can't understand the lyrics, I want to walk down the aisle to this song when I marry Miguel from "Física o Química". This and Tina Turner's "Better Be Good To Me"!

La Química Me Ha Dado Lo Que Tú No Me Das (Drugs Give Me What You Don't)

I think the title translates as "Drugs Give Me What You Don't" and I couldn't agree more. MDMA with a Vodka chaser is better than any man. That aside, this is one of my favourite songs on the album. The intro sounds like it has been lifted straight from Kylie's "Love At First Sight" and the rest is just as Minogue-tastic. Little Boots wishes she could rip off Kylie with this much flair! I love the floaty beats and catchy chorus.

Estas Donde Tienes Que Estar (You Are Where You Have To Be)

This song is so relentlessly joyous and cheerful that it's impossible not to get swept up in its Eurobeat fabulousness. There's also a touch of 90s Hi-NRG about this little gem, which makes it even more endearing. Not the greatest song on the album but it's the kind of filler Soraya would sell her Botox needles to get her lovely hands on.

Esto No Es Amor (This Is Not Love)

There are so many stunning tracks on this album that need to be translated into English and covered by Dannii. My first choice would be "Esto No Es Amor" because it kind of reminds me of "I Begin To Wonder". La Prohibida dusts off synths not heard since the days of Dead Or Alive and Human League on this throbbing little pop number.

Yo En Saturno, Tú En Aranjuez (I'm on Saturn, You're in Aranjuez)

I'm pretty sure Aranjuez is a town near Madrid, so I think this little number deals with long distance relationships - from space! The production is really cute. It's retro without sounding dated. This scintillating 80s inspired dance anthem would have sounded amazing on "Miss Sanchez" instead of all those boring ballads. Maybe La Prohibida can write her next album.

Nunca Más - Dúo Con Spunky (Never Ever - Duet With Spunky)

Speaking of Marta, "Nunca Más" is the upbeat, trash equivalent of "Colgando En Tus Manos" - only La Prohibida is more glamorous than Miss Sanchez and Spunky is less sexy than Carlos Baute. Well, I assume because I have no idea who Spunky is. Anyway, I love this duet. It's cute and catchy with a very memorable chorus. My only problem is distinguishing La Prohibida from Spunky in the verses.

Menos Mal (Thank Goodness)

"Menos Mal" is four minute trip to camp Europop heaven. I love the 80s drum machine and the Stock Aitken Waterman-esque production. Even the shooting star sound effects sound like they have been dragged kicking and screaming from the 80s. There's a sweetness and simplicity about this track that I find extremely appealing. Las Hermanas Goggi should cover this and make a comeback.

Sr. Kubrick, ¿Qué Haría Usted? (Mr Kubrick, What Would You Do?)

The title track returns to the slinky space disco beats of "Terechkova". Only this is slightly more distinctive and eccentric. I love the waves of 80s synths and keyboards. "Sr. Kubrick, ¿Qué Haría Usted?" is a beautifully constructed track. The production is sparkling and the space elements are convincing, making this an unusual yet irresistible piece of sci-fi disco/pop!

El Mundo Alrededor (Around The World)

It seems only fitting that La Prohibida finish such a great album on a high and "El Mundo Alrededor" more than fits the bill. This is a real opus. The song re-visits the space theme that runs through the album but on a completely different scale. The space disco elements are strongly represented but they are mixed with French house beats and even a gospel component towards the end. Few songs ever manage to sound as epic and beautiful.


More talented than Malena Gracia, prettier than Rosana and younger than Isabel Pantoja - La Prohibida is a unique and wonderful addition to the canon of amazing Spanish pop divas. "Sr. Kubrick, ¿Qué Haría Usted?" is highly recommended and is now available to download from Australian, US and UK iTunes.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Resurrection Of Kate Miller-Heidke

Kate Miller-Heidke first featured on this blog way back in 2007 and you can tell from the tone of that rather ambivalent post that I wasn't exactly about to start a fanclub in her honour. I liked "Words" but feared Kate might be a bit too quirky for my trashy taste. Those suspicions were confirmed when I heard her debut album, which rivals Florence & The Machine's "Lungs" as the most desperate attempt I've ever heard to channel Kate Bush. I was so turned off that I didn't even bother checking out her second album when it was released last year despite enjoying the surprisingly poptastic lead single. The follow up caught my attention but even the excellent "Caught In A Crowd" couldn't shake me out of my Kate hating ways. It was going to take something extraordinary to change my mind and, happily, that's exactly what "The Last Day On Earth" delivers.

It's rather uncouth that such a talented singer owes her commercial breakthrough to a Neighbours commercial but like most of the rest of Australia that's how I first heard "The Last Day On Earth". That old ploy has been used a thousand times in the past but this is the only time I've got goosebumps from hearing a twenty second clip and immediately downloaded the song from iTunes. Kate has hit a once in a career home run with "The Last Day On Earth". It's like she's overcome her need to be eccentric and finally found her true voice. The subtlety of the track is what makes it so stunning. There's no over the top emoting or vocal gymnastics. Just some very simple piano and Kate's starkly beautiful lyrics. I'm extremely pleased to see the song sitting at number 2 on Australian iTunes and wouldn't be surprised if it's a future number 1 hit. There isn't an official video yet and it doesn't need one. I implore Kate to use this stunning fan made video clip (below) instead. It's utterly brilliant and completely epic. Can this genius please turn his attention to Dannii next?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Andy Bull Does Pop Trash

Andy Bull is the odd man out on the Australian music scene. His music sounds like it has been transported from the 1970s in a time machine and he sings in a pitch that often gets him mistaken for a female vocalist. However, what really makes Andy stand out is the quality of his beautiful piano driven songs. They positively ooze melancholy melodies and almost always boast a catchy, sing-a-long chorus. And let's not forget his lyrics, which have an honesty and warmth that recall a bygone era when songs were crafted by songwriters instead of pasted together by A&R teams. I've been a fan of Mr Bull since first hearing "Small Town Girl" on the radio. That song is one of those rare anthems that stops you in your tracks with its brilliance and makes you want to run home and jump on Myspace to find out more about the singer (yes, I really am that sad). Since then Andy has released another fine single and is currently promoting his debut album "We're Too Young". That opus has been 7 years in the making and finally hits shelves on the 7th of August. I couldn't wait to probe Andy about the recording process and tackle the really big issues like his amazing hairstyle. Check it out.

Andy, your debut album is set to drop in August. Has it really been 7 years in the making? (Andy was kind enough to also address this question in a video blog)
Well, it's hard to say. I started writing songs when I was 14. That’s when I first decided I wanted to be somebody who made albums. But yes, seven years ago is when I met my producer, Tony Buchen, who throughout this process has been my creative “other half”. He has played a key role in bringing all this to fruition and he has been in the picture for 7 years. Anyway, there are songs on this album that are up to 7 years old, like “Young Man”, which I wrote when I was 18, and then much newer songs like “Girls!” and “She’s a Ghost” which I wrote late last year. The actual recording process (separate from the writing process) for this album took place over the last 3 years. We had four sessions in the fully decked out studio over that time. The first session was that incredible session in 2006 where Kanye West happened to come by while on tour with U2 and offered up some advice. In the end the only song to make it from that initial session is “Young Man”.

While 7 years of writing and 3 years of recording was a very long time, I hope that it was of good use. You cover a lot of ground in that time, try a lot of things. There were so many things about music I wanted to discover. The other interesting thing about making an album over that time is that so many styles come and go through the public consciousness in that period. The pop world travels as the speed of light. I mean, bands can go from obscurity to world domination and then back to obscurity in a single year. Seven years is a lot of time to spend under the radar. So all the while you are watching the world pass you by and spin in circles and explode and disappear; as you just slowly chip away unnoticed, trying to figure out what it is you want to say should you ever have your moment.

Do you have a favourite song on the album?
Depending on the day. I think all of the songs on the album have been my favourite at one time or another. Usually when you’ve just written a song you are so excited by all the possibility you hear in it that it's at least a favourite for a short while. Then you record them, and you get such a vibe from listening to them that you play them to death! So then you need to write a new song… Some songs on the album, especially the more reflective ones like “Grown Folk” or “One Thing You Should Know” I must have played in my car 1000 times. It’s a very warm feeling when you can listen to a song you have recorded and think “I achieved exactly what I wanted to achieve, and I wouldn’t change this”.

I read your dad taught you how to play the keyboard when you were just 7. When did you realise that you wanted to be a musician?
I think I was about 14 years old. I was a bit of a geek in school, you know, I liked writing and drama and was crazy about drawing and all of those drastically uncool things you should never admit too. I had always really liked music, but as a boy never considered that I could actually write it myself. I had no idea how to write a song. Where do you even begin? When I was 14, everything on the radio was alternative rock, all guitar stuff. Hip Hop was also stepping into the mainstream in a huge way. And there was all that nu-metal stuff too, which wasn’t really ringing my bell. So I was looking around thinking “what the hell am I meant to do? All I have is a piano and a weird voice” And, like a god send, Ben Folds Five, who shall be herein known as the Patron Saints of Andy Bull, appeared amongst the fray. I became smitten with the band’s music. Basically it opened my mind up to the possibility of piano being used in contemporary pop music, which I found incredibly encouraging. Piano wasn’t just something people used in the 70’s, it could be used now. So I started listening to Ben Folds Five and trying to understand what their songs were made of. That’s when I first started trying to write songs and that’s when I decided I wanted to be a “proper” musician I think.

There has been a big revival of so called "blue eyed soul" lately. Does that help or hinder you? How do you stand out from the crowd?
That’s an interesting question. Actually it's made no difference here at home. I still feel as if I somehow need to apologise for the way my voice sounds, or for playing piano and not guitar, etc. I really did not set out to be the odd one out, but sometimes I feel the crushing weight of the awareness that I am, as if I need to intellectually justify it to others. This might all just be a function of my own insecurity, however! My objective mind tells me it’s a good thing! I think that despite the inherent terror in putting yourself out in front of the world, the internet, the newspaper, the blogs, the twittering etc, you have to just be yourself, succeed and fail on your own terms and try not to take it personally if you are ‘teased’ by the jocks for being a nerd (the press is like one giant high school, I am telling you). Just do your thing. That’s what all the greats did. That’s one of the things Kanye West stressed to me in our conversation."

Talk about your sound. The piano plays such a big role, there are strong retro influences but it still sounds so fresh. Did it all just come together naturally or was it a long process to reach this point?
That’s kind of you to say, thank you. I guess there are a few reasons for that “retro but new” sound. Firstly the piano; you don’t hear a lot of it nowadays. There is a sensitivity in the sound of the piano that predates the punk, metal and grunge aesthetics, and a lot of the major pop developments of the last 30 odd years, so it automatically carries and old fashioned reference. Also there are rules with a piano. You cant bend notes, you cant distort the sound, no whammy, you can’t mess with the tuning. Physically, if it falls on you, it will kill you. There is an order, a heirachy when you play piano, and it goes ‘piano first, you second’. This is a very un-modern attitude. The modern attitude is “Me-first, and everybody else can stick it”. You really have to respect the piano. Its hard to pick it up an smash it into your Marshall stack. As well as that, Tony Buchen and I spent time really trying to record the music with a warmth and sensitivity that reminded us of “the feeling music gave you as a kid”. We took care in the more technical aspects of recording, like trying to leave space in the tracks so you can hear the room sound, making sure we didn’t over-compress stuff. That’s sort of thing.

Who are your influences? I have a feeling you must have a pretty amazing record collection.
Yes, there has been many. I have already mentioned Ben Folds. I won’t go on dropping names, but lots of stuff, from a lot of different periods of time and styles. Recently iTunes asked me to put together a list of my top 20 songs of influence. Only 20? Impossible. Top 500 would have been easier! Sorry I haven’t gone into more detail here, but it would just become tedious and boring to read! On the whole however, I am really attracted to unique voices.

I think "Small Town Girl" is one of the best Australian pop songs of the decade. What was the inspiration behind it? Will you be releasing it overseas?
That’s *incredibly* flattering, thank you. It’s a coming of age song, I suppose. Over the last seven years I busted my guts trying to go back and forth between here and the US, mainly New York. As everybody tells you, it’s a really busy city, and it can really kick you in the guts. I suppose it just became symbolic of somebody trying to outgrow themselves, and how that’s generally the kind of experience that brings you face to face with your own shortcomings. "Small Town Girl" is a story about trying to outgrow your environment and how you make a lot of errors along the way while doing that. That old chestnut! When you’re young, you’re full of youthful bravado, which is just naivety really. You’re ready to kick down the doors and conquer the world; as if the world is going to just give it all to you without a fight. “Wait ‘til they see me coming!” you think! “Nobody’s ever seen anything like me before!” Then, the years go by and you reflect on all you’ve done and you just can’t help but think “hmmm, I wish I had known a little more about the ways the world actually works.” Of course, I still have hopes of releasing that song overseas. Working on it now!

Tell us about "Small Town Arsehole". Do you often get abused by "fans"?!
Ha! Well actually, it's not the fans who abuse. It’s the small town assholes! That guy was just a permanent drunk bastard who is a fixture at the venue in question, so he wasn’t a punter. I’ve seen him again since then though, and I think he’s a bit brain-damaged. Too much alcohol. At first I was like “damn, how many more times can I get called a faggot?” and then I discovered, by talking to friends in other bands, that being called a faggot is pretty commonplace stuff. Can you imagine abusing a total stranger? I would never do that. You should only abuse friends and loved ones! Ha. But I’ve gotten pretty good at heckling back, and occasionally it makes good material for a song. The funny thing is, people often really aggressively point out to me that my voice is high, as if I somehow hadn’t noticed yet. You gotta just let that stuff go, or it’ll make you nuts. Its not very nice. That’s why I take real pleasure in seeing bands like The Presets, who may have once been abused as jazz-trained fags, become the utter toast of the town. Now all those roid-raging, Ed-Hardy wearing party boys who used to heckle them are out there popping E’s to “My People”, haha. Generally though, the people who come to my shows are so super lovely and beautiful and wonderful to talk to. I only want nice fans with good hearts, and I think that’s how it’s shaping up.

Your latest single "Young Man" explores a recurring theme ("My First Love", "We're Too Young" etc) in your music - the pressures of youth, for want of a better explanation. Is that accurate or just a coincidence?
A lot of my music has to do with coming to terms with your own youth, about dealing with the first cuts (which, as they say, are the deepest). When you are young, as I mentioned, you are full of notions, ideals, romances and so forth. The friction comes when you smash up against the force of the real world, and you suddenly have to begin consolidating all of that with the hard facts of life. That’s what it means to grow up. You have to begin taking responsibility for you own life, owning your decisions, engaging with the real world in a real way. You have to become morally responsible for your choices. You have to stop waiting for that million-dollar cheque to come in the mail. You have to ask yourself “ok, I know what I appear to be doing with my life, but what am I really doing?”

I love your cover of MGMT's "Electric Feel". Do you have any more up your sleeve?
I’ve played a handful of covers over the years. Another one I frequently like to whip out is "New Slang" by The Shins but I’ve done that one quite a lot, so I think I need to find a new one. I was thinking about a Jackson 5 cover, in respect to Michael. In a couple days time I’m heading into the studio to record a song for Island Records 50th Anniversary CD. I’m recording "Common People" by Pulp.

Speaking of Michael, you wrote an amazing blog post about his death. What did you make of the macabre aftermath?
Oh man, you know what I read in the tabloids the other day? Some creep spinning more rubbish about Michael Jackson “secret obsessions”… Are you for real? He’s dead now, so you can leave him alone. Listen, I’ve been thinking about this whole thing a lot. It really makes me sad. It's like Michael Jackson had to deal with way too many small town arseholes saying awful things about him, and in the end, it made him rot from the insides out. It is very macabre. I don’t know what to make of it all. All I can say is that I am continually disappointed and saddened.

Oh, and I have to ask - who does your artwork? Your single/album covers are amazing!
Ah yes, it's amazing isn’t it! Basically, we took photos of me, and sent them to a woman named Sara Hingle, who illustrates for FRANKIE magazine, which is how I initially became aware of her work. Then she draws the photo. The “Piano Machine” was originally compiled like a collage, with different images we’d put together and arranged. Then, Sara drew the collage in the same way. I have been very, very fortunate to have had such wonderful artists involved; the artwork has really made an impression on people.

Last but not least tell us about your amazing haircut!
The truth is, I used to have long hair, no fringe, just long and over my face. I didn’t really like it but I didn’t know what to do with it. Now, a few years ago I was in a long distance relationship with a girl in Europe. Anyway I went over to see her after being separated for about 10 months and met her in Rome. She told me I needed a haircut. I think I had been hiding behind all that hair because I was basically miserable and depressed and had been for about, let's see, 10 months. Anyway, I went to the hairdresser and he gave me this haircut. I felt like my life had begun again. I left Rome and I left the girl. I sometimes joke that all that suffering, all the misery of that long distance relationship and that final, horrible break up in Rome all happened for a purpose; to lead me to this haircut, haha. Since then, its become my signature. Ridiculous story, I know, but fate has very dark sense of humour.

"We're Too Young" is released on the 7th of August. You can order an amazing deluxe edition that comes with exclusive tracks and a t-shirt from his website.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Toygasmic Update & Performance!

Haters need to get correct or La Toya will put you in check! That's the message the priestess of pop sent to the world's media this week when she clarified some details about her stunning Michael Jackson tribute. In a press release Toy struck back at claims that "Home" is tasteless and poorly timed, explaining that all proceeds are going to an AIDS charity that Michael supported. Just imagine the difference that ten dollars could make to someone's life! Furthermore, La Toya is refusing to promote the song - which torpedoes the theory that she is releasing it just to get back in the spotlight. Seriously, anyone who doubted the thinking man's Jackson needs to hang their head in shame and beg forgiveness!

The most exciting thing about the past week for me has been surprisingly positive online reaction. Perez Hilton and D Listed have both been rocked by "Home" and the comments weren't nearly as hateful as I expected. The video has now been watched over 90,000 times on youtube and the song is currently the 56th most viewed music video of the week - in Italy! Dannii wishes she had that much $ucce$$! Interestingly, it's not the first time Italians have bathed in the glory of Toy Toy. A clip recently surfaced of La Toya performing at the 1990 San Remo song festival and it has to be one of the most toygasmic things I've ever seen in my life. "You And Me" has always been one of my favourite Toy anthems and it's a joy to see her perform the gorgeous ballad live. She sounds adorable, looks like an angel (who has just been attacked with a bedazzler) and holds the audience in the palm of her lovely hand. I believe that La Toya only came second that year but the voting was obviously rigged by Janet. Revel in Toy's stunning performance below:

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Pop Panel - Week 10

This was a very unusual Pop Panel for the simple fact that I actually like all 8 songs and would have been happy for any of them to win, which is definitely a first. There is some real variety this week ranging from an 83 year old diva to a couple of pop superstars on the comeback trail as well as the return of a legendary 80s girlband. Is it just me or is the pop world suddenly churning out more treats than usual? Helping me choose our "Single Of The Week" are:

Mike (Aus) author of this classy blog.
Pablo (Spain) writer of Peibols
Paul (UK) writer of Fizzy Pop
Rob (UK) writer of Don't Stop The Pop
The Prophet (AUS) writer of The Prophet

D'Luv couldn't make it again but he promises to be back next week. Taking his place is the glamorous Jennifer (US) writer of the incredibly brilliant Adventures Of An Audio Diva and my fellow trash connoisseur Bomitoni (US), writer of the amazing Milk Carton Pop Stars. Here are the results in order from least to most popular:

Mariah – Obsessed (Video)

Mimi's musical 'Fuck You' to Eminem.

Bomitoni: Mariah Scarey indeed. I think Mimi's producers are obsessed with American Top 40 radio because this sounds like all the shit on the radio. Bitch you're not 21 anymore. Hell you're not 31 anymore. Stop trying to sound hip. Face it honey, you're never gonna match the fabulousness that was "Prisoner"! 0/5
Jennifer: This is what happens when Nick Cannon forgets to refill her crazy pills. What a STEAMING pile of rancid excrement. I'm at my Lamb chops end with Mariah as she nosedives into possibly the shittiest single of her career. 0/5
Mike: Leave Mimi alone! Somewhere a pink unicorn just lost its horn from all this hateration. "Obsessed" isn't Mariah's finest moment but it's a grower and the lyrics are unintentionally hilarious. Bring on the second single! 4/5
Pablo: I don't like Mariah. This song sounds like a Victoria Beckham demo. Really. 0/5
Paul: Had you asked me to review this a few weeks ago, I probably would have scored it a lot lower. I hated it at first. Which is tragic cos Mariah was one of my fave 5 90s female singers. However, it's grown on me quite a lot and I find myself humming it here and there. Plus her mentalloid fans are always amusing. So I guess it's quite catchy and she can be semi-witty so I give her a 3/5.
Rob: I like it that Mariah is stepping outside the box. Its a pretty boring song though. 3/5
The Prophet: I was really against this song in the beginning, thinking that it was a desperate attempt at relevancy on Mariah's part, but after seeing the video I'm now in love. I feel like this is the first time that Mariah has had me laughing WITH her and not AT her. "He's all up in my George Forman" deserves line of the century! 4/5
Total: 14/35

Honor Blackman – The Star Who Fell From Grace (Video)

83 year old diva releases her first new single since the 1960s.

Bomitoni: Look Madonna without the botox! The trash lover in me wants to love this but I just can't. Can someone do a faggy remix please? Her dress is fabulous though! 2/5
Jennifer: Should I be kind to my elders? Fuck no. Cut the depressing shit, lady, and sing songs about playing bingo and spiking the prune juice bowl at Shady Pines Retirement Center. Now that's what I call a comeback. 2/5
Mike: If an 83 year old diva can't get some love on Pop Trash Addicts then I might as well shut it down! Honor is ten kinds of fabulous and I love her classy ballad. I know it's a musical dinosaur from a different era but that's part of its immense appeal. 4/5
Pablo: Mike, seriously... what's this? Even Madonna looks younger than this woman. 0/5
Paul: There's a joke in her name somewhere. She's probably not going to set the charts alight with this, and that's a bit of a tragedy really. While her best song ever remains the evergreen "Kinky Boots", this - well, it's a bit amazing. Love the orchestra too - makes it all pompous and grand. 3.5/5
Rob: Finally, a touch of extreme class. Utterly speechless. Personally, I feel this is the best song ever land on the table of the pop panel. "The Star Who Fell From Grace" is amazing. Honor release the album now. Please. 5/5
The Prophet: I love the lyrics and she looks great for age, but I'm not a fan of the vocal delivery or the tone of her voice. 3/5
Total: 19.5/35

Polarkreis 18 – Allein Allein (Video)

A massive hit in their native Germany last year, the group are now trying their luck in the UK.

Bomitoni: I liked it for the first minute or so but then that fucking chanting got on my nerves! Can we have a chantless version? 2.5/5
Jennifer: *sticks big American honker in the air* I feel that I'm too American to truly appreciate this...not bad, just, eh… 3/5
Mike: "Allein Allein" featured in my best songs of 2008 countdown and I'm still obsessed with it 7 months later. Everything about this track is epic, from the chorus to the spectacular video. The Killers wish they had something this good on "Day & Age". 5/5
Pablo: I'm so sick of these bands that sound and look like Coldplay/the Killers/Keane. Seriously. And they are not even cute! 1/5
Paul: Oh! I was fully expecting not to like this. And I do. It's quite good indeed. The chorus is as catchy as all out doors and could quite easily be a football anthem (even drunken yobs can remember "allein allein" most of the time). Tip - there is a brillo mash up of this floating around where it has been seamlessly weaved into The Killers "Human". Tip top notch. 4/5
Rob: Its good to see Polarkreis 18 finally make their way in other countries. To be sure, they sound like a mish-mash of Rosenstolz and The Killers but that isn't actually a bad thing. 3.5/5
The Prophet: I know this is wrong to say but something about German voices makes me physically ill. I was getting ready to give this a 4.5 and then when I heard their thick accents on the chorus I almost heaved. I don't fucks wit Germany! 3/5
Total: 22/35

MSTRKRFT Ft John Legend – Heartbreaker (below)

John Legend gets a dance makeover in this club smash.

Bomitoni: It's a bit hectic but nothing über exciting. I just wish they could have gotten a real East LA chola to play the cashier in the video. Or better yet John Legend's schlong should have played the cashier. I would have paid to see that shit! 3/5
Jennifer: Been saying for years that soul artists need to ditch the rap shit and go into electro-pop mode… this is a fine example of seeing those two worlds colliding. Very good. 4.5/5
Mike: The standout track on "Fist Of God" is finally released as a single. I love the combination of John's soulful voice and MSTRKRFT's expertly arranged dance beats. The WAWA remix is completely fucking amazing. 4/5
Pablo: I don't get it. Too noisy, no rhythm and nonsense. And a video with a guy wearing Wayfarer sunglasses deserves the worst. 1/5
Paul: Like the Jocelyn single, John's silky smooth vocals lift this above your generic club fare. It's all very decent and quite good at the beginning, but by the end it's slightly boring and monotonous. It would be quite exciting though if John suddenly ditched his suits and turned up to perform in a skin tight tank top and skinny jeans though wouldn't it? (Er, no). 3/5
Rob: Very catchy. A nice try but I sense there's something missing in it? A bit of soul? A bit of emotional perhaps? 3/5
The Prophet: Legend has such a masculine and soulful voice and he sings and emotes perfectly over the dance beat. I love that it's two different genres coming together to create something new. Definitely one of my faves of the year. 5/5
Total: 23.5/35

Bananarama – Love Comes (Video)

Warning. Return of 80s legends.

Bomitoni: I heart the 'Nanas and I heart this song! I can just picture Sara and Keren in the video now as cougars in 'da club looking for young studs! 4/5
Jennifer: These bananas haven’t shriveled up and rotted yet? Shit, they must be sealing themselves in those green plastic fruit bags to keep fresh. Whatever, this is actually not bad, very catchy…but I'll stick to their '88 masterpiece "WOW!" 3.5/5
Mike: I feel like a bad gay for saying this but I found "Drama" slightly underwhelming, so I'm especially relieved that the world's greatest girlband has finally found material worthy of them. "Love Comes" is the best thing Sara and Keren have put their name to since 1995's amazing "Every Shade Of Blue". Stunning. 4.5/5
Pablo: OK, so... they're back again. With a sound that's S Club 09 but with women who are older than me. Something doesn't quite fit here. But the song is quite nice for a summer. Cruel summer. 4/5
Paul: Hurrah hurrah hurrah. Bananarama have returned. Love Comes! And so did I when I heard this slinky little dance number. Ian Masterson has done a great job with the girls on this track, and I'm loving the evolution of dance sound from their brilliant "Drama" album. I've everything crossed that come September this will be very huge indeed. 4/5
Rob: "Love Comes" is sticky, sweet and full of pop protein. This is a wonderful slice of irresistible pop music which is made for the summer. The only thing missing in "Love Comes" is a key change towards the end but it's a tight production which will leave you wanting the twelve inch. Ahem. 4/5
The Prophet: Lame, but I've heard worse before. 2.5/5
Total: 26.5/35

Sally Shapiro – Love In July (Video)

The Swedish diva is single-handedly bringing back Italo disco.

Bomitoni: Anyone who wants to revive Italo disco is A-ok in my book. However I was expecting something punchier and her voice was a bit too whispy for my tastes. Can someone mash it up with some Divine perhaps? 2.5/5
Jennifer: Wow. This song just wraps you up in all of its hypnotic spledor. Beautiful. 5/5
Mike: Sally is everything that Annie wants to be but doesn't have the talent to pull off. While not quite as brilliant as "Miracle", this dreamy little track still runs rings about the other electro divas with its pretty layers of beats and touches of Italo disco. 4/5
Pablo: Sorry, no offence but this is a "wannabe-Annie". Actually, Annie used the Italodisco sound in "Anthonio", so this is nothing new. The video is absolutly delicious! 2/5
Paul: Love her. She's quite Annie I suppose and I may not be the only one to say that, but this tune is rather lush and floats along plinkity plonk. Yes those are valid music review expressions! It's the return of italio-disco-house and I'm lapping it up. 4/5
Rob: Sally Shapiro can be too good sometimes. However, "Love In July" works just right. Not as good as Cloetta Paris though. 4/5
The Prophet: This is the most amazing and defining thing that I've ever seen or heard in my life! 5/5
Total: 26.5/35

Camboso Ft. Jocelyn Brown – Love Alibi (Video)

Legendary dance diva Joceyln returns with another club smash.

Bomitoni: This song is so gay I can't stand it! It's almost gayer than the neon leotards worn in the video. The chorus reeks of the late 80s and that is why I adore it. Plus do I hear early 90s piano creeping its way back? Someone hand me a fruity cocktail and lead me to the stickiest dance floor! 5/5
Jennifer: Infectious. Electric. Jocelyn Brown. The main ingredients of a great club track. 4.5/5
Mike: Fabulous dance trash alert! Jocelyn is a goddess and this is wonderfully camp dancefloor fodder. Love the chorus and the nod to early 90s house. 4/5
Pablo: I love Jocelyn Brown since the 90s. Actually I haven't heard from her since then. Anyway, the song is quite summerish and very danceable. But these so-straight videos really bore me. 4/5
Paul: Oh lordy, I thought. Another dime a dozen club thumper that producers seem to shit out every other week or so. However, I love Jocelyn's voice and energy in most songs and it soars in this lifting it above your average boom boom thump thump. 3/5
Rob: This week is incredibly strong and "Love Alibi" is very good. The video lets its all down so I'll forget the tragic affair and focus solely on the song. Naturally it will be big in the charts however it could have done with some more synths. If your going to re-hash a classic with Joceyln on the vocals you've got to make it special. Epic. By the second chorus it seems to be going through the motions. Nice try though. 2.5/5
The Prophet: Is this video a Z-grade version of Eric Prydz "Call On Me" or Heidi Montags "Overdosin"? Whatever it is I love it! The song is great and the girls are beautiful. The only thing I could've done without were the occasional camel toe flashes. 4/5
Total: 27/35


Shakira – She Wolf

The Colombian superstar explores office equipment and disco in her latest hit!

Bomitoni: Reminds of "Ready For The Goodtimes" or "Timor" but I don't mind. I love me some Shakes. Just wish she'd go back to dark hair. I'm glad she didn't resort to a rent-a-rapper this time. It's got a catchy beat. I have high hopes for her new album. 4.5/5
Jennifer: Somewhere Donna Summer is ripping her hair out in clumps, as this song would've fit her better than that Melted Crayons album. Love that Shakira is trying some electro-disco, though. 4/5
Mike: As a crazy Shakira fan I'm pretty biased but I think "She Wolf" is an outstanding pop song. It's incredibly original, incorporates disco elements and has quirky lyrics about being abused "like a coffee machine in an office". What more could you want? 5/5
Pablo: Shakira... Shakira is this tiny woman who sings in Spanish and you think she is singing in English. Most of her lyrics are just noise. In Spain, we only like one thing from Colombia and it's not their singers. I must say I like "She Wolf" but I totally hate "Loba". And the "auuuuuuuuuuuu" sound is the stupidest thing I've heard since the "no lo sé" in Aleks Syntek's version of "In My Arms". 4/5
Paul: Mike totally got me back into Shakira by fully explaining how to merge her various oral fixations back into one super album. Personally I like my Shakira "Illegal" or "Underneath Your Clothes", but I'm happy to embrace the hip shimmying, disco humping diva back into my life. This should, nay, needs to be absolutely massive. 4/5
Rob: Hmmm. As with all Shakira songs it has taken some time for me to like this. Yeah, its not bad & the chorus is cute. Sounds like Fleetwood Mac meets Nelly's "Maneater". 3/5
The Prophet: Although I'm not finding this as brilliant as I did when it first leaked, I still love it and I have to applaud Shakira for trying something so different with her sound. Not only is it new for her, but there's also nothing like this in commercial music right now. Fierce! 4.5/5
Total: 29/35

A 20 second preview of the soon to be released "She Wolf" video