Sunday, August 30, 2009

Pop Panel - Week 16

A lot of people are going to think the Panel has well and truly jumped the shark this week but I prefer to think of it as quality finally winning out over mediocrity. The latest champ is clearly our classiest Single Of The Week yet. It's good to see true talent and artistry finally being rewarded! Unfortunately, I can't say much about the rest of the entries. I think there are a couple of worthy tunes but it's fair to say the pickings were fairly slim - particularly after last week's bumper crop of pop gems. It seems the only thing we could all agree on is the fact that the majority of the songs are pretty shit. This week's Panel is comprised of the following usual suspects:

D'Luv (US) writer of Chart Rigger
Mike (Aus) author of this classy blog.
Paul (UK) writer of Fizzy Pop
Tommie (Sweden) writer of Donna Martin Graduates

Also joining us this week are:

Blake (Aus) writer of Dark Cafe Daze
Nasty G (Canada) writer of The Isle Of Deserted Pop Stars

Nasty G's blog remains the place to visit for rare and out of print guilty pleasures and has already graced us with his presence in the past. Blake, on the other hand, is a newcomer to the Panel. His quirky blog focuses on depressing singer-songwriters but he also has a passion for pure pop and works in the music industry. Maybe he can help get our winner a local record deal!

As usual, the results are ranked from lowest to highest.

BWO ft. Velvet - Right Here Right Now (Video)

Scandipop's cheesiest performers join forces on this collaboration.

Blake: A little too smooth for Eurovision, a little too shite for radio. I think I am a little too sober to appreciate the finery of this track. Give me a few hours and I might up the score. 2/5
D'Luv: Every time I jack off into the sink, it starts off decent enough, but ultimately ends in a lackluster climax that never really reaches its full potential. That's how I feel about BWO. 3/5
Mike: Like every other single BWO has ever released, this is complete and utter shit. Poor Velvet, she's not only hit the bottom of the barrel but crashed right through it. 0/5
Nasty G: OK, so I may have to surrender my gay card, but I have tried in vain to get into this group (and their truly abysmal precursor Vacuum *shudders*). THIS is the phoenix that arose from the flagrant flames of Army Of Lovers? They're like Alcazar without the primordial pussy. Oh wait, I'm wrong, Velvet is in this too. Barely. Left there left later. 2/5
Paul: Love, love, love BWO. One of the best pop groups of the past 5 years, up there with McFly and Girls Aloud (and Same Difference). The addition of Velvet and a gentle remix probably makes it more radio friendly for the UK than the album version and it doesn't lose any of the charm. Brillo. 4/5
Tommie: Oh look - Sweden's most dire group returns to flop yet again and this time they're taking Velvet down with them! I'm sure Alexander Bard will continue to lie his ass off in Swedish media about how big they are in the UK when they get their third #69 "hit". 0/5
Total: 11/30

The Saturdays - Forever Is Over (Video)

The Saturdays unveil the lead single from their second album.

Blake: I've heard a lot about these lasses without ever being compelled to listen to them. This track doesn't really change that, but their voices are strong and chorus suitably climatic. I wish it made my brain explode just a tiny bit more though. I also can't quite shake the feeling it is an inferior "When Love Takes Over". 3/5
D'Luv: Lametards shot glitter out of their panties over Jordin Sparks' "Battlefield" when they should have saved the enthusiasm for this dark jam. Forever has only just begun for these five broads! 4/5
Mike: Did Nasty G just imply that Girls Aloud have charisma? Computer says hell no! As for The Saturdays - when did they become so... dull and boring? This makes their stripper anthem "Work" sound like a Grammy award winning masterpiece. 0/5
Nasty G: Hooray, they're back! Um, when did they go away exactly? Nice enough tune, though somewhat reminiscent of something Jordin Sparks would reject, on account of her apparent aversion to shaking her fat ass. But I do fancy these jailbait-Girls-Aloud-minus-charisma. 3/5
Paul: I am so beyond disappointed with this single. It's not even that it's bad, it's just what has been threatening the Sats career from day one - a distinct lack of definition and personality. Part "Battlefield", part Anastacia, wholly disappointing. And I absolutely did and still do want to love this but to use the vastly over used saying, epic fail all round 1.5/5
Tommie: The ShaTURDays are back with a Kelly Clarkson reject! Yawn. I guess they are better than Girls'R'Foul though. 1/5
Total: 12.5/30

Linda Teodosiu - Reprogram My Heart (Video)

This popular German diva has obviously been listening to "The Fame". A lot.

Blake: Fighting the urge to comment on that hideous purple hat, I'll instead just make mention that this track doesn't really... go anywhere. I do respect her sassy head movements in the clip, though. 1/5
D'Luv: There's only one reason Linda should be opening her mouth. And it ain't singing. 0/5
Mike: Poor Linda looks like she's been styled by a blind tranny with a passion for shopping at Supre but this Lady GaGa rip off is irritatingly catchy. More cheap and cheerful trash of this "calibre" and Linda could have a new australian fan. 3.5/5
Nasty G: In terms of German singers, Sarah Connor has her beat by a nose. Literally. Though it's fun pop, the title should be "Reprogram My Song", as we've heard this before, even from the handsome Ms. Connor. But compared to the rest of the drivel in this week's panel, this is a standout, much like Sarah Connor's proboscis. 3.5/5
Paul: God, I want to give her zero just for ripping off Lady Cuckoo. It's clearly the personality and annoyingness of the Cuckoo that puts me off "The Fame" as I've come to accept "Evacuate The Dancefloor" and "Silly Boy". This really isn't any different but not any better, so it gets a middling 2.5/5.
Tommie: And here I was thinking Lady GaGa looked like a tranny! The song is alright, but there's about a thousand other similar songs out there today that do the job better. 2/5
Total: 12.5/30

LMFAO - La La La (Video)

This super classy American electro outfit have "scored" a Paradiso Girl to star in their clip. How A-list!

Blake: Eh? I'm not entirely sure if I am supposed to dig this or not. I'll go with not. 1/5
D'Luv: Yeah, I know these two are uncle and nephew, but they need to just boink already. This songs has been getting considerable airplay in L.A. for the past few months. It's just okay. 2.5/5
Mike: Since when is it ok for straight men to team a pink t-shirt with leopard skin print leggings? I know trannies who would draw the line at that ensemble! Americans usually get electro all wrong but this is fun. 3/5
Nasty G: So, I hated this group on sight but inexplicably downloaded their album anyway. Don't hate me when I say I dig it. It's cheap and easy, but then, so am I. More importantly, lovely Chelsea from the Paradiso Girls is in the vid. Sister gets around more than Clay Aiken in a public restroom. I am so glad that she lost the Pussycat Dolls gig, or otherwise she wouldn't be available to dance feebly in bad clothes and do little else in high class vids such as this! Take that, Asia! 3/5
Paul: Dreadful. 0/5
Tommie: I loathe the name "LMFAO" - in fact, I think internet abbreviations should be banned from pop music. Period. But there's no denying that this is an annoyingly catchy tune and I can overlook their crap name for this song at least. 3/5
Total: 12.5/30

Agent X ft. Mutya & Ultra - Falling (Above)

The only Sugababe (past or present) worth mentioning returns to put Amelle in check!

Blake: Sadly, it appears she is still floundering without Siobhan. I appreciated her track with Groove Armada (mainly because it taught me how to pronounce her name) but this is terribly pedestrian. She needs to drive a little more erratic. 1/5
D'Luv: Mutya hasn't been good since Groove Armada rode her hard and threw her in a dumpster. 0/5
Mike: The realest girl in UK pop is back - albeit with a strange garage anthem straight outta 1997. I hated this the first time I heard it but "Falling" is strangely hypnotic. Mutya is probably using her crazy voodoo powers on us. A grower not a shower. 4/5
Nasty G: Ugh. Is UK garage seriously making a comeback? Why didn't anyone tell Misteeq's Su-Elise? Surely she would have added SOMETHING to this song (and could use the work). It's hard to make mutty Mutya boring, but Agent X and their gay little sidekick Ultra have managed. Watch out Ms. M. More of this and Amelle is definitely my number one. 2.5/5
Paul: I'm still waiting for Mutya to hit the world with the massive pop career I know she can have. Teaming up on a generic club banger really isn't the way to go, although she still looks entirely fierce and still gives the impression she could rip off your head and shit down your neck soon as look at you. So I'll add a point on to avoid her wrath. 2/5
Tommie: The UK Queen of Real is back and better than ever! I love that she's paying homage to when the Sugashits were good by sampling "One Foot In". 4/5
Total: 13.5/30

Kristinia DeBarge - Sabotage (Video)

James DeBarge's ho daughter follows her US top 20 hit "Goodbye" with this slut jam.

Blake: Good voice - some great rich tones. I dig that. The piano backing to this track is quite nifty too and I like how it kicks into the chorus. She is no Jessica Mauboy, but it is solid. 3/5
D'Luv: Kristinia takes boring to whole new levels. Hopefully she at least gives somewhat exciting head. 2/5
Mike: Yawn. I don't mind this, it's just been done before (and a lot better) by Jessica Mauboy. Kristinia should cover "Rhythm Of The Night". She wishes she was one tenth as fierce as her father. 2/5
Nasty G: All of the right elements are here – blandly pretty girl, minimal vocal talent, weak dance beat, bad dance moves and Sam Fox's "Touch Me" -era wardrobe. So why am I unmoved? I think it's because I know that her auntie, the severely underrated Bunny, had the same qualifications but would have rocked this so much harder. Look out Toy, cause Bunny's ready for a comeback. Mark my words, bitches! 2.5/5
Paul: While I love a good ho as much as the next red blooded male, this doesn't really stoke my fires. In fact I'm grossly disappointed that she has failed to get a rise out of me with this tune. I'm obviously not as trashtastic as I once thought I was. 2/5
Tommie: Dear Whoever-Is-In-Charge, can we please stop pretending that Kristinia can
a) dance or b) play the piano? Otherwise a decent pop tune. 3/5
Total: 14.5/30

The Temper Trap - Sweet Disposition (Video)

Despite flopping with this in Australia last year, The Temper Trap are currently celebrating an unexpected UK top 40 hit with their hyped debut single.

Blake: Aussie lads poised to take over the world? A lot of work (read: money) has gone into these boys, and I do like their smooth sounds. I wish this song had a bit more guts and a bit more to make it stand out from the standard post-indie-pop smattering that is currently throbbing worldwide. Maybe the next single will be the one. 2/5
D'Luv: If I did drugs, this would be astounding. Alas... 2/5
Mike: I've had "Sweet Disposition" on high rotation for the best part of a year and I still love it as much as the first time I head it. Dougy's voice is amazing, the lyrics cut straight through me and the atmospsheric soundscape is beautiful. The perfect soundtrack to semi-sexy times! 5/5
Nasty G: What have we here? An Asian singer in a non-Asian band? Is that legal? Well, I say brava! But that still doesn't make this any more than a subpar attempt at mimicking MGMT, like approximately 5,000 other bands at the moment. I should like it, but I say meh. 2/5
Paul: I sat for a couple of minutes twiddling my thumbs while I was waiting for this to start, and then I realised it had started and was actually quite good. I love it when someone sneaks up and takes you by surprise from behind. It's very pleasant indeed when that happens. So hurrah for the Temps. 3.5/5
Tommie: I actually like the backing track, but the vocals are quite jarring. 2/5
Total: 16.5/30


Heidi Montag ft. Spencer Pratt - Body Language ("Live" at Miss Universe)

The Queen of American pop finally releases "Body Language" complete with a stunning rap courtesy of husband Spencer.

Blake: I liked this a lot more than I thought I would. Sure, part of me wished it was sung by Holly Valance - but this gal will do nicely in the interim. I'm not quite sure what the deal is with the white-boy rap, though? 4/5
D'Luv: I want to point out that The Saturdays already rocked this Yaz sample last year. And I want to rail against Heidi's thin warble. But... can't... stop... listening! The classiest jam in all of Heidi's stunning catalog thus far. 3/5
Mike: Fuck single of the week - this is in the running for single of the year! I've been ranting about Heidi's stunning musical ability for ages but everyone thinks I'm joking. She is media whoring filth of the lowest common denominator but her music is better than Britney, Robyn and Annie combined. Fact! 5/5
Nasty G: Oops, I just jizzed on my keyboard! Finally! Though I applaud that the song itself recycles Paris Hilton's unretouched vocals and a very tired Yaz sample, I must acknowledge her sensational Miss Universe performance of this, where she dutifully reused Britney’s old wardrobe, Lene Alexandra's stellar dance moves and a blow-up doll's hair. How apropos that she chose Miss Universe for her live debut, since that's what she'll be ruling with her obvious talents. 5/5
Paul: Apparently according to her fugly husband, she has inherited the spirit of Michael Jackson and is going to be the next massive worldwide popstar. Probably not, to be fair, but this isn't an entire disaster. It's a bit Kylie, a bit Cathy Dennis and a bit shit (the rap is dreadful and hilarious at the same time) so it goes from cheese meets cool pop to novelty record within about 2 mins. But always entertaining. 3.5/5
Tommie: Queen Montag über alles. 5/5
Total: 25.5/30

Friday, August 28, 2009

New Kylie & A Toytastic Preview

I've been feeling so miserable today, dealing with various dramas but someone up above has obviously taken pity on me and decided to bring a little sunshine back into my life in the form of new music from Kylie and the first preview of Goddess Toy's stunning comeback "Home". I can't believe I'm being treated to new stuff from my two favourite divas in the one day. It feels like Christmas!

I guess I should start with Kylie because unlike Toy, her song hasn't been around since 2006. Most of you will probably remember that Kylie was recently hired to record music for the most expensive Bollywood movie in history and the fruits of her fabulous labour have finally hit Youtube. I can't believe how trashtastic "Chiggy Wiggy" is! The song is so much fun. I love it when Kylie gets a bit kooky on us (see her Wiggles duet for starters) and this Indian flavoured toe tapper is about as weird as it gets. The production is beautiful and I love the trashy chorus - I wanna chiggy wiggy wit choo boy! That's not even mentioning the brilliant video clip. My girl looks amazing and probably dances more in these one and a half minutes than she has in the past ten years. The outfit and dance moves are very Beyoncé but Kylie pulls it off. I love the look on her face when Akshay arrives on the big chandelier. It's the best acting she's done since "Biodome"! I can't wait to see this in full and really hope it gets a worldwide release. I honestly believe it's catchy enough to become a novelty hit.

Moving on now to the Dutchess of Dance. Toy Toy has just unveiled a preview of her "Home" video clip and it looks suitably classy. I'm slightly disappointed that she's not at least holding a framed photo of Michael but the layers of vaseline on the camera lens more than make up for it. La Toya looks absolutely phenomenal. I can't believe she's older than Madonna - Toy could honestly pass for one of her adopted Malawi babies! My favourite part of the preview is when our queen walks along holding the candle. She looks like a supermodel and her diva strut puts Miss J to shame. I just wish she didn't look so damn happy. This is supposed to be a dedication to her dead brother not "Sexual Feeling - The Sequel"! Toy works in mysterious ways, so I guess all will be revealed when the clip debuts on the 1st of September. I can hardly wait.

Fuck Off, Lily Allen!

You do not understand how much it pains me to write something complementary about Lily Allen. I'd rather listen to Delta Goodrem's entire back catalogue on repeat than say anything nice about this dirty slag! The bitterness and rage that Katy Perry inspires in some gays pretty much describes how I feel about Lily. I hate her music, I hate her disingenuity and I particularly hate those saggy, cow udder breasts she flashes at every available opportunity. She just strikes me as the ultimate 'right place, right time' phenomenon. If Lily didn't have a famous father, I'm sure she'd still be dealing ecstasy in Ibiza right now (which doesn't strike me as such a bad fate, when I think about it) but then we'd never get the surprisingly fantastic "22".

Occasionally you hear a song and think that person gets me. Well, when I first heard "22" I thought Lily Allen had broken into my room and riffled through my diary. In fact, I wouldn't put it past that thieving bitch but there are no lyrics about La Toya - so I'm willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. It's not the first time I've felt like this. Shelley Harland's entire album evokes a similar response from me but sharing thoughts and emotions with Lily Allen? Am I that common? The answer, it seems, is yes. If you changed the gender and played around with the ages a bit this song could have been written about me. "22" perfectly sums up the emotional whirlwind of your late 20s, of feeling like you're not on track and thinking you really should have more to show for your (almost) three decades on planet earth. Oh and there's a catchy beat, whimsical production and a rather cool video (below). I'll put the first two down to Greg Kurstin and the third down to good luck.

Lily, you may have thwarted my hateration for the moment but I'll be back!

When she was 22 the future looked bright
But she's nearly 30 now and she's out every night
I see that look in her face she's got that look in her eye
She's thinking how did I get here and wondering why

It's sad but it's true how society says
Her life is already over
There's nothing to do and there's nothing to say
Til the man of her dreams comes along picks her up and puts her over his shoulder
It seems so unlikely in this day and age

She's got an alright job but it's not a career
Whenever she thinks about it, it brings her to tears
Cause all she wants is a boyfriend
She gets one-night stands

She's thinking how did I get here
I'm doing all that I can

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Zoë Badwi - Pop Trash Interview

Zoë Badwi first rocked my world at the beginning of the decade as a member of the trashy trio of pop tarts otherwise known as Sirens. I was slightly obsessed with the group's fabulous brand of pure pop and blogged about them several times over the past few years. When the band parted ways, Zoë became a fixture of the live music scene but sadly dropped off the pop radar. All that changed last year when she re-emerged with a sizzling new dance sound courtesy of TV ROCK and topped the ARIA club charts for 7 consecutive weeks. "Release Me" instantly transformed Zoë into Australia's hottest dance diva and there's been no stopping her since. Our new Queen of Clubs (sorry Dannii) subsequently scored another top 10 club smash with "Don't Wan'cha" and is currently putting the finishing touches to her debut album. The thing I admire most about Zoë - well, apart from her music and killer dance moves - is the fact that she's such a trooper. She's been plugging away at her craft for the best part of a decade and is only now starting to reap the rewards. I was lucky enough to ask Zoë some questions recently about her colourful career path and future plans. Check it out.

Hey Zoë! I thought I'd start by asking how you got into the music business. Who put Sirens together? Wasn't 90s icon Merril Bainbridge involved somehow?
Well I started out with a DJ called Mark John doing house music. Then one of my roomates went out with Angie from Sirens. He said they had been looking for someone for 2 years. So I auditioned! It came down to myself and another girl but I got it! YAY! Merril was one of our managers and she wrote "Like Fire, Like Rain".

I think that song and "Give A Little Love" are forgotten pop gems. What do you make of them today? The foam party video for "Like Fire Like Rain" is pure class!
I had a ball in the film clip "Like Fire, Like Rain" - an 18 hour day in a car wash! Great dancers, great director. That is my fave clip!!

"I'm So Excited" was the group's biggest hit. Was getting 2nd billing to Sara Marie an insult? I hope she at least taught you how to bum dance.
Haha we did have to bum dance. I didn't mind the second billing cos it wasn't something we were looking at doing. After we did the theme song for the first Big Brother series, they approached us. We thought about it long and hard but she was so much fun to work with, we thought why not!

Are you still in touch with any of the other girls? Angie released her own single a couple of years ago but seems to have dropped off the face of the earth.
The other 2 girls are married with babies now. I didn't know Ange brought out a song. I will have to ask her about that one. Good researching by you! We keep each other informed on the big things in our lives. We shared some great moments so we will always have a bond.

What did you do between Sirens and your re-emergence with "Release Me". Did you ever feel like throwing in the towel? Tell us a bit about Black Dogs.
Never ever thought of throwing in the towel! I love it too much! After Sirens I was still working with DJ Mark John and joined a house band called Black Dogs. I am still with them now. I have a blast with the boys. We have another male vocalist Andrew De Sliva, bass, guitar, congas and Mark John driving the beats from the decks.

How did you get involved with TV Rock? They seem to have taken you under their wing.
Grant came and watched my band play one night. After he asked me if I write my own songs. I told him I do. He said he would send me a couple of beats to see what I could come up with. I wrote "Release Me", sang it to them and they loved it! Thank goodness, I say haha. Yes, TV Rock have been good to me. We work well with each other. It is hard to find people who just get you musically and we get one another. I am lucky they found me.

"Release Me" was absolutely huge in the clubs. When you recorded it did you have any idea it would be that massive?
Ha! I had no idea!!! It was just something that was on my mind. I was constantly singing it. I remember the first time I sang it out. People were dancing about but now they sing it back louder than I do! I love it!

Given its club success, were you surprised that it didn't quite cross over? I was sure you'd be giving Pink and Britney a run for their money on Video Hits!
It got a fair bit of radio play. Channel V and MTV played the film clip but I am not sure I could imagine it on Video Hits!? Even though I would have loved it! There is more to come so you never know....

The song has been picked up by a UK label and is already a club hit over there. Do you know when it's being released? Will you be going over to promote it?
It was released 2 weeks ago and it is at number 10 in the UK club charts!!!! I cant believe it!! So exciting. I just got back from London last night. I had some meetings and all is looking good.
I sang in Beijing and Mykonos with great feedback about my tracks - keep ya fingers crossed for me!

Your latest club smash "Don't Wan'cha" is currently riding high in the club charts. Can we officially crown you Australia's new queen of dance?
Yes, it's going well! I am always suprised, I think its number 7 at the moment. I'm very happy with that! Ha! Australia's queen of dance!? I'll take that hahahaha. Oh mum will be proud!

The "Don't Wan'cha" artwork is.... very different. Did you draw it yourself after a big night on the tiles?
Hahahahaha I wish I could draw! I love the artwork because it is different and a bit rough!

Are you working on an album? Will it feature more club anthems or will you mix it up and throw in some more commercial pop tunes?
I am working on an album. I have about 5 or 6 tracks almost finished. And one of them is a bit of a pop tune, still with a club edge but I do wanna mix it up a bit.

I hear you're considering doing a cover version. I think La Toya's "Sexbox" would be fun!
Ha! That is so funny that film clip! Maybe not that song - but keep the suggestions coming!

What have you been up to in Mykonos and Beijing?
Singing! Laughing and tanning. Meeting up with some of the big wigs like David Guetta, Martin Solveig and Axwell. I have been travelling with Grant Smillie from TV Rock. It has been such an amazing experiance singing my songs all over the world!

What's been your biggest diva moment?
I am no diva. BUT one place I play at sends me limos filled with my favourite drinks, fresh lemons and limes. Has 12 red roses waiting for me! A security guard that walks me to the bathroom and waits for me haha - it is just lovely.

I've seen you perform at the Big Gay Out and Arq. Why do you think you connect so well with the gays? I put it down to your killer dance moves.
Haha oh my dancing. I honestly didn't realise I move that much!? Then I see videos back and think to myself "Oh Zoe, put it away"! Haha! I have had great support from the gay communitity, but I couldn't be happier with that. They are the ones who dance like nobody's business and know all the words! They say if you make it in the gay community you can make it anywhere!

Good luck with "Release Me" in the UK. I hope it's huge for you. Thanks so much for your time.
Thanks you for having me! Keep your eyes peeled for my next single. I will give you the scoop...... It's called "In The Moment".

Check out Zoë's Myspace to learn more about this amazing diva. Make sure you watch the glamorous "Release Me" video clip (below) filmed live at this year's Sensation NYE party.

Katy Perry's Australian Tour EP

I haven't written a lot about Katy Perry on this blog - mainly because every time I mention her name I get shouted down by rabid haters throwing around accusations of rampant publicity whoring and homophobia. One day I'll write a post addressing that rubbish but it will have to wait until I have more time because that's going to be quite an essay. In the meantime, I'll stick to raving about Katy's amazing Australian tour EP - classily titled "Hello Katy". With physical singles harder to find than hits in La Toya's discography and iTunes now charging $2.19 for a fucking download, EMI has bucked the trend and delivered an absolute smorgasbord of Katy Perry goodness for a very reasonable price. I'm not sure how many copies the EP will sell (given how hard it is to find) but I have no doubt the label will more than recoup its investment in goodwill from fans. Which is a valuable asset in and of itself.

Unfortunately, I couldn't attend Katy's tour but this is a great little souvenir. I love the cover art and the tracklisting is very generous - if a little hit and miss. The EP kicks off with a couple of quirky covers. A lot of acts have interpreted MGMT's "Electric Feel" (including my future husband Andy Bull) but Katy's version is one of my favourites. It strips the song back to basics and puts all the emphasis on Katy's voice, which is considerably sweeter than usual. "Electric Feel" is followed by a similar re-imagining of Sam Sparro's "Black & Gold". I don't like this as much, possibly because I find the original so grating. Next up is "I Think I'm Ready", which most fans will know as a "One Of The Boys" bonus track. The song is very cute and shows Katy's softer side. I guess the same could be said for the acoustic version of "Thinking Of You", which is one of the standouts from her album. Say what you want about her but the woman can sing and knows how to knock out an insightful lyric.

The rest of "Hello Katy" is comprised of remixes of varying quality. Calvin Harris has been on fire in 2009 but his remix of "Waking Up In Vegas" is the worst kind of noise pollution. The Dr. Luke & Benny Blanco mix of "I Kissed A Girl" fares considerably better and I'll definitely be whipping this out at my next faux lesbian themed house party. Bimbo Jones are a Nicki French remix away from being the new Almighty but I love their particular brand of low brow dance trash. I prefer the original but their take on "Hot N Cold" is also pretty irresistible (below). The EP concludes with a fairly tame mix of "Ur So Gay" - the song that put all the gays off side in the first place. I still find it completely inoffensive and think it makes a fitting conclusion to a fun collection of not-so-rare Katy rarities! Well done, EMI.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Pop Panel - Week 15

Welcome to yet another Pop Panel! There have been some seriously dire weeks as far as content is concerned but I think this batch of tunes has something for everyone. It's definitely the first time in ages that I've really loved the winner. I'm even more excited that it's a homegrown anthem. Not only that but it also pulled the highest score in Pop Panel history. Talk about $ucce$$! The single of the week was decided by these high brow musical critics/tragic gay bloggers:

D'Luv (US) writer of Chart Rigger
Mike (Aus) author of this classy blog.
Paul (UK) writer of Fizzy Pop
Rob (UK) writer of Don't Stop The Pop
Tommie (Sweden) writer of Donna Martin Graduates

With Pablo still trawling public toilets across Spain for trade and The Prophet deciding to take a break to concentrate on his studies, I've dragged in the following hot bitches to help out:

Bomitoni (US) writer of Milk Carton Pop Stars
Enric (Spain) writer of Blog Petit, Però Valent!

Bomitoni is a fellow trash junkie and my living, breathing guide to tragic Mexican pop divas. He's appeared on the Panel before but I'm always happy to have him back. Enric is a fabulous Spanish blogger with a taste for Stuart Price and shithouse divas like Madonna and Little Boots - but I won't hold that him against him. Anyway, here goes!

The results ranked as usual from lowest to highest.

Basshunter – Every Morning (Video)

The Swedish king of dance's latest chav anthem.

Bomitoni: That was painful to listen to. Pretty girl though. 0/5
D'Luv: This guy should stick to posting fuck videos on the Internet. As far as bedroom DJ/producers go, I'll stick with Calvin Harris. He gets half a point for whipping out his dick for the masses. 0.5/5
Enric: Basshunter has grown up and now I want to have sex with him. His new sound is softer and I really like it, specially when I discovered that the chorus has the same melody as “Under the sea” from Disney’s Little Mermaid. 5/5
Mike: I used to have a soft spot for the male Cascada but mid-tempo Hi-NRG Eurotrash is a genre that should never be revisited again in the history of music. I like the Spanish holiday video though. 1/5
Paul: I've hated everything he has ever done, but pleasured myself to him a couple of times (he's fairly foxy). So colour me shocked that I really like this. Well it's passable anyway. 3.5/5
Rob: Vile. 0/5
Tommie: In a way I have to admire my fellow Scandinavian for going from writing songs about IRC chat bots to having a bonafide international music career, but his music is still just no. 0/5
Total: 10/35

Jade Ewen – My Man (Video)

The UK's Eurovision reject gets a trashy new urban sound.

Bomitoni: I was ready to write this one off. But I actually didn't mind it. Musically it's not really what I like, but I could totally hear this being played at the clubs in remix form. 3/5
D'Luv: Generic garbage. Couldn't even make it till the chorus before moving on. 0/5
Enric: I'm glad they used shadows to avoid showing us her full face which is almost as unbearable as her voice. It's disgustingly good, and I love when she says "Giga Giga". Also, to use the word “Intellectual” on a song like that is genius. 4/5
Mike: Jade is all kinds of wrong. Her Eurovision ballad was vomit inducing and her slutastic urban makeover makes her the most desperate UK diva since Lisa Scott-Lee. That being said, "My Man" is such a hot mess that I find it strangely appealing. The Cahill remix is great and the guy in the video is super sexy, so I'm giving this 3/5.
Paul: Well ain't this just a shock and a half. So much different to her eurovision crap. Now my theory that this because this is so different, no one has picked up on the fact that it's a bit shit. She has bedazzled the world. Or at least the 2000 people that might download it (it would have probably been more, but she's sent promos out to every Tom, Dick and Nancy). 2/5
Rob: This is could have been on the Vicky Beckham album we never got. There was tons of potential with Jade and instead they've simply removed her of her clothes and tried to make her some British version of the American Brandy. Talk about missed opportunities. She is so lame it hurts. She uses the word "intellectual" but someone with absolutely no brains could have created this. It is the lowest common denominator. Jade obviously missed the post-it note on feminism. What a stupid and insipid excuse for music. 0/5
Tommie: I want to give this a five out of five for the camp video alone, but the song is pretty standard stuff these days. 2.5/5
Total: 14.5/35

Livvi Franc Ft. Pitbull – Now I'm That Bitch (Video)

The debut single from one of 2009's most hyped new urban divas.

Bomitoni: This song has been out in the US for a couple of months now and I LOVE it!!!! It's nice to know that Barbados has given us another musical act other than that hammerhead shark Rihanna. This song is HOT HOT HOT! Though I could do without the Pitbull blips. 5/5
D'Luv: I like the music. Shame about Livvi. 1/5
Enric: You can't name a song like that and deliver this crap. She's not sure who to imitate: Beyonce, Ciara, Alesha or even the great Solange. The song is boring, it has potential but is sadly produced, the rhythm is nowhere to be seen. Featuring someone named Pitbull who sings "oye, mamita" and "baila la conga como una chonga" has catastrophe written all over it. 0/5
Mike: Now this is a grower. I hated it at first but after a couple of listens I'm completely sold. The beats are hot, I love the trashy lyrics and Pitbull's rap is a constant source of amusement. 4/5
Paul: God people love her don't they? I'm not really sure why. I do like the line that I think said "I'm not a bender, return to sender". That is rather marvelous. And she almost flashes her gash several times in the video so you know she's classier than a used condom. Which frankly is slightly more engaging than the song. 2/5
Rob: It's the return of Rachel Steven's ribbons! This would get stronger marks if it wasn't for the lame rap from Pitbull. For sure, I don't mind rent-a-rappers but his "work" is so flaky it reduces the song's quality. Sadly, the money shot in the song itself never arrives. Perhaps because she can't quite sing. Going on the evidence on this single. 1/5
Tommie: The video is clearly a cheap imitation of Queen Kat Deluna's chart-topping smash hit "Unstoppable", but I guess the song is okay and catchy enough. 3/5
Total: 16/35

Cascada – Dangerous (Video)

Germany's greatest contribution to popular music release their latest single.

Bomitoni: You know I've never gotten into this broad. Still can't. Her music is über cheesy and reminds me of those crappy douche bag clubs where the guys shirts are too tight, and tans too orange. Sounds like all her other songs. 2/5
D'Luv: Can someone please unplug this robot? 0/5
Enric: Welcome back, Cascada! After disguising herself as "Lady Casca", she finally releases a song with her real essence. Pure rave to our ears, and an impressive chorus starting with the line "give me a break!" Amazing! 5/5
Mike: Has Natalie visited Janet's team of liposuction specialists? She's looking svelte and fabulous. As for the song - it's bottom of the barrel Eurotrash with no redeeming features whatsoever. Which is probably why I find it so enjoyable. 3/5
Paul: You know, I actually sort of fell in love with "Evacuate". And it's sort of hard to argue with the logic of Cascada other than there is no logic behind them. I'm surprised that I like this as much as I do, put it that way, but I've just had my nightly Xannax so I'm feeling quite groovy. 4/5
Rob: Shit. Shit. Shit. Such a shame really as she moved mountains with "Evacuate The Dancefloor". 0/5
Tommie: I like it in a way I like all cheap and trashy 90s dance tracks - drunkenly! 2.5/5
Total: 16.5/35

Elek-tro Lights ft Therese – Neon Lights (Above)

Swedish dance queen Therese unveils her latest anthem.

Bomitioni: An homage to Neon Nights? $ucce$$! All kidding aside...I'm digging the beat. I love the chorus. I can't bear to watch the low budget video. She looks like a younger tranny version of Anna Vissi. We all know Anna is a hot tranny mess. Back to the song. Me likes. 3.5/5
D'Luv: Now this is how a dance anthem is done! I'm docking her half a point for eerily looking like Madonna in parts of the video, but the song is near perfection. 3.5/5
Enric: This must be the first music video shot only with a cellphone on the Ibiza airport areas, including bathrooms. The song sounds well-produced, professional but very generic. Her voice is a failed attempt to seem Kylie's and is very irritating. 2/5
Mike: I've been a fan of Therese since she penned "Perfection" for Dannii. "Neon Lights" isn't her finest moment but I love the cheap as chips filmed on location in Ibiza video clip and the trashy chorus. This diva has an edge that a lot of Scandipop drones are missing. 3.5/5
Paul: It's not particularly forward thinking or radically different, but there is something about this song that is entirely appealing. It's a solid pop-dance number that I will unfortunately have forgotten until I hear it the next time. 3/5
Rob: Wow. I love the cheapo video. That is its only redeeming quality. The song lacks everything a big Ibiza track should have: big anthemic chorus, addictive beats and atmospheric piano rifts. Look, Therese is great and I am really surprised she let this out. 1/5
Tommie: Therese looks like she got a sex change, but the song is great and I hope it brings her some chart success or Drömhus might have to make a comeback... 4/5
Total: 20.5/35

Nicole Holness – Epic (Video)

A Canadian MTV host unleashes her debut single.

Bomitoni: This song was too all over the place musically for me. Her voice is a whisper at most. Video was super glitzy, but that's all I can say. 1/5
D'Luv: Beautiful jam, and I love that, unlike so many others, she's not aping Rihanna or Lady GaGa. 4.5/5
Enric: I'm almost sure that this song samples something in its main melody but I can't recall it. I'm deeply addicted to it, and to Nicole's voice, which sounds deep, emotional and beautiful. But I don't like her dressed as Lady Gaga. 4/5
Mike: Utterly gorgeous. "Epic" is the musical equivalent of a sunny Sunday afternoon - warm, relaxing and strangely comforting. I love the delicate beats and soppy lyrics. This makes me want to hold hands and watch "The Notebook". Unexpectedly beautiful. 5/5
Paul: The intro comes off like she might be a female Dan Black and my hopes soared. then she sang and my hopes fell to the floor faster than a LaToya single exits the charts. 1.5/5
Rob: Jade, take note this is how to do pop! Loved Nicole since discovering fellow Canadian pop princess LIGHTS who share the same representation (I think!). Okay, its slightly less well produced than a lot of what's in the charts but that's perhaps its endearing quality. I love the soul to this. It has heart. 5/5
Tommie: I've always claimed that TV hosts branching out to singing is the 90s version of reality star-goes-pop - and this sounds very 90s. I want to like it for that criteria alone, but this has no 'oomph'. 2/5
Total: 23/35

Booty Luv – Say It (Video)

UK dance duo unveil the lead single from their highly anticipated (by me) sophmore album.

Bomitoni: Can it get any campier than Booty Luv?? Can their name be any gayer? I liked it. However, I didn't love it. I'm sure it'll grow on me. 3/5
D'Luv: I thought it couldn't get better than the Elek-tro Lights/Therese jam, but it has! I've had a soft spot for these scrappy broads from day one. Great pop! 4.5/5
Enric: The shiniest video ever, black-Gossip Girl themed. I love all the elements, from the ice fountain to the silver pillows. It’s very near to the perfect rave pop song. I just hope I don’t forget about them next month. 4/5
Mike: I think Booty Luv are fabulous but this is underwhelming. They need to listen to Bananarama's stunning "Love Comes" and go back to the drawing board. 3/5
Paul: My friend Burn-ice (who has invented bubblewrap bra and panties set!) loves this so I am overly familiar with this slightly above average electro-pop tune. I have never been quite as into Booty Luv as I should be. They end up leaving me a little bit cold despite ok songs. 3/5
Rob: It's a bit like their previous stuff but then again traditional never hurt U2. 3/5
Tommie: I love me some Booty, but this song is a bit... lacking? It's just not as good as their previous hits, but I hope it's a huge hit for them as I'm sure there's better tunes on the album. 3/5
Total: 23.5/35


Bag Raiders – Shooting Stars (Video)

This much hyped Sydney dance outfit follows in the electropop footsteps of The Presets and Cut Copy.

Bomitoni: Wow! I really really really like this! Really like it. The video is hot and the beat is wicked. I need to hear more!!! 5/5
D'Luv: Wow! Really great week, Mike. It's not often an act can live up to being compared to Cut Copy in my book, but these guys do so effortlessly. Plus, I'd fuck the teeth out of the tall one's mouth. Great song, super video, hot guys. 5/5
Mike: Australian electro is on fire at the moment and Bag Raiders have well and truly earned their spot next to Empire Of The Sun and Cut Copy as the next big thing with this amazing anthem. The video is a triumph. It's like an Atari computer game from 1985 - only with nudity and a shit hot soundtrack! 5/5
Enric: It takes 2 full minutes to enjoy the chorus but it's worth it. I love the progression that takes you from the intro to the anticipated explosion (including flying cars). There's a sample that keeps repeating and slowly turning up the pitch. It's brilliant and it doesn't include any urban bitch. 5/5
Paul: There is something end of summer chic and cool about this song. Mike is right, the video is astonishingly good and the song is a brilliant grower. Plus who wouldn't want a strangely sexy (in a deliciously unconventional way) man to call you outside in the middle of the night? I dream about that regularly - it's 50% of the cause of my morning wood. 4/5
Rob: Beautiful video and good song. Reminds me somewhat of Daft Punk. 3/5
Tommie: Is it just me or does that animated guy have a rather big bulge? Though, I guess if I had to animate myself I'd give myself a big ole' cock too. Anyway, I like penises and I quite like this song. 4/5
Total: 31/35

Saturday, August 22, 2009

La Toya's Duet With Duet Andre & Other Tidbits!

It's been a while since my last La Toya update so I thought it was about time I devoted another post to world's greatest living vocalist. Since emerging from her self-imposed exile to personally hunt down Michael's killer, Toy has swiftly kicked Janet to the curb as the world's favourite remaining Jackson. The public simply can't get enough of our goddess. She's all over the gossip blogs and has been inundated with offers to appear on every US television show from Dancing With The Stars (Toy Toy just said no) to The View. The Pope of Pop accepted the latter invitation and will join the panel on the 16th and 18th of September. I just hope Whoopi can keep her hands to herself because La Toya's sexual energy is notoriously hard to resist and our girl doesn't open her front door for any old has-been!

As excited as I am about Toy Toy's publicity whoring rampage, I'm more interested in her musical comeback. Everything is going full steam ahead on that front with news that "Home" is currently storming up the iTunes (R'n'B) chart (in Germany)! If that isn't reason enough to celebrate, the sure to be iconic video debuts on the 1st of September. That's less than two weeks until La Toya officially makes Madonna, Britney and Lady GaGa redundant! I know you're thinking that Dutchess of Dance couldn't possibly have anything else up her sleeve but Australia's 4th greatest musical export, Peter Andre, recently announced that he's working on a Michael Jackson tribute with Toy! Talk about a clash of the titans! This has #47 smash written all over it! Peter mentioned the decade's most highly anticipate duet in a recent interview with TMZ (below). Fast forward to 1:40 mins to hear all the exciting details. You just know Michael shed tears of joy in heaven when he heard about this duo joining forces in his honour!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

EliZe - More Than Meets The Eye

When it comes to Europop divas most gays cling to established Scandipop acts like Robyn and Annie, while other lower class individuals worship faux Kylie (ie. Little Boots) and that 29 going on 45 year old Belgian "stunner" Kate Ryan. Personally, I bow down to EliZe when I need a Europop fix. The Dutch Queen of Dance has been an obsession of mine since 2006 when "Automatic" was picked up by Central Station and became an underground pop hit in Australia. I spent a lot of time and money tracking down EliZe's debut album (not to mention the small fortune I dropped on the Japanese re-release) but it was worth every cent. "In Control" ranks alongside "Neon Nights", 'Light Years", "State Of Mind", "Bring Ya To The Brink" and "Sin Miedo" as one of my favourite pop albums of the decade. There's no pretence with EliZe - it's just relentlessly upbeat pure pop, usually accompanied by a sexy video and so bad they're good lyrics. Needless to say, I was extremely excited when the Dutch icon released her sophomore album last month. I finally managed to track it down a couple of weeks ago and haven't stopped playing it since. "More Than Meets The Eye" is another goldmine of cheesy dance anthems and is running neck and neck with Sally Shapiro for my album of the year (albeit for very different reasons). Here is my track by track review of EliZe's latest stunning masterpiece:

Can't You Feel It
"More Than Meets The Eye" kicks off with its misjudged third single, which recently became EliZe's biggest flop in Holland when it stalled at a Dannii-tastic #65. I'm not surprised. "Can't You Feel It" is great fun but it's not singleworthy. The song is a fairly mechanical attempt at recapturing the "Automatic" magic but it comes off sounding like cheaply produced dance trash - not that there's anything wrong with that! The chorus is great but the verses are stilted and it just feels like something is lacking. Like a hook. Think of this as AATW Dannii without her trademark club sample.

Get Up (Do It Now)
Now this is a pure pop trash explosion. "Get Up" represents everything I love about EliZe. The production is total Eurodance cheese and the lyrics are so comfortingly inane that if you close your eyes tightly you could be mistaken for thinking you're back in 1995. EliZe's Hi-NRG beats and repetitive chorus would make her fellow countrymen 2 Unlimited proud!

The album's lead single is something of a grower but it ended up becoming one of my favourite tracks of 2008. I was initially somewhat surprised by the move towards a harder dance sound after the pure pop of "In Control" but it works and gives EliZe a commercial edge that she was previously lacking. As for the song, "Lovesick" is little more than a slick re-working of "Automatic". I love the "Ah ah ah ahs" and the chorus is pretty irresistible. I'm convinced the song could be a radio hit in Australia and the UK. It's every bit as catchy as "Cry For You" but unlike poor September, EliZe doesn't look like a 40 year old housewife. This is top notch pop.

I Can Be A Bitch
Apparently EliZe wrote this song after downing one too many Vodka lime sodas and kicking a guy in a nightclub. Not surprisingly the lyrics are pure gold. Elize warns people to avoid her on "vodka night" before lamenting "I wish you met me at a different hour but you didn't, so go fuck yourself!" For that line alone this trashtastic chav anthem deserves be a worldwide #1 smash! "I Can Be A Bitch" is the album's first taste of Elize trying out a more American pop sound and she almost pulls it off. This is currently my favourite guilty pleasure and was just released in the Netherlands as the album's 4th single.

Mr Know It All
You just know a song beginning with the line "la la la leave me alone" is going to be fabulous. This is another slightly Americanised pop anthem but it stays true to Elize's Europop roots. "Mr Know It All" has more than a touch of Britney's "Toxic" about it but this canny Cathy Dennis knock off is as charming as it as derivative. "Circus" would have far more bearable with this shiny pop gem on it. A definite highlight.

Hot Stuff
Lord knows I worship the ground Elize walks on but this Donna Summer cover is best described as ill advised and tragifabulous. On the one hand, turning Donna's disco classic into something that sounds like it was shat out by Nicki French is actually something of an achievement, on the other hand, EliZe can do so much better than this trashy Hi-NRG cover. That rubbish can wait until she is inevitably snapped up by Klone records! But what do I know? This became Elize's equal second biggest hit when it rocketed to #11 in Holland. Trash lovers may want to check out the craptacular video below.

Shine Like A Superstar
Latvian diva DJ Ella recently released this song as a single and it's hard not to compare
her version with EliZe's. I like Ella's version but criticised the production as being very 2002 on a recent Pop Panel. Happily, EliZe gets it just right. Her version is less cheesy than Ella's and has a harder dance edge. The chorus is still magic and I love the fact that old school trance elements are starting to creep their way back into popular music. This is one of my favourite songs on the album and think not releasing it as a single is a huge missed opportunity.

Favourite Rebound
This classy anthem begins like a Destiny's Child B-side before switching gears and entering familiar dance territory. I love the divatastic chorus and the quirky production. The vocal is great, EliZe really turns it out. With a bit of tweaking, this could be a huge club hit. "Favourite Rebound" is begging for a hands in the air house remix. Cahill, WAWA or Moto Blanco could work wonders with this gem.

Let's Give Love A Try
After trying her hand at a more American pop sound, EliZe returns to her Europop roots with this ultra cheesy dance anthem. Fans of Scandipop divas like Velvet and Therese will love "Let's Give Love A Try". The slick beats come thick and fast, while the chorus is corny enough for a Romanian Eurovision entry. This is perhaps a bit too sickly sweet for me but EliZe delivers another cracking vocal. She doesn't get a lot of credit for her powerful pipes but I think EliZe has one of the most versatile voices in pop.

So Funkable
"He said Señorita, you look like the Mona Lisa" is one of the classiest lyrics I've heard in a long time and that's just one of the many unintentionally hilarious lines on this remarkable anthem. "So Funkable" is possibly the trashiest thing I've heard all year. EliZe's urban makeover is about as convincing as Diana Ross's "Workin' Overtime" album but I love every second of it. Rihanna needs to fuck off. Bitch has nuthin' on the Dutch queen of dance!

Hook You Up
"Hook You Up" is probably my favourite song on the album. EliZe has delivered a pop track of the highest calibre with this gem. I'm not sure if it samples ABBA or just ruthlessly rips off "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)" - not that it matters. The unexpected ABBA flavour helps make "Hook You Up" one of the best pop songs of 2009. It's a hook laden triumph with a glistening chorus and splashes of 90s piano. I have no idea why this wasn't released as a single. If Kylie covered it, she would be celebrating a #1 smash.

First Class Liar
It's a shame that such a strong album ends with one of its weakest tracks. "First Class Liar" is a bit of a throwback to EliZe's 2006 hit "No Latino" with its Latin beats and sassy brass. Unfortunately, it's not a patch on that trash classic but the track is still a lot of fun. This is probably the kind of shit J Lo would be doing now if she tried to revive her early noughties sound.


Automatic (Acoustic Version)
I'm usually not a big fan of acoustic versions of dance songs but this rendition of EliZe's biggest hit is excellent. They have transformed "Automatic" into the kind of earthy torch song that Shirley Bassey normally belts out. It really showcases EliZe's voice and works surprisingly well.

Shake (Radio Edit)
This was probably my least favourite single from "In Control" but it's still a great pop song and serves as a potent reminder of how strong that album was. The heavy synths are still current and the chorus is undeniably catchy. However, I'd still wish they included the ridiculously camp "Itsy Bitsy Spider" instead.

Automatic (Radio Edit)
This is the song that introduced me to the stunning genius of EliZe and I still think it ranks as one of the best pop songs of the decade. If you look past the hilarious "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" rip off video, you're left with a crisply produced pure pop gem with an explosive chorus that grabs you by the balls from the first listen. A modern classic.

No Latino (Radio Edit)
Don't be fooled by the title, this isn't a Cheryl Cole penned right wing anti-immigration anthem but a fabulously cheerful J Lo rip off. As much as I adore "Automatic", this is my favourite EliZe single. I love the cheesy lyrics and the fact that she's referring to herself as "no Latino" (a male) instead of "no Latina" (a woman)! This is as cute as a button and well worth another listen.


Unfortunately there are no plans to release "More Than Meets The Eye" in Australia (that I know of) and the album is yet to grace iTunes with its presence. It took a year for "In Control" to be released internationally, so don't give up hope just yet.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Shelley Harland Interview

It's true that I spend the vast majority of my time listening to trashy pop records but there is another side to me. I love soul, country and the occasional indie pop queen/singer-songwriter. Shelley Harland probably falls into that latter category but only by default. Her music mixes a variety of genres from Carpenters-esque 70s pop to languid alt-country. I hear lashings of Bic Runga and Beth Orton with a bit of Aimee Mann thrown in for good measure. Usually that concoction would have me running for the hills in horror but Shelley's debut is one of my favourite albums of the year. "Red Leaf" is a little dark, occasionally depressing but always strikingly beautiful and effortlessly melodic. It's the kind of album that is best played in the early hours of the morning, when you can soak up every word and tiny nuance of the sparse yet intricate production. "Red Leaf" probably won't push Pink from the top of the charts but it deserves to be discovered and treasured. I couldn't wait to ask Shelley about the album and her previous career as a private investigator!

Shelley, I've been referring to you as a local girl on the blog but you're actually English and got your big break in New York. How did you end up in Australia?
I had been living in New York for a while and felt like I had soaked up all the madness of it - I wanted to experience something completely different and had never lived by the ocean. James and I had never been to Sydney - so we looked at the map and decided Bondi sounded nice. We shipped our studio off and landed here.

Did the move have a big impact on your sound? There's an organic quality to "Red Leaf" that I find quintessentially Australian.
Yes - i didn't realise until half way in, but there was a LOT more space in my songs, less clutter, more raw and exposed. Something I really like because I feel people can experience the honesty of the song more.

The album is spectacular - so intimate and personal. How does it feel now that it's finally released? Are you relieved or nervous about how it will be received?
It's a wonderful feeling to have the finished album in my hands. It's had it's own journey from the studio in my apartment to David Skeet's studio, Tim Powles studio for drums, over to UK for Chris Sheldon to mix and then Abbey Road for mastering..... I'm excited to get it out to people and hear their reaction.

You worked with some amazing people on the album. How did David Skeet and Tim Powles become involved?
Someone introduced me to David shortly after I arrived in Sydney and we hit it off - he's English and a bit mad and we both liked tea and biscuits - so we were off to a good start! David was in a band with Tim years ago called The Venetians - they've always been friends and Tim was happy to get stuck in on the record.

Marina & The Diamonds recently lamented that too much value is placed on singles - to the point where good albums are almost a dying art. Do you agree?
I do agree. It's a shame because albums are sort of the soundtrack to your life. I can look back on some albums and they immediately stir up an emotion or feeling that was relevant to that time - like little memory triggers. I love to own a whole album and feel the artwork and read the lyrics, I'm a big fan of vinyl too. Hopefully people will get bored with the one hit wonders and go in search for more in the treasure chests that are out there.

I felt like someone had broken into my room and read my diary the first time I heard “Wonder”. I can identify with lyrics a little too much. Was the song written about anyone in particular?
That song seems to just resonate with people.... David had actually been over at my house that day and was discussing an ex girlfriend of his, wondering what had happened to her, he had tried to track her down but couldn't find her. I have a constant feeling of nostalgia, having lived in so many places I'm always wondering about people, friends, people I went to school with - did their lives turn out to be what they wanted them to be? It's on my mind a lot. After David left that day the lyrics just spilled out me...

“Friday” is one of the catchiest songs on the album. It reminds me of The Carpenters. Are you a fan? The video (above) is amazing!
I love the Carpenters! The video was so much fun to make - I had a great time. Dale, the main ice skater was the best, he'd never done any acting before but he was a pro. James also wrote the main video treatment idea so it was exciting watching it come to life!

"Clouds Disappear" is so romantic. Are you a bit of a softie at heart?
I'm a total softy at heart - too much actually. This is about James. I was sitting on a bus on my way home from work one night and I was worrying about bills and rent and feeling a little miserable. Then towards the end of the trip I started picking myself up, remembering how lucky I was to have such a wonderful person in my life.... when I got off the bus James was waiting in the rain holding an umbrella so I didn't get wet! So I got home and wrote a little song all about it.

My favourite song on the album is “Panic To Control”. I interpret it as a kind of mantra about persevering in the face of disaster and doggedly following your dreams. What's it really about?
Good interpretation! It really is about not giving into fear - but to just look it in the eye and fight for your dreams. I've had a few anxieties in life, things that I could have given in to and retreated a little - we all have fears and sometimes they can suck away your quality of life. This is about being a soldier and marching into battle for your heart.

On “Sorry” you sing “I travelled overseas and changed the way I look but the mirror tells me every day that I’m a crook”. It sounds pretty autobiographical. Who did you piss off in the States?!
Actually this is loosely based on my time working in a Private Investigators office in New York. Watching people out to get each other because they had affairs etc. The dark side of it all and how I imagine you would walk through life feeling like a criminal. It's much easier on your mind and your pocket to just say you're sorry.

Were you really a private investigator in NY? What kind of cases did you take? I’m fascinated!
Yes, it's completely true! I started as a secretary then began doing surveillance. It was crazy! My boss was the best! We did all sorts of cases but as you can guess most were marital. You can check my old boss out

The title track is so poetic. It’s hard to believe you had no formal musical training. How did you hone your craft?
It was just something that came very naturally to me. Like...riding a bike. Once you get it, you get it! That's how it felt for me - and now I can't imagine a life without it. Music is how I breathe through life.

Before “Red Leaf” you were probably best known for collaborating with dance artists like Delerium and Ferry Corsten. I absolutely loved your forays into electronica. Have you considered compiling those songs onto an album and will you return to that genre in the future?
A lot of my electronic music is available online now and I definitely approach music with the freedom to create whatever I feel like. I also love to collaborate so I can pretty much guarantee lots of music in lots of genres in the future.

Thanks for your time. I really hope the album takes off.
Thank you!

"Red Leaf" is in stores now. Check out the album's lead single "Wonder" below. The video is like a walking tour through Sydney! It's weird but kind of cool to see the Circular Quay steps and city markets in a video.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Pop Panel - Week 14

It feels like I only just posted last week's Pop Panel but it's already that time again. I guess time really does fly when you're passed out on painkillers. Actually, this edition of the Panel has been one of the few bright spots in a pretty terrible week. In fact, I'd go as far as saying that it's probably my favourite Pop Panel ever. A great song won (although my heart is really with the bridesmaid), a rubbish anthem got deservedly trashed, I managed to rope in some classy guest bloggers and we have a truly amazing celebrity guest judge this week. A lot of fabulous people have volunteered their time for the Pop Panel over the past few months but this is the first (and probably only) time that a multi-million selling dance icon has joined the team - but more about her in a minute! First, I need to introduce the other judges:

D'Luv (US) writer of Chart Rigger
Mike (Aus) author of this classy blog.
Moogaboo (US) much loved contributor to Chart Rigger
Rob (UK) writer of Don't Stop The Pop
Tommie (Sweden) writer of Donna Martin Graduates
The Prophet (Aus) writer of The Prophet

It's always great to have my Swedish partner in crime on board and I'm excited to have poached D'Luv's right hand gay for this week's proceedings. But now for our celebrity guest judge! Chances are if you're over 25 and have ever set foot into a nightclub, you've probably danced to one of Gala's anthems. The strikingly beautiful Italian diva catapulted to fame in 1996 with the club classic "Freed From Desire". That song topped the charts in 8 countries, reached #2 in the UK (spending two months in the top 10) and sold over six million copies worldwide. Few tracks can claim to be genre defining but "Freed From Desire" changed the dance music landscape forever. Gala followed that up with a batch of fabulous floorfillers including the much loved gay anthem "Let A Boy Cry" and her last UK top 40 hit "Come Into My Life". Since then she has remained quite but Gala is on the precipice of a fabulous comeback with "Tough Love", her first album in over a decade, slated for release on the 6th of September. Before getting on with the votes, I took the opportunity to do some probing!

Gala, where have you been hiding? Your fans miss you!
I have been embarking on various adventures. After a period in Italy and in the UK signed to a record label that didn't release anything for 5 years, I moved back to NY where I originally wrote my first hits and where my home is now in Brooklyn. I have always been writing, creating and exploring all sorts of music and other arts; photography, video, dance, choreography, writing etc... NY is the world brought down to size, you can learn and grow from some of the most talented people here.

I love to learn. I will be an eternal student and continue to learn all my life. I am also very eclectic and dream of living in the Renaissance period where an artist could write poetry and paint and make music without having to specialize obsessively in one thing like they do now, selling an image and branding it like a Coca Cola bottle. Unfortunately these days it is necessary because nobody sells records anymore.

Is it true you're about to embark on a comeback? What can we expect from your new sound?
Yes, I am releasing my new album "Tough Love" through my independent label Matriarch Records. I don't expect millions of sales, I am aware that comes with money invested in PR. I am doing this completely independently so there is not a label pushing the release. It will be hard and challenging, but I believe that my music, done with DEDICATION, LOVE, HONESTY AND PERSEVERANCE will slowly but surely reach people. That is what I care about, reaching people.

"Freed From Desire" is a true 90s classic. Did you realise at the time that you were recording a track that would define clubbing for an entire generation?
I didn't realize it at first, but it was a personal goal to create something that would have a lasting impact. I was studying photography at the time and my goal was to create photos that in 50 years would still look timeless. For example I would photograph in black and white, because colors often give away the time period. I would photograph only faces, so that there was no reference to a time period in the clothes or the surroundings. I would try to capture 'classic' photographs.

And that is what I did when I wrote "Freed From Desire", I gained inspiration from people like Bessie Smith and a book of spirituals; things that for me are eternal. Eternal influences such as these are the basis of music. African music especially comes to mind. "Freed From Desire" was actually dedicated to an African man, his community and all they taught me.

What do you make of the current state of dance music? Who are your favorite acts?
I really don't follow new music too much, I still listen to the classics. But I would be very interested to hear YOUR favorite remixers and DJ's so perhaps my fans can collaborate with me in this elaborate internet era to create some remixes for "Tough Love". I like Basement Jaxx and Sinden as remixers, but I'm not really an expert, I listen to all sorts of music from classical and country to blues, rock, soul and dance. Sometimes I'll check out a band my friends recommend to me but I don't really follow names or the latest news and gossip. Right now I am listening to Bill Withers.

I'm sure we can recommend some good DJs! Why do you think your music has struck such a deep chord with the gay community?
I believe in bisexuality; I always wanted to bring the sexes together, I don't believe in sex roles like male and female. It is an act of feminism for me, but a lot of gay boys and girls felt a connection to what I was saying, because it was a new way of saying things, a new feminism that includes men too and their liberation - the freedom to be sensitive, 'LET A BOY CRY'!!! I suffered as a kid because I loved some of my girlfriends as much as the boys in the class, but it was 'forbidden'. I hate rules to LOVE. Rules for violence, rules for war, but not to LOVE.

Gala's latest single "Tough Love" is now available to download from iTunes. Check out the hot video below. Gala just keeps on getting sexier! The EP includes a great new rock remix of "Freed From Desire" as well as her recent European single "Faraway". I'll post more details about the album as they come to hand.

Ok, so now for the Pop Panel. As usual the songs are ranked from least to most popular. Here goes:

Mika – We Are Golden (Video)

Mika's much hyped comeback single.

D'Luv: The Feeling do it way better. 2/5
Gala: Not my kind of song, the video is fun though! 3/5
Someone force feed this skinny cunt a Big Mac - that video just turned my stomach. Mika is about as appealing as anal herpes and "We Are Golden" is no exception. 0/5
Moogaboo: So youthful. So colorful. So glam and gay and ... yeah, I hate it. I should love it but I really, really hate it, and him. Fuck off, Mika. Fuck off with your toodle-ee-OO-HOO high parts and your Freddie Mercury fetish and your shoes. Just... fuck off. 0/5
Rob: I love the Calvin Harris remix of "We Are Golden" but the original is okay. While he is still determined to bleed dry the Grange Hill theme tune I love this. 4/5
Tommie: Shite. 0/5
The Prophet: You know I've purposely avoided hearing this ever since it leaked because I hate Mika so much, and now that it's in the Pop Panel I have no choice, so here goes. *3 minutes later*. I was so angry because I started liking this, but the "we are golden" part ruined it all for me. 2/5
Total: 11/35

Madonna – Celebration (Video)

The lead single from Madonna's upcoming greatest hits compilation.

D'Luv: Shameless plug - MoogaBoo and I did a whole Madge banterview this week on Chart Rigger. It's nice to hear the old broad having fun again. This is better than at least 10 of the other singles she's released this decade. 3/5
Gala: Nothing new. As a kid, I listened to Prince... but I never bought a Madonna album only the 45 of "True Blue", the only song that to me sounded "true" from the heart. I think she was really in love for the first time when she dedicated it to Sean. Who knows... but that's what I thought. All her songs are good because they make us dance and I appreciate that, but this is really nothing new. Another money maker; as usual, still the material girl. I'm impressed by real rebellion and spirit, like Bob Marley when he performed. He connected with something that inspired him, not at all concerned about looks. Whereas Madonna is ALL about appearences. 3/5 Mike: I've been referring to this crap as a Dannii B-side for weeks but I think that's an insult. To Dannii. Even she would steer clear of a spent force like Paul Oakenfold. Sad and pathetic. 1/5
Moogaboo: Madonna always mines the underground for high-minded, artsy inspiration, so it's no surprise she'd turn to Queen of the Clubs Dannii Minogue in her latest bid for continued relevance. Flattering though it must be for Dannielle Jane, the rip-off is a bit shameless. What next, Koala Cupcakes for Malawi? 3/5
Rob: Mike compares this to Dannii. I compare it to Mel C's "I Turn To You" which is ten years old this year. Happy Birthday! Despite the awful lyrics, this is a really good song. Well done Madonna. 3/5
Tommie: Lame. Someone get this Alzheimer hag a dictionary! 0/5
The Prophet: I actually don't mind some of her music but I just hate her personality. The song is pretty catchy but I don't support it since it sounds like a damn remix and not an actual song. It's also way gay, like as in obviously gay I'm dying for a hit gay. 2/5
Total: 15/35

Sneaky Sound System & Tiesto – I Will Be Here (Video)

Sneaky Sound System team up with one of the world's biggest DJs for this floorfiller.

D'Luv: ...and I'll be way over there. 1.5/5
Gala: The music is not interesting, it's like noise to me... but the guy can move... I like that!!! Original dance moves and music video. 2/5
Mike: Finally an anthem! I don't care what the rest of the Panel thinks, this is one of my favourite songs of 2009. Miss Connie delivers a killer vocal and I love the uplifting yet still slightly depressing chorus. The production is typical Tiesto but I'm all for the return of trance. 5/5
Moogaboo: So this is music for, like, computer tech assistants who want to kill themselves, right? Listening to it once has filled me with the urge to fix a screen saver, then throw myself in front of a bullet train. 1/5
Rob: Wow. The return of Infernal. Only crappier and more boring. 0/5
Tommie: This will be fun to have lesbian romp to in Ibeefa! Dannii's already having secretions thinking about it! 3/5
The Prophet: Hot. I'd give this a spin if I was in a mood for this type of music. 3.5/5
Total: 16/35

Pixie Lott – Boys & Girls (Video)

The follow up to Pixie's #1 hit "Mama Do".

D'Luv: It's like someone injected Duffy with whore and then tasered her snatch till she agreed to wear Samantha Fox's leather jacket. 0.5/5
Gala: Good photography in the video, very trendy, fashionable, like a Details magazine. The song is fun, but she is too girly blonde for me. Doesn't add anything to what I see in fashion magazines. She's not daring. 3/5
Mike: "Mama Do" was a cure for insomnia, so the fact that this doesn't make me sleepy is a step in the right direction. I like the video and her saucy image but the song is very average. The chorus is too bland and her voice utterly generic. 2/5
Moogaboo: Like Pixie, I'm a whore for anything with a tambourine in it. Just kidding! I'm sure she obtained this song chastely. The video copies the Lady GaGa look a bit more successfully than Mumsy Imbruglia's offering, and it also contains one cute guy. That's all it takes. 4/5
Rob: This is the kind of music that Heidi (of the Sugababes) should be turning out rather than the paltry RedOne crap she's been reduced to singing. Okay, this ticks all the boxes. Amazing choreography, great song and great lyrics. I have been Pixied. One note of caution: hate the Skins-esq finish to the video. It looks like a smelly nightclub in Hoxton, London. Which is fine but seeing that kind of trope enter pop videos is weird seeing as I live in Hoxton and the skinny-jeans clones you see walking up Shoreditch High Street sometimes make you wince inside. So, in short love everything about this but the video and styling. 5/5
Tommie: Why so much shite this week, Mike? Do you hate me that much? 1/5
The Prophet: Yeah she's cute, but brit pop sucks unless it has the trash factor amped up. And was the GaGa swagga jacking and sitting in a teacup really necessary? 2.5/5
Total: 18/35

Natalie Imbruglia – Wild About It (Above)

A "promo" single from Natalie's soon to be released 4th album.

D'Luv: I'm always game for new Natalie music ever since she won me over with "White Lilies Island". This is getting royally trashed by folks online, but I don't mind it. Not her best, but better than Mika screeching in a G-string. 3/5
Gala: Bland. 2/5
Mike: Someone needs to put this sad cougar down. "Wild About It" is further proof that her younger sister Laura got all the talent, while Natalie was just blessed with an unprecedented ability to publicity whore. 1/5
Moogaboo: I normally love mid-tempo songs about being "wild," but this one raises too many questions. What is Natalie doing cleaning up after those kids? Why do they let her hang out with them? Does she buy them beer? What the hell is she thinking? 2/5
Rob: The more I hear this the more I love it. It's certainly a grower. I don't like "Want" but this is glorious. The video is brilliant too. 4/5
Tommie: I've never been a huge fan of Ms I'mfuglia but I'm excited about her new material. It's surprisingly good! 4/5
The Prophet: Absolute mess, but at least it isn't as bad as "Glorious". I didn't realise how lame she was until I picked up her greatest 'hits' during an impulse buy and I've had to live with the awful memories of that horrid day ever since. 1.5/5
Total: 18.5/35

Paloma Faith – New York (Video)

The second single from Paloma's hit debut album.

D'Luv: I didn't realize there were any scraps left on Amy Winehouse's corpse for these chunky skanks to chew on. 2/5
Gala: Amy Winehouse was last year. It looks like a caricature of Amy. Good voice, great hair color and style. The boy is cute and WHO DOESN'T LOVE NEW YORK!!! Good title too. 3/5
Mike: This is every bit as derivative as Eva Simons' stunning effort last week but apparently it's ok to be an amoral swagga jackin' thief if you stick to ripping off Amy Winehouse and her army of second rate clones. 0/5
Moogaboo: Somebody get this girl to Broadway!!! For real -- get her there and lock her up in a new, endless revival of Grease 2, where she can't hurt us with her strained metaphors, Winehouse-lite torching or her bowling. (Seriously, BOWLING is an acceptable concept for videos now?) 1/5
Rob: Haunting, beautiful and iconic. Nearly everything about this is perfect. I don't think Paloma will ever manage to convey the tragedy that the lyrics she writes demand but this is absolutely stunning. I think the problem with Paloma is her voice. She can't do ballads or sad songs. She is more of a "I Will Survive" kinda vocalist. She can't quite capture fragility despite the amazing inclusion of the gospel, the strings and gorgeous overall melody of the song. I love this but I feel another female singer might have suited Paloma's song more than the writer herself. 5/5
Tommie: I was expecting to hate this, but the intro reminds me of Twin Peaks and the whole song is really gorgeous! But I'm a sucker for a twinkly piano. 4/5
The Prophet: Smash! 5/5
Total: 20/35

Samantha Jade – Secret (Video)

This plucky Australian diva tries to crack America with her latest pop jam.

D'Luv: Something tells me this helium-voiced stripper's talents lie elsewhere, like in being able to touch her ears with her toes. 1/5
Gala: I like the song, but we have Britney already, why do we need another? I don't like girls who imitate porn stars. You can be sexy without selling sex. I like women like Annie Lennox, that's more my style. 2/5
Mike: Oh bless her. It seems like Samantha has been hailed as Australia's next pop superstar since Dannii had all her original body parts. "Secret" probably isn't going to be the song that does it for her either but this is still a faux Britney trash anthem of the highest calibre. The video's subtle gay subtext is also really clever and completely unexpected. I love her. 5/5
Moogaboo: Samantha knows how to work it like a slut fatale, with relentlessly sexy synth stabs and a vocal performance just shy of meowing for three minutes. This song is super catchy and, most importantly, super slutty and trashy and fun. Is she really trying to make it in the States? We can only hope! 5/5
Rob: This is mental. I don't know where to start with this. The song is boring. The video is weird. Is it a social comentary on the 1950's & 60's were gay men had to hide their sexuality or they'd face prosecution? A time when the police would round men up after crashing "queer" jazz venues and question their right to exist? It certainly looks like it. It's a shame about the song being so utterly boring as I can't provide marks for the video rather primarily the songs. So with a heavy heart, I give this 1/5.
Tommie: A cheap hooker singing a "Womanizer" rip-off? I love it. 5/5
The Prophet: I hate that I love this but I'm literally obsessed with it. "Somebody's got a little secret!" Love it! 4.5/5
Total: 23.5/35

The Gossip – Love Long Distance (Below)

Beth Ditto & co return for the 2nd single from "Music For Men".

D'Luv: Much like when a hooker cries, I'd never pay for this but I don't mind hearing it. 3/5
Gala: I LOVE BETH DITTO GOSSIP! She is the closest to my spirit and we actually have friends in common here in NY. She is powerful and free, I love women like her... A true rock and roll FEMINIST. 5/5
Mike: I dream of spoon feeding Beth scoop after scoop Häagen-Dazs before sensuously rubbing baby oil into all her nooks and crannies. She is a diva that deserves to be worshipped. As for the song, I don't love it as much as "Heavy Cross" but a Fred Falke remix would jazz it up no end. 4/5
Moogaboo: Okay, either my Skyy & Diet is kicking in or she's deliberately sounding like Lady Miss Kier. Love her now. This song is a disco monster. Minus one point for doing that "she's fat so let's disguise her in the video" thing. (Even if they do it in an adorable way). 4/5
Rob: It's nice to hear The Gossip step out of the box they've constructed for themselves. However does it make it any good? No. It starts ever so promising but you soon realize they've got nothing more to give. It transcends into boring. 2/5
Tommie: I'm not a huge fan of the fat bitch, but this is... okay. 2.5/5
The Prophet: Another smash from one of my faves. Not only is the song amazing but the video is incredible to! Love them. 5/5
Total: 25.5/35