Saturday, October 31, 2009

Amanda Lear - Brief Encounters Review

Now this is a bit confusing, so please bear with me. Way back in January I wrote a post announcing Amanda Lear's comeback album and even provided a tentative tracklist. The good news is that "Brief Encounters" has finally been released. Albeit only in Italy. Now, here's where things get a little complicated. The album will be released in France on the 23rd of November (and subsequently in the rest of the world) as "Brand New Love Affair" - with a completely different tracklisting! The albums also have distinctly different themes. The Italian release is a double CD comprised of an acoustic disc and a dance/remix disc, while the French version is a disco concept album. I haven't heard "Brand New Love Affair" in full yet but it appears that most of the best tracks have ended up on that album. However, that's not to say that the Italian version is a write off. "Brief Encounters" is a great listen and contains several Lear-tastic pop gems. If this is the reject album (so to speak) - the real deal should be amazing!

Disc 1

Despite mainly featuring acoustic/pared back covers, disc 1 kicks off with the album's mid-tempo lead single "Someone Else's Eyes" - an appealing duet with the album's main producer Deadstar. I like the song but I prefer the airbrushed to the point of being animated video clip. Watch a preview above. The next song is more reflective of this half of the album. Amanda shows Amy Winehouse a thing or two about being a real diva on her surprisingly fabulous cover of "Back To Black". The jazzy sound suits Ms Lear perfectly and she was born to sing the line "he left no time to regret, kept his dick wet"! "Cupidon", a pretty ballad performed in French, is followed by a sax-tastic version of the Lenny Kravitz hit "I Belong To You". Amanda sounds great but I don't like the musical arrangement. It sounds like elevator music from the 80s. The same could be said for "I Don't Wanna Lose You", which is similarly sleep inducing. Happily, "Fallin' In Love Again" is more lively and stands out as the album's only contemporary pop-rock track.

"Je m'appelle Amanda" is poignant for the clearly autobiographical lyrics, while the jaunty accordion wouldn't sound out of place in a Parisian cafe. Unfortunately, "Let's Love" is another snail paced ballad that sounds like it was stolen from Kenny G circa 1984 but Amanda's smokey cover of Lou Reed's "Perfect Day" is touching despite being marred by excessive lashings of saxophone. The covers continue unabated with a cute version of Françoise Hardy's "Comment Te Dire Adieu", which has more than a touch of Austin Powers about it. The Queen of Chinatown's take on David Bowie's "Sorrow" is a real highlight. The arrangement is relatively faithful to the original and the song choice is sentimental given that the great diva appeared in the original video clip (below). I was really concerned about the next song but "Suicide Is Painless" (better known as the MASH theme song) is a minor triumph. Amanda brings real gravitas to the proceedings and the result is tender and real. Disc 1 finishes on a rather insipid note with "Secret Lover" but there is a lot to enjoy on the first half of "Brief Encounters".

Disc 2

I suspect that most fans will be far more interested in the trashtastic second disc, which returns Amanda to dancefloor. The disc opens with an unexpected cover of Peter Wilson's "Doin' Fine". Peter is a friend of mine - so I'm probably a bit biased - but I prefer his version. The production on this is just lazy. It's exactly the same backing track as Peter's version! Rather more appealing is the dance remix of "Someone Else's Eyes", which is pure Hi-NRG cheese. I love the floaty Euro beats and really think this should have been the single version. Next up is the first of three versions of "This Is Not America" (not a David Bowie cover as first reported). The song is a surprisingly dark dance anthem with political lyrics and it works quite well. However, I think three remixes is a bit of overkill. Disco fans will be more interested in Amanda's interpretation of Giorgio Moroder's "Let The Music Play". I love this. The production is a bit kooky at times but a talented DJ could work wonders with it. However, the album's best cover version is yet to come. As far as I'm concerned "Brief Encounters" is worth tracking down for Ms Lear's stunning cover of "Always On My Mind" alone. This is the only T1 production (Peter Wilson and Chris Richards) on the Italian release and it's a winner. Think the Pet Shop Boys meet Kate Ryan (if she could sing) and you have some idea of what this achingly pretty, synth drenched treat sounds like. The boys also deliver a fantastic club mix. The last notable track on Disc 2 is "For What I Am". Amusingly, the song comes with an R'n'B remix but it's pretty dull by Amanda's lofty standards and brings down what is a highly enjoyable collection of dance tunes and remixes.

"Brief Encounters" is available to order from FNAC Italy but they don't ship to Australia (or America by the look of it), so your best bet is Ebay. Amanda's Italian opus is a lot of fun and essential for fans of disco's most fabulous diva but it's very uneven. There are some great moments but the album has clearly been padded with filler and unnecessary remixes - probably because most of the quality tracks ended up on the French release if the buzz on Myspace and Facebook is any indication. Speaking of which, check out a preview of the title track and lead single from "Brand New Love Affair" (below). I'll post more details about that release very soon.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Dannii - The 95 Sessions

You know it's November when Dannii releases her annual batch of X Factor cash-in albums. This time around the Queen of Clubs is unveiling deluxe editions of her stunning debut "Love & Kisses" as well as her 1993 #52 UK smash hit "Get Into You". However, the real gem is "The 95 Sessions" - possibly Dannii's most exciting fan release ever! I don't usually have a lot of nice things to say about Nafensays but I think he's done a great job on this. I just hope it doesn't sell out on iTunes like "The Early Years" because Dannii's lost 1995 album is the holy grail of pop music as far as I'm concerned!

After the phenomenal worldwide success of "Get Into You", the prettier Minogue swiftly started work on her third album for MCA Records. Dannii mentioned in interviews that she was experimenting with club beats after revolutionising urban music on her previous two masterpieces and rumours began circulating that she was working with hot 90s dance producers Love To Infinity, Soul II Soul and Motiv 8. Promotion for the album was underway by mid-1995 and the Empress of X Factor even performed the original version of "Everlasting Night" and another new song called "Free Your Love" at various gay pride events. Both of those songs appear on "The 95 Sessions" - along with "Don't Want To Leave You Now", which Dannii performed on her sold out (according to Droid statisticians) 1998 tour. I LOVE the original and vastly superior version of "Everlasting Night", so if the rest of the album even comes close to matching those heights I will be in 7th heaven! The official tracklist is below:

Free Your Love
Skin Deep
Love And Affection
I Got This Feeling
Let Love Into Your Life
Everlasting Night
Crazy For Your Love
Love In Me
Love Will Find A Way
Don't Wanna Leave You Now
Free Your Love (Remix)

This the first Dannii fan release that doesn't feel like a cheap X Factor cash-in and Nathan deserves a lot of credit for putting it together. I think I'm going to get a spray tan (setting - Kelly Llorenna orange) and wear a plunging V neck t-shit in his honour! "The 95 Sessions" is available to pre-order now from Play. I already know what I want for Christmas.

Monday, October 26, 2009

3 Words For Cheryl Cole: Go. Fuck. Yourself.

Listening to "3 Words" is only slightly more painful and humiliating than being punched in the face by a talentless media whore in a public toilet after being called a "jigaboo". Seriously, urban pop music hasn't sunk to these depraved depths since Damon Dash single-handedly destroyed Victoria Beckham's music career by convincing her to go street. I can't think of anything positive to say about "3 Words" - well, apart from the fact that it probably sets a new world record for the most copious use of autotune on a single recording. The racist from Girls Aloud proves once and for all that she is a delusional idiot suffering from a stunning lack of vocal ability and charisma. Cheryl has crafted what is possibly the worst album of all time (and that includes Cameron Daddo's country album) and I found the process of reviewing it to be a cruel and unusual punishment. Anyway, here are my brief thoughts on 2009's biggest turd:

3 Words (Featuring - 0/10

Who the fuck does this cunt think she is? Fergie? This dreary, mid-tempo urban pop duet sounds like something The Dutchess recorded when she was still on Meth and talking to washing machines. "3 Words" - a clear reference to the 'Ku Klux Klan' if ever I heard it - is utterly appalling. There's no chorus and no melody to speak of. All that's left is Cheryl's mercifully autotuned voice and some weak beats that were obviously too shit for "The E.N.D."

Parachute - 0/10

Oh lord. The world's worst singer has decided to rip off "Umbrella". I can't believe this hateful troll thinks she's in the same league as Rihanna. Where's Chris Brown when you need him to smack a bitch up? Honestly, this is just abysmal. Faux urban pop at its most derivative and dire.

Heaven (Featuring - 0/10

"I don't gotta die to get up to heaven. My heaven's wit choo!" Someone really needs to tell Cheryl that assaulting a black woman doesn't make her one. Bitch is from Newcastle not New York! This bland dirge is utterly pointless and more than a little embarrassing. What the hell has gotten into I think he's just decided to sabotage the racist's career by giving her all his worst tunes. When was this recorded? 2002?

Fight For This Love (AKA Fight For This Race) - 0/10

I've already said enough about 2009's most disturbing and appalling piece of propaganda for the White Supremacy movement. Bad lyrics, bad vocals and production recycled from Brandy circa 1997 equals putrid pop at its most empty and vile.

Rain On Me - 0/10

Seriously, I can't believe this tragic bitch ever got a record deal. Her voice is thinner than an extra sheer condom and leaves an even worse taste in your mouth. This mid-tempo misstep (produced by the usually reliable Wayne Wilkins) has absolutely nothing going for it. Even Shontelle would draw the line at this sad pile of wank.

Make Me Cry - 0/10

I'd love to see this racist bitch cry. It shouldn't be too hard. I'm sure she throws a tantrum every time Barack Obama comes on the telly and makes Ashley get extra nasty with his mobile phone before putting on "Birth Of A Nation" to calm her nerves. This is one of the few bouncy pop tunes on the album but it's completely destroyed by Cheryl's voice. It's also two minutes too long.

Happy Hour - 0/10

Is she referring to the moment this shit ends? Fantastic - more recycled urban beats and a migraine inducing sample. Who is this album's intended audience? Those tens of VB fans living in hope that her urban masterpiece will eventually leak in full? Or just deluded Girls Aloud fans who have regularly proven their willingness to buy any old shit? At least "Happy Hour" boasts some so bad they're almost amusing lyrics. "I realise some days I can be sweet and some I'm sour but I can't help but drink you up 'cause you're my happy hour" - I mean, really.

Stand Up - 0.5/10

Finally a cheap and cheerful dance number that wouldn't sound out of place on a Girls Aloud album. Co-written and produced by Taio Cruz (who is no stranger to polishing a turd), this is the album's best track but it's still sounds like an Agnes B-side. Forgettable but relatively inoffensive.

Don't Talk About This Love - 0/10

Oh hell, I'm really scared. This one note wonder is trying to sing a ballad. Jesus take the wheel and steer me clear of this crime against humanity. Computer says 'fuck no', deletes its hard drive and explodes in protest.

Boy Like You (Featuring - 0/10

How dare this cunt sample one of my favourite Fleetwood Mac songs? Stevie would never approve! Unfortunately that sample is the only good thing about "Boy Like You". Plodding beats pollute something that could have been remotely interesting. This sounds like an insipid attempt at mimicking the RedOne sound. I have officially lost all respect for This is just gross.

Heartbreaker (Featuring - 0/10

Oh great. It's the musical masterpiece that launched Cheryl's solo career. It was shit in 2008 and it's still shit now.

In conclusion, I would prefer to be slowly castrated by Jewel's crooked teeth and forced to read Ayn Rand for the rest of eternity than ever hear this musical abortion ever again.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Lady GaGa Effect - Ke$ha + Lolene

Say what you like about Lady GaGa and her publicity whoring ways but it's impossible to deny the impact her success has had on the music scene. Since attaining the fame little over a year ago, the stunning beauty has turned electro-pop into a highly sought after commodity - opening the door for a whole new wave of dance divas. While some are happy to imitate (see Cascada's line for line remake of "Just Dance" otherwise known as "Evacuate The Dancefloor"), others (Eva Simons for example) have managed to put their own spin on the GaGa sound. The two ladies featured in this post definitely fall into the latter category. Ke$ha has been on my radar since actually making a Flo Rida song sound good. While her vocal on "Round Round" helped raise her profile, the 22 year old (in GaGa years?) looks set to hit the big time courtesy of the insanely catchy "Tik Tok". Ke$ha's anthem and video clip explore very similar territory to "Just Dance" and the track boasts some of the best/most dubious lyrics since "Poker Face" but it still sounds fresh and relatively original. "Tik Tok" is a winner largely due to Ke$ha's larger than life personality, the chunky beats and its universal theme. Who doesn't like alcohol and dancing? Given the quality of the songs on her Myspace, I'd say Ke$ha is here to stay. At least until the dance-pop revival runs out of steam or she stops sucking Diddy's cock.

The next beneficiary of Lady GaGa's success is the slightly demented Lolene. I love this crazy bitch but I seriously doubt she would currently be signed to Capitol Records if the fame monster hadn't paved the way first. In the past Lolene would have simply been too risqué for the masses but now her super sleazy image is a selling point. While the shy and retiring English diva shares some common ground with Lady GaGa, I don't think "Sexy People" will trouble "Bad Romance" on the charts. Lolene is quick to point out that this is just preview and not her official debut single but the video (below) is getting a lot of attention for all the wrong reasons. I love the fact that the film clip takes place inside Lolene's vagina and features a couple of drag queens who accidentally left their wigs and dresses at home but I seem to be in the minority. The song itself is a pretty standard dance anthem. It's catchy enough but lacks the bite of Ke$ha's hit. "Sexy People" is apparently not indicative of the rest of her album, which raises the question of why she bothered releasing it in the first place. Anyway, I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt. Anyone who calls their blog Lolene's Disco Vagina is alright by me!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Ness Ness At Number 1!

My copy of Vanessa's #1 smash hit

Bow down to Australia's new Queen of Pop! Tonight Vanessa Amorosi is celebrating the first #1 hit of her decade long career. It's hard to believe that modern classics like "Absolutely Everybody" and "Have A Look" stalled outside the top 5, so this is long overdue. The achievement is all the more impressive when you consider Vanessa's competition. "This Is Who I Am" had to outsell new releases from Britney and Robbie Williams - making it a rare triumph for good taste and talent! I'm so happy for Ness Ness. She's gone from strength to strength since staging her comeback and this cements her spot in the upper echelon of Australian pop. I've already written about my love for "This Is Who I Am" but I still can't get enough of it. There's just something ruthlessly catchy and uplifting about this tune. The lyrics are a raised middle finger to her haters (Ness don't care if she's fat or if you think her clothes are bad), Machopsycho's production steals every trick in Max Martin's book and she looks all kinds of sexy on the single cover! Shame about the tragic video (below) though. At least the scene where she's flying on a cloud is good for comedy value and I guess it's not her fault if CGI hasn't quite made its way to Australia. Anyway, congratulations Vanessa. You've come a long way from dancing around Liverpool Plaza!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Shakira's She Wolf - Album Review

As you can probably tell from some of my previous posts, I'm slightly obsessed with Shakira. "Laundry Service" remains one of my favourite albums of all time and I seem to be the only person who genuinely liked "Oral Fixation Vol. 2" - even though it failed to live up to the genius of Volume 1 (the sublime Spanish version). I was expecting huge things from her third English language album and Shakira delivers. Kind of. Don't get me wrong - I LOVE "She Wolf". It's one of the best pop albums you will hear all year (definitely in my top 5 for 2009 thus far) and it contains a handful of songs that rank right up there with "Día Especial", "Fool", "Las de la Intuición", "Underneath Your Clothes", "Te Dejo Madrid" and "Don't Bother" as Shakira classics. However, there is one major blight on this otherwise gorgeous set of pop tunes - the involvement of The Neptunes.

Pharrell seriously needs to back the fuck off before he drags any more divas into his web of urban mediocrity. At their best The Neptunes create fresh and interesting soundscapes that clearly inspire the people they work with (see Gwen's "Hollaback Girl" and Shakira's "Did It Again") but more often than not I hear the same old recycled beats and tired hooks (ie. Madonna's entire "Hard candy" album). The four (six if you count the Spanish versions) Neptunes produced tracks are not bad by any means. They just could have been recorded by any old skank. It's almost like Shakira has been lost in the process of making something American radio will play. Worse still, the songs don't sit very well with the rest of the album, which is adventurous, brave and eclectic - everything we've come to know and expect from Colombia's greatest export. Here's my review:

She Wolf - A+

I'm starting to feel just a little abused like a coffee machine in an office

I don't think anyone was expecting Shakira to return with a disco-tinged electro-pop anthem about lycanthropy and office furniture! It really shouldn't work (and sometimes I think it doesn't quite gel) but I love the track's eccentricity and fearlessness. Shakira isn't afraid to try new things and experiment with her sound. And her bravery is rewarded on this. John Hill's production carries the sometimes clumsy phrasing along perfectly and Shakira's lyrics and camp howls are an endless source of joy. Don't even get me started on the video, which is disturbs and amuses me in equal measure!

Did It Again - A+

Did it again
Damn, I got it all wrong
But it felt so right
I can't believe it

This song hits a little too close to home for me at the moment, which probably explains why I've played it about thirty times in the past 48 hours. Of all the Neptunes produced tracks, this is the clear stand out. "Did It Again" perfectly balances the electronic elements with small urban flourishes. The layering of beats and samples is dazzling and there are a million and one little hooks to draw you in. Best of all, this is still very much a Shakira song. Her confessional lyrics are perfectly showcased and her unique brand of melancholy is unmistakable. "Did It Again" reminds me of a slightly more upbeat version of Nelly Furtado's "Say It Right", which is a huge compliment.

Long Time - B-

Hold me, show me all the talent God has given you

I think I'm being overly generous giving this a B- (C+ would be more accurate) but it's inoffensive filler that happily bounces along like everything else The Neptunes have ever produced and I have a soft (hard?) spot for songs about frenzied fucking. I don't want to sound like a broken record but my problem with this is that it could have been recorded by anyone. There's not a reference to unshaved legs or a bad metaphor to be heard. Shakira is completely MIA.

Why Wait - B

Why wait for later?
I'm not a waiter

Everything that I said about "Long Time" basically applies to "Why Wait". The only reason I've given it a slightly higher rating is for the subtle Eastern elements that litter the track and for the chunkier beats. It's nice. It's just not Shakira.

Good Stuff - B+

I'm not gonna miss out on the good stuff
The grass is much greener with us on it

The last Neptunes production (phew!) is mercifully one of their best. "Good Stuff" is another club banger (in the American sense of the term) but what separates this from "Long Time" and "Why Wait" is the genuinely catchy chorus. I also love the quirky splashes of accordion and, if I'm not mistaken, I can even hear some tinkering on a xylophone! There's something wonderfully Latin about this track that should endear it to old school fans. Breezy and beautiful.

Men In This Town - A+

Where are all the men in this town?
What's a girl supposed to do?

Shakira, you're preaching to the choir. I've been asking myself the same question for years! Amazing and highly accurate lyrics aside, the great thing about "Men In This Town" is the fact that it represents the only truly electro track on the album. I can only imagine how brilliant "She Wolf" would have turned out if Shakira had pursued this sound further. It suits her perfectly and brilliantly showcases her quirky sensibility. John Hill's production is a revelation and I've decided that Kylie needs to hire him to helm "XI". By the way, am I hallucinating or does she really say "I never dreamed that I'd come here to be the next (Angelina) Jolie"?

Gypsy - A+

I'm a gypsy, are you coming with me?
I might steal your clothes and wear them if they fit me

Now this is an unexpected delight. Hiding among all the urban pop tunes and dance anthems is this sweet little guitar pop gem that wouldn't sound out of place on "Laundry Service" or "Oral Fixation Vol. 2". Co-written and co-produced by Amanda Ghost (who wrote "Disappear", "Ave Maria" and "Satellites" for Beyoncé's amazing "Sasha Fierce" album), "Gypsy" captures the essence of Shakira better than any other track on the album - perhaps with the exception of "Mon Amour". It's floaty, pretty, slightly weird and always engaging. I doubt this will ever be released as a single but it's already rocking the Shakira playlist on my Ipod.

Spy (Featuring Wyclef Jean) - B+

Blinds are see through
Let your mind go and imagine that I kiss you

Unfortunately, this is no "Hips Don't Lie". Instead of the upbeat party anthem I was expecting, "Spy" is a slinky urban groove about Shakira flirting with a stalker/peeping tom! It took a couple of listens but now I think it's great. The melody is gorgeous and I love the demented chorus. There's also a touch of old school R'n'B about this track, which makes it stand out from the rest of the album. Ba ba ba ba!

Mon Amour - A+

And I every night I pray that you don't knock her up
Cause I still want to be the mother of your child

What can you say about a song that opens with that couplet? Well, other than declare it a work of lyrical genius! "Mon Amour" reminds me a little of the hugely underrated "Hey You" from "Oral Fixation Vol. 2". It's bursting with crunchy guitars, drenched in ska and contains some of the best/worst lyrics ever recorded. The song even ends with Shakira welcoming passengers on a flight to hell! I love everything about "Mon Amour" and it makes me miss the slightly more varied sound palette of her old material. Again, it would be commercial suicide to release this as a single but I think it's essential Shakira.

Give It Up To Me (Featuring Lil Wayne and Timbaland) - F

You can go up my crane, girl
And imma go down that drain, girl

I should start by pointing out that this is mercifully not on the Australian or European versions of the album. It's a last minute addition to the delayed American release and according to reports will be the second single in America. This is a pathetic attempt to score a US hit and I can barely listen to the track without gagging on the stench of desperation. "Give It Up To Me" is little more than a rehash of Timbaland's "Give It To Me" with Shakira filling in for Nelly Furtado. The song is catchy as hell but Shakira is not a disposable urban nobody like Ciara or Keri Hilson. This is just demeaning.

Lo Hecho Está Hecho - A+

The Spanish version of "Did It Again".

Años Luz - B

The Spanish version of "Why Wait".

Loba - A+

"She Wolf" sounds even better in Spanish. Fact.

So where does that leave us? "She Wolf" is a fantastic album but it's not the triumph I was hoping for. It's definitely marked improvement on "Oral Fixation Vol. 2", I just wish Shakira had worked with John Hill on more tracks and left The Neptunes to aging has-beens like Madonna. My other concern is the lack of standout singles. There are at least half a dozen great songs but nothing I can imagine burning up the charts - perhaps with the exception of "Did It Again" and "Men In This Town" (at least in Australia and the UK). That has to be a worry for an album that was clearly constructed with the aim of being played on American radio. I still think "She Wolf" puts recent albums by Mariah, Britney and P!nk to shame - cementing Shakira's place near the top of the pop ladder. I just hope she's more true to herself next time around.

Friday, October 16, 2009

La Toya's Ode To Janet

Whenever I'm feeling down, I play some La Toya and the world instantly feels a bit brighter. This week I've been pumping Toy Toy's 1986 triumph "Imagination". The album was a massive flop (even by the Pope of Pop's low standards) but I love it to bits - particularly the calypso-tastic "On A Night Like This" and the dubiously titled "Boys Got Somethin' Girls Ain't Got". In a strange coincidence, my friend and regular Pop Trash contributor Magical Froggy has just put the finishing touches to a stunning video for the album's most infamous track. "Baby Sister" is notorious among Toy Soldiers and Janatics as La Toya's musical swipe at her much less talented sister Janet. While not as bitter as Jermaine's fuck you note to Michael (1991's "Word To The Badd"), the song still packs a punch. The line "you used to love me til you met my baby sister" takes on a whole new meaning when you consider the song was released in the same year that "Control" turned Janet into a superstar and I wouldn't be surprised if the lyrics about man stealing and back stabbing were also based on fact given Manita Ho's uncontrollable vagina! However, "Baby Sister" is more than just a novelty hit. It's a shiny piece of pop perfection with gorgeous 80s synths and a perky little chorus. The song was also a critical smash winning the Outstanding Song Award at the 16th Annual World Popular Song Festival in Japan. Take that, Toy haters! I think MF's video (below) perfectly captures the essence of the song. My favourite bit is Janet standing outside McDonalds and Joe's cameo at the end. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Medina > Robyn > Annie

One of the 2009's best pop songs has just been released in Australia and no one seems to have noticed. Medina's "You And I" is currently riding a tidal wave of internet hype and clubplay but the song is yet to properly cross over. I'd like to think it's only a matter of time but Scandipop doesn't have a great track record in this country - just ask Robyn! Speaking of that Swedish troll, "You And I" is the first Scandinavian pop tune to give me goosebumps since "Be Mine" way back in 2005. Everything about this icy dance anthem reeks of quality. The production (courtesy of The Providers) is clinically precise, the lyrics perfectly capture the rollercoaster ride of a bitter break up and the chorus is catchy to the point of being ridiculous. Interestingly, "You And I" was first released in Denmark last year under the title "Kun For Mig" and went on to spend 6 weeks at #1. The original Danish version is amazing and I hope it's included as a B-side if EMI Australia decide to release a physical single. It might also be wise to stop pushing the Deadmau5 remix (regardless of its brilliance) and go with the far more commercial UK radio edit that's used in the unfortunate video clip (below). I say unfortunate because poor Medina suffers from a bad case of Lady GaGa face and dressing her up like a Russian prostitute doesn't really help her cause! That said, the song is absolutely irresistible and deserves to be huge. I can't wait to hear more from the pride of Denmark.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Legendary Collette

Once upon a time (in the late 80s) in land far, far away (Australia) a fair maiden emerged to briefly turn the music scene upside down with her stunning lycra outfits and cheerful pop tunes. Of course, I'm talking about the legendary Collette. The cult icon is currently experiencing something of a revival after being featured on D Listed (I believe she'll also be making an appearance on The Isle Of Deserted Pop Stars in the not too distant future) and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to write a little tribute to one of my favourite Australian pop stars of all time. Most people dismiss Collette as little more than a highly amusing footnote in local pop history but she deserves credit for producing two glorious albums and for carving out an enduring niche in popular culture. What would the 80s be without Collette's fluorescent lycra bike shorts?

Collette first came to prominence in the early 80s as a fashion model, becoming one of the faces of Dolly Magazine. Her wholesome good looks were enough to generate interest among the record labels and she eventually signed with CBS. Happily, nobody seems to have noticed her complete and utter lack of vocal ability and she promptly started work on her debut single! The interesting thing about Collette is the fact she was one of the few local divas to hitch her wagon to Kylie's Hi-NRG dance-pop sound. Only she took things to the next level by immersing herself in the emerging house movement - making her Australia's first Queen of clubs! I don't think anyone expected Collette to be a massive success but the response to "Ring My Bell" was instant. I still remember the first time I saw the ravishing beauty's trashtastic cover of Anita Ward's disco classic on Video Hits. Those tinny dance beats were irresistible and I was utterly mesmerised by Collette's amazing approach to fashion. The song leaped into the top 5 (a rare achievement for a local act at the time) and teenage girls across the nation started leaving the house in outfits that should never be seen outside a gymnasium! Check out the deservedly iconic video:

With a massive smash hit on her hands, Collette rushed into the studio to record a follow up - again with DJ Pee Wee Ferris at the helm. "All I Wanna Do Is Dance" is another cracking club anthem with a slightly harder dance edge than "Ring My Bell". I love the catchy chorus and that crazy foghorn hook. Again Collette brought her A game to the film clip, wearing a stunning array of lycra outfits including leopard skin print bike shorts! The song was relatively successful, peaking at a lofty #12 - which proves once and for all that this diva was no one hit wonder! Collette's third single "That's What I Like About You" is one of my favourites and wouldn't sound out of place on a Stock Aitken Waterman compilation from the late 80s. Despite being a bubbly little pop gem the song stalled at #31. However, the video became an instant camp cult classic. The scenes in the nightclub are just too fierce! At around this time, Collette's debut album was finally released. "Raze The Roof" served up more of the same and is highly recommended to trash lovers but interest had started to fade and the album only limped to #48. It's a shame because "Raze The Roof" is an endless source of enjoyment and contains one of my all time favourite 80s anthems in the form of "Ordinary Man". That song still sums up what I'm looking for in a partner. Collette speaks the truth!

After "Raze The Roof", Collette swiftly re-emerged in 1990 with a "sophisticated" new image. Gone were the lycra outfits that made her a household name. Instead, Collette rocked a short haircut and wore even skimpier outfits than before. Personally, I think ditching the lycra was her downfall but I guess times were changing and she had to switch things up. That goes doubly for her music. Collette dumped the club beats in favour of an R'n'B sound (!) on her stunning comeback anthem "Who Do You Think You Are?" The song is an unintentionally hilarious Janet Jackson rip off but I love it to pieces. The production is a lot of fun and the almost spoken verses are... memorable. I love the chorus and the "street" video (below) is just too trashtastic for words. Unfortunately, the general public wasn't buying Collette's transformation and the song flopped at #56. In a slightly desperate attempt at re-claiming her "Ring My Bell" glory, the diva returned to dance music and covered another disco favourite. This time Collette revamped Diana's "Upside Down" but it performed even worse than her previous single, scraping into the charts at #91. It's a shame because I think the world needed and still needs a tacky Hi-NRG/acid house re-working of this gem. I still give it a spin every chance I get, particularly around disco enthusiasts who always get intensely annoyed for some reason! Check it out here.

After the miserable chart performance of "Who Do You Think You Are?" and "Upside Down", Collette did a reverse Kylie - joining Home & Away to restore her profile. It didn't really work. She only released one more single, a dance cover of the soul classic "This Will Be (Everlasting Love)". The video clip - complete with MC Hammer dancers - is a sight to behold and the 90s overhaul works surprisingly well. I love the song but it didn't even chart. Shortly thereafter, Collette's sophomore album "Attitude" was released but it also disappeared without a trace. However, it's definitely worth hunting down. I love the faux R'n'B numbers as much as the dance trash. The title track is particularly fun. Unfortunately, Collette is yet to bless the music world with another album but she hasn't disappeared from sight entirely. I was lucky enough to catch her perform at Arq in 2005 and she wowed a huge crowd at Mardi Gras in 2007. She still looks amazing and knows how to bust a dance move. 2009 is the year of the cougar, so keep your fingers crossed that Collette joins Stacey Q, Sam Fox and Sabrina on the comeback trail!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The ARIAs - Shit As Usual

My future husband Andy Bull - Robbed of ARIA glory!

So this year's ARIA nominations (Australia's equivalent to the Grammies) have just been announced and all the usual suspects are heavily represented. Seriously, if you're the overhyped product of a major record label, specialise in indie rock or are simply a pretentious singer-songwriter with an alternative haircut then chances are you're going home with a swag of awards. Don't get me wrong. I'm not going to argue with The Temper Trap, Empire Of The Sun or even Kate Miller-Heidke snagging a bunch of nominations but Sarah Blasko, Eskimo Joe and AC/DC? Bitch, please. Why not just nominate Missy Higgins for whatever vomit inducing "masterpiece" she's currently working on/squeezing out of her arsehole? I guess pop music will never be recognised in this country so I've decided to come up with my own nominees. I know some of my choices are not eligible (due to release dates) but here goes:


AC/DC - Black Ice
Sarah Blasko - As Day Follows Night
Empire Of The Sun - Walking On A Dream
Eskimo Joe - Inshalla
The Temper Trap - Conditions

How depressing is this category? I have a sinking feeling that Sarah Blasko's cure for insomnia will win but I have my fingers crossed that Empire Of The Sun or The Temper Trap snatch it from her.


Ladyhawke - Ladyhawke
Shelley Harland - Red Leaf
Sneaky Sound System - 2
Andy Bull - We're Too Young
Lisa Mitchell - Wonder
Jessica Mauboy - Been Waiting

Empire Of The Sun - Empire Of The Sun
Bertie Blackman - Secrets And Lies
Dash & Will - Up In Something

NZ acts are clearly eligible, so where is Ladyhawke? People actually bought her album. Speaking of commercial success, why isn't Jessica Mauboy being rewarded for being the closest thing this country currently has to an authentic pop star? The lack of respect shown to Sneaky Sound System's stunning sophomore album is just rude, while Bertie Blackman has taken things to the next level with "Secrets And Lies". At least she snagged a best "Independent Album" nomination - poor Andy Bull's brilliant debut was completely ignored as was Shelley Harland's gorgeous "Red Leaf". That's not even touching on the injustice of Dash & Will's "Up In Something" being overlooked despite being the best teenage guitar-pop album released in recent memory.


Empire Of The Sun - Walking On A Dream
Hilltop Hoods - Chase That Feeling
Ladyhawke - My Delirium
Kate Miller-Heidke - The Last Day On Earth
The Tempter Trap - Sweet Disposition

This is one of the few categories I can't really criticise. "Walking On A Dream", "Sweet Disposition", "My Delirium" and "The Last Day On Earth" are all exquisite. "Chase That Feeling" isn't exactly my cup of tea but it's catchy as hell and perhaps the only example of local hip hop that broke through to the mainstream.


Andy Bull - Small Town Girl
Vanessa Amorosi - This Is Who I Am
Zoë Badwi - Release Me
Amy Pearson - Butterfingers
Bertie Blackman - Byrds Of Prey
Liena - Go Crazy
Jessica Mauboy - Been Waiting
Mandy Kane - 25 Seconds
Ricki Lee - Don't Miss You
Samantha Jade - Secret
Lisa Mitchell - Coin Laundry
@m8er - Kill That Bitch
TV ROCK ft Rudy - In The Air
Kylie - Chiggy Wiggy
Evermore - Hey Boys And Girls (Truth Of The World)
Lenka - The Show
Natalie Imbruglia - Want
Bluejuice - Broken Leg
Bag Raiders - Shooting Stars
Sneaky Sound System - I Will Be Here
The Vanish - Heartbeat
Nikki Webster - Devilicious

This is such a tough category. I think the ARIA voters actually did a pretty good job - with the obvious exception of forgetting "Small Town Girl", which is one of my favourite Australian singles of all time. I also think Jessica Mauboy was hard done by seeing as she is the only local artist regularly scoring top ten hits and has delivered a couple of top notch singles in the form of "Burn" and "Been Waiting". Zoë Badwi's massive club hit "Release Me" deserved some recognition, while Bag Raiders' breakthrough single is a true thing of a beauty. Another glaring omission is Lisa Mitchell's "Coin Laundry", which remains one of 2009's quirkiest pop songs. With any luck Vanessa's amazing pop anthem (currently #1 on iTunes!) will get a nod next year.


Sarah Blasko - As Day Follows Night
Ladyhawke - Ladyhawke
Jessica Mauboy - Been Waiting
Kate Miller-Heidke - Curiouser
Lisa Mitchell - Wonder

With the exception of Sarah Blasko, this is pretty spot on. I used to hate Kate Miller-Heidke but "The Last Day On Earth" has made me a late convert and Lisa Mitchell's album is as beautiful as it is odd. Both Ladyhawke and Jessica Mauboy both featured heavily in my best of 2008 countdown, so it's nice to see them getting some props.


Shelley Harland
Bertie Blackman
Samantha Jade

There should be legislation in place to ensure Kylie is nominated every year even when she doesn't release anything. On a more serious note, I think Shelley Harland and Bertie Blackman were robbed and Lenka should get some sort of recognition for her international success. As should Samantha Jade, who continues to proudly fly the flag in LA (despite never having had a hit!) and even appears as a featured vocalist (on an iTunes bonus track) on David Guetta's smash hit album. $ucce$$!!!


Paul Dempsey - Everything Is True
Bob Evans - Goodnight, Bull Creek
Daniel Merriweather - Love And War
Josh Pyke - Chimney's Afire
CW Stoneking - Jungle Blue

Now this is completely fucking dire. I guess Daniel deserves some recognition for selling records in the UK but apart from being a hot piece he doesn't do much for me. No comment about the other nobodies.


Andy Bull
Jason Singh

Poor Andy Bull. Are you cunts telling me he doesn't have more to offer than Josh Pyke, Bob Evans and Paul Dempsey? I don't even know who C.W. Stoneking is and I really don't want to! The pickings for this category are pretty slim but I would have thrown a nomination Brecik's way for shits and giggles, while Jason Singh sounded pretty good on Todd Watson's "World As You Know It". Where's John Farnham when you need him?


The Drones
Empire Of The Sun
Eskimo Joe
Hilltop Hoods

This line up represents everything wrong about the Australian music scene. Fingers crossed that sanity prevails and Empire Of The Sun win.


Empire Of The Sun
Bag Raiders
The Temper Trap
Dash & Will
The Vanish

With Australian electro currently making waves around the globe, it seems appropriate that some of our best proponents of that genre (such as Bag Raiders and The Vanish) get some recognition. The Temper Trap should get a nod for the brilliance of "Sweet Disposition" alone. As for the other nominees, I think Dash & Will are the unsung heroes of 2009. They have released an amazing album and a string of great singles and noone seems to give a shit. I just hope they hurry up and release "Too Young Too Dumb" and finally achieve the commerical success they so richly deserve. Oh and RAEN should get something for carrying on in the face of constant failure.


Art Vs Science - Art Vs Science
Bluejuice - Broken Leg
Ladyhawke - My Delirium
Jessica Mauboy - Running Back Feat. Flo Rida
Lisa Mitchell - Coin Laundry

I love all these songs. Congratulations to the ARIA committee for getting it right.


Zoë Badwi - Release Me
Bag Raiders - Shooting Stars
Liena - Go Crazy
@m8er - Kill That Bitch

Dance music is always underappreciated but Australia's new Queen of dance should be applauded for spending 7 weeks at #1 on the club chart. Liena's "Go Crazy" is the closest an Australian will ever get to sounding like Rihanna and probably would have been a massive hit if it got any kind of promotion. The same goes for "Shooting Stars", which I'm pretty confident will get a much better reception in Europe than at home. As for @m8er, well I think she'll have the last laugh. Her album promises to be amazing.


Ladyhawke - Ladyhawke
Jessica Mauboy - Been Waiting
Lisa Mitchell - Wonder
C.W. Stoneking - Jungle Blues
The Temper Trap - Conditions

Who the hell is C.W. Stoneking and how can it be a breakthrough album if NOONE has ever heard of him? The rest of the choices are pretty spot on.


Andy Bull - We're Too Young
Shelley Harland - Red Leaf
Dash & Will - Up In Something

I know I sound like a broken record but these are three of my favourite albums of 2009. Andy captures the spirit of 70s soul in a way that Daniel Merriweather could only dream of and has pretty much come up with the soundtrack to (what remains of) my youth! Shelley's opus has provided me with so much comfort and joy this year. Her music is raw, honest and beautiful. "Panic To Control" is my new personal mantra, while I sent "Clouds Disappear" to a special someone because it said everything I was feeling but couldn't express in words. I've ranted enough about Dash & Will but it really is a great album. "Fighting Over Nothing", "Save Me" and "Some Like It Hot" are homegrown guitar pop at its finest.


Amy Pearson - Butterfingers
Nikki Webster - Devilicious
@m8er - Kill That Bitch
The Wiggles & Kylie - Monkey Man
Samantha Jade - Secret

I thought I'd finish up with a category of my own. I find it hard to define "pop trash" but all these amazing anthems convey the essence of this website. Amy because of her utter desperation and sleazy lyrics. Nikki because she's a child star turned FHM glamour model. @m8er because she doesn't give a shit. Kylie for having a sense of humour. And finally Samantha Jade for dressing like a porn star and spending her video clip (below) trying to turn an arrested homosexual. Respect ladies!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Hammer Time With Linda Sundblad

Linda Sundblad's stunning new anthem has been all over the web for the past couple of weeks with good reason. "To All My Girls" is the kind of edgy yet relentlessly catchy Swedish pop music that Robyn used to make before she turned into a "serious artiste" and started churning out shit like this. I've had a soft spot for Linda since the glory days of Lambretta (does anyone else remember the band's floptastic attempt to crack Australia in 2002 with "Bimbo"?) but I was underwhelmed by her debut solo album. It was a little too cool for its own good - something she has definitely rectified with her latest release. As much as I love "To All My Girls", I think I'm even more obsessed with the film clip than the song. Despite the diva's eerie and unsettling resemblance to Portia De Rossi, this is a cinematic masterpiece. The 90s choreography puts MC Hammer to shame, Linda manages to dance without wearing a top (or bra for that matter) and somehow rocks a pair of American flag boxing shorts and leopard skin print poo catchers. Respect! With Agnes and Medina currently flying the Scandipop flag in Australia, surely it's only a matter of time before someone snaps up this hot bitch?

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Come Inside La Toya's Walls

I firmly believe "Sexual Feeling" is the litmus test that distinguishes true Toy Soldiers from casual fans. If La Toya's 1990 cult classic makes you want to give the nearest tranny a chest to chest or throws you into a big back door shaking frenzy - chances are you officially feel the joy of Toy! As far as I'm concerned the track ranks as one of the finest achievements of 20th century pop music. Everything about "Sexual Feeling" is utterly epic and jaw droppingly trashtastic. I don't even know where to start. After all, this is a song that tastefully combines minutes of erotic groaning, legendary lines like "get it wet" and "come inside my walls", La Toya rapping as well as Japanese and Italian lyrics! A lot of the credit has to go to Claudio and Franco Donato, who spent most of the 80s at the forefront of Italo-disco until working with Toy Toy killed their respective careers. The production is like a time capsule of late 80s influences. There are touches of house, spashes of Italo disco and a strong under current of hip hop. It shouldn't work - and many would argue that it doesn't - but I find the combination utterly irresistible.

"Sexual Feeling" is also poignant because it represents the moment that La Toya threw in the towel as far as trying to be a credible pop star and became the tragic puppet of her abusive and demented ex-husband Jack Gordon. I have no doubt Jack actually believed this deliciously dirty slice of pop porn would rocket La Toya to superstardom. And in his defence, if anyone else had recorded "Sexual Feeling" it probably would have been a #1 hit on shock value alone. Particularly when you consider the fact that the song pre-dates Madonna's hypersexual "Erotica" era and Janet's super sleazy self-titled 1993 album. Speaking of La Toya's boring sister, Janet clearly ripped of "Sexual Feeling" on her 1994 single "Throb" - proving once and for all that Toy not only got the looks but also the talent! As a special treat, I've included the song's eye popping fan made video. It's already been removed from youtube for being soft porn so get in quick. Believe me, you will need a tissue at the ready! However, please note that the video version is an edit. For the full "Sexual Feeling" experience check out the five and a half minute version. Mi piace!

EDIT: It was fun while it lasted but my lovely video was removed for violating Youtube regulations. I might post it on my Facebook instead!

Duet Of The Century - Sam Fox & Sabrina!

What is it about 2009? It seems like every middle aged cougar with an 80s hit to her credit is crawling out of the woodwork - and I can't get enough of it! Joining the ranks of Haywoode, Stacey Q and Bananarama on the comeback trail are two of the greatest female vocalists ever to flash their tits for free publicity. Believe it or not but Samantha Fox and Sabrina Salerno are coming out of retirement to wow aging homosexuals with a stunning cover of Blondie's "Call Me"! I'm positively beside myself. The idea of bringing together the legends that sang "Touch Me" and "Boys (Summertime Love)" is truly inspired. Old perverts and SAW fanatics will be in 7th heaven - not to mention MAGs and Sam's army of lesbian followers. This could be the marketing coup of the decade! I love what the top heavy lovelies have done with "Call Me". It's directed straight at the Hi-NRG dance crowd (you can hear a clip of this below) and showcases the amazing vocal ability of both icons. I just hope the duet is given a fighting chance with proper promotion and label support. There's still a lot of love for these ladies and the pop scene is definitely a brighter place with them in it. By the way - don't they look amazing? Madonna must be spitting chips.

EDIT: The clip has been removed. Whoops! However, check out this classy TV interview instead. It is in Italian but the luscious ladies sing a little of the tune at around the 1 minute mark. Fabulous.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

The Best Of Pop Panel

I posted my 20th Pop Panel last Sunday and promised to celebrate in style this week. The whole point of the Panel was to create something fun and collaborative with other like-minded bloggers, so I couldn't think of a better way of commemorating the past 20 weeks than by inviting back all the guest judges to help decide 2009's ultimate pop song. Basically, I asked everyone to choose the five best tracks from our 20 winners. Their favourite was assigned 5 points, their second choice 4 points, their third pick 3 points and so forth. As it turns out the votes were pretty evenly spread out but there was a runaway winner. I'm keeping my trap shut but I'm not particularly surprised by the outcome. The blogoshpere is nothing if not predictable! Anyway, before we get on with the countdown I'd like to thank all the celebrity judges that took part over the past 5 months (James Leon, Jonah, CC Martini, Courtney Act, Gala, Peter Wilson, Nat from RAEN, Alan Connor, Robyn Loau and Marc Massive) as well as all the bloggers that have kindly volunteered their time. The following have returned to determine the best song ever to rock the Pop Panel:

Aaron (AUS) writer of Fabtastic! Music
Blake (AUS) writer of Dark Cafe Daze
Bomitoni (US) writer of Milk Carton Pop Stars
David (Spain) writer of Cobrastyle
D'Luv (US) writer of Chart Rigger
Enric (Spain) writer of Blog Petit, Però Valent!
Gordon (Scotland) writer of Diva Incarnate
Guy (AUS) writer of Pop Frippery
Jay (England) writer of Postcards From Puerto Rico
Jennifer (US) writer of Adventures Of An Audio Diva
John (US) writer of Pop Music Notes
Ken (The Philippines) writer of The Beat Review
Mike (AUS) author of this classy blog!
Moogaboo (US) contributor to Chart Rigger
Nasty G (Canada) writer of The Isle Of Deserted Pop Stars
Nikki (The Philippines) writer of Pop Reviews Now
Pablo (Spain) writer of Peibols
Paul (England) writer of Fizzy Pop
Poster Girl (US) writer of Poster Girl
Rob (England) writer of Don't Stop The Pop
The Prophet (AUS) writer of The Prophet
Tommie (Sweden) writer of Donna Martin Graduates
Tony (Spain) writer of Tornado

By the way, a special thanks to Pablo for helping me out with the amazing banners. As usual, the songs are listed from least to most popular.

20. Preston – Dressed To Kill (Winner Pop Panel 12)

I'm not surprised Preston came last. It's definitely one of our least appealing winners and flopped worse than Dannii. That week was far more memorable for the cat fight in the comments. No offence to the people he routinely offends but I kind of miss The Prophet. Just don't tell him or his Kanye West sized ego will explode!

2 Points

19. Passion Pit – The Reeling (Winner Pop Panel 2)

I love Passion Pit but this is definitely one of our most random winners. I'm always slightly disturbed when something cool wins Pop Panel and it doesn't get more hip than these guys. Nikki Webster was robbed!

3 Points

18. Chae Yeon - Shake (Winner Pop Panel 8)

I still can't believe Chae won! She remains our only non-English language victor and one of my favourite winners. "Shake" has a killer chorus and an extremely classy toilet-tastic video clip that was banned in Korea.

4 Points

17. Shena – My Fantasy (Winner Pop Panel 5)

I loved Week 5. My homegirl CC Martini was an extremely classy guest judge and Shena came out of nowhere to take first place. Like many winners, the song didn't set the charts on fire but it's something of a pop trash classic - so I'm happy.

5 Points

16. Empire Of The Sun – Standing On The Shore (Winner Pop Panel 6)

This was my short lived "Australian Week" which went down like a lead balloon! I was scraping the bottom of the barrel with some of the selections but I wholeheartedly approve of the winner.

6 Points

15. Bluey Robinson – I Know (Winner Pop Panel 11)

This is my third favourite Pop Panel winner. I love everything about it - from the beautiful lyrics to the lush urban meets electro production. Unfortunately, I seem to be the only one given the fact that Bluey seems to have disappeared without a trace.

7 Points

14. Kim Sozzi – Feel Your Love (Winner Pop Panel 18)

This gives me the giggles. I love Kim and her fabulous do-it-yourself video clip. One of the few occasions when a true pop trash anthem won. As a life long Girlfriend fan, having Robyn Loau as a guest judge that week was a real honour.

8 Points

13. Bag Raiders – Shooting Stars (Winner Pop Panel 15)

Despite slipping in at least a couple of homegrown acts each week, this was the only time (with the exception of Australian Week) when local talent actually won. I love the song, I love the clip, I love their animated bulges. This has been hanging around the iTunes top 100 for months. I hope their next single gives them the commercial breakthrough they deserve.

13 Points

12. LeToya – She Ain't Got Shit On Me (Winner Pop Panel 9)

Beyonce appeared on the Pop Panel 3 times and the best she could do was second place. Her floptastic ex-band mate LeToya, however, claimed the title with this catchy tune. I love it but shame about the rest of her shit album.

14 Points

11. The Gossip – Love Long Distance (Winner Pop Panel 14)

Pop Panel 14 sticks in my mind as the week reclusive 90s gay icon Gala came out of retirement to be a guest judge. Her rambling comments still make me smile and I'm glad her favourite song won. I am, however, slightly surprised by its relatively high position on this countdown.

17 Points

10. Dragonette – Pick Up The Phone (Winner Pop Panel 19)

Marc Massive really won a lot of new fans with his appearance on the Pop Panel. I loved his Whitney Houston appreciation (respect!) and piss club stories. Dragonette scooped the pool that week and I think they deserved it. This has grown on me no end and their album is amazing.

17 Points

9. Heidi Montag – Body Language (Winner Pop Panel Week 16)

Only on the Pop Panel would Heidi Montag place higher than Dragonette, The Gossip, Empire Of The Sun and Passion Pit! And rightly so. This is my second favourite Pop Panel victor and I think it should at least be top 5 on this countdown. As usual Heidi's musical genius is denied by her deluded army of haters. It's time to open your heart to the new Queen of pop!

19 Points

8. The Sound Of Arrows – Into The Clouds (Winner Pop Panel 17)

I still don't get the fuss over this. Sure, the video is pretty but the song sounds like a La Roux B-Side.

20 Points

7. Marina & The Diamonds – I Am Not A Robot (Winner Pop Panel 7)

"I Am Not A Robot" got my five points as the best Pop Panel winner. I love Marina. Her lyrics cut straight through me, her blog is an endless source of amusement and she's one of the nicest people I've had the pleasure of interviewing. Week 7 was also special due to the presence of Australian Idol's classiest competitor - the divine Miss Courtney Act!

22 Points

6. The Saturdays – Work (Winner Pop Panel 4)

Yawn. I have no idea how this dire piece of trash won, let alone how it ended up featuring this high on the countdown. I mean, really.

25 Points

5. Shakira – She Wolf (Winner Pop Panel 10)

I'm still obsessed with this stunning anthem. I blame the sordid vagina cave video! It's nice to see that the song has found an loyal audience despite flopping in Australia and underperforming in the US.

28 Points

4. Sugababes – Get Sexy (Winner Pop Panel 13)

I quite like this but I'm shocked at its lofty position on this countdown given that it had the lowest score of all the winners. Maybe people are feeling a bit sentimental in the wake of Keisha-gate?

29 Points

3. Annie – Anthonio (Winner Pop Panel 1)

I swear people just voted for this to annoy me. The most insipid piece of trash ever to grace the Pop Panel somehow glides into third place. I guess there really is a market for tuneless jams performed by ugly Scandinavians with less vocal ability than Cheryl Cole.

30 Points

2. Whitney – Million Dollar Bill (Winner Pop Panel 20)

I'm ecstatic that Whitney did so well! Given the less than flattering comments about the song last week I was expecting this to struggle but love for the patron saint of crackpipes still burns brightly among the Pop Panel judges! I wish this had won but you can't have everything.

32 Points

1. Agnes – Release Me (Winner Pop Panel 3)

I originally gave "Release Me" 0/5 when it appeared on the Pop Panel but I've come clean about how much the song has grown on me. But the best song in Panel history? Computer says Whitney was robbed. On the bright side, at least it wasn't Annie. Pop Panel 3 is also notable for being the only time we moved over to Don't Stop The Pop and for Jonah's classy comments.

41 Points

Here's the new American video for "Release Me". Seriously, have they painted her black to cash in on the urban market? Someone call Oprah!


Aaron (1. Agnes 2. Whitney 3. The Sugababes 4. The Saturdays 5. Shakira)
Blake (1. Gossip 2. Agnes 3. Shakira 4. Whitney 5. Dragonette)
Bomitoni (1. Whitney 2. LeToya 3. The Gossip 4. Bag Raiders 5. Heidi Montag)
David (1. Annie 2. Dragonette 3. Sugababes 4. Sound Of Arrows 5. Agnes)
D'Luv (1. Sound Of Arrows 2. Bag Raiders 3. Shakira 4. Annie 5. Dragonette)
Enric (1. Annie 2. Sugababes 3. Shakira 4. Passion Pit 5. Sound Of Arrows)
Gordon (1. Dragonette 2. Agnes 3. Whitney 4. Shakira 5. LeToya)
Guy (1. Shakira 2. The Gossip 3. Heidi Montag 4. Whitney 5. Sugababes)
Jay (1. Le Toya 2. Sugababes 3. Shena)
Jennifer (1. Marina 2. Whitney 3. Dragonette 4. The Saturdays 5. The Gossip)
John (1. Agnes 2. LeToya 3. The Gossip 4. Whitney 5. Bag Raiders)
Ken (1. The Saturdays 2. Marina 3. Agnes 4. Empire Of The Sun 5. Passion Pit)
Mike (1. Marina 2. Heidi Montag 3. Bluey Robinson 4. Chae Yeon 5. Whitney)
Moogaboo (1. Annie 2. Bag Raiders 3. Kim Sozzi 4. Shakira 5. The Gossip)
Nasty G (1. Sugababes 2. The Saturdays 3. Shakira 4. Preston 5. Kim Sozzi)
Nikki (1. The Saturdays 2. Agnes 3. Sugababes 4. Chae Yeon 5. Sound Of Arrows)
Pablo (1. Agnes 2. Annie 3. The Saturdays 4. Sugababes 5. Dragonette)
Paul (1. Marina 2. Shakira 3. Sound Of Arrows 4. Whitney 5. Annie)
Poster Girl (1. Agnes 2. Sound Of Arrows 3. Heidi Montag 4. Annie 5. Shakira)
Robpop (1. Agnes 2. Empire Of The Sun 3. The Saturdays 4. Shena 5. Sound Of Arrows)
The Prophet (1. Whitney 2. Bluey Robinson 3. Heidi Montag 4. Bag Raiders 5. Annie)
Tommie (1. Heidi Montag 2. Kim Sozzi 3. Marina 4. Whitney 5. Shakira)
Tony (1. Annie 2. Sugababes 3. Sound Of Arrows 4. Dragonette 5. The Saturdays)

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Amy Pearson's Desperate Makeover

In 2009's most startling transformation, Amy Pearson has dropped her horsey girl-next-door image in favour of a sexy new look. She's also ditched the bland ballads that made her debut album a cure for insomnia and re-emerged with a hot new dance-pop sound. I'm not sure who Amy thinks she's fooling. She still looks like a librarian doing her best Britney impersonation but I couldn't care less. In one fell swoop, Amy has gone from being Australia's most boring pop star to a pop trash diva worth celebrating. I love the overwhelming sense of desperation and genuinely respect her for going after the notoriously hard to crack dance-pop market. It's a big risk. With the exception of the Minogue sisters, the genre has been very unkind to local acts - as Cheyne, Joanne and Melinda Jackson can testify! Admittedly, none of them had the backing of Sony and access to the world's hottest music producers.

Speaking of hot producers, Amy's fabulously titled comeback single is apparently the handiwork of Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins but it sure doesn't sound like it to me. "Butterfingers" is a pure pop explosion - complete with dubious lyrics, slick dance beats and catchy chorus. This could also be the best song about arse play since "Pull Up To The Bumper"! It takes a couple of listens to overcome visions of Amy covered in Wet Stuff but "Butterfingers" has completely won me over. The video (below) is a bit of trainwreck but I'm completely mesmerised. I can't believe someone thought it was a good idea to film it in a parking station but Amy's incredibly awkward dance moves and questionable outfits make it truly memorable! I've also been lucky enough to hear the diva's forthcoming album and I'm really impressed - particularly by the DNA penned "Ten Steps", which has radio hit written all over it. I never thought I'd say it but Amy Pearson could be the new face of Australian pop!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

La Roux Live - 29/09/09

I've been rather unkind about La Roux in the past, calling them La Poo and describing Elly & co as a Eurythmics tribute band. Despite all that, I actually quite like their music. I just don't think recycling 80s beats and hairstyles makes them the musical revolutionaries they are often held out to be. That's not to say they don't know their way around a four minute pop song. "Bulletproof" is utterly irresistible and their ode to La Toya ("I'm Not Your Toy") is a total grower. Anyway, I jumped at the chance when I was invited to their one and only non-festival show in Sydney. I feared the concert might be painfully pretentious and a little too cool for school but it was surprisingly fun and low key. In fact, there was something distinctly old fashioned (and dare I say it - 80s) about the minimal staging and ultra brief setlist.

As far as I'm concerned, Elly Jackson IS La Roux. It's hard to take your eyes off her when she takes the stage. There's just something wonderfully alien about her appearance. I imagine if Tilda Swinton were transported back to the 80s, she'd look a little like Elly. As effortlessly charismatic as she is, I have to admit that I was slightly disappointed with her live vocals. Elly's voice is even more thin and brittle than it sounds on record and it was often hard to hear her over the band. However, when things clicked - the show was first rate. I loved hearing "Fascination" live (this is surely the album's 5th single?), "Quicksand" was a definite highlight, "In For The Kill" had the crowd in a frenzy and "I'm Not Your Toy" gets more delightful every time I hear it. They closed their incredibly brief set (they only performed 8 songs) with "Bulletproof" and it almost brought the house down. I'm still not convinced La Roux are the second coming but after Tuesday night I have a lot more time for them and their particular brand of 80s inspired pop.