Thursday, April 28, 2011

Justin Bieber clones from around the world

If you've been following me on Twitter, you'll know that I'm a hardcore Belieber. And more than a little excited about seeing the King of Pop in concert tomorrow night. I honestly think I'll start crying and shaking like a crazy person when he sings "Never Say Never" but I digress. Instead of sitting in front of the computer, listening to the gospel of Biebus, I thought I'd put my stanning to good use and write a post about the amazing impact of the world's second biggest star. After Bey. Justin has single handedly brought back the teen idol. The 70s and 80s were littered with them but the species became seriously endangered in the 90s and almost died out completely in the noughties until the emergence of this man. He manages to be cool and relevant - churning out edgy club bangers with Usher and Chris Brown - yet completely inoffensive and totally at ease singing with low brow trash like Jaden Smith and Miley Cyrus. His talent knows no bounds and his appeal is universal. As you will see from the following three clips that were brought to my attention by an avid reader of Europopped.

1. MM - Hungary's Justin Bieber

I don't know much about this Hungarian superstar. It's hard to find any information written about him in English but he is one of the most convincing Bieber clones out there. He has similar hair and even rocks the JB trademark cap! His video clip is also a bit of a knock off but they spent money on it and the finished product is convincing. MM's music isn't bad either. "Te vagy az a lány" is a fun song. The production is actually quite crisp and I like the chorus. Does anyone know what the title means in English? I would download this if it ever reaches Australian iTunes - which I highly doubt. So help me out, bitches.

2. Monsif - Holland's Justin Bieber

Monsif is a 13 year old Dutchman boy with a big following in his homeland - if his bio is to be believed. This kid is probably the most original of the Bieber clones. His look is totally different and there is something less manufactured about him. Monsif also has the best song of the three JB wannabes in today's post. "Helemaal" is a little gem. I hope it was released physically in the Netherlands because I want it! Again, I have no idea what he's singing about but it's cute and catchy. The video is less flashy than MM's but it's effective and touching, particularly the final scene where he gets to hug the girl in the crowd. Team Monsif!

3. Ian Thomas - Belgium's Justin Bieber

While MM and Monsif at least tried to be differentiate themselves from their idol, Ian Thomas Hoeler - a 13 year old from Belgium - can't be bothered. His debut is a cover of a Flemish cover of "Baby". His hair, fashion and dance moves are also straight from the Bieber handbook. And I'm down with that. I love hearing translations of English language hits and his attempt at copying Luda's rap is rather spectacular. Fingers crossed Ian sticks with it. I want a whole album of Bieber covers. The world needs a Flemish cover of "One Less Lonely Girl"!

Ok, that's enough of the pretenders. Let's watch Biebus belt out the original version of "Baby". Words can't even describe this kind of musical genius!

Sheena Easton was the original Lady Gaga!

Yesterday was Sheena Easton's 52nd birthday. Which is ridiculous because she still looks younger and fresher than Miley Cyrus. Anyway, I was planning a little tribute post to celebrate the occasion and decided to write about "Telefone" - my all time Sheena favourite. Released in 1983, this synth-pop gem became the Scottish diva's 4th US top 10 hit and nabbed her a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocal. I love everything about it, from the sublime 80s production (courtesy of Greg Mathieson, who also delivered the goods on her previous album "A Private Heaven") to the supernaturally catchy chorus. That's not even mentioning Sheena's adorably indignant vocal. She's so pressed that her man hasn't called! Her pain is universal and a generation of gays loved her for it.

So here I was writing about my beloved idol when I started having visions of Lady Gaga. I initially assumed her Monsters had finally gone too far and made a voodoo doll in my likeness but then I had a shocking realisation. Sheena Easton is yet another victim of the fame monster's thievery. Just look at that cover. It conveys the same demented, slightly Gothic look that Gaga likes to think she coined. Then I re-watched the video and knew I was onto something. The black & white clip sends up B horror, bringing an unexpected edge to a fluffy pop song - making it an early blue print for "Born This Way". Only Sheena succeeds where Gaga falls flat. Her clip is hilarious and the bad special effects (the bat kills me) add to the fun. I love her crazy eyes at the 50 second mark and the stunning beauty rocks that lace gown with more attitude than a punk rocker. This is so far ahead of its time it's absolutely mind boggling. Everyone talks about Madonna's role in shaping Gaga - perhaps it's time to pay Sheena her due. And wish her a happy birthday while you're at it!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

You will o-Bey her!

To be honest I'm completely mystified by Beyoncé's "Run The World (Girls)" campaign. I love it but any song without a chorus was always going to be a strange choice of lead single and her promotional schedule has thus far consisted of strolling around Paris looking fabulous. Even the person pretending to be Britney on Twitter occasionally tweets her fans! Meanwhile, Bey's account is as virginal as Michelle Williams' vagina. What is going on? Putting the finishing touches to her Obama sponsored crusade against childhood obesity it seems.

I should be annoyed but B's "Move Your Body" video, which dropped today, is easily the best thing I've seen all year. Just when I was beginning to question the Queen's mojo, she comes out of nowhere and snatches every wig in sight with her beauty, charisma and killer dance moves. In case you missed my previous "Move Your Body" post, the song is a kid friendly re-work of "Get Me Bodied" with new choreography intended to burn calories! Beyoncé rocks a killer pair of denim shorts and knee high socks in the ridiculously cute video but it's her sweetness and flawless dancing that gets me.

She really is in a league of her own when she cuts loose and has fun. Bey has the music in her. You can see the joy on her face as she gets her Dougie on and does the running man. "Move Your Body" was obviously shot in a couple of takes for next to nothing but it has more charm and personality that Riri's entire filmography. Watch in awe as a legend does her thang.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How did I miss this?

Let's it risk it all tonight,
So what if we crash and burn?

About a month ago I saw the cover of "Crash and Burn" on a blog and downloaded it on a whim. I reasoned that any bitch hanging from a bridge wearing fringed jeans and fluffy shoulder pads had to be worth a listen and I was right! Scarlette Fever's debut single is an absolute gem. It reminds me a little of Celine's legendary "Taking Chances" with its seize the day theme and sing-a-long chorus. The now or never lyrics resonate with me and I love her voice. But as much as I like the song in its original form, the Jason Nevins remix takes "Crash and Burn" to the next level of fabulous. Dannii's one time collaborator has turned Scarlette's track into a proper anthem with a suitably bittersweet build-up that explodes during the chorus. Hell, it even has crackling fire sound-effects at the end! Unfortunately, even that classy touch wasn't enough to make the song a hit. Which is completely depressing. On the bright side, Ms Fever has bounced back with a new tune called Black & White, which also sounds like a bit of a belter. While we wait for that to be released, check out "Crash and Burn". It's already one of my favourite songs of 2011!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Parralox pay tribute to Elisabeth Sladen

I was never a huge fan of Dr Who but it was impossible to avoid when I was growing up. Repeats of the show were a staple of ABC programming in the late 80s and I found myself watching it almost by default. From memory it came on after Inspector Gadget and I was just too lazy to change the channel! Anyway, like most (gay) boys - I had a bit of a crush on Elisabeth Sladen, who played the glamorous Sarah Jane. Her recent death from cancer was a blow for fans and has even inspired one Australian band to record a tribute song. Parralox is one of my favourite homegrown pop acts. They have featured on the blog previously and churn out icy electro-pop anthems at an alarming rate. I know that frontman John von Ahlen is a huge sci-fi fan, so I'm not surprised he's pulled out an absolute gem for Elisabeth. "Companion", with its bleak synths and haunting chorus, is a fitting tribute to the TV icon. This is their best song since "I Am Human" and I really think they should release it as a single. Check out "Companion" below.

NEW Kylie! Fundraiser for Japan

It's been a while since Kylie has dropped anything new, so I was pretty excited when I heard she had recorded a charity song for Japan. I'm not sure if "We Are One" - a stunning ballad with Japanese rapper VERBAL - was exactly what I had in mind but it's so kooky and well-intentioned that I can't help but love it. Dannii's matronly sister is currently touring the devastated nation and unveiled the song at a press conference yesterday. It's a classy touch given her enduring popularity in the land of the rising sun. After all, this is the country that took "Turn It Into Love" all the way to #1! So is it any good? Well if you like syrupy ballads with twee lyrics interspersed with Japanese hip hop then the answer is a resounding YES. Personally, I think she should have dragged Ami Suzuki out of retirement for the song but this will do nicely. Fingers crossed there's a physical promo somewhere because my Kylie collection is crying out for a J-Pop addition! Check out the kind-hearted diva's charity anthem below. Make a donation to help Japan by clicking here.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Peter Wilson - Stereo

I thought I'd end today's Aus pop special with something suitably fabulous from my friend Peter Wilson. You might remember that he came out of retirement late last year to release a new single called "Intoxicated", which I hailed as being almost as amazing as his Hi-NRG classic "Into The Night". Well, Peter is back with another fantastic retro-dance anthem and it's even better. Produced by PWL associates Dave Ford and Ian Curnow, "Stereo" sounds like a cross between Rick Astley and Mel and Kim. Yes, it's that good! Peter's obsession with all things Stock Aitken Waterman has finally lead to a collaboration with their trusty engineers and their mutual respect for 80s music really shows in the finished product. The song is absolutely adorable and I worship Matt Pop's remix. This is camper than a Kylie concert and deserves some major blog love. If nothing else for the stunning cover. Peter tells me a video is in the works, so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, dust off your leg warmers and slip on your cut-off gloves. It's time to party like it's 1988!

Gurrumul & Blue King Brown

My Australian pop marathon wouldn't be complete without a little indigenous flavour. 41-year-old Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu is the nation's unlikeliest superstar. Blind since birth, he sings in the Yolngu language and speaks little English. But that didn't stop his first album reaching the top 5 and selling double platinum. It also charted around Europe and was championed by the likes of Björk and Elton John. Not bad for a self-funded independent release. For his sophomore set, Gurrumul has roped in the services of JJJ favourite Blue King Brown to overhaul "Gathu Mawula" and the result is astounding. I can't listen to it without getting chills. This man's voice is an extraordinary instrument. I have no idea what he's singing about but "Gathu Mawula" is such a beautiful experience. So peaceful and comforting. Like being wrapped in a warm blanket. Blue King Brown's verse also works a treat and the band's involvement should bring Gurrumul's music to a whole new market. Fingers crossed they call up J Malley for an urban remix! This is pure quality and deserves to be massive.

Gypsy & The Cat - Jona Vark

My friends have been raving about Gypsy & The Cat for ages but I wasn't really blown away by their first single ("Time To Wander") and kind of forgot about them until I saw their album on special in JB Hi-Fi a couple of weeks ago thought I'd give them another try. It turned out to be the best $10 I've spent all year. "Gilgamesh" is one of those rare debuts that actually lives up to the hype. Hailing from Melbourne, the boys sound like a cross between mid-70s Fleetwood Mac circa and fellow antipodean electro-pop duo Empire Of The Sun. Their dreamy brand of retro-electronica is perfect for a sleepy Sunday afternoon but also has immense crossover appeal.

Take "Jona Vark". I can't believe this hasn't been a "Walking On A Dream" sized smash. The production is gorgeous and that chorus is unforgettable. It is starting to climb iTunes, so with a bit of luck it could turn out to be a slow burn hit. If not, I'm sure the boys will have more luck overseas. I can see this taking off in markets like the UK and Germany. You know, places that actually embrace Australian produced electro-pop. They might need to brush up the video a bit though because this looks like it was filmed for less than Empire Of The Sun's make-up budget. Not that it really matters when the music is this good. Very highly recommended.

Marvin Priest - Own This Club

Next up on my mini Aus-Pop marathon is Marvin Priest. Ok, he's not really Australian but the guy lives here and the song was written and produced locally - so I'm claiming him! The son of reggae icon Maxi Priest (of "Wild World" and "Close To You" fame), Marvin apparently fell in love with the country while touring with his dad and decided to stick around. He signed a deal with Island Records and hooked up with DNA, the amazing producers behind Chris Sorbello's "So Lonely" and "Dangerzone". Apart from those modern classics, David and Anthony have worked with Jessica Mauboy, Amy Pearson and Zoë Badwi - so you know they have exquisite taste! And the song they cooked up for Marvin is another winner. "Own This Club" wouldn't sound out of place on a Taio Cruz or Jason DeRulo album. It's the best piece of locally produced urban dance music I've heard in 2011 and has performed surprising well on the charts, hanging around the top 50 for the past couple of months. The film clip is slightly less impressive - what is it about Australian music videos and train stations? - but it does the trick. I really like this genre of music and can't wait to hear what Marvin serves up next. Is a duet with Amy too much to hope for?

Potbelleez - From The Music

Looking over the blog this morning, I realised I've been neglecting the local music scene. Which is sad because Pop Trash began life specialising in Australian content. So today I thought I'd focus on the Aus-pop gems currently burning up my iPod. The first track you really need to own is "From The Music" by The Potbelleez. I love this band and have a bit of a history with them. A couple of years ago I went out drinking with the legendary CC Martini - time for a comeback! - and she dragged along Blu. I didn't even realise she was in The Potbelleez and made a bit of a spectacle of myself asking why she never gets to sing any of their hits. Shame. Then last year I rocked up to the band's showcase and had a bit of a run in with Cassie Davis.

If I somehow manage an invite to their album launch I'm taping my mouth shut and sitting in the corner. I promise! Speaking of "Destination Now", it's finally set for release in May after being pushed back a couple of times. I can't wait for the album. The first two singles have been great and I love their latest effort. "From The Music" is a typically crisp and catchy dance anthem with a brilliant vocal from the sexy Ilan Kidron. It's already top 30 on iTunes and looks set to be another hit for the band. The video (below) is also pretty cool with its puppets gone wild theme. I'm yet to hear any of the remixes but, on past form, they should definitely be worth hunting down. Expect to hear this on the dancefloor very soon!

Friday, April 22, 2011

The return of Amanda Lear!

This is so exciting! Legendary disco diva Amanda Lear has just released a new single in France and it's one of the best things she's done in decades. Produced by Steve Campioni and Alain Mendiburu, "Chinese Walk" is a demented electro-pop anthem about the growing influence of Chinese culture - complete with marching sound effects and trippy synths not heard since 1983! It should be a hot mess of epic proportions but through some strange twist of fate, it works beautifully. I particularly love Amanda's kooky lyrics and the way the pretty beats showcase, rather than hide, her breathy vocals. Dali's muse really is in fine form at the moment. Her previous single "I'm Coming Up" would have been a top 10 hit for anyone under 65 and its parent album "Brand New Love Affair" was a late-career highlight. I'm so glad the pop icon is still riding that wave of momentum. She is one of music's last great originals and "Chinese Walk" is a sublime reminder of that. Happily, the video is just as amazing as the song. Amanda transforms from a Caucasian sex symbol of a certain age into a young Chinese girl in front of your eyes! It's very clever and surprisingly classy. The song is available to download from iTunes now. What are you waiting for?

Jenefer Siân will Call You Out

There's nothing I love more than an underground pop diva and Welsh born, American raised Jenefer Siân definitely fits the bill. She has been releasing singles independently for the last year or so - "Take A Number" is my jam - and she's gearing up to unveil her latest smash "Call You Out". The song is a bit of a change from the upbeat dance-pop of her previous offerings but if you like your music with a bit of attitude then this ode to two-faced bitches could be just what you're looking for! Jenefer sounds great as usual and the lyrics are pretty universal. I'm not really feeling the rock-infused electro production but points for trying something different. In the lead up to her first round of showcases, the sultry stunner will be releasing a new single every three weeks. "Call You Out" is coming to iTunes very soon but for a limited time you can actually download it for free from Jenefer's website. Make sure you check out the video, which finds the singer confronting her duplicitous best friend. I would have done more than throw her in the pool!

Kan Mi Youn & the K-Pop anthem of 2011

Korean pop music is on fire in 2011 with amazing acts like LPG and INY delivering some of the classiest anthems of the year. Well, you can add another name to that list of international superstars. Kan Mi Youn's "Paparazzi" is an absolute gem. This 80s flavoured floorfiller takes catchy to a whole new level with its insane chorus and cute vocal hooks. So who is this stunning diva? Well, she first came to fame in 1997 as part of Baby V.O.X - one of Korea's first all girl groups. The glamorous 29-year-old stuck around for 7 albums but went solo in 2006. In true pop trash style her ballad heavy debut was a massive flop, so for her second bite of the cherry, Kan Mi Youn embraced dance music and scored a top 10 hit called "Crazy". She's enjoying even more success with "Paparazzi" and it's easy to see why. This is ten kinds of fabulous and boasts equally an adorable video in which the diva stalks a soap star. As with most Korean film clips, the choreography is flawless and the proceedings are infused with bright colours and good humour. Why are no Australian pop tarts churning out stuff like this? Drop the guitars, girls. No one cares. Now put on a dress and hop to it!

Bey iTunes Update

Beyoncé is running Australian iTunes with "Run The World (Girls)" jumping all the way to #24. $ucce$$! Meanwhile in America, the song is sitting at #9. Naturally the deluded haters - headed by the spiteful whore over at Chart Rigger - are calling this a flop. Back the fuck up! Solange would set her weave on fire for those numbers and we all know if this doesn't work Bey will go into damage control, dedicate a power ballad to Oprah and own your faves. Again. Personally, I'm loving "Run The World (Girls)" more with every listen. It really does sound like 5 songs rolled into one but I love how crazy it is. And it has the most quotable lyrics ever. I melt when she declares "you'll do anything for me!" So true, Beyoncé. Apart from downloading your single that is. Stay tuned for another chart update soon!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Loli Lux - The latest victim of Lady Gaga's thievery

Lock away your demos, ladies. Lady Gaga's sticky fingers will stop at nothing to steal your next hit! After raping and pillaging "Express Yourself" for "Born This Way", Mother Monster turned her attention to poor Loli Lux. But unlike Madonna, the emerging electro-pop diva isn't taking it lying down. The outraged DJ/singer issued a press release, putting the shameless thief on blast for ripping off her 2009 Ukrainian smash "WannaBE". Loli says she contacted RedOne through a mutual friend and forwarded him the track. That's the last she heard from him until "Judas" debuted using a very similar hook.

"It's sad when my work ripped off like that but I have more new and really great unreleased material that I will keep safely guarded for now."

Shockingly, this isn't the first time Lady Gaga jacked Loli's swagga:

"I have always crossed paths with Gaga through having mutual friends, it's not the first time she has borrowed ideas from me. It was previously my DJ trademark to wear military hats but I had to stop that after Gaga started doing the same."

I usually take these kind of accusations with a grain of salt but the Fame Monster is turning out to be the shadiest bitch in the game. There are strong similarities between the hooks and it's a bit suspect that Loli forwarded RedOne the song before "Judas" was recorded. You can listen to the tracks side by side here. Whatever. Loli Lux is clearly on the rise and I actually prefer her song to Gaga's. Watch her classy video and the obvious inspiration for "Judas" below. Where can I download this smash?

Run The World (Girls) - Teaser & Cover

Round IV officially begins tonight as "Run The World (Girls)" is rushed to iTunes. I can hardly breathe. Hurricane Bey is coming and the air is thick with snatched wigs and shattered dreams. Lock down your faves and pray for mercy! Today also delivered some new details about the legendary diva's new smash. Most of us were under the impression that Diplo produced the track given the previous confirmation that he worked on the album and the fact that the song samples Major Lazer's "Pon De Floor". Diplo is one half of Major Lazer. As it turns out, the other half of Major Lazer - Switch - produced the track with Beyoncé herself.

Honestly, Honey B's talent astounds me. Singer, dancer, actress, fashion mogul. Is there anything she can't do? Hell, she even co-wrote the song with The-Dream. Bow down, bitches! As much as I'm feeling the "Run The World (Girls)", I don't like the cover. It looks rushed and was obviously shot on the set of the video between takes. After the iconic "I Am... Sasha Fierce" artwork, this is a let down. Happily, the video itself looks amazing. Team Knowles released a 15 second teaser today and it slays me. Bey straddling that black stallion like a Queen, while her immaculate lace-front blows in the breeze like strands of gold is the defining image of 2011. Watch in awe below!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Grace Jones - Live In Sydney

A couple of years ago I saw Grace Jones perform live for the first time. It was a revelation and remains one of the best concerts I have ever seen. Check out my review for a full round up. Since then, the legendary 62-year-old pop culture icon has pretty much stayed on the road. Her latest Australian tour is basically the same one she presented in 2009 - only with new costumes from famed Japanese designer Eiko Ishioka. Few artists could get away with rehashing the same show so soon after their last visit but this is Grace fucking Jones. And I would pay to watch her stuff envelopes. She is a living, breathing piece of modern history and still one of the most influential singers on the planet. No wonder Grace described Lady Gaga as a bore. She went there, did that and bought the t-shirt. In 1982. As such, I'm giving the legend a pass for last night's hugely enjoyable trainwreck of a concert.

The show kicked off after a great DJ set by Alex Taylor and the audience, largely comprised of MAGs and fag hags, went into a frenzy when the pre-recorded intro blasted over the PA. But then nothing happened. For about 10 minutes. The technical difficulties were eventually fixed and the curtain raised to the arresting sight of Grace singing "This Is Life" from under a satin sheet. It was a bit disconcerting not to see the star for an entire song but it was worth it when she emerged in a zebra outfit and white wig. Unfortunately Grace appeared to be higher than Whitney Houston and rambled incoherently about her new album "Hurricane", which she promised would be released soon. Someone really needs to tell her it hit stores in 2008. She then belted out a couple of tracks from that underrated gem but looked disorientated and demanded someone plug in a fan because she was "sweating like a racehorse". The diva then walked off stage for a very long time. To the point where some uncouth people actually started to boo.

It turned out to be a costume change and the bondage-tastic ensemble she returned to the stage in was stunning. She also seemed a lot more coherent and settled. She really nailed "William's Blood" and there was something eerily beautiful about "Devil In My Life". During the next extended costume change Grace told us about her legal woes in India where she was apparently held up on the suspicion of possessing cocaine. No comment. Her anecdotes ("I told them to keep the fucking luggage - but can I have my jewellery and music back?") were hilarious and she seemed genuinely happy to be in Sydney saying she'd like to live here. I think the legend's next career move should be reality TV or a talk show. I could listen to her gossip all night! The next segment was my favourite part of the concert. Grace emerged dressed as a giant rose and sang "Love You To Life" before breaking into "La Vie En Rose". She looked amazing shimmying across the stage in the breathtaking outfit and won back the audience when she turned around, revealing her exposed buttocks. Not bad for a 62-year-old!

If you think that's raunchy, you should have seen Grace's performance of "My Jamaican Guy" in a tiny mini-skirt and barely-there straps covering her breasts. It was truly a sight to behold. She followed that showstopping moment with "Corporate Cannibal" before delivering a disco-tastic version of "Well, Well, Well" in gravity defying sequined culottes. She then brought the crowd to their feet with an energetic performance of "Love Is The Drug". After yet another costume change, she was back on stage to perform "Libertango". I love the scary mannequin Grace danced with and was happy to hear something new added to the setlist. Next was an exact replica of the cape blowing "Hurricane" performance she closed the show with last time. It's still extremely effective but perhaps it's time for a change.

The grand finale of "Pull Up To The Bumper" and "Slave To The Rhythm" was perfection with the ageless beauty rocking the stage in an outfit that made her look like a young and pretty Nicki Minaj. Grace passed around the microphone to members of the audience and even flashed her tits. It was an awesome way to end a show that suffers from a stale setlist and extended costume changes. I love her new outfits but it's incredibly boring to wait 5 minutes between every second song. As a result the show lost momentum and seemed disjointed. Having said all that, Grace's ramblings were comedy gold and I'll be the first in line for her next visit. Maybe she just needs to record a couple of new songs first.

Round IV - Back to B'Day?

I promised a full review of Beyoncé's stunning new single today but to be honest, I almost couldn't be bothered. And not because I don't like it. As usual, the 16 time Grammy award winner has gone where lesser divas fear to tread and delivered something fresh and original. Which most pop fans were clearly not ready for. They are too used to formulaic lead singles from the Max Martin/Dr Luke conveyor belt of radio ready hits. But that's not how Queen B rolls. Instead, she called on Diplo - whose biggest claim to fame is producing one of Robyn's many flops - and delivered a multi-layered electro-house/hip hop hybrid that takes more than one listen to fully appreciate. Homosexuals around the globe simply fainted with exertion and put "Femme Fatale" back on when they regained consciousness. You know, something familiar and completely undemanding.

Personally, I'm excited that the biggest star in the world is still taking chances and trying to grow as an artist. I love "Girls (Who Run The World)" primarily because it's fucking catchy and fiercer than a drag queen convention but also because Bey is staying true to her hood roots. As a life long Destiny's Child fan, I grew up listening to that beautiful voice belt out R'n'B anthems and there's something comforting about Beyoncé returning to the genre - albeit with a electronic twist. In many ways, "Girls (Who Run The World)" is a return to the urban beats of "B'Day". I described the original 15 second clip as "Ring The Alarm" on crack and that turned out to be scarily accurate. It's a risky move because this kind of music doesn't sell well outside of America but the urban market is wide open at the moment with everyone else doing dance-pop, so who knows? If anyone can pull this off it's Beyoncé. After all, her persuasion can build a nation! In the meantime, I'm just going to crank up the volume and ignore the pressed haters. Their faves could never!

EDIT: The song is actually called "Run The World (Girls)" and was produced by Switch - one half of Major Lazer (the other half being Diplo). My thoughts on the song remain the same!


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Beyoncé rules the world

Today marks the fourth coming of Beyjesus.

A demo of "Girls (Who Run The World)" leaked in full.

Millions of fans around the globe are crying tears of joy.

The song is a glorious display of attitude and originality.

Your faves are now completely redundant.

Full review tomorrow.

That is all.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Kate Ryan, let's call a truce!

Don't fuck with Kate Ryan! I learned that lesson the hard way when I referenced Belgium's gift to pop music in my Adya post and was consequently flooded with irate emails telling me to sit down and shut the hell up. Are you bitches really gonna do me like that? Who else in the Southern Hemisphere devoted an entire ten minutes to reviewing the diva's iconic collection of French covers and then spent a small fortune importing it from Europe? My hard earned cash helped pay for Kate's new 'soccer mum' hairstyle! To prove, once and for all, that I have the Belgian Madonna's back, I thought I'd write a post about her new smash. Despite the damage the cover is doing to my eyesight.

Kate deserves a lot of credit for reviving her career with 2008's excellent "Free", which performed well across Europe and established the 30-year-old (*cough*) as one of the continent's leading dance divas. Hell, she even had the honour of recording not one but two duets with Spain's legendary Soraya! Expectations are understandably sky high then for her 5th studio album. So, it's unfortunate that "LoveLife" is an underwhelming experience. Before you pull out your poison pens, let me explain. Kate's last few singles ("Voyage Voyage", "Ella, elle l'a" and "Évidemment" etc) were of such a high standard, that anything less than amazing was going to be a letdown. Don't get me wrong, "LoveLife" is far from awful - in fact, I rather like the cheerfully inane lyrics and Eurotrash production - but it sounds like a reject from 2006's "Alive" and that's not good enough for a global star of this calibre.

On the bright side, I'm sure there's better material on the album and "LoveLife" will, no doubt, be another smash in her key markets of Belgium and Poland. Maybe Kate could collaborate with Kat DeLuna on her next single? She also hangs out in Brussels and has plenty of time on her hands. But I digress. The best thing about the return of Ms Ryan is the classy, big-budget video extravaganza (below), which finds the evergreen beauty walking the catwalk as a supermodel. Prepare to get hard!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Fuck off Kate Ryan, Belgium has a new superstar!

Don't worry, you're not hallucinating. This shit is actually happening. And you know what? You love it as much I do! It's not every day that I stumble across pop trash this exquisite, so forgive me for ranting. I just want to jump on a plane right now and bow down at this angel's feet. With a minimum of fuss, Adya has singlehandedly saved pop music with her stunning Mozart cover. Yes, readers - the Belgian beauty has set "Cherubino's Aria" (from the great composer's 1786 opera "The Marriage Of Figaro") to dance beats and the result will blow your mind. Not in the least because the track is genuinely catchy and disturbingly hypnotic but it's the video that really slays me. Adya's demented grin and dance moves that she learned from her mother in 1982 are the stuff of pop trash gold. I want to know what drugs this hot bitch is taking. The scene where she's howling like a banshee against the worst green screen ring of fire in history is so defining I can barely speak. Surely, it's only a matter of time before Adya's smash spreads across Europe and worms its way to Australia. Lady Gaga is bawling in a hotel room somewhere screaming "it coulda been me!" I wonder if this has actually been successful in Belgium... chart nerds please report. The rest of you brace yourself for the ultimate viewing experience of 2011.

My thoughts on Gaga's Judas

The second single from Mother Monster's highly anticipated new album leaked yesterday and it's already sitting at number one on US iTunes with predicted sales of upwards of 400,000 copies. That should be enough to snag the world's most ragged looking 25 year old another chart-topper and elevate her a further rung above Katy Perry and Rihanna on the pop ladder but is it any good? Here are some random thoughts:

1. It's better than "Born This Way", which isn't really that much of an achievement.

2. "Judas" has been widely likened to "Bad Romance" but I don't agree. That song has an underbelly of hate, hurt and love that is completely missing from Gaga's latest single. There is nothing raw or personal about this. "Bad Romance" will be remembered as one of the best pop songs of the noughties because it rings true. Behind the slick production and catchy vocal hooks is a very simple break-up anthem that will stand the test of time. "Judas", on the other hand, is emptier than Toni Braxton's bank account.

3. I like that it sounds like Bananarama in the chorus.

4. Lady Gaga needs to stop working with RedOne. Sure, he knows how to keep things fresh for musical geniuses like Kat DeLuna but his relationship with Stefania is getting boring. I hate "Born This Way" but it represents - for better or worse - some kind of development, while "Judas" could have been a "Fame Monster" B-side.

5. Time to leave the religious imagery alone. It's so incredibly dull. She's done it before - as has every diva with a rebellious streak since 1980. Just move on, ho.

6. Despite all my bitching, I don't mind it and am able to listen the whole way through without cringing or wanting to call Madonna's lawyers. It's just that, as a former Monster, I expect so much more. Lady Gaga is too talented to be writing throwaway pop songs that Aubrey O'Day would reject.

7. I don't know how I feel about Gaga's third album now. The first two were so brilliant, part of me thinks she can't get it so drastically wrong this time around. But why release these stinkers as singles if there is better material in the can? At least
the cover is BRILLIANT.

How do you feel about "Judas"?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Beyoncé puts your faves on notice!

The biggest star on the planet left your low rent faves shaking in their Payless stilettos yesterday when a 15 second snippet of her next era defining anthem hit the net. "Girls (That Run The World)" - as it is rumoured to be called - shows that Beyoncé is on a wig snatching mission. While manufactured pop robots like Britney and Rihanna launched recent albums with generic dance trash from mainstream producers like Max Martin and Stargate, Queen B refuses to play it safe. She continues to push the boundaries of popular music by dropping an electro-house/urban infusion that samples Major Lazer's underground club classic "Pon De Floor". To me it sounds a bit like "Ring The Alarm" on crack, which could signal a return to the hood beats of "B'Day". At first, I thought that was a bad move but as usual Bey is ten steps ahead. With everyone doing dance-pop at the moment, the urban market is hers for the taking. I'm sure she'll still do some ballads and pop songs but I'm glad Beyjesus is keeping it real. So back to "Girls (That Run The World)". It's a startling concoction that takes a couple of listens to fully appreciate but it's so addictive. All the song needs is a gigantic chorus and Round IV is off to the perfect start.

Bruno Mars - Live In Sydney - April 14

Bruno Mars is a weapon. He is arguably the most successful songwriter on the planet and well on his way to becoming the world's biggest male pop star. Which is surprising because there's something quite old fashioned about him. He's not setting the clubs on fire like Taio Cruz or hiding behind a sheen of urban credibility like Chris Brown. Instead he's churning out pared back songs that capture simple feelings and emotions. "Just The Way You Are" is cornier than a Dorito chip but it will be played at weddings and funerals for the next 50 years because the sentiment is genuine. The same goes for "Grenade". Anyone who has ever been fucked over can identify with that bitter anthem. Scarily, that's just the tip of the dick. "Doo-Wops & Hooligans" is bursting with hit singles and future standards. A lot of it isn't really my thing - or, at least, I didn't think so until Thursday night - but I was excited to see him live. Particularly at Luna Park's inappropriately titled Big Top, an intimate venue that recently housed flops like Goldfrapp and Scissor Sisters.

Seeing Bruno up close and personal was amazing. I knew he could hold a tune but he is the complete package, playing a variety of instruments (guitar, drum and ukulele) and dancing like a young Michael Jackson. In fact, by the end of the show, I had the feeling that Hawaii's best export since Lost could be the heir to La Toya's brother's empty throne if he keeps his shit together - such is his raw talent. He sounded incredible and won over the audience with his easy charm and cheeky humour. There's not much point going through the setlist because Bruno basically played the entire album along with his smash hit features "Billionaire" and "Nothin' On You". Highlights were "Count On Me" (my favourite from "Doo-Wops"), current single "The Lazy Song" (see the cute video below) and a smokin' hot rendition of "Our First Time" that left me pitching a tent. He also delivered awesome covers of "Billie Jean" and "Seven Nation Army" before closing with "Grenade" and "Just The Way You Are". The man with the Midas touch then came back to sing "Runaway Baby" - complete with James Brown inspired choreography. It was a brilliant way to close one of the most impressive displays I've seen in a very long time.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Beyoncé exclusive: Girl single cover & tracklist!

1. Girl (Radio Edit)
2. Girl feat. Ashanti & Keri Hilson (Help A Broke Bitch Out Remix)
3. Girl (Ri-who? Re-work)
4. Girl (Dereon Dub)
5. Girl (Ya Faves Cud Neva Extended Club Mix)

Bonus Track

6. Lost Yo Wig (ie. Lost Yo Mind 2011)

Luciana - I'm Still Hot - Exclusive Video Pics

After keeping nightclubs in business for the past decade with a seemingly endless string of features, Luciana is set to release her first solo track in 17 years! Has it really been that long since "One More River" set the standard for modern balladry? Fuck me. It's rather appropriate then that the dance diva's latest floorfiller is called "I'm Still Hot". Produced by Dave Audé, the song is vintage Luci with her trademark electro-shouting, raunchy lyrics and killer beats. I absolutely adore it and think the Supermal remix is the hottest thing I've heard since... the Adam F remix of "I Like That".

Mrs Clow's fabulous anthem hits iTunes on April 17 and has been picked up by Ministry of Sound in Australia. As a special treat, I've got some exclusive stills from the "I'm Still Hot" video shoot (above and below). I'm told the clip follows the narrative of the song, with Luciana remaining smokin' hot regardless of what life throws at her! It's being filmed by the lovely Burgoyne brothers (Stephen & David), who are not only incredibly hot in their own right but the talented duo behind the diva's "I Like That" video. The pics look absolutely amazing and I'm sure the finished product will be a triumph. That just leaves one question, when is Luci flying over here to promote it?

Make sure you check out this fan-made "I'm Still Hot" video and pre-order the track from iTunes today. I can't wait for this to rule the clubs!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Remember this name: Elen Levon

By the end of May the name Elen Levon will be on everyone's lips. The 16-year-old Sydneysider has her sights set on Jessica Mauboy's urban-pop crown and if her debut single is any indication, J Malley had better watch her back. "Naughty" is the best demo I've heard in a very long time. Produced by local hip-hop king Israel Cruz and his US based production team, Elen's future smash rips Rihanna's wig clean off with its smokin' hot beats and fun lyrics about embracing your inner bad girl. The song has been picked up by a new Ministry of Sound sub-label and they are rushing to film a video over the next couple of weeks. No wonder they're keen to get her out there. Elen is the real deal - as anyone in the audience at Supafest on Saturday can testify. With dance moves that make Ciara look like Sophie Ellis-Bextor and a fearsome set of pipes to rival anyone in the game, this girl could be Australia's next big thing. Stay tuned.

Take your halo, put it away tonight. Cos tonight we gon' be naughty!

La Toya is finally startin' over - No, really.

I still remember the first time I heard La Toya's "Just Wanna Dance". It was late 2003. Kylie's "Slow" was number one and I was pretty much just listening to that track on repeat. Out of the blue I received an email saying Toy Toy was embarking on her 217th comeback and I spent the next few days hunting it down. When I finally found an mp3, I was almost too scared to play it. After the final nail in her career coffin otherwise known as "Stop In The Name Of Love", I was prepared for just about anything BUT the best pop song of the year. "Just Wanna Dance" - with its iconic gender-bending lyrics and catchy vocal hooks - became an internet sensation and when the song climbed all the way to number 13 (on the US club chart), it looked like La Toya was on the brink of scoring her very first hit. A mere 24 years after releasing her debut single!

Unfortunately, the legendarily inept Ja-Tail Records never got around to filming a video or releasing it or its equally amazing parent album "Startin' Over". To be honest, I thought the version that leaked in 2005 would be the closest we'll ever get to hearing it but Janet's prettier sister has promised the New York Post that it will hit iTunes by the end of 2011! As pigs flew over Ja-Tail HQ and hell froze over, La Toya revealed: "You are going to hear new music from me – because the fans keep asking for it. I'm doing an album called Startin' Over that I've been starting over forever! I'm going to put that out before the year is over and then I'm done with music."

Before you start weeping over the last sentence. I'd take it with a grain of salt. Toy Toy has music in her blood and I have a sneaking suspicion she'll still be showing hacks like Madonna how it's done for decades to come. It's also good to hear that the tracklist has changed and she's scrapped the urban vibe of the original "Startin' Over". Toy told her soldiers: "It's strictly dance – all about fun, the lyrics are very personal to me. Love Honor and Obey is about being homophobic in the world today. I don't get it why anyone discriminates. It's so the wrong way to live. It's what I feel inside – what I think. Everyone will love it."

This is too much. The Pope of Pop is about to release her first album in 16 years and plans to free the world from homophobia, one nightclub at a time! Read the amazing article here and re-live the worldwide smash that never quite happened (below). Toy Toy is officially back.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Soraya's New Single!

Legendary Spanish beauty Soraya Arnelas is back with an amazing new single. I know it's hard to read through those tears of joy but try to compose yourself! "Stick Shift" is another collaboration with French DJ Antoine Clamaran, the mastermind behind her international dance smash "Live Your Dreams". I love the song but does this mean no more singles are being released from "Dreamer"? My heart just broke into a million pieces. Oh well, maybe this is only a side project to further cement Soraya's reputation as Europe's leading dance diva. The song is already a top 20 smash on the French club chart - so mission accomplished!

The pride of Extremadura has outdone herself this time. "Stick Shift" is easily the campest piece of music she has recorded since... well, her entire "Dolce Vita" album. It's a cheesy explosion of 80s infused Euro-dance that reminds me a bit of The Pointer Sisters. If they went electro and moved to Gran Canaria. French DJs (Junior Caldera and David Vendetta spring to mind) have a knack for churning out this kind of shameless fun and Antoine has found the perfect muse in Soraya. Take the diabolical lyrics about riding stick shifts and drink driving. In a less fabulous singer's hands, this could have been a complete mess but Spain's greatest non-porn export gets away with it through sheer charm and charisma. She brings the song to life with her glorious vocals and ability to walk the fine line between sexy and sleazy.

I actually prefer "Stick Shift" to "Live Your Dreams" and hope it's huge. Now all team Arnelas has to do is release a physical single - please! - and make sure Antoine doesn't try to steal Soraya's spotlight in the soon to be released video. I still haven't forgiven him for last time! Until that drops, give the pop icon's new single a listen below.

Beyoncé, That Apple & Cazwell

With speculation about Beyoncé's all conquering comeback spreading across the internet like hot butter on burnt toast, it's getting hard to separate rumour from fact. We know she's currently filming the video clip because stills have surfaced but there is still no confirmation as to whether the track is actually called "Girl" - let alone accurate information about who produced it or even an indication of the genre. So until I have some facts, I thought I'd write a brief post on the thoughtful diva's plan to shape up America's youth by making them dance to a new version of "Get Me Bodied" called "Move Your Body". This is the biggest development in the battle of the bulge since stomach stapling. Do you have any idea how many calories it takes to pop your pussy that rhythmically? She truly is an angel!

Given her revolutionary contribution to weight loss, I feel a bit guilty that the highlight of Bey's Let's Move promo video is a scene where she demolishes an apple with enough attitude to scalp the entire cast of RuPaul's Drag Race. I feel even worse that it makes me want to score pot, grab a burger and watch Cazwell videos on YouTube. Well, one clip in particular. "I Seen Beyoncé At Burger King" is one of my favourite songs of all time. The underground classic has only grown in popularity since 2009 and I think the gay rapper should re-release it to celebrate Round IV! It's still more addictive than crack and the lyric "she had her freakum dress on from the House of Dereon" is better than anything Eminem's entire career. So grab a snack, fantasise about running into Beyjesus at your local take-away and brace yourself for the Cazwell experience.

Monday, April 11, 2011

When Luciana & Diddy Collide

Someone once said the only things that would survive a nuclear holocaust are cockroaches and Cher. Well, you can add another item to that list. Luciana's double platinum Australian smash "I Like That" simply refuses to die. A good two years after its debut, the unstoppable club anthem continues to pop up in new guises. The song's latest incarnation is as an electro/hip-hop hybrid featuring urban superstar Diddy. An edit of this remix leaked in January but the full version is finally here and being promoted to British DJs this week. I didn't know what to make of Diddy's contribution the first time I heard it but I love it now.

It's amazing how many different directions people have taken this song in. There's the iconic original. The butchered edit that became a radio smash in Australia. House-tastic American remixes. Adam F's awesome drum 'n' bass mix for the UK and now a hip-hop addition to add to your collection. I'm just waiting for Luci to deliver a country and/or death metal version of "I Like That", so we can all just move on and focus on the legendary dance diva's brilliant new single "I'm Still Hot" - which is just about ready to drop! But more about that later. For now, check out what happens when Luciana and Diddy collide.

Snoop & Nelly - Star City Showcase

I'm not going to pretend that I'm a huge Snoop Dogg fan or a Nelly stan. But over the years they have released a lot of great music and I was excited to see them live for the first time on Friday night. The Snoop/Nelly showcase served as a warm up/pre-party for Supafest. All the acts - apart from Keri Hilson and Ciara - turned up to show their support and the mood was pretty electric. Although that could have had something to do with the open bar and small army of pole dancers positioned around the room. Nelly took the stage first and brought the crowd to their feet by dusting off all his big hits. The former band-aid wearer sang my fave "Ride Wit Me" and his iconic smash "Hot In Herre" as well as performing his famous collaborations like "Party People" (if only Fergie could have been there!), "Dilemma" and "Body On Me". He closed the set with his 2010 smash "Just A Dream" and I found myself making a mental note to track down a greatest hits compilation - surely he has one?

During the intermission I did some mingling and pinned Jessica Mauboy down long enough to politely tell her that she needs to release "Maze" as her next single. She told me it was her fave and the fans love it but Sony is going with a new song she co-wrote with Dianne Warren called "Inescapable". I'm expecting a power ballad but you never know. Anyway, she's absolutely gorgeous and I can't wait to see her support Chris Brown. I also ran into Dane Rumble and he talked about his American trip. He is so hot in person, it's ridiculous! By the time Snoop took the stage I was pretty much gone but he sang a couple of songs including "Drop It Like It's Hot" before T-Pain, Game and Busta Rhymes joined him on stage. Sparks flew. Particularly when Busta and T-Pain threw it down for a rap-off. I felt like I had seen a mini-Supafest but up close and personal in an intimate venue. I expected it to be a fun night but this was one of the best concerts I've seen all year. Even if you're not a fan, it's hard to deny the extent to which these guys have helped to shape popular music over the past 15 years. Respect.

A Week Until Death

Apologies for recent the lack of updates. I got my gangsta lean on over the weekend - hitting up a Snoop Dogg & Nelly showcase on Friday, before rocking Supafest on Saturday. It was all very messy and I just couldn't face the computer. Which is annoying because I've been wanting to post Wynter Gordon's new gem since Thursday. You might remember that I wrote about "Til Death" a couple of weeks ago. Some bitches questioned the veracity of my claim that Denzal Park gave the track a makeover, well check out the clip below and take a seat! The Aussie duo have given the track a polish and it's already apparent that Wynter has another smash on her hands given the song's non-stop radio coverage. It's a killer jam and, dare I say it, an improvement on the amazing "Dirty Talk". However, I have two minor problems with it:

1. It is quite similar to Britney's "Til The World Ends" - both lyrically and thematically - albeit it with a gifted vocalist and fresher production. Wynter's track has been doing the rounds for months, so I think Ke$ha might have been surfing YouTube stoned one day and forgot she heard it before penning Brit's flop.

2. The WAWA radio edit is vastly better than the version being pimped out below. I love Denzal Park - a lot - but their version sounds like an edited club mix, while the Polish producers have turned the song into an irresistibly upbeat pure pop explosion. But until that leaks, I guess you don't know what you're missing.

Whatever. The song is defining and it wouldn't surprise me if it follows Wynter's triple platinum Australian debut all the way to the top of the charts. Enjoy and download (legally) when the song is released on Friday. Expect a remix package featuring the aforementioned WAWA, Dan Castro, Oxford Hustlers, Andy Murphy and Polen to follow shortly.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Medina, Natalia Kills & Mylène Farmer

I wish I had more time to update the blog. There's so much great music to write about at the moment - it's just hard to keep on top of it when you have to do annoying things like work and study. As a result, things slip through the cracks (like my 3 months in the making Best Singles Of 2010 countdown!) but I couldn't let these three gems pass by without giving my two cents. The first diva off the rank is my old friend Medina. Denmark's improvement on Robyn has become a Pop Trash Addicts staple over the past couple of years with her morose electro-pop anthems. I love her depressing lyrics and bleak sound. While other bitches try to get the party started, Medina belts out miserable tracks like "Lonely", "Execute Me" (I'm not joking!) and her latest single "Gutter". This wouldn't have been my first choice for the 4th single from "Welcome To Medina" but the #43 German smash suits my mood and worms its way into your head after a couple of listens. I keep hoping she'll release "Sundown" - a stunning Ke$ha knock off - but this will do nicely. As usual the video is a classy affair and Medina looks stunning with her new blond hairdo. If you don't already own it, her album belongs in your collection.

Next on your must-listen list is the second single from Natalia Kills. I have to admit I was very skeptical about the woman formerly known as Verbalicious. "Mirrors" got a lot of blog love but, to be honest, I thought it was shit. Lady Gaga comparisons usually don't bother me. Every girl with structured sleeves and an asymmetrical hemline is lumped with that insult but Natalia's debut was a line for line re-work of "Just Dance" - only with a cheap video and utterly pointless lyrics. But just as I was about to jump on the NK hate train, the dark diva dropped "Wonderland" and it was love at first listen. This is more like it! Eerie sound effects, clever production and a killer chorus make "Wonderland" one of the best songs of early 2011. The disturbing video, which plays like a Hans Christian Andersen fairytale directed by Michael Haneke, is also a triumph. Like Medina, Natalia Kills is successfully focusing on the German market before making a push into the UK and America. Time will tell if it pays off but if she keeps churning out tunes of this quality, you have to think she has a good shot.

Last but definitely not least is French icon Mylène Farmer. I featured "Oui Mais Non" on the blog last year and that RedOne produced club banger went on to set sales records in France and became the stunning 49-year-old's 10th number one hit. I love that women of a certain vintage can still have hits in Europe. To underline the pop legend's popularity, her latest album has already sold 500,000 copies in her homeland alone. Those numbers would make Nicole Scherzinger's head spin! The latest single from "Bleu Noir" - another brilliant album that you need to own - is the title track. It's very different to "Oui Mais Non". This time Mylène has pared back her sound for a beautiful mid-tempo ballad. Produced by Moby, the song has a wistful quality that I love despite only being able to understand about a third of the lyrics. The video (below) is equally subtle and pretty. It will be interesting to see how the single performs in France but I've already ordered CD1 and CD2, so I'm convinced it will be another smash! I think Mylène should jump on Google translator and re-record "Bleu Noir" in English. Just for shits and giggles.

Gay Love On The High Seas

When I open a digital promo and read the words "internet sensation", more often than not I just click delete. I have seen way too many deluded 10-year-olds belting out Lady Gaga covers on YouTube to bother with that shit. But there was something different about Cosmo Jarvis. First of all, he's fucking hot. Secondly, his latest single is called "Gay Pirates" and has been given Stephen Fry's seal of approval. So it must be good. And it is. "Gay Pirates" is a romantic sea shanty about gay love on a Pirate ship. Cosmo sings about his affection for Sebastian and the trials they must overcome to stay together. Depressingly, society hasn't changed all that much since the days of piracy and buried treasure - which is why I think the song strikes such a chord with listeners. You could change the setting to love between office workers in any small town in Australia and the story would play out much the same. Only without the gang rape and plank walking. I would hope. Given the song's lyrical content, I was surprised to learn that Cosmo is straight. I guess sometimes you need an outside observer to bring a fresh perspective to a very old story. Brace yourself for the quirkiest gay anthem of 2011.

Dane Rumble Interview

Dane Rumble was one of my favourite discoveries of 2010. I first saw him perform last August at a Potbelleez showcase and was immediately won over by his cool image and killer tunes. At the time I described him as a cross between Dan Black and Travie McCoy but there's more to his "brand new New Zealand sound" than that. Think 80s pub rock with hip hop elements and a bit of electro thrown in for good measure. It might sound like a strange hybrid but it works. Dane's first solo album - he used to be a member of hip hop outfit Fast Crew - was a massive success in New Zealand and has just been released in Australia. I love "The Experiment" and ranked it as one of my favourites of last year. Needless to say, I was pretty excited to chat with the king of Kiwi pop about making the album, trying to crack Australia and his amazing new single "Cruel". Here's what he had to say.

Dane, "The Experiment" was huge in New Zealand. What's it like having to start from scratch in Australia?
It's definitely hard yakka but I kind of expected it coming into Australia. I knew it was going to be a bit of an uphill battle. I've kind of been through the motions with Fast Crew before, so I knew exactly what it was going to be like but at the same time, it's fun - being able to meet new people and test my music out of new crowds.

What do you think are the major diffences between the Kiwi and Australian music scenes?
I think Australia just has a bigger market. And pop is definitely a lot bigger in Australia. I mean, us Kiwis are a little bit more reluctant to allow pop music to slide its way into the forefront here in New Zealand but it's started to really take off and we've got bands like Kids Of 88 and The Naked And Famous that are having a really good run on the pop front now. But I think it's just a bigger market. You know there's so many good bands in Australia whereas in New Zealand there's only four and a half million of us and half of us are in bands and we all know each other.

Your sound has really changed since Fast Crew. What inspired the new direction?
For me it was more of a natural progression. People saw Fast Crew and they saw me doing my thing and they were like woah this guy's changed over night but it wasn't really the case at all it was probably like a good five or six years inbetween there where I started working on a solo album and I started writing a lot of hip hop tunes but I couldn't wwrite anything that I was really happy with and so I reached the point where I thought I might just give up on music altogether and that's when I found myself youo know strumming away at the guitar and kind of just listening to different music and you know I pretty much stopped listening to hip hop and started listening to old 70s and 80s rock again and that played a part in influencing me to change my style up and do something different.

So what were you listening to during that time?
I grew up listening to Led Zep and Metallica and Midnight Oil and Talking Heads. Pretty much anything my dad was into was what I used to soak up as a kid. If you look at my iPod these days it's pretty much those bands that dominate the whole thing. It wasn't me necessarily trying to create a sound that pulled back to that era, it was more just subconsciously. I guess I was stealing ideas or something. I don't know!

You managed to keep a bit of the hip hop flavour in there...
After making hip hop music for the best part of 10 years, I think that rhythmical thing is always going to be ingrained in me and when I sit down to write a verse, I structure it out in the same way as I would if I was writing a rap verse. All the syllables have got to kind of follow a pattern and the rhyming patterns need to be pretty close. So I guess that that kind of thing is still ingrained in me and it will still come through in my music from now on.

"The Experiment" has been out for a while in New Zealand. Are you sick of singing the same songs yet?
No, not really. I mean, "The Experiment" came out this time last year in New Zealand. So, althought it was a while ago, the last year has just been such a whirlwind for me... I have played a crap load of shows but to be honest, I love performing and I've got a great band with me and I can definitely do shows in pilot mode because I've done it so many times before I don't really have to think about what I'm doing but at the same time - it's not old. I'm still really, really enjoying performing these songs and also I'm working on new material so we kind of spice up the shows with new stuff as well. So that keeps things interesting.

Were you surprised by the album's success in New Zealand? It went to number one and all the singles did great.
Yeah, thoroughly surprised. I'd finished "Always Be Here" and I took it up to my buddy up at Warners and he was like "this is pretty cool" and I signed a single deal for them to distribute it. We just kind of put it out and I just wanted to do something different. I didn't have any plans. It took off and all of a sudden I found myself rushing and working my arse off to pull an album together. So yeah it was a surprise, dude. The last couple of years have just been a whirlwind. I've been grinning ear to ear ever since "Always Be Here" came out. The way things have turned out, it's just been absolutely amazing.

Is Australia a stepping stone to markets like the UK and America or are you going to concentrate on making it here?
I've actually signed a deal in the States and UK. I'm actually heading over in a couple of weeks time. I'm doing some showcases in New York and LA and doing some press and I've started working on the next record, so I'm working with some writers and producers in Atlanta. Yeah I'm also heading to Germany, so there's quite a few things going on at the moment. I'll definitely be back to Australia to do some touring for the album, I'd say end of May. But yeah, all of a sudden things have just gone mental. My schedule for this year is looking pretty hectic.

My favourite song on the album is definitely "Cruel". What inspired that gem?
The way "Cruel" came about was quite interesting. It was one of the two songs that I actually collaborated with other songwriters on. It was another guy who was in a band called Nesian Mystik, a really cool dude, he actually started the song off. He came up with "baby this is really goodbye the curtain's about to fall and I'm about to walk out of your life" and I remember hearing that and thinking woah that's quite powerful and I basically took it off his hands from that point and said I want to write a song around it. The rest of it just flowed. It was just one of those things that everybody can relate to who has been in a relationship. Someone's always going to be on that end of a break up and I guess that's what inspired the song and just kind of vibed off that first line and ended up writing the song. It took me a few weeks to put together and then it just absolutely took off over here.

You said you're already working on new material. Do you plan to have something new out by the end of the year or are you going to let this album have its run first?
I don't really know to be honest. I would like to have a new single from the new record out before the end of the year. I'd quite like to tie my New Zealand releases up with the rest of the world now instead of trying to stagger it. That always makes things a little bit difficult. But yeah I'd definitely be keen to have something new and something fresh out before the end of the year.

You could always tack something new onto "The Experiment"...
Yeah like a hybrid, re-release type thing. Just change up the packaging a little. That's one of the things the record company is thinking about but for me, I want to do a whole new record and I want to focus on a whole new thing.

Who are some of the people you're working with?
At the moment I'm working with a writer/producer called Manuel Seal and he's in Atlanta. He's written songs with Mariah Carey and Usher. He's quite a big deal. He's sold a lot of singles over the years. He stumbled across me on the net and got in contact with us. He's a really, really cool dude and I've been writing with him over Skype. We've got some really cool ideas on the boil and I guess when I head over there that's when I'll jump in the studio and try and lock things down. I'm also writing with my guitarist Joe Farris on a few more rocky tunes and just kind of plugging away by myself. You know, I wrote a good chunk of the record by myself and I'm kind of used to locking myself away in the studio until I've got something decent.

This is a bit of an odd question but I wanted to ask you about the packaging. So many Australian and Kiwi bands get it wrong but your artwork is really distinctive.
That was me and my graphic designer. He's very creative. We both just sat down and I'd give him the skeleton idea and he'd pretty much just bang ideas together and I'd yes or no them. It is funny because a lot of Kiwi bands they will release records in New Zealand and it'll be packaged in a certain way and then they'll sign to a major in Australia who will take it upon themselves to try to re-package and re-brand it and you're right - often it goes horribly wrong. I've seen that with quqite a few bands over the years, so I'm glad the artwork stayed the same and they kept the same covers. I spent a number of years as a graphic artist and I do a lot of the graphic design work for our company and I thought what we did really worked well for the album.

Good luck with everything. I can't wait for the next gig.
Sweet. I appreciate that. Stay tuned on Twitter!

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Round IV - She's Coming!

By the end of the month your faves will be more redundant than Keri Hilson's greatest hits compilation. They will bow down before the one true Queen, wigs in hand, begging to be put out of their misery. But their desperate cries for mercy will go unanswered. Bey will simply be too busy re-writing chart history and slaying the pretenders. I guess it's only a matter of time before has-beens like Rihanna and Lady Gaga are working the register at your local McDonalds. Bring a pen the next time you pick up a quarter pounder, you just might nab an autograph! So, what can we expect from Round IV - apart from the best album of all time? Here's what we know so far:

1. A new single is expected to drop by the end of the month.

2. Bey recently played six songs from her next Grammy Award winning masterpiece at a showcase in New York and the head of Sony Music Australia described the material as "groundbreaking".

3. That description fits with the quirky cast of producers that include Odd Future, Sleigh Bells and Diplo.

4. From that line-up I'm expecting a return to Bey's urban roots but I'm hoping for some electro and/or pop thrown in for good measure.

5. But her recent 70s-tastic/hot tranny mess photo shoot leads me to believe the new album might have an old school soul sound.

While your faves flee in terror, watch this defining Round IV promo and open your heart to Beyjesus. Before it's too late.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Katy Perry - E.T. Video Review

It's been a week since the premiere of "E.T." and I'm still finding new things to love about Katy Perry's latest video. In fact, there's only one thing I'd change about it and that's the completely redundant Kanye West cameo. I haven't been this annoyed by a tacked on rap since Mims ruined "All I See"! Apart from that, "E.T." is pretty flawless. The clip suits the song perfectly and has made people excited about music videos again. Which makes the criticism directed at it all the more confounding. Seeing as Katy is too busy celebrating her 5th US number one hit to give a shit - she now has more than Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera - I thought I'd respond for her.

1. It rips off Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" video
Are you derelict homosexuals for real? Sure, they are both set in space but that's where the similarities end. Gaga's grim manifesto is a pretentious exercise in shock value, while Katy's clip plays like "WALL•E - The Musical". The storylines, costumes and art direction could not be more different. Mother monster's desperate need to be edgy is palpable. Pop's favourite one time faux lesbian, on the other hand, is just happy to look pretty floating around in her alien make-up. That might sound like a dis but Katy's entire "American Dream" marketing campaign has been built on kitsch and the diva somehow manages to bring that innate cuteness to the album's darkest song. For the record, I'm choosing to forget that "Circle The Drain" exists.

2. It has no plot
Excuse me but this shit is the intergalactic Dr Zhivago! Here's my interpretation of the plot. Alien Katy is being used as a sex slave by Cuntye in that sick pod. Because that's the kind of slimy shit he'd pull in space. One day she has some kind of psychic connection with a broke down robot on a deserted planet, who is rotting away on the scrapheap - much like Ashanti. So Katy jumps ship, transforms into a sexy humanoid and learns all about his shithole planet as she plummets through space towards her soulmate. It's a long journey so she has plenty of time to experiment with her hair and try on a few different outfits. By the end of the song, the persistent bitch lands and brings that fucker to life. Probably by humming "Ur So Gay" into his robot ear. They both change into their true selves and life happily ever after. You mad?

3. This blockbuster is a publicity stunt to nab her 4 consecutive US number ones hits
No shit. What did you expect - a $200 fiasco like "Better Than Today"? Katy's record label actually has some idea what they're doing.