Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Rita Ora Makes Rihanna Even More Redundant

Damn. Rita Ora just hammered another nail into the dusty coffin that currently doubles as Rihanna's career. The new and improved Roc Nation poster girl picks up where RiRi left off - you know, when she was still popular - on her UK debut "R.I.P.". The Tinie Tempah-assisted club-banger is a surefire smash with its laser-like synths and epic chorus. While I like her US debut "Party And Bullshit",I think this suits the Kosovo-born beauty's voice better and is distinctly more chart-friendly. It has to be said that Jay Z really likes his divas to have a nasal voice and bad attitude. This is the kind of turbo-charged pop tune that his now obsolete Barbadian cash-cow should be making instead of slow jams about getting her pussy eaten. Is it too late to scrap "Party And Bullshit" in the US and go with this instead? The sooner Rita takes the Roc Nation throne the better. Listen to "R.I.P." below.

Jimmy Barnes Ruins Dance Music

What is this fuckery? Jimmy Barnes has released a house cover of Dragon's seminal '80s classic "April Sun In Cuba" and single-handedly ruined dance music for everyone. Thanks a lot. There isn't much else to say. DJ Yaleidys - whoever the hell that is - is on better drugs than me if he thinks this shit sounds good. I'll admit it has inherent camp appeal given Barnesy's former rock-god status and there's something amusing about the tragic female vocalist but the track doesn't work and has made me scared to enter a nightclub. Ever again. The video is equally heinous. Why does Jimmy look like a member of Human Nature 25 years from now? Who told this poor woman it would be a good look to stand on a speaker in a bikini top against the worst visual effects in recent memory? How did the director complete on Windows Movie Maker without his laptop crashing? Apparently, "Sun In Cuba" is already a top 40 Club hit in America. Which just goes to prove that the world really does end in 2012 because the apocalypse is clearly just around the corner. Brace yourself for the year's worst single below.

Monday, February 27, 2012

An Amazing Eurovision Entry About Craving Cock

As far as I'm concerned Eurovision 2012 is already a write-off. Soraya forgot to enter for Spain and more outrageously, what is clearly the winning song has been overlooked by Holland's flop judges/population and will now be missing from the line-up in Azerbaijan. This needs to be investigated by The Hague and corrected immediately! So what makes Raffaëla Paton's "Chocolatte" such a triumph? Well, it could be the 2006 Dutch Idol winner's bad Rihanna wig or perhaps it's her bargain-basement attempt at recreating Beyoncé's "Sweet Dreams" bodice outfit.

Then again it might just be the undeniable genius of her exquisite electro-pop anthem. This is all kinds of ridiculous from the dated production to the hard-hitting lyrics about... cock. At first, I thought "Chocolatte" was an ode to having a sweet tooth but on closer inspection I think Raffaëla is craving something else in her mouth. The stunning 28-year-old sings: "You won't get too far with any chocolate bar, the one thing that'll do is big & dark and comes with you." Hoe, please - you're so sprung! I know what you want and I'm not judging. Finally a song that explores a serious theme that we can all idenify with and it's rudely dismissed. It's a sad day for pop music. Watch the Eurovision winner that never was (below).

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Classical Dubstep, Anyone?

I have a love/hate relationship with dubstep. Done well, listening to the electronic sub-genre is something akin to an out-of-body experience. Those heavy, bone-shaking beats command you to move but the watered-down, mainstream take on the year's hottest musical trend is usually embarrassing. There's just something incredibly sad about a 10 second dubstep breakdown in a pop record. I guess that's why I like Lindsey Stirling's "Crystallize" so much. The hypnotic instrumental works within the genre to create something new and exciting instead of lifting a couple of elements for aural window-dressing. So who is this girl? A 25-year-old violinist from California, who appeared on the 5th season of America's Got Talent. Don't be put off by her talent show background. This is the edgiest classical concoction since Vanessa Mae appeared on Janet's Velvet Rope album! The video (below) is a relatively simple affair but fits in beautifully with the song. I really love this and hope it gets remixed for the clubs sooner rather than later. Brace yourself for a truly unique listening experience!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Toy Talk With RuPaul

In early February, I was lucky enough to interview drag-pioneer and generally flawless dance diva RuPaul for an article that later appeared in the Sydney Star Observer (read it here). It was a pretty nerve-wracking experience at first. I grew up worshipping the towering Glamazon and had to ask some relatively hard-hitting questions about relationships and gay politics. Ru's palpable kindness put me at ease and the interview went off without a hitch but I just couldn't put down the phone without probing the world's most famous Toy Soldier about our mutual idol, La Toya Jackson. What follows is about 10 minutes of unadulterated Toy Talk that didn't make the final article. It turns out that the average homosexual doesn't live to explore the Pope of Pop's era-defining impact on popular culture. Who knew? Please note - the Bruce we both refer to is a mutual friend who runs the best website on the internet. I'd like to thank RuPaul again for being so gracious and, dare I say it, toytastic.

Mike: I believe that my favourite, La Toya Jackson, makes several appearances on this year's Drag Race? [Note: Australia is only up to Season 3]
RuPaul: [Laughs hysterically]

Mike: I'm obsessed with Toy!
RuPaul: Are you the guy from Pop Trash Addicts?

Mike: That's me. Yes.
RuPaul: Oh my God! Of course! Bruce turned me on to that years ago. Actually, last year I guess. Oh my God that is so funny. I had no idea!

Mike: Bruce is a great friend. I was in LA last year and spent quite a bit of time with Bruce. I adore that man. But yeah, he's also the La Toya whisperer.
RuPaul: [Laughs] Oh my God!

Mike: It's so funny, I've got all of my serious Ru questions and deep down I just want to have this La Toya conversation.
RuPaul: [Laughs hysterically] Well, on Season 3 La Toya makes two appearances.

Mike: Oh my God, that's amazing! How do you utilise the power of Toy on the show?
RuPaul: [Laughs] Well, I tell you we couldn't get enough of her! She's a fabulous judge and her critiques are priceless as you would expect and it's amazing. She was on the once and I think someone fell through and I said 'please can we just have La Toya on again?' She's the only person we've had as a judge twice. [Laughs].

Mike: She needs to be a permanent cast member!
RuPaul: [Laughs] I wish, I wish! I'm not supposed to tell you this... [says something off the record]... She told them that World Of Wonder and Ru are the only associations that she's kept from the Jack Gordon period of her life. I've been obsessed with her forever. She was on my Christmas Special in...

Mike: I remember that. It's genius. You both look so amazing.
RuPaul: [Laughs]
Mike: That blonde wig! [Laughs]
RuPaul: Yes, yes! Oh my God! And then she was on my talk show years later and I think I did something else with her in there because I try to always do something with her because I think she's so brilliant. She's amazing.

Mike: Can I ask... is she in on the joke? I wonder with Toy sometimes - does she get it or...?
RuPaul: I think slightly, in a remote way. But she is the girl that you think she is.

Mike: Is she as sweet as she comes across? My read on her is that seems like a gorgeous person.
RuPaul: Oh absolutely! A lovely person. Absolutely. I gotta tell you, I rate kindness high at the top on my list of human virtues and she absolutely is. She absolutely is. And you know, Bruce used to read my blog and the reason I know him is that my friend Tom and I had a La Toya Jackson film festival once...
Mike: [Laughs]
RuPaul: The two of us! And I blogged about it and Bruce wrote me and said 'wow, that's awesome - you're a fan too. I'm a fan!' and I could tell he was someone I wanted to know and we became friends and we've been friends ever since and now he works on my show.

Mike: Isn't that crazy? La Toya brings people together!
RuPaul: Yes, that's right! She's bringing families of friends together.

Mike: One of her many virtues.
RuPaul: [Laughs]

Mike: Can I ask, as a Toy Soldier, why haven't you done a duet with La Toya? The world is crying out for a chest-to-chest!
RuPaul: You know what? You're absolutely right and I've thought about and tried to do it and you know what, we're gonna make that happen. I've always wanted that and we're gonna have to make that happen.

Mike: [Literally crying and shaking] That is the most amazing thing I've heard all year. I'm beside myself!
RuPaul: [Laughs] It's great. I would love it!

Mike: No offence but it's gotta be better than the Brigitte Nielsen duet. That was an amazingly hot mess but Toy could take it to the next level!
RuPaul: It was... oh my God, I could tell you stories. Oh my God. It was so messy in so many ways. In ways that you couldn't even imagine.

Mike: I think Brigitte's albums were hilarious but I can imagine she would be an interesting person to work with.
RuPaul: You're very kind [Laughs].
Mike: [Laughs]
RuPaul: You know, I've tried to erase that period of my life out of my memory.

Mike: It must have been a trainwreck!
RuPaul: Oh my God. OH - MY - GOD. You don't know the half of it!

Mike: One day I hope you'll share that. Can I quickly ask - What are your favourite La Toya songs?
RuPaul: "Wicked Love", "He's My Brother" and probably "You Blew".

Mike: That's a great song. I love that semi-urban kind of period in the late '80s. I think that stuff is great.
RuPaul: I only wish her Stock Aitken Waterman stuff were better, you know.

Mike: Yeah. She got the dregs, didn't she?
RuPaul: Yeah she did and I love, love, love Stock Aitken Waterman and they gave her crap.
Mike: I never really understood that because I think that if they had given her good material during that time she could have actually worked. That was her chance to click and have a couple of hits.
RuPaul: Yes, definitely.

The conversation then turned to our mutual love of Sneaky Sound System - particularly this song, which Ru discovered on my blog.

While you wait for the grand dame of drag to arrive in Sydney for Mardi Gras, watch clip from his iconic Christmas Special. La Toya's triumphant acting as RuPaul's long-suffering yet extremely glamorous much-younger sister RuPauline will rock you in ways that only Toy can!

Paris Hilton Is The New Bob Dylan

Say what you like about Paris Hilton, the heiress definitely has a sense of humour. Which is what makes her such an entertaining pop star - she's in on the joke. Take her amazing new single "Drunk Text". The collaboration with dance outfit Manufactured Superstars basically involves her talking about getting drunk and sending explicit messages over bargain-basement beats. Apart from summing up my favourite weekend activity, it's also ten kinds of amazing and positions Paris as the leading poet of her generation. Hearing the underrated diva sing-talk lines like "I went out to the club the other night to, you know, dance with my bitches" and "noone is safe in the Twittersphere anymore" gives me life. You just know Madonna heard "Drunk Text" this afternoon and went into voluntary retirement. The other hoes are now officially obsolete! Can Paris please hurry up and release the follow-up to her genre-defining debut? It's clearly the next "Teenage Dream"/"I Am... Sasha Fierce". Check out the trashtastic video below.

Feeling You - Soraya's Latest Video Triumph

A couple of weeks ago I posted Soraya's latest collaboration with French DJ Antoine Clamaran and now the long-awaited visual has arrived. As usual, Spain's gift to the world heats up the screen with her flawless beauty and magnetic charisma. I couldn't take my eyes off her and there are hot men in this clip! Apart from the Eurovision legend's elaborate fashion shoots, the clip is rather straightforward. It combines behind-the-scenes footage of the team in the studio with Antoine doing his thing in a nightclub. I guess it would be boring if anyone else did it but I could watch Soraya do a crossword - in real time - and still be fascinated. Happily, they leave the best for last when the dance diva wakes up in bed with Antoine and Vince M. So edgy! Check out the year's first great floorfiller below.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Biebus Annoints Carly Rae Jepsen The Next Big Thing

NYE 2011 was a momentous occasion in Carly Rae Jepsen's life. On that date, Biebus parted the clouds and floated down from the heavens to lavish praise on her latest single "Call Me Maybe" - naming it "possibly the catchiest song ever" on Twitter. A couple of weeks later, Justin announced that Carly had been signed to his label and was now ready for Bieber-assisted superstardom. And the effect was immediate. The 26-year-old Canadian's perky pop anthem rocketed to #1 in her homeland and sold double platinum. So who is the chosen one?

It turns out Carly came third on Canadian Idol in 2007 and already has a moderately successful album behind her. I haven't heard any of her old material but I wouldn't mind checking it out if the standard is as high as "Call Me Maybe". This is a great record - think Jennifer Paige on ecstasy - and deserves to be massive. Amazingly, a couple of tweets from Justin and fellow saint Selegend was enough to propel the track into the Australian iTunes top 50 this week with no airplay. Carly needs to jump on a plane to Sydney today because her North American smash is on the verge of blowing up here.

Check out the cute clip below.

Monday, February 20, 2012

DNA's 12 Best Tracks

A couple of weeks ago, David Musumeci and Anthony Egizii - better known under their professional name of DNA - signed an exclusive production deal with Sony Australia. This is incredibly rare for the local music scene and cemented the boys' status as our answer to Max Martin and Dr. Luke! I've been a fan of their work for a long time and got to know them while they were working with Chris Sorbello. Since then, they have gone on to bigger and better things - racking up 4 top ten hits in 2011 with massive tunes by Marvin Priest, Timomatic, Guy Sebastian and Reece Mastin. And while those hits made them pioneers of the local urban-dance movement, Dave and Ant have successfully tried their hand at a lot of different genres. Here are a dozen of my favourite DNA anthems:

12. Set It Off - Timomatic (Video)

Reaching the runner-up spot on the ARIA chart and selling double platinum, "Set It Off" has been one of the biggest songs of the Australian Summer. And with good reason. This killer urban-dance explosion picks up where Taio Cruz and Jason Derulo left off without sounding like a soulless clone. DNA's production is dead on trend and crisper than a freshly ironed shirt. It probably should be higher on this list but I'm currenty suffering from radio overload.

11. Alone No More - Ricki-Lee (Audio)

Do you remember when Ricki-Lee went R&B on her Brand New Day album? No? Don't feel bad. I think I'm the only person who bought it. Moving along, one of the highlights of that largely-forgotten pop opus is a pretty little ballad called "Alone No More", which puts the focus squarely on the weight-loss queen's beautiful voice. Cute lyrics and a pared-back approach make this a DNA winner.

10. Own This Club - Marvin Priest (Below)

It has to be said that DNA do the urban-dance sound better than anyone in Australia. And pretty much anywhere else for that matter. The song that first showcased their skill in the genre was Marvin Priest's catchy-as-fuck "Own This Club", which came out of nowhere to become a huge top 10 hit last year. While it's not the most original song to hit radio, this is very solid pop. Make sure you hunt down the adopted Australian's mini-album "Beats & Blips". I think it was one of the most underrated releases of 2011.

9. Won't Let You Go - Shannon Noll (Audio)

Proving that there are more strings to DNA's bow than club-bangers, "Won't Let You Go" is lighters-in-the-air rock ballad that really should have been released as single. This gem boasts one of Shannon's best vocals and the tender yet manly lyrics strike an emotional chord. The track was a real highlight from Nollsie's "Turn It Up" album, which is probably why the boys were asked back to contribute to his latest record.

8. So Lonely - Chris Sorbello (Video)

While the Chris Sorbello experience didn't end well for anyone, there's no denying that "So Lonely" is a good pop song. It's also one of the most adventurous DNA productions - with its icy synths and cool electro-soundscape. I can't help but think a major artist like Kylie or even a boring Scandinavian flop like Annie would have made this a smash.

7. Don't Miss You - Amy Pearson (Video)

Amy Pearson's one and only hit is a veritable Australian pop classic! This was unavoidable at radio and announced DNA as a production team to watch. From the soaring chorus to the pop/rock-lite arrangement, "Don't Miss You" is very Kelly Clarkson. In fact, it wouldn't sound out of place on "Breakaway" - which is a huge compliment. Still love this one.

6. Good Night - Reece Mastin (Above)

Yes, it sounds a lot like P!nk's "Raise Your Glass" but I'm pretty sure that's the point. "Good Night" is slightly derivative but it's also undeniably catchy and single-handedly made the X Factor franchise credible by reaching number one and selling buckets. I love it!

5. Runnin' - Jessica Mauboy (Audio)

Dave and Anthony get hood on the stunning B-side to J. Malley's smash hit "Burn". I have no idea why this was left off the original Been Waiting tracklist - it made the deluxe edition - because this is one of hottest songs Jess has ever done. Hot beats and attitude-filled lyrics make this one hell of a jam. It's better than anything on Rihanna's Talk That Talk.

4. Come Home - Christine Anu (Audio)

Now this was a bizarre single that came out of nowhere and sunk without a trace. Which is a shame because DNA's nifty take on the urban-synth ballad is amazing. Think Jordin Sparks' "Battlefield" with a bit of Beyoncé's "Halo" thrown in for good measure. Yes, it's that good and should have been number one for months. Fingers crossed it appears on Godnu's forthcoming album.

3. Until You're Over Me - Zoë Badwi (Above)

This epic dance anthem was rumoured to be 4th - or 6th, depending on how you count - single from my beard's album but it never eventuated. Which is sad and annoying because "Until You're Over Me" is a scarily good floorfiller. With the benefit of hindsight, DNA's atmospheric production should have been released after "Freefallin'" instead of "Accidents Happen" but I'm still hopeful it might get a belated club release. Download it now or, better yet, buy a copy of Zoë!

2. Who We Are - Stan Walker (Audio)

It's time for some real talk. What is Sony doing with Stan's Let The Music Play? The first two singles were good but they are sitting on smoking hot jams like "Shine", "Music Won't Break Your Heart" and "Who We Are". This glorious DNA club-banger is everything Chris Brown's "Turn Up The Volume" wanted to be but couldn't quite pull off. Don't get me wrong. I really like Breezy's new song but "Who We Are" is so much better.

1. Oxygen - Brielle Davis (Below)

Every time I run into David and Anthony, which admittedly usually happens at the pub, I get the overwhelming urge to tell them how much I love the B-side to Brielle's 2006 smash "Serial Thriller". "Oxygen" - or the Australian "Toxic", as I like to call it - is something of a homage to Britney's last great song. I love this track and think it's about time Brielle came out of hiding. So she had a few drinks and crashed her car into someone's house. We've all been there! Check out her enduring legacy to the Australian music scene below.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Give Breezy A Break

To paraphrase the famous words of Chris Crocker - leave Breezy alone! The wave of anger and spite that followed his recent Grammy performance and subsequent win was as baffling as it was irrational. Chris Brown was tried and convicted by a court three years ago. He's on probation, completed community service and undergone counselling. The Grammy Awards are supposed to celebrate musical excellence but many people clearly wanted them to be used as a tool of additional punishment. Am I the only person that finds this twisted?

Breezy was asked to perform because he had another banner year commercially and artistically. He's arguably the biggest male pop star on the planet and deserved to be at an event showcasing the best in music. As for the controversy surrounding his victory, my only issue is that F.A.M.E. is about as R&B as Aphrodite. But it is a great album and he was due for win. When are people going to let it go and move on? Rihanna clearly has. Take into consideration the following:

- Britney threatened to blow her children's brains out with a shotgun before being carted away in a paddy wagon

- Brandy murdered someone with her car

- Michael Jackson may or may not have been a child rapist

- All of our faves have been up on drugs charges

And yet all of these stars have been forgiven and, in some instances, treated as victims. What is it about Chris that makes usually rational people bay for blood? I have a few theories:

1. It clearly annoys everyone but Team Breezy that the incident hardly affected his career. The hits kept coming and F.A.M.E. sold double his last album

2. Chris comes off very badly in interviews and his perceived arrogance makes him distinctly unlikeable

3. Women beaters are lumped with child molesters as the scum of the earth

The reality is probably a mixture of all three. I'm not going to sit here and apologise for Breezy because I think it's vile to assault another human-being even if it is Rihanna. However, Chris was 19 years old when he committed the offence and, according to all parties, it happened only once. He was also raised by a single mother, who he clearly adores, so I don't think he's a misogynist. I put the assault down to being young, spoiled and stupid. Hopefully he's learned his lesson.

As for his rumoured appearance on Rihanna's "Birthday Cake" - unbelievably tacky. Whether she likes it or not, the one-time hitmaker is the poster girl for battered women and inviting your attacker to jump on the remix of your latest sex jam is seriously fucked up. It's even worse if it doesn't eventuate. Using this unfortunate situation to promote a flop album is morally questionable to say the least.

While we wait to see if the shadiest duet of all time actually happens, check out Breezy's new single "Turn Up The Music" (below). I initially dismissed the song as a bad Taio Cruz rip-off but it's grown on me immeasurably and the video is a winner. Strike up another hit for pop's most hated man.

Can't Get Better Than This

The Australian music scene is on fire at the moment. Acts like Gossling, 360, Snakadaktal, Gotye and Emma Louise are making eclectic, genre-bending pop that demands international attention. Another name to add to that list is Parachute Youth. Comprised of two DJs called Matt And Jonny, the duo is making huge waves at home with their debut single "Can't Get Better Than This". This is the best dose of Australian electro I've heard in a long time. Fans of bands like Cut Copy, Bag Raiders and Empire Of The Sun will find a lot to love about the record but it's not derivative. I pick up on splashes of '80s synth titans Depeche Mode and New Order. There's a dark dreaminess - for want of a better description - that sets "Can't Get Better Than This" apart. I love the moody chorus and crystal clear production. Then there's the beautiful video, which was shot on-location in Burkina Faso. How do a pair of newcomers end up with a finished product this flawlessly executed while major names churn out clips that look like they were filmed on someone's iPhone for $5? It really boggles the mind. Check it out below and download the song from iTunes now. I highly recommend also buying the awesome Sam La More remix.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Paulini & The Gayest Song Of 2012

I know I'm a bit late to the party on this one but I've needed time to process my excitement about Paulini's emergency worker-themed comeback anthem. As readers of this blog know all too well, I stan hard for the Fijian pop princess. For a recap of the diva's entire career (up to 2007) read this and this. After her memorable stint in Young Divas, the Australian Idol alum fell on hard times. There was her iconic domestic violence charity single "Scarless" and a random duet with Ronan Keating but the last time I saw her, she was singing her heart out to three disinterested homosexuals near the Mardi Gras entrance-gate. Happily, Ms Curuenavuli is back with the campest song of 2012. Can I get a hallelujah?

Co-written by Paulini and Cascada's favourite producers (I'm not kidding), "Fireman" is gayer than Oxford Street on a Saturday night. The lyrics, which basically explore stunning themes like being hosed down by men in uniform, are hilarious and the slick production is tailor-made for gay nightclubs. It's basically ten kinds of amazing. I love the chorus and the "cool me down" breakdown. The verses sometimes verge on farcical but the 29-year-old's killer vocals help pull the song back from the edge when it veers into Village People territory. To be honest, I prefer Paulini in R&B mode - her brilliant Beyoncé's knock-off "So Over You" is one of my favourite Australian pop song ever! - but if she keeps on churning out epic pop trash like "Fireman", I'm on board.

Watch the soft porn video below and download the song from iTunes now. On a slightly different note, can somebody please tell me where these firemen work? I'm about go start a fire.

Gossling's Wild Love

Unless you're one of those sad people that keeps their radio tuned to JJJ, chances are "Boys Like You" was your first taste of Gossling. Her feature on 360's - think Australia's answer to Professor Green - top 5 smash is brilliant but she raises the bar further on the follow-up. "Wild Love" is my new obsession and, with any luck, should be the track that propels Helen (her real name) from indie darling status to veritable pop phenomenon. Sounding a bit like Lana Del Rey on crack, Gossling explores a similarly dark and moody emotional landscape with her brooding melodies and elegant lyrics. The difference is that the Victorian chanteuse has an earthier quality to her music and a stronger pop sensibility. "Wild Love" is, quite simply, addictive as fuck. By the end of the second listen I was hooked and haven't stopped listening to it since. All she needs now is a memorable video and some radio airplay to breakthrough to the next level. The quality is already there. Gossling's EP "Intentional Living" drops on April 20. Check out the amazing lead single below and download it from iTunes now.

Friday, February 17, 2012

CC Strikes Again!

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you're probably very familiar with the woman formerly known as CC Martini. The pioneer of pip pop is one of the first ladies of pop trash. I stanned hard for singles like "Champagne Taste" and "Double Dutch" and genuinely adored her debut album "All The Way". After revolutionising the Australian pop scene as we know it, she disappeared to America and has been pretty quiet. But that's all about to change. CC, as she is now known, is gearing up to release her sophomore album Girl Scout and just dropped the lead single. "Worst Boyfriend" is a spiky little pop song littered with catchy hooks and raunchy lyrics. I love the on-trend dub-step breakdown and sexy synths. This is great stuff BUT please listen to the song with your eyes closed. No shade to CC - she knows I love her - but the video (below) is just not right. It's hard for independent artists but homegirl looks like she emptied a Goonbag and decided to film the clip in her garage using someone's mobile phone. I just don't want you to judge the song by the visual. On a brighter now, if "Worst Boyfriend" is a taste of what's to come - Girl Scout could turn out to be one of 2012's best independent pop albums. It's that good!

Dowload the song from CC's website by following this link. An iTunes release will follow shortly.

Roxette - Live In Sydney

17 years have passed since Roxette last toured Australia. That visit was to promote their underrated "Crash! Boom! Bang!" album, which was probably the Swedish duo's last hurrah as an international chart force. They remained popular in some parts of Europe but completely dropped off the radar over here, which is mystifying given the frenzied response they received from fans at last night's sold-out show at the Entertainment Centre. I haven't seen middle-aged housewives and vintage gays this excited since Cher's last farewell tour!

While the audience had clearly seen better days, Per and Marie look and sound almost the same as they did in their hey day. Sure, the now 53-year-olds haven't escaped the clutches of Father Time entirely but if you squint your eyes and down a few bourbons, you could be forgiven for thinking it was 1995 all over again. Which I mean as a huge compliment. Unlike certain acts from that era, Roxette aren't trading solely on nostalgia. They can still cut it as a live band and hit the high notes with ruthless Scandinavian efficiency. Take the opening number. "Dressed For Success" sounded every bit as crisp and catchy as it did in 1989. It was wild to hear that retro classic live for the first time in a sea of fans chanting every word. A trend that continued throughout "Sleeping In My Car" and only finished when the pop veterans settled into ballad mode with songs like "The Big L." and "Wish I Could Fly".

After a politely-received medley of songs from their latest album "Charm School", super-ballad "It Must Have Been Love" - AKA that ballad from Pretty Woman - had everyone on their feet again. Marie looks like she needs to eat a burger or twenty but her voice is ferocious and she delivered the song brilliantly, stopping occasionally to get the crowd to sing along. That was followed by a selection of their catchiest upbeat pop hits. "How Do You Do!" was a camp delight but I was more excited to hear "Dangerous", which is probably my second-favourite Roxette song. I still remember the stupid video with Per and Marie performing in a castle. Can someone please cover this amazing pop gem? It needs to be re-discovered by people under 30! They then closed the show by dusting off 1991's camp-as-tits "Joyride". Time hasn't wearied that lyrical masterpiece either.

After a quick break, the duo returned for an extended encore, belting out mega-hits like "Spending My Time" and "Listen To Your Heart". As much as I love their up-tempo numbers, the band's ballads that hold up even better. Marie's voice is still superb and the songs wouldn't wouldn't sound out of place on a Kelly Clarkson album today with a bit of a brush up. The Roxette experience then came to an end with their breakthrough smash "The Look" - you could probably hear the crowd na na na na na na-ing from three blocks away - and my favourite "Church Of Your Heart" (below). If you get a chance to see the perky twosome, go for it. The show is two hour reminder of why they were one of the most biggest acts on the planet between 1989 and 1991. I enjoyed every second.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Part Of Katy Perry I Like

Katy Perry's performance of "Part Of Me" was the highlight of this year's Grammy Awards for me. I was impressed by her surprisingly strong vocal deliverance and the clever staging but also flawed by the quality of the song. When I heard "Teenage Dream" was being re-released with a bunch of old demos, I really feared for the worst. Katy's sophomore album is an almost flawless affair - why pollute it with scraps? As it turns out, this super-charged Dr. Luke/Max Martin production stands toe-to-toe with songs like "Firework" and "Last Friday Night" in terms of quality. In fact, it might even exceed them.

The recently divorced diva appears to have re-discovered her edge. "Part Of Me" is a bitter and angry pop song. A raised middle finger to Russell Brand that strikes a chord with anyone that has been fucked over in the pursuit of love. The track would have slotted in nicely on "One Of The Boys", which is perhaps why it was originally overlooked. I honestly believe this is the sound Katy needs to pursue. Pop/rock suits her voice and personality better than electronica and seems like a more authentic fit. "Part Of Me" is already #1 on American iTunes and could well go on to become the hitmaker's record-breaking 6th chart-topper from "Teenage Dream". All hail Queen Katy!

Taylor Swift > Bon Iver

It's time for Justin Vernon to go back to where he came from. Taylor Swift has unexpectedly stolen his eerie folk-pop crown on "Safe & Sound" and let's face it, that comb-over is a crime against all that is good and holy. Bye! I'm so impressed with Tay Tay's latest opus. She's finally left the Disney princess lyrics behind and explores considerably darker territory on the first single from The Hunger Games soundtrack.

Perhaps it's the influence of alt-folk duo The Civil War or the film's post-apocalyptic subject matter that has prompted Taylor to leave her comfort zone and embrace her inner-depressed diva. Who knows? Whatever the reason for the change, she pulls it off brilliantly. Her moody lyrics and fragile voice hover above the sparse smattering of guitars and ominous drums like a tired hummingbird. I love the haunting chorus and beautiful harmonies. This really is a huge step forward. Make sure you also check out the gorgeous video, which finds Tay walking around a desolate winter landscape looking tired and cold. It's a lot better than it sounds!

"Safe & Sound" is available to download from iTunes now.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Elen Levon's "Like A Girl In Love" Video

Elen Levon unveiled her "Like A Girl In Love" video clip this afternoon and it's a big step up from "Naughty". Filmed on location in Cambodia, the moody visual plays like a PG version of Rihanna's "We Found Love" - you know... without the sex, drugs and nudity! The 17-year-old is shown cavorting (fully clothed) in the bedroom with her boyfriend, before roaming around the Asian wilderness on the back of a truck. I particularly love the beautifully filmed scene on the world's shabbiest ferris wheel. It's apparent her label was going for an edgier, more adult style while staying age-appropriate and it works. She looks gorgeous - the American flag outfit is hot - and the exotic location makes it unusually atmospheric. My only complaints are the slow beginning and lack of choreography. Elen can dance like a demon, it would have been nice to see a Janet Jackson-esque solo routine. Anyway, it's a huge step forward. A great clip for an even better song.

"Like A Girl In Love" hits iTunes on March 2. Buy it.

Five Best Things About The 2012 Grammys

Another year, another rubbish Grammy Awards full of predictable wins and snoozeworthy performances. No surprise then that Kanye West, who led the field with 7 nominations, decided to stay home. The biggest disappointment for me was the pathetic Whitney Houston tribute. One song? Really? Jennifer Hudson looked great and pulled off a competent rendition of "I Will Always Love You" but her take on Dolly's classic was heavy-handed and emotionally barren. Say what you want about the demise of Nippy's voice in later years, that beautiful instrument brought the Grammy stage to life in the '80s and '90s - and this is all they could muster? Other lowlights were Rihanna's embarrassing duet with Coldplay (does anyone like that awful song?), Rihanna's bad dancing and Rihanna's live vocals. Also on my hitlist is the sound engineer who forgot to plug in Jason Aldean's microphone, Justin Vernon's hairdresser and the executive who thought that Diana Ross's lifetime achievement award was better handed out off camera. Happily, there were some bright spots. Listed below are the five best moments from the 2012 Grammy Awards.

5. Onika's Career Suicide

Goodbye, Nicki Minaj. It's been real. For a while there I thought you might stick around for a few years and prove that you have more to offer than stupid facial expressions and hype but sadly it wasn't to be. Your performance of "Roman Holiday" sums up why you will never be relevant despite jumping on every hit single released in the past 18 months - you're a talentless fake, an unconvincing Lady Gaga impersonator, who relies on embarrassing theatrics to hide your vocal shortcomings and complete lack of charisma. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

4. Adele Winning Everything

Adele deserved her 6 Grammy Awards. She looked lovely and delivered a great version of "Rolling In The Deep". I just wish she had a more engaging personality. Knowing that a rough-as-nails slapper from the arsehole of London created "Someone Like You" kind of ruins the appeal for me.

3. Chris Brown's Glorious Return

All hail King Breezy. Chris made a triumphant return to the Grammy stage - expertly miming his awful new single and dancing up a storm. Sure, his performance was lightweight and kind of lazy but it came across as a breath of much-needed fresh air among all the self-reverential bullshit (almost) everyone else brought to the table. He then confirmed his status as pop's new Club King by returning for a medley with David Guetta and Deadmau5. Oh and props too for winning best R&B album with a collection of electronic dance songs. Um...

2. Taylor Swift Lifts Her Game

Taylor Swift made up for previous award show mishaps by belting out a superb rendition of "Mean" - the highlight of her stunning "Speak Now" album. I loved the hillbilly staging and the fact that she was happy to rock the stage wearing what appeared to be an old tablecloth. It was clever conceptually and her voice is really improving with age. I also like that she played an instrument and dragging out that calculated OMG I'm not worthy expression when she got a (deserved) standing ovation. Bring on her Australian tour!

1. Katy Perry Slaying Ya Faves

Now this was a surprise! I've been suffering from major Katy Perry fatigue lately and wasted several hours over the weekend putting together a post outlining my misgivings about her new "Teenage Dream" re-release but I just deleted it. The recently single diva stole the show with an innovative performance of her brilliant new anthem. Starting off with what appeared to be another tired performance of "ET", the music cut out after the first verse with apparent technical difficulties before she launched into "Part Of Me". She delivered one of her best live vocal performances and prowled the stage like a panther. Katy is so much convincing when she goes down this admittedly well-worn pop/rock path. It suits her voice better and you can tell she enjoys it more than trying to dance to some electronic track foisted upon her by management. I loved the not-so-subtle fuck you to Russell in the lyrics and can't believe how hot the song is. Is "Part Of Me" really a demo rejected from the original "Teenage Dream"? We are all not worthy.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Elen Levon - Second Single Cover & Preview

Brace yourself for the second coming of Elen Levon. The 17-year-old Sydneysider impressed all the right people with her debut single "Naughty" but the follow-up is even better. "Like A Girl In Love" was written by James Ash (the original Rogue Trader) and produced by local dance outfit Denzal Park. The synth-heavy, hook-laden club anthem shows Elen in a completely new light. Her sound is rawer and sexier this time around, which is reflected in the sizzling cover art (above) and raunchy filmed-in-Cambodia video clip. That is set to drop on Monday but you can get a preview of the teenager's new jam below. How catchy are those "whoa whoas"? They just worm their way into your brain and refuse to leave. "Like A Girl In Love" hits Australian iTunes on March 2. A remix package featuring big name DJs like Starkillers and John Dahlback will be released on March 16. Stay tuned for the video!

Shania Twain's Edgy Duet With... Lionel Richie

How is Beyoncé so much better than your faves? Why do I have no matching socks? What the fuck happened to Shania Twain? These questions have haunted me for years and I'm still no closer to finding satisfactory answers. The latter is a particularly perplexing. You think Adele's "21" is a game-changer for selling 12 million copies worldwide? Well, Shania's 1997 opus "Come On Over" sold 20 million. In the US alone. I know albums don't sell like they used to but she was a phenomenon. And then nothing. "Up" was considered a flop for only selling 7.5 million copies in America but those numbers were still gigantic by everyone else's standards. And yes, her cheating husband/producer left her but she's had 8 years to recover. What's going on?

I thought her reality series Why Now? might offer some insight into her absence. Unfortunately, it only revealed that she's super rich and still has great hair. The show did, however, lead to a one-off single last year. "Today Is Your Day" was roundly dismissed as a hot mess but I loved it and even included it in my Best Singles Of 2011 countdown. Although the song did present one significant issue. Shania appears to have lost complete control of the powerful pipes that made her famous, sing-talking her way through the song. I put it down to nerves and hoped for the best.

Well, six months have passed and we now another track to add to the country-pop queen's incomparable discography. She teams up with Lionel Richie for a pared-back cover of his classic '80s ballad "Endless Love". The pair were shown recording the duet (below) on Why Not? and it has finally surfaced as the lead single from the R&B crooner's latest album "Tuskagee". A video is on the way and the duet is already creeping up US iTunes. So is it any good? To be honest, not really. Their vocal styles don't combine particularly well and Shania is still mumbling. However, I'll probably be hailing it as a masterpiece after a couple of listens and I love what it represents. The hard-to-impress songbird is finally showing some interest in music and I'm hopeful that a new album is on the way. Music needs you, Ms Twain.

Download "Endless Love" from iTunes now.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Madonna's Reductive Super Bowl Performance

You know, I was going to keep my trap shut about Madonna's Super Bowl performance. My parents taught me to respect my elders and it seemed to be well-received by her less discerning fans. But then somebody sent me a bunch of pics comparing the production to Kylie's revolutionary Aphrodite - Les Folies tour and I had to speak out. I'm not sure where the images originated but let me know and I'll credit your hard work in the pursuit of truth, honesty and artistic integrity.

To be honest, the parallels between the 53-year-old's half-time extravaganza and Ms Minogue's show passed me by while I was watching the unfortunate trainwreck unfold before my eyes. I was more put off by Madonna's bad miming and unflattering costume. Not to mention the first cringeworthy pop culture moment of 2012 when the former hitmaker dragged out LMFAO and made a fool of herself trying to perform some kind of geriatric leg lift.

However, on closer inspection, the similarities can't be denied. From the costumes to the staging - this is pretty much a blatant rip-off. Sure, Madonna's team threw in some new choreography and some nifty LCD displays but we've seen it all before. It doesn't bother me so much if this is just something she threw together for the Super Bowl but I'm concerned if it's a taste of her forthcoming world tour. What's next a 3D concert film and pop-up deluxe edition of MDNA hand cut by Dannii that takes 8 months to arrive?

Watch the bogusness below. Reductive is the word.

EDIT: Picture via Live Learn Shine On.

Beyoncé: Absolutely 4lawless

All hail the return of King B! The Queen of Soul/R&B/Pop/Folk etc etc made her first public appearance since giving birth to our saviour Blue Ivy at a Jay Z concert tonight and she looks hotter than your fave after being trapped in a sunbed for three hours. I love the sexy dress, I'm glad she's moved on from the faux Shakira bed-hair that plagued the entire 4 era and those post-baby boobies have me questioning my lifestyle. At this rate, Bey will be back to release the 17th single from her genre-defining opus before we know it. You mad?

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Emeli Sandé Delivers Another Gem

With the exception of Lana Del Rey's exquisite debut album, great new pop music has been hard to find in 2012. But the year's second standout album is only a week away if the three singles from Emeli Sandé's highly-anticipated "Our Version Of Events" are anything to go by. "Heaven" didn't exactly rock my world but "Daddy" is a modern pop classic and I'm head-over-heels in love with "Next To Me". The Scottish diva's third solo release is something of a departure from her previous efforts. It's a pared-back affair dripping in Gospel and heartfelt sentiment that sounds completely out of place on the radio. And I mean that as a compliment.

I'm not sure if "Next To Me" was written about a lover or a religious figure (I suspect the latter) but it's beautiful, pure and joyous - three adjectives I can't remember ever using to describe a pop song before. I'm glad that Emeli is showing off those powerful pipes and recording music that some would describe as uncommercial. I know some people were disappointed by the ballad-heavy album sampler doing the rounds but if the rest of "Our Version Of Events" is anything like this, Queen Del Rey has some stiff competition on her hands. Check out the cheap and cheerful video below.

"Next To Me" is available to download from Australian iTunes now.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Emily Williams - Uncovered

Those not so Young Divas are all starting to crawl out of the woodwork! Ricki-Lee relaunched late last year with "Raining Diamonds", Kate DeAraugo is currently fighting the battle of the bulge on Excess Baggage and Emily Williams is gearing up to release her debut album - 5 years after coming second on Australian Idol. It will be interesting to hear what she comes up with. And while I wasn't a huge fan of "Spellbound" (although, to be honest, that probably had more to do with the truly heinous film clip), I love Emily's voice and have my fingers crossed that she found the right songs to show it off. The album drops Friday so we'll know soon enough! If you need a reminder of the powerful pipes on this criminally underrated diva, check out her fabulous rendition of "I Will Always Love You" on Idol way back in 2007 (below).

Saturday, February 04, 2012

The Return Of M-old-onna

Madonna is smart. I'll give her that. "Give Me All Your Luvin'" is a triumph from a marketing perspective. Start a feud with Lady Gaga, hire Nicki Minaj for radio relevance and buy M.I.A.'s soul for credibility. Throw in a Super Bowl performance and a newly rejuvenated face and you have a hit single. But is it any good? The short answer is no.

To my ears, "Give Me All Your Luvin'" is the completely unnecessary sequel to "4 Minutes" - yet another embarrassing plea to be embraced by the kids. It wouldn't bother me as much if the track itself was forward-thinking and original but this is derivative beyond belief. For starters, cheerleader chants have been done to death. Avril Lavigne, Kylie and Gwen Stefani all went there years ago and did it considerably better. Then there's the biggest problem. Martin Solveig basically just recycled his current club hit "Big In Japan". It's exactly the same song - only better because Martina from Dragonette isn't egotistical enough to chant her own name.

And what about feature creatures Nicki Minaj and M.I.A.? They are just used as comparatively youthful scenery. Onika gets a tiny rap while her formerly hip partner-in-crime is reduced to shouting a couple of lines before fading into the background. The annoying thing is - Lady Gaga has made electronic music palatable to US radio programmers again. Madonna could have come back with another "Music" or "Ray Of Light" and it would have generated just as much attention without making her look ten shades of desperate.

As for the video, it's a fail too. The horizontal walking is stolen from Kylie's last concert tour (look up "Wow" on YouTube) and I'm bored with all the self-referential garbage. She looks utterly ridiculous in that whit dress. Looks like Lady Gaga gets the last laugh. Fuck all of our lives!

RATING: 3.5/10

Friday, February 03, 2012

Elen Levon's Future C-Pop Classic

Poor Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and BoA. Their hopes of becoming Asia's next breakout sensation have been dashed now that Elen Levon is moving into C-Pop. A couple of weeks ago I posted pics from the 17-year-old's performance at the Gala World Music Festival in Beijing and mentioned that she belted out a new song called "Sun Burns Out" in Mandarin. Well, I finally got my hands on the audio and it's every bit as amazing as you would expect from Australia's next big thing. I have no idea what the teenager's pronunciation is like - very curious! - but it sounds great to my untrained ears. Your faves could never etc etc. Speaking of Elen, her next single "Like A Girl In Love" is about to drop any second now and I'm told "Naughty" has just been picked up for a US release in March. Phew! Anyway, brace yourself for a truly unique culture experience below.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Martika's Triumphant Return

Forget about Madonna's latest desperate comeback - the real music event of 2012 is the return of fellow '80s pop legend Martika! After a twenty year hiatus, the glorious diva behind such classics as "Love... Thy Will Be Done" and "Toy Soldiers" is back with a stunning new single called "Flow With The Go". It's a quirky little tune that wouldn't sound out of place on her self-titled debut. I love the snippets of Spanish and think the chorus is a real grower. The ageless beauty wrote and produced the song with her husband, which perhaps accounts for its slightly organic sound. I can't wait for club remixes to drop because nightclubs will never be the same again once a whole new generation of gays discover the first Latina of pop! "Flow With The Go" should be up on iTunes as soon as tomorrow but you can preview the song below. Welcome back, Martika. You have been missed!!

Listen to: Flow With The Go