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Who needs guitars anyway?


Best Bits
Monday, November 29, 2004

Dirrrty Pop Review: Girls Aloud - What Will The Neighbours Say?

It's that time again and although at times I thought we'd never see the day, Girls Aloud have another album out! And what better way to celebrate the occasion than with a track-by-track review?

1. The Show
I still love this one. It may not be the fierce electro-pop they're known for but it's still highly poptastic. It's cheesy, camp, Euro-esque discopop with great lyrics and heaps of fun. I couldn't imagine a better comeback single.

2. Love Machine
This is so underrated - it's fabulous! So much manic fun, plenty of everyone's fave Girl Aloud Nicola, the appearance of the excellent album title and I just noticed when they say "for now" it sounds like the top old-skool PJ phrase "Fnar!" The video is still a bit rubbish and frankly scary though.

3. I'll Stand By You
This is definitely my least favourite GA single, but I understand why they had to release it. It got them 2 much-needed weeks at no.1 and raised lots of money for a very deserving charity. It's pretty and Christmassy and it caused them to sing live on TV for the first time in absolutely ages.

4. Jump
Another single I thought was underrated. It's one of my favourites and the only one I own. It always cheers me up and makes me want to sing along (remembering not to sing "Heaven's waiters") and dance around the living room. However, it is a shame and reflects badly on the girls' true aceness to have 2 covers next to each other.

5. Wake Me Up
This is supposedly the girls' next single and I think it's a great choice of direction cos it's tough electro sound makes up for the soppy I'll Stand By You.

6. Deadlines & Diets
This is a gorgeous ballad and a new style for GA that I think works very well. It sounds straight off the Bridget Jones soundtrack although it's not. I spent ages trying to work out if they really sang "deadlines, diets and Delia Smith" but it turned out to be "devious men" which is just as ace. Any song that uses the phrases "groovy" and "wham bam" is pure brilliance in my eyes.

7. Big Brother
I still say this song's lyrics sound dodgy but no-one else seems to agree! This sounds like it could have been on Sounds Of The Underground but also has a touch of Kylie about it.

8. Hear Me Out
Another one that would have fit nicely on SOTU. One of the saddest songs GA have done. Nice talky bits from (I think) Cheryl. Generally lovely.

9. Graffiti My Soul
Probably their edgiest song yet as it could easily pass for 'proper' electro-pop. Sounds like the Mission Impossible theme tune at one point! Very cool and should be heard by any music snobs who don't like GA.

10. Real Life
The girls top their excellent vocabulary proving use of 'anaesthetic' in NGA with the word "tourniquet" in this track. Very danceable and I love the middle 8 and bridge.

11. Here We Go
It caused huge excitement with all sane pop fans when it was announced that the Aloud would be covering this legendary Moonbaby/Lene non-hit. The result is more than satisfactory but I agree with those who've said this song is better suited to a solo artist.

12. Thank Me Daddy
Similar subject to No Good Advice, this time saying their parents should be glad that they don't know what their daughters really get up to and just let them get on with it cos they obviously will anyway! The subject matter is far more rebellious than the sound of the song, which is a bit samey with the other songs. Another good middle 8 though.

13. I Say A Prayer For You
Not the best ballad they've done, but still better than all of Atomic Kitten's combined. Quite melancholy for GA.

14. 100 Different Ways
This sounds as Sugababes-esque as the title suggests. Perhaps it was written for them and they discarded it as the title is too similar to A Million Different Ways. Quite soulful for the Aloud.

So here is my top 5 new songs (not including singles) from WWTNS on the day of release:

1. Real Life
2. Dealines & Diets
3. Here We Go
4. Wake Me Up
5. Hear Me Out

I will probably come back and do another top 5 in a week or two and see how my opinions have changed, which I'm sure will be plenty. Now I'll leave you alone to enjoy your copy, make up some groovy dance routines and start learning all the genius lyrics off by heart...
Monday, November 22, 2004

Good news all round!

1. I think I have cured myself of liking Green Day. My sister has bought the album which makes them unappealing in itself, but now I've listened to it and it's rubbish.

2. Will, Maroon 5, GA, Natasha Bedingfield and the Scissor Sisters are all in the top 10 of Record Of The Year! So they probably don't have a chance of winning when both Busted and McFly are there too, but it'll be nice to see them perform as they're all in my top 10 fave acts of this year. It's quite strange to see Love Machine in the top 10, though - I wouldn't have thought it was anywhere near successful enough, as ace as it is.
Saturday, November 20, 2004

Video Killed The Radio Star

The Delays - Lost In A Melody
How did I not know that this band are amazing?! This sexy electro-rock storm is one of my favourite songs around at the moment. The music, the lyrics, the high bits and the glorious video are exactly what credible grown-up music should be in 2004. And hopefully this is how it will sound in 2005 too! I'm also proud to say I can now tell the difference between them and the Stills - quite a feat for an innocent pop girl like me.
97% Poptastic!

Ronan Keating feat. Yusef Islam - Father And Son
Thanks to my Mum, who adores him, and partly to his few worthwhile moments in Boyzone (Namely All That I Need & Key To My Life) I have managed to go through life without hating Ronan Keating too much. But Father And Son was always one of my least favourite Boyzone songs and bringing in the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens for a Christmas re-release is a bit of a cheap trick. Still, Yusef doesn't seem to be doing much these days other than being accused of terrorism, so I expect he'll be pleased for the sales boost. This could be Band Aid's biggest challenge for Christmas no.1.
34% Poptastic!

Band Aid 20 - Do They Know It's Christmas
This video would be much improved if it actually showed the 2nd most important person present aka Mr Gary Lightbody, where art thou? There's not even a glimse of him here and he doesn't have a bit to sing, so there will be no record of his presence. He wrote a song for Freeform Five, several for the movie Camp and the whole Final Straw album - how can he not be included here?! Anyway, there is plenty of the actual most important person involved (I'll just let you guess who that might be), including a very lovely bit where he is having a giggle. And he's wearing Adrian's jacket, so a good fashion day too! As for the song itself, it does just seem like a bad cover version of the original, which is I guess what it is, but it deserves to be better than that considering all the talented people involved (although Justin Hawkins' presence throughout practically the whole entire song does balance that out). The singers they've chosen to sing lines are all good enough but few of them have very strong voices, for example Dido, the Sugababes and Chris Martin are very understated compared to the original singers of their lines and that just makes the song sound comparitively very bland. It also seems a bit random who they have chosen for those bits, for example Beverley Knight, Dizzee Rascal and Ms Dynamite over the Bedingfields, who could have done their first bit of duetting on a single, and Busted who are easily the biggest pop act of the last 2 years and will sell millions of anything they put their name to, only get one word each!
88% Poptastic!
Friday, November 19, 2004

Dirrrty Pop Review: Darren Hayes Live In London

On Tuesday night I attended my 2nd full Darren Hayes concert (but the 6th time I have seen him sing live) and I have to agree with Darren himself who said it was the best gig of his life. I went unsure of what to expect - not having read any reviews due to this only being the 2nd night of the tour meant I didn't know which songs he'd be singing (ie. Savage Garden, Spin or TTATS), what the venue was like (I hadn't been to Shepherd's Bush before) or even who the support act would be.

I arrived just in time and got to the front of the queue to get in to find that it was the wrong queue and the one I was meant to be in stretched almost right around the block! Once I got into the venue I made my way to the area in front of the stage which was already packed out and saw that the support act, called The Honeymoon, had just begun. I was very impressed with them as they were the kind of band whose own concert I'd happily go and see. The main singers were a blonde girl probably in her late 20s with an accent I thought was Irish (but turned out to be Icelandic!) and an absolutely gorgeous singing voice, and a boy with a guitar whose voice accompanied hers beautifully. Their own songs ranged from really great to a little boring, but they also did a cover of Running Up That Hill, which despite not being a huge Kate Bush fan I love thanks to Within Temptation's recent excellent version, and it sounded great sung by The Honeymoon. I know a few people who will absolutely love them so I'll definitely be recommending. I think Darren had learned from his previous mistake of opening with a dull DJ act on his last tour, as this band were perfectly suited to the audience.

Darren came on stage just after 9pm to huge excitement from the crowd and began his set with 3 songs from The Tension And The Spark - the lovely and personal Void, the new single Darkness and the sexy I Like The Way. These were followed by Strange Relationship, I Forgive You and to my immense delight, Break Me Shake Me, proving that TTATS is as much a return to the original SG sound as a brand new style for Darren.

The signature solo single Insatiable was next and then it was time for the iPod Karaoke Challenge where a member of the audience was pulled up on stage to choose a song from Darren's iPod for him to sing next. She chose Hold Me (Shoul have gone for The Best Thing, silly woman) but Darren rectified the situation with an utterly fabulous rendition of I Want You. Then he sang his personal favourite, Unloveable, and absolutely amazing it was too. Following this with the beautiful Two Beds & A Coffee Machine, an emotional song which means a lot to many Savage Garden fans, was a genius idea and those three songs together had to be the highlight of the night for me.

One of the least innovative tracks from the album but still very lovely, Dublin Sky was next, followed by a few more Savage Garden favourites; Crash And Burn, which I had never heard him perform live before and Truly Madly Deeply. The final section of the show began with one of my top 3 singles of the year, Pop!ular, and my Mum's favourite I Knew I Loved You. It only took the rhumble of the first chords of the next song for at least half the crowd to have their hands in the air in heart shapes. It is of course Affirmation, the song that turns any crowd into a Darren-worshipping cult. Everyone was singing along at the top of their voices and dancing crazily and no-one seemed to notice or care that they looked idiotic. If you haven't seen Darren sing this song to a group of his biggest fans, you haven't lived! There is really nothing like it.

The final song of the evening was Feel, which Darren explained was the other end of the spectrum to his opening song - we had travelled from dark to light. It was perhaps not the best song to end with as it's nowhere near the best on the new album, let alone of all his songs, but that's not to say it isn't lovely.

The concert as a whole was absolutely fantastic - I thought the last show of his I saw in 2002 was unbeatable but Tuesday night proved me wrong. The combination of his incredible back-catalogue (the setlist was more like a list of my favourite songs of all time), the fabulous support act, his wonderfully dedicated and appreciative fans and his beautiful singing voice made it the perfect night out.

Links:
The Honeymoon
Darren fans' tour diary
Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Dirrrty Pop Review: Freeform Five - Strangest Things


(Click above to buy)

If you don't know who this band are, you are seriously losing out. With tracks written by Karen Poole (Alisha's Attic), Hannah Robinson (Xenomania) and Gary Lightbody (Snow Patrol), that combination alone was enough to get me rushing to the shops and after the initial confusion of not finding it in the rock'n'pop section, a clever idea to check the dance/electronica shelf meant today I finally came home with my copy of Strangest Things.

I had already heard 3 of the songs (the singles Strangest Things and Eeeeaaooww and a track which was posted for download on Fluxblog, Electromagnetic) and loving all of them I had great expectations for the group's debut album. I doubted that they could make a whole album as strong as the song Strangest Things, but they have managed to make a consistently catchy, interesting and utterly poptastic record.

The CD sleeve is unusually thick which I expected to be full of lyrics and detailed 'thank you's, but it does in fact have pictures of each of the letters from 'Freeform Five' artistically filled with dolls house furniture and actual dolls, ranging from a disco complete with mirrored walls and discoballs in the F to a bus shelter complete with posters and timetables in the R, alongside lyrics quoted from the CD.

As for the music itself, it is mostly fun, sexy electro-pop but tracks such as the gorgeous Slow and What Are You Waiting For, soulful Ask Me Tomorrow and Latino-sounding Shake don't sound like the same band, but are of course just as good. Freeform Five are a band with seemingly endless talents and they deserve more success than the world could possibly hold. I want to compare them to other artists so you can get an idea if they're something you'd like (and believe me, they are!) but there is no-one around right now quite like them. There's a touch of a poppier Prince in several songs and some sound like a better version of JC Chasez or BT. The closest comparison in terms of the mixed boy/girl set-up of the group, variety of styles and general sound is the Scissor Sisters, although Freeform Five are more modern-sounding and actually British. All that's left to say is that, in case you haven't got the message already, YOU MUST BUY THIS ALBUM!
Monday, November 15, 2004

Hooray!



Plus: Just how cute is this photo?



Extremely! Well done Will for not wearing anything embarrassing (I know it's hard for you sometimes) on a day that will probably come back to haunt you every Christmas til the end of time. What a shame for all the other participants that they won't be famous anymore by then.
Sunday, November 14, 2004

New Maroon 5 Video Excitement

Click here to download the new video for Sunday Morning (thanks to UKMaroon5 on their site). And here is a blurry screencap of by far the best moment in any music video around at the moment:



Awww! Ryan gets to be in this one quite a lot as well, and Adam looks far less scary. He's passed that baton onto the utterly rubbish Jesse who's head currently looks like a large orange mothball.
Saturday, November 13, 2004

Video Killed The Radio Star

Green Day - Boulevard Of Broken Dreams
I'm not a Green day fan in any way, but with this new single I am surprisingly impressed. I had heard that their new CD is their poppiest yet, and this is a pop/rock anthem that you can't fail to sway along to. I love how it whooshes into the chorus and I can't help singing along - this could easily be, and deserves to be, a huge hit.
84% Poptastic!

Maroon 5 - Sunday Morning
I never imagined the Sunday Morning video as anything other than a relaxed Sunday trip out to the countryside or a windy beach, but I absolutely love the video that they've come up with. It's basically clips of the band singing the song in a recording studio interspersed with various people singing it in a karaoke club. Near the end you can hear the karaoke singers join in and what could be cheesy and song-ruining in fact makes it all the more brilliant. This is one of the best songs on an absolutely amazing album which should sell even more copies to anyone who wasn't already persuaded that they are the topsest band around!
98% Poptastic!

Nadia - A Little Bit Of Action
This song could have gone 2 ways, unbearably cheesy or tacky in a good way, and although I'm not yet entirey sure I think it's thankfully going for the latter. Ignoring the stupid "Yeah, whatever! Please!" talky bit at the end, it's very catchy and fun and her singing voice isn't half as annoying as I expected. Ok so she's obviously no Christina Aguilera but the producers have doen a reasonable job of covering up that fact and making the song fairly listenable. I think this might just do a bit better than Big Brother winner Craig's Christmas single 4 years ago...
67% Poptastic!

Dirrrty Pop Review: Daniel Bedingfield - Second First Impression

I wouldn't call myself a fan of Daniel himself but I really liked his last album and his general idiocy doesn't stop him being a great songwriter. Here is my short guide of what to expect from his new CD:



Growing Up
A tougher urban/latino number to open with that wouldn't have sounded out of place on GGTT. 6.5/10

Complicated
Reggae-influenced with lots of high bits. Best track for dancing to. 8/10

Wrap My Words Around You
A pretty, mid-tempo love song, with a chorus that goes a bit rocky making it more interesting. 9/10

All Your Attention
Quite typical r'n'b-sounding with some nice lalalas. Could imagine this being on a new BSBs album. 7/10

The Way
Rumoured next single (bad idea!) and this album's answer to I Can't Read You ie. a little rocky with plenty of long notes. 7.5/10

Sorry
Written to Natasha apologising for being a twat to her. Nice in places but a bit messy and gets suddenly louder about 2 mins in. 6/10

Show Me The Real You
One of the catchiest and most fun tracks, a mixture of pop, rock and latin in sound. Gets better when it kicks in at about 1.30. 8.5/10

Don't Give'r It All
Firstly, why not Give Her? That annoys me. Most upbeat, rocky and aggressive track so far but verses and middle 8 are quite poppy. 7.5/10

Nothing Hurts Like Love
You know this one. 8/10

Holiness
Mid-tempo and nice-sounding with a bit of a "let's do it!" vibe. 8/10

All The Little Children
Strangely short, very slow and generally quite pointless. 4/10

Draw You (Demo)
Why are 2 of the best tracks the bonus tracks? This is a lovely, gentle acoustic number. 9/10

A Kiss Without Commitment (Demo)
Not only is this the loveliest and best song on the album but it also has my name in it twice! How could it no be my favourite? 10/10

I'm Not Dead (Hidden Track)
Manic and silly, Daniel goes heavy shouty rock yelling "I am alive! I'm not dead!" Clearly not his best lyrical moment but you can't say it's not fun. 7/10

Average: 7.5/10

Overall it's a pretty good album. Definitely more focused in sound and musical direction than GGTT, although that does mean less of the wide variation that made his debut so good. There are a few gorgeous ballads and some very catchy faster moments, and the album as a whole fits together very nicely. I have no idea where he can go next single-wise because there are few tracks that stand out above the rest - nothing shouts "Release me now!" but I still say the album is very much worth having, because I do think it will be a grower and I'm definitely glad I bought it.
Thursday, November 11, 2004

Losing My Religion

I'm very ashamed to say that I have been enjoying some rather unethical singles lately. First I found myself downloading and playing on repeat I Predict A Riot by the Kaiser Chiefs. And now I'm becoming worryingly fond of Green Day (they're just like Busted except semi-good), in particular their incredibly lovely new single Boulevard Of Broken Dreams. But worst of all, and you're all going to hate me for at least a millenium for this... the other day I denied ownership of a Girls Aloud album. That really is the ultimate sin isn't it? I don't know how I will ever reclaim my poptastic reputation.
Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Video Killed The Radio Star

Here are some songs that I've seen the video to already but won't be released until the new year:

Stonebridge - Take Me Away
Put 'Em High was a typical 2004 dance hit but certainly one of the better of a generally terrible selection. I was very interested to find that the singer on the track was Therese, a Swedish star who released a great single called Time last year that was very Dannii Minogue-ish and generally ace. This is Stonebridge's follow-up single and it's perhaps not as instantly catchy but more of a proper pop song rather than just a club song. I really like it so hopefully it will be as successful as Put 'Em High.
79% Poptastic!

Hanson - Penny & Me
Earlier this year I kept hearing that Hanson were making a comeback but I didn't think that it would either be very good or get released in the UK. I had clearly forgotten both the aceness of I Will Come To You, Where's The Love, Mmmbop, This Time Around etc. and the hugeness particularly of Mmmbop. Hanson are one of those bands you can't forget. They're in the UK this week for a few concerts and the release of their acoustic EP. With luck this and the recent Mmmbop-featuring TV ads will get them back in people's minds enough to create some interest for the new single. The video is nothing extraordinary - just the band riding around some deserty place with a girl presumably playing Penny, but it's very interesting to see how the brothers have grown up into buff hotties of some sort at least.
85% Poptastic!

Ciara ft. Petey Pablo - Goodies
This is apparently part of the new trend in r'n'b music called 'crunk' of which all I know is that Usher's Yeah is supposed to be the biggest crunk hit so far. Luckily this isn't as annoying as that but just as useless. Research tells me that crunk songs are from the 'dirty South' and traditionally consists of lots of drum machines and repetitive chants. The sirens of Yeah are replaced by a continuous computerised whoosh in Goodies. The video couldn't be more typical US r'n'b, with Ciara on the phone on the step of her house and a bunch of rappers (presumably including Petey Pablo) driving around in an open-top car. I don't know why this has been so big in the US but I really hope it doesn't do the same here, cos it feels like it's already been around for months after only one listen. If it's gonna be huge then I'd like to hurry up and get it over with.
22% Poptastic!



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