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Who needs guitars anyway?

Best Bits
Monday, October 31, 2005

Out Today!

Buy it, or face my scary wrath!
Sunday, October 30, 2005

I don't get it

How can Hilary Duff get a top 10 hit with that piece of utter mediocracy, when Rachel Stevens couldn't get one with the best pop single of the year so far? Who on Earth is buying Hilary's single? Whoever they are, they obviously like pop music, so why not Rachel? It just doesn't make sense.
Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Best Is Yet To Come

Only 2 more months of 2005 to go, so lets have a look at what aceness we have yet to enjoy:

October 31

Darren Hayes - So Beautiful
Hooray! Darren is back, and the song is as beautiful as the title suggests. If you want more of the sound of his last album, you may be disappointed, but Savage Garden fans will love it, and that's what's most important as this single is promoting the SG greatest hits.

Dear Eskiimo - Be Patient
I thought this ace 3-piece had fallen down the dumper after I heard nothing of them in the several months since our MTV-based introduction, so I was surprised but very pleased to see them popping up on the Popjustice homepage and even releasing a single, of sorts, so soon! If you like quirky pop music, you should definitely give this group a try.

Jamie Lidell - Multiply
I thought this had been released already but perhaps not. As anyone who saw him on Jools Holland recently will agree, this guy is an incredible singer and his voice totally doesn't match his body. His album as a whole isn't poppy enough for my liking but he deserves to do really well and I think he's in with a good chance.

Patrick Wolf - Tristan
By far Patrick's best song, with an ace video as well. If, like me, you find his usual sound a bit difficult to get into, you must hear this one cos it's about as fun, unusual and exciting as you can get.

November 7

Backini - Victoria Falls [7” only]
This is a very odd song, but I've decided I like it. It reminds me a bit of Black Box Recorder, except the speaking is done by an electronic voice, like you get on the speaking clock or whatever. The climax of the chorus is, appropriately, "I have no time for talking, because I'm in love with Stephen Hawking". Very eccentric, very funny and far too cool for this web site.

Bananarama - Look On The Floor (Hypnotic Tango)
This should have been their comeback single instead of Move In My Direction, because it's way better. The comeback may not have been hugely successful, but the music they're making is perfect for them. They're like Girls Aloud's older sisters, or at least their cool young aunts, and the music is great, but just a bit more laid-back, mature and comfortable with itself, despite not being quite what the taste-challenged youth of today is looking for.

Madonna - Hung Up
I've spoken about this song several times recently, so I have nothing to add, except hooray for Madonna and I can't wait for the album!

November 14

Frank Popp Ensemble - Love Is On Our Side
I posted a song by this retro-fabulous lot on ITG a short while ago, but I had no idea they had a new single on the way. It's quite similar to Hip Teens, the song I posted, but just as good. This is probably (or certainly will be) on an advert, as most of their songs have been, so listen out for it.

Girls Aloud - Biology
Most people seem to be calling this a grower but I'm pleased to say it only took me one listen to *heart* it. Either that means I know a good song instinctively, or I'm just less fussy than everyone else!

The Like - What I Say And What I Mean
A very similar story to Dear Eskiimo here - I heard of them a long time ago (in this case several years!) and had forgotten entirely about them until they were mentioned on Pop Text and later that day I saw their video on TV! This is a really good song, much better than the one I downloaded ages ago (and must have deleted, cos I can't find it now).

Modern - Jane Falls Down
I wrote about this song's video here a few weeks ago, and they're a really good band so I'm looking forward to hearing more about them, as I believe this is their first CD single release. Hopefully it will lead to many more!

Will Young - Switch It On
It's Will, I don't need to explain his presence here. Can't wait for the album, still loving this song and video - just a general YAY!

November 28

Tina Cousins - Wonderful Life
I am still annoyed at this new version being far inferior to the one she released in Australia, but I guess I should be pleased that it's being released at all, and seems to be doing fairly well on the music channels. Dare I suggest it might be a hit?

December 5

Jo O Meara - Ease Your Pain
Another ballad, not as good as What Hurts The Most, but I still think she is properly ace and deserves to do well, so I'm hoping this will grow on me or that I'm the only one who thinks it's boring.

December 12

Girls Aloud - See The Day
2 Aloud singles in less than a month? They're spoiling us! I'm a bit dubious about this cover, though, as the original (posted on Into The Groove) is very good but nothing like GA's usual sound and not very Christmassy either. Still, I won't knock it 'til I've heard it!
Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Madonna Video

If you thought the song was brilliant, just wait til you see the video! My favourite bits include the dancing waiters, the bit on the tube and, best of all, the Dancing Stage bit! In fact, it's all very similar to the video for Crush (1980 Me) by Darren Hayes, which was coincidentally bootlegged with Holiday by Madonna for it's b-side. It's all a big cross-Pacific love-in.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005

What a surprise!

My blog is worth $0.00.
How much is your blog worth?

Monday, October 24, 2005

Cheeky Monkeys!

An unknown indie act at no.1? This can only be bad news...or can it? There have been so many crap no.1s this year (in fact, the Sugababes have been the only one I've liked at all) that another one hardly makes much difference, and at least this one is encouraging dancing. This is also good news as the band are actually on an independent record label, so can not only legitimately call themselves indie, but proves yet again the rubbishness of major labels. Well actually I'm not sure how it does that, I just wanted to say something positive and as you can see, there isn't much. Still, at least it's a bit of variety...
Saturday, October 22, 2005

Dirrrty Pop Review: The Backstreet Boys - Never Gone Tour, Wembley Pavillion

Wembley is full of screaming teenage girls, a multi-million-selling boyband are on stage - you'd be forgiven for thinking we were back in the 90s, and for an hour and 45 minutes we very almost were. I've been to more than my fair share of pop concerts, but this was my first time seeing a full show by a boyband and it was quite an experience.

The Backstreet Boys haven't toured the UK 6 years ago, and it was after hearing of the brilliance of that 1999 tour that I decided I would go along the next time the band played the UK - I had no idea their return would not arrive for 6 years, but I kept my promise and bought my ticket the day they came on sale. It seemed that I wasn't the only one desperate to see the band, as the tickets sold out in a few hours and more dates were quickly announced for the next night at Wembley as well as Manchester and Birmingham.

When the day finally arrived for me to see the band, I was extremely excited, and after a quick detour to Ikea I arrived at Wembley Pavillion (the enormous tent currently filling in for the mid-revamp arena) just in time for the support act. I was more than shocked when on stage came one of my worst enemies in pop history - Jamie Shaw, the really annoying one from One True Voice!! He sang one reasonable song, 2 really crap ones and a cover of My Sharona. I wonder how many audience members thought it was a new song sampling No Good Advice?

After that terrible shock, it was a half hour wait until the band finally came on stage, but when they did there was so much noise my ears were ringing. The BSB fans, like the band themselves, may have aged a bit since the last tour, but their enthusiasm hasn't waned one bit. Most of the audience sang along to every word of every song, album tracks included, and when the biggest hits cropped up you couldn't hear the boys themselves, the fans were so loud. They sang 2 or 3 singles from their 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th albums, plus their Drowning, from the greatest hits, and most of the songs from their new CD Never Gone. They have had so many huge songs, there was no need for cover versions or old album tracks - every song they sang got a fantastic reception. Most bands are lucky to have 1 song as great as any of the songs they sang.

One thought that both amused and horrified me was how uncool the BSBs must seem to 12 year olds now, yet I was that same age at the height of my Backstreet fandom. I laugh at the thought of people still being fans of Cliff Richard or Paul McCartney or going on the Here & Now tours, yet I still got excited about the return of Hanson a year or so ago, and there I was at the BSBs concert, as much a fan as ever. For the first time I felt genuinely old, and at 17 that surely can't be right!

International Video Challenge

Representing Norway: Marion Raven - Here I Am
The second solo single for ex-M2M member Marion Raven, and it's another piece of almost-brilliance. Marion worked with pop genius Max Martin on her debut solo album and was apparently the test-project for his new rockier sound, which has been a success for Kelly Clarkson, the Backstreet Boys and others. Her songs are quite good, as you would expect, but she doesn't have a Since U Been Gone or Just Want You To Know or even a Behind These Hazel Eyes in her possession, and I think she'll need something a bit more exciting to get her noticed. She is a fantastic singer, though, as I can attest from seeing her briefly live this summer.

Representing Mexico: Frankie J - More Than Words
Mr J is quickly establishing himself as a Latino one-man Westlife, as he's releasing another cover version, of a song than the 'Life have even recorded themselves (not that there are many left that they havent't). I have only heard the Westlife version once, but I'm sure it was pretty bad, yet I'm also sure this is worse, and even more dull. How can this guy be popular in America? He's not even good-looking...

Representing Australia: The Veronicas - 4ever
I posted this song on Into The Groove a while ago, and another track off the ir album earlier this week, but this was my first glimpse of their video. They are a pretty young sister duo who sing energetic pop-rock, and this track is also written by the aforementioned Max Martin, and is possibly my favourite of his rockier songs. The video just shows the girls messing around in various places, with matching bright red lipstick and beaded necklaces. They're already huge in Australia and I think they've got a great chance of UK success, but we'll have to wait and see!

Representing Sweden: Andreas Johnson - Show Me XXXX
Yep, it's "that" Andreas Johnson, the one who sang Glorious a few years ago. He's back with a new single which seems to be doing rather well in Sweden, but although it has grown on me, it's nowhere near as good. The XXXX stands for "love" by the way, nothing rude or anything.

Representing India: Bombay Rockers - Wild Rose
Despite their name, this duo are not very rock'n'roll. This song sounds most like something Craig David would do, and they have recently supported Westlife on tour. Not a great start to their career, but the song is nice enough, just not interesting enough to make much of an impression on me, and I doubt they'll be making an impression on many other people either.
Monday, October 17, 2005

Dirrrty Pop Review: Rachel Stevens - Come And Get It

I decided to wait until the week of release to review this album, because for once it is absolutely imperative that you buy it and don't download it for free. Your Rachel needs you! So here, at long last, is my review...

Despite never purchasing Rachel's debut album or even being a huge Rachel fan until this album campaign began, I decided that I would buy this album before I had heard any of the songs (except Some Girls, but that was on the last album so not an indicator of this one's style). I decided it when I heard that the first release, Negotiate With Love, was written by the members of Vacuum, a protegée band of Alexander bard, the man behind Alcazar and Bodies Without Organs. When I actuall heard NWL I was even more certain that I would buy it, and this certainty increased with every song from and piece of news about the album that I heard.

The general theme of the album is electronic pop music which is in varying measures both sexy and fun. This album is to music what Girls Aloud's debut was two years ago - exactly what every artist, pop or otherwise, should be aiming for, and every other British pop album of the past year (not that there have been very many at all) pales in comparison. The writing credits are shared out between the top writers in the business, and the best news is that most of them are British. A few examples are Richard X, Hannah Robinson, both Poole sisters, Brian Higgins, Miranda Cooper, Rob Davis and of course Alexis Strum whose brilliant unreleased single Nothing Good About This Goodbye is covered here (just as good in a different way, is my opinion). Anyone who believes that the British pop scene is currently lacking in musical talent should think again - the talent is simply more concentrated in writers and producers than singers at the moment, and with the kind of music this is producing, I really don't think it's a terrible problem.

It would be silly to list all the great songs on this album, because there are so many, and there's little point in describing the style of the music because the singles released are a perfect representation of the cross-section of aceness presented on this CD. There are a few songs you can imagine having appeared on one of S Club's albums (particularly the very poptastic Every Little Thing and Funny How) or perhaps Rachel's debut (All About Me or Je M'Apelle), but there are also songs such as Crazy Boys and I Will Be There with a more mature sound, and then there's I Said Never Again which as you'll know by now is brilliant in every single way possible.

No pop fan's CD collection is complete without this album. No-one is expecting it to make no.1, but we can at least buy enough to ensure it won't be the last we hear of Rachel, because once you hear this CD you'll want another one just as ace for every week of the year.
Saturday, October 15, 2005

OMG! Best New EVER!

No it really IS this time! Look at the tracklisting for Will's new single:

2 Track CD
1. Switch It On
2. Switch It On Freeform Reform

That can only mean one thing...a Freeform Five remix! Of Will! WOOOOOW!!
Friday, October 14, 2005

You've heard of test tube babies...

but what about test tube ladies?

Popping The Question: Who Will Be The Next Big Thing?

It's the question that every record company wants to know, so they can sign whoever it is and make back all the money they have lost from failed attempts to create the next trend. The problem is, trends are not created by record companies, and they cannot be predicted, although whenever a new one occurs you can be sure that everyone will claim to have predicted it. Here are a few possibilities of who could be the next big thing.

One way that many attempt to predict the pop future is to look at past trends, and this of course leads us to the biggest pop phenomenon of the last few years - Busted. They did what only the most powerful bands can and managed to spawn a new band, in the form of McFly, to take over when the members of Busted had had enough. Now McFly are almost at the same point in their career as Busted were when they split up, so it's time for a new protegée. Polydor (?) tried and failed to launch a female version of the Busted/McFly style of band with the Faders, and Charlie attempted to inherit the Busted throne with his band Fightstar, but of course their rubbishness left them far from the top of the charts. However, it may not be the idea of a female Busted or Busted spin-off band that was faulty, simply the way in which it was carried out.

The second member of Busted to launch a side-project is James and his band Son of Dork. Although James was the only member of Busted I personally liked, he was probably the least popular of the boys. However, his band seem to be much more of a continuation of Busted than Fightstar were and I can see them appealing much more to the ex-Busted wannabe groupies and especially the more casual fans than Fightstar. The other boys in the group seem to have the same spirit as Busted and the first single could easily have been taken from an imaginary 3rd Busted album. As long as the Busted fans have not moved on too far, this lot should do very well, as this kind of music is absolutely what is popular with young teenage girls at the moment.

Having another try at the female Busted idea are the Lovebites. Their debut single, You Broke My Heart, is released on Monday, so by this time next week we'll know if they have a chance at being "the next big thing". Despite (or in fact because of) being very normal-looking girls I do think they will be more popular than some of the other wannabe female Busteds. Their normality means teenage girls, their target audience, will relate to them in the way my friends and I related to the Spice Girls in the 90s, reflecting the reason I believe Busted were so popular - because they were attainable. Young girls would probably know someone who looks like one of Busted, or if not they could easily imagine them being in the 6th form at their school and dream that one day they would catch their eye in the school canteen and it would be love at first sight. Clearly I have read too many teen novels but you must understand my point. The Lovebites are girls you could imagine being your friends - your girly gang who play tricks on boys who dump one of you and get told off in every lesson for gossiping. If the Lovebites can get enough publicity, they could be huge, but at the moment I'm quite sad to be far from sure that they'll manage it.

Also taking this route are Frank, the girl band created through the Channel 4 series Totally Frank. The band are made up of actresses who can also sing and play instruments, which means that if the programme is successful they will release an album, on which they have been working with the fantastic Girls Aloud and Sugababes producers Xenomania. The album may be good and the concept could work, but there are several problems with this idea. They seem to believe they have come up with a very original idea, but I for one can't see how it differs from the launches of S Club 7, North & South or Cleopatra, and only one of those was particularly successful. I'd like to hear the Frank album and new poppy girlbands never go amiss, but I wish I could be as confident about their success as they seem to be.

Also hoping that the era of gaining pop stardom through a TV programme has not ended will be the finalists of this year's X Factor. So far we still have 12 singers or groups remaining, so the winner will certainly not be launched until the start of next year, which is of course ideal because January is the easiest time to have a hit. However, in recent years more acts have cottoned onto this and the January charts are becoming just as full as any other time of year.

Now that Trevor and James have been ousted from the competition, I can't see any of the other solo singers selling a huge amount of singles. The ones with any ounce of coolness will soon lose it, and even Chico who could possibly have a novelty hit, will have entirely lost his comedy appeal by that point. He needs to be kicked out immediately so he can start work on his novelty Xmas single. As for the groups, they could have potential. Addictiv Ladies would be the perfect replacement for Mis-teeq, if only they could sing a bit better, and 4tune have the talent to be successful, although they are perhaps a bit too serious. Brothers Journey South are far too cheesy and the Conway Sisters have some chance of success, but are not interesting enough to be popular in the youth market. So unless any of them gets out too soon in the voting mishap that happens at least once a series, waits long enough to forgotten about, then launches themselves with a very cool and un-X Factor song, they don't stand much chance.

So, who will be the next big thing? The only answer I can give is probably none of the above. I am quite positive that there will be a new pop phenomenon soon enough, but it wouldn't be a phenomenon if it didn't come out of nowhere. Personally, I can't wait to see what it will be!

I'm So Into This Groove!

I had several MSN conversations last night with people who had downloaded the new Madonna song and their opinions varied from "I'm really unsure" to "it's terrible!", so as you can imagine once my stupidly slow Internet finally allowed me to hear it, I approached with trepidation. However, I am extremely pleased to say that all my friends have terrible taste in music and this song is absolutely brilliant! I was expecting to love it since I'd heard that it was quite Gwen Stefani-esque, and of course that it samples Abba, of whom I am unsurprisingly (Swedish, Eurovision etc.) a huge fan of.

The song begins quite similarly to Gwen's What You Waiting For, with a ticking noise, which may be a mistake as it will obviously only make stupid opinionless people go on about the similarity even more (to cover up the fact that they can't compose their own opinion, of course). On first listen I did agree with those whose problem with the song is that the vocals don't fit quite right with the sample, but the more I listen to it the more I get used to the sound and the chorus in particular has been stuck in my head all day.

And for the final and most important reason why it is great, even my mum loves it! This again was helped by the Abba sample but she does genuinely like the song, and if there's one person who represents the music buying public of Great Britain, it is my mother. She thinks Ronan Keating has a cute nose, she's only just got into James Blunt and she listens to Radio 1 when she's doing stuff around the house because she hasn't yet worked out how to change the channel on her radio. So, on this basis, the song is bound to be a hit!
Monday, October 10, 2005

Over 25s

I'm embarrassed to say I have found Chico quite entertaining so far, although I'm sure I'll regret saying that in a few weeks' time when he's annoying us all every week. Then again, few people seem annoying when on the same show as Louis Walsh.
Song he should sing: Village People - YMCA

I was surprised when Sharon said Brenda "doesn't have the best voice in the competition", because I think she is one of the better singers this year. Sharon also said she doesn't have the right look which isn't true at all - for her age she looks great and there are many singers who look similar, especially from disco era, who are still going and always look very glam. She's also got a great personality and has so far been very likeable - she should do well.
Song she should sing: The Supremes - Where Did Our Love Go?

This bloke seems nice enough but extremely dull and fails miserably in comparison to existing singers with similar looks, voices and styles. He is especially comparable to the Lighthouse Family's singer, Tunde, but he is just not up to that standard.
Song he should sing: Charles & Eddie - Would I Lie To You

She has already sng her perfect song with Since U Been Gone as, like Kelly Clarkson, she has that terribly annoying habit of over-singing and even shouting through her songs in the belief that louder is better. As anyone with any taste in singing at all should know, she is quite wrong. I think Maria could be quite good if she didn't belt out every single note. She should sing the majority of the song at normal volume and leave the belting to the chorus or just the end, as it would then be more impressive.
Song she should sing: Lulu - Shout (at least then she could be excused for it!)
Sunday, October 09, 2005

X Factor: The Finalists (Part 2)


Addictiv Ladies:
Another really annoying name. Well, it's a good enough name when said aloud, just the missing of the "e" makes is stupid. However, I really like these girls - they have everything absolutely right (personality, looks, dancing, style) except for the singing, but as all true pop fans know as long as they can vaguely hold a tune it hardly matters in the real pop world, where they'll never be forced to sing live anyway. The only difficulty is that they will have to sing live on TV for the next however many weeks, and when compared to the others, some of whom are very talented, their lack of singing talent will show.
Song they should sing: Girls Aloud - No Good Advice

Another silly name - Fourtune would clearly be better as it looks more like Fortune. I am glad these guys are back as I thought it was a great injustice that they were beaten by 2-To-Go and Voice With(out) Soul last time. Guess who was responsible for that! Since then they've started up an official site and seem to have quite a strong following so hopefully they'll do a lot better this year. I like them because they fit together so well. They all have the same coloured hair and skin, yet look slightly different so they are identifiable, and their voices fit perfectly together, making the other boybands seem completely crap in comparison (I wonder if Brothers or 4th Ba5e would have gone through if 4Tune hadn't entered?). It's amazing that they found each other - even national auditions couldn't find a group to work this well, and apparently they have been together nearly a decade, since the youngest member was only 9! Even without the X Factor they seemed to be on the edge of success, as they were in talks with Beyoncé's dad's record company, Sanctuary Urban Records. Lets hope the result of X Factor isn't less than they could have got by entering the music industry that other way.
Song they should sing: Backstreet Boys - I Want It That Way

The Conway Sisters:
These girls could be called The Corrs without the ugly bloke, but the girls are nohwere near as pretty as the female Corrs. They could do very well in the current innoffensiveness-loving musical era, but if Bellefire couldn't manage it with several tries I don't see what these girls could do to improve on their very limited success.
Song they should sing: B*Witched - Blame It On The Weatherman

Brothers Journey South:
What a terrible name! Sadly this pair could do fairly well with their cheesily bland U2-covering, but the fact that one of them looks like Darren Day and sings like he is even more desperate than Mr Day himself, puts me right off them.
Song they should sing: Take That - Back For Good

X Factor: The Finalists

Firstly I must have a large rant about the idiocy of Louis Walsh. Does he have to ruin everything? We all know he is rude, arrogant and brainless but he seem se to have fallen to new depths of stupidity. Surely it was not just me expecting the two 16-yr-old boys in his group to be among the most popular singers of the whole competition? Either of them would be loved by the target X-factor audience (ie. grannies and soppy mums) and even I thought they were pretty good and smiley little James was especially cute. It just seems completely absurd not to put them through, as they've already built up a strong audience following and are perfect for the competition. The only benefit of this is that Louis has far less chance of winning now.

So, now I've got that off my chest (not that I will ever truly get over it!), I will give my opinions on the actual choices for the final 12 (not 9 this year, so either it'll go on longer or they'll do double vote-outs).

16-24 Category:

This is the boy I am most annoyed about. His way of singing really annoys me and I bet he's only through cos he's Irish. I have nothing against Irish people if the yare good but in this case he doesn't appeal to me at all. He doesn't seem as nice as any of the other boys from the final 7 and isn't as good as them either.
Song he should sing: anything covered by Westlife.

I was particularly surprised at Louis putting this guy through as, despite his age (being 16 was too young in the case of James and Trevor, yet 17 is perfectly fine - nothing to do with him looking older I'm sure) and being a million times cooler than any of Louis' current acts, excluding GA, who I know he doesn't have much to do with now anyway. Nicholas is the one act on this programme who could do well and have that elusive and (according to some snobby types) utterly necessary credibility if launched as a non-X Factor act. As an X Factor entrant he's already far lessened his chance of success or credibility, but without it he probably wouldn't be anywhere near the music industry so I guess this is the chance he has to take. The only way to get Nicholas through the show without ruining his coolness will be to let him sing exactly what he wants to - meaning no cheesy, typical talent show songs. Only the cool, soulful numbers (some Motown but nothing too comedy, as some Motown songs are a bit silly despite their aceness) and perhaps a few modern r'n'b songs (John Legend perhaps?) to show where he would fit in the music industry. He could be so easily ruined, especially with the terrible luck of having Louis as his judge.
Song he should sing: John Legend - Ordinary People

I would have rather neither of the girls in this group got through as I didn't find them appealing at all, but I suppose if I had to pick I would have gone for Chenai. I find her face annoying but she can sing well enough and her personality isn't too offensive, so we shall see.
Song she should sing: Sam Brown - Stop

Despite his absolutely horrible name, this boy is probably my favourite of the group. He is very cute and popstar-like, although perhaps a little too Timberlake-esque. Still, that leaves plenty of opportunity for self-referential *N Sync singing! I just hope he doesn't do songs too obvious as I can imagine he might. I expect at least one Will cast off. Ain't No Sunshine, maybe? Light My Fire is too obviously Will, but ANS is exactly where I see this guy (who name I refuse to write any more than necessary!) going.
Song he should sing: Savage Garden - To The Moon & Back
Friday, October 07, 2005

Video Killed The Radio Star

The Modern - Jane Falls Down
The Modern are one of the British bands most deserving of mainstream success, yet so far they've had very little acknowledgement, despite being quite obviously acetastic. Suburban Culture, their last single, was a brilliant track but I think this is even better. Think New Order meets Bodies Without Organs, or for those of you who know them, the Swedish electro-pop act, Universal Poplab. The female singer is more prominent on this track and this works very well. The video is as stylish as their sound, and shows the band to be a rather good-looking bunch as well! If the chart was decided by me, this lot would be huge by now.
96% Poptastic!

Westlife - You Raise Me Up
In a moment of unprecedented desperation, even for the X Factor, the original version of this song was played as the last few contestants were rejected by Louis Walsh (AKA my worst enemy ever, even worse than Simon Le Bon) on this week's show. What on Earth the song has to do with rejection (surely the opposite?) I have no idea, but this has to be an example of Westlife's cynical promotion at it's most worrying. As for their own version of the song...don't even go there!
5% Poptastic!

Lorenz - Turn The Beat Around
This has to be the gayest song of the year so far - a cover of Turn The Beat Around by Gloria Estefan (the same song sampled on Dannii Minogue's new single - Gloria must be in fashion what with this and the Mylo "mash-up"), by a shiny, muscly, orange-skinned young(ish) man, accompanied with a video which might have been semi-fashionable in 1996. The song is not entirely terrible, just incredibly dated.
55% Poptastic!

Kubb - Wicked Soul
The first time I heard of Kubb I had no idea I would be watching them play live! They were supporting the bundle of aceness known as Gavin Degraw, and they must have enjoyed it because they supported him again the next time he played in London. This song is more exciting than their nice-but-dim previous single, Remain, but it's still lacking in real sparkle. However, they were really good live and sparkle doesn't seem to be a necessity in the charts these days, so they'll probably do well.
67% Poptastic!

Kaiser Chiefs - Modern Way
I saw a photo of Ricky Kaiser the other day where he actually looked rather handsome! Considering the last time I'd seen him he'd been slightly podgy, sweaty and generally a less than pretty sight, there is obviously something dodgy going on here. Has Ricky been replaced with a better-looking imposter? Now I guess I'd better say something about the song - well, I was a bit surprised at the choice of single but I do like it more than Everyday I Love You Less And Less, which is one of my least fave Kaiser songs. The video is interesting but they have made a huge mistake in including the wrong daytime TV presenters - obviously Richard and Judy are far superior! (although Fern and Philip are very sweet, just far too normal to be entertaining)
78% Poptastic!

Tina Cousins - Wonderful Life
As pleased as I am that Tina is releasing a new single and particularly this, the Australian release version of which is absolutely fantastic, but I am really disappointed in the version being released here. It seems to have been remixed and in the process lost it's joyous catchy punch. However, the blow was softened by my mother rushing in and saying, "Oooh, I love this song! I've even got the album!" (and for my mum to have an album is quite an event in itself as she has very few) and this resulted in me playing her the proper Tina version which she is now in love with too. After her bizarre obsessions with Blue Lagoon's Now That We Found Love and Shirley Klamp's Do The Know It's Xmas, she is developing quite excellent taste in cheesy pop covers of '80s songs. So my mum turns out to be a cool parent after all!
UK version: 91% Poptastic!
Oz version: 98% Poptastic!

Daniel Powter - Freeloop
The hats are getting bigger - the scaly skin must have spread to his forehead! Poor bloke. He's been so busy finding a cure for his rather embarrassing ailment, he hasn't even had time to come up with an original sounding song and has had to rush off this mediocrity instead.
60% Poptastic!
Thursday, October 06, 2005
My latest James Blunt theory (as detailed in this week's Stylus Singles Jukebox) has been proven entirely correct with his mid-week chart positions. His new single, High, despite heavy radio play and being much better than You're Beautiful, is currently missing the top 20. Of course he has no need to worry - his album has stayed at no.3, but this still means that his truly dedicated fans are much fewer than his enormous record sales suggest. Surely someone who was at no.1 for weeks with his last single could muster more than a no.21? He is such a strange phenomenon, but I can entirely understand how it has happened. It's not that there are a huge number of people who love him or his music, but the simplicity of his music means most people (and I'm talking general public here, not just the kind of music fans who read and write blogs like this one) think he is at least "OK". Also, I think the lack of knowledge about him means that people had no reason to be biased against him, so if someone heard and liked one of his songs and seen how well he was doing, they are obviously going to buy the album. And before we knew it, he was ruling the charts while the whole country was still wondering who on Earth he was!
Tuesday, October 04, 2005

I Said Never a Ten (But Here We Are)

This week marks the release of one of the best pop singles of this decade so far. We should be celebrating, yet the song's lack of chart success indicated by the midweeks, means we're too busy worrying if the fantastic album from which this single is taken will ever be commercially released, or if there will even be another single. I am of course talking about Rachel Stevens' new single, I Said Never Again (But Here We Are), which is currently sitting at a not-utterly-terrible-but-certainly-not-good-enough no.10, the same as her previous and also excellent single, So Good.

So who or what is to blame for this travesty? It certainly can't be the song. Even if the electropop sound has been in fashion for quite a while now, the better examples of it (for example Goldfrapp and the Scissor Sisters) are still having huge hits, and even the indie bands with a more electronic sound, particularly the Killers, are very successful. Giving a pop starlet an electro track isn't entirely foolproof but when that starlet is known for her top quality past releases and that track is I Said Never Again, you really can't have a more obvious recipe for success.

So perhaps it is Rachel herself who is not shifting the units? She certainly has a following for her good looks, but those fans are more likely to buy the 'lads mag' she's on the cover of than her CD. The ex-S Club fans are sadly dwindling as the years move on and the fans grow up (not that you are really ever too old for S Club), so they can be relied on less and less to keep Rachel up the charts. Luckily she is still a big enough name to keep her in the press, and with her lack of competitors in pop music at the moment, she gets very good coverage in the pop magazines and TV shows such as TOTP Reloaded and CD:UK. However, this still doesn't seem to be enough. It could be that despite all this good press, Rachel as a person still doesn't appeal to the traditional pop market of young teenage girls. She is presented as quite a girly girl and her attractiveness could well put off girls who find this intimidating and can't relate to her, but she also comes across as a very nice, sweet person (although perhaps lacking in the infectious personality found in the most successful pop stars) which you would think would be quite appealing - but isn't the niche of "nice girl of pop" a bit crowded already?

It will be a huge shame if Rachel does decide to give up after this single, although I will be surprised if she doesn't have at least one more shot. I don't know how she could possibly improve on I Said Never Again, but if she can come up with something even better then I can't wait to hear it!

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