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Who needs guitars anyway?

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Sunday, April 30, 2006

Dirrrty Pop Review: Darren Hayes Live

Last night I went to see Darren Hayes in concert... for the 7th time! Only 3 have been full concerts, the others being gigs with other acts where he played just a few songs, but he was always the main reason I went. Most people would find this completely mad, but to anyone who has been to a Darren Hayes concert it is completely understandable.

There are many reasons for my huge appreciation for Darren and his music. Firstly, he is a great singer - for some reason I'm often drawn to male singers who sing in falsetto (the Delays, Daniel Bedingfield, Justin Timberlake etc.) and Darren does it better than anyone. He also comes across an interesting and funny person, who has a good attitude to music and being a pop star (see his PJ posts and the song Pop!ular), which is important if I'm going to be a fan of a singer themselves, rather than just liking their music. But the most important thing of all is the music itself. For someone to have his talents for singing and performing, but then also to have this endless collection of fantastic songs is almost beyond belief. While Savage Garden had a background in 80s electro-pop, and Darren therefore does that style fantastically, they also wrote amazing love songs, often in a style which I would immediately dismiss if another act had released it yet there is something about their love songs which make them even better than their poptastic fun songs, which is quite a feat considering my favouritism towards poptastic funness.

However, these are all reasons why he is a good pop star, but there is another reason for my mega-fandom and that is the fact that I have loved his music since I was about 12, so it been with me throughout my teenage years and soundtracked everything that has happened to me. Hearing each of his famous songs last night, I could remember the first time I heard them, or listening to them at a certain time in my life and even if the lyrics had no relation to what was happening, they will always be inextricably linked in my mind. Because of this, I feel quite an emotional attachment to the songs, so hearing them sung live, and so brilliantly as well (Darren is even better live than on the CDs), is quite an emotional experience. And I'm not someone who gets emotional that easily, so it shows how much it means to me that I have such a response.

The crowd at a Darren Hayes concert is a very interesting phenomena. His album and single releases only sell moderately well in the UK (but seemingly much better in Sweden where his songs are on Rix FM every few hours!), but his concert tours always do well. My explanation of this is that most of the people who go and see him are people who've gone before, and he manages to keep selling tickets to the same people because once you've seen Darren live you want to see him again and again, and once you're a fan of Darren you'll be a fan for life.

Because of this, Darren Hayes concerts have the most positive atmosphere of any other concert I've been to, since everyone there truly loves him and his music and knows they are in for such a treat. He's not the sort of act whose concert you might go to if you just wanted a fun night out, because he's not cool or hugely well-known. However, Darren has an advantage that he appeals to the type of people who don't forget about an act when the media and the rest of the public forget them, and because of this Darren has stood the test of time. His media attention may have dwindled but his fanbase has stood pretty strong. New male acts turn up every so often but will Justin, Daniel or Shayne have fans who still love them in 5 years, or 10? If they still have fans, it probably won't be the same people who bought their first singles and albums, but with Darren it is and that just shows what an impact he has on people with his music and lyrics and singing and general demeanor. Who needs the latest popular act when you can go to Darren's tour or just buy his latest CD and know for sure it'll be good?

After 3 solo tours, Darren has worked out which songs go down best and includes a carefull chosen mixture of songs from each of his albums, including those by Savage Garden, and a good balance of slow tracks for the conservative mumsy types and some naughty electro aceness for the same people in their moment of freedom and wildness, before they have to go home to their husbands and pretend they've been on a nice civilised night out. Of course I'm not a conservative mumsy type, but I have rarely liked what I (as a teenager) am expected to - however, there is a smaller proportion of his fanbase made up of younger girls or gays who love the electro and a bit of mushy stuff on the side, and that sounds much more like me. I think if more people in that demographic were open-minded about Darren Hayes they would actually find they love him as much as their mums do, and I'm sure everyone's mum would benefit from a bit of Darren Hayes in their life if they haven't already.
Saturday, April 29, 2006
I have had an excellent idea for a new Dirrrty Pop feature and all will be revealed in due time, but for now you can help me by filling in this poll:

Which of these songs is the best?
Sylvia Night - Congratulations
Rogue Traders - Voodoo Child
Morningwood - Nth Degree
Rihanna - S.O.S (Rescue Me)
Kate Ryan - Je t'adore
Anna Sahlene - This Woman
Marie Serneholt - I Need A House
Dixie Chicks - Not Ready To Make Nice
BWO - Temple Of Love
Will Young - Who Am I
Infernal - From Paris To Berlin
The Veronicas - When It All Falls Apart
Delays - Hideaway
Najoua Belyzel - Gabriel
September - Flowers On The Grave
Nerina Pallot - Everybody's Gone To War
t.A.T.u - Gomenasai
Shakira feat. Wyclef Jean - Hips Don't Lie
Cardigans - Don't Blame Your Daughter
Jim Noir - My Patch
Free polls from Pollhost.com

Classics Classics

That time of year is here again - revision time. I've got LOADS of work to do, and my first exam is only 2 weeks away. It's a Classics exam, on classical Greek architecture. Not exactly my best subject (I thought Classics was just about literature when I chose to study it), so I'm going to need some encouragement to get on with revising. And what better way to get me enjoying a dull subject than involving some ace pop music? So, I set to work writing a list of songs related to Classics and Greece and to my amazement it turned out to be an utterly fabulous collection of songs, including 5 songs from the new BWO CD as well as tracks by some of my all time fave acts such as Darren Hayes, Gavin DeGraw, Within Temptation and Shebang! I decided to compile a Classics mixtape, which I of course entitled "Classics Classics", and here is the tracklisting, including explanations of how they are linked to Classics:

1. BWO - Crystal Odyssey
The Odyssey by Homer is an epic poem we have studied.
2. E-Type - Olympia
Olympia is one of the major Greek cities, original home of the Olympic games.
3. Darren Hayes - Hero
Greek literature has lots of heroes.
4. Within Temptation - Aquarius
Aquarius was a beautiful young prince who Zeus chose as his lover.
5. Afro-Dite - Never Let It Go
Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love and beauty.
6. BWO - Juggernaut
I now find that this is the name of the chariot of a Hindu god, not a Greek one as I thought, but Greeks loved chariots so it'll do.
7. Elena Paparizou - Mambo
Elena is one of Greece's most loved pop stars.
8. Rufus Wainwright - The Art Teacher
The module I'm revising for is Art & Architecture, although it doesn't involve much art.
9. Dimension-X - Why'd I Have To Fall In Love With You
A briliant but underrated dance single from Greece.
10. BWO - Temple Of Love
The main subject of the Architecture exam is temples.
11. Antique - Time To Say Goodbye
Ace Greek pop group.
12. Gavin DeGraw - Belief
Greeks are famed for their religion.
13. Hedwig & the Angry Inch - Origin Of Love
Amazing song that mentions Zeus and Jove (Jupiter).
14. BWO - We Could Be Heroes
See track 3.
15. Hitch Hike - Travel Girl
Another ace Greek single that few people know.
16. Phoenix - Run Run Run
A sacred fire bird that features in Greek mythology.
17. Dana International - Diva
Mentions Aphrodite (see track 5).
18. BWO - Chariots Of Fire
Greeks are famed for their use of chariots, especially in races.
19. Shebang - Temple Of Love
See track 10.
20. Grease - We Go Together
Well, Grease and Greece sound the same!
Tuesday, April 25, 2006

New Pop On The Block

The Feeling - Fill My Little World
Well, this is a surprise. I have heard this song many times yet it has never had any effect on me, until today when I saw the video and suddenly found that I love it. The video is quite clever in a taking the song title a bit too literally way i.e. they are in an aquarium. I've heard quite a few songs from their album now and although I still don't love Sewn, I reckon if I keet at it it will all come together (perhaps even joined by stitches!) and since I love the three album tracks I've heard, I may even buy their album whenever it comes out (probably soon).
80% Poptastic!

Matt Willis - Up All Night
We've had pop music that sounds like dance music (e.g. Minogues), dance music that sounds like pop music (Euro-dance) and dance music that sounds like rock music (well, Bodyrockers were the only example I could think of). Now is the time for rock music that sounds like dance music. Some (e.g. I Panic!ked At The Disco And Ran Off Before Any Good Songs Were Played) do it badly, while others (e.g. Head Automatica) do it extremely well. Matt Willis seems to have decided to jump on this bandwagon, and I have decided this is a good thing. Up All Night is not the best song ever and Matt's ugliness is made all the more obvious with the lack of even stranger looking band members to distract us. But it's better than anything Busted have done since Year 3000, so from me it's a thumbs-up, or at least in the general upwards direction.
70% Poptastic!

The Automatic - Monster
Apologies for the guitar quota of this post but I have to mention this song which I have heard for the first time today. Their last song was bearable but nothing great. This has one of the best chorus lines I've heard in ages. OK so the rest of isn't that exciting, but I challenge you to not be singing this again and again and again once you've heard it.
65% Poptastic!
Saturday, April 22, 2006

Dirrrty Pop Review: BWO - Halcyon Days

I was extremely excited when this CD arrived in the post this morning as I'd received no e-mail telling me it was on its way. After a few listens I can safely say it's brilliant, with several songs reaching the absolute height of BWO aceness as seen on such tracks as Conquering America and Sunshine In The Rain on Prototype. There are a few songs that aren't quite up to the standard of the extremely consistent quality of Prototype, but they are as I said few and could be growers - it's very rare that I stick to my opinions of an album as made on first listen.

Click the CD cover to buy it.

I said, click it!

1. Chariots Of Fire
Kicking off the apparent Ancient Greek theme of the album, this is one of the most pure-pop songs BWO have ever made and extremely catchy.

2. Temple Of Love
It may not have won Melodifestivalen as it so very much deserved to (see the post about this song a few below this one) but this has been an absolute pop triumph for me, my favourite song of this year so far and it's going to take

3. Will My Arms Be Strong Enough
Despite it being a ballad and therefore not what BWO are known for, I think this is the best of the new unreleased songs on the album. In sound it is timeless, and could be a hit at any time in pop history. The songwriting is absolute excellent here, and shows, if we didn't know it already, that Westlife really have no need to exist when someone who doesn't normally do ballads can do this well in the genre. This is up with the greatness of Backstreet Boys or Will Young ballads.

4. We Could Be Heroes
This is set to be the next BWO single and although I don't love it quite so dearly as the previous track, it's another great ballad in a similar vein to BWO's huge hit Open Door, so I think it's going to be another success and perhaps another no.1 for the group who are quickly becoming one of Sweden's favourite musical acts.

5. Juggernaut
This song is the most similar of the album so far to the songs on Prototype, with a very fast pace, a repetitive chorus and plenty of "ohhh"s and "oooh"s.

6. Hanging On The Phone
This one has some amusing rhyming pairs such as "hyper" and "decipher". The song has a typical BWO melody, but is a little less forceful than usual, giving a nice summery feel. This definitely sounds like something I'd find at the end of a side (always the best bit) on one of my pop compilation tapes from the late 90s - I can particularly imagine someone like Kavana or 911 releasing it.

7. Angel Of Night
This is kind of a ballad but not as slow as tracks 3 and 4. It's probably the weakest track so far but by no means rubbish, the chorus is dramatic-sounding and catchy too, while the song as a whole has grown on me since the first listen so you never know, it could be a future favourite.

8. I Keep Walking On
This again sounds like a pop flop of the late 90s but that is no insult. It's jolly and catchy but probably not going to be anyone's absolute favourite track - however, that only says how good the other tracks are.

9. Marrakech
I slightly embarrassingly didn't know where Marrakech was before getting this CD (I had to look it up on Google just for peace of mind), but if BWO like it I'll have to go! The chorus involves a lot of sing of "Marrakeeesh!" and Marina does a great talky-bit, proving she will be a huge loss to the world of pop if she ever leaves.

10. Obsession
This is a cover of my favourite song released by Alexander's old band and the one that made him a star, Army of Lovers. This version is modernised and is one of the best songs BWO have done. I'm sure if BWO covered other songs they would be great but I can't really imagine it (and what is the point when you have such an amzing songwriter as Alexander in your midst?), so a cover of a Bard classic is perfect.

11. Crystal Odyssey
I really love this track, which is a bit dancier than your average BWO song and would be great down the discotheque! It's also another one that will help me with my Classical Civilisations revision, or at least I can pretend it will since it shares part of its title with the epic poem we're studying. Listen out for fab sound effects including the old Popjustice favourite, sirens!

12. Haunted
I'd already heard this one when I sneakily downloaded it from Catchy Tunes of Sweden and it's another that I really like, also sounding much like the Prototype songs. BWO may have broadened their sound on this album but they've not lost anything of their old sound in the process, mixing their old style with a new more mainstream one, both of which are fantastic and combine to make an utterly acetastic CD!

I won't review the last few tracks because you should already know them by now as they're the last 4 singles from Prototype.

Things Can Only Get Better!

This time last year I was wondering if there would ever be a good no.1 again, and there wasn't until Sugababes released Push The Button, one of only 2 good no.1s of the whole year (the other being Madonna's Hung Up). In the 3 and a half months of this year there have already been 2 good no.1s (Madonna & Gnarls Barkley)out of 8, so a quarter - things are looking up. And best of all is this week's top 3 - Gnarls Barkley, Rihanna and Infernal, 3 songs which have all featured in my 'Top of the Poptastic!' lists, and 2 are even in my top 6 songs of the year so far, a chart which covers releases from all over the world. They are actually my 3rd and 4th fave songs released in the UK. There don't seem to be as many ace songs released overall so far this year, but the ones we've had have done fairly well, at least gaining critical acclaim (eg. Delays, The Research) or plentiful TV/radio play (All American Rejects, Protocol). There have been extremely few pure pop songs released, however, which is a worrying trend but hopefully with the poptasticness of the current top 3, others will be encouraged to 'go pop'. There have been other encouraging signs as well, for example the very positive reaction to Voodoo Child by Rogue Traders when it was played on Radio 1 this morning (and no-one even mentioned the singer being Izzy from Neighbours, which I'm sure will make loads more people buy it cos she seems to be a very popular character) and the new Europa division of Universal, a section of the label set aside for releasing hits from Europe, the first success being Infernal.
Saturday, April 15, 2006

New Pop On The Block

Orson - Bright Idea
I really don't get Orson. Their sound is kind of like Maroon 5 meets the Killers, 2 bands that I like, yet I really don't like their songs. I thought it might just be No Tomorrow, but their new song is even worse. They're like the Daniel Powter of bands - they sound like bands I like but somehow manage to be totally rubbish (and the lead singer wears a hat), although with Orson they don't annoy me so much as completely bore me. I just don't get it! If you want to like a new pop/rock band you've got plenty of choice, so why not go for Lorraine, Protocol or the Feeling instead of this mediocre bunch?
45% Poptastic!

Sandi Thom - I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker
This song has been floating around the new release schedule for a while and I heard it several months ago but it has finally made its way onto the music channels. Sandi is a dark-haired reasonably pretty girl probably in her early 20s, yet for some reason she wants to be like her parents. This is not normal! It's a classic case of people who are getting on a bit making out that things were better in their day to stop themselves feeling so bad about not understanding the new fashions, and silly Sandi has totally fallen for it. Punk rockers didn't even wear flowers in their hair, that was hippies you idiot!
10% Poptastic!

Dannii Minogue - Under Pressure
This is not turning out to be a very positive post because I am really disappointed in this new single by Miss Minogue Jnr. I loved I Can't Sleep At Night, the song that she was previously planning to release next, but then she changed her mind and went with this and I have to say I don't think it was a good move - where is the hook? You can't have dance-pop music without a hook, or else it's just dance music and everyone knows that is rubbish. Kylie better hurry back and rectify this or the Minogue name will be ruined!
50% Poptastic!
Thursday, April 13, 2006

Slightly random Gavin DeGraw news

Despite the fact that he released it in America and most of Europe over a year ago and everyone (possibly even Gavin himself) thought it was going to be We Belong Together, he has announced that Chariot will be his next single. I like the song but I really don't think this is gonna be the one that rights the wrong that is his being ignored in favour of Daniel Powter, who was launched at a similar time with kind of similar but much, much worse music. The only thing Daniel does better than Gavin, apart from annoying people, is wearing hats. Anyway, back to Gavin - he's re-releasing the Chariot album (for the 2nd time, I think) in May and will also be playing V2006, but I wouldn't get your hopes up about him appearing on the telly or anything. If you still haven't got the CD, you should buy it, if only to prevent him from having to re-release it any more times!

Usually delays are not something to be celebrated

but when you're refering to the band, the Delays, they definitely are. Their last 2 singles, Valentine and Lost In A Melody, have been absolutely magnificent and the new one, Hideaway, is just as ace and although it's less electro it's about as jolly as a song could possibly get - and to think it comes from a band that are far more NME than Smash Hits, it's even more of a miracle! The video for it (here) is not quite as ace as the insane one they made for Valentine, but it's quite fun nonetheless. It's ridiculous that they've not had any top 10 hits while bands like Arctic Monkeys and Embrace have had no.1s, but hopefully with Hideaway their fortunes will improve because it is screaming out to be a commercial indie/pop crossover hit.
Monday, April 10, 2006
I got my Melodifestivalen 2006 CD in the post last week and, as you can imagine, I've been listening to it quite a lot since and even less surprising is the fact that I keep returning to track 1 on CD 2 - Temple of Love by BWO. And it's only during this BWO listenathon that I've realised truly how much it deserves to have won Melodifestivalen, not only cos it's a brilliant song but because the lyrics are perfect for Eurovision. Below are the lyrics (in italics) and my explanation of their relevance:

Want love from the Eurovision audience oh oh oh oh
We all need love oh oh oh oh
We all want love oh oh oh oh
Get it right
ie. vote for Sweden in the heat of the night (it's hot in Greece)

Bass is thumping, crowd is jumping
Shake your body, the beats
of the ace Euro entries keep on pumping
I’m excited, candyguided
(made up word to fill Eurovision nonsense quota)
On the floor when we all dance united - until the tactical voting starts anyway
Thunder rolls from the heavens above
When we enter the gates to the temple of love
(references to ancient Greek religion and architecture)

Want love oh oh oh oh
We all need love oh oh oh oh
We all want love oh oh oh oh
Get it right in the heat of the night

We all want love oh oh oh oh
We all need love oh oh oh oh
We all want love oh oh oh oh
Get it right in the heat of the night

I’m on fire take me higher
on the score board
Drown my heart in a pool of desire to win
Keep on shining intertwining
Feel aligned through the chemistry binding
Thunder rolls from the heavens above
When we enter the gates to the temple of love

Want love oh oh oh oh
We all need love oh oh oh oh
We all want love oh oh oh oh
Get it right in the heat of the night

Walk the rope in the temple of sin
(pop music is probably considered a sin somewhere in Europe)
Keep an eye on the records I spin at the groovy Eurovision after-party
Through the gates to the temple of love
Where the DJ
(Terry Wogan?) comes crashing
From the heavens above

Want love oh oh oh oh
We all need love oh oh oh oh
We all want love oh oh oh oh
Get it right in the heat of the night

We all want love oh oh oh oh
We all need love oh oh oh oh
We all want love oh oh oh oh
Get it right in the heat of the night

See, it's so wrong that it didn't win! But BWO win overall, cos Temple of Love has become their first ever no.1 single. Well done you crazy ace Swedes!
Saturday, April 08, 2006


The top 10 acest things on YouTube right now:

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

In response to the latest downloading furore

Maybe if the British record labels had the initiative to release more good music or to make good music from other countries more easily available, then I would not need to download said foreign music. Just a thought...
Saturday, April 01, 2006

New Pop On The Block

The Upper Room - Black & White
The problem wit hthis band is that although their songs are consistently good, they sound like so many other people that it's just hard to be very enthusiastic about them. This one particularly reminds me of Mark Owen and that Breakfast at Tiffany's song. They even sound like the Delays at some points. Of course I like all those things, but this band just don't seem quite capable of making anything great, they'll always just be good.
75% Poptastic!

Mary J Blige ft. U2 - One
On The Box this is credited to Mary featuring Bono, yet, unless they're very convincing look-alikes, the rest of the band are in the video too, so I presume it's either a mistake or Bono had a diva strop and changed the band's name to Bono. I strongly dislike U2 and I'm not a fan of MJB (although Family Affair was great), but somehow this cover works fantastically. Clearly Bono should have stayed behind the scenes and given all his songs to ageing r'n'b ladies instead. I think this is gonna do really well, especially since it's for charity - a possible no.1?
70% Poptastic!

Beatfreakz - Somebody's Watching Me
Considering this song only has 1 line in it, repeated about a million, it's not actually that bad! Perhaps they're hoping to have this year's Call On Me, but this song's video, despite having a horror theme, is much less disturbing than the Erik Prydz one.
72% Poptastic!

Jim Noir - My Patch
Jim is a bit cool for my usual liking, but this is such a brilliantly jolly song that I have to love it. I challenge you not to grin manically when listening to My Patch. Although it's another song with only one line in it repeated throughout (a new trend?), it's great cos it sounds like the soundtrack to some crazy capers in a silly old TV series or film. Love it! Click here to see the funny video.
83% Poptastic!

Kubb - Remain
Hurrah! Kubb are finally releasing their best song. Sadly that doesn't actually make it brilliant and I doubt it will get them much higher on the Stylus Singles Jukebox, where their last song got the lowest score ever, but it's still a big improvement on that song, which I can never even remember the name of.
70% Poptastic

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