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Who needs guitars anyway?

Best Bits
Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Top of the Poptastic!

The top 20 singles of May, with one of the places they're being released in brackets:

1. Pipettes - Pullshapes (UK)
2. Lillix - Sweet Temptation (Canada)
3. Dima Bilan - Never Let You Go (Russia)
4. The Similou - All This Love (UK)
5. Mihai Traistariu - Tornero (Romania)
6. The Kooks - She Moves In Her Own Way (UK)
7. Texas Lightning - No No Never (Germany)
8. Lorraine - Transatlantic Flight (UK)
9. Amy Diamond - Don't Cry Your Heart Out (Sweden)
10. Agnes Carlsson - Stranded (Sweden)
11. The Attic - Life To Live (Sweden)
12. Arsenium ft. Natalia Gordienko & Connect-R - Loca (Moldova)
13. Sylver - Lay All Your Love On Me (Germany)
14. West End Girls - Suburbia (Sweden)
15. Andy Bell - I'll Never Fall In Love Again (UK)
16. Eric Gadd - Meet Me Here (Sweden)
17. Nick Lachey - What's Left Of Me (USA)
18. Paolo Nutini - Last Request (UK)
19. Boy Kill Boy - Suzie (UK)
20. Christina Milian - Say I (USA)

And how does this effect the chart of the year, I hear you ask!

1. BWO - Temple Of Love
2. Will Young – Who Am I
3. Delays – Valentine
4. Rihanna - S.O.S (Rescue Me)
5. Kate Ryan - Je t'adore
6. Pipettes - Pullshapes (UK)
7. Infernal - From Paris To Berlin
8. Najoua Belyzel - Gabriel
9. Will Young - All Time Love
10. The Veronicas - When It All Falls Apart
11. Lillix - Sweet Temptation
12. Fefe Dobson - As A Blonde
13. Morningwood - Nth Degree
14. BWO – We Could Be Heroes
15. September - It Doesn't Matter
16. The Veronicas - Everything I'm Not
17. Delays - Hideaway
18. Protocol - Where's The Pleasure
19. Elisa – Swan
20. The Research - Lonely Hearts Still Beat The Same

While only 9 of the above received UK releases, and only 3 were top 10 hits, a look at that amazingly ace list shows that this has still been a great year for music so far, and with 2 of the songs in particular (Rhianna and Infernal) being huge hits, we definitely can't complain.
Monday, May 29, 2006

Vote away!

Which of these singles are best?
I'm From Barcelona - Collection Of Stamps
Sylver - Lay All Your Love On Me
Paolo Nutini - Last Request
Christina Milian - Say I
Kate Ryan - Je t'adore
Mihai Traistariu - Tornero
Dima Bilan - Never Let You Go
Pipettes - Pullshapes
Infernal - From Paris To Berlin
Rihanna - SOS (Rescue Me)
BWO - We Could Be Heroes
Nerina Pallot - Everybody's Gone To War
Texas Lightning - No No Never
Pet Shop Boys - Minimal
Lillix - Sweet Temptation
Lorraine - Transatlantic Flight
West End Girls - Suburbia
Shakira feat. Wyclef Jean - Hips Don't Lie
t.A.T.u - Gomenasai
The Kooks - She Moves In Her Own Way
Free polls from Pollhost.com

Saturday, May 27, 2006

New Pop On The Block

Stacie Orrico - I'm Not Missing You
This is the first song from her third album, which will be released this August, and I have to say I'm quite disappointed - it's nothing on Stuck, More To Life or even I Could Be The One. There is no progression from her old sound - it's all a bit dated. Maybe my mind will change after more listens but so far I'm unimpressed.
63% Poptastic!

Guillemots - Made Up Love Song
By some strange chance I have been to see Guillemots live twice, even though I'm not a huge fan. I have gained quite an affection for them though, as they seem quite adorable and the singer, Fyfe Dangerfield (his real name!), is kind of quirky and sweet. The video is similarly so, and very enjoyable to watch, but I don't think I'll ever have their album on repeat.
70% Poptastic!

Taylor Hicks - Do I Make You Proud
So this probably won't get released in this country, but a new American Idol can't go without comment. If you haven't seen any of AI this year, you should watch some of Taylor's performances cos he is quite a character and he's certainly a good singer, although I do wonder if he got "the grey vote", because there were other male singers who I thought were better, but Taylor is good fun and deserves to win way more than Carrie Underwood did. She was rubbish! Anyway, Taylor's song is just typical Idol first single fodder, and I think it will do as well as they usually do, but I also think Taylor will find his niche with older ladies who like their soul music and gradually leave the mainstream market to Katharine and Chris (although Eliot was my fave, I don't think he has the charisma to become a superstar).
60% Poptastic!

Popping The Question: Is Music Too Patriarchal?

It's certainly not unique to the music business that the most important and influential jobs are held by men, in fact it's probably better than most industries, but that doesn't change the fact that almost every aspect of music has a male bias. However, that doesn't mean we girls should be moaning - after all, we are allowed (in fact it is expected of us) to like pop music, while boys are expected to like totally boring genres like rap and rock, and only the least exciting dance music. Hello, I think we win! Imagine having to pretend to only be watching Girls Aloud videos cos they're good looking, how awful.

However, as much as it is expected for girls to like pop, there is still pressure (and it seems to be increasing) from the males who make out that the music they have associated themselves with is superior, and girls are made to feel inferior for liking the music which the men themselves have assigned to us, in an accidental moment of great selflessness. There are branches of pop music which are definitely more aimed at men than women, but they are in the minority and usually suggest a rather insulting attitude of "we're so cool that we can even make pop good" (a bit like heterosexual boys wearing pink), when in fact their music, although better than the average "man music" (a silly name, hence my using it!) is still nothing on 'proper pop' - surely a term Britney has more right to than Muse?

Of course, gay men, who stereotypically love pop music more than most teenage girls, don't fit this argument at all, but it's the same for most sociological arguments of patriarchy. Gay men, according to a sociologist called Messerschmidt, are like men of ethnic minorities in that they have to find an alternative way of asserting their masculinity, and with music it seems to be through rejecting the music of heterosexual men. However, I have always considered the gay male appreciation of pop music to be more linked to a) their lack of typically masculine attributes meaning they identify more with women and b) anyone who is openly gay (to himself as much as to others) has reached a level of self-realisation where they can be true to themself and are past the need to hide what they like, even if it's seen as uncool.

The attitude to music of young girls and boys seems to be very different as well, with boys being encouraged to like "authentic" rock/indie etc. music while girls, at least when I was growing up, were presented with highly commercialised (suggesting a belief that girls will fall for every marketing trick in the book), safe (we must protect our innocent daughters from the evils of swearing and sex, but it's fine for the boys?) pop acts. Again, the patriarchy gave us an accidental gift! But increasingly girls are being recruited to the dark side of serious musicianship, with bands like Busted promoting authenticity to a young age group.

Busted themselves were fine - they were fun and great for kids, but they promoted that attitude and instead of their fans moving onto other fun pop acts after Busted split up, they moved onto what they had been brainwashed to believe was 'proper' music, leading to the travesty that is the UK's teenage population listening to Green Day, and now Fall Out Boy and their deafness-inducing ilk. However, girls in their later teens may be as much in love with these bands as their younger sisters, but mention the Spice Girls and they'll all be singing Wannabe with a nostalgic smile - you can move on to 'better' things but an obsession with a particular pop band will never completely leave you.

Because of the way music was marketed to girls growing up in the 80s and 90s (and maybe earlier - my knowledge is limited), there definitely seems to be a lack of girls who are really involved in music, and this is quite evident on the Internet. Visit a fan forum for a particular male artist and you'll be met with hoardes of women obsessing over the man's every action, yet take a browse through a few of the most popular music blogs and you'll find a plethora of men of around the same age as those women dissecting every note of their favourite band's latest song, and you'll be lucky if you even get a picture of the artist. While girls were brought up with Smash Hits-style fawning over every little detail of pop stars' lives (and this is great fun - I'd never knock it), with the music coming second, the music-focussed media aimed at boys was exactly that - about the music, and everything else about the acts was ignored (although this is hardly surprising when there is so little else to remark about these guitar-obsessed losers anyway).

There are pros and cons to both attitudes, and personally I like to approach music with a mix of the two. While I love to read about the often hilarious things my favourite artists get up to and it can very much add to my appreciation of the acts, I can't bring myself to like a band if the music isn't very good, and I do my very best to listen to new songs without prejudice and if I enjoy them I will recognise that. I also recognise that I have been conditioned to see things from a pop perspective, and perhaps the fact that I have stuck with it makes me more brainwashed than anyone else, but I just couldn't imagine myself not loving pop music and since it brings me so much joy I don't want to be unbrainwashed any time soon.

I also think that the way female artists have often been discredited or marginalised has led to them making the most brilliant music of all, because the women who fight their way through the brainwashed bores are truly passionate about their music and are certainly not the easily-controllable wimps that the men at the top of the musical chain of being seem to believe. If Chris Martin and Cheryl Tweedy got into a fight, I know whose side I'd be on!


Sylver - Lay All Your Love On Me
Sylver are a poppy dance act who are really big in central/Eastern Europe but unlike similar acts such as Lasgo and Ian Van Dahl, they have never had any UK hits. This is probably because they've never done any particularly good songs (unless I missed it, but the ones I've heard have all been boring) until this cover of ABBA's hit, which actually works rather well. If you can forget about the original, which is obviously still better, then it's very enjoyable indeed.

Sita - Happy
A few years ago I became obsessed with Dutch singer Sita and her ex-band K-otic, and the fantastic music they were all making, even though no-one else noticed outside of the Netherlands. It was when I first saw this song on MTV Hits that I was immediately obsessed with this super-cute young lady and have been a fan ever since. She's still making music although it's much more aimed at kids, as I think she did the theme tune to a kids' TV show and she's so sweet and fun it's no wonder kids love her. If you like this I definitel recommend getting either of her 2 first albums cos they're both top quality throughout.

Lillix Interview in Japan
While we wait for the video to their utterly brilliant new single Sweet Temptation, here's an interview with them during a promotional tour for their last album, which was also great, although I have to say they've moved up to an even higher level of aceness with the new song and hopefully the rest of the album will be just as fab. There are a lot of female rock bands around and none have managed to be very successful, so I'm hoping with this new extra-aceness that Lillix could be the girls to break that trend.

The Attic - Life To Live
The Attic are a great Swedish dance-pop group who've made many ace songs such as Destiny and Just Can't Help It, and they're back with yet another top tune. They're nowhere near as popular as they deserve to be cos their songs are so catchy - this is the kind of dance music that should be released in the UK, no more of that exhausted idea of remixing old songs. I hope the success of Infernal and hopefully A-Studio soon will bring dance music back to actual original songs with verses and choruses and non-perverted, actually interesting videos, cos that is definitely the best kind.

Thank ABBA For The Music
Things have been rather ABBA-obsessed around here of late, but if you don't like ABBA then you clearly took a wrong turn somewhere on the winding roads of the Internet cos this site is not for you. Now this has to be the absolute acest moment of any award show ever - all my late 90s pop heroes (Cleopatra, Billie, B*Witched, Steps and erm... Tina Cousins!) singing a medley of ABBA's biggest hits, dressed to suit in ridiculously uncool costumes with embarrassing wigs. Absolute brilliance in every way!

I'm so impressed with the top 5 this week - my readers have such fantastic taste! Remember to keep voting each week, so the aceness can continue. Here's this week's top 5:

=4. BWO - Temple of Love
=4. Dima Bilan - Never Let You Go
3. Pipettes - Pullshapes
2. Kate Ryan - Je t'adore

Mihai Traistariu - Tornero
This is the first time I'd seen this video and it's actually really scary! If you have a fear of snakes keep away. I actually don't mind seeing snakes, it's only when they're on someone's body I find it creepy (see Dannii Minogue's horrible latest video). Also cos the video flicks between different scenes very abruptly, it came as a bit of a surprise. However, it gives the song a cooler edge as without it, it's just another (although fantastic) Euro-dance/pop song. There's something quite 90s about it as well, in the vein of Haddaway or similar, which makes it especially ace. In fact, Eurovision was really good for Eastern European male singers this year, with Dima, Mihai and Arsenie all producing ace songs, even if I was about the only one to think so for the last one.
Thursday, May 25, 2006


In all the Eurovision excitement I forgot to post up this week's poll. Vote quick cos you've only got 2 days!

Which of these singles are best?
Lillix - Sweet Temptation
Dima Bilan - Never Let You Go
Texas Lightning - No No Never
Mihai Traistariu - Tornero
Pet Shop Boys - Minimal
The Attic - Life To Live
Lorraine - Transatlantic Flight
The Kooks - She Moves In Her Own Way
Arsenium ft. Natalia Gordienko & Connect-R - Loca
West End Girls - Suburbia
Pipettes - Pullshapes
Infernal - From Paris To Berlin
Shakira feat. Wyclef Jean - Hips Don't Lie
Kate Ryan - Je t'adore
BWO - Temple Of Love
Nerina Pallot - Everybody's Gone To War
Will Young - Who Am I
Rihanna - SOS (Rescue Me)
Morningwood - Nth Degree
t.A.T.u - Gomenasai
Free polls from Pollhost.com

Well, Eurovision has officially been and gone for another year. The acts have gone home, the radio presenters no longer find Lordi hilarious - the only remnant is the mysterious appearance of Daz Sampson in the UK's top 5. At least he got something out of it, although I would rather he stayed behind the scenes and made more great pop like the Uniting Nations first 2 singles instead of this rubbish (although I do quite like The Woah Song - is that going to be his next single?). But there is one last annual Eurovision moment to enjoy, the 'Stylus Does Eurovision' review of the event, including comments from all the premier pop pickers... and me! The article isn't up yet but here are my comments, illustrated with some of the best moments of the night:

Eurovision is here again and I am very very EXCITED!!!! It's a family tradition to sit down with the BBC scorecards and compare marks with each other and the voting public. It's only me and my dad tonight but considering his distaste for most pop music he takes Eurovision even more seriously than I do, so I know it's going to be a fun night ahead.

The beginning is "amazing" (Terry Wogan's word of the night) with some cleverly made dolphin costumes and last year's fabulous winner Elena singing No.1 (an ambitious title that paid off, but will it be the same for similarly presumptious Lithuania tonight?). The presenters are 2004's acrobatic Greek entrant Sakis Rouvas and, most bizarrely, Jules from One Tree Hill!

I give them extra points for having a member of Alcazar in their midst, the closest Alexander Bard has got to being there himself, and Andreas was always my favourite as well. The idea is clever, having singers from 6 different European nations singing together, but the song is a little lacklustre and giving them all such different costumes may be aimed to show the variety of European fashion, but surely at least matching the colours would look much better?

My dad immediately gives this 12 points, since he once spent a few months in Moldova organising their public transport. Apparently there weren't many people in bikinis and certainly no rappers on scooters, but the Moldovans have our support anyway, especially since Arsenie (his real name - I can't remember why he changed to Arsenium) was not only a member of Dragostea Din Tei boyband O-zone but also released an utterly fantastic single called Love Me, Love Me last year. This is the kind of song I can imagine, if it hadn't been in Eurovision, being a big summer hit with the youth of Europe and maybe even crossing over to the UK if holiday-makers caught onto it, but it's not really what the typical Eurovision viewers are looking for.

I'm all for ethnic diversity in Eurovision, but is black gospel-lite sung by a guy called Eddie (he should have called the band that!) really representative of the true state of Israeli culture?

This gets my vote for worst of the night, although it was one of my friends' (who I now worry about the sanity of) favourite! I covered my ears and my dad walked out in protest, but they did at least provide amusement and amazement at what they seem to consider high-tech - their robot had less technology in it than Pinocchio!

I had previously predicted this as 'one to watch' for the top 5 at least, but with its early slot and use of a language few will have a clue about, I think it may lose out. It's sweet and inoffensive, and I'm sure grannies in Norway adore it but it's grannies in Albania they have to appeal to now and I don't think this will.

The Ketchup Song was a craze I never caught onto (the song wasn't that great and the dance routine was no Macarena) and this is even less exciting. One of the worst in this year's competition and expected to score accordingly.

Malta have brought us some reasonable entries in the past few years and always make a big effort, my favourite being the sickly sweet duet of Julie and Ludwig in 2004, but their tastes are so cheesy that they just can't seem to appeal to the rest of Europe. Fabrizio is a popstar already, one of Malta's best known, and has had some pretty good songs, but this one is only reasonably ace and certainly not sufficiently memorable to win. Sorry Fab, but you're just not fab enough!

This is one of my favourites, although I only heard it in full for the first time this morning. I've been listening to it ever since and it's definitely by far the best entry by the "big 4" this year and the best by Germany in ages - the last 3 being Gracia, Max and Lou - each that little bit more horrific. It's about as typically German as Eddie Butler was typically Israeli, but the point is this is perfect for Eurovision: pure catchy pop which should appeal to one and all - but can they overcome their Germanosity and succeed where their previous entries could not?

This is one of the catchier pop songs of the year, but it's a bit shouty for my liking. It's a good effort but not something I'd choose to listen to regularly, even as a big Europop fan, so I'm not exactly sure who would (apart from Danes obviously).

Hooray! It's my favourite! Dima Bilan released a brilliant song called It's Not That Simple last year but hadn't done any other songs entirely in English since (as far as I know), so I was very pleased that he had recorded something new and that it would be representing Russia in Eurovision, since they've been rather lacking in good tunes the past few years and I'd love a combined trip to Moscow and St Petersburg. This is good quality pop and will surely go on be a big hit across Eastern Europe however well it does tonight, and then he'll have to do some more English singles! And maybe if he makes lots of money he'll be able to afford a stylist who can persuade him to get rid of the ridiculous hair-do.

FYR Macedonia
I think FYRM have taken the trend of entering songs inspired by recent winners a bit far - they've even got a girl with the same name as last year's winner! The song is a slightly r'n'b take on the ethnic style and is something I can imagine doing well in many European charts, but in Eurovision itself? I'm not sure - I think that maybe, like Moldova, it's a bit too trendy to do really well.

As with the German song, I only heard this in full for the first time this morning but it's become an instant favourite. It's much more typically Europop than the ethnic songs or the ballads and Mihai and his dancing pals certainly put some welly into it. This has to do well! I don't know any of the words except "Tornero" but I'm still singing along somehow, so that must be a good sign.

Bosnia & Herzegovina
This song is so boring that in the semi-final it quite literally sent my mum to sleep. I knew it was going to do well though as it reminded me of that awful yet inexplicably popular Macedonian entry from 2004 by a guy called something like Toes, and I think it's going to continue to do well tonight - a possible winner.

If you're going to send a rubbish song to Eurovision at least be kind enough to make it amusing, and the Lithuanians have certainly managed that. It seems like a group of businessmen accidentally walked on stage and started singing the first thing that came into their heads, and this was the result. My favourite is the bald one who dances like a total maniac towards the end.

When I found out the finalists for this year's UK selection show, I was severely annoyed, and when I actually heard the songs that annoyance turned to devastation. Well, maybe that's a slight exaggeration, but after 2 years of sending nice pop songs that may not have brought Eurovision home to the UK but at least wouldn't make us the laughing stock of the entire continent, we had a choice of various pop losers or the man behind some of the worst ("Rhinestone Cowboy", the Barndance Boys) but also best (well, just "Kung Fu Fighting") novelty songs of recent years. The latter was chosen and here he is terrorising all of Europe with his sleazy yet annoying catchy entry. I still prefer Javine personally, but if we want a chance of winning we'll definitely have more if we carry on with individual, unusual songs like this - they just need to be good as well.

There's nothing wrong with the song, although there's nothing particularly right with it either, but the melodramatic way Anna performs it, as though it's her last desperate plea to save the world from aliens or something, just makes the whole thing ridiculous. I don't think Greece will be 'doing an Ireland'.

This is certainly better than I expected from looking at them, but is this really what we want to be influencing the next few years of Eurovision? In a way it's good because it encourages countries to do whatever they do best, whether or not it's the current trend, which should add some more diversity to the contest. I just don't want the poptasticness of Eurovision to be lost, because above all the fun and games, that's what it's all about for me - one night a year you get 24 performances of Europop music on prime time TV, which for someone of my persuasion is absolute heaven! Don't steal it Lordi, or I'll beat you up. Those silly masks don't scare me!

While everyone else is either doing variations of Elena Paparizou or attempting to find the next theme of Eurovision, the Ukrainians are hanging onto their pride and joy Ruslana, this time providing a mixture of her and Shakira. It's not entirely lacking in catchiness, but Tina's voice is a bit grating - she's nothing on the actual Shakira or Ruslana. Also, I was very disappointed when Terry announced "Dina Caroll" and we got her distant Ukranian cousin instead. I quite liked Don't Be A Stranger.

It's a stereotype that France has the most boring music industry in Europe, and having visited Italy I can say that this is untrue, yet they have yet to prove it in Eurovision. Where's Alizée when you need her? Couldn't Myléne give them something she didn't need on her latest album? Even her cast-offs would be better than this.

This is a bit similar to Hungary's entry from last year, but that had some sense of madness about it making it quite brilliant. You could even sing along if you listened to it enough times, but this just doesn't do it for me. It was fun to watch but I'd forgotten the tune moments later.

This is the epitome of recent Irish Eurovision entries, but credit where it's due, they seem to have managed to pick out the best bits of all those songs and created a fairly good song. Personally I preferred their hilariously awful (but oddly enjoyable) entry from last year which didn't even qualify.

It's odd that even though I think Carola is an evil robot (she's just too professional, like the singing equivalent of Bree off Desperate Housewives), I still get really excited every time I hear the word "Sweden", hear the song and even see the colours yellow and blue, including on the Ukrainian flag, which was rather emabarrassing. It was great to see Swedish pop sung live, even if it wasn't the rightful owners of the Melodifestivalen and Eurovision trophies, Bodies Without Organs. Still, we did get Andreas from Alcazar as well as two more Swedish-written songs in the semi-final, plus Svelte Stockmarket (or whatever he's called) is Swedish, so the Swedes do still kind of rule the show whether they're winning or not.

This woman is as awful to look at as she is to listen to. The bit where they make a star-shape is its only redeeming feature.

One of my best friends is Armenian, so I have promised to support them even though the song left me with a bit of a headache last time I listened to it. But for a first attempt, it's alright (if you ignore the bizarre bondage dance routine) and hopefully they'll come up with something really great next year. Maybe one day they'll even win, and a few more people will actually know where Armenia is.

At last it's time for the best song of the night, but sadly it's not one of the entries. However, nothing seems very sad when "Mambo" is being performed on prime time UK TV, and I sing along to every word, to the confusion of everyone else who has no idea who she is, which is in fact a bit saddening. Why isn't Elena a superstar in the UK?

** Voting **

So, it's off to Finland next year. Not too far from Sweden, so at least they'll have a big presence at the event. Obviously I'm not pleased about a rock band winning Eurovision, but I am pleased that it was something different and considering it could have been Boresnia-Hurtseargovina, we've been quite lucky.

My points:

12 Russia
10 Romania
8 Germany
7 Sweden
6 Moldova
5 Lithuania
4 Denmark
3 Malta
2 UK
1 Switzerland
Wednesday, May 24, 2006

For goodness' sake!

I cannot believe that Sandi Thom's single is close to being no.1 this week, and sure to be no.2 at least. It represents everything wrong with the modern attitude to music, and the whole sentiment of it is just ridiculous. Read this earlier post for my first comments on the song, and join me in GRRRing, please.
Sunday, May 21, 2006

What on Earth is going on?

It turns out Ireland are capable of making brilliant music after all! The last ace Irish export were B*Witched, but a band described as "Rock/Funk/Soul" but in fact sounding like a brilliant piece of urban/latino-pop, like Outkast or the Freeform Five. This band are called Republic of Loose, they've already had a no.2 album in Ireland and their MySpace with a variety of ace music is here. I never thought I'd hear Irish people rapping and it would sound good! The first song, Break is by far the best, sounding like it would be very at home in the clubs of Southern Europe, but the others are quite ace too, sounding like Outkast duetting with City High, Sting and Prince respectively.
Saturday, May 20, 2006


I certainly didn't expect that!!! Finland were always going to do well but these joke songs always usually just get to the top 5 or something, they don't actually WIN... I think perhaps if there'd been one particular song that had stuck out from all the 'serious' entries (like Helena, Ruslana and Sertab did in the past 3 years) then it wouldn't have happened, but as the serious votes were very much split between countries such as Russia, Bosnia and Sweden, as well as many others, with the jokey votes in comparison only split between Finland and Lithuania, it was more a case of nothing beating Finland than Finland beating everyone else, if you understand what I mean. Still, I'm really pleased for good old Dima coming second, Romania did well too with their ace song and I'm very pleased for Sweden even if it should have been BWO. And Finland winning is at least better than Bosnia, which was so boring it literally sent my mum to sleep.

It will be very interesting to see how Eurovision goes next year. It'll certainly be a change, since it's been held in southern countries the past three years, and Finland haven't EVER won before. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that they really don't seem to like pop music or make very much of it - do you know any Finnish popstars? Will we have Rasmus and H.I.M singing in the interval next year? Even their Idol programme was populated by moody teenagers dressed in black. So it's going to be interesting, but I am a bit sad that the contest won't be held in a country that's really passionate about Eurovision. Maybe a Finn can come on and tell me that there are lots of dedicated Eurovisioners in their country, but I'm not expecting it. Also, what is this going to do for next year? After Sertab won there was an influx of ethnic-style music, Ruslana led to a year obsessed with big drums, so will next year be the year of rock for Eurovision? It could be awful!

So, let's see how accurate I was with my predictions...

Top 5 = 4/5 correct
Top 10 = 3/5 correct
Top 20 = 6/10 correct
The losers = 3/4 correct
Overall = 16/24 correct - not bad! I'm especially impressed with myself for picking 4 of the top 5, and the one I got wrong was only a country away.

More Eurovision excitement and speculation

I've been reading up on all the backstage gossip and opinions all day, and now I'm very very excited about tonight's Eurovision! So, I thought I'd put together some predictions for who I think will end up in what place tonight - but of course, as the semi-finals have shown, you never know what could happen and if there's one thing for sure about Eurovision it's that it's completely unpredictable.

Top 5:
Bosnia and Herzegovina - Hari Mata Hari - Lejla (Layla)
Norway - Christine Guldbrandsen - Alvedansen (The Elf Dance)
Romania - Mihai Trăistariu - Tornerò (I'll Return)
Finland - Lordi - Hard Rock Hallelujah
Russia - Dima Bilan - Never Let You Go

Top 10:
Germany - Texas Lightning - No No Never
Lithuania - LT United - We Are The Winners
Croatia - Severina - Moja štikla (My Stiletto)
Ireland - Brian Kennedy - Every Song Is A Cry For Love
Greece - Anna Vissi - Everything

Top 20:
United Kingdom - Daz Sampson - Teenage Life
FYR Macedonia - Elena Risteska - Ninanajna
Switzerland - Six4One - If We All Give A Little
Sweden - Carola - Invincible
Armenia - André - Without Your Love
Ukraine - Tina Karol - Show Me Your Love
Denmark - Sidsel Ben Semmane - Twist Of Love
Turkey - Sibel Tüzün - Süper star
Moldova - Arsenium feat. Natalia Gordienko & Connect-R - Loca (Crazy)
Israel - Eddie Butler - This Is The Time

The losers:
Malta - Fabrizio Faniello - I Do
Latvia - Cosmos - I Hear Your Heart
France - Virginie Pouchain - Il était temps (The Time Has Come)
Spain - Las Ketchup - Bloody Mary

And the ones I'll be supporting:
Russia - Dima Bilan - Never Let You Go
Moldova - Arsenium feat. Natalia Gordienko & Connect-R - Loca (Crazy)
Romania - Mihai Trăistariu - Tornerò (I'll Return)
Germany - Texas Lightning - No No Never
United Kingdom - Daz Sampson - Teenage Life (but only so I can go next year!)

Another exciting moment to look out for is Elena Paparizou's performance of My Number One and (extra super exciting) MAMBO!!! in the interval.

And don't forget to print off your scorecard from



Sylvia Night - Congratulations
Having now had some time to think over Thursday's tragic loss, I have a few theories of why it happened. Firstly, Iceland, like Belgium, is very far away from most countries in Europe. If you look at the list of entrants this year, 20 out of 37 would definitely be classified as Eastern Europe. I'm not suggesting political voting exactly, but that it is obvious that countries close together, especially with many having been part of the same country in the past and with loads of immigration between them, would have the same taste in music. That's not political, it's just voting for what you know. Similarly, I'm sure more people in Scandinavia and Benelux (a name for Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg that I have always liked) wanted the Belgian and Icelandic songs to win than people in Armenia, for example, where the music scene is completely different. Another reason Sylvia in particular didn't make it, I think was because she was just too much fun. A semi-serious act with an amusing outfit or dance routine would probably have more chance than something which was an all-out comedy routine, which so OTT it certainly wouldn't appeal to your typical Albanian granny. As for Belgium, I still don't know why apart from its non-Easternness it didn't get through, because it still is the perfect 21st century Eurovision entry.

Abba interview with Noel Edmonds
There is one person in this video having a comeback at the moment and it's not ABBA. ABBA don't need to come back, because they haven't gone away and certainly aren't expected to, even though they've not recorded any new material in almost 25 years. While other bands from their era and much later are doing comeback tours and even brand new material, ABBA don't have to because other people will do it for them - the Mamma Mia stage show is being made into a film, their songs are regularly placed at the top of "best ever" charts, and the fab four don't have to do a moment's promotion to earn it. That's because their songs speak for themselves. I still occasionally discover brilliant ABBA songs I'd never even heard of and the consistency of quality in their music is unbeatable.

Robyn - Show Me Love
Keeping on the Swedish tip, here is the song that made me love the girl who has become one of my all-time favourite singers. I had no idea when this came out and I was singing along to it on TOTP that 8 years later she would release one of the most important and best-loved (by not just me but an endless number of music critics and pop fans) albums of the year. Clearly the 9-year-old me had excellent taste, as this song still sounds as good today as it did then.

Dima Bilan - Never Let You Go
Now I promise you this really is the last Eurovision related video, but I couldn't not post the only hope left for a great Eurovision winner this year. There hasn't been a Eurovision winner I've been really against in all the time I've watched it, but if Bosnia gets it this year like I'm quite worried they will, then the tradition will be broken and I shall be very sad. So let's get Dima to the top!

Head Automatica - Graduation Day
Now for something completely different! Head Automatica are the group behind Beating Heart Baby aka the best rock song of all time ever, but their other songs, although better than your average rockin' rubbish, are nothing in comparison. However, they're now back with a brand new single from the brand new album so I decided to give them another chance. So I start listening and it's not very exciting, and then I realise - there are no synthesisers!! The whole point of Head Automatica is to be an electro-poptastic side-project from the singer's serious rock band Glassjaw, so what is the point of them sounding just like every other American teen-rock band at the moment? There isn't one, and I'm very cross about it!

5. Shakira - Hips Don't Lie
=3. Rihanna - S.O.S
=3. Kate Ryan - Je t'adore
2. Infernal - From Paris To Berlin
1. Pipettes - Pullshapes

I am very, very pleased with this song being no.1 this week, because it's just so acetastic and it's ages until it's released so there's lots of time for them to win over the whole Internet to be their fans and hopefully get their highest chart position yet and another good one for their absolutely amazing album. Since this song is so new there's not yet a video, so instead I've posted their first video ever, for the song Dirty Mind, although I do take offence at the misspelling of Dirrrty.

I'm in the mood for dancing

but are you in the mood for Eurovision? Cos if you're not you better hurry up and get in the mood cos it's only a few hours away! Here are my top tips for readying yourself for the most exciting moment in every Europop fan's year:

1. Read up on all the highlarious moments backstage and get some top tips for who is likely to win, lose, and make everyone stare in wonderment at where on earth did they get those clothes/dance routines/people, by visiting the acest Eurovision blog, Schlager Blog!

2. Since Belgium, Iceland, Poland and Estonia are very unfairly out of the competition, Sweden is being represented by a woman who seems to think her children were created by immaculate conception and the UK by a man who probably doesn't even know what that is, I've decided to state my allegiance with the 2 cute young boys of the East, Arsenium and Dima Bilan. I won't spoil what they're doing tonight but to give you a taster, why not watch their previous best videos (in fact these songs are even more acetastic than the Eurovision ones but lets not mention that) on You Tube and if you like them (you will), join me and support them tonight!


Well, I can't seem to find Dima's anywhere so I'll provide an mp3 link instead - it's off his official site so actually legit for once:

Dima Bilan - It's Not That Simple

The above was actually one of my absolute favourite songs of last year, definitely among the very best male ballads of the year, so I had high expectations for his Eurovision entry (and was very excited to hear he was entering) which were well met with Never Let You Go, a more catchy mid-tempo pop song. It got through the semi-final so here's hoping it could go all the way - we've not had a male solo winner for a very long time so maybe Dima or Arsenie could be the one to break the trend! I don't think Arsenie has a huge chance since I think latino-r'n'b style of song will appeal more to the young audience and not to the older people who are very necessary if you want to win, but it's extremely catchy and I personally love it. It is quite bizarre, though, when so many great acts have been knocked out that I'm left with a guy with Arse in his name and a guy with a mullet as my favourites, but they really are 2 very ace pop stars. I don't think they have much chance of winning but I've no idea who does, so they'll be getting my support for sure, with a little going to the Andreas from Alcazar-shaped sixth of the Swiss entry.

3. Go and download the 2 Eurovision-related songs on Into The Groove at the moment, one of Kate Ryan's greatest hits and my favourite British entry ever (just beating Gina G).
Friday, May 19, 2006
It's so lovely how everyone's getting so enthusiastic about Eurovision around here - there are English flags everywhere, in the windows of shops and houses and even little ones on people's cars! But do you think someone should tell them it's not just England entering but the whole UK?

New Pop On The Block

The Kooks - She Moves In Her Own Way
The last 2 Kooks songs were quite enjoyable considering their NME-friendliness, and I'm sure this one will get just as much coverage in the indie Smash Hits, but I personally much prefer it - there's something really likeable about it that made me smile when I first saw the video.
78% Poptastic!

Oakenfold ft. Brittany Murphy - Faster Kill Pussycat
I downloaded and planned to post this song on Into The Groove a few months ago, but I never got around to it and now it's getting popular, I can't claim responsibility! However, I'm still very pleased as it sounds like Superfabulous by BT (a song which very much suits its name) and the 1st GA album, especially towards the end where it sounds just like Nadine.
89% Poptastic!

Embrace - World At Your Feet
A song by Embrace about football was never going to be good, but considering its likely to be what the band are most remembered for out of everything they've done in their career (you can hardly say any of their singles have been memorable), they could have at least put in a bit more effort!
5% Poptastic! (it would be less but Crazy Frog has a World Cup song out too)
Monday, May 15, 2006

Voting time!

Which of these singles are best?
Pet Shop Boys - I'm With Stupid
BWO - Temple Of Love
Shakira feat. Wyclef Jean - Hips Don't Lie
Infernal - From Paris To Berlin
Rihanna - SOS (Rescue Me)
The Similou - All This Love
Agnes Carlsson - Stranded
Andy Bell - I'll Never Fall In Love Again
Eric Gadd - Meet Me Here
Will Young - Who Am I
Morningwood - Nth Degree
Annie - The Crush
t.A.T.u - Gomenasai
Pipettes - Pullshapes
Lily Allen - LDN
Cardigans - Don't Blame Your Daughter
Kate Ryan - Je t'adore
Marie Serneholt - I Need A House
Vanilla Ninja - Dangerzone
Nerina Pallot - Everybody's Gone To War
Free polls from Pollhost.com

Saturday, May 13, 2006

My heroes!

Look, the new BWO video! It's not quite as helpful as the one for Temple of Love, which had lots of temples in it to encourage me to practise for my architecture exam (which is on Monday, argh! Better get Halcyon Days on the stereo!), but it fits the song well and Martin and Marina wear nice outfits, although all Alexander gets to do is drive a car and look around sadly at Martin - I won't explain why this is, you'll have to watch the video and see! If you, for some bizarre reason, have never heard of BWO before, don't watch this unless you're into soppy ballads, because it's nowhere near the standard we usually get from the the 'WO (as I think we should call them from now on), so don't write them off after one listen of this or you'll miss out on a super-fantastic band.


First up today is a clip from (I presume) Belgian TV, showing Kate Ryan's first rehearsal for Eurovision. I never expected to say this, but I'm totally on Belgium's side this year because the song is fantastic and the new dance routine looks great too. And best of all, the notorious "knee-swing" is still present!

This week's retro favourite is a song that I actually only heard for the first time last week, but it seems to be much loved by the readers of Into The Groove, where I recently posted it to download. It's such a perfectly summery tune, a mix of Alexia and Aqua's sounds with a sprinkle of Latino sunnyness. The video is great too - now I'm definitely counting down til the summer holidays!

Next we have one of the best award show performances I've ever seen, t.A.T.u singing All The Things She Said and Not Gonna Get Us at the MTV Movie Awards in 2003, joined by loads of high-pitched high-energy girls dressed in school uniforms. So much better than when Eminem pulled a similar trick a few years before, and Yulia and Lena look really excited to be up there. They might be singing about being afraid, but they look like they're having the time of their lives!

The Jonas Brothers are a new boyband who have unsurprisingly, since they're 3 young brothers, been called the new Hanson, but they claim to be more like Blink 182. They're still the new Hanson, but maybe with a mix of Busted and Dream Street, making them even more cheesy than the long-haired lovers from Oklahoma. And they're squeaky clean as well - this song isn't even about a girl they fancy called Mandy, but a deaf girl who their mum taught to speak! They have so far made 3 videos for this song, each following on from the next, but not getting much airplay outside of TRL as far as I can tell. Listen out for the surprise reference to... S Club 7!?

I'm not the biggest fan of Bjork's music but I have much love for the lady herself, who proves in this video of her discussing and taking apart her television, to be not only as loopy as her reputation suggests, but also really adorable. She even teaches us a lesson about not believing everything we see on TV, although I do believe what this clip is telling me - Icelandics are ace!

And last but not least, it's time for the DP:UK top 5:

* 5. Pet Shop Boys - I'm With Stupid
v 4. BWO - Temple Of Love
* 3. Shakira feat. Wyclef Jean - Hips Don't Lie
^ 2. Infernal - From Paris To Berlin

But once again the winner, beating Infernal by only one vote, is...

Rihanna - SOS!

So I'm leaving you with her performance of the song on American TV show Regis & Kelly, where she may not do the best singing you've ever heard but her high-heel-dancing ability is quite impressive.
Friday, May 12, 2006

They are The Ark! From Sweden!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Dirrrty Pop Review: The Ark Live

You probably didn't know about it, because it was not very well publicised at all, but last night the ace Swedish pop/rock act The Ark played a concert at the Scala in King's Cross, London. I arrived a little while before the support act, who were a bunch of posey indie-rockers with some of the most boring songs I've ever heard, going by the equally unexciting name of Everything On Black. At last, an hour later, The Ark took to the stage. Flamboyant singer Ola Salo was last of the band to appear and gained a huge cheer from the small crowd of supporters, most of whom I'd noticed had Swedish accents or were actually speaking Swedish.

They began the show with rocktastic single Clamour For Glamour, followed by the gay anthem Father Of A Son. I can't remember the exact setlist but it included all of their best songs - Deliver Us From Free Will, Rock City Wankers (which Ola said was about Londoners - charming!), It Takes A Fool To Remain Sane, Let Your Body Decide, The Others, One Of Us Is Gonna Die Young, Trust Is Shareware, This Piece Of Poetry Is Meant To Do Harm and other lengthily-titled masterpieces (ending on the brilliant Calleth You, Cometh I). Ola began the show dressed in black leather trousers and jacket with a big furry collar and accessorised with a silver necklace with lots of sparkly bits hanging off it and a police-style hat (one of the soft ones a bit like a beret, not the hard, tall ones), but the jacket was soon removed as he got very hot and sweaty and for the last few songs the whole band changed into white outfits, the shirt of which again got quickly removed in Ola's case.

When the band left the stage towards the end of the show and it was uncertain if they would come back, a very strange thing happened. The room was suddenly full of people yelling what sounded like "egg on bread!" again and again. After a few minutes I realised they were actually saying "encore" in Swedish! The whole concert in fact was like a little piece of Sweden in the middle of London, because The Ark are so unknown in the UK, the only people who'd know them would either be Swedish or into Swedish stuff, like me. What was amusing that every couple of songs Ola shouted out "We are The Ark! From Sweden!", since we clearly didn't need reminding of either fact.

Overall, I was extremely impressed with The Ark as a live act. Although not all of their album tracks are quite up to their best, they have so many songs that are brilliant that they easily filled an hour and fifteen minutes with 100% ace music. I would definitely recommend going along to see them if they come to the UK again (or wherever you live), although you may leave wondering why the rock bands in our charts aren't fun like The Ark.
Monday, May 08, 2006

You don't even need to be famous to have a tribute act

I was watching MTV Hits' Spanking New Music Live programme today, and a guy came on called James Morrison who looked and sounded just like Gavin Degraw! But not as good, obviously. I think he's trying to be the working class James Blunt.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Now you know what this is for - vote for your faves, and this time you can pick as many as you like!

Which of these singles are best?
Rihanna - S.O.S
BWO - Temple Of Love
Will Young - Who Am I
Infernal - From Paris To Berlin
Cardigans - Don't Blame Your Daughter
Annie - The Crush
The Feeling - Fill My Little World
Vanilla Ninja - Dangerzone
Pet Shop Boys - I'm With Stupid
Lily Allen - LDN
Pipettes - Pullshapes
Amy Diamond - Don't Cry Your Heart Out
Shakira feat. Wyclef Jean - Hips Don't Lie
Morningwood - Nth Degree
Marie Serneholt - I Need A House
The Veronicas - When It All Falls Apart
Kate Ryan - Je t'adore
Dixie Chicks - Not Ready To Make Nice
Nerina Pallot - Everybody's Gone To War
t.A.T.u - Gomenasai
Free polls from Pollhost.com

Saturday, May 06, 2006


I've had enough of mourning the loss of good pop TV on Saturday mornings - I'm going to do something about it! Since I'm neither a model or a man who "looks a bit indie", it doesn't seem like I'm gonna be getting my own TV show any time soon, so I'll have to make do with YouTube. So, welcome to the first ever episode of DP:UK!

First up we have the new video from Nelly Furtado, who is now proclaiming that she's a "maneater" and (in America, at least) a "promiscuous girl". I'm not sure her baby daughter Nevis will feel too happy about that, but so far this new image seems to be going well for Miss Furtado, with her new album seeming to be eagerly awaited. Nelly has flirted with hip-hop styles before, for example working with Missy Elliot and Timbaland, but this album is definitely a step in a cooler direction from her last album. I actually loved Folklore, much preferring it to Whoa, Nelly!, so hopefully the improvement will continue on Loose, which is out on the 20th of June.

Next up is an interview Girls Aloud did on their slightly ill-fated recent trip to Australia. We've all seen a zillion GA interviews before, but I found it interesting to see what they were asked in a country which doesn't know them as the Popstars winners, just as a brand new girl band, but sadly this seemed to be a disadvantage instead of an advantage as you might have expected. Still, the less popular they are in other countries the more time they can spend creating ace new pop songs to be released here!

The second new video this week is by the other top UK girl group, the Sugababes. I have to say I'm a bit underwhelmed by this track, which is certainly one of their weaker single releases, but I think the video is quite nice. It's still weird seeing Amelle instead of Mutya, though, and is it just me or is she starting to look a bit like her here?

The next video is not new but an old favourite of mine from German duo Band Ohne Namen, or B.O.N as they called themselves when they released this single in the UK in 2000. The single may not have made much impact on the charts but I'm sure anyone who saw the video will not have forgotten it, and the song itself was pure cheeky boyband brilliance. Hamsters, nuns and the most pointless band member of all time hiding in a closet. What more could you want from a pop video?

Patrick Wolf is a singer I haven't written much about on Dirrrty Pop because I only really like one of his songs (Tristan), but I still think he's totally ace as a person, so here is a montage of singing and talking that I found on YouTube. Pretend this is like the bit on CD:UK when they go on tour with someone, except it never was or would be Patrick Wolf.

Now for the most important bit of all, and the revelation of why I was asking you to vote for your favourite current single last week. Here is the first ever DP:UK Top 5!

5. Cardigans - Don't Blame Your Daughter - 6%
4. Infernal - From Paris To Berlin - 7%
3. Will Young - Who Am I - 9%
2. BWO - Temple Of Love - 14%

And at no.1 with a huge 22% of the votes is...

Rihanna - S.O.S (Rescue Me)

So to play you out is the American version of the S.O.S video. Hope you like it and see you next time on DP:UK!
Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Top of the Poptastic!

A little delayed (but not, sadly, by the Delays, who seem to pop up in almost every post these days!), here are my top 20 favourite singles of April 2006 and where they are being released:

1. BWO - We Could Be Heroes (Sweden)
2. Gavin Degraw - Chariot (UK)
3. Dixie Chicks - Not Ready To Make Nice (USA)
4. Annie - The Crush (UK?)
5. Rogue Traders - Voodoo Child (UK)
6. Sylvia Knott - Congratulations (Iceland)
7. The Feeling - Fill My Little World (UK)
8. Vanilla Ninja - Dangerzone (Europe)
9. Marie Serneholt - I Need A House (Sweden)
10. Pet Shop Boys - I'm With Stupid (UK)
11. Lily Allen - LDN (UK)
12. Captain - Broke (UK)
13. Imogen Heap - Goodnight & Go (UK)
14. Joanna Pacitti - Let It Slide (USA)
15. Matt Willis - Up All Night (UK)
16. Ashley Parker Angel - Let U Go (USA)
17. Primal Scream - Country Girl (UK)
18. A Studio ft. Polina - S.O.S (UK)
19. The Automatic - Monster (UK)
20. Dannii Minogue - Under Pressure (UK)

So how does this affect my chart of the year so far? Let's see...

1. BWO - Temple Of Love
2. Will Young – Who Am I
3. Delays – Valentine
4. Rihanna - S.O.S (Rescue Me)
5. Kate Ryan - Je t'adore
6. Infernal - From Paris To Berlin
7. Will Young - All Time Love
8. The Veronicas - When It All Falls Apart
9. September - It Doesn't Matter
10. Fefe Dobson - As A Blonde
11. Protocol - Where's The Pleasure
12. Morningwood - Nth Degree
13. BWO – We Could Be Heroes
14. Delays - Hideaway
15. The Veronicas - Everything I'm Not
16. Najoua Belyzel - Gabriel
17. Elisa – Swan
18. The Research - Lonely Hearts Still Beat The Same
19. All American Rejects - Move Along
20. Gavin Degraw - Chariot

So, not very much really. April has not been the greatest month for singles, but this could be due to the BWO album taking up so much aceness there just wasn't any left for anyone else.

New Pop On The Block

The Pipettes - Pullshapes
With each single they release, the Pipettes improve so much that I think if they release more than 2 more the world might explode from all the goodness! Dirty Mind was catchy and semi-ace, Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me was super-catchy and definitely ace, and Pullshapes is one of the best things I've heard so far this year. I can't wait to buy their full album when it comes out this summer. [LISTEN]
95% Poptastic!

Keane - Is It Any Wonder
This song has caused me quite a palava so far. First of all, like any 90s pop fan, I had to burst into the Boyzone song of the same name every time I heard or read the title, then I finally thought I'd heard the Keane song when actually I'd heard the new Sigur Ros single, and spent the whole of the next week wondering why everyone was comparing it to U2, and, even more strangely, when had Tom Chaplin developed a Scandinavian accent? Eventually I realised my mistake, but I had still only heard the Sigur Ros song and not Keane. And then, the other day I actually heard the real Keane song for the first time and it did sound just like U2, although I reckon if we pretend that U2 don't exist then we could at a stretch say it sounds like the Delays. Even though I really shouldn't, I do quite like this song at the moment. [WATCH]
63% Poptastic!

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