Miss Li - Dancing the Whole Way Home - 1st April
Bat For Lashes - Two Suns - 6th April
Melody Club - Goodbye to Romance - 22nd April
BWO - Big Science - April
The Sounds - Crossing the Rubicon - May
Florence and the Machine - July
Leona Lewis - October
Alexandra Burke - November
Alcazar - 2009
The Ark - 2009
Patrick Wolf - 2009
Robyn - 2009
It's that time again, the end of another month and here are the best new singles of the past 31 days and where they're being released:
1. BWO - Will My Arms Be Strong Enough (Sweden) 2. September - Satellites (UK) 3. Margaret Berger - Samantha (Norway) 4. Elena Paparizou - Mambo (Sweden) 5. Da Buzz - Without Breaking (Sweden) 6. Megan McCauley - Tap That (USA) 7. Kate Ryan - Alive (Belgium) 8. Bertine Zetlitz - Midnight (Norway) 9. Joanna - Let It Slide (USA) 10. Jamelia - Something About You (UK) 11. Madonna - Jump (UK) 12. Lisa Miskovsky - Mary (Sweden) 13. Cascada - Miracle (USA) 14. Just Jack - Writer's Block (UK) 15. Marit Bergman - No Party (Sweden) 16. Keane - Crystal Ball (UK) 17. All-American Rejects - It Ends Tonight (USA) 18. Blog 27 - I Still Don't Know Ya (Poland) 19. Scott Matthews - Elusive (UK) 20. Supafly Inc. - Moving Too Fast (UK)
Just missing out this month were Universal Poplab, Lovebugs ft. Lene Marlin, Soul Avengerz ft. Javine and Ana Johnsson.
And the update top 20 of the year so far:
1. BWO - Temple Of Love 2. BWO - Will My Arms Be Strong Enough 3. September - Satellites 4. Pipettes – Pullshapes 5. Will Young – Who Am I 6. Scissor Sisters - I Don't Feel Like Dancing 7. Delays – Valentine 8. Rihanna - S.O.S (Rescue Me) 9. Kate Ryan - Je t'adore 10. Infernal - From Paris To Berlin 11 Andreas Lundstedt - Love Gun 12. Najoua Belyzel - Gabriel 13. Camera Obscura - Lloyd I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken 14. Lillix - Sweet Temptation 15. Margaret Berger - Samantha 16. Fefe Dobson - As A Blonde 17. Will Young - All Time Love 18. Elena Paparizou - Mambo 19. The Veronicas - When It All Falls Apart 20. The Veronicas - Everything I'm Not
Kate Ryan - Alive (Video) At last there is a follow-up to the almighty should have been Eurovision winner Je t'Adore, and although I didn't fall in love with it quite so immediately, I came to realise it's brilliance after a few more listens and had to share it with you lucky lot. It's a bit more in the vein of the dance music she produced for her previous albums, and this was no surprise as we've known for a while that the track would be produced by Riva (famed for Dannii's hit Who Do You Love Now). It doesn't sound exactly like Only If I or Desenchantée or the others, but it's a good half-way point between that style and the much poppier Je t'Adore. It's not a hugely original sound, but it's extremely catchy and very good quality dance-pop. 95% Poptastic!
Infernal - Self Control The surprise success of early summer 2006 have finally announced their next UK single and despite having a huge range of ace pop tunes in their back-catalogue, they've gone for something new... well, sort of - this is their cover of the old-skool Laura Brannigan classic. I say classics but I must admit I've never been much of a fan myself. Still, I think the Danish duo have done a good job of it and I hope that it will grow on me as Alive did. I still think they should have released the comedy 90s-style album track Cheap Truick Kinda Girl, which I think Radio 1 would have loved, but I am grateful that they've got another chance even if I'm not going to get my hopes up too much that they haven't ruined it. 80% Poptastic!
The Attic - It's Beautiful (Listen) This sounds very much like their last single Life To Live but this is not a bad thing because both are good songs, although nothing like as ace as their past hits Destiny and Just Can't Help It, which are some of the catchiest dance songs I've ever known. It's good, but it could and should be much better. 67% Poptastic!
All American Rejects - It Ends Tonight (Listen) I don't approve of the phrase 'guilty pleasures' but if I did this band would be mine. I can't really see any difference between them and other rock acts, although the singer is much better looking than most, proven by the fact that he doesn't need to heap on the make-up. The video for this is supposed to be premiered today on TRL USA but amusingly I've already seen it on (I think) Chart Show TV in the UK. It wasn't very exciting if I remember correctly, but the song has really grown on me since I first heard it. Not as good as Move Along, the song that started this whole worrying fandom, but probably equal to the last UK release Dirty Little Secret. 78% Poptastic!
Robbie Williams - Lovelight Well, this is a big improvement on Rudebox, even if it does sound just like George Michael. It's not hugely catchy and it still pales in comparison to many similar songs by lesser known acts, but for Robbie it's not too bad. However, I thought Advertising Space was the best song off his last album and that flopped miserably so I am clearly no authority when it comes to predicting his chart positions - we'll just have to wait and see. I am very interested to hear his PSBs collaborations too. 75% Poptastic!
I was drawn to king of snarky gossip sites Perez Hilton's post on this new girl group mainly cos of their bitchy name, colourful clothes and the fact that one member is a female rapper. In fact, she goes by the name of Fan_3 and you may remember her solo single Geek Love from 2004 or her appearances on various Disney soundtracks around that time. Sadly she didn't get very far alone so she's drafted in some girly mates to make some utterly brilliant pop music. Picture In The Tabloids could be Gwen Stefani, while Forget To Remember sounds like Solid HarmoniE or Girl Thing reincarnated. Loads of fun with a Spice Girls-esque sense of crazy unpredictability.
Remember that name? Those of you who do will be excited to hear that yes this is Aaron from V and he is back... sort of. He has created a MySpace music profile with his very nice version of Another Day In Paradise on it. Aaron really seems to love pop music and knows all about it, so it would be lovely if he could gain the success he deserves, but in the current musical landscape it seems sadly unlikely. I had no idea he was in Latvian Eurovision - is this true or is he joking? I'd like to hear his entry if it is true. You should also follow the link to his ex-band member Kevin's page where you can play spot the ex-popstar in his photography (hint: his pop career was over before he even reached adulthood).
The next Pipettes single is a very wisely chosen Judy and the girls' MySpace is now the exclusive home of the b-sides, previous rareties Simon Says and the very rude Feminist Complaints, and a new song called The Burning Ambition. Judy is out on the 25th of September so you must all rush out to your local record emporium and get yourself a copy. In the meantime you can learn the words to these 3 tracks in preparation for singing along to the single when you've bought it, or alternatively you can listen to (or buy if you don't have it already) their brilliant album on repeat for the next 28 days. Not a very difficult task, I think you'll agree!
Shampoo - Viva La Megababes Shampoo are one of the acest bands in pop history and this is their very acest song. I'd never been able to see the video before so I was very excited to find it had recently been added to YouTube, and of course I had to share it with my lovely readers. If you can find any video that brings more pure poptastic joy than this one, I will be very surprised.
Lisa Miskovsky - Mary I posted this song on Into The Groove recently but now I've seen the video I have to provide it for your admiration and amusement, as it's a totally brilliant circus-themed affair. Purple lipstick, a woman in a tutu, wings and fake beard and not to mention Lisa herself having 4 arms and 4 legs! This is something special.
Melody Club - Baby I'm at risk of going overboard on the praise this week, but here is another amazing and brilliant pop band performing my no.1 favourite of their songs. There are loads of great synth-pop groups around right now but Melody Club are my personal favourite and I can't wait for their new album which they're working on now with Klas Anders (from Teddybears Sthlm and producer of Robyn's last CD), as well as the solo album of their bassist Niklas who is also known as the lead singer of The Mo.
Ashley Tisdale - Kiss The Girl You may recognise Ashley as one of the baddies in High School Musical, but in real life she's much more likeable and comes across very well in this music video for her new rock-pop version of Kiss The Girl from The Little Mermaid, which she has recorded for a new DVD release of the film. She's kind of like Hilary Duff but less perfect, more real and more fun.
After Dark - Kom Ut Here's a great fun single that's currently doing well in Sweden. It was the theme song to Stockholm Gay Pride 2006, a Swedish version of the PSBs' Go West, already a gay anthem, and I believe the title translates literally as "Come Out". The video shows the drag queen pop group After Dark parodying several "schlager queens", such as recent Swedish Eurovision entrants Carola and Lena Philipsson.
This week's top 5:
Strangely it's a tie between places 2 to 5, with the following songs getting 10 votes each...
Nelly Furtado - Promiscuous Alesha - Lipstick Jamelia - Something About You JoJo - Too Little Too Late
But retaining the no.1 spot is...
Scissor Sisters - I Don't Feel Like Dancing I am still absolutely loving this single and so very glad that the Scissors are back to make everything sparkly and ace, although Jake's high-pitched singing does need a little fine-tuning. Still, this was the first live TV performance of this track and I'm sure they'll have plenty more ahead of them to get it spot on.
Simon Amstell, acetastic ex-host of T4's Popworld, is making his way back to the small screen as he will soon be taking over the role of host on BBC music quiz Never Mind The Buzzcocks. He previously guest-hosted the show and was very good so I think this is a good move for him.
I couldn't bring myself to watch any of the V festival on TV this weekend, but I hear that brave pop invaders Girls Aloud went down very well. Now if only someone could make a whole festival for proper pop music (but not a rubbish chav fest like Party In The Park) then I might be more tempted to watch or even attend!
Joanna - Let It Slide (Video) I posted this brilliant song on Into The Groove a few months ago, and at last it is getting a proper release in the USA, with its video premiering today on TRL. Joanna was originally known as Joanna Pacitti and her biggest success was having a song on the Legally Blonde soundtrack (the poptastic Watch Me Shine), but now she's getting a proper go at being a big star and seems to have lots of money behind her as a major artist of the Geffen record label. Let It Slide deserves to be huge, a mix of pop and rock and much better than any of Lindsay or Hilary's recent singles. Her album This Crazy Life is also out now in the USA and hopefully here soon too, cos it sounds pretty good. Chance of success: 70%
Soul Avengerz ft. Javine - Don't Let The Morning Come Poor Javine may not be quite so poor much longer if this new dance music direction takes off. I know nothing about Soulavengerz but I do know she's been promoting this in Ibiza and it's received some Radio 1 airplay which is quite a feat for our Jav. To be honest it could be any dance-pop diva singing this track, but I'm glad Javine is getting some work and airplay at last and it's a good summery track although not the best dance-pop song of the moment - that honour of course goes to September's Satellites. Chance of success: 80%
Suddenly every pop act ever wants to make a comeback from the dumper. Lets have a look at the contenders:
Just Jack - Writer's Block (Video) No-one took much notice of Just Jack when he released his strangely brilliant first album The Outer Marker in 2002, save for a few lazy comparisons to Mike Skinner. I took a liking to his singles Paradise Lost and Snowflakes, so when I saw the album for £1.99 I had to give it a try and it was a very pleasant surprise, a relaxing, thought-provoking and original take on British urban music. I thought he'd given up and become a plumber, so I was quite delighted to see an e-mail from him (or his promotions team anyway) appear in my inbox today, and even more so to find his music is as good as ever with a really great new video and single. Maybe I'm completely mad for liking this guy but I'm sure I won't be the only one so do give him a chance, you never know, you might soon be his 3rd fan (after me and his mum). Chance of success: 75%
Gina G - Tonight's The Night After almost a decade of promising a return to the pop scene, Gina finally is releasing a new single in the UK. It's a fab little pop-dance tune, but it's incredibly dated and not as good as the single she recorded and released abroad with Elemental a few years ago. If that didn't take off here then surely this won't either, but I'm happy to be proven wrong. Gina did after all produce one of the UK's greatest ever Eurovision entries (after Bardo of course), as well as the fab pop album Fresh, and she seems like a jolly nice and hard-working lady, but I do think she might be better off giving up if this one doesn't get anywhere. Chance of success: 15%
Blazin' Squad - All Night Long (Video) When I heard that the remaining members of the Squad, meaning those who'd not followed Mr McKenzie into the world of half-heartedly going indie (one of Friday Hill's songs was once quite seriously referred to as "indie" on CD:UK), were continuing the band and planning a comeback, I thought it was a joke but I was clearly mistaken because they really are back. Sadly apart from the line-up little has changed and they're still totally boring, returning with a song that sounds just like that one where they all sat around the swimming pool - quite appropriate considering Rocky B/MC Plat'num's future on The Games. However, this new version has Melo-D on lead vocals, a sign of the times if ever there was one. Saddest of all, I can still remember all the names of the remaining members: Plat'num, Melo-D, Spike-E and scary by name, scary by nature... it's Reepa! I almost miss the glory days of Sneak and TOTP Saturday now, and the rather amusing revelation that they got 10 GCSEs between them, 9 of which belonged to Tommy B, the shy-seeming DJ (how exactly a DJ fits into a boyband I never did quite figure out). Chance of success: 5%
Jamelia - Something About You It's a few weeks since the Internet first got its taste of Jamelia's lovely comeback single, but only a few days ago did the video finally appear. It's very glamorous, without a particular storyline but Jamelia looks very sleek and grown-up. It will be interesting to see if she continues this slightly MOR feel on her album but from what Mr Popjustice has been telling us about her next single it sounds like she'll soon be back at her fierce and fabulous best! I'm not a big r'n'b fan in general but I've always liked Jamelia's take on the genre so I really hope she's not just going to blend in with all the rock chick wannabes of the moment.
Ultra - Say It Once The most amazing hour and a half of music television I've ever seen is a programme called Top 20 Amazingly Bad Boybands which is occasionally shown on the Emap channels like Smash Hits and Magic. Yesterday I was very excited to find it was on the latter, and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it except for the three when the Noise Next Door were on. Although it was supposed to be a list of the worst ever boybands it was in fact very similar to my list of best ever boybands, with stars including Phixx, V, Triple 8, Point Break, No Mercy, Northern Line, LFO and this forgotten 4-piece, Ultra! The videos of Ultra's single are very hard to find and in fact this is the only one I've ever seen on YouTube. It's probably their most famous hit, although my favourite was the confusingly similarly titled Say You Do. All their songs were lovely and great listening for a sunny summer's day as well.
Kim Wilde - You Came 2006 I was very confused when I heard this new single on German radio last week, as I thought it must be a cover of Kim's original but it sounded so much like her, and yet the version was most definitely different to the 80s hit. It wadn't until I got home and read that she was re-releasing the song in a rock chick style that everything fell into place. I know I said we don't need any more rock chicks now but actually this has been modernised really well, it works perfectly and makes a very enjoyable listen.
Miranda Cooper - Ooh Aah Just A Little Bit Now here is a very strange thing! When looking for Gina G's latest video I came across this, a recording of one of Gina G's backing singers performing Ooh Aah in a Helsinki hotel room in her pyjamas! Amusing enough already, but when it's titled Miranda and you know that the Xenomania writer Miranda Cooper (or Moonbaby as she was known in her own pop career) was one of the backing dancers for Gina's 1996 Eurovision performance, it all makes sense and is even more hilarious, although perhaps less so for Miranda who clearly is not at her best here. I was unsure about posting it as it is a bit embarrassing for her, but it's just so strange and funny I had to share!
September - La La La (Never Give It Up) It's only a few weeks now until September releases Satellites in the UK and I'm very excited even though I hve doubts about how well it's going to do since I haven't seen it much on the music channels yet. However, I hardly saw Cascada's video and that went to no.2 so hopefully Petra and co. will have the same success. Here's one of her/their (I'm still not sure whether they are officially a band or solo artist) first singles, taken from the debut album September released in February 2004.
Scissor Sisters - I Don't Feel Like Dancing I've already posted the video for this single and there haven't been any TV appearances yet, so here is a quite sweet fan-made video showing a collection of SS fans who DO feel like dancing, doing so in Alexanderplatz in Berlin, where I spent a few hours just last week!
"I’m desperate, I’m bored, I’m begging for change, what if you’re normal and wanna be strange?" - As A Blonde
Best song: Don't Let It Go To Your Head Proof of girl power: If there is any artist who is totally underrated in modern pop it must be Fefe. She arrived on the scene around the same time as Avril and Kelly and the rest, and her fierce singing style and look obviously wasn't as inviting as their bland blondeness which is about as rebellious as cheese on toast, so Fefe got left behind and it was an injustice, but when she returned with a 2nd album which is for me the best girl-rock album of the century so far, and received even less attention then it was frankly a total travesty. She's now left her US record company but is working on new material and plans to release her 2nd album Sunday Love properly on a new label - hopefully soon!
"Yeah, you know me, my personality can drive you crazy" - Gene Serene
Best song: Sound Of The Crowd Proof of girl power: Probably the least famous person on this list, and very unfairly so. There are so many female-fronted electro-pop acts around and plenty have punkish images like Gene's but very few make music anywhere near as ace as this. This is proper catchy 80s stuff and Gene brings such a fun spirit to it. She beats Ladytron or Juliet for me 10 times over.
"My feet don't fit in your sensible shoes, and you just won't quit till you kill my groove" - You Freak Me Out
Best song: No Good Advice Proof of girl power: If you're a pop fan in 2006 it's pretty much a given that you like Girls Aloud, and if a band can win me over despite having evil incarnate Louis Walsh as their manager then they must be pretty special! Girls Aloud just seem to be having such a giggle all the time, and despite their fame they seem like pretty normal girls who grew up wanting to be popstars and unlike most they got their dream.
"I'm ready to attack, gonna lead the pack, gonna get a touchdown, gonna take you out!" - Hollaback Girl
Best song: What You Waiting For? Proof of girl power: There are few, if any, female pop stars acer than Miss Stefani and the fact that she's so very popular as well just makes it all the more brilliant. With her debut solo album she improved on her already great work with No Doubt with a fantastic Europop-style lead single and brought loads of fab styles into fashion, even if her outfits aren't always what I'd choose to wear myself! She is never afraid to be herself and now she is leading the pack of stylish young celeb mothers with her super-cute baby Kingston.
"1, 2, 3, 4, 5, it's great to be alive!" - Riding Hi
Best song: Debbie Loves Joey Proof of girl power: The phrase "girl power" is usually attributed to ace 90s duo Shampoo, but it was actually this equally ace 90s indie-pop group who first recorded the words on their debut single Formula One Racing Girls, way back in 1993, 2 years before Shampoo's Girl Power album and single were released. It wasn't until last year's brilliant single Debbie Loves Joey that I personally first took note of Helen Love and their previous material isn't easy to get hold of, but what I've heard has all been ace with plenty of girl power indeed.
"You stole, you broke, you're cold, you're such a joke to me" - Thank You
Best song: Superstar Proof of girl power: Here is one young lady who has succeeded completely against the odds. Her first album did vaguely well but not brilliantly, then she returned several years later with the fab but ignored single Bout. Superstar was undoubtedly her last chance and luckily its brilliance paid off and it became a huge hit, with Jamelia herself becoming a huge star since then. She's been away again having her second child, but now she has returned with what looks like being her best album yet and I can't wait to buy it.
"I'm a red blooded woman, what's the point in hanging round?" - Red Blooded Woman
Best song: Step Back In Time Proof of girl power: Kylie is really doing it for the older ladies of pop at the moment - not only has she managed to stay hugely popular for nearly twenty years, but she is now in the final stages of fighting off breast cancer, showing immense strength and definitely girl power. I'm sure her musical and personal success has inspired so many women, Miss Minogue has heaps to be proud of. She even looks fab with no hair as well!
Representing the USA and Norway: Meatloaf and Marion Raven - It's All Coming Back To Me Now Well, I can't say this duet was something I expected to happen in 2006 and Meatloaf singing a song more recently made famous by Celine Dion certainly doesn't sound like something to be excited about, although I can get excited about most things involving Scandinavian pop singers. I have to admit that I do really love this song. I'm not a Celine fan of any sort, but her version is a real top quality power ballad with plenty of room for fists of pure emotion. This one would of course be loads better if it was just Marion singing but I'm happy if it means she gets famous enough to release Break You and prove once and for all that Kelly Clarkson is quite unnecessary on planet pop when you have the likes of Marion, Fefe, Lilyjets and the Veronicas.
Representing Ukraine: Leona - Argumentation If you're a t.A.T.u fan you must give this a viewing cos not only does Leona sound like Lena and Yulia but the video even has snooty old people, school uniform and a wire fence in it! Leona is only 17 and writes her own songs. This one was originally in Ukranian (or Russian? Not sure) and called Argumenty. The video is fun, as Leona flirts with a new teacher then when he rejects her pretends he raped her and at the end drives off with a silver case which I didn't quite work out the purpose of but I'm sure it all makes sense to Ukranians. Her next single will be Zabolea Toboy, but I've no idea what that means in English, and it doesn't have a video yet but after this one I look forward to seeing it.
Representing Poland: Blog 27 - Wid Out Ya I bought the Blog 27 album when in Germany last week and I must say I really love it. Their style takes some getting used to and I've not seen many positive reviews among my fellow internet pop pundits but I found that once I'd listened to a few songs in a row I was really enjoying them, because they have some fantastic pop music on the album. The quality is quite consistent and this is one of the songs which I was very unsure about on first listen (which was actually a while ago when we reviewed it on Stylus and it has since spent 4 weeks atop the Polish charts) but in the context of the album it's as great as all the others, in fact I now love it. I wanted to love Blog 27 and at first I found it kind of difficult but now I do genuinely think they're brilliant and I hope others will see the light like I did! Their next song will be Still Don't Know Ya which is also fab.
Lily Allen is now properly releasing LDN as her next single. It is a good song but I've heard it so much already, it will be very dull hearing it on the radio all the time. She should have gone for Knock Me Out or Not Big, they're my favourites at the moment.
Is Phil Collins cool now? Another Day In Paradise has been sampled for a new and worryingly enjoyable dance single by Supafly Inc. in the UK while the Germans are lapping up a cover of In The Air Tonight.
Guillemots seem to have changed their minds about their next single, which I did hear was Annie Let's Not Wait but now is going to be the old favourite Trains To Brazil. Both songs are ace so perhaps Annie will be a single after TTB.
I have just found the most amazing thing: this week's top 10 is actually brilliant - I like EVERY SONG! I can't remember the last time I liked the whole top 5, let alone the whole top 10. It's just amazing, considering how dire the charts were in 2005. This year things have just improved so much, even though the new rule about downloads going in the week before single sales makes a mockery of the whole thing as songs that are gonna be big hits go in at the lower end of the top 40, while medium size hits enter at the position they are supposed to i.e. higher than the big hits! Where on Earth is the logic in that? But at least the ace pop stars have come through despite the idiocy of the charts company, it is still a triumph for pop and jolliness.
MC Lars - IGeneration Rap is my least favourite genre of music and white rap is often worst of all (think Eminem, Eamon, ouch my ears hurt just thinking of it!) but MC Lars is one rap artist who I don't mind at all. Admittedly his music is combined with rock and dance and very catchy, but he is setting an example to not just rappers but all artists with fun songs you can sing-along to but also intelligently convey a message that makes you think about the crazy consumerism of the 21st century. He also has a single called Download This Song which complains about behind the times record labels who just don't know what they're doing, a message I agree with completely.
Moneybrother - They're Building Walls Around Us Here's a great Swedish hit from last year, with an equally ace video. You'll be singing along within minutes and humming the background music for the rest of the day. Moneybrother is the alias for ex-punk rock band member Anders Wendin and as a solo artist he has been very successful in his home country of Sweden and elsewhere in Europe, with 2 albums released so far of eclectic music comprising pop, rock, reggae, disco and soul sounds.
LFO - Girl On TV You'll probably remember this boyband's best-known hit Summer Girls with it's amusing lyrics about New Kids on the Block and Chinese food that makes them sick, but it was the follow-up single Girls On TV that was my favourite, and actually did much better in the charts. It was about Jennifer Love Hewitt who stars in the video and amusingly went on to date Rich from the band for 2 years. The group became pretty popular in the USA as they were managed by Lou Pearlman, who of course managed and then was dumped by both *N Sync and the BSBs, but LFO's success was not long-lasting as their second album was not hugely successful and nothing has been released since. Sadly the last news I heard of the group was that Rich had been diagnosed with leukemia, but luckily he announced earlier this year that he is in remission and there have even been rumours of an LFO reunion.
The Click Five - Pop Princess (live clip) Apologies for the boyband overload (not that you can ever have too many good boybands of course) but I think it is my duty to point you in the direction of US pop-rockers The Click Five's only really good original song before you hear their BBMak-esque singles and aren't quite sure what all the fuss is about. They also do an excellent cover of I Think We're Alone Now. The news that they are touring with McFly in the UK soon suggests they will also be releasing here which is good news for me as I predicted they would be one of the successful bands of 2006 at the beginning of the year, although I do wonder if they've left it a bit late. With Rooster's comeback making little impression even on the teeny-rockers, Son of Dork and Matt Willis failing to light up the charts and McFly needing to cover Queen and make it a charity single in order to get a no.1 these days, it seems the old Busted and McFly obsessives have moved on to 'proper rock' so will they have any time for this sweet but samey 'power-pop'?
Jeanette - Heat of the Summer If you've wondered why I haven't posted in a few days it's because I've been on a short holiday to Berlin. I will post more on my pop findings in the land of a million hot dogs soon but here is one of the videos that's popular at the moment. Jeanette is one of Germany's few ace pop acts, and this is a pretty good single although not quite the same standard as her brilliant past hits such as Rock My Life and Right Now. She's a big star in Germany and I much prefer her output to that of her rival in being the German Britney, Sarah Connor, although only the latter has had any UK success, Jeanette only being able to claim a duet with Ronan Keating!
1. Bertine Zetlitz - 500 I'm so excited that Bertine is no.1 this week because she's not a very well known artist compared to past DP:UK no.1s such as Justin and Rihanna so it's a great and well deserved achievement. Instead of posting 500 as I had it on DP:UK a few months ago, here instead is Ah-Ah, a hit from her last album which is my favourite of her singles and also has a really ace video, although all her videos are visually amazing, helped of course by Bertine being so ace-looking herself.
10 years since the Spice Girls' world domination began, what better time to celebrate sisters doing it for themselves? Here is part one of my a to z guide to the acest females in pop.
"Tell me who are you to shame and mistreat her, no she's not a man but you're not one either" - Don't Cry Your Heart Out
Best song: Shooting Star Proof of girl power: Amy's the youngest in my a-z and her status as pop's current child prodigy is enough to win her place here. At only 14 years of age she has released 2 albums and many hit singles in Scandinavia, and she's one of our most exciting prospects for the future.
"Who gives a !?! if whoops you ain't shiny and perfect, there's a ladder in my tights and that's the way, uh-huh, I like it" - Ladder In My Tights
Best song: Ladder In My Tights Proof of girl power: She was scorned by many for her apparently contrived rebel misfit image and lyrics, but no criticism changed the fact that she had amazing sing-along songs (written by acetastic Karen Poole among others) that certainly represented being a teenage girl better than any r'n'b diva or try-hard fashionista ever could.
"Cos you're filthy and I'm gooooorgeous!" - Filty/Gorgeous
Best song: It Can't Come Quickly Enough Proof of girl power: Busty New Yorker Ana Lynch, or Matronic as she's normally known, is the only girl in the Scissor Sisters but you can tell she never feels left out, always seeming to be the centre of attention, being fabulous and simply exploding with girl power. She's no skinny teen airhead, in fact the complete opposite, and this makes her a brilliant role model for young girls and boys too.
"I'm sorry but I ain't gonna change my ways, you know I've tried but I'm still the same, I've got to do it my own way" - Nobody's Wife
Best song: My Best Wasn't Good Enough Proof of girl power: For someone who looks like such a nice, polite lady, Anouk can sure rock out! Her voice is strong and fierce and her songs are just the same. She's one of the biggest stars in her home country of Holland and has released some great songs over her 4 albums.
"I will make your soft hands tremble, I will make your ego burst, anything you will resemble I will always get there first" - For Fun
Best song: Ah-Ah Proof of girl power: She worked with Richard X before Rachel had even heard of him, had released several albums before fellow Norwegian Annie had even made one, and the super-cute and quirky singer's new single 500 is getting attention from all the ace people, but it's just one of dozens of top tracks she's given us over the years.
"I'm stronger than yesterday, now it’s nothing but my way, my loneliness ain’t killing me no more - I’m stronger" - Stronger
Best song: How can you make me choose? Proof of girl power: She may have lost it a bit in the past few years, but Britney is still my ultimate homegirl, because she's so much more likeable than Christina or Beyoncé or any of the others. When she was releasing shiny super pop music she was a step above, there was something special about her, and the effect her early hits had on pop music overall was hugely positive so she is a total icon forever, whatever she does next.
Scissor Sisters - I Don't Feel Like Dancing You may think it impossible, but the Scissor Sisters have actually out-gayed themselves with this song and video! Of course this can only be a good thing, as jolly flamboyancy and silliness is always needed in pop music and now more than ever with the continual onslaught of samey singer-songwriters. Bright colours, silly costumes, ridiculous special effects (I even spotted a spaceship that resembles a Bop-It!) new hair-dos and rather a lot of dancing considering this song is about not dancing, this is a video you can't ignore and surely can't dislike. It is fun in 3-minute audio-visual form. Could this be the band's first ever no.1? I really hope so!
Keane - Crystal Ball This lovely song now has a video and it's a good one too. It's about a man (who we shall name Chris de Burgh for reasons obvious to anyone who's heard this song) who leaves home in the morning and returns to find his life has been stolen by another man who looks rather like him (it may just be the same guy in different clothes, I can't quite tell). His wife, let's call her Crystal Ball, lives with this Other Man and doesn't even recognise Chris. He then goes to work and finds the Other Man at his desk, and later sees him drive off in his car! What this has to do with spherical fortune-telling devices I've no idea - they seem to have just taken the first 2 lines ("Who is this man I see, where I'm supposed to be?") very literally. Still, it's imaginative and interesting to watch, so it gets my thumbs up.
Jump5 - Do Ya This scarily energetic teenage 5-piece were kind of like an American Christian version of A*Teens, a mainstay of Dave Bedbug's beloved Radio Disney when they were around in the early 00s. Amazingly they are still going although I haven't heard anything about them in ages. Normally I love anything jolly and youthful but these kids scare me with their blondeness, over-enthusiastic dance moves and absolutely enormous mouths. I think I'll stick with my Swedes for now.
Bugz In The Attic - Move Aside When I first heard this song I could not believe that I liked it, because I hated their previous semi-hit Booty La La. I listened again and again and eventually I had to admit: this song is amazing! If this was the next single by Christina, Justin, Alesha, Basement Jaxx or Jamelia any of them would have a huge hit on their hands. Move Aside has so far only been released as a 12", although the DJ/producer collective have just released their first studio album Back In The Doghouse.
Torgny Melins - Dansbander How can a group of dull old blokes make such ace music? Well, they can start by being Swedish and having the genius idea of making a covers album of songs by the acetastic hip-pop-rock group Teddybears Sthlm. The Teddies themselves have already done 2 versions of this, the first being my favourite Hip-Hopper and the second being as a duet with Iggy Pop called Punkrocker which is supposed to launch them in the USA but no such luck yet as far as I've heard. If you have the Caesars' UK album you will have heard their version of Punkrocker, as they share a band member with the Teddybears. The Torgny Melins versions may be far less cool but they're possibly even more fun. If the grannies of the UK were listening to schlager instead of Westlife our charts would be in much better shape. Make sure you check out the Torgny Melins medley of 2005 Swedish pop hits as well, including Robyn, September and Moneybrother!
1. Justin Timberlake - SexyBack I'm still a bit on the fence with this one. It's not bad, certainly better than a lot of things in the charts, but not even among the best singles JT has released. Therefore, I've posted one of the first videos he ever took part in, Tearin' Up My Heart by *N Sync, from the days when videos were blurry, t-shirts were tucked in and dance routines were synchronised (the saddest loss of all). In the words of *N Sync themselves, I want you back old Justin! There'd better be some good pop on the album, or I shall be mourning the loss of a brilliant pop star.
As you'll probably know by now, Xtina's new album is comprised of 2 CDs, the first being quite r'n'b and similar to Stripped while the second is retro 50s jazz/musicals style. I've listened to both and here are my thoughts, track by track.
1. Intro This intro is longer than most Pipettes songs, and frankly it doesn't need to be because without a chorus or any other kind of hook to it, it's kind of lacking in a point.
2. Makes Me Wanna Pray A more upbeat gospelly number but a bit too much vocal showing off from Miss Ag. Typical Stripped fodder, I wouldn't even notice if this was swapped with songs such as Underappreciated or Get Mine, Get Yours. It's not bad though, the chorus being the high point, and I did love Stripped when I first got it.
3. Back In The Day This certainly does what it says on the tin with a retro urban style, although it doesn't sound much like the singers she mentions such as Aretha Franklin or Ray Charles. I do like the chorus of this one and I think it'll be a grower too, but I can't say I jumped for joy on first or second listen.
4. Ain't No Other Man The one we all know, it's far more instant than any other track on CD 1. However, the amount this has grown on me since my first slightly dubious listen suggests I need to give the other songs a chance to do the same.
5. Understand A very retro beat on this mid-tempo track with backing vocals a la Simon Webbe's song No Worries. Worryingly, I kind of prefer No Worries, although this one clearly had a lot more spent on it.
6. Slow Down Baby Produced by Mark Ronson with talky bits which sound like Jay-Z, this song coincidentally reminds me of his fiancé Beyoncé's hit Work It Out in the verses. The chorus is quite catchy, I like this one overall. Not too much yelling.
7. Oh Mother This sounds almost exactly like I'm OK from Stripped, with the same subject (her mum being strong cos her dad was nasty) as well. It's good that she's bringing serious subjects up in her songs but since she's done this one already and Kelly Clarkson has since, perhaps she could try another or at least make the song a bit different?
8. F.U.S.S This is an interlude which references all the tracks from Stripped, but apart from that it does very little.
9. On Our Way Was this whole CD made on Xtina autopilot? Again this sounds just like everything on Stripped. One new-sounding song is all I ask!
10. Without You This doesn't particularly sound like any Christina song but it does sound like an even less exciting version of I Am Not My Hair by India Arie. At least that one had interesting lyrics.
11. Still Dirrty I was excited about this one, hoping for something as good as the song it references, which of course partly inspired the title of this blog (although more is owed to Pop by *N Sync). This isn't bad, it's fun but a bit L'il Kim-ish, which is slightly off-putting.
12. Here To Stay At last, an actual good and catchy song! It only took 12 tracks to arrive. The subject is a bit J-Lo, 'I am great and totally normal too', but better cos it's Christina. This would make a good single, but considering it's so far down on the tracklisting it probably won't be.
13. Thank You (Dedication To Fans) This is very self-referential going right back to her ace debut single. If only she could have done the whole album in the style of Genie In A Bottle. This is a slightly elevator music-esque ballad with recordings of compliments from various American fans of Xtina. There really is a sense of "I'm ace, me!" on this CD.
1. Enter The Circus An intro which is full of clichés but far more interesting than the proper songs already. Let's hope CD 2 is better than CD 1.
2. Welcome This continues the theme of circuses and ensuring every listener knows they are invited. The song at times sounds like it's going to be great but never quite takes off. It's definitely one of the better tracks, though.
3. Candyman Now here is an actual great song! It's like Chicago but twice the fun, it's comedy and very camp. This will be a huge hit if released. It has already been around on the Internet for a while and gained quite a positive reaction, and it's no surprise for such an ace song. It even has a Spice Girls-esque repeat after me soldier-style section at the end.
4. Nasty Naughty Boy This song is obviously supposed to be sexy but it's very clichéd, although the very rude lines are quite amusing. Don't play it near your gran or impressionable younger siblings! This may not sound like what we've heard before from Xtina but because of that it's what we should expect from her, something totally different every time and plentifully risque!
5. Trouble This is of course the track that we hear a little of during the ANOM video. It's smokey bar jazz, which I normally hate, but this is alright actually. A better example of the genre!
6. Hurt Blimey, a good ballad as well! She's really pulling out the stops now. It's no Beautiful or even The Vocie Within but it's nicely dramatic, as all the best ballads are, with big shouty bits and tender quiet bits. All it needs is a key-change or a hooky line and it would be great, but as it is it's only almost great.
7. Mercy On Me This one was so dull I forgot to write anything and now it's ended and I can't be botherd to listen to it again. I do remember it being a bit shouty.
8. Save Me From Myself A low-key, undramatic and consequently inoffensive ballad. It's nice enough, quite sweet, but a bit boring.
9. The Right Man Another ballad, this one with a prominent string section, a choir and then you get to the chorus and realise it's about her marriage. It's quite heart-warming, and reminds me of the irony that is Xtina's reputation as the most controversial and sexual of the post-teen poppers of the 21st century, despite her being the only one with a constant boyfriend who she's now married. Clearly she was only flirrting with dirrtiness, or, more likely, doing it for money and attention. But isn't that the point of high profile music marketing anyway?
The end! The second CD is a small improvement on the first but overall it's quite disappointing. Even if you amalgamated the best songs onto one CD, it would have to be pretty short to still be filler-free. The 2 CD idea is good in that you can pick which style of Christina you like and listen to that album most or only that one, but it really wasn't that good an idea because in doing so she has spread out the good tracks far too much. Usually I'd marvel at the value for money but in this case there are too many boring songs getting in the way.
Jamelia - Something About You (Audio) Perhaps not quite as exciting as the Popjustice preview suggested, but I still love Jamelia and this is certainly rivalling Thank You to be her second best single (Superstar is obviously first). The chorus is catchy and it's great to hear an act who can change seamlessly from one style to another, as this is kind of rocky but not an all out shout-along, just a few guitars and drums, and she still sounds just like Robyn in the verses as she always did on her more r'n'b songs. Hopefully there'll be a Handle Me cover on the album cos that song in particular I think would be a perfect fit. 93% Poptastic!
Keane - Crystal Ball (Audio) Good Keane singles seem to come in pairs. I loved their first 2 big hits but was utterly unimpressed by the rest of their debut album, only warming to them again with the release of Is It Any Wonder and now this catchy follow-up which I also really like. It amuses me because I can't help imagining it is about a girl called Crystal Ball, perhaps Zoe Ball's long-lost sister, and wondering if anyone does exist with that name. Surely there must be a Crystal Ball somewhere in the world? 80% Poptastic!