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Who needs guitars anyway?

Best Bits
Saturday, June 30, 2007

Top of the Poptastic!

Actually got this done on time for the first time in ages - yay me! Top 25 singles I have enjoyed this month:

1. Robyn - With Every Heartbeat
2. Feist - 1234
3. Darin - Insanity
4. Rufus Wainwright - Rules and Regulations
5. Arsenium - Professional Heartbreakers
6. Andrea Corr - Shame On You
7. Groove Armada ft. Mutya - Song 4 Mutya
8. Lo-Fi-Fnk - City
9. Aly & AJ - Potential Break-Up Song
10. High School Musical – What Time Is It?
11. Passenger - Do What You Like
12. Duke Special - Last Night I Nearly Died
13. Ali Love - Secret Sunday Lover
14. Hoosiers - Worried About Ray
15. Jack Savoretti – Dr Frankenstein
16. Dragonette – Take It Like A Man
17. Cherry Ghost - People Help The People
18. The Enemy - Had Enough
19. Avril Lavigne – When You’re Gone
20. Dead Disco - You're Out
21. Timbaland feat Keri Hilson & D.O.E. - The Way I Are
22. Bat For Lashes – What’s A Girl To Do
23. Roisin Murphy - Overpowered
24. Sarah Nixey - The Black Hit of Space
25. Katherine McPhee - Love Story

She got the whole world dancing to the music in her head

It's only about a decade overdue, but the UK is finally awash with Robyn mania! This week With Every Heartbeat was single of the week on Radio 1 and my local radio, and I even chanced upon a short interview with her on Oxford's hideously mainstream Fox FM. It really was a surreal moment, one I never thought I would hear. But it just proves that with patience and persistence, great music will get the success it deserves. It's only a shame that this means we'll probably not have a new Robyn album til at least late 2008 (she'll have to release Be Mine and Konichiwa Bitches, and could have a hit with any of the album tracks if she wanted), and 'Robyn' was my favourite album of 2005! On the other hand, I'm still the most famous reviewer of that album (and Robyn in general), as my Stylus review of it is the first result when you Google "Robyn review".
Thursday, June 28, 2007

Glastonbury for lazy pop fans

I've collected together all the ace pop performances (or at least the ones that have made their way onto YouTube) so you can enjoy them free of Jo Whiley and The Who...

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Ex-Star-Spotting Mania!

I have so far not paid a bit of attention to this year's Big Brother, and hadn't a clue who was in it - at least until today when browsing in WHSmiths I spotted a familiar face on the cover of Star magazine. Either that is Zac from Northern Line, or he has an extreme doppelgänger in the Big Brother house! The guy is even called Ziggy, which, while a ridiculously stupid name, is also not so far from Zac. I then went through every gossip magazine in the shop (well, I had a long wait for my bus) trying to find info on this Ziggy, but nothing told me whether he was our ex-popstar or not. Now, a quick Wikipedia search tells me he is indeed Zac from Northern Line. What with lovely Kavana making his way into the finals of Grease Is The Word recently, it really is the time for pretty boys of turn-of-the-century pop to make a resurgence.

While gossip mag flicking today I made yet another strange discovery, but this time it's a girlband member making a TV comeback and it's not such a glamorous role. Melissa Graham, a member of Solid HarmoniE who had a brief solo career in Europe (I loved her song Bulletproof), gave up pop music for nursing, and now she appears in a show called A&E on Discovery Home & Health, and in this week's Real Life magazine talking about her sacrifice. But wait... is this strictly true? It seems she may not really have given up the limelight after all - here's Melissa advertising a strange new chat show called LegalTV, in March 2007! She may have once been part of a fabulous pop group, but now it seems she's a fame-hungry fraud!
Tuesday, June 26, 2007

International Video Challenge

Representing Canada and America: Rufus Wainwright - Rules and Regulations
I saw Rufus live last night and he was of course as wonderful as ever. He told us about this video so I rushed to check it out when I got home, and he doesn't disappoint! It's a bit 'comedy gay' but done with elegance and is genuinely amusing. Rufus spends quite a lot of the video dressed in what looks very much like a baby grow! It's not my favourite of Rufus' songs but considering he's currently atop my Last FM chart of most listened to artists, this is no reason to doubt its excellence.

Representing France: K-Maro - Let's Go
European rap music doesn't have the best reputation, often being a source of ridicule for Brits who are familiar with it, but I think K-Maro can keep up with his American counterparts. I may not be a big expert on urban music but this doesn't sound to me too different from things like Usher and Ciara, and the chorus is better as well. I wouldn't buy his CD or anything (although I really liked his past hit Crazy) but I wouldn't switch channels immediately, as I do whenever Usher comes on the TV or radio.

Representing Bulgaria: Star Tattooed - Make Me High
This is entirely generic dance music but it's quite listenable. I can imagine Therese releasing it actually, so if you pretend it's her it's not bad. This might be the first song I've posted from Bulgaria. Have they got any better known musical acts that I've forgotten?

Representing the UK: Elektrons - Dirty Basement
Apparently this lot are from Manchester, but the first I heard of them was in the Souht African top 20! The band name and song title do a good enough job of describe themselves. It's electro which you could dance to if you wanted to, but it doesn't exactly get me bopping around my bedroom. Not bad, but there is much better out there - let's hope they relocate to South Africa and don't bother us over here.
Saturday, June 23, 2007

New Pop On The Block

Aly & A.J. - Potential Break-Up Song (Watch)
I can't help hating Aly & A.J. - I just hate their faces! While I'm sure they're actually lovely girls, if only in the sense of being devoutly Christian, there is still something slightly evil in their smiles. However, this song is actually really catchy and fun - much better than all of their previous efforts. It's going to take a lot more to convince me to be a fan or buy their album, but I can't criticise this one - they've raised their game and it'll be interesting to see if they can continue to.
85% Poptastic!

Simon Webbe - Ride The Storm (Watch)
What a strange, strange single! He seems to be repositioning himself as some kind of rock star, yet seeing Simon Webbe with a guitar (particularly when fancy dressing as Neo from The Matrix) can be nothing but hilarious. It's for the Fantastic Four movie, so I guess they wanted a rock song, but why not get an actual rock singer, or at least someone who wasn't in Blue?
43% Poptastic!

Terra Naomi - Say It's Possible (Watch)
If Lily Allen was the 'poster child' of MySpace, perhaps Terra will be the equiavlent for YouTube, as she gained fame by posting live performances on the site. She is an American living in London, with classical singing training. Her look is a bit Amy Winehouse, while her music is more Alanis Morissette. It's all a bit Radio 2 and isn't quite strong or original enough for me to imagine it as a big hit, but I like it anyway.
68% Poptastic!

Passenger - Do What You Like (Watch)
If Kate Nash had grown up listening to Tracy Chapman, she might have ended up sounding quite like this... except for one thing: in the biggest gender shock since Daniel Bedingfield, the singer of Passenger is actually a man! I had never even considered that this could be anything but a woman until I saw the video. It's been championed by both Radio 1 and 2 and I have to jump on the bandwagon now cos I really love this single, but I must say it has lost interest for me a bit now I know it's a man singing, as we really do need more female fronted bands in pop/rock and definitely don't need another male fronted one.
84% Poptastic!

Andrea Corr - Shame On You (Watch)
I wrote about Andrea's last single here a while ago and was rather dismissive of it, so I was very surprised to find myself loving its follow-up! It's quite dancy and extremely catchy. It could actually have been a big dance hit if they'd released it as *random dance act* featuring Andrea Corr, or just emitted her name altogether. I don't think someone from an Irish folk-pop band is going to have much impact in Ibiza, but this would be a great summer beach hit in other circumstances.
88% Poptastic!

Arsenium - Professional Heartbreakers (Watch)
While I know that this song is absolutely terrible (his singing is awful and doesn't even fit the music very well) I can't stop listening to it and keep waking up in the middle of the night with it in my head. I have to admit I love it. Just like his Eurovision entry Loca (in my opinion if not anyone else's whatsoever), it is bad in theory yet amazing in practice. I don't think it'll cross over to the UK, but it could be as big as Dragostea Din Tei (Arsenium, or Arsenie as he was then, was in O-Zone) in Europe, and I hope it is so I can hear it on the radio lots and join in with the silly "ba-ba-bom-bom"s.
94% Poptastic!
Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Bits & Bobs

Ever wished for a YouTube just for music, not video? Well, here it is in the form of the strangely-named yet brilliant Imeem. Sadly it probably won't last much longer as they're being sued by a record company, so make the most of it while it lasts and look up all those tracks you want to hear but lack the motivation or money to download.

If you're in the Oxford area on July 8th, you would be foolish not to head to the Jericho Tavern for Robots Need Toys, a new 'Euro electro indie pop' night who promise such delights as Margaret Berger, Linda Sundblad, Teddybears Sthlm, Robyn and The Knife!

You may think super-songwriter Dr Luke's work is limited to rock-pop and r'n'b, but apparently not as the latest project I've heard of his involvement with is the ace electro act Ursula 1000. I particularly like Hello Let's Go To A Disco, which is one the four tracks they worked on together according to Wikipedia.

P.S. Sorry about the imageshack things. I would sort them out but I have an essay to write rather urgently. If anyone can tell me how I go about getting my pictures back (I'm not sure if they're saved on my computer, yes I am silly), please do!
Sunday, June 10, 2007

Am I getting old?

Possibly - I've started listening to Radio 2 and I'm becoming quite a fan! So far this week I've heard a concert by the Pet Shop Boys and a performance by The Bird and The Bee, while the playlist has provided such delights as Tiny Dancers, the jolly Wallbirds and Duke Special - quite a refreshing change from the pub indie and generic r'n'b of Radio 1.
Saturday, June 09, 2007
Have I just lowered my standards, or have the British public suddenly got taste? I remember in 2005 there were only 3 good number ones in the entire year. 2007, however, has top 5s like this:

1. Umbrella-ella-ella
2. Mutya Buena - Real Girl
3. Beyoncé Beyoncé & Shakira Shakira
4. Hellogoodbye - Here (in Your Arms)
5. Maroon 5 - Makes Me Wonder

3 girls of pop and 2 American boybands! We didn't even get top 5s so free of idiocy in the 90s. And maybe it's a bit of stretch to call them pop princesses and boybands, but they are the closest 2007 equivalents, and the songs are great as well. Well done England - I might come back from Sweden after all!
Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A general rant about pop and blogs

I have to admit I find most pop blogs these days totally boring. So many are just saying "Here's a song I like", or much worse, "Here's the whole album of a famous artist". For me it totally defeats the object of having a blog if it just becomes a list of songs to download. It might as well be a messageboard or a p2p file service. Some blogs, like my own MP3 blog Into The Groove, stick to the songs the blogger likes, and provide some information or opinions on the artist, and this can be very enjoyable if the blogger has good taste and writes well. However, I do often find myself thinking "Who are you and why should I care?" - I need to build up a relationship of trust in their tastes, or interest in their personality and opinions, before I can commit to reading the blog on a regular basis. As my life is much busier these days than it used to be, I have to prioritise, and my MP3 collection is already so huge that I have songs I haven't even listened to yet, let alone familiarised myself with, and I certainly have no desire for more, however good their blogging devotee may tell me they are.

While I still check certain MP3 blogs religiously and download most of what they post (Arjan Writes and #1 Hits On Another Planet being 2 prime examples), my general tiredness with downloading song after song after song has led me to appreciate the blogs which aren't just providing MP3s or YouTube links. The blogs I'm drawn to these days are the ones that just write about music and without you even hearing any of it, you gain a connection to the song or act being discussed and want to know more. Popjustice always had the power to do this, with other sites such as Poptext and Gaypop having similar appeal. In addition to this, the one thing that really interests me these days, and what I would like to see much more of on pop blogs (although sadly very few writers can actually do it well), is a proper pop discussion. I want my thoughts to be provoked, I want to be rushing to the end of a post so I can add my comments in the comments box, and I want to be inspired to write a post in response here on Dirrrty Pop.

This leads me to the reason I began this rather detoured post in the first place - I read an article on K-Punk about two things close to my heart (Nietzsche and Popism), and before I knew it I was here writing a post of my own. I didn't know when I started it that this post was going to be about blogging, but that is what I love about writing this blog: every so often I get an idea for a post and suddenly my brain is whirring and my fingers are flying across the keyboard as the words just fall out onto the screen, without a thought of where they came from or what I'll be writing next. These posts just seem to write themselves, and I only wish I could do the same with my coursework!

Now I'd better get back on track and write about this K-Punk post which inspired me in the first place. I was drawn in by the mention of my old favourite philosopher, Nietzsche, and pleasantly surprised when the post went on to discuss Popism, or Poptimism as it's known to me. For those who aren't familiar, Popism or Poptimism is a word used to describe the move for music critics (particularly those on the Internet) to appreciate pop music in an intellectual way. I'm sure others could describe it much better than me, as I've always been a bit fuzzy on the job description, but it seems pretty obvious that with my extreme dedication to pop music and lack of taste for much else, I must be a Popist. But I have often wondered if this is really true. I may be the most staunch supporter of pop music you'll ever meet, but there's something in the approach of Popists to pop music which doesn't quite feel right to me.

I may not be a central member of the Popist movement, but I like to get involved in the discussions, polls and projects embarked on by the Poptimists LiveJournal group, and I've met some very interesting people through this. Still, I do feel like I am approaching pop music from an entirely different perspective to a lot of the Poptimist members, and I don't know if this is due to my age or the fact that I've been a pop fan all my life, never having a rock or indie phase. I think it may be a mix of the two. Most Poptimists seem to have made a conscious decision to like pop music, to take a break from the more cultured, sophisticated music they usually listen to, but for me pop music is just music, and while I enjoy seeing people who think they're above pop music be converted to its brilliant ways, I do find it patronising at times when people treat the music I love as a way to subvert expectations, a guilty pleasure or a method of rebellion.

I love that I can be different to my peers by liking the music that a lot of them (wrongfully) scorn, and I do enjoy the feeling of superiority this brings me. I am not so caught up in being cool or cultured that I cannot listen to the music I truly enjoy. At the same time I am careful not to rule out other styles of music without giving them a fair trial, although with my ingrained pop tendencies I do tend to believe that if I like a song it probably is pop music, just without knowing it.

In Mark K-Punk's article, he mentions Paris Hilton and the way her album has been held up as some kind of masterpiece by a lot of Popists. This is something I too have failed to comprehend. I don't hate Paris for being a celebrity-turned-popstar, for being fake or for being annoying, even though she is all those things. I actually quite enjoy following her in the media, as I do with all celebrities who have unusual, dramatic lives. When her music was revealed, I wasn't particularly impressed, although I didn't think it was awful either - just run of the mill American pop music, unable to compete with its brilliant European equivalents. I felt towards her as I do Hilary Duff or Ashlee Simpson - not bad, but couldn't she afford better songs with all her millions? I guess it was because Paris is so high-profile and because she is American that her music was so widely discussed, but for me the discussion soon got boring and I tend to skip past anything about her these days. It may be the best music writing on the Internet but I just don't care anymore - let's talk about someone new!

My personal disinterest in Paris as a popstar aside, I was very pleased to see Mark K-Punk hitting on the feeling I too have towards Popism, which is exemplified by their treatment of her. The discussions just seemed to me far too in-depth and serious. I love to see discussion of pop music in an intelligent way, but there is a line that can be crossed, where intelligent discussion turns into taking jolly, carefree pop music way too seriously. I know this must seem to contradict what I was saying earlier in this post, that I don't want pop music to be used as a rebellious slap in the face to the muso snobs, but what I really want is for pop music to be enjoyed and appreciated for exactly what it is - simple entertainment. I actually think that the people who generally go for indie or rock music but love a dance to Girls Aloud on a night out are more on the right track than those who use Girls Aloud as a statement. They're just for fun, enjoy them!
Monday, June 04, 2007

The Next Big Thing?

Paw Paw
They've been championed by Paddy from the Scissor Sisters and you can see why. Paw Paw make ace, catchy electro-pop music which makes you feel uplifted and jolly. They're a British trio of two girls and a boy, they're anti-guitars and pro-synths, and I have high hopes for their future. I particularly love the 90s-esque Strange Reaction - think Baxendale or Black Box Recorder. It's typically British electro, while their Scissor Sisters and LCD Soundsystem influences are more evident on Wired OK, which should also tickle your fancy if you were a fan of Annie's hit Chewing Gum.
Hit Potential: 65% Poptasticness: 75%

Boogaloo Stu
You can't live in Brighton for long without being dragged along to Boogaloo Stu's notorious gay club night, Dynamite Boogaloo at Audio. I can't say I've ever complained, because the music they play is fantastic (think Popjustice basically), but when Stu gets up for his cabaret section I'll always be found sat at the back, counting the minutes til he gets off stage and the ace pop can resume. Not only is he not at all funny, but the singing is atrocious! I was highly surprised to recently learn that Stu has also created a successful fashion line and is about to release his second album. Most surprising was that his song Just Want You To Know is actually not bad at all. I still don't think he's headed for pop superstardom but he has won me over a lot with this one.
Hit Potential: 25% Poptasticness: 65%

Top of the Poptastic!

The top 25 singles I enjoyed in May:

1. E-Type - True Believer
2. Da Buzz - Take All My Love
3. Les Fatals Picards - L'amour à la française
4. Verka Seduchka - Dancing Lasha Tumbai
5. Venke Knutson - Holiday
6. Laakso with Peter Jöback - Italy vs. Helsinki
7. Markoolio - Ingen Sommar Utan Reggae
8. Melody Club - Last Girl On My Mind
9. Robbie Williams - Kiss Me
10. Just Jack - Writers Block
11. Kate Nash – Foundations
12. Hello Stranger - Take It To The Maxx
13. Grace - Slowly
14. Hanna - Leave Me Alone
15. Vincent Black Shadow - Metro
16. Siobhan Donaghy – So You Say
17. Jessica Folcker - Snowflakes
18. Tough Alliance - First Class Riot
19. Justice - D.A.N.C.E.
20. Regina Spektor - Samson
21. Shiny Toy Guns – Don’t Cry Out
22. Timo Räisänen - Sweet Marie
23. Los Campesinos! - You! Me! Dancing!
24. Shout Out Louds - Tonight I Have To Leave It
25. Säkert! - Allt som är ditt

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