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Who needs guitars anyway?


Best Bits
Friday, April 27, 2007

New Pop On The Block

Rihanna - Umbrella (Video)
I loved SOS so much but never thought Rihanna would do anything aywhere near as ace as that, yet she's come pretty close with this utterly fantastic new single. It's brilliant in an entirely different way - while SOS was amazing pop music to sing and dance to, Umbrella combines a pounding beat with emphatic, emotional singing and great lyrics. It has the emotional immediacy of a ballad, but it's also great to dance to on a night out - a song for every occasion! I may not be into r'n'b very much but every so often a female r'n'b singer brings out a song that completely blows me away, and Umbrella will be following SOS, Crazy In Love, 1 Thing and Irreplaceable onto that list. Now I must stop playing it on repeat full volume before my ageing neighbours start complaining!
98% Poptastic!

The Ark - The Worrying Kind (Video)
This is their Eurovision entry as well as their new single, and it's kind of exciting and depressing at the same time. I'm excited that The Ark, one of my favourite bands in the world, are going to be in Eurovision this year, but I'm a bit sad because it's not their best song. It's still better than all the other entries I've heard so far, but nothing on their previous single Absolutely No Decorum or other big hits such as One Of Us Is Gonna Die Young or It Takes a Fool to Remain Sane. Still, it's groovy and ABBA-ish and will hopefully do quite well and gain them plenty of new fans, so I won't complain. Also take note the similarity of this video to the new one by the Scissor Sisters - great bands think alike!
87% Poptastic!
Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Next Big Thing?

586
Those of you excited by Bis' recent reunion may be interested in this new band, who seem to have a similar approach to music. Money Is The Drug could easily be called a racket, but I like the fun and energy of it. We Got Bored has that typically 90s obnoxious teenagers sound, while Saying My Name is the most catchy/poppy track. Rags and Tags is great too. Overall I'm very impressed! They've got the 90s attitude down but add a dash of the 2000s with similarities to The Pipettes and Long Blondes, particularly in the female vocals.
Hit Potential: 62% Poptasticness: 88%

Ali Love
He seems to be popular with indie types (playlisted on XFM and MTV2), but this is just great fun catchy dance-pop music! I'd heard his name mentioned a few times but today was the first time I actually listened to him and now I'm sad cos I've been missing out so much, but happy to have found him at last. Secret Sunday Lover is a huge summer party hit in waiting, while Late Night Sessions is totally ace retro disco. Rock N Roll Control is cooler and less fun, K-Hole is a controversial druggy tale, Vincent Brain rockier but still pretty good (very 70s, see the fab video). Ali is already getting recognition is the dance world as he features on the new Chemical Brothers single, so I think a bit solo hit can't be far away either.
Hit Potential: 85% Poptasticness: 90%
Thursday, April 12, 2007

International Video Challenge

Representing Romania: Corina - Overdrive
If you liked SOS by Kazakhstan's A-Studio ft. Polina, which was a reasonable dance hit last year, then you may be equally pleased with this new Romanian (I think - details are hard to find) dance single, currently number 3 in their charts. It has some nice "ah-ah"s and tinkly sound effects, but it could just as easily have been a hit 5 years ago - think French Affair or Wamdue Project. Dance music really doesn't evolve very fast, does it? The video is quite cool, anyway, with a sort of new-rave zombie look, and a hot Dima Bilan look-alike in a boxing outfit.


Representing the Netherlands: Floortje - Starts With Goodbye
You'd be mad to expect something amazing from the description "Idols contestant releases a ballad", but this isn't too bad. It's boring most of the way through but picks up towards the end and she's got a likeable voice and sound. It's a little bit country in a Faith Hill/LeAnn Rimes sort of way, and certainly better than A Moment Like This or whatever that Shayne Ward one was called. A pleasant listening experience but not something I'd choose to put on my CD player personally.


Representing Norway: Lene Alexandra - My Boobs Are OK
This is sooooo bad! I was expecting some female empowerment, it doesn't matter what size or shape you are, type of thing, but no it's just disgusting nonsense. Lene is a glamour model and that's basically the subject of her song. She may well be perfectly nice and intelligent (believe it or not, one of my best friends at college, who was indeed very clever, went on to be a glamour model!) but there's no excuse for this rubbish. It's so unfair that this is popular, when the other Norwegian poppet named Lene (Nystrom, ex-Aqua) failed to gain much success with her amazing single It's Your Duty.

New Pop On The Block

Andrea Corr - Hello Boy (Audio)
It should be a good thing that Miss Corr has dropped the folk for a new electro-pop sound, but I'd rather she went back to her roots if she's going to make music as dull as this, even in a normally ace genre. She's trying to be sultry, but the sound is outdated and over-used already. Are her fans going to take to this? Because electro fans are surely not likely to, especially when there are already far more unsuccessful electro-pop singles released than successful ones. She'll have to do much better on follow-up releases if she doesn't want to be sent back to her Irish country dancing club in shame.
35% Poptastic!

Silvia Night - Thank You Baby (Video)
Last year's Eurovision's crazily ace faux-popstar Silvia Night returns with a follow-up single, presumably hoping to capitalise on excitement for this year's contest, which will be held a month today exactly! This time the theme of the video is a Spanish soap opera, interspersed with clips of Silvia on a beach, leaning on a palm tree with a boy, reminiscent of Britney's video for Don't Let Me Be The Last To Know. The song's quite catchy and fun, but not spectacular. It won't be topping my chart of the year, but it's still a passable pop song.
73% Poptastic!

Amit Paul - My Elysium (Video)
With Dhani having a little and Marie quite a lot of success with their respective solo ventures, now it's the turn of Amit from A*Teens to have a go. He has gone for the acoustic-pop route, but sadly the first single is not very impressive. It's quite a nice song which could certainly be a hit in Sweden, but the style is very unoriginal and similar to a lot of other music already on the radio in Sweden. I'm not sure he stands a chance competing against such acts as Sebastian and Andreas Johnson, but I wish him luck nonetheless.
64% Poptastic!
Monday, April 09, 2007

New Pop On The Block

The Bravery - Time Won't Let Me Go (Audio)
I was a big fan of their hit single Honest Mistake, but their success seemed to trail off after that. Now they're back with a new album and this is the first release. It's quite good, with the best bit being the 'papapa's towards the end. I can't see myself loving it as I did Honest Mistake, but it could still be a hit. I just wonder if they'll be able to overcome the inevitable comparisons to The Killers, who have now overtaken The Bravery in success by so very far?
68% Poptastic!

The Click Five - Jenny (Audio)
There can't be many more disasterous things to happen to a band than losing their lead singer, but The Click 5 don't seem to have let it bother them. They've just found a new one and only a month after Eric's departure are back with a new single, and album to follow in June! Jenny sounds very McFly-ish, perhaps influenced by their recent UK tour supporting their British counterparts. I'm sure McFly fans will enjoy this, but it's a bit off-putting for me, since I liked their old sound more, although admittedly my favourite tracks (Pop Princess and their cover of I Think We're Alone Now) were never singles.
65% Poptastic!
Saturday, April 07, 2007

Top of the Poptastic!

Sorry it's soooo late! And I went up to 30 again. No self-control!

1. Måns Zelmerlöw - Cara Mia
2. Magnus Carlsson - Live Forever
3. Robyn - Konichiwa Bitches
4. Mika - Love Today
5. Dragonette - I Get Around
6. Fountains of Wayne - Someone To Love
7. The Sounds - Tony The Beat
8. Maia Hirasawa - And I Found This Boy
9. The Ark - The Worrying Kind
10. Maroon 5 - Makes Me Wonder
11. Danny - Tokyo
12. Under The Influence of Giants - In The Clouds
13. Freeform Five - No More Conversations (Mylo Radio Edit)
14. Jimmy Jansson - Amanda
15. Natasha Bedingfield - (I Wanna Have Your) Babies
16. Hellogoodbye - Here In Your Arms
17. Siobhan Donaghy - Don't Give It Up
18. Herman Düne - I Wish That I Could See You Soon
19. Sebastian - When The Night Comes Falling
20. Rihanna ft. Jay-Z - Umbrella
21. Shiny Toy Guns - You Are The One
22. Mark Ronson - Stop Me
23. Marie Lindberg - Trying To Recall
24. Infernal - I Won't Be Crying
25. Meck - Feels Like Home
26. Missy Higgins - Steer
27. James Morrisson - Undiscovered
28. Ross Copperman - All She Wrote
29. Ben Mills - Beside You
30. Pop Levi - Pick-Me-Up Uppercut
Friday, April 06, 2007

Review: Avril Lavigne - The Best Damn Thing



My new found love for little Miss Lavigne shows the true power of a brilliant pop song. Or perhaps just the supreme excellence of Swedish songwriters! I have had a grudge with Avril since she became popular with Complicated, while superior pop-rockers such as Michelle Branch and Amy Studt underperformed, and all their subsequent releases were seen as Avril-wannabes, despite them actually having been around before her. I mocked Avril for her true country-ness (she was originally signed after winning a contest to perform with Shania Twain - a true punk-rocker!) and laughed when, even with a rock band frontman husband, she seemed to have turned into a nice little housewife with The Best Damn Thing's lead single Keep Holding On.

Then I heard Girlfriend. It was written by Dr. Luke (Max Martin's writing partner, whose amazing credits are listed here) and sounded like Shebang, Kim-Lian and all sorts of other ridiculously fun kiddy-pop girl acts. It was full of energy and sillyness, and soon I found myself forgiving Avril for being evil (don't worry, I still have P!nk and Kelly Clarkson to offload my girl-rocker hate onto), and bopping around my room to the sounds of "hey! hey! you! you!" and other such cheerleader-type chants. When the album leaked I downloaded it straight away, and now here I am writing a review.

If I was expecting an album full of tracks as ace as Girlfriend, I would have been sorely disappointed, but I haven't forgotten the fact that Avril has been decidedly mediocre for the majority of her career until now. With the demise of Fefe and Lillix, we do need some cheeky girl power pop-rock, and this CD does provide it in spades. The Best Damn Thing (written by the ace Butch Walker) is a lot like Girlfriend, but doesn't pack the same punch, probably because it is just like an inferior rip-off version, although it's still one of the best tracks and has an ace cheerleader spelling out section. Runaway is also quite a good quality track a la Sk8r Boi, Everything Back But You (another Butch creation) is a bit early No Doubt-ish and Keep Holding On has slightly embarrassingly really grown on me. In fact I like pretty much all the tracks, even the ones not written by our genius Swede.

Pre-teen girls will have great fun with this CD, but I don't think I'll personally be playing it anywhere near as much as Fefe Dobson's Sunday Love which I finally recently obtained in full. I guess the difference in their success just proves how useful it is to be blonde and stick-thin in the music industry, even when singing "Hell yeah, I'm the mother-fucking princess".

New Pop On The Block

Missy Higgins - Steer (Video)
The Aussie queen of acoustic-pop had some great singles on her last album, her supremely popular (in Australia at least, where it was officially the biggest hit of 2005) debut The Sound Of White, although she never quite broke through in the UK. The first release from her follow-up CD is more of the same style. It's very nice but doesn't make the same impact as the unusual, clever sound and lyrics of Scar, or the adorable-ness of The Special Two. Still, I think she's way ahead of UK counterparts such as Sandi Thom and KT Tunstall, and it will certainly be a huge hit in her home country. The album On A Clear Night will be out on April 28th.
74% Poptastic!

Booty Luv - Shine (Video)
Big Brovaz may have fallen at every hurdle of late, but there's no need for concern over the girls' careers, since they've found new success fronting the dance act Booty Luv. Their cover of Tweet's Boogie 2Nite was a no.2 hit in the UK charts and stayed in the top 10 for many weeks. They follow it up with a danced-up cover of Luther Vandross' song Shine. If it sounds familiar then you may recognise the sample of My Forbidden Lover by Chic, which was put to much better use on Alcazar's amazing 2001 single Sexual Guarantee. This is an alright dance-pop song, but I do find the words a bit too fast and complex for a clubbing song, which always do better with more sparse, easy to remember (and sing along) vocals.
66% Poptastic!

Freeform Five - No More Conversations (Mylo Mix) (Video)
This lot seem to be doing a Just Jack - finally getting some success years after they were meant to, but ruining it with songs that are nowhere near the standard they're capable of. Freeform Five (who in fact only have 4 members) released a fantastic pop album called Strangest Things in 2004, which included a wide variety of ace songs with writing credits for Hannah Robinson and Karen Poole among others. They sounded like the Scissor Sisters would if Ana and Jake were replaced with Kylie Minogue and JC Chasez. This song was on that album, but not in this remixed form which makes it sounds like any old dance track. They aren't just any old dance band and deserve further research from all of you DP readers, whatever you think of this single.
78% Poptastic!

Sophie Ellis-Bextor - Me And My Imagination (Audio)
I love this song and this video, as I think all fans of Sophie will, but I've been wondering lately if her distinctive style is the reason for her success being quite limited. Those who like her vocal and musical style will, if they are like me anyway, enjoy everything she records, but those who don't are unlikely to ever get on board, because her flexibility is limited. I love her personality, the way she looks and dresses, the fact that she's married to the funny little one from The Feeling rather than some tall, dark, brooding guy as you might expect of such a sophisticated lady as Sophie, but musically she does seem to split opinions quite distinctly. Perhaps this fabulously catchy, lightly disco-poppy track will be the one to bring her back to the top of the charts but it could just as easily lead her back into obscurity. We'll have to wait and see.
89% Poptastic!
Thursday, April 05, 2007

Yippee!

Somehow, good sense has prevailed and Marion Raven is releasing Break You in the UK! I don't know why, because she is releasing Falling Away everywhere else, but I won't question it because Break You is undoubtedly the best thing she'll ever do. Of course the Max Martin ace-rock bandwagon drove off a year or two ago, but it's nice to have a brilliant song being released over here nonetheless.
Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The most idiotic music article ever?

Quite possibly.

The Next Big Thing?

The Rosebuds
They are classified as 'Indie/Pop/Rock' on MySpace, but the backing music in Get Up Get Out actually makes me think of disco! Their sound is unusual, but very jolly and enjoyable. I don't know if there's a market for it but the critical reactions have apparently been good so far. The male singer's voice is typically indie, so the combination of it with the music is surprising. If a woman was singing the exact same song it would sound much more conventional, but still there is an odd mismatch between the singing and the music, so the most surprising thing is that it works. There is a female singer on other tracks and the sound is quite different, but equally ace. This is definitely a band worth keeping an eye on.
Hit Potential: 64% Poptasticness: 77%

Elliott Yamin
I loved Elliott on American Idol so I'm really pleased to see him starting to do well over there. His song is highly unoriginal (and bizarrely reminiscent of Never Had A Dream Come True by S Club 7... perhaps they can sue, they all seem to need the money) and very sappy, but it's nice enough, and he does sound remarkably like AJ McClean on it. I don't know why the AI contestants aren't given better songs to release, perhaps just cos their labels know that the CDs will sell no matter what they sound like, but surely giving them really great music would cement their star status and they might last more than one or two albums. Kelly Clarkson didn't get anything really good until her second album, so maybe Elliott, Katharine and co. will have the same fate, but it seems a shame not to capitalise on their current popularity to its full potential.
Hit Potential: 90% (in America, anyway) Poptasticness: 62%



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