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Who needs guitars anyway?


Best Bits
Wednesday, October 31, 2007

NO WAY!

Bleeding Love is written by Jesse McCartney? JESSE MCCARTNEY??? He has never even had a good song by himself - how did he manage to write one as amazing as this for someone else? It is a complete mystery. He was in Dream Street, for goodness sake. I am entirely in shock!

In related news, the co-writer of the track was Ryan Tedder, who seems to be the name of the moment. He is the singer of the brilliant I Apologise, as currently released in its remixed form by Timbaland, while his writing credits include Bleeding Love, Do It Well by J.Lo, Blake Lewis' new single, Love Like This by Natasha Bedingfield, as well as heaps more such as Christina Milian, Lemar and... erm... Tupac, apparently! It seems he is the next big songwriter, but out of all these songs I would only say Bleeding Love and I Apologise are really fantastic, the others being just OK. I think it must be difficult for someone like this who is very suddenly heralded as the new big talent, and then has to produce like a machine as many more songs as good as their hits as fast as possible. Amazing songs can't be churned out like that, so the expectations of him are huge and it must be quite immense pressure on him. Still, I can't say I'm not jealous of someone with the ability to write music which is moving not only lyrically but sonically - it's an incredibly valuable talent, I think.

Ch-ch-changes

I was just catching up on the state of the UK charts, and noticed quite an interesting pattern. Since downloads have been included in the charts, they had become quite strange and indecipherable - it was impossible to know, when a new song entered the charts at 30, for example, if it was going to rise up to the top 10 when it was released as a physical single, or if it already had been physically released, and would be out of the top 40 the next week, never to be heard of again. It was impossible to know if a new song had been a success or not, unless you wanted to look up the release date of every new entry. Following the charts became such a complex process, and the positions did not have much correlation to success or lack of it, so they were the most irrelevant they had ever been.

However, this time I checked the charts I noticed something had changed. Almost all the songs' positions were lower this week than last, the only exceptions being old singles which had risen in the charts as their follow-up is out, and for some reason Hate That I Love You by Rihanna. I would guess that this is the effect of downloads becoming so normal that when the physical release comes around, it makes little difference to the charts. This is supported by About You Now being the first single to reach no.1 without a physical release having yet occured, a few weeks ago.

This is a good development, because the charts now make sense again, but also a bit sad for me as a persistant supporter of physical CDs. I have never bought anything from iTunes or any similar provider, because I like to get something for my money, to see my new purchase on my shelf, and I know where to get CDs as cheap as downloads anyway. I hope this change won't eventually lead to the effective death of the CD, although I suppose I would not be upset to lose CD singles, since I only buy Darren Hayes ones these days. I think what this change heralds overall is the long-awaited settling down, after months of disruption. It will be interesting to see how things go over the next few months, as the Christmas period always attracts many big singles, such as the comebacks by Kylie and the Spice Girls. Will either dethrone the immensely popular and brilliant Bleeding Love?
Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Next Big Thing?

Blake Lewis
He and his great pal Chris (combined they were known, quite brilliantly, as Cake) were my definite favourites on American Idol this year, although I also loved the eventual winner, Jordin. In fact, it was surely the most satisfying final 5 on any reality show, since I supported all of them and hated none. I was excited by the prospect of Blake's post-Idol releases, as his performances included songs by Jason Mraz and Maroon 5, and I was especially pleased to hear he was working with BT, who produced Pop for *N Sync, and some great singles of his own. Also involved, quite randomly and yet fittingly sound-wise, is Rich Cronin from ex-boyband LFO! His first single is called Break Anotha, and I must say I'm not amazed by its greatness, but it is a good track. I think JC Chasez, who he sounds similar to, has made many better songs in this style, but it's still nice to have someone new and high profile making this sort of music.
Hit Potential: 80% (in the USA anyway) Poptasticness: 75%

frYars
Ben Garrett is the teenage boy behind the strangely-cased FrYars, who is beginning to get some notice in the UK and even here in Sweden (well, The Ides was just on the cool radio station, P3). According to MySpace his talents are rather widely spread, as he is responsible for "piano, drums, computer, acordian drone, voices, synths, bells". He has been compared to David Bowie and Nick Cave, but my immediate reaction to his deep, dark voice and sharp wit was to think of my indie-electro-pop faves, the Magnetic Fields and Patrick Wolf. While I'm usually not one for moody music, The Ides is rather catchy in fact and it's great to hear thoughtful lyrics about geeky things like Pascal's triangle, and very British droll humour. He even has one song called HappY, which says "if it's making you happy, then there's nothing wrong with the state your in". I'll definitely be looking out for him and hoping he'll be the next big thing in the music press instead of another terrible Razorlight/Fratellis/Babyshambles etc. type of act. It's a bit upsetting, though, that he is younger than me...
Hit Potential: 65% Poptasticness: 75%

The winner of X Factor 2007 is found!

Of course they were already my personal favourites, but this week's performance sealed the deal: justice will only be served if Same Difference win the X Factor! I never dared to dream that someone would sing High School Musical on 'songs from the movies' night, so I was extraordinarily excited when not only did someone sing it but it was my most adored, Same Difference. As soon as I saw them I thought of High School Musical, because of their genuine joyousness, and of course there is a brother/sister singing duo in the films too. Even if their jolliness was fake, I'd still love them - being jolly is always better than being boring. I was excited last week when Simon compared them to HSM, and so it was logical that they should sing Breaking Free on film night and do so brilliantly. I grinned madly from start to finish!



I love the bit in the intro where they both say "amaaaazing!" at the same time. They are both just bursting with greatness. It is a worry if they do well that they will be given some awful Fast Food Rockers type songs, but actually normal pop songs would be great for them (and as we who look further afield than the UK and USA know, there are plenty to choose from) and I think Simon will see this, so he had better be in charge of them once the show is over. I think Breaking Free was a great song to choose, because HSM has a real place in the hearts of its fans - including Sarah, it seems, who was very pleasingly excited to get to sing this song.

I am especially pleased that Louis is criticising them, because disagreeing with that brainless turd always confirms my excellent taste. Having been so harsh on them (only to get his own back about the McDonalds - as if Louis really dislikes camp things!) has put him in a corner, meaning he now can't even admit when they are good, and the more they improve the more stupid he looks. He even did them an accidental favour by comparing them to Eurovision - what's the betting they'll be our entry for 2008?

My second favourites are FutureProof, since I always love boybands and these guys are talanted and nice. Richard is my favourite, since he looks like Will Young, but I think Sean seems sweet, Adam has a great voice, Aaron seems cheeky if chavvy. I'm not so fond of Matthew but his outfits always provide great hilarity, especially in the first live show - what were they thinking? I'd like to see Futureproof do an upbeat song, to see if they're capable, because with Take That and Westlife not looking like going away, we need a boyband who does more than ballads. However, I don't think we'll get it next week, as it's the week I despise the most on all these shows, swing week. Ewww, I hate it! The week after had better be ABBA to make up for it, or at least musicals.
Sunday, October 28, 2007

New Svenskpop On The Block

Gummy Bear - Jag är en Gummibjörn (Watch)
This is one of the weirdest novelty songs I have ever heard. First there was a hideous song (similar to Crazy Frog) about gummy bears in the Swedish charts, and now it has been replaced by one in Swedish. It is rather surreal, but quite handy for practicing my Swedish. I'm sure the Swedish for "I am a gummy bear" will be very useful in my next Swedish exam at the start of December.
22% Poptastic!

Markoolio - Idollåten (Listen)
Another novelty artist, but actually quite a good one - Markoolio has done some great pop songs. I'm not sure how funny they are (my understanding of Swedish doesn't quite extend to jokes yet), but since his subjects include schlager and Idol (the Swedish version of Pop Idol, currently in progress on TV here) I'm sure they're great. They might make fun of these things but the music is just as silly pop (think Vengaboys or Blue Lagoon, on Idollåten), and good pop too, although this is perhaps a bit too summery for October.
68% Poptastic!

September - Until I Die (Listen)
I somehow haven't got around to mentioning it yet, but September's new album is one of the best dance-pop records ever made! She could have released any track as the second single (to follow Can't Get Over) and I would be satisfied. I have spent much time since the album was released dancing around my 'studentrum' to this album. This track is more on the dance than pop side, but it's as catchy as September's music always is. She's such a great popstar, it actually makes me sad that uneducated others are deprived of her and her aceness.
83% Poptastic!
Thursday, October 25, 2007

I hope no-one can hear me right now

I am listening to some of the new Britney songs on YouTube, and I wonder if anyone else has the same problem as me with the song called Radar. In the parts where she repeats "on my radar", I find myself absent-mindedly singing along "gonorrhea". I hope this is not her attempt to use subliminal messages about an infectious disease to make us think the song is infectiously catchy. But it kind of works, the song is not lacking in bouncey yayness, although I can't say it's up with any of the past Britney classics.

The Next Big Thing?

Mae
Sharing their name with many British teenagers' grandmothers is perhaps not the best start, and this lot are just as uncool (in my eyes), but in an entirely different way. They sound like Fall Out Boy, but a slight MOR version. Brink Of Disaster is like their version of Sugar We're Going Down, but more melodic and actually quite enjoyable. Almost catchy! I don't know if there's much actual point in this band, especially now that FOB are really old-hat, but I suppose there must be quite a lot of people out there who would enjoy this.
Hit Potential: 45% Poptasticness: 50%

Christophe Willem
I've never paid much attention to the winners of France's version of Pop Idol, 'La nouvelle star', but maybe that was a mistake since the 2006 winner turns out to be rather excellent! I have been practicing my French a lot recently, having made a new French friend, so it's always useful to have some new French music to attempt to sing along to. However, my favourite song by Christophe is one he sings in English, called Kiss The Bride. It's total electropop brilliance, and I would say it's like a male version of Margaret Berger, but actually it sounds not much less female than she does. I can't help thinking that the real reason he doesn't want to kiss the bride is because he prefers the groom. If you've exhausted Potential Break-Up Song, try this next.
Hit Potential: 15% (in the UK, anyway) Poptasticness: 92%
Thursday, October 18, 2007

New Pop On The Block

Justin & Beyoncé - Until The End Of Time (Listen)
So, two super-famous popstars, responsible for some amazing hits in the past, team up for a duet. Normally I'd be really excited, but looking back to other recent examples of this happening, it's not really a recipe for brilliance. Think Walk This Way, or Beautiful Liar in it's original form... In fact, it seems the record companies think that getting the two great acts together is enough of a novelty, and giving them a great song to sing would just be a waste - better to save it for when you really it. Here we have a meeting of the man and woman behind Cry Me A River and Crazy In Love. So what is the result? The most dreary ballad of the year, of course! Someone call in the Freemasons, quick! The version I've linked to is supposedly a remix, so I dread to think how dull the original was.
43% Poptastic!

Private - My Secret Lover (Watch)
This new band are apparently closely linked with the ever-fabulous Junior Senior and you can't say that's surprising, because the retro catchiness is in full swing. This is great! It's a little more electro than Junior Senior usually are, but it is certainly very similar to their sound. It's exciting that even though it's probably going to be a while until we get new material from our jolly Danish duo, there is a whole Private album to enjoy in the meantime - let's hope it's all as good as this. The other tracks on their MySpace are really really poptastic too (in fact I think I prefer them both to My Secret Lover, which is a big compliment to them rather than any detriment to MSL) so I am very sure I will be tracking down their CD when I take a trip to Copenhagen later this year. Could this be a new favourite band? I haven't been this impressed since Alphabeat!
89% Poptastic!

Girls Aloud - Call The Shots (Listen)
Is this really going to be their next single? I think I must be missing something cos it doesn't seem very exciting to me, even though all the other reviews I've seen have been very positive. I've heard that they are going for a more mature sound, which is understandable as they've been going for quite a while now, but why does mature always have to mean boring? It doesn't make me very excited about getting older! Surely there must be some fun to be had when you're no longer in your teens. Girls Aloud can normally be trusted to bring the funtimes whenever they're needed, so I hope this is just a temporary blip and we'll soon be back on course. Come on girls, we know you can do it! This sounds like a typical GA album track, which is of course not an insult at all, but I want something better for a single. Maybe it's a grower...
75% Poptastic!
Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A surprising twist of events!

I've always said that Shayne Ward would do very well to cover a Darin song, but it seems, rather unexpectedly, Leona has beaten him to it! Looking at the list of known tracks for her new album Spirit on Wikipedia, I saw the name Homeless, the same as a ballad from Darin's last album Break The News. I searched for 'Leona Lewis Homeless' on YouTube and found this clip of a girl singing "a song called homeless that i found on youtube a while ago", with the tags "Leona Lewis New Single". A quick Google agrees that Homeless was one of the songs rumoured to be a single instead of Bleeding Love, and she has performed it in America a few months ago, which perhaps was the source of the clip this girl saw.

Of course it could just be a big mix-up, but I think this song would suit Leona. It's just a shame that it seems Darin will get no credit for being its first singer, as the page about Leona's album on Wikipedia says "apart from one song, the album will contain entirely new material". But this is not new material - whether or not Darin wrote the song (I doubt that he did but don't have the album cover handy), it is a cover version if she releases it, so I hope this will be acknowledged. It's also a shame that out of all the amazing Darin songs that could be brought to a wider audience, this rather boring ballad is the one that will be heard. Then again, relistening to his version now, it's still better than most things, just for being sung by Darin.
Sunday, October 07, 2007

Ouch!

I think The Streets' version of Your Song is the worst cover I've ever heard. Absolutely awful!
Thursday, October 04, 2007

New Pop On The Block

Pay TV - Fashion Report (Listen (it's not the real band in this video!))
This is something of a new direction for Pay TV, although it still retains their distinctive sound, because it's much more a serious electro-pop song than the cleverly witty pure pop they usually provide. If you are familiar with Cat5 or the Light Bulb Project, you'll know what to expect. The girls have always had a political slant to their music. They mock capitalism but admit they love it as much as everyone else - a sentiment I sympathise with entirely! Here they are slightly more serious, but again I love the sentiment of the lyrics, which are the antidote to indie bores mourning the loss of authenticity. Pay TV ask to where have we lost the fun and frivolity that we used to find in fashion and in pop music? The lyrics begin: "Disco and kitch is out, electro and glitch is in", explaining their change in sound is a statement in itself. I don't think this song is catchy or exciting enough sound-wise (it's a bit repetitive) to be the huge hit that Pay TV need to become superstars, but they continue to make excellent pop music with a great message, so I'm really pleased they're back.
94% Poptastic!

Nelly Furtado - Do It (Watch)
Even though it is only her Folklore album that I'm really a fan of, I think Nelly has achieved something amazing with Loose. This is the 8th song she has released from it, although the two in Spanish (No Hay Igual and Te Busqué) were not out in the UK, and every one has been both successful and good quality, interesting pop music. She has managed to maintain a distinct Nelly sound, but release songs which are very varied within that sound, helped I'm sure by the regular reinventions of her past. Each album, she wins the mums' hearts with songs like Try, All Good Things and I'm Like A Bird, but instantly redeems her cool with Turn Off The Light, Maneater and, well, nothing on Folklore, which is probably why I love it! Do It is a fun and catchy track, which I doubt is going to do as well as its 5 predecessors all have in the UK, but it's better than what most acts release as their 2nd or 3rd single from an album, so from that perspective it's great.
68% Poptastic!
Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Top of the Poptastic!

Best of September...

1. Robyn - Handle Me
2. Britney Spears - Gimme More
3. Those Dancing Days - Hitten
4. Leona Lewis - Bleeding Love
5. Mark Ronson featuring Amy Winehouse - Valerie
6. Mika - Happy Ending
7. Timbaland ft. One Republic - Apologize
8. Danny ft. Therese - If Only You
9. Rufus Wainwright – Tiergarten
10. Remi Nicole – Rock N Roll
11. Avril Lavigne - Hot
12. WinterKids - Wonderland
13. The Ark - Prayer For The Weekend
14. The Indelicates - Sixteen
15. Gwen Stefani ft. Damian Marley - Now That You Got It
16. Amerie - Crush
17. Sahara Hotnights - Visit To Vienna
18. Kate Nash - Mouthwash
19. Tunng - Bullets
20. Martin Stenmarck - 100 År Från Nu (Blundar)
21. Kate Ryan - Voyage Voyage
22. Slow Club - Me And You
23. Los Campesinos! - International Tweexcore Underground
24. Orson - Ain't No Party
25. The Young Punx - Your Music Is Killing Me



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