International Video Challenge
Representing the UK: The Courteeners - That Kiss
The Courteeners are one of those bands whose name I know very well, but I couldn't have told you where they were from, what they looked like or what they sound like (apart from indie). Until now, when I heard a song with a great chorus on this week's epsode of 90210, and discovered that it was in fact The Courteeners! My research tells me they're from Manchester, and this song actually got to no.36 recently in our charts, so it shows how little I pay attention to that these days. I have been very dspleased with British indie music in the past year, with the only good stuff being the few major acts such as Keane and the Killers who've gone more poppy on their new singles, but this song has a bit more melody and class about it than Scouting For Girls and their terrible chums. I could even imagine it being by one of the Swedish indie-bloke acts. It's probably a one-off, but I'll be looking into their back-catalogue nonetheless. Representing Japan: BoA - Eat You Up
It's always interesting for me to see how an act who is very well known in a non-English speaking country translates not just their music but their whole act for the English market. BoA, much like Utada Hikaru before her, has translated very well in terms of poptasticness, but there's not much about this song that distinguishes it as Japanese, not American or European. It could easily be Britney or even Robyn, and that's of course nothing to complain about, but I have a feeling it could rule out success for BoA. I really think that when acts are trying to make this kind of transition, they need to retain some of their original style and cultural distinction in order to stand out. Japan is a totally ace country, so she should be playing on that, not hiding it. Still, the song is fantastic, and I've been listening to it loads lately - a lot more than Womanizer actually! Representing Poland: Blog 27 - F*ck U!
As a teenage girl duom Blog 27 were always balancing precariously between being utterly terrible and extremely excellent. Unfortunately, now that there is only one member (Tola) remaining, she seems to have fallen off the tightrope on the terrible side. Her styling has gone very emo, and while the music hasn't actually turned much rockier, she has given up on tune altogether. Blog 27 have always been a weird act, and I know that their songs in the past have taken a while to grow on me, but I can't imagine ever liking F*ck You or Cute (the previous single) as much as Hey Boy, Uh La La La or Turn You On To Music. It's a shame. Now I have to hope that the t.A.T.u album is good, or else I'll just be giving up on Eastern Europop altogether if this continues! The two stars are just for the crazy rap. Representing the USA: Hilary Duff - Reach Out
When I first began watching this video, half of me thought it was a joke. The rapper seems like such a caricature with all his necklaces, and the people running about in their underwear is certainly not typical Hilary video material. Then there's the bit where Hilary's back is showing, and while I don't want to sound like a tabloid magazine, she does look oddly unskinny, and her outfit is terrible. And then there's the backing music... it's Beware of the Dog! Well, Personal Jesus anyway, but it's still been done already. There's just something about the video that seems so amateur, especially when she's trying to be sexy. The whole thing is just wrong wrong wrong! This is the last single to be released by Hilary on Hollywood Records, so I suppose they've just given up on her already and given her a 2p budget for this video. It is actually one of her better songs, but of course it's nothing on good old Jammy's version.
Dirrrty Pop Review: High School Musical 3
Senior Year is the third in Disney's High School Musical series, yet the first to appear on the big screen. This means everything needs to be ten times as spectacular: the songs, the dancing, and most of all, the cheesiness... and although the first film will always be the classic, I think they succeed. Sharpay's outfits hit a new high of ridiculousness, if nothing else!
There is a progression from the past films, with some semblance of a plot, and even quite a sad part near the end. But don't worry - Troy and Gabriella still show no signs of being human, and there are plenty of songs which are clearly just excuses for Zac Efron's posing. He has one particularly amusing solo number called Scream, with angst levels not seen since the fifth Harry Potter book. Worryingly though, Zac's actually looking a bit less plastic and more handsome these days. Don't tell anyone I said that...
Something that never changes is Sharpay's continuous indecision between being hilariously fabulous and hideously annoying. This time around, she and her brother, Ryan, share my favourite of the musical numbers, while he gets a new love interest. I won't give away who it is, but let's just say these two won't run out of hats any time soon. Gabriella remains sickeningly sweet and defiantly dull, but otherwise my only complaint is regarding the pointless new characters, bizarrely including an English girl as Sharpay’s new assistant. The producers need to think again if they’re expected to be the stars of High School Musical 4.
Whatever you thought of the previous films, you'll think exactly the same of this one. If you loved them, you'll love this, but to enjoy it certainly does require a very high tolerance for shiny, smiley, stage school starlets, and the ability to lose all pretences of cool for 90 minutes. This is not Oscar-worthy, but it was never intended to be - accept it for what it is and you might just find a new feel-good favourite!
He's a hip-hopper, yes he is
Just now listening to the new Sugababes album (rather good, but the last one was better), I had a realisation. I have no idea what Klas Åhlund looks like, so in my mind he is a rapping teddybear!
High School TV Series
So, I was brave and watched the first episode of Britannia High. The prospects weren't good: It's on ITV, and the premise seemed very familiar. Anyone remember I Dream? Anyone remember what happened to S Club 8 after I Dream? Exactly. However, there's nothing I like more than a teen drama interspersed with singing and dancing and very big smiles, so I had to give it a chance. I'm glad I did, because I actually loved it! Here's why:
- It began with a super-poptastic opening sequence, as all the main characters performed the song Start of Something.
- There are many minor stars to spot, such as Marcquelle and Rana from DanceX, and Maxxie from Skins, who has silly hair and likes girls, while another guy confuses us all by looking just like Maxxie from Skins!
- There's a great soundtrack, from Beware of the Dog to Robyn's Who's That Girl.
- Jokes about Hairspray, S Club 7 and ABBA!
- The main female characters sing a brilliant duet (Watch This Space), and the song at the end is pretty good too (Best of Me).
- The songs are written by various boyband members, including Gary Barlow, Mark Owen, James Bourne and... Steve from BBMak!
- Adam Garcia is in it!
- ADAM GARCIA!!!! (He's not as cute these days, though)
Discoveries of the Week
1. One of the writers of Girls by the Sugababes is Anna McDonald, the new Pipette who isn't Gwenno's sister!
2. If you sing Purple Rain in a Spanish accent, it sounds like "I only want to see you in the pot pourri"!
3. Is this
the most genius (for its simplicity) money-making scheme ever?
4. The new All American Rejects single
seems to have been inspired by LFO's Every Other Time
, mixed with Jive Jones' Me, Myself & I
. Rock-cheese at its very cringiest and best!
Wake me up when September gets a new song out
Cry For You has been out for ages now and has been a deservedly huge hit, but still there is no official word on what will be the next single. However, I just read a very disturbing rumour, that it is going to be a brand new song. On one hand it is exciting to think of new material from Petra, but we must not forget the travesty of Infernal. Did they release Cheap Trick Kinda Girl? No. Did they release Fairytales? No. They didn't even release Keen On Disco, the follow-up to Paris To Berlin in Denmark. Instead they went with a random cover, followed by several mediocre songs that would never have been more than average album tracks if I'd had any say in the matter. So this is a call out to September: Don't ruin your career by trying to tailor yourself to the UK market, when you already have 3 albums worth of excellent pop music. The UK charts need you, don't let us down now!
The European Invasion of 2008 continues!
I'd seen them on the release schedule, but I never believe it until I see the videos on TV. Now I have, so we can officially celebrate and jubilate: E-Type and Blue Lagoon are coming to the UK! First, a quick crash course for the uninitiated (where have you been?)...
E-Type - True Believer
One of the very best singles of 2007, and joint best dance track with With Every Heartbeat, True Believer is an absolute belter, a feel-good sing-along like no other. E-Type (who you can scroll down to see a picture of, but you may prefer not to) has been around for over a decade, churning out ace yet ridiculous dance-pop songs in the archetypical Eurodance style. There is nothing you can do but dance crazily and sing along at the top of your voice. This could be massive, but only if enough people get to hear it. Even the most 'serious' music fans among my friends can see its amazingness, so I think True Believer has a good chance of being the novelty hit of 2008 in the UK.
Blue Lagoon - Break My Stride
Admittedly Euro-reggae-pop is a rather acquired taste, but I've definitely acquired it, and Blue Lagoon are the best in the business. My favourites of theirs are Now That We Found Love and Isle of Paradise, but Break My Stride is pretty great nonetheless. As you can probably guess, they're mostly known for cover versions, and luckily they've covered songs which were quite cheesy in the first place, avoiding the stupid muso complaints covers often receive. There's no excuse to be miserable, just enjoy this burst of sunshine and try not to notice the aimilarities to Shaggy.
GA cover Lene Nystrom... again!
Evidence #1: The bonus track on the new album is called We Wanna Party, just like a Lene song
which sounds quite Aloud-y.
Evidence #2: They have covered Lene before, on the song Here We Go, although the original singer was Moonbaby/Miranda Cooper.
Evidence #3: The song has the words "out of control" in it, which is GA's new album title - now we know where they got it!
I can't wait to hear the GA version, and this also bodes very well for the style of the album. If this song fits in, then we're definitely in for a treat!
Is Sweden even real?
Sometimes I wonder if it is something I dreamed up, because things happen there that are just too amazing to be believed. On their Idol programme they're at the same point as X Factor, and last night was the first of the live finals. Last year was the first series I watched, and I remember loving the song choices, which were usually fairly modern, and often very obscure (so far this series there has been a Jojo album track, and a song by Lemar, who isn't even known in Sweden), and enabled the acts to show how they would fit into the contemporary music scene. It's quite the contrast to X Factor and American Idol where every week someone manages to cover Whitney or Mariah... and no-one's yet done Vision of Love or the Thunderpuss mix of It's Not Right But It's OK.
Anyway, this week the Swedes have truly outdone themselves: This week the theme is songs by past Idol contestants! First up is Maltese Eurovision wannabe Kevin Borg, singing Natalie by Ola!! I have always imagined how X Factor or American Idol could do this theme, but neither has had enough good songs to achieve it, and it shows what a fantastic show Idol is that they can easily do it. I'm curious as to what the beautiful Lars is going to do, though, since no serious indie artists have come out of Idol's past series. I can't wait to see if someone will do On and On, and surely something by Darin will need to be included, as the biggest selling Idol act? Yay yay yay!
Edit: OH NO! I have been fooled!! They aren't singing songs from past Idols, just from the years when Idol has existed, i.e. the last 4. It was just chance that the first song was by an Idol act. It's still a nice theme, but I'm so sad that there won't be Darin, Danny or Agnes songs after all. Sigh...
Edit 2: This is very upsetting. Lars is singing James Blunt! As lovely as he is, if I was only listening and not watching, this would be officially the most horrific thing on a talent show since Clay Aitken. Very sad indeed.
Austin Drag, more like!
I'd be surprised if no-one else has picked up on this already, but I hadn't heard about it and it is quite hilarious. For some reason I just remembered the TV show Boys Will Be Girls, where boyband members were turned into a girlband. I Googled it to remember who'd been in it (I didn't watch it so memories were very vague), and found a familiar name: Austin Drage, one of this year's X Factor contestants! The show's on at the moment and I don't have access to a TV, so I don't know if he got to the finals, but I reckon he has a good chance. I wonder if this will ever get brought up on the show, or will it be ignored in kindness to Austin? There don't seem to be any remnants of it on YouTube, so he may be in luck.
A treat from Marit
Marit Larsen (who is NOT the same person as Marit Bergman, for the record) is soon to release a new album, and she's just started previewing it on her MySpace. A new song will be uploaded each day, and I'm afraid we've already missed one called The Chase (a shame since it is apparently ABBA-esque!) but today's track, This Is Me This Is You, is lovely anyway. You can also listen to her great new single If A Song Could Get Me You while you're there, if you haven't already.
Swedes needed urgently!
Did Anders Bagge just tell Elias he looked like E-Type, and Elias say "Tack"??? He has clearly forgotten that E-Type looks like this:
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