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Who needs guitars anyway?


Best Bits
Monday, June 30, 2008

Top of the Poptastic!

The (rather many) best singles of June:

1. Alcazar - Inhibitions
2. Rosie & the Goldbug - War of the Roses (Because You Said So)
3. Delays - Keep It Simple
4. West End Girls - What Have I Done To Deserve This
5. Monrose - Strike The Match
6. Tone Mette - Call Before You Come
7. Elize - Lovesick
8. CSS - Left Behind
9. Little Boots - Meddle
10. Pay TV - Fashion Report
11. Elbow - One Day Like This
12. The Saturdays - If This Is Love
13. Infernal - Downtown Boys
14. Tess - Change
15. Florence and the Machine - Kiss With A Fist
16. Little Jackie - The World Should Revolve Around Me
17. The Ting Tings - Shut Up And Let Me Go
18. Noah And The Whale - 5 Years Time
19. Maaike - Everything I've Got
20. Stanfour - Desperate
21. Varsity Fanclub - Future Love
22. Cyndi Lauper - Into The Nightlife
23. Sneaky Sound System - Pictures
24. 5 O'Clock Heroes ft. Agyness Deyn - Who
25. VV Brown - Crying Blood
26. Solange - I Decided (Freemason's Remix)
27. Estelle - No Substitute Love
28. Frankmusik - In Step
29. Ida Maria - I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked
30. Menudo - Lost
31. Mêlée - Built To Last
32. Leon Jean Marie - Bring It On
33. New Kids On The Block - Summertime
34. Mariko - Unstoppable
35. Kid Rock - All Summer Long

Plus, some exciting news: Fix Me by Velvet is set to be released in July! I knew she'd be the next September, so let's hope it works out for her. Next she should release her fab cover of Electric Avenue.
Sunday, June 29, 2008

DP:UK



Maria Arredondo - Mad Summer
Here's a lovely and super-catchy summer song from a few years ago, by a Norwegian-Argentinian singer who unfortunately seems to have only released crap ballads ever since. If you liked the songs on Venke Knutson's last album, you'll love Mad Summer. Currently Maria is preparing to play the role of her namesake in a Norwegian production of The Sound of Music, so we can only hope hanging around with so many kids will bring back the fun-loving pop star we see in Mad Summer, replacing the boring balladeer she's become.

Menudo - Lost
If this name sounds familiar to you, I can explain why. Remember when Ricky Martin became famous in the UK, and we were told he used to be in a boyband in Puerto Rico? That was Menudo, and now the band has been revived with a new line-up. They're making typical boyband music, with an r'n'b slant, and I have to say their first single is actually rather good. I'm sure they'd like to be the new *N Sync, and they'll probably have to settle for the new O-Town, but that's not a big criticism as I really liked O-Town's first album.

Maaike - Everything I've Got
This is the latest single from 18-year-old Dutch singer Maaike Jansen, who made her name on a show called So You Wanna Be A Popstar, singing ace songs like Can't Fight The Moonlight and the GA version of Jump. Holland has produced some of my favourite reality show singles, and this is another great one. It's quite dated-sounding in parts, but has a real feel-good vibe about it. I love the jolliness, and Maaike seems to be a good singer too. I look forward to hearing more from her.

Cast of Mamma Mia - Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!
This video has been showing on The Box, so I think that's enough excuse to write about it here. I'm very excited about this film - it's about time for a new cheesy pop musical, as my DVDs of HSM and Hairspray need a rest. This song is performed by Amanda Seyfried, the girl who is best known for dressing as a mouse in Mean Girls and being dead in Veronica Mars. Obviously this version is nothing on ABBA's original, or even the A*Teens cover, and anything which brings ABBA to a new, young audience is brilliant in my eyes.

911 - Love Sensation
If you had ten songs and measured them by how much they sounded like Love Sensation, you would certainly be simulataneously predicting which songs I would like most. It's just overflowing with joy and exhuberance, and how love should feel. I can't help but grin whenever I hear this song, and since I've been a fan of it for over a decade now, that's a lot of grinning! Bodyshakin' is a great song, but this one is absolutely definitely the best thing 911 ever did, and they were a lovely boyband too.

Now it's time for this week's top 5:

5. Solange - I Decided (Freemason's Remix)
4. Cyndi Lauper - Into The Nightlife
3. Alphabeat - 10,000 Nights of Thunder
2. Madonna - Give It 2 Me

and the DP readers' no.1 favourite of the past 7 days is...

Jordin Sparks Ft Chris Brown - No Air
I became obsessed with this song as soon as I heard it, back in January this year. Although it hadn't even been chosen as a single yet, I knew it was going to cement Jordin as a proper big-time star, which is brilliant because she's a lovely and very talented girl, who deserves ace pop songs much more than most. I also knew it would be a hit in the UK, and as Chris Brown became gradually more popular here, it was only a matter of when it would be a hit, not if. Now I await its rise to the top of the charts! The midweeks says it'll be no.4 this week, although they also say both Darren Styles and Scooter are going to be in the top 10 albums (and Jonas Bros, but we're pretending that's not happening). Where has this come from? I have no idea, but if we can just persuade their obviously many fans to like better quality Eurodance, I'll be content.
Saturday, June 28, 2008

An Alphabeat Treasure Hunt

I keep getting people messaging me asking for the bonus track from the digital version Alphabeat's Danish album, I Can't Let It Down. Since I already have the English and Danish versions of the CD, I wasn't willing to pay for the same songs a third time, so I went on a big hunt all over the Internet to see if I could find it. The best I've been able to do so far is uncover a 1 minute clip, so I'll give you the link to that anyway.

Alphabeat - I Can't Let It Down (1 min clip)

If you have the song in full, please do send it to me!
Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Dangerous and Movie

It feels like forever that we've been waiting for the potentially brilliant (and sure to be simultaneously terrible) t.A.T.u film to be released, and at last there is a trailer, here. And yep, it looks every bit as fantastically ridiculous as expected - Mischa Barton seems to be playing a Russian, for starters, and her accent is hilarious! The fact that they didn't give her the American role just seems typical of t.A.T.u - the less sense, the better. I've discovered one song from the soundtrack which is not actually by t.A.T.u but by a Swedish singer called Ida, and written by Ryan Tedder of all people. You can hear it on her MySpace here. She seems quite ace, and definitely one to watch in terms of future poptasticness. The song she has done for the soundtrack is supposed to be sung by Mischa Barton, and the idea of, if Mischa were to ever release a single, it sounding at all like this, is quite hilarious in itself. I can't wait to see this film, so I really hope it gets released in the UK, and isn't just another case of the fabled Vanilla Ninja ice creams.
Monday, June 23, 2008

The Next Big Thing?

Kara Keith
If Natasha Bedingfield is about as quirky as you like your female pop stars to go, then you probably won't care for Kara Keith, but if you're a bit more open-minded about the sources of your catchy pop fix, then you should give her a listen. She doesn't have one stand-out track to release as a single and become a worldwide megastar, but like fellow Canadians such as Feist and Arcade Fire, her music works as a whole to be wonderful background music, without being at all boring. It'll give you a few more cool points with the cute indie boys than Natasha and co. will as well. I like all of the songs on her MySpace, and will definitely consider getting her album when it's eventually released. If you like I'm From Barcelona and Marit Bergman, give her track Kick This City a go.
Hit potential: 39% Poptasticness: 76%

Stanfour
I can't say I've ever been a fan of a German rock band before, but this lot do have some promise. They worked with Max Martin on their debut single, Do It All, which is quite reminiscent of his work with the Backstreet Boys, but my favourite of their songs is the new single, Desperate, which could be easily mistaken for a new song by the wonderful Espen Lind of Norway. I've heard that they are hoping to launch themselves in the USA, and in one sense they have a better chance than other German acts, because their music is up at the same level as American rock bands, but on the other hand, the US music market is already so saturated with this kind of music, and I'm not sure Stanfour have anything unusual about them, other than their Germanness, which would make them stand out.
Hit potential: 26% Poptasticness: 73%

Mandi Perkins
Why Pretend is an interesting track, because the vocals are definitely leaning toward the poppier side of pop-rock (written by Ryan Tedder, and Mandi has quite a gentle, girlish voice), but the music is heavier than most of what we get from singers like Kelly Clarkson or P!nk. Her CD cover reflects this odd juxtaposition, as Mandi herself looks rather girly and polite, a more demure Avril Lavigne, but the backdrop is obviously going for a gothic style. I think there definitely is a market for music like this, for example with fans of Evanescence and Within Temptation, although Mandi's music is softer than both, and her name does rather scream out all-American high school girl. To become a huge hit, I think she needs a bit more of a distinct direction, but still I think there are loads of slightly angsty but non-aggressive girls who would enjoy this.
Hit potential: 56% Poptasticness: 47%

Jessie Malakouti
Remember the ace girl group Shut Up Stella who unfortunately failed to get any success at all when they appeared on the pop scene a few years ago? Well, they've now dispersed, and one member, Jessie, is working on solo material. She's working with loads of cool Swedish people, but I have to say the music on her MySpace lacks the pizazz she showed in Shut Up Stella, and the catchy greatness we've come to expect from producers such as Rami Yacoub and Greg Kurstin. Perhaps their tracks aren't up yet. This stuff would fit on the last Britney album, which did go down quite well with critics, but was by far my least favourite of her CDs. Luckily there are some glimmers of greatness, particularly the fabulously bitchy Trash Me and Commitment Issues.
Hit potential: 46% Poptasticness: 72%

Get voting!


Which of these singles are best?
Elize - Lovesick
Cyndi Lauper - Into The Nightlife
Monrose - Strike A Match
Mystery Jets - Two Doors Down
Ladyhawke - Paris Is Burning
Sara Bareilles - Love Song
Ola - Feelgood
Madonna - Give It 2 Me
Maroon 5 & Rihanna – If I Never See Your Face Again
Alphabeat - 10,000 Nights
Jordin Sparks Ft Chris Brown - No Air
Kleerup ft. Titiyou - Longing For Lullabies
Kate Ryan - Elle Elle L'a
West End Girls - What Have I Done To Deserve This
Rosie & the Goldbug - War of the Roses (Because You Said So)
CSS - Left Behind
The Saturdays - If This Is Love
Infernal - Downtown Boys
Solange - I Decided (Freemason's Remix)
Vanessa Hudgens - Sneaker Night
  
Free polls from Pollhost.com

Sunday, June 22, 2008

DP:UK

Yep, it's back! I'm reviving my bloggy version of CD:UK, probably only for the summer, but we'll see how it goes.



Marit Bergman - Out on the Piers
She may have given up on releasing proper CD albums for the time being, but luckily Marit is still making videos, because this one is quite brilliant. You may remember me mentioning a song that Marit said was written for Kylie and about gay sex when I went to see her live a few months ago, and this is it. It's a beautiful song, up to Marit's usual amazing standards, but also sounding different to her previous hits. Kylie is seriously missing out for not releasing this herself, just as she was with Ready For The Floor. What kind of mad person thinks 2 Hearts is better than either of them?

Next of Kin - 24 Hours
I remembered this lot the other day, and was quite amazed to find that their video was actually on YouTube. They must have had more fans than I expected. I can remember them being on kids TV a lot in the late 90s, when they were launched as a UK answer to Hanson. This catchy single was a small hit, but they soon disappeared, having discovered that one Hanson was enough for British pop fans. I actually used to know all their names, but now I can only recall that one was (I think) called Kieran. Quite amazingly, my research shows they are still going! Unfortunately, they don't have any fans whatsoever...

The Parade - Terrorise The Dancefloor
Can you tell I've been reminiscing about boybands lately? Here is an absolutely brilliant boyband song from around the same time (turn of the century). This could easily be out now, as it has aged very well in my opinion, although it fits in best with things like Protocol and The Modern from a couple of years ago. I never actually saw this video on TV, as I didn't have music channels in those days, but it was on a free video I got from a pop magazine, and they used to be featured in Smash Hits sometimes. I miss those days so much, when there was enough good pop music for genuine, non-ironic pop music coverage to have a place in the media.

Rosie & the Goldbug - War of the Roses (Because You Said So)
Now heading into the twentieth century, 2008 in fact, here is one of my current top tips for the future. This group could be placed in line with Dragonette, Stefy etc., but War of The Roses is definitely one of the best ever songs of this sub-genre of pop music. It's super-catchy and totally brilliant. As with the similar acts, I don't know if huge success can be predicted, but I know a lot of pop fans will totally love it and be very excited to hear and see more from these sassy popsters.

3SL ft. Est'elle - Touch Me, Tease Me
One last boyband for this week, and I'm posting this to point out something very interesting. Before American Boy, before 1980 (the song, not the year), Estelle Swaray first came to my attention under the slightly different, and in my opinion much cooler (Frencher = cooler), name of Est'elle. She was the rent-a-rapper for the second single by the boyband made up of Lisa Scott-Lee's brothers, a song I actually rather like for no discernible reason. It got Estelle her first ever top 40 hit, so she shouldn't be embarrassed of it, although I'm sure she is... so all the more reason to point it out! The song is actually a cover of an American singer called Case, whose version featured Mary J Blige and Foxy Brown.

And now for this week's top 5 most poptastic tracks, as chosen by you, my fabulous readers:

5. Mystery Jets - Two Doors Down
4. Kleerup ft. Titiyou - Longing For Lullabies
3. Maroon 5 & Rihanna – If I Never See Your Face Again
2. Madonna - Give It 2 Me

And this week's no.1 favourite is...

Alphabeat - 10,000 Nights of Thunder
A very wise choice! This year has definitely been the year of Alphabeat so far, but I'm quite sad that it doesn't look like my prediction of them reaching no.1 with this song is going to come true. It does seem like it's a bit divisive among Alphabeat fans, some loving it even more than Fascination while others think it's nowhere near as good. For me, it's my favourite of their songs, and one of my favourite songs in the whole world ever, and has been since the moment I heard it. They've definitely done well enough to warrant a second album, although in a way I'm a little saddened by their success, since they're now starting to play in much bigger venues and you have to book way ahead for their next tour. At least I've had the chance to see them 3 times up close and personal, and they were 3 of the best gigs I've ever seen, so I'll just have to savour those memories until they become unpopular and I can see them in a small venue again.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Video killed the TV star

Who needs TVs these days, when you've got computers? The only reason I ever watch is to see the new videos on The Box, and now you don't even need to do that because you can watch my version, Dirrrty Pop TV! It doesn't have any adverts or bad songs, you can find out the song title at any time, and you can watch it wherever you go, even if your annoying sibling is hogging the TV.

This way to Dirrrty Pop TV!

There are 44 songs on the playlist at the moment, but I'll get it up to the full amount possible of 100 as soon as I can. I'm picking mostly songs you won't have heard of, both new and old, and I think there are lots of treats there for those of you who love pop music and want to make some ace new discoveries. If you have lots of time on your hands at the moment, as I do, you should make your own TV channel and leave the link in the comments.
Monday, June 16, 2008

This is what pop music should be about

I was just looking through some new Dutch pop videos, and came across a teenage female singer called Tess. You could say she's the Dutch answer to Amy Diamond or Jojo. Her song Little Pink Thing, I only watched because of its silly name, but in the end the name was part of why I loved it.



What makes me like this song is precisely the things that most people would use as evidence for it's rubbishness. And it is rubbish, but delightfully so. It looks like it was made by a girl's parents as a special birthday treat, and believe it or not this is one of her most professional music videos. Another (First Kiss - in Dutch but still very catchy) shows her dancing on the beach with her very S Club 8-esque friends, two more are just compilations of behind the scenes clips. Watching these videos makes me smile, reminisce about being about 12, and wish pop music in the UK and USA could be as carefree and genuinely jolly as this. The lyrics are hilarious, the video cost about 5p, but still she manages to do something that Hilary Duff will never be able to, to break down the barrier between star and fan and really connect and bring the audience into the music. It also helps that she doesn't have one of those annoying American accents I mentioned before!

Exciting stuff

1. Alcazar have a new single coming out, and there's a clip of it on their website. It sounds pretty good to me, and I look forward to hearing the song in full. Anyone know when their next album will be out?
2. Vanessa Hudgens' new album is out in a few weeks in America, and I'm excited because it has songs from Max Martin and Dr Luke on it! Yay! I can't wait to hear what they've done with her. I love her new song, Sneaker Night, as well.

Long-term readers will know what this means!


Which of these singles are best?
Elize - Lovesick
New Kids On The Block - Summertime
Cyndi Lauper - Into The Nightlife
Monrose - Strike A Match
Mystery Jets - Two Doors Down
Ladyhawke - Paris Is Burning
Sara Bareilles - Love Song
Ola - Feelgood
Madonna - Give It 2 Me
Maroon 5 & Rihanna – If I Never See Your Face Again
Taio Cruz - I Can Be
Universal Poplab - On the Run
The Clik Clik - Did You Wrong
Alphabeat - 10,000 Nights
Jordin Sparks Ft Chris Brown - No Air
Kleerup ft. Titiyou - Longing For Lullabies
Kate Ryan - Elle Elle L'a
Amanda Jenssen - Amarula Tree
Florence and the Machine - Kiss With A Fist
Vanessa Hudgens - Sneaker Night
  
Free polls from Pollhost.com

The Next Big Thing?

Charlotte Sometimes
She may be named after a Cure song but don't take that as a clue as to how her music sounds - instead she's more of a mix between KT Tunstall and Nicole Atkins. Her new video for How I Could Just Kill A Man is fun, and the single cover is fabulous, although the song I'm only half-convinced on: the verses (especially the "Go!" bit) are great but the chorus isn't poptastic enough for me. The other songs I've heard by her seem quite good, but the ones on MySpace are just clips, so it's hard to tell. There's one called AEIOU which is a bit more soulful, but very jolly - I could imagine Amanda Jenssen singing it, so if you like her style you should check out Charlotte Sometimes.
Hit Potential: 52% Poptasticness: 72%

Florence and the Machine
She looks a bit like Kate Nash, but her music is rockier and both the music and Florence herself have much more energy. She seems like a really cool and fun person, and I like her look, and what I have heard of her music so far, particularly her brilliant new single Kiss With A Fist. She's playing lots of festivals this year, and definitely fits in with the kind of music (and kind of music persona) that's popular currently, so I reckon she's got a big chance of doing well. Being good also helps! The new single is definitely her most mainstream moment, but her other work isn't inaccessible for pop fans, and if you like Bat For Lashes you should be heading to her MySpace asap.
Hit Potential: 78% Poptasticness: 75%

New Pop on the Australian Block

Holly Throsby - A Heart Divided (Video)
I could tell just be looking at her photo that I would like this singer, and I was right. The world may not have been in need of another Butterly Boucher, but there's certainly no harm in having one. Like Butterfly, Holly is Australian, with a nice look and a lovely sound. Her new song (from the new album, A Loud Call), A Heart Divided, is a simple and unusual acoustic song, a little repetitive but its distinct sound lets her off. When he was in Australia, Jens Lekman played cello and mandolin for Holly onstage, and if that's not a sign of aceness, I don't know what is (well, being friends with Alphabeat, maybe). I like how distinct her Australian accent is. I guess they are harder to hide than a British one, but it's lovely that they often don't try.
70% Poptastic!

Operator Please - Two For My Seconds (Video)
Because I wasn't particularly impressed by A Song About Ping Pong, despite liking the idea of the group, I never listened to any of their other songs until a month or two ago. I soon regretted my hesitation, as their songs were mostly pretty good, especially one called Leave It Alone which I absolutely love (it's the Standing In The Way Of Control follow-up that never was). Two For My Seconds is their new single and it's definitely more in the style of Leave It Alone than Ping Pong, although not quite as good. It's hard to describe their overall sound, but if you like Lillix you should definitely give them a listen, especially if you didn't care for Ping Pong.
78% Poptastic!

Chasing Bailey - Little By Little (Video)
This is like a country band fronted by Ashlee Simpson, but there's something really cute and infectious about it. I was smiling as soon as it began. This is their first ever single (although they've been together 7 years - three are siblings) and it's not amazing, but as Simon Cowell always says, there's little more important than the likeability factor when trying to win over the general public. I'm not quite convinced yet to buy their album, but I'll definitely be keeping an eye Chasing Bailey to see how they fare and what they come out with next. Go to their MySpace to hear their sweet (but inevitably less Swedish-sounding) version of Young Folks by Peter, Bjorn and John.
77% Poptastic!
Saturday, June 14, 2008

Breaking news!

Well, breaking in the sense that I only just learnt about it: Switches are the new BBMak! Having failed to set the UK charts alight with their acceptably middling guitar-boyband music, despite my predicting them as one of the big acts of 2007, they've unexpectedly turned up in the USA. Give them a few months of touring with All American Rejects, and they can return home claiming to be megastars over there, and with luck on their side nobody will notice. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out...

New Pop On The Block

New Kids On The Block - Summer Time (Video)
When I picked that name for my occasional round-up of new singles, I didn't expect I'd ever actually be reviewing a new song by New Kids themselves, and I am even more surprised to find that I quite like it. There's an odd thing going on here: New Kids existed in the early 90s, and inspired top criminal Lou Pearlman's creation of BSBs and *N Sync, and somewhat less successfully, O-Town and LFO. Years later, Danny Wood appeared on Totally Boyband, and on its US equivalent was Rich Cronin, who slagged off LFO's musical output incessantly... and now New Kids On The Block are releasing a song that sounds suspiciously like said musical output! Luckily, I liked LFO a lot more than they apparently liked themselves, and I also quite like this. OK, it's not at all amazing, but I was bobbing along by the end. However, I still don't think their comeback is going to be quite the equivalent of Take That, since none of them have had much solo success (unless you count Donnie being Mark Wahlberg's brother), only one of them is good-looking, and their old songs are all rubbish. They'll sell tickets for a nostalgia tour, but once everyone remembers their rubbishness, I'm afraid they'll be back to being forgotten.
86% Poptastic!

Chrisette Michele - Love Is You (Video)
There's nothing innovative or exciting about Chrisette Michele, but Love Is you definitely does have a simple charm. In the vein of Alicia Keys or Mary J Blige, Chrisette has a lovely voice, and this song serves mainly the purpose of displaying her talent (she's no glamour puss, and there won't be any dance routines on her tour), but unlike a lot of songs which share this kind of purpose, it's not actually boring. I wouldn't quite say it's a Fallin' or an Ordinary People, but it could at least be a Like A Star. I think Chrisette could be one to look out for in the rest of 2008, but equally she could never be heard again, as is often the case with singers who really are just there to sing, and there because singing is what they do best, and because they do it better than 99% of the population. I also support the subversion of expectations - Chrisette may be a blinged-up black girl from New York, but she spends this video courting a white guy in a cardigan in a library! Who says all r'n'b videos are stereotyped?
70% Poptastic!

Britt Nicole - Believe (Video)
Why do all young American female rock-pop stars have to sing in such coarse, annoying voices these days? For some reason, I don't mind the Canadian accent, as it suited the high school rebel personas of Avril, Skye and Fefe, but my hatred of the way that their American equivalents sing has gotten worse and worse since P!nk jumped on the rock chick bandwagon. She was the first to annoy me, closely followed by Kelly Clarkson, suspiciously similar-sounding Lindsay Lohan and Ashlee Simpson, and Miley Cyrus, who on her rockier songs may be the worst offender yet. It's perfectly possible to not sound so unpleasantly obnoxious, as Michelle Branch and Vanessa Carlton have shown, or to channel it into brilliant bitch-pop, a la Tap That by Megan McCauley, and non-Americans like Marion Raven and The Veronicas. The sound is so invasive, and a song like this one could be really good with another singer (the chorus is good and it generally improves as it goes along), just like Ashlee's last single.
73% Poptastic!

International Video Challenge

Representing the USA: Savannah Outen - Goodbyes
From the looks of the video, she's setting out to be a Jojo for the post-Busted generation: Jojo plus guitars. She also made her her name on YouTube, so if she doesn't succeed (or turns out to be a fake) we can all just switch tactics and term her the American Sandi Thom, although in this case the lyrics are offensive only in their insipidity and not in their puzzling confusion of punks and hippies. For the first half of the song I considered it to be the typical US teenpop thing, an oddly half-hearted attempt at emulating European pop music, but I'll admit it does get going and improve a lot as it continues. The chorus is stuck in my head after two video viewings, but having heard it before without the visual accompaniment, I don't recall thinking about Savannah even one time between that first listen and now. Still, blandness is the key to reasonable success in this day and age - the only problem for her is that you have to be either extraordinary or extraordinarily bland to really take off, and she's not either one.


Representing Finland: Mariko - Unstoppable
Considering how much I adore their Scandinavian neighbours' musical output, you'd think I would have delved into the Finnish music industry before now, but I hardly know a thing about it. The reason is that every time I've tried, I've had to sit through so much indistinguishable metal music to get to anything with a beat. However, one advantage of countries where pop music doesn't exactly thrive in the charts, is that when they do create some it can often be very interesting and different to what other countries are producing. Unstoppable is a fine example of this - it's unusual, yet catchy, with a nice video and a singer who looks like she has at least something resembling an individual personality. Mariko used to be in a rap-metal band called Kwan, and this song was actually written by someone from The Rasmus, but neither of these things could at all be guessed, so if they both would put you off normally, then this is the song for you!


Representing Jamaica: Brick & Lace - Love Is Wicked
As all my Scandinavian readers will know, this song's already been around a while, and been very successful, but it seems to be only just making itself known in the USA. This is quite surprising since Brick & Lace are a female duo from Jamaica, signed to Akon's label - how they ended up gaining success in cold and far away Scandinavia first can only be put down to the Scandis' good taste. I can't see how such a great song, which is also so fitting with current trends, could not be popular, so I will predict now that Love Is Wicked could easily be a huge summer hit for the USA and UK. It's like Pon De Replay, but much poppier and much much better. It's just great to dance to, so I can't wait til it starts getting played over here. Along with Just Dance by Lady GaGa and No Air by Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown, this is the single I most definitely predict to be the biggest summer smash in the UK this year. Let's see if I'm right, or whether something rubbish will steal the crown, as is inevitably probable.

DP Review: The Pipettes Live!

On Thursday I attended a very special event. It was the first ever public performance by the all new Pipettes! When a band replaces 2/3 of its members, it's natural for fans to be a little concerned, but with a back-catalogue like theirs and a member like Gwenno (who was always my favourite anyway), how wrong can they go? I remember a while ago wondering how their second album could ever beat their incredible debut, but having now heard about 8 of the new songs, I can safely say that it is the best album of 2008 so far, and it will be very hard for any act to better it.

The songs on The Pipettes' first album had a very distinct style, unique to them despite their retro influences, and there is a difference in sound noticeable when the new and old songs are performed side by side, as they were on Thursday. The girls have branched out into some slightly different styles, for example disco in Stop The Music, and even a reggae-pop song called To No-One, about bleaching your hair! Other memorable new tracks for me included Captain Rhythm, which unexpectedly sounded as much like Ace of Base as its title implies, and the last of the new songs they played, called Boo Shuffle. This may not work as a single but it's certain to become very popular, as not only is it super-catchy and ace as with all Pipettes songs, but it is a dance-routine song (as in, it has a dance routine and is about that dance routine, like Agadoo or U-Turn by Usher) and it has a quite lengthy talky bit, involving all the girls! Just for future reference, the moves you need to get practicing are the shake, the twist and the stomp.

I should also tell you all about the two new members. They are somewhat confusingly named Anna and Annie, and both have long dark hair. Gwenno also has brown hair at the moment, presumably related to her aforementioned hair-bleaching woes. We deduced that Annie must be the one that is Gwenno's sister, because she was Welsh and looked more like her than Anna. Annie seems to be the youngest in the band, at a guess about 21, while Anna is perhaps 23 (but it is hard to tell). Annie wears glasses, so is obviously going to be seen as the new Becki of the band, but she actually more closely resembles Rose. I was a little saddenned to find that the new girls hadn't got groovy nicknames (like Riot Becki and Rosay), but maybe they're still in the works.

It wasn't just the new songs that they played on Thursday, but also several of the old ones - Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me, Because It's Not Love, Why Did You Stay, and of course Pull Shapes. The vocals were shared out on these tracks just as much as on the new ones, and the new girls did a fine job, although some songs were notable in their absense, such as Dirty Mind and We Are The Pipettes (but this would be hard since it has the old members' names in it). We were all very impressed at how they managed to do the dance routines throughout the whole of the hour-long set, and there were no mistakes more than the occasional one girl being a second behind the others. Amazing! While the girls, especially with the 2 new ones, did seem like they could be any girl I know from uni (and girls my age really do seem to connect with them), I don't think many would be able to do an hour's non-stop very active dance routines in a small, hot club while singing. Even if the music wasn't amazing, I'd admire them for that.

I was sad when the gig ended, realising it will be another long wait to have these songs on CD, as it was with the new Alphabeat tracks, but I was happy because any fears of the new album/line-up ruining my Pipettes fandom were completely dispelled. Hopefully this time around they'll be as huge stars as they have always deserved to be, but even if not their current fans should not be disappointed, and especially my pop-oriented readership should be very excited, because poptasticness is definitely the aim of their new material. I can't wait to hear it again and for all the rest of you to hear and join me in celebrating the superb brilliance of The Pipettes!
Thursday, June 05, 2008

Pros and cons of the 'new' Alphabeat album

Pros:
- It is amazing to finally have the super-brilliant new songs to listen to when I like.
- The sleeve is without doubt the best sleeve I've ever seen.
- TOUCH ME TOUCHING YOU! TOUCH ME TOUCHING YOU! TOUCH ME TOUCHING YOU! etc.
- It's got Anders B on it.

Cons:
- The new versions of old songs sound wrong - is it cos I'm not used to them, or are they actually not as good? Will I ever know?
- Touch Me Touching You is still the best thing of the year so far, but not quite as amazing as live and therefore will probably not be a single and therefore can't be my single of the year!
- There are not enough pictures of Anders B. I'm going to start an Anders B photo collection on my hard drive to console myself.

I have just decided, and I should have known it months ago in fact: Alphabeat are the best band in the world right now. I'm sorry BWO, you are still fantabulous, but you have been superceded. Hopefully they'll see this and make their next album incredible.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Questions of the day

1. How much did Jonas Bros' management pay to get their new single on the Radio 1 playlist?
2. How did I never hear about this? It's hilarious! No matter how rubbish the song is, if the video concept is wizards stealing boybands, all can be forgiven.
3. Is the pineapple at the end of that video a reference to Chris Kirkpatrick's hair?

Not a question, but I've just made another hilariously strange boyband-related discovery. You know that new song by DJ Ironik, Stay With Me? It samples Westlife!!!
Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Top of the Poptastic!

My favourite singles of May...

1. Gisela - Casanova
2. Kalomira - Secret Combination
3. Euroband - This Is My Life
4. Ani Lorak - Shady Lady
5. Mystery Jets - Two Doors Down
6. Ladyhawke - Paris Is Burning
7. Sara Bareilles - Love song
8. Ola - Feelgood
9. Those Dancing Days - Run Run
10. Madonna - Give It To Me
11. Maroon 5 & Rihanna – If I Never See Your Face Again
12. Sirusho - Qele Qele
13. Sebastien Tellier - Divine
14. Avril Lavigne - Best Damn Thing
15. Morena - Vodka
16. Taio Cruz - I Can Be
17. Amanda Jenssen - Amarula Tree
18. Dima Bilan - Believe
19. Nicole Atkins - Maybe Tonight
20. Universal Poplab - On the Run
21. Janelle Monae - Many Moons
22. The Clik Clik - Did You Wrong
23. Kate Ryan - Ella Elle L'a
24. Kerli - Walking On Air
25. Ida Maria - Queen Of The World
Monday, June 02, 2008

DP Review: Those Dancing Days Live

I arrived during the support act, John and Jehn, who had seemed good from their MySpace, but turned out to be rather serious and boring. I spent most of their set wondering if their names are actually John and Jehn, or John and Jen, or Jon and Jen, or even something entirely different. The girl was cool, but very much lacking in jolliness. After they finished I did a bit of people-watching, and was excited to overhear the girls next to me speaking Swedish. Brighton has a large Swedish population (well, far more than you'd expect from a country of 9 million), so this was no surprise to me. I also spotted two girls who I decided, without even looking around, must be the coolest in the room, and I knew they must be Swedish too. Sure enough, I was right - they turned out to be members of Those Dancing Days!

Although they're a group of 5 young girls (in school when they began the band), I doubt Those Dancing Days were influenced by the Spice Girls, and they'll certainly never be compared to Girls Aloud. I realised as I was waiting for the girls to appear that I haven't seen any bands before which are all girls and in the traditional band set-up, except for the end of a set by Blood Red Shoes at last year's Latitude Festival. It's quite shocking, really, but then I don't tend toward bands in that set-up regardless of gender, so it doesn't bother me that men are associated with it.

What also sets TDD apart from Girls Aloud is their great style and natural beauty. The keyboard player (who never stopped smiling and dancing) and singer (with her huge afro) are both ten times prettier than anyone on Britain's Next Top Model. The others may not be stunners, but that's only by the very high Swedish standards, and they are still stunningly cool. Being real life friends, each with their own individual style, it was easy for me to imagine myself being up there with my friends, although I'd never manage to look ace enough to fit in with TDD... and there's the small problem of my lack of musical talent, too. My favourite non-musical moment of the night was when keyboard player Lisa made a mistake and the girls all got the giggles together - you could tell they are real friends, and at the moment they were so much more identifiable than any super-professional, immaculately-dressed talent show winner or similar. If nothing else this group are very endearing.

Those Dancing Days are a band with one song, Hitten, which really stands out above the rest, but we can't say they didn't warn us, since it's title translates to English as The Hit. It was a big hit with me, one of my favourite tracks of 2007, and still it sounds great with every listen. They also have one other very good song, named the same as the band, and the rest were all enjoyable. If you're a real pop kid who quivers at even the sight of a guitar (and this is no bad thing to be), you'd be better off sticking with the Pipettes, but if like me you like some variety in your music, while retaining catchiness and cuteness, TDD are the band for you!

It took me 16 months to get to see TDD live, but it was definitely worth the wait. Next up on my gig list is Lykke Li, who I've seen supporting Shout Out Louds but not as the main act before, and not in the UK either, so it should be a fun experience. I have an extremely important exam the next day so I doubt there'll be a review right away, but maybe the next day.



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