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Who needs guitars anyway?


Best Bits
Monday, November 24, 2008

You don't really care for music, do you?

I watch the X Factor religiously, discuss it endlessly with my friends, and often count down how many days it is until the next episode. However, they have done something that has upset and angered me so much, that if I find out it was (as I suspect) Simon Cowell who was responsible for this, I will actually hate him more than I hate Louis. And that is A LOT.

The problem is this: The winner's single for 2008 is going to be... Hallelujah. When they included this as one of the songs contestants could sing in boot camp, I had the scary thought that it might be a test to see if the public liked it enough for it to be chosen as Westlife's next single. The contestants, apart from Diana, are allegedly angry because she sang it during boot camp, so it seems like a set-up for her to win. This is bad enough, but since it seems unavoidable that she or Eoghan will win this year, it doesn't make much difference.

The problem really is that when Diana (or worse, Eoghan, who it won't suit at all) releases this song, it will become public property and absolutely ruined forever. I usually can't stand poncy 'music lovers' who get worked up about their favourite songs being covered by mainstream acts, but this is just unforgivable. The lyric I used to title this post is completely fitting - whoever chose this to be the winner's single doesn't care for music at all.

In fact they don't care for The X Factor either, because any one of the millions of people who, like me, love this song when performed by Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley or (my favourite) Rufus Wainwright, will feel just as sickened by even the thought of this impending cover version as I do. While it belongs to the genre of popular music, there is something about this particular song (like many others by Rufus, and probably the other two singers) which separates it from commercial, capitalist pop music. I love the crazy world of pop, but this special song does not belong in it, and using it to heartlessly rake in money is just horrible.
Saturday, November 22, 2008

These are a few of my favourite things...

1. When you search for Louis Walsh groups on Facebook, every single one on the first page is a hate group. I couldn't decide which to join out of "I HATE LOUIS WALSH", "louis walsh is a complete twat" and "LOUIS WALSH WOULDNT KNOW TALENT IF IT HIT HIM IN THE FACE!!!!!!" - in the end I chose the last one for a) its enthusiasm for the cause and b) this very accurate photo.



2. Same Difference were on X Factor tonight, and they were superbly fab... of course! Unfortunately no-one noticed cos everyone was falling over themselves for Mr Big Voice, but hopefully the children watching all asked their mummies to buy the album for them for Xmas. I did, anyway! (Although I may not be able to wait and end up buying it myself next Monday)

3. I was chatting to my mum in the ad break about Britney performing next week and how amazing it would be if there was a Britney Week, but it'll never happen... well, I was wrong! Next week IS Britney Week!!!! I never thought they'd do it, for the reason they never do anything good (why is there never a Madonna Week?) - most of these people just aren't capable of being proper popstars, who can sing and dance at the same time. Every theme they choose, they always ensure there's a way to avoid singing the poptastic songs. Take That Week was OK, cos they may be a pop band, but they sing mostly ballads. Only Alexandra did any proper dancing. But with Britney, I can't think of any song that is an obvious choice for any of the acts, and it will probably be a disaster, but for once they will not be able to blame the song (I'm still not over Simon criticising With Every Heartbeat - GRRR!!) because Britney will be present! I can't wait!

4. I also watched Idol (the Swedish one) this morning, and it is all going very well. There were 5 acts, so only two were safe from the bottom 3, and they were my favourites, Kevin and Alice. Maltese Eurovision wannabe Kevin is the only one who hasn't been in the bottom 3 at all, and I'm quite hopeful he can win now, which is great cos he's lovely and so pop-positive. Johan, who is very popular but terrible, has been in the bottom 3 a few weeks running, so he's no longer a threat. Swedes have great taste!

Dirrrty Pop Review: Britney Spears - Circus

Womanizer
The one we all know. I always liked it but just saw it as a new improved version of Ooh Ooh Baby until I started hearing it on the radio or in shops, and every time I did it would be stuck in my head for the rest of the day. I went to a seminar the other day and all I could think of was "you! y-you are, you! y-you are, womanizer, womanizer, womanizer BABY!"

Circus
This features Lil Wayne, who I'd never realised has such an ugly rapping style. How is he so popular? Pop legend Dr Luke was involved with this one, but it's not one of his career high-points, and it won't be one of Britney's either if she goes ahead and releases it next. Then again, with Lil Wayne's popularity, it might go down well in America. Not sure it will here, though.

Out From Under
A pretty ballad, very pop and girly. I like it, but it's not as distinctive as past Britney ballads such as Everytime or Not A Girl. Still, it's better than all of those early Britney dreary ballad moments.

Kill The Lights
Produced by Danja and Jim Beanz, it's no surprise this sounds like a continuation of Blackout, a follow-up to Gimme More especially. The intro is great and it's lyrics are quite fun, but sonically it's nothing new for Britney.

Shattered Glass
Another Dr Luke creation, with the punchy catchiness he's known for, and plenty of silly sound effects. An unassuming electro-pop-r'n'b track I can imagine Monrose releasing.

If U Seek Amy
I knew straight away when I heard this that it was the Max Martin track of the album - it's super-catchy and extremely addictive, the most poptastic and the best song on Circus. Quite fittingly for the title, it sounds a lot like Amy Diamond, but I don't think she's going to be singing a song that purposefully sounds like an invitation for rude stuff any time soon. I'm not sure if it's Max's best work, as he himself has stated (better than Baby One More Time? Really?), but it's a brilliant pop song anyway.

Unusual You
A brooding electro-pop number, interesting but not a great sing-along. I can imagine this particularly appearing on Rachel Stevens' last album, but she had several similar ones which were better.

Blur
This was so boring I forgot I was listening to it and didn't notice for a minute or two when it actually finished. The only thing in its favour is that it's better than Blur!

Mmm Papi
I'd heard this one was a bit mad, but actually it's one of the more fun and unpretentious songs on the album, even if the chorus is a bit silly. It doesn't quite work and is a bit imitation-pop rather than the really good stuff, but it's enjoyable enough, and the talky bit is amusing.

Mannequin
The weird sound effects are back, but make this song (like much of Britney's recent work) seem like it's trying too hard to be weird and interesting pop, instead of just great pop. It's so important not to lose track of the main purpose of pop music i.e. to get stuck in your head and refuse to leave.

Lace and Leather
Another Dr Luke track, and quite a nice poppy one as well. It reminds me of Lene Nystrom actually, but then it's no It's Your Duty.

My Baby
This is actually about a very small child kind of baby and not the grown up kind, unless she has a boyfriend with tiny hands. I can't believe I'm so out of the loop I don't even know who Britney's dating, if anyone. It's a very sappy song, kind of sweet if you can tolerate this sort of thing, but nothing very exciting.

Best of the bonus tracks:

Quicksand
One of the Lady GaGa tracks, unfortunately none of which made it onto the album. This is weird and interesting but forefronts the poptasticness, which is what pop acts should always aim for. It's not as good as Lady GaGa's own best songs, but better than most of Circus.

Rock Me In
Nice electro-pop song written by the ace Greg Kurstin, very fast with talky verses, a great little bridge and a chorus that reminds me a lot of Moonbaby. Certainly the most Girls Aloud-ish of the new Britney songs.

Phonography
Catchy with nice bouncy background noises but sounds so much like she's singing "pornography" that it's a bit off-putting. Despite that I really like this one, it's very jolly and danceable. The bonus tracks are much more consistently poptastic than the actual album tracks!

Amnesia
Another great bonus track. Very fast-paced, really drawing you in as it builds up. Loads of ace bits in it, especially the chorus. Britney sings in an odd voice at times, picking up a bit of an accent that reminds me of Nelly Furtado. I wish this was on the album so it could be a single, cos it's a million times better than the proposed new single, Circus.
Saturday, November 15, 2008

New Pop on the Block

Same Difference - We R One (Watch)
Finally! The fantabulous Same Difference have released the video for their ace debut single We R One. It's all High School Musical-wannabe, but of all the things to copy, that's a pretty good choice. I don't see them becoming hugely successful, as its becoming a bit unoriginal now, what with Britannia High as well, but the fact that stuff like this is being produced again in the UK is just brilliant. I don't think their album will be a classic, but I'm looking forward to buying it anyway, just because I love what these two stand for.
91% Poptastic!

Jonas Oakland - Beat of my Heart (Listen)
New Swedish singer-songwriter Jonas isn't afraid to admit the BWO and Alcazar influences which are latent in his super-catchy debut single. Original or not, it's one of the best new singles I've heard recently. This could very easily pass for an actual BWO song as Jonas' voice is similar to Martin's, while the song's intro reminds me of Not a Sinner, Nor a Saint. It's not quite Temple of Love, but it's definitely better than Rhythm Drives Me Crazy, although that admittedly would have been much better without the unbearably annoying pronunciation of "cray-zeh"...
95% Poptastic!
Sunday, November 09, 2008

:(

He was a rubbish singer, but I am really going to miss gazing lovingly at Lars Eriksson on Idol every week. He was so pretty and lovely.



See! I have to go back to Sweden and get myself a new Svensk pojk asap. I will also post some other Idol buff hottie highlights, just for extra proof of my point:



OK, I give up - no-one but Lars compares to Christoffer Hiding.
Sunday, November 02, 2008

War of the Idols

At the moment, there are new songs by not 1, not 2, but 5 male Idol contestants in the Swedish charts. In fact, there is one from each year that Idol has existed! So let's see now, once and for all, which year was the best...

2004: Darin Zanyar - Breathing Your Love (ft. Kat DeLuna)
Although he only came second, Darin is the most successful artist to emerge from the Idol series in Sweden. Proving that Swedes have excellent taste, he's also my favourite. His new album will be his fourth, and after his past three have been increasingly at the forefront of pop music worldwide, I'm expecting a lot from it. With the first single, he's doing the electro-r'n'b Chris Brown and Ne-Yo have recently dabbled with, which is a good idea, since I've always seen him as the artist Chris Brown is afraid to be. Despite featuring one of r'n'b's lesser female acts (although she does have one almost-great song), he has made a single better than anything Chris or Ne-Yo has done. However much their poptasticness improves, Darin always seems to be a step ahead, and that's what makes him a fantastic, and criminally ignored artist.


2005: Sebastian Karlsson - My Getaway
Sebastian is another very popular Idol, but he's always been quite average compared to other Swedish popstars, in my opinion. His only real triumph was his Melodifestivalen entry, When the Night Comes Falling. This new single, the first from his third album, is clearly aiming to make him a more serious artist, which everyone who cringed at the phrase "my next album will have a more mature sound" in the Smash Hits/TOTP days will know is always a recipe for disastrous dullness. There is one amusing bit, though, when he seems to sing "I'll be strong, send in trolls" - not sure how that will help with whatever he's dealing with, but I suppose it's worth a try!


2006: Markus Fagervall - If You Don't Mean It
My Aussie readers will recognise this as Idol contestant Dean Geyer's first single - for the rest of you, this was first sung by Ty from Neighbours! Obviously it didn't go that well for him, if he ended up in a TV soap (albeit the best one), so lets hope Markus has a bit more luck. He gets played a lot on Rix FM, but despite being the only winner among the boys I'm talking about in this post, he's never done anything very memorable before. In fact, I can't name any of his past hits, although Wikipedia says Everything Changes was a number one. This is just as unmemorable, but it is a pleasant boybandy tune. I just can't stand Markus' face, and I don't see the point in a one-man-boyband who doesn't even have good looks on his side.


2007: Daniel Karlsson - Would You Believe
He was my favourite in Idol last year, so my expectations for his music were high, and I must say I'm a bit disappointed. The single does capture Daniel's personal style and sound, but it's just a bit lacking in sparkle. It's still superior to Markus or Sebastian's efforts, but with the very high standards of the Swedish pop industry, he needs to release something amazing in order to stand out, and I think people like Brolle and The Ark can do this kind of thing far better. I'm really pleased that he's releasing stuff, and I'll be excited to hear his album, but I'm sad that the first single's not the masterpiece I was expecting from Daniel. I'll just have to listen to his great version of You're The Voice instead. Then again, on second listen, this is growing on me a lot, so maybe I'll be obsessed with it by tomorrow and retracting all negative comments. It happens!


2008: Alexander Konstantoulas - I'm Sorry
Alexander is a bit of an Idol stalwart, having almost reached the finals twice, and this year after he once again failed to do so, someone decided to give him a chance and now he has released his very own single - more than what many of the actual finalists ever achieve! This song was written by Anders Johansson, one of the winners of Fame Factory (a pre-Idol Swedish talent contest), and it sounds just like you'd expect for one of his cast-offs i.e. very dull sub-Westlife rubbish. If this is what Alexander planned to release if he had done well in Idol 2008, then it's a huge relief that he didn't!

Top of the Poptastic!

My favourite singles in October...

1. BWO - Gomenasai
2. Darin ft. Kat DeLuna - Breathing Your Love
3. Alphabeat – What Is Happening
4. Katy Perry – Hot N Cold
5. Blue Lagoon - Break My Stride
6. Madonna – Miles Away
7. Killers – Human
8. BoA - Eat You Up
9. The Virgins – One Week Of Danger
10. Will Young – Grace
11. Florence & The Machine – Dog Days
12. Gavin Degraw – Cheated On Me
13. Taio Cruz - I Just Wanna Know
14. Winding Stairs - Shadow Stripes
15. Leona Lewis – Forgive Me
16. Beyonce – If I Were A Boy
17. Per Gessle - Silly Really
18. Alesha Dixon - The Boy Does Nothing
19. Anna Ternheim - What Have I Done
20. Manda Rin - Guilty Pleasure
21. Chromeo - Momma's Boy
22. Sneaky Sound System - UFO
23. Keri Hilson - Return The Favour
24. Sam Taylor Wood – I’m In Love With A German Film Star
25. Lemar – If She Knew
Saturday, November 01, 2008

Sneaky Covers Watch

You probably know already that Same Difference have done a version of Marie Serneholt's I Need A House for their album, but now we can actually hear it, along with a few other album tracks on this YouTube montage. The songs sound very much like Steps (except I Need A House, which is barely distinguishable from Marie), and that's obviously a very dated sound now, but I love it anyway and can't wait to buy the CD.

An even less publicised cover (at least a Google for info on it led to nothing) is Boyzone's new single, which I recognised instantly as a song I wrote about having potential on here about a year ago - Tom Baxter's Better. It's lovely when Tom sings it, but with Boyzone it just turns into another of their mumsy ballads, and loses all appeal to me.



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