Saturday, April 28, 2012

Paulina Rubio - Boys Will Be Boys

Paulina Rubio is gunning for Shakira's Latin pop crown. A decade after Mexico's queen of pop made a moderately successful bid for international chart glory with the still amazing "Don't Say Goodbye" (a top 20 smash in Australia!), the 40-year-old diva is back with a RedOne-produced club-banger called "Boys Will Be Boys". It's not the first time they've worked together. In fact, the Swedish super-producer had his sticky fingers all over Paulina's 2011 album Brava! Unlike recent collaborations with American singers, which always end up sounding like a Kat DeLuna B-side, the Mexican goddess got his A-game. Lead single "Me Gustas Tanto" was particularly fabulous and made my best singles of 2011 countdown.

I'm not sure if "Boys Will Be Boys" is in the same league as "Me Gustas Tanto" - to be honest, I hated it the first time I heard it - but it's undeniably catchy and has grown on me a lot over the past couple of weeks. I love the accordion sample and there's something wonderfully summery about it. Think of this as "Alejandro" for Latin cougars! Not content with producing Paulina's English-language comeback, RedOne is also responsible for the saucy video clip (below). It's basically a gay version of Rihanna's "S&M" - only with middle-aged men dressed as babies and a rather kinky game of snooker. The clip is a hot mess but I secretly approve.

"Boys Will Be Boys" is already a top 10 smash in Spain and should do well in Europe. I'm not sure how it will fare in Australia and America but I have my fingers crossed. Pau Pau is amazing and deserves to be a global phenomenon!

Mr. Little Jeans = My New Obsession

"Runaway" by Mr. Little Jeans was the free download on Australian iTunes last week. I usually don't bother with the freebies because they're usually horrendous but the name was vaguely familiar. And then it clicked. The Norwegian diva briefly appeared on my radar a couple of years ago when she dropped a cute cover of Beyoncé's "Single Ladies" and was signed to Neon Gold - the ultra hip record label that is home to Marina & The Diamonds and Ellie Goulding. To be honest, I don't know what happened to her after that. Monica (her real name) hasn't broken through like her much-hyped labelmates and appears to have spent the past two years releasing quirky cover versions. It's a bit of mystery but the break appears to have fueled her creative fire. "Runaway" is such a beautiful pop song. I hate comparing artists but it reminds me of early Ladyhawke. The effortless mix of '80s references and cascading synths make Mr. Little Jeans' anthem the slightly disturbed distant cousin of tracks like "Crazy World" and "Oh My". In other words, it's completely fucking amazing. What sets "Runaway" apart is the dark undertone. There's something wonderfully eerie about this jam that is captured rather well by the gloomy video (below). When is her album due? I think I'm obsessed.

4Minute Turn The Volume Up

My Sunday routine basically involves stumbling home in the early hours of the morning, demolishing enough bacon to wipe out Babe's entire family and then crashing on the lounge to watch Pop Asia on SBS. It can be a bit tragic at times - I'm referring to sad flops like this guy - but I love seeing my K-Pop faves on TV. The highlight of last week's episode was 4Minute's stunning "Volume Up" video. My friend Jacques had been raving about it on his blog for weeks but sometimes it takes a couple of listens for a song, particularly one in a language you don't understand, to click. Perhaps I was also a little unreceptive because I still think of 4Minute as that embarrassing girlband from Sydney's K-Pop Festival. Let's just say they really need to work on their mime game!

Happily, I have seen the light and will now devote my life to stanning for Korea's answer to Destiny's Child - that is if DC3 released Hi-NRG dance anthems with glamorous vampire-themed videos. "Volume Up" is an incredibly western sounding record. It reminds me a lot of J Lo's "Dance Again" - at least musically. There are '90s horns and Euro-beats that could have been lifted straight from a 2 Unlimited or Real McCoy track. I love the bizarre production and am completely addicted to the catchy chorus. Forget SNSD and their flop attempts at American success - 4Minute has a more international sound and HyunA is sexier than all those girls put together! Check out the epic video below. "Volume Up" is available to download from Australian iTunes now.

Ricky Martin's Ex Releases Awful Pop Song With Softcore Video

I have featured a lot of shit on this blog over the years but Valerio Pino's "GogoStar" is truly without merit. This formerly smokin' hot piece of Eurotrash - what happened to the beard and chest hair? - speaks about being an erotic dancer in heavily-accented English against some of the clumsiest beats ever thrown together on someone's home computer under the influence of cocaine and poppers in Chueca. I know that sounds kind of amazing but it isn't.

The song plods along aimlessly and any camp value is stamped out by the 31-year-old Italian's complete lack of personality. Valerio takes himself way too seriously for a man pretending to fuck a mannequin in his video clip! So who is this tool? I thought his name sounded familiar and it turns out he once dated Ricky Martin. Or was at least linked to him. I'm sure it was a true meeting of the minds. Not that I'm judging after seeing some of model's tasteful nudes, which I forced myself to look at for research purposes!

Unfortunately, "GogoStar" isn't even good for a perve. Valerio looks a mess in the video. Admittedly, it's not easy to exude sexy when you're wearing a butt-plug shaped sequined g-string and humping a dummy. I just can't.

Check out: some of the vocal giant's sexy pics.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Pop Panel 2012 - Volume 3

It's time for another installment of Pop Panel. Yay? The latest edition turned out to be another civilised exercise in music appreciation. Yeah right. The acid-tongued judges had a field day destroying some good and not-so-good tunes. I think I need some fresh meat because these bitches are pressed! The sheer outpouring of hate aside, we settled on a deserving winner. I think there were better songs in the mix but I can deal. Also of note is our stunning celebrity guest judge Zoë Badwi. I don't think the country's reigning dance diva knew what she was getting herself into but she was an incredibly good sport! Ok, let's get started. Tonight's Panel consists of the following regulars:

Robbie (US) writer of Chart Rigger
Mike (Aus) author of this classy blog
Jacques (Aus) writer of The Prophet
Stephen (US) writer of The Middle Eight

We are also joined by the following judges:

Bobby (UK) writer of Don't Stop The Pop

This iconic blogger was one of the original pop panelists (way back in 2007, I think!) and has been a huge supporter of the format. In addition to writing his fabulous blog, Bobby now works with super-talented chanteuse Elouise. Welcome back!


Zoë Badwi (Aus) - Pop star extraordinaire and club royalty

I'm extremely chuffed that Zoë has finally graced the Pop Panel with her glamorous presence! I've been a fan since her stint as one third of Sirens. She turned out to be Beyoncé of that trio and went on to fuel dancefloors across Australia with club hits like "Release Me" and "In The Moment" before hitting it big with her top 10 smash "Freefallin'". She's absolutely adorable and so is her jet-setting mum! With new tunes on the way, 2012 is shaping up to be a big year for the Badwi camp.

Before getting stuck into the judging, I couldn't help being a bit nosy and asking Zoë when we can expect new material. Here's what she had to say.  

What have you been up to since the album was released?
Touring my bum off around Australia. Most of this year I gave been in LA recording and writing new material! I can't wait for it all to come out.

 Is new stuff on the way? Who are you working with?
There sure is! My next single is called "Shoot Me Down" and I worked with Frank E and Heather Bright on that one. Frank E wrote Jason Derulo's "Breathing" and Enrigue's "Tonight I'm Fucking You" plus many more and Heather is behind pretty much all the AMAZING songs out there at the moment. I was working in the Atlantic studios in LA and the talent they have there blew me away!  

When are you going to invite me over for dinner with you and Sal?
Haha Sal (my mum) is a citizen of the world. She is a hard one to catch. She is forever gallivanting around the world. Right now she is sunning herself in South Africa but when she gets back we can lock it in!

Check out Zoë's epic cover of Sarah Connor's "Carry Me Home" below.

The results are ranked from lowest to highest.

Delta Goodrem – Sitting On Top Of The World (Video)

That cunt from Neighbours has a new single.  

Bobby: Promising start the of the video. It sees Delta cruising in some Sydney park with blown-up condoms. Brilliant. Sadly though doesn't it deliver. A ridiculously cheery pop song that is far too polite to be interesting. 1/5  
Jacques: Delta drives me up the wall but this song is wonderful! I love it. It's like a Disneyfied Sara Bareilles. It's also way better than Melody Thornton. 4/5  
Mike: Without The Voice Australia's most pointless pop star would struggle to tickle the lower reaches of the top 50 with this inane dose of elevator music. She should just stick to ruining marriages. -5/5
Robbie: Is she still married to that homophobe? Yes? No? She's getting 0 just for taking his cock in her mouth anyway. 0/5  
Stephen: This is the ONJ wannabe who goes out with British homophobe, right? The best thing about this song: "The uploader has not made this video available in your country." 0/5  
Zoë: The more they trash this on the radio, the more I'm (slowly) getting into it. 3/5
Total = 3/30 

Melody Thornton – Someone To Believe (Video)

Former Pussycat Doll takes desperation to new heights by recycling home movies for her latest free download.  

Bobby: Wow. Unexpected. She gets a few points for that at least. But, if you're going to break the out of the mould set by your past, do it with a song I can sing-a-long to please. You're called Melody, lets be having one next time. 2/5  
Jacques: I just can't with this desperate trick walking the red carpet naked just for attention. I know it's hard to get a break these days, but I'd rather remain a flop than sacrifice my dignity. I used to like her and even bought "Sweet Vendetta" on iTunes, but now I think she's trash. But my personal disdain for her aside, this ballad is woeful. The oriental production paired with that melodramatic screeching is hot mess 101. 0/5
Mike: Possibly the worst thing I have ever seen/heard in my entire life. I thought Jessica Sutta was a waste of human flesh but Melody plumbs new depths with this tuneless mess. The Asian strings kill me. Where is the chorus? And more importantly, where is her dignity? 0/5
Robbie: Honey, no one wants to hear this crap. Hit the pole and start bouncing. 1/5  
Stephen: I kept waiting for it to kick in. This is one long intro! Two minutes of pained human rights-y riffing to a violin does not a choon make. Next time she needs to start with – bada bing! - an actual melody. I will give her two stars for superior drag queen hair... I mean this is a man, right? 2/5  
Zoë: Not what I would expect from a Pussycat Doll. She's no Nicole Scherzinger, is she? 1/5
Total = 6/30

Beez In The Trap – Nicki Minaj Ft. 2 Chainz (Video)

Onika's latest buzz single.  

Bobby: Oooooh, Nicki honey, the best song about buzzing insects is always going to be Billie's "Honey to the Bee". 0/5
Jacques: Hoodrat 101. What is this simplistic shit? This is the type of thing I expect to see on World Star Hip Hop by some stripper-turned-rapper called Mz GolDeN GriLLz. I'm surprised Melody Thornton didn't make an appearance in this video, as this hood porn seems right up her alley given her choice of red carpet attire. 1/5  
Mike: This is what happens when you make a bunch of MAGs listen to hip-hop! I'm not a fan of Stinki Garbaj but "Beez In The Trap" is a head-nodding jam. We should be encouraging Onika to focus on this kind of music instead of making desperate Pitbull knock-offs like "Starships". Shame about the video. 3/5
Robbie: Wretched. 0/5  
Stephen: I need to hook you up with a proper song next week, Wass. This sounds like something WE could write while drinking whiskey from a jockstrap. And it looks like it was shot with outtakes from the million other videos The Minaj has done in the past six months. Is there a message to this epic? You’d betta wear five condoms if there are bees in that trap. 0/5  
Zoë: This would be great for a DJ mix in a break down section. That's about all I've got for this one. 2/5
Total = 6/30

Rita Ora - RIP (below)

Roc Nation's new golden girl unleashes her debut UK single.  

Bobby: To borrow Rita's phraseology, akin to shitty ATM. Awful. 0/5  
Jacques: This girl is so boring, but it could be worse - she could be Melody Thornton. 2.5/5  
Mike: Kosovo's pop princess has everyone pressed. It's not her fault Jay Z needs a Rihanna replacement now that his former rainmaker's career is over! Admittedly, "RIP" is as generic as it gets but I like the verses and suspect it will be massive. 3/5
Robbie: Title says it all. 0/5  
Stephen: If this girl has any talent or originality, it’s been mauled by some smug suit at her label. Rihanna should sue for complete thievery. The autotune, the rapper, the rasta colors, the dye job. Has it come to this? 1/5
Zoë: Um... I like Tinie Tempah's part! 2/5  
Total = 8.5/30

Dance Again – Jennifer Lopez (Video)

Jenny is back to dance. And love. And dance. Again.  

Bobby: I don't absolutely love this but it's a good try. It is admirable that she hasn't progressed in no way whatsoever from her debut single to this travesty of a pop song. Which means, in over 12 years she hasn't matured at all. Which is remarkable. She refuses to change or evolve. Wonderfully woeful. I'll give her one point for knowing what fans want and what she's good at. 1/5  
Jacques: I liked this song more when I first heard it but I've already grown sick of it now. It's still more interesting than Melody Thornton's squishy rack, but it's not slaying me like "On The Floor" did. 3/5  
Mike: Jenny and Pitbull are the La Bouche of the 21st century - ridiculous lyrics, thumping Euro-beats and cheesy rapping! That might sound like shade but I love how '90s this is. While "On The Floor" sounded like a Kat DeLuna B-side, "Dance Again" is bizarrely innovative. In an incredibly derivative kind of way. I love it. 5/5
Robbie: I so don't care about this old bat. 2.5/5  
Stephen: Another year, another faceless commercial – I mean dance track! - from Jenny. Cars, perfume, Idol: she’s always hawking something. Did she marry one of the dancers, or writhers, I should say, since this was shot? That Caspar kid is no Jesus Luz, m’kay? She has to put on a blindfold, he’s so fug. And don’t get me started on how she’s stolen the Superior Diva Jessie Ware’s hairdo at the end! 2/5  
Zoë: Errr I feel like I've seen it and heard it a million times before. The "AGAIN" part is fun haha and damn it she's hot! 3/5 
Total = 16.5/30

Norah Jones – Happy Pills (Video)

Norah hooks up with the non Cee-Lo half of Gnarls Barkley for a fresh new sound.  

Bobby: No. 0/5
Jacques: Fucking AMAZING! I've always loved Norah's music over the year but I was a little iffy with her last album."Happy Pills" has made me a fan again. I just wish I had some of these happy pills when you forced me to listen to that heinous Melody Thornton song, Mike. 5/5
Mike: This is one of my favourite songs of 2012. It's so effortless and breezy. Norah embraces her inner-vamp and is forgiven for ten years of drivel. Absolutely gagging for the album. 5/5
Robbie: This is pleasant enough, in a slightly boring way. Reminds me of something VH1 would play if they still aired music videos. 3/5  
Stephen: I don’t know why I didn’t come when I heard this song. Or wait, I DO... The LP cover made me think she’d gone all Gogo’s on us, but this sounds like everything else Snorah Jones has done. 2/5  
Zoë: It doesn't really tickle my fancy but it's nice enough. 3/5
Total = 18/30

Mandy Capristo – The Way I Like It (Video)

The German diva was part of a hugely successful girlband in her homeland before striking out on her own this anthem.  

Bobby: After Nicki, Jennifer, Rita, Delta, Norah and Melody we're finally touching pop gold. Major points for that dress. She's won me already with the overblown pink toilet brush-cum-prom dress. To be frank, a song with the repeated refrains "push a little harder" and "get it up" will always be a winner for me. Love the wet climax at the end too. Full marks Mandy. 5/5  
Jacques: Not bad, not good. It's somewhere in between. I'm mostly just glad that Melody Thornton didn't record this. 2/5  
Mike: Monrose was a very hit-or-miss band for me but Mandy gets it just right with this saucy piece of Europop. I hope there's a physical single! 4/5
Robbie: Borderline awful/amazing. I'm siding with amazing. But I'll never remember it after this one listen. Oh well. 4/5  
Stephen: Unbearable shit. 0/5  
Zoë: Don't you think she looks like a cross between J Lo and Beyonce in some parts of the clip!? It's a good dance song. 3/5
Total = 18/30


Perfume – Spring Of Life (below)

Japan's hottest girlband gifts the world another electro-marvel.  

Bobby: First listen, brilliant. But I take my Pop Panel duties incredibly seriously. I always replay the offerings to hear if I missed something. On its second spin it sounded flat and dull. I really should love this song but I don't. Ultimately, it has a nice scent that refuses to linger. Charmless yet pretty. Like biting into a tasteless yet glorious-looking cheesecake. 3/5  
Jacques: Utterly flawless. Japan's best girlband never disappoint. Their futuristic Tokyo techno-pop really shows you how terribly pedestrian the current dance-pop on the Hot 100 is by comparison. This is truly amazing and it's definitely something Melody Thornton would never record. 5/5  
Mike: Perfume were my first Asian pop crush along with the legendary Ami Suzuki. Their cyber-beats never fail to stun and amaze but this is a bit of a letdown in comparison to flawless classics like "Dream Fighter" and "Love The World". I think it's the insipid chorus that ruins it for me. Regardless, the production is mind-boggling and the video utterly sublime. 4/5
Robbie: A perfect score for the LED dresses alone. I wonder if these robot broads short circuit when they sit on Daddy's rocket? 5/5  
Stephen: Now we’re getting somewhere. Do you ever think these J-pop songs are just exercises to make super kawai videos? It’s fantastically shot, but let’s face it, Perfume are neither Pizzicato Five or Girls Aloud. I wonder if one of them is married to the Japanese equivalent of a footballer? 4/5  
Zoë: Oh dear, this one's not for me! Great video though. 0/5
Total = 21/30

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Lights Gets It Right

Lights is one of those critically acclaimed electro-pop divas that I really want to like but can't quite get into. The Canadian's first album was more my tumbler of vodka but her latest effort "Siberia" left me cold. Pun intended. It's just an achingly hip mess - albeit with a couple of really good songs thrown into the mix. One of those gems is "Banner" and, happily, it has just been released as the album's third single in Australia.

Even more exciting is confirmation that the synth-siren is headed our way for a tour in June. Valerie (her real name) will open for The Jezabels on their national tour and, by all accounts, she is amazing live. I can't wait to see her in action and I know "Banner" will be a highlight. This is the kind of gloriously anthemic electro-goodness that makes you want to kick Robyn to the curb and move on. It's subtle and brooding enough for the cool crowd, while that huge pop chorus appeals to everyone else.

Even the video (below) is a minor triumph. Playing like a emo-version of Mad Max, Lights finds some trouble on the highway. Which she solves by waving a rag in the air. It's better than it sounds. Trust me!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Beyoncé To Release "4: The Remix" EP

Let's just get this out of the way. That cover is the most hideous thing I have ever seen. And I own 23 different versions of La Toya's "Bad Girl"! Seriously, it's almost enough to distract you from the brilliance of Beyoncé's latest offering. You see, King B has blessed nightclubs with a 6 track EP of her favourite remixes called - funnily enough - "4: The Remix". The package includes the amazing winner of her "End Of Time" competition as well as hot mixes by Dave Audé and WAWA. I really hope there's a physical release because it will take pride of place next to her Spanish EP and the "Sasha Fierce" remix album in my shrine. Check out the tracklist below. Bey's era-defining collection of club hits rocks iTunes on April 24.

1. "Run the World (Girls)" Dave Audé Club Remix
2. "Countdown" Isa Machine Remix
3. "Best Thing I Never Had" Lars B Remix
4. "Love On Top" DJ Escape & Tony Coluccio Remix
5. "End Of Time" WAWA Extended
6. "End Of Time" JIMEK Remix

Speaking of the "End Of Time" remix competition, watch her majesty call the winner (below). How adorable is the most successful artist of the millennium? So much humility and grace! I just don't understand why this guy is able to talk. If Bey hit me up on Skype, I'd already be in rigor mortis.

Valerie Claire - Model & Underground '80s Icon

I was driving home from work today and nearly crashed the car when my iPod shuffle settled on Valerie Claire. To be honest, I don't know much about this immaculate diva. My friend Jamie introduced me to her years ago and it was love at first listen. I did some digging and learned that "I'm A Model" was produced by German electro-giant Harold Faltermeyer (best known for his Grammy-winning instrumental "Axel F") in 1984 and followed by an equally classy single called "Shoot Me Gino" a year later. That's it. Literally. If anyone knows more about this epic talent please let me know. I'd like to think Val re-surfaced at some stage to bless the world with more spoken-word pop gems but if this is it, then so be it. Her two-song legacy shits on your fave's entire back catalogue! Take "I'm A Model". This truly is a trash classic of the highest caliber. The production is tight, Ms Claire's angelic vocal is flawless and the bitch had style. Check out the glamour girl in action below. That hair! The manic miming! Those clothes! Love. Love. Love.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Heidi Montag & The Laziest/Most Amazing EP Of 2012

Just when I thought enduring pop icon Heidi Montag had turned her back on the music scene to pursue a career in... having lots of Twitter followers, the woman behind the best dance album of 2010 is back with a new EP. However, in true Heidi style, there's a twist. All the tracks are at least two years old and have been previously released. But why not? Each track on "Dreams Come True" is better than anything on "MDNA" and a timely reminder that the fading reality star succeeded where veritable music legends have failed - by making a truly flawless dance-pop album. Say what you like about this natural beauty but there isn't a bad song on "Superficial" and she can keep recycling it from now until the end of time as far as I'm concerned. I just wish Heidi would release physical copies. With artwork this stunning, it would fly off shelves! Check out the tracklist below:

Your Love Found Me
Party Is Wherever I Am
No More

Download this masterpiece from iTunes now and check out the bravura video for "Overdosin'" below. This tune is still epic!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Labrinth - Tunes, Tinie Tempah & A Glass Of Remy

One of the biggest musical revelations of 2012 has been UK electro/hip-hop pioneer Labrinth. "Earthquake" made a slow but steady rise into the national top 10 with its bone-crunching beats and irresistible chorus and his debut album "Electronic Earth" is an absolute knock-out punch. There are soulful tunes (his duet with Emeli Sandé is gorgeous), sprawling electronic anthems and cameos from urban superstars like Tinie Tempah and Busta Rhymes. The 23-year-old's star is definitely on the rise and I was excited to have a brief phone chat with him while he knocked back a few drinks in what sounded like a rather busy nightclub! Here's what he had to say:

I should probably start by congratulating you on the success of “Earthquake” in Australia. It’s just jumped into the top 10. How does it feel to be so popular on the other side of the world?
Yeah man, I’m really happy about that.

Did you expect the song to work so well internationally?
Not at all. You know, we just make records and hope for the best. It’s lovely to see people responding and enjoying what we enjoyed in four corners – you know what I mean?

“Earthquake” has such a fresh sound. It’s a collision of so many electronic sub-genres. How did you come up it?
You know what - I just lead with what I love, man. It’s like if you go into someone’s bedroom and see all the posters on their wall. You see what makes them who they are and for me that’s what those sounds are – the posters up on my wall. It’s an example of what I go through and what I see. Hopefully people enjoy that and it seems like it’s been the case so far. I’m good, man. I’m happy.

Your next single “Last Time” is also tearing up the charts in the UK...
Yeah, man! Mid-weeks number three. I’m honestly fucking... I’m like, what’s going on? God’s got a plan for me.

This is going to be your third top 3 single in a row. How do you explain the success? You’ve really tapped into something.
You know what? I’ve been in the industry for a bit now and I think if I tried to explain it, I’d be an idiot. All I’m doing is doing me and trying to be me as much as possible and it’s really good right now that people are really receptive and hopefully that keeps going.

You’ve worked a lot with Tinie Tempah. How did you guys join forces?

Do you know what? I hate that guy, man! I really do, man. He’s such an arsehole. It took him so long to get on that record... nah I’m being silly! I met Tinie a while ago and we made “Pass Out” in 2007. The relationship has grown and we really work well together so I thought it was only right that we got on another record together and made it happen.

Who brought you together?
He heard a record I produced and really enjoyed it, so he came to me and asked to work with me. My publisher set us up and the first song we made was “Pass Out”.

One second, bro. Where’s the ice? Oh there’s an ice machine. Sorry, my friend.

No worries. Are you having a drink?
Yeah, I just had to find myself a nice little Remy and juice.

That sounds good!
It is that time of night, so why not? Time for a little bit of juice.

Go for it! On your album “Electronic Earth” you also work with some other cool people. I particularly love Emeli Sandé. What was it like to work with her?
It was a pleasure, man. She’s one of the best singers in the UK for me. I didn’t want to get a famous singer – a boring, famous singer – that’s doing great in the charts. I just wanted someone that’s amazing. And it’s really cool to see that we chose someone who was gonna do great things and now she is doing great things. I’m happy but personally for me it was just about talent and now seeing her talent take her to places that people wouldn’t dream of going. I’m so happy for her.

You also got Busta Rhymes on the bonus track. How did that happen?
He just called us up and asked if he could work on the record. I was fucking lost when he said that. I used to listen to his shit when I was young and my brothers used to be bangin’ out his records when I was younger, so that was insane for me. It was a pleasure to work with him.

What’s going to be your next international single?
I don’t know what’s going to happen with the record. I don’t think all the UK singles are gonna be released internationally. We’ll see what happens. “Earthquake” has been doing well, so hopefully people will get a taste and then buy the album.

What were your influences on “Electronic Earth”? I read somewhere that your influences were “Adele meets Justice”. Can you explain that a bit?
For me, I wanted to be electronic but I wanted to have a little bit of soul in there and I hope that’s come across on the album. For me it was about being electronic and organic all at the same time. I just wanted to be musically free and for me electronic and organic is expressed in all types of music. It’s the only way I could be 360 in the whole matter and that’s what I wanted to be.

So who are you listening to at the moment?
I was listening to some Jimmy [Hendrix] the other day. He was a fucking G, man. I love him. Also Sam Cooke and some Danger Mouse. All different types man. I listen to everything. There’s a jazz band called Weather Report that I really love and Yellow Jacket, I listen to them as well.

And when are you coming to Australia?
Very soon! I’ve just been talking to my management. Tour agents are setting it up. So hopefully I’ll be there soon and we can all have an earthquake together [laughs].

That would be awesome. Thanks for the chat.
It would a pleasure to talk to you, bro. Take care.

Labrinth's awesome new album "Electronic Earth" is in stores now. Check out his current smash hit "Earthquake" below.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Haley Reinhart & The Best American Idol Single Not Recorded By Kelly Or Carrie

One of the highlights of my stint in LA last year was being sent to review American Idol Live at the Staples Center. To be honest, I hadn't watched any of the series and spent the afternoon frantically watching clips on YouTube so I would have some idea about the acts I was about to watch. Most of the contestants left me cold but 21-year-old Haley Reinhart made an impression with her jazzy voice and unusual song choices. My instincts turned out to be spot on. The quirky diva really stood out during the live show and I've been patiently waiting for her debut single ever since.

It took a bit longer than expected but "Free" dropped last month and it's really quite exceptional. In fact, it's one of the best American Idol singles not released by Kelegend or Queen Carrie. I love that Haley had the guts to record a jazzy, mid-tempo ballad instead of hooking up with Dr Luke or RedOne for yet another generic club anthem. "Free" is so old-fashioned, it's positively revolutionary. There's something very '70s about this breezy examination of a failed couple that just can't cut the chord. The lyrics are surprisingly honest and her voice has so much character. Check out the atmospheric video below. It's simple but suits the song and Haley looks amazing. Your faves have been put on notice. Bring on the album!

Eva Simons Is On A Mission To Slay

Eva Simons is comin' for ya faves. Be afraid! The Dutch diva has threatened to break through a couple of times in the past - most notably with 2009's epic "Silly Boy" and last year's US top 50 hit "Take Over Control" - but 2012 could be the year she really does some damage. Make no mistake; her latest single is an absolute smash. Crisply produced by massively-hyped German DJ Zedd (best known for remixing Skrillex and Lady Gaga), "I Don't Like You" sounds like a modern day "I Will Survive" - on crystal meth and battery acid. The fuck you, I'm moving on theme is always a winner and Eva brings real emotional depth to Zedd's icy beats with her brilliant vocal. There's no word yet if the song is going to be released in Australia but given her previous success here - both singles went top 50 - it would seem likely. I guess we'll know more when the video drops. In the meantime, listen to the Mohawk aficionado's hit-in-waiting below.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Kerli Redeems Herself With Zero Gravity

I'm proud of the fact that I was one of the first bloggers to write about Kerli back in 2008. From the moment I heard "Walking On Air", I was hooked. The Estonian diva brought something fresh and interesting to the table and her debut album, while somewhat hit-and-miss, had its fair share of decent tracks. But then I saw her perform "live" last year in Chicago. I'm pretty forgiving when it comes to PAs in packed gay nightclubs but this was one of the worst performances I've ever seen. She shuffled on stage looking like Baby Spice on crystal meth, mimed a couple of songs while staring at her feet and ran away at the end without as much as a wave to the crowd. Fuck that.

So when her latest single dropped I didn't even bother with it until curiosity got the better of me. I'm incredibly annoyed to admit that it's incredibly brilliant. In fact, "Zero Gravity" is one of the best pop songs I've heard all year. The heavy techno-beats - complete with subtle dub-step breakdown at the end - are the perfect foil for bubblegoth pioneer's fragile voice and, dare I say, beautiful lyrics. Kerli should release an acoustic version to showcase them. The video (below) looks like a remake of Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" on half the budget and twice the LSD. All is now forgiven and I'm very excited about her sophomore album. I think I'll give her live shows a miss though, at least for the immediate future.

Dulta's Back - More Boring & Redundant Than Ever

I guess this was inevitable. Ever since it was announced that Dulta had signed up for The Voice in a desperate bid to kickstart her stalled career, the prospect of new music from the horse-faced diva has loomed over my stereo like a black cloud. I finally got around to playing "Sitting On Top Of The World" last night and it's pretty dire. The serial a-dulta-ress is still trying to make that whole piano-pop vibe happen with a song that sounds like something Vanessa Carlton recorded and then rejected in 2002. It's cheerful enough if you like elevator music but it would have been nice to see some artistic growth. Would it kill her to dabble in dance? That Tommy Trash remix of "Believe Again" remains her finest moment. By a huge margin. What about the video, I hear you ask? On the bright side, Dulta's nose-job has finally settled and her golden mane makes her the prettiest pony in the stable. Apart from that it's as boring as she is. The former hitmaker just stands around waiting for another woman's boyfriend to steal before playing the piano - standing and in heels. She's so hard! Watch this mess below.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Alison Moyet - Is This Love?

Twitter is so amazing. Yesterday I was skimming through my timeline at lunch and saw a typically eccentric tweet from '80s pop star Alison Moyet. Her largely non-sensical ramblings always put a smile on my face and I felt compelled to celebrate her unique brand of crazy with a tweet. Before too long, I was chatting with the iconic diva about booze (turns out she's not a drunk), La Toya (she never went down on her) and tea that tastes like bong water (ask XO London - my local Woolies doesn't stock it).

Alison was a delight and I spent most of the afternoon listening to her Greatest Hits - shamefully all the Moyet magic I have on my iPod. That album is a good listen, beginning to end, but I keep coming back to 1986's "Is This Love?" The Dave Stewart-produced anthem is a perfect piece of synthpop and that glorious chorus still packs a punch. It also brings back a lot of happy memories. My mum was obsessed with the song and even stole Alison's perm from the video. Speaking of which, they really don't make 'em like this anymore.

Why is my new BFF dressed like an extra from Cell Block H? Who came up with the stunning choreography? What's with the wind machine? Brace yourself for the visual splendor of "Is This Love?" below.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Pop Panel 2012 - Volume 2

After last week's not entirely disastrous return, I've decided to revive Pop Panel on a fortnightly basis. Every second Sunday there will be a new battle to determine the best track currently making the rounds online. This week's winner was well-deserved but let's face facts. A certain senorita was robbed and there will be hell to pay! On the bright side, there is some next level gay-bitching this time around and the outcome offers further proof that fine pop music transcends race and language. Ok, let's get started. Tonight's Panel consists of the following regulars:

Robbie (US) writer of Chart Rigger
Mike (Aus) author of this classy blog
Jacques (Aus) writer of The Prophet

We are also joined by the following judges:

Toya (UK) writer of Toya'z World

This blog icon needs no introduction. Toya's site is the place to visit for all the tea on your urban faves. Welcome!


Justina (US) - rising rap superstar and confectionery enthusiast

I'm excited to introduce Justina - our first celebrity judge of 2012. This New Jersey-born MC was recently signed to Universal and is gearing up to release her first mixtape Route 80. I fell in love with her super-catchy new single "Bubble Gum" (below) and think she brings something fresh and exciting to the game. Learn more about the hottest new rap chick on the block here.

The results are ranked from lowest to highest.

Dev (feat. Enrique Iglesias) – Naked (Video)

The basic bitch from "Like A G6" somehow hooks up with Enrique on her latest single.

Jacques: Dev 'sings' "You've got a girl that doesn't look a thing like me." Um duh, that's because you look like a damn tranny. Poor DEVoid looked cute in some of her other videos, but whoever styled her here deserves to be shot through the peehole. It also doesn't help that this flaccid pindick of a song is total shit. It's like an even crapper version of Enrique's lame collabo with Flopzinger "Heartbeat". Not even my Latin lover's good looks can save this monotonous mess. 0/5
Justina: I think this is a good song. Good production, writing etc. Enrique Iglesias is smokin' hot. Dev really lucked out with the people she linked up with. I think she is moderately talented and not at all cute. 4/5
Mike: How does this pointless piece of electro-pop roadkill even have a record deal - let alone work with producers like Timbaland and nab Enrique to appear on her latest flop? Something in the milk ain't clean! 1/5
Robbie: Sucks shit at epic proportions. 0/5
Toya: I was first introduced to Dev last year when she appeared on a JLS single, not even realising she was the vocal behind the smash hit "Like a G6". Call me sexist but I'll watch any video with Enrique Iglesias in it. So imagine my disappointment that there were no sex scene or making out activity going on. Isn't that a first for Enrique? Not to make out with his female co-star? It was needed to distract from the generic, Europop-inspired club beat. And bear in mind, the song is called "Naked" too. But yet, there is no shredding of clothes. The video was crispier and drier than a woman's vagina after its owner encountered a strip tease from Rick Ross. 2/5
Total: 7/25

Roxette – It's Possible (Video)

Swedish pop legends return - much to the delight of your parents!

Jacques: Dead @ Roxette making a comeback. Their music reminds me too much of the boring pub mother used to drag me to as a child while she drank, so I'm giving this a fail score for bad memories alone. 1/5
Justina: This was my favorite song of them all. Super funky. I was groovin' to this one heavy! 5/5
Mike: Damn. Per and Marie requisitioned the Vengabus and went for a joyride. Geddit? 3.5/5
Robbie: Out of the two albums Roxette have released in the past two years, this and "Speak To Me" are probably the best single to emerge. That said, something about Per's vocals are slightly grating here. 2.5/5
Toya: I'm not a fan of tour visuals (boring) and despite the obviously computer-generated backdrop, they delivered a fun and quirky visionary. These guys have been around since forever and by delivering their trademark pop-rock, laced with some punk and modernised rock 'n' roll, they're really sticking to what's true to them. 3/5
Total: 15/25

Bim – Scream (Video)

One of those acts you see on Pop Justice and other flop sites.

Jacques: Oh look, it's a less lame version of The Ting Tings. I bet that old queen that runs Popjustice and Keith Caulfield from Billboard are both fisting themselves to this song. With that said, I kinda like it too, and I'll give it an extra half a point for the band name rhyming with RIM. 3.5/5
Justina: The song was cool. Video was ok. My attention got lost by the bridge. 3/5
Mike: This hot bitch needs to ditch the dude and go solo! His contribution drags an otherwise lovely piece of English electro-pop down the dumper. 2.5/5
Robbie: Sounds like what happens when Ellie Goulding straddles a keyboard and rides it down the stairs. 4/5
Toya: Yawnfest. The video looks like a cheap experiment for a university media assignment. I'm shocked I've never heard of them as I'm well versed on the British chart scene (I'm f*cking British myself for crying out loud). Maybe I just didn't care enough to explore their brand of indie electropop. Next. 1/5
Total: 15/25

Timomatic – If Looks Could Kill (Video)

Currently Australia's hottest male pop star. This is the follow-up to the three-times platinum smash "Set It off".

Jacques: It's so embarrassign when irrelevant countries like Australia try to launch local versions of flops like Taio Cruz. Timomatic's two singles are better than most of Taio's recent output though, and the big black queen can dance, so that has to count for something. 3/5
Justina: This shit right hurr was HOT. He's like the Aussie Breezy! 5/5
Mike: A shining example of the urban-dance genre done right. The nuclear-powered chorus is perfection and DNA's slick production gives it international appeal. 5/5
Robbie: So Australia has its very own Taio Cruz drag queen? 0/5
Toya: This dude looks like he could very well be Australia's answer to a second rate Usher, at least Usher during his dancepop phase? Then I saw all the acrobatics and he reminded me of Chris Brown as well. I'd definitely say he's a nice balance between the two. There's a nice R&B tone to his voice but he's not doing anything that hasn't been done before elsewhere. I've seen better. 2.5/5
Total: 15.5/25

Soraya - I Believe (Video)

Spain's Queen of pop has a song on the Mirror Mirror soundtrack.

Jacques: Now I know why Mike stans for this trick! This is a stunning anthem. I can't believe that I had to re-rate this though after the flop panel judges from the last round all 'forgot' to rate it. I guess they knew that Soraya would snatch their fave's wig, so a few bad eggs got together and went on strike. #Shady 4/5
Justina: I'm lost. Was it a cover or her original? It seems some other people also sing it? 2/5
Mike: Soraya te amo! Tu musica es la mejor y tu bella cara me la pone dura. Vamos a casarnos y nos mudamos a Extremadura! Tambien va por tu novio tan sexy. 5/5
Robbie: I believe this song is probably 50 times better than the flop movie Mirror Mirror it's tied in with. 4/5
Toya: Spanglish pop doesn't do much for me at all as a genre of music but this one is insanely catchy. The video? Not much can be said. It's just clips from Julia Roberts 'Mirror Mirror' movie interspersed with that of music video footage made from cardboard backgrounds. A recession budget at its pure finest. 2/5
Total: 17/25

The Jezabels – Rosebud (Video)

Australian indie darlings are hoping to take the UK by storm with the latest single from Prisoner.

Jacques: I wanted to trash this because I know Mike loves The Jezabels and I felt like being pointlessly spiteful today, but I can't resist the 80s realness that this amazing song is giving me. Sadly, I need to deduct a few points because there's a VEVO ad promoting The Shaturdays latest stinker "30 Turds" directly below the "Rosebud" video. 2/5
Justina: This song was cool... very throwback-y and old school. I liked the song better than the video. The video got a little draggy for me. 3/5
Mike: Fuck you, Jacques! I'll get my revenge next week. You're clearly pressed that The Jezagods are global icons while ya faves are miming for small change in Korea! Shame about the ratchet video though. 4.5/5
Robbie: While normally I'd chuck a band going for an '80s/early '90s sound out the window, The Jezabels are fantastic, front diva Hayley Mary is a goddess and "Rosebud" is a fucking jam. 5/5
Toya: This video is not the most original one ever and it looks very dated and cheap but it does match the overall tone and nostalgic vibe of the song. I think the vintage feel was an intended concept. "Rosebud" isn't just your typical '80s sounding pop-rock track. It is one that exhibits an essence of intoxication. Solid. 3/5
Total: 17.5/25

Toni Braxton – I Heart You (Video)

'90s R&B icon goes dance on her first independent release.

Jacques: Who the fuck would have thought that Toni Braxton would release one of the best dance songs of the year? It's so dated, but in the absolute best way possible. This is the! 5/5
Justina: I like Toni, but I didn't love this. The video looked like a soft porn at first... never really got into it. She looks much better with long hair and without the lamp shade on her head. "Unbreak My Heart" was the jam. 3/5
Mike: Tamar's slightly more successful sister is hoping to keep the creditors at bay by angling for the pink dollar with the year's most desperate and dated dance anthem. It goes without saying that I fucking love it. 4/5
Robbie: The only thing not retro about this desperate trash is Toni's new face. 2/5
Toya: I love Toni. When I heard this I was indifferent about the production but now I just love it. I wasn't totally thrilled at first because it seemed she was just doing what a lot of R&B acts are doing now - jumping on the ever popular dancepop bandwagon. But she's made the transition from R&B legend to classy dance diva very well. The video was absolute garbage, but at least the male lead was drool-worthy. I’m totally slayed by her vocals more than anything. Just listen to that flawless intro. I need that in my life in full ballad form. 4/5
Total: 18/25


SHINee – Sherlock (below)

New stuff from one of Asia's biggest boybands.

Jacques: Fucking amazing. This is like The Jackson 5 through the eyes of Diplo. And Jonghyun and Key are so hot, I want an all-bottom threesome with them where we just eat each others asses for hours on end but nobody actually fucks each other. 5/5
Justina: I was confused by this song because I think they were singing the words "I'm so curious, yea" in the hook and then ad-libbing in English at the end... but the rest was in Chinese?! And the one dude was really pretty, he has the same exact haircut as me. I definitely thought he was a chick at first. But I digress... I see that the song definitely has huge pop potential and I could see teeny boppers who can understand what they're saying loving it... So I'll say. 4/5
Mike: I just can't with Taemin's hair. Ami Suzuki called and wants her look back! Apart from that glaring fashion faux-pas, SHINee's latest incarnation is pretty exciting. I love the sonic clash of Motown influences and ultra-modern electro-beats. It doesn't quite work but at least they're experimenting with new sounds unlike their flop English counterparts. 4/5
Robbie: My Korean friend (who, for the record, has a dog is named SHINee) clued me in to "Sherlock" recently. I've heard better from this pack of twinkletz, but I'm so curious, anyway. 4/5
Toya: The production and vocal arrangement is like a retro Michael Jackson circa 1990s. A very dated sound. And you can even say they were tributing him with that choreography as well. I laughed at some of their execution. They certainly get bonus points for entertainment value. I don't find them sexy at all and their overall style is the epitome of straight up corny. 2/5
Total: 19/25

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Elle Varner & My New Fave Urban Jam

When I'm not reveling in pop trash or stanning for some ancient hoe that hasn't had a hit since 1984, chances are I'm kicking back to some R&B. One of my current faves is Elle Varner. The talented 23-year-old has been making huge waves for about a year now with her smooth, retro-tinged sound. Her debut single "Only Wanna Give It To You" was a top 20 hit on urban radio and the follow-up is currently shooting up the same chart. I absolutely love "Refill". Elle's fun jam sounds like something a tipsy Alicia Keys would sing on karaoke night at the club. It's simple and understated but still quirky - I think I hear a fiddle - and I worship her crazy vocal delivery. The clip, which premiered last week, is a rather elaborate affair with an in-depth storyline about star-crossed lovers. Why didn't she jump off the bus? Good dick is hard to find! If this is an indication of what's to come on Perfectly Imperfect, her debut can't drop fast enough.

Beyoncé To Re-Release 4

*ring, ring*


"Hai Mike! It's your Lord and saviour Beyoncé."

"Yes, my Queen?"

"FYI I'm re-releasing 4 in May with - you guessed it, boo - four new tracks and the entire Year Of 4 documentary."

"Can. Not. Breathe."

"Imma show the lessors who's boss! But now I gotta go wipe Blue Ivy's arse with $100 bills."

"Ok, bye."

Read more about the musical event of the year here.

Martika's First Video In 20 Years

Have two decades really passed since Martika's last video? I still remember the sexy bath scenes in her Australian top 40 hit "Coloured Kisses"! It's a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions that we've been denied a new visual for this long but the magnificence of "Flow With The Go" takes away some of the sting. The first thing that strikes you about the now 42-year-old diva's new clip is how fresh and youthful she looks. She hasn't aged a day in 20 years!

The next thing you notice is her outrageous white latex leotard and suspenders ensemble. I thought you could only buy clothes like that at Adult World. So what else happens of note? Well, Martika slays the game with some killer dance moves and rolls around in bed looking slightly demented. It's an adorably quirky ride and really brings the song to life. "Flow With The Go" is such a grower. I love Spanglish rap interludes, rave-tastic chorus and stunning lyrics - "Ding dong King Kong at the door!" Now, I have to ask - could your fave?

"Flow With The Go" is available to download from iTunes now. Martika's eagerly-awaited dance album The Mirror Ball drops later this year.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Demi Lovato & The Year's Best Power Ballad

I know it's pointless to compare emerging stars with existing icons but if Selena Gomez has her eye on Madonna's dance-pop throne, then Demi Lovato is Generation Y's answer to Mariah. I guess that makes Victoria Justice the new Pat Benatar. But I digress. My point is that Demetria can actually sing. The 19-year-old has a fearsome set of pipes and she gives them one hell of a workout on her latest single "Give Your Heart A Break". To be honest, I initially thought the Billy Steinberg/Josh Alexander co-production sounded a bit dated and, as such, wasn't the best choice to follow "Skyscraper" but I was wrong.

This glorious mid-tempo ballad has wormed its way into my heart and mind to an unholy extent. They just don't make power-grabbing anthems like this anymore! I love Demi's over-the-top vocal and the cutting-edge (for 2006) production pushes all my buttons. The video is a bit uneventful - our heroine hangs out with a dude who eventually shows her how much he loves her by plastering a wall in photographs - but the budding diva won me over with her first Celine Dion hand-clutch. "Give Your Heart A Break" is shooting up US iTunes and should, hopefully, become another huge hit for the future superstar.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Beyoncé Scores 18th US #1 Club Hit

I think it's so cute that your fave even bothers to get out of bed in the morning when they know King B could snatch their wig at any moment to dust her Grammys or line Blue Ivy's 24 carat gold cot. Not content with running the pop and R&B charts, Beyoncé has made history by notching up her 18th US #1 dance hit with "Love On Top". Bey is now the third most successful act of all-time on that highly relevant chart behind only Madonna and Janet. And let's face it, those hags are over - so it's only a matter of time before she kicks them to curb too. Check out the Smash Mode Extended Mix of "Love On Top", which is currently burning up gay bars from Alabama to Alaska. Your fave could never. Admit it and move on.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Ricki-Lee Copies Beyoncé, Remains Basic

After years of loyal stanning, Ricki-Lee really plummeted in my estimation after bashing Breezy on Facebook in a calculated move to improve her social media presence. She might be as basic as a cheeseburger without the cheese but I've never been able to fault her music - until now. "Do It Like That" sounds like a reject from Mariah's Rainbow album. It's so dated and embarrassing. The hook is catchy in a late '90s kind of way but the whole thing falls flatter than Taylor Swift's chest. How you can go from a stone cold smash like "Raining Diamonds" to this garbage? Those diet pills are clearly messing with her head. Unfortunately, the visual is just as bad. The first half blatantly rips off Beyoncé's iconic "Crazy In Love", while the second half swagga jacks King B's exercise video "Move Your Body" - only with really bad dancing and outfits. Just because you're skinny doesn't mean you can walk around without pants! So basic.