Saturday, September 29, 2012

Lordtina Is Now The Patron Saint Of Toilet Sex: 'Your Body' - Video Review

It's finally here! Christina Aguilera's "Your Body" visual dropped this morning and I'm still reeling from its brilliance. First things first. The preview was misleading. I thought Xtina was going to spend most of the clip guzzling beer in a trailer park like Beyoncé in "Party" but that's just a tiny piece of the puzzle. The always-edgy music legend actually plays a horny femme fatale who goes on an extremely colourful murder spree. In an unusual but possibly inspired dieting strategy, Christina swaps cake for cock. And she's as insatiable as ever!

Lordtina fucks in cars, sleazy motel rooms and a toilet cubicle. Which pretty much confirms that she's a gay man trapped in a woman's body. This also explains why she looks like a contestant on RuPaul's Drag Race.  The thing is - it works. Xtina has always been a more-is-more kinda girl. She would look naked without a kilo of make-up and enough fake hair to insulate a house. I love the way the director camps up the murders by using paint and glitter instead of blood and the scene where Christina poses by the side of the road on her suitcase like a cracked out teletubby is so fucking ridiculous/amazing that I have no choice but to watch it on repeat.

Time will tell if "Your Body" is powerful enough to break the curse of Bionic. It debuted in the US top 40 this week and has been fairly stable on iTunes after an initial post-release dip. Fingers crossed radio gives Xtina a chance and she hits the TV circuit to promote it. Pop needs this bitch to get her groove back. Someone has to keep tireless publicity whores like Rihanna and Lady Gaga in check. This is a good start.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Visual Representation Of Ricki-Lee's 'Fear & Freedom' Chart Run

Shame. I really like "Never Let Go" and "Raining Diamonds".

Lana Takes Us To Paradise This November

We're nearing the end of September and Lana Del Rey's Born To Die is still my favourite album of the year. I'm sure Ke$ha's Warrior will give the gloomy masterpiece a run for its money but expect a photo finish. 2012 has been an amazing year for the doomed diva. She has sold 2.5 million albums - without a sizeable hit - and firmly established herself as an A List celebrity with saturation media coverage. Not bad when you consider how many people dismissed Lana as an overhyped flash in the pan! And her reign shows no sign of letting up anytime soon. Born To Die - The Paradise Edition hits stores November 12 and boasts an absolute gem of a lead single. "Ride" (below) is a grim ballad with a faint country twist. It's grittier than Lana's usual fare thanks to Rick Rubin's subtle production but every bit as sweeping and atmospheric. If the 7 other new tracks are half as good, The Paradise Edition will permanently raise the bar for re-releases. It already has as far as packaging is concerned. The deluxe version comes with the following items:

- A remix CD 
- A DVD 
- A 7" vinyl of "Blue Velvet" 
- Four art prints. 

Excuse me while I go and pre-order now!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A*M*E* & The Best Debut Single Of 2012

A couple of months ago Idolator asked me to pull together a list of women on the cusp of pop stardom and the inclusion of A*M*E (pronounced Amy) felt like a no-brainer. The 17-year-old Sierra Leone-born, South London-based diva already has an army of die-hard fans thanks to killer buzz singles like "Find A Boy" and "City Lights" but even I wasn't expecting her official debut to be this good. In fact, it's no exaggeration to call "Play The Game Boy" one of 2012's best singles. After dabbling in '90s beats and Minaj-lite hip-hop, A*M*E turns to the '80s and leaves the rest of the game in her wake.

It's hard to describe what sets this tune apart from other '80s-inspired electro-offerings. I could write about the fabulous Pointer Sisters vibe or A*M*E's ridiculously cute rap but that wouldn't do the song justice. "Play The Game Boy" captures lightning in a jar. The teenager brings a fresh perspective to the genre - much like Robyn did on her seminal 2005 album. It shouldn't work but it does and I'm grateful. The same goes for the colourful video which plays like a cross between Mimi's "Up Out My Face" and the latest from your K-Pop fave. Watch in awe (below) as A*M*E lays the foundation for a gigantic 2013.

Lena Sparkles With Stardust

I haven't posted any German pop music for a while, mostly because I haven't heard anything good in months. But the drought is over. Lena's new single is the best thing the 2010 Eurovision winner has ever recorded. Yes - even better than her international breakthrough "Satellite". The first thing you notice about "Stardust" is how far the 21-year-old has come in the past two years. I used to find Lena's quirkiness forced and off-putting but her current German chart-topper is convincingly offbeat, while still boasting a great pop chorus and catchy beat. Think Lenka meets Lykke Li (in a good mood)!

The next thing you notice is Lena's sophisticated new image. She looks gorgeous in the classy video (below), which finds the newly glamorous diva wandering around the Spanish desert in a series of outfits straight out of Lana Del Rey's wardrobe. It's beautifully shot and complements the song perfectly. This is one of those rare singles where everything from the mysterious cover art to the video clip is just right. I wasn't a huge fan of her first two albums but I'm counting down the days until the October 12 release of her third opus. That Eurovision monkey is now well and truly off her back.

Ke$ha Unveils Era-Defining 'Die Young' Lyric Video

Flawless pop deity Ke$ha is officially back! This will be a short post because I'm crying and shaking uncontrollably. "Die Young" kicks off what will probably be the most important and influential era in popular music since Elvis picked up a guitar. Bask in the glory of a master at the very peak of her powers and get ready to download this modern masterpiece from iTunes in the next few hours. Number one is inevitable.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Kylie Gets It Right With Flower - Video Review

Now this is the kind of bar-raising brilliance I expect from the woman I've idolised since childhood! It's no secret - pun intended - that I've been suffering from Kylie fatigue lately. "Time Bomb" was a dreadful single and I struggled to muster much enthusiasm for her orchestral album. The former was beneath her and The Abbey Road Sessions struck me as completely unnecessary. I might have to rethink my opinion of the latter after hearing the finished version of "Flower". Kylie has her groove back, which makes that your lame fave even more irrelevant than usual.

The "Flower" saga actually begins way back in 2008 when Dannii's slightly more prolific sister performed the ballad on her X tour. It pretty much stole the show with its eerie lyrics - interpreted by many to be a deeply persoanl lament about the legend's as yet empty womb - and sweeping production. A studio version was recorded and slated for an X re-release that never happened. Most of us thought it was lost forever but somebody wisely stuck it on the orchestral album and the track made the project interesting again.

What slays me most is how understated the studio version of "Flower" turned out. I was half-expecting something bombastic and overbearing but it's sparse and intricate. Steve Anderson brings Kylie back to the Deconstruction era and I don't think anyone is complaining. The video is similarly subtle. I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a Minogue offering as much as this classy black and white affair (to be honest, it was probably "All The Lovers"). It's part "Finer Feelings", part "Where The Wild Roses Grow" - with a splash of "Where Is The Feeling?" for good measure.

Let me translate for non-stans/people born after 1990. "Flower" is a beautifully filmed, plot-less video that showcases the pop icon's timeless beauty with stunning photography and clever direction. It also has an inexplicable trace of danger. Probably because I'm always terrified Nick Cave is lurking around the corner with a rock any time Kylie sets foot in water. This is the kind of sophisticated clip that makes Madonna look like a washed-up circus act. I am now ready for The Abbey Road Sessions. That is all.


Zoë Badwi Returns With 'Shoot Me Down'

Hot on the heels of her top 10 club hit "A Million Lights", comes the first taste of Zoë Badwi's sophomore album. I'm biased when it comes to my fellow cheesy nugget connoisseur but Australia's reigning dance diva has outdone herself with "Shoot Me Down". The glamorous pop star first talked about the track way back in April when she graced the Pop Panel with her presence. Almost six months have passed but it was worth the wait. American hitmakers Heather Bright and Frank E have crafted a sleek and current dance anthem with a darker edge than we're used to hearing from Zoë. The chorus is electric and the former Sirens starlet slays your fave with her sexy vocal. The video is an equally saucy affair. Sally's favourite daughter spends most of the clip writhing around on the floor with a bunch of questionable looking men. It's basically Kylie's "All The Lovers" in a warehouse - ie. a triumph by Australian standards. Zoë looks amazing and the brothel-inspired lighting concept works for me. "Shoot Me Down" will melt iTunes on September 28. You can pre-order it now!

Monday, September 24, 2012

New Luciana - Calling All The Lovers

Dance legend Luciana is back with her latest floorfiller - this time a collaboration with American dance outfit Manufactured Superstars. You might remember them as the masterminds behind Paris Hilton's "Drunk Text" but don't let that put you off. "Calling All The Lovers" is another incredibly strong dance anthem from the Queen of Clubs. In fact, it's one of her best yet. There's something more restrained and understated about this classy effort that sets it apart from her usual nuclear-powered fare. I love the vocal and surprisingly poptastic chorus. Expect "Calling All The Lovers" to take over your favourite nightclub for the next couple of months. In other exciting news, Luciana is coming back to Australia in a few months for a very special NYE show. Can't wait!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Beyoncé Interviews Britney & Rihanna - The Best Video I Have EVER Seen

Put your life on hold and watch this video! I haven't laughed this much since Keri Hilson performed for free in that Walmart carpark. "Bayonse's Quens Of Flop" is an animated talk show hosted by the legendary Beyoncé Knowles. It perfectly captures Bey's superiority to everyone else on the planet and pretty much leaves the rest of the game wigless and crying in a corner. In this episode, 'Bayonse' interviews Rihanna ('Rhenna') and Britney ('Brinty'). The quips about Rihanna's "tens of fans" and X Factor keeping Britney "off the pills" were perfection. There's even well-deserved Madonna hate. Who is the mastermind behind "Bayonse's Quens Of Flop"? You are my new best friend/soul mate and need to call me immediately! God bless the Beyhive. Which other fanbase could spawn something this ratchet? Bring on the next episode.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Lolene Is Back To Blow Up Your Radio!

The best week for pop music since the 1989 continues with the very welcome return of Lolene. It's funny. I was only ranting about the underground electro-pop icon on Twitter last week. Basically, it pains me that someone this talented and interesting got the boot from her label while non-entities like Dev and Natalia Kills continue to rape our ears. It's particularly galling when you consider how brilliant her unreleased debut album is. I cherish my advance copy of The Electrick Hotel and still blast epic cuts like "Lionheart", "For The Record" and "Radio" when the mood hits.

Happily, the eccentric diva (she was known to emerge on stage via a giant vagina) is back with the aforementioned gem "Radio". As much as I love the song, it was recorded in 2009 and I was worried it might sound dated in comparison to the latest chart fodder. It doesn't. Produced by the dude behind Cobra Starship and Jeffre Star, "Radio" is still the best Kylie single not released by Kylie. I love the pretty synths and defy you not to get swept up in the glorious chorus. The video (below) is cheap and cheerful but perfectly captures Lolene's crazy personality. She can still slay your fave - even on a budget! Pressed? Fingers crossed this gets some traction. Pop music needs Lolene!

Lady Gaga Copies Xtina. Again.

Lady Gaga has gone all Single White Female on Christina Aguilera. Again. It's bad enough that Mother Monster based her entire career on the dirrty diva's 2008 electro-smash "Keeps Gettin' Better" but now she's basically morphing into Xtina. First she went blonde and then she copied her idol's female impersonator chic.

I should have known that Gaga would turn to the new Adele now that her career has hit the skids but binging on burgers to imitate Chritsina's curvy frame is going too far. It took a lot of tacos for the former Mouseketeer to get those hips - how dare this bitch steal her shine! Anyway, Xtina will have the last laugh when Lotus rockets to number one this November - without being given away for 99 cents on Amazon.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Nelly Furtado's Parking Lot - Single/Video Review

Nelly Furtado's eagerly-anticipated (by me) fifth album was released last week to very little fanfare. The Spirit Indestructible didn't even dent the top 100 on Australian iTunes. It's a sad fate when you consider the Canadian diva's last English-language opus Loose went to #1 in nine countries and sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. The problem hasn't been the quality - I loved "Big Hoops (Bigger The Better)" and grew to appreciate "Spirit Indestructible" (despite it having the worst intro of 2012) but they completely missed the mark commercially. The former was way too experimental and the latter sounded like a cut from 2007 gone wrong. Everything is now riding on single number three.

Produced by Rodney 'Darkchild' Jerkins, "Parking Lot" is a brilliant piece of pop. I love the relentless synths and the simple lyrics are deceptively clever. It's also curiously put together with (arguably) two different choruses and a demented spoken interlude. Nelly has created something unique, stretching the boundaries of pop with the skill of Santigold. But when was the last time Santigold had a hit? I fear "Parking Lot" is too left-field for radio and will, most likely, be ignored by tastemakers due to the performance of her last two singles. It would be a shame because this is the ultimate grower. A couple of listens to this breezy jam and you're hooked. Trust me.

As for the video, it's pretty good. For starters, Nelly has not looked sexier this era. She came across as a crazy woman in her "Big Hoops" video and then reverted to her typical earth mother persona for "The Spirit Indestructible". This time around, the 33-year-old is revisiting her Loose-era vamp image. It's basically "Promiscuous" - the sequel - but I'm not complaining. She looks like a pop star again and does her best with the basic choreography. I like all the pretty lights and quick cuts and think the literal set-up works well on this occasion. Fingers crossed it's not too late for Nelly to make her presence felt on the charts.

Song = 9/10, Video = 7/10

Solange Is Back - Her Three Fans Rejoice!

This week just gets better and better. The latest icon to unveil new music is Solange - AKA the Dannii of the Knowles family. And like the Queen of Clubs, Beyoncé's younger sister is severely underrated. Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams is one of my all-time favourite albums thanks to genre-bending cuts like "Sandcastle Disco" and "I Decided". It deserved much wider recognition but won the diva a loyal cult following, which should reap dividends this time around. The first taste of Solo's third album (below) is a summery piece of electronica that sounds like Bag Raiders on valium. I love it already. "Losing You" will melt your fave's wig off on October 2. It's so charitable of Bey to let Solange back in the studio while she's on hiatus!

Lana Del Rey Makes Selling Out Credible

My love for Lana Del Rey grows by the day. The pioneer of sadcore is picking up where Lady Gaga left off (before completely losing the plot) - by creating the most convincing fake persona in popular music. She's now using her doomed '50s beauty queen look to promote H&M in Europe. Any other credible musician would balk at the gig but the 26-year-old makes selling out cool by paying tribute to David Lynch's 1986 cult classic Blue Velvet. Lana also covers Bobby Vinton's similarly-titled torch song and lifts it to new heights. Listen to the full version here. There's still plenty of life left in Born To Die, so fingers crossed we get another video soon. In the meantime, her foray into advertising (below) will do nicely.

Ke$ha Is A Warrior

How flawless is this? Ke$ha continues to raise the bar for pop divas with the album cover of the year. The psychedelic colours, stunning fonts and glamorous styling make this a work of art that should be hanging in a museum. I can't get over how hot our girl looks. While your fave is falling to pieces, K$ is bringing sexy back! Take a stadium full of seats. Warrior is released in Australia on November 30 and will be released in the following formats:

Standard - 12 Track Edition
Deluxe - 16 Track Edition
Fanclub - Bonus Acoustic 5 Track Disc

Obviously, I'm buying all three. "Die Young" hits Aus iTunes on September 27. Brace yourself for the single and album of the year!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Shakira Strikes Back

A couple of days ago I was ready to get a pretentious haircut and start writing an indie music blog. Pop, I ranted, had jumped the shark. Since then we've had era-defining new tunes from Ke$ha, Christina Aguilera and Shakira. So excuse me while I wipe the egg off my face. I love all three ladies for different reasons but I'm particularly excited about the Colombian diva's comeback. She is the biggest star on the planet in South America and much of Europe but her fortunes in the English speaking world have taken a dive. "Truth Or Dare" could be the song to change all that.

Produced by Fernando Garibay (the man behind Lady Gaga's "Edge Of Glory" and Britney's best bonus track "Amnesia"), the bangin' electro-anthem repositions Shakira as the thinking man's dance diva. It's a bold move but Beyoncé's one-time duet partner has already conquered pop, rock, reggaeton, tango and merengue - so this is essentially a no brainer. The lovely Latina has also signed on to judge the next season of The Voice, which will raise her profile enormously in America. While we wait for a HQ version of "Truth Or Dare" to leak, check out the (alleged) cover art (above). Does it remind anyone else of her iconic "Don't Bother" artwork?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ke$ha's Revolutionary New Anthem

The moment every human-being with taste has been waiting for is finally here. Ke$ha is back to heal the world with her life-affirming lyrics and soulful vocals! I was lucky enough to hear "Die Young" over the phone last night and it changed my life. It was hard to pay attention while crying and shaking and touching myself but the sizzling Dr Luke production takes God$ha to the next level. There's an awesome acoustic-y intro that showcases the diva's exquisite pipes before the beat drops. And when it drops, it drops HARD. Team Sebert have gone all out - dabbling in rock, pop and electro to create something completely new. Now that Britney is over and Lady Gaga appears to have completely lost the plot, K$ is the last American electro-pop diva left standing. "Die Young" is a triumph and she will no doubt dominate the last quarter of 2012 with her revolutionary anthem. Listen to her highness sing the song acapella on a train in Tokyo (below). Could your fave?

Christina Aguilera Previews Your Body

Christina Aguilera's quest to snatch Adele's crown as the most popular plus-sized diva in pop continues with the first peek at "Your Body". And I'm completely sold. Not only is the song a total smash - top 10 and climbing on US iTunes - but the visual looks like a return to form. For starters, the malicious tranny that styled "Not Myself Tonight" did not get a call back. Xtina looks female again and she's not making an fool of herself in bizarre fetish wear. Sure, someone in her camp saw Beyoncé's "Party" video one too many times:

Exhibit A

But I'm here for lessors paying homage to the Queen and Christina first championed the trailer park look way back in "Dirrty", so she's really just returning to her roots. The rest of the video reminds me of Luciana's "I'm Still Hot" but has considerably higher production values like an exploding car. I can't wait for the finished product and I'm really excited about Lotus. Xtina is taking no chances this time and the world is ready for her to reclaim her spot on the B+ List. Download "Your Body" from iTunes today and make a big girl smile.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Hanson - Live In Sydney

I vaguely remember being into Hanson for like five minutes in 1997. Middle of Nowhere was a great album but my heart belonged to quality entertainers like Whigfield, Aqua and Dannii. 15 years passed and I finally got to see the boys perform live. It turned out to be surprisingly entertaining. But to be honest, I didn't have very high expectations. These retro tours can be a disaster (Vengaboys, I'm looking at you!) but Hanson ticked all the boxes. They sounded great, dusted off most of the hits and subtly showed that there's more to them than "MMMBop" by playing some surprisingly good new material.

After an opening song I didn't recognise (not that you could really hear it over all the old lady screams), Hanson got the party started with "Where's The Love". Memory is a weird thing. I'd bet a lot of money that I haven't heard the song since the '90s but every line came flooding back. In addition to the feel-good factor of reconnecting with a song from your childhood, I couldn't help but notice that the Hanson brothers got a lot hotter with age. Well, all of them except Taylor. While he looks like he should be walking through a prairie, his voice and musicianship can't be faulted. The middle Hanson is the battery that keeps the band going and his energy was infectious.

Highlights for me were Zac's solo, Isaac's striptease (ok, he undid the top button on his shirt) and hearing songs I had completely forgotten exist like "Penny & Me", "This Time Around" and their 2000 Australian top 10 hit "If Only". Of course, nothing could top finally hearing "MMMBop" live and it was the religious experience I was expecting. Isaac looked bored but Taylor did everything but stand on his head to get the crowd into it - not that they needed any encouragement! The Hanson brothers, still have the ladies eating out of their hands after all these years. It's almost a shame they're all married and a have a million kids between them. I can't really criticise the concert. It was lovingly put together, well-executed and extremely entertaining. It would have been nice to hear 1998 hits "Weird" and "Thinking Of You" but no doubt they'll be on the setlist next time. All in all, this trip down memory lane was well worth taking. 

EDIT: I'm told they did perform "Thinking Of You". I must have been taking a piss. 


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Use This Pistol On My Heart

I'm in a weird mood. With the exception of Alicia Keys' new single and Rita Ora's surprisingly good album (review coming soon), pop music isn't really doing it for me at the moment. So I'm broadening my horizons. One of my new obsessions is Mia Dyson. She's been around for the best part of a decade but her latest album has transformed me from casual listener to loyal fan. So who is this stunning chanteuse? I guess Mia is best-described as Australia's answer to Melissa Etheridge because of her soaring, whiskey-soaked voice and popularity with lesbians. The former quality is beautifully showcased on "Pistol", the brilliant second single from The Moment. This is a timeless blues anthem that inexplicably reminds me of Elan's "Midnight". Does anyone else remember that Mexican diva? Mia's lyrics hit home like a sucker punch and I'm in awe of her voice. The video (below) is astoundingly awful, so just close your eyes and wait for the chorus. It's worth it.

Beyoncé Scores 7th Hit From 4

Beyoncé's to-do list for 2012 looks a little something like this:

1. Have baby 
2. Watch a couple of Jay-Z concerts 
3. Make Rita Ora happen 
4. Reach a billion people on World Humanitarian Day 
5. Release a random R&B smash 

Yes, bitches. King B debuts at #100 on the Billboard chart this week with "Dance For You" - the 7th single from 4 to achieve the feat. It's also #13 with a bullet on the R&B chart. Imagine what damage the Queen would inflict on the charts if she could be fucked with promotion! I'm glad Bey's smooth, mid-tempo jam is conquering urban radio. The-Dream got everything right on this one. The production is glorious and the lyrics manage to be sexy and romantic, which is a minor miracle in 2012.

Watch Beyoncé school your lame fave in the art of beauty and classy pussy-popping in the pretty film noir video below.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Nicole's Desperate New Low

What's going on with Nicole Scherzinger? The poor bitch can't take a trick. I thought Killer Love was going to be her ticket to the B List but it got shelved in the US and forced her to flee to the UK like a refugee in the night. She's now a failed Australian dance show away from being Kelly Rowland!

If that's not bad enough, the Hawaiian beauty has been reduced to singing - one verse - on the latest buzz single from's new album. I beg your fucking pardon. Didn't he do enough damage with "Baby Love"? That song torpedoed Her Name Is Nicole (AKA the best album never released) and stalled her promising solo career.

At least "Hoola Hoop" (below) is a hot track. I have to admit it took a few listens to click but it's extremely addictive in a Black Eyed Peas meets Pussycat Dolls kinda way. The highlights are obviously Nicky's quip about butt injections and her verse towards the end. If you're wondering who the other female voice is, the song heavily samples Rye Rye's "Shake It To The Ground".

There is actually a video to document Nicole's sad decline to buzz single feature creature status but it was pulled shortly after leaking. The Puakenikeni aficionado makes "Hoola Hoop" memorable but career-wise, this is the talented diva's lowest moment since taking second billing to Keri Hilson on "Scream".

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Medina Is Still Happening... In Germany

It's not easy being a Medina fan. And I'm not talking about her unusually depressing approach to dance music. The gloomy Dane is burdened with being big in Germany, which is great for her bank balance (because they still have a viable record industry) but hard for international fans due to the dim view German labels have of YouTube. Their view is - if you want the video, you can buy it from iTunes. As a result Medina's music doesn't get shared on blogs to the same extent as her Scandinavian contemporaries and her music tends to fall through the cracks.

A lot has happened since my last post about Denmark's leading dance diva. For starters, she has released another English language album called Forever. It's great - try hunting down the double disc German deluxe edition if you can. The lead single did well in her key markets but I prefer the follow-up. "Happening" is vintage Medina - an atmospheric burst of down-tempo electro-pop with an understated chorus that worms its way into your head after a couple of listens. She's like a female Hurts but with better songs. 

The video (below) is a typically classy affair and really makes you wonder why Medina hasn't tried her luck in the US or UK. She clearly has the talent and vision.

Megan and Liz, Really Not Bad For Me. At All.

I'm so obsessed with US teen pop at the moment. There's definitely a revival going on. It started with Selena and Demi releasing two of last year's best albums and has gained momentum with newcomers like the amazing Bridgit Mendler. Another couple of names to watch out for are 19-year-old twin sisters Megan and Liz. The new millennium's Mel and Kim have steadily built a following via YouTube - they have 750,000+ subscribers - and now have their sights set on chart glory with new single "Bad For Me".

Co-written and produced by Martin Johnson from Boys Like Girls, the sisters' breakthrough anthem is an irresistible shot of pure pop. The song taps into the ever-popular synth-pop/lite-rock sound first perfected by Hilary Duff almost a decade ago. There's a little bit of angst in the mix but it's very well hidden by the crisp beats, catchy hooks and perky vocals. "Bad For Me" is a cute song and deserves to do well. Megan and Liz are rising on US iTunes and could have something big on their hands if radio plays along. The video (below) is pretty basic but it does the trick.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Alicia Keys - Girl On Fire - Review

The R&B baton has been passed to Alicia Keys while Beyoncé works on her next game-changing masterpiece and she clearly means business. I thought buzz single "New Day" was a minor triumph but "Girl On Fire" is some next level shit. Released in three different formats (pared-back ballad, mid-tempo pop song and urban radio-friendly club banger), the Jeff Bhasker/Salaam Remi-produced anthem should usher in another record-breaking era for Alicia. It's that good.

I was completely obsessed with AK's last album but it lacked a killer lead single like "Fallin'" or "No One". That situation has been remedied. "Girl On Fire" has drawn criticism for dumbing down Alicia's sound but I think that's ridiculous. Sure, the song is a calculated attempt to win back the kids. So what? The woman is 31 years old. She should be making commercial music. If the poor bitch came back with a power ballad, the same critics would be whinging about her churning out the same old thing.

What I love about "Girl On Fire" - apart from the goosebump-inducing vocal, flawless production and haunting chorus - is the fact that it lifts your generic urban-pop hit from the gutter and transforms it into art. Take the Inferno version (below). It sounds like a slick hip-hop revision "Empire State Of Mind (Part 2)" and boasts the best rap Nicki Minaj has delivered since "Monster". Alicia's similarly titled album is now my most eagerly-awaited of 2012. Watch this explode.


Kylie Unveils Orchestral Album Cover & Tracklist

MAGs will no doubt stampede JB Hi-Fi on October 29 to get their wrinkly hands on a copy of Kylie's long-threatened orchestral album. I wish I could feign more excitement for The Abbey Road Sessions but I really don't give a shit. She looks gorgeous on the cover and I'm sure Steve Anderson's arrangements are beautiful but I need a rest from the employed Minogue's used and abused back catalogue. The Queen of pop needs to release another studio album and leave all this granny stuff to washed up divas like Madonna. At first I took the inclusion of "Flower" - probably the most beautiful ballad in Kylie's repertoire - as some consolation but I've got a live version from the X tour. Would it kill them to tack on the studio version as a bonus track? I guess so. Despite the fact that I will most likely never play The Abbey Road Sessions, I've already ordered the deluxe vinyl package and highly recommend it for gays in the autumn of their existence. Here's the tracklist:

All The Lovers
On A Night Like This
Better The Devil You Know
Hand On Your Heart
I Believe In You
Come Into My World
Finer Feelings
Confide In Me
The Locomotion
Can't Get You Out Of My Head
Where The Wild Roses Grow
I Should Be So Lucky
Love At First Sight
Never Too Late

Now excuse me while I go and listen to Body Language.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Elen Levon's Viral Video

Elen Levon (AKA Australia's next big thing) has just dropped a cute viral video for her new single "Dancing To The Same Song". The official video will be filmed in Japan in late September but this is a definitely worth checking out in the meantime. Sydney's hottest 18-year-old takes it easy in the clip - surfing and playing with her manager's kids. It's nice to see India's adorable children on screen and Elen's bikini body is insane. Most importantly, the soundtrack is brilliant. "Dancing To The Same Song" has been added across the board on Austereo and is slowly creeping up iTunes. I have a great feeling about the teenage diva's party anthem. That chorus is irresistible and she has some amazing people in her corner. Fingers crossed it's third time lucky for Elen.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

The Queen's Annual Birthday Post: Remembering "Work It Out"

31 years ago God decided he was sick of hearing shit on the radio and created Beyoncé to remedy the situation. To celebrate the birth of the music's leading lady, I thought it would be appropriate to revisit Bey's first single. Given the era-defining brilliance and chart slayage of "Crazy In Love" in 2003, it's easy to forget that the Queen tested the muddy waters of solo stardom a year earlier with "Work It Out". And fell flat on her face.

The Neptunes-produced, retro-funk anthem failed to dent the Hot 100 in America, which was a shock given the success of the Austin Powers in Goldmember (it grossed just under $300 million worldwide) and B's high profile as the only relevant member of Destiny's Child. I guess the song was just too quirky and raw for an era dominated by manufactured pop stars like Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys. Happily, the raunchy jam has since become a live favorite and performed better internationally.

"Work It Out" just missed the top 20 in Australia but was a radio staple. I almost melted the CD single from overuse and still think it holds up as one of the best songs in Beyoncé's breathtaking catalogue of hits. You can almost smell the talent. That vocal haunts your fave to this day and she oozes star power in the video (below). Bey had much better luck with her next single but this will always have a special place in my heart. Happy birthday, your highness!

Monday, September 03, 2012

Why Christina Aguilera Is A Legend

I'm here for the return of Christina Aguilera. The popular music needs her to release another huge album if only to annoy the haters. New single "Your Body" leaked a couple of weeks ago and it sounded like a pretty generic dance track to my ears but I'm sure it's a grower and let's face it - she can't really do any worse than "Keeps Gettin' Better". To celebrate Xtina's impending slayage I thought I'd post the stunning cover (above), which I assume is fanmade unless the diva has completely lost her mind, and a clip (below) that sums up all that is great about the humble pop legend. That gorgeous hair and make-up, those golden pipes and her inability to ever over-sing anything have made Christina the star she is today. Bring on "Your Body". It's time to make Bionic a bad memory.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

This Kills Me

Cosmo Jarvis On His Dick, Why Hip Hop Sux & Selling Out (But Not Really)

I was reading on Twitter that the airline lost your bags. Welcome to Australia!
I brought a guitar with me. I brought two laptops, five hard-drives to edit some footage while I was here and a domestic bag. A few items of clothing. My insulin. My mandolin. All my leads... all that shit and it was just gone. They didn’t tell us until we touched down in Sydney but they lost it in Abu Dhabi. I hope they’ve given some kind of financial contribution because that’s bullshit. It’s fucking insulin.

You’re out here to promote your new album, which is really great.
Thanks man.

To me it sounds like a progression from your last album. We were talking about that last time. Is The World Strange Or Am I? was really weird and wonderful and experimental and had the white man rapping.
I’m not allowed to rap anymore!

Last time you said that you had been banned from rapping by everyone. Was it a conscious decision to make something that is a little more... consumer friendly, for want of a better description?
It was inevitable. It’s album three. The last two had done terribly in the UK. Well, my fans liked them but outside that it wasn’t really growing as much as it should. So the third one had to be as low a risk as possible, while still maintaining some kind of musical diversity and still being a legitimate thing. It’s 11 tracks and I tried to find a more cohesive sound. I would say I want this fucking rap song and the team would say leave it. They would say you can still be a little rock, punk and acoustic but it’s got to be within reason. So, yes. It’s a little bit more playing the game. I’m not pissed off with the product at all. I guess you’ve just got to do these things until one day you can just do whatever you want.

It turned out really well. It’s very cohesive and has a great sound but the topics and the themes are still very you. It’s unusual for that kind of an album...
Cool, thanks. Trying to maintain that at least to still have some interesting subject matter and things that I felt needed to be sung about rather than... what everyone who’s selling music sings about is the most bland, unspecific, widely relatable trash that isn’t even an artwork anymore it becomes music for the sake of music. It’s seen briefs that say things like “relaxed, jovial, think sunshine, think carefree” – those are the kind of things that obviously will make it or people who are smart about it. They know what they’re singing about and it is still legit to them but they word it in a way that is abstract and makes it relatable to the listener, so the listener projects who they are and what they are into the meaning of the song and that works too and that’s a good way of doing it. Sometimes I like to be quite blunt and you can’t really abstract that too much when it’s a story, like a narrative in the song. I’m happy with the way it came out. I’ve just got to figure what to do with the few rap songs that are left over [laughs].

You could put out an online EP!
Yeah. Free downloads and shit. I’ll put ‘em out somehow.

“Love This” (bottom of post) is getting a lot of airplay on the indie-stations. When you first hear it, the song doesn’t sound worlds apart from the Jason Mrazes of the world but then when you listen to the lyrics, you’re like... oh fuck! The single kind of speaks for itself but could you talk about what was on your mind when you penned that one?
It started off a long time ago. I made a short film called The Joke and in that short film there was a piece of music during a montage which all revolved around bass chords and just the four on the floor kickbeat. That’s why I think mainstream radio has given it a few plays. At first listen it has that kind of poppy, dance thing going on. But it was just an instrumental and I always thought about writing words to it because I liked the groove a lot and I had some old words lying around that I just kind of started. The concept was basically – anybody if they met God, if he manifested as a human-being, exploring the question of what is worth more to you – should you choose to follow his example, which could be really good but could also limit you as a human being from finding your own way of doing things and making your own choices. That was the question. God vs good. The chorus just refers to life in general. If you like what you’re doing, just fucking do it. As long as it’s not like massacring millions of Jews in the Holocaust. That sort of thing is quite bad. So, I just kind of put it all together.

Is that a common theme through the album – religion, relationships with other people.
There’s tonnes of that shit.

What is it about the religious thing that tortures you, that plays on your mind?
It just causes so much shit. I can’t believe that the human race got this face, that it’s capable of so much fucking shit, doing unbelievable shit – curing blindness and all kinds of crap – but people still allow religion and their faith to influence professional decisions. The White House, the whole USA. Even in music. A guy from Sony in this country wouldn’t sign me... why was it?

Oh the video with the pedophile priest.
Yeah! He didn’t like “Sure As Hell Not Jesus” because he was Catholic. But you shouldn’t make a professional decision based on faith because it can affect millions of people. Not just musicians but actual countries. That pisses me off a lot. How much weight the idea of God has. And if you were to ask somebody what is God? I don’t know what they’d say but to me the definition is an example of how to live. The overall concept has to be good... otherwise it would be bad! So why can’t people just say that they believe in good?

Talking about that video, I think one of the best things about you is that beautiful symmetry between your music and the visual aspect.

And I think “Love This” is another quirky little video. But I’ve got to ask. It’s a bit of a sausage-fest. What’s going on?
Ok, so I got the suit. We did a few takes and my really good friend Rosie was on the roof with a camera and we were shooting it. We did a few rehearsals and this girl came down from Cheltenham in the UK to be in the video because she was very good looking. It was all cool and then we watched the first take back and we were like fuck, that sticks out quite badly. So I tried duct taping my dick to the inside of my leg but that just kind of made it look a little bit abnormal. It made it look like something was wrong, so then we were just like fuck it. I didn’t really know how to get around it so in the end I was like fuck it, just leave it. Because I am the devil in that video, so he wouldn’t give a shit if his fucking balls were hanging around the place, you know? But yeah, I should have thought about that before wearing a skin tight suit.

It was definitely a talking point. That shit is wobbling all over the place.
Fuckin’ hell. I’m sorry.

It’s like the Olympic 100m final where you should be concentrating on the athletes but instead you’re looking elsewhere.
I should blur it out maybe. It’s bad news. I’ve seen a few blogs where people have talked about just that. I just want people to know that it wasn’t intentional. It wasn’t like, hey look at my dick. It just happened that way and we were literally on some street with some duct tape, a few cameras – so for us to go home and get some sort of codpiece would have been a huge mission.

Slightly related topic... well, not really... you broke through with “Gay Pirates”. Even though you’re not gay, that song has made you a bit of an underground figure in the gay community. It’s really won you a following. Does that surprise you?
I’m honoured that a real gay person took something from my song. At first I was very worried that people would see it as me trying to do a novelty thing about gay men and I was very careful. If I was on a major label they would have had fucking queens doing the can can in the video. I just wanted it to be like any other love song that just happened to be about a gay couple. But it wasn’t just a gay thing – it was about men in general because I think men deal with love totally differently than women deal with it.

Not particularly well.
Yeah, not particularly well because they’re men, so there’s a certain logic there. Not that I’m saying women are illogical but there’s a different kind of logic than men have with regard to their emotional state. People don’t really explore that all too much, especially heterosexual men. I just kind of thought – if I was in love with a dude and we were two dudes on a boat, how would it happen? But I think it’s really fucking good that gay men like it. I’m honoured. It’s cool.

And that “Love This” video really helped seal the deal.
Yeah. Didn’t mean to but yes, there you go – that’s my dick.

What’s going to be the next single from the album?
It’s a toss up at the moment between “Train Downtown” and “Tell Me Who To Be”. Oh and maybe “Sunshine”.

Yeah, I like that one.
“Train Downtown” has a really strong chorus – or so I’m told – and is a good candidate but the problem is the subject matter. I’m not sure how that will differ in Australia because it’s... I’m not supposed to say what it’s about... this is really difficult to talk about. I’ve been told because of what people could perceive it as being about – connotations within the social and political states of countries, which may be detrimental to it being played on the radio. Even though it’s not about anything bad like that. There’s no way around it. I can’t re-record it or edit it. It’s either going to get played or it’s not. It would be great if it did. “Tell Me Who To Be” could be played because it’s simple and catchy. I wrote it when I was 12, so it’s a little fucking haunter. It’s been around for a long time. That’s like the fourth different recording of it that I’ve done. It started off as a reggae song, believe it or not. And I’d love it if “Sunshine” was a single but only if it had the end part in the single version because it would be as heavy as “My Day”, which JJJ didn’t take to, but I think it’s got a better chorus than “My Day”.

I was reading the album credits and you basically wrote, produced, did everything yourself. Do you ever entertain the thought of what it would mean to your sound if you worked with someone else?
Yeah, I’ve thought about it but many of the conversations that lead to me working with a producer start with “you need to work with a producer because it will help the record”. That’s not a good enough reason to work with a producer. If you’re going to work with a producer it’s got to be somebody that you met or jammed with or, I don’t fucking know, had a beer with or gotten blazed with or whatever and they think they can bring something to the table with your music. If that were to happen, I wouldn’t say no. I wouldn’t shoot it before I tried it. But you can’t go around shopping for producers. It’s dumb. I’m capable of producing a record on my own at the moment. I think I’m going to carry on producing stuff on my own but on the next record I want it to be much more rocky, verging on hardcore, acoustic-y, folky, bluegrass-y stuff. I want to get my live band to play on it. I’ll still produce it but I want it to sound more live. The only track I’ve ever done that’s like that was “My Day”. I liked how it sounded. I don’t know anything about micing up amps or anything like that, so I’d need a good engineer but I’d just produce it from there and see how it pans out.

Who are your influences? Who are you listening to?
Everybody. The Bronx, Frank Zappa, Grateful Dead, Tallest Man On Earth, Destiny’s Child.

Is there anyone at the moment?
Bronx. Fucking Bronx man.

Have you heard that Frank Ocean album? That’s good.
No, I haven’t.

I think you’d like that.
I’ll check it out. I like that single from Emeli Sande. The first one but I haven’t heard much of her other stuff but it reminded me of the Fine Young Cannibals, which is really cool. I like Corinne Baily Rae and there’s not a lot of other people. Generally it’s just shit. It’s all this bollocks. This shitty excuse for hip hop coming out of the US with all these well-moisturized rich fucking kids releasing their shitty songs about nothing. I look forward to when that era dies. Nobody makes real rap anymore.

Have you heard Azealia Banks?
Is she that girl with the lick my cunt song?

Yeah, she raps about her "cunt gettin’ eaten” on “212”.
I heard it last night and I really like it. But I heard what her other stuff is like and it doesn’t quite meet that single.

I like her but I think she’s someone who has let herself be mashed into a more palatable version.
But it’s really cool on that song though the way she has all these different voices on the record. There’s like that grimey, distorted thing, then there’s that other accent when she’s talking – which sounds totally sweet – and then, there’s the singing, which is like this evil, bluesy voice. I was like is this all her? And these girls were like, yeah. They loved it, they were playing it in the car on the way to the studio. It’s fucking cool, man. I really like that actually.

When are you coming back to Australia?
December 26. I’m going to come and do a bunch of festivals and then I’m going to do an Australian regular venue tour with my four piece band. I heard that it’s better then because it’s summer.

See you then!

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Michael Jackson's Bad - 25th Anniversary Review

Michael Jackson's Bad turned 25 on Friday. While the album will always stand in the shadow of the pop icon's all-conquering Thriller, its achievements are staggering:

- An estimated 45 million copies sold (the 5th highest ever)
- 5 US number one singles
- 10 singles (7 in the US, two worldwide and one promotional)
- 9 music videos
- The highest grossing concert tour ever  

Idolator asked me to revisit the album in celebration of its 25th anniversary and it was like reconnecting with an old friend. Check out my review. I think it's one of the best I've written. And while you're at it, watch "Leave Me Alone" (below). The song and video have stood the test of time and illustrate the genius Michael was capable of at his peak.