Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Essential Albums Of 2006

Here are my favourite albums of 2006, in no particular order. 2006 will not go down as the most memorable year in pop history but I'm grateful for these 15 works of genius. If any of the artists catch your fancy, please buy the album. None of my selections is particularly obscure, so you can buy them at all the usual places. You can order all of the Australian albums from Sanity or Chaos.


Infernal - From Paris To Berlin

Infernal are one of my favourite bands and I was very pleased to see them break through to the mainstream with their inescapable dance hit "From Paris To Berlin" - even if that song makes me want to hit myself on the head with a large hammer. Thankfully, the album is full of shiny pop gems that put "From Paris To Berlin" to shame. "Ten Miles" and "Peace Inside" show a more contemplative side to Infernal, camp anthems like "Careful With The Boys" and "Loved Like A Maniac" provide even the most desperate pop addict with a fix, while their cover of "Vienna" and the Australian single "A To The B" are treats for tragic Euro-trash lovers. The Australian release even came with a selection of live tracks from their amazing tour. My only complaint is their choice of singles. What is going on? "Cheap Trick Kinda Girl" and "A To The B" assured the album's failure in Australia, while a new track, their amazing cover of "Self Control", is being promoted in Europe. What the fuck?


Marcia Hines - Discotheque

The Young Divas are not the only Australian act to release an album of poptastic cover versions this year. Marcia Hines, 1970s "Queen of Pop" and current Australian Idol "earth mother", scored a top 10 album with her take on disco classics. "Discotheque" is positively bursting with good, old fashioned GAY fun! Marcia tears through a couple of numbers on auto-pilot but brings a real sense of joy to songs like "Best Of My Love", "Never Knew Love Like This Before", "Disco Inferno" and particularly, "Right Back Where We Started From". The album is also notable for the presence of "Stomp!", Marcia's first duet with her equally amazing daughter, Deni. There is nothing cool or cutting-edge about "Discotheque", which is exactly what makes it so fucking entertaining!

For a detailed Marcia rundown, with more tracks to download, check out this post.


Mary Kiani - The Sydney Sessions

Mary Kiani is the Scottish queen of dance, who has become such a fixture on the Sydney gay scene that she has recorded an album songs inspired by her many Sydney visits. "The Sydney Sessions" is a stunning achievement. Mary has crafted an album of pop gems that plays just as well in a club or in your home stereo. This album is pure bliss; there is nothing deep and meaningful here, just a collection of shiny pop songs that make you want to get up and dance. I believe this is the album that Madonna wanted to make with "Confessions On A Dance Floor" before her ego got in the way and spoiled things. "The Sydney Sessions" not only showcases Mary's recent output but includes several updated and remixed classics, such as "I Imagine" and "When I Call Your Name". The new songs, recorded with the team responsible for Melissa Tkautz's previous album, are also great. "Dreams", "Come Into My World" and "Anything Is Possible" are my favourites.

Read more about Mary (and download more songs) here. You can buy "The Sydney Sessions" directly from Mary's record label.


Paulini - Superwoman

Paulini was a busy woman in 2006. She began the year promoting her solo career, which should have been kicked into orbit with the release of her fabulous third album, "Superwoman" (I guess that Christmas monstrosity counts as an album). "Superwoman" is a bright, sparkling collection of urban pop tunes, which reminds me of American R'n'B in the 1980s - ie when it was still good. The album contains the singles "Rough Day" (which Paulini promoted tirelessly in gay clubs) and the magnificent "So Over You" (which made my top 40 songs of 2006 countdown). Despite good reviews and endless promotion, "Superwoman" stiffed at #72 in the charts and Sony asked her (ie pushed her) to join Young Divas. The success of their releases spelled the death of "Superwoman" and the third single "I Believe" was scrapped, despite promos being sent to radio and a video clip being filmed. It's a shame because this is one of the funkiest Australian pop albums of the decade.


Dannii - The Hits & Beyond

Next up is Dannii's much maligned "Hits & Beyond". A greatest hits compilation with a handful of new tracks tacked on, did not seem the most promising way for Dannii to begin her partnership with AATW records. With the career momentum Dannii had built with the work of genius that is "Neon Nights", a quick follow up seemed a no brainer. Only, in true Dannii style, everything that could go wrong, did go wrong; Dannii's new producers messed with the warm synth sound that made "Neon Nights" so unusual and did their best to transform her into an AATW in-house diva. It didn't end there, Dannii's planned new album was scrapped for "The Hits & Beyond" and the choice of singles has been nothing short of appalling. Let's not even get started on what happened to the planned "I Can't Sleep At Night/Love Fight" single or the mystery that is "He's The Greatest Dancer". The end result is that Dannii has now returned to Australia to host a talent show. Sorry, I was so carried away with my ranting about Dannii's tragi-fabulous career that I forgot about "The Hits & Beyond" (like most of the buying public). "The Hits & Beyond" offers 13 Dannii classics and 7 new tracks, only one of which is shithouse. Obviously, no record collection is complete without it!


Deni Hines - Water For Chocolate

Although I'm not ranking these albums, if I was pushed to choose a favourite I would probably go for this one. Deni Hines returned with her first new studio album in a decade without the support of a big record label and with a bunch of tracks that she wrote herself. The first time I listened to the album, I was a bit mystified because there seemed to be a dearth of songs that immediately grabbed you. After the filthy and fabulous first single, I wasn't expecting a collection of songs that seem more influenced by 70s R'n'B than current trends. To put it simply, this album is dripping in old school SOUL. "Water For Chocolate" requires a few listens before the extent of Deni's accomplishment becomes apparent. She has written an album of melodic soul tracks that is positively bursting with variety and energy. My favourite songs are Deni's fuck you anthem "That's You", the divine ballad "New Day" and the only nod to current R'n'B, the fabulous "Cut It Up". Deni might have sold 3 copies of "Water For Chocolate" but I hope she's proud of a spectacular achievement.


Deirdre Halliwell - Twisted Bitch

I am proud to call myself Deirdre Halliwell's number 1 fan. I truly worship the ground that Deirdre walks on. In a world full of carbon copies, Deirdre is a bonafide original. Who else would have the fabulous nerve to serve up an album like "Twisted Bitch", a musical cesspool of filthy songs like "Slave To The Jizzum" and "(Get Your) Curtains Parted"? Deirdre's formula of covering pop classics with newly revised, obscene lyrics may sound simple but there is genius at work here. "Freaky Like Deirdre" is one of best songs of 2006, while "I'm A Filthy Mental Bitch", a cover of Britney's "I'm A Slave For You" left me in awe of Deirdre's spellbinding artistry. You can hear many of the songs on Deirdre's website or on her Myspace. You can order the album here, which is well worth it, if only for Deirdre's cover art which takes minimalism to new heights! Bless her filthy heart!


Young Divas - Young Divas

The Young Divas are famously four Australian Idol rejects who banded together (ie. were legally obliged) to form the most successful Australian girl group for some time. Their first single, a cover of "This Time I Know It's For Real", made my end of year top 10 and their follow up, a cover of "Happenin' All Over Again" was almost as good. The girls decided to stick to a winning game plan when they released their self-titled debut album a couple of weeks before Christmas. The album is basically a poofter's wet dream, with the Divas covering everything from "It's Raining Men" to Barbra Streisand's "Woman In Love". This album is so fucking gay it almost defies belief. Much like, Marcia Hines' "Discotheque", the Young Divas have created a majestic slice of dumb fun. I think I'm going to have to buy another copy because mine is almost worn out!


Katie Price & Peter Andre - A Whole New World

I'm not being facetious, I seriously LOVE this album. I have been a fan of Peter Andre's since his "Funky Junky" days and I am mesmerised by the vision of trannytastic loveliness that is Jordan. I have been waiting for a Jordan solo album for years but "A Whole New World" will do nicely. The presence of both Peter and Jordan ups the cheese factor to the point where basically anything goes. Their versions of "I've Had The Time Of My Life" and "Islands In The Stream" are so wrong, they become so very right. While occasionally, the pair strike gold and find a song that actually suits their voices. I prefer their version of "The Best Things In Life Are Free" to Janet & Luther's, while "Don't Go Breaking My Heart", a song I usually find unbearable, becomes a winner when interpreted by Jordan and Peter. Every bone in my trash loving body is waiting for volume 2!

PS. The profits go to charity - so just buy it, you cunts.


Nelly Furtado - Loose

Nelly Furtado sold out. Someone crack open a bottle of champers and get the party started! I pretty obviously don't give a fuck about musical credibility but even I was surprised when I heard about Nelly Furado hooking up with super-producer Timbaland for her 3rd album. The idea of the man behind Missy Elliot producing the woman who strummed her way through superb folk-pop classics like "Try" sounded about as appealing as Victoria Beckham's attempt to go urban. To my great surprise, "Loose" works on every level. "Promiscuous" is one of the great R'n'B-pop collaborations of 2006, while "Maneater" was a brilliant shot of adrenalin charged pop. The rest of the album plays like a remixed verison of "Folklore", lovely melodies combined with awesome beats. My favourites are "Say It Right", "Do It" and the beautifully delicate "Showtime". If this is the result of "selling out", then I suggest everyone hurry up and jump on Nelly's gravy train because this shit is HOT.


La Toya Jackson - Startin' Over

Sooner or later, I will get around to writing a full post about the incredible (and still ongoing) debacle that is La Toya Jackson's comeback album, "Startin' Over". By the time Toy gets around to "startin' over", we might all have died of old age. The album, recorded in 2002, leaked in 2006 and scheduled for release after La Toya's reality TV series in 2007, has had more twists and turns than an entire series of "Nip/Tuck"! Thankfully, "Startin' Over" is a camp, pop masterpiece that should finally allow La Toya to have her moment in the spotlight after a 30 year music career that has spanned 9 studio albums and resulted in zero hits! I guess someone as original as Toy Toy is simply too fabulous for mainstream approval. It's their loss.


I'm From Barcelona - Let Me Introduce My Friends

I'm From Barcelona are a Swedish group who sing bright and happy songs about mundane things like stamp collecting and having the chicken pox. That might not sound particularly exciting but "Let Me Introduce My Friends" is the closest thing to bottled happiness that I have stumbled across all year. I'm From Barcelona specialise in a brand of exuberant, organic pop that is positively heartwarming without ever being sentimental or soppy. I defy anyone not to smile when listening to something as wonderfully ridiculous as "Treehouse", which has the amazing lyrics "I have built a treehouse, nobody can see us, 'cause it's a you and me house!" Other highlights include "Rec & Play", "We're From Barcelona" and "Chicken Pox".


Bic Runga - Birds

Even the most hardcore trash addict needs time off every now and again. When I overdose on ageing gay icons and start to hallucinate that it's 1984, my antidote of choice is the sublime Kiwi diva, Bic Runga. Bic is one of the most talented women to ever pick up a microphone. Her voice is an instrument of almost incomparable beauty and she writes, produces and plays all the instruments on her records. In other words, Bic is a fucking freak and I really should hate her because there is not a cheesy synth in sight. In fact, her latest opus, "Birds", is an even further step away from pop than her previous albums. There is nothing as instantly catchy as "Sway" or "Get Some Sleep"; rather Bic has served up a superb collection of what I can best describe as modern day torch songs. This album is best played at 3am with a cigarette in your mouth and an alcoholic beverage in your hand. "Birds" is simply exquisite.


Paris Hilton - Paris Hilton

I was convinced to give this album a second chance by a friend who raved that it was one of the best pop albums of the year. He was right! Paris' self-titled album is a fabulous set of pop songs about looking hot. I'm serious. The vast majority of these songs are about how sexy Paris is. The titles say it all - "Turn You On", "Fightin' Over Me", "Jealousy", "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy", "I Want You" etc. Superficial? Yes. Fabulous? You bet. I actually think this is a very personal album. Paris has recorded songs about the thing she knows best, which is basically how to look hot at a party. Paris has employed some of the best and brightest to help her explore modern day hotness and the album works a treat. "Nothing In This World" is one of the best pop songs of recent years, while the above mentioned "hot" anthems are surprisingly fabulous. However, my favourite song on the album is "Heartbeat", an 80s flavoured mid-tempo ballad, which is absolutely gorgeous.


Sneaky Sound System - Sneaky Sound System

I'm so jealous. Paris Hilton is spending New Year's Eve in Sydney at an event hosted by Sneaky Sound System. The idea of Paris and Sneaky Sound System in the same room is enough to give me heart palpitations. I would do some very bad things and some very ugly people to be there. My attendance is as likely as Dannii scoring a #1 hit, so I should get back to the music. Sneaky Sound System are the Australian "It" band of the moment. They are on the verge of big things, having recently supported Robbie Williams, scoring a top 20 hit with "Pictures" and having their breakthrough hit "I Love It" used on a commercial, which has resulted it re-entering the top 50. Both songs have been burning up Sydney dance floors for months, with their killer beats and catchy lyrics. Sneaky Sound System's album is that rarest of things, a consistently excellent, Australian pop-dance offering. Previous singles such as the hilarious "Hip Hip Hooray" (with the memorable lyrics "Hip hip, hip hip hooray, I'm looking for love of the one night variety! Hip hip, hip hip hooray, I wanna go home with you and I don't even know your name!") and "Tease Me" are included while irresistable cuts like "UFO" and "It's Over" smell like further hits. Fingers crossed that they hook up with Paris for their next album!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Year End Countdown

I hope everyone had a pleasant Christmas. Mine was a debacle as usual and I'm wondering if I'm not too old to officially divorce my family before they drive me completely insane. Apart from drowning my sorrows and stuffing my face, I have been finishing up my end of year countdown. I wouldn't exactly call 2006 a stellar year for pop but there have been a few great songs that I will have on high rotation for years to come. I'm sure some people will be appalled by a couple of my choices but I really couldn't give a fuck. Here we go!

My Top 40 Songs Of 2006

1. Home - La Toya Jackson

Imagine if one of your favourite acts recorded an album 4 years ago (her first in a decade), released 2 amazing promo singles, published the tracklist and went on a publicity whoring rampage. And then shelved, re-recorded and postponed the album again - in order to promote Australian vodka. That is the tip of the iceberg of the "Startin' Over" debacle. You can probably imagine the relief I felt when "Startin' Over" was finally leaked in full earlier this year. With such a ridiculous build up, I was expecting a major anti-climax. I should have known better than to question the brilliance of Toy; the album is divine and one of the many highlights is "Home". To fully appreciate this song, it helps to know a bit about Toy's life story - that she married a psychotic gangster, who beat her up, drugged her, cut her off from her family and generally made her a worldwide laughing stock. La Toya wrote this song about growing up with the Jacksons and missing them during her time in exile. The result is a bittersweet ballad, which is reminiscent of Michael's "Childhood" - only good. I hope this makes the re-re-recorded version of "Startin' Over", due some time in 2007.


2. Water For Chocolate - Deni Hines

Deni Hines released her first new studio album in a decade in 2006 and I seem to be the only person who noticed. The album sank without denting the charts and only the second flop single from the album, a cover of "Son Of A Preacherman", received any airplay. It's almost criminal than the best Australian song of 2006 is already forgotten. The first single from Deni's album, "Water For Chocolate", is a urban dance-pop at its best. Deni does what no American diva could manage in 2006 - she made R'n'B fun again.


3. With Every Heartbeat - KleerUp Ft. Robyn

Every poof and his fag hag will have "With Every Heartbeat" in their end of year "best of" list. Robyn has quite simply taken over the internet. In fact, I'm almost beginning to fear that the hype surrounding her might end up being detrimental. I really hope I'm wrong because Robyn is the only pop diva to emerge in recent years who is worthy of being mentioned in the same sentence as the holy queens of pop - Kylie and Dannii! "With Every Heartbeat" is the best thing Robyn has done since "Be Mine", a melancholy electro-ballad that positively ripples with emotion. With the proper promotion (note to Robyn - fire the idiots responsible for the Rakamonie EP!) this could be the breakthrough hit of 2007. Fingers crossed, Robyn deserves to be HUGE.


4. Easily Affected - Melissa Tkautz

Poor Melissa! Despite releasing arguably the second best song of her entire career, "Easily Affected", Melissa plunged from one new low to another in 2006. First there was the spectacle of her transexual ex-manager rubbishing her in the gay newspapers, then Melissa almost went bankrupt flying to Belgium to record "Easily Affected" with Kate Ryan's producers - only to see the song stall at #82 in the Charts, although this didn't stop her promoting the song with a showcase in Martin Place that will go down as the worst live performance in musical history (Melissa blamed the microphones) and finally, Melissa tried to drum up publicity by declaring that she launched the acting careers of Simon Baker and Marcus Graham and claimed that she was celibate for 5 years due to her heartbreak when they dumped her. Talk about a banner year! I can't wait for the release of her latest floptastic album in March 2007! Enjoy this slice of pop heaven from Australia's trash queen.


5. Perfection - Dannii

Dannii could release any old shit and I'd still buy it. "Perfection" received an underwhelming response among Dannii's fans but I'm yet to go to gay club this year and not hear "Perfection" at least once. I love the tacky sampling of "Turn The Beat Around" and don't get me started on the "Dannii films her Ibiza holiday on a cam-corder" video. Pure heaven!


6. Perfect - Princess Superstar

Princess Superstar is the American Robyn, without the pop-edge. Yes, she's THAT good. "Perfect" plays like a dance remix of "Konichiwa Bitches" - only it's far better. This is the best "work it like a gutter slut" club song of the year! Who else but Princess Superstar could rhyme "botox" with "blow cocks"? This was a massive club hit in Australia. I'm not sure how it did in the rest of the world but Princess Superstar is another fabulous diva on the verge of hitting it big.


7. This Time I Know It's For Real - Young Divas

The ongoing success of Young Divas is truly heartwarming for Australian pop fans. Just when Aus-pop looked like becoming an endagered genre, four Australian Idol contestants were thrown together by their record labels as a last ditch attempt to make some money after a series of flop solo projects. The result was Young Divas and they surprised everyone by having a massive hit with their cover of SAW's "This Time I Know It's For Real". Even more surprising is how true this stays to the original. Close your eyes and it's 1989 all over again! Bliss.


8. Tracking Treasure Down - Gabriel & Dresden

Faceless dance music? Not quite. "Tracking Treasure Down" is something of an oddity - a club track that started life as a cut from the "Pirates Of The Carribean" soundtrack, which has less to do with pirates and treasure and more to do with heartbreak and longing. "Tracking Treasure Down" is the most bittersweet and melodic dance song of the year. With the right promotion, this could have been a massive crossover pop hit. Instead, it has to make do with being a huge club hit in America and Australia (and I assume most of the world). The female vocalist does an amazing job and really deserved a "featuring" credit at the very least.

PS. Why are these DJs always so hot?


9. Nothing In This World - Paris Hilton

Stop snickering! Paris has all the musical ability of a stone deaf accountant but that didn't stop her releasing one of the best pop albums of 2006. Forget about the dire "Stars Are Blind"; the rest of Paris' album is nothing short of poptastic. One of the highlights is the second single, "Nothing In This World", which shamefully bombed in most countries. I blame the creepy video which had Paris rolling around with a 12 year old. WTF? The song itself is the closest thing to good, old-fashioned bubblegum pop to hit the Australian top 40 all year. I hope Paris continues with music. I'd take her over Britney, Christina and Beyonce any day.


10. Be Your Girl - Amiel

One of the most welcome returns of 2006 was Amiel's. Everyone should remember Amiel's two big hits - "Addicted To Bass" and "Love Song". After the success of her debut album, "Audio Out", Amiel came back with her follow up a couple of years ago and sold all of 10 copies. The album was actually rather brilliant and her record label took the unusual step of re-recording some tracks and remixing others in order to re-launch the album. The first cut is the sublime "Be Your Girl", one of the best pop songs of the year. The song ruled Australian dancefloors for weeks but only charted in the low 70s. I really hope her label hasn't given up on her. The Australian pop scene needs Amiel. She might be a bit hit and miss, but when she gets it right, the results are nothing less than spectacular.


11. Whole New World - Katie Price & Peter Andre

I worship Jordan. The woman is one of the undisputed queens of trash. I can stare at her photo for hours: those fake tits, the crazy hair extensions, the drag queen make-up and the "Gone With The Wind" evening gowns. H-E-A-V-E-N! Jordan could fart to music and I would buy it, however her amazing Eurovision entry "Not Just Anybody" signalled the emergence of a true musical genius. I have waited patiently for her to launch a solo career but have had to make do with her fantastic album of duets with Australia's greatest male vocalist, Peter Andre. The first cut was notorious before it was even released due to the leaked version of the track, which displayed Jordan's unproduced vocals in their full glory. I loved that version of "Whole New World" and I love the cleaned up, released version too. Trash at it's most glorious!


12. Maneater - Nelly Furtado

I have been a big fan of Nelly Furtado from the very beginning of her career. I wanted to throw myself from a tall building when I heard that she was recording her new album with Timbaland. Much to my surprise, "Loose" turned out to be one of the albums of the year. I loved the playfulness of "Promiscuous" but was blown away by the slice of adrenalin charged pop that is "Maneater". In one fell swoop, Nelly staked her claim as the unexpected urban pop queen of the year.


13. Self Control - Infernal

I LOVE Infernal. Their album is a shiny monument to all that is holy about Euro-pop but who in the fuck is choosing their singles? I mean, they have released the worst songs from the album. I hate "From Paris To Berlin" and "Cheap Trick Kinda Girl", while "A To The B" is camp fun but hardly single worthy. I have a suspicion that they have secretly hired Dannii Minogue as their manager because they are doing everything WRONG. Thank goodness, they redeemed themselves somewhat with this glorious cover of Laura Branigan's "Self Control". Hopefully, they will consider releasing "Ten Miles", "Fairytale", "Peace Inside" or "Loved Like A Maniac" as their next single.


14. Rec & Play - I'm From Barcelona

This is the first of my "Blog hits" - songs that I discovered due to the fabulous individuals who populate Blog Land. I'm From Barcelona were all over the internet for a good part of the year and I was instantly smitten by their unique, organic songs about life's minutiae. This song is so goofy and catchy and became my favourite from the very first listen. "We're From Barcelona", "Collection Of Stamps" and "Treehouse" are all good enough to make the list but "Rec & Play" is the song I keep coming back to. I even like the weird Swedish bit at the end. I wonder what they're saying...


15. I Love It - Sneaky Sound System

Sneaky Sound System are on the verge of breaking BIG in Australia. "Pictures", their latest single, is currently in the top 20, they recently supported Robbie Williams on his Australian tour and their previous single, the spectacular "I Love It", returns to the Aus top 50 this week. Most excitingly, they have maintained this level of quality for a whole album. In fact, there are so many good songs on their self-titled debut set that any one of them is worthy of being released as single. "I Love It" is a real corker - Australian dance music, steeped well and truly in pop. This is turning out to be the party song of the year.


16. Stomp! - Marcia & Deni

I have devoted several posts to the amazing Marcia and Deni Hines. Their first duet is everything a pop trash addict could hope for and more. The mind blowing video in particular exceeded all expectations! "Stomp!" also saw the return of Marcia and Deni to the ARIA top 50 for the first time this decade. I hope Marcia's record company keeps mining "Discotheque" for singles; her cover of "Right Back Where We Started From" could be massive.

17. Jump Into My Car - David Hasselhoff

The sexiest man alive finally had a well deserved top 5 UK hit and even made the Australian top 50. The Hoff's cover of Ted Mulray's "Jump In My Car" is a work of genius. David's amazing vocals have never sounded better and the dance remix is CAMP. If only the Hoff would hurry up and release "David Hasselhoff Sings America" internationally. It is only one of the greatest albums of recent years!


18. He Doesn't Love You - Sarah McLeod

Sarah was the lead singer of the Australian rockband, "The Superjesus". "He Doesn't Love You" was one of the singles from her debut solo album and flopped like everything else she released from it. That is, until the track was remixed and became a dance sensation. This has been in the 10 of the Australian Club chart for the past 20 weeks and has become something of an anthem. If the silly bitch would only buy a dress and realise that pop is her calling, the entire world would simultaneously sigh in relief.


19. Set Me Free - Lorenz

The quickest glance at this Blog will reveal how much I love the tragic singing man-whore from Italy. "Set Me Free" is the piece of fabulous Euro-trash that announced Lorenz as a chart sensation when he reached the UK top 40 after embarking on a nude publicity campaign. Respect! The next single, "Right Back" appears to have been postponed or scrapped. I hope this isn't the last we see from Kerry Katona's great Italian discovery.


20. Apple Of The Eye - Something With Numbers

Every blue moon I stumble across an indie song that I like. "Apple Of The Eye" was my catchy indie favourite of 2006. Something With Numbers are an emerging Australian band fronted by a complete tool (as you can tell by the video). I was so enamoured with this song, I even went to a rock gig to see them! This song puts all those English posers to shame. This proves you can still play guitars and be entertaining - Franz Ferdinand, Snow Patrol, Keane (etc) take note!


21. So Over You - Paulini

Paulini is one of the women of 2006. Apart from the fact that Paulini basically IS the Young Divas, she also found the time to release a fantastic solo album and a couple of killer singles this year. My favourite of these is the "Crazy In Love"-inspired ditty (see the video clip), "So Over You". This is THE funkiest pop tune to be released by an ex-Australian idol contestant. I hope that Sony doesn't give up on Paulini's solo work. A listen to her "Superwoman" album makes it very clear that Paulini is the real deal.


22. So Under Pressure/Feel Like I Do - Dannii

This song just makes me cranky. I do like it, in fact I think it is something of an under-appreciated gem, but there were so many better options that could have breathed some life into "The Hits & Beyond" - "Gone" would have been my first choice. Even more infuriating is the amazing B-side, "Feel Like I Do". This song has top 5 hit written all over it. I prefer it to any of Dannii's new AATW material. Can someone talk me through the thought process that resulted in this pop gem ending up as the B-side to the third single? Dannii, we all revel in your fabulous incompetence but this is getting ridiculous. Pull your socks up, woman!


23. Player - La Toya Jackson

If "Home" shows a more serious side to Queen Toy, then "Player" is a return to her trashtastic best. Who wants to hear a 50 year old woman singing about bondage and "freaking all night"? I do! Then there is the amazing, "say my name, just say La Toya" breakdown and the Right Said Fred inspired "I'm too sexy" moment towards the end. A pop trash addict's wet dream!


24. Dream On - Christian Falk Ft. Robyn

This song grows on me every time I hear it. The first couple of times I listened to it, I wasn't sure what to think. "Dream On" appears to be an electro-lullaby to thieves and criminals. How fabulous! There is something wonderfully hypnotic about this song that keeps me coming back for more. I know it under-performed in Sweden but I'd much rather see this as an international single than "Konichiwa Bitches" or "This One's For You". This song is quirky and different without trying too hard. Some of Robyn's more recent output is coming very close to crossing that line.


25. Hips Don't Lie - Shakira

"Hips Don't Lie" was number 1 in Australia, America and the UK for what seemed like months and I am yet to find a single person with anything nice to say about it. Fuck you all, I LOVE it!

Watch the video and get correct!


26. Accident & Emergency - Patrick Wolf

Patrick Wolf is another artist I would have never heard of, if I wasn't a complete Blog-whore. I have listened to numerous songs from previous Patrick Wolf albums and concluded that he was pretty shit. Then I saw the cover of his latest offering, "Accident & Emergency", on the great XO London Blog and decided that any man wearing more make-up than Jordan deserved a second chance. I'm very glad I did because "Accident & Emergency" is nothing short of brilliant. I think I would need some convincing to invest in a whole album but if the other tracks are anything like this rock-pop gem, I'll be jumping on the Patrick Wolf bandwagon very shortly.


27. We're All In This Together - High School Musical

I love musicals. Any musical. Even shit TV musicals that rip off "Grease" and serve up a cast full of 12 year olds who sound like they spend their days sucking helium balloons. I love "Breaking Free", but "We're All In This Together" wins my vote due to the presence of the ultra-glamorous Ryan and Sharpay. Anyone who has watched the movie will surely agree with me that "High School Musical" is really all about them. I mean, they even perform on a sequined ladder! This song is hugely poptastic.


28. The Sweet Escape - Gwen Stefani Ft. Akon

"The Sweet Escape" is the highlight of Gwen's new album and a fine choice of second single. I didn't mind "Wind It Up" but "The Sweet Escape" is more like it. There is something almost old-fashioned by the brass instruments and "whoop-ing" backing singers. This is one of the rare occasions when rap and pop collide and result in something gorgeous, not something utterly vile - like everything Fergie has ever released. Expect this to revive the fortunes of Gwen's album considerably.


29. Forget Me, Forget Me Not - Bionda

Bionda is so fabulous, it almost hurts. I hope everyone checked out my Bionda-post and watched her entire 3 song concert. I just love her. Any woman with no talent whatsover, who has the nerve to mime along to three utterly crap Euro-trash numbers is a goddess in my book. Oh, and did I mention she started her own political party to generate publicity? I think, I did. Anyway, it deserves repeating. "Forget Me, Forget Me Not" is Bionda at her sultry best.


30. Not Ready To Make Nice - The Dixie Chicks

I love country-pop and no act currently does it better than the Dixie Chicks. "Not Ready To Make Nice" is something of a miracle - it's not only a country song that managed to generate airplay on mainstream Australian radio stations but also a country song with a political message that manages to be catchy and entertaining. "Not Ready To Make Nice" is definitely worth a listen. I get excited any time something like this manages to break into the upper echelons of the Australian Chart.


31. Congratulations - Silvia Night

Every European who didn't vote for Silvia at Eurovision this year should hang their heads in shame. "Congratulations" is the most glorious thing to happen to Eurovision since Pall Oskar - and she didn't even make the final! I applaud Silvia for calling that homophobic cunt, Carola Haggkvist, an "ugly fucking old bitch". Silvia was joking but the shoe most surely fit. Then there is the song itself - a gleaming slice of Euro-pop that sounds like it just came off the Max Martin production line circa 1995. The part where she calls God on the telephone is beyond fabulous. When is this gigantic talent going to release an album?

32. Irreplaceable - Beyonce

Just when you thought Beyonce was in the process of committing commercial suicide, she released "Irreplaceable" and instantly revived interest in her stinking "toilet" album. The album might be rancid but there is no denying the charm of "Irreplaceable", a lovely mid-tempo break-up song. I really don't get Beyonce, she is obviously capable of brilliance as this number and "Crazy In Love" aptly demonstrate, but how does someone with so much going for her get it wrong so often? I guess I should be grateful that millions of dollars and mega-stardom can at least buy you one decent song out of ten.

Watch the video here.


33. To The Lighthouse - Moi Caprice

"To The Lighthouse" was posted on the amazing Don't Stop The Pop Blog a couple of months ago. It's another song that I instantly loved and went on mission to track down as much material on the band as I could. The only way I can describe the sound of Moi Caprice is to liken them to The Killers, if they went electro-pop and dropped the attitude. I still haven't managed to track down their album because none of the those Scandi-pop internet retailers can be bothered shipping to Australia, but I'll keep trying. This song is fucking amazing.

34. Heartbeatz - Styles & Breeze Ft. Karen Danzig

I was shocked to the core when Central Station Records licensed this fabulous piece of AATW dance trash. Actually being able to buy a Karen Danzig release from a store was a joy. I usually have to wait weeks for my CDs to arrive from the UK. "Heartbeatz" sums up everything I love about AATW - mindless dance rubbish with a craptastic, female rent-a-singer. Karen should be as massive as Kelly Llorenna! This is GAY.

35. I Could Say I'm Sorry - Universal Poplab

Yet another Blog hit. I think I first heard this over at the inimitable Catchy Tunes Of Sweden Blog. Universal Poplab specialise in the kind of catchy pop that only appears to be made in Scandinavia these days. Their album is almost bursting with fabulous pop jewels that sound something like a cross between Savage Garden and The Rasmus, only with a more poptastic edge. "I Could Say I'm Sorry" needs to be released internationally. There's no reason why this couldn't be big with the right marketing.


36. Ti Amo - Laura Gissara

Yes, it's the second Laura Branigan cover to feature in my countdown. That should give you some indication of how much I worship her. I should be writing off this cover version by Australian Idol reject, Laura Gissara, as an insult but I'm not that much of a snob. Laura (Gissara) has a nice voice and if she had enough money to hire a decent producer, this would have sounded rather wonderful. More importantly, she is a fan of the original and had nice things to say about Laura (Branigan). "Ti Amo" managed to chart inside the Aus top 50 before sinking without a trace. I hope Laura (Gissara) gets a second chance - the bitch has good taste in music idols.

37. Rakamonie EP - Robyn

This only makes the countdown due to the presence of "Cobrastyle" and "Konichiwa Bitches" - oh and due to phenomenal cover art. I'm still not sure what Robyn was trying to prove by releasing this collection. The live version of "Be Mine" was pointless, the duet with Jenny Wilson is rubbish and "Jack U Off" has novelty value at best. Every bone in my body wants to see Robyn be the next big thing, so it annoys me intensely that she is wasting opportunities by desperately trying to prove her credibility. We all know Robyn is cool. She doesn't have to release boring music to prove it. That said, "Cobrastyle" (or "Girlie Style") is an excellent example of why the Teddybears are one of the hottest dance outfits on the planet. Robyn needs to stop trying to be Leila K and focus on making gems like this.


38. More Than A Feeling - The Stafford Brothers

Now this really is faceless dance music, which shamelessly recycles an old classic to come up with a cheesy floorfiller. "More Than A Feeling" makes my list because it is a necessary dose of disco fun and because the Stafford Brothers are totally hot. This list needs to be sexed up a bit! Try this little number out at your next party. I guarantee at least one tragic poof will start doing the robot.


39. I'm Not Missing You - Stacie Orrico

Stacie Orrico released one of the best pop singles of the year and nobody seemed to notice. "I'm Not Missing You" is an insanely catchy number that was a complete and utter surprise given Stacie's rather dire previous output. If Britney or Christina had recorded this, it would have been number 1 for weeks - but it also would have sounded half as good. Fingers crossed that Stacie sticks with pop. It suits her wonderfully.


40. It's Beautiful - The Attic

It feels appropriate to finish with another "Blog hit". The Attic caused major waves with their delicious "In Your Eyes" (no, unfortunately not a Kylie cover). "It's Beautiful" is another serving of electro-pop brilliance and I can't wait to get my hands on their album. "It's Beautiful" is one of those songs that expertly straddles the boundary between dance music and good, old-fashioned pop. The Attic are definitely an act to keep an eye on in 2007.

Coming soon is my end of year album countdown. Expect more ageing gay icons than you can poke a stick at!