Monday, March 31, 2008

Club Disco - Australian Edition

I have mixed emotions about the upcoming release of Dannii's "Club Disco" in Australia. It's always exciting to add something new to my Dannii collection and I'm pleased "Club Disco" will finally get a physical release BUT the tracklisting is a huge disappointment. I was excited to learn that the Australian edition would be a double CD until I realised that Disc 2 is comprised of nothing more than a bunch of previously released remixes. Furthermore, Disc 1 is missing the best song on the entire album - Dannii's sublime collaboration with Roger Sanchez, "Do You Believe Me Now". What the fuck is going on? This package stinks worse than Jennie C's tongue after rimming Nathan.

The great shame, of course, is that "Club Disco" is a fabulous album (you can read my review here). I love it to pieces and have been playing it almost non-stop since its digital release last year. There's just not a lot of incentive to buy "Club Disco" again when the bonus tracks are this unappealing. Dannii has a vault of unreleased material, surely it's not expecting too much for a few of them to be dragged out for the loyal fans who have done the right thing and legally downloaded the original version. This release is only for the uninitiated and completists like myself who will buy any old rubbish that Dannii puts her name to. The release date is yet to be announced.

CD ONE
01. TOUCH ME LIKE THAT with Jason Nevins
02. FEEL LIKE I DO (JCA Remix)
03. PERFECTION with Soul Seekerz
04. YOU WON'T FORGET ABOUT ME with Flower Power
05. LOVE FIGHT
06. I'M SORRY
07. GONE
08. SO UNDER PRESSURE
09. GOOD TIMES (Forty Four's 7" Mix)
10. SUNRISE
11. HE'S THE GREATEST DANCER (LMC Radio Edit)
12. I CAN'T SLEEP AT NIGHT
13. I WILL COME TO YOU
14. I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR YOU
15. ROUND THE WORLD
16. XANADU
17. YOU WON'T FORGET ABOUT Me (Afterlife Lounge Mix Edit)
18. I CAN'T SLEEP AT NIGHT (Afterlife Lounge Mix)

CD TWO: BONUS REMIX DISC
01. TOUCH ME LIKE THAT with Jason Nevins (Stonebridge Club Mix)
02. HE’S THE GREATEST DANCER (Shapeshifters Remix)
03. PERFECTION with Soul Seekerz (Seamus Haji & Paul Emmanuel Remix)
04. SO UNDER PRESSURE (Soul Seekerz Extended)
05. YOU WON’T FORGET ABOUT ME with Flower Power (Discode Club Mix)
06. I CAN’T SLEEP AT NIGHT (Kenny Hayes Sunshine Funk Mix)
07. TOUCH ME LIKE THAT with Jason Nevins (Space Cowboy Remix)
08. HE’S THE GREATEST DANCER (Riffs & Rays Remix)
09. PERFECTION with Soul Seekerz (Koishii & Hush Remix)
10. SO UNDER PRESSURE (Steve Pitron Remix)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

My Chat With Peter Wilson

Peter Wilson was a bright spark of Hi-NRG fabulousness on the dark and dreary mid-90s Australian music scene. At a time when grunge ruled the airwaves, this poptastic iconoclast specialised in Eurodance and proudly declared Stock Aitken Waterman as his major influence. The thing I loved most about Peter was his refusal to conform. He was a leopard skin print covered beacon in a sea of flannel wearing automatons, carving out his own niche with the music he loved. Songs like "I Wanna Dance", "Move" and "Into The Night" basically established their own genre. Australian produced Hi-NRG dance music didn't really exist before this Melbourne boy decided to emulate the likes of Bobby O and Giorgio Moroder. More than a decade has passed since his 90s hey day but Peter is still very much a slave to the beat, steadfastly refusing to budge from the dancefloor.

2007 saw the long awaited release of Peter's debut album via the UK's inimitable Klone Records. I picked up "Follow Me" late last year but it got lost in the massive pile of CDs littering my bedroom floor until a couple of weeks ago. It hasn't left my stereo since. "Follow Me" picks up exactly where Peter left off in the 90s, delivering a collection of irresistible Hi-NRG dance tunes proudly influenced by the likes of SAW, Modern Talking and Fancy. I'm a huge fan of Klone Records but I have no hesitation in naming "Follow Me" as the best album in their extensive catalogue. Peter has crafted a winning mix of Hi-NRG dance tracks and camp pop delights with just enough cheese thrown into the mix to satiate trash lovers like myself! The quality of the album hasn't gone unnoticed. The project has already scored Peter songwriting duties for the likes of Carol Jiani, Amanda Lear, Gina G and possibly Kate Ryan.

I contacted Peter to let him know how much I love "Follow Me" and, on a whim, asked if we could have a quick chat about the album for Pop Trash Addicts. He kindly obliged and our "quick chat" turned into a marathon MSN session that dragged on well into the early hours of the morning! Peter was a lot of fun to interview. He's funny, brutally honest and like any good queen, enjoys dropping the occasional famous name! We covered Peter's early career as well as his Klone comeback, not to mention his upcoming collaborations with Carol and Amanda. Most of all, I discovered a kindred spirit who lives and breathes pop music.


I'm a huge fan of your early career. How did you get into music?
I started by appearing on an 80s TV show called "The Early Bird Show". I sang a Lionel Richie song, was really terrible. And was even judged by none other than Dannii Minogue, who I went to high school with. AND I LOST!!!

You went to school with Dannii?! I'm not sure if you know but Dannii is my all time favourite singer and I actually have a blog in her honour! Were you in the same year?
LOL I did. She was 1 year ahead of me. I was in awe of her at school. We never talked much at school, but we do have a mutual friend. She is nice though, Kylie was just lovely also.

How fantastic! I can't believe she rejected you though... how rude!
NO believe it, I WAS fucking hideous!

Did that tv appearance lead to "I Wanna Dance"? Or did that come later?
Ok, after that I did a couple years singing lessons, then hounded a DJ on a dance radio show who I knew was producing. Eventually he gave in, we did a demo. Then about 12 months later I met David Wilks in 1991, who produced "I Wanna Dance". We did about 20 songs. "I Wanna Dance" caught the attention of a radio station in Melb called Hitz FM, a local youth radio station. The song took off as an unsigned song. Colossal Records contacted them, we got in touch and they signed me. Then it went to No 40 in Oz in it's 1st week. Don't ask what is charted at in week two though! But yeah it was my first break.

I've always wanted to ask you about the fabulous "I Wanna Dance" B-sides. Was "Bing Bong (Turn Me On)" a piss take?!
oh GODDDD!

It's a classic!
I think Dave wanted to do a 4 track album, like Giorgio Moroder did with Donna Summer. So yeah he needed one more song, and he wanted to rip off "Sugar Sugar". So "Bing Bong" was born. By the way, my vocal is nasty on that song!

Your music was such a breath of fresh air at a time when grunge was taking over the airwaves. Were you always interested in Hi-NRG music? You really did carve out your own niche.
Aww thanks! I grew up on it, since 1984 and the early SAW days, I would listen to a Melbourne dance show (done by the DJ who did my 1st track), and I was introduced at age 11 to Bobby O, Giorgio Moroder and Italo disco. It's MY music and I wanted to make it. NOT to conform to music I hated. And there was a lot of SHITE out at that time.

There sure was! If it wasn't for the likes of you, Girlfriend and the Minogues, I would probably have spent my youth wearing flannel!
That's probably one of the best compliments I have been given, I love that!! You know when you find a style of music that's just YOU, well this was it for me. And flannel can be very sexy on a guy!

Rarely! The follow up to "I Wanna Dance" was probably not your finest moment (sorry!!) but I honestly believe "Into The Night" is an Australian pop classic. Whose idea was it to cover Benny Mardones' classic?
Well first let me talk about "Move" (the 2nd single). I fucking hate that song and It's No Secret as Kylie put it. I didn't want to release it, and in fact had a new David Wilks song ready to go called "Feelin Hot". I co-wrote it and it was awesome! Very "No More Tears" meets Pet Shop Boys. But management didn't want the whole SAW camp sound so they pulled it and went with "Move" and stopped my working with Dave. I may record it for Klone yet. I LOVE IT!

I'd love to hear it! "Move" is just... kind of horrendous but it's still fun.
"Move" was just not me. Everything from song, producer to shitty single cover was decided for me. NEVER AGAIN. No, you're right it's fucking tragic!

But you got everything so right with "Into The Night"!
Ok, "Into The Night". It was chosen by Colossal. Originally they even thought about Stock/Aitken doing it since they were big again with Nicki French. But of course it cost a fortune, then they chose John Springate. Then management stepped in AGAIN and insisted the guy who did "Move" do this but in fairness he did a decent job on it. I liked singing it and we even got Nick Skitz to do the final mixes. I love it and it was my biggest hit.

Can I ask who this mysterious producer was?
His name was Paul Carmody.

I think the whole package is brilliant. Fantastic song, great remixes and THE VIDEO!! What a masterpiece! Please tell me about making it.
The video was over in 4 hours. I rocked up at 8am and what's funny is I had a stylist hired for this single. He gave me some clothing changes, and I mimed the track in a few different outfits and my job was done. What is funny is I was SO scared to perform and very shy, so he was showing me what to do, so what you see me doing is copying him!! It was a lot of fun, I love the whole packaging of ITN.

The dance at the end is hysterical. I remember copying it at a school disco! I believe I also had that haircut at one stage...
WHAT DANCE???

The crazy arm movements!
OHHHH GOODDDDD I WANT TO DIE! So embarrassing!

It's not! It's one of my favourite videos ever!
Wow that's quite a statement. That's very cool, thanks! Tell me one thing, you didn't copy my hair did you?

I did!!
Awww, I love that. THANKS!

Do you ever get embarrassed by your old stuff or do you embrace it?
Nah not embarrassed. Well maybe by the leopard skin print shirt in "Into The Night" but that was 1995!

Can I ask why there was no album? You had 3 fairly solid hits. Was one ever planned?
After "Into The Night" I wanted out with my management. I hated being forced to work with Paul on music, I was not happy with the way they wanted to go. So I wanted out. They didn't let me go so they kept me hanging unable to do anything. An album was planned and tracks were recorded but I am glad it didn't come out cos I didn't like many songs from it.

Were they similar in style to the singles?
Um, honestly they were more like "Move"!! Though there were 2 songs I co-wrote which were closer to what I like. One was a bit Army Of Lovers. AND LET ME TELL YOU, when I walked away, Paul had tried UNSUCCESSFULLY to trick me into the studio to record. He said the songs were only for me and he wouldn't give them to the label. But I didn't believe him and didn't show up. His last words to me were "When you want to be a pop star gimme a call." LOL. As if he was Pete Waterman no less!

Sounds like there were some seriously dodgy dealings. Maybe he was into you! That leads me to my next question. You were quite the teen heart throb. How did that conflict with you being gay? Was it an issue?
Not sure about teen heartthrob LOL. But the gay thing was weird. I was told not to talk about it, not advertise it. Just plain dodge the issue. I understand it and the marketing behind it but it's just not a great message. And I am a very upfront person, when you get told by your manager "don't be seen at this club and don't kiss your friends hello in public" it's a bit fucked. I was asked once at a gig was I gay and I answered no. I shouldn't have but I guess it was a lot harder to be out back then and yeah, let's face it, a fresh faced boy singing songs like "Bing Bong" and "I Wanna Dance". I mean come on!

When did you decide to come out? Was it much later?
I came out in 2006 when my first release on Klone came out. I did an interview on an American podcast and then just openly talked about it on my website. No big deal so I just went with it but, I was away for a lot of years from music remember, so I had a lot of time to get comfortable in my own skin, without the pressure of what not to do or say. To be honest, it's a shame artists and celebrities can't just be themselves.

I want to ask you about that. What happened between "Into The Night" and your reemergence with Klone. I know you released "Mama Told Me" but that was quite a strange little release. What happened in the meantime?
So in between "Into The Night" and "Mama Told Me" then. After "Into The Night" I left Colossal which was a shame, because I loved them. But they knew of management issues and didn't want to be in the middle. Can't blame them either. Anyway, management signed me to a really bad deal with a tiny label. The renamed me as WILSON which I HATED, and released a terrible song from my album sessions with Paul called "Summer Days". Fucking awful. It was a disaster, no promo, no video. That was when they tried to trick me into the studio to make the follow up. So then my management contact finished!!!

You've bounced back from more disasters than Dannii - without even getting your tits out!
LOL, no tits for me haha! So I met John Von Ahlen who had been part of 90s dance group Nova. Loved his work and we started work on a whole new album. From that "Mama Told Me" was released. So we did an album, I wrote or co-wrote most tracks, recorded an unreleased SAW song and 2 they had released already. And a cover of "Born To Be Alive". Was an album I was proud of! But then again the label I signed to did no promo, asked me to pay for my own video! So I walked and at that point decided to get away from it.

Oh wow! Which SAW songs?
Which SAW songs? ok... um, What A Night (which was to be the album title). It was very N Trance "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" and "Ain't No Cure" which I LOVE. It sounds like SAW from 1988, I played ALL keyboards on it and used only SAW sounds and "How Can This Be Real Love".

What amazing choices! "Ain't No Cure" is one of my SAW faves too.
Yeah that's my 2nd fave SAW song ever. There was another song I did for that album called "Angel Eyes". One of my best. Very Modern Talking if you have heard of them.

Is there any chances we'll ever get to hear those tracks? I know Modern Talking well. Dieter Bohlen is a sex god!
I don't have "What A Night" and only a demo of "Real Love" and Dieter Bohlen asked to hear my stuff in 1999, which was amazing.

Shame the record company was so fucking useless. The album sounds terrific. What did you do from 1999 until your Klone comeback?
I didn't do anything until 2001. John Collins who wrote Gina G's "Fresh" was someone I met as a kid and had done a couple demos with before meeting David Wilks. And he was great, he said I should be a superstar - god love him! He talked me into getting into the studio, arranged a meeting with Sam Panetta and we started writing right away. First one we did was "I Love You Unashamed". I loved the result! So when John told me Gina G was coming back to Melbourne, me being a massive fan of her behaved like an OTT school boy with a crush and I convinced him to let me meet her. BUT THEN!! When I met Gina, she was so lovely. She heard "Unashamed" and LOVED it so much. At one point she even wanted to record it. I said no though, and offered to write a new song for her. So we went into the studio and did a track together. With her believing in me, it was all the confidence I needed to get back into it.

You should have recorded a duet! I love that a classy icon like Gina G inspired your comeback. How fantastic!!
LOL, no duets but it was fun doing the song with her. In fact she and I were both in the studio on September 11th 2001 when the terrorist attacks happened at the Twin Towers. We were locked away oblivious to the outside world. We spoke the next day, and it felt weird knowing we were so wrapped up in the music, getting the right vocal and mix, and being unaware that the world was about to change outside.

You said "Ain't No Cure" is your 2nd favourite SAW song, Do you have a top 5?
Top 5 SAW songs? No 1 hands down... "I Don't Wanna Get Hurt" (ALBUM version) by Donna Summer. Sybil's "Make It Easy On Me" is No 3. Dolly Dots "What A Night" No 4. Kylie's "Turn It Into Love" would be No 5.

What, no Kakko?! "Turn It Into Love" is one of my Kylie favourites too.
Kakko is definately not a fave! It's cute though.

I think Kakko is brilliant but I'm sure I'm alone in that view! My list would definitely feature some Lonnie Gordon and probably Princess.
Two very fine SAW albums. Lonnie is a scream, her Oz management worked on my album cover. We've chatted. She rocks! Oops, name dropping loser alert LOL!

The legendary Bobby O

SAW seems to have been a huge influence on your work. From the beginning right up to now. Who else has been an influence? Modern Talking? I hear a lot of Moroder and Dead Or Alive in your music too. And a touch of the Berman Bros!
Giorgio Moroder is a legend. So definitely him, I've been buying his back catalogue lately. So ahead of his time. Yeah I'm also VERY influenced by SAW, Dieter Bohlen, Pet Shop Boys, Bobby O. Actually Bobby O story...Bobby O almost did a song for my album, but then the price tag came. I politely declined! So we settled for covering "Whisper To A Scream". Oh and Frank Farian!

Speaking of Frank, didn't he contribute to "Doin' Fine?"
He co-wrote the chorus and approved the sample of "Daddy Cool" for "Doin' Fine". He loves it!

How did that come about? I think "Doin' Fine" is brilliant. A great "fuck you" anthem!
It started as a demo done in the UK. I got hold of it from my UK producers who also co-wrote it. He thought I would hate it. I loved it, begged him to let me do it and we got it! So I wrote music for the bridges, lyrics on bridge 1, Mr Farian contributed lyrics for chorus and it became what it is now. It was a half finished demo sitting on the shelf actually. So glad I got it, and I can't say who but a very well known UK pop singer is recording it for a comeback album!

It went to #1 on the Euro NRG charts, didn't it?
Yeah it hit No 1 on that chart.

I should take a step back and ask how you got involved with Klone. Klone cops a lot of shit from music snobs but I love their stuff. "Follow Me" on Mad About The Boy was your debut with them?
Klone do cop a lot. Even from their own fans! Well here is the deal, in 2004 I signed a German record deal. Deal was I would record 6 songs here and 5 songs with a group called Systems In Blue (who are the real musicians and high voices behind Bohlen and Modern Talking). So I did the 6 songs here, then my manager just hated the whole Modern Talking sound and didn't want to invest in it. So since he pulled out I lost the deal. Shame cos I would love to have worked with them! And in FACT I've just found out these producers have taken 2 of my titles from the project and are using them for 2 other relases. One called "Out Of The Blue" for their own album (which was what my album was going to be called) and "Heartbreak Boulevard" for a German singer called Mark Ashley. I will be looking into that actually!! Anyway I had the left over songs done in Melbourne and I decided to approach Klone. They were great from the start. I submitted initially "Best Love You Never Had" and "Unashamed" and they said YES to signing them to Mad About The Boy 14. In the end we couldnt get a license in time for "Best Love" (as I don't hold the sound rights), so I offered them "Follow Me" as a replacement. Thank god I did cos it hit No 5 on Eurodancehits.

The album turned out so well and really holds up as a great listen from beginning to end. I particularly love "7 Sins". It's one of the best songs I've heard all year! I also love the SAW inspired songs like "Best Years Of My Life" and "Wait By The radio". What are your favourite tracks?
Oh recording the album was a task. But one I wanted to see it through to the end! I knew one thing, I wanted to bring David Wilks back. So we did 3 new songs. We almost did the original follow up to "I Wanna Dance" but ran out of time. Then I used 3 songs that I did with Sam Panetta, (he used to be in group called Among Thieves). "Best Years" is great!! Its got Natalie Miller on backing vox.

Dannii (left) with the fabulous Natalie Miller (right)

Natalie Miller! YTT forever!
Then I met Chris Richards who is my songwriting partner to this day. He was a very big part of the album's completion! He did "7 Sins" and was scared to play it to me. Thank god he let me do it. I love it too. Rob Technic did "Rocket To Your Heart" also, I loved his stuff with Alison Limerick so I had to have him. He was lovely.

"7 Sins" is a different sound for you. Dark and edgy. You should explore that more. "7 Sins" has real crossover pop appeal.
Oh trust me we are exploring that sound!

Fantastic! Darkrooms around the world will be pumping you out!
LOL

Ok that sounded WRONG...
"Wait By The Radio" is a cover by the way. Done originally by Fancy, who also did "Follow Me" first.

Fancy! I desperately need to invest in some of his albums.
Then get "Contact", "Get Your Kicks" and "Flames Of Love". Those 3. Though "Follow Me" and "Wait By The radio" are not on them.

I had a sneak peek at your myspace and you list your favourite albums. I think we were separated at birth. There are so many brilliant choices - Kylie, Donna Summer, Kym Sims, Shannon, Lonnie AND queen La Toya! I love you for including glorious Toy Toy!
LOL at La Toya. I bought "Heart Dont Lie" on CD from Ebay a few years ago for AU$760. Not kidding!

That's dedication! I spent a fortune on her as well. You should cover "Just Wanna Dance"!
LOL no La Toya covers, sorry babe!

I have to say Dannii is a glaring omission from your list!
I like "Get Into You" the best and "Girl" except for "If It Moves Dub It".

That song is hideous but "Girl" is one of my favourite albums along with "Neon Nights". Oh I love them all. Ok, so no to a La Toya cover. If you could choose one Kylie song to cover, what would you pick?
One Kylie song to cover? "Turn It Into Love" without question. Though I wouldn't dare. Kylie covers are always terrible. As in Steps' "Better The Devil"! Fucking hell!
Speaking of legendary divas - you're working with quite a few at the moment. Carol Jiani and the amazing Amanda Lear. Please spill the beans!
Ok spill the beans...Carol approached Chris and I soon after my name was getting known as a Klone act. She asked if we could possibly do a song for her. It just so happened we had just done "I Don't Wanna Talk About Love" (hear it on Carol's Myspace)

And Amanda? How is s/he to work with? Her disco albums are some of the most cherished recordings in my collection.
Carol has me in fits of laughter, she is very funny, One of a kind! As for Amanda! My god she is a legend to me. "Never Trust A Pretty Face" is one of my fave albums ever! So we wrote a song called "Brand New Love Affair" after I played Chris her stuff. We did it really to see if we could tap into another artist's style. And my god, it sounded like "Follow Me" (hers not mine) No 2!! So we contacted her French label and they loved it. Amanda loved it. So they asked for more songs, one more they have already said yes to. So that's in very early stages. We are still writing and submitting but getting there. Apparently Amanda is singing the song we wrote around the house! What will be a thrill for me is when we do it, I might be talking to her on the phone to co-write lyrics!

You're doing so well for yourself. You also submitted material for the delightful Kate Ryan.
Kate Ryan yes, I love her, but I love the Euro trance sound she hasn't really done since the first album, and re-visited with "Voyage Voyage". So we wrote "C'est La Vie" with a mix of the old sound and new. It's on the short list so far but no guarantees. Fingers crossed. Her people in Belgium love it. If she does it, this will be a very big turning poing for Chris and I.

Kate Ryan... and her camel toe

You're the new Ian Levine (but not crap)!
LOL! God love Ian.

I know but some of the stuff he foisted on Carol is criminal!!
But then you have great tracks like "Vanity". He's done a new one for her too which is really Motown-ish. He's obsessed with Motown.

I love a lot of his stuff but it's wildly uneven. Still, bless him!
Trust me there are a lot worse LOL. There are very few true stars these days and too many media trained jump thru hoop drones who are massive.

So true. I get sick of these personality free bitches like Leona Lewis!
Oh she's ok. Delta Goodrem I can not stomach if I am honest.

Dulta is fucking revolting!
I think with Delta, each album becomes less interesting. The first one was a great pop record. As each follow up came out, the quality kept disappearing, and she was becoming less of herself and I don't really believe the nice as pie act. I remember her yelling "that's fucken bullshit" at the tennis! I think the UK public are onto something with their thoughts on her is all I will say. I actually have her unreleased Sony album with "I Don't Care" on it. MUCH BETTER!

I know this is a bit random but what do you make of Kylie's X?
I like X a lot, a few tracks I don't like but I have replaced them on my own version haha.

What have you gotten rid of? I've ditched "Senshitized" and "Nu-Di-Ty".
The same songs as you!! Added "Rippin' Up The Disco", "Cherry Bomb" and "Fall For You".

Getting back to you - do you see yourself getting more into writing and production?
To be honest yes.

I hope you don't turn your back on performing. I want "Follow Me" part 2!
I might do a few more recordings myself but it's not a priority right now. There are 3 tracks I want to finish. Actually 4. The David track I want to do, a track from Sweden is waiting for me, a song I started with Ian Anthony Stephens (which has an early 90s sample) and MAYBE a duet with Carol Jiani.

A duet with Carol!!! Your voices would sound amazing together.
We joked about it so nothing concrete just whispers. I would produce it with Chris.

An original or cover?
A cover.

What's the Swedish song you have lined up?
It's called "Together We Are Strong" it's an accoustic pop song, but reminds me of Abba's "When I Kissed The Teacher". I also want to work with Ian, so I want that song to be finished with him.

You should write a hit for Dannii - she needs to scrap the club instrumental turned trashy dance numbers. The woman needs a chorus!
I would probably submit for Kylie but not Dannii. Oh fuck who knows!

Why? Dannii could do with the help!
Actually of course I would. I love them both.

Get Carol to cover "Vibe On"!
GOD!!! No, we have 2 covers that are perfect haha!

It's so exciting that you're getting the chance to help restore so many fabulous divas to their former glory. Next stop La Toya and Millie Jackson please!
LOL I think we are going to target more mainstream people this year.

Do you have anyone in mind?
Not yet will start work for 2008 next Sun so we decide then.

You should help out some local divas - Melissa Tkautz and Deni Hines for example!
Deni is a fucking bitch (Peter then elaborates). I would never work with her. Melissa I would! I can give you a Natalie Imbruglia story.

Oh yes please!
I hate her fucking guts, the bitch! Ok...In 1994 I went to an East 17 concert and afterparty. Peter Andre supported. He was always very nice to me, and hung with me a bit this night. SO. A few of us were waiting to meet with East 17, then like a foul gust of wind, a fresh out of Neighbours Natalie Imbruglia literally barged past knocking people out of her way, nose in the air walked right up to Brian from the group put her hand out as if to be kissed like she was royalty.

Good grief!
Then her track record since, all that star fucking must get really sore. I mean do we need to rattle off the long list of celebrity victims she's targeted? And her voice is barely more capable than Mandy Smith.

She really made an impression on you!
Hey, do you have all SAW albums on CD?

No not all of them. I take it you have a huge collection?
Some freak on Youtube claims they have Brilliant Kiss' "The Lips Of Life"! That is the only one I don't have. Apparently there is a Japanese CD. Yes I have everything. All the singles. A lot of rare CD singles. Paul Lekakis gave me "Fruit Machine" years ago.

Have you ever been to PWL or Love This?
I went to Love This in 1997 for a meeting but they had no record of it and wouldn't let me in! I think my management were lying or fucked something up but I DID go to PWL. Roamed around the studios, went through the Mel and Kim door downstairs. I was there for about an hour in the studio, longer than most acts who recorded there. Oh did you hear the song I did for Tabitha Turlington?

Yes, I love Tabitha! The song's fantastic! Is she a friend?
Yeah from Primary school. He is a Mebourne drag queen. I wrote it for Dusty O, a UK drag queen on Klone. Anyway she disappeared so we got Tabitha in on it. One last thing, are you looking forward to Donna Summer's new album?

"Crayons"!! Yes - understatement of the decade! What do you make of "I'm A Fire" though?
Love one of the mixes and I love how her voice has matured. I have not antipated an album so much since Kylie's 1994 album. I WISH she was doing a couple with Moroder though like she did for "The Journey".

Thank you for giving me so much of your time. Good luck with all your future ventures!
It was a pleasure!

You can listen to clips of several tracks on "Follow Me" from Peter's website. The album can be ordered from Amazon UK or directly from Klone Records. Make sure to add Peter as a friend on Myspace and download "Into The Night" from Australian or UK iTunes.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Paul Mac Ft. Bertie Blackman - The Only One

It's quite disconcerting when two acts you don't particularly like join forces to deliver a song you really love - but that's exactly what Paul Mac and Bertie Blackman have accomplished with "The Only One". The unlikely duo were brought together to record a song for the recently released children's film "Hey, Hey It's Esther Blueburger" and the result is a startling delight. The name Paul Mac brings to mind commercial dance music and dodgy collaborations with Silverchair, while indie darling Bertie Blackman is best known for edgy rock anthems like "Fast Bitch". The last thing I expected from them was a catchy pop tune with a sing-along chorus! Don't let the cover art put you off. "The Only One" might appear in a kid's movie but this is highly sophisticated pop music. It's rare to hear horns, piano, handclaps and a children's choir in a three minute pop song (without wanting to vomit)! The lyrics are also surprisingly adult. You don't need to be a teenager to identify with the song's theme of alienation. Imagine Aimee Mann on anti-depressants and you get some idea of where "The Only One" is coming from.

Indie icon Bertie Blackman

The video clip (below) is quite a spectacular affair. Bertie looks hot in her school uniform and it's a nice touch to have her interact with characters from the film. I particularly love the paper and chalk animated figures. Check out the Behind The Scenes footage to learn more about the song. I really hope Bertie explores a more pop orientated sound in the future. I've always admired her voice and attitude but it's great to finally enjoy some of her music. You can download "The Only One" from Australian iTunes or purchase the "Hey, Hey It's Esther Blueburger" soundtrack from Chaos. To the best of my knowledge there are no plans for a physical single but that could change if "The Only One" keeps climbing the iTunes top 100.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Ami Suzuki - Free Free

Earlier this year I posted "Tell Me" by the fabulous Wonder Girls and wrote about my tentative exploration of the Asian pop scene. I'm still taking baby steps but since then I've discovered a wealth of poptastic acts to rival anything Australia or Europe has to offer. Funnily enough I'm completely underwhelmed by the big names. The appeal of J Pop megastars like Ayumi, Utada and Namie is lost on me. Instead my taste in Asian pop mirrors my English language listening habits. Basically, I'm partial to trashy pop tarts with plastic surgery addictions and nude calenders, floptastic girlbands and middle aged divas who are still dressing in school uniforms well into their 40s. It seems my yearning for pop trash is truly universal!

Ami Suzuki isn't the trashiest diva in Asia but her pop trash credentials are impeccable. 15 year old Ami shot to stardom in Japan after winning a televised talent show in the late 90s. Her first album sold almost 2 million copies and she briefly enjoyed a level of fame to rival that of J Pop queen Ayumi. That is until Ami's father sued her record company for a larger share of the profits (she was only being paid 3 million yen a week!) and the poor bitch found herself blacklisted by the music industry, thus experiencing an almost unprecedented fall from grace. After five years of relative obscurity, Ami was re-discovered performing at university and signed a record deal with Avex - a Japanese dance label similar to AATW. Since then Ami has developed a large gay following by releasing a string of trashy club anthems that rarely tickle the top 30. In other words, she's the Japanese Dannii!

At the beginning of 2008 Ami released her third album for Avex called "Dolce" and unveiled a sexy new baby doll image. "Dolce" is an irresistibly upbeat collection of Japanese house tracks with a hefty dose of bright and shiny pop thrown into the mix. The first single "Free Free" is one of my favourite songs of the year. Another #32 smash hit for Ami, "Free Free" is an eccentric dancefloor stomper with an endearingly uplifting English language chorus. The heavy beats are fantastic and I love the crazy vocoder effects. The more concise single edit is slightly superior but the album version I'm posting is a weird and wonderful treat. Make sure you check out the fabulous video (above), which steals shamelessly from Kylie and Madonna. Ami's latest single should be of interest to fans of the American girlband Aly & AJ. It's a sparkling dance cover of "Potential Break Up Song"! Check out Ami's stunning version here. You can purchase "Dolce" from YesAsia and HMV Japan. It's definitely worth hunting this gem down.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Fuck Madonna, Melissa's Back!

If you're as bitterly disappointed with Madonna's revolting new single as I am, take heart in the knowledge that at least one legendary diva has got it oh so right! Melissa Tkautz has just unveiled her amazing new anthem and it's every bit as fabulous as we have come to expect from this enduring icon of the Australian pop scene. As previously reported, stunning Melissa is launching her latest hugely anticipated comeback with a scorching cover of Transvision Vamp's "I Want Your Love". The song has been covered many times before but none of the previous attempts come close to matching this ingenious version. A collaboration with superstar DJ Nick Skitz, "I Want Your Love" is an electrifying mix of guitars and thumping beats that breathes new life into this much loved 80s classic. Often dismissed by music snobs as a relic of the 90s, Nick proves he still has his finger very much on the pulse by creating a fresh and original sonic palette for Mel's breathtaking vocals. I've always maintained that listening to Melissa is like hearing of choir of angels sing but she really outdoes herself this time. Her golden pipes reach lofty new heights and her sensual groans are the equivalent of musical Viagra!

While the song is a borderline religious experience, I have some serious reservations about the video clip. Namely - Melissa isn't in it! I'm sure the rationale behind the decision is for the music to speak for itself but how can you forgo the presence of such a legendary beauty? Once I overcame the shock of Mel's absence, I was able to watch the clip with some objectivity and it really is quite fabulous. Filmed on location in Berlin, the video follows the misadventures of a budding accordion superstar who is kidnapped by shady music executives and forced to pose for S&M photos in a dungeon! I like clips with a storyline and this classy extravaganza is a lot of fun. It's also surprisingly glossy and well produced, costing a reputed $50,000 to make. With any luck, "I Want Your Love" will propel Melissa to the chart success she so richly deserves. The single is released on the 7th of April and boasts 6 fabulous remixes. Pre-order your copy from Chaos now!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Random Pop Musings

Random Musing #1 - Kylie's Craptastic US Campaign

After months of fucking about, Kylie's US label will finally release "X" on the 1st of April. I was hoping for a completely revised edition of "X" with exclusive bonus tracks and new artwork. Obviously that involved too much effort because the only change to the tracklist is the addition of "All I See" featuring Mims. Speaking of Kylie's urban opus, "All I See" will now be serviced to US radio on the 15th of April - two weeks after the album is released. That means "X" will be released without a lead single and basically no promotion. Kylie has apparently put aside two whole days (48 long hours) to promote the album in the US! Help Kylie score a number 137 Billboard smash hit by pre-ordering your copy here!

Random Musing #2 - It's Deni Time!

My homegirl Deni Hines made the papers this week for all the wrong reasons. It seems Dohnyale abused cheerleaders at a Sydney Kings basketball game, screaming "Get your fucking shit out of my face"! Read about Deni's debacle here. In the wake of that stunning development, another newspaper reported that Deni almost ruined Ricki-Lee's wedding by kicking her band off stage, declaring that it was "Deni time"! I don't believe this rubbish for a second. Deni is an absolute sweetheart and I can't imagine her attacking cheerleaders in front of thousands of people! Even if it were true, it would just make me love her even more. The moral of the story is - don't fuck with the Deni!

Random Musing #3 - Cheer Up, Ricki-Lee!

I was shocked to read about Ricki-Lee's battle with depression in "Woman's Day". She's probably still pissed off about being upstaged by Deni at her own wedding! All jokes aside, I think it was really brave to talk about her mental health problems and I'm glad she's feeling better. Ricki-Lee confirmed her status as one of Australia's most fabulous divas with an amazing live performance of "Can't Sing A Different Song" on Sunrise last week. Check out their website to watch Ricki-Lee strut her stuff. Her voice is fucking amazing! "Can't Sing A Different Song" is on sale now, so order your copy here.


Random Musing #4 - The Australian Amy Winehouse

I know it's a lazy comparison but Gabriella Cilmi really does sound an awful lot like that beehive wearing crackwhore. Which is a bit of a surprise given that Gabriella is a wholesome 16 year old from Melbourne. I'm not a fan of the original Wino, let alone the ever expanding army of Amy clones (Hello, Duffy!) but Gabriella's debut single is actually quite cute. "Sweet About Me" has a subtle pop edge and a surprisingly catchy chorus. It was apparently produced by Xenomania, which would make it their first decent effort since Cher's "Believe". The song is top 20 on Australian iTunes and already charting in the UK. "Sweet About Me" is released in Australia on the 31st of March and can be ordered here.


Random Musing # 5 - A Club Cover

Another local song making waves internationally is Marco Demark's dance cover of "Tiny Dancer". Marco hails from the Gold Coast and the featured guest vocalist, Casey Barnes, is a fellow Queenslander. I'm a sucker for a good club cover, so "Tiny Dancer" is right up my alley. Elton John's 80s classic provides perfect fodder for a club update and Casey's vocal delivery is spot on. Not bad for a rocker best known until now for supporting Bryan Adams on his Australian tour! Order your copy of "Tiny Dancer" here.

Random Musing #6 - Fuck Off, Haters!

Every bitch in Australia had something nasty to say about Kate Alexa's stunning cover of "Teardrops". I absolutely love the song and it was satisfying to see it become Kate's 5th top 30 hit. When are people going to get over the fact that her father runs Mushroom Records and judge her music on its merits? "Teardrops" is fabulous and I'm glad the buying public agree. The haters can fuck right off!


Random Musing #7 - Axle Surprises

Axle Whitehead's "I Don't Do Surprises" debuted at #8 this week on the ARIA chart - no small feat for a failed Australian Idol contestant best known for exposing his cock at an awards show! The title of the song is ironic because the quality of Axle's debut single has taken everyone by surprise. People keep describing "I Don't Do Surprises" as a Coldplay knock off but I'm not convinced. I would prefer to chew off my own limbs than listen to Chris Martin's pretentious wailings but I like Axle's anthem. It's soft and pretty and Axle looks HOT in the video. I wish he'd flash that meat in my direction! Check out Adem's brilliant interview with Axle and order your copy of "I Don't Do Surprises" here.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Buy A Piece Of Courtney Act!

Courtney Act is an Australian pop trash icon, so I was more than a little chuffed when she dropped by to leave a comment about my recent Kylie post. It was also something of a coincidence because I had been meaning to write about this fabulous diva for some time. Courtney shot to prominence in the first season of Australian Idol, bringing her own unique brand of dragtastic fabulousness to the masses. It's safe to say that nothing this entertaining has graced Australian Idol since Courtney's departure! Despite being eliminated in the wildcard round by the narrowest of margins, I believe Ms Act was the first Idol star to be signed by Sony Australia and was the only non-finalist invited to join the inaugural Australian Idol tour, where she memorably performed "Kids" with Rob Mills. Kylie would be proud!

Shortly after, Courtney's released her stunning debut single "Rub Me Wrong", which became a top 30 hit and an instant scene classic. The original version is great but the remixes are heavenly. The video was also a spectacular affair. Similar in theme to Kylie's "On A Night Like This", sexy Courtney is escorted to a mansion where she dances for an old pervert. At least she doesn't end up in the pool like poor Kylie! Since parting ways with Sony, Courtney has become an Oxford St icon - performing drag shows and hosting parties as well as staging the fantastic one woman show "Boys Like Me" (her jazzy Spice Girls' cover is particularly fabulous).

Courtney as Amy Winehouse

In exciting news for long suffering "Rub Me Wrong" fans, Courtney recently announced that she is returning to the recording studio and, in an ingenious marketing ploy, is selling pieces of herself to help her finance it! Well not literally but for the bargain price of $10 (AUD) you get to own a piece of the digital mosaic on Courtney's website on which you get to write a personal message. The $10 also buys you an autographed, limited edition copy of the proposed EP as well as a digital copy of the single (postage is included in the $10 and that also goes for international buyers). Most importantly, however, you get the satisfaction of helping a truly unique talent create fantastic music outside the restraints of a record company. Courtney is one of the hardest working local divas in the business and she deserves our support.

To buy a piece of Courtney Act, simply click here and the follow the instructions. Basically, you select the piece of Courtney's face that you wish to purchase (I'm the proud owner of a small plot on her right cheek!) and a yellow square will appear on the box. All you have to do after that is click "Pay for selected blocks", submit your details and complete the purchase via Paypal. There is a money back guarantee in the event that the EP is not completed - so what have you got to lose?! I can't wait to hear what Courtney comes up with. In the meantime, check out the brilliant "Rub Me Wrong" video clip (below). They certainly don't make 'em like that anymore!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Mr G - Naughty Girl

Surely this is an early contender for the best song of 2008. I've been addicted to Mr G's "Naughty Girl" for weeks but thought I'd wait until the video clip was filmed before writing about it here. For any non-Australian readers, Mr G is a fictional character played by Chris Lilley on the insanely popular comedy series "Summer Heights High". A camp drama teacher with serious delusions of grandeur, Mr G literally steals the show by making his students perform a musical about his life. "Mr G - The Musical" is one of the most biting pieces of satire I've seen on Australian television. It's hilarious viewing from beginning to end but the highly controversial "Naughty Girl" is the undisputed highlight. The song, an incredibly inappropriate but sublimely amusing tale of a teenage girl who overdoses on ecstasy, caused a media furor when it was revealed that the song's lyrics mirrored a real life tragedy. If anything the controversy only served to make the show even more popular.

Given Mr G's pop culture status, it was hardly a surprise when Chris Lilley announced that "Naughty Girl" would be released as a single. While definitely a cash-in, "Naughty Girl" can not be dismissed as a novelty. This is a first class dance anthem with the catchiest chorus of the year (thus far). Who wont be chanting "She's a naughty girl with a bad habit, a bad habit for drugs" the next time this gets a spin at your local disco? The spoken interludes are also hysterical with Mr G lamenting that poor deceased Jessica was indeed a slut. Pop is rarely this darkly amusing and clever. The same can be said for the slightly disturbing but jaw droppingly fantastic video clip (below). I was initially disappointed to learn that it was comprised of footage sent in by fans but the result is ridiculously entertaining. I guarantee it's the only time you'll see children dancing with giant ecstasy pills on your television screen! The song is already top 20 on the strength of downloads and looks a sure bet to reach the top 10 on Sunday. The remixes are fantastic and the physical single comes with a poster and stickers. You can download Mr G's stunning anthem from iTunes or order a physical copy from Chaos. While you're there, order the TV series. "Summer Heights High" is a work of genius.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Can't Sing A Different Song

Pop trash favourite Ricki-Lee releases the third single from her fabulous "Brand New Day" album on Saturday. Ms Coulter took her career to a whole new level in 2007, scoring top 5 hits with "Can't Touch It" and "Love Is All Around". It was always going to be hard to live up to flawless pop of that calibre but "Can't Sing A Different Song" comes very close. After the pure pop detour of "Love Is All Around", Ricki-Lee returns to her soulful roots with "Can't Sing A Different Song". Similar in sound to "Can't Touch It", the track is another expertly produced call to the dancefloor showcasing Ricki-Lee's powerhouse vocals. It's not as instant as the previous singles from "Brand New Day" but it is a grower and has a contemporary edge missing from a lot of homegrown pop.

The video for "Can't Sing A Different Song" (below) is a typically classy affair that finds our favourite diva wandering around a carpark with some very dodgy dancers. It's a lot of fun and Ricki-Lee looks amazing. I'm sick of the fat jibes - the woman is smokin' hot! If you need any further proof watch this amazing clip of Ricki-Lee singing "Summer Nights" with some has-been tennis player on "It Takes Two". Now that's quality viewing! Hopefully "Can't Sing A Different Song" will be another substantial hit. I'm yet to hear it on the radio but Ricki-Lee's current tour should give it a boost. Remember to buy or download your copy this Saturday!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Prepare To Be Disciplined

Unlike Janet's first day period, "Discipline" isn't a bloody mess. It's just bloody disappointing. First the good news. "Discipline" is a marked improvement on "20 Y.O." and "Damita Jo". The album contains two shiny pop gems and a handful of other respectable tracks that would slot nicely on to Janet's next greatest hits compilation. Unfortunately the project is weighed down by a slew of empty ballads, soulless mid-tempos jams and, at times, almost indecipherable vocals. I really wanted to like "Discipline" and was optimistic that Janet could recapture her old magic after hearing the first single. However, instead of embracing a fresh new sound, Janet is happy to wallow in the same old muck that has been slowly killing her career since 2001's "All For You". While younger rivals like Rihanna and Beyonce have woken up to the fact that pop music cloaked in a thin veil of urban credibility is the way of the future, Janet remains stubbornly mired in the sterile world of over-produced mid-tempo R'n'B.

The ultimate blame for the album's failure must lie with Janet because the hired help is certainly beyond reproach. "Discipline" features contributions from some of the hottest producers on the planet. If anything the whole project is a little too slick - as if it were put together by a corporate committee. It's certainly telling that Janet completely abdicated songwriting duties this time around. She seems to have left everything to the experts and lost herself in the process. My other major concern with "Discipline" is Janet's refusal to move away from the slow jams that strangled the life out of "20 Y.O." and her increasingly annoying whispered vocals. Janet has always had a reed thin voice but usually covers it well with clever production. This time around, Janet is happy to mumble her way through the album. Then there are the pointless interludes. The practice is tired and, in the case of "Bathroom Break", downright embarrassing. It's only a small gripe but symptomatic of Janet's habit of recycling old ideas. I don't want to be too negative because "Discipline" is a step in the right direction. Here is my track by track review.

Feedback - 9/10

"Feedback" was slammed by most critics as derivative rubbish but I loved it from the first listen, hence its appearance in my best of 2007 countdown. After two albums of dreary sex ballads and stillborn mid-tempo jams, the return of dance Janet came as a massive relief. Rodney Jerkins has produced a storming club anthem that can best be described as urban house music. Think of this as the album's "All Nite (Don't Stop)" or "So Excited". The video is an embarrassment but the chorus is fantastically catchy and Janet's dirty mouth never fails to amuse. It annoys me when people say Janet is too old to sing about her gushing period and sleazy bedroom antics. Old ladies need loving too! Many reviewers referred to the track as second rate Britney but I don't see it. "Feedback" is better than anything on "Blackout" and is quite simply Janet's best single since "All For You". If only the album contained more material in this vein.

LUV - 8/10

Another Rodney Jerkins production, "LUV" is something of a grower. I wasn't overly impressed by the song on the first listen but it now stands out as one of the few highlights on "Discipline". A bouncy little pop tune with a catchy hook, "LUV" sounds fresh and contemporary. The lyrics are pretty inane and Janet whispers her way through the track but the production pops and the beats are layered with clinical precision. American urban pop by the numbers but this little ditty is entirely inoffensive. "LUV" is already charting on the US R'n'B charts and is a safe bet for a future single.

Rollercoaster - 3/10

Just when you thought Janet had turned her back on the mid-tempo sludge that polluted her last flop album, "Rollercoaster" drags the listener kicking and screaming back to the aural hell that was "20 Y.O." A headache inducing "jam" with no semblance of a chorus or melody, "Rollercoaster" represents everything wrong with Janet's recent output. It sounds like 50 different samples have been thrown in blender before Janet was dragged into the studio to lay down the vocal after swallowing a bucket of Valium. This is one ride I won't be taking again.

Just chillin'

Rock With U - 9.5/10

Moving from the ridiculous to the sublime, "Rock With U" is the best song on "Discipline" and one of Janet's finest offerings in many a year. Janet must have threatened to throw away her 12" inch strap-on if husband Jermaine Dupri failed to deliver the goods this time around because "Rock With U" is something of a triumph. Following the robotic theme of the interludes, this sleek anthem is an effortlessly cool slice of futuristic disco. I love the vocoder effects and the clear influence of French house. This is also a rare example of Janet successfully walking the line between sexy and sleazy. "Rock With U" wouldn't sound out of place on Kylie's "X" and I mean that as a huge compliment. A video clip has just been filmed and this looks to be Janet's second single in most territories. Expect Janet's string of massive flops to end with this gem.

2nite - 7/10

"Discipline" features contributions from some of hottest producers in the industry including this pleasant offering from Stargate, the Norwegian team behind Rihanna's "Don't Stop The Music" and Beyonce's "Irreplaceable". Sadly, "2nite" fails to match the dizzying heights of those two tunes. The song is another fun dance entry but the endeavour is entirely forgettable. I'm not sure if they were going for a retro vibe or just giving Janet their old scraps but "2nite" sounds very dated. The lyrics are cute and Janet actually bothers to sing instead of mumble but I can't help but feel I've heard it all before.

Can't B Good - 4/10

What an appropriate title. Janet reverts back to dreary ballad mode with a fairly typical slow jam, complete with soulless beats and whispered vocals. I miss the days when Janet actually attempted to belt out a tune. Lord knows, she's no La Toya but Janet can do better than this. "Can't B Good" is reminiscent of the ballads on Michael's "Invincible" album - ie. boring and uninspired.

Hey y'all!

Never Letchu Go - 3/10

Jermaine Dupri's second offering is a complete stinker. Obviously "Rock With U" was a fluke because, quite simply, this track stinks. Another weak ballad with almost indistinguishable vocals, "Never Letchu Go" sounds like a reject from "20 Y.O." only with an embarrassing guitar solo that is very 80s and not in a good way. When is Janet going to learn her lesson? Whispered ballads, plodding beats and empty lyrics just aren't good enough. This shit is more tired than Janet's gimp.

Greatest X - 6/10

Many fans have selected "Greatest X" as their favourite song from "Discipline". One critic even had the nerve to compare it to Timbaland's "Apologize". Sure, and "Nu-Di-Ty" is the new "Can't Get You Out Of My Head". Produced by R'n'B superstar The-Dream, "Greatest X" is one of the sweetest slow jams on "Discipline" but it still lacks the emotional punch to be anything but mediocre. Unlike the two proceeding ballads, this effort is well constructed and Jan at least tries to sound invested in the lyrics. This has grown on me with each listen, so maybe I'm being too harsh. I just think three generic ballads in a row is too much of an ask, particularly after the fine selection of dance tracks at the beginning of the album.

So Much Betta - 4.5/10

After three ballads, "So Much Betta" changes the tempo again. Unfortunately the results are less than impressive. Continuing with the album's robotic theme, this misguided effort features grating computer effects and a lazy Daft Punk sample. Kanye West has a lot to answer for. There is no chorus to speak of and the lyrics are a repetitive bore. Think of this Jermaine Dupri produced mishap as little more than an extended interlude.

Do you like my style? Yeah that sexy, sexy, sexy

The 1 - 6/10

I gave this generic effort an extra point for Missy Elliot's amusing opening rhyme: "Tell me how long is it, boo? 7 inches, yep that'll do!" Unfortunately, it all goes downhill from there. Another Jermaine Dupri production, "The 1" is an uptempo song in desperate need of a chorus. Missy Elliot's appearance is a welcome distraction but even she can't compensate for the overbearing production and complete absence of anything resembling a hook. It really is hard to believe that the same man produced "Rock With U". Perhaps a remix could breath some life into this stale offering.

What's Ur Name - 3/10

Another expedition into the wasteland of mid-tempo R'n'B previously explored on "20 Y.O." This time around Janet repeats the song title 30 or so times against a hollow groove courtesy of her career killing husband. "What's Ur Name" isn't awful. It's just insipid and utterly pointless.

Discipline - 1/10

I would rather drink Janet's first day period than listen to this creepy exercise in disturbing mental imagery ever again. Actually, I'm not sure what's worse. The song or the preceding interlude where Janet moans breathlessly about using a whip for "self-mortification". At least the interlude only lasts for a minute, while this drags on for a seemingly endless 5 minutes. Janet begins the song by apologising for touching herself before begging to be punished. I'm all for sleazy lyrics but moaning "Daddy, make me cry" turns my stomach - even if she is referring to her troll like husband instead of her abusive father, Joe. Annoyingly, the production is spot on. This would be one hell of a sexy affair with a little less information and a different singer. As it stands, "Discipline" is a cringeworthy trainwreck. I'm all for Janet exploring her sexuality but she's already covered this particular fetish on "The Velvet Rope". This has definite so bad it's good potential.

Her swag is serious

Curtains - 7.5/10

I feared this was going to be an ode to Jan's meat curtains but it turns out to be a fairly pleasing sex ballad about fucking a fan backstage after a concert. Unlike the other slow jams littering "Discipline", "Curtains" displays some soul. The music delicately wraps itself around Janet's whispered vocals and the trumpet-like hook is a treat. Janet finally comes across as fun and sexy instead of demented and desperate. Rodney Jenkins really stands out as the superior producer on "Discipline" and should be the only contributor Janet calls on for her next sex porn soundtrack. An unexpected delight.

Let Me Know - 5/10

It's somehow fitting that "Discipline" bows out with another exploration of Janet's prodigous sexuality. This is an entirely inoffensive affair. Janet promises to "play your favourite song, wear your favourite thong" before boasting about her familiarity with the karma sutra. We've heard it all before. This was tacked on in some territories as a bonus track, which is pretty reflective of its quality. Give this a miss and download the fabulous "Feedback" remixes instead. Like most of the album "Let Me Know" is sadly underwhelming.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Rebecca Loos - Urban Diva!

I almost passed out with delight when I heard that Rebecca Loos was embarking on a pop career. For the uninitiated, Rebecca is best known for carrying on a torrid affair with David Beckham behind Victoria's back - before selling the gory details to the News Of The World. And who could blame David? Posh is a dried up bag of bones with bad teeth and a stretched uterus, while stunning Rebecca is all woman. Since riding David, sexy Bec has gone on to become a global trash icon with her seemingly endless publicity whoring. Here are some of her highlights:

- Masturbated a pig on UK reality TV show "The Farm"
- Had sex in the toilets with Calum Best on "Celebrity Love Island"
- Married a woman on the TV show "Power Lesbian UK"
- Placed third on Spanish Survivor
- Presented entertainment news on Dutch TV
- Played a bisexual masseuse on "Dream Team"
- Was reprimanded for performing oral sex on an Air New Zealand flight
- Posed nude for Playboy magazine
- Appeared on "Temptation Island" and "Extreme Celebrity Detox"
- Publicly declared that Victoria Beckham lacked class and elegance

What's more, this dignified lady appeared on all those trashy reality TV shows for humanitarian purposes. Caring Rebecca declares on her website that she is saving money to open a school in Sri Lanka. What a saint! Hopefully the sales from Bec's stunning music career - if it ever takes off - will help pay for a few textbooks or at least some new breast implants. Her debut single, under the glamorous stage name Phoenix, has finally appeared on youtube and it's even more fabulous than I could have imagined. "Your Boyfriend" is an enchanting ode to Rebecca's endless sex appeal. No man (or woman, for that matter) is safe with Bec on the prowl and she's letting the competition know it! The biggest surprise is Rebecca's amazing vocal ability - her dulcet tones are a thing of great beauty. Poor Victoria must be seething that Rebecca's attempt at R'n'B is so much better than her own. Now, when is this glorious crap hitting stores? My collection is crying out for some Loos!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

A Place Where Nobody Dared To Go

The star of this year's 30th annual gay & lesbian mardi gras was undoubtedly Olivia Newton-John. Few who witnessed lovely Livvy's stunning rendition of "Xanadu" will ever forget it. Commanding the stage in red and gold sequins, Olivia looked positively regal surrounded by her small army of scantily clad gay dancers. The original queen of Australian pop was back on home soil, performing her signature tune to the very fans who have kept it alive for all these years. I've been lucky enough to see Kylie and Dannii grace the mardi gras stage in the past but even the fabulous Minogue sisters weren't greeted with the electric anticipation and genuine emotion that filled the RHI on Saturday night. As a life long fan, I've heard Olivia perform "Xanadu" in concert many times. Each of those occasions was special but nothing compares to hearing the song in its original disco context, complete with bright lights, camp costumes and sweaty bodies.

If I had to make a list of my favourite songs, I'm sure "Xanadu" would feature somewhere near the top. I've been in love with Olivia's collaboration with ELO since first seeing the film as a child. One critic famously gave the film a stinging one line review "In a word, Xana-don't" but I Xana-did. Again and again. "Xanadu" was one of those films that was always on tv when I was growing up, usually as a double bill with "Grease". I'm sure I never missed a screening. You can moan about the complete lack of plot and the indignity of a 68 year old (but still disturbingly sexy) Gene Kelly strutting his stuff at a rollerdisco but I defy anyone to say that "Xanadu" isn't a one of a kind viewing experience. There's Olivia at the height of her loveliness playing a supernatural muse whose job is to "inspire men", Gene Kelly's last truly great movie moment in the adorable "Whenever You're Away From Me" sequence, Don Bluth's beautifully animated interlude where Olivia and Michael Beck randomly turn into fish and not to forget possibly the best film soundtrack of all time. While every song featured in "Xanadu" is a winner, my personal favourite has always been the title track.

"Xanadu" was even turned into a highly collectible Marvel comic

"Xanadu" is quite simply pop perfection. ELO's mix of synths and strings provide sublime backing for one of Olivia's most iconic vocal performances. I'm constantly amazed how a completely non-sensical tune about an alternate universe can be so stirring and uplifting. Nothing brightens my mood quite like "Xanadu". The brilliance of the track hasn't gone unnoticed over the years. Olivia's anthem has been remixed several times and covered more often than I care to think about. My favourite cover of "Xanadu" is by German pop diva Ireen Sheer. Back in the days before the internet and instant musical gratification via downloading, it was common for local stars to cover international hits in their own language. Germany was renowned for the practice and Ireen's version of "Xanadu" is an exemplary example. Ireen is probably best known outside of Germany for her Eurovision appearances but, in my opinion, this cover version from 1980 is her finest moment.

Australia's current queen of pop, Dannii Minogue, comes a very close second with her stunning 2007 cover version. Featured on her fabulous "Club Disco" compilation, Dannii transforms "Xanadu" into an atmospheric chill out classic. Dannii's version was only released last year and can be easily purchased from some international iTunes stores or from 7digital, so I'm not going to post it. Dannii needs that dollar for her next holiday! I'm rather fond of this fan made clip which combines Dannii's vocals with images from the film. This is by far the most experimental and original interpretation of Olivia's classic.

"Xanadu" experienced an unexpected revival in the mid-90s thanks to a trashy club mix credited to Olivia featuring Paula. I have no idea who the fuck Paula is or what Olivia's involvement was, if any, but I found the track on an old mardi gras compilation and thought I would post it. This is not to be confused with a white label remix of "Xanadu" featuring Olivia's vocals, which was released at almost exactly the same time. I've included that as well.

I couldn't write a post about "Xanadu" and not mention Bob Downe's amazing version. Bob's talent is truly unique and he outdoes himself with this camp classic. Bob's rendition appears on his greatest hits compilation, which you could be lucky enough to find on Ebay or in Oxford St bargain bin. A final rendition of "Xanadu" comes to you courtesy of Captain Smartypants. Originating from Seattle, this vocal group specialise in cover versions and sound something like a barbershop quartet. I think their interpretation is genius. You can purchase their album from CD Baby.

As good as all these versions are, nothing compares to the original. If you haven't seen the film for a while, take this three minute trip down memory lane. They certainly don't make 'em like this anymore!