Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Short Break

Just a quick note to let you all know that I'll be away from the computer for a while. I'm having an operation tomorrow and will be spending the next week in hospital. Trying to pick up a hot doctor. In the meantime, I thought I'd leave you with something bright, fun and pop trashtastic. I've been in an Olivia Newton-John kind of mood lately, so I thought I'd dust off one of the campest tunes in my collection. If you have a gay bone in your body, chances are you're already familiar with Olivia's 1975 #1 hit "Have You Never Been Mellow". That golden oldie never fails to put a smile on my face but it's a very different version of the song that I'm writing about today. Japanese Hi-NRG DJ Willie2400 remixed "Have You Never Been Mellow" a couple of years ago, transforming it into a gloriously cheesy dance anthem. It shouldn't work, and most people would argue that it doesn't, but I absolutely love it and think more of Olivia classics should be butchered for the dancefloor. Until later!

Have You Never Been Mellow (Willie 2400 Remix)

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Ultimate K Pop Diva

Fuck BoA, Utada and Ayumi. In my mind the ultimate Asian diva will always be Mina. No other bitch even comes close to matching the grace, poise and unparalleled trashiness of my Korean angel. Mina's nude photos transcend cultural barriers and her shameless publicity whoring is an inspiration to an entire generation. That's not even mentioning Mina's amazing string of stunning pop flops! Quite simply, this divine being is a beacon of light sent down from the heavens to entertain and guide us. Think of her as a mix of Dannii and Bionda with a twist of Melissa Tkautz for extra flavour. Yes, she really is that fierce! Here are ten irrefutable reasons why you should bow down and worship at the feet of this glorious diva.

1. Mina was discovered at the 2002 World Cup - wearing a Korean flag, a red bandanna and nothing else. Her luminous beauty caught the eye of the media and her photo was beamed around the world. As a result she became an overnight celebrity in Korea and somehow blagged a record deal.

2. Unfortunately, Mina's first single ("Answer The Phone") and debut album flopped miserably. Many dismissed the Korean beauty as a flash in the pan but she had other ideas.

3. Critics had to eat their words when Mina re-emerged in 2004 and actually scored a hit! "Turn Around" became something of an anthem and signalled Mina's move towards an urban pop sound. However, just when things were starting to look up, reports began circulating in the media that Mina didn't actually sing all the vocals on her second album and she left (ie. was dumped by) her record company.

4. The resilient diva bounced back again in 2006 by scoring a new record deal with EMI. She tried to use their international contacts to crack the European market with a pseudo cover of Holly Valance's "Kiss Kiss" but sadly no one was interested. Personally, I love Mina's version and desperately wish I could find a copy.

5. Mina then returned to Korea and released her third album. The lead single "Fly High" is a fabulous slice of electronic disco that Kylie or Madonna would be glad to call their own but, typically, it flopped. I hope Mina returns to this sound because "Fly High" is divine.

6. In the most desperate attempt to generate publicity in recent history, Mina releases a nude calender "to inspire Korea's athletes".

7. Questions are raised in the media about Mina's real age. She originally claimed to be in her 20s but eventually confesses to being 36!

8. Mina makes yet another comeback in late 2007 with her 4th album "Minastacia". Her sound and image (which basically involves wearing as few clothes as possible) are heavily influenced by urban pop and she hires female rapper Ak'sent to sing on the insanely catchy single "Look". The song and video are both brilliant and well worth checking out.

9. Mina doesn't let middle age stop her from posing in a school uniform on the cover of her amazing single "좋아" (above)!

10. The scandals continue in 2008 when Mina appears on the Chinese equivalent of "Dancing With The Stars" and gets 0 from all three judges for disrespecting the show and the audience! It seems her slutastic dance moves were too much for conservative China.

I have no doubt Mina will bounce back better than ever in 2009 - hopefully with a sizzling new album and some kind of porn scandal. She might not have the best voice in the business or the hottest producers but she's got style, attitude and charisma to burn. Mina, I love you!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Millie Jackson - The Tide Is Turning

Pop Trash regulars will be familiar with my love for Millie Jackson. The R'n'B icon is one of my favourite divas and I've devoted quite a few posts to her over the past couple of years. At her best, Millie J was in a league of her own. She went where other divas feared to tread, singing about relationships and sex with unprecedented candor and biting humour. In the process, she created her own genre of foul mouthed, comedic soul music and recorded some of the most memorable albums of the 1970s and 80s. Unfortunately, "The Tide Is Turning" isn't one of them. You might wonder why I would write about one of Millie's lesser albums when there are so many gems in her back catalogue to gush over. The reason is simple - I can't find a single review of the album online. Hell, it doesn't even have a Discogs entry! While not a masterpiece, "The Tide Is Turning" is still a fine album. Even a sub-par Millie Jackson still runs rings around most bitches!

By 1988 Millie had already released 20 albums in a career spanning almost two decades. She was also in the middle of a surprise comeback. Her previous offering, "An Imitation Of Love", had unexpectedly spawned two top 10 R'n'B hits - bringing her back to the mainstream after a couple of colourful detours. That album was Millie's first for Jive Records and it signalled a radical change of image. The filthy lyrics and foul language that made Ms Jackson famous in the first place were toned down and her comedic interludes were cut. For "The Tide Is Turning", Jive stuck to the same blueprint. Only this time around, the raunch was removed altogether and the song selection is dominated by pretty but heavily produced ballads. As a result, they lost what makes Millie so special. Her edge.

You Knocked The Love (Right Outta My Heart)


The album begins on high with the languid but lovely title track. Produced by Timmy Allen (who went on to work with Britney and The Backstreet Boys), "The Tide Is Turning" is a sweet ballad that wouldn't sound out of place on an Anita Baker record. It's subtle and restrained - two adjectives that you wouldn't normally associate with Millie! The next track and the album's only single, "Something You Can Feel", is 80s R'n'B at its least inspiring. Written and produced by soul legend Eddie LeVert, his son Gerald and Marc Gordon (both members of popular 80s group LeVert), the track is a miserable imitation of the Jam & Lewis sound. There's no hook, no melody and not much of a chorus to mention.

After a brief uptempo detour, Millie reverts to ballad mode on the self-penned "Are You That Someone". While pleasant enough, Loris Holland's production is a little too clean and sterile for my liking - making the song one of the album's least appealing moments. The balladry continues on "In My Dreams" but Team LeVert get it right this time, delivering a juicy chunk of soul that Millie really gets her teeth stuck into. I love everything about this. The melody is charming, Millie J gets to show off the full range of her powerful pipes and the lyrics are sweet without being too soppy. "You Knocked The Love (Right Outta My Heart)" is not only a welcome change of pace in the wake of so many ballads, it's also one of the few tracks that can be described as typically Millie. The outrageous lyrics are back ("I thought you were on a mission from Hades, you were like a mad dog with a case of the rabies!"), as is the controversial subject matter (domestic violence). The vocal on this is just fierce - Millie J gives her deadbeat man a verbal beating! Timmy Allen's production is also a lot of fun, from the very 80s guitar solo to the sax.

Cover Me (Wall To Wall)


After a slow start, "The Tide Is Turning" has well and truly gathered momentum by "Cover Me (Wall To Wall)". This is the album's only real upbeat pop anthem and Millie makes the most of it, wringing the saucy lyrics for every last drop of attitude. The song is the handiwork of Jon Astrop, who produced many of Samantha Fox's 80s hits. I wish he had collaborated with Millie on more tracks because this sound is perfect for her. "The Tide Is Turning" comes to a close with two great ballads. "Let Me Show You" is a soft and delicate delight, while "I Almost Believed You" is as pretty as it is sincere. The latter is also the album's only cover version. "I Almost Believed You" was first recorded by Michael Bolton five years earlier but Millie really makes it her own.

Writing this post, I can't help but feel "The Tide Is Turning" has been unjustly forgotten. It's not only an enjoyable album but I think its failure played a big role in Millie's decision to record "Back To The Shit" - the 1989 trash classic that essentially ended her career. On that opus Millie makes several quips about "The Tide Is Turning". She pointedly refers to it as the album that nobody bought and shares her frustration at not being played on the radio. Her answer was to return to her foul mouthed roots (ie. to get back to the shit) and give her fans what she thought they wanted. Millie might have overreacted slightly. I'm sure "The Tide Is Turning" would have been a success with a better lead single and more of her famous attitude. As it is, the album showcases Millie's most underrated gift - her voice.

Monday, March 16, 2009

MC Kylie Rocks Sound Relief

The Minogue sisters bring high fashion to Sound Relief

Sound Relief was a noble idea and raised A LOT of money for victims of the Victorian bushfires but did it really have to be so fucking boring? The only real highlight (well, apart from Olivia Newton-John teaming up with Barry Gibb for a lovely cover of "Islands In The Stream") was Kylie's homecoming for the Melbourne concert. For a while there it looked like the pint-sized diva wouldn't be able to make it, which would have been an absolute PR nightmare. Worse still, the organisers would have been forced to employ Dannii and there's no way she could have handled all that work! Not that Kylie actually performed as such. Rather, she signed on for hosting duties and did a pretty good job of keeping the crowd awake despite the mind numbing boredom and torrential rain. My favourite moment was her impromptu rendition of our unofficial national anthem - Peter Allen's "I Still Call Australia Home". I really, really hate that song but it was great to see Kylie just sing into a microphone without the distraction of backing dancers or an elaborate costume. She sounded great but those flood lights did not do her (or anyone else) any favours. Poor Kylie looked like an extra from Underworld 3: Rise Of The Lycans! Love the jacket though. Check out Kylie's patriotic performance below.

While on the topic of Kylie, I can't pass up the opportunity to comment on "Inverse" - her new fragrance for men. On the universal scale of gayness, I'm probably somewhere between Liberace and Richard Simmons but even I would draw the line at this shit! Actually, that's a lie. I'll probably buy "Inverse" for sheer comedic value when it's being sold on Ebay for 99 cents a case but even then I would have to be under the influence of hard drugs. On the brightside, owning a bottle of this piss will save you coming out to family and friends. It's the aromatic equivalent of walking around with a T-shirt that says "I love dick". At least the commerical (below) is a classy affair. For a moment I thought they were using old footage from "Better The Devil You Know". Kylie has exactly the same hair and looks just as lovely. Hiring her own boyfriend as the male model was another nice touch. I assume Andrés is on some kind of retainer, so at least she's getting something for her money. I just wish there was some kind of explanation for the scent's intriguing name. Does it refer to the inverse relationship between your sex appeal and the amount of Kylie cologne you use?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Olivia's Unforgettable Twist Of Fate

The first thing that went through my head when I woke up this morning, well the second after how on earth am I going to piss with this hard on?, was the overwhelming compulsion to play some Olivia Newton-John. I'd like to think that other people are haunted by gay icons in their sleep but I suspect this kind of shit only happens to me. As usual, my first inclination was to give 1978's "Totally Hot" a spin (probably my favourite album of all time) but I decided to go with an 80s theme instead - starting with "Xanadu" and working my way through her 80s discography all the way to "The Rumour" (I like to pretend that "Warm And Tender" never happened). Almost four hours later my thirst for ONJ was finally quenched but I haven't been able to get one song out of my mind.

1983's "Twist Of Fate" is something of a forgotten classic largely due to the fact that it had the misfortune of featuring on the "Two Of A Kind" soundtrack. That film was supposed to revive Olivia's movie career in the aftermath of "Xanadu" but it turned out to be an even bigger box office flop despite her much anticipated screen reunion with John Travolta. I'll write more about "Two Of A Kind" and its poorly neglected soundtrack another time (the latter really is quite amazing) but it's suffice to say that the project's only saving grace was the success of "Twist Of Fate". Written by Peter Beckett and Steve Kipner (the man behind "Physical", "Heart Attack" and "I Need Love"), the track became Olivia's 15th and final US top 10 hit. No surprise really given the insanely catchy chorus and perky melody. However, much of the credit must go to producer David Foster, who surrounds Livvy's lovely voice with layered synthesizers, driving percussion and crunchy guitars. Olivia thrives on the new edgy sound and brings an unexpected aggression to her vocal delivery. The song is very much of its time but given the current synth revival, "Twist Of Fate" still sounds astoundingly fresh. 80s pop music doesn't get much better.

Make sure you check out the wonderful video clip (below) in which Olivia dubiously teams black leather gloves with a pearl necklace while singing on some kind of floating pontoon. If only "Two Of A Kind" were half as entertaining! There is also plenty of footage from the film which mercifully saves you from sitting through it. As a final bonus, a very fine looking John Travolta (mullet and all) makes a cameo towards the end. Watching this gem, I can't help but hope that Olivia gives up on her new age chanting and makes a completely age inappropriate pop album. As Kylie once sang, it's never too late to change your mind!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Bat For Lashes - Daniel, The Video

My infatuation with UK diva Bat For Lashes continues unabated with the unveiling of her latest video. In an earlier post, I declared "Daniel" the best song I've heard thus far in 2009. It's dark, intense beauty still has me completely mesmerised. I was hoping for an equally brilliant film clip and Natasha (her real name) has well and truly delivered. In an age where music videos are a dying art form (check out Britney's latest stinking turd over at Chart Rigger as exhibit A), "Daniel" bucks the trend with its disconcerting imagery and fairytale theme.

The premise couldn't be more simple (or cost effective). Basically, it's a modern day re-enactment of Little Red Riding Hood. Only instead of a big, bad wolf, Natasha is menaced by a group of black balloon wearing dancers! It sounds ridiculous but the costumes freak me out and the overall effect is startling. I particularly love, and am also slightly terrified by, the scene where the balloon men ride on the top of Natasha's car. It's beautiful and disturbing in equal measure. Most importantly, the clip perfectly fits the music. At first I thought the scary elements took away from the song's dreaminess but the more I think about it, "Daniel" is the musical equivalent of a fairytale - sinister and menacing, yet magical and ultimately uplifting. By the way, am I the only one who sees parallels with Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video? The premise more so than the execution. Whatever the director's inspiration, the final result is undeniably spectacular.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Legendary Raffaella Carrà

Raffaella Carrà can probably bend steel with the sheer power of her fabulousness. One nod of that beautiful blond bob and the Eiffel tower would melt to the ground like an ice cream on a hot summer's day. There's just no way to adequately convey the depth of Raffaella's brilliance without spending hours watching her amazing clips on youtube but I'll do my very best. In my opinion, the Italian diva is the ultimate showgirl - the epitome of all things camp, flamboyant and glamorous. Her ability to belt out a tune, while performing complicated dance routines in costumes that would paralyse most drag queens, is simply unparalleled. If you mixed Kylie's DNA with Cher's and then threw in a little Amanda Lear for good measure, you still wouldn't come close to replicating La Carrà.

I'm ashamed to admit that I knew very little about Raffaella until I visited Spain last year. Despite being a superstar in her native Italy and most of the Spanish speaking world, La Carrà remains an underground gay icon in Australia. It's our loss. I don't know how I survived all those years without her! Anyway, back to Spain. On one of my all too frequent visits to FNAC, I came across a Raffaella CD and asked my friends about her. They insisted she would be right up my alley and they were right. It was love at first listen. After that I spent many an hour digging through second hand music stores to satisfy my Carrà addiction but I only became a true disciple after seeing a documentary about her life when I was shacked up with some loser in Jaén. The footage was magical. Seeing Raffaella in action gave me a whole new appreciation for her amazing gift.

Since returning home, I've spent a lot of time researching Raffaella's career but it hasn't been easy. It's almost impossible to find her studio albums (I've had to make do with about 15 different "Best Of" compilations) and the information about her online is almost exclusively in Italian or Spanish. From what I have been able to ascertain, La Carrà entered the entertainment industry way back in the 1950s as a nine year old. She appeared in several Italian films before trying her luck in Hollywood in the mid-60s. Tinseltown obviously couldn't cope with Raffaella's fabulousness because she returned home a couple of years later. It turned out to be a fortuitous move because things really exploded for her in the early 70s. Raffaella finally found her niche hosting variety TV shows - a medium that allowed her to showcase her singing, dancing and acting abilities. In true Carrà style, she revolutionised proceedings with extravagant sets and sexy costumes. The diva even drew criticism from the Vatican for exposing her navel on national TV! How times have changed.

The 70s were very kind to Raffaella. She scored her first big hit in 1970 with "Tuca Tuca" (it even had an accompanying dance - kind of like the Macarena but less shit) and followed that up with many others, the most notable being "Chissà se Va", "Tanti Auguri", "Rumore" and "I Thank You Life". In the later part of the decade, La Carrà embraced a more modern style (namely disco) and really hit her stride. 1977's fabulous "A Far L'Amore" was translated into English as "Do It, Do It Again" and became a top 10 hit in the UK in 1978. Unfortunately, lightning didn't strike twice and Raffaella turned her focus to the Spanish market, which was much more receptive to her unique talent. Confusingly, Raffaella then re-released many of her Italian hits in Spanish. "Fiesta", "Lucas", "Soy Negra", "Male" and "California" are some of her better known tracks from this period.

Having conquered Spain, La Carrà set her sights on South America and moved to Argentina in 1979 at the height of the Dirty War. It's hard to imagine Raffaella as the puppet of a right wing military dictatorship but that's exactly what appears to have happened! She became a regular entertainer on Argentine television and her popularity spread across most of South America. She even starred in her own movie musical (1980's "Bárbara"), a film I would desperately love to see. I find the whole situation incredibly fascinating. It must have been very controversial but Raffaella seems to have emerged from her Argentine exile completely unscathed. I wonder if she has ever expressed regrets for associating with such a corrupt regime. There's next to no information written about the topic in English, so I'm hoping a Spanish or Italian fan will fill me in on the details.

Raffaella packed her bags and returned to Italy in 1982, picking up exactly where she left off - by hosting extremely popular variety programs and churning out fabulous pop hits. While La Carrà's 1970s musical output is generally considered to be her best by fans, most of my favourite songs were released in the mid-80s. I'm obsessed with tracks like "Dolce Far Niente", "Amigo", "Bolero" and "Stupida Gelosia". I love the synthesizers and upbeat pop melodies. The hits kept coming well into the late 1980s. Raffaella channelled the Stock Aitken Waterman sound on her 1988 album, which produced catchy Eurodance tracks like "1,2,3,4 Dancing" and "Chicos, Chicos". By that stage, Raffaella was well into her mid-40s but still kicked up her heels like a diva half her age. Check out her amazing duet with Donna Summer (above). I love how Raffaella totally steals Donna's thunder, making her American guest look like a novice in comparison. The bitter look on Donna's face says it all!

The 90s signalled the end of Raffaella's career as a chart force but she remains a regular on European television and continues to release a new compilation album every couple of years. Kind of like Tina Turner, only more shameless. Last year Raffaella started hosting her very own talk show in Italy, which I'm told is a great success. Now in her mid-60s, La Carrà can look back on an amazing career that spans over half a century. She is in a league of her own, a true living legend.

For a bit of fun, I've listed my ten favourite Carrà classics. As you can see - I really, really love her 80s material!

1. Dolce Far Niente (1984)

I think the title literally means "It's Nice Doing Nothing". I couldn't agree more! This track is just so camp and synth-tastic. The production is pure 80s magic, while the chorus will have you coming back for more. I think "Dolce Far Niente" was used in one of Raffaella's TV shows if the amazing clip (above) is any indication. The part where she dances with the boy in the orange lycra shorts is just surreal!

2. Amigo (1984)

"Amigo" was also released in Italian but I'm more familiar with the fabulous Spanish version. This is another dose of high camp 80s pop - complete with barking dogs! A trashtastic delight.

3. Fuerte, Fuerte, Fuerte (1978)

This gorgeous ballad is a Spanish version of an Italian hit but they're both equally superb and perfectly showcase the loveliness of La Carrà's voice.

4. Fatalità (1983)

Raffaella jumps on the Italo disco bandwagon with truly spectacular results. "Fatalità" is a soaring slice of 80s dance music that boasts some truly sublime production.

5. A Far L'Amore

Raffaella's biggest international hit is a winning disco anthem. I prefer the Italian version to the English re-make ("Do It, Do It Again") and the Spanish version ("En El Amor Todo Es Empezar").

6. 1,2,3,4 Dancing (1988)

This 80s gem is so Stock Aitken Waterman it hurts. It wouldn't have sounded out of place on a Kylie or Sinitta album, which is a very good thing indeed! The video is stunning. I can't believe La Carrà was in her mid-40s! Check it out above.

7. I Thank You Life (1977)

This adorable ballad could just be the campest thing ever captured on record. What a diva moment!

8. Chicos, Chicos (1988)

Ok, forget what I said about "I Thank You Life", this Hi-NRG treat takes things to a whole new level of camp. I seriously need to track down these amazing 80s albums.

9. Soñando Contigo

"Soñando Contigo" or "Dreaming Of You" is a sleek disco triumph. I love the brass and the strings. This is a classy affair all around.



10. Bolero (1984)

Welcome to 80s synthesizer heaven! "Bolero" is one of Raffaella's best English pop hits. It's hard to believe this didn't take off internationally. It captures the zeitgeist of 1984 so perfectly. Check it out above.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Perfume - Dream Fighter

It's time for some of the amazing Asian pop music I keep threatening to write about but never quite seem to get around to. Sitting at the top of my much neglected "To Do" list is Perfume - Japan's hottest girlband. These three lovely ladies hail from Hiroshima, where they experienced some local success before packing their bags and heading for Tokyo to crack the big time. After a couple of misfires, Perfume finally hit the top 10 in late 2007 and their popularity has snowballed ever since. In July last year, they took things to another level by becoming the first "techno-pop" act (I guess we'd describe it as electro-pop) to score a #1 hit in Japan with the fabulous "Love The World". As much as I love that song and I love it A LOT, the follow-up is even better.

"Dream Fighter" is a truly spectacular pop tune. Released late last year in Japan (where it peaked at #2), the track is a rambling five and a half minute epic that keeps you hooked from the first kooky beat to the last. The girls sound amazing but much of the credit has to go to Yasutaka Nakata - the man in charge of Ami Suzuki's stunning "Dolce" and "Supreme Show" albums. His production is exquisite. I love the layers of sound, the quirky sound effects and the surprising flourishes of 70s space disco. Yasutaka's ability to avoid the coldness and sterility that commonly pervades electronic pop music is startling. "Dream Fighter" is deep, lush and catchy to the point of being ridiculous. I've been walking around singing the chorus for weeks and I can't speak a word of Japanese! It's only a matter of time before a western pop star comes along and hires this guy. I just hope it's someone worthy. Like a Minogue.

Make sure you check out the "Dream Fighter" video (below). It's a great example of a really simple concept executed brilliantly. The costumes, direction and special effects are all spot on. Then there's the loopy choreography. The girls from Perfume are almost as famous for their intricate dance routines as they are for their music and this clip demonstrates why.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Five Of The Best - March 2009

Sorry for the lack of updates. Things will return to normal after all the Mardi Gras madness is out of the way. I'm trying to chillax in preparation for tonight and thought I'd do a quick round up of the new-ish music I've been obsessing over lately. The first track is probably the best thing I've heard in 2009 thus far. Chances are, you've already heard of England's much hyped Bat For Lashes (real name, Natasha Khan). To be honest, I purposely ignored her 2006 debut album - putting her in the same trying WAY too hard basket as Róisín Murphy and Lykke Li. I won't be making that mistake again. BFL's new single "Daniel" is one of the most extraordinarily beautiful pop songs I've ever heard. It's a hauntingly poetic lullaby soaked in gorgeous 80s synths and ominous strings. Natasha says she was listening to a lot of Fleetwood Mac when she recorded the track and it's hard to overlook the influence of "Tango In The Night". There will be the inevitable comparisons with Ladyhawke but as much as I love the Kiwi diva, there's nothing on her brilliant album that matches the greatness of "Daniel". Give the song a listen here and then download it from Australian iTunes. Believe me, you'll want this on your Ipod. Bat For Lashes second album, "Two Suns", is released on the 6th of April.

Another song that is really floating my boat this month comes from Japanese superstar Utada. The plucky diva hasn't let the dismal failure of her last English language album (2004's underrated "Exodus") stop her from trying again. This time around Utada has roped in the hottest producers in urban music to crack the American market. Christopher "Tricky" Stewart and The-Dream feature on the soon to be released album "This Is The One", while Norwegian production house Stargate (best known for their work with Rihanna and Beyoncé) contributes the first single "Come Back To Me".

I was underwhelmed when the song first leaked a couple of months ago but it has really grown on me. Utada's voice sounds amazing and the production is crisp and typically slick. The video has just been released (above) and it's pretty good. I don't know why they've dressed Utada like a 45 year old desperate housewife but the guy is really sexy and it's suitably moody. However, make sure you check out the insanely HOT Seamus Haji & Paul Emanuel remix here. Going with this version in Australia and the UK would be very wise indeed.

The next essential pop track for March comes from Canadian electro duo Woodhands. "Dancer" was an underground hit for them last year but it's only just been released in Australia this week and I highly recommend downloading the poptastic DJ Rexford remix from iTunes. I like the original version but this fluffy little edit is adorable. The synths are dreamy, the perky female guest vocalist is cute without being too painful and the crazy sound effects really crack me up. I haven't heard anything this vocoder-tastic since the glory days of Cher in the late 90s! Unfortunately, you'll have to take my word on this one because it's not on youtube or streaming on their Myspace. I'm going to have to hunt down their album even though I sneakingly suspect that there's nothing this irreverent and fun on it.

Ok, calm down. I know Evermore is the last local act you would ever expect to see on Pop Trash Addicts but I can't help it if I'm completely hypnotised their latest single. "Hey Boys And Girls (Truth Of The World Pt. 2)" - I wonder what happened to part one! - is the best example of a rock band discovering synths since The Killers became bearable on their latest album. In fact, this wouldn't sound out of place on "Day & Age". I love the mix of guitars, synths and hand claps. Throw in a sing-a-long chorus and some very retro "woahs" and you have one of the highlights of early 2009. Check out the classy video here. Annoyingly, they use the radio edit in the clip. Check out the five and a half minute album version for full effect.

Last but most certainly not least is my very own theme song! Well, not quite but I like to pretend that "Pop Trash" by Detox Cute & The Beauty Junkies shares some kind of cosmic connection with my blog. In any case, this gorgeous little tune sums up my entire musical philosophy its opening line - "only pop music can save us now". Amen to that! I love everything about this track. The chorus is utterly infectious and the gloriously irreverent lyrics are the perfect antidote to the pretentious rubbish currently polluting the radio. Imagine The Carpenters singing an Adam Ant tribute album to get some idea of what these Brighton based pop revolutionaries sound like. Make sure you check out the video (below). With any luck, bigger and better things lie just around the corner for this fabulous duo.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

La Toya & Cerrone - Oops, Oh No!

I wish I never got out of bed today. From the moment I woke up, everything that could go wrong did go wrong - until about 5 minutes ago when something miraculous happened. I was moping around, drowning my sorrows and generally feeling sorry for myself when La Toya's amazing duet with Cerrone popped up on my iPod shuffle. It was as if I had been touched by an extremely fabulous angel. Through the power of her stunning 1986 flop, Goddess Toy reached out to me in my hour of need and made everything seem alright. This post is written in her honour.

There isn't a lot of information about "Oops, Oh No!", which is surprising given the high profile of Toy Toy's duet partner. Cerrone is a living legend, having been one of the most influential musicians of the entire disco movement - bagging 5 Grammy Awards and selling over 30 million records. I guess La Toya was hoping Cerrone's Midas touch would rub off on her but in true Toy fashion, it didn't. The single was released hot on the heels of her 4th album, "Imagination", and suffered a similar fate, failing to chart anywhere. It's a shame because "Oops, Oh No!" is an absolute gem. From the opening pan pipe sound effects (on the LP Version at least), the track unfolds as a weird and wonderful slice of experimental pop music circa 1986. Synths collide with urban beats against a dazzling electronic back drop to create a burst of instant happiness. The lyrics are really secondary to the music but the chorus is very cute and I love the way that Toy's voice completely overshadows Cerrone's. However, my favourite bit is the toygasmic scream at the two minute mark. Bliss! Confusingly, the edits are all radically different but my favourite is the LP Version and that's the mix I have streaming:

Oops, Oh No!


"Oops, Oh No!" was given a second chance at life five years after its initial release when the song was re-issued in Holland - without Cerrone's vocals! In fact, the Dutch version basically bins the entire song apart from the chorus, which is roughly placed over a fairly uninspiring house track. Amazingly, it became one of Toy's only hits - climbing all the way to #30 on the Dutch club charts! I vastly prefer the original but this has some nice moments including a classy piano solo. Words can't adequately express how much I miss La Toya. May she return from reality TV hell to further enrich our lives with her own unique brand of musical genius in the not too distant future.

Monday, March 02, 2009

My Failed Asian Pop Festival

So I had this great idea a couple of weeks ago. Bored and repulsed by just about everything on Australian radio, I decided to devote my blog to the only region currently churning out great pop music with any regularity - Asia. The plan was pretty simple. I would hold a month long Asian pop festival featuring a selection of my favourite Japanese and Korean acts. I knew it would turn off a lot of readers but I've never let that stop me in the past. The first step was supposed to be easy. I needed a glamorous new banner to herald my brief transformation and reasoned that nobody represents Asian appreciation better than Miley Cyrus. In retrospect, it probably wasn't my wisest decision. The intention was to take the piss out Miley-gate (and rail against militant political correctness in the process) but I ran the design (above) by my Vietnamese BFF, who advised me against it - after she had finished laughing.

After binning Miley, I settled on something more inclusive and universal - smut. My second attempt at a new banner would simply feature some random dude wearing as little as possible. Easy, right? I thought so too before wading through a small mountain of porn to find an image that was sleazy without being too lewd. Do an unfiltered Google search for "Hot Asian Guys" to see what I mean! The final product (above) wasn't going to win me any awards but I was reasonably happy with it. On a whim, I decided to run it by a different friend who remarked that it looked like "a poster for a Thai sex holiday". Charming. By that stage my enthusiasm for the whole concept had started to wane. Everyone I had mentioned it to expressed a distinct lack of interest and somewhere along the way it all just became too hard, so I canned the idea altogether. Despite the fact that my Asian pop festival was a massive flop before it even started, it hasn't affected my love for the music. So instead of devoting an entire month to the genre, I'm simply going to feature Asian pop stars more regularly - starting with the Queen of Japanese dance (and Kylie's #1 fan) Ami Suzki.

I've written more about Ami than any other Japanese pop star on this blog. It's no exaggeration to say that she's one of my very favourite divas making music today. Her past two albums have been sublime and I'm still working on reviewing her latest opus "Supreme Show". That post will happen (I hope) but in the meantime, Ami has gone and recorded new music for an upcoming greatest hits compilation. Her new song "Reincarnation" was released in Japan this week and it represents a radical change in sound. No surprise given the absence of her usual producer Yasutaka Nakata (the current king of Japanese techno-pop). It took me some time to get into "Reincarnation", and while I still think it lacks the grandeur of "Free Free" or "One", it's nevertheless a great pop song. M-Flo's production is heavier and less melodic but there's no denying the originality on display. I just think the track needs a good edit. At close to 6 minutes, "Reincarnation" sounds more like an extended club mix than a pop song. Happily, the video clip (below) is something of a triumph. Ami looks lovely, the photography is gorgeous and there can be no claims of plagiarism this time around. Enjoy!