Monday, October 31, 2011

A Song For Anyone With Broken Gaydar

Simone Battle was recently booted off US X Factor and dropped her debut single the very next day. That's all I know about her. But I'm hungry to learn more after hearing her unique lover-turned-fag hag anthem "He Likes Boys". Poor Simone sings about her frustrating relationship, delivering comedy gold with lines like "guess it is kind of odd that he's such a big fan of Lady Gaga" and "my gaydar needs some inspection". She's not alone if all the bi-curious married men polluting Oxford Street are any indication.

The budding diva finally comes to grips with the situation, declaring "it's a love story with a twist - I found myself a new gay best friend!" Yes, the track is all kinds of stupid. Albeit no worse than Katy Perry's "Ur So Gay". The only difference is that "He Likes Boys" is sweet-natured and cute, which makes the hate difficult to comprehend. A lot of gay commentators are ridiculing the song for perpetuating stereotypes but I say get a life. I'd take Simone's inane ramblings over Lady Gaga's pompous "Born This Way" any day of the week. This goes out to anyone who has ever got the wrong end of the stick. So to speak.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

September Vs Agnes

I have to admit that I don't pay as much attention to the Swedish pop scene as I used to when titans like Olinda and Bionda ruled the scene. Unfortunately, those glory days are long gone and now we're stuck with a bunch of nobodies that have probably never fashioned a dildo from clay on national TV or started their own political party to promote a flop single. Shame. On the bright side, two of the more palatable Swedish divas are back with new tunes.

It took me a while to warm to Agnes but I eventually overcame her complete lack of personality to stan for songs like "Release Me" and "I Need You Now". Her new single dropped recently and it's slightly underwhelming in comparison to those gems. "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" follows the Agnes formula of pairing a powerhouse vocal with thundering dance beats but something is missing. I asked her Australian record label if they plan to release the song over here and they said "maybe". Neon is probably waiting to see if it works in the UK. Can I suggest a slight remix to tone down the Eurotrash factor? That usually works for September.

Speaking of my sultry Swedish lover, "Me And My Microphone" will soon be unleashed upon the British public if the new remixes that appeared in my inbox are any indication. I still love the song - it feels like it's been out for years - and hope it's a hit. The cute video should help. For the first time in her career, Petra looks like she was born after 1970. I love the dance routine and her beaming face makes me happy. "Love CPR" is a great album and deserves a second chance. A UK hit could be just what the doctor ordered. Pun intended! Anyway, compare the videos and let me know who is your favourite Swedish export.

VS

Jeza And The Belles - Episode One

My attention rarely strays from music but I'm so obsessed with a new web-series that I had to spread the word. Jeza And The Belles is the show we've all been waiting for - a glorious action-comedy extravaganza about drag queens with superpowers. Jeza is the undoubted star with her Dolly Parton wig and gigantic jugs but Sue-She gets all the good lines and Badora (AKA Kelly Rowland's long-lost twin sister) provides the eye candy. I don't want to spoil it by going into more detail but brace yourself for the best show (not) on TV!

PS. How amazing is the theme song?

Mary J - Nice Song, Shame About The Video

I think I'm the only person that actually likes Mary J. Blige's new single. Feedback for "25/8" has been vicious but once you get past the cringeworthy title, it's a really good song. Not quite "Be Without You" or "I Am" but still a massive improvement on other "My Life II" cuts like "Someone To Love Me (Naked)" and "Mr Wrong". The R&B icon delivers vocally and the old school production is pitch perfect. So why did her label spend no money on the clip? Honestly, this makes "Love On Top" look like Avatar. Mary J. basically stands around in a series of unflattering outfits against what looks like a screensaver I had in the 90s. And then there's the saddest dance interlude of 2011. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when the soulful diva started waving her hands around aimlessly, surrounded by a bunch of broke-down male dancers. The whole thing reminds me of Kelly Rowland's heinous "Commander" video but with less imagination and an even lower budget. This woman has notched up nine consecutive top 10 albums in the US. Her talent and stature demand so much better.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Beyoncé Throws The Best Party EVER

From the post-apocalyptic drama of "Run The World (Girls)" to the zero-budget performance video for "Love On Top", Beyoncé has delivered a bit of everything this era. And while I definitely like some of the concepts more ("Countdown") than others ("1+1"), the videos have all suited the material and shown off Queen B's legendary versatility. It seems fitting then that she keep the best for last.

Actually, that's not quite right. "Party" isn't the best video from "4" - that would be "Countdown" or "Run The World (Girls)" - but it's my favourite. I love it when Bey lets her mask slip a bit and has a bit of fun. Like when she raided the liquor cabinet in "Why Don't You Love Me?" before dusting her 16 Grammys. Sometimes I think the most successful artist of the millennium over thinks things in the pursuit of excellence, so it's nice for her to take a step back and deliver this rambling, yet incredibly enjoyable, mess. Which she directed herself. Respect.

The concept:

Beyoncé throws a party in a trailer park and invites over a bunch of friends that include her superstar sister Solange, former Destiny's Child bandmate Kelly Rowland and rapper J.Cole.

Why it works:

1. The clip suits the lyrics perfectly. This is a party I would love to attend... if only to see Bey mow the lawn stilettos and little else.

2. It is a high-camp extravaganza. This is what I imagine a street party thrown by the cast of RuPaul's Drag Race would look like. Hair rollers and short shorts as far as the eye can see.

3. Kelly Rowland's presence adds some serious star power to the proceedings!

4. The sight of Beyoncé doing her make-up on the toilet. Millie Jackson approves.

5. Ghetto fabulous fashion that will make your head spin.

6. Excerpts from the diva's "Year Of 4" documentary add to the clip's homespun charm. It's completely unnecessary but cracks me up.

7. The trashy Cassie look-a-like.

The negatives:


Michelle Williams' invitation was obviously lost in the mail. Rude.

The verdict:


Move aside, BB Homemaker. Trailer park Betty is the new Queen of my heart.

10/10

Jessica & Stan Fly The Idol Flag

Jessica Mauboy and Stan Walker have finally blessed the world with the duet we've all been waiting for! No, really. I love them both and think a collaboration is smart for several reasons:

1. It gives them something to sing on their upcoming joint-tour of RSL clubs - no shade, this is actually happening and I already have tickets!
2. They are two of the nation's most successful pop stars and I'm a firm believer in cross-promotion.
3. Anyone is a better duet partner than Jay Sean.

As for the song, it's a total grower. After returning to the top 5 with her double platinum smash "Inescapable", I thought J Malley should go with another upbeat number like "Run" - or the still brilliant "Maze" - but "Galaxy" is fun too. It reminds me a lot of "No Air" (AKA the last time Jordin Sparks was relevant). It doesn't knock your socks off on the first listen but slowly creeps up on you like a pervert. Radio will love it and I'm sensing a sexy beach-themed video if the cute single cover (above) is any indication. We'll know soon enough. The song hits iTunes tomorrow and the delicious duo perform the song on next week's X Factor. Here's a sneaky listen below.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Your New Favourite Band

If Adam Lambert was around in the '60s, he would probably sound something like Hunx and his Punk - AKA my new favourite gay rock band. Founded by Seth Bogart (a California-based hair salon owner) in 2008, the band has already released one album called "Gay Singles" and built up a loyal underground following. I haven't got around to listening to that opus yet but their sophomore effort "Too Young To Be In Love" is something of a triumph. I genuinely love their sunny West Coast sound and barrage of retro influences. And let's be honest, the amusing lyrics don't hurt. Take Hunx and the Punx's new single. "Lover's Lane" is "Leader Of The Pack" with a demented gay twist. I love the thwarted teen romance set-up and melodramatic storyline - "my boy was killed and now he's gone!" The video is simple but cute. I don't get the random severed hand or the creepy-looking drummer but it's still better than anything Coldplay has ever released. Embrace the magic below.

Listen To Monica Or Die!

If there's one lesson to take from Monica's latest video, it's that you should always follow her advice or end up in a bodybag. The lead actress in "Until It's Gone" makes the mistake of ignoring the R&B diva's sage words and let's just say the poor bitch has one of dem days and then some. The clip is a bit melodramatic - my favourite part is when our ill-fated heroine sadly declares "Monica told me he would never change!" in a voiceover - but I love it. A good sob story never goes out of fashion and the concept gives a whole new meaning to the lyrics. "Until It's Gone" is the lead single from Monica's soon-to-be-released seventh studio album and it will probably be ignored outside America like everything else she has released since "Angel Of Mine" but the rich man's Brandy still does it for me. I love her voice, the fact that her hair hasn't changed since 1995 and her non-stop tweeting about Jesus. Watch in amazement as the wisest woman in R&B wipes the floor with your fave's wig. Don't take it personal.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Cosmo Jarvis Covers Kylie Minogue

A couple of weeks ago, Cosmo Jarvis visited Australia for a whirlwind promo tour and a pair of sold-out shows in Sydney and Melbourne. He also found the time to drop by Triple J to perform on their popular Like A Version segment, which involves guests singing unexpected cover versions. And the 22-year-old raised the bar by taking on Kylie's "Spinning Around". From "Gay Pirates" to Ms Minogue's career-reviving comeback single, Cosmo has displayed exquisite taste and is fast becoming my new fave. His rendition rocks but what drugs are these lame presenters on? Young Talent Time was Dannii's gig and all that talk about the saucy video is unnecessary. Show some respect for your elders! Anyway, that's not the dashingly-handsome Brit's fault. This is awesome and should be used as a B-side somewhere. If you need more Cosmo, here's my review of his Sydney Showcase and an interview I did with him for Channel V.

Beyoncé's Urban Smash Gets J.Cole Remix & Lil' Kim's Approval

Beyoncé's "4" campaign is already more complicated than Inception with three different singles being promoted simultaneously but things are about to get even weirder when two versions of her current urban smash go to radio. While "Party" took a while to grow on me, the song has since become a firm favourite. I also think it could turn out to be something of a sleeper hit. The slick Kanye West-produced slow jam is exploding on R&B radio (see below) and is winning unexpected fans. Like the legendary Lil' Kim, who was recently filmed getting down to the track on her tour bus. Could your fave have this effect on rap royalty? The overwhelmingly positive response to "Party" makes the decision to butcher it all the more perplexing.

I'm not a huge fan of André 3000 but his rap makes the song for me. It's quirky and gives "Party" an unexpected '90s feel that sets it apart from the rest of the field. While remixes are nothing new, switching the featured artist for radio is a bit unusual. Don't get me wrong. I like J.Cole - a lot more than I like the former Outkast frontman - but his version is a bit stilted. Maybe I'm just used to the original. In any case, we'd better get used to it because J.Cole appears in the video alongside fellow R&B legends Kelly Rowland and Solange. That opus premieres tomorrow in America (so Wednesday over here). I'm already crying and shaking in anticipation! Here's the new version "Party" to get you ready.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

How Pattyboy Scalped Rihanna & Britney

Earlier this year I introduced Pattyboy as the worst pop star of all time. That post was very tongue in cheek but I did say that his music is better than half of "Born This Way" and expressed my admiration for the Kiwi's ambition in the face of no discernible talent. Things have changed since then. For starters, the vocally-challenged diva shocked everyone by rocketing to #49 on NZ iTunes with his latest well-meaning but painful anthem "Unicorn". That's the kind of chart position Anthony Callea or Darren Hayes would kill for! And it proves - for better or worse - that Pattyboy is developing a real fanbase. Good for him. As New Zealand's new King of Pop, the next step was dropping a visual worthy of his breakthrough smash and I'm sure we can all agree that he delivered the goods. In a week that saw disappointing new videos from fading-stars like Britney and Rihanna, one artist stepped up to the plate and hit a home run. It's so good that I'm using sports metaphors!

There is a lot to love about "Unicorn", from the stunning scenery to the exquisite "Run The World (Girls)"-esque choreography at 1:40 minutes, but for me it's all about Pattyboy's stunning fashion. Who else could team a green feathered tunic with white patent-leather boots?

While Rihanna ripped off Skins and Britney's body-double made out with her real-life boyfriend for attention, New Zealand's finest export shows that you can be visually interesting but remain tasteful by wrapping himself in toilet paper and dancing around in his mum's slippers. I could not remove my eyes from the screen. That sound you hear is wigs being snatched.

The heartthrob glams it up in his next outfit, wearing a suit jacket and little else. It's a bit too sedate for my liking. But points for trying something different.

And then the big finale. In an obvious tribute to Beyoncé's "Best Thing I Never Had" video, the powerhouse mumbler slips into an elegant wedding dress. The message is clear. Make a commitment to yourself before anyone else. It's a stunning climax to a video that touched me deeply on many levels. Watch in awe (below) as the future Kiwi pop legend makes your fave redundant.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Return Of Amy Pearson

It's the news that millions of pop fans around the globe have been waiting for - Amy Pearson has blessed us with a new single! Two years have passed since "Butterfingers" killed her career but the big-lunged diva has kept busy writing songs for colleagues like Zoë Badwi. Well, the British import is finally ready to move on from her glorious ode to anal-probing. Ms Pearson jazzes up DEVolution's new single with her powerful pipes, helping "Good Love" climb the ARIA club chart. It's a great song and I hope it returns Amy to the lower reaches of the top 40 but why isn't she credited as the feature artist? And why is her lovely visage missing from the film clip? I'm not here to watch some teenage slut dance for her boyfriend when I could be soaking in the face of an angel. Obviously, the producers were worried that her magnetic charisma would be distracting for viewers. And they could be right. In any case, I'm just happy she's back. Close your eyes and imagine Amy getting her butterfingers in a twirl to the uplifting synths of "Good Love" (below).

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Kelly Rowland Recycles Another Video

Seriously, Ms Kelly. What the fuck? I have worshipped your flawless music since the birth of Destiny's Child. My loyalty has never wavered - not even when you looked like a man with that short hair in the late 90s. But two recycled videos in as many weeks is beyond lazy. A couple of days ago, I wrote a post about the overwhelming similarities between "Lay It On Me" and Livvi Franc's "Now I'm That Bitch". The Rowl Dogs barked that Kelendria wasn't to blame. That Sarah Chatfield directed both videos and duped the hapless R&B legend. So what's their excuse this time?

A visual for "Down For Whatever" (is this officially the third single?) surfaced online yesterday and it's basically a frame by frame remake of Wynter Gordon's "Believer". Is Kelly the victim of poor judgement and bad advice or just one shady bitch? Again, I'm sure this is not intentional. Some of Michelle's Christian values must have rubbed off on her but Bey's BFF needs a better team around her now that she's the most famous DC diva. Watch "Down For Whatever" and "Believer" (below) to make up your own mind.

VS

Rihanna - We Found Love - Video Review

Can Rihanna please go back to being that sunny island babe that stared into space like an empty vessel and did her best to look pretty? Ever since Breezy's Ike Turner moment, Def Jam has been intent on making the 23-year-old edgy and interesting. Their first attempt at transforming RiRi into a dark and damaged diva fell flat when "Rated R" flopped but the sex-addict image circa "Loud" was a success. This time around the-powers-that-be have turned the ultimate label puppet into junkie slut for "We Found Love", delivering Trainspotting - The Musical. All you need is a cameo from Ewen McGregor and this rubbish could be released as a sequel. The concept isn't terrible but they needed someone less manufactured to pull it off. Marina, Neon Hitch or even Robyn could have made this work. Instead, we're left with another "Man Down" ie. a desperate attempt to generate controversy to promote a shit song.

3/10

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Bai Ling & The Song Of The Year

Bai Ling has been one of my favourite actresses since she was robbed of an Academy Award for her stunning portrayal of a horny vampire in The Breed. Since then the Chinese beauty has become a pop culture phenomenon - both for her fabulous B grade movies and drunken behaviour at film premieres that usually involves crashing the red carpet and showing off her nipples. And it is the latter activity that inspired the 45-year-old's music debut. After a stint in Celebrity Rehab, Bai has dropped an inspiring dance anthem called - appropriately enough - "Rehab".

The era-defining floorfiller is 2011's hottest mess. Imagine Yoko Ono on mushrooms with a splash of Amanda Lepore thrown in for good measure and you're almost there. "I am Bai Ling, I just got out of Rehab!" proclaims the budding diva at the beginning of the song before chanting something in Chinese and finally declaring "I'm still gonna dance day and night with my sober friends!" This bravura turn sits on the cutting-edge of pop music, breaking new ground with its breathtaking originality and fearless approach to blending genres. Leave it to China's finest export to reinvent the wheel!

Bai's future Grammy winner (below) is available to download from iTunes now. Gift it to a friend while you're there - "Rehab" deserves to bigger than "Party Rock Anthem".

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Nicole Scherzinger - Try With Me - Video Review

When did Nicole Scherzinger become so completely and utterly amazing? Her first attempt at solo stardom was all kinds of wrong but "Killer Love" is one of 2011's best pop albums and is set to get even better with a re-package due on November 14 (in the UK). The new version contains three previously unreleased tracks - "Trust Me I Lie", "Tomorrow Never Dies" and her jaw-droppingly good new single "Try With Me". Written and produced by Australia's own Nervo twins, Scherzy's new smash wipes the floor with your fave's battered wig. I love everything about this. Don't be fooled by the pretty piano intro - "Try With Me" is no ballad. Dreamy synths soon rain down over surprisingly sweet lyrics before the entire thing goes nuclear with an epic chorus. There is something so fresh and unashamedly romantic about this that sets it apart from the rest of the field. I thought Ricki-Lee's "Raining Diamonds" was everything Leona Lewis wanted "Collide" to be but "Try With Me" is even better.

Amazingly, Nicky also found time to knock out a killer video. After sitting through Britney's hideous "Criminal" earlier this afternoon, the former-Pussycat Doll proves that you don't need to be a mutton-dressed-as-lamb mess cavorting with your ugly boyfriend to make an impact. Filmed in Mexico's Xilitla forest, "Try With Me" is visually astounding. The 32-year-old stunner basically wanders around the breathtaking scenery looking gorgeous. It actually reminds me a lot of Robyn Loau's "She Devil" video, which is a big compliment. My only objection is the fake piano playing at the beginning. That brought back flashbacks of Dulta's "Out Of The Blue", which is something I could have done without. Apart from that this is just about perfect. Beautiful song, beautiful clip, beautiful woman. I take back all of the Flopzinger quips. 2011 is Nicole's year. She's finally coming into her own and making the rest of the game look mediocre by comparison.

9.5/10

Ricki-Lee Returns With Raining Diamonds

There has been a flurry of activity from Australian Idol alumni of late. Jessica and Stan are about to release a cute duet, Shannon is predicted to hit the top 10 with his awesome new album and Anthony Callea recently reached number 88 on iTunes with "Oh Oh Oh Oh". But Ricki-Lee has outdone them all with "Raining Diamonds". The 25-year-old diva was a staple of this site for years until everything went tits up with her scrapped "See No, Hear No, Speak No" album and she threw in the towel to become a weight-loss spokeswoman. That opus was actually rather amazing and should still be released for her fans at some stage. But I digress. Ricki-Lee's enormous talent was being wasted and I applaud EMI for dragging her newly pert butt into the studio and re-launching the career of one the nation's best pop stars.

And what a way to return! "Raining Diamonds" is an absolute monster. Written by Billy Mann and produced by David Schuler, this is the angelic songbird's finest moment since she slayed Agnes by radically improving "Love Is All Around". Imagine Kelly Clarkson singing a towering house anthem and you get some idea of what Ricki-Lee's latest sounds like. From the opening "woah woah woahs" to the glorious Casey Donovan-sized chorus, "Raining Diamonds" is an absolute triumph that perfectly showcases the stunner's powerhouse pipes. I loved the maligned "See No, Hear No, Speak No" era but it did sound slightly dated. Happily, Ricki-Lee has tapped into something much more current. Leona Lewis wanted "Collide" to sound like this. Dev would kill for a song like "Raining Diamonds" (if she could actually sing). Listen to one of 2011's best singles below. The song is already rocketing up iTunes, so get downloading.

Britney's New Video Is Criminal

I'm not here for a middle-aged prescription drug addict desperately trying to recapture her glory days by acting like a teenage slut.

1/10

Love On Top - Video Review

Before reviewing Beyoncé's latest video triumph, I think I should try to explain the "4" campaign - if that's even possible - because a lot people have been asking me why there are so many videos. Here goes:

1. Run The World (Girls) - First Single
2. Best Thing I Never Had - Second Single
3. 1 + 1 - Random Promo Video
4. Countdown - Third US Single (Pop)
5. Love On Top - Third Aus/NZ Single
6. Party - Third US Single (R&B/Urban)

It's all a bit confusing but as far as Australia is concerned, "Love On Top" is currently the focus. Which makes today's video release rather timely given the song's top 20 position on iTunes - mainly on the back of radio airplay. So has Queen B delivered another era-defining visual masterpiece to assist her latest smash-in-waiting? The short answer is no. Has she dropped a fun clip that still slays your fave with its good-natured simplicity? Yep.

As I hinted in my "Love On Top" preview post, this is a cheap and cheerful affair. The clip looks like it was filmed on Solange's iPhone with a $10 budget but that is part of its considerable charm. The no frills approach suits the song's retro-sound and puts the emphasis back on the music. An approach that admittedly would end the careers of non-singers like Rihanna and Britney. However, in Bey's talented hands, it works a treat. I love the cute dance routine and the Earth Wind & Fire-tastic costume changes. That final outfit is visual Viagra and her hair-whipping at the end will be copied by drag queens for decades to come.

And now for the haters because they love my blog:

1. Bey uses a microphone. I believe this has been done before.
2. There is a boyband theme. Again, boybands existed prior to this clip.
3. This is an obvious nod to New Edition and Boyz II Men. Who also danced in an empty room.
4. She is wearing a leather cap. Homosexuals did this first.
5. Kylie also spent no money on her "Better Than Today" clip.
6. Beyoncé wears a top hat and tails, which clearly copies every woman who has ever appeared on Broadway in the past 100 years.
7. She breathes air in this clip. An activity previously captured on film.


9/10

Monday, October 17, 2011

Anthony Callea - Oh Oh Oh Oh No

Four years have passed since Anthony Callea released his last single. During that time he came out of the closet, hooked up with Tim Campbell (hi!), left Sony and spent a lot of time in America working on his independent comeback. The only thing the pint-sized pop star forgot to do is record a decent song. "Oh Oh Oh Oh" is awful. As much as I like the idea of an openly gay Australian pop star who isn't Darren Hayes, I still have (admittedly low) standards. And there is nothing redeeming about this generic club-banger.

The pocket rocket made a fuss about working with frequent Black Eyed Peas collaborator DJ Poet in recent interviews but a big-name producer doesn't guarantee a good song. As this shocker proves. The lyrics are awful, the production sounds dated and Anthony's powerhouse vocals are hidden under levels of autotune that would make T-Pain balk. I don't get it. The 2004 Australian Idol runner-up has a great voice. Why not record a track that shows it off? On the bright side, I recently caught Mr Callea supporting Sophie Ellis-Bextor in Sydney and the first song he performed was vastly superior to this. Very good even. If that's already in the can, it needs to be released sooner rather than later.

In the meantime, check out Anthony's #88 Australian iTunes smash "Oh Oh Oh Oh" below.

A Double Standard Beyoncé And Kelly?

Beyoncé has copped a hiding in the media this week for using ten seconds of choreography from the Belgian ballet 'Rosas danst Rosas' in her amazing 'Countdown' video.

Meanwhile, it turns out that Kelly Rowland's 'Lay It On Me' video is an exact replica of Livvi Franc's 'Now I'm That Bitch' - albeit with more obvious cock references - but that revelation has been greeted with overwhelming silence.

Why the double standard?

It's obvious that picking on Bey has become something of a hobby for certain blogs because she generates traffic for them but play fair.

The great irony is that 'Countdown' clearly pays homage to women in musicals from different eras - be it Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face, Debbie Allen in Fame or that nobody in the obscure ballet that three people had seen until last week.

Kelly, on the other hand, just recycled the work of one of her contemporaries - down to the latex strips and adults-only human pyramid.

And it's not like Livvi Franc is an old or obscure artist.

"Now I'm That Bitch" was a number one club hit in the US two years ago and the stunning diva even conversed with me to promote that epic club-banger in one of my favourite interviews!

Now tell me, who showed imagination and creativity and who is the sticky-fingered thief?

The difference according to some commentators is the fact that the same woman directed 'Now I'm That Bitch' and 'Lay It On Me'.

But by that reasoning shouldn't the blame for 'Countdown' be placed squarely on Adria Petty's shoulders? It's not like Beyoncé directed it herself.

Instead, she had the decency to admit that the ballet was a reference and went about her business.

What does Ms Kelly have to say for herself? Nothing.

The thing is I don't blame her either. I'm sure she didn't want to release an exact copy of a rival's video. But this shit happens because everything has been done before.

It just seems that some people are put to a higher standard due to their record-breaking career and legacy as the millennium's greatest talent.

Watch 'Now I'm That Bitch' and 'Lay It On Me' to see true recycling in action.

VS



Pictures via Necole Bitchie.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Shannon Noll - 'A Million Suns' Interview

Shannon Noll has been flying under the radar for the past couple of years but he's back with his long-awaited fourth album "A Million Suns". Now with a new record label and fresh outlook the music industry, the former farmer is hoping to re-capture the spark that resulted in ten straight top 10 hits between 2004 and 2007. A lot has changed since the 36-year-old rose to fame on Australian Idol but he remains one of the country's favourite singers and proved he still knows his way around a catchy pop/rock chorus on "Switch Me On", which is turning into a sleeper hit. The album delivers more radio-ready goodness and should please the anyone who loved classics like "Drive", "Shine" and "Lift". Check out what Shannon has to say about his comeback, Idol and the surprise involvement of Sophie Monk on "A Million Suns" (available now!) in our chat at Universal HQ last week.

You've been missing from the music scene for the past couple of years. What have you been up to?
Mate, I've been writing mainly. I wrote 57 songs for this album, so that was over that 2 year period and we did a lot of acoustic work. I did the big show around the country and then I went around the country again acoustically and then nearly around it again with another acoustic show.

You did the acoustic thing for a long time.
Yeah so now I'm really looking forward to getting back into the rock side of the show, bringing back the lights and all the guitars and rocking out again. So it seems like I haven't been doing a lot but I've just been under the radar.

Going back to your first three albums, I was looking at the stats and they did huge numbers. Is it daunting to have those expectations to live up to?
Mate, definitely. But that had a lot to do with the hype of the show and things always will taper off a little bit but they were great albums and I'd like to think I've got another one in a similar ballpark. At the end of the day, I listen to them all with equal thoughts about them. That's the most important thing. Being happy with the finished product.

How has the music world changed since you had all those hits?
Just with how everything works now. These first couple of singles we put out. They're on sale the day the day they go to radio instead of being at radio for 6 weeks. So now they debut really low and you've got to try and get them up as opposed to trying to start them up high and then they go down. It really has changed. It's a whole new world and there's no physical singles anymore.

It's a shame because I love them.
Yeah I know. But that's just the way we're going. The industry has definitely had to evolve and move forward to try and combat the downloads. This is how it's changed.

I love the first song "Switch Me On". Did Benji Madden co-write that?
Yeah I wrote that one with Benji. We're both signed to EMI publishing in Australia. So I think he was out here with a couple of days up his sleeve and someone said he wanted to do some writing. So he was aware of my music already because of his connection with Sophie Monk, who's a friend of mine and she put him on to me. So when the opportunity came up he was up for it.



I've heard the rest of the album, which is awesome, your next song "My Place In The Line" has a bit of a "What About Me" vibe to it...
It has! It also has a "Lift" sound to it. I wrote it with the same guy I wrote lift with. It's similar to that style. The first one was a little bit more uptempo and bit rock. That's the Good Charlotte influence in there as well. The current one now is more similar to the stuff that I've done in the past.

I was speaking to Benn Jae (the director of Shannon's past two video clips) a couple of weeks ago and he was telling me you're almost not in the video.
Yeah I'm just intercut into it. There's a storyline with it, explaining the lyrics and the song's about trying to find the place where you fit in and the story explains that in the way of two young people who are struggling to fit in, so they end up finding each other. I'm intercut through it, just doing performance pieces. But I love having a story, like a mini-movie type thing.

Is the title track ("A Million Suns") going to be a single because that's, for me, the song that really just pops out.
That's great because we're actually having a conversation about what single to go with next. I'm fairly sure it probably will be, mate. Just because it's different and I think it's more current in a way, more like the music that's going around these days. That's why I wanted that track on there because it's a little bit left of centre and a little bit more now.

The lyrics to that one are a little unusual. What is the inspiration for that song?
It's about that time when you're trying to find... you're striving to do something and you're waiting for something to happen. Which was like me before the show (Australian Idol), driving tractors and singing along to the radio. Singing to the steering wheel and hoping what you believe in your heart... is possible, comes true. It's all combined by the million suns. Out home where I come from it gets really, really hot and sometimes it feels like there are a million suns out there.

I really like that one. I think it's a real standout. I also love "Come Home" and "Long Way Home". There almost seems to be a bit of a theme throughout a lot of these songs...
Yeah, there is a little bit.

Have you been in the dog house?
Yeah! "Come Home" definitely is a reconciliation song but "Long Way Home" explains all the not-so-glamorous parts of the business. I think before you're actually involved in it, you just look at the glossy parts. It's not all parties and gigs and after-parties. It's a business and it's a career. There's so much involved in the day-to-day. Like I've got friends back home who just think that I do gigs and that's it. You'd be surprised at the actual amount of time taken up by the interviews and by the writing and by the recording - all them things you do in the day time. And then you've got the weekend work as well.

For me the big surprise on this album was the cover of "It's A Man's World". That seemed a bit adventurous. Are you moving into the Jazz field?
No. It's just everybody I worked with in the States that had no idea who I was or where I came from or anything, said time and time again I must have negro in my family somewhere because the soul or technique I use with my vocals. It's soul, I think. It's a big ask trying to do a song that James Brown sang. There's only one James Brown but it's a song that really suited my voice with the gravel in it and that sort of thing. I love it and we wouldn't have done it if we didn't think it was going to come up good and everybody who's heard it.. and I wanted to add another dynamic to the show too. So I'm going to put it in the live set as well. And it's something that just takes it away from the ballads and the rock stuff and the mid-tempo stuff. It's a complete different place in the show. It's a real moment.

Did you also cover it to show your versatility?
Definitely. It's an example to say what do you think about that? I enjoy that. It's another string to my bow.

Do you think that there's any kind of lingering stigma attached to Australian Idol or is that just so long ago now that nobody remembers or cares?

Mate, at the end of the day, I got my start in Idol and I'll never forget that but it's not the reason why I'm here today. There's been a lot of hard work and time put in to continue my career. The show was only ever an opportunity and it was up to the individual then to make the most of it and push forward and try and create a career from it. Given the fact that I got the start with it, I think that plus what I've done in the last 10 years is the reason why I'm still here.

That's a really good point because how many hundreds of people have gone through that show...
Yep!

And maybe five are still working.
Yeah, that's right. That's the whole thing about it, there's no guarantees with it and it doesn't mean for one minute that you've made it. It's a foot in the door. You've got to keep your head down and work as hard as you can to walk through that door.

Do you think that's what set you apart from a lot of Idol alumni - that you went out there and played show after show?
Yeah the whole thing is... the live side of it is what I dig, that's my love. That's why I do music. So it was something that was natural for me to do next. Going to a show is so different from sitting in your room and listening to a CD. You get the vibe and it's entertainment. It definitely helps because a lot of people, who are your fans... they'll be your fans but if they can get to see a show then they'll be a fan forever. As much as they'll support somebody else the next year, they'll still keep you in their heart.

Do you think your approach has something to do with the fact that you're a little older than some of the kids that go through Idol. They just seem to think that it's all just going to fall in their lap, while you went out there and grabbed it.
I actually think it's a little bit more that we were the first. The first show was massive and because of how Guy (Sebastian) and I handled it, people saw that and thought that was because of the show initially. There was no template for us because it was the first season. We went out and did the best we could to try and make a future out of it and I think a lot of people who were sitting at home watching it, just thought that came because we were on the show. They didn't see the behind-the-scenes, the hard work put in to build it into something special. So I think a lot of the kids that go on the shows these days think that just because they've got into the top 5 or 10 that they think that we did post the show, is what happens.

Do you still remember that moment 8 years ago when you thought fuck it I'm going to apply for that show?
Yeah, definitely.

Does it feel like fate?
Yeah I'm a strong believer that things happen for a reason. I saw the ads for it (Australian Idol) back in Condo but they didn't show where the auditions were. I was 6 hours drive from Sydney. I just happened to have to go to Melbourne to pick up my wife and the kids because she was down there for a dress fitting for her sister's wedding and her sister said to me "are you going on Idol?" and I said I dunno, I dunno where the auditions are. So she got on the computer and said they're here in Melbourne next week. There are too many parts of it that came to pass for it just to be a luck thing. I was put in that situation so close to when the auditions were on that it was fairly uncanny.

That's a cool way of thinking about it. Getting back to "A Million Suns", are you going to promote it the same way you did the first couple - by playing as many shows as you can?
Yeah, that's been the best thing about the little bit of downtime in the last two years. I'm so excited again. I think I'm more excited now than I was after the show. Because I've been around and done the shows in the past, I know what's coming and I know how to approach it. I'm really excited about it. Plus the repertoire now is great. I've got all the singles that have been really massive and now the only other songs in the set are the new ones off the new album.

So it's your greatest hits plus your new stuff?
Exactly! There's six or seven tracks on there that are from the previous albums but they're all songs that people wouldn't let me leave the building if I didn't play.

One question that I've always wanted to ask - with your greatest hits album was that originally supposed to be a fourth studio album?
Um... I sort of got pushed into a corner with that one because that was at Sony's discretion in the contract to release a 'best of' whenever they wanted. I mean, I wouldn't have done it... I think it was a little bit early for it in my opinion. You do a 'best of' when you've got a 'best of'. I don't think the time was right for it then but it was out of my control. That was the beginning of the end for my relationship with Sony.

"Summertime" also broke your run of all these huge hits.
Yeah, it did. Like I said, it was something that I had no say in, so I just had to go with it. It was a little bit disappointing at the time because I was wanting to do another studio album and then I got thrust into that but you can't worry about that sort of stuff. You just move on and keep looking forward.

Were there more songs from those sessions that didn't make the greatest hits?
We sort of had a handful but we weren't ready for a new one and they just wanted to do it right then and there. I think I should have just kept working in the studio until I had the next album instead of putting that one out. And the once that one was out that sort of put me out of the market for the next 18 months.

Then you had a lot of interesting things happening in the UK...
Well in saying that... if you... what they do when they release you internationally is they put all your biggest hits together on one album and that's what that 'best of' really did, so it was handy for that reason. So it worked out well in that respect. It gave me the album that I needed to release.

Is the international market something you're thinking about with "A Million Suns"?
Mate, you know. It's always been in the back of my mind from the start but it doesn't hold the priority it used to. I just want to try and get back on track here in Australia. I've written this album in Australia for Australians. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it but my first thought is to try and make it work here. As I'm getting a bit older, I sort of realise How lucky we are to be living here in this country. And I'd prefer to be here that have to relocate. You can go over there and waste a lot of time, do you know what I mean?

The songs have a distinctly Australian vibe. Did you take your inspiration from where you came from?
Definitely. I wrote with guys who knew my history and knew my past. The ideas that they put on the table are ideas that I just clicked with straight away because they were so me. They knew where I was coming from, what I'm about and where I was at at that point. So it was awesome to know that instead of going and writing with a bloke from America who has no idea what you're about or what you stand for.

Do you feel in a way that you have come full circle with this album?
Yeah, definitely. I think now for the first time really, new label. I feel now it's legitimate. Not that I disrespect the past at all because I'm so lucky but now it feels right. It feels like it's real now and not propaganda from a TV show. I'm with a new label. Signed as an artist not a celebrity.

Good luck with the album. Thanks for your time.
Thank you!

Here's the awesome video for Shannon's latest single "My Place In The Line". Get downloading!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Ms Kelly's Soft Porn Opus

Now that Beyoncé is up the duff and living in semi-seclusion to avoid pressed haters, the baton has been passed to Ms Kelly to keep R&B alive until her return. And the soul legend isn't letting a moment go to waste. She established herself as Aretha Franklin for 2011 on the hyper-sexual "Motivation" and continues slay sad pretenders like Rihanna on "Lay It On Me". The seventh second single from "Here I Am" is an all-conquering club-banger that should appeal to fans put off by the slow groove of her last hit. It's not as ground-breaking as anything on "4" (or Michelle's "Love Gun" for that matter) but Kelendria has dished up another hit.

Slick production, Big Sean and a chorus more infectious than the STD she caught filming the video make "Lay It On Me" a radio-ready smash. And let's face it, those softcore antics can't hurt. Bey's BFF makes a fool of herself grinding on a bunch of half-naked men (think Kylie's "All The Lovers" as produced by Titan Media) and cavorting with an elephant but it's so over-the-top, it kind of works. I particularly like the incredibly unsubtle phallic imagery that runs through the clip. Let's just say no mother is going to buy their child a slinky ever again after seeing this hot mess. Ms Kelly, you've done it again!

Natalie Bassingthwaighte Fails To Chart

I almost feel sorry for Natalie Bassingthwaighte. The 36-year-old* former soap-star must have thought she was primed for a Jennifer Lopez-sized comeback when someone was stupid enough to invite her onto the X Factor judging panel but instead of riding that momentum all the way to number one, she failed to dent the top 100 with her heinous comeback single "All We Have". Whoops! More embarrassing is the fact that the song clearly sold enough downloads to place somewhere between 60 and 80 but Sony chose not to have that dubious achievement listed at all. Which usually only happens to save face or to give a label time to implement Plan B. Like a physical single or big TV promotion. It can work - see Vanessa Amorosi's "Gossip" - but unfortunately for Nat, the poor man's "On The Floor" is plummeting down iTunes faster anyone could have predicted and she has already embarrassed herself on the nation's highest-rating TV show. It looks like Australia has voted and decided to send the old nag to the glue factory after all. I hate to say I told you so - BUT I'M GOING TO. Laugh again at 2011's worst song and video below.

*bitch, please

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The 2011 Anti-ARIAs

Nominees for the 2011 ARIA Awards were announced today and the recipients leave a lot to be desired. All the usual suspects got nods - Kasey Chambers and John Farnham - as well as the current indie-darlings/flavours of the month like Kimbra and Boy & Bear. In a nutshell, it's same old, boring shit. The golden rule obviously still applies. If you're playlisted on JJJ and sell no records - you're in. If you had a hit and enjoy an international following then fuck off. While the prospect of watching personality free-zones like Gotye collect a bunch of awards is truly harrowing, I've decided to blunt the pain by pointing out where the committee went wrong. No doubt some of these choices will get love next year but in the meantime here are 2011 Anti-ARIA nominations:

Album of the Year
Boy & Bear - Moonfire
Cut Copy - Zonoscope
Eskimo Joe - Ghosts of the Past
Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu - Rrakala
Grinderman - 2


This is a particularly dire category. Does the title of Grinderman's album stand for the number of copies sold? And Eskimo Joe. Really? Why not include Thirsty Merc for that added dose of credibility. While I can take or leave Boy & Bear, Cut Copy's album was worth a listen. To be honest, I haven't got around to hearing "Rrakala" but I like the singles - so I'll give it the benefit of the doubt. However, the following masterpieces really should have been amongst it:

Get 'Em Girls - Jessica Mauboy
J. Malley's edgy hip-hop opus was clearly better than your faves.

Gilgamesh - Gypsy & The Cat
Dreamy and beautiful electro-pop that didn't try too hard.

Zoë - Zoë Badwi
Australia's Queen of dance delivered the goods on her debut.

From Here To Anywhere - Sneaky Sound System
Another triumph from Miss Connie and that hanger-on.

Coast To Coast - Cody Simpson
While I'm still getting over the omission of "iYiYi", this is clearly the musical event of the year.

Single of the Year
Birds of Tokyo - Wild at Heart
Boy & Bear - Feeding Line
Drapht - Rapunzel
Gotye - Somebody That I Used to Know (feat. Kimbra)
Guy Sebastian - Who's That Girl (feat. Eve)
The Jezabels - Dark Storm


Yep, more boring shit in this category. While it would have been ridiculous to ignore Gotye and Guy's chart-topping quadruple platinum smashes, nobody gives a fuck about Drapht's hot mess or that cure for insomnia by Boy & Bear. I like The Jezabels but "Dark Storm" is just noise. The annoying thing is that there were so many gems to choose from including:

Freefallin' - Zoë Badwi
She even made dancing in a sewer with a bunch of battered gays look sexy in the video. Winning.

Rock It - Little Red
Soft, melodic and just generally good.

Titanium - David Guetta feat. Sia
Unavoidable and all-conquering.

Inescapable - Jessica Mauboy
After murdering our eardrums and burning our retinas with her "Get 'Em Girls" song and video, Jess came good on this Diane Warren-penned gem.

Big - Sneaky Sound System
Epic would have been a better title.

iYiYi - Cody Simpson
The highlight of Flo Rida's career.

Endless Summer - The Jezabels
This band is seriously awesome when they throw in a chorus.

Why'd You Have To Kiss Me So Hard - Laura Imbruglia
My girl crush continues to thrive in obscurity.

Something About You - Nick Jay Feat. Melissa Tkautz
It's been 20 years since E Street and Mel is still as relevant as the day she started in music.

Jona Vark - Gypsy & Cat
Killer track that is currently burning up the charts in Germany.

Play With Me - Chloe Lattanzi
Olivia must be so proud.

Even Though I'm A Woman - Lover Seeker Keeper
A Sarah Blasko song that doesn't suck. Rejoice!

Loud - Stan Walker
Taio Cruz could never.

Jungle - Emma Louise
Flawless electro-tinged indie-pop from Australia's next big thing.

Next 2 U - Gina G
A #197 smash on the iTunes (dance/electronic) chart proves that the 90s icon still has what it takes.

China - Sparkadia
Hauntingly beautiful.

Put Your Hands Up (If You Feel Love) - Kylie
The old girl still has it.

Settle Down - Kimbra
The closest thing to a good song on the overrated diva's debut.

Own This Club - Marvin Priest
Smart, commercial urban-pop that people actually downloaded and enjoyed.

Gathu Mawula - Gurrumul & Blue King Brown
This should be our new national anthem.

Best Male Artist
Drapht - The Life of Riley
Gareth Liddiard - Strange Tourist
Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu - Rrakala
Gotye - Somebody That I Used to Know (feat. Kimbra)
Josh Pyke - No One Wants a Lover

What a pack of losers! I don't even know where to start with this collection of has-beens and never-weres. Gotye gets a pass and Gurrumul is actually talented but scrap the rest and choose from the following pop-pioneers:

Stan Walker
Anyone about to embark on a tour of RSL clubs with Jessica Mauboy deserves to be recognised in this category.

Guy Sebastian
"Who's That Girl" going four times platinum and getting US airplay should have been enough for a nod.

Cody Simpson
The omission of Australia's King of pop from this category is like overlooking Adele at next year's Grammy awards. Unforgivable!

Best Female Artist
Adalita - Adalita
Clare Bowditch - Are You Ready Yet?
Kasey Chambers - Little Bird
Kimbra - Cameo Lover
Washington - Holy Moses


What a bunch of tired, old bitches and over-hyped pretenders! They all belong on the scrap-heap. Try one of these luscious ladies instead:

Zoë Badwi
A living legend. Nuff said.

Vanessa Amorosi
While "Gossip" is possibly the worst song of 2011, bad music sometimes happens to good people. "Amazing" shows that Ness Ness is back on track and it goes without saying that she could outsing any of these tricks with a mouth of food and laryngitis.

Jessica Mauboy
Who else in this country consistently has top 10 hits?

Laura Imbruglia
My glorious lover is due for a win some time before 2025.

Chloe Lattanzi
The face. That voice. Those tits. One day this goddess will be rewarded with more ARIAs than she can carry.

Kylie Minogue
You know for her stunning top 60 smash hits "Better Than Today" and "Put Your Hands Up".

Best Group
Birds of Tokyo - Wild at Heart
Boy & Bear - Moonfire
Eskimo Joe - Ghosts of the Past
Grinderman - 2
The Living End - The Ending Is Just The Beginning Repeating


Just cut and paste what I wrote about the best album nominations. With one exception. I'm stoked that The Living End got a nod. I love them and hope they win. Which they won't but still. Here are five bands that were sorely overlooked. Without commentary because it's late and I can't be bothered.

Lover Seeker Keeper
Parralox
Potbelleez
Bang Raiders
Sparkadia

Breakthrough Artist - Single
Boy & Bear - Feeding Line
Drapht - Rapunzel
Havana Brown - We Run The Night
The Jezabels - Dark Storm
Zoe Badwi - Freefallin'

This category is kind of fun. I applaud the voters for recognising the brilliance of Ms Badwi and for supporting an old tranny like Havana. Unfortunately, the rest of the entries are crap. Any of these breakthrough hits would have been preferable:

Elen Levon - Naughty
Australia's new teen queen is making serious waves with her awesome debut single.

Chloe Lattanzi - Play With Me
Did your fave snort cocaine and repeatedly kill herself in her critically acclaimed (by me) music video?

Prinnie - Lion
The best Beyoncé rip off of 2011.

Jenna Dwyer - Fight Like A Girl
A wrestler turned electro-pop diva mentored by Mandy Kane. Do I need to say more?

Kimbra - Settle Down
Well, this actually did lead to bigger and better things so she deserves it.

Most Popular International Artist
Adele
Chris Brown
Jennifer Lopez
Jessie J
Ke$ha
Lady Gaga
LMFAO
P!nk
Pitbull
Rihanna


These hacks were actually voted in by members of the Australian public. I'm flabbergasted and ashamed. With the exception of Ke$ha, this list sucks harder than Kim K in that Ray J video. These music legends were all robbed:

Beyoncé
Oh Land
La Toya Jackson
Kelly Rowland
Justin Bieber
Soraya Arnelas
Selena Gomez
Shontelle
Victoria Justice
Luciana
Kan Mi Youn
Nicole Scherzinger
Foster The People
Kate Ryan
Courtney Stodden
Khia
Lady Antebellum
Victoria S
Miley Cyrus

Watch in awe as the girl formerly known as Hannah Montana improves Poison's "Every Rose Has Its Thorn". Are you embarrassed for not voting for her yet?

Luciana & Betty White's Hot Video

I can't believe it's finally here! The video for the post-menopausal version of "I'm Still Hot" just dropped and it's positively sizzling. Luciana has never looked better - despite wearing her trademark STD (Short T-Shirt Dress)! - and Betty White continues to prove why she is the coolest woman alive. The set-up is pretty simple. Everyone's favourite Golden Girl feeds cheesecake to a bunch of half-naked muscle men, while the Queen of clubs hangs out with her dancers and just looks fucking hot. After that they eat cake in a limo and discuss life insurance. As you do. It's a big, beautiful dose of tongue-in-cheek fun that works as a commercial and as a music video. The original version of "I'm Still Hot" is officially released in Australia on Friday, so watch this piping hot mess to get you in the mood. Luciana will be in Sydney at the end of the month to promote the song with her fourth tour in two years. Can't wait!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

La Toya Claims The Jackson Throne

The weight of the Jackson legacy now rests squarely on La Toya's slender shoulders. While Janet continues to visit third world nations in search of fans old enough to remember her last hit, Joseph's favourite daughter proudly represented the clan at Sunday night's Michael Jackson tribute concert in Wales - bringing some much-needed credibility to an event otherwise lumped with has-beens like Craig David and Alexandra Burke. I knew the 55-year-old triple threat would step up to the plate and show the world that talent and beauty can co-exist but nothing could have prepared me for what transpired.

After a lifetime of living in the shadows of her slightly more successful brother and sister, La Toya finally stepped into the light and proved that it shoulda been her. The Dutch hitmaker's covers of "In The Closet" and "Jam" were so powerful and moving that no official footage has leaked. Obviously they are keeping all the good stuff for the DVD but a couple of devoted fans managed to film a couple of minutes of Toy's triumphant moment. Watch in awe as the new face of the Jackson dynasty radically improves two of her much-loved brother's worst songs with a little help from fellow R&B legend Heavy D. At this point, I think it's fair to say that Janet could never.

In The Closet

Jam

Cosmo Jarvis - Sydney Showcase

A rooftop in Neutral Bay is probably the last place I ever expected to hear Cosmo Jarvis belt out "Gay Pirates" but that's what happened on Monday night when he performed a six-song showcase for assorted industry types. Like many people, that quirky anthem was my introduction to the scarily talented 22-year-old but since then I've become a huge fan and was excited about his Sydney debut. It got off to a somewhat unconventional start when the Brit played around with his guitar and spent a couple of minutes sorting out the sound settings before launching into the awesome "Sure As Hell Not Jesus" but those tics, which became more prevalent through the show, are part of Cosmo's raw charm. After a note-perfect rendition of that underrated gem, he moved onto "She Doesn't Mind" - one of my favourites from his excellent sophomore album "Is The World Strange Or Am I Strange?" That song never fails to put a smile on my face with its amusing lyrics and unexpected sweetness.

Next up was a new track called "Train Downtown", which Cosmo explained was set in the future - "not 1000 years but maybe 800". It turned out to be a typically idiosyncratic take on human relationships that rang true for me. I can't wait to hear a studio version. Before moving on to his current single "My Day" (below), the singer/director explained that he usually performs the song with a five-piece band but it still sounded great with the trio present. This guy not only has a deceptively strong voice, he's also an extremely accomplished musician. As he proved by picking up a mandolin to sing "Gay Pirates". I interviewed Cosmo earlier in the day - stay tuned for that - and he confided that he's sick to death of singing his tale of gay love on the high seas but it still gets me every time. He closed with "Blame It On Me", which is perhaps the album's weakest moment but I'm not complaining. Cosmo is the real deal and destined for huge things. Get on board now.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Love On Top - A Tribute To La Toya

Christmas came early yesterday. Not only did Sunday Night - a dire Australian current affairs program - screen an interview with Beyoncé, they also debuted her "Love On Top" video. Well, a 90 second preview. Not that I'm complaining. I almost choked on a Tim Tam when the clip started. We all know there are videos for "Party" and "End Of Time" gathering dust on Bey's hard drive but I honestly doubted the existence of this one. Surely it would have made more sense to release it straight after the VMAs. You know, when the song was top 10 on iTunes. But better late than never. After overcoming the shock, I had a stunning epiphany. "Love On Top" is clearly a tribute to fellow pop icon La Toya Jackson. It makes sense. They are both peerless beauties, powerhouse vocalists and big in Poland. Furthermore, Bey said that "4" was inspired by R&B legends like Prince and Stevie Wonder. She obviously just forgot to mention Toy Toy. Here are 5 undeniably compelling reasons why "Love On Top" is a moving homage to the thinking man's Jackson.

1. That cap

This was a dead giveaway. When you think about cap wearing mega-stars, who automatically springs to mind? La Toya Jackson. The raven-haired goddess made leather caps the ultimate fashion trend of the 1980s for gay men and soul singers. I'm so glad Bey is bringing it back!

2. Breathtaking choreography

One look at La Toya's "Bad Girl" video (above) proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that she is the true dancing machine of the Jackson clan. So naturally the most successful artist of the millennium threw in a compelling routine to honour Toy's ground-breaking contribution to modern dance.

3. The Motown sound

"Love On Top" harks back to the sweet soul of Motown - a genre synonymous with La Toya. Listen to her exquisite cover of "Stop In The Name Of Love" if you require further convincing.

4. Her outfit

I thought Bey's leotard looked familiar. She was obviously rifling through Matthew's old VHS collection and found a well-used copy of Toy's Playboy video. The resemblance is uncanny!

5. The low-budget production

Seriously, the only thing cheaper than "Love On Top" is Toy Toy's exquisite "(Ain't Nobody Loves You) Like I Do". And like that 80s classic, the visual fits the song perfectly and still slays all your faves. The end.

Watch in awe as Bey tackles Toy's legacy below.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Elen Levon Competition Winners

Thanks to everyone who entered my competition to win a signed "Naughty" promo CD single. The song is set to debut at number 60 on this week's ARIA chart, which is a great achievement for a new artist. With any luck that will rise as the song continues to gain spins on radio! But now for the winners. The following Elen Levon fans have won a copy of 17 year old's catchy anthem:

@Azza316
@jordddz
@Gaosalad
@jordanhirst
@LAjredini
@DanielJay92
@trigmoxie
@Ryan_Ogden
@shortielaura


Congratulations! Send me a note with your details (my email is listed under my profile on the top right) and I'll put your promo in the post. Oh and here's a cute behind-the-scenes documentary from the rising pop star's recent industry showcase. Check out Elen in action (below). That was really fun night.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Beyoncé - Countdown - Video Review

While Rihanna is busy running around an Irish field with her National Geographic tits flapping in the breeze in a desperate bid to hype her "We Found Love" film clip, Beyoncé has just delivered a one-woman workshop on how to make a timeless music video. Five months pregnant and fully clothed. I guess that's how you separate a great artist from a label puppet but I digress. "Countdown" is everything the glorious preview promised and more. Blending influences as disparate as Charlie Chaplin and Fame, the Adria Petty-directed extravaganza is an unexpectedly bright and colourful ride through Mod fashion, 50s musicals and 80s pop art. It might sound like overkill but the video flows seamlessly from scene to scene, assisted by the stop-and-start nature of the song. The thread that holds the whole thing together is the sense of joy that Bey exudes in every frame. I don't know if it's impending motherhood or just the knowledge that she's better than your faves but this woman is seriously happy. And it shows. As for highlights, there are too many to mention - "Countdown" is bliss from beginning to end - but here are a few random thoughts about the best video of 2011:

1. Beyoncé is a gay man in a woman's body. Her knowledge and appreciation of movie musicals is a complete give away. She revisited Sweet Charity in "Get Me Bodied", famously recreated Bob Fosse's Mexican Breakfast dance routine in "Single Ladies" and now serves up lashings of Funny Face and Bye Bye Birdie.

2. Speaking of Funny Face, has the most successful artist of the millennium ever looked more beautiful than when she channels Audrey Hepburn in that black turtleneck and slacks combination?

3. Jazz hands are back!

4. I love that Bey made a point of showing off her baby bump. Most divas would be hiding behind a flowing curtain in a dark room by this stage but her pride at being up the duff just adds to the video's already off-the-chart feel-good quotient.

5. Those crazy facial expressions give me life.

6. The Bye Bye Birdie dance sequence is amazing. At first I was perplexed by the sped-up choreography but it gives the scene a dream-like quality that makes the jumps between different eras and outfits work.

7. It's truly heartwarming that B.B. Homemaker could sober up long enough to drop by for a cameo - wearing her hateful husband's stylish pink business shirt no less.

8. I stan for the random school band!

9. The small army of Beyoncé clones on the steps is a clear nod to Adria Petty's own "Sweet Dreams" video.

10. Whoever edited this deserves an award. It's so intricate and perfectly put together.

11. "Halo" even gets a reference in the dance studio scene! It's so cute in a Fame-gone-right kind of way. However, that hair... girl, Ms Kelly called and wants her "Simply Deep" wig back.

12. Best outfit goes to the chain-metal dress at the end.

13. Who knew that white socks and black pumps could look so fetching?

14. The final shot of Bey smiling adorably sums the whole clip up. This is a delirious love letter of a video that gets the serotonin pumping through your system like the first day of summer.

15. How is "Party" ever going to top this?

10/10

From Here To Anywhere - Album Review

This is a revised version of a review I wrote for Channel V, which might explain why it's a bit more... restrained than usual. Enjoy!

Sneaky Sound System's third album picks up where their underrated 2008 sophomore effort "2" left off - with a dreamy mix of '80s synths and cutting-edge electronica. Only this time around, the Australian duo is less concerned with crafting radio-ready pop hits (although there is no shortage of singleworthy material) and more intent on putting their own unique spin on an ambitious array of dance music sub-genres.

Album opener "Friends" rides a thumping bassline all the way to a gigantic chorus that heralds the return of two of the nation's best songsmiths. The track is seeped in lashings of late '90s house-beats, which should prove irresistible to clubbers and pop fans alike. That gem is followed by their current radio hit "Big" and the album's misguided lead single "We Love". The latter is the easily the weakest moment on "From Here To Anywhere" and, unfortunately, gives a false impression of what the third-coming of Sneaky Sound System is all about.

Happily, that generic club-banger makes way for the shimmery "Really Want To See You Again" and all is forgiven. Miss Connie really shows her vocal chops on this effortlessly pretty tune and continues to mine the heartbreak on the Human League-inspired "Remember". Albeit this time against a towering wall of synths. After a couple of sonic detours, the duo return to more commercial ground on "The Colours" and "I Need You So". Both are expertly crafted floorfillers and will, no doubt, find their way to a nightclub near year you in the not too distant future.

Perhaps more interesting is the ambitious "1984", which sounds like a bizarre cross between Pet Shop Boys and Enigma. The quirky lyrics and experimental production flourishes mark this as one of the band's most accomplished tunes. "I'm Not Leaving", on the other hand, is the record's pure pop moment. An irresistibly catchy blend of '80s Donna Summer and early noughties Kylie Minogue, this summery tune is destined to be a future single.

The album closes with "Lovetown", a sexy Balearic anthem that shows how far Miss Connie and Black Angus have come in the past three years. "From Here To Anywhere" is a perfectly judged comeback from one of the country's most consistently brilliant pop acts.

8/10

Edit: My only criticism of this fantastic album is the lack of killer singles. It suffers a bit from Aphrodite-itis. there are lots of very good songs but only two that really scream out to be played on the radio ("Big" and "I'm Not Leaving"). I like that the band is exploring new sounds but it would be sad to see them descend into the cool-electronica-that-nobody-buys ghetto currently occupied by Miami Horror and Cut Copy.

Worst Cover Ever?

I know what you're thinking. That new Sia/David Guetta collaboration is a bit sloppy and desperately needs an overhaul by a Eurotrash DJ and some anorexic bitch in a bikini. Well, fret no more! D.Ghetto has taken it upon himself to jazz up "Titanium" and delivers the hottest mess to hit iTunes in a very long time. Everything about this cover is so bad it's kind of amazing. For starters, Silvia can't sing. A note. Where did they find this chick? She can't even pronounce titanium! And the production - and I use that term loosely - is woeful beyond belief. I think D.Ghetto whipped it up on a Commodore 64 he found at the local tip. The most disturbing thing about the new and unimproved version of "Titanium" is the fact that people are actually downloading it. This trainwreck is sitting just outside the top 100 on Australian iTunes ahead of new singles by Kimbra, Wynter Gordon and Emeli Sandé. While that sad fact sinks in, brace yourself for possibly the worst cover version of all time (below).

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Luciana - Still Heating Up The Clubs

With all the hype surrounding Luciana's historic duet with legendary comedy icon Betty White, it's easy to forget that the original - and dare I say it, superior - version of "I'm Still Hot" (below) is still gathering steam. It recently topped the US dance chart and is sitting at #40 on the ARIA club chart. With the holy Queen of clubs about to embark on an Australian tour and the Betty White video days away from crashing the internet, it should climb rapidly over the next few weeks. Promisingly, the song is already shooting up the iTunes dance chart and it hasn't even been officially released yet - eager fans are downloading it from an exercise compilation. Make sure you grab a copy today. Luciana deserves another Australian smash for writing the best song on "Aphrodite", if nothing else!