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Saturday, December 13, 2003

TOP SINGLES OF THE YEAR: #16 TATU - All The Things She Said
One of the few victories in pop this year was when I saw a letter published in the city paper that basically said "Maybe the reason people are buying it is because it's a great song"?. That, and most of the better pop writers managed to state very nicely that this is a sonically thrilling pop record that just happens to have a brilliant/rubbish gimmick. To me, it's genius because it recognises that some songs that might have been written for the male voice, about loving girls, see, might just sound better sung by Russian girls - for high-pitched squealing and tortured Russian vowels. The sounds of the words are more important than the meaning. And the sounds here are impeccable; the crushing chorus is accompanied by surging, mantra-like vocals, the calming verses allow some light and shade and gasp! subtlety. And that break after the first chorus is utterly brilliant. Few pop song have managed to squeeze out this much pain, even if it is completely synthesised, out of a completely fictional image and stretch it out to three-and-a-half minutes of high camp drama.
# 6:39 AM []
I don't care that it was co-written with Gregg Alexander, when I heard Sophie was working with the Pet Shop Boys, this was exactly what I imagined the first single off album number two would sound like; all sproingy non-bass, happy 80s groove, clever wordy lyrics that are a teensy bit sad. Even if she wasn't working with PSB after all, this song is so close to my perception of what a hypothetical collaboration would be like, she really should consider it. Her posh vowels and deadpan singing have never sounded better than on songs, oddly, where she lets her heart out a bit. A little awkwardness in the clash between her vocal disinterest and her emotional outpouring (especially when her repetitions of "Don't wanna hurt no more" gradually get less robotic) makes everything around it sound tense and taut, even if it is a free-wheeling disco horn sample.
# 6:35 AM []

Friday, December 12, 2003

I'm a bit in two minds on this one. On the one hand, I love its sleazy bass, the interplay between Jake Shears' falsetto and Ana Matronic's clipped diva delivery and the piano underneath the second verse. On the other, is this really a better song than some of the Sisters' tracks that haven't made the cut of their album, such as Doctor (I'm Only Seeing Dark)?

Probably not, but at least they've been pushed aside for something that's worthwhile. And the chorus is lyrically memorable: "'Cause you can't see tits on the radio/I'll give you five fingers for a one-man show/Fasten those pants for the lapdance/Take a shot now, this may be your last chance". It's actually at least a bit closer in style to should-have-been-breakthrough single Laura than anything else I've heard them do so far, but I do hope some of the ridiculously campy disco nonsense of the demo tracks all over Soulseek is represented more on the album than initial reports of it being over-guitary and lacking in whimsy would have one believe.

You can judge for yourself as it's available (for you) on the sidebar, and will be there for at least a week.
# 9:23 PM []
CAPAREZZA - Fuori Dal Tunnel
Number 47 with a bullet in Italy this week, and as little as I know about Italian hip-hop, which is what this is, I know a hit when I hear it, and this is pretty spectacular. When you can't understand the words, often the key is in little cadences, specific ways syllables and words are emphasised, and on that score, this song is hugely addictive, similar enough in flow and production, to some of the more hyper and comedic English-language rappers, but alien enough to seem fresh.

The main hook in this song is how the final syllable of "tunnel" is repeated four times, and the song serves it up straight away. There's actually a bit of a carnivalesque, whimsical atmosphere in the production with what surely must be a tuba popping up. Another good bit is where there are "eh?" noises between Caparezza's rapid rhymes, as if he's saying stuff that's incomprehensible even to those who speak Italian. While there aren't long straights of the same sound finishing each line, I can't say I've heard a display of assonance displayed by any other rapper - Italian evidently has a lot of potential for rhyming, particularly internal rhyme.

I like to imagine Caparezza dressed as a clown in the video - not a scary one, though, his presence seems hugely confident, but not in a menacing way. And surely nobody with this much grip on melody (as well as rhythm) couldn't be evil! It even comes replete with nonsensical la-la-la bit - which is infectious as well as being a welcome relief from the rap's frenetic pace.

The lyrics are here, and I heartily recommend submitting that URL for a Babelfish translation.

Of course, once I've noticed anything, it's bound to be at least somewhat old, and there's a comprehensive-looking website on Italian rap here, which if this track floats your boat, and I can't see why it wouldn't, looks like a good introduction to the scene - and it's in English. Sadly, the site doesn't seem to have much info on the fantastically named Isola Gay Posse. Pity.
# 1:30 PM []
Even back when I (foolishly) dismissed the Cardigans' album as disappointing, this one stood out as something else. Country and Northern, with a harmonica, a gorgeously inauthentic faux-Western twang and a lovely extended metaphor about love and war. Really, they were pretty brave to put it out at a time when saying anything even tangentially related to war in pop was a big no-no. How Nina Persson manages to make a phrase like "Come and conquer/and drop your bombs/Cross my borders and kill the calm" sound pretty and inviting, I'll never know. It's especially impressive how the song builds in intensity from verse to chorus, dropping to eerie calm again before rising again to power-pop-ballad territory.

And for a singer who claimed working with Tom Jones made her feel like a frightened moth, she's found her rock voice in fine style in recent years. When she sings the last part of the song she sounds like she has the wind behind her, and while I do miss the frosted misery of their late 90s output, I await their next change in direction with keen interest.
# 12:40 PM []
From Finnish metal back to UK chart pop - and the transition makes perfect sense. What makes this little boyband pop stomper is the fat synth bass under the chorus. Everything else would fall apart without it, though the hooks are big, the lyrics appropriately dumb and the video naughty. What could have been cheap and sparse has been fleshed out with gloriously tacky synth lines, overlapping choruses and lovely over-emoting every time the line "you're my soul temptation" is sung. And for an up-tempo song about love-strucked-ness, it's awfully fun, not a hint of eye-brow furrowing real emotion (man) that so often fucks up perfectly good cheesy pop. Their voices all sound different enough, but damned if I know which one is which, but in the space of two songs (this and its quite good B-side, Eyes Wide Open), Phixx have already carved a niche in my listening tastes for this sort of 80s-esque, shuffly synth pop. Nobody else has made a single like this recently that I'm aware of, so the next one will hopefully be just as good.
# 6:13 AM []
TOP SINGLES OF THE YEAR: #20 H.I.M. - The Funeral Of Hearts
Monster goth ballad alert! If you didn't like the Sisters Of Mercy's More, you probably wouldn't like this, but then again you'd probably be a humourless twit. Absolutely everything has been turned up to 11, except for the abstract ideas of "restraint" and "common sense" both of which have been completely ignored for this overdriven and very, very catchy metal downer, where guitars and overwrought emotion have been amplified to excess. Look at the title - you know exactly what you're going to get and either this sort of power ballad makes you want to slash your wrists (in a good way) or it makes you want to literally slit your wrists. It makes me happy on all number of levels. Adoring these sorts of brooding dark ballads has always struck me as odd, but perhaps more than any other genre apart from teenage robo-pop, pop metal understands the importance of building drama and is not afraid to get silly to achieve its mean, even if it it does it with a stony face like HiM do - like on this marvellous single.
# 6:10 AM []

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Having just installed a stats thingy, two things have become apparent. Firstly, I don't get much traffic - not much of a surprise since this is a new blog that I haven't promoted aggressively - and secondly, a lot of people are coming here to get lyrics to the Guy Sebastian song, which I savaged in my first entry. I don't have them, sorry! But stick around, I think I might start posting a few more Mp3s if I can work out where to stick the things. Normal transmission resuming tomorrow.

UPDATE! Since I've just gotten a link from NYLPM I'm beginning to get some people with taste. (Sorry Guy fans! I still have no love for him and his white suit in that video).
# 9:52 PM []
Swedish disco pop gets funky. This will do nicely until the A*Teens put out another single. The only thing missing is the key change, everything else is here - disco pulse, insistent thumping beat, the fact that the male members don't seem to do anything important, and of cause, a pounding, flattening ten-ton chorus. There's little emotion, they all sound like adorable robots. What's been added is just a hint of the sinister - what is she going to do when they meet at sundown? I love this lots, even after finding out the people who wrote the song had used the middle eight ("Time, no need to rush, we can make it right") in a completely different song before - click here to hear a bit of Step Back To Love by Sophie Monk, using the exact same melody and lyrics and was released about 7 months earlier. Three of the four co-writers of Step Back are also credited on Sundown, so a big round of applause to Nicolas Molinder, Joacim Persson and Paul Ankaberg for making self-cannibalisation sound like disco heaven, and also to some bloke called Matsson who also did stuff on Sundown. You are all brilliant and let's have more like it. Commiserations to Terry Ronald, whose work on "Step Back" was not retained for the improved model.

I am serious. I love the idea of Sundown being constructed entirely out of bits of songs that aren't well known like Frankenstein's monster. I love this song as the imagined product of focus groups tinkling with the formula, experimenting with bits and pieces of songs until they got it just right.

I love the idea of orphaned verses and choruses lost along the wayside, some of which may be utterly perfect and abandoned just because one record company executive didn't like it, one writer had an inferiority complex or the team didn't have the right pieces to make it fit with anything else. I love the idea that songs that weren't hits can get a second chance as parts of other organisms. I'd like to see more of it.

(This little bit of apologia was inspired by the Freaky Trigger Pop Music Focus Group IX, which I contributed to, and in which I was nearly alone in my loving of this song).
# 7:40 AM []
I said on ILM once that this sounded like Honey by Moby crossed with the theme to Thomas The Tank Engine. That was a really lousy description because it completely failed to mention the input of sleazy glam and disco, but sometimes you can have too much of a good thing to sum up in one sentence. The music is a battle royale between the funky (that squelchy wah-wah-like noise in the chorus) and the extremely un-funky (the chugging piano) overtopped by a vocal that's begging to be lip-synched by drag queens everywhere. Good ones that can actually lip-synch, not rubbish ones.
# 6:59 AM []
Yes, it sounds a bit like early U2. But that doesn't matter because of the enormous, crushing bassline and the fact that the singer would never dare pull out a falsetto a la Bono, no, his voice is as deep as the bass, and the feelings of longing and confusion are in every bar of this overdriven pop juggernaut. It doesn't strive for great meaning or heights or meander meaninglessly for two long, it gets its claws in in two verses and two choruses and gets out of there quick. And I like early U2, and I'm not (that) sorry about it.
# 6:59 AM []

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

A ballad so deep you could drown in it, and someone's obviously listened to their Debbie Gibson as well as their Mary J Blige. Perhaps comes the closest of anything they have done since Siobhan left to recalling the atmospheric worriedness of their underrated, underpurchased classic Run For Cover. The three Babes' voices have never meshed better than on this track. Every instrument and vocal arrangement seems to weep at its misfortune of being in love and lost. Heidi's bit before the instrumental break is divine, as is Keisha's impassioned wail of "baby baby baby!" before the final chorus. Written by Diane Warren, and when she slips in a line like "Everything about you's so deep/I can't sleep", you get the impression that maybe, the woman who wrote all those horrible Big Mature Ballads for other stars, once was a silly young girl who knew what it was like to fall horribly in love and actually hurt.
# 9:16 AM []
The word "crashing" needs a superlative because this is clearly the crashingest song ever. It sounds like falling down the stairs, fainting and waking up in lurve. It's all a bit 60s bubblegum fed through a filter of Jesus & Mary Chain, so it's still got that cheesy pop thrill, all double-barrelled vocals, monstrously big chorus and blasts of guitar feedback united like sweet, sour and bitter in one, all musical guns firing together for no purpose other than to be really, really loud and fun. It makes me a bit dizzy, dancing around like a twit to it, actually.
# 6:59 AM []

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Chart Challenge Round 1 Miscellany
Bits about songs I listened to that weren't in the top 10. Or that needed restating.

Funniest song: Don Johnson Big Band - Jah Jah Blow Job. Anti war tirade! Not a big band, strictly speaking either. Not sure whether calling it funny is a compliment. Best line: "On a crusade/For Hussein/And who's sane?/And who's not?". Quite brilliant. Also, notice again that this song is called Jah Jah Blow Job. Isn't that a fantastic title?

Honourable Mention: G&G Sindikatas - Fuck You

Funniest song title: Butterfly Snow Falls by R.A.P, doing big business in Latvia. Not rap. A bit rock, actually.

Song That Sounds Most Similar To Another: Bosson - You Opened My Eyes. Sounds a lot like DJ Sammy's version of Heaven. Really.

Tackiest Europop Nugget: Sarek - Solen Glimmar

Loveliest Ballad: Sylver - Shallow Water.

Strangest Song: Maija Vilkkumaa - Ei Saa Surettaa. Big power rock ballad, with big strings, as sung by, gasp, a woman! It's actually pretty smashing as these things go.

Most Manic Eurodance Stormer: Buse - Love 2 Night
Honorable Mention: Da Buzz - Let Me Love You Tonight

Best Cover Version: Preluders - Losing My Religion. Yes, their single might be appalling, but these German reality pop group losers have managed to make Michael Stipe obsolete. More so.

Worst Cover Version: Of course, Overground - Schick Mir 'nen Engel.

Song Riepest for English-language Bastardisation and Cover: Frans Bauer - Dicht bij jou (this could rule the universe done well)

Honourable mention: Kelene Radan - Povedi Me (what a diva!)

Song I underrated the most: Gomez & Dubois - Ronde De Nuit. It really deserved a 10.

Favourite Song Downloaded: Fintelligens featuring Illi: Vaan Sil On Väliä
Because it's Finnish pop rap, which is about the best thing ever.

Worst Song: That French song that was #1, whatever it was called.

Country whose own pop impressed me most: Belgium, hands down, though Hungary and Sweden both seem interesting.
# 7:17 AM []
The Cross-Europe Chart Challenge... of Death: HUNGARY
The last few entries in this series have been a bit dud. I'm sorry. Hungary does not disappoint, though, fitting as it is the finale in this series. (Countries were omitted because I either couldn't find their singles chart, couldn't find the songs or didn't know how to search for titles using letters in other scripts. Sorry.) Only three songs that you're likely to know, one of them being bizarrely old by now. The sole repeat is the ubiquitous and by now quite annoying Dido, at #2 and getting 7 - I'm beginning to ponder going back and altering every previous entry to give her 6 for being annoyingly everywhere, but that'd be a lot of effort and it'd just make think about her lots more and who needs that, eh?

1. EROS RAMAZZOTTI - Un' Emozione Per Sempre. Eros means love, perhaps not in Hungarian, though. But yes, it's a ballad, probably a lurve ballad of some description. It's decent, it's not too saccharine and the piano is nice. Plus it's not in English so whatever treacly sentiments are in the lyrics pass me by. 5

3. BUSTA RHYMES & MARIAH CAREY - I Know What You Want. Either this has only just come out, or this song has been tormenting poor innocent Hungarians for a very, very long time. I only hope it's the former. 0

4. V-TECH - Merre Jár A Boldogság. I expect things with "tech" in their title to be techno, so the fact that this was not techno, and was in fact a string-soaked, stringy Latin-y ballad took me by surprise. Fortunately, within about 2 minutes I was able to deduce that it's a bit ordinary. 4

5. T.N.T. - Egyetlen Szó. Now this is a good bit of songcraft. Funky guitar and bass and a flute! The vocals are the weak link here, but it's still pretty damn good. Yet another European single that could be translated and imported. 8

6. DESPERADO - Rajtad Múlik. This sort of guitar with dance beats is being done, to rather less chart success, in the UK by Aurora, and indeed the beginning of this is a bit like The Day It Rained Forever, but it's not as trance-y, or sadly, catchy. 5

7. UNIQUE - Mozaik. Actually quite like this. It opens with that noise you can make if you open your lips, put your teeth together and then try to suck and blow. No, really. Try it! Fairly low-key up-tempo, downbeat pop number, made quite a bit better by lots of nice noises intermittently coming in to the mix. Swirls, swooshes, wails, tiny bits of wood being hit together, guitar, bassy synths. The whole gamut of slightly audible flavour enhancers. Yes, very creative production. Song not as good, but points for trying. 7

8. CRYSTAL - Jég A Tűzben. This is initially a bit folksy and dull, but it picks up a lot of momentum when the female vocals come in. It's got a nice, vaguely cinematic violin/flute (I think) combination at the start, before some late 90s dance beats and pulses come in. It's quite good overall, really. 7

9. GARETH GATES - Spirit In The Sky. No, no, no. I hated this before I realised that Will Young was actually a good thing, so what sort of chance does it have now? 1

10. ZSEDÉNYI ADRIENN - Szeress Most. Yes, as per the entry directly below this one, this is Europop aceness of the very, very highest order. Smusht! 10

53 for the good people of Hungary. Appropriate, because 53 is also what Szeress Most is worth out of 10.

Round 2 of the Cross-Europe Chart Challenge of Death will commence mid-January, assuming the whole thing is not ballsed up by an impending moving of house.
# 5:56 AM []
ZSEDÉNYI ADRIENN - Szeress Most (Dance Mix)
Dear god, where has this been all my life? It's as if SAW had prior knowledge of The Sound Of The Underground, and decided that yes, a rubbish guitar was just what they needed to perk up their glorious early 90s pop confections. It's got absolutely everything in it. It's got deep male backing vocals intoning the chorus - and it sounds like whoever it is is singing about someone called "Sarah Smusht" - reminding me of ace low-budget American game show Smush. Ms Adrienn gets all pop diva excited as she wails the chorus, especially the bit where she seems to be pleading "me! me! me!" except it's not actually "me" it's some word in Hungarian, where this bit of genius comes from. I've just about managed to find the whole Hungarian top 10 to do in the CECCoD - but on the off-chance I cannot find the one of them, I simply could not continue this blog without raving about this utter corker.

There's an original mix too, which also has the rubbish guitar, but instead of pounding like a lost Kylie classic, it sways elegantly, and doesn't sound so frenzied even though it's the same vocal as far as I can tell. Get the dance mix, though, it's beyond great.

UPDATE! "Szeress Most" appears to mean "Love me now!". Brilliant!
# 1:49 AM []

Monday, December 08, 2003

The Cross-Europe Chart Challenge... of Death: DENMARK
Another quick one. Once upon a time, I really wanted to visit Denmark (I still do, really). Sadly, this was in the days when I was a 15-year old rock festival tragic, and I wanted to visit solely for Roskilde. Ugh, I was so misguided. Repeats are Black Eyed Peas (3), Britney (8), Kylie (8), Outkast (10), Sugababes (8), Dido (7).

1. MARIA LUCIA - Taking Back My Heart. Hmm, well they knocked Black Eyed Peas off #1 here, so must have something going for it. Whatever it is, it's not obviously apparent. It has clicks in it, a serviceable but unremarkable melody, a nicely wounded bit where she sings that she saw HIM with SOMEBODY, and then she goes all defiant, I will take back my heart and get over you and really, it's been done better. Though the bit at the end is quite nice. Okay, with every sentence I write its score goes up a point, so I'll stop now at a reasonably accurate 6

3. WESTLIFE - Mandy. Okay, this is a repeat, but I wanted an excuse to slag it off again. The fact that Westlife exist are almost enough to drive me back to indie. I mean, that trip to Roskilde isn't looking so bad when I consider that to some, the alternative to that would be these five fuckers and their bleached balladry. 0

7. FATMAN SCOOP - Be Faithful. I like the fact that something worthwhile has been done with the backing of that bland, poxy Faith Evans track - it was far too good for her - but really now, this is a two-listen wonder. That said, those two listens were pretty great. 6

9. ONE-T - The Magic Key. This is a bit more like it. It's cheesy and boppy, and I like the childish voice in the chorus using the word "odyssey" and the beat too. Reminds me of about 50 other pop songs, but in a good way. The line about being stuck in the oven with the dial set to lovin' is gold, too. 8

57, whatever. Blogger wasn't working before. I should have planned something interesting to write instead of reloading ad infinitum. Then when it went up I became bored and just wanted it over with.
# 9:02 AM []
PRINCESS VANESSA - Decks Around The World
Oh, a dance song about dance producers, how very! It's basically the same drum pattern and bass throughout, except for a bit at the end with a crowd noise, and an extremely nagging, infectious eight-note sample of what's probably a trumpet, or something altered to sound a bit like one. And I'm thinking, "She'd better mention Felix Da Housecat" because she's probably listened to Silver Screen (Shower Scene) a few times, and yes, at 1:50 in, she drops his name. The reason I mention Felix is because Vanessa's phrasing of the mantra "let the music roll the groove, let the music feel the groove" is very similar to "in the back shakes a tambourine/nicotine from the silver screen" and she, in her thick accent (which I can't quite place, I'm not good at this sort of thing) deadpans a list of DJs names (when she says Ian Pooley it sounds really odd to a non-European too) in such a way that a bootleg of this over SSSS would be a piece of cake. And she mentions Miss Kitten too, bless. It doesn't hit with the same force as Felix, but it's thumping, pretty mindless and worth a listen.
# 9:02 AM []

Sunday, December 07, 2003

The Cross-Europe Chart Challenge... of Death: NORWAY
Ah, back to the wondrous wonderland that is Scandinavia, where they hunt whales, but the pop is warm and cuddly. More repeats: the ever-mighty Outkast (10), Sugababes (8), Britney (8), Pink (8), Dido (7) and the fucking Black Eyed Peas (guess what? 0).

3. Stacie Orrico - (There's Gotta Be) More To Life. I like her scary goth face in the video, but not the song very much. Stuck took about 20 listens to bury itself in my brain, before which I thought it was half a good chorus warbled by Xtian forbidden fruit with a spot. Which is exactly what this actually is. 4

4. David - What The Hell. The opening bit reminds me of a mid 90s song. Is it Let It Rain by Amanda Marshall? Or something by someone similar to that? Actually, this is a perfectly decent, crunchy guitar pop singalong, alternating nicely between moody verses with bad lyrics, to a nice shouty anthemic chorus. Good. 7

6. No Doubt - It's My Life. Inspired choice of cover, the bass playing on this in particular is rather groovy, as is that keyboard noise leading into the pre-chorus. Gwen sounds good, too. 8

10. Outlandish - Aicha. Right, the opening guitar makes me think of Hole's Dying, but then that goes away, we get a beat, a plodding bass and it's a R&B/hip-hop thing after all. The guitar comes back, and it's actually quite decent, with some whispered harmonies, and just enough emoting to not overegg the pudding. Yes, I like it. 7.

Not only do I love Scandinavian pop, I even like their taste in non-stupid Euroblisspop. 67 points, putting the 'way way up, but gasp - not quite in the lead.
# 8:35 AM []
The Cross-Europe Chart Challenge... of Death: GERMANY
Ah, Germany, the only country with as many reality pop shows as the UK. And judging by having looked at Switzerland and Austria (though I didn't write that one up), they seem to batter their neighbours' pop charts with some kind of continental musical hegemony. That's a good thing, or at least it is if said songs are good. We shall see. The repeats this time are Overground (0), Alexander (3) and Black Eyed Peas (Shut Up, 3)

3. SARAH CONNOR - It's got that same, warm fuzzy cloyingness that until now was confined to THAT Black Eyed Peas song. Points are for the deep-voiced dude who underlays the verses. He is good. She is not. 3

4. TV ALLSTARS - Do They Know It's Christmas? See, this is why I wanted to wrap this round up quickly, to avoid the influx of shitty Christmas songs, of which this is probably not even close to the worst. And it's rubbish, as you'd expect. As if original charity singles aren't bad enough. I mean, they give the worst line in the song "Thank god it's them instead of you" to the most annoying singer! 2

6. SEAL - Love's Divine. I suppose it's not actually anywhere near as bad as Kiss From A Rose. Piano-led ballad, sounds like it's going to rise up into a big soulful monster in the chorus, but then it subsides just as quickly. Then it does it all again. It's all so polite when it should declare its hand as an anthem. Pretty unremarkable. I blame the Lighthouse Family, if Seal hadn't recorded this, you know they would have. 4

7. PRELUDERS - Everyday Girl. From the German Popstars Rivals, I think these people lost to Overground, actually. Utterly uninspired girl group nonsense about not being an everyday girl, let me show you my world, I'm so great, blah blah blah. Sadly, until we mass-clone Karen Poole and Betty Boo and send one to each country, there'll be more of this. 2

8. DEUTSCHLAND SUCHT DEN SUPERSTAR - Believe In Miracles. Not that I'd claim that the collected works of Hearsay, David Sneddon and One True Voice are works of art, but these German reality shows have thrown up some of the worst singles I've ever heard, and they seem to saturate the charts of countries around them. On the plus side, they do simplify my addition by all getting about the same score. 2

9. NO ANGELS - That's The Reason. Warm, agreeable piano ballad in the mould of Save The Best For Last. Well sung, quite pretty tune, and a welcome respite from the last few stale cheeses. 7

10. LIMP BIZKIT - Behind Blue Eyes. You don't even have to like the original to jump on the bandwagon decrying this as sacrilegious. It's not like anyone is going to label you a poser for hating Limp Bizkit, because it's just the human condition. Utterly appalling in every way you imagined, and then some. Easily the worst song in the top 10, one of the very worst singles of the year, too. 0

A rock-bottom 26 points, as the musical barometer is captured by reality wank and seasonal toss. What a travesty, or rather, what a series of travesties. Is this really the country that gave us Kraftwerk? And the Notwist? And, most crucially of all, Snap?
# 8:14 AM []
The Cross-Europe Chart Challenge... of Death: THE NETHERLANDS
I'm going to be zipping through the last few in order to get through the first round by the middle of the month. It helps that the number of unknown songs is now less than at the start, so there's lots more repetitions, particularly here. The missing tracks below are, in order: Kevin Lyttle (8), DJ Tiesto (4), Nena/Kim Wilde (10), Dido (7), and of course Britney (8).

1. Frans Bauer - Heb Je Even Voor Mij. The very first seconds of this sound like it's going to be one of those gloriously daft Latin stompers - Spice Up Your Life anyone? - the brass is joined by an accordion and it begins to sound a bit French. The singer is soft-voiced and polite-sounding (i.e. boring), but the hybrid of two musical styles, switching between the two, then sounding like a mix is pretty fantastic. This one needs to be covered by someone noisier and more obnoxious, and then it'd get an easy ten. Until then, 7

2. Ch!pz - Cowboy. I was about to give this a reflex 0 because it sounds like Cotton Eye Joe but then I realised that if I can find it in my heart to adore Steps' 5, 6, 7, 8, the Cheeky Girls' Take Your Shoes Off and tolerate Fast Food Rockers' Say Cheese (Smile Please) then I can't begrudge this ridiculously silly romp, particularly the cheesy accents too much for just being a fun novelty stormer. 4

7. Hilary Duff - So Yesterday. This doesn't have enough clipped, brattish charm to justify the obnoxiously cute title. Skip this, download The Math instead and hear Hilary do it right. 4

8. Sugababes - Hole In The Head. This is a good single by a group who normally put out outstanding ones. But I can't hold it against them too much longer, it is after all quite good. I still think it's a bit safe, and the ending has no oomph at all, making it sound unfinished, but the hooks are undeniable. 8

10. Special D - Come With Me. Hyper-speed techno pop house Scooter-style extravaganza. Exciting. 9

69 points for the Dutch charts, then, which surely will be tough to beat. Never before have I seen such a fine display of very good and very bad (i.e. cheesy, therefore brilliant) taste in the upper echelons of one chart.
# 1:39 AM []
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