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Saturday, February 07, 2004

New Mp3s again. Firstly, a rather catchy synthy, vaguely industrial pop influenced confection from Vanilla Ninja, doing moderate things in Austria, Germany and Finland with Tough Enough. Also, French popette Lorie's album has some OK stuff on it, the pick being Ensorcele. Also, the wonderful Courtney song below, and the bafflingly great Anastacia single - which you probably wouldn't touch with a 10-foot pole even though you SHOULD - are also there.

No Eurovision this week because I heard one of the Netherlands finalists (Mississippi Miss by Suzy & The High Rollers) and it sounded exactly like Cotton Eye Joe so I'm too afraid to try anything else for now. (UPDATE: Yes, they work now)
# 10:50 AM []

Friday, February 06, 2004

COURTNEY LOVE - I'd Do Anything
Oh, the hipster wits were saying "ooh, she's been arrested.. she probably doesn't even HAVE an album to put out!". Well, one person said it, can't remember where. Then when it became obvious that Ms Love had in fact completed the album, they probably went "well I bet there aren't any good songs on it", snickering at how clever they are, and how dumb Courtney is because she's totally one of the beautiful people now and how she's supposed to be something else.

Which is fine. They can toss witticisms around message boards as if they're at the Algonquin Round Table, listening to The Indie in the background, but they're not having half as much fun as I am listening to Courtney's album. On this, she sounds bloated, rich and greedy - she is the girl with the most cake, and the Queen wants ice cream NOW: "Give me speed, give me what I hate" she snarls over propulsive bass and curiously low-mixed guitars - all the better to shock you with when the chorus blasts in, don't you know.
# 9:34 PM []

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Lazy cliche approaching rapidly; this sounds exactly like his last one, really. It's not as good, but really, how many songs really are better than Turn Me On. The song you're listening to on the radio right now almost certainly isn't. To be fair, this isn't exactly the same, it's got a ringing noise, for a start.

Also, it grabs the ear with a cheap synth strings patch and some concilliatory Casio-esque runs here and there, and Kevin's charm is more than enough to carry the verses, especially when he shudders ever so slightly on the end of longer, higher notes. The chorus has some deeper (well, obviously) backing vocals intoning "call me" while Kevin tells you how and where. It's in this that it deviates most from the format of Turn Me On, and as you might guess this is a bit of a problem.

Lyrics shouldn't matter, but the chorus ones are a bit weaker. His last single was like a breath of fresh air in its lack of posturing and its (despite itself) sweetness. Left with a much less wordy chorus, you notice the words more and the phrasing less, and something like "nana-I'll-be-waiting" at the end of each chorus is rather clumsy. It does redeem itself with a rather good middle eight - again, you could probably tack it into the middle of his last one and you wouldn't notice, but that's never been a problem. Formulas, though, are only as good as their best result. This one's 30% longer and 30% less fun. If you hear this one first, you might end up preferring it, but I wouldn't bet on it. Still, count on the album to have some crackers.
# 9:43 PM []
GOMEZ - Catch Me Up
On the other hand, though, some bands eventually work out what makes pop tick, even if it takes a while, and then just ignore it completely. This song has some good bits, the charging, marching drums are fantastic, and any part of the song that includes them - they come in and out - is immeasurably improved. Other than that, there are the same old bluesy riffs and polite, grizzled singing, but the prospect of a good old pop time promised by the choppy opening riff aren't fulfilled, and again in the chorus, when you think they're locking into a groove, it just repeats the previous melody line again - how much effort really was put into this? It's better at the end, because the chattering, nagging drums recur a little more frequently, but without them, this is an uninspired, uninspiring record that actually sounds like what their detractors have been telling me for years. It really sucks when the detractors are right, and they are.

Oh and they look petrifying on their official site. Link not provided because going there would be a bad idea.
# 9:37 PM []

Monday, February 02, 2004

ANASTACIA - Left Outside Alone
Where do you start? Under most circumstances, Anastacia I find unbelievably irritating. I think what got me was about how her big hit I'm Outta Love sounded like a monster empowerment anthem but it had this really wanky weak-willed sentiment that didn't gel. However this new single is unbelievably fantastic.

Over the intro, she doesn't sound like Anastacia. She sounds more like Tori Amos (bad comparison, yes) and then guitars come in and you think, oh yes, she's heard Going Under then, but no! you're wrong, because the swaggering beat and faux-rawk recalls nothing more than Janet Jackson's Black Cat - and it's not even until the chorus basically jumps through ths speakers that it's Anastacia singing as she yowls through the chorus as if nothing can stop her - even though she's all outside and alone.

The second verse is even better, her vocals pick up a pace and are double-tracked to really good effect, she sounds genuinely unhinged here, and she sounds pretty damn ferocious in the second chorus before we get a breakdown, preceded by "It's not OK, I don't feel safe! I NEED YOU!", and followed by a spoken bit begging "dear father, please save me" that Madonna ca. 1989 would have been proud of, before she puts those massive pipes to good use, turning her yowl into a fully-stretched wail before there's a short, effective outro. She might pray for salvation at the end, but if she's going to make records as good as this, may she never find it. Contender for single of the year, look at the reference points, people!
# 5:17 PM []

Sunday, February 01, 2004

PHIXX - Love Revolution
The first thing to note about this is that it has some of the very worst lyrics that have ever been sung without any sign of those singing it being aware that they are awful, behold: "I thought I knew what love was about/Was lost in a maze, til I found my way out/Girl, with one touch/you set me free/you opened my mind". The second thing is that unlike predecessor Hold On Me, the chorus is utterly atrocious. It's got the lot, people, a high OH! bit at the start, the atrocious phrase "come and join the revolution" and a pair of bad rhymes that don't in fact rhyme at all.. and it comes after a rather good bit that makes me think it sounds a bit like a 00s Duran Duran (actually, the phrase "ordinary world" pops up in verse two), but instead of launching into a screamy, edgy Wild Boys chorus, it just has some dinky keyboard noises not unlike their first hit, but without the brash, obnoxious hooks.

Oh and there's a bit where the music breaks down with some big smacking drums, but it just serves to highlight how spectacularly rubbish the chorus is. Oh and they repeat the title over and over again, the songwriters themselves not having the merest notion of how bad their creation is. It all sounds slapped together because if they waited any longer what little momentum Phixx had off the back of Hold On Me would have been completely used up.
# 5:01 PM []
Oh, alright, I won't mince words. Diego from So This Is Love has convinced me that the Spanish Eurovision song is in fact not so-so, it is in fact complete crap. It'll still do OK in the competition, but it's only marginally preferable to a slushy ballad. Even Europe's Living A Celebration from 2002 was better, and I hated that.
# 1:47 PM []
Firstly, the mighty Caparezza has hit #7 with Fuori Dal Tunnel in Italy. See, look, I can pick a hit. Sometimes. When it's beyond obvious like that one, anyway.

Secondly, it's often weird to notice that acts you had pegged as one hit wonders continue having hits on mainland Europe - often good ones. Some names that come to mind: Schiller (one UK hit a few years ago, the #17 Das Glockenspiel but doing quite well with Leben (I Feel You), a much better song), ditto Belgian trancers Lasgo, who've just put out probably their best single, Surrender (i.e. their first that hasn't annoyed me).

What's also great is that because often you've never heard of people from a country that doesn't export to your own pop chart very often, you discover them and find they have a sizable back catalogue to immerse yourself in. That's a good thing.

Favourite song of the period not in a top 10: That great Pearl single, J'ai Des Choses A Te Dire, also I Don't Know by Erika, Buss by Si Begg, Seduced's Good 2 Be. Don't Need Your Alibis by Become One, The Radio Dept - Pulling Our Weight.

Songs I expected would be fab from their titles, but weren't: Diablo - Read My Scars, Paleface - Colgate Soulmate.

Most horrifying feeling: Noticing that there were still countries in which Lorna's horrific Papi Chulo is only just becoming a hit, and wondering how long my part of the world is safe from it.

Most frustrating: Waiting ages to download a certain Croatian ditty, and finding that it was in fact a Yeah Yeah Yeahs song. No, I did not appreciate the education in "proper music".

Worst song: Well, when you love Eurovision, you set yourself up for aural ache. Particularly of the strained, pained vocal overstretching of Lithuanian hopefuls No One with Why Are You The One. A nil points if ever I've heard it. It won't make the finals though.

Chart that made the least sense: Greece. Not only couldn't I find half the stuff, I couldn't find the hooks in any of it! I nearly put up the then #1, a song called Den Xereis Poso to see if anyone could explain its appeal to me, but then I forgot.
# 12:58 AM []
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