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Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Right. I'm going up to Brisbane for about two weeks, so updates will do a very good impression of ceasing, though I'll probably change the Mp3s at least once before I get back. (Also: Why do my major upturns in hits - one happening right now - always coincide with me going away? And why didn't I think to get someone to fill in for me? Tch. Stupidity, eh?)

Before I go, though, I want to say how much I am loving the The Go! Team album, Thunder Lightning Strike, so big thanks to the ever delightful Alex in Doncaster who sold me on it. To be fair, I didn't take very much convincing. Here is the first track off it. It comes out on September 13. Hooray for that.

The Go! Team - Panther Dash
# 4:30 AM []

Monday, August 16, 2004

Keeping my OWN backyard in order.
Right, so I keep passing judgment on the tastes of other countries, os what about my own? Despite my rampant Europhilia and Polish ancestry, I actually live in the pop wasteland that is Australia, where all our decent pop stars have to fly to Europe just to get a decent song or else have to face working with The Rockmelons. Just don't ask, people.

Anyway, the Australian charts can be seen here. Not only are they usually several months behind other charts, they're normally very slow, with climbers and slow fallers like in the US leading one chart to be very much the same as the previous week's, but lately, there've been more high debuts and volatile movements. Particularly with all the hyped people. A review, then.

And #1 this week is Cosima Devito, third placed on Australian Idol. I think Cosima is great. However, When The War Is Over is an absolutely atrocious song for her to be covering (3). She's also been working with Dianne Warren. No. How fitting that she should be ahead of another Idol finalist - Paulini, who I liked even more than Cosima and whose Angel Eyes is an even worse song (2). Ugh. Missy Higgins' Scar at #3 is quite endearing, but her rise to chart glory is just as calculated as the people above her this week. I'll give her a free pass because I like the jaunty piano (8).

More new entries - we might yet become as exciting as the UK... Seether featuring Amy Lee at #4 (5)- now while I still maintain that the Evanescence album is very good, this isn't, and oh dear god. Sweet Jesus. Say it isn't so... it is... SLINKEE MINX at #5...

Annemarie Failla, Michelle Palmer and Belinda Tartaglia are the talented trio who make up Slinkee Minx. Naturally drawn together firstly by friendship and then by a shared interest in music, their passion for singing and songwriting remains unquestionable. "Our love of writing lyrics, melodies and performing is what drives us, inspires us and makes us feel alive," says Michelle.

And what better way of demonstrating their love of songwriting than by charging into the charts with a cover of Belinda Carlisle's Summer Rain (0)? Apart, of course, from EVERY OTHER POSSIBLE THING THEY COULD HAVE DONE? Oh no. Summer Rain is forever entrenched as one of my favourite pop songs from the late-80s, early-90s. Even before I understood the narrative that chorus thrilled me, the strings tugged at my heartstrings and it made me gooey. Thus a vapid dance cover - not a good idea. It's stripped of every knowing vocal nuance that Belinda, a seasoned performer who knew who how to extract maximum effect from a song and who had an underrated repertoire of mood from which to draw these, and it makes me angry on a level heretofore reserved for Westlife. And I always thought, in general, that I was in favour of tacky dance covers. But this, this is an alien reproduction, missing the core of humanity and beauty at the heart of a simple pop song despite having the same basic melody and lyrics. At least DJ Sammy brought warmth to cold trance-pop cover confections, this has a nothingness deep in its core that is deeply unlikeable.

After even that, D-12's How Come is a welcome respite, though in nearly all other contexts it's unlistenable, the group having put themselves on the map in their own right outside the orbit of their brightest star, and of course have no need to even bother being interesting any more (3). Some relief is had with strong follow-up singles from Anastacia (Sick And Tired, 8) and Avril Lavigne (My Happy Ending, 8 even though Avril is releasing all the wrong songs as singles she's still doing nicely).

The freakishly successful chart run of that awful dance mix of awful Starsailor's Four To The Floor(2) finally stops this week, dropping from 5 to 9 - and at one point the only good thing I could say about the Australian charts was "At least STARSAILOR have never been in the top 10, let alone the top 40 before". And, bookending the chart with another good singer with a bad song is Fantasia (4).

As an interesting note, Jamelia and The Streets are #42 and #43 this week, a neat case of adjacent charting songs bearing a common writing credit.

Though I'm not going to do this regularly, it's interesting to note a pretty poor total of 43. And it's like this every week.... those perplexed by my Europhilia should have some idea where it comes from now.
# 6:00 AM []

Sunday, August 15, 2004

ALCAZAR - Physical
Hooray for arch Swedish pop types who know how to recontextualise a sample. Here, Londonbeat's I've Been Thinking About You is looped and placed not, as is the standard, under a similar song, but a genuinely up-tempo disco piece.

The fact that the sample has proved to be so versatile goes some way toward explaining why, even though Londonbeat had other hits, they're remembered for this one. I think, thanks to Swedish pop smarts, I'll actually remember them fondly now.

If anything, the verses are actually stronger than the choruses here, with delirious harmonised aahs providing the main hooks, but the overall effect is good enough to cause regret that the sample couldn't be cleared in time for it to appear on the international release of Alcazarized, though it features on a new local release for them. [MP3]
# 7:55 PM []
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