Monday, November 29, 2010

Kylie's snow job

Everyone's favorite Aussie pop rocket has recorded a retro, Disney-esque rendition of festive chestnut, "Let It Snow". Kylie's Christmas carol will be available from all fine digital "shops" on December.

I wonder if that's a glimpse of what we can expect from Kylie's next project. She plans on recording orchestral and acoustic versions of her biggest hits. Step away from the studio, Kylie. That sounds like a potential fail if there ever was one.

The odd orchestral Christmas tune is lovely. No need to infuse your hits with valium and xanax, darling.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Christmas Hurts

I never thought of Hurts as the sort of lads that would embrace the festive season. Looks like Theo and Adam have delivered one of the most magnificent Christmas tune since "Last Christmas" by Wham!

I'm completely in love with it. "All I Want For Christmas Is New Year's Day" will be available from iTunes on December 14.

It's grand and glorious! Who doesn't love Christmas bells? Let the shopping begin!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tracey on the dancefloor

Well, this seemed to swoop down out of nowhere. "Without Me" is a new Tracey Thorn song. It's a collab with Chicago DJ, Tevo Howard, which hit the "shops" this week.

Deep, dark and forlorn. It's all a bit "Temperamental" era EBTG. And that's no bad thing, my lovelies! Tracey continues to delight and surprise.

Monday, November 22, 2010

new, now, next

Ladies and gentlemen, get the glitter ready! Duran Duran will return on December 21 with their thirteenth longplayer, "All You Need Is Now". Knobs were sufficiently twiddled by man of the moment, Mark Ronson.

The cover art was revealed only minutes ago. That is the power of the interwebs, my children. Looks like Lord Nicholas of Rhodes had a bit of fun with photoshop and a box of fonts.

Actually, the artwork was created by contemporary English multimedia artist Clunie Reid.

You'll be able to download a nine track version of the elpee from iTunes before Crimbo. Then, in February, the Brummie lads will make deluxe editions of the physical configurations available with the tracklisting expanded to include three additional tunes.

The tracklisting for the nine track, digital edition of "All You Need Is Now" will feature the following songs.

1. All You Need Is Now
2. Blame The Machines
3. Being Followed
4. Leave A Light On
5. Safe
6. Girl Panic
7. The Man Who Stole A Leopard
8. Runway Runaway
9. Before the Rain

Next week, Simon, John, Nick and Roger will be shooting a vid for the title track from the album. It will be directed by Nick Egan who's no stranger to pointing a camera at the boys. He committed them to digital celluloid for "Ordinary World" and "White Lines (Don't Do It)" in the early 90s.

Since the album is supposed to be a return to the sound that made Duran Duran a household name in the 80s, I can't help but think Russell Mulcahy would've been the perfect choice for director of the first single from the new longplayer.

Join us now, my friends. We hail you!

Today marks the official promotional launch for "Credo", the forthcoming longplayer from The Human League.

The first single from the elpee, "Night People", is available in the "shops" today. They've also lensed a vid for it which, in a stroke of serendipity, follows a cast of characters as they go through their weekend evening rituals. Wherever did they come up with such a genius concept?

I love the sound of this single. Repeated listens encourage the chanting of the chorus. The key to most singles from The Human League is contained within several blends. There's the one between Phil's urgent, booming voice and the chirpy tones emanating from the trilling vocal boxes owned by Susan and Joanne. Then there's the balance between the warmth of the vocals and the icy race of synths. Of course, there's the insidiously insistent chorus draped against a backdrop of stark, electronic instrumentation.

As for the video, I'm not sure I'm pleased with the current trend of "heritage" artists not making appearances in their own videos. I guess we can trace the line all the way back to hoary old rockers, Aerosmith, toward the end of the golden age of music video when they decided to let pretty boys and girls frolic around in cornfields instead of showing off in their own mini, music flicks.

Anyway, let's salute The Human League's mighty return! Huzzah!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

leave your cornflakes in your freezers

We are only about 48 hours away from the grand reveal for the new single from The Human League. "Night People" and its attendant vid clip will debut on ver League's official website on Monday morning.

In the meantime, the album version of "Night People" has hit the interwebs! Let's sneak a little listen.

It's like the missing link between "The Sound Of The Crowd" and "Empire State Human".

The "Night People" chant is infectious. The lyrics, robotically delivered on top of a slightly militaristic track, are seriously bizarre. Phil Oakey's ominous vocal tones tower over the track. Suzanne and Joanne deliver their lines in counterpoint with Phil in the verses in some sort of dueling shopping list of commands for the dancing masses. The song trails out with a completely different chorus coda which lifts everything into an arms akimbo moment.

It's the unmistakable sound of The Human League! "Night People" will be available on Monday, November 22. "Credo", its parent longplayer, will hit the "shops" early next year. Huzzah!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Kylie's arcade

Kylie Minogue does not waste a precious moment of promotional momentum. Hot on the heels of her star turn with Taio Cruz on his new single, "Higher", Kylie pops out her own video for "Better Than Today". In case you haven't been paying attention - If you haven't. Why not? - it is Lady Minogue's third single from her current longplayer, "Aphrodite".

The video contains numerous recognizable images lifted from across the spectrum of pop culture. In fact, it's a melange of mixed media including references to Pac-Man, Daft Punk and Rocky Horror. She even has a gaggle of glam rock chicks wearing feathered frocks!

Watch Kylie whip her hair back and forth!

Surely, this is a foreshadowing of Kylie's forthoming Les Folies tour. She is such a petite kitten! N'est-ce pas? So lovable.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

getting high with Taio and Kylie

Could Kylie be vying for a chart double? Hot on the heels of her next single, "Better Than Today", everyone's favorite Aussie pop rocket has lent her vocal talents to a new version of Taio Cruz's next single, "Higher".

The video for the single has been lensed and the interwebs have it in their Google dirty clutches.

Is it me or does Taio seem uncomfortable in Ms. Minogue's presence? The poor guy has zero sex appeal. He doesn't have that certain something, that twinkle, that je ne sais quoi needed to ascend the heights of superstardom. Kylie, on the other hand, oozes star quality from every pore.

After the tepid performance of Kylie's last single, "Get Outta My Way", perhaps her "people" think a star turn on Taio's new slab of wax will increase her already omnipresent profile and solidify her chances of a top ten placing on the singles charts.

Could Kylie have a US hit on her hands courtesy of this duet? The universe wonders, watches and waits.

Monday, November 15, 2010

ballet for boys

There are two schools of thought about Pet Shop Boys' current hits collection. The first one marks it as an appropriate distillation of their hits in celebration of the 25th anniversary of "West End Girls" rising to #1 in the UK singles ranking.

Fair enough. It gave them the opportunity to tantalize their fans with a new song and a DVD of classic BBC television performances. The new single, "Together", won't be released in its physical format until November 29. Sadly, this might be the first single from Les Boys to miss the top 40.

With "Ultimate" barely scraping into the top 30 of the UK albums chart, along with it being scheduled for release in the US in February, it really underscores the rather useless exercise it has become for many fans.

However, I have a theory. After the release of their last brilliant longplayer, "Yes", followed by a live touring spectacle, PSB needed something to bridge the gap between the end of the "Pandemonium" tour and their next most incredible thing. Did you see what I did there?

And so, this March will see the release of "The Most Incredible Thing", the highly anticipated collaboration between PSB and choreographer, Javier De Frutos.

This promises to be another in a long line of interesting career twists for Neil and Chris. It will stand proudly alongside similar PSB projects like "Closer To Heaven", "Battleship Potempkin" and "Concrete", all of which took great pleasure in pushing the boundaries of the pop idiom.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

looking for a new direction in an old familiar way

Well, this certainly doesn't require much explanation.

Could this possibly be the most fabulous publicity photo of the year?

Exciting things abound for The Human League. Their new single, "Night People", is less than eight sleeps away, kittens. They have even lensed a video for it. It will be premiered when the countdown clock on their website winds down. Get the glitter ready!

Ver League are part of the pop lineage that follows the thread from Bowie through Roxy Music to Kraftwerk and Donna Summer. Surely their new longplayer, "Credo", has a lot to live up to. But their long pauses between albums has paid sonic dividends in the past. Silence is golden. Then, upon their return, the sound is pop magic.

ornamental Lennox

Annie Lennox is no stranger to the musical charms of Christmas tidings. You might remember, way back in the hazy 80s, that she covered "Put A Little Love In Your Heart" with legendary soul man, Al Green, for the Bill Murray movie, "Scrooged". It was her first foray outside Eurythmics.

"Put A Little Love In Your Heart", originally a hit for Jackie DeShannon in 1969, was not Annie's the first encounter with Christmas. Eurythmics recorded "Winter Wonderland" for the album, "A Very Special Christmas", in 1987.

Now, in 2010, Annie Lennox has a new home for her music after 27 years on RCA, the label to which she signed as part of Eurythmics. The first fruits of her labor is "A Christmas Cornucopia", a lovely collection of carols including one newly penned song, "Universal Child", which was released as a download-only single in October. Annie had previously showcased the song on "American Idol Gives Back" which aired on television back in April.

Surprisingly, she has lensed a rather elaborate looking and beautiful shot video for one of the album's tracks, "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen".

I love the sonic quality of this . Overall, the production is organic yet still manages to pull in contemporary elements. It's sounds quite medieval and has a traditional flavor to it. In fact, the entire album is heartwarming, festive and joyful.

It's a nice change of pace for a collection of Christmas songs these days. Annie has managed to take a rather pedestrian exercise, in label terms, and sprinkled a little magic fairy dust on a holiday elpee. Let's hope this rejuvenates Ms. Lennox and puts her in the mood to give us an amazing album in the very near future.

The tracklisting for "A Christmas Cornucopia" consists of the following twelve songs.

1. Angels From The Realms Of Glory
2. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
3. See Amid The Winter's Snow
4. Il Est Le Divin Enfant
5. The First Noël
6. Lullay Lullay (Coventry Carol)
7. The Holly And The Ivy
8. In The Bleak Midwinter
9. As Joseph Was A Walking
10. O Little Town Of Bethlehem
11. Silent Night
12. Universal Child

Merry Christmas, kittens!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fyfe for fighting

Ellie Goulding is about to re-release her debut longplayer, "Lights", with seven additional tracks. The expanded elpee, re-titled "Bright Lights", will be promoted by a new single, a cover of Elton John's first hit, "Your Song". Here's the full tracklisting for the album.

"Bright Lights"

1. Guns And Horses
2. Starry Eyed
3. This Love (Will Be Your Downfall)
4. Under The Sheets
5. The Writer
6. Every Time You Go
7. Wish I Stayed
8. Your Biggest Mistake
9. I'll Hold My Breath
10. Salt Skin
11. Lights
12. Human
13. Little Dreams
14. Home
15. Animal
16. Believe Me
17. Your Song

And Ms. Goulding decided to lense a video for the new single. It looks very earthy crunchy. Fields, sunshine, flowing locks of golden hair. It's as if she might turn to the camera at any moment and share her favorite brand of shampoo with us, her close, personal friends.

Ellie is pulling a Fyfe, the new term which refers to covering a classic song and sticking it in a television commercial. All of this nonsense started earlier this year when they used Fyfe Dangerfield's rendition of Billy Joel's "She's Always A Woman". So, why not plunder a signature tune from another ivory tinkling singer/songwriter?

Here's the John Lewis advert with Ellie's warbling of "Your Song" placed loving over the top of it.

Heartwarming. N'est-ce pas, mes chattons? Not sure what this is going to do for her career. But she will certainly benefit from a the higher profile it will give her. Can't say it will translate into more success for her beyond that.

My cynical side knows it's an industry cash in. My practical side knows Ellie needs to do something like this in order to "build her brand". We shall wait and see what happens. This pop malarkey is a funny game.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

big daddy of the rhythm

Rarely does a label produce a truly perfect singles collection. Often, it feels like someone in the finance department out them together. It's as if they randomly decided they needed some new "product" out there to shift among the dwindling number of music consumers. Sometimes a quick rehash for cash is thrown out there like chum to the ever fewer circling sharks in the water. Always hoping for a bite.

However, when someone decides to do it right, fans of a particular group will lavish praise on that collection. Also, any mistakes will come to light by the trainspotters.

Recently, the UK division of Sony decided to release "That's The Way I Like It: The Best Of Dead Or Alive". A collective yawn was heard across the kingdom. In fact, anyone who owned "Evolution - The Hits", released in 2003, probably passed over this latest DOA compilation.

However, there is cause for celebration. The new collection features ALL of Dead Or Alive's singles released on Epic. Each track is represented by the version that appeared on the original 7" single. Huzzah!

You see, more than half of these tracks have never previously appeared on CD. That's a shocking surprise to most people considering we're more than two decades into the existence of the shiny, silver configuration. The skimpy booklet is the only cause for complaint.

In celebration of the 25th anniversary of DOA's seminal, electro-disco classic, "You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)", I present to you the tracklisting for "That's The Way I Like It: The Best Of Dead Or Alive". Please send your youth regimens to me scribbled on a cocktail napkin.

"That's The Way I Like It: The Best Of Dead Or Alive"

1. You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)
2. That's The Way (I Like It) (7" Version)
3. Lover Come Back To Me
4. In Too Deep (7" Remix)
5. My Heart Goes Bang (Get Me To The Doctor) (7" Version)
6. Brand New Lover (7" Single Mix)
7. Something In My House (7" Single Mix)
8. Hooked On Love
9. I'll Save You All My Kisses (7" Remix)
10. Turn Around And Count 2 Ten (7" Single Mix)
11. Come Home With Me Baby (7" Mix)
12. Misty Circles (7" Version)
13. What I Want (7" Version)
14. I'd Do Anything (7" Version)
15. Lover Come Back To Me (Extended Remix)
16. My Heart Goes Bang (Get Me To The Doctor) (American Wipe-Out Mix)
17. Something In My House (Mortevicar Mix)
18. You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) (Murder Mix)

As a healthy bonus, four extended remixes, - all of which have never appeared on CD (according to the liner notes on the back inlay card) - have been tacked onto the end of the collection. Each one features more than a daily serving Pete Burns' cavernous bravado. But if my memory serves me correctly, I have "Lover Come Back To Me (Extended Remix)" and "You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) (Murder Mix)" on a couple of other compilations.

"What was my first Dead Or Alive purchase?", I hear you ask with wide-eyed wonder?

Oh, the countless dollars I spent on the many configurations. Designers sure were having a field day back then. And Dead Or Alive certainly didn't spare any expense on their packaging. The double pack gatefold 7", the remix 12", the picture disc and much more. It seemed endless. And then there was the small matter of the special 12" releases from Japan. Oy!

I first saw the video for "I'd Do Anything" - a sleazy, funk workout - on MTV back in the day before they applied standards and practices to their programming.

Pete Burns' playful presence and raw sexuality commanded your attention. Look at those cheekbones! The simplicity of the video certainly had impact. Besides, who doesn't love a hot, serif font?

Just imagine how it affected the teenage version of me.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

now that's what I call music

It seems like it's been a very long time between albums for the mighty Duran Duran. However, a quick look at the calendar will reveal that it has only been three years since their last meisterwerk, "Red Carpet Massacre".

Yes, you read that correctly. Although, many people have slagged off that particular beat heavy longplayer, I believe it's quite special. It's a Duran elpee for the 21st century groove. Great songs. Inventive. On the cusp of something more interesting.

Shitty promotion was handled expertly by Epic, the label from which the lads have extricated themselves. Let's face it, children. "Nite-Runner" should have been the first single.

Now? A new album. "All You Need Is Now" will be their thirteenth longplayer in 30 years. Yikes! That reminds me. I must get some hydrating lotion for my the delicate wrinkles around the corners of my eyes. I prefer the ones with soothing botanicals, natch.

Produced by knob twiddler of the moment, Mark Ronson, "All You Need Is Now" will hit iTunes in its downloadable configuration on December 21. Huzzah!

Physical configurations of the elpee, including a CD and some limited edition versions replete with nifty packaging, will be available in February. With all design elements being overseen by Lord Nicholas Of Rhodes, I bet cash money some of those special editions will be pricey!

Undoubtedly, now that they are free from the shackles imposed by "the suits", "All You Need Is Now" will appear on Duran Duran's own label. Let's hope it lives up to its hype.

dancing with the czars

Red alert, kittens! The video for the new Pet Shop Boys single, "Together", has made its way to the interwebs.

The clip was shot in Estonia, one of the Baltic countries bordering Russia. Geography was one of my favorite subjects at school, by the way.

Let's have a peek.

Color me underwhelmed, petheads. This has a whiff of lazy desperation. I am perplexed by PSB's decision to show nearly four minutes of dancers half their age. Neil and Chris merely make cameos in their own vid. Scandalous!

This is a far cry from their imperial visual work. Let's face facts. It's quite possible their fans will not be showing this clip much love.

I get the "ironic" nature of their presentations, but here they are simply being boring. Very squaresville for Les Boys. Better have a rethink after this one, lads. Keep in mind that this is coming from a longtime PSB devotee.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

otherworldly Underworld

Busy times for me, kittens. Haven't had a free moment to attend to my little corner of the blogosphere. Thankfully, nothing worth writing about happened over the last few days. However, with new albums in my sweaty hands, watch out for a flurry of activity in the approach to Christmas.

This week, Underworld premiered two new vids from their current longplayer, "Barking". First up is third single, "Bird 1", an eerie, throbbing track which is much darker than the previous singles from the elpee.

Well, that was slightly more exciting than watching paint dry. I guess that video budget isn't as robust as they would have liked it to be.

Next up is a bonus clip they produced for "Diamond Jigsaw". Underworld, like many artists, have thrown convention out the window by lensing vids for various album tracks whether or not they are intended to be for promotion around a single. It's the wild west, children.

A slightly trippy and otherworldly video for Underworld. I do hope they washed those jeans, particularly the one around the gentleman's face.

"Diamond Jigsaw" is a much more jaunty and euphoric number compared to many of their previous efforts. It's bordering ever so closely to a pop song! In fact, it's not a million miles away from Underworld Mk 1 when they were a rock/dance hybrid after the demise of Freur.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

landing strip

Natasha Bedingfield is about to return with "Strip Me". It's her third or forth longplayer depending on how you reconcile "N.B." and "Pocket Full Of Sunshine", which have overlapping tracks and were released in the UK and US respectively.

Poor Nat. She's a talented lass, but she is about to become the latest casualty of the Gaga effect. Take a look at the title track from her forthcoming elpee.

She's lovely. The song is nice enough. I can tell you without looking at the credits that the song was written, at least in part, by Ryan Tedder. He's a good enough songwriter. However, he will probably suffer the same fate as Gregg Alexander. Every single he wrote sounded like a rehash of "You Get What You Give" by his short-lived band, New Radicals.

Anyway, I would like to see "Strip Me" become a hit for Nat. Unfortunately, after the spectacular flop of the album's first single, "Touch Me", it appears her latest elpee might not last past the carving of the turkey.

big soul

Undoubtedly, Cee Lo Green has a top notch, old skool soul album on his hands with "The Lady Killer". Without sounding like a pastiche, he wraps his unique, husky rasp around a clutch of retro tracks and delivers them with gusto.

"It's OK", the Motown inspired second single from his forthcoming solo longplayer, is another tale of lost love. This time it's much less acerbic than his previous platter, "Fuck You", which is still nestled comfortably inside the top 10 of the UK singles chart. Those Brits are classy!

Not sure the literal lyrical list will work the same wonders as it did for its predecessor. No matter though, it sure is fun to follow along. All it's missing is a bouncing ball.

By the way, doesn't our cheeky chap sound like Al Green? Smokin'!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wilde life

Kim Wilde is a lovely creature. Happy to have her amongst the "pop"ulation once again.

On November 19, she will release "Real Life", the second single from her current longplayer, "Come Out And Play".

While we wait for the video to be produced to perfection, Kim stopped by one of Germany's most popular programs to perform an acoustic version of her latest platter.

She is a charming thing, indeed! Glad to see her trademark pout is still in place.

keep feeling fascination

I am utterly fascinated by "Olympia", the latest longplayer from Bryan Ferry, and its accompanying promotional campaign. It really has captured the attention of Mr. Ferry's fanbase. The use of various forms of media, along with the creativity imbued into the nearly year-long lead time, has turned the album into an experience rather than just the release of a new elpee.

For instance, some of the album's tracks have been given a bit of room to breathe through the production of some very interesting behind-the-scenes clips.

Let's take a trip into the inner sanctum of the studio where Mr. Ferry discusses his musical musings and current collabs.

I was most impressed by the use of the boy's voice from the Westminster Choir. It gives "Heartache By Numbers" an angelic sheen in the chorus. And who doesn't like Jake and Babydaddy's snarky bitchiness? All meant with love, I'm sure.

I love watching Nile Rodgers groove along with his guitar. He's got a laid back, funky kinda cool reserved for only the best musicians.

"Shameless" is scheduled to be plucked as the next single from "Olympia" with mixes from Groove Armada, Mylo, Pete Tong and more. Watch Tom Findlay from Groove Armada as he's clearly chuffed about having worked with the legendary, Bryan Ferry.

For some reason, the squiggly, high pitched keyboard line reminds me of a similar sound in "Everybody" by Madonna? Yes, kittens? You tell me.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Paloma and the orange peel

It has been a long journey following Paloma Faith from her debut single, "Stone Cold Sober", through to "Smoke & Mirrors", the fifth and final release from her first longplayer, "Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful?".

Finally, we can reveal the video she lensed for her latest platter. It remained on YouTube with the ability to embed it disabled. Nice promotional campaign, Sony! Anyway, with it freely available to post now that the single, as expected, flopped miserably, here it is in all its British seaside comedic glory.

Now Paloma has set her sights on her sophomore set. Rightly so! At least she appears to have a shitload of backing from the label to which she is signed.

With her currently touring the UK to rapturous audiences, she is premiering new material. Here's one of the best, so far. It's called "Me And My Cellulite".

Although it is camp, it's a terrific song which nicely blends her the torchy art-deco shapes of her debut elpee and some retro disco elements without being a full on dance record. It's only one song, but I wouldn't bet against Paloma having a massive follow-up album.