Monthly Archives: May 2012

How to take the boring out of a Keane song:

…You mix it within an inch of its life and pump it full of Ibiza’s second largest export after STIs – EUPHORIA, until the dreary U2 MOR-ness is no more. Summer anthem alert:

Ta Alesso. You can get hold of this restorative remix here.

You can also watch George Osborne attempting to survive the song in its original form, before remembering he’s on telly and bopping looks human below:

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Eurovision 2013: Who in fresh hell should we send?

After the UK’s second-to-bottom nosedive last Saturday, there are probably emergency meetings planned in the BBC Eurovision broom cupboard office. What exactly went wrong? Was it the song? The Hump? An unlucky combination of the two. In a particularly ballad-heavy year there was nothing distinctive about Engelbert’s offering to make it stand out, despite roping in Ivor Novello Award-winning songwriter Sacha Skarbek.

While I’m not going to go off on one against the performance itself, a competent enough job; some actual promotion across Europe beforehand might’ve helped. When the UK has fared well in the contest in recent years with Jade Ewen (et Andrew Lloyd Webber) and Blue it’s not just been down to the decent song choice, but thanks to creating a bit of buzz. Asides from those old enough to remember the Iron Curtain like it was yesterday, Humperdinck might as well have arrived from Mars instead of Leicester. Familiarity makes all the difference.

Enough post-mortem – ONWARDS to next year:

Auntie has a choice -they could reintroduce the democratic aspect of entrant selection again by allowing the public to vote from a shortlist in another Your Country Needs You-style format, albeit with some decent entrants instead of Katie Price and an ex-dustman from The X Factor.

Alternatively they could continue to pick someone themselves, someone talented who is well-known in Europe but down on their luck career-wise who would gladly take the poisoned chalice of Eurovision. Here are some suggestions:

When she’s not pregnant or postponing an album release Sophie Ellis-Bextor is a reliable, if slightly forgotten household name in the UK, like the Wimpy fast food chain. In Russia and Ukraine it’s a different story altogether where she’s somehow cultivated a vast fanbase to the extent that her last record was released there ahead of her homeland. She’s also a Jill of all trades – her cut-glass vocals suitable for dance, indie and ballads. Now an independent artist with three kids and a husband in The Feeling to support, I have a feeling she wouldn’t turn down this gig if asked.

I despise Mika. His shrill, shrieking tones are enough to put the hairs on the back of my neck on edge BUT – he has potential with the right song. Take away his Kate Nash-esque brand of clunky piano tunes and give him a dance number like ‘Kick Ass (We Are Young)’ that he did with RedOne for the Kick Ass film soundtrack and you’ve the makings of a decent Eurovision act. He’s also still massive in France – his sophomore slumping album still managed 2x Platinum over there so he wisely released the first single from his upcoming new record in French over there, bagging a No.1. With his domestic career beginning to stare at the abyss and an obvious fondness for the flamboyant, it’s a bit of a no-brainer for him.

Melanie C loves being a popstar, and were it not for being in the most successful girlband of all time she’d probably be a fairly successful one, free from the ex-Spice shackles that have always been her biggest blessing and curse career-wise. Instead she’s had to make do with going independent to release the solo material she wanted and occasional hits in mainland Europe. As she has nothing to lose, as well as being instantly recognisable she ticks the right boxes. Recently she seems to be stretching her legs a bit beyond the usual album-tour route, having just plonked an EP of dance outtakes on iTunes and announcing that she’s starring in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new upcoming production of Jesus Christ Superstar – Eurovision wouldn’t be too much of a stretch.

See you in Sweden next year…

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Tomorrow’s a big day if your name happens to be Florrie

That lass who did a spot of drumming for Xenomania (as well as releasing two amazing EPs) is finally releasing a third body of work TOMORROW.

Since it was originally supposed to come out last Autumn, there’s little wonder she’s titled the new EP Late – “Massively stonkingly delayed” doesn’t have the same ring to it. In an interesting development Florrie has announced that this will be her last release as an independent artist (all of her previous EPs have been done independently) in order to give her the distribution she wants. With a bit of luck this will mean a full album out by the end of the year, hopefully including a fabled duet with Norwegian Italo Queen, Annie that has had pop fans salivating since it was confirmed.

You can listen to a preview of the eclectic tracks on Late below ahead of tomorrow’s release and see if they tickle your fancy:

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A gentle reminder about the new Wolfette single:

IT’S OUT NOW! RIGHT THIS INSTANT! AND IT’S THE BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD! (unless you’re coeliac)

The only thing to dislike about this song is the video’s total lack of authenticity – there is absolutely no way Wolfette would be reduced to creating a boyfriend out of a shadow, like a perverse Peter Pan. I mean…Look.At.Her.

Swooning aside, you can get your paws on the single on iTunes now.

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Alexander Geist: Disco is dead – long live Disco

With the passing of both Donna Summer and Robin Gibb in the past couple of weeks, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Disco was fading into the past, like the Charleston with its once dancing, now decomposing flappers.

You’d be wrong. Just because the pioneers of Disco have started to become as non-existent as the clubs they boogied and rode white horses into, that’s not to say that it’s finished. The great work continues, through people like this chap…

Part living embodiment, part character, I’m sure if you asked Alexander Geist a question about his origins you’d end up with the same veiled mystery that Amanda Lear has dined out on for decades. The point is, boys and girls, that Herr Geist’s debut ‘Bad Language’ is hynotic, tragic and a little bit funky all at once. Have a listen for yourselves:

Rather fucking spiffing if I say so myself. You can get your hands on this delectable digital package, including morose b-side ‘What I Mean To You’ (imagine the progeny of Morrissey after being knocked up by Jake Shears in a Berlin sex club) on iTunes now.

For all the latest Alexander Geist happenings, visit his website and follow him on Facecrack and The Twitter.

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Artwork fail: ‘Power & Control’ by Marina and the Diamonds

Oh Marina, Marina – you were doing so well. Electra Heart is probably going to be the best pop album of 2012, unless Siobhan Donaghy decides to magically grace us with a new solo offering. Everything about this campaign has been perfect – the production, the lyrics and the artwork, all merging together to create a cohesive take on the whole “faded Lynchian Hollywood septia” theme. And then you had to give us this:

Bored? Exhausted? Dead?

Frankly unimpressed love. Still, it’s a damn good choice for single #2:

Release ‘Teen Idle’ next, and all will be forgiven.

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‘Timebomb’ by Kylie Minogue – the lowdown

So after what looked suspiciously like she was filming a music video in Soho last month, Kylie Minogue has just plonked a brand new single, onto iTunes called ‘Timebomb’.

Here’s what you need to know about it:

1) The video is a splendid affair.

80% of said splendidness is because it features…

2) THE BRIDGET JONES STRING SOUP-DRESS. I need one in my life, preferably to wear while gatecrashing the funerals and christenings of strangers.

3) The official artwork is a bit of a murky mess. It was in all likelihood quickly cobbled together while the Parlophone design team were out at Greggs for lunch.

4) While lots of fun, this is by no means a classic. Have a listen and you’ll notice it bears a resemblance to familiar territory, including underrated b-side ‘Carried Away’. Someone’s been having a reflective rummage:

5) In terms of the song’s purpose, this is a bit like how ‘Celebration’ was intended to drum up interest in Madonna’s last compilation album – only she’s actually bothered to promote it. All in all, a brand new Kylie single that gets you off your arse and dance around a bit can only be a good thing.

‘Timebomb’ is out now. The (superfluous and oddly tracklisted) compilation album The Best of Kylie Minogue is out on June 4th.

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New music videos (Girls vs Boys)

Amazingly mental 21-strong female choral act Gaggle have released an amazingly mental animated video for their single ‘Army of Birds’. Do not watch this while high on anything asides from its own insanity, or you may have flashbacks. The single’s out now and if you fancy a whole album of this wonderful weirdness, their debut Mouth of the Cave is out on June 4th.

Up-and-coming, guitar-clutching boyband Lawson do a lot of “earnest seriousface” in their latest video. Just look at that Los Angeles skyline in the background, you know what that means? They’re totes international. Think The Script featuring a member with the gayest boyband hair since Boy Banned.

Have a lovely weekend

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A chat with: Alphabeat

Petula Clark sang “When you’re alone and life is making you lonely, you can always go downtown…” – what a cow. You’re more likely to get robbed and raped than have your spirits lifted by doing that. Instead, the safer and more effective way I’d recommend of banishing the blues is three words; “PLAY.SOME.ALPHABEAT.”   Since 2004, Denmark’s finest export have been on a personal mission to spread joy and catchy hooks wherever they go. Their first album managed the tricky balancing act of sounding indie enough to trick NME-readers but was everything a pop fan wanted too. While their second album, The Beat is… was a bit of a departure from all that, paying homage to Black Box and other early 90s dance, it was a gorgeous record too. So far the UK late spring/early summer weather has been predictably unpredictable, so what better than for the trusty Danes to whisk us off on a vacation…literally, with their latest single. What more could you ask for?
Where would the perfect Alphabeat vacation be?
There is no such thing as vacation when you’re in Alphabeat, but hey, a sunny beach on a remote island with everyone we love would be pretty good…
Your first album was mostly Eighties influenced, your second Nineties – does that mean we can now expect an early 2000s sound?
Nope, sorry! Would be kinda fun though. Late 90’s early 2000’s, endless sampled “real life” drum beats like Westlife, Atomic Kitten or what ever. But no. This time around we’ve combined the way we made our debut album with studio drums, guitar and the more “bandy” sound with the slick produced and modern sound we had on The Beat Is…with samples and all that jazz. It’s been a lot of fun to do it this way, nerdy and it’s been taking a lot of time but the result so far is absolutely amazing. You can expect an album with a lot of upbeat pop songs you can dance to!
For the past few years you’ve mostly been based in London. What non-obvious advice would you give to any Danes visiting?
We moved back to Copenhagen after three great years in London and all over the UK really. The road was our home for those years and we’ve been to so many lovely places. We’d probably tell people to enjoy the beauty of Edinburgh, go party all night in Newcastle, sightseeing in Bristol, shopping in East London and then end up on the beach in Brighton where the sun always shines for some reason. We love the UK and would love to go touring again sometime…if you guys want us back.
As well as doing your own material, you’ve also been writing for other artists. How have you found the whole experience of offering stuff to someone else with no guarantee that it’ll be released?
We did a bit of songwriting with other artists when we were in the UK and it was a lot of fun. It’s always thrilling to meet new people who share the same passion for amazing songwriting and then get into a room with a piano, a microphone and a Mac and then start recording stuff out of the blue. But we do prefer to do things on our own with our own touch though writing with other people is a great way to get outside the Alpha-bubble for a while…
Do you still have a record deal in the UK?
We don’t. But our Danish label Copenhagen Records (best label in the world, fyi) are distributed through Universal and that’s the reason why ‘Vacation’ is also available in the UK, Europe, US and a lot of strange places in the world. We still want to give every pop fan the possiblity to listen to our songs, so this is a great way to pay back for all the love everyone gives us by releasing our songs out there. You can have it if you want it. But it would be pretty good with a major label supporting us, so if anyone out there is up for helping us out we’d be glad to meet up. It’s hard to be a small band in a big world of pop without someone pushing it for you in regions such as the UK and US but we’re doing our best to spread the word ourselves on blogs, news sites, radio etc, and the help has been brilliant. It was fun to see ‘Vacation’ move into the Top 100 on iTunes UK on the day of release. All our hard work had paid off and the fans had heard the rumours of a new Alphabeat song. We are not sure if the new album will get a physical release everywhere, but at least we’re pretty sure our Danish label will release it on iTunes etc. for everyone who wants it.
Is the new album ready for release, or is it still being recorded?
It’s still in the making. So far 6 songs are mixed and done. We’ve still got a bunch of songs that needs the final touch and we should have a full album with joyful pop at some point late Summer, early Autumn.
Alphabeat has always been about fans lusting over Anders SG and Stine. Isn’t it time that the rest of the band showed their sexy side?!
Well, take a look at the new press photo. It’s 6 times sexiness!
Do you ever regret turning down the chance to tour with the Spice Girls?
Nope. It was way to early in our UK career to be thrown out there in front of 1000s of fans and we knew that we’d always be known as “the band who supported Spice Girls”. Today it’s more fun to look back and people know we are “the band who turned down supporting Spice Girls”. That tour ended all of a sudden, right? Good thing we said no. We played 160 live gigs in 2008 and got known for our own thing and not because we supported a big pop group. People know us for our very energetic live shows and we still hear from people who remember our small gigs at places like The Whelans in Dublin, King Tuts in Glasgow and The Water Rats in London. Always amazing. That we ended up selling out two nights in Shepherd’s Bush later that year was just the result of old school hard work and it felt so good!
Is there anyone in particular you’d really like to tour with?
Touring with Lady Gaga is probably the biggest act we could dream of supporting. And we did. It was an absolutely amazing tour around the UK. We also  turned down supporting George Michael back in 2007 when he was in Denmark, same reason as for the Spice Girls gig – too big and too early on. But if he reunited with Andrew Ridgeley and went on a “Choose Life – Again” tour we’d be there in a split second! The Talking Heads would also be a reunion we’d say yes to…”Stop Making Even More Sense”…maybe.
When people think “Alphabeat” they immediately think “joyous, happy” etc. Do you think you’ll ever write a misery-laden record about depression and suicide?
Probably not. We were once one of those boring early 2000s indie bands but found out it was just more fun to have fun.
We do what we do best and will probably make joyous and happy pop music till the day Alphabeat is no more.
‘Vacation’ is out now. Keep your eyes peeled for all the latest Alphabeat brilliance by visiting their Facebook page and by following the band and the hilarious Stine on The Twitter.
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