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12 days til Christmas...

Magazines get a little crazy around Christmas time don't they? One of my mother's regular reads had some "celebrity" santas in the buff as you can rather delightfully see above. Heat managed to show it's clout by getting some slightly bigger stars to pose in their festive double edition, that almost saved it's subscription with me. It's teetering on a knife edge so I will see how charitable I feel when the renewal card comes through :) Not long til Christmas now is it? I really need to crank up my festive jovialities by watching some more movies, reading more seasonal tomes, listening to more funky Christmas tunes and of course drinking far more Toffee Nut Lattes (with cream and sprinkles, because obviously I'm not fat enough) from Starbucks. Plus, I remember that almost exactly a year ago, the Gap in the Bullring had an extremely wise promotion on their underwear – all their foxy staff were dressed in boxers, scarves and santa hats. Genius. Now I have a better, more discreet camera phone, I can only hope they repeat the amazingicity this year… PS ~ it was most surreal this morning. Usually I awaken to a cacophony of communication – texts, comments, myspace messages, emails, a voice message from my mom to say good morning (she still calls all her kids every day to say hello/leave a "hello" message!) but today nada! Zilch! Zippo! Boo! It was eerie ;) And when I got to work, I knew the world was akimber as I had no work emails either. Eep. Maybe I have been erased

Sigh. It all started off so promisingly. After Michelle McMammoth didn't deliver hits as big as her waist (charting at a number that is the same as the inches round your waist doesn't count), Pop Idol was quickly dispatched with and X-Factor was born. Which really was Pop Idol with more categories and a way for Simon Cowell to make more money. And at first it was all very exciting. There would be groups (yay!) and old people (less yay!) competing against the former pop idol wannabes. 2004 saw Steve Brookstein and G4 in the final, with Steve taking the prize. And from that second on it was clear that the X-Factor was all about making money through the advertising on television and the phone votes. There would be no real care and attention paid to the winner. Steve was saddled with some ropey Phil Collins cover and quickly faded into obscurity. In fact it is the only Idol/X winner song not to debut at number one, and one suspects it wouldn't have climbed higher than it's number two debut had the canny decision not been taken to declare it a charity record after the Dec 26th tsunami. The problem was Steve didn't have the X factor and actually G4 should have won the competition. They were vocally outstanding and bought something different and fresh to the world of pop. But then so did 2005 winner, Shayne Ward. As soon as Shayne took the stage in the live shows, it was clear that here was a guy who had the look, the looks, the chav makes good backstory and a stunning voice to back it up. He was one of the few contestants then and since to choose mainly contemporary numbers (Justin timberlake, scissor sisters, take that the week their documentary aired…) and everything about him just screamed POPSTAR! He'd proved he could dance and be funky, so why he was saddled with an album full of ballads is beyond me. Luckily, Simon Cowell seems to have realised his mistake and the boy's potential and a more diverse, upbeat album is promised for the new year which will hopefully see Shayne bring the REAL sexy back. Rar, etc……
LINK: Buy Shayne Ward's debut album
MP3: Shayne Ward – All My Life
MP3: Shayne Ward - Hit The Ground Running
MP3: G4 – I Don't Like Mondays

Contrary to popular belief, I don't think it is easy to write a pop song. I think you have to know what ingredients to put in and be a master of your craft to have it come out the way you envisioned it. A good upbeat pop song needs an element of danceability, a smidgeon of novelty value (not too much or you end up in one hit wondersville), a chorus so powerful it needs it's own generator, a middle eight that provides a few seconds respite while keeping you anticipating the all important final crescendo and finish. Many songs have parts of these and are good, but it's the inclusion of all that elevates a song to greatness. Xenomania do it well, as does Richard X and often tinker with the formula to stop their various acts sounding staid. At the risk of repeating myself, Jadion also does it incredibly well. This year I have been bowled over by the work he, Fayden and Simon Curtis have produced – it embraces the elements listed above, pays a healthy homage to the very best of Swedish pop productions and still manages to come out sounding cutting edge and contemporary. I was most interested to see how the work with girl group Bliss would go. I came across some songs on their site that were run of the mill euro pop, yet something shone through that indicated the girls were destined for greater things. In the hands of Jadion, it's been achieved. Think how bracing and thrilling listening to Sugababes' Freak Like Me was the first time you heard it and you are pretty much there. Bliss have taken an Eddie Money song no less and turned it into a 3 minute collage of seductive harmonies, electro-beats, Spector-ish throwbacks (LOVE the subtle 'be my baby' refrain) and a chorus so sinfully catchy you feel guilty listening to it. In my alternate reality of pop, the charts would be full of songs like this and Simon's Broken ranking alongside Scissor Sisters, Jamelia's Beware of the Dog and Rachel Steven's Crazy Boys. It's what pop in 2007 should sound like. Now if only I could get him to revitalise Deborah Gibson's career…
. LINK: Bliss myspace site
LINK: Jadion's myspace site

Record companies and acts can't wait to spunk their musical load all over Christmas market. It's often an embarrassment – sometimes of riches, others just an embarrassment. This year is no different – for every Wind It Up, there is something brillo like McFly's Sorry… for every dodgy cover like GA's I Think We're Alone Now, something thrilling comes along like Bliss (above). Here are some of the singles either announced this week or jostling for a place in this weeks chart…
~ Matt Willis-Don't Let It Go To Waste: Little Matty has won me over with his new album and I can't believe I ignored him for so long, even though Poppostergirl was clearly extolling his virtues. This will play nicely along side the new McFly single and to satisfy those fans as well as his own, there is a live recording of him taking lead vocal on Don't Stop Me Now at one of the Flys London concerts…
~ L'il Chris- Getting It: Oh dear god. I have got to stop liking people I previously dismissed through lack of interest/time. Who knew that some snot nosed little punk from a dubious Gene Simmons led Rock School knock-off reality show would produce such a fun, unpretentious cd? Well, lots of people except me apparently. The charms of his witty SexyBack cover alerted me to his style, this song has converted me to his album…
~ Lily Allen-Littlest Things: The Sheriff's daughter knocks out a ballad with a lovely video. She may be a gobby mare, but her album this year has been a sparkling highlight for me. The b-side U Killed It isn't one of her best, but still miles better than most crappy b-side efforts…
~ Nerina Pallot- Learning To Breathe: Although I plumped for Geek Love over Sophia, I certainly wasn't immune to its charms and it is nice to see that another single is planned for 2007 from Fires. The album has sold consistently well, and although the singles chart hasn't been set alight, this should be enough to secure a third outing from my beloved Ms. Pallot
And I was going to save this for a Christmassy collection post, but I really can't find anything else that will go with the sheer bonkersosity that is Puppini Sisters doing Jingle Bells. I love these yammering broads and am glad they seem to have been afforded cult status on the cabaret scene. Marv.
LINK: Buy Matt Willis single
LINK: Buy Lily Allen single
LINK: Buy L'il Chris single
LINK: Buy Nerina Pallot's Fires cd
MP3: Matt Willis & McFly – Don't Stop Me Now
MP3: Matt Willis – Up all Night (acoustic)
MP3: L'il Chris – Getting It
MP3: Lily Allen – U Killed It
MP3: Nerina Pallot – Learning To Breathe
MP3: Puppini Sisters – Jingle Bells
Saturday night's music channel extravaganza during thezapping second annual Christmas party reminded me that a couple of acts from The Hit Factory in the late eighties and early nineties recorded, well if not festive songs, then songs that became synonymous with the season. In 1988, we had Kylie and Jason team up on Especially For You – a song that was sold out at Woolworths before a note had ever been recorded. It totally captured the era when Scott and Charlene ruled Neighbours and Kylie and Jason ruled the pop charts. Plus it was the first sighting of Jase the Face without his mullet, and very spunk-inducing he looked too. The much neglected flip side, All I Wanna Do was equally as good, in a tinny, perky pop, upbeat, Christmas party way. Play them now to someone who hasn't heard them before and they probably sound dated, but if you were around at the time, memories of Christmas 1988 will come flooding back. 1989 saw Jase release When You Come Back To Me – not a Christmas song at all, but with the added sleigh bells in the mix and a festive looking video with J in a dodgy red mac, it once again became the epitomy of the season. A jaunty uptempo track, it's probably something that V would be covering for the unreleased double A side of the fourth track from their second album this Christmas. If there was any justice in the world. 1989 also saw many S/A/W stars come together (ew) for a rerecording of 1984 classic Do They Know It's Christmas. Cruelly erased from history by the third snooze inducing version, it remains my favourite interpretation of the song as it rounded up a who's who of singers that soundtracked by journey into adolescence. For more on the Band Aid II story, pop over to D'Luv! More recently, Young Divas have done an album that pays loving tribute to the SAW boys and although there Christmas cover of Pretenders classic 2000 Miles isn't one of their tunes, it still sounds like a SAW song to me…
MP3: Kylie and Jason – Especially For You (extended)
MP3: Jason and Kylie – All I Wanna Do (12" remix)
MP3: Jason Donovan – When You Come Back To Me
MP3: Band Aid II – Do They Know It's Christmas
MP3: Young Divas – 2000 Miles
~ Yay. Or boo. The response to my request for contributions for my online Christmas Card has been underwhelming :( Sniffle. However, you still have plenty of time to email me festive holiday greetings/pictures/mp3 messages. And there is still time to join the people who have agreed to help out with the Simon Curtis article. I'll be embarrassingly grateful. Email by clicking here or typing into your little "email recipient" column…
~ Ooo, how bizarre. Ten years ago to this very day, my love affair with the book (and subsequently musical)
Wicked began when I was given the novel by Gregory Maguire. (And the cast of the London musical were most brilliant on the Royal Variety Show last night…) I remember the date well because it was the day I succumbed to Spice mania and bought 2 Become 1…
~ along with Robin Hood, Torchwood has been given a second season by the BBC...
~ There are some nice Christmas songs and a quite stylish piccie of that guy who used to be in Alcazar over at Digital Technique...
~ thanks to the always aces Attitude Myspace page, i have discovered the lovely and relaxing vocal stylings of Jay Brannan. He is like a male Lisa Loeb. Only hotter. And in the movie Short Bus. Expect more on him v soon...
Coming soon: Tom Baxter; the Jamelia-X-Factor controversy; what to wear this winter part one; a very playful christmas; a very ally christmas, my top 21 tunes of the week; new myspace talent; a cabaret boy band?!; some more should've beens; some more greatest hits done right. Guys and Dolls! And lots more. Aren't i good to you....
EDIT: I'm aware comments aren't working properly - have checked the blogger help group and it seems to be not just me. Try logging in with your google account or please leave an anonymous comment and just say who you are! I love it when people take the time to comment - it's much appreciated :)


  1. Anonymous said...
    Pablo, I can't post comments to your damn site...

    Anonymous said...
    Okay, since that worked, here was my real comment:

    Technically, you could sort of count Jason D.'s "When You Come Back To Me" as a Christmas song, since it's got the line, "So many people, smile on their faces / Armful of presents, going to places".... also, there was a mix of it called the "Yuletide Sleigh List Mix."

    Also, Band Aid II was actually out Xmas of 1989, not 1990, and it's what kept "When You Come Back To Me" at #2 that month....

    J'ason D'luv
    Anonymous said...
    I'm going to take a page from J'ason's book, since I can't get logged-in comments to work either, and post "anonymously."

    Ahhhh! Jason Donovan! J'ason's been introducing me to him (well, his songs), and I've had "Too Many Broken Hearts" stuck in my head for the past couple of days--but I don't mind :) So I'll be grabbing the remixes, thank you...and the Band Aid II song--need a complete collection, you know.

    Was Rock School inspired by the success of the Jack Black movie School of Rock? I have always wondered.

    It's so sweet how hard McFly are working to promote Matt. Apparently they used MySpace to get people to support him on I'm A Celebrity and the add for their upcoming single advertised Matt's single being out this week. I just don't know if it'll be enough to help him, though :(

    I'll get you something about Simon Curtis soon!

    I finally saw a video of Shayne performing--Justin's "Cry Me A River," I think--and I really hope he comes up with a great second album! I still think "No Promises" was great, though.

    -PG (as if all the talk about McFly wouldn't have clued you in to who it was ;) )
    Paul said...
    how very bizarre that people cannae comment - i will check it out and get back to y'all ;)
    eLeMeNOhPeaQ said...
    A friend of mine told me there was another Debhead on blogger. Go figure. Just wanted to stop by, check it out and say "Hey." Not sure if you have this, but I posted this on someone else's blog as a favor...

    I'm just a click away.
    later tater
    Rose said...
    I can't wait to hear Shayne Wards new stuff. I'm supporting my fellow scouser this year. I like Leona but I'm sick of hearing about her, I hope she follows the career path of Steve Brookstein and we never hear from her again.

    I love Matt Willis. Hopefully his new single charts high. Thanks for the Matt & McFly mp3's.

    I am embarresed to admit this but I like Lil Chis. I didn't want to at first coz he looks & sounds 12 lol but I like his album.

    Yay for Torchwood.
    Anonymous said...
    Please! Can you email me u killed it?


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