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21 days til Christmas

Well, what a slap in the face reality can be, eh? It's back to work today after the break and of course six weeks of being ill before that. I barely remembered what my desk looked like, but after sifting through the 500 odd emails (mostly junk) it soon all came flooding back! Still only 3 weeks (exactly) until Christmas break and then only four weeks until I leave for my new job. Viva las vegas and all that jazz. So my blogs may be a little shorter than when I was off work, but the quality and acerbic wit that gets kneeded into each one will be just as brilliant as ever. Or your money back. If any of you bludgers were paying me that is…;)
Yesterday we looked at the boybands. Today I am casting the net a little bit wider to cover some of the male and female solo singers who are set to grace our fair charts again at some point in the future. If they are lucky…

As I am so fixated on Take That at the moment (it's like 1994 all over again, except I have more wrinkles. And less hair. And DazPop…) I figured maybe it's time to give Robbie's 'Rudebox' another go, particularly as I've been such a fan of his during the no Take That years. With She's Madonna confirmed as the third single proper, I still can't work out whether the album is an atrocious mess of ego and bad judgement, or a brilliant insight into the messed up mind of Britain's biggest and formerly brightest male star. Or perhaps somewhere in between. Answers on a postcard please. Seeing as I am pretty certain this is definitely his nervous breakdown album, and most people think he's crazy anyway, why not go out and release the fairly bonkers Bongo Bong with Lily Allen wittering away in French on there?? And you know it's quality pop because it featured in Jessica's top twenty tracks of November. It's different, but not in a slightly rubbish Rudebox way, and will pass the time until Rob gets back to the pre-greatest hits brilliance I've loved him for, for the past ten years…
. You know I am all excited about discovering Simon Curtis and have found a few more artists I really like through his Jadion connection. One of these is Fayden who I underestimated when I wrote about him before. He not only sings, but writes and produces as well and is integral to the behind the scenes action of the Iced Entertainment company he founded. Anyhoo, writing about Westlife yesterday reminded me that a great cover of Garth Brook's The Dance already exists in club format. Fayden has taken that eerie, ethereal piano refrain and made it integral to the beats of the song, much like that classic dancefloor filler One and One (Robert miles?)… piano is vastly underestimated in dance and can turn plain dancefloor thumpers into blessed out early morning club anthems. This song in particular reminds me of Tommy Page's Ten til Midnight album, released back in 2000, which is a huge compliment because that was an outstanding and extremely underrated dance opus… Now, how about a full album and some remixes??
. Now lets hear it for the girls… Jamelia wisely releases Beware of the Dog this week, and as I anxiously await to see whether it's brilliance and poppy fun can be a Something Kinda Ooh type smash or an Easy passing disinterest, may I suggest the equally gleeful Window Shopping as the third single? From the ludicrously camp sampling of Mrs Slocombe to the pedal to the metal chorus, this type of electroclash genius sadly didn't work for Rachel Stevens (Crazy Boys never released? Criminal!) and may not for Jams (though I am encouraged by it's top 40 download only placement yesterday), I can live in hope of good taste prevailing…
. Ah, Gwendolyn. Sadly, much like Whitney and Mariah and Janet before her, I'm pretty much done with Mrs Rossdale. For now. All four singers I used to worship for significant amounts of time until their careers took them in directions that held no interest for me (Whitney = post Your Love is My Love; Mariah = post Butterfly; Janet = post Velvet Rope). I live in daily hope that one day they will entice me back in, but alack, nothing has so far. Though Through The Rain, All 4 U and On My Own were all pretty ok in their own little way. I adored No Doubt from Tragic Kingdom to Rock Steady and was a belated admirer of LAMB. Sweet Escape's appeal, well it (sweet) escapes me as it ploughs through sub fergie/big brovaz tunes. Apart from Early Winter, a lovely heartrending track co-written by fellow sophomore disappointment, Tim Rice-Oxley. After this song, Gwen and I will have to part ways. For now…
LINK: Buy Robbie's Rudebox (someone should!)
LINK: Buy Faden's singles
LINK: Buy Jamelia's Beware Of The Dog
LINK: Don't buy Gwen Stefani's Sweet Escape
MP3: Robbie/Lily Allen – BongoBong
MP3: Fayden – The Dance
MP3: Jamelia – Window Shopping
MP3: Gwen Stefani – Early Winter
Sigh. The Killers only managed a fairly lacklustre placing of 15 this week with the actually quite excellent Bones. Proof that you have to be that little bit more giving when releasing a single now, as most of the people that want them will want extra tracks, different mixes, cover versions, etc. Still, I'll forgive them as Great Big Sled is growing on me and is available for purchase on iTunes now. Plus I'm enjoying getting Boned by Brandon…So what are other people cashing in on the Christmas market doing with their releases?
. ~ Also giving us a super second single from a super sophomore album is the super Scissor Sisters with Land of A Thousand Words (how limiting). And considering this is a band that don't feel like dancing, they sure are doing a good job of making the rest of us want to. A Junkie XL remix (see, they are still cool! No JXL abbreviation for them, Elvis Presley estate!) of the single gives it a nice bounce and polish, a run to the sun mix takes it from 70s to 60s and a remix of I Don't Feel Like Dancing by Eron Alkan ditches most of Jake's vocals from the track in favour of heavy washes of synth and some bottom pounding beats. In the sweaty confines of bar Tubos, it was a pulsating dancefloor bomb. It's so getting my party started on Saturday…
~ Paolo Nutini wisely goes back to his balladeering routes (though I like his rock too) with the languid Rewind, out today. I'm not sure it's immediate enough to be a huge hit, and although the lad's done well album wise, for some bizarre reason people are favouring the slightly dull James Morrison. Go figure. Loading us up with extra tracks the highlight is a simply elegant new version of Alloway Grove and a great live version of Caledonia. Major le sigh…
~ Unlike fellow Las Vegasians (?) The Killers, Panic! At The Disco not only give us a super acoustic version of their re-released single I Write Sins… but also an interesting cover version of Radiohead's Karma Police. These Panic scamps are starting to grow on me. How alarming…
LINK: Buy Scissor Sisters Land Of A Thousand Words
LINK: Buy Paolo Nutini's Rewind
LINK: Buy The Killers Great Big Sled
LINK: Buy P!ATD's I Write Sins
MP3: Scissor Sisters – Land of A Thousand Words (Run To The Sun remix)
MP3: Paolo Nutini – Caledonia (live)
MP3: P!ATD – Karma Police (live)
. What's not to love about Aussie Bum? It's comfortable, it looks good, they use some lovely models in the ads and it has some great unique and colourful designs available. DazPants and I have contrasting white and black pairs respectively. Now they are easier to get into than ever. Previously only available by ordering off the internet, thanks to a new gay superstore opening in the heart of Birmingham's retail district (Prowler – opening right next door to a Christian book shoop. The irony is delicious in an incorrect Alanis Morrisette way…), I can now finger away before purchasing. And rather ridiculously, there is now the new "wonderjock" Patriot line of mens underwear that allegedly is designed to "lift and separate" thanks to 'revolutionary' new ball/extension support technology. Smashing – if only for the warning on the package: "This will make you look bigger!" I am so getting a pair!
LINK: Aussie Bum website
LINK: Prowler website

After a very patchy debut album that held very little interest for me, Emma Bunton has reinvented herself as a sixties inspired pop kitten with two lovely albums that have won my heart and been relatively commercially successful too. It comes as no surprise then that the languid (ooo twice in one post) Life in Mono set has been touched by the magnificent hand of Dame Cathedral of Dennis. It's a route she took herself ten years back with the largely ignored but always delightful Am I The Kinda Girl album that proved to be her (vocal) swansong. Let's back peddle a bit… Cathy kicked off the nineties with her pure and simple pop album Move To This. The bold individualistic covers of the sleeve represented the stylish, clearly defined strokes of dance, pop and ballad contained within. Sophomore set, Into The Skyline, had a more luxurious opulent feel to the cover that reflected the more musically indulgent tunes inside. It's the AITKG cd that returns Cathy to her most focused cohesive album of the lot. West End pad and her cover of Waterloo Sunset are perfect little reminders of giddy sixties pop days gone by. The Date is swirling slice of musical chick lit, years before Bridget Jones forced that term on an unsuspecting world. When Dreams Turn To Dust proved she could still knock out a floating ballad with sorrowful lyrics and heartbreaking strings. Cathy called it a day after that, reinventing herself as a writer of several of the 90s and 00s biggest most anthemic pop classics. Part of me can't help but feel that had she taken up the mic again, she would have had the career Sophie Ellis Bextor enjoys currently. Here's how her greatest hits should've shaped up…
Just Another Dream
Touch me
Too Many Walls (l'autre mix) (mp3)
Everybody Move
My Beating Heart
Keys To Your Life (mp3)
You Lied To me
Being With You
Moments of Love
West End Pad
Waterloo Sunset (mp3)
The Date
When Your Dreams Turn To Dust
BONUS: It's My Style (unreleased mp3)
BONUS: SOS (unreleased mp3)
BONUS: Love's A Cradle (unreleased mp3)


Ooo, it's my favourite bit of my blog at the moment, writing all about Christmas. It makes me want to reach out and hug you all, although probably lots of you have colds and stuff so that probably wouldn't be very hygienic. I think you get my point though! I was looking through some photos the other day and remembered that it's time for Warwick Castle to host their annual Christmas at the Castle event. I just adore Warwick Castle (it's a centuries old castle, restored to reflect the different eras it has been through from renaissance to Edwardian) any time, but it has a really magical feel at Christmas. They even have a cool (literally) outdoor skating rink. Darren is less enamoured about a yearly visit, but photos don't lie. He was having a great time, don't ya think???
But lets get back to the music for a minute shall we? Friday we had some nice original songs from popstars of Christmas past, then Saturday we had the lovely poppera stylings of G4 and il Divo (who will be making a return visit soon). Yesterday was a more rocking Christmas selection. Before I go totally pop on yo asses tomorrow, let's ease you in with a bit of guitar driven power pop from the likes of Click 5 (thanks to the ever amazing Poppostergirl), Busted, McFly, Jesse McCartney and some others that I haven't thought of yet, cos I'm typing this up while I'm on the phone at work and denied access to my festive mp3 collection. See festive (I typed that as fetish before correcting!) joviality makes me a good multi-tasker!
MP3: McFly - Deck The Halls
MP3: Click Five – Silent Night
MP3: Busted – Hark The Herald Angels
MP3: Jesse McCartney – Winter Wonderland
Coming soon to Christmas at thezapping: Christmas goes Pop! A very Wilson Christmas; Poppera gets festive – again; The Silent Night, the Holy Night; a Canadian Christmas and much much more…

~ Kudos to Lockdown who got mentioned in the Sunday People yesterday as being one of the ones to watch in 2007, thanks to their uber catchy debut single Poison. Haven't I been saying this repeatedly for ages?! We love these guys…
~ Love the fact that Ice Magazine – an FHM styled mag with a focus on gadgets – has been courting the pink pound with ads in Attitude that say "less girls more gadgets" and "the only men's mag that keeps it's house as tidy as you do…" Desperately brilliant…
~ I'm upgrading my Archos to
this thanks to a rather fabbo offer at Currys…~ Good lord! Rob(o)Pop's Don'tStopTheGirlBands post is a wealth of information and has left me a little bit breathless...
~ Like thezapping The Hotstufffellas are embracing christmas except they are counting up instead of down like me. And they have better songs. Sometimes :)
~ Don't click this link mom and dad! XO said cream and not in the coffee and... way ;) But it was in a good cause. We at thezapping dungeons quite like Goodbooks too...
Coming soon: retro take that; festive fashions; Christmas book club; some super new pop acts; another 7 in 2007 update; the skinny on thezapping record company project 2007; underappreciated albums; the should;ve beens returns; my top twenty favourite solo singers of all time over at the spin-off blog, and much much more…
PLUS: Check out what I did last week over at
Holiday Diaries all this week – now with added music, info and topless pics of DazPecs. It's an offer you can't refuse…


  1. Dan Project 76 said...
    You're spot on about Gwen... While I liked No Doubt, her current stuff is mostly horrible. Noisy tuneless dirge like that thing Fergie, which is a shame... but I do like the Keane song and I knew you would too!

    What exactly is that Scissor Sisters-y mp3? I am baffled by it but I like it!
    xolondon said...
    Oh yes, Goodbooks has me FIZZING AT THE SLIT! :) Truth is I am not sure about them yet. Need to update my post.

    Love the pics at the ice rinks. They capture the holiday mood of your blog. :)
    Poster Girl said...
    When that Busted cover started out, I was all prepared to write something along the lines of "Oh, this is surprisingly subdued for them! It's not going to be a classic, but considering their covers were generally for comedic value ("Where's The Love" never fails to make me laugh, even though it's not really that good...or maybe it's good in a sort of trashy way?), this isn't bad!" And then the pace picked up and I was sure it would become complete "rubbish"...but it wasn't! Still no classic, but I'm surprised that they didn't completely mess it up (and you know I do love Busted)...I can actually see myself listening to it again! Doesn't it have the tiniest bit of a McFly sound from 1:03-1:15 or so, too?

    That was probably far too long to spend talking about that particular cover :) Your lack of enthusiasm over the Gwen album seems to fall in line with what I've heard some others say, which is giving me no real reason to listen to it, although the song you posted is nice. Like the Fayden cover, too, and I'm looking forward to the Cathy Dennis songs!

    Hopefully Jamelia sells bucketloads this week!
    Nick said...
    Wow, what the hell is up with that Scissor Sisters remix?? Very strange... but strangely enjoyable. Who's vocals are those, though?

    BTW... do give Rudebox another try. I'm beginning to think I was the only blogger who liked it!

    As for Gwen, it's amazing how there's been a pretty unanimous concensus about her album. Early Morning is definitely the standout in an album of clunkers.
    Paul said...
    the scissor sisters remix is rather strange, n'est pas? I think it's done by some guy called Sebastian Telle, and although a bit startling at first, I do kinda like it :) And yes re: Gwen. What a fall from critical grace she has had.

    Nick - i don't dislike Rudebox, i just don't really know what to do with it. it baffles me! there are tracks that i really like, but overall i just think "what were you thinking?!" Still my love of all things robert keeps me persevering...

    PPG - i knew you would love the busted cover. It's kinda nice that they didn't wreck it ;)

    XO - that day was so much fun. Look out for more festive holiday snaps tomorrow :)
    Lucas said...
    i loves me some Cathy Dennis, babies.

    She should should definitely stage a singing comeback!
    Paul said...
    Lucas - i concur :)
    Rose said...
    I've love Gwen but I prefer her with ND. I love LAMB but from all the negative things I've heard about Sweet Escape, I'm not sure wether or not to buy it.

    Thanks for the Busted & McFly tracks.
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