dispatches from the pop scene...minus the corn syrup.

Monday, January 31, 2005

The Golden (Del)Age

Originally uploaded by moogaboo.
Ah, late-period Stock Aitken Waterman. Putting aside their Hindenburg-sized atrocities like Kakko and Romi & Jazz, it's fair to say that quite a large chunk of the production trio's work at this time was unjustly ignored. A few early 90's singles have since gone on to be considered Fan Favorites and even Classics. But where do Delage fit in?

Picking up where Mel & Kim and Bananarama left off, the 'Lage (as their fans probably referred to them) had a very sprightly, yet sexy, girl group sound with all the twinkly synths and rockin' dance beats one would hope to find in such a package. Singles "Rock the Boat" and "Running Back for More" stunned pop fans as they missed their mark on the charts and slid into almost instant obscurity. Why they flopped has sometimes been attributed to the mythical anti-PWL backlash, but I imagine European people were getting pretty sick of the signature handclaps and fairlights by that point anyway. (Still not a justification!) In any case, a year later Boy Krazy would avenge their demise with their US hit "That's What Love Can Do."

Until an extensive S/A/W anthology sees the light of day (and with a rumored reunion looming, it seems more likely now than it did a decade ago) , we highly recommend hunting down Delage's two best songs, "Running Back for More" and "I Wanna Shout About It." The former is a SoniaKylie treatise on the nature of love and the failure of intellectual instinct, the latter a bunch of electrobeats and some screaming.

No, It Couldn'ta

At least not with that single cover. Sheesh. I believe in 80's retro-cool, but this looks like a nixed TV Week Spotlight on Saved By the Bell.

Kimberley Locke has bigger problems than bad styling to worry about. Despite a clutch of good songs, enough charisma to fill three fuzzy felt Britney hats, and a voice that could launch a thousand Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade balloons, poor Kim hasn't been anywhere near a chart since the ultrapop "Eighth World Wonder" grazed the bottom of the top 40 last spring. What's worse, Curb Records aren't promoting anymore remixes to "the clubs" (aka TheGays), the one area she was embraced with open arms and wallets.

Chart Rigger would like to propose buying Kimberley a ticket to London so she can visit her gaggle of lovely Brit fans (there must be a ton of them; how else to explain an actual second single being released over there?) and perhaps find permanent residence at one of the cheapo NRG-exploitation sweatshops turning out covers of hit songs five seconds after they chart. At least she'll be appreciated. It's worth a shot.

PS Burn the hat, Kimbo, but Clay may want the pearls back.

See Kimberley looking prettier at her Official Site

Has It Really Been 10 Years?

Looking at the U.S. charts these days, you'd never guess there was a time when, not so long ago, fun, souped-up Europop could land smack in the Top 10!

Forget that Ace Of Base's cheese-pop stranglehold on these shores was eleven years ago now - at least they still crank out the occasional album in Norway here and there. We're more traumatized over the fact that Real McCoy struck with their one-two punch of "Another Night" and - our personal favorite - "Runaway," ten flippin' years ago!

Remember the chugging bass? The Berman Brothers' trademark synth hooks? The monotone German rapping? The frenetic, urgent joy you felt as these anthems churned out of the club speakers at peak hour - or over the radio in winter/spring of '95?

These days the Bermans have traded the Moog for attempted credibility, producing boring snooze-rock by artistes like Sophie B. Hawkins and Deuce Project.

Real McCoy's dozen or so lineup changes and frontman O-Jay's departure all but did them in by the late 90s.

Or did it? We found this little tidbit from Dance Artist Info, apparently the only website that has any current updates on them: "Real McCoy starts 2005 with a new single and a new label. The Release is planning for May 2005 in Germany and Europe." Hmmm...

To hold you over, you can grab their Platinum And Gold Collection that Arista put out two years ago. All the big singles are on it, plus a few key album cuts.

If you're like us, one listen to "Runaway" will take you back to the college dorm days, when eating a box of Nerds and curling up next to the tape deck was all it took to understand all about money, sex and full control.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

A Good Chance Of Snow

Did you cruise through Best Buy after the holidays and see Snow Patrol's Final Straw on sale for only $7.99, too? Shame on you if you didn't pick it up! It's the best album of guitar pop to come from overseas since Jarvis Cocker implored us all to meet up in the year 2000!

Moogaboo thinks they sound like The Smiths, and I think he's onto something. Their current single in the U.S., "Spitting Games," is the most fun song you'll find to play while having a pint with your mates. Snow Patrol's lyrics run from themes of angst-ridden young love gone awry to the turmoil of current events shaping the world today.

Not only that, but there lies a sneaky hint of sexual ambiguity in some of their tunes - particularly in "How To Be Dead," the band's most recent single in the UK.

Singer Gary Lightbody plays with this a bit in the bio on their official website when discussing the Snow Patrol back-story, which began at Dundee University in 1994 when he bumped into guitarist, Mark McClelland. "Our eyes met across the crowded dance floor," says Lightbody. "I knew he was the one for me. We clicked musically and we liked the same bands, so we thought 'Why not start one of our own?' That was the beginning of Snow Patrol."

Final Straw is actually their 3rd album, but the first since we fell for them.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Therese Company

When asked to explain why we thought Swedish dance lady Therese was such hot shit, we only had to point to three things:

  1. Did a song called "Monkey," which was kind of an old-fashioned dance song like "Do the Swim" or "Mashed Potato Time" but with monkeys and not old fashioned at all.
  2. Works almost exclusively with the last good house producer on earth, StoneBridge, positioning herself as the Dionne Warwick to his Burt Bacharach.
  3. Has two excellent singles out at the mo': another Stoney collab, "Take Me Away," (Hed Kandi, UK) to follow up their summer smasheroo "Put 'Em High," and "Time," (Robbins, USA) a retro-90s industrial house solo single that knocks the pants off both.
If you can locate a copy of Therese's 2002 album, Acapulco, a sort of White Album in Ibiza, grab it. In the meantime, both the Hed Kandi and Robbins labels are doing their best to promote Therese to dance icon status around the world. "Take Me Away" is in the British top ten this week and "Time" is quickly becoming an underground favorite. (By "underground", we of course mean the DJ Rico's Mixshow Message Board and select reviews at Perfect Beat.)

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Our Crush On Brandon... Is It Over?

Oh, to be the frontman of the hot new "it" band... first, the underground buzz. Then, the panties flung at you from sultry lovelies in the crowd, and the leers from hungry lads looking for eye contact with their indie god. Finally - Hits! Limos! Excess!

Yes, Brandon Flowers, the 23-year old singer du jour, is living high on the hog these days. His band The Killers' album just went platinum here in the States, and it's #1 in the UK this week, as well.

Heck, we're even frothy over the whispering that their album, "Hot Fuss," is really a concept album about a secret gay love triangle between a high school jock, his girlfriend and the angsty boy narrator.

But, when Sir Elton is declaring our boy Brandon to be the sexiest man alive in his Interview column, it's time to ponder the hype.

We don't want to dump you, Brandon, but you may just be getting too big for your britches.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Since U Been Good

Remember that creepathon Junior Vasquez remix of Kelly Clarkson's "Miss Independent"? With its vocals time-stretched into a horrific zombie wail over clattering tribal beats, it seemed to beckon the once-innocent ingenue to that burbling open grave reserved for Pop Stars Who Couldn't Cut It So They Went Dance. (R.I.P. Deb Cox.) It always gave us a spooky thrill. Lucky for Kelly, more throwaway compositions from higher paid popettes kept her out of that tenth ring of hell, eventually netting her a new, non-second-rate composition from modern pop genius Max Martin. Yadda yadda, "Since U Been Gone," you've heard it, you've bought it, you've requested it through tears as you tightly clutched your Cricket phone and wished the jerk you were sending it out to could be listening to the top nine at nine at just that moment. It's an amazing little three minute breakup anthem and Kelly's resigned vocal actually conveys some kind of pathos. We find the subject matter especially poignant, girl-gets-dumped-life-goes-on being an evergreen theme and all. Aside from this and previous hit "Breakaway" (April Levine's co-writing credits neither having fooled nor impressed anyone), Kelly's new album is mostly filler.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Sun & The City

Yay! Angel City's fourth single, "Sunrise," gets a Valentine's Day release next month (that's February 14th for all the holiday-challenged kittens out there). "If it ain't broke..." seems to be the motto here for their winning pop formula, as this one's a cover of the Ashiva tune from a few years back

Now if only their full-length CD, Love Me RIght or City Lights or whatever it's called this week, would come out.

Ultra Records in the U.S., who put out the 12" of "Love Me Right," was scheduled to drop the album last July. I think they dropped Angel City instead.

In the UK, Data has pushed the release date back more times than Geri Halliwell's hotspot on prom night. Most recently, it was supposed to hit stores this month, but now Amazon UK has it listed as being released on February 25th.

Baby Doll

Ok, so we were kinda freaked out last year when we first caught an eyeful of Emma "Baby Spice" Bunton's revamped image. Having canned the floral mumsy dresses that kicked off her solo career, a newly gam-ful Emma emerged in her "Free Me" video reclining nudely in what appeared to be Robert Evans' coke den boudoir circa 1971. Baby say wha? Not only had the dowdy demeanor been torpedoed for that of an upscale Hollywood hooker, but the Corrs Lite balladry was ditched right along with it, replaced by Swing Out Sister Mark II in a swanky cinematic sheen. And there were Latin influences. Where did she get the money for this?

Oddly enough, Emma's accompanying Free Me album spawned four retro-classy pop hits in the UK and made her the most successful, not to mention most beloved, ex-Spicey on the planet. Stints on AbFab followed, and now an American label has picked up the album and is promoting the hell out of it. We at Chart Riggers say: holy shit! A pop project with distinction, flair, and - get this - songs you'll remember five minutes after they've played. (And Emma is really, really pretty which is more than we can say for, well, you know the usual suspects.)

The breakdown: Free Me has at least six great numbers on it, eight if you count the state-of-the-dancefloor remixes tacked on at the end for the sake of tastemaking American homos. Eight tracks out of twelve, people - that's quality control. There's a funky Cathy Dennis collaboration, a Brill Building-type tearjerker, tropical kookiness, surging 80s drama, platform heels, mini skirts, blond extensions with brunette tips, and an astonishingly silky vocal presence from Miss B. Yeah, girlfriend can sing, and even recorded most of the album "live" in the studio with orchestral accompaniment. Imagine that! We ask again, who the hell paid for this?

I won't overhype Free Me's charms, Emma doesn't need you to buy this. She'll live off her European royalties till well after she's shuffled off this mortal coil. Just do yourself the favor and pick up the disc when it drops January 25 on 19 Records.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Do You Know Where Your Sonia Is?

Last night, driving to Ralph's grocery store, I was in a PWL kinda mood, what with the recent launch of PWL Radio and all.

So, I get out of my car, slip on my iPod, and flip through the artists, looking for Sonia. But not just any Sonia, dolls! We're talking the 12" Mix of "Can't Forget You" Sonia.

Yeah, so when I realized I never put her on the iPod, I got back in the car and drove home, sans groceries. What was the point?

Just An Old-Fashioned Love Song...

No, Babes, it's not 1988! Your eyes weren't deceiving you as you traipsed through the singles bin! Erasure really are back, and a CD maxi was actually released in the U.S. this week for "Breathe," their lead single off their 10th studio album, Nightbird!

Are the synth stalwarts on the comeback trail? Well, "Breathe" debuted at #4 a couple weeks back in the UK, making it their biggest hit since "Always" back in 1994 (and only their 2nd Top 10 hit since then).

Reportedly, U.S. record outlets are understocked on the single, but you can order from Amazon or CD Universe.

Tracks include the sparkly radio mix, which is vastly superior to the trudging album vesion. Plus, an acoustic version (aww, misty!), 2 b-sides, and mixes by LMC, Pete Heller (exclusive only to the U.S. single) and Manhattan Clique, who are also producing Andy Bell's forthcoming solo effort.