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

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Scissor Sisters Do L.A.

Scissor Sisters spent a couple of days in L.A. this week, where they not only kicked off their North American tour Thursday, but appeared on Dancing With The Stars on Wednesday:

They did both "Take Your Mama" and "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'" on the show, which obviously proved to be a surreal experience for them. At the concert the next night, Jake said to the audience he had no idea how they got booked and ended up on the program. Luckily, someone at the L.A. gig got this clip of Ana and Jake talking about it, and uploaded it to YouTube (it's hard to hear in some parts, but I've transcribed below):

ANA: We did a show called Dancing With The Stars, which was great, but it was bizarre. We got some hate mail. [pointing at Jake] One guy said that, "A guy who looks like you and acts like you and sings like you shouldn't be wearing an outfit that looks like Target."

JAKE: Maybe he's right! Maybe he's right...

ANA: Maybe he's right. [She pats her ass] Good thing he didn't see the one right there!

JAKE: What about if maybe I was assassinated right now?

ANA: It would be so Nashville. It would be great! Well, not great, because I'd be out of a job...

JAKE: You'd still keep working. You'd still keep working. Would she not, ladies and gentleman? Ana Matronic would still keep working if I died! [Crowd cheers]

ANA: I mean, we could try to be New Order, but it just wouldn't work. [She pretends to deep throat her microphone] I mean, you know, I'd work in some way...

The concert was at the Shrine Auditorium, which is where the Academy Awards were usually held before the Kodak Theater in Hollywood was built about six years ago. The Shrine is also located almost directly across the street from USC (University Of Southern California), where our friend The Duke attended and where I stayed with him on my very first college spring break trip back in March of 1995 (incidentally, also my first of four trips to Los Angeles before I moved here).

Here's an outside view of the venue:

It was standing room only, and it was sold out. Apparently Dave Grohl, Jerry O'Connell, Rebecca Romijn and Ian Somerhalder were in the audience, but as Lady Stardust and I were squished like sardines up near the stage, all we really saw were the people directly up against us.

This is what the place looks like on the inside:

Anyway, here were the highlights and a few observations:

* I got the impression there were technical difficulties before they took the stage, as the roadies kept fussing with the microphones. When they'd do the test check, no sound could be heard. Eventually, they got it sorted out

* The first song they did was "Take Your Mama"

* Jake made fun of the cheapness of their backdrop set, and pulled part of the scissors logo off the makeshift elevator (designed to look like the cover of Ta-Dah) and threw it to the audience

* Babydaddy has a massive following, something I noticed by the countless Babydaddy-alikes in the audience

* The songs they didn't do off the new album were "Intermission," "The Other Side" and "Might Tell You Tonight" :-(

* At one point, Paddy Boom, Babydaddy and Del Marquis started playing the opening of "Filthy/Gorgeous," but Jake said, "We're not gonna do that crappy old song," and they stopped

* Despite Ana's absence from most of Ta-Dah's main vocals on the album, she sang on almost every song live, either doing harmonies or the chorus with Jake

* When they did "Comfortably Numb," all the lights went out and there was a cool blue light laser-like show, which I figured to be an homage to the old Pink Floyd laser shows that used to happen in big city planetariums in the '80s

* Ana's two numbers, "Tits On The Radio" and "Kiss You Off" were done quite early in the show, probably (in my opinion) to make it seem like she's not just a backing vocalist

* They did one encore, where they performed "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'" and -- the teasers! -- "Filthy/Gorgeous"

It was a great time, and I didn't have a drop to drink, but I was wrecked all day Friday from yelling and dancing myself silly the night before.

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Music Junkie Digest

I'm going to see Scissor Sisters at the Shrine Auditorium tonight! First of all, the other week I reviewed their new album Ta-Dah, and was feeling it was pretty lackluster. Although, I did say I'd reserve judgement until I got the actual full version, since the promo only had ten tracks. So has anyone else found it to be completely addictive after about the fifth play? "She's My Man"? Totally my new fall jam!

On that note, Ta-Dah is outselling Janet Jackson by leaps and miles on iTunes -- Damita NO!! This is probably due to the Scissors' Late Night With Conan O'Brien and Dancing With The Stars appearances this week. I was gonna put up a clip of one or the other, but they've sadly been taken off YouTube by the networks. So not rad.

Well, it's been quite the year for former *NSYNC-ers, no? Today Billboard reported that JC Chasez' new single should be hitting radio in late October. His sophomore album is out next year, and he's working with Timabaland, Dallas Austin andz.zz.z. z.zzzzzzzzzz.... Just wake me up whenever JC's ready for some rough 'n tumble D'luvvin'. Oh, just yankin' your tamale, Chasez. The single, "Until Yesterday," was co-written by Justin Timberlake. What was JC's last album called again? That sucked.

Here's the cover of the Pet Shop Boys single,"Numb," out October 16:

And here's their live album, Concrete, out the following week in England:

"Concrete" seems to be a play on the word "concert" -- which this record was originally to be called -- but there's an extra "e" in "concrete"... or something. Anyway, the Boys' single "I'm With Stupid" is finally making an impact here in the States, albeit on the dancefloor. This week it's at #7 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart. It's also nice to see September getting some love here, too. "Satellites" is at #9 on the Hot Dance Airplay chart.

Lastly, PinkieDust did a great post on the origin of one of my all-time fave Saint Etienne songs, "He's On The Phone," which was mixed to perfection by '90s stalwart one-man remix and production outfit Motiv8! If you don't know Motiv8, he's the guy responsible for introducing Gina G to the world, and then tangling up her career in legal drama, which you can read about here. But, there are so many great mixes he did -- many of which are included on the rare Australian compilation Motiv8tion.

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Sexy's Back, For God's Sake...Now Hit The Road, Justin Timberlake!

Will we ever truly forgive Justin Timberlake for blocking JoJo's shot at a #1 single? That's a highly unlikely prospect. And look, she's even been shilling "Too Little Too Late" on TRL (above) as if her life depended on it. Oh, just kidding. She looks pretty jazzed, even though Grey's Anatomy's corporate lapdog bitches The Fray knock her down from #3 to #7 on this week's Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart.

What I do like about this picture is that Jesse McCartney, JoJo and Vanessa Hudgens are all like, "That's right Justin, Jessica, Christina and Britney...you're getting older. And we're gonna step on your skulls when you fall." Vanessa Minillo's just like, "Hey, I f***ed Nick Lachey!"

Okay, so it's indeed another week at the top for Justin. Meanwhile, what's up with Beyoncé? In its third week on the chart, "Ring The Alarm" still hasn't gone Top 10. In fact, this week it drops to #14. Further down, John Mayer appears to be the one benefitting from the Jessica Simpson rumors a few weeks back. "Waiting On The World To Change" moves up to #20, while Jessica's album slides to #59 on the album chart. Does anyone actually admit to liking John Mayer though? I mean, really...

Well, Justin's got a second single jumping up the tally, as well. "My Love" is this weeks Airplay Gainer, at #25. I like how he tries to be all Michael Jackson with the falsetto in that song, but instead sounds like that trannie Emily Howard from Little Britain. Nelly Furtado earns her second Top 40 single off Loose this week, as "Maneater" leaps up from #62 to #37. We've pretty much flip-flopped Nelly singles with the UK, since "Maneater" spent a chunk of the summer at #1 over there, and "Promiscuous" is just now in their Top 10.

Finally, Disney scamps Aly & AJ creep up to #50 with "Chemicals React." Their label took so long to put this one on iTunes that I'm wondering if they missed the window of opportunity for it to become a hit.

The U.S. Top 10:

1. "SexyBack" - Justin Timberlake *5 weeks*
2. "Money Maker" - Ludacris feat. Pharrell
3. "How To Save A Life" - The Fray *sales gainer*
4. "London Bridge" - Fergie
5. "Lips Of An Angel" - Hinder
6. "Chasing Cars" - Snow Patrol
7. "Too Little Too Late" - JoJo
8. "Chain Hang Low" - Jibbs
9. "Pullin' Me Back" - Chingy feat. Tyrese
10. "Buttons" - Pussycat Dolls feat. Snoop Dogg

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Los Angeles Times Trashes New Janet Jackson + Clay Aiken CDs, We Buy A Subscription

Sitting down at Starbucks yesterday, I opened up the Los Angeles Times and flipped to the album reviews. I haven't laughed this hard in awhile...

ON JANET'S 20 Y.O.: "Are we witnessing the death of dynasty? The way things have been going, the new album by Janet Jackson that arrives in stores today could be one of the final acts of a royal line that's presided at the center of pop music for four decades... This time she persuaded her boyfriend, Jermaine Dupri, to join her longtime collaborators...in the crowded "produced by" credit line... Dupri exits the album halfway through, leaving the final five songs almost entirely to Jam-Lewis-Jackson. She seems hopelessly drawn to their old-school settings of strings, real pianos and quiet-storm drama."

Okay, that was good (click here to also read XO's hilarious review), but the real gem is the Clay Aiken write-up in the paper.

ON A THOUSAND DIFFERENT WAYS: "The makeup of A Thousand Different Ways sounds like the result of a contest among music fans to devise the most ridiculously awful repertoire possible... How about Richard Marx? Obvious, but perfect. Foreigner? That's downright evil... How about Bon Jovi - but instead of a hit, get this - have Jon write a new song. With Desmond Child! Well, no one is likely to buy this by accident, so it won't do much harm, and it does have some hits from Dolly Parton, Elton John, Badfinger and Harry Nilsson, so maybe someone will be inspired to look up the originals to see how they sounded before Aiken mowed them down."

On a final note, Billboard reports that Clay's new album has debuted at #2 on the album chart this week, with sales of 205,000 copies. That's 65,000 less copies than his Christmas album sold in its first week two years ago.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Banterview: Danny Wood's Arms Keep Upper Street From Taking The Low Road

Totally Boyband has hit the air in Britain, and the music video from its stars, Upper Street, has hit YouTube. J'ason and MoogaBoo weigh in with their usual brand of fair and balanced quality reporting.

J'ASON D'LUV: We should start off by saying that we haven't seen a single episode of Totally Boyband, the show from whence Upper Room were spawned. So really, we're not qualified to producer a credible, professional critique. But since that's never stopped us from being judgemental before...

MOOGABOO: Personally, I'd love to watch the show, but we don't have time -- we have to write this banterview about it!

JD: What do you think of this song, "The One"? I like the opening synth squiggle.

M: I like Danny Wood's arms. Cowabunga!

JD: I'm assuming that's what he was hired for. I mean, this video kinda shows that the producers got stuck with "the ones who couldn't sing." Wait, isn't that the refrain of the chorus?

M: I did notice while watching the vid that the members who were peripheral in their previous groups -- Danny, S Club guy, the other one -- they continue to stay peripheral here. There's something satisfying, I think, in knowing one's place.

JD: As far as this song goes, it's pretty much The Dane Bowers Show. But, Danny is so obviously "the American one," with all his faux gangsta arm moves. The others do British popstar things like stare at the ground forlornly while wearing a beret.

M: Danny just brings it real, straight from the streets of Southie or wherever the F he was from in Boston. Although I dig Dane's vocals in a vulnerable lad/bloke/blagger kinda way, I think it's safe to say that Danny is probably his hero...which can't be good.

JD: I'm watching this again... God, hasn't Danny learned anything about slick pop video etiquette in the 16 years he wasn't working?

M: Wow! It has been that long, hasn't it? What the hell was he doing? Plotting his return? Is this it? Take another year or two, Dan.

JD: Oops! Sorry, New Kids fans...I didn't mean to discount the exploratory, ground-breaking gritty material unleashed during their 1994 "Dirty Dawgg" period. So, 12 years...

M: "Dirty Dawgg" was pretty hot. I don't know why it didn't catch on. I mean, it was gangsta, it was "real," it had a sexy video and it was billed as NKOTB so radio programmers would have no idea who was behind the dopeness.

JD: Getting back to Dane Bowers, he's sort of cute too, but in that Just don't take your shirt off, babe kinda way. Didn't he pop that Jordan skank while she was secretly podcasting the whole thing or something?

M: Did he really? That's disappointing. He's got that charisma of a drunk guy you'd do once and then never want to see again.

JD: No wonder this video makes me nostalgic for, well, the last 15 years of my life, really.

M: Remind me again who Dane Bowers is?

JD: I've already told you, he poked Jordan's bottomless chum swamp.

M: So that's his claim to fame? Wow, I thought Paris Hilton came by it easy...

JD: He was also in Another Level, a group neither you nor I paid attention to in the late '90s. We were too busy twirling our hair and chewing gum while driving around Pittsburgh blasting B*Witched, doll.

M: Isn't "upper street" Cockney rhyming slang for something illicit?

JD: That could be, since the name of the band was apparently originally going to be Fist...which, judging from comments made last week, should please some of Chart Rigger's readers to know.

M: The melody of the chorus to "The One" is a real stonker, no? See, the pop has-beens are great, and they always pull it out and serve it up hot. Remember Jordan Knight's amazing work on The Surreal Life? He actually gave me hope that Ryan Starr could fulfill her once-promising pop potential.

JD: There's that one scene that keeps showing here with the four of them together, hands in pocket, just pathetically swaying back and forth...

M: Well, let's face it...this thing was directed by the same guy who did the catering.

JD: Boybands either sing about love, hearbreak or gettin' the party started, and this song seems to fall in the "heartbreak" category. The lyrics are all about feeling lonely and living in misery. So then why is some blonde stripper doing cartwheels on a pool table?

M: The location of the video is somewhat appropriate. What better place to bawl about some dame than at a manly English pub. But shouldn't the young ladies have on loose peasant tops, flowing skirts and be clutching beer steins?

JD: Gosh, Dane really is the only one singing here...

M: Yeah, but I suspect Danny put the most into this song because he's the most-animated in the video. S Club guy? Still feels like a token. Hopefully he'll get more airtime on the next single.

JD: I dunno, it seems ironic that Danny complained about Lee Steps not contributing anything to the group.

M: If Lee was putting in even less than these guys, he must have been on his cell phone the whole time. But look how excitedly Danny keeps pumping those guns. It's like he's saying, "Yeah! This is the jam! This is AWESOME!" with his funky dance sways.

JD: That's really all it'll take for mindless, body-obsessed gays to buy this single. I'm ordering four copies from HMV as I type this. How about you?

M: You know, I think the gays are over boybands. Most of them are listening to crap like Stefy these days.

JD: We really do have to stop mentioning Stefy on this site. All two times we've trashed them have been the most press they've gotten for their album.

M: I give it three more years before we see a new Upper Street, comprised of Dangerous Muse, 3T and Raven Symone.

JD: I would throw in Rob Zombie for some fun.

M: And A'me Lorain. One of the Color Me Badd's should be in there.

JD: Courtney Love could use a job. Plus, she's at least slept with half the amount of guys these four have. Just kidding, Upper Street's legal team!

M: Back to the real band, for as camp and ridiculous as all their posturing, I do find them to be the most worthy of the title "man band" than any other wimpy group. I mean, these guys are tough! Yet they have hearts of gold. And they want me.

JD: This lineup that made it isn't that exciting. Where's Adam Rickitt? Where's the hot one from S Club 8? He's legal now, right? Where's freakin' William Hung in Upper Street?

M: Oh, babe. S Club 8. Weren't they, like, 11? And wasn't Adam Rickitt a she? I'm not even going to dignify the mention of William Hung.

JD: Imagine Danny taking those man band arms and putting you in a choke hold -- his tattoo under your chin, you're slowly losing conciousness... If only Michael Hutchence could have died that classy.

M: And you know, there's a whole dichotomy going on there, with the idea of camp versus the most obvious feminist issues of the last 30 years... and as far as the meaning of masculinity in the twenty-first centu...HE'S MINE!!

JD: So who's Dane Bowers again?

M: He was in Level 42.

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Scissor Sisters Dance Rings Around The Killers

Oooh, owch! In a week that looked like it belonged to The Killers, Scissor Sisters stomped them with platform heels to maintain their #1 position on the official UK singles chart. Brandon Flowers and Co., much like Keane two years ago, have proven to be no match for the NYC-based glam quintet abroad...so far, at least. Meanwhile, zap over to Paul's site to download the BBC radio rip of future Killers single, "Bones." It's heaven for the ears.

Some interesting things happen this week in the lower echelons of the Top 10. Cascada actually rebounds with their international dance hit "Everytime We Touch," and it hops back up to #7. And all hope doesn't seem to be lost for Jamelia, as "Something About You" not only remains in the top tier this week, but also moves up a notch to #9. Also, Pink grabs the tail of Cascada and finds her weeks-old single "U + Ur Hand" slips into the Top 10 for the first time. It's a shame this one and "Who Knew" didn't become hits over here, for whatever mysterious reason.

Further down, Pussycat Dolls have finally put out the best song off their album as a single, and "I Don't Need A Man" debuts at #21.

The UK Top 10:

1. "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'" - Scissor Sisters *3 weeks*
2. "When You Were Young" - The Killers
3. "SexyBack" - Justin Timberlake
4. "Promiscuous" - Nelly Furtado feat. Timbaland
5. "London Bridge" - Fergie
6. "Hips Don't Lie" - Shakira feat. Wyclef Jean
7. "Everytime We Touch" - Cascada
8. "Chasing Cars" - Snow Patrol
9. "Something About You" - Jamelia
10. "U + Ur Hand" - Pink

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Saturday, September 23, 2006

Strange Things Washing Ashore On iTunes

Sifting through the iTunes music store sometimes has me rhetorically wondering, Where are they getting some of this stuff?

Of course, I'm not complaining. For instance, the other week a pal emailed and alerted me to the fact that the unreleased Electrophonic Revolution album by (former?) Brit boyband Phixx is available here on the U.S. iTunes store. These guys were doing the '80s electro-pop thing way before Dangerous Muse, and if I'm not mistaken, they were actually the first boyband with an openly gay member from the get-go (Andrew, on the far right above).

I actually bought Phixx's first single "Hold On Me" [MP3 download] on my first trip to London in November of 2003. It was their only one to go Top 10 in the UK (#10), but the album has so many other great tracks, like "Judgement Day" and "Relentless." Here's the strangely dark, female-dominating and homo-masochistic video for "Hold On Me":

There's also some love goin' on at iTunes for Lisa Scott-Lee and Rick Astley. Lisa's collaboration with Intenso Project, "Get It On," is available on two different digital EPs with remixes. Even her disasterous Totally Scott-Lee-tainted single "Electric" is on there! And last month EPs with the original remixes for Rick's '80s jams "Never Gonna Give You Up" and "Together Forever" were added.

Sometimes stuff will be on iTunes, like ATC's pop-perfect second album, and then without warning it'll just disappear. I downloaded Touch The Sky in the spring, then foolishly deleted it from iTunes since I'd put it on my iPod. Of course, last week, I had to reset my iPod and lost those MP3s completely. :*-(

That brings us to our final iTunes discovery -- an American artist -- and the one that gets D'luv all nostalgic and rowled up! Back in 1993, as a sprite young, closeted lad of 19, the first time I saw this Jeremy Jordan video, I developed my first pop crush:

"The Right Kind Of Love" was included on the first Beverly Hills 90210 soundtrack, and every time it came on the radio that spring, it just seemed like the perfect breezy spring pop song. Of course, looking at the ridiculously dated flannel-clad "street" kids in this video now makes me laugh, but day-umn!, did JJ's open-shirtedness get my teenage D'luvvly blood racing.

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

It's Never Too Little Too Late For JoJo

Dear Chart Rigger,

Thanks for the tight banterview you guys did on me. It was so good I even finally accepted your friends add on MySpace. Plus, I was able to fully grasp your ironic rant as satire and nothing more, because I actually have a sense of humor unlike a lot of other pop stars and their skeezy fans. Now my new fall jam "Too Little Too Late," which you think is the best American pop song of the year, has jumped from #66 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart to #3. So thanks again, Chart Rigger...oh, and iTunes, too. But day-umn!!! That Ludacris is crampin' my style, yo!


Another single that saw a sales boost last week was The Fray's "How To Save A Life," mostly due to radio stations playing a "heartwarming" version with snippets of dialogue on the 9/11 anniversary. These guys are kinda like this year's Lifehouse. I was actually thinking the Gin Blossoms, but then I remembered they had a smidgen of edginess to them.

Meanwhile, in its second week on the chart, Beyoncé's "Ring The Alarm" only manages to rumpshake up one notch to #11. Girl, what's up with that? She totally shoulda released that "Irreplaceable" tune instead. I played that on my iPod yesterday and thought, Now this is something different, Beyonce doing a jangly guitar-pop number. And hey, down at #29, Justin Timberlake has another song in the Top 40 this week. "My Love" flew up 60 positions...how does that one go again?

And finally, Nelly Furtado's former UK #1 "Maneater" is this week's Hot Shot Debut at #62.

The U.S. Top 10:

1. "SexyBack" - Justin Timberlake *4 weeks*
2. "Money Maker" - Ludacris feat. Pharrell *sales/airplay gainer*
3. "Too Little Too Late" - JoJo
4. "London Bridge" - Fergie
5. "Lips Of An Angel" - Hinder
6. "Chasing Cars" - Snow Patrol
7. "How To Save A Life" - The Fray
8. "Chain Hang Low" - Jibbs
9. "Crazy" - Gnarls Barkley
10. "Buttons" - Pussycat Dolls feat. Snoop Dogg

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Music Junkie Digest

...and that little bitch James Blunt's gettin' it next!

Alright, well, not even the Claymates can keep the fightin' D'luv down, and apparently, Justin Timberlake isn't going down anytime soon, either...

This week JT's FutureSex/LoveSounds dropkicks Beyoncé's booty off the top of the Billboard album chart after first-week sales of 684,000 copies. Funny thing is, last night for about four hours, we kept hearing Justin songs blasting throughout our neighborhood (which you can see in the top pic). Then this morning I read that Jive Records threw a party for him (pictured above with Xtina) literally two blocks away at trendy photo studio Miauhaus. Guess my invite got lost in the mail...?

Probably not in attendance last night was second-time mom Britney Spears. Apparently she had recently been holed-up in the studio lately with producer du jour J.R. Rotem, who tells MTV News: "She's like everyone else. She's hearing all the hits on the radio. Our goal is to try to one-up it. How can we innovate?" Well, preferably by not doing the same old-song-as-new-song schtick he did on "S.O.S." and Paris Hilton's "I Want You."

That brings us to these guys...

Now first of all, Britain's NME is celebrating the 15th anniversary of Nirvana's seminal Nevermind album (Christ, I'm old!) being released with their latest issue. As we all know, the huge hit off this was "Smells Like Teen Spirit." But that got me to thinking how it's also another album's anniversary this year, as well -- one that's loosely-related. Of course I'm referring to A*Teens, and their equally magical sophomore album, Teen Spirit, which came out five freakin' years ago. I loved these kids bigtime back then.

The cool news is that ex-A*Teen Marie Serneholt is releasing her debut solo album here in the States in October, and it's got the rad tune "I Need A House" on it, which is as pop as pop can get.

Naturally, I want you to all run out and buy her CD when it comes out (which you can read more specific details about here).

Well, speaking of being old, I'm late for picking up The Duke and hitting the Veruca Salt concert tonight, and you know how volcano girls can be.

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Monday, September 18, 2006

The Banterview: Not Even The Claymates Can Deny That Clay Aiken's New CD Sucks Out Loud

A promo of the new Clay Aiken CD, A Thousand Different Ways, arrived in the mail last week with a fey thud and little fanfare. J'ason and MoogaBoo sat down on Friday for an emergency banterview session.

J'ASON D'LUV: You know, I voted for Clay -- repeatedly -- during the final weeks of American Idol in 2003. I now live with the daily shame that every loser who voted for George W. Bush must feel.

MOOGABOO: Oh, babe. Don't remind the public. We're still reeling over JoJogate!

JD: Seriously, listening to this CD is like hearing the soundtrack that must play during a long, painful elevator ride to Hell.

M: Well, let's put it this way... you know how we've been friends for 11 years, and how I've been in awe at all the nice stuff you've done for me in that time...

JD: Are you sure you don't have me confused with someone else?

M: ...well, F that! You owe me bigtime. I listened to this entire album today in preparation for this discussion. In all seriousness, if Clay sounded more womanly here, it would be a good thing. It's that he only sounds half-womanly that I can't get into him.

JD: I actually listened to this while driving around in the rain yesterday, and I prayed for a hydroplaning disaster to end the torture, one way or another.

M: But you know, one thing I'll give ValleyPrettyBoy. At least he changed up the arrangement on that Richard Marx "classic," and made it a little bit his own.

JD: Well, the melancholy guitar riff on "Right Here Waiting" starts out kind of decent. But then a.) it's "Right Here Waiting," and 4.) Clay Aiken is singing it. Shouldn't he be cashing in at this point? There's no denying Clay can move CDs off the shelves. Where's the Timabaland vanity rap? The Scott Storch police-siren dance jam?

M: I think that would cause Claymates to desert him faster than Lindsay Lohan ditching an AA meeting.

JD: Thank God the official single is "Without You," because we all know that song hasn't been covered enough. And there's even a ringtone you can download.

M: Two Celine Dion covers on one album, more or less, is a bit extreme, even for someone as continually avant garde and provocative as Clay Aiken.

JD: Why hasn't Crazy Frog covered this one yet?

M: Even Crazy Frog probably thinks "Without You" is tired at this point.

JD: I hate when Clay hits that upper octave in the chorus. He does that thing with his voice where it sounds like a pterodactyl just rammed its beak up his ass.

M: You mean the faux-emotion waver?

JD: More like fax-emotion. In fact, I think he faxed the "soul" in to the studio for this whole thing.

M: Even judging Clay objectively, on his own terms and in the context of easy-listening crooners throughout the ages, I still think he falls way short of the greats.

JD: There's no doubt about that. Even luminaries such as Barry Manilow and Elton John knew enough to do a fast-paced rocker or disco number now and then, to also hook the more commercial listener.

M: Clay somehow seems above expressing any emotion, when he should by all means be over-emoting. At least a little. Being loud, which he can do well, is not the same thing. There's gotta be gigantic sweat beads on a gnarled, grimacing face for the housewives' panties to really fully drop.

JD: Hey, what about him doing "Everytime You Go Away"? I bet when Daryl Hall heard this he dropped dead right on top of John Oates.

M: I read somewhere that Clay hires lookalikes to do appearances at malls and such, just like Andy Warhol.

JD: Speaking of which, Clay's wig is looking strangely like Paul Reubens', circa his appearance in the gritty 2001 Johnny Depp crime drama Blow. See?

M: Freaky. Now show me a picture of Paul Reubens. Actually, I was thinking his wig looks more like the cover of Helen Reddy's Greatest Hits 8-track.

JD: Christ, this CD just goes on and on. His voice really is an instrument of pure evil.

M: Don't they use his music as confession bait at Guantanamo? You know, despite production from a very able team of Swedes, somehow the actual music on A Thousand Different Ways seems beside the point.

JD: I'm surprised at how many producers bent over to get a shot at producing this compost pile. Most shocking is Per Magnusson and Dave Kreuger, who gave us Britney Spears' "Sometimes." Here, they're reduced to knob-twiddling a watered-down version of "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word."

M: Knob-twidding? Bent over? Are you reading the liner notes again?

JD: Funny you should mention the liner notes, because in them Clay writes this: "To my miracle workers," which he rattles off a bunch of names, "who along with their jackhammers, blowtorches and heavy machinery had the unenviable task of making me look presentable." It's obvious Clay's been watching way too much gay porn lately.

M: He's got a Falcon construction worker fantasy going on there.

JD: So, this brings us to the cover of the Bad English ballad, "When I See You Smile." I used to date this girl back in 10th grade who declared that this was "our song." I've hated it ever since. And by "date," I mean we passed notes during History class. Which base is that again?

M: That's technically still in the dug-out.

JD: Dammit.

M: That song reminds me of getting a three-year subscription to Rolling Stone and not seeing Madonna, Cyndi Lauper or Samantha Fox on that cover once during those three years.

JD: Despite the goopy muck of standards done here, there are also two orignal songs written for this album -- one of which is penned by Aldo Nova. Let's not forget that he wrote Clay's #1 American Idol-finale hit, "This Is The Night."

M: No, let's forget. Didn't Aldo Nova have a solo career at some point? Or am I thinking of Del Amitri? God, Clay should hook up with those guys. "Roll To Me" is in every movie trailer.

JD: He did indeed have a solo career. My mom used to have one of his 45s when I was a kid. I forget what the song was called, but she would certainly cut me out of the will if she knew I was using my college education to write dissections of Clay Aiken albums.

M: Am I the only one who thinks Clay might be taking the tiniest of baby steps "outward" with this album? I'm of course referring to his not-terrible cover of Dolly Parton's '70s hit, "Here You Come Again."

JD: Well, he did call it A Thousand Different Ways. Wasn't that what John Paulus' response was when he went on Howard Stern's show and was asked to describe the Yuletide hotel romp he had with Clay?

M: It might also refer to John Paulus' many attempts to keep his name in the press. I actually feel for Clay in that situation.

JD: Did you see that clip from the American Idol finale last season, when he walked out and surprised that ClayTrinket singing "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me"? It's like everyone in the world was in on the joke but the two of them.

M: And he seemed so arrogant! He looked at that Clay dweebling with such an air of "Yes, it's really me, my child." I feel bad that there are people severely retarded enough that they want to be Clay... and that includes Clay!

JD: It was like when Michael Jackson performed at The Brits in '96, saving international children on the stage from a Biblical doom. Only this time Jarvis Cocker wasn't there to ambush the show and make his ass sing along.

M: I wonder if that one made it onto the HiStory DVD?

JD: I can guarantee neither of us will ever know.

M: The more this CD plays, I find myself liking Clay, wanting to hear certain songs again and suddenly feeling very protective of him. Please help me.

JD: I personally think it's pretty cheap to make the Claymates wait with drenched knickers for three years for a lame album of cover versions. I hope there's an outraged revolt on Planet Dork when it comes out.

M: But these covers are just lame enough to please Planet Dork, don't you think? I mean, "Broken Wings"... great song, probably too edgy for your average Claymate, so they removed all synths and added a whispery female vocal (aside from Clay's) and made it as soft as a bag of Charmin. These people know to whom they're selling.

JD: I like how this female vocalist is trying to talk-sing, ala Madonna in "Justify My Love."

M: Yeah, but she doesn't sound mysterious or sexy... just lost. I half expect her to whisper, "Do you know if the restrooms are on this floor?"

JD: And Clay knows where every public restroom within a 10-mile radius is, I suspect.

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Are Bloggers Cooling Off On The Killers?

I grabbed the new issue of Billboard yesterday, which has The Killers on the cover. There's an interesting bit about bloggers in the article.

The feature talks about the slow pace "When You Were Young" is taking to have chart success here in the States, even though MTV and modern rock radio have embraced the single and it's sold 133,000 paid downloads in the past month. So far its Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart history is #29-29-41-49-52 (but it got its bullet back this week!).

Here's the part about blogs:

In a noteworthy twist, the band is taking some heat in the blogosphere; the Killers got a big boost from fan sites and grass-roots Web buzz last time around. Commentary on blogs and message boards is divided over the Bruce Springsteen element evident in "When You Were Young" - an influence not heard in the band's earlier new wave-rooted material. "It's not something that overly concerns us," [band manager Robert] Reynolds says. "Indie blogs support indie bands, as a band gets bigger and bigger... I mean, look at the blogs. How much is about Coldplay and U2?" [D'luv: Obviously, he didn't read the latest Banterview!]

At the same time, a comment by Flowers in May that Sam's Town is "one of the best albums in the past 20 years" has received lots of Internet backlash. [Executive VP of A&R for Island Records Rob] Stevenson acknowledges that Flowers put a target on his back with the comment. But he is quick to dismiss the blogosphere response as a symptomatic snarkiness that permeates the online early-adopter community. "I could have predicted what their reaction was going to be no matter what we put up," Stevenson says. "Brandon is outspoken and he believes in the music he is making. The band decided to take the courageous approach. They could have done the safe thing and tried to make Hot Fuss 2. But they realized that was the record for that time in their lives and in their career, and it was time to move on."

Stevenson also maintains that the blogs still play an important role in the setup process. "Even the hate on the blogs this time is better than apathy," he says.

Well, there's only love for you on this blog, Brandon... unless, of course, the album sucks. Oh, just kidding! Here's a live version of the next single "Bones," shot by a fan at the Vegas Emperess Ballroom:


Sunday, September 17, 2006

Britain Hasn't Lost The Love For Scissor Sisters

Let it be said that glancing at the songs, this is the most attractive and pop-friendly UK Top 10 in recent memory!

In 2004, Scissor Sisters were in a race against Keane for best-selling album of the year in England. They won, but still managed to somehow not end up with a chart-topping single. Their fortunes have changed in 2006, however, as "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'" spends its second week at #1 on the British singles chart.

Fergie, alas, wasn't able to match her U.S. peak-position status with "London Bridge" in the UK (at least not this week). Instead, she's at #3. Incidentally, "London Bridge" was the first #1 song in U.S. chart history to have the word "London" in the title. And glancing ahead, The Killers look like a strong contender for having next week's top song since "When You Were Young" has debuted at #5 based on downloads alone.

Paul will be happy to see The Feeling hanging in at #9. And look who's at #10: it's internet fave Jamelia. It doesn't seem like all the blogger love in recent weeks managed to pay off with a high-charting single for the sassy dance dame. Still, "Something About You" becomes her sixth UK Top 10 single, the last of which was 2004's "DJ/Stop."

Finally, it looks like Snow Patrol have lost their momentum in their home territory. "Chasing Cars" drops to #8 the same week it rises to #6 over here.

The UK Top 10:

1. "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'" - Scissor Sisters *2 weeks*
2. "SexyBack" - Justin Timberlake
3. "London Bridge" - Fergie
4. "Promiscuous" - Nelly Furtado feat. Timbaland
5. "When You Were Young" - The Killers *new*
6. "Rudebox" - Robbie Williams
7. "Hips Don't Lie" - Shakira feat. Wyclef Jean
8. "Chasing Cars" - Snow Patrol
9. "Never Be Lonely" - The Feeling
10. "Something About You" - Jamelia

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Friday, September 15, 2006

The Banterview: We Can Live With Or Without U2

This week news came out that U2 and Green Day have recorded a song together, and so it seemed like a good time for J'ason and MoogaBoo to discuss whether the "Greatest Band In The World" is still all that great.

J'ASON D'LUV: Did you know that when I bought my iPod off The Duke, it had every single U2 album on it?

MOOGABOO: That's a lot of U2.

JD: Have you ever had that one U2 album you just gave yourself over to?

M: Yeah, I was into The Joshua Tree. Well, I was into the singles. Specifically, "With Or Without You." Actually, I was really into Paul Parker's 1992 Hi-NRG remake. The "Without U2 Mix" was a masterpiece! You?

JD: Paul Parker's finest moment of brilliance was "Right On Target '95"! It still makes me want to don my vinyl butterfly wings, put a whistle in my mouth, grab a glowstick and jump into the nearest strobe light! [MP3 Download - Right On Target '95] But anyway, I was all about Achtung Baby.

M: By far, their coolest moment. Yet, also the one that launched them into their worst moment...

JD: Are you referring to Zooropa, because I loved that one! It reminds me of the first guy I ever hooked up with in college. He was a big U2 fan, and I thought that if I got into their latest album, he'd wanna do sinful things with me in the study lounge at 2 a.m.

M: And that's the kind of musical integrity that went on to form Chart Rigger. At least you didn't do drugs and smoke and drink to impress someone -- you know, like normal kids do. Did this lead to him wanting to spend the rest of his life -- or at least the semester -- with you?

JD: No, after a few weeks he went back in the closet and I flung Zooropa out the residence hall window like a frisbee. I think it landed in a recycling bin outside the Science building.

M: Well, you made good use of it. Was that the album with "Lemon" on it? I remember hunting for weeks to get those trendy remixes, and then when I finally heard them, I went back to listening to Paul Parker.

JD: Yeah, it had "Lemon" and "Numb" and the clunky ballad from that Wim Wenders movie.

M: I remember "Numb"! That was the one where they tried to make The Edge into a video star. I guess Bono wanted to free up more vacation time.

JD: Well, I have to say, I never really got into U2 when the rest of the planet did back in the '80s. That said, you do have to give them credit for inventing that thing where a band can do totally nonsensical lyrics in a sneaky way that comes off as "wise" and "universal," so that people have almost a religious-like attraction to them. Coldplay have obviously read the U2 "how-to" manual.

M: Yeah, they're not overt about anything spiritual, but something about their image inspires devotion.

JD: Like, what the hell does "See the thorn twist in your side / see the stone set in your eye" mean, anyway? Bono's lyrics are so vague that thirtysomething women in Kansas hitch all their hopes and dreams up to every word, and then drag their husbands to see them live every four years.

M: Do U2 still have a large Midwestern fanbase? I would have thought the whole MacPhisto period had driven those people into the arms of Blues Traveler.

JD: I don't know. I was always more into Depeche Mode, who are also guilty of the same lyrical tactics, but at least they did heroin. Remember when U2 reached their lowest point, when two of them did the Mission Impossible theme song?

M: And remember when they reached an even lower point, and had Junior Vasquez remix it? Still, their worst was that album with "Discotheque" on it. What was it called?

JD: Wal-Mart?

M: Pop Tart? Tart Mart?

JD: Both of those sound right. Well, now U2 are back in the studio with Rick Rubin, and they've also done some much-hyped song with Green Day. I sometimes wonder whether Bono is really just as opportunistic as Madonna...

M: Of course he is. At the end of the day, after all the charity work and the humbled appearances at the UN and the lunches with the Pope, Bono is still damned determined to stay hip, fresh and youthful. And like Madonna, he'll probably bury his vampiric fangs into whatever fresh meat occasions to stop by. In this case, Green Day, who I think are my mom's age at this point.

JD: We all know I have a mad crush on Billie Joe Armstrong, ever since that dream I had last year -- which is why I'm feeling the vitriol for U2 at the moment. Hopefully Bono isn't entertaining the notion of playing "hide the car bomb up Billie Joe's chassis."

M: I know you love him, and American Idiot is a classic. But he needs to start applying a good sunscreen. So, this is a duet that might work. Both bands are of comparable age, they're into the same issues and ideas and they're both rock. How often do we see duets between people this sympatico anymore?

JD: Well, technically, the guys in Green Day are just a few years older than us. But Bono's been around since the potato famine.

M: I seriously thought Billie Joe was 40.

JD: What's with Bono taking it upon himself to drunkenly assail the new crop of singers every five or six years and forcing his advice on them? I read some article last year where Brandon Flowers said he met Bono, who told him something like, "You've got the moxie, kid, but spare us the 'interesting' sophomore album." He probably then vomited into a ditch and bought another round.

M: I hope B. Flo was listening. And I kind of like that Bono still drinks! How else would he get the courage to approach Brandon Flowers? But now we know why The Killers' new album is an ode to Springsteen and not a U2 pastiche. Let's hope Brandon never picks up a Tom Waits record.

JD: So getting back to the upcoming U2 album... I wonder when Hilary Duff will finally release "Playing With Fire"? That was a brief flash-in-the-TRL-pan. I even touted her as channeling Kylie!

M: It seemed really quickly culled together. The video was kind of cheap, the vocal was a little off, but those things made me love it all the more.

JD: They probably rushed it out after Material Girls flopped, to try to keep the Duff steam rollin'.

M: Do you think Hilary realizes her career is living on borrowed time?

JD: Oh, for reals. Look, she's had two hits. And the attempt to do the obligatory sibling-franchise offshoot with Haylie never took off.

M: When are these kids gonna learn that the public will only tolerate you for so long if you're not gonna show your tits? It's sexist, it's awful, but it's a Pusscyat Dolls world.

JD: Did you write that down, Bono?

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