Your Ad Here

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Mika - Life In Cartoon Motion
Release Date: February 5th, 2007
Label: Casablanca

The current pop climate is open for a jack-of-all-trades, and listening to Mika’s debut album, Life In Cartoon Motion, that seems to be exactly the title he’s going for. From theatrical rock (lead single Grace Kelly) to smooth disco (Relax, Take It Easy) to quirky piano pop (Billy Brown), Mika covers it all… and it’s a clean sweep across the board.

Life In Cartoon Motion is 2007’s first perfect pop album. Its choruses are bigger than everyone else’s, and its ringleader, led by his remarkable falsetto, undeniably brandishes that ever-so-coveted x-factor. Like it or not: Mika is destined to be a star. And, really, how could you not like it? With songs as addictive as the stomping playground romp Lollipop and the this-is-how-Orson-should-have-sounded Big Girl (You Are Beautiful), resistance really is futile. Life In Cartoon Motion even has its anthem, the gorgeous guitar/dance hybrid Love Today. Its potentially saccharine sentiments are brilliantly subverted as Mika ends the chorus with a simple refrain: “love, love me.” We do.

Equally impressive, albeit in different ways, is Any Other World, a haunting ballad that makes excellent use of a cutting string section. Then there’s Stuck In The Middle, a very Scissor Sisters-esque track with a piano riff that echoes that very band’s Laura from a few years back. Add that to the radio pop of My Interpretation and the soul-inflected closer Happy Ending, and you’ve got a filler free, absolute delight of an album. As Mika himself preaches: “Relax, take it easy.” And, enjoy. A

Key Tracks: Love Today, Any Other World, Relax, Take It Easy

A new feature to the blog, every Saturday will spotlight a classic album that fits the #1 Hits criteria: catchy, epic and pleasingly alien. First up is....

Sparks - Kimono My House (1974)

A landmark album in more ways than one, Sparks were doing Queen harmonies before anybody had ever heard Bohemian Rhapsody. Although not the band's debut, Kimono was their breakthrough, boasting their instant classic This Town Ain't Big Enough For The Both Of Us, a sizable British hit that never found the success it deserved in the States. Ditto for the group. Sparks is Russel and Ron Mael, cult heroes for those who like their music witty, theatrical and different.

Kimono was the beginning of a trilogy of like-minded glam based albums that should have dominated the mid-seventies. Operatic vocals combine with bubblegum rock more perfectly than ever before on each of the album's ten tracks (12 on the remastered version). Discounting the group's later albums, the whole of Kimono is unlike anything that has ever been recorded. It's the sound of avant-garde production meshed with perfect pop songwriting.

Singles: This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us, Amateur Hour, Talent Is An Asset

Here In Heaven: What if Juliet decided to go back on the suicide pact, right after Romeo killed himself? Told from Romeo's depressed/pissed perspective, this is a perfect intro to the Mael's skewed lyrics.

Complaints: A short rocker about a store's complaints department, with a chorus so catchy it requires the jaws of life to remove.

This Town Ain't Big Enough For The Both Of Us (Live on TOTP 1974)

Friday, January 05, 2007

LEO - Ya Had Me Goin'

"Ya had me goin', goin' crazy"

A 2006 supergroup that records in the style of legendary symphonic poppers ELO? How could I not have heard about this until now? No matter, because I've got another new obsession to add to my already bursting-at-the-seams list. A collection of power-poppers under the direction of Boston's Bleu, this group creates the most convincing 70's homage I've heard in a long time. The epic songs on Alpacas Orgling (their debut release) feel exactly like those old Jeff Lynne classics, including the funky Ya Had Me Goin', which I am predicting you will love as soon as you hear the first few, swelling seconds.

Listen & Download: LEO - Ya Had Me Goin'
Download: LEO - Ya Had Me Goin'

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists! Buy the album here.)
*Edit: I'm about ready to send in my own (perhaps too carefully selected) top ten. I wanted to bump this up to the top of the page to remind everyone to get their votes in before the 26th!

Pop Lovers, It's Time To Represent!

The brilliant Adem over at I'm Always Right has stumbled upon the equally brilliant idea to compile a list of top 20 pop albums of all time. I'm not going to try to explain it better than him, so here's the information straight from his blog...

"What is YOUR favourite POP album of all time? Do you have 10 of them? If you answered yes to that final question, then you're going to come in very handy for what IAR, and the writers/editors of QUITE A FEW OTHER BRILLIANT/ACE/FAN-FUCKING-TASTIC POP BLOGS have got heating up in the oven in time for the New Year.

What's going to happen is this: I want to know what your top 10 favourite albums are of all time. List your albums from 1 to 10, or, if you cannot decide your order of preference but DO have a list of ten, email them through to The plan is to have voting close by Friday, January the 26th 2007. Then, within the first two weeks of February, once the top 20 has been compiled, I'll be contacting several pop lovers and pop bloggers (who've all agreed to be a part of this venture) to join me in a written-panel discussion about each of the top 20 pop albums of all time as voted by you.

Remember, email your top 10 through to:"

Bottom line... this is exciting stuff (especially to a guy like me who: #1 Loves countdowns & #2 Loves GOOD pop music). I have also agreed to be a part of the panel of bloggers mentioned in the post once everything gets sorted. I'll be getting my top ten in when I can settle on a list I'm happy with (I take these sort of things freakishly seriously!). I urge all the #1 Hits readers out there to contribute as well. I know you all have fantastic taste in music!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Soft Complex - Barcelona

"You invite the pain to come in and we begin again"

Washington DC based band Soft Complex, like so many others, thrive on a new wave inflected synth pop that recalls bands like Echo & The Bunnymen and New Order. And, also like many others, they do a mighty fine job of creating pulsing pop songs that manage to be at once laid back and irresistably catchy. Barcelona (also the title of their recent EP) begins with a surprisingly funky guitar before the melody slows down a bit, morphing into gorgeous verses. Plus, the band has played with #1 Hits favorite The Sounds, so you know they've gotta be good.

Listen & Download: Soft Complex - Barcelona
Download: Soft Complex - Barcelona

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists! Buy the EP here.)

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Dance With Voices - Send My Regards To The Lonely Nightlife

"Fall like the future"

This is one of my favorite new bands from Australia. They've got an amazingly clean, laid-back electro-guitar sound that encapsulates the absolute best of 80's synth pop and more current dance technology. Plus, their logo reminds me of the Transformers, which only adds to the nostalgic kick. More than anything, though, it's the band's songs that stand apart. They're not the knock-you-over-the-head-insanely-catchy-the-first-time type of tracks. Instead, they get better and better with each listen. The guitar lines and the constant, washing synth really create an otherworldy backdrop, especially in this song.

Listen & Download: Dance With Voices - Send My Regards To The Lonely Nightlife
Download: Dance With Voices - Send My Regards To The Lonely Nightlife

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists! Buy the EP here.)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Brad Walsh - Two Of Hearts

"Two hearts that beat as one"

Remember that 80's classic Two Of Hearts by Stacey Q? Well, New Yorker Brad Walsh (think a solo Scissor Sister) has covered it, and just may have improved upon perfection. It's not actually much of a departure from the original, just updated and polished with more of an electro edge. It's the seamless vocal performance that really sells it. Walsh has got a few originals as well which are also fantastic. You can hear them at his website. And, he's obviously got a lively, somewhat androgynous style that really screams New York City.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists! Buy the album here.)

Monday, January 01, 2007

Lil' Chris - Gettin' Enough

"Are you gettin' enough, enough to satisfy you?"

Lil' Chris, the youngest artist featured on this site so far at age 16, was the "star" of series two of Gene Simmons' Rock School. I was a huge fan of the first series (one of the reasons I went over to England to teach at a boarding school last spring - but that's another story), but I never expected any good music to actually come out of it. Even though Chris's stuff should be terrible, Gettin' Enough has literally been on repeat on my mp3 player for the last week or so. The combo of the bratty vocals, new wave production, and overall catchiness add up to nothing short of pop perfection. If you want to call this a guilty pleasure, so be it, but I've definitely been converted into a fan. It'll be interesting to see if he sticks around long enough to outgrow the tired "lil'" moniker.

Listen & Download: Lil' Chris - Gettin' Enough
Download: Lil' Chris - Gettin' Enough

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists! Buy the album here.)

Sunday, December 31, 2006

The last day of 2006 is upon us and, although this year has been a great one for music, 2007 is shaping up to be even better. Here are my top ten most anticipated releases of the new year.

1. The Ark (spring)
Their new single Absolutely No Decorum sounds like it’s going to be marvelous, the band is gunning for a victory at Eurovision this year, and they’ve promised a new album that hearkens back to the sound of their debut. All is very well in the Ark world, which means the same for my world. Look for the whole of the single to be debuted next month, with the album released not long after.

2. Niklas Stenemo (summer)
It’s no secret to anyone who reads this blog regularly that The Mo is one of my favorite bands of all time. Now that the band is no more, lead singer (and Melody Club bassist) Niklas Stenemo is going solo. Said to be more pop/electronic than his work with The Mo, the album may be released late Summer, but I have yet to hear anything definitive. I am ridiculously excited about it, though.

3. Mika (February)
The only record on the countdown with an actual track listing released, I’m a bit disappointed that I’ve already heard two thirds of the album, but knowing how brilliant those tracks are, there’s no way that Life In Cartoon Motion (out Feb. 5th) is going to suck. Mika is the bright new star of 2007, no competition. So, make sure to pick up his album (and single, which is out early January).

4. Alphabeat (tba)
I have been harping about this Danish band’s first single Fascination for awhile now, but I know frustratingly little about their debut album. Fascination has done well in Denmark and the other songs on the band’s myspace sound fantastic, so we’re really just waiting on a release date.

5. Kylie Minogue (tba)
One of the more mysterious releases of the year, little is known about Kylie’s comeback album. Clips of live performances of maybe-first-single White Diamond have been floating around. She’s been working with the Scissor Sisters (always a good sign) and she’s freaking Kylie Minogue, so it’s bound to be good!

6. Maroon 5 (spring)
Promising a funkier, “more hyper” follow-up to their ancient (it was released in 2002, for gods sake!) debut, the band have kept pretty quiet about their much-delayed 2007 album. They say that all the elements fans loved about them before are still present, but the songs are harder with a real kick to them. Sounds good to me.

7. Kaiser Chiefs (February)
The Kaiser Chiefs will attempt to follow up their massive debut early next year with their as-yet-untitled follow up. Their new single will be called Ruby and will be out in mid-February and the band will also embark on a UK tour around that time. Apparently, the album was recorded in six weeks and promises more of the same sound, gimmick-free.

8. Kelly Clarkson (late spring)
Now that she’s parted herself completely from American Idol, Clarkson is set to release a different sounding record next Spring. In her own words: “the soft songs will be softer, the hard songs will be harder.” And, given that she’s written 50 songs for album consideration, it should boast the cream of the crop.

9. Lucky Soul (spring)
I’ve heard early March is the planned release for this UK band’s debut, preceded by a single in late February. Given that their current EP has been delayed until early 2007, we’ll see if these plans stick. Still, should be a fantastic album and I think it has a really good chance of becoming a success.

10. Lorraine (February)
The album is reportedly titled Pop Noir and will be preceded by another single release early in 2007. Given all of the tracks I’ve heard already, it’s shaping up to be a fantastic synth-pop record. All that’s left is for these guys to expand their following beyond Norway and take over the world.

Honorable Mention: Robyn - Only because I am oh-so-confused about whether she's releasing a brand new album or simply distributing her most recent one to other countries in 2007. Anybody know for sure?