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Friday, September 23, 2011

Aqua - Like A Robot

"You still leave me high and dry"

Aqua have gone dirty! All that subtext in Barbie Girl has become in-your-face fourteen years older. Don't play this for your kids. And if you happen to be a kid, stop reading now (haha). This is fully in-the-moment, piggy-backing-on-trends Aqua. But unlike their last single (which I found somewhat underwhelming), this gets it right. For one, it's hilarious in its bluntness. But more than that, the melody's addictive from the first listen (the bridge is the best part). Lene sounds strong enough to compete with any of the younger pop vixens out there now, and although lyrically this is somewhat of a throwaway, it's still a really, really fun one. Next, I want something more like My Momma Said (and no, their new single doesn't count). It's rare that a band like this can come back fourteen years later with such strong material. I'm looking forward the album now!

Aqua - Like A Robot by DKrella

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Preorder the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

My Top 10 All-Time X-Factor Contestants

It's a 2-night USA X-Factor premiere, which means I'm following suit with two days of X-Factor related countdowns. I'm hoping that the US version will give us a star, but if not, I've got ten amazing contestants from other iterations of the series below. Here they are, my top ten favorite X-Factor competitors. What do you think?

10. Stacey Solomon (UK 2009)
A good example of a contestant I liked more and more as the series went on (and even after it ended). As a singer, she was your standard belter, but she had one of the most endearing personalities in the history of the series (which helped her win I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here two years later).
Big Performance: Rule The World

9. Same Difference (UK 2008)
The kind of group Simon hates, yet they were in his category and ended up being his last-standing act. Probably the most un-ironically cheesy act in all of the series. What else would you expect from an overeager brother-sister duo singing High School Musical?
Big Performance: All I Want For Christmas Is You (yes, they fly.)

8. Alexandra Burke (UK 2008)
The winner who could do it all. She one-upped Leona by being far more versatile, and had personality to boot. She's the last female winner the UK version has had, and it's hard to see her being eclipsed.
Big Performance: Toxic

7. Rhydian Roberts (UK 2007)
He could've been a boring, just-for-the-elderly-viewers opera guy (and unfortunately, his albums pretty much were), but the inspired part of Rhydian's act were his song choices. Opera meets pop (and even vague hip-hop), all with a stage presence that was unmatched that year.
Big Performance: I Would Do Anything For Love

6. Cher Lloyd (UK 2010)
She brought something new, straight from the very first audition. No contestant created more buzz, both within the context of the show and in the general media. But she wasn't just a one-trick (rap) pony. Her performance of Stay sealed the deal.
Big Performance: Stay

5. Jesper Boesgaard (DK 2010)
The kind of kid that shows like this don't tend to attract. Indie-cool with enough teen heartthrob appeal to make it far in the competition. It's a shame we haven't heard more from him since.
Big Performance: Say Say Say

4. Ruth Lorenzo (UK 2008)
The consummate survivor! Her performances were always at their best when she was singing for her survival. I think she fought the odds more than anyone on this list, with blistering vocals and a hell of a lot of likability.
Big Performance: Purple Rain

3. Jedward (UK 2009)
The novelty act to end all novelty acts. It's no wonder they've developed a career after their series ended. Sure, the singing was often cringeworthy, but they're impossible to forget, and very, very entertaining.
Big Performance: Oops, I Did It Again

2. Altiyan Childs (AU 2010)
He started the initial auditions as a bit of a joke and grew into the most confident, talented performer the show's ever had. His vocals give me chills. His performance ability and natural charisma put him in a class all his own.
Big Performance: Livin' On A Prayer

1. One Direction (UK 2010)
Quite simply, what this show was made for. You couldn't have scripted it better if you tried (well, it pretty much was scripted, but still...). Five kids thrown together in a band that actually clicked. I might not be the target audience, but you could genuinely feel the excitement grow around this group as the series went on. And now they have the fastest selling single of the year.
Big Performance: The Way You Look Tonight

Honorable Mentions:

Amanda Grafanakis (AU 2010)
Martin Hoberg Hedegaard (DK 2008)
Ray Quinn (UK 2006)
Leona Lewis (UK 2006)
Storm Lee (UK 2010)
Nicolo Festa (UK 2010)
Leon Jackson (UK 2007)
Shayne Ward (UK 2005)
Wagner (UK 2011)
JLS (UK 2008)

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Top 10 Reasons to Watch X-Factor Tonight

In honor of the premiere of X-Factor USA tonight, I thought it'd be prudent to list ten of the ways that it's so much better than American Idol. I'm an X-Factor nut and have watched the UK series for the past six years. I may have even dabbled in the Australian and Danish versions, but let's keep that between us. Bottom line: you'd be a fool if you didn't tune in tonight. Here's why...

1. Production Value
You thought American Idol was big? X-factor's ten times bigger. Think the Roman Colosseum of talent shows. The money just oozes off the screen. Not only that, but during the live shows there's staging! Dance routines! Costumes! It's like an actual TV performance.

2. The Judges aren't just Judges
They're mentors to the contestants (each judge gets a category). Giving them a vested interest in their competitors leads to all sorts of drama, arguments and strategy.

3. Live Audience Auditions!
In the preliminary stages, contestants have to audition in front of a crowd of thousands (and whatever friends/family they might have brought). I was against this at first, but it brings a whole new energy to the show.

4. It's not just a Singing Competition
As the title states, the show's as much about finding someone with star potential as it is about finding someone with a dynamite voice. For all of those who are sick of personality-devoid belters (like me), this is a very good thing.

5. No Stupid Eliminations
While voters decide the bottom two, those contestants have a sing-off in front of the judges to see who's going home. This eliminates any undeserved "shock" exits.

6. It's got its own Move
You'll see people doing it. Forearms crossed in front of you, "x" style.

7. The "Novelty" Contestant
Every year, one performer/group seems to get through to the live shows just because they're so entertainingly bad. It's like a tradition. If you thought Sanjaya was something, you should've seen Wagner on last year's UK X-Factor!

8. The Theme Song
It's gonna stick in your head like crazy, as is the giant flying X. You'll know what I mean soon enough...

9. Groups!
Yeah, the younger and older contestants are entertaining, too, but it's the groups that make the show really interesting. In fact, some of the biggest stars to come out of the series so far have been groups (even though a group has never won).

10. It's Got Simon Cowell
Does this really need any explanation? A singing show isn't really a singing show without Simon.

Extra Point: You Might See Me!
Yep, I was in the audience for part of the Seattle auditions. And they told us we were in the "on-air" zone. It'll probably be small and blurry, but if I see my head on TV you bet you'll hear about it on this blog the next day!

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Two new songs by two of my favorite indie artists!

I've talked about both Son of a Kid and Tyson a lot on this blog and I don't necessarily have anything new to discuss, but I still wanted to feature this pair of tracks since they were just unleashed upon the world.

Son Of A Kid - Maybe We Could Be Enemies
Son of a Kid is really amping up with a fistful of excellent pop tracks. The beat on this one is just perfect. It's smart, quirky and--as always--expertly produced. And it's available for free download!

Maybe We Could Be Enemies by sonofakid

Tyson - After You're Gone
Tyson's new selection is a slow-burning, dramatic piece of 80's synth-soul. In other words, it's a natural continuation of everything he's already put out. He's on his way to an excellent debut album.

After You're Gone by TYSON

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Learn more about them here and here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Pop Blitz 9/19/11

Leona Lewis - Collide
Lewis's career needed a real kick in the butt, and I think this is it. I love hearing her staggering voice over anthemic dance production. This could do for her what When Love Takes Over did for Kelly Rowland. A

The Saturdays - All Fired Up
Similar dance sound, but I just don't really get the appeal of this group. I think I keep comparing them to Girls Aloud and they're suffering from that. It's just a little anonymous and forgettable to me. They've done better. B-

Dappy - No Regrets
The chorus is pretty strong, but the verses let it down. It plods along like a typical Chris Brown song, but I don't think there's a lot of staying power. C+

Coldplay - Paradise
It's a new sound from the band, playing around with an epic, electronic soundscape. Beyond that, though, it's more of the same. I'm not sure it's one of their stronger songs melodically, but it's not bad. B-

Florence + The Machine - Shake It Out
I'm liking this more each time I hear it, but I still think the hook is ten times stronger than the verses (which take awhile to get going). It's no Dog Days, but it'll do for now. B+

Darren Hayes - Black Out The Sun
I'm a huge Darren Hayes fan. Have been since the 90's. Sadly, though, I'm finding this new single kind of... boring? I don't know what it is. It just feels like it's all epic and grand with something missing. Maybe it just sounds too much like all of his other stuff to me. B-

Will Young - Jealousy
This is stunning. It easily leapfrogs over every other Will Young song as my favorite single of his career. I'd like about twenty more of these in his future. This is the kind of thing that'll make him the next George Michael. A

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