Thursday, 27 December 2007
The clubcentric Less SAD Mix of East 17’s Stay Another Day is a timely reminder that thousands of responsible citizens like to celebrate Christmas each year (and day of the week) by getting absolutely wasted. Such hedonistic tragedy is treated with traumatic sensitivity as the fluctuating heartbeat of the More SAD Mix mourns the binge drinkers and stray Hen Night Party goers of yesteryear, ‘booze heroes’ who bravely chose to choke on their own gargled vomit or a kebab they found in a bin; the epic crusade of clubbers determined to have a good time, even if they had to get arrested at least they gave it their best shot. So the original SAD Radio Mix proves to be the definitive version, an engulfing epic of endearing crestfallen emotion – 4 scallies pouring their DILF hearts out who could not have sounded more sincere if they were at a court hearing or on Trisha waiting for a DNA test result. Their disarmingly mature sense of confused loss builds to a gigantic level: echoing ghost-like backing vocals are like a soft sleigh of awe-struck tenderness, whilst tubular bells chime the new hope of next weeks dole money.
Less SAD Mix
SAD Radio Mix
More Sad Mix
Not So SAD Mix
Quietly SAD Mix
Even More SAD Mix
Even Sadder Mix
Saturday, 22 December 2007
Nearing the end of my December dissection, a disco blast from the past comes from the most unlikeliest of fierce club whores. En Vogue get crucial by cranking up the camp to RuPaul levels of pant-wetting excitement on their jittery trash-tastic interpretation of Jingle Bells that knows no distinction between tragic and fabulous. Hilariously, it is the closest the girls have ever came to recording Free Your Mind Part 2. Gutsy, glitzy gusto is their winning formula here, delivering a bruised-and-rouged rousing rendition that is like being bitch-slapped by Christmas upon impact, with all the adrenaline of shoplifting for presents, or Dannii Minogue sunbathing with no top. On the whole, the remaining tracks from their internet-only Christmas album - The Gift of Christmas - cannot compete, yet this disco diversion is not a previously unexplored avenue for the MILF's of commercial Rn'B. Their underrated single Riddle spawned a Miami-style remix package that an afro-sporting Gloria Estefan would have swam all the way back to Cuba to snatch. The rampantly addictive Jingle Bells proposes a gallant Hi-NRG offering that sounds a miraculous reinvention in more senses than one.
Jingle Bells (Euro Mix)
Jingle Bells (Rock Mix)
Jingle Bells (Instrumental)
Siouxsie & The Banshees never quite managed to fulfill their obvious purpose of producing a Hi-NRG festive anthem to be continually blasted in Marks & Spencer whilst shoppers quew up to pay for their bras and brussel sprouts. Instead, The Last Beat of My Heart is a typically foreboding interlude that could spook a horse with its thick mist of glamour and "majestic, imperial" stagnation - when Siouxsie hushes a live Lallapalooza audience it is because she has a dying wish to share beyond just buying her fabulous albums. With haunting drums and seductive mystique, it alters the senses into an acute perception of what is and what might be around you: Siouxsie's perverse idea of Christmas might be a little alientating for some, yet her mirror-gazing antics are beguiling as ever.
The Last Beat of My Heart (Recorded Live at Lollapalooza 28 August 1991)
Friday, 14 December 2007
With 11 days to go, if you haven't already killed yourself, many recording artists seem to get off on pushing people over the edge. Cristina's delicious infliction comes in the form of her miserable Christmas classic Things Fall Apart. The track is a collision between rueful depression and a merry punk backing, cleaning up the carnage of last nights party as well as the obvious metaphor of abandonment from the wreckage and task at hand to clean it all up. Cristina's numb heartache rests itself on carved cheekbones outlined by a stylized tear. The stark yuletide wonder - her unforgettable gasp "it's Christmas" could be the final breath of a lung cancer victim - fills one's own lungs with hot lead, a realization of defeat or grim panic. This is seriously one to wrap up the presents to: if you're giving someone a chainsaw that is.
Things Fall Apart
Thursday, 6 December 2007
SWV 'give it up, turn it loose' on their funky seasonal jam Christmas Just Ain't Christmas (Without The One You Love), an anthemic ballad with a jaunty central melody. For these three, loneliness lurks in the dark shadows of the bright lights buzzing around them. The girls acquit themselves beautifully: expressing more than the notion of simply not getting any, the flowing verses unravel like dazzling spirals of melanholy melody. The slick bluesy production allows the girls to denote husky tones and glide into a glossy adult contemporary sound that fits them more comforatably than some of their sassier chart material. They have so much fun singing the smooth chorus that one starts to wonder if the title lyric is just an excuse to poke fun at their single friends whilst continuing to cash the royalties for Right Here. Sad songs give the season a sense of gravity - I love a good ballad at Christmas, and afterwards one feels all the better for it.
Christmas Just Ain't Christmas
Phil Spector's 'Wall of Sound' brews a blizzard of Xmas pathos on Christmas (Baby Please Come Home), sung exhaustively by Darlene Love. She gets it perfect, knowing the thin line between utter agony and extreme torment. Her amazing vocal creates an unforgettable drama, indicating that the only way to get over something is to sing it out for the whole world to know. The song is an epic emotional detox; its urge to purge is an astonishing pop creation.
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
Listen carefully for Cher amongst the backing singers.
Wednesday, 5 December 2007
Contrived and sickly as it may be, I could not be happier if I was gagging on artificial sweetner - I Love Christmas by the Fast Food Rockers is cute to the point of suffocation and could not be cheesier if the group members had a disgusting fetish for Dairy Lee. An aspartame rush from start to finish.
I Love Christmas
Tuesday, 4 December 2007
Lolly's unreleased Pucker Up You Big Jessy might not have made it passed demo stage, but her uncontrollable twee tearjerker Big Boys Don't Cry is the encouragement some of us 23 year olds still need from time to time - two nights ago for me coincidentally as I wept on my bedroom floor after screaming "fuck the Spice Girls, then!" to my Mother and sister downstairs. Life is not this complicated when I play my Lolly cd's. Lolly is a life-long babysitter for gays of all ages who refuse to grow up - anyone who has been to CC Blooms in Edinburgh will know how true this can be. Lolly dislocates her neck, snapping it to the fiesty beat of no-nonesense anthem All You Need To Know, the sprinkling chaos of a pick n' mix food-fight in Woolworths.
Big Boys Don't Cry (Christmas Mix)
All You Need To Know
After a deal to produce her own brand of ketchup, Diana Soss, fell through, Diana Ross had no other option but to 'go with thr fro' and release a sublime Christmas album, A Very Secial Season. Her soft whispering sigh is so often underrated with an unmatched ability to soar and land straight back down again - a knack that propelled a late bloom into the lucrative early 90s commercial market for furlorn power ballads. And no one in the world does cooing power ballads like Ms. Ross does. Note: if that last sentence was read without motioning a z-snap, do so now.
Her stop-gap holiday album presents itself as warm and tender interpretations of other peoples work - her fine voice does the usual quivering, skimming the surface as always in flighty rapture. On Winter Wonderland, refined and oh-so-lush, the big old lush herself opts to deliver a mischevious sense of drama: not everyone can match the perversity of Annie Lennox, but Ross never loses sight of her impeccable aesthetics. Her flirtatious excitement dwelling on the line "two hearts are thrillin" sound like the old timer is propositioning a young police officer arresting her for drink driving. Sleigh bells tip-toe on her highly-competent version of Wonderful Christmastime, where her voice has all the confidence and majesty of a swan in steady parallel flight above a frozen lake.
Sounding like her yoga session is being interrupted, she almost loses it on Happy Christmas (War Is Over). Her serenity comes under fire when her sincerity boils over into a heartwrenching pledge in order to avoid being upstaged by a childrens choir. It is a dramatic thrill for her to come so close to danger and come out the other side wig intact - she must have left the recording booth with more sweat beeding down her than one of her staff daring to make eye contact.
Most surprising is her poignant handling of the tear streamer Ave Maria, and never before has the diva sounded more statue-esque and convincingly humble since admitting to Oprah that in all her years she had learned: "absolutely nothing!"
Happy Christmas (War Is Over)
Annie Lennox conjures images of being an Ice Queen dominatrix on the Eurythmics' cover of Winter Wonderland; her eyes glistening like frozen caldrins stirring Christmas chills. Annie's irony-infused delivery spurts electro-elegance (her slithering pronounciation of "season" is especially good) as the swirling introduction snowballs with synths and strings, as if observing an urgent transportation taking place, escaping iminent danger at the very last second.
Dancefloor whore Dannii has been rigorously pounded by lots of DJ's over the years - her controversial recording "hiatus" from 1998-2001 was three grim years well spent with a mattress sewn to her back instead of the usual sunlounder (that was always super-glued). Back in 1995 a contract-free Danoushka partook in a conscious-free, gallant hi-NRG festive-galore gang bang, The Gift of Christmas, in one of her finest rare mainstream decisions. A radio edit was mere deviation from the sordid antics of the Motiv8 hardcore momentum: Dannii was so exhausted she had to draft in the help of some of her favourite fuck buddies at the time to fill out the remaining verses - little did she know they would also drown her out on the chorus after she refused to stand up to sing the damn thing.
The Gift of Christmas (Motiv8 Simply Great Remix)
The Gift of Christmas (Radio Edit)
The Gift of Christmas (Not Loveland But Lapland Remix)
The Gift of Christmas (Matt Darey Gift Wrapped Remix)
The Gift of Christmas (Beatmasters Frankincense Making Sense Mix)
The Gift of Christmas (Wands Magic Mix)
Be grateful for these remixes: Dannii was passed around with the salt to get them.
Kicking off a series of seasonal chestnuts, first up is Kate Bush and her enchanting Christmas reflection December Will Be Magic Again. The song may have failed to become a playlist hogger of the holidays, but has secured a place in the heart of many Bush fans. The 80s store a slew of forgotten top 40 hits, of which could confidently secure exposure that todays top 20s could probably only dream of. The almost minimilistic December Will Be Magic Again presents Kate's whimsy mistique and ornate arrangements, decorated as if looking at a Christmas tree in the dark - where closer inspection reveals an intensity that is far more interesting and personal.
December Will Be Magic Again