Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Mariah Ditches The Bullshit

I am becoming pretty closed-minded when it comes to the music I choose - should it be the other way around? - and it would be unfair to write off the latest music presentation from 90s survivor Mariah Carey. It is a distinctly low-key affair from the Against All Odds singer, which is brave if nothing else. The grudge-bearing rhetoric of first single Obsessed is stylistically a red-herring - a feverish cummupence campaign that stubbornly broke into the American top 10 after weeks of deliberation - and yet confirms her lyrics are much improved and worth buying the set for alone. Mariah is nothing if not resiliant.

Her post-Virgin comeback got off to a false start with the, yes I shall state it, charming Charmbracelet album. The singer, whether her voice was shot or not, adapted her style to focus on the personal, the schmaltzy, and mostly on scoring a hit. That Through The Rain never became a bona-fide smash despite her valiant emotions splashing down in a storm of hell-for-leather histrionics, probably signalled appropriate reinvention was in order.

A balladeer from the outset, the plaintive We Belong Together was an arresting and raw-felt anthem that drew from her past hits as well as effortlessly soaked up a more modern and most importantly relaxed rnb influences. We know it was a smash, and its parent album delivered a few more hits and the whole era was Mariah at the top of her game on seemingly her own terms. EMC2 fared less well: idiosyncratic singles were disengaging despite a grope-prompting number 1 with Touch My Body.

So for her new record Memoirs of An Imperfect Angel the singer may as well do whatever she likes. The songs here are all creamy smooth and take some time to melt into your conciousness, which might probably be the only way as I have my concerns about radio playing this stuff. The songs are risky ventures into improvisation and give her a critical cogency that could go either way.

The earthy grooves of Betcha Gon Know provide a playful opener: Mariah's massaging vocals are delivered with gorgeous clarity and focus is on her eccentric yet highly-articulate lyrics. Song peak: 'Right in your face boy.'

Ribbon begins almost af if taking the piss out of Lady Gaga's now-tedious Poker Face, it's an undressing lusty mid-tempo cut with sliding synths and the pervasice distorted backing vocal mumbling something along the lines of the 'mwamwamwa' melody at least.

Impatient first listening is not the setting Mariah has in mind for this record - the subtle glow of Candy Bliss is what the Spice Girls tried with Forever, but for Maz this is her speciality by now and again the hooks are unassuming and allow the lyrics to provide some vulnerability that isn't associated with the overpowering cult of her personality. These songs are littered with peek-a-boo ad libs that initiate her wit and enforce much-needed character.

The stripped down It's A Wrap playfully spins her addictive failed relationships kudos. The whisper-strength of More Than Just Friends has more sass to make up for losing the fashionable edge of her bigger cuts.

The striking vintage-Mariah ballad Angels Cry is a distilled piano-rippling love song deserving of attention as a future single. 'Lightning don't strike twice' is gorgeously sad, and despite moments of melody sifting in and out of One Sweet Day, her narrative is the best of the album. There aren't even many teeth-shattering squeels - the focus is on her craft, and as boring as that sounds it really pays off.

The album is a series of interlinked slow jams gently unravelling - if Mariah is brave enough to sidestep falling into the trap of her own myth then maybe we should take a closer listen and patiently let the elements take shape. On these terms, she is at her most accomplished ever, and she doesn't cater to the We Belong Together Part IV many will snipe about these songs. Bravo to you, Mariah, you are not the man of the hour but better to create genuine ballads than resort to flickering the same old tricks time and time again. Memoirs is filled with laid-back, mellow harmonies of sassy midtempos of which occaisionally trigger the jittery, atonal forays of freestyle Mariah we know and love. Ironically, this is the artist at her most risk-taking despite all burning from the same honey-scented candle, and her impressive vocabulary and vocal decoration make the album a satisfying addition to her bloated collection.

The Nolans Are Back & Bigger Than Ever!

Chaffing their way on stage like tortured Indian circus elephants, these old pros flap their bingo wings like it were disco night at their local Weight Watchers. Their flatulent vocals squirm like trapped wind curdling inside their well-deserved fups, whilst out-of-breath and state of the art production finally gives songs like I Will Survive and It's Raining Men definitive versions.

Yes, those cheeky wannabe-MILFS The Nolans are back with new hormonal album I'm In The Mood Again set to bring ASDA checkouts to a standstill not seen since there was a 2-for-1 offer on Shane Richies 2nd autobiography.

These disco hot flushers mask the pain of family feuding which has so far threatened to kill Coleen's husband Ray, with ousted Anne trembling to the press that she was excluded from the comeback, issuing an official statement on her website that 'they are not my sisters anymore'.

Above: I love how out of breath Coleen gets singing live, with Glenn from Pop! as back-up dancer.

Denise, who was also not asked back, supports Anne by suggesting these desperate trolls are doing it to aid financial woes, but when these re-appearing 4 are the most successful of the lot it is hard not to agree that television roles and Kerry Katona associations are not enough to pay the bills.

They might not have had a hit since 1982, but manage to catch up straight away with such contemporary hits as Chain Reaction and the hilarious image-shattering Don't Feel Like Dancing. What are they like?

01. I Will Survive
02. Holding Out for a Hero
03. It's Raining Men
04. Chain Reaction
05. Don't Feel Like Dancing
06. Mercy
07. Valerie
08. So What
09. The Promise
10. Eternal Flame
11. Giving Up Giving In
12. I'm in the Mood for Dancing
13. Attention to Me
14. Gotta Pull Myself Together
15. We've got the Chemistry Right
16. Crashing Down

As they caugh their way through the classics, they have been high-flapping their wings through gruelling 'dance' sessions, which have put sisters Coleen, Bernie, Linda and Maureen all through their paces and now have bodies women double their ages would kill themselves over!

The Nolan Sisters
Above: 'I feel like Im size 12 again' oinks 50 year old Bernie. 'I feel great!'

Maureen confesses to practising her steps everywhere including her shifts at Tesco Express: 'I was doing that thing like in the Full Monty where I was going through our dance routine in the queue. People were looking at me but I didnt care a bit Im on Cloud nine right now', she lies as if we think it's funny and believe her.

'We're the first over 40s girl group to be given the chance of a comeback by the music industry which is fantastic' yawns one of them as I flick through Anne's autobiography Anne's Song.

'Does any part of our bodies look like Madonna?' asks Linda. 'The only bulging veins I have are varicose ones!' We know Linda, we know.

Im In The Mood Again is out September 28th. To buy a copy of the album, click here.

For ticket info go to

Dana's Frostbite Fever

Transexual dance terrorist Dana International may well sing as if she is gagging on one or two of her famous rent boy back-up dancers, but is perfectly capable of taking the simple genre of tranny-pop to heights unseen since Tyra Banks measured her forehead against a double-decker bus. File this one under 'magnificent' as her breathtaking 2007 opus Hakol Ze Letova was a sedate avalanche of arctic rave ballads, hectic hebrew whore anthems, cock-hungry seizures and stoic Hi-NRG palpatations. Her hauntingly strained bee-stung vocals are sung with more appetite than a swarm of locusts and yet usurp her beguiling genital-reassignment pathos and transcend the language barrier with tenderly orchestrated consideration.

The Eurovision winner's emotional insignia is earned through the oracular arctic dance balladry of her exquisitely stark title track alone, which melts into a flood of yearning desolate melancholy. Mournful and vividly determined, damned Dana fights to deliever her finest attempt at singing yet. As she grapples under the usurping misty synths, it was her strongest single since Lola, which is included here as a bonus video. Translating as 'it is all for the best', it is a song of tormented regret if ever there was one.

The gentle nudging of Yom Hule is an equally discreet dancefloor suicide note: who knew she was the new transgender Nick Cave? Her bittersweet narratives creep through the language barrier and haunt you with their lingering 5 o'clock shadows.

The frog-leaping instrumentation of Bereshit is an eccentric nod towards her rampant eurotrash past, and it is hard not to smile when a melody German beer-drinkers might chant is being led by an anorexic tranny who makes Pete Burns look low maintenance.

Above: the last-minute video shot for Love Boy meant over-cocky Dana was left toiling to recruit rentboys who weren't busy.

The exhuberant and skittery flamenco flutter Lo Ma'amina is a pining adventure: Dana sounds fearful and anxious as she awaits an invitation to one of Dannii's famous lesbian sling parties.

Above: Dana forgivingly gives Dannii the finger for copying her lego-style lesbo bob.

When the dust settles onto the yodelling Yalla Yalla, it is possible fellow Eurovision entry Javine could have recorded this whilst drunk and gangbanging MC Harvey, his asian mates and the rest of So Solid Crew just to show Alesha what she has been missing. Helena Papirozou would also be proud to call this 'unreleased' or stick it on an unnoficial myspace profile.

The Bollywood hip-thrusting Seret Hodi was single number 4, with svelte stabbing synths alerting attention to the dancefloor for an abrupt deviation from her usual svelte and stabbing pace.

The sleek and slinky sexdrive of Loveboy became Dana's biggest native hit since Diva and really ought to have been played on UK dance music channel Flaunt for her innovative use of topless rent boy back-up dancers alone. It is an adroit dance number not unlike Kylie's Fever sessions or a trashy H & Clair b-side, and her skimpy vocals are well-equiped to rival the likes of RuPaul or even Geri Halliwell. 'Hey daddy!' is coy as ever - this woman just does not do discreet.

The stroppy frothing-at-all-orifices grind At Muchana really shows Rihanna how it is done best - it leaves Beat Me Up & Drive for dust. Growling Dana spits her deadliest vocals, purging her bile to her decade-long critics. I cannot get enough of her carnal grogging, it really is such a visceral performance. A vitriolic triumph - her glamour disgusted and repelled by anything that isn't in awe of her trannylicious storylines. Her trademark wasp-like sting inflicts the histrionic agony she excells at.

The siren 'tranny in the building' alarm Eyfo Ha'lev (Where Is My Heart) wins points as the strongest album track: it is a rampantly melancholic and layered disco assault and gets a harder pounding than a blonde cheerleader in Iraq. Her foreign androgynous mystique shatters and grimaces under the S.O.S energy which betrays her impossible glamour. Shimmering guitars and full-throttle synths fight for the cause.

The sparse and sped up septic epileptic eurocheese of Ata Memagnet Oti is another derranged standout, with needle-like eye-jabbing precision and the best la la la's since Alexia, making the Italian nugget's anthem sound like a meditative ballad. Dana goes into throbbing robotic meltdown, plus it amusingly sounds like she is singing 'taliban' during the spurting chorus.

Below: a promo shot for the French-language single Lola.
The clogged-pore piano-poised ballad Yom Acher is her token slow number and is soggier than a tampon stuck on a cake left out in the rain. I am sure if I could speak Hebrew I would commit suicide under the weight of Dana's pathos, but as an English-speaker I am free from harm and safely understand what clicking 'delete' entails.

She does not let discerning Western gays off that easy though as the album closer Horbot is another crusty-snot acoustic ballad a whore might sing whilst travelling from village to village on a malnourished donkey.

The Danny Tuval & Zigo Remix remix of Hakol Ze Letova is another frost-bite dance ballad that snaps your fingers off just by listening to it, giving us some indication as to how Dana made her transition back in the day. It fully exploits the origina's chilly serenity, but soon simmers into a Middle-Eastern gay stomper - this track is so magnificent in its aloof turmoil and unrelenting emotional narcissism as it shudders in some sort of aesthetic disgust towards her daily tribulations.

Similarly, the Love Boy remix is the dancefloor winner here - it gives the original track a stunami trance engine missing from the swanky and kitsch original.

Throughout the torrid affair, her live-wire vocals splinter like barbed wire set on fire - her limitations are irrelevant when she transcends them with a molten iciness that, combined with a rampant addiction to arctic rave soundscapes, is her unique occupation. Her authorative release could nourish a desert or freeze over africa depending on the melody prompting her solemn yearnings or uplifting bravado one way or the other.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Billie Wants To Screw Her Life Up

Unexpectedly, the baptizing Aquax Radio edit of Where Fools Rush In by 'Dietrich of techno' Billie Ray Martin ripples to the surface and sounds like a lost goose-bumps worthy Dannii Minogue remix from the Australian's plaintive still-on-the-pedastal Girl era. Sublime in other words, and her healthy stamina for heartache aches like never before.

The sensational whirlpool trance sucks you right in, and the cleansing cloud-skimming sense of weightlessness proves the perfect setting for the singer's soft vocal restraint, which trembles for the chance to screw her life up and have her heart broken for real this time. The sheer thrill of hearing a song that could be the Supremes in their vintage 60s hip-clapping peak now given the type of dance treatment fans of Your Loving Arms might appreciate takes advantage with gushing lyrics, of which flow like a running tap, and create something breathtakingly introverted and redemptive. The original's doo-wop eggshell exterior is a wistful classic, but I just cannot sober up from the immersing distilled trance raining into my ears from this remix.

Above: I was actually right at the front when Billie bled for us at Karbon nightclub in Glasgow - I was pushed to the ground due to my ecstatic dancing, but it was my honor to be picked off the floor by Billie herself (not unlike the lyric to Bright Lights Fading no less).

'And when it's over will there be a next chance' is an uncharacteristically doe-eyed lyric from Billie, but her rueful sense of contol is very much behind the steering wheel here. Billie's lisp is even more vulnerable, and it is the first time she has been this exposed, sounding so clearly enthused by love and, clutch your pearls boys, optimism!

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Big Tears and Make Up

Above: Dannii feels the pressure of the nation's insatiable craving for a new facial expression from her.

Before dinner-plate face Dannii Minogue gets off her sling to tracklist a forthcoming 2012 rarities album, the woman has people to judge and 2 more facial expressions to fit in until botoxing for Boot Camp and proper studio lighting.

Above: with such a busy schedule, Dannii still finds time to cram yet more in.

Getting rid of the dregs is tougher than manipulative editing would suggest. Apparantly the standard of skanks, hairdressers, widdowers, gay acne suffers and coffee shop workers is higher than EVER! They just scream 'qualified' as they attempt to emotionally rape us with their hard-done-by stories of limb loss, irregular face symmetry, lack of singing opportunities for those who have previously done nothing to become a singer, and your standard 'I know my Mum would be proud if she could see me cry in front of strangerse right now'. Frankly I am jealous, but at least know what the new Topman collection looks like.

Above or Behind: as the competition heats up, eager Dannii takes it all in her stride.

As the Black Eyed Peas underrated I Gotta Feeling plays, Simon groans like a cow giving birth that 'I've got a feeling we may have themosttalentedgroupofpeopleeverthisyear'. As a viewer, I am completely gripped and deliberately wet myself just to prove it.

Above: Louis' famous kiss and make up storyline with Dannii remains the shows most convincing sob story to date.

Dannii orders her sex slaves to separate their legs and themselves into her 3 favourite sexual categories: female, male and group. The shit-grinning imbeciles choose their groups of 3 and sing for a chance to sleep with Minogue or get punched by Cole if they are black, mixed race or just back from their holidays. We get more VT's, Simon eyerolls, Dannii forehead furrows, Cheryl cheek-sucks blankly and Louis butt-clenches to supress his famous lean-over semi.

Overall, tonight's show was shit and so shall be tomorrow's second part, which promises to finally wittle the warblers down to the final 300 or whatever. These tedious pre-botox pre-Bootcamp episodes have been more boring than a cancer victim asking you to donate money as if it's a personal obligation to throw a wig and draw eyebrows on them - some people just don't know when to call it quits!

Bring on next week!

Monday, 21 September 2009

Put The Needle On It, Bitch

Above: always one for breaking boundaries, Dannii does it better using black gay holygraphic backing dancers - 7 years later, Cole would shoot her own music video in a toilet to relive her own painful ordeal of punching a black toilet attendant and getting caught.

Above: typical Cheryl - she always has to use her fists when she found out the camera man was black.

I am not suggesting anything, but Cheryl Cole may well have been a racist for one punch only.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Agnes Needs A Cleansing Wipe

Above: old turtle-head face sings her love song to toilet roll and gets ready to release the 'cleansing wipe' dance remix before flushing it down the UK airwaves.

Swedish wig-on-a-turd Agnes Carlsson wipes herself clean with the UK single edit of her new single I Need You Now. Here it is after getting its radio premiere on Radio 1. Part of me is really cynical of the gunpoint Cry For You esque poise, but it also manages to salute to her previous single Release Me's gorgeous sense of elegance. The rampant calamity of On & On was originally my clasped first choice for her second British single, but this new mix is more cleansing than a buy-1-get-1-free colonic.

Below: her stodgy package of high street honet meets Divine Brown has set the standard for UK Radio edits to follow.

The gorgeous waves of trance splash majestically whilst her vocal keeps it together - stoic, brittle and then in complete agony. The sunbathing tempo and the haughty self-service lyrics make it sound like a superior Peter Rauhofer cocktail divas like Whitney, Lara Fabien or Deborah Cox would rip their weaves off to down.

Loose Diva's

Above: I cannot wait to see whose bubble is going burst first? If it's Lulu, an explosion of haggis and margarine will be sprayed all over the joint.

Well, these three broads are coming to Glasgow next month. Here, Chaka Khan, Anastacia and stuffed-haggis Lulu are on the GMTV sofa with Lorraine Kelly (think size 14 Cheryl Cole in 20 years time, but Scottish). This clip is nothing exceptional, but Lula and Anastacia just appeared without Chaka on a daytime chatshow called Loose Women a few hours ago (I have this show on my Sky+ 'series link') and let's just say when this clip arrives on youtube I cannot wait to point out where: a) Lulu grinds her teeth as Anastacia finishes her sentence after the Shout singer tries to take over; and b) where Lulu's faux-American accent is evidently a passive-aggressive dig at her co-headliner and Anastacia's deadpan responce that she and the Scot are BFF's with no need to blurt out 'nawwt!'

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

La Toya's Milkshake Brings All The Flakes To The Graveyard

Grief-stricken La Toya Jackson finally hit the big time with her career-best ballad Home, and solidifies her D-list status by promoting milkshakes for people who like to guzzle 5000 calories a go, and I am not talking about Tila Tequila's famous NFL gangbangs.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Cher Paralyzes Her Chart Positions

When twice-divorced Cher faced facts and returned to music in 1982, it was the first of 4 schlock rock affairs and by far the best. Her 70s steam-engine pop songs seemed to be her calling card, yet Cher craved being wilder as well as having far softer singer-songwriter leanings. Her versatility is evident on I Paralyze, which can been seen to mark a new phase of how Cher was packaged and presented to music buyers. Whereas her next 3 albums would rely heavily on their boxer-in-the-ring style singles, this marks Cher's first mainstream album to consist of songs seemingly soley written for her. And it shows. Tom Kelly of Cyndi Lauper's True Colours and Madonna's Like A Virgin fame is on backing vocals.

Cher's vocals are fully developed and threaten all sorts of emotional upheaval. It has been argued that her voice was simply too big for the lead single, the 60s girlband pastiche Rudy, but it remains safely in my top 20 Cher songs of all time if not higher. Her swaggering style suggests the ghastly repercussions of romance and seems to cringe jokingly at her weaknesses to the man or lesbian called Rudy (it's probably her cleaning lady). Personally, I surrender all resistance when Cher is on form this good: the agony of being infatuated never sounded so painfully exhilirating. Its teeth-shattering production is an obvious nod to Phil Spector, but those guitars splinter and sting like lightning.

The fervently mellow Games is lovelorn and abandoned - Cher sings into the night. This could be a Pointer Sisters ballad with its sensual angst and melodic stencil. Whatever she is gargling whilst lamenting 'whatever it is it is' must be strong stuff: she sings so deep it is hard not to wonder if she is deep-throating the microphone or else a chainsaw. 'Don't you play them with me' is her final swipe.

Once a club singer, always a club singer. Cher can't help but sing from one side of her mouth at all times, but the smouldering hip-popping I Paralyze is pure Elvis. Its country-tinged grind is so visceral it's a wonder her vocal chords aren't sharp enough to shred timber. The song is notable for its gasping conviction and that it was produced by John Farrar and co-written by himself and Steve Kipner (Olvia Newton-John's Physical) - 'leave the modesty to someone else' abandons all responsibility. There is a throat-slitting gasp during the chorus. when cher quips 'you're as real as a dollar bill' her innate pronounciation manages to make the couplet rhyme. A fine showcase for her spine-snapping prowless.

The almost gospel-sounding pop song Walk With Me beams with swooning pride. I would love to hear Nadine Coyle from Girls Aloud sing a song this good. The arm-swaying chorus is as nail-hammering as it is absolute bliss. Her steak-chewing vocal is at it's busiest and demanding.

Below: body-shy Cher mixes it up with her love for yoga dominating much of her early 80s photoshoots.
Her torch ballad crusade is not over as When The Love Is Gone is hands down amongst her top ten ballads of all time. Written by Desmond Child, it is hard to imagine some of the generic material he would subsequently submit. Her glass-cut vocal is one her clearest, and those husky tones give her grimacing credibility and a force beyond the boundaries of any known gender. Her sunset vocals are as incredulous as ever - her joy always cancels out the pathos, and 'there is a strength one gets when going it alone' let's one down easy.

Below: her career was left out to dry as were here clothes presumably - shot taken in 1980.
The pop-flavoured rockabilly-esque Say What's On Your Mind has vocal bite but it is biding time - good-natured filler but loose-wrist finger-snapping and toe-tapping pub rock is not my idea of paralyzing glamour. 'I may not be sober' is her well thought out defence for her whisky-led loose tongue (but does not explain her tell-tale lip licking addiction).

Her cover of The Babys' street-walking Back On The Street Again is the best ABBA-sounding pavement-pounding anthem and possibly the only one. Neon-glowing synths drips like a waterfall and a chugging bassline sweats it out under the spotlight. 'Here I am, I'm back on my feet again' is pretty much Cher's signature appeal. Her vocals thrash her lyrics like a food-blender but with less hesitance.

Below: Cher gamefully pulls back for the full facial.
The jittery The Book of Love is worth a million bad album tracks for the throwaway lyric 'hey-ho' inadvertantly being one of the familiar quirks used to impersonate her. The back-and-forth chorus gives decent friction, and Cher refuses to languish as she goofily heckles 'oh stupid cupid' - it isyet another drink-spitting high point in the same song which ought not to be so noteworthy otherwise.

The quiet raindrop vocals of Do I Ever Cross Your Mind are wiped away like oozing tears - Cher sounds uncharacteristically overcome. As closers go, this is up there with the unyeilding pathos of You Take It All and the meditative piano ballad Stars - her cleansing pressence and visionary torch ballads have saved the day once again. When Cher waffles on about 'that melancholy jaded by that time' it is the nearest she has ever came to employing a sort of stream-of-consciousness quality to her lyrics. To know what Cher is truly thinking has always baffled me and I am sure this is part of her inpenetrable mystique. Unlike other drumless ballads, say True Colours for instance, this song is breathtaking but never stark as it hovers as a smooth and smokey groove.

Below: Cher wonders if it is too late to fly to Malawi to buy a straight one.
Re-released in 1999, not owning this CD is a crime for any casual or die-hard fans alike. It manages to echo parts of her 60s and 70s trademarks and pass the baton on to her proper 80s comeback. Pre-occupied with a stint on broadway and reading Hollywood movie scripts, the album never became a hit but Cher has rarely sounded so inspirational.

Above: Cher performs for Joan Rivers on The Tonight Show in 1981 - I love Cher simply basking in the spotlight as the male singer serenades her.

There is no plundering second-guessing and 'paralyze' she succeeds with novel nostalgia, sassy country-tinged harmonies, melancholic vapours, feminine chivalry, romantic outbursts, and her rock items boast some of the highest price tags of her 5 decade career. Her vocal swoops are beginning to invite characature impersonations, but her wrestling charms ensure the album is another dramatic and spangling addition to the dark lady's remarkable oeuvre, and Cher's explosive sensuality has rarely been so vibranty on fire.