Saturday, 28 November 2009


Diva Incarnate is currently the 5399th most popular blog in the current wikio rankings!

Please do not hesitate to link me up.

I have been thinking that this blog could do with a bit of a boost - is it worth chasing after breaking news (i.e, recycling news from other sources) or just continuing with a fairly scattered array of old music and the odd contemporary review? Who knows... December won't be a busy month, but I shall be putting special care into reviewing Dannii's new album set for UK release in 5 days time.

The new albums from Sugababes, Leona and some of the others I promised reviews of, either did not excite much or were delayed.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Official Burlesque Poster

Well how great it is to not see Cher, and I mean the same Cher who shall be drawing in at least half of its Box Office, not really mentioned as, say, an Oscar winner should be. Her name ought to be above the credits! It opens November 2010.


Just something that made me 'LOL' more than I should have on the Dannii Minogue official forum.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Diva International

Blog name change, much? Dana International's cameo on Beautiful People is now up on youtube. She looks fantastic, which is a relief considering her new boobs were looking a bit iffy back in 2007. I don't watch this show (and from the clip, its characters seem horrendously stale), but her Mr Magoo and 'when I was a little boy in Israel' lines are miles better than any sketch Madonna has done in the last 15 years that's for sure.

Dannii Minogue's episode is set to air 11 December (4 days after The 1995 Sessions is released!).

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Storm In A D-Cup: Danniiographii Part 2 - Girl

Above: the now legendary 'Dannii Roadkill' pose was invented whilst imitating Kylie's sex-face.

Before dragging it up as a Joan Collins tribute act, Dannii actually functioned as a bona fide pop goddess and briefly overtook Kylie with a UK#4 hit whilst her sister floated at #22. The Girl album captured Dannii's specific identity as a dance artist, showing what she was truly capable of with drool-worthy classics almost from start to finish. The lyrics outline Dannii's transformation and brought out a dazzling rash of defiant numbers such as the corosive Hi-NRG mardi gras anthem Someone New and the piano-laden Alexia-esque Keep Up With The Good Times. These tracks come full circle tying in with the album's theme and title: Disremembrance ('I feel much older now, but I'm still to young to care'); Keep Up With The Good Times ('cos you ain't ever gonna break the girl'); and All I Wanna Do's masochistic obsession with turning illusion into reality, tinged with the confession that perfection does not exist (a subject which would continue to haunt her on a 2005 holiday to Ibiza).

The self-posessed vulnerability of All I Wanna Do is like a whole other galaxy and she sounds like a nervous wreck on the opening lines, longing for body contact, putting herself through inspection and making a defensive request to 'take a look inside my heart, tell me what you think you see' and nervously stripping her inner shame, asking for acceptance ('I may not be the innocent girl that you wanted me to be'). The traumatic theme of identity smoulders with her tempestuous sensuality ('sometimes I just want a lover, sometimes I don't need a friend'). '

All I wanna do is touch you' could almost be the singer directing her desire to love herself whilst not being able to believe what she sees in the mirror. The torrid momentum, augmented by Dannii's seeping vocal finally ridding herself of self-loathing with her plaintive second-guessing, aggressively persues release from her own paranoia and anguish, creating something lush, serene, and eventually tranquil.

The delicately tuneful Heaven Can Wait is overshadowed by the more emphatic 7" Edit as well as the bullet-proof cloud-skimming trance of the Trouser Enthusiasts Edit, but it's Dannii's most classic-sounding melody to date. It genuinely sounds like it has been lifted from the Burt Bacharach songbook. I even get off on her over-dubbed '(you're) touch (is driving me insane)'.

The moody speed-ballad So In Love With Yourself has deliciously caustic bite with lyrics that nip away at a vain ex lover. Blithe and indignant, the spite is very welcome and empowering, with Dannii sulking 'checking your reflection is what really turns you on, and you're loving every minute thinking everyone has gone'. Even more gripping is Kylies hanger-on willingness to try to steal her younger sister's thunder.

Dreaming is a motif, only don't tell Dannii that the dream is always denied - Dannii's familiarity with losing still doesn't defeat her, and I prefer to regard her career outcome as realism anyway. Dannii may lose, but she's far from a pure victim, because she has her music to lay open the rules of the game. And on songs such as these she comes out ahead. The breathy tide of Am I Dreaming? is incredibly lush and - yes - dreamy.

Her groaning antics echo as her soft timbre melts into pure beauty. The suave style of unsure glamour here is something new for her, and though the album may seem contemplative, masochistic is probably more like it- her desolation seems to ignite a feeling of freedom. The lyrics mourn absence and loss, and many of the effects are achieved by fabricating and then calibrating dirty sonics both electronic and organic. Fans of Olive's You're Not Alone should check it out- though this is more fragile, a spiritual accomplishment and a prettier sense of relief.

Kylie's roped in to provide backing vocals along with brother Brendan on Everybody Changes Under Water. Dannii's erotic poetry here has never done much for me and I have always believed Someone New should have been tracklisted here instead.

I am convinced that this isn't intrinsically about death, but its subject is the end of a love affair, plain as the nose on her face, and at times its bleakness is overrated- it's duration reminds me all too acutely of how the minutes crawl when the love connection is broken. The nakedness of Dannii's ghostly whispers is backed up with groundbreaking breathing noises.

Every Thong I Wanted is a song of close inspection - it could be another song catching a glimpse of herself and coaching a new personal attitude. The TOTP performance was what drew me in: it's very alluring and distills a lot of the darker qualities that many people associate with the unique release of a Dannii Minogue song. It has a glinting, tentative vulnerability to it.

Below: Dannii's fans take a lot of knockers.
Of course, the Xeonomania dance remix puts her on a pedestal, which makes it more vigalantly exposed - the track ripples as it comes into focus, which is my favourite thing about it. I think it would have stood a better commercial chance in this form, but it's a tough call. That is to say, much of these songs - Am I Dreaming?, Heaven Can Wait and EIW - are very sparse and delicate, therefore don't have thw colossal appeal that All I Wanna Do had.

If It Moves - Dubt It was most likely intended as a kind of Deee-Lite doodlebeat throwaway exercise. It doesn't infect the listener with much fun beyond Dannii's 'I wanna see you mooouve it' groaning, which sounds like an aerobics instructor talking in their sleep.

The majestic trance spritzer Disremembrance is a teary-eyed poppers o'clock emotional tsunami, and perfect 90s gay bar fodder. Illuminating, orchestral, and possible to imagine Ladyton penning it for Whigfield. Dannii soars in desperate need yet defends her priorities ('I feel much older now, but I'm still too young to care'). Her triumphant vocal form is liquid sadness - the thrilling singing defends her lust with a necessary sense of entitlement. Kylie's vocal traces are blown away to Uranus.

With more deep breaths from Dannii than contemplating what sun lounger to use, It's Amazing turned out to be the album's best kept secret non-secret-track weapon.

Movin' Up was an unequivocal nod to her puppy-phat boppers such as Jump To The Beat, with consensual sensual moanings of agreement. The giddy and exciteable vocals decorate her best recorded squeeling since Party Jam.

The fag-end of Girl is a hidden treasure. Australian-only single Coconut is one of the most eccentric productions in her idiosyncratic cannon. 'So let me get this straight' is clearly tongue-in-cheek as the track hyperventilates into the campest productions she ever put her name to.

Someone New is a gutsy hell-bent for revenge song, fueled by fury and defiant disgust as Dannii mocks her ex-lover to satisfying levels of megalomania ('each night I was alone with you I could see myself with someone new'). Dannii is really up for it, and the spat-out chorus purges everything all out.

Keep Up With The Good Times is a rampant utopian Euro-dance number spalttered with Italo-house pinano keys. Even if she is a little battered and bruised (surgically and emotionally), there is just something so endearing about this track - it's so giddy and wistfully optimistic.

For most dance-pop artists, compilations are the top prize, and yet as Dannii Minogue fans are bestowed with many collections, her top draw was a flop studio album that nobody bought in 1997. Redeem yourself now.

Fight For This Love

I adore Sade and cannot wait for the definitive song-with-love-in-the-title of 2010 to massage my ears all next year. Her new album Soldier of Love is set for release in February.

Madonna - It's So Cool

I hold the faith that Madonna's Hard Candy and Celebration albums were simply contractual obligations. Once we get another Like A Prayer/Ray of Light I am sure most critics will get a little softer on her most recent releases. I was never terribly fond of Bedtime Stories initially, but somehow after the double onslaught of her 1998 and Music albums made me want to warm my hands from its gentle slow burning tracks, I grew to hold up moments such as Survival and the intro to Don't Stop as iconic. 4 Minutes is one gigantic skidmark, but at least it was a hit and I always frantically unplugged my headphones out from my mp3 player and into the treadmill I was running on whenever it came on the screen - it does have adrenaline to it. I also like Heartbeat, but felt my ears bleed with her frail straw-sucking vocals.

The point of Madonna is not just to be successful or to look good - I actually like the way she sounds! I hate Annie Lennox's Sing and yet Madonna's vocal saves the day. And so with anticipation of another artistic 'comeback' I know there will be one shining light from the Celebration era that will help my inevitable 'you know, it wasn't that bad when you think about it' arguments.

It's So Cool is a thumping sarcastic dance throb - Madonna's milky-but-stern vocals certainly are still as witchy as her 'let's join the party - yeah' dry-purging cougar routine, but this bonus track works well making her sound enigmatic and commited to a decent melody. Even though I love the glamour to the original Celebration's wave crashing trance, this track is so much more substantial and like all the songs making her discarded eras essential for revisting, it is an unassuming gem.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Fight For AATW Supremacy

Karen Parry watch out gurrl, there's a new skank Nazine on the scheme, with about as much star quality as a big shit covered in glitter. I say new, but it was only today I cast my eyes on the dead-eyes of a mysterious session singer staring blankly into presumably some club bouncer holding up his mobile phone at her. Resonance Q got a 2003 tart-over on their 'classic' anthemic cover of Mariah's forgettable hit single Someday. AATW has disabled the video from being embedded onto blogs - Karen must must still be a nervous wreck!

I just love watching AATW music videos on youtube for the comments section alone - where else can you find such class such as the user LiverpoolsOwnJoe's informative 'this is me mates cuzin..shes a dance teacher now in the swan', and Saxyvtr's reccomendation 'sounds great in a Saxo with 2 subs pounding :)' whatever that means.

I'm Breathless

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Pearly Gates Rubs It In

When a 'friend' messaged me on Facebook about the return of Pearl Gates with a video co-starring Gay porn twit Zeb Atlas my choice was made for me, I had to come clean. My story is really embarassing and I come off more than a tad desperate, so naturally I have to share it. Basically, we have all be scammed by fake profiles online before. Haven't we? Well I have been, quite a few times! And maybe two years ago I fell for the biggest hoax since Dannii Minogue's record deal with AATW.

A Russian doctor, a brain surgeon, started messaging me on Gaydar. I know what you are thinking, where could I possibly began to suspend my disbelief. His profile, which is now deleted sadly, had a picture of Zeb Atlas on it. Now at this point I had no idea who Zeb was as I'm pretty useless at looking up porn - 'N Sync's Tearing Up My Heart is usually good enough for me. He was calling himself something like Duhkkan, which he said was a local Russian name, and oh yes that he was 7ft tall with a 12 inch penis and was active in bed. We even spoke on the phone!

So far so good, right? Well, then he wanted us to meet - and I must point out the it wasn't like we had phone sex or anything so I honestly was not detecting any bull shit - and talked about having dinner. Then things did begin to puzzle me: it's not like I'm a complete narcassistic retard you know. He lived in England, but had a home in Edinburgh (as he was a rich Russian brain surgeon - keep up!) and chose The Witchery for us to dine and stay over. A quick google later and I discover Dannii Minogue has been there before and wrote on the guestbook it was 'DA BEST LOVE DEN EVAH', which got me even more dillusional. She seriously does.

But before any of all this fantasy could not come true, I had to look the part and he arranged a date for me to meet up with his lesbian personal shopper. You know what, I've told enough, but basically I took a day off work for this craziness and funnily enough this was exactly when he stopped answering his phone (he said his hands were too big to text, dear God). He did later get back to say that he couldn't make it as he had been in a car accident and broke two of his two loegs.

Now that my brain was more tormented than ever, I decided to be rational and create my very own fake profile and found out he obviously hadn't broken two of his two 7ft legs. I also posted the unknown-to-me picture of Zeb on and asked who this person was and soon found out.

I mean Jesus Christ, who on earth would fall for this? ME, that's who. So no Peral Gates, you can move on girlfriend 'cos your song is messier than a pearl necklace and I can only take so much - just don't tell me it's coming out on a 12" as I'll fucking snap, gurrl!

Cher Is Allman & Woman

If Cher continued to make flop after flop in the late 70s, she certainly was not about give up on her heroine addict husband. Greg Allman might have been a junkie, but love is the only drug throughout his collaboration with his then-wife on Two The Hard Way, released in 1976 under the name of Allman & Woman. Cher's over-ripe chugging rock would soon consume the singer well into the 90s, but this is the final thread of her meditative 70s balladry and what a discreet bow out it is.

The album's genre journey is a short trek through folk-disco, bar numbers and, YES, torch ballads. With a hazy folk-rock forumula, the songs all drip from the same tap. These two are in love with each other in every song, with little to none musical variation, which is a lot to ask for from a Dark Lady and a bad ass druggie. Nevertheless, I am grateful to hear Cher sing softly throughout and her genius here lies in the caressing sympathy and stubborn love for a gritty-voiced drawling redneck.

Her own voice is a sharp intrument with underrated precision, and its on fine understated form here balancing out the gravel of Allman, easing up on the howling to a near stand-still, but thankfully remains as vulgarly proud as ever. The conflict of their love is sadly non-existant here, but her 70s corporate 'whore ballad' persona is erased completely even if I do admit to missing her improperly excessive comedy squaks. Mrs Allman's witchy wail is perfumed into soft-rock housewife kareoke, with her drag queen confidence toned down to a strangely modest expression of desperation not conveyed any other way.

Album opener and first single Move Me is a rather decent albeit featherweight Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel affair. Because these two are so cheesey it takes a few listens for it to emotionally penetrate, but mostly this is just a giggle. Shallow and pleasant from a distance, as all the album is, there is a likeable sweetness, but beware of camp limitation from here on in.

I Found You Love is similarly jolly, with Cher soon growling to prove it. Her brassy emotionalism is a fine weapon to use, and the swoonsome backing vocals sweep the pair off their feet. The closest Cher gets to a good ravishing with some tumult in her vocal finally soaring - if fans are expecting hard-driving they might be disappointed.

The serviceable bluesy number has the kind of rueful 'you do me wrong' lyric Cher loves to howl, which she expertly dramatises with winceing and minceing delight.

The unsteady You've Really Got A Hold On Me is a faithful cover, but with crutches on - the light-footed pace is trumpeted down to a disabled waltz. I certainly love Cher singing 'I wanna split now, but I just can't quit now' but the percussion-battered plodding is rather pedestrian.

On Can You Fool, Do I Ever Cross Your Mind keyboards dillute Cher's relationship angst into a syruppy foot-tapper. We get Cher's falsetto and 'man, you can be so cruel' is just about worth it. Sweet and just a little overcome, her soulfully rubber vocals are as charming as ever. The gender-turn-around lyrics are 'every memory is a bandaid'

Cher struts back into the bar for We're Gonna Make It. Allman blows his load first, but Cher catches up and then some on the chorus with much-ado about 'we gon' make it' etc. Allman's second verse comes seariously close to crashing into the same melody as those on Cher's very own u2 favourite I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For. A tangled up guitar line attempts some sense, but there's no getting through to these fools. Some butt-twitching soaring from Cher helps ease the lull.

The skippable Do What You Gotta Do is gospel-like. It's a bit of a shame the album doesn't have more bite to truly indicate their turbulent relationship, which probably identifies the public statement Cher indtended to depict them as overcoming their critics.

The jauntily inviting In For The Night has nice organ sounds, but they are meddling and may as well have hired their own private kareoke booth and got on with it. Cher has found her perfect match ('to square me') - Allman's anthemic grittiness makes it hard not to chuckle imagining this is their very own I've Had The Time of My Life.

The tearful Cher solo Island is expressively melancholy, and her rawly elegant style is reliably poetic.

Two lovers seemingly getting exactly what they are after, the shaky hooks on I Love Makin' Love To You slightly overexposing themselves when Gregg groans 'honey don't stop' and Cher comes up for air: 'I want you to fill me ... with your soul' (strewth). Cher's voice is more sax than sex, but we get the point and feel violated by its end. 'Keep me up forever, nobody does it better, come and get it while it's hot' probably kept them both happy at least.

Throughout the curtain of blurry-eyed ballads and southern folksongs, Cher translates these MOR numbers as best she can: far removed from her culture heroine status as she could possible get, if these songs are too dilluted, Cher's voice is a plot in itself. As it stands, the brand names finding a cause for themselves on this record make it perilously close to the ostrich nostalgia of Cher's rose-tinted stans. Exemplifying the limitations of good intentions, there are more than enough good reports, and Cher is obviously getting a rush from all of this, never failing to embelish every word with suppleness and a self-amusement we can all feel a part of.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Lady Gaga's The Fame Monster

Just when we were beginning to wonder if Lady Gaga was ever going to return from her self-imposed exile, the reclusive 15-minute superstar is back to unleash The Fame Monster upon us. This add-on E.P clusters together 8 brand new tracks, of which some are outstanding: new age disco tunes in the musical biosphere of Nina Hagen, Madonna and Grace Jones.

First out the cage is the visciously irrational single Bad Romance, which begins with dark and humorous silent movie foreplay. But once underway, its claustraphobic attack is a fully immersing, full-throttle modern day Bohemian Rhapsody: the large and violent vitriol is fragmented into uncountable sections, each slashing different blades to weaken you under its immense weight, but is thankfully tamed with lashings of melodic respite.

The skull-crashing thud of the dancefloor-bouncing beats provokes Gaga's most insane face-screwing/ear-chewing wretched gargling yet: 'gaga oh wha wha wha' seems to be her rabies-mania put to good use, and such stimuli is dancefloor heroine.

She blubbers 'I don't wanna be friends' the way she ran across the VMA stage singing Paparazzi, only this time it's not annoying and pathetic - I think her distress would have been more humorous if she was wailing her romance-rejection as 'I don't wanna speak French'. Maybe that's just me. Her aural excretions are even more ridiculous, but the riot act textures are genuinely formidable - far too lividly theatrical to be properly sleazy, bringing this hot mess to the masses is no small achievement. 4:22's tossed off 'ugh' is beyond the fierce.

The UV-ray Ace of Base voltage of the shimmering mid-tempo march Alejandro is as close to blushing pop perfection as anyone is going to get - the washing-machine groove has to be heard to be believed. A clubcentric dub-reggae applies a playful gloss for the dancefloor dirge to settle down into a less meandering style, giving better definition to her symetrical lyrics, but the melody is no less unrelenting. The chilling heat and fluttering echo's rhyming 'Alejandro' with 'Fernando' conjures fervent Spanish eyes spying from behind slatted open-folded fans (although to me it flashes the image of being tag-teamed by two holiday reps in Ibiza, with Dannii filming it on her Nokia). The obvious La Isla Bonita comparisons are well earned, but it's elements are a pure replica of the Swede's Don't Turn Around - it's the kind of song I would love their original line-up to step out on the Eurovision stage with.

The oceanic electro diffuser Monster is another knockout with slushy synths and vocals like sucking the dregs with a straw. Gaga captures her disgust beautifully: 'I've never seen one like that before' is fabulously rude, and yes I apologise for using the word 'fabulous' - needs must I guess. The vivid and foreboding intro has regal strings to match the singer's appalled talky bits, with a jaded chorus gaining victory with subtle scorn, fizzing synths and wistful disco nostalgia.

On such good terms, Gaga completes her dancefloor-roaming dominance with the extravagant melancholy of the stark and poignantly unfeeling Dance In The Dark, which is bruised and numb with dripping synthesizers and self-destructive chorus, yet remains captivating and accessible. She might be recycling the verses from I Like It Rough, but the theme of abusive lovers in different contexts pensively shadow them together. Her daunting monologue references Princess Diana whilst sounding like a keyring Rikki Lake soundbite ordering 'you got that, gurrl?'

Combining melancholic and sparse intensity with otherworldly 90s trance, the slick Starstruck Part II, So Happy I Could Die, is impeccable. Madonna deserves all the patronising z-snaps from rubbish gays in the world for Celebration after hearing this. The music is sensational - adrenaline seeps out into a dreamy club-fog moment of sheer heaven - I want to listen to this after 5 drinks on the dancelfoor, like, now! The eyebrow-arching lyrics are shamelessly trashy and magnificent, generating a substantial classic if ever there was one.

The glitzy stomper Telephone speed-dials Beyonce to engage in the first decent superstar diva duet since What Have I Done To Deserve This. Distracted and huried verses combust into a crying out chorus - Beyonce arrives in a right state, vibrating with rage and cellulite, she tries to fist her way in but this is Gaga's territory. They fail to play off each other, but nor does it descend into a catfight.

On the placebo track Speechless, Gaga still can't quite pull of being vulnerable - when singing an undisguised ballad she lacks the lyrical command to hit the nerve the way she does on her open-fire stompers. To temper such tracks as Bad Romance with a ballad such as this is good thinking, but it's still a stinker. Perhaps her lyrics of overstated alientation and style are more suited to dancefloor influences, but this does not cut it as she just sounds vaguely foolish with no glint of diverting glamour to rescue her. She needs to dare a little deeper than her make-up next time.

The easily rescinded concrete-scraping ersatz dirtiness of Teeth is anything but vunderful. Whereas the overdriven and abrasive approach works on Bad Romance, her vague sense of sleaze on this chintzy toilet-blocker is about as corruptive as using someone else's floss.

The Fame Monster is an epic monolith of bold finds: predatory dance beats, face-painted beauty, quirky lyrical gloss and one try-hard wannabe who no longer has to try hard to prove herself until her next album; Lady Gaga is no makeshift stale-sounding Madonna; flaring up her influences, she'll never fart in the same breath as Madge, but she actually is the new queen of pop for now. So deal with it, bitches. This album peaks so high it's not even worth bothering about her obvious faults, horrendous grasp of controversy and inability to pull off a conventional ballad, but Red One states her case more than her own brattish taste for come-down dissilusionment ever could.

Still to come in November:

Danniiographii (Parts 2, 3, 4 & 5)
Depeche Mode
Cyndi Gets Bitter
Cher's All Man & Woman In A Man's World
Best of 2009


Dannii's 1995 Sessions reviewed