We’re almost there folks…
10. MADONNA “MDNA”
How do you solve a problem like MDNA? The record was, in theory, to be Madonna’s enormous return to the pop world and, if history had actually served us correctly, it was also to be a post-divorce revelation, much as 1989’s “Like A Prayer” – a definitive album which came after a tumultuous marriage to the Paparazzo’s worst nightmare; Sean Penn. In light of Lady Gaga and the whole Born This Way fiasco, it really felt like a lot was riding on this new material. The problem, though, seems to be the insane time constraints behind the LP’s creation. Working with the likes of Martin Solveig on a large percentage of the record was enough of a nail in the coffin to assure a percentage of the record sounded dated, and did so very quickly. Aside from the monstrously fierce “I Don’t Give A” (a song in which Madonna snatches the dusty, carcinogenic weaves of all of her haters and wipes her arse clean with them), which is perhaps the only single-worthy moment of Solveig’s productions on here, a lot of Martin’s productions fell apart in the short months after the album was released. Abreast from the hysterical “B’day Song” which I wholeheartedly love, adore and worship even though I should definitely know better, songs like “Beautiful Killer” and “I Fucked Up”, complete with lyrics so naff you’ll find yourself developing tinnitus, really keep MDNA from being a truly great album from beginning to end.
And herein lies the problem with this record. MDNA was very obviously created in order to drum up promotion for the real money-maker; the MDNA World Tour – and it shows. As I’ve said, a number of the songs sound rushed and – at times – a little stale and unfinished, but then there are also absolute beacons of hope, glimpses into the creative and story-telling Madonna of old, which make up for the weaker shortcomings. This is where the work with William Orbit and Benny Bennasi comes in, the only two producers on this record with an actual formulated idea of what Madonna should be recording this far into her career. If we had stuck to a simple tracklist of Girl Gone Wild, Gang Bang, I’m Addicted (which should have been the first or second single), Some Girls, I Don’t Give A, I’m A Sinner, Love Spent (another wasted opportunity for a killer single), Masterpiece, Falling Free and Best Friend, MDNA would play out as a Top 5 album – like all of her other records. MDNA is mostly great but is it free of flaw? Hardly.
But then there’s songs like “Gang Bang”; an exciting foray into the early 2000’s world of German Hard Trance (which a total of Nobody is currently implementing into their sound in 2012) that borrows instinctively from Neils Van Gough’s “Pulverturm”, is one of the most innovative and forward-thinking moments of her career – this jarred and abrasive club romp that ends with the albums best climax, whilst the fully-loaded 2-chorus extravaganza of “Love Spent” may very well be the most honest and heartbreaking of all the songs from this era. “I want you to take me like you took your money;” Madonna tellingly coos before adding “Take me in your arms until your last breath. I want you to hold me like you hold your money. Hold on to me till’ there’s nothing left.” It’s a lyric that speaks volumes on the topic of her divorce from The Guy Itchy, and although Love Spent doesn’t do a very good job of painting him in the most considerate of light, the lyrics (which, admittedly, are at times a little naff themselves) for “Best Friend” do soften the blow. The chaotic “Some Girls” is distorted bliss; thick lashings of bass over a heavily vocodered Madonna who proclaims that some girls are not like her, “I never wanna be like Some Girls.” It’s Madonna paying homage to Miss Kittin once again; the beats slayed across this anthemic club-stomper are like an exciting journey into the underground world of electronic dance circa-2004.
Big ballad “Falling Free” is exactly the kind of thing I’d like to hear more from Madonna on the next album. You know, a couple more ballads and a bit more thought and consideration when it comes to pre-planning (like, eg, keeping the fans you already have rather than always trying to generate new ones) wouldn’t hurt at all. As for the Bennasi stuff, the highlights there are “I’m Addicted” – a song that sees Benny channel production in a way I haven’t heard him do since “Satisfaction” – and second single “Girl Gone Wild”, which would have been an International global mega-hit had somebody else been singing it. A flawless single, but at the same time a kick in the face for long-term fans like myself who were hoping for more. But where do we slot the infectious “Give Me All Your Luvin”? Very, very cute, enjoyable, and to be honest an actually quite amazingly fun pop song that came complete with an incredible video – but first single? Really?!! Let’s not beat around the bush here, it’s almost as if MDNA was doomed from the second they decided to release the song that’d been available online for months prior as the first single. And no, I will not be talking in length about “Superstar” but I will say it is quite literally the very single worst thing Madonna has ever been involved with, and that includes when she was fucking Dennis Rodman.
So, after all of that, how do you solve a problem like MDNA? You open a new playlist, make an abridged, 10 track version of the album on iTunes and call it a day; that’s how.
09. CRYSTAL CASTLES “III”
For their third commercially released full-length album, Crystal Castles have taken their sound to another level. The dark, twisted and often demonic sounds of Castles remains throughout “III”, however with this album the duo seem to be a lot more aware of commerciality, and how to combine a strong, sleek pop-sheen with these twisted computer game sounds. Fever pitch screams from Alice dominate the record (album opener “Plague” is like listening to a rabid Techno Enya), but it’s subtle vocals like the one she belts out for songs like “Kerosene” and “Sad Eyes”, the latter which is an exhilarating trip into Italo-electro-pop (a genre the band have never really experimented with, at least not at the level of this track) that not only plays as the duos best and most commercially viable moment to date, but also sounds like Sally Shapiro on a lot of ecstasy. Very strong contender for Song of the Year. There’s also really huge, near-instrumental cuts like the pulsating “Wrath of God”, complete with an eerie breakdown that’ll make your soul feel like it’s walking through a cemetery at 3AM. It’s this beautiful, graceful and almost whimsical air about these songs that, combined with harsh bleeps-and-blops, really send shivers up the spine and solidify why this blend of spooky dance-pop resonates with my listening tastes so well.
Make no mistake; Crystal Castles are at the very top of their game with III, a record with twelve perfect, near-psychotic tracks and a level of assurance we’ve yet to have heard from them.
08. IAMAMIWHOAMI “Kin”
Sweden’s alluring iamamiwhoami began with a bizarre stream of YouTube videos that were backdropped with frighteningly incredible electronic synths and pop melodies. As months went by we were slowly introduced to the mysterious Jonna Lee, albeit still to this day very mysteriously. The group are incredibly in tune with the audio-visual aspect of their art; every single released on iTunes to date has an accompanying video clip and the release of their (long awaited) debut album was no different.
Clocking in at a perfect nine tracks in total, each song on the record has its own video component and, unlike most record’s that suffer from anywhere between 3 and 6 tracks too long, KIN manages to present an actually flawless record. There isn’t a dud in sight, not a bad egg anywhere – iamamiwhoami have exceeded expectations since their first release and this record does not interrupt that flow in the slightest. Whilst it’s easy (and, perhaps moreso, lazy) to compare iamami’s sound to the likes of Bjork, Portishead and even the Swedish connection of The Knife (when, to be honest, things like “Idle Talk” are more Human League gone Swedish Acid Tab than Bjork), there’s something undeniably authentic and original about what is on offer throughout KIN. The sound of Lee’s voice with these very hypnotic synths and basslines is bliss to sit through, and subtle album opener “Sever” does so magically before merging itself into the slightly crazy and 100% amazing “Drops”, a chaotic moment in frantic beats and haunting harmonies; there’s a lot going on but not too much for you to be unable to keep up. Another highlight is “Rascal”, a slower-paced moment that harks slightly on the Kate Bush side of things (yes yes, more lazy comparatives), should she ever find herself making electronica on Ableton Live, anyway. It is however the final two moments on KIN that are most certainly iamamiwhoami’s finest. “Kill” is a six and a half minute excursion into exactly the kind of goosebump-inducing sounds she can generate – a song that builds upon itself into some seriously massive moments. The lyrics (if you can understand them – they’re all in English but sometimes you’d be pressed to realise it) are monstrously good too, but listen to Kill’s final two minutes and try to stop the waves of musical euphoria take over your senses. The most commercially viable song on KIN (which does not necessarily mean it is free of bizarreness) is the still bonkers “Goods”, complete with one of those choruses you hear once and will never forget.
On a production level as well this is their most extravagant adventure by far and, fittingly, serves as the record’s closer. If you’ve never heard of iamamiwhoami and are a little disillusioned with pop music at the moment then you’ll find KIN to be an absolute revelation. It does everything that pop isn’t doing right now and whilst I love all kinds of pop here (when it’s done well), KIN is definitely an album your high-brow ‘real music’ listener (whatever the fuck that is) can enjoy alongside your local pop freak.
07. VAN SHE “Idea of Happiness”
Over the years, Van She have been a major staple within not only the pages of this blog but also the magazines and papers I write for locally. Their incredible releases, from the promising self-titled EP in 2005 to the debut long player, 2008′s “V”, an album that has stood the test of time and remains one of the greater Aussie pop releases in years, to their pulsating live shows that leave no prisoners – It’s been four years since we’ve had real new material from the boys and a lot has changed since then. What’s perhaps the most exciting thing about this huge gap between record’s is the obvious growth and evolution of Van She as producers, song-writers, musicians and, more importantly, as Men.
The record is 11 tracks long – 8 vocal tracks and 3 instrumentals – marking it within the ranges of being the perfect length for a great LP. Essentially you’ve got a killer 8-track record with three really exciting dubs in between, something that was momentarily toyed with on 2008′s “Temps Mort” but has absolutely been mastered on Happiness. “Radio Waves I” and “Radio Waves II” are bass-heavy excursions into a proper musical trip, the pinnacle being the sudden key-change in the latter’s half-way mark. “Coconuts”, the record’s final Instrumental cut, sounds exactly like what a coconut would sound like if it had access to a recording studio/organs (HAR HAR) – the three of these tracks cement Van She’s importance within Australia’s music industry as producers – already aceing it last year with Sneaky Sound System’s “From Here To Anywhere” (my Album of the Year for 2011), there is a level of thickness within this record’s sound that can only be attributed to a real understanding of each song on the album.
The lead single “Idea of Happiness” re-sparked many music listeners interest in the band and translates incredibly well live. The middle 8 is killer but is it killer enough to have been chosen over “Jamaica” to be the first single? Perhaps not. It bridges the gap between their old sound and their new groundings quite nicely, but Jamaica does it so effortlessly, with its soaring chorus and Nick howling about Jamaica, it’s difficult to understand what went on with the single-choice decision-making. Look out for the massive Xylophone moment that runs basically through the entire song and comes complete with one of the very best final 40 seconds in pop this year. “Sarah” is by far-and-away the greatest thing Van She have ever put their name to (and is also the next single), this already Iconic step in Australian music is the band’s big Fleetwood Mac moment. A delicate opener that bursts into the most beautiful pop-rainbow the band have ever assembled. What is it about these boys and songs named after Girls? Maybe album Number 3 can be a record full of Iconic songs written about different girls and their names? But it’s the dark, alley-way nature of second best moment here “We Move On” that really captivates. A proper beast of a production that toys fleetingly with dubstep (blink-and-you’ll-miss-it fleeting, just how I like it, thank you), and the lyrics are major, some of the most advanced and personal in their repertoire.
This record is perfect in length and in its tone, with what it’s trying to do; everything. The boys have nailed it with this monumental 11 track religious experience.
06. WHIGFIELD “W”
After twenty-five singles and four stunning studio albums, Queen of the Clubs Whigfield is back with her fifth long playing record, and the return is indeed cause for celebration as it is her very first in over 10 years. The Danish beauty is back with her exciting blend of dance floor-ready club hits and insanely catchy pop hooks. Current single “4ever” places itself into Classic Whigfield Territory witihin its first minute, and last years “C’est Cool” sits comfortably here with these upfront club cuts.
Giving sad flop Alexandra Stan a run for her money, Whigfield delivers more life and gusto into these songs than any of the random dancepop divas flooding our charts for five minutes at a time; stuff like “Devil Called Love” and “Just Because You’re Beautiful” is the kind of material most of these faceless dance ladies would dream of, whilst corker “As I Go” not only shows the Black Eyed Peas how it’s actually done, it also has ‘Summer Hit’ written all over it. “Jeg Kommer Hjem” is one of the highlights, fusing Whigfield’s Danish tongue with twisted levels of dubstep, taking the sound and distorting it far enough for it to add a truly original element to the track. But it all lies with flaw-free album opener “Stay In My Head”, a track which takes the coveted title as W’s hallmark moment. From the song’s structure to those mind-lodging “Stay-e-yay-e-yay-e-yay-e-yaaayayayay!”s at the end of the track, it’s exhilarating to hear Whigger’s smash up the dance floor like she does on this bonza-beast of a song.
What’s clever about this album and its release is that Whiggers has unleashed it upon the world at exactly the right time; the 1990’s influence in music is stronger than ever at the moment. What Whigfield has done with “W” should be commended; she’s taken everything about the way she constructed her songs through the 90’s and fused it together with modern beats to create a truly brilliant album for the 21st Century.
Although it’s nice to finally have some official word direct from the woman herself, Madonna’s tardy apology to her Australian fans is perhaps too little too late for many of her admirers across the country today. The day I found out – just under two months ago – that Australia was off the MDNA tour itinerary I was sitting at my desk at work, counting down till 5 o’clock. It was 2pm that I had heard the bad news, and at 2:30 I swiftly left and explained there had been a “family emergency” (I know), and spent the next 90 minutes on a delayed train hiding my puff-pastry eyes with huge aviator sunglasses. Once again, Madonna had just as easily torn my hopes to pieces as she did build them. Here is the “video”, which is actually just audio.
The story is the same; Madonna discusses the horror of balancing a personal life that revolves around her children and her role as The Queen of Pop, using it once more to justify not coming to Australia. Interestingly, Madonna only admits to not bringing her tour to Australia last time; 2008’s Sticky & Sweet Tour. However, if my Year 9 math studies serve me correctly, it’s actually been the last three tours now that Madonna has failed to bring to Australia, once again after countless promises that she would be here next time.
This recycled excuse can only be legitimately used so many times. If Madonna was honestly trying her best to bring the tour to Australia then perhaps she would have started the first leg of it down this side of the world? Something I’ve said on this blog a million times before. Finally shut those Aussies up and kick off the tour down under and perhaps leave countries like Russia and France to either sit at the end of the tour dates or – like us in Australia – just completely detour them. It’s not like she hasn’t taken the last couple of tours to these countries, correct? I understand there is nobody to make a political statement for in Australia, but how about just coming because we really love you and have been treated to broken promises for so long? How hard is it – really – to commit to a few dates in Australia? Time and time again Madonna has continued to let her army in Australia down, whilst ungrateful fans in areas where her tour has graced its presence with are booing her and calling her a slut as she performs – and for the umpteenth time in their country. It’s a frustrating process to have to watch every Madonna tour via shoddy bootleg camcorder recordings and YouTube links before the DVD arrives, but it’s an annoyance I have more than become accustomed to. Australia may be a length away but that doesn’t stop big-named acts with even bigger-stage-productions like Lady Gaga and U2 touring the country; and if you recall, US pop-rocker P!NK proved there was an incredible amount of money to be made in Australia – the time and effort she put into working the country has been reciprocated; P!NK could release three minute audio of a plastic bag being ruffled and it would still debut at #1 on the ARIA singles chart. Madonna’s chart successes in Australia have dwindled since her no-show for 2006’s ‘Confessions Tour.’ Bypassing Australia once more is going to prove most detrimental to M’s sales; Aussies flock to record stores when artists come for a visit but Madonna’s lack of promotion for MDNA bar the actual tour has been non-existent. So, if the tour is in itself part of a promotional package spurred on by the MDNA album, does Australia’s removal from the itinerary mean the artist has absolutely no interest in promoting herself, and thus restricting her sales, in this particular country? How are we supposed to feel after each tour is announced, the same countries get first pickings whilst Australia’s left on the maybe back-burner for a grueling and lengthy period before that maybe is swiftly turned into a No?
The jig is up.
The excuse may be the same and in turn it is probably genuine, but how can we trust a woman who has cried wolf now a total of three times? If you recall, Guy Oseary, Madonna’s manager, tweeted months ago that “I’ve already made a promise to Australia and I intend on keeping my word.” Guess that’s just another promise to bite the dust then? I’m not going to turbulent extremes by trashing my enormous Madonna collection (OH MY GOD I COULD NEVER GURL) or shipping them off to the highest bidder as some other Australian fans have been in light of all this news, but who’s to say how I’ll handle the heartbreak a sixth time? What happens then? Whatever happens, I’ll be blissfully posting positively about her work on the blog and pretend like nothing has happened beyond this post. Bit hard to forget about it though, and the first time I watch the MDNA Tour on DVD, I’ll be emotional for all the wrong reasons.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Madonna’s career. But at the 30 year mark of her career things are not as they were when she embarked on her tall body of work; there’s a new Pop diva vying for her title and she didn’t have a family to worry about back in those days either. Times have changed, but as seasons and eras go by, the Aussie fans (the ones of us that are left) still want to see their Goddess on their turf. Australia should have been more than just an oversight with earlier bookings, but what can you do. And as for the record MDNA itself, it has a lot of strong songs with heavy weak-points, proving the album itself was too much of a rush-job to coincide with the launch of the tour. I plan on going into MDNA’s content with great detail later in the week, and I’ll go through where I think the records problems lie and where it truly delivers Classic Madonna Anthems. But in hindsight, how powerful would an album containing around four monolithic ballads be, as xolondon has once suggested? How amazing would it be to see her working with Patrick Leonard, Stephen Bray or even Jellybean again? Nile Rogers?! At the 30 year point she seems hellbent on self-referencing; so why not self-reference even further by creating some sure-fire radio-ready hit singles? And some solid, indisputable album tracks to go along with it? Put those old producers and songwriters in a room someone like Stuart Price or Mirwais (an underrated element to Madonna’s body of work), making it this massive composition of old and new, making something completely fresh and interesting that puts Madonna in the front-line once again as Pop’s reigning First Lady. In my eyes she still is, but I’m not sure I can say the same for everyone else; particularly older fans who have, in recent years, turned their backs on her completely and given up. Why is it so hard for a woman with such a long history in exciting the masses to understand what her fans – the ones she’s had for years and not just since the release of Born This Way - want so much? I feel like some better decisions could be made here, and if there had been, maybe the press and those ready to kick Madonna by-routine whenever she’s down wouldn’t be laying into her so much.
You know, in that audio message Madonna sarcastically says she was going to write everybody a letter. Well perhaps she should start with maybe not me, but the people around me who’ve had to put up with my incessant whining and sulking whenever you’ve bypassed a tour. Actually I’d love a letter thanking me, personally, for my near-29 years in service to this woman. I may not be rich enough to fly overseas to see her tour in another country but there isn’t a day I don’t spent a good hour or two doing something that is related to Madonna’s body of work. I don’t feel like I’m entitled to some personal apology but after all that it certainly wouldn’t hurt.
For gods sake Madonna, come and tour Australia, stop trying to win over new fans with your choons and start making songs to keep the fans you already have – before it’s too late. And maybe that personally signed letter too if you haven’t completely disowned me.
(Amazing picture at the top of the post taken from the stunning Madonnarama.com)
It’s that time of year once more; The Queen has turned 54 and as is tradition on Adem with an E, I’m going to celebrate with a day of Madonna tours on DVD, lots of records and cassettes, a cake and – naturally – the obligatory Madonna/YouTube birthday blog-post.
I’ve spoken many times about the affect Madonna has had on me and my life over the years so I’ll spare you the dramatics again; just sit back, enjoy these classic (and sometimes rare) Madonna videos and celebrate The Queen and High Priestess of Pop’s triumphant 54th Birthday.
Happy Birthday my Darling; I love you.
Hilarious Bonus scenes from IGTTYAS.
Even MORE bonus scenes from IGTTYAS.
The incredible documentary shot for the Sticky & Sweet Tour, some incredible (my sugar is) raw footage.
“The whole thing needs to be a jump-rope extravaganza!”
An incredible interview from 1991′s Omnibus. Very candid.
This legendary interview comes complete with Madonna giving host Arsenio crap in relation to his speculated relationship (and break-up) with Paula Abdul. Amazing television.
Frank interview around the Truth or Dare/In Bed With Madonna era where Madonna answers the host articulately and concisely. A great watch.
Here is one of the traditional Birthday Post videos; Madonna’s invention of wearing a pink wig and lip syncing for her life to “Like A Virgin.”
“Open. The Door. NOW.” Madonna at her best.
Queen Madonna talks about Moist Thrushmore – also known to some as Janet Jackson – and being “mystified” by the shade she has thrown at her. “I’ve never even met the girl.”
From the premiere of ‘Truth or Dare’ with Madonna, Niki and Donna. Flawless and rare television.
Performing the greatest song of her career at The Virgin Tour, “Gambler.” As a child I used to be able to re-enact this routine at the drop of a hat and it may very well be the reason I have spent half of my life on my knees.
Madonna squirts some smoke from her punani during the Drowned World Tour.
“But at least I’m not boring. And I’ve never been arrested.” The awkward moment Madonna starts talking about sex with a child sitting on her lap.
Madonna and Sean Penn have just gotten married you guys! HI CHER!!
MADONNA IS PREGNANT TO HER PERSONAL TRAINER CARLOS LEON!! WHAT WILL THEY HAVE!!!
“That” infamous Letterman appearance.
Madonna visits David Letterman again – this time for Valentine’s Day.
Performing pop-classic “Girl Gone Wild” at the MDNA Tour and being generally flawless in everything she does.
Killing at the 46th Super Bowl half-time show.
“I’m here because I wanted to talk to you about us.”
Madonna has a KiKi with some drag queens.
Kurt Loder interviewing Madonna for MTV on the set of “Take A Bow.”
Madonna performing “Take A Bow” with Babyface.
Like A Prayer live, Blond Ambition Tour (Pony-tail Edition)
Happy Birthday Madonna.
Here is a playlist of about 55 tracks comprised of 100% Ace Pop that is – mostly – from 2012. Let’s have a look at some of the songs on this Very Good Playlist Even If I Do Say So Myself. If the above widget isn’t working (or is curiously not displaying 55 tracks) then point your browser hurr.
PURPLE CRUSH – Basic Bitch
Brooklyn duo Purple Crush are a big favourite of mine. Their 2011 EP “Welcome 2 The Underground” was one of my most played last year and, if I ever decide to finish my 2011 year round-up’s, a number of songs (including this one) feature throughout that end of year songs list. You should also take a gander at their excellent homage to Madonna’s “Reductive” moment from earlier in the year and also their GREAT cover of Fischerspooner’s “Emerge.” One of the brightest emerging acts (ho ho!) in Pop.
FLORRIE – Shot You Down / To The End / Every Inch
Florrie, as featured in my fun new banner next to Queen Madonna, has released what is by far-and-away the most exciting bunch of pop songs of her career. The frantic soundscapes of “Shot You Down”, to the no-prisoners rave-up of “Every Inch”, to the monumental “To The End” – her defining moment – Florrie is a properly amazing pop star and with each release she trumps herself greatly.
MADONNA – Gang Bang / I’m Addicted / Love Spent / I Don’t Give A
How different a campaign Madonna’s “MDNA” would have been with “I’m Addicted”, the superior dance moment, as its lead single. “I’m Addicted” is the best, freshest thing Benny Benassi’s produced since “Satisfaction” and could have given Madonna the club-pop crossover hit she deserved with this album. Even the Nicki Minaj feature “I Don’t Give A” would have made for a better, more striking first single than “Give Me All Your Luvin’”, which – all things considered – failed to do what it should have for Madonna on the charts because it was the wrong single. The singles should have played out with “I’m Addicted” as the first, “I Don’t Give A” as the second, “Gang Bang” as the controversial third and “Love Spent” as the albums final single. “Love Spent” is one of the most underrated Madonna songs in a very long time; the fact that it contains two completely different choruses has seemingly been lost on its critical detractors. It’s also the most lyrically vulnerable song on the album. And the thing that I love the most about “Gang Bang” is its obvious tribute to that iconic early 2000′s German Hard Trance sound. People teetered with German techno from the 90′s but nobody has really taken direct inspiration from that truly golden era of early millennium rave and that is something Madonna needs to be commended for. The song itself is a little like Madonna doing Neils Van Gough’s stadium-rave anthem “Pulverturm“, but with a lot more vitriol and anger. It’s also the most experimental and forward-thinking thing Madonna’s done since the American Life record and is said to be the final single from the MDNA era.
VAN GO LION – Glow
Portland duo Van Go Lion are another of my big favourites from 2011. This song in particular encapsulates everything brilliant about their pop songs and their “Body Moves” EP from last year is something worth chasing up. Big things coming for them in 2012.
VAN SHE – Sarah / Coconuts / Radio Waves I & II / We Move On
“Sarah” is Van She’s big Fleetwood Mac moment from their incredible sophomore album “Idea of Happiness.” Vocally Nick hasn’t sounded better and on a production front this is their grandest moment to date. A massive review of this excellent album is on the way, I just have to get it right y’know? There’s a lot to say about an album as good as this one, and the other four tracks amongst this playlist that are lifted from the record are a great sample of what to expect when you eventually invest and Buy The Album.
PET SHOP BOYS – A Certain “Je Ne Sais Quoi”
I’m not the biggest fan of PSB’s new single “Winner” but this B-Side is where the money is at. Non-apologetic classic Pet Shop Boys pop. How Very.
GOSSIP – Move In The Right Direction
After “Heavy Cross (Fred Falke Remix)”, this is the Gossip at their very best. A stomping pop song with Xenomania on production credits – not exactly a terrible fusion is it? And the album “A Joyful Noise” delivers exactly what it says it does on the tin.
ICONA POP – I Love It
Imagine if this had been the new Veronicas single instead of “Lolita”? Get this on Australian radio at once.
MARINA & THE DIAMONDS – Lonely Hearts Club / Teen Idle / Valley Of The Dolls / Fear & Loathing
Marina’s “Electra Heart” is one of 2012′s best records and these four songs are a great slab of the cream of the crop to be lifted from it. “Lonely Hearts Club” sounds like it’s been ripped right out of a 1980′s Molly Ringwald movie, “Teen Idle” is pretty much the most incredible thing Marina has ever penned, “Valley Of The Dolls” is eerie with its end-of-the-world talk and Illuminati undertones therefor making it one of the most interesting and captivating pop creations of the year, and then there’s “Fear & Loathing” which, funnily enough, seems to follow similar themes. A full (and completely schizophrenic – you’ll understand what I mean when it goes online), rather lengthy piece reviewing this complexly wonderful album is on the way.
LADY GAGA – Scheiße
Shoulda been a single, my god. The best moment during Gaga’s epic Born This Way Ball.
NO DOUBT – Settle Down
I am here for this song and comeback, yes I am. This is 6 minutes of bliss.
WILLAM BELLI & FRIENDS – Let’s Have A KaiKai / Love You Like A Big Schlong / Chow Down / The Vagina Song
The break-out controversial star from RuPaul’s Drag Race and literally every TV show ever created is also one of the best pop stars to come from the series. Willam’s update on the Scissor Sisters song “Let’s Have A KiKi” manages to outdo the original, her stunning tribute to Selena Gomez and Enormous Cocks is truly touching, her collaboration with Vicky Vox & Detox, a take off-of Wilson Phillips’ “Hold On” that lyrically pays tribute to Chick-Fil-A Chicken, is Current, and of course “The Vagina Song” which really speaks for itself. I am a proud Willam Belli Stan and I will not Rupologise for it.
CASSIE – Queen Of Hearts
How has this not been the biggest Urban single of 2012?
LANA DEL REY – Off To The Races / Blue Jeans (Kris Menace Mix) / This Is What Makes Us Girls / Radio
I had the honour of seeing Lana live a couple of weeks ago and then the extended pleasure of meeting her afterwards (Full review with photos incoming) and I can’t get her out of my mind. “Born To Die” is obviously the album of the year and the tracks I’ve picked from the record for this playlist don’t even do the majesty of the whole record justice. If you haven’t yet, then you should. Lana is EVERYTHING.
ROGUE TRADERS – Girl In Gold
This flawless tribute to Deborah Harry is a truly lost gem from the Rogue Traders incredible final album “Night Of The Living Drums.” Second only to “In Love Again” as the bands finest creation.
SANTIGOLD – Pirate In The Water / Fame
Santi’s new album “Master of my Make-Believe” is a revelation, but these two tracks in particular are the records biggest slabs of self-assured Jamaican-tinged punk-pop. “Pirate In The Water” is the lighter pop moment but “Fame” is the lyrical clencher.
THE PRESETS – Youth In Trouble (Green Velvet Remix)
This incredible remix of an already bonza dance song from Australia’s very own is hopefully a nice example of the kind of anti-radio dance music the band started out creating. In its original form, “Youth In Trouble” is this acid-house rave explosion that is exactly the kind of rave I want to be hearing in 2012 and exactly the kind of rave Australian radio weren’t expecting from the boys. An inspired club-cut.
SNEAKY SOUND SYSTEM – Really Want To See You Again
Connie & Angus bat it completely out of the park once again. Lifted from my favourite Album of 2011.
SANDRA BERNHARD – Perfection
I’m not entirely sure what this electro-infused Chicks On Speed-esque dance bomb is all about but it came on at the end of Sandra’s excellent stand-up album “Everything Bad & Beautiful” and I just had to share it.
KATHY GRIFFIN – I’ll Say It
The theme-song from Kathy’s new talk show is all kinds of fun and literally makes Carrie Underwood completely redundant. Bitch bye! There’s a MIAMI MIX (!!!!!!) on its way too which you can hear in this video of Kathy & Gloria Estefan singing it together on stage. Amazing.
The playlist also features songs by Muscles, Azealia Banks, The Saturdays, Garbage, iamamiwhoami, Justin Bieber, Queen of Hearts, Loreen, Ricki-Lee, Nicki Minaj, Kylie Minogue, RuPaul and Jessica 6. Each month (or so) I’ll attempt to create a new playlist to share with you on the blog; let me know what you think!
For the first time in an incredibly long time, it has been an absolute event to be a Madonna fan this past week. The return of The Queen is one I have been waiting some time for – her first album since 2008′s “Hard Candy” is the March released “MDNA”, which is set to sizzle with pounding beats much like 2005′s stunning “Confessions On A Dance Floor” did, except there’s going to be a whopping 15 – 17 tracks on this record and multiple producers. Martin Solveig, who is behind the lead single “Give Me All Your Luvin’” takes a bulk of producing duties, as do Benny Benassi and his brother, and the return of William Orbit and Madonna as a duo on six tracks (including one called “Gang Bang”) is nothing short of incredible. This album is going to deliver some mindless, cheeky pop fun for the dance floor but it’s also going to deliver the depth on other tracks that so many were hoping to get from The Queen as a lead single.
There is fine line when it comes to Madonna and she’s damned if she does, damned if she doesn’t. In this case, the release of “Give Me All Your Luvin’” as the lead single is incredibly ideal, particularly when you take that Iconic and Mind-Blowing MadonnaBowl Half-time performance show from yesterday. Madonna’s detractors are constantly saying she’s either being too preachy, or she’s being too mindless, she dresses like a 19 year old whore, or that she looks too much like a mum. When are people going to stop expecting so much from a 53 year old woman who doesn’t actually really owe us anything?
As for the single, I am very much on-board and am hoping it becomes almost as big as (if not bigger than) “Hung Up.” It certainly has the potential to sell well after that performance and the fact that Madonna seems to be having a blast being Madonna again is going to help considerably. The chorus is infectiously good, and the song itself sounds more like Madonna and Solveig were channeling a twisted Dandy Warhols homage, spliced with a wink at Daphne & Celeste and a dubstep breakdown rather than those who have said it’s a Katy Perry b-side, Nicola Roberts rip-off or an Avril Lavigne cover. Crack is whack you guys.
And the inclusion of Nicki Minaj and M.I.A.? I am LIVING for their parts on this song now. The more I listen to it the more I’m picking up within it to love – just how much more polished on a production level (minor details like the way her voice echoes at the end of the chorus, whereas in the demo it just cuts out abruptly – these are the details I pick up on) it is as a whole. Minaj’s rap about Conan, clonin’ and barbarians is a thrill, and M.I.A.’s dancing during the Marilyn scene of the video is HOT. M.I.A. has never looked better; and by that I mean she has never looked more like a pop star. Her bit in the track is perfect too, exactly the kind of jam I expected from M.I.A. over that breakdown.
The video itself is a work of art; Madonna with her 1995 face, the symbolism, the Marilyn sequence, the modern throwbacks to moments of her careers past, even down to the stunning homage to RuPaul’s Drag Race star Sharon Needles with the top she wears; it was all just a good hunka eye candy. EXCITING eye candy. Madonna hasn’t made a video that good since “Hung Up” – she is selling that garment huntees!
Watching the SuperBowl performance live was nerve-wracking. I got tweets constantly and texts during the performance asking if I was alright (I wasn’t), people were proclaiming me dead on Twitter (I seriously thought I was going to need the Ambulance at one point), Mum was calling to see if I’d had a nervous breakdown (sort of); everyone just knew how explosive this was going to be for me. And as I sat there, an inch away from the massive plasma in the lounge room on Monday morning, I watched the event happen as it happened, with the whole world. Madonna was back. It was an overwhelming experience to say the least.
That LMFAO moment was exceedingly good; I now Stan for LMFAO. Everything makes sense now; LMFAO were brought into this world so that Madonna would do The Melbourne Shuffle on the SuperBowl. Now, when I was younger (I’m 28 now) I was into the rave scene quite heavily and the Melbourne Shuffle was apart of my weekend routine. As I said I’m 28 now and although I can still do it, I lose my breath after about 28 seconds and am reaching for all forms of ventolin and oxygen masks that are near-by. Madonna is 53 and she can do the shuffle without reaching for a gas-mask? YEAH BYE. Anybody that says she can’t dance has obviously never tried doing the Melbourne Shuffle and bitches, that thing is an artform that requires skill and precision. Although LMFAO’s is a bastardised version of what we know as the Melbourne Shuffle, that is where the shuffle came from and coming from those roots, it was uplifting to see Madonna pulling those moves in front of the entire universe.
When my Mother returned we watched the performance together and she had a crying meltdown as well. She said it reminded her of when we sat up waiting for the world premiere of Madonna’s ‘Like A Prayer’ Pepsi Commercial as a child together, sitting in the room partaking in this huge event. And there we were, once more, sharing this huge, global event together again with one of our biggest shared passions; Madonna. Yesterday was one of the most invigorating days of my life because of this particular experience, but in general due to the magnitude of how important this past week has been as a Madonna fan. If Madonna tours Australia this year – and it looks as though she might be – Mum is coming and vetoing on her usual concert-policy of “seating only.” Mum wants the best seat in the house alongside me and if that means we’re standing then she’s going to stand for The Queen.
“Give Me All Your Luvin’” feat. Nicki Minaj & M.I.A. (Single) = 9/10.
“Give Me All Your Luvin’” feat. Nicki Minaj & M.I.A. (Video) = 10/10.
Superbowl Performance = 10/10, even with the near-fall she still made you forget all about it within seconds.
The MDNA Deluxe Edition album cover = 10/10.
The MDNA Standard Edition album cover = 1,000,000/10. (SEE IT HERE)
The GMAYL single cover = 8/10.
Thank you, you may now leave the courtroom.
Today marks Madonna’s 53rd Birthday. Over the last three decades she has broken boundaries, pushed buttons, created a living legend and given us some of the most timeless pop music recorded.
Today, as I do every year, I honour the Birthday of Madonna with celebrations; YouTube videos, quotations, my favourite songs, unreleased stuff, all before tonight’s party where I’ll be watching her greatest clips and live performances with some of my best friends.
Here are some of my favourite Madonna quotes, and a select few of the many Madonna favourites on YouTube. Some of the quotes relate to the video below it, but some do not. It’s a bit of a mixtape.
To The Queen of Pop, Happy Birthday, and Thank You for the Music.
“I am big. It’s the videos that got smaller.”
“Happy Father Pussy Lover.”
“You’ve been hanging out with tramps with cheap clothes and bad songs to sing.”
“What is this strange fascination with Axle Rose? He looks very unhealthy.”
“I have a problem with the fact that there’s no air in here and I’m gonna die. Open. The Door. Now.”
“If I was a girl again, I would like to be like my fans, I would like to be like Madonna.”
“You’re not askin’ the question motherfucker!”
“Am I gonna be in a movie soon? Well the movie’s gonna be out soon. I’ve already been in it.”
“To me, the whole process of being a brush stroke in someone elses painting is a little difficult.”
“I wouldn’t have turned out the way I was if I didn’t have all those old-fashioned values to rebel against.”
“Every straight guy should have a man’s tongue in his mouth at least once. I don’t trust a man that hasn’t kissed another man.”
“I’m not interested in being Wonder Woman in the delivery room. Give me drugs.”
“Children always understand. They have open minds. They have built-in shit detectors.”
“I think that everyone should get married at least once, so you can see what a silly, outdated institution it is.”
“I would like to see the Pope wearing my T-shirt.”
“Catholicism is not a soothing religion. It’s a painful religion. We’re all gluttons for punishment.”
“I always thought of losing my virginity as a career move.”
“You understand what I’m talkin’ about Detroit?!!”
“Evelyn. EVELYN! I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to kill your son!”
“Everybody loves you when they are about to cum.”
“A lot of people are afraid to say what they want. That’s why they don’t get what they want.”
“Listen, everyone is entitled to my opinion.”
“Strong women leave big hickies.”
“Better to live one year as a tiger, than a hundred as a sheep.”
“To be brave is to love someone unconditionally, without expecting anything in return. To just give. That takes courage, because we don’t want to fall on our faces or leave ourselves open to hurt.”
“I have a cage, It’s called the stage. When I’m let out, I run about, And sing and dance and sweat and yell, I have so many tales to tell. I like to push things to the edge, and inch my way along the ledge. I feel like God, I feel like shit. The paradox, an even split. It’s just a job, I always say. I should be grateful everyday. Sometimes I think I just can’t do it, but I persist and I get through it. And I console myself each night, At least my cage is filled with light.”
Happy Birthday Darling.
Last night I had the privilege of sitting with Rogue Traders co-founder James Ash and having a listen to a bunch of demos for the bands upcoming album, their fourth overall and their first since Natalie Bassinghthwaighte’s departure.
Here’s the thing; it’s really, really good. Some of these unfinished demos sound more fresh and exciting than most of the things on the charts at the moment; I’d even go as far as saying there are some moments so spectacular that they trump certain key-points found on the bands last two albums.
All the stories you’ve heard about it being a dance record are bang on. If you were at all deterred by lead single “Love Is A War”, then you’ll be pleased to know it’s probably one of the less instant moments among the new tracks. It’s also the least straight-up-dance moment as well; there are spikey club-cuts throughout, with mild nods and references to everyone from Blondie, Phil Oakey, the Sugababes (v2.0) and even Madonna. In fact, the new Rogue Traders album is a bit like Richard X meeting up with Rachel Stevens and Lene Lovich in a thumping nightclub.
“Ease Your Mind” is, as James described it to me, like the Sugababes having it off with Justice. Think of “Whatever Makes You Happy” and then essentially times it by 10. One of the more instant moments, the glam-rock meets synth-overdrive of “Would You Raise Your Hands”, was an immediate favourite and is about musical snobbery. It’s a tongue-in-cheek, arms-aloft club-pop banger that smells like a hit single.
“Skyline” – although sounding nothing like it – is the albums answer to “In Love Again”, in the sense that it’s dreamy electro-pop with EXCELLENT lyrics. There’s also “Girl In Gold”, which is Ash’s tribute to Debbie Harry from Blondie (he told me he was staring at a poster of Deb as he penned the chorus – amazing), “America”, “So Lonely” (inspired by Britney Spears) and “Ease Your Mind.” All very, very good.
And what about Mindi Jackson, the bands new vocalist? Can she fill the shoes left vacant by Natalie? More than capable, actually. It doesn’t take long to hear that Jackson’s voice is stronger and has a lot more texture than Nat’s does; the vocal arrangements on the album are more complex and a little more experimental – a definite plus. I’ve said before that Mindi’s voice reminds me of Lene Lovich; add a very young Gwen Stefani, No Doubt-era into the mix as well. I’m actually REALLY looking forward to seeing Mindi perform with the band for the first time live on stage.
So in summary, If you were at all worried about the album; don’t be. Whether your worries were spawned by the idea you felt they couldn’t go on without Natalie, or because you didn’t quite like “Love Is A War”, cast them aside. It’s okay to be wrong sometimes and in this case, you are.
This album will change peoples minds about the group. Within a few minutes of hearing it I’d almost forgotten about the bands past; it is ALL about the future from now on in.
UPDATE: Album Teaser available on TheirSpace.