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Monday, August 28, 2006

Well...

If i'm not around for the next few days, it's because this damn hurricane knocked the power out.

While i'm gone, listen to the new Lillix album, which is amazing. It's already been released in Japan and will be released in Canada tomorrow, but the U.S. release has been postponed until next year because their former label Maverick has folded. I liked Falling Uphill, but this is way better. Adding a new drummer and Killers' producer works wonders, and the hooks are stronger.

Also, stream the debut album from Paula DeAnda, a 16 year old singer doing the really poppy r&b thing. Stargate worked on a lot of the album, and they did the one good song on the new Beyonce CD, so you know it can't suck! If you doubt her pop cred due to her wannabe "urban" persona, check out the Raven-Symone cover "Overloved".


Last Updated @ 9:13 PM
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Sunday, August 27, 2006

Britney Spears on the cover of the May 2001 issue of Glamour (sorry for the crappy quality scans, I just found this issue under a pile of old magazines):




It's really interesting to read, given what's happened since (hint: she was dating Justin, and many people still thought she was a virgin). Damn, she almost seems like a completely different person now...

I'm a Slave 4 U (Thunderpuss Radio Mix) - released several months after this article was published.

Bonus: Jessica Simpson shilling for haircare products!



Not the Way It Should Be - Rare Irresistible era ('01) track. I'm not sure if it's a b-side or what.


Last Updated @ 12:10 AM
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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Yaay!! I'm finally ready for another megapost!!

After the Spice Girls and S Club 7, and shortly before Pop Idol and its hugely successful decendants, Simon Fuller signed a solo female.
Amy Studt was a pop singer with a little attitude. She could be somewhat considered to be the British answer to Avril Lavigne, with semi-bratty lyrics in her rock-pop. Her debut single "Just a Little Girl" was released in 2002, the same time as Avril's debut, meaning that they were probably both in gestation during the same period and Amy was therefore not a copy. However, she mysteriously dissapeared for a year before releasing her biggest hit single (and only top 10) "Misfit", and the album False Smiles. Despite several single releases, the album never took off, so it was decided that there would be a re-release. The single pushing the new version of the album was a cover of Sheryl Crow's "All I Wanna Do", featuring Crow herself on backing vocals. It was a horrible choice, and after its relative flop in early 2004, that seemed to be it for Amy; although her official site is still under construction to this day, which hints that she may not have been dropped, at least from Fuller's 19 management.

Ladder in My Tights - If you only download one Studt song, this has to be the one. Pure genius, co-written by ex-Alicia's Attic member Karen Poole (who has also worked with Rachel Stevens and others). It encompasses the best of Amy's sound: the verses are more pop synthesizer-based, which turns into an anthemic guitar chorus, all with cheeky lyrics. Any song that features both a masked profanity and an interpolation of KC and the Sunshine Band in the same hook is an amazing triumph in my eyes. Why this was never a single will forever be one of pop's mysteries. *Extremely highly reccomended* by me.

Under the Thumb - A single off the album, kind of reggae/ska inspired, mixed in with her own sound. It kind of reminds me of "Underneath It All" by No Doubt, except angrier.

Queen A - Like I said in my last post, I was unable to get a hold of the CD single of "Misfit". Reader Simon Underwood decided to help me out, and I appreciate him greatly!! This is a really cool b-side, with electronic-inspired elements. Interestingly, it has the same basic lyrical theme of the a-side, that of stuck-up bitches in high school that look down upon girls that aren't just like them.

Put Your Faith in Me
- Another b-side on the "Misfit" single, also thanks to Simon Underwood. It's a really sweet and pretty ballad, but a bit of an anomaly among her other songs.

Kick Me - B-side to the "Just A Little Girl" single, where it seems as if she (and her record label) were still exploring and deciding upon a sound. It's alternately dancey and ballad-y, and different from most of the rest of her stuff.

Rose - Beautiful and ethereal. Basically a ballad, but with a unique arrangement, including Irish-inspired background flutes.

Superior Mind - Another standout album track. The lyrics are pretty good; the chorus is pretty catchy.

False Smiles - The album title track, oddly relegated to b-side status. In my opinion, that's not because of song quality - it would have fit into the CD perfectly.

Just a Little Girl - A minor radio hit in New York, although Amy never managed to have a formal American release. It's a very interesting mix of slow piano verses and rock chorus that separates it from the typical Avril clones, but that unusualness is also probably why it didn't catch on.

Forget It All
- A b-side to "All I Wanna Do"; a really pretty mid-tempo. Her vocals are almost operatic in this one. It's one of those songs where the title is never actually mentioned in the chorus.

You're Like the Breeze
- The second b-side to "All I Wanna Do", co-written by Amy and Karen Poole. Like many of her songs, it was helmed by Norwegian pop producers Murlyn, who have done a lot of good stuff (Samantha Mumba seems to come to mind, though i'm not completely sure on that). This is another song I strongly recommend - definitely album worthy, although judging by its release date it was likely recorded too late to make the cut.

To top it all off, here's the video for "All I Wanna Do", with a cute waitress motif. Despite probably ruining her music career, I honestly don't think it's that bad.




Last Updated @ 8:33 PM
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Saturday, August 19, 2006

Hey guys!! Sorry I haven't posted in awhile, i've been busy preparing for college classes (new semester begins next week, woot), being sick with a horrible stomach virus, and all that jazz.

To the anonymous commenter in the last post - I don't really have a set schedule for updating. I try to update every few days, but as you see, it doesn't always happen. Sometimes when I have a lot and am really inspired, I can post two days in a row, then it might be a little more than a week. I have some stress issues so I don't really put a set schedule on it. Part is me being lazy, and part is me trying to do/find the very best. When I post I usually want it to be all comprehensive and shit, so I usually don't want to do it until i've found all kinds of obscure b-sides and remixes and write a tiny bit about each. (I've been planning to do an Amy Studt post forever, but some prick on Amazon.co.uk never sent me the "Misfit" CD single I ordered, so that's been on the back burner.) That perfectionism causes problems with it. This blog is basically a hobby and not even one of the big pop blogs, and I kind of like it that way, even though I extremely appreciate everyone who has linked and commented from the bottom of my heart, because it makes me feel good. (Also, *kisses* to any Americans who voted on the So You Think You Can Dance. My favorite, Benji, won!!! I like to think it was a reader of Tip Top Pop that put him over the top.)

My other fantasy boyfriend Clay Aiken is putting out a new single. It's a cover of "Without You", previously done by Harry Nillson and Mariah. Not sure it would be my first choice, but he sounds amazing on it, despite the song being on the adult contemporary side of things. Nowadays that's where a lot of pop goes in the U.S., though. This version was produced by John Fields, who did some work on Backstreet Boys' Never Gone and Mandy Moore's Coverage.

On the what's-next tip, in a few days you can expect a blowout post on early '00s pop singer Melissa Lefton. I bought the unreleased advance CD online and you'll get the whole thing, plus some extras. Again, I want it to be all perfect and everything, but I promise it'll be up soon.

So I don't feel totally pathetic at the moment, I'll leave you with something off the Snakes on a Plane soundtrack, one of many albums i've bought and am planning to buy over the past month (By the way, the Christina Aguilera album is stellar, and i'm happy I waited. I even think it warrants both discs!) and featuring remixes of many emo pop/punk bands. I know absolutely nothing about the Hush Sound except that there's apparently both a male and a female singer, and that Pete Wentz pimped their album by spoofing his infamous nude pics, covering his bits with the CD case. I think it's really good. The piano elements are nice.

Wine Red (Tommie Sunshine's Brooklyn Fire Retouch)


Last Updated @ 11:13 PM
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Saturday, August 12, 2006

I can't believe i'm wasting my 50th post on this skank, but here goes. Everybody knows "Stars are Blind" by now, which wasn't nearly as horrible as I was expecting. Anyway, the album Paris has leaked, and most of it is horrible. Her over Scott Storch hip hop tracks is hilariously bad, the one ballad is extremely ill-advised, and the less said about her cover of "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy", the better. But probably because the girl is so damn rich that she can afford decent producers and songwriters, she even managed to get a few better than decent tracks out of it.


Nothing in this World - Written and produced by Dr. Luke, but not another in the procession of "Since U Been Gone" clones. It's more electronic/dance influenced. Apparently this is going to be the next single. It has the typical lyrical content of this album (i.e. Paris Hilton is really sexy), but it's tolerable with the hook.

Screwed - Different from the remixes that were out a few years back, it's great dance/rock. It has a great melody and was co-written by pop impresario Kara DioGuiardi. The title has obvious implications, but the song really has nothing to do with the sex tape unless you read into it a lot. It just makes me want to hear Hailey Duff's version more.

I Want You - This is all right; I don't really like it that much, though it's grown on me. It's mainly notable for sampling Frankie Valli's "Grease", and was produced by the same guy that did Rihanna's "SOS", so he's very adept at using samples. Pure cheese. There are some decent belted vocals at the end that I swear aren't actually her.

If this post saves one person from buying her album and putting more money into her useless coffers, I did my job. (Lest you think it's solely my bias, listen to the whole album here.)


Last Updated @ 1:00 PM
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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

After British girl group All Saints broke up, the sister half of the group decided to form a duo. Nicole and Natalie Appleton gave themselves the creative name of Appleton. They became more known for their tabloid exploits than their music. The thing is, their music was pretty good. Their album, Everything's Eventual, had some similarities to the All Saints sound, though it incorporated more rock elements. After some initial success with their first singles, the whole thing went down south. A reunion of All Saints is rumored to be happening later this year.

Don't Worry - Probably their most known hit, which peaked at #5 in the U.K. and was a surprisingly big success in Canada as well, partly due to the fact that both sisters were born there. It's a pretty, atmospheric ballad and probably my favorite song of theirs.

Fantasy (Tom Mandolini Vocal Mix) - The debut single with the highest peak (#2). I can't stand the lyrics that are basically about how hot they are and how all the guys want them (which played into their image at the time), but it has a pretty good melody. I like this dance version a lot more.

Sugarman - Mid-tempo rock/pop number that isn't nearly as dumb as the title suggests.

Open to Suggestion - In the same vein, but with a few more electronic flourishes. One of their better b-sides, though most of them are very good.

Let It All Hang Out - This is a bit wierd. It has some so-called rapping and interesting samples, and is FAR more different from the rest of their material, but it's still worth some listens. The mediocre sound quality is due to it being from a cassette single (I don't think they even make those anymore).

I'm Your Angel - Sweet ballad. Not a cover of R. "Piss on You" Kelly and Celine Dion. Their airy, light vocals work really well on this.

Everything Eventually (Sander Kleinenberg's Remix) - This song didn't deserve to flop anywhere near as hard as it did. The original is a real breezy song, perfect for spring or summer. This adds a new twist while keeping the same vibe.

P.S. If you watch So You Think You Can Dance and love your hapless blogger, please vote for Benji this week. He's talented, funny, cute, and dances to Dannii Minogue songs. How can you go wrong? ;)
P.P.S. I'm still managing to hold out on downloading Back to Basics. I'm surprised at my willpower.




Last Updated @ 11:45 AM
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Thursday, August 03, 2006

This is Clay Aiken. This is his hot new look. And this is what was intended for his new album, A Thousand Different Ways, out on September 19th that I am totally pumped for and buying. In 2005 he went on tour (because he's a touring whore, and frankly he sounds even better live than in the studio), where he previewed several new songs that were meant for his sophomore mainstream album. Clay fans kick ass at getting almost CD quality recordings via smuggled equipment into concerts, so that's what's here.

Back For More - A great midtempo pop number, laden with lyrical irony and a possible wish about being all over the radio. Probably not with this project, but i've seen wierder things happen. This was probably booted off the album when RCA decided to do a theme of love songs, and opening with the line "not too crazy 'bout love songs" might not fit. It's still a shame, because from what i've seen (this tour went nowhere near Florida...) this really got the audiences pumped up. The beginning guitar and piano are reminicent of "The Reason" by Hoobastank. It's catchy as hell, and I hope it doesn't end up on Taylor Hicks' album or something, because I could see it as a hit for almost anyone.

Tears Run Dry - It's a mid-tempo ballad similar to a lot of the material on his first album, Measure of a Man, but I was all over that shit. Nick Lachey sort of ripped off this song for "What's Left of Me"...not really, because I doubt he ever heard it, but they sound very similar, and with the new form of the album including four original tracks, it likely doesn't make sense for one to sound very much like a recent hit.

Just You - Another ballad, a little slower. There's some unusual vocal change-ups and shifts in the melody that most singers wouldn't be able to handle, but I don't like it as much as the other new tracks he sang. He probably didn't either, because it was the least-performed out of them.

1000 Days - This one did make the album! Some of the lyrics are a bit wierd in this midtempo track, but that can be quite common in pop songs. I didn't love it at first, but it gets stuck in your head after a few listens. Maybe i'm biased and trying to look for it, but I genuinely got that earworm from the hook.

His official site has more info on the new album. I'm not completely in love with the concept, but he'll sing his ass off on it. Maybe "they" don't write pop songs for male singers anymore (suck it, Clive Davis), or maybe they just didn't look hard enough. Ah well. I'm a big fan of innovative pop, but there comes other times when I just like a sweet ballad or mid-tempo sung by an amazing voice. Clay can bring that. I'm also doubting international prospects, but Ronan Keating and Westlife somehow continue to move units in the UK, so if given the right promotion, who knows, since he can outsing any of them. Vocals aren't everything, but they can bring up average material to another level for me. It's kind of different and going against the current tide, and the best and most successful music right now is that which seems to be going in different directions than what you'd expect "pop" to sound like. Now the "in" thing is to be "edgy", which is great, but a steady diet of edge can rip up a stomach when not countered. I'm not expecting everyone or even anyone who reads this blog to like or even tolerate Clay, but allow me to indulge myself every once in awhile. *g*

Bonus: Invisible (Julian Marsh Mix) - An attempt at a dance remix of the big hit single from the first album, also released in England by Irish boy band D-side. It makes it slightly more uptempo and extends it a bit, though this guy couldn't do much without the acapella. It's been accused of being a stalker song, and I guess that could be true, but it's pure hooky pop of the likes that hasn't been successful in America for several years until recently, so a song like this doing as well as it did in 2003 is a huge accomplishment.

On another note, Christina Aguilera's Back to Basics has leaked. I fully intend on buying it, so i'm being a wierd freak and not downloading it because I want to listen to it in full for the first time that day. All i've heard are the single and some crappy quality radio rips, although today I was sent a radio survey online featuring clips of "Hurt" and "Oh Mother". Next single? Not sure what I think, though i'd probably go for the latter. Apparently "Candy Man" is coming before those, though. She's another one whose voice I can listen to virtually anything sing. The general consensus seems to be that it would have been better to cut the album down from its double disc status, but i'm greedy and love every little bit of music that's coming. It took long enough!


Last Updated @ 6:30 PM
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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Again, I know i've been neglecting this blog for a bit, and I feel horrible about it. I got my wisdom teeth (all four of them!) removed last week, and it took me out of commission for awhile. I'm still a bit sore.

Anyway, back to the music, which will be forthcoming regularly!! This is a pretty small post, but more will be coming later. Because of a certain diety that's been bugging Jessica over at POPtastic , she's not going to be posting anything from the UK for awhile. Therefore, I will be carrying the torch for a bit.

This group would probably prefer not to be posted here, because they seemed to believe that they were hardcore rappers, which they weren't by any stretch of the imagination. The first thing you would have noticed about Blazin' Squad is that there were ten members (whose names I won't bother to list; eight rappers, one singer, and another that was supposedly a DJ but whose actual purpose was to cut into the other members' share of the royalties. Their music was far more pop-rap than actual hip-hop. It makes sense, since they all had really preppy real names and went to private school, so they were pretty much fake and therefore despised by many for most of their existence.

I'm basically posting about this because i've become mildly obsessed with the 2003 single "Flip Reverse". I ignored it at the time because I had heard their debut single the year before, a cover of Bone Thugs and Harmony's "Crossroads"...even though i'm not a hip-hop fanatic, there are some classics in any genre that shouldn't be touched, and their remake was horrible. It went to #1 on the British singles charts, so go figure. They released more singles and two albums and went on their merry way, until about a month or so ago when I came across the song. This is proof that even the crappiest groups can pull a decent song out of their asses every once in awhile.

Flip Reverse - This is the jam! If you were into Blue's more uptempo numbers, this is right up your alley, except with more rapping. It has a great Asian-inspired beat, with some mouth-instrument-playing (heh) that manages to not be annoying. The singer is serviceable, while some of the members have decent flow and others, not so much. Judged as a boy band (which they truly were), they were superior rappers to the likes of BSB's AJ McLean in "Get Down" and about as good as Five in that department. This second single from their sophomore album peaked at #2 in the British singles charts.
However, "flip reversing it" is possibly the dumbest euphenism for sex I have ever heard. In this hilarious interview on the comedy/talk show with-a-twist Never Mind the Buzzcocks, former member Kenzie (the one that used to have the 2-2-1 spikes in his hair like Gareth Gates; which I remember because I had a brief infatuation with Gareth in 2002 that caused me to import his debut album) claims that the song could also be about changing anything in your life to do something different. He barely beats out Jadyn Maria in the battle of delusional family-friendly rationalizations for lyrics.
Because i've been playing out this song over the past month, i've been looking at a bunch of stuff on YouTube, like a CD:UK performance that seems to be one of the only times they did the song live. It's interesting just to wonder how the hell they managed to fit so many people on one stage, and they manage to mostly live up to the studio version with some nice touches, like a bit of extra singing ad-libs. I also found a visual interpretation of the lyrics, which reaches its peak when a photo of Michael Jackson's mugshot accompanies the phrase "freaky-deaky shhh--" (censored, of course, for their young fans).

Here 4 One - Less poppy, but still good. Even more so than "Flip Reverse", it's far better when you ignore the fact that a bunch of British teenagers made it, since in some parts they try to sound 'hard'. It was the last single they put out, also from the same album.

Both of their albums are available on American iTunes, but all of their other singles sucked. A streamlined lineup is planning to make a comeback later this year, but I doubt they'll be successful. Three of the members went on to form Friday Hill, a more 'traditional' pop group, whose songs can also be downloaded on there.


Last Updated @ 10:19 AM
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