Friday, 30 March 2012

This Week's Top 5 Songs VI

I've been listening to David Bowie, The Beatles & Madonna a lot on my iPod this week, so some of these "classic" artists are reflected in this week's Top 5 Songs post. I connected strongly with one Marc Almond song a few days ago - one I listen to quite a lot but which I didn't quite LOVE until then. In the last two days I had sex several times with a performance on American Idol. And then there is a plug I need to make.

Madonna - Gang Bang

I suppose this is a bit of a Marmite song. It's very OTT and I have to say it was love at first listen for me and one of the few highlights on the new Madonna album MDNA. It's sexy. I better not elaborate on that further...

David Bowie - Time Will Crawl

Kind of the Bowie discovery of the week for me. No, it's not one of his best but it's a pretty good song that I'd tragically overlooked until reading this blog entry earlier this week. Quite a haunting ear warm, this.

Othon - Impermanence (with Ernesto Tomasini)

Othon's released a second single of his second album this week. Not much to say about it. I love it, you'll either love it too, or you won't. Just give it a listen. You can preview and buy it (and its video) here.

Marc Almond and the Willing Sinners - Hell Was A City

Haven't we felt like this at some point in our lives?

How long do you think that you're going to lick
All of the boots that kick you?
You've had your face in the dirt for too long
Sweet revenge long overdue


It took me all this time to realise
That Hell was a city on Earth
And Jesus died for me to despise
The pitiful waste of his birth

I craved for the filth of the city
Gold pathway of dreams from my heart
But acid of misery ate up the gold
And sent me right back to the start


Oh go tell them all to forget me
There's no love left in me for them
Something is stirring deep inside of me
And I'll never see them again

Also I find this song incredibly catchy. :) You can find it on Marc's debut solo album called Vermin in Ermine, released in 1984.

Also here is a live version of Hell Was a City, performed in the mid-80's on Spanish TV.

Elise Testone - Whole Lotta Love

I got a lady-boner from Elise's version of Whole Lotta Love. Below are both the audio of the live version, and the studio version. Enjoy, if you like yourself a rock chick who can really SANG. (Oh, and if you're American you can actually buy the studio version on iTunes.)

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Haley Reinhart "Free" video

Here it comes! Haley released her debut single (which I LOVE as you can tell by the number of times I've featured it here on my blog) last week and the video for the song has its premiere today.

Even though I spend my life half-living in the world of music and film, I'm generally not as interested in music videos as I probably should be. So a music video premiere is rarely a big event for me. Still, this is Haley and therefore this video by default deserves its own blog entry here.

While Haley looks really hot in it, I have to say I'm not sure I get how her sultry looks and sexy poses relate to the lyrics of the song. She wants to break up w/ a guy who doesn't pay too much attention to her but at the same time she tries to get his attention by doing a sex kitten thing? I have to say though I'm a woman, 80% of the female behaviour baffles me, so maybe this video is more accurate than I think. :)

So, overall not a huge fan of the video per sé but I think it will do. I now wish the song gets played all over the world, the album is great and does great and for world peace.

Friday, 23 March 2012

This Week's Top 5 Songs V

Kelly Clarkson - Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)


Lana Del Rey - Off to the Races

Been listening to Lana on my iPod a lot this week. Off to the Races features the whole Lana cinema mystique and the feeling of an impending tragedy but at the same time it's an uptempo song. Not sure if many people would be able to pull off this combination successfully. Hats off.

The Killers - Read My Mind

The Killers song that I loved even way back when I hated the band and only registered it because Pet Shop Boys' Neil Tennant couldn't stop talking about them. Or rather "the perfect pop star Brandon Flowers". This is the sort of song that makes me fly, almost literally. It has one hell of a melody, a fuckload of hooks. BFlow is a great lyricist....yes his voice could be a bit more pleasant when he goes into the falsetto bits but whatever, this song is an anthem.

The stars are blazing like rebel diamonds cut out of the sun
When you read my mind

Pet Shop Boys - Boy Strange

I took out the Nightlife album for a spin for the first time in ages this week and realised what an underrated album it is.
I love the way the atmosphere in this song builds up, in the verses it's a very Neil - guitar-based song but the sonic distortions in the choruses make it truly special (esp. the final chorus after the 3:50 mark).

Othon feat. Marc Almond - The Tango Song

I don't necessarily subscribe to the sentiment of the song (lyrics written by Aleister Crowley) but hell, the melody is SO my thing and Othon's piano & Marc's vocals are superb.
You can find the studio version of this song on Othon's debut album Digital Angel.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Marcus Collins debut album Review

While Marcus's first album isn't a complete failure it simply makes me sad for him. It unfortunately seems his career has been screwed up before it even properly began. When I watched Marcus on the X Factor every week I imagined him to become a George Michael-style pop singer. A younger, tinier, prettier version, with slightly different musical leanings. But that wasn't to be. Marcus's love for Motown-y music got translated as cheap British imitation of the Bruno Mars brand of retro pop. Cheap being the key word.

If there's one big minus which I could apply to most of the album, it's the production. The production just feels sloppy. Now, The Beatles recorded their debut album in one day but that was material they've been playing for - in some cases - years. Marcus worked on this album for a month (today's equivalent of the 60's day I suppose) and it shows. The production is generic and soul-less, and so are Marcus's vocals in most cases. I wish Mark Ronson could get his hands on these songs (none of them is a real stinker). The album as a whole could do with a lot more balls and a lot less sonic mediocrity.

While the arrangements and sound needed the work of someone like Ronson, Marcus needed to have some time with these songs, make love to them for a while and figure out what works and what doesn't. It's astonishing how little he seems to know about the strengths and weaknesses of his own voice. He wasn't some innocent flower plucked from his hairdressing salon when he entered The X Factor. He'd been singing for years. Also I would've thought the vocal coaches on the show, and Gary Barlow would help him with this. He over-uses his falsetto, strains his voice but at the same time doesn't seem to give much of himself while doing that.

The album features eight original songs (seven of which were co-written by Marcus), and three cover versions. One of them opens the whole album and was also an unfortunate pilot single: Seven Nation Army. It's actually a cover of a cover, and it is not a complete tragedy. It's catchy as fuck and in the past month or so it almost managed to make me hate the song. I'm a White Stripes fan, even after the (original) song being almost everywhere at one point I never wanted to cut my head off when I heard it. It managed to be not only catchy but also raw and still damn interesting after the millionth listen. I used to love the riff so much. This version makes me wanna dance but I also hate it for it. I wonder if Marcus even knows what he sings in this song because he sure as hell makes me forget. I'm glad he (or was it Ben L'Oncle Soul?) had the sense to omit the part about bleeding before the Lord.

The other two cover versions on the album - Higher & Higher and Tightrope - are not as controversial but also feel unnecessary. We've already seen Marcus perform Higher on the X Factor twice. And the inclusion of Tightrope I get even less. Why would you put an almost exact same copy of the original song on your debut album? I only hope no good song got kicked off the final selection for the album for these two.

It's not easy trying to determine if you'd like a certain song when you hate the way it was arranged and produced. Still I did manage to find a couple of stand-outs in the underwhelming mass. Don't Surrender is the stand-out track on the album for me. A really good song, probably the best one on the album from the song-writing point of view. Here you have proof that a good song can't be completely destroyed by lacklustre production. Then there is Mercy, a probable second single. It seems to me more work might have gone into this song than to the rest of the album. It's quite memorable right on first listen, it has a bit of attitude and its own personality. If only the rest of the album had balls at least as big as these!

Love & Hate, That's Just Life, Feel Like I Feel (Gary Barlow-penned, not good enough for Take That?) and Break These Chains are all good-enough songs which would benefit from better production and more passion from Marcus, and everyone else involved. Retro does not equal cheap 70's disco, please!

Innocence (has anybody heard a hook here?) and It's Time (is it over yet?) are the weakest points of the album. Thankfully they are placed within a respectable distance from each other.

Marcus Collins's debut album is 34 minutes long but feels much longer. It's supposed to cheer you up but its shallowness only mainly manages to wear you out.
It's actually quite like cheap chocolate: it serves its purpose but it doesn't quite satisfy. It leaves you wanting a proper praline. I hope Marcus will get a chance to make a proper praline for us in the future, he does have the potential.

Friday, 16 March 2012

This Week's Top 5 Songs IV

Jack White - Love Interruption

This one's a real grower. And an ear worm. And while Jack has always been a pretty good lyricist, I'd say this song has one of the best lyrics he's ever written. It reminds me of Bernie Taupin's lyrics to Elton John's I Want Love (and not only because it begins with the exact same set of words).

I want love to
walk right up and bite me
grab a hold of me and fight me
leave me dying on the ground.

And I want love to
split my mouth wide open and
cover up my ears,
and never let me hear a sound.
I won't let love disrupt, corrupt, or interrupt me anymore.

Haley Reinhart - Free

Yep, I know I already featured this song here a few weeks ago but I finally had the chance to hear the finished studio version - and I'm relieved to say I love it! If it gets enough promotion this song could be a hit. Fingers crossed!

Marcus Collins - Don't Surrender

The stand-out track on Marcus's debut album for me (I'll write a proper review of the album in the next few days). From a song-writing point of view this song is actually REALLY good. The production fits it well and so does Marcus's vocal. Overall a nice surprise.

Rufus Wainwright - Out Of The Game

Musically I wasn't in love with this song at first. It almost felt like I heard the exact same song from Rufus before. But this bitch has started to eat away on my brain & I have to admit I like this song now, very much in fact. And the lyrics are great. Of course they are! It's not like Rufus is not one of the best lyricists out there!

Say, come over here,
let me smell you for one last time
before you go out there
and ruin all of the world, once mine.

I'm outta the game
I've been out for a long time now

Marc Almond - When Bad People Kiss

I almost Feel like it wouldn't be a proper Top 5 Songs post without a Marc Alomond song in it, preferably a slightly obscure one... This week it's When Bad People Kiss and you can find it on a fan club compilation called Little Rough Rhinestones Volume 2 (released in 2006 on Blue Star Music). I love when Marc goes full-on chansonier. Just him and a piano... A great little gem of an original song. I hope it never gets polished, it's perfect as it is.

Friday, 9 March 2012

This Week's Top 5 Songs III

Another Friday, another Top 5 Songs post...

David Bowie - Ashes to Ashes

I got myself a record player/turntable earlier this week and decided to test it in style: by playing one of Bowie's best singles (actually his best no. 1 single, in my opinion). What a great feeling.

Marcus Collins - Break These Chains

I've bought Marcus's Seven Nation Army single this Monday (I know I know...) and have been listening to the b-side a lot. Not that I like it so much. It's not a bad pop song but I'm not crazy about Marcus's vocals on this one, or the rest of the production. Which is a shame. I think the song does have a potential.

Marc Almond and the Willing Sinners - Love and Little White Lies

More of a chant than a song. LALWL has an almost hypnotic quality...once it starts I don't want it to end. This is one of my favourite songs of Marc's, the backing vocals remind me of what Kate Bush started to explore on her albums Hounds of Love and (especially) The Sensual World. It's a shame Marc doesn't get more recognition as a songwriter and musician, even he doesn't give himself enough credit in this area.
You can find this lesser known song on Marc's second solo album Stories of Johnny, which came out in 1985.

Can't find the studio version on Youtube, but I did find this neat live version (sadly sans the cool backing vocals that are on the studio version):

Haley Reinhart - Hit the Ground Running

One of the two new songs of Haleys. The other one is called Wasted Tears and is equally good. I'm just very excited about these. Haley seems well on her way of actually utilising her potential. She writes her own songs and obviously has a good ear for potentially commercially successful stuff. These songs are good, memorable as well as completely "her". So many artists who got discovered through talent shows tend to come out with inadequate/bad/boring/underdeveloped music after and I'm really happy to see this doesn't seem to be Haley's case.

Perfume Genius - Hood

I got myself Perfume Genius's second album this week and fell in love. Hood, the first single (with an uproar-causing video), completely mesmerised me the first time I heard it a few weeks ago. Wow. What beautiful, pure, emotionally charged music.

You would never call me baby
If you knew me truly
Oh, but I waited so long for your love
I am scared baby that I can't keep it up for long

Oh, I wish I grew up the moment the second I first held you in my arms
Underneath this hood you kiss, I tick like a bomb

You would never call me baby
If you knew me truly
Oh, but I waited so long for your love
I will fight baby not to do wrong

Such simple lyric, but wow, so powerful.

Friday, 2 March 2012

This Week's Top 5 Songs II

A run-down of the music I've been listening to in the last 7 days, in the form of 5 song picks.

George Harrison - Wah-Wah

I watched the Martin Scorsese documentary on George Harrison earlier this week (he did a great job btw) & therefore was reminded of the Beatles' song-writing genius. I'm a huge fan of the Beatles but I'm not that familiar with the guys' solo stuff. I suppose I listen to solo/Wings McCartney the most...I have to be in a certain mood for Harrison's songs but those of his songs I know have one thing in common: they are all great. Harrison was, in my opinion, the best lyricist of all the Beatles (If I Needed Someone is a good early example of his ability to express "stuff" in a clever & effective way, using some dry wit). Wah-Wah was apparently written after a fight with Paul McCartney on 10th January 1969 (witnessed in the Let It Be film). BTW, isn't wah-wah such a good word. Any idiot can use swear words. Look at me.

Johnny Cash - Cocaine Blues

Since it was Johnny Cash's birthday last Sunday I finally gave a proper listen to his legendary live album At Folsom Prison. The whole record is great so it was hard to choose a stand-out track. I love the way Johnny's voice cracks on this song (which was actually not written by him).

Suede - Can't Get Enough

This song kinda makes me wanna go to an orgy...and snort something. But since I'm a good girl I at least play it properly loud. If I ever were able to write songs, it would hopefully be something like this.

Erasure - Chorus

The melodic choices used in this song just fascinate me. The melody is just so unusual, it completely intrigued me right on the first listen. Why the fuck did I think they were some 80/90's synth-pop joke for so many years?!

Marc Almond & the Willing Sinners - Angel in Her Kiss

I listen to Marc all the time yet for some reason it is not reflected in this blog at all. Well, here's one of the (to the masses) lesser known songs of his. You can find this song on Mother Fist and Her Five Daughters, a brilliant album of Marc's, which was released a few months before I was born (in 1987). Again, I chose this song for its unusual melodic choices...I suppose There Is A Bed or Mr. Sad are a wee bit more conventional, or even commercial, and I did warm up to them more quickly but right now Angel's offbeat qualities are winning...