Three New Pop Singles By Seven Female Pop Singers

Moving house (twice) in a short space of time is stressful, and as a result my blogging has suffered in the last few weeks. As I move to London in less than two weeks to pursue my dream of video game journalism I’m thinking of turning this blog, partly or wholly, into a diary of my adventures in the big smoke. For now though, it’s business as usual.

Lily Allen – URL Badman

Lily hasn’t been perfectly happy with the run of singles from her third studio album, Sheezus. Specifically, the label made her release songs designed to get radio airplay rather than the provocative, sharp-tongued musicals musings Allen is known for. Fans and Lily herself can now rejoice as one of the stand-outs from the album is getting the single treatment, and the popstar is at her satirical best.

‘URL Badman’ is a critique not of bloggers and wannabe journalists (even if it was, I couldn’t help but love it – ironically, obviously) but the keyboard warriors who think their strong opinions and way with words entitle them to slam everyone else. You know the type. Hipsters with a webpage. The video has some cool effects but it’s a bit of a non-event, not that I could think of something to do visually with the songs theme, the track itself is definitely deserving of a download for quotable lyrics like “I don’t like girls much, they’re kinda silly, unless of course they wanna play with ma willy”. Oh, and there’s a Space Ghost reference in the brilliant rap middle eight. You don’t know who Space Ghost is?! pfft, *rolls eyes*

I think I just became a hipster.

Florrie – Little White Lies

Whilst I’m on this ‘too cool for the mainstream’ wavelength I might as well try and get more people into my favourite bubbling-under-the-radar popstar, Florrie. After releasing an EP earlier this year consisting of three excellent tracks (one I covered before) and two average remixes, the singer/songwriter/drummer/astronaut is turning one of the remix tracks into her first proper single, a single that will almost definitely maybe lead to an album that might (not) be out before the end of this year.

Unlike the three songs from the Sirens EP, ‘Little White Lies’ is more a ‘proper’ pop song, with a standard verse chorus verse chorus middle 8 chorus structure as opposed to an upside down and in reverse (reference!) collection of sound bites. That’s a good and a bad thing for me: the song floats along dreamily nice enough, and hopefully it’ll fit in well with what’s currently on the radio but I prefer the excitement of the more left-field edge of ‘Wanna Control Myself’. That being said, it’s Florrie – and therefore Xenomania, my favourite producers ever, of Girls Aloud/Pet Shop Boys/Abs from 5ive fame – so for either to get a hit would be fantastic.

The Saturdays – What Are You Waiting For?’

If anyone is going to give Xenomania a hit this summer, it’s the single from The Saturdays upcoming greatest hits. As well as the single, the group has uploaded a megamix of their hits, which I think is definitely worth a listen, because it sums up the good and the bad of The Saturdays.

If you’ve listened to the radio at all in the last 6 years you’ll probably sing a fair few of these chorus, even if you didn’t think you knew them. You might go ‘oh, that one’s quite good actually’ here and there. But overall, (and I’m fully aware it’s a megamix) the main feeling I get is that The Sats are just a girl group doing girl group songs. Now I do like a good girl group, they are an essential part of the pop landscape, and when they develop their own style, like the aforementioned Almighty Aloud, Destiny’s Child, the Spice Girls, the second line-up of Sugababes and now, Little Mix, they becomes leaders of the pack (reference!). Then there’s The Saturdays. There’s no catfighting or bitchy dramas, diva tantrums or trashy lads mag shoots (well maybe the odd one). On the other hand, The Sats don’t have any sort of unique identity to them musically. ‘All Fired Up’, ‘Ego’ ‘Up’ and ‘Higher’ are great, but nothing in their catalogue is a stone-cold classic.

As the lead single from their greatest hits, and produced by the masterminds at Xenomania, I was really hoping for that classic to finally be delivered. Instead (and clearly following on from the dreadful ‘What About Us’ being the group’s first number one) we got every generic pop/EDM crossover cliche thrown into one neat package to remind us how unadventurous a lot of chart music has been these few years (My god, maybe I am a URL Badman). It’s got a good beat to wave your arms to in the club, the lyrics are easy enough to sing/shout when drunk but you won’t remember it down the line. The sad thing is, when Xenomania and The Saturdays teamed up before, they created ‘All Fired Up’ which was a club banger with loads of auto-tune and lyrics about partying. Where ‘All Fired Up’ works though is that song didn’t bother with the tired build ups and drops of everything else, and was three minutes and fifteen seconds of a sonic assault, barely stopping for breath. ‘What Are You Waiting For?’ just… plods along. And the music video is Beach Video 101 too. The perfect opportunity to make a deceleration of why you should be a major British pop act, wasted.


Kylie Minogue’s 46 Best Songs For Her 46th Birthday

Today marks the 46th (!) birthday of Princess (Goddess) of Pop, Kylie Minogue. Her divine powers include defying the ageing process and bringing beautiful music and her heaven-sent cooing to the masses. Like Madonna, the success of her career lies in evolution; from Neighbours loco-motive to disco diva through to The Voice UK legend who knows my hometown of Merthyr Tydfil. Unlike Madonna, Kylie embodies all that is light and pure, despite a few brushes with edgier sounds and lyrics, her songs are little shots that pick you up on any cloudy day. To celebrate this blessed day, I’m going through Kylie Minogue’s 46 best songs. They are in alphabetical order since narrowing them down was hard enough, let alone ranking them. So without further ado, strap on your hotpants and start spinning around (ironically that song isn’t on this list, as great as it was for her career, I don’t like it that much).

1 All the Lovers

The Aphrodite album was Kylie at the top of her game. Catchy choruses with beautiful electronica providing the blanket for the warmth of her voice. ‘All The Lovers’ started the campaign in excellent fashion, with a dazzling video that was all over the TV and made everyone go ‘isn’t that clever?’
Best bit: The middle 8 where everything drops except for the piano and vocals.

2 Aphrodite
Most people would argue the highlight of Kylie’s 2010 Stuart Price produced masterpiece is the title track itself. With its militant drums and uplifting arrangement, its a real toe tapper. As the opening to the spectacular Les Folies tour, when she announces “I was gone and now I’m back”, you know she’s telling the truth.
Best bit: “I’m gonna feel your heart stop in my hand”

3 Better the Devil You Know

The track that shed Kylie’s squeaky clean teen pop image. Kylie amusingly remembers Pete Waterman asking her what songs she liked, to which she replied Cathy Dennis’ current single, the hook of which Pete then ‘borrowed’ for this track. That was the extent of Kylie’s artistic input in her Stock Aitken Waterman days, she noted. Still, a great song is a great song, and the fact G-A-Y play this one as the clock hits 12:30 is a testament to its classic status. Just avoid the Steps version.
Best bit: “Better the devil you know, better the devil you know”

4 Burning Up
The closing track on 2001’s Fever is a tune that’s catchier and most summery than hayfever (see what I did there?). Lyrically, its pretty repetitive but that works in its favour as the perfect wind-down track after the dance-your-pants-off rush of most of the album.
Best bit: “Hey summer madness, totally cool”

5 Butterfly
Sadly, only a promo single for ‘the clubs’, this would’ve been a much better choice for Light Years‘ fourth single proper over ‘Please Stay’. A dancy affair with vocals spanning from seductive low notes to uplifting highs , this one instantly gets in your brain.
Best bit: “And it mightn’t last more than a day but I’ll take my chances anyway”

6 Can’t Get You Out Of My Head
You know this one. It was one of the decade’s best selling songs. It’s amazing. If you want to hear a different spin on it, go listen to ‘Can’t Get Blue Monday Out Of My Head‘, a mashup of this and New Order’s 80’s classic.

7 Chocolate

The most effective R&B Kylie song on 2002’s Body Language, ‘Chocolate’ is a slinky, sexy slow number that’s hard to resist. The vocals ooze lust, but in a classy, restrained way. The album version is even better, longer and with a less… aggressive production. That male rapper you hear going ‘check it out check it out’ in the background is actually Ludacris, who recorded a verse that was ultimately cut, but leaked online anyway.
Best bit: the chorus

8 Come Into My World

Basically ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head 2.0′ but with more lyrics. The best thing about the official single version is the inventive yet underrated video directed by Michel Gondry. The true strength of this song is how malleable it is: the Fischerspooner remix is the softcore porn version whilst the Abbey Road version is a stunningly beautiful piano piece. Who says pop songs are throwaway?
Best: The last minute of the Fischerspooner remix

9 Confide In Me

Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to Indie Kylie. Miss Minogue’s first release after leaving the PWL label is dark, combining beats with eastern influences. Kylie’s voice soars along the top of it all, going to places she had never gone before. The “stick or twist, the choice is yours” bit comes from nowhere, before a slower bridge building up into a final crazy minute. A fan favourite for good reason, this song is so layered you could listen to it multiple times and focus on something new.
Best bit: All of it.

10 Crystallize

Kylie’s latest song (released only yesterday!) came with an interesting quirk, to explain more I’m handing this entry over to Mr. 5 Things About Pop Himself:
“Sparkling with pulsing synths and pretty piano work, ‘Crystallize’ was denied its place as the jewel in the crown of Kiss Me Once and was instead released as a charity single. In a unique take on a charity auction, each note of the song was auctioned off for fans to ‘own’ while raising money for One Note Against Cancer (when you hear Note #2499, that one’s all mine). Winning bidders were then presented with certificates of their ownership and are listed in the track’s accompanying video.”
Best bit: And when you’re swimming through a sea of broken promises
You can find me shining like a laser beam

11 Cupid Boy
I really had to limit how many songs from Aphrodite I put on this list, it really is such a good album. ‘Cupid Boy’ stands out though, with its harder dance production provided by one of EDM’s men of the moment Sebastian Ingrosso. Kylie’s vocals on the chorus go into full on sexual pleasure mode, ala ‘Love to Love You Baby’ with a faster beat. One to writhe around to, for sure,
Best bit: “So why don’t you thrill me, like you did before?”

12 Dreams
The closest thing to a title track on the largely ignored but endlessly thrilling Impossible Princess album from 97. Continuing with the experimental and eastern themes of ‘Confide’, this song gives me all sorts of dark fairytale vibes. The production is big, the lyrics powerful and the indie girls of today would die to have something as good as this.
Best bit: “To feel the touch of a man, a woman’s caress, to know the limits of touch and tenderness”

13 Especially For You

I’ll admit, I really dislike this song, so here is Ade Bradley to give us his thoughts:
“Especially for You was the first single I ever bought – there used to be an 0898 number you could call and listen to it, and I always got in trouble with my parents for the phone bill. She has been with me nearly 27 years now – I’ve seen her countless times and I’ll never miss an opportunity to see a Kylie gig. She’s unashamedly camp, witty, hard working and, importantly, fun.”
Best bit: When it ends.

14 Fever
The production kind of sounds like a telephone slowed down, and while that sounds like a bad thing, it helps this track stand out on the ‘Fever’ album. I guess being the title track would help it stand out anyway, but I digress. A perfect of example of Kylie’s level of sexuality in most of her songs; more cheeky wink-wink than prowling for the D.
Best bit: “Heart beating faster and work is a disaster”

15 Flower

The one fans had to wait 4 years for. First performed in 2008 on the KylieX2008 tour, it wasn’t released as a studio recording until 2012 for the Abbey Road album. A heartbreaking song where Kylie ponders if she will ever have children, we get to see a human side behind the popstar construct. Kylie wrote the song and directed the video herself, so accusations that she has no artistic talent can get thrown right out of the window.

16 G.B.I. (German Bold Italic)

HELLO! This is easily the weirdest thing Kylie has done. So strange and avant-garde that it’d be weird to try to describe it. Just watch the whole thing all the way through and revel in the oddness. FYI, Towa Tei was part of Dee-Lite, who you’ll know for ‘Groove Is In The Heart’.
Best bit: I fit, like, a…. glove?

17 Get Outta My Way
I don’t know why the official video has disappeared off of YouTube but there you go ūüė¶
After the slower but uplifting ‘All The Lovers’, Kylie stormed right back onto the dancefloor with the second Aphrodite single. I love the cheeky lyrics and general attitude of flirting with every hot guy in the club. Thankfully side-stepping the EDM trend that was getting annoying in 2010, this is an uncomplicated italo-disco stomper and I’m all the more thankful for it.
Best bit: “See me with him and its turning you on”

18 Higher

OK, so this is a pretty average song. But of all the many guest stars Taio Cruz has had on the song in different versions, Kylie stands above them all. Her vocals soar on the track, putting Taio, Travie and whichever one of the Pussycat Dolls and the Sugababes did the live versions to shame.
Best: “I feel like I can touch the skyyyyyyyyyyy”

19 I Believe In You

Kylie joins forces with the Scissor Sisters! Far more subdued than what anyone was expecting of this collboration, and all the better for it. As the lead single to her mid noughties greatest hits album, this doesn’t really break any new ground, but nor does it need to. It does exactly what Kylie is best at: lifting your spirits. The KylieX2008 Tour ballad version is even better.
Best bit: “I believe in you I believe in I believe in you I believe in”

20 I Don’t Need Anyone
Another collab, this time with the Manic Street Preachers. This is Indie Kylie rocking it out with all the guitars and strained vocals to boot. Pretty breezy, with a catchy chorus: the perfect antidote to the darker moments on Impossible Princess.
Best bit: the chorus

21 I Should Be So Lucky

Pure eighties guilty pleasure. This is one of Kylie’s most well-known songs, despite a lot of songs being better than it, something the pop princess has herself admitted. The Abbey Road version is why this song makes the list, being another lush orchestral piece with a tender vocal.
Best bit: all of the orchestral version

22 If You Don’t Love Me
The B-side to ‘Confide In Me’ first came to my attention when Kylie performed it on her Aphrodite Les Folies tour. She sat down on the stairs and just belted her heart out. It was a beautiful moment and once I tracked this rarity down, its become a firm favourite. It’s a short and simple ballad, but is perfect for summing up those feelings when your heart is all over the place.
Best bit: the vocals on the chorus

23 In My Arms

It’s not one of Kylie’s most memorable singles, but its good fun nonetheless. Calvin Harris produced this one, though you might not be able to tell since he isn’t recycling ‘I’m Not Alone’ or ‘We Found Love’.
Best bit: “How do you describe the feeling?”

24 In Your Eyes

Following ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’ was also going to be a tough thing to do, and as such, this song went pretty much under the radar. Which is a shame because it’s a sleek, polished dancefloor jam. The video is also one of my favourites: the colours, the cinematography and dance movements all come together perfectly. Also, the auto-tune/vocoder effects on the ad-libs near the end are wonderfully tacky.
Best bit: “Is the world still spinning around? I don’t feel like coming down (beat drops) It’s in your eyes, I can tell what you’re thinking, my heart is sinking too”

25 Jump
Pretty similar to ‘Dreams’ in that its an Impossible Princess dark, slow song with plenty of atmosphere. The use of “if I’m x let me y” in the verses is very effective too. The song is better off speaking for itself, do give it a listen.
Best bit: “I’m eager and ready, it only hurts sometimes”

26 Kids

The kind of song that could only be released by two popstars at the height of their powers, if this Kylie and Robbie song can’t get you singing along, nothing will.
Best bit: “So come on, jump on boooooooooooard”

27 Light Years
Imagine Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’ with an extra dash of camp and an airplane theme. That’s pretty much what ‘Light Years’ is. Both the parent album (also called ‘Light Years’) and Fever have really strong closing tracks that wind you down but still keeping your face raised into a smile.
Best bit: “Take us to the popstars on the moon”

28 Limbo
This Impossible Princess song cranks up the BPM and hits you in the face right away, standing out amongst the slower, more atmospheric tracks. The high pitched hook is fantastic, and Kylie sings this one like she’s losing her sanity. I can imagine it would work so well in a live setting. This or ‘Drunk’ should’ve been a single from that album instead of the terribly named ‘Cowboy Style’.
Best bit: It’s all really, really good

29 Love Affair
Fever isn’t short of disco-house bangers and whilst it sounds similar to ‘In Your Eyes’, it keeps the album going at a zippy pace. The naff vocoder makes a welcome return here for probably the best chorus on the album.
Best: “I am only here for a minute, why would you like to take me out tonight?”

30 Love at First Sight

This was my favourite Kylie single for a long time until ‘The One’ stole that crown. I adored the way the production dipped as if you were diving underwater and the lyrics, whilst simple, were so unflinchingly joyous. Like, life really is pretty good actually. Then I became hypnotised by ‘The One’ and its hypnotic sound and ‘LAFS‘ slipped into second place. But then… on the Aphrodite tour, Kylie sung one of the lines to me. The Goddess of Pop actually acknowledged my existence! Instant and immovable first place.
Best bit: “Didn’t know what do-ohh, then there was you-ooh” (Kylie sings as she points to and winks at me)

31 Loving You
My all-time favourite non-single. ‘Loving You’ isn’t an album track, or B-side, or charity song, it’s a demo. An unfinished piece of work that will likely never be finished and for fans, exists only in this form that somehow slithered its way onto the internet. The production, courtesy of my favourites Xenomania, is utterly hypnotising. The synth lines are strange and otherwordly, and I’ve listened to this song on repeat for hours on end. The lyrics are a mish-mash of Mirana Cooper-isms that don’t always make sense but sound wonderful, like the line about “breakfast in bed don’t mean I’ll get in the mood”. I’m kind of glad this song was actually finished, it’s oddly perfect as it.
Best bit: the whole thing, but if I HAD to choose it’d be “It doesn’t matter what the movies say, I like it better when you walk away”

32 Made of Glass
The second out of three Xenomania songs in a row, it’s almost like they chose to name their songs the way they did incase some indecisive fan did an alphabetical list like this. The B-side to ‘Giving You Up’ (a rare Xeno song that’s actually rubbish) that the vast majority of fans consider the superior song. The lyrics are typically obtuse yet brilliant, with a fast whispered bit that sounds like total gibberish until you look up the lyrics to uncover more nonsensical genius! Rachel Stevens Of Amazing Second Album Fame was apparently meant to record this one.
Best bit: “Bohemian boys and Brazillian girls, a familiar noise in unfamiliar worlds, its like a million beats in a Parisian heart. From the boy in the west to the girl in the east, they been working a sweat in the name of the beast, it’s where oblivion stops and oblivion starts”

33 Mighty Rivers
A bit more straightforward, this. Xenomania produced two bonus tracks for Aphrodite; the bouncy yet understated ‘Heartstrings’ and this oriental tinged tune. ‘Mighty Rivers’ deserves to be a single, let alone on the album properly, but alas: the best gems are meant to be hidden. The hook is catchy, the chorus is big and the production washes around in the background like the sea (or a really mighty river) so basically: all A grade pop music. The only weak part is the unnecessary auto-tune on the middle 8, but in this post-Gaga landscape, what can you do?
Best bit: “Mighty rivers run right through me, I’ll find them if I dive in too deep”

34 On A Night Like This

The follow-up to ‘Spinning Around’ and a much better song in my opinion. ‘On A Night Likes This’ mixes very early 2000’s dance-pop, Latin influences and strings for a classic Kylie single. The video is a homage to Martin Scorsesee’s crime film Casino and Blade Runner‘s Roy Batty is brought in too, for an all round Hollywood affair. The Abbey Road version slows down the pace and transforms it into a big-band number you just want to slow dance to.
Best bit: “Now I’m, getting closer to you, hold me, I just can’t be without you”

35 Red Blooded Woman

There are many better Kylie songs that could’ve gone on this list, but its worth mentioning for the music video: it’s sure to get the red blooded men at attention. Even more so than ‘Chocolate’, this was Kylie trying R&B to break into the American market after the success of ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’. It didn’t totally work and neither does the song, but its fun to bop along to and do your best sexy dancing to when no-one else is around.
Best bit: “You’ll never get to heaven if you’re scared of getting high”

36 Slow

Right up there with me favourite Kylie singles, the Mighty Aphrodite once claimed this was her favourite song too! It’s not hard to see (or hear) why; the bleepy-bloopy synthpop works its way into your ear whilst Kylie’s voice caresses it. The iconic music video matches the minimalism of the song; as Kylie and some toned pool-goers writhe around in very little in time to the song. You should really try the Chemical Brothers rem- Hey! Are you still paying attention? Stop watching the video and carry on reading. Oh, I guess I can wait…
Best bit: all of the vocals.

37 Some Kind of Bliss

Another Brit-Pop sounding single for Kylie provided by the Manics during the ‘indie phase’. The ‘do-do-do-doo-doo’ hook and the trumpets add some pop flair to the rockier production and it all goes down very well. It’s the perfect soundtrack the music video, which sees a ginger (!) Kylie and Dexter Fletcher on the run after a heist.
Best bit: “Some kind of bliss (TRUMPETS)”

38 Speakerphone
Glitchy. Robotic. Annoying. Amazing. Madonna thinks its the best song from X. Track repeat go on and on.
Best bit: the opening.

39 Tightrope
Not a Janelle Monae cover, but nearly as good. Relegated to B-side status during the ‘Fever’ era, this is another perfect single that wasn’t. A wistful song with production that chugs along with a subtle synth blanket in the background, letting Kylie’s excellent vocals do the work here. Captures the feeling of being in love and not knowing what the hell to do so so well.
Best bit: “There’s so much I want to share, for so long I’ve been too scared”

40 The One

The song that (temporarily) replaced ‘Love at First Sight’ as my favourite Kylie single. When I say I completely adore this song, I’m referring to the album version: the version in the music video is the Freemasons Radio Edit, and whilst it keeps the hypnotic beeps of the original, the subtlety is totally lost. The vocals here are exceptional: simultaneously seductive and desperate as Kylie demands/begs you to love her, love her, love her, love her. People usually associate Miss Minogue with big disco bangers or eighties cheese, but her forte is really classy, minimalist electronic ballads that aren’t ballads.
Best bit: “Can you hear me, I’m connecting with you. Can you feel me, I’ll do anything to have you near me”

41 Too Far
Rapping Kylie! Unlike her Body Language songs, this isn’t R&B at all. It’s back in the realms of hyper experimental indie. The lyrics about going “too far” combined with all the wild background noise in the chorus make this one of Kylie’s most dramatic songs. After all the praise I’ve heaped on Impossible Princess, you had better be downloading it if its not in your library already.

42 What Do I Have To Do

One the Stock Aitken Waterman songs that falls into the realms of Pop Classic, as opposed to dated rubbish (there is no inbetween). Nothing really to special to say about this, it’s pretty straightforward and hits all the sweet spots. If you hear it on a night out in a retro and/or gay bar, you’ll be singing along by the chorus even if you’ve never heard it before.
Best bit: the ‘wah wah wah’ sounds before the choruses.

43 Where The Wild Roses Grow

And now for something completely different: a murder ballad duet with Nick Cave, the master of depressing songs and music critics’ favourite. Its a testament to Kylie and her skills as a musical chameleon that she pulls this song off perfectly: her innocent and naive, yet strong vocal delivery perfectly compliment Cave’s sinister tones. Oh, and she looks stunning in the video too.

44 White Diamond
Another ballad penned by Kylie and longtime collaborator Steve Anderson, during the recovery from breast cancer and the build-up to the album X. Sadly, the album itself lacked this song, or anything really hinting at the struggles she went through during that period. ‘White Diamond’ did, however, become the signature song to documentary film of the same name. Not Kylie’s best ballad, but a touching one, reminding us (and possibly herself) that through the hardships, she will shine on and on and on.
Best bit: “Understand, I will be there for you. I’m a diamond for you”

45 Wow

Exactly the kind of song people who aren’t Kylie fans think is all she does. Whilst this is a catchy, piano-led disco banger with a killer chorus and those underwater drops from ‘Love At First Sight’, true fans know this is far from her best work. Over 5 years after release, this song still packs dancefloors and soundtracks adverts for expensive products we don’t need. Lesser popstars would kill for a tune like ‘Wow’ but for Kylie, it’s just another day’s work.
Best bit: “Such a rush (RUSHHH)”

46 Your Disco Needs You

The definition of ‘subtle’ in the dictionary. Robbie Williams and Guy Chambers (who wrote all of Robbie’s best songs) penned this. The video cost ¬£2.34. No Kylie list can be without it, for better or worse.

Have I missed anything out? Do you strongly agree or disagree? What’s your favourite Kylie song? Feel free to leave me a comment below and thank you very more for reading. I’ll leave you with the promo video Kylie’s team made for her Aphrodite tour date in Cardiff, in which you can see how I get to the Goddess herself. I’m the guy at 16 seconds in who looks like Matt Damon (apparently) wearing a blue and white striped t-shirt

‘X-Men: Days Of Future Past’ Movie Review

Patrick Stewart really shouldn’t have ate that Atomic Vindaloo.

The X-Men franchise’s answer to The Avengers is finally here. A sequel to The Last Stand, 60’s based reboot/prequel First Class and The Wolverine, Days of Future Past‘s biggest achievement is not crashing under the weight of this ambition, and the immense hype build-up. Whilst not without its flaws, there is a lot to enjoy here.

The plot follows the original trilogy X-Men in a dark future cornered by Sentinels: robot predators designed to hunt mutants by constantly adapting to their powers. With no other choice, Wolverine is sent back in time to the root of the problem: the assassination of Sentinel creator Bolivar Trask by Mystique. To do so, Logan needs to re-connect with what remains of the X-Men following the fallout of First Class. It sounds Terminator-esque, and the horrible future looks strikingly similar, but actually its more like Cameron’s films borrowed many of their elements from the 80’s X-Men classic comic book storyline of the same name as this film. Funny how things come full circle. It’s not too difficult to follow the story, a credit to the film which does jump between eras a fair bit, and there’s plenty of action, humour and emotional moments packed in.

Who is the guy with the yellow stripes? Yeah, you don’t need to know.

My main issue with this film is the divide between eras. The future scenes got some incredible action, with visceral destruction inflicted on both sides and great use of camerawork and effects with Blink’s powers that reminded me of the wonderful game Portal. However, the new characters and original trilogy favourites are (re)introduced so quickly, with a lot of their dialogue just being exposition or battle tactics, it’s hard to care for them as much as we should. Lots of scenes with recurring stars have been cut, and I for one really hope a DVD/Blu-Ray release gives us a lot more of the future X-Men (also, the nerd in me wants a proper spoken explanation for Xavier’s return, Kitty’s new powers and his re-alliance with Magneto).

The strongest scenes are the ones set in the 70’s, which are luckily the majority of the film. Jackman, McAvoy, Fassbender and Lawrence are fantastic, getting way more to do than everyone else. Except for these four and Nick Hoult’s Beast, the rest of the First Class cast don’t even reappear, except for Havok (Lucas Till) in literally one scene. We do get a smattering of new 70’s characters, namely Quicksilver and Trask, played by the mighty Peter Dinklage. One gets the best scenes in the film, the other is played by the mighty Peter Dinklage.

One of the most emotional scenes in the film, sadly ruined by putting it all in the trailer.

At just over two hours and with so much to pack in, X-Men: Days Of Future Past does hold up very well. Overall however, its streamlined approach left me wanting more. I’m not sure if that means an extended version down the line is the answer, or Fox should’ve jumped into the two-parter bandwagon. Nothing sends tingles my spine like a big finale, or that moment when all the pieces finally slot together: take for example Avengers, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2 and the Doctor Who series 4 finale where all the companions from the Russell T. Davies era all joined up perfectly. With more breathing room, Days of Future Past really could’ve reached that level. The way it stands now, the seventh X-Men just falls short, but provides much excitement and a good send off to the original trilogy that kick-started the modern superhero blockbuster.

I’m really dying to talk about this in most spolierific detail, so if anyone wants to then send me a tweet @josefanderton and maybe we can start a DM conversation or something. Also, if you want to read my defending of X-Men: The Last Stand (which ironically, shares a lot of problems with this film) then you can read that here.

New Kylie Minogue video, ‘I Was Gonna Cancel’

Kylie’s ‘Kiss Me Once’ campaign continues with ‘I Was Gonna Cancel’, produced by Pharrell who is responsible for pretty much everything nowadays – including the wonderful ‘Happy’, the fantastic ‘Get Lucky’ and… ‘Blurred Lines’.

The song is the right choice to be the newest single from the album, but the video really isn’t helping matters. I totally get the ‘retro Kylie’ look they were going for here with the styling and block background colour but by GOD is it repetitive. The Kylie doing minimalist movements in an enclosed space surrounded by loads of extras was done much much better by her iconic video for ‘Slow’ and whilst I appreciate the cheeky illuminati hand gestures, this video is sadly a bit of a dud.

The Top 8 Alesha Dixon Singles

The new series of¬†Britain’s Got Talent¬†is back in full-swing, and that means the loveable¬†Alesha Dixon¬†is back on our screens. She’s known more as a TV personality nowadays, which is a shame because she was a pretty good popstar. She could sing well enough, proved on¬†Strictly¬†she could dance and her rapping was usually the highlight of a¬†Mis-Teeq¬†song. She never really had any major smashes, or anything you could label a classic, but digging into her back catalogue I’ve discovered Alesha has got some pretty darn good songs under her belt, with much more personality (her and her songs) than what you hear on pop radio today. I say some because I tried to make it a top 10, but of her solo and group singles, I’d only consider 8 of them good enough to be featured. Which is at least 5 more than a lot of people on her popstar ‘level’ have. Let’s get on with the (Alesha) show.

All I Want (2001)

Mis-Teeq were kind of like the UK’s answer to Destiny’s Child, with some added garage. Which makes Alesha kind of like the UK’s answer to Beyonce, with the added… uh talent show judging. This song/video is pure early noughties with the dance moves and terrifically cheesy falling through the mirror effects.

UK peak: 2. Best part: Enter!

Knockdown (2006)

Alesha’s first collaboration with production team¬†Xenomania¬†(Girls Aloud, Sugababes, Pet Shop Boys)¬†who, as you all should know, I love. This song was meant to launch Alesha’s debut album ‘Fired Up’,¬†sadly the commerical failure of this and previous single ‘Lipstick’¬†meant the album only got released in Japan. It’s easy to see why this wasn’t a hit – despite its bouncy ska like production, its a pretty weird track. Apart from the chorus, nothing is repeated or follows the same melody. There’s a bit where people genuinely just go ‘ho ho ho ho ho-ho, ha ha ha ha ha ha-ha’. The single version awkwardly slams straight into the harder, rappier ‘K-Gee Heat Remix’¬†near the end which is, quite frankly, terrible. The album version¬†carries on with the ska beat and lyrical genius/nonsense but that wasn’t the version released as a single, hence the lower position. A curious oddity, but an infectious one.

UK peak: 45. Best part: Sitting up by my window, WATCHing the summer rain

Can’t Get It Back (2003)

From a song with a terrible single version to one with a much better single version. The¬†Ignorants Radio Edit¬†lifts this R&B jam with oh so 2003 guitar strummy goodness. The chorus is fantastic and Alesha adds another great rap to her collection. There’s not much I can say about it. It’s like a the little sister to the Sugababes¬†‘Hole in the Head’.¬†I also really like how they begin verse by actually saying (or singing)¬†“verse 1” and do the same for verse two. It’s like how¬†Mark Owen literally did the “x minutes left to go” when it¬†was¬†x minutes left of the song. Cray cray.

UK peak: 8. Best part: the chorus

Radio (2010)

You’d have thought a song written by Emeli Sand√©¬†and produced by Naughty Boy¬†¬†would be an instant smash, especially as this was when Alesha was a judge on¬†Strictly Come Dancing¬†(remember that?). This track peaked outside the Top 40, which isn’t as bad as the album,¬†‘The Entertainer’¬†which hit the lofty heights of number 84. At least it was released in Britain I guess… poor Alesha. Anyway, you’ll notice that the song sounds a LOT like¬†Robyn‘s fantastic¬†‘Dancing On My Own’¬†which is obviously a good thing. Maybe not in the originality stakes but if you’re going to copy, copy from the best. The lyrics are about turning up the radio; not to have a dance to some generic EDM but to block out the emotions from a bad (possibly abusive) relationship.

UK peak: 46. Best part: He can’t break my heart if I can’t hear a word

Let’s Get Excited (2009)

This song treads the line between amazing and annoying. Just listen to that beat. You’re either going to love it or despise it. Unlike the similarly Marmite-y¬†‘Drummer Boy’¬†I love this song. The production doesn’t ever slow down, insisting that you get up and dance, and it helps the verses are just as upbeat as the chorus. There’s a namecheck for¬†Madonna¬†and a reference to¬†‘Get Into The Groove’¬†if you’re into that sort of thing. And in the video, Alesha gets soaking wet from a giant hose, if you’re into¬†that¬†sort of thing.

UK peak: 13. Best part: I’m a detective I’m all over you¬†

Breathe Slow (2008)

Artistic black and white video time! Alesha was at her commercial peak with her 2008 album¬†‘The Alesha Show’¬†and this song is her most successful. It was around for absolutely ages, you remember it, I remember it, your Nan probably remembers it. Not much to say here: a solid ballad, strong video and the biggest triumph for a woman who had been through a rocky divorce and career low just over a year before release.

UK peak: 3. Best part: I’m running out of patience ’cause I can’t believe what the hell I’m hearing (hearing)

The Boy Does Nothing (2008)

A mambo record about berating a man for¬†not doing the washing up? So very kitsch. So very¬†Xenomania.¬†The crazy genius production team decided to work with Alesha again to come up with this corker of a comeback single. It fitted right in with the throwback sounds all the best British female stars were doing in ’08 whilst still having its own thing going on. The whole thing is so upbeat and fun to dance to, the chorus takes off, there are two (!) fantastic middle eights and its ends with the repeating chant of “if the man can dance, he’s get a second chance”. It’s just FUN all the way through. Oh, and it has¬†Florrie¬†on drums. I quite like her.

UK peak: 5. Best part: All of it. If I had to pick: I wanna see ya shake ya HIPS and learn

Before we get to number one actually, I’d like to give some honourable mentions to songs from¬†‘The Alesha Show’¬†(and its¬†Encore¬†edition) that Alesha did with¬†Xenomania¬†that weren’t singles. The stuff they created together is pretty overlooked by Xeno fans, which is a shame because there are some fantastic tunes I shall now list:

Play Me: more of an assault than a song, set in the key of awesome. Amazing with headphones in, really gets your heart pumping.

Don’t Ever Let Me Go:¬†a relaxed, accoustic guitar with a hint of synth thrown in before the end. Repetitive chorus but it works with the whole ‘lazy summer afternoon’ feel I get from the song.

I’m Thru:¬†the theme tune for the campest James Bond movie ever made. Another really fun song, made better by the use of the word “shebang”

Mystery:¬†one of those annoying ‘hidden’ songs people occasionally. Best described as ‘hyperactive’, take that as you will. The second verse descends into actual gibberish before a fantastic rapid fire ‘no-no/so-so/polo’ rhyme bit. And the ‘this is the jump off, we wanna see you jump off’ is probably originally from another song Xenomania made but decided to cut and paste into here (as they often do, ie: Biology) and its probably the best bit of the whole album.

The Light:¬†should’ve been the single for the¬†Encore¬†release instead of that naff Gary Barlow¬†penned ballad. A piano and squiggly synth lead slowie, with wistful vocals and an uplifting chorus. Really should’ve been a single.

Scandalous (2003)

Was there ever any doubt? Everything about this song is so effortless. It rhymes “simulation” with “conversation” which is pretty epic in itself.¬†The slick sound comes from production team Xen¬†Stargate, famous for their work with¬†Ne-Yo, Rihanna¬†and¬†Beyonce.¬†All the girls have their moment to shine, with Alesha herself adding some dirty rhymes before the chorus as well as the “that’s why you know should be scared of us” hook.¬†One of the best girlband anthems of the noughties, a decade not¬†at all short on them.

UK peak: 2. Best bit: WOO WOO WOO WOO

So there you have it; a quick whistle-stop tour through the back catalogue of an entertainer (see what I did there?) who never reached the upper echelons of stardom, but has had a better music career than you’ve probably given her credit for. Think about that next time you’re watching¬†Britain’s Got Talent.¬†


ENTAH! (or, exit)




New Music!: Royksopp & Robyn, THAT Avril Lavigne song and… Ed Sheeran

It’s been too long since I did a music review round-up, and this time I’m going to avoid waxing lyrical about my favourites Lily Allen¬†and¬†Florrie.¬†Their most recent songs are pretty amazing and you should have clicked on those links already – one at a time please, otherwise you’ll just hear a messy mess of noise or so much amazingness your head might explode.

When Robyn¬†and¬†Royksopp¬†recently announced a ‘mini-album’ to support a tour they’re doing, I thought my head would explode from their combined Scando-superpower. Two tracks leaked online the other day and have since been ripped down from YouTube. Luckily you can listen to them both here.

Of the two, I think most people are going to like the title track, ‘Do It Again’. If I’m being honest, it didn’t majorly impress me on first listen. Lyrically and sonically, it doesn’t sound like either at their best. Thankfully, ‘Every Little Thing’ is a melancholic electronic gem. Its slow and sinister, kind of¬†Royksopp‘s own ‘You Don’t Have a Clue‘¬†had a baby with Richard X/Norweigan Popstar Annie‘s collab¬†Just Friends‘.

Since I can’t embed a video for either song, let’s remind ourselves of their fantastic 2009 collaboration;¬†‘The Girl & The Robot’.

The “don’t deny me, call me back, I’m soooooo alone” send shivers down me

Right, let’s move onto the big one.¬†Avril Lavigne¬†with her new single¬†‘Hello Kitty’.¬†If you haven’t seen/heard/experienced it yet, here it is:

I want to get a few things out the way first, ie: the things most of the internet are talking about. I don’t think the song or video is racist at all. Avril is really popular in Japan and is a self proclaimed massive fan of that country and the Hello Kitty brand. I’m also not against culture appropriation either; I was raised on dubbed anime that changed a lot of character names and references. Personally I don’t believe that’s a bad thing. If an art form such a music video or children’s TV show has familiar elements mixed in with the foreign, it can make it easier to absorb and less alienating.

The whole ‘minority just used a prop/backing dancer’ thing regarding this, Lily Allen‘s ‘Hard Out Here‘, Miley‘s ‘We Can’t Stop‘ performances etc. gets on my nerves a bit. Its starting to feel like everytime a white artist is using someone of different origin in their videos/performances they are blasted online for putting themselves on a pedestal and reinforcing negative stereotypes. I wonder if these keyboard warriors just want to see only white people in a ‘white persons’ music video, and only black people in a ‘black persons’ video? I could start a whole debate but it’s been done to death so lets move on.

Another thing people are blasting Avril for is that she is ‘too old’ to be making this sort of music and having the image that she does. It’s similar to what Madonna has been facing for years and I kind of agree to a point. Should Madonna, at 55 stop singing about going out dancing and enjoying some sexy time? No. People of that age do do that, believe it or not – as much as we like to block out that fact. However, should Madonna keep baring her breasts on stage? Not really. It’s a bit embarrassing at 25 let alone 55. Back to Avril, then. She is 29. Should she ditch her attitude and rebellious rock chick persona? No. People like Joan Jett have been rocking out for way longer and good on them. Avril’s second single from this album (‘Hello Kitty‘ is single #4) ‘Rock n Roll’ is about maintaining that persona and it’s a great song.

‘Hello Kitty’ is not.

You don’t need to mature with every new album, and by age 30 only sing ballads. But at the same time, to regress to the point where your new single sounds like it was written and produced by a 12 year old is a bit ridiculous. Avril’s first album, released at age 17, was more mature¬†than this. It just feels like a massive step backwards. I love a good novelty record from time to time, especially in summer. Heck, I’ve been blasting the heck out of the ‘Asreje (The Ketchup Song)‘ and ‘Numa Numa‘ for the last week and regret nothing. But this isn’t even ‘so bad its good’. It’s just… dire. The horrid dubstep, “a fat kid on a pack of Smarties/throw a chocolate cake at me”, the annoying beat, just… everything. The sad thing, as a population we buy this stuff up normally. ‘#SELFIE‘, ‘Bom Bom‘, ‘GANGNAM STYLE‘ for pete’s sake. Why this gets so much hate is beyond me. Is it because people are jumping on the racist/too old bandwagons, or we know Avril can do better? One thing is for sure though, it’s getting people talking about her. Remember her previous single, Let Me Go‘? Course you didn’t.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about Ed Sheeran.

Now I dislike Ed Sheeran. I respect him for getting where he is and the way he did it but he annoys me. His voice is shrill, his lyrics are¬†poor (and really creepy, in the case of that 1D song he wrote) and his one song I did like (‘Lego House‘) got overplayed like crazy until I hated that, too. But god damn, his new song is pretty good. If you’ve not heard it yet, enjoy:

What you’ll probably notice right away are two things: 1) This sounds like a Pharrell production and 2) This sounds like first album Justin Timberlake. And those two things are exactly why this is good. ‘Sing’ sounds like a better Justin Timberlake single than anything Justin himself released last year. Ed’s voice actually delivers the smoothness needed really, really well. He sounds as confident as the music, effortless whereas before he sounded way too try-hard. Alongside the marvellous Happy, Pharrell is getting closer to redeeming himself afterBlurred Lines and whilst Ed has a ways to go in my opinion, this is definitely a step – no, a major stride – in the right direction.