dirty martini

old music for new people

more songs to turn down on your ipod: guilty pleasures October 21, 2007

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 do sound isolating earbuds also mask what you’re listening to?

i can barely be bothered to create an illusion of cool whilst i’m sat on the tube at 8am. lets face it, if i was that concerned then i probably would apply my makeup at home. after my last post – songs you turn down on your ipod – i realised that i have quite a lot of bad taste.

if you like something, why wouldn’t you listen to it? i don’t care what some suit with his legs wide open and a paper in my face thinks anyway. so these days i turn up my more embarrassing selections. at the very least someone will get a laugh out of it and god knows there’s not much to smile about if you commute into london.

unless sweat, delays and idiotic tourists with backpacks the size of a small shed are your thing, in which case…this playlist will seem tame by your standards.

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abba – that’s me

think ‘dancing queen’ is cheesy? have you heard the rest of ‘arrival’? the campest (best) abba album, dealing with such pressing subjects as kissing your teacher, your boyfriend preferring his violin to you, and being a tiger. and this – about being a bit of an old slapper and not someone to take home to the parents.

barry manilow – copacabana

the first line gives it away. ‘her name was lola. she was a showgirl.’ this camp classic by the hook nosed one actually wasn’t a big hit, but everyone knows it anyway.

betty boo – 24 hours

in 1990, betty was not cheesy and her west london twanged rapping was not ludicrous. i think world cup euphoria must have addled our brains…and this is the most credible track i could find on boomania. ‘doin’ the do’ and ‘where are you baby’ are so bad even i don’t listen to them.

billy ocean – get outta my dreams

if billy had been a poor man’s lionel richie to date, this track didn’t change much.  actual car noises at the start of any track mentioning a car should give you a sorry indication of what’s to follow.

deacon blue – chocolate girl

deacon blue are late 80s scot pop-rock and do not fit in my collection. they now inhabit the MOR scrapheaps of capital and virgin radio. probably. i never listen to either. i might be tempted if i thought this would be played…

gloria estefan – get on your feet

latin numbers are party and party equals cheese. the ‘sort your life out’ lyrics add to the worthiness of the proceedings but somehow this is still an enjoyable listen. or is it just me?

janet jackson and cliff richard – two to the power of love

no that isn’t a typing error and no i’m not pissed. in 1984, janet recorded a duet with the pop dinosaur (even then) that only ever saw the light of day on her ‘dream street’ album. of course, if she was pregnant at the time as claimed, we can put it all down to hormones.

kylie minogue – shocked

preteen girls are fickle and after ‘better the devil you know’, most of kylie’s fanbase had delusions of adulthood that led them to aspire to an appreciation of such musical luminaries as er, color me badd. SAW was over. but you taped this off the radio, just in case.

nick kamen – each time you break my heart

levi’s model nick was a bit too pretty. but pretty boys worked in the late 80s, and his madonna association didn’t hurt much either.

paula abdul – opposites attract

the cartoon cat – mc skat kat for those that care, top cat with a cigar basically  – actually sang better than paula. i looooved this, and ant and dec turning up to an american idol audition and singing this to a confused paula, simon and randy was genius.

toto – hold the line

oh god, if ‘africa’ wasn’t bad enough, once my mum heard this, toto was firmly entrenched in her playlist. and now it’s got to me as well.

wilson phillips – you’re in love

big hair? check. record deal via nepotism? check. singing in unison as voices not strong enough individually? check. gratuitous use of white chiffon? check. for all that it should have been a disaster. and oh, it was.

it doesn’t end here…

or even there…

 

ibiza: the brits are coming

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if you’ve ever seen ibiza uncovered but not actually visited the island, chances are your perceptions are slightly misled.

the antics of the young brits who descend on san antonio each year probably would seem tame in comparison to what’s occuring in benidorm, lanzarote and tenerife. but no one made a series about those places, to my knowledge.

sure, those who visited up until 1994 may be disheartened by the transformation but san antonio apart, the place does retain a balearic vibe. you can still get those funny little spanish crisps in lots of different shapes. the staple vodka limon has not been usurped by designer cocktails and red bull.

the change was evident in 1996 – the soundtrack to las salinas beach was oasis, totally at odds with the club scene but representative of what was happening back in the uk. you struggled to find cheap club entry so you spent some nights in those all night bars in the west end where if you buy four san miguels you get a free bottle of teichenne schnapps. which lets face it was too much freedom for brits used to stingy measures and archaic licensing laws, and could have been directly responsible for the mayhem displayed in ibiza uncovered…

whatever happens with the image though, the music stayed true to itself. 1996 saw the armand van helden invasion that inadvertently kickstarted the speed garage scene back home.

check out my ibiza 1994 post and also an ode to the balearic vibe of the early 00s.

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junior vasquez – if madonna calls

josh wink – higher state of consciousness

love tribe – stand up – alcatraz remix

cj bolland – sugar is sweeter – armand van helden mix

tori amos – professional widow – armand van helden

stretch and vern – i’m alive

lisa marie experience – keep on jumpin’

todd terry – jumpin’ – rhythm master remix

full intention – america

ken doh – i need a lover tonight

planet soul – set u free

mighty dub kats – magic carpet ride – son of wilmot original

rozzo – into your heart

wildchild – renegade master

cool jack – just come – sharp blasted dub

natural born grooves – forerunner

mory kante – yeke yeke – hardfloor mix

hysteric ego – want love

faithless – insomnia

dj scot project – u

mary kiani – 100% – tall paul mix

amen uk – passion

 

less is more: real divas don’t oversing October 15, 2007

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the principal objection to r&b, from those who remain unenamoured, is usually the tendency for certain singers to attempt to fit ten notes into a space where one will suffice.

its often viewed as showing off and the results are often hysterical, and i don’t mean funny. whilst a good range and the ability to scale is impressive, it can detract from the meaning of the lyrics. how many times have you sat there and cringed whilst a singer trills their way through an entire album?

vocal gymnastics aren’t big and they’re not clever.  plus – they’re just so 90s,

top 10 offenders/songs

1. christina aguilera – singing anything. i hate her voice. oh look its a little girl with a big voice. lets see what she can make it do…

2. mariah carey – singing ballads. i actually think the whitney criticisms are off – she controls her voice too well to make this list. on occasion, mariah’s lunacy shines through her vocals. bless her.

3. kelly price – on ‘friend of mine’, she actually sounded the death knell for the melisma that had built into a crescendo up until that point in the 90s. too much.

4. beyonce – especially the dangerously in love ballads and most of destiny fulfilled. she was constantly trying to outsing kelly and michelle. and seems to have gone nuts since letoya crashed onto the scene and jennifer stole her thunder.

5. mary j.blige – now i love mary, and god knows if anyone should be histrionic, she’s had a hard time of it. but i like her better when she reins it in.

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aaliyah – the thing i like

too cool to coo. i heard that aaliyah’s laidback style was due to her undivalike tendency to allow the backing track to play centre stage and let her vocals wash over them. so effective.

alicia keys – a woman’s worth

content with showing her all round musical ability with her vocals only one of the instruments at her disposal. which is the mark of a real musician. she remains classier than her contemporaries and will far outlast them.

amerie – crush

maybe the reason amerie isn’t as successful in the US is her apparent refusal to screech and holler. i think she has a nice tone to her voice and knows she doesn’t need to dress it up that much.

angie stone – wish i didn’t miss you

it would be easy for a curvy lady like angie to overcompensate with her impressive range. oh and this is one of the best uses of a classic sample, ever.

beverley knight – queen of starting over

sounding more like aretha as time passes, and one of the only r&b singers who is actually good enough to oversing if the mood requires. i just wish she didn’t feel the need to MOR all her work.

sarah anne webb (d’influence) – there can be

criminally overlooked singer sarah anne webb has since left the group to be replaced by a host of others. and it doesn’t sound like d’influence anymore.

deborah cox – sentimental

ok, now that she’s a gay icon, some of deborah’s vocals are sailing close to the edge. but when she arrived in 1995, she was the queen of understated cool with this 2 step classic.

leona lewis – what you do to me

leona could so easily have alienated last year’s x factor viewers by oversinging but she managed to rein in her musical upbringing and used her range appropriately, rather than unnecessarily.

n’dea davenport (brand new heavies) spend some time

acid jazz was never about excessive vocal gymnastics anyway, but n’dea is a prime example of a powerful voice not trying too hard.

sade – the sweetest taboo

sade just doesn’t look like someone about to holler and whoop. and i can’t think of a single occasion in her lengthy career when she would have needed to stoop to that level.

shola ama – you’re the one i love

honey voiced shola has always been the uk’s understated export and it may have cost her in some ways. which is a sad indictment of the industry.

teedra moses – be my girl

ok so, i have criticised the smokescreen surrounding teedra’s real age lately and been scolded. what i will say is that she’s grown enough to realise that runs are for kids.

 

80s boys: softly does it October 13, 2007

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the 80s were a time of smooth sophistication – or at least, that was the aspiration. it wasn’t supposed to look as effortless as the impossibly slick culture we have today where even boho takes hours to perfect. in the 80s, looking as if you had spent time and money on your style was a badge of honour.

everything was designed to flatter this image and music was no exception – the music was polished and the vocals didin’t interrupt the flow. male pop/soul vocalists were often soft and understated, with an overtone of smugness. which is why i’ve chosen a picture of steff, james spader’s character in pretty in pink. the baddie you hate to love.

all of these bands feature cooing vocals, so much of a rarity these days that anything remotely understated evokes the 80s. it wasn’t particularly manly but the new romantics pretty much put paid to any notions that the 80s would be a macho decade.

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breathe – how can i fall

not breathe’s biggest hit, but since they only had one other…close.

howard jones – like to get to know you well

classic synth pop soul which few did better than howard. good use of a mullet too. howard’s sound was slicker than his look. he looked like a tramp with a vidal sassoon haircut and bleach job.

stephen tin tin duffy – icing on the cake

original member of duran duran and has had more success in production than with his own music.

climie fisher – love changes everything

sweet late 80s boy pop that can still be found on heart fm to this day. they had one other notable song, ‘rise to the occasion’.

curiosity killed the cat – down to earth

smash hits favourite ben volauvent parrot and co were minor challengers to bros and wet wet wet in the late 80s. i used to fancy migi.

wet wet wet – sweet little mystery

cheeky scot marti pellow looked so much better with the caught-in-a-dodgem spiky haircut than his later curtain style look when they caught their financial break with ‘love is all around’.

scritti politti – absolute

i love the sound of green’s voice, its like candyfloss. all of scritti  politti’s music sounds the same across albums spanning the entire decade. i like that in a group.

johnny hates jazz – i don’t want to be a hero

oddly sincere sounding group taking into account the jazz were rich pretty boys. proving rich boys don’t need to go indie to compensate for their roots. all of jhj’s music has that late 80s wine bar sound on lock.

omd – if you leave

i don’t care for much of omd’s music but of all the 80s teen movies, this was the most fitting soundtrack to the obligatory high school dance scene. i think we all wanted andie to get with duckie, but its not so bad for him as he’s ended up in two and a half men with charlie sheen…

brother beyond – how many times

god nathan moore really wasn’t any better a singer than he is an agent. and don’t get me wrong, i loved bb way more than bros. no wonder lisa scott-lee’s career haas gone down the pan…oh wait, no, that’s because she’s shit.

blow monkeys – it doesn’t have to be this way

i’m sure i heard carol mcgiffin say that she slept with monkeys frontman dr robert. maybe if you were a bit older – and i mean of an age when you should be fancying people, not 11 like i was – then he was the 80s version of russell brand. who i don’t get either.

hipsway – the honeythief

don’t know much about this group but they typified the smooth sound of the time.

 

let’s get physical October 10, 2007

one of my first memories is watching ‘the kids from fame’. i don’t think i really understood that the ‘kids’ (most of whom looked well into their 20s, as per hollywood convention) were  just training to be stars. i thought they just liked to leap about in legwarmers and leotards, like me.

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photographic evidence exists of me in my little grey marl fame sweatshirt with matching burgundy skirt, circa 1982. the aerobic craze carried through to the mid 80s, with fame the movie, flashdance and a teenage sarah jessica parker in girls just wanna have fun. any colour pastel with grey marl and you were good to go. to date, these remain my favourite colour combinations.

the arrival of tv-am in the uk in 1983 meant that bored housewives no longer needed to warm up for the day unaided. lizzy, in her curly slightly unbalanced glory would encourage you to shake it, not sit in front of jeremy kyle sneering at those less fortunate. in the 80s, those less fortunate could dance their way to a better life, in any case.

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bucks fizz – making your mind up

yes, despite the drugs and sex scandals of the 60s and 70s, a dance routine in which long skirts were pulled off to reveal – gasp – shorter skirts, was the controversy of the 1981 eurovision song contest. and cheryl baker is living proof that the phenonenom of carving an entire career from the simple act of wearing a particular outfit on one occasion was not created by the parasitical liz hurley.

bardo – one step further

like bucks fizz, but a boy-girl duo who wore even shorter skirts. don’t worry, i mean the girl…although if gaydars had been invented in 1982 then they would have been on red alert for the other half of this cheesy pop act.

cyndi lauper – girls just wanna have fun

pop punk cyndi looked a bit too out of shape to be the poster girl and soundtrack provider to one of the 80s most prominent legwarmer movies. like most of the hen night casualties who now kill this on karoake down their local yates.

deniece williams – let’s hear it for the boy

footloose was the ultimate good over evil movie. what? a town where dancing is banned. did they know it was 1984? well, seeing as the town in question was in utah, probably not.

michael sembello – she’s a maniac

memories of flashdance have now been replaced by two skinny men with taches in jogging gear…and a very memorable ad campaign for a directory enquiry service of all things.

irene cara – fame/flashdance

its not clear whether irene had a career outside the realm of soundtracks to high energy dance movies. i don’t think she did. what a strange way to get pigeonholed.

kids from fame – hi fidelity

the kids had several successful albums and i was so tempted to post the schmaltzy ‘starmaker’. that’ll be in ‘songs you turn down on your ipod’ the sequel, i suppose…

maria vidal – body rock

grabbed the crown from irene cara – who must have been v pissed off – with this big 1985 hit. never seen the movie, much the same as no one has ever seen vision quest but has ‘crazy for you’.

pointer sisters – jump

everyone must have been forced to jump around to this during school PE lessons at some point. you could tell our PE tarts loved the 80s, they still looked like extras from fame well into the 90s.

toni basil – mickey

35 year old cheerleader toni had a huge hit with this when i was little. what is it with america and cheerleaders anyway? uk girls are more likely to hold their boyfriends fags while he has a kickabout with his mates…and thats about as far as it goes.

whitney houston – how will i know

whitney apparently hates this video, and finds it embarrassing to watch herself prances about in pastel jumpers and headbands. yes, i can see why that would be infinitely more cringeworthy than all of those clips from ‘being bobby brown’ doing the rounds on youtube…