Sunday, 28 March 2010

Why I like Glee

There seems to be no stopping the hit US TV show Glee which is about to air a second series in America after a wildly successful debut last year. News (or rumours masquerading as news) about the show seems to crop up almost hourly. The cast are going on Oprah (true); they are planning a Broadway version (not true, at least for now). The kids in the lead roles - like Michelle Lea - are now major stars. The show is scoring record ratings in the UK for its channel E4 and the cast versions of various songs have hit the charts, most notably Don't Stop Believing by Journey.

I confess to being something of a fan although I wouldn't classify myself as a "Gleek" as the more obsessive fans are known. For the uninitiated it's set in a High School and follows the fortunes of a Glee (singing and dancing) club with lots of musical numbers, subplots about cheerleaders and nerds vs the cool kids rivalries. If that sounds a bit duff it is actually quite addictive for these reasons:

- it's well made. The States churns out some TV crap but also the slickest and cleverest shows. This is one of the smart and funny ones, created by the man behind Nip/Tuck.
- the cast is very good. The best character is a half-in-closet gay pupil called Kurt played by an actor with no previous experience.
- the music is very varied, from hip hop to show tunes, and their take on the songs is always very original. They also fit the music around the plotlines cleverly.
- I love American High School films like those done in the 80s by John Hughes and this is very much in that genre.
- while it can be a bit sickly sweet at times it isn't overly so and it doesn't all work out tritely and happily all the time. In fact the kids seem to have a pretty up and down time and react like kids would which is possibly the real secret of its appeal.

Best song so far:

Funniest routine:

Sunday, 21 March 2010

3OH!3 - their three best

3OH!3 have come a long way in the last year and are well on the way to becoming one of the pop music's biggest acts. Quite surprising given their obscure and slightly whacky beginnings. Here's a catch-up for anyone just discovering them together with 3 of their best tracks.

They are an American duo who started off doing the kind of stuff that appealed to partying college kids, tapping into the spirit of Jackass. "Holler till you pass out" was typical.

Their breakthrough came in 2009 with "Don't Trust Me" which was a Top Ten US Hit and features the kind of funny video, anarchic style and killer pop hooks which underpin their popularity:

But they really broadened their popularity with two collaborations - StarStrukk with Katy Perry and Blah Blah Blah with Kesha. Although these are the hits that made them hot property I prefer these two songs: new single "Follow me Down" (from the Almost Alice CD released to accompany the Alice in Wonderland movie) is another great bit of pop music with an indie edge, typical of the songs that have got them this far.

Finally, just to show they are not just a latter day Beastie Boys, there is the ballad Still Around which shows they have the musical ability to back up their antics:

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Is this the cheesiest pop song in history?


As regular readers will know I like my pop music commercial and, well, poppie. But you can take a good thing too far and I think the latest song "Manboy" from Swedish Gareth Gates knock-off Eric Saade is a case on point. You have to listen to really appreciate just how cheesy this song is.

Whoever wrote and produced this song was really looking for the lowest common denominator, found it and then kept on digging. If I have ever heard a more basic track so lacking in even an inkling of sophistication, then I can't remember it. Even the lyric, such as it is, homes in on its pre-teen girl market with all the subtletly of a Cruise missile.

But who am I to diss the guy (who is apparently angling to represent Sweden at the Eurovisions - should fit in well). I listened to one other song by him called "Sleepless" and it is actually very enjoyable (if quite an obvious N Synch copy). It's similarly lacking in pretension but has just enough novelty (I love the intro) to make it listenable. There is a fine line between passably commercial pop and having more cheese than Dominos.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

My guilty 80s secret

I am surrounded by cool new music like the new Best New Popsong selection "Teenager" by Japayork which is excellent and you should listen if you haven't heard it yet:

But what am I actually listening to? Land of Make believe by Bucks Fizz. I stumbled across it the other day while researching my 5 songs that sound like Abba (but aren't) post. And I've been listening to it every second song ever since. I was no great fan when they were big in the early 80s although I do remember liking the skirt removing antics at the Eurovision Song Contest. But I can't get enough of Land of Makebelieve at the moment - it really is a great pop song. Anyone else got any guilty 80s secrets to share?

Spanish residency
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