Saturday, January 28, 2006

1001 Greatest Pop Songs Of All Time - #14 - I Should Be So Lucky by Kylie Minogue

Claire: If I have a beginning point, somewhere this list would have taken shape in my head, it was the release of I Should Be So Lucky, and since this is KM entry #1, it's in need of some context. When I first moved to Scotland, the popularity of Kylie Minogue made being Australian the trendiest thing possible (unpacking and handing out 200 copies of Smash Hits and TV week just sweetened the deal). Fundamentally strong of mind, not personally likable at all times, but with a quite admirable work ethic and a almost alien (in this day and age) refusal to indulge more than is necessary about her private life, Kylie Minogue will soon clock up a full 20 years in the music industry - considering this song was expected to be part of a short, packaged career, you wonder why Kylie, and not Jason, or Sinitta, or Sonia? Her musical instincts are sharper, but what of all those articles when this came out, calling her a singing budgie and laughed at all those people who called their new borns Kylie? Are there clues in I Should Be So Lucky to suggest a long and lasting career?

The song, of course, needs no explanation. It's main strength is it's simplicity, lyrically and production wise. There's no need for fancy tricks, its from the Stock Aitken and Waterman lyrical school of basic human emotions, a simple phrase that worms it's way into the brain from the first lesson. There's no complexity to the phrase "Dreamings all I do, if only they'd come true" on face value, but for nailing the human condition, it's quite breathtakingly poetic. It's also a peak for SAW, somehow failing to date even now, unlike some of their lesser work (Pat & Mick anyone?). And even more complex than that, the song is somehow happy AND sad, a song for getting together AND breaking up. And while you can learn the words in a day, you can sit for hours wondering what it all means - is there a dark heart in there? It's a breathtaking piece of pop, one that represents all that is good about SAW, a production unit crying out for some kind of definitive, critical re-evaluation.

There are signs, subtle signs. KMs vocal, imbued with a quiet defiance, sets it aside from some of the lesser treatments, a brilliant, loving it sense of fun ran through the joyous film clip maybe? - or perhaps she could just cherry pick the best songs, had a better musical ear, a better grip on fame, a harder work ethic. The kids knew who the star of SAW stable was though - and 20 years on, we all know - not a singing budgie, not a Madoona clone - a star, now and then.

Alyson: Part of the shock for me in hearing about KMs cancer was the sense that I had always just presumed KM would be around forever like Coca Cola or Andre Agassi. I've written her off so many times, for Melissa, for Collette, for...everyone really. She's not the prettiest, she's not the best singer, she's not the best pop star, but she has the best songs - when she remembers to be Pop, she's untouchable, with a sense of touch and musical ability that surpasses all. When she IS NOT Pop however...

I Should Be So Lucky is part of the musical furniture, so much so I barely think of it as brilliant - I mean, it IS obviously, but it's easy to take it's simplicity for granted. There's nothing obviously outstanding to it, but it all fits together like a seamless jigsaw. And the effect on Australian Pop, for the first time an industry to be proud of, would result in a golden era for almost 6 years, in which record companies would nurture Pop acts for a long term career. Truly, the start of something special, and something special in its own right...

Friday, January 13, 2006

1001 Greatest Pop Songs Of All Time - #13 - Read My Lips by Melissa

Alyson: In 1991, a revolution took place in the playground - Kylie Minogue was out. SO out. In something of a vacuum for a Nation not immune to the charms of a fab pop princess, stepped Melissa. Cool, risque, controversial, gorgeous, strident and demanding, she grabbed everyones attention, particularly the girls of my school. We all wanted to be Melissa at the time, with her seemingly endless troupe of hunky boys in tow. It helped she launched with an Australian Pop landmark. Read My lips has never truly got the credit it has deserved, and some people hold it up as some kind of ridicule object - it is patently ridiculous, since this comes from a landmark era of Australian Pop that, in 1991, was still ongoing.

Melissa Tkautz was an actress on the TV show "e-street" (another guard change, as e-street became far more must see playground TV than Neighbours) and the plan was very, very simple. On the show, Melissa's character, Nikki, would habitually dream she was a popstar, and voila, her video clip would play - an easy, simple way to launch Read My Lips to the nation. Westside Records, the recording arm of e-street, had hoped for a top 10 hit to help publicise Melissa (she dropped the surname for her musical career) and the show, but on the 13th of July, 1991, Melissa hit #1 in the Australian charts. A star was born.

Read My Lips has a very early 90s production, but is no bad thing for it. Underpinned by sampled keyboards and sound effects, and joined together by segments and moments, it works for two reasons: firstly, Melissa is a perfect pop star - blonde, gorgeous, and glamorous, and possessing of one of the worlds finest pouts (she doesn't smile at all during the video). Her presence in this song lifts it out of ordinary hands. Secondly, the lyrics, probably pops most open declaration for a shag, are full of rather wonderful moments. Not just the famous "If you want to late til later, hands off my detonator", but also the rather wonderful spoken word interlude that ends with Melissa declaring rather emphatically "end of conversation" and the short spoken "DOITDOITDOITDOIT" phrase that crops up from time to time (not to mention the coy either disappointed or satisfied "Aren't you gonna do it?" which ends the song). It's hard now to credit the video was regarded as insanely controversial, since it features merely topless boys (including future Guardian actor Simon Baker-Denny and jigger Tom Williams) and a man who puts paint on his mouth, but the video captures the mood of the song beautifully - it's full of colour, movement and vibrancy, and was beloved by the girls of the era - in short, it's a classic, in every single way.

Sadly, tragically, heartbreakingly, Melissas two week stint at the top was cut short by of all things, Bryan Adams, and his mind numbing, bewildering, infuriating 10 (10!) week skint at #1 with (Everything I Do) I Do It For You, which spoiled the mood utterly - and by the years end, Melissa was floundering, signing too many bad management deals, and worse, losing a major award to Jenny Morris. It was a golden era of Australian Pop, but some things, sadly, never change.


Claire: Melissa is our friend Megs B all time favourite artist, but was another phenomenon I missed out on while I lived in the UK - Read My Lips was a song I heard on a cassette sent to me by Alyson wrapped in a piece of paper which in giant orange crayon proclaimed how crap Kylie was, and how Melissa had taken her place (news to me, a very proud recent purchaser of Shocked).

I'd contend Melissa is a perfect popstar due to her vacancy and innocence. She was naive about the lyrics, and it shines through - it probably allowed them to get the references to detonators and doing it through some reasonably strict early 90s censorship. I love listening to this song, mostly because I can't imagine something so day-glo and bouncy getting to #1 these days. It's a fantastic disco/nighclub song, but I'm never quite sure WHY I love it - it's just a fantastic slice of early 90s pop, so breaking it's components down simply lessen it. And the next song was even better, but that's another story.

1001 Greatest Pop Songs Of All Time - #12 - The Tra La La Song by The Banana Splits/Liz Phair

Claire: In the late 1960s, a rather tedious cabal of the usual dull subjects (you know: Bob facking Dylan, The (UGH) Band, future readers of Mojo Magazine, Toby Cresswell) would sit around writing in their logs about the latest threat to their livelihood, bubblegum music. It seemed as though the idea that you could simply make a cartoon, or invent a band, and get the animated characters to sing a fabulous pop song was "not poetry, man" and so, they would tediously wail and threaten to punish us all by hanging up their guitars and burning their logs.

Frankly, the world would have been a better place if they had.

I could try and explain "The Banana Splits" show from the late 1960s, if I had any understanding of what was going on. The only episodes I ever saw seemed to consist of one of them being ABOUT to slip on a roller skate, and cymbals crashing as hilarity was about to ensue. The best I can gather is Fleagle (a beagle), Bingo (a gorilla), Drooper, (a nominal lion, so I'm told) and Snorky (an elephant, and all played by men in giant, odd costumes) were in a band, like the Monkees, and would have fantastic adventures in their house, and then show an episode of Squiddly Diddly. Amazingly though, the music created for this TV show was 300 times at least more enjoyable, magical, fun and enchanting than anything the sodding Band created, but hey, you don't see THAT fact listed too often do you? (In fact if I had an MP3 of late 1960s homoerotic classic "I enjoy being a boy" I'd put that on this list too)

The Tra La La Song (the title song to the Banana Splits show), of course, is dumb. Now, when I say it's dumb, I don't mean it's STUPID, please make that distinction. Stupid Pop is things like Crazy Frog, Cartoons or Ugly by the Sugababes - inane novelty, horrible tunes, no thought. Dumb in this list is sometimes a good thing - by dumb, I simply mean this song has no other intention than to be enjoyable, fun, loud, proud and make you smile. Clear? Writing a great, dumb pop song without straying to stupid is a massively fine line. This song is one of the most demented, dumb pop thrashes of all time: it only goes 2 and a half minutes, the most incisive lyric is "flipping like a pancake/bobbing like a cork", and it's the high watermark of the late 60s bubblegum pop explosion. Later in life, it was covered by (her again) Liz Phair, who sounded like she was having a whale of a time, as anyone does when they get to play with this song. It's structurally perfect, timeless, and you can sing it no matter what your vocal range. But lets also say, there's some pretty serious musical craft in this song - they've thrown the kitchen sink at it, got everyone in on the instruments, and made a joyous racket.

You could say The Banana Splits - they mean it, man...

Alyson: This was my favourite childhood song. I learned the words within 15 seconds, and still know them off by heart. I couldn't truthfully believe anyone in the whole world could hate this song - in fact, I consider it something of a test for my friends - anyone who hates The Tra La La song isn't likely to be having much fun at OUR soirees.

It is brilliantly LOUD, and Claire is right, the show itself really was mad - not for nothing are the Banana Splits mentioned on the cover of the immortal book "Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth", as pop pioneers, but whisper it, there's a slight punk element to the Banana Splits. I don't think anyone has ever really sounded like this, and it overwhelms whatever session musician they got in to sing it "as" Bingo or Fleagle. By the end, they sound rather exhausted by the whole thing. I think each time I listen to this wonderful song, I find new things, like the subtly placed triangle or the backing singers going mad in the background. It's an absolute bubblegum pop classic, of the highest possible order.

As for Lizs version, it was the first, early sign she had a latent pop star in her - unlike the original, Liz sounds in control of the song, and plainly sounds like she's about to start cackling. Was a seed planted that day? Who knows, only Liz...but this is JUST the kind of song we need now...although in this tedious gangsta rap/whey faced Blunt clone era, it'd probably chart at #40...sigh...

1001 Greatest Pop Songs Of All Time - #11 - Doin' The Do by Betty Boo

Edward O: There will no doubt by many people, of a certain age, obsessed with the magic of the charts, long before they were exsanguinated by the hideous, slow death of Pop as a viable commercial force, who used to arise early on a Saturday morning to watch the Top Sixty on Rage like I did. Now, they only show the top 50, and it contains James Blunt, so why bother. My first memory of Betty Boo came on a morning like this when I spotted it at Number 16, seemingly from out of nowhere.

I had no idea what to make of this exotic-looking spitfire, who strutted down a school hallway in a leather jacket, dropping cheeky rhymes over de-rigeur early-90s pop dance, accompanied by aural AND visual AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHs and absolutely dripped cool, but I knew I loved it. Too much of a cartoon to be part of the young'un's burgeoning sexuality like, say, Madonna, but carrying with her a quirky manner that her dizzy, low-budget videos emphasised perfectly.

And the song itself was an absolute blinder. While dancing in a science lab and being pulled down a corridor by her ears by her dowdy teacher, she spat our her fun rhymes with simple, but magical wordplay: "Wipe that smile off your face, you're a side effect, like an aftertaste" being one of THE best pop put-downs of all time, interspersed with the deliciously meaningless and infectious (despite its performer-reflexive specificity) chorus. And lots of other brilliant touches, courtesy of both Alison Clarkson's excellent songwriting and the golden hands of The Beatmasters, who always cared more for danceability than credibility - the nagging noise underneath the verses, perfectly accompanying Betty's big-noting, AND the bits in the videos where she's being hated on, the massive, ascending AAAAH bits, the quick-fire but endearingly clunky beats, the Brit-girl rap that gave no attention to being streat, just being fizzy fun even though her flow's pretty great to begin with and the little flecks of dance and house that underlie the whole fantastic project.

Of course, during a promo tour for her second album, she was found miming to a backing tape. In Melbourne, a city I thought liked pop and wasn't a haven for stodgy rockists. Amazing that this killed her career back then when amazing pop stars of today like Britney can get away with it even for those who pay big money. As such, her second album, featuring one of 1992's best ballads, "Hangover", which, if Nicola Roberts MUST COVER if she tries to go solo, went completely tits up in a tide against "manufactured" pop in favour or whatever rubbish was considered more real then.

But some of us never forgot. We devoured her writing credits and dreamed of the day she would come back to smite the fun-haters. And we shall be rewarded.

1001 Greatest Pop Songs Of All Time - #10 - Sound Of The Underground by Girls Aloud

Claire: The next time some gimlet eyed would be popstar (the term used very loosely in this case) like Cosima De Vito or Marty Worrall pitches into the newspaper whinging and complaining that a reality music TV show has ruined their career and now they can't have hits, they should be given a mardy slap across the chops, and told the cold, harsh truth - you CAN have massive hits from a reality TV show, but you just have to do better than rehashing cold R&B and old Cold Chisel songs. You have to be excellent - Oprah once said excellence was a deterrent to racism - well, in this case, majestic Pop is a deterrent to bland. And how do we know this? Girls Aloud told us so, loudly, proudly, and via the liberal use of Surf guitars.

For the totally unitiated: a recap. There once was a show on UKTV (the home of many great things) called Popstars The Rivals, which had a simple premise, one person (Pete "Now listen here kid" Waterman) would form a boyband and one other person (Louis "Sharon Sharon!" Walsh) would form a girl band. Simple enough, as the two bands fought it out for the position of 2002 Christmas number 1. You might think this show would produce two rather bland pieces of fluff (especially from the man who inflicted Ronan Keating on Nanas of the world) - but you'd be horribly wrong. Somehow, someway, it actually produced the best girl band of their time, a beacon at a time when Pop is seemingly stagnant. One True Voice (the boy band) were simply blasted out of the water by a combination of sass, wit (the girls campaign slogan "Buy Girls, Bye Boys!" surely should have won a posh advertising award) and sheer majestic pop brilliance. Out of a line up and an audition process, Kim, Nads, Sarah, Tweedy and Nic have fused together to create the pop act most ahead of it's time, a band that takes dynamic risks, and which continues to excite like little other music that's around today.

Sound Of The Underground, of course, started the story. Like it's pop classic precusor, Vacation by Vitamin C, it's built around the kind of surf guitar 60s bands attempted desperately to hit, but failed miserably. There's a purring cat sound in the mix, deep down. Like the best work of Madonna, it's a song about dancing, about music, the beat, the rhythm - and yes, we hope calling it Sound Of The Underground DID annoy some tedious indie whingers. For Brian Higgins (also responsible for entry #1, All I Wanna Do, so the guy knows his way around a guitar sample), and the Xenomania team, it was another wonderful little pop milestone, but it would still take a while for the bands hierarchy and lowerarchy to become fully established, so it's not a brilliant song due to any amazing vocal tricks or flicks, but somehow it still wouldn't sound right sung by anyone else. It's an amazing debut single, at least in the all time top 10, and it's shot right throughout with a kind of liberating JOY the best songs are riddled with. By the end, the Girls sound rather possessed and demented, and caught up in the moment. If you aren't dancing by the end, there's probably not a lot of hope for you...

You could probably split the atoms a little with Girls Aloud - is it the band who are brilliant, or do they simply get great songs? In truth, it's the package, a wonderful, confident band backed by fantastic songs - what rivals you might ponder? At this stage, they were merely brilliant, but with the next single, they were breathtaking...

Thursday, January 12, 2006

1001 Greatest Pop Songs Of All Time - #9 - I Will Come To You by Hanson

Alyson: One of the things that annoys me is people who say Pop is meaningless, and isn't capable of passion - it's a hoary old chestnut, as if the directness of a lyric wrapped in a tune is somehow something to be ashamed of. So far though, Claire and I haven't really looked at Pop ballads, which are deceptively easy to screw up. Britney Spears early albums, I'm looking at you. Whether it's flat vocals, or dispassionate performances, the Pop ballad often goes horribly, horribly wrong, and is the most skipped track on the CD. I would hope this song, though, gets a fair airing everytime "Middle Of Nowhere" gets a spin.

Hanson as you know by now found the excessive joy and heart stopping brilliance of Mmmbop a bit of a millstone - they were proper musicians, dammit. So following on from Mmmbop, ridiculously daft and catchy, and the slightly lesser follow up Where's The Love, they brought out probably 1997s finest ballad, possibly my favourite song of that year, I Will Come To You. I don't think Hanson had fully crossed into my brain other than my Dad Aussie Kev saying "Are they girls" and thinking he was a hilarious, original human being. The first time I heard this song, I was in a shopping centre on the Gold Coast, and I literally stopped dead, in the middle of the shopping centre to listen, lost to anyone else, in my own world. And if THAT isn't the sign of an amazing Pop song, I don't know what is.

What is there to say? It's an epic frankly. It could have been horrendous - an awful mess, a band stretching beyond their limits - but it never once feels like that. Taylors vocal belies his age, given it could easily have been ridiculous, but his harmonising with Isaac works wonderfully well. The lyrics could have been pure schmaltz, but they aren't. The fact they mean, and believe (some would say at that age naively, but I would scoff at this) every word they sing makes this a very special song. It's as much a song for each other as a song for the wider world, but it's shot through with a very special kind of emotion: I'd say that to me "Angels" for instance sounds flat, lifeless, and I will never connect with it as I do this song. There's not a lot to praise in terms of clever technologically, no jaunty tune to analyse - it's all very straightforward - it's a brilliant, powerful pop ballad in which not a single second is wasted.

It's fair to say this song means SO much to me, personally - it's a song on this list I'm proud to write about, but I have to be kind of vague. Some songs on this song have an obvious brilliance, this one, I can't properly find the words to express what it means to me. It means that my friends are always going to be there for me. It means I will be there for them. It's in my brain, and it's in my heart. It's a song that might just be mine, maybe I'm the only person in the world who thinks this should be on this list - but what is the point of music if it doesn't make you feel like that? And this song will always make me feel somehow safer and more secure.

And they say Pop can't mean anything....

Claire: I used to, shoot me down in flames, find this song ridiculously OTT. Maybe it was selfish of me to expect MMMBop (of which more shortly) every time, but I used to find it a bit silly Hanson were attempting a pop power ballad - that isn't snobbery, but I couldn't reconcile those ickle kiddies producing anything other than silly novelty hits. Wrapped up in Spice, and dismissive of the kiddie rock, what could HANSON possibly produce, I would sneer. Something as good as Spice? I frankly missed what the appeal was. At the time.

In actual fact, I've come to realise I was horrendously, awfully wrong, because burned through Hansons desire to be proper musicians, they produced one hell of a power ballad. The power of the whole thing is pretty amazing, with even Isaac stepping up to the vocal plate - I'd say it does at times ALMOST stray into a mess, but any time I've heard it, it plays to Hansons melodic strengths. To think they fretted about being proper musicians...

There is no irony in saying it's powerful, and beautiful. But this is Alysons song, and it always will be. Nothing I can say can capture it as well as she puts it.

1001 Greatest Pop Songs Of All Time - #8 - Why Can't I by Liz Phair

Claire: They should have seen it coming of course - on the song "Shitloads of Money", she sang "It's nice to be liked/but it's better by far to be paid/I know most of the friends that I have/really don't see it that way". In 2003 though, when indie mumbler Liz Phair, critically acclaimed but stuck with a fanbase that showed no sign of growing, stepped forward with a new, poppier, more commercial direction, and fine tuned her sexually coded feistiness into a far more overt plea for a shag (HWC anyone?) via the help of the Matrix in a bid to sell more records - well, you can imagine the reaction was less than positive. In fact, many old fans (including a work experience boy reviewing it for the Herald Sun) turned their nose up violently, proclaiming Liz dead to them, she wasn't as good as she used to be - oooh, get you, aren't you a proper music fan, etc.

Of course, had they actually listened with their hearts (thankyou Roxette), those fans would have realised that Liz had actually simplified her lyrics, which wasn't a bad thing - she was speaking the universal, direct, pop versions of the language of love, lightened up, and most importantly, given her songs a tune and room to breathe her previous minimalist production hadn't allowed. If anything, Liz had sold IN rather than sell out, embracing a fantastic pop sound the equal of anything The Matrix had done up to that point and probably will ever do. It was a bold bid for re-invention that a less tedious world would have embraced, but of course, these are dull, tedious times, so it was greeted with a lot of nasty words and probably, disgusted poetry on blogs.

Why Can't I, the lead single, remains a marvel. The lyrics are direct, simple and perfect, the tune skipping along in wonderful ways, sounding exactly like you imagine love should sound. It also drops in and out, making it sound like shagging should, guitars fading in and out, Liz sounding part wide eyed ingenue, part lust struck older woman. It's all so wonderfully loud and randy, it's a heady mix, and Liz has the perfect vocal style for this kind of song, pronouncing every single word with a perfect, intelligent diction, which makes this song something else. Yes, she is a highly intelligent woman, old and sophisticated, but she's captivated by love, and swept under, despite herself. When the song drops out and slips down a gear, it's like Liz is questioning herself, before a wave of guitars renders such questions irrelevant - it's love (or lust maybe), and it must be followed. It also has one of the best censor baiting uses of the word "fucked!" in history.

Alas, such subtle, brilliant nuances are probably left to the new listener, not the "old" fan tediously banging on and clutching their copy of Whipsmart. They didn't follow Liz on her journey, but they were the losers. This is a FABULOUS pop song, a classic of its kind. It's too bad that just as Liz liberated herself from indie and blossomed, some people simply couldn't cope.


Alyson: Before this album, I hadn't paid much notice to Liz Phair - her normal orbit was 3am on Rage, just after the new Whale single - but here she was, preened up, selling pink T-shirts, giving out sex advice, and behaving like your glamorous newly single auntie in a bid to grab a slice of the Pop market. The fuzzy, distorted guitars were out - audiotune and make up were in. The thing was, she was so GOOD at being a pop star, it was hard for us to think of her as anything else. Oddly, the "new" Liz sold as many albums as the "old" Liz, so she shed her old fans for new ones it seems - if they had stuck around, maybe it would have been nice to have Liz get paid for once.

This is a paean to the single minded pursuit of love at all costs, Liz pursuing a man who already has a girlfriend while she already has a boyfriend. It's a very unique kind of pop song, and as Claire said, it's all so loud - there's very little here that you would call "clever" - the word play is very basic, but joyous - but then, so is love. It's the sound of a woman in love, and regardless of if it was to sell more records, the production reflects that. It's straight from the SAW school lyrically, keep the human emotions basic and simple and universal.

"Why Can't I Breathe/Whenever I think About you?" - who doesn't get that? Sometimes, simple is the new clever you know.


Edward O: Liz Phair was a woman in her late thirties when she sang this. I guess some people just can't cope with the fact that OLD PEOPLE HAVE HORMONES AND PHEROMONES and like the sex and still fall in love. Certainly, the F-rated reviews of her album suggest an unwillingness on the part of the critical massive to evaluate her on terms other than preconceived notions of what she should have, apparently, been doing. Which is stupid, because aspiring to make amazing pop singles is one of the hardest, most rewarding, yet underappreciated arts on the planet. "Why Can't I" is a great pop song - getting down to the fact that while love, a many-splendoured thing, is complex, falling in love, falling infatuation, is actually very simple. Heads spin, guitars chime, and Liz captures that moment expertly.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

1001 Greatest Pop Songs Of All Time - #7 - Ricochets by Holly Valance

Claire: When I sat down to do this list, I was conscious of avoiding doing all the obvious megahits far up on the list (so, as Alyson put it "we don't get to 527 and think, hmmm, Witch Doctor by Cartoons, that wasn't so bad!") but as I've said, we wanted to pay an equal tribute to all the inexplicable pop failures that are out there - I promised Y I wouldn't just spend this entire list yelling at the people reading it, but truly, in this case, I had to.

Of all the failures we'll detail, few frustrate me more than the failure of Holly Valances second album "State Of Mind", a rather fabulous album of robotic pop, to even make the top 50 of the album charts in the UK OR Australia bewilders me to this day - I conclude it must have been down to the old Lisa Scott Lee "like you or they don't" philosophy, although that doesn't explain critical review after critical review attacking Holly, without mentioning any of the songs on the album. You honestly wondered if anyone had been given a copy or had just decided on seeing the name on the album cover it was time to cut Flick #2 down a peg or two. I must admit, on reading the reviews, I thought this album must have been some kind of horrendous disgrace to the good name of Pop, but no - it was actually quite, quite amazing. But despite some fabulous songs (surely everything I hate is merely Girls Aloud All I Want with a different singer?) no one, and I mean no one (well, apart from Cameron Adams) had a kind word to say about it, just because it was by Holly Valance seemingly. And it's just that kind of thing that has inspired this list, and the space to give songs like this a rightful glowing review.

Ricochets, a song you can pick up on an album with 50000 copies still available for about 3 bucks now, is Hollys gentlest, warmest moment on an album of otherwise rather wonderful sleazy dance tracks and electro pop. Hooked around a simply gorgeous lyric ("Don't cry/it just ricochets/into another day/into another day"), it's a song that grows on you over time, getting more and more under the skin with each listen. There's no tricks to this song at all - it's not underpinned by a sample, or an electro pop trick - the beat is pretty languid, gentle and summery, apart from the mid song interlude, but it's probably Hollys fine vocals that make it special - for too long criticised as a clothes horse at the whims of audiotune, this is a song she makes her own, although in a Rachel Stevens way - no oversinging, just gentle interpretation, but with an implicit understanding of the words and their meaning. The whole package would have sounded lovely pumping out of summer radios and DJ booths alike, and should any budding "Idol" really like to improve their cred, this is the kind of ballad that twat had in mind when he tried to claim "Maybe Tonight" was an Idol ballad "more popped up and open"...

But no, sadly, this song is a lost classic, sitting idly waiting for an appreciative audience - one this list is happy to give it - and as if that wasn't frustrating enough, this was the planned 2nd single...more on the only single, I would imagine, to follow...

Sunday, January 08, 2006

1001 Greatest Pop Songs Of All Time - #6 - The Block Party by Lisa "left-eye" Lopes

Alyson: When Claire and I started this list, we reluctantly put a cross through any TLC songs on the grounds that they were, essentially, an R&B group, and more importantly, it was our grounds to turf Destinys Child and Beyonce from the list (which felt good) - so we sighed sadly, and one of us said "but The Block Party is still OK, right?" and yes, yes that was more than fine, it was nigh on essential. So here it is.

In another chapter of her mardy relationship with her TLC bandmates, Lisa Left eye Lopes wrote an open letter to them, which basically rang "You know, I'm the star here, and if don't think so, make a solo album and step up and bring it bitches!" (I'm not good at street) - and so, as an example, she went off and made the album "Supernova" and this, The Block Party, was the lead single - I'm not totally sure of the chronology, but I have a feeling it's October 2001 release was delayed due to 9/11 by which time no one was down with party jams or good time exhortations. In fact, Supernova (and The Block Party) are thus ridiculously hard to find - worse, of course, Left eye was killed 6 months later in a car crash. The Block Party though, for the two or three people have heard it, stands as an absolute pop classic.

The Block Party is purest, purest joyous bubblegum, a song all about Left eyes reminiscing for the good old days of her neighbourhood block parties from her childhood. The best thing I can say about it is that several of it the phrases in the song are now house catchphrases - many the time I have said "What's your name?" "Alyson" "And where you from" "Richmond" "And where you going?" "To the party" "Can I come?" "UH-HUH!" - not only that, hot boys are frequently "pop locket" and so on. Underpinned by the almost woozy, playground skipping rope beat, and Left eyes strangely sweet childlike vocals, the song is pretty hypnotic, to the point it feels amazingly short, and it's impossible not to get caught up in dancing to it. I'm somewhat bemused it didn't take off (or wasn't marketed) to groups of little kids in playgrounds mucking around (I would have given away skipping ropes with the first 100 copies) but it's all a moot point now.

It is a terrible shame it was such a flop, because it is truly lovingly crafted in every way - it's an addition to the legacy of a crazy, mardy R&B superstar who, with this song, became a quite brilliant POP star. Bless her, and her insane ways - we won't see her like again.


Claire: Much like a later song I'll write about, I was holiday in the UK when this song came out in 01, and I think I first heard it late night watching Channel 4 curled up on my friends couch in her London flat, having behaved with an incredible amount of irresponsibility. Whoever was doing the introductions already referred to it as a "massive, widely talked about smash mega sensation", which was such a weird jumble of words, I often thought I'd imagined the whole thing. Surely a massive, widely talked about smash mega sensation might, you know, be available in shops - or played on the radio once?

It was only a few weeks later I found out the song peaked only at #16 in the UK charts, and heard it with a clear head. My first thought was "God, Alyson will love that" and more importantly, I couldn't reconcile my opinions of TLC as a relatively grumpy, socially on R&B group (and a darn good one) with...with this, which was so much damn FUN. It definitely didn't sound like, say, Creep. The best compliment I can pay this song is it's sound and texture comes directly from the golden era of late 60s/70s Bubblegum, with a modern sheen. It's not hard to imagine this song featuring on, say, the better musical episodes of Fat Albert or The Rock Flowers. Moreover, like the best pop songs, it's so riddled with joy, optimism and a little bit of childish stupidity (in a good way) it's just impossible to get out of your head.

Honestly, if it had been out in August 2001 instead of October 2001, I don't know if it would have been a mega hit - it was such a radical departure for anyone from TLC, and it doesn't sound like anything else, which scares radio, but it would have been fun finding out. As for why the album, Supernova, flopped - I'll be damned if I know, but that's an argument for a whole nother time. Suffice to say, it showed latent Pop talent can bloom in anyone, if given a chance...


Adem IAR: This was the first song I ever played in my car the day I got my drivers license. I was blessed to have quite a decent CD player set up in my car so it was a hard choice, but Lisa pulled through most worthy in the end. Myself and good friend Candice were obsessed with it, much like Alyson and Claire, we often - at random moments - would shout "What's your name?" "Candice!" "And where you from?" "Fyans Street!" etc etc. We even once threw a 'Block Party' of sorts (ie: we just invited our friends and took it to the street for as long as we could before the police were called) in the songs honour.

It really should have done better than it did, I was working in several clubs at the time and they were all playing it at peak times. I also remember Channel V playing it quite often shortly after Lisa's untimely death.

It was just so much FUN. I mean, for Christ sake, it encouraged you to play HOP SCOTCH! And one drunken night, several of us did JUST THAT to the song! I guess though, around the time of its release, fun wasn't really something anyone was getting into in such a hurry - people were so worried about a building blowing up and whether U2 would be recording a song about it rather than having a good shake of their arses.

Such an upsetting pitty.

1001 Greatest Pop Songs Of All Time - #5 - Never Forget by Take That

Adem IAR: Do you remember where you were on the 13th of February, 1996? Well I do. It was the first few weeks of a new term at school, I was getting books out of my locker to head off to my next class. One of my friends came up to me and explained she needed to discuss something with me in private. Quite alarmed and worried as to what was so important and urgent that I needed to miss the first 10 minutes of my Drama class just to listen (I seriously thought she was going to tell me she had fallen pregnant, seeing as she was a bit of a cheap tart at the time), I quickly went off to the girls toilets with my friend.

The next 10 minutes are still, to this day, a blur.

My dear friend had taken me away from the harsh eye of many teenage school students to tell me of the news, in private, that "Take That have just announced they're breaking up".

I remember thinking she was pulling my leg, but the seriousness in her eyes were a sign enough that she was not bullshitting. What seemed like hours, but was probably only seconds of silence, passed. Then the tears began, and eventually they grew violent. After an hour my friend thought it would be a good idea to send me off to the guidance counselor (!!!!!!). Within five minutes of mucus-filled murmurs of "Robbie that bastard! He's RUINED MUSIC FOR EVERYONE THE SELFISH PRICK!!", I was told to go home by the guidance counselor for the rest of the day.

The Take That split affected me in ways that my mother described at the time as similar to the way she had reacted when Elvis died. They were more than just a band in my eyes, they were figures of worship. I honestly thought I'd never allow a pop group of any kind into my heart the way I did Take That after they had so viciously broken it, but of course the whole Spice Girls thing happened shortly after, and they fucked me over just as much as the boys did, but that's for another story and another time.

"Never Forget" is, in my eyes, their real final single. "How Deep Is Your Love", released as the bands official goodbye, not only made me angry, but was pretty much a cover done so badly, I honestly to this day feel its coldness was present simply to make a mockery of one of the most important music groups in history.

"Never Forget" was a masterpiece, coming at a time when Take That fans were in mourning over the loss of Robbie from the band. It was also the follow up single to the downright amazing and breathtaking "Back For Good", which should probably be in this list for obvious reasons as well a little later on. The singing choir children at the opening and closing of the track still, to this day, cause my skin to develop such an insane amount of goosebumps that it's almost frightening. The lyrics meant so much with Robbie's departure, but even MORE so when the band parted ways in 1996. "Never Forget" became an anthem of sorts amongst Take That fans, as they cried away into their pillows listening to the song on repeat till they fell asleep and their mothers came in to turn the stereo and lights off.

Now with the band reforming - minus Robbie - I cannot deny I'm extremely excited. The thought of flying to the UK - with what money I'm not quite sure - just to see one of their live shows this year is a thought that crosses my mind on a daily basis, and if I had the body for prostitution I would probably consider it more seriously. So instead, I can just bask in the new greatest hits DVD, upcoming documentary and brilliant new song "Today I've lost you".

With all this rather sad nostalgia surrounding it, I often wonder if "Never Forget" is the ultimate Take That song, moreso than "Back for good"? Probably not, but it signifies so much of their brilliance and such an important part of their history that it really should be.

Claire: All of the above statements, re the break of Take That, were reflected no doubt in my own mind on that fateful day - I was Take That fan club member #91, which is bizarre, since I don't normally go for boy bands. There are times to this day I still think were Take That "all that" to be honest, but I know where I was when Robbie left (my back garden while my Mum passed on the news with a casual dispassion having found out on the phone) and I still know where I was when the final, somewhat unsurprising statement came through - on a Grade 12 camp, in the middle of nowhere, nursing a brused rib from a skateboard tumble. And I know where I was when I found out Anca, a German Take That fan, killed herself one day after Robbie's final concert (I was playing soccer with my cousin, with a walkman on).

Someday soon this will be someone else's dream - that's the phrase that loops in my mind when I think of Never Forget. It was, soon, it was the Spice Girls dream - and I was on board for a remarkably similar experience, in fact. Never Forget? As if I could, Take That were a band for the heart and the head. My boy band in fact. Bless.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

1001 Greatest Pop Songs Of All Time - #4 - Some Girls by Rachel Stevens

Claire: When we did this list, it was, as we said, partly down to that stupid waste of trees that was Toby "Oooh, me obscure jazz collection!" Cresswells book of 1001 great singles that totally ignored all Pop totally, but it was also in tribute to let some popstars know someone, anyone, loves them. For too long, classic pop songs are overlooked on these kind of lists, despite their intrinsic brilliance lyrically and musically, just because people want to look cool when they show off their playlists or musical lists. This list, of course, only wears it's pop credentials, so let it be said - Rachel Stevens = fucking brilliance. A lot of this website is going to end up with me yelling I think, but Rachel Stevens career woes are just as baffling to me as Calendar Girl by Sophie Monk entering the chart at #35. I'm almost at the point of despairing at the charts, I really am. But enough of the ranting, for now, let's take a look at Some Girls.

Rachel, formerly the pretty one in S Club 7 (and also the one in S Club Miami who's boyfriend was always whining at her to come home), as I'm sure you would know if you are in anyway interested in this website, is bewilderingly struggling with her career, held up as something of a sinner for daring to make a brilliant pop album, while lessers like Franz Ferdinand (Yawn) mock her for her failure. It's not right, and while I only hear about Rachels trials 2nd hand from websites and my friends in London, who all say they like her, but of course, didn't buy the album. Hmmm...

Some Girls came from shinier times, getting to #2 in the charts, though I have no idea what "Sport Relief" is or was, but it explains why Colin Jackson (who would love pop) and Pat Cash (who doesn't) were doing in the film clip getting doused by water pistol wielding femmes. Pat Cash of course is just as much of a jinx as Greg Norman, so that might explain the problems - as best as I can tell, and forgive this if it's wrong, it seems to be about oral sex, and the fact that the "girl" is stuck being a giver, and not a receiver, if you follow (if that's not right, tell me what the champagne makes taste so much better?) in order to help her career. I'm always a big fan of what you might call a "strutting" beat, that is one where you can see the singer with a lot of nodding defiantly back up girls strutting down the road in the film clip. Some Girls definitely scores high on that score, it's got a positively skipping beat to be honest. As I said above, it scores highly on the subtly filthy lyrics score - and when people say Rachel is a "blank canvas", this surely plays to her strengths. Like the best word of Kylie Minogue (hardly a belter herself) in Better The Devil You Know, there's no knowing wink - the best popstars will sing anything, but do it with a coy grin that suggests the singer is much smarter than you give them credit for. Kylie knew what BTDYK was about, do you really think Rach is singing without knowledge, regurgitating other peoples words without taking it in? Rubbish, that's all I can say.

So why don't people like her? Who would know - this is a world that values James Blunt and Lee Harding for some reason, it's a cruel, wrong, awful world.

Alyson: Pop is in difficult times right now - I can only think that Pop relies on the sale of singles, and now we all download things, rubbish that sells few copies can get higher in the charts. Certainly, it'd be wonderful if this generation found it in itself to embrace Rach, but it just doesn't seem to be possible.

I was a pretty big rap for S Club, so I do have a soft spot for Rach, and I think the last album saw several songs which improved on Some Girls - but I've almost come to accept with a sigh that the best pop songs generally fail, that people are now buying based on hearsay and what they should buy that the papers tell them too - either that or the only people not downloading are old, and the charts are going to be nana cuffed for the rest of time.

Some Girls is of course fabulous, and a revelation whenever I play it to people here in Oz, so all I can suggest to Rach is to possibly immigrate? Personally, it's all Pat Cashs fault you are on struggle street anyway, so you could smack him while you are here....


Edward O: One of my favourite memories of 2004 was, in the midst of wondering why amazing pop singles like this never found easy purchase in the soft, fleshy part of the charts (i.e. the top), was taking a bus ride in my then-hometown of Canberra, and seeing a pair of 13 year old girls with an iPod between them, both listening to the same song and singing along. I don't think they realised they weren't alone on the bus as I was behind them and had been slumping. But they were having the time of their lives, probably wondering the same thing I was; why did they have to go to the internet to get this song? Here they were, two kinda grubby bogan girls listening to Rachel Stevens, not hearing the layers, the levels, probably not knowing who Richard X is, not knowing anything about glam, about schaffel, about the history of pop this song is now woven into, they just loved the exciting video game sounds and Rachel's guileless, sweet-as-sugar vocal delivery. But the intelligentsia have claimed Rachel for themselves, and the arbiters of taste and radio play have said "You can have her", let's play Usher instead, idiots.

I'll concede that some Rachel Stevens may be too polite and British to dent any other charts. But "Some Girls" endures with a universal charm - it starts in the shoulder and the neck - moving up to the head and infecting the brain causing other parts to move. A foot tap, a campy outstretched arm, a look towards the heavens... an aural glimpse into the land of pop perfection.

For the duration of this song, the kids get it, and all the analyses and backwards-glancing can't affect that. This is, above its complexity, a brilliantly simple pop song. The extended mix, with Rachel talking about "big platform boots" is fantastic too.

1001 Greatest Pop Songs Of All Time - #3 - Girls Life by Girlfriend/Japanfriend

Alyson: A funny thing has happened to us in the last 12-18 months, and it's this. We've found a secret, but significant, portion of the population of Australia remembers, and loved, early 90s Aussie girlband Girlfriend. We honestly thought before we started our website, it was just us, and posting about our love for them would just be ignored. It took longer than it should to come up that we loved this fantastic band, the band that will always be MY favourite girlband. Comprising Robyn, Siobhann (one of my all time pop idols), Lorinda, Jacqui and Melanie, if you weren't a girl in the early 90s playground that loved Girlfriend, you didn't get to hang around with us, uh-uh, no way. It was fantastic, in the midst of the glorious pop filled winter of 1992, to have our very own, fully functioning, amazingly crafted girl band to adore. Although their only competition is Bardot and Cherry, they are still easily untouched as our very finest girl band. Of course, this being pub rock central, they were "out of fashion" by 1993 (although GF4, the post Robyn plough on, still had a #6 hit in 1994 with Sooner Or Later), and in many ways, they missed a massive trick in not pumping out loads more merch (we had pocket money people!), but we never stopped believing in them, and their fabulousness, and thus, we present them with a worthy tribute to one of their best songs, Girls Life, the song I believe still acts as the template for the entire Spice Girls career.

In one of our most glorious Pop epochs, Take It From Me's by the Girls two weeks spell at #1 (criminally the girls only #1) was replaced on the top of the charts by euphorias Love Me Right (of which more later). In an ideal world, Girls Life would have followed it to the top of the charts. Starting with Robyns buoyant call of "1-2-3....KICK IT!", it's a paeon to sticking together against those randy, rampant boys, and crucially (note books out plagerists) mentions "Girl Power" a full 4 years before Spice came out. But there's so much to enjoy - the debut of the "Girlfriend rap" which in this case ends with "Baby Chill out, we GOT WORK TO DO!" (you can almost see Siobhann nodding defiantly), the final chorus starting with giggles, and then a second Girlfriend rap (TWO for the price of 1) about a Girls Life being "somewhere over the rainbow, you know!", Siobhanns brilliant "put em right by the door!" after Robyn sings about roses by the door - and recently, we accquired the Japanese version of Girls Life (by Japanfriend as we call them) which is so fabulous, and is sung by Robyn in a comedy Japanese accent, and where somehow the giggling even sounds more Japanese...

It's such a brilliant, brilliant song, and there will be lots more Girlfriend to come - it feels so good to give them a place or 10 on a list like this - now, if I could just meet Siobhann....coming up next on the Girlfriend list, their best lyric...


Claire: I still remember getting off the plane, and setting foot in Alysons house for the first time after living in Scotland for 4 years, and being assaulted with "You MUST love Girlfriend!" while having a Siobhann poster shoved in my face - um, no, who are they I said, to one of the filthiest looks of all time. I don't think she's ever truly forgiven me.

I've only got into Girlfriend in the last few years as a result - I vaguely remember Take It From Me being #1 (I think the week I landed), and it is incredibly frustrating that I didn't get to join in fully in embracing them. I'm now proud to perpetuate their memory a little bit on the Internet, since when we first started our other site, there really was no information on them. Interestingly, Girl's Life goes for about 30 bucks on e-bay some days. I also love that early 90s kitchen sink production that goes into Girls Life, and any kind of fluent girl powered rapping. Unironically, I also now love the girls, for their spirit, their togetherness, and their positive outlook. In the midst of that horrible grunge period of whining and whinging, Girlfriend were a positive influence, and that was amazingly brave.

It's only fitting they make this list time and time again, and next time I induct them, I'm going to write about their most "punk rock" move...

Friday, January 06, 2006

1001 Greatest Pop Songs Of All Time - #2 - Wannabe by The Spice Girls

Claire: So where do you begin? I mean, it's an obvious induction - a classic not just of it's time, but of all time, one of the finest songs ever constructed, the song that started the teen pop explosion of the late 90s/early 00s that makes up most of this list - you could make a case that it's the one of the most important Pop songs of all time. It made Pop acceptable for adults to like, and above all else, there have been few bands in this time so universally loved by everyone as the Spice Girls were in 1996 and 1997. In fact, if you are talking about one song marking the distinction between what this list is calling "pop" and what this list is calling "boring", it's this one. Criticising or analysing the song, that's just pointless, you know it, you love it. That they went on to better Wannabe several times over just adds to the fact the Spice Girls, in my opinion, are the greatest Pop Band of all time. In fact, The Spice Girls, to me, proved just how awful Britpop had been. Ocean Colour Scene? Chas and Blur? Cast?

So what is there to say in 2006? As the girls now have a critical respect somewhere just below a Big Brother winner? As you actively wonder what WAS it you liked about Mel C? Did you have to be there, is that it? I went to a Spiceworld screening and actively soaked in a teen pop mania that was exciting, and face it, wouldn't you cry out for such a band now, a band of purest, purest pop instead of the rubbish churning through the charts? But if that is the case, girls who were 8 when it came out will turn 18 in the near future, so there's bound to be a nostalgia rush coming up, in which those girls who collected the stickers and the posters will dig them out again and enjoy them - there will be a rush akin to that that ABBA had in the future, it's just a matter of time. So do they reform, a la Take That? I'd hope not, the Spice Girls died the day Geri walked, and everyone knows it. Once a spell is broken, it's time to move on. My memories of Spice are of their time, I don't need nostalgia. I know where I was when I first heard Wannabe, you probably know yourself. I bought the T-shirts, I bought the singles, I bought the posters - I'm forever Spice, they were my teen band, and I loved them with all my heart. Are they why I moved to London? Partly, I would have taken a year off just to follow them around the country I think - THAT is how much I loved them.

You can make an argument that while The Spice Girls (ie. Posh, Sporty) were fantasic, the Spice Girls (ie. Vicky B, Mel C) are rather unappealing people. As their solo careers piled up on the side of the road, you really did think, why, why were they so loved? Of course, Wannabe was just to good to flop. And despite what you might think now, Ginger Spice is one of the finest Pop stars to come out of Planet earth - fame crazed and shameless - in fact, the qualities you probably hate in Geri Halliwell. As for the song, to touch on it briefly, I'll get to my favourite Spice Girls song in time, but I know I found it inspirational, it was just the band I needed. Dayglo in the best sense, and lyrically under-rated, speaking to a generation of teen and pre teen girls in a way Mr so called musical poet Bob Fackin Dylan could only dream of. But enough of that, get it out, play it, and enjoy it. It's the kind of song we desperately need now.

This is brilliant, lest we forget.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

1001 Greatest Pop Songs Of All Time - #1 - All I Wanna Do by Dannii Minogue

Alyson: Dignity. It's a priceless commodity, and face it, Dannii Minogue has lived a career of dignity, class and style. Oh sure, you may mock, but it would have been easy for DM to live off the KM name, to sell endless stories to the tabloids about her hatred for KM until she wound up as bitter and lost as Kirk Douglas's son or Fran Healy's Dad - but DM was a star before KM, has had her own clothing range, chocked up a desperately under-rated 15 year career in music full of hidden or under-played gems, eschewed the mundane B list path she could have taken, and stands before you, eager to please, but not at any cost. In an era where fame comes before talent, there's something admirable about that. We kinda sorta kinda know DM and KM don't get on, but is DM spilling? Hell no - she COULD, but she doesn't. She's a proper pop star in her own right as a result, make no mistake, even if her own nation criminally ignores her.

Perhaps it's this dignity that makes Claire and I love her more than "Min". All I Wanna Do, to me, isn't just the best DM song, it's the best Minogue song. It's open on the surface, a seemingly overt plea for a shag - but watch the video, and it seems like Dannii is turning back 20 years of bad chat up lines back on men who are too scared to chat her up. Mind, the lines about all that Dannii wants to do suggest a yearning for settling down herself. For all that, the songs true greatness comes just after the 2:30 mark, when it explodes into a funky, electric guitar solo that would underpin a lesser mortals guitar. The first hearing of this guitar riff, especially if late at night driving a car, is one of the most exciting discoveries in Aussie Pop history - it's greatness is up there with Melissa's "I never...I never thought I'd lose control...OOOH" as our finest national moments in Pop.

So as the song writhes with the angst of Danni's sexual frustation, it goes to emotional places her sis simply hasn't gone. If a significant Dannii revision ever takes place, the Girl album would be a good place to start. In fact, Love And Kisses the best place to start, significant proof of a musical talent in need of it's own recognition.

Dannii, for once, we thought you should be #1...


Claire: Like Alyson, I do also prefer Dannii to Kylie, not least of all because Emma Jackson could kick Charlene's arse all over the school playground - but for once, let's split DM from KM, and assess her in her own right. Re-assessing the DM canon, there's so many great Pop moments, but I wouldn't say it's the greatest DM song. I will say that to me it's part song, part performance art piece, sly about it's true intentions. I also believe Dannii is far more warm and emotional vocally than KM - All I Wanna Do is the one Minogue song that I believe really pierces. I'd say the true meaning of the video has always been pop stars can be anything you want them to be, whether you imagine they play the guitar or ride a bike or that you can shag them. Not for nothing does the guitar solo plea "Take a Look Inside My Heart" - a plea to those out there chatting her up for no other reason than she's famous or "Kylie's sister" to actually find what she, DANNII, the person, actually wants from a relationship.

All I Wanna Do is of course a sensational song, and it's hard not to warm to song that features a remix called the "Trouser enthuisasts Toys Of Desperation Mix". It's slinky, and charming, and it's thumpingly danceable. It's the kind of song the charts desperately needs now, although knowing Dannii, it'd probably go in at #13...


Edward O: It should not come as a surprise that I rather like Dannii Minogue, and staunchly defend her, except when she's a bit rubbish which she has been lately. But, while clawing away Kylie's seconds and doing pretty well with them despite (or is it because of?) the public perception of her as an even naffer Kylie, Dannii has emotional chops, she really does. I've long thought that her underrated "Get Into You" builds a bridge from Janet Jackson's "Black Cat" to Spice Girls' "Love Thing", and hence quite a lot of the New Pop, and the fact that "All I Wanna Do" contains credits for a certain Mr B. Higgins, it should have come with a warning. Because "All I Wanna Do" is a ripper; it mixes sleazy rock guitars, sensual washes of keyboards that are like opening, exploding flower buds and a barely-hanging-on desperation in Dannii's vocals. At this moment, she stopped being naff. The world ignored her and never gave her great singles the justice they deserved, a case of the media's idea of her being a bit crap actually being a self-fulfilling prophesy rather than the logical conclusion of the work itself which is frequently top-notch (Okay, let's just pretend "Perfection" never happened). Listen to her wail - her pain is as real as the shimmering, shining surfaces are fake - she is equally as little girl lost as the lyrics say she isn't. A mass - a mess even - of contradictions, a hook of heartbreak in a flurry of dancefloor hedonism. A fantastic single, both stand-alone, in the context of the great Girl LP and as a statement of intent of what's to come (including Neon Nights, one of the best pure pop albums of the 00s).

When I listen to this, I'm reminded of what ex-Dotmusic, now Launch UK chart commentator James Masterton said about Danni's sublime "Disrememberance" - basically saying that she was a bit of a singer, a bit of an actress, a bit of a skin-mag model, but generally a mediocre all-rounder. Seven years later, the idiot man, whose columns get worse and worse the more opiniation he does, admits that yes, she has done some cracking singles. Nice U-turn, bud. But there's no need for a U-turn. Dannii's great - she's much more fun as an interviewer than Kylie and if I wanted to go out to a club and dance, I'd rather hear her DJ and hang with HER friends any day.


...this is a shout out to this book...

I had the mis-fortune to pick up this pile of junk - 1001 Greatest song book or whatever it's called, by one Toby Cresswell, and as is my want in these books, I flipped straight to S to see how many Spice Girls songs were in it.

Take a wild guess.

These books, pah, vanity projects. Not one single mention of the glorious history of POP music in any of them - it's pathetic. So as we leave Toby to his doubtless wonderful collection of indie rock snob bores and his how cool do I look rubbish, which he charges 59.95 (!) for, we do this...

This is a list, for free, of the best 1001 POP songs of all time - not soul, not R&B, not jazz - POP - it's a list for the joyous songs that no one catalogues - it will have Sophie Monk in it 5 times, and Bob Dylan 0...

Feels great doesn't it....

It's going to be a long list...

CFB and Alyson

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Welcome... the 1001 Greatest Pop Songs Of All Time...

Testing, testing, 1-2-3...


The list So Far

#1 - All I Wanna Do by Dannii Minogue
#2 - Wannabe by The Spice Girls
#3 - Girls Life by Girlfriend/Japanfriend
#4 - Some Girls by Rachel Stevens
#5 - Never Forget by Take That
#6 - The Block Party by Lisa "Left-eye" Lopes
#7 - Ricochets by Holly Valance
#8 - Why Can't I by Liz Phair
#9 - I Will Come To You by Hanson
#10 - Sound Of The Underground by Girls Aloud
#11 - Doin' The Doo by Betty Boo
#12 - The Tra La La Song by The Banana Splits/Liz Phair
#13 - Read My Lips by Melissa
#14 - I Should Be So Lucky by Kylie Minogue

By Country
Australia 5
United Kingdom 5

By Gender
Female 11
Male 2
Undetermined 1

By Artist

Liz Phair 2
(The) Banana Splits 1
Betty Boo 1
Dannii Minogue 1
Girlfriend 1
Girls Aloud 1
Hanson 1
Holly Valance 1
Lisa "Left-eye" Lopes 1
Kylie Minogue 1
Melissa 1
Rachel Stevens 1
(The) Spice Girls 1
Take That 1