December 31, 2004

It's only 15 hours until the new year. Remember when the Year 2000 seemed so glam and far off?


Tsunami money

Pardon the abruptness in topical segues on this blog: Disaster! Sex! Disaster!

I just wanted to put in an update on the Amazon link for tsunami victims. When I first posted about this, these were the stats:

Collected: $2,899,443.51 and # of Payments:

And now on Friday morning (12/31) it says:

Collected: $7,289,604.19 and # of Payments: 107,330

Off topic: In love with a strict machine

This is not a post for children! In the past few days, there has been a vibrat*r theme in my life.

It started when I read an interview with Desperate Housewife Eva Longoria in Rolling Stone in which this exchange occurred:

RS: What’s the best sex you've had this year?
EL: Probably with my vibrat(r. I own two. I have the rabbit one, and I give that as a gift all the time. To other girls. For a birthday or the like. It's the best gift to give: an org*sm. And if I can't do it for ya, I'll give you the tools to succeed! I have one rabbit and a Pocket Rocket.

Then we saw Berman and Berman suggest the Pocket Rocket on their show. I guess you can find that at Good Vibes?

Then someone complained to me about crankiness due to a lack of batteries for their vibrat*r.

Finally I was in bed (alone!) replaying one of my favorite CDs of 2003, Goldfrapp's "Black Cherry" when I finally clued in to the song "Strict Machine" and its lyrics. I just had not been paying this much attention!

I get high on a buzz
Then a rush
when I'm plugged in you
I connect when I'm flush
You get love when told what to do

Wonderful electric
Wonderful electric
Wonderful electric
Cover me in you

I'm in love, I'm in love
I'm in love with a strict machine
I'm in love with a strict machine

When you send me a pulse
Feel a wave of new love
Through me
I'm dressed in white noise
You know just what I want
So please

Wonderful electric
Cover me in you
I'm in love, I'm in love
I'm in love with a strict machine

Everyone who loves kick ass electronic music should own that record. It's gorgeous and kinky and totally modern. Depeche? check. Bjork? check. Goldfrapp? check!

That’s all I have to say on this dirttty subject. Is it a sign that everyone should be buying these toys? Would there be less war if all the world leaders were too busy workin’ themselves over? These toys are everywhere if you look (and maybe you just can’t see them!). Just sayin’

December 30, 2004

Update: Tori Amos sample

You can hear a sample of Sleeps With Butterflies on MSN now. Sounds a bit like "Sorta Fairytale" - one of her "safe" singles.

Super-easy donations to the tsunami victims

It seems that the tsunami situation is getting worse everyday and really overtaking the national consciousness, as it probably should (though I am a little overwhelmed by the zillion "death wave" news specials). Amazon has made it really easy to give money to the American Red Cross - they've set up a donation thingy called Amazon Honor System that is linked to your Amazon account. You choose the credit card from your account as if you were paying for a book or CD! No hoops to jump through! It doesn't matter if you don't think about it much - it just matters that they get money.

Donate here via Amazon

Please note the little box on the right that changes by the minute. When I donated it said:
Collected: $2,899,443.51 and # of Payments: 50354

December 29, 2004

Whatever happened to Corey Haim?

That was the title of one of my favorite songs this year by The Thrills. Well PageSixSixSix has the answer. He is a porky 32 year old ex-junkie! Good God.

Kate #1: Mmmh yes

To celebrate Kate Bush's upcoming album, I will be a true fan and post some favorite pictures of the pixie. Those who have known me for a long time will know that I had this beautiful picture in a HUGE 4x6 foot poster* on my wall in college.

I love this one - from the Sensual World era (1989).

*Nice description huh? Maybe I should reproduce them and sell them on QVC!

Who is John Legend?

The first great album of my new year (even though it is 2004) is John Legend's debut CD called Get Lifted. If you thought that Alicia Key's Diary was a great album, you will love this. It's filled with retro sounds: smooth 70's strings and r'n'b vocals reminiscent of Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers, Donny Hathaway, Al Green etc. Like Alicia Keys, he sort of arrives a star. If I base my opinion solely on the music, I predict he will be a well-known star the end of 2005. Can an Oprah appearance be far off?!

John is a protégée of the ubiquitous and somewhat annoying Kanye West, but his "pedigree" goes back to playing on Lauryn Hill's solo debut, another comparable record. He even did the piano on my fave track from that CD, "Everything Is Everything."

It occurs to me that this record is also very similar in spirit to Dionne Farris's Wild Seed Wild Flower from 1994, a record that doesn't wear out, ten years on. How nice to have a new r'n'b star who isn't all about bling bling or six-pack abs. This is really impressive stuff; my current picks are the Lauryn Hillish "Refuge," "Don't Have To Change," "Ordinary People" and the title track.

Listen to the full CD this week on AOL Music
John Legend's website

Madge at the office

Apparently the look for Spring is satin safari suits for work. Message board folks are not being too kind about these weird pics (see a worse one at madonnalicious). Madonna does look old in them. As The Roommate says, "There comes a time when a woman must choose between her ass and her face." Madge chose her ass.

December 28, 2004

What' missin'?

After doing my Best Of 2004 list, I noticed come CDs that were not included and thought I'd write about why. Most notable was Bjork, a CD that is very intriguing, but requires incredible patience. Ultimately some of the songs are too strange for me and I would argue that she abandoned her pop"mission" on this one. Also missing is The Divine Comedy, who released a pretty decent record, but I disliked half of it. The parts I did like were genius, so it's still worth your $. Finn Brothers featured a smidge too much of Tim Finn's vocals (though it was ultimately better than Gwendolyn, but ya know...). Finally, U2 is not on the list because, while I liked the record much more than any of theirs in the last 10 years, it was a little too samey in tempo and a little too lacking in something new.

December 24, 2004

"Breakout" Stars of 2004, No. 3


Every January I think that this will be the year that no great new music comes along. 2004 started this way and dragged on until mid-May when I bought this Keane record while on vacation in London. I had heard the single Somewhere Only We Know months before. While I liked it, I mentally wrote it off as Travis redux and focused on Delays as the next British thing. Boy was I wrong!

My friend Sheryl calls lead singer Tom Chaplin a "hobbit" and she is right. But we like hobbits and we love Tom's voice, which is devoid of irony, angst or feigned disdain. It's smooth, creamy and, most all of, sincere. Their debut CD Hopes And Fears was the most melodic record off 2004 - one beautiful song after another. At first the tracks seem samey, but play it a couple of times and they start to bloom individually. They also brought back, along with Morrissey, the Art of the B-side: tracks that were as good as, if not better than, CD tracks.

So I loved them and then September came when I fell in love with them. Though some folks thought their stage show was, well, stagey, it totally worked on me. Tom Chaplin is a star. Cannot wait to hear how they follow up such a great record!

Key tracks: the whole fucking record, though I pick Your Eyes Open and This Is The Last Time ("you fall on me for anything you like") as the best.

I have been blatherin' about Keane since May:

Check out my album review for Hopes And Fears
Check out my review of their September concert

December 22, 2004

New Tori Amos coming soon

This is the cover for the new Tori single Sleeps With Butterflies. It looks strangely like an earlier single cover for the "Talula"CD single (below). Tori's new record, out on 2/22/05, is called The Beekeeper . More soon on that and lots of new records I will be coveting.

The Talula cover with the butterflies. Click to enlarge.

Comeback of the Year

Can there be anyone else? And do I need to say His name?

America, FUCK YEAH!

Some crazy shit on the web: America, Fuck Yeah! set to the music of Team America

Meanwhile, for those who need to get XO a last minute gift, please consider the one thing I want for Christmas:
The Resignation/Firing of Donald Rumsfeld
Please note this is also on the Economist's list, as shown here.

XO's Essential Mix: My Top 18 Favorite Songs

Rather than do a Top Ten for the year, I decided to create what would essentially equal a CDR mix. You can hear a variation of this mix on iTunes, though I had to swtich out several British songs not available in America. The songs below are in no oder, except for # 1 and #2. Happy holidays!

Keane “Your Eyes Open” (#1)
The chorus is like an orgasm that never subsides. I still have the same reaction – I'm breathtaken! – months after first hearing this song. Discovered in a hotel room in London (yes, someone left this song lying under the bed), it reminds me vaguely of Ultravox in their "Reap The Wild Wind" era. Translation: it will cause you to swoon.
Nancy Sinatra: “Let Me Kiss You” (#2)
This wrenching song Morrissey wrote for her is totally timeless, like something Dusty Springfield could have sung. My favorite part is the truly plaintive bridge: My heart is open ? My heart is open to you..."
John Frusciante “Carvel”
Even with the one-minute prog rock art intro, this 6-minute song soars. It is filled with great moments, like the vocodered snarly bit at 3:35. It's uber-rock genius from a great guitarist and a underdog who cheated death during many years of addiction. As an aside, the lyric "Sending the dummy to my God" reminds me of George Bush!
Divine Comedy “Our Mutual Friend”
Neil Hannon’s genius distilled in one song, ten years into his career. Don’t usually love the narrative songs, but this story is good and the moment of “discovery” in the song, especially the note held at 3:40-ish, deserves a special award for Best Chill-Inducing Moment.
Delays “Wanderlust”
The Cocteau Twins are alive in one boy singer. One of many bands this year that channeled worthy influences. Also love the hook: “Can you hear the knocking in your soul? I know you don’t listen”
Rufus Wainwright “Waiting For A Dream”

One of most beautifully produced songs of the year. Everything is right – arrangement, lyrics and vocals. And this one was an outcast from my favorite album of 2003!
Morrissey “I Like You”
There should not be a year without Morrissey. He picked up better than he left off. The vocals in the last minute 0f this perfect single (that was never a single) are also much more emphatic than usual for Moz.
Morrissey “My Life Is A Succession of People Saying Goodbye
A Classic Moz example of a track being relegated to b-side that was better than most of the actual CD. Best line: “All the best things in life are behind glass: money, jewelry, flesh” (love the emphasis on the last word).
Kings Of Convenience “Misread”
Bossa nova loveliness, light as a cool Norwegian summer breeze, counteracting an angsty lyric. Love the line about
“the ones who made a difference by withstanding the indifference.”
Finn Brothers “Won’t Give In”
A masterpiece that doesn’t want you to understand that it’s a masterpiece when you first hear it. Some of the finest lyrics of the year and Neil Finn’s career. And that’s saying something.
Honeymoon “Passive Aggressive”
Like the hip children of The Sundays. The title of this song is revealed in the angsty lyrics. It’s airy, poppy and contemporary. Great album too. This year’s Frou Frou – meaning they deserve more attention than they will receive.
Javine “Surrender”
Beyonce watch out. Javine, a cheesy reality show cast off, has the legs, the hair, the horns and the sass to take Bee’s now-incorporated ass on! So much better than any of the new Destiny's Child songs.
Girls Aloud “The Show”
Classic British girl band pop, but slamming – guaranteed to take weight off you in 4 minutes. Best line “I should have tried a little bit harder / Shoulda hung around the kitchen in my underwear"
Bjork “Who Is It”
One of my favorite lyrics (and hooks) of the year: “Who is it / that never lets you down? / Who is it / that gave you back your crown? / The ornaments are coming around / Handing it over” The most accessible song from her difficult all-voice album.
Gwen Stefani "What You Waiting For?"
A song that makes me purely happy, In fact, it's 3 songs rolled into one. Hyperactive, yes, but kickass and cool. Gwen's still a Super. Hot. Female.
Scissor Sisters "Filthy/Gorgeous"
I could have chosen any one of several songs by the Sisters, but I feel this one encapsulates a certain joie de vivre and decadence that I support wholeheartedly! How can you not love this chorus: "Cuz you're filthy (filthy) / Oooh, and gorgeous (gorgeous)/ You're disgusting / Oooh, and you're nasty / And you can grab me / Oooh cuz you're nasty!"
George Michael “Precious Box”
Sexy night-driving music about a man who needs to get out of the house more.
Kelis "Marathon"
The gorgeous, sad closer from her great album "Tasty." Yes trolls, I know this came out in 2003, but it came out in late December and I started playing it in 2004. This is more emotional and elegant than most of Kelis' songs. It was produced by Raphael Saadiq and I love the "marathon" vocal effect in the last two minutes; it's one of the most moving "moments" of pop music this year, despite there being no words. Kelis, like Bitchin' Gwen, is a super hot female (with a lollipop in her mouth)!

December 21, 2004

Keeping up with all the photo blogs!

Hazy Shanghai in the early morning (taken from my hotel room, 11/7/04).

Quote of the Week: Fran Lebowitz

Fran Lebowitz talking, in her new book, Progress, about mid-twentieth century Americans, though I think this is very much a description of 1970's America:

This was, after all, an era during which even babies displayed their insouciance by riding around in the front seat of cars, more often than not in the seat-belt-free laps of their smoking mothers.

Does this make you yearn for a simpler, more blase time? When kids ran free around the neighborhood, as did their pets, without fear of being kidnapped or molested? I suppose those things happened, but we didn't so easily know they happened. We hadn't really developed what Fran Lebowitz calls the "limitless aptitude for dread."


December 20, 2004

Off-topic: Go see "House Of Flying Daggers"

Zhang "Z" Ziyi
This weekend I saw the amazing new Zhang ("Hero") Yimou film House of Flying Daggers. This one has a beautiful cast: Zhang "Z" Ziyi (the young tough girl in Crouching Tiger), Takeshi Kaneshiro (see below) and Andy Lau in a love triangle in which much of the expression is acted in elaborately choreographed (and CG'd) fight sequences. Among the "weapons" are long flowing silk sleeves (see above) and pieces of bamboo. The director seems to want to push everything you have seen in the movies before (like fighting in bamboo trees) to the max. In fact, the whole movie is totally OTT: the colors are gorgeously saturated and the romance is uber-passionate. It will have you teary-eyed for much of the film.

In an old episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Buffy was losing a battle with an invisible assailant. There's a great shot where Buffy is beaten down - she's gonna lose - and she stops cold. The whole scene goes into silent slo-mo as she calls on her inner instincts to figure out where the assailant is. Then she whoops ass. The blind character in this movie, Mei, is similar. There are great close-ups of Mei focusing and listening for the next wave of attack. The opening 15 minutes, set in a whore house called the Peony Pavilion, features some of this and it's take-your-breath-away beautiful. That was probably my favorite sequence, aside from a very quick bit in a field, where the young warriors are attacked by a small army and, for a moment, the various players move around the field in one intricate mass of bodies and swords, as if they were actually participating in a Madonna tour performance.

Zhang twists the sexual tension so tight that it's a total relief when two of the leads finally hook up in a field, surrounded by beautiful mountains of orange, yellow and red.

Despite receiving good reviews, this movie has been criticized as a triumph of style over substance, but I disagree. It just requires suspension of disbelief - from the ridiculous situations the girl, Mei, survives, to the florid dialog. If you go in wanting an old fashioned romance / action film, you'll be happy - in fact, you will swoon!

See the amazing Echo Game in the Peony Pavilion here (click on "Echo Game")
Screensaver of Mei
Screensaver of Jin
Offocial Sony film website
Yahoo site with all sorts of trailers for this movie

Takeshi Kaneshiro

December 19, 2004

Gold, frankincense and Minogue

The always wicked
Popjustice has created a hilarious gift for fans: a Kylie Minogue screensaver. This is an .exe file, but it's fine and didn't corrupt my computer (yes, I used it!).

The List: XO's Favorite Songs of 2004 (Part 1, A-F)

It's in alphabetical order, folks:

A Girl Called Eddy “Tears All Over Town”
Agnetha "Sometimes When I'm Dreaming"
Badly Drawn Boy “Year Of The Rat”
Ben Folds “Rock Star”
Bjork “Desired Constellation”
Bjork “Who Is It”
Bjork “Triumph Of A Heart”
The Blue Nile “I Would Never”
The Blue Nile “She Saw The World”
Bruce Hornsby “Gonna Be Some Changes Made”
Caetano Veloso “Feelings”
Client “Radio”
Courtney Love “Hold On To Me”
Death Cab For Cutie “Transatlanticism” (from ‘03)
Deepest Blue “Is It A Sin”
Delays “Long Time Coming”
Delays “Wanderlust”
Destiny’s Child “Through With Love”
Diana Krall “Departure Bay”
Diana Krall “Narrow Daylight”
Divine Comedy “Absent Friends”
Divine Comedy “Come Home Billy Bird”
Divine Comedy “Our Mutual Friend”
Duran Duran “Astronaut”
Duran Duran “What Happens Tomorrow”
Ed Harcourt “Born In The 70’s”
Embrace “Gravity”
Fantasia Barrino “Summertime”
Finn Brothers “Gentle Hum”
Finn Brothers “Won’t Give In”
Franz Ferdinand “Take Me Out”
Fried “When You Get Out Of Jail”

The List: XO's Favorite Songs of 2004 (Part 2, G-N)

Gabrielle “Stay The Same”
George Michael “Amazing”
George Michael “Precious Box”
Girls Aloud “The Show”

Girls Aloud “Real Life”
Grand National “Talk Amongst Yourselves”
Gwen Stefani “Cool”
Gwen Stefani “The Real Thing”
Gwen Stefani “What You Waiting For”
The Honeymoon “Act Like You Know Her”
The Honeymoon “Come Undone”
The Honeymoon “Passive Aggressive”
The Honeymoon “Truth Hurts”
Indigo Girls “Something Real”
Janet Jackson “I Want You”
Javine “Surrender”
Jimmy Somerville
John Frusciante “Carvel”
John Frusciante “Ricky”
kd lang “Helpless”
kd lang “Jericho”
kd lang “Love Is Everything”
kd lang “The Valley”
Keane “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore”
Keane “This Is The Last Time”
Keane “We Might As Well Be Strangers”
Keane “Your Eyes Open”
Kelis “Marathon”
Kelis “Millionaire”
Kelis “Sugar Honey Iced Tea”
The Killers “All These Things That I’ve Done”
The Killers “Somebody Told Me"
Kings Of Convenience “Gold In The Air Of Summer”
Kings Of Convenience “Misread”
Kylie Minogue “Giving You Up”
Kylie Minogue “I Believe In You”
Lisa Stansfield “Easier”
Loretta Lynn “Portland Oregon”
Marianne Faithfull “The Last Song”
Maura O’Connell “Phoenix Falling”
Morrissey “I Like You”
Morrissey “Irish Blood English Heart”
Morrissey “My Life Is A Succession Of People Saying Goodbye”
Morrissey “The First Of The Gang To Die”
Mull Historical Society “Len”
Nancy Sinatra “Let Me Kiss You”

The List: XO's Favorite Songs of 2004 (Part 3, P-Z)

Paul Weller “Wishing On A Star”
Pete Burns “Jack And Jill Party”
Phoenix “Too Young” (old)
Queen Latifah “Lush Life”
R. Kelly “Happy People” (with pinched nose!)
Rufus Wainwright “I Eat Dinner” (with hideous Dido)
Rufus Wainwright “The One You Love”
Rufus Wainwright “This Love Affair”
Rufus Wainwright “Little Sister”
Rufus Wainwright “Waiting For A Dream”
Rupaul “Coming Out Of Hiding”
Rupaul “Give It One More Try”
Scissor Sisters “Filthy/Gorgeous”
Scissor Sisters “Mary”
Scissor Sisters “Take Your Mama”
Scissor Sisters “Tits On The Radio”
Shapeshifter “Lola’s Theme”
Snow Patrol “Grazed Knees”
Space “Twenty Million Miles From Earth”
Stars “Your Ex-lover Is Dead”

The Streets "Fit But You Know It"
The Streets "Dry Your Eyes"
The Thrills “Whatever Happened To Cory Haim”
Tori Amos “Ruby Through The Looking Glass”
Trashcan Sinatras “All The Dark Horses”
Trashcan Sinatras “Freetime”
Trashcan Sinatras “Trouble Sleeping”
Trashcan Sinatras “Weightlifting”
U2 “A Man And A Woman”
U2 “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own”
U2 “Yahweh”
Usher “Throwback”
Will Young “Love Is A Matter Of Distance” (from ’03)
Will Young “Your Love Is King”

December 17, 2004

Where In The White House Is Miss Beazley?

The White House has done a video of Barney the Scottie for Christmas. Now, Barney is the only White House person I can stand - the rest of them are dawgs. The video includes cameos by such insidious evildoers as Lynne Cheney and Andy Card, who should know that tinsel can seriously hurt animals. There is a special role for Assmaster Karl Rove, who insists that the Christmas tree have only red ornaments.

This film drags a bit, but I like Barney, so I will let it go. Do note that Miss Beazley is the new White House Scottie puppy and you keep thinking you'll see her, but then Laura Bush, fresh from a toke, pisses on the whole thing by telling Barney that the puppy won't arrive until January! What a disappointing ending.

Barney's website (I have to admit that sometimes I look at it!)

December 16, 2004

Everything old is new again

Okay, I cannot take credit for it: someone on the Velvet Rope made the connection that Ashlee and Jessica Simpson are the new Landers Sisters! I realize this'll fly over the heads of some people, but really, everyone needs to know about the Lander Sisters! I miss them, especially the stupid one...

Ashlee and Jessica Simpson

Audrey and Judy Landers

December 15, 2004

Best of 2004: This is why I like him I like him I like him


After a 7 year drought, Morrissey released a whopping 24 high quality songs in 2004 (with another CD rumored for 2005). How did we survive without him? After all these years, the man is positively Messianic. Being a fan with nothing better to do in my life, I have pondered how these songs could be culled and put into one 13 track You Are The Quarry album.

Here is my version of You Are The Quarry:

01 Irish Blood, English Heart
02 I Am Two People
03 The World Is Full Of Crashing Bores
04 Friday Mourning
05 I'm Not Sorry
06 My Life Is A Succession Of People Saying Goodbye
07 Mexico
08 I Like You
09 First Of The Gang To Die
10 Let Me Kiss You
11 I Have Forgiven Jesus
12 The Never Played Symphonies
13 Come Back To Camden

This album is filled with highlights, such as the vocals in the final minute of I Like You or the brilliant lyrics to Come Back To Camden about "tea with a taste of the Thames." One of my favorite musical moments this year is the bridge in Let Me Kiss You (lyrics below), where the music and lyrics meld into one glorious, emotional moment. BUNNY BOILER ALERT! This makes the (perpetual) tears behind my eyes want to spray all over the world. I still think I prefer Nancy Sinatra's version of this LMKY because it has a sort of wan, disaffected quality - his is a little more jaunty. Either way I LOVE this bit and play it over and over.

But then you open your eyes
and you see someone
that you physically despise
but my heart is open
my heart is open to you.

I have to just stop writing because that song is so WRENCHING and poignant! I am still a teen and always will be...

XO faces the music

Bitchin Gwen is getting on my nerves.

There! I said it out loud! I am truly sorry, because she is a wonderful person - or, you know - I am sure she would be if I knew her personally. Still, I must draw a line somewhere: she has been sounding embarrassingly off-key during her ADHD performances at every lame, fixed industry "award" show and ribbon-cutting.

I beseech you directly Gwendolyn: get a voice coach to work through the challenges of your wonderful single "What You Waiting For" or... lip sync! I mean, it's not as if you haven't been yelping your way through live performances for 10 years. Why does it sound so bad now? Were my expectations unrealistic?

Then there is the OTT "style" you have chosen for this round of publicity. Grow up Gwen, you are 34 years old and everyone saw those crows feet on the Billboard "Awards"! Is this really what "Harajuku Girls" look like? I am just not a fan of the presentational approach you are featuring: the one that requires faux-perplexed facial expressions, white tights and multiple bows. And please, for the love of God, no more giant teacups.

They know not what they do...

Now, why possibly would the idea of Posh & Becks as Mary and Joseph seem at all offensive? And why should the angel not be a bent-over-for-fuckin' Kylie Minogue? WHO KNEW someone would vandalize this tasteful seasonal display? Quelle surprise! Please read this update from my favorite toilet journal, Ecumenical News International.

Meanwhile, if you are into religious kink - and I know you are - you can get your Hot Priests Calendar. Apparently this is real! Samantha Jones would have called any one of them "Friar Fuck," no?

December 14, 2004

Breakout Stars of 2004 No. 2

When I first heard Scissor Sisters, I was skeptical. The corny stage names (Ana Matronic, Babydaddy), the OTT apparel, the kitschy Pink Floyd cover as their first single: none of these suggest longevity, do they? Then the album started to grow on me. It has all you need: funky dance numers, prog rock ballads, loads of spiky nasty humor in the lyrics, and real depth.There is a definite viewpoint in these lyrics - they are decadent and fun. The only thing missing is a solid musical identity: are they Elton John, are they the BeeGees, are they Floydian? We'll have to see what the second record brings. Can they bring it? (like my slang?) All signs are that they will, but they've wisely veered into production (see Kylie's lovely new I Believe In You) and remixing (Pet Shop Boys among others).

SS have a worthy lead in Jake Shears. He's also the perfect pop star foil in this new (blech) Bush Era. He's apparently been kicking around for years, singing and go-go dancing in NYC, where everyody seems to have either known him or fucked him. (You think I'm being funny?)

They also have patronage of many older "mentor" stars like Pet Shop Boys, Duran Duran and Elton John. That last one cannot hurt - look what he did for John Mayer and, to a lesser degree, Ryan Adams. No matter what happens, Scissor Sisters are far from normal VH1 material. Unless John Mayer's DVD also has a golden egg where you can see his weenis (yes, that's one "bonus" on the new Scissor Sisters DVD).

Key songs: Take Your Mama, Mary, Tits On The Radio, Filthy/Gorgeous
Key lyric: "Wrap your fuzzy in a big red bow"

Some links you need:

Scissor Sisters website
Jake Shears (aka Jason Sellards) naked (not quite work appropriate, but no pickle shots)
My, what a long torso you have
Hmmmm, what should I wear tonight?
Sample the excellent Mary Junkie XL remix

December 13, 2004

XO's "Breakout Star of 2004 No. 1"

For those who are readers of the blog about Shelby the Pug, it has been reallllly good lately. That dog is one of the cutest creatures on Earth. I love her and she is surely the breakout star of the year (forget Zach Braff!). Don't you like her sweater? Don't you want a dog just so you can dress it in a sweater?

Shelby The Pug's blog

my July post about Shelby

shhhh... don't tell Cassie

Courtney Love happy?

It's pretty amazing how Courtney Love careens between sane and insane. She looks a hell of a lot healthier now and I for one think that is a very good thing. Without irony or snark, I wish her well for Christmas!

Review: Cher's Farewell (cough!) Tour

Last night I saw show #280 (of 320) of Cher’s relentless Farewell Tour that has been going on for 3 years. She has already been to DC twice, but it was a pretty packed house thanks to heavy advertising in the last week.

When she opened with U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, I was worried she’d lip sync the whole show (as she did that number), but she appeared to be singing live most of the time, though I think her voice was a bit processed because it seemed higher than normal, even when she spoke. She actually did a long spiky monologue about lip-syncing in which the psuedo-insta-divas (like Ashlee Simpson and JLo) were skewered.

You can guess the set list – all the hits. The only song that surprised me was a version of Love Hurts. It’s hilarious that she really does all the mannerisms you know, like running her tongue across her upper teeth. She also has a very particular way of moving onstage that seemed so familiar. No wonder drag queens love to imitate her: she’s a series of mannerisms and tics!

Speaking of drag, Cher looked like a drag queen doing Cher during the If I Could Turn Back Time part - she is just too old and boxy for that get-up. The costumes and props were hilarious (like a huge, rickety fake elephant they wheeled around the stage – it was very… paper mache!). Sometimes her outfits were so elaborate you felt you couldn't see her: I liked her best when she was in jeans and didn't seem to be behind a wall of clothes or wigs.

She looked pretty good on the monitors, but I'd like to see her up close! When we were leaving we saw two really scary “pulled” ladies –women with really hideous plastic surgery- they looked just alike with their stick thin legs in jeans and spiky heels, fake cheek bones and jutting Donald Duck lips. You know the types- it’s just sort of assaulting to see them in person. Who takes these chicks seriously? Their plastic surgery looked like scary masks.

The best - and mistiest - part of the show was the 70's section with clips from the TV shows. My friends and I had the same nostalgic “wasn’t she beautiful!” reaction to old shots of Cher doing Gypsies, Tramps And Thieves. It was amazing to see all these clips and realize how many years she has been a part of our consciousness. Cher is literally something Americans share, like we share songs (note that I am a fan - I don’t even understand how people are not interested in her or care about her in some way!). She’s a distinctly American matriarch or, more appropriately, a crazy beloved aunt. She’s never seemed threatening, yet she’s always been pretty blunt and unrehearsed. Despite all the slutty costumes and canon-straddling, she’s never really pushed sex. This may be because she has a sort of Big Bird quality or it may just be that she seems so familiar. It’s the Dolly Parton combination of totally fake and totally real.

Cher changes costumes for virtually every song, which resulted in quite a bit of time without her on the stage and long opening preludes to the songs. The dancers were very Cirque du Soleil , sliding up and down and spinning on long pieces of fabric. I kept thinking they’d fall (I saw no harnesses), but they didn't.

You would think that a Cher show would be a sea of gay men, but instead it was a sea of ... my parents! I mean thousands of 40-60 year olds. A lot of biker lookin’ men and women – like the crowd I’ve seen at a Stevie Nicks show, in badly feathered hair and mullets!

My only disappointment was that there wasn’t more “farewell’ drama at the end. She should have milked that. Compared to her long monologue at the beginning of the show, the closing was a bit of a letdown –she never spoke and just sort of disappeared early before Believe even ended. No group bow or anything.

No chance to say goodbye, but I bet Cher doesn't do goodbye. Come back to the five and dime, Cher Bono, Cher Bono!

December 10, 2004

12 Cher Affirmations

Doesn't Cher look so good at...30? In a last minute twist of fate, I will be seeing her on Saturday night in concert!

I believe in life after love
I believe in licking my lips and teeth
I believe in one's inalienable right to plastic surgery
I believe in Bob Mackie
I believe in straddling large Naval weaponry
I believe in tattoos
I believe in elaborate Indian headdresses
I believe we all sleep alone
I believe there's not enough love in the world
I believe in (much) younger lovers
I believe in flipping my hair around
I believe in gypsies, tramps and thieves 

December 9, 2004

Off topic: Alias is back on January 5!

What's your name?
Ima what?
Ima gonna kick your ass!

Have you seen the new Alias promo on ABC? It seems to be lengthening daily. I like how she tells Vaughn that "we need to take it slow" and then they cut to quick shots of back-clawin' bed-bangin'!

This show was a bit worn out when it left (I kind of gave up. Could it have taken them any longer to kill that overly eyebrowed bitch Lauren?). Taking a break was a good thing for fans of Alias, because now we want it back. Hopefully it will have also rejuvenated the makers of the show too. Now all they need to do is bring back Merrin Dungey, Bradley Cooper and Kick-ass Lena Olin.

Short interview with JJ Abrahms

December 8, 2004

Girls Aloud: Gift-wrapped kitty cats

The Brits take the idea of a Girl Group very seriously. They continue to tinker in Hello Kitty-wall papered laboratories, seeking the perfect combination of vocal harmony talent, shiny legs, psuedo-innocence and blow-job lips. The problem is that most producers forget the songs. Not Girls Aloud. Their songs are always the most: the most beats per minute, the most guitars, the most vaguely dirty lyrics, the most hooks crammed into one song.

We live in a PSG World (that's Post-Spice Girls, drips!), where the girls actually had individual personalities, albeit somewhat cartoonish. I think the blueprint for the working-class Girls Aloud is actually Bananarama, who once sang a song with the chorus,
"I wish you were in our shoes / I wish you could be us / Washing all your laundry / and riding on the bus."

I was going to review What Will The Neighbours Say, the new Girls Aloud CD, but I gave up when I read the Popjustice Review. This time Popjustice adds little one-line video treatments as a way to describe the song. My favorite: 'Speed' meets 'Twister'. Band members cling to telegraph poles. Perrrfect.

Popjustice also has a knack for picking out the best song lyrics (and there are many to choose from), though they miss one of my favorites (remember this is dippy pop, people!): "We're gift-wrapped kitty cats / We only turn into tigers when we gotta fight back"

Girls Aloud website
HMV samples (try The Show for their signature sound)
Here is my previous review of The Show

December 6, 2004

XO's Resources

A list of sites I recommend if you are as obsessed with music as I am...

CD release dates from On The CD Front

For reviews of general releases, try Slant. It is really up-to-date and generally on the mark.

The Guardian reviews (they also have a good features page)

Popjustice: Hilarious and clever Brit site devoted to pop music (of the Kylie variety). Example of their snark: this is a description of the cover of the shitty new Band Aid single (cover pic here) ...

The Band Aid 20 sleeve features some reindeer and polar bears looking at a starving child's cock. The Kylie single doesn't have to resort to nudity or cheap titilation to sell records - its sleeve simply pictures Kylie in a nice green dress.

Playlouder is an alternative version of Popjustice, equally bitchy and equally excited by tunes. I like this site because it lacks a certain... severity that some snottier alt sites brandish.

Industry messageboard of choice is the Velvet Rope. Don't be a dickhead newbie on here or you will be flamed brutally. The gloves are off!

December 5, 2004

Why did you give me so much desire?

Morrissey releases his new single I Have Forgiven Jesus ...on December 13. Why not release the superior "I Like You"??


by Friday-Life has killed me

Why did you give me
So much desire?
when there is nowhere I can go
to offload this desire?

Minute-long b-side samples here:

No One Can Hold A Candle To You
Slum Mums
The Public Image

December 2, 2004

Come what mayyyyyyyyy

Ewan MacGregor's reality TV show, Long Way Round, ends tonight on Bravo (shown at 8 and 10). Though there is a book out now, I had hoped it would be released on DVD, but it seems there are no plans for that in the US, though it is on DVD in England (and those won't play here!). The Greatest Living Actor (see July post) was not acting on this show (or is he always acting?) in which he biked with best friend, Charley Boorman, all the way around the world. Both guys were so engaging and fun to watch. And believe me you, if terminally chipper Ewan MacGregor can be driven to moments of sheer panic, tears and despair, anyone can! This show only confirms what fans suspected - that he is every bit as curious, happy and funny as some of his best characters. If you like Ewan, you need to make an effort to see this: get a flight to London and rent the DVD to watch in the hotel! Long Way Round will make you laugh and cry.

PS: That mole on his head actually has an important role in this production! If I can find a picture that explains, what I mean, I will indeed post it.

UPDATE: Watch Ewan and Charley eat from a steaming bowl an animal testicles!

Isn't she... pretty old?

Okay, it's fine to age. Even I am aging. Molly Ringwald, icon of my generation (Bitchin" Molly), is 36 years old, or basically my age. But does she need to wear her Pretty in Pink hairstyle and be photographed in a way that accentuates her aging? Actually, the creepy thing here is the babywoman thing she has with old eyes and young cheeks/jawline. It's hard to see here, but in the print edition, this photo covers a full page and is, needless to say, disturbing. Get new PR, baby! Read more about Molly, who is doing a play in NYC, in New York Magazine.

December 1, 2004

Quote of the Week

It's like I'm a breathing machine for my fucking dick

- Dominic West's character on HBO's The Wire

Some links...

UNO) New David Sedaris story
here. It's about lancing a boil!

DOS) If you like my little image above and want to put dirty words on a church sign, try the
Church Sign Generator

TRES) If you don't believe the whole WORLD hates the new Band Aid single, then look at this site or more directly at the photos