May 30, 2009

XOvision: Fell asleep again in front of MTV

Erik Hassle Hurtful:

Newly shot video, much better. I think he has a cute mouth, though he seems to be getting younger, doesn't he? Some Benjamin Button shit going on there. What happened to the Erik phenomenon though? I feel like the momentum stalled a bit. Maybe they have been working on ways to relax his curl? (ed: leave his curl alone) This song was available on American iTunes and has now been pulled. The album is due in June in Sweden. Everything good is in Sweden. Hassle website

Fibes, Oh Fibes! Love Child:

Speaking of Sweden, I am obsessed with the new TV series Wallender. Either the Swedish version or the Kenneth Branagh version - look for it. Thanks to Poster Girl for this band - the video is actually a proper short film. Very intriguing. We're trained to think about what might happen to this tiara-clad boy and then our expectation is turned upside down. Gladly.

Röyksopp w/Robyn The Girl And The Robot:

The scenes with (Swede) Robyn in her boudoir are so sleekly shot. She looks beyond. The real kicker is at the end, a wry joke. And look for the Röyksopp men, uber geeky.

Bat For Lashes Pearl's Dream:

My favorite song from this album, Pearl's Dream is exactly the kind of music Bjork abandoned a few years ago. Smart pop for adults. The song has a strange structure and the chanty middle eight is wicked cool. The imagery reeks of Star Trek, the original TV series.

Hurts Wonderful Life:

This comes from the lovely Worrapolava and PopJustice. Apparently the band used to be called Daggers and now, logically, they are Hurts. Next they may be Deads, we'll see. The video is so very arty 80's, but the music is more modern pop, barring that Spandau Ballet sax at the middle eight.

May 29, 2009

Quote of the Week: Sandra talks fame

I've been a fan of Sandra Bernhard for 20 years now and always found little gems of wisdom in her humor. She's twittering now in total Sandy-style. Tonight she's been discussing some child (Holly Steele?) melting down on Britain's Got Talent, particularly fitting given the absurdly overwrought and disturbing arc of fame for poor Susan Boyle...
Andy Warhol in his wildest imaginings would not believe what he predicted, there is no room for beauty or creativity, we have wrung it dry.

Bonus: Sandra appeared on the Charlie Rose show 10 years back. Watch it here. Charlie Rose is one of my idols - he seriously has the best job in America.

I go up, I go down

This will be on every blog, but why not? A free, legal download from the Pet Shop Boys: an 8-minute Tom Stephan Vocal Mix of their upcoming b-side Up And Down. Register here to get the MP3.

Their new single, the summery Did You See Me Coming, is out on June 1.

May 28, 2009

My day at the gym

Slightly NSFW

Depeche Mode back on the road, but...

Holy crap, he's had a cancerous tumor removed from his bladder. Read on...

Depeche Mode are pleased to announce they will restart their interrupted Tour Of The Universe in Leipzig, Germany on June 8th. On May 12th, lead singer Dave Gahan suffered a severe bout of gastroenteritis, leading to his hospitalization and the cancellation of the Athens concert. While in hospital, further medical tests revealed a low-grade malignant tumour in Dave's bladder, which has since been successfully removed. At doctors' orders Dave Gahan must take a break until June 8th, to ensure that he makes a full recovery. The Leipzig show on June 8th will be the first concert following Dave's recovery. Tour Details.
How typical of life. This could have happened while they were recording, but instead it happens during the start of their tour. Whatever, I love - LOVE - Dave and hope he's on the road to recovery.

I also love that new Corbjin pic above, from the Sounds Of The Universe boxset.

May 27, 2009

I've had it and don't want it no more

A certain 23-year-old lady can run around aping Bette Midler on magazine covers, but that bitch ain't got nothing on this woman, in her 30's at the time of this photo.

Mixtape: Turn into gold in the sunlight

I am back from my mini-break staycation thingy. That photo above is from happier times [Friday morning], looking at my tea and newspaper. Hot stuff. I got massive amounts of shizz done, including the magical erasing of all the grey in my hair - at least for 6 weeks. So sexy, but not as sexy as...

I find it seriously exploitative that the Jonas Bros are expected to speak about purity rings, much less wear them. People (inadvertently?) treat teens with such disrespect.

Poster Girl has me intrigued
(scroll to the end of post) by the superb new Fibes! Oh Fibes! video. What the fuck does that name mean?

Scandal alert: INXS' new album will have different singers: Vincent Frank, Brandon Flowers and Gabriella Climi among them. Better than some shmoe who won a TV contest, I say.

Still don't like the makeshift new Dragonette song, but the video is great. Where is a Fred Falke or Van She remix?

We have a new TV show coming on in America that reeks of Paul/Fizzy Pop. It's called Glee and it's produced by Ryan Murphy, who does the ballsy Nip Tuck. See a preview.

Watch a live piano performance of Frankmusik's Olivia, a track that apparently no longer concludes his forthcoming album. Maybe the real Olivia threatened to sue his ass?

Lucky Soul is finishing up their new album in London. I suspect they're yanking our chain when they say it's called Lucky Soul's Hoxton Electro Party Vol. 2. If Whoa Billy is not on your iPod, it should be!

The new Prefab Sprout album has a dorky title: Let's Change The World With Music. Sounds like a Michael Jackson show. It's out September 7.

Annie Lennox aging with no trickery. A toast to honesty (scroll down):

Florence & The Machines' album cover - it's called Lungs - is brilliant. And her new single Rabbit Heart is unlike anything out there right now. 8-1 has the MP3 of Rabbit Heart - not sure if it's HQ or a Youtube rip.

I agree with Torr that the Jarvis Cocker album is a right load of shit. I much prefer the circa '95 fey Jarvis to the inscrutable, moved-to-France-'09 Jarvis. Freebie: A perfect Pulp EP.

The BBC noted wot I did too: that Paolo Nutini's vocals seem more affected on his new album, as if he is a crooner from the 50's.

Microfilm spawned a monster, or at least a cover of one of Morrissey's lesser known singles, November Spawned A Monster. It's now all twilight strings / electro. Get it at The Music Slut. They also an upcoming track with Sarah Nixey (le sigh) and an EP with a brill title: International Velvet.

Finally, is it just me or does the plucky new Theoretical Girl track, Rivals, sound a lot like Dubstar? Download it on iTunes, including US!

May 26, 2009

"If ya really wanna get my young love"

Whoa, look at Bebe LeStrange up there. That's Carly Smithson in a new promo shoot for her forthcoming, err, project. One assumes this will be a rock affair a la Pat Benatar, except for the fact she's been doing it in Nashville. Yikes.. I actually prefer Carly to the sweet-but-insipid Kris Allen, though I just watched a sneak preview of a new track and was seriously distracted by her eyebrows.

I remain obsessed with Carly (ne Hennessey's) lurid, poptastic 2001 track Young Love, the one that goes "Gonna sit here with these lonely hands and just contemplate, gonna master fate..." Indeed, Carly. And remember this nugget, produced by the hibernating genius Gregg Alexander? I'm Gonna Blow Your Mind (that's the link to the haircentric video). I highly recommend them and both tracks are on iTunes US.

May 25, 2009

I've seen you on the beach and I've seen you on TV

Duran Duran is now on Twitter and you should pay attention for goodies like a new version of Rio they recorded for Mark Ronson. The chorus is "His name is Ronson and he mixes with those hands... oh Ronson, Ronson dance across the Rio Grande." I'm sure it was funny in the studio, but not so much outside.

They're in the
studio with Ronson now. Take a look:

Remember on June 29/30, EMI is releasing yet another version of Rio, which is fine because it's an epic pop record. Preparing this post, I found this great website where you can learn everything you ever wanted to know about Rio. There were like 4 versions of the album at the time it was released!

I don't know why I feel inclined to post non-news on Duran so much, but I've never done this...

XO's Top Ten Plus One Duran Duran Songs:

Ordinary World
Whatever Happens Tomorrow
Hungry Like The Wolf
Girls On Film
Planet Earth
Save A Prayer
Union Of The Snake
Come Undone (La Fin De Siecle Mix)
Michael You've Got A Lot To Answer For

Update: Maybe New Religion should be on this list. That song has aged quite well for me. I could bump the second song for it.

Meanwhile, The Killers are releasing a "Night Version" of Joyride. A nice nod to Duran.

May 22, 2009

My heart's skipping, skipping and I don't know why

Why is this album called Hands? It's all very "they're not yours, they are my own" isn't it? Anyway, back to LB: the album was recorded in LA with Greg Kurstin, who just had a big hit with Lily Allen's record. It has a poppy sheen from the few songs I've heard. AND it has the presence of Human League's Phil Oakey on Symmetry. Interestingly, the American EP (out in June) contains a fantastic single-worthy exclusive track called Not Now. US peoples can read my review of that in the June Instinct.

Is she worthy of the hype (and now, if you read PopJustice Forums, the backlash)?

May 20, 2009

This is a gift. It comes with a price.

photo by Alex Lake

Florence & The Machine Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up):

One of the Songs Of The Year, absolutely. It's anthemic, elegant and muscular. Lyrically, it's a cross between Stevie Nicks and Courtney Love; vocally, it reminds me of Sinead when she actually sang (it's all whispers now). This song really soars from the middle eight - about 2:15- onward. Wow.

The video, also, is sublime. Florence Welch has taken her style and softened it from hippie to pre-Raphaelite. Take a look at
Alex Lake's beautiful photos from the filming. Has Patrick Wolf finally met his match?

Florence & The Machines' debut album, Lungs (more on that this week), is out on July 6.

Adam may not have won American Idol...

but we did get to witness this rock'n'roll kiss.

and now Adam can go off and do what he wants. He should write with Ole from The Ark

The Ark
One Of Us Is Gonna Die Young:

May 18, 2009

Tori: Music: C- Tori: Artwork: A

See the full artwork for Abnormally Attracted To Sin, an album that does not live up to its title and, I would posit, is the worst record Tori has ever released. All you have to do is play a random selection of older tracks to understand how uninspired this music is. Think even of lesser knowns like Black Dove, Gold Dust, Taxi Ride, Not The Red Baron, Concertina, Toast.. and then play 500 Miles or Lady In Blue. Not. even. close.

May 17, 2009

Review: Miike Snow

It's not unusual that great albums come out of nowhere. What makes Miike Snow's eponymous debut unique isn't just that Miike is a group, not a person. It's that two thirds of this band are Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnber. As Swedish pop production team Bloodshy and Avant, they've produced some sugary suburban masterpieces (Britney's Toxic) and some truly dire ones (Kylie's Nu-di-ty). Still, there is nothing in their discography that suggests they'd produce for themselves such a vibrant piece of what I'd call "city music." The presence of third band member, New Yorker Andrew Wyatt, creates the friction that sparks the fire. At the risk of sounding backhanded, Miike Snow (the album) is a sum greater than its parts would suggest.

primarily on piano and electronics, this is not an in-your-face album. Nothing leaps out urgently, but after just a few listens, the whole record is solidly fantastic, diverse, yet clearly of a piece. Opener Animal launches the album's (grey) theme of dour relationships with a disclaimer: "When I slip, yeah... I'm still an animal." Single Burial lays down an earworm chanted chorus against a martial beat, while the lengthy Silvia goes all Royksopp two minutes in, with what sounds like a snaking sawtooth synth and processed vocals.

Justin Timberlake, who may have wedged himself into a Timbaland-gated cul de sac, should check Song For No One. It's his next step, the path laid out for him, taking r'n'b influenced radio pop (with a slightly retro feel) and squeezing it through a Euro synth machine. Black And Blue extends that sound into something truly exciting. It's music for a very fast, expensive car and the closest thing to disco here. Sans Soleil has a disenchanted, blame-the-city-not-the-girl lyric, with a particularly sensual line ("Without
sun we pull what feeds us / From the heat that's in-between us.").

The final third of the album veers between minimal pieces like Cult Logic and the strutting, striptease-ready Plastic Jungle, with its repetitive chorus "I wanna get slain." It all ends up at Faker, a short, Beach Boysian finale: "Send in your reverie to me faker / Into the mouth of green morning, faker." Finally, a color.

Miike Snow, the album, has a sort of sonic integrity, as if it were made to please no one but its creators. In doing so, it will thrill pop fans savvy enough to know there's a world beyond their shopping mall divas.

Buy Miike Snow at iTunes US for $6.99 and Amazon UK

Miike Snow Burial/Animal stream/download via link

Sliding doors... what if?

Planet Hiltron on Madonna:

Is this what staying in Flint might've done?

May 16, 2009

The Songs I Cannot Live Without, #2

Lloyd Cole and The Commotions' My Bag is a pop song for linguists. I've always loved a lyric that was constructed like a puzzle (think REM's It's The End Of The World...). There are plenty of Lloyd Cole songs that affect me on a more emotional level; Jennifer She Said, No Blue Skies, Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken are all stunning. But My Bag is unique. At the time of its release, the single was a radical change in style from the previously alternating jaunty/morose tunes of this Scottish band (Cole is British).

No less than François Kervokian remixed it and the video linked below is all "face," mimicking the stunning cover for the Mainstream album, above, released in Fall 1987. When he was young, Lloyd had an extraordinary face. All cheekbones, deep-set eyes and alabaster skin set against shiny black hair. The scan above is poor, with scratches on the sleeve where it should be all back.

Absurdly, the TV performance versions of this song replaced the line "excuse me one moment whilst I powder my nose" with "excuse me one moment whilst I launder my clothes." Almost as inane, the record label has disabled embedding for this video (thanks, how helpful), but...

the My Bag video is here

Lloyd Cole My Bag

Hey, I was walking my bag
through a 20-story nonstop snowstorm
Pirrelli calender girls wrestling in body lotion
My head's swimming with poetry and prose
Excuse me one moment whilst I powder my nose
Me and my good thing are about as close as can be
We gave up sleep at the age of 17
My world's getting bigger as my eyesight gets worse
I can't see the lines on my idiot board
What above love?
I don't let that stuff in my house
This is the glamorous life, there's no time for fooling around

Lord have mercy I know what I'm doing
I don't need an alibi, I need a fire escape, an open window
It's my problem, nothing I can't deal with
I'm not chasing anything, just jogging baby
What's your bag?

Hundred million dollar jam
Got some traffic yessir in my nose
Motorcycle speed cops burning up my dust roads
My baby left me heck ain't that a shame
She's over in the corner with my new best friend
I'm doing fine with my whiskey and wine
And meet me in the john john, meet me in the john john

Lord have mercy I know what I'm doing
I don't need an alibi I need a fire escape and an open window
It's my problem it's nothing I can't deal with
I'm not chasing anything just jogging baby
What's your bag?

Spin spin whiskey and gin I suffer for my art
Bartender I got wild mushrooms growing in my yard
Fix me a quart of petrol ooh clams on the half shell
Feels like prohibition, baby give me the hard sell
More give me more, give me more more more
I'm your yes man, yes maam, I'm your yes man

Lord have mercy I know what I'm doing
I don't need an alibi I need a fire escape, an open window
It's my problem, nothing I can't deal with
I'm not chasing anything just jogging baby
What's your bag?


My Bag is available on most iTunes. It's from the group's 1987 near-perfect album, Mainstream.

Below is a photo taken a few years later, in 1989, for the art supporting his first solo record. He is 28 here and almost looks like he is - which he is not - a mix of Scottish and Native American. Beautiful boy.

May 14, 2009

Tweet, tweet music

Just bringing a few of my recent tweets over. I think Twitter has value for this sort of thing, but it's crap for conversation or any sort of nuanced communication. It's also littered with spammy fake twitterers (inevitably "girls" who like to "enjoy life"). This is just my own opinion - what do you think?

xolondon For instance, John C. Hughes always does terrific stuff at PopDose. AND he's very butch!

xolondon It's nice to use to Twitter to promote other people's blogs, not just your own. Self promotion can become... demode

xolondon Mr Hudson Mixtape (5 mins) sample of Supernova (w/Kanye):

xolondon Go to 8-1 for a STUNNING Fred Falke remix of Grizzly Bear's 2 Weeks. Viva Ed Droste!

xolondon Obsessed with this gorge new Little Boots EP. After bitching about her on my blog comments today. Whoopsy daisies, as Hugh Grant might say.

xolondon Listening to new Little Boots track, Not Now. Single worthy, IMO. Jesus appears in it and, I think, Duran Duran.

xolondon Guardian's A. Pickard dissects Tori's Welcome 2 England "visuallette"

xolondon The Gossip as remixed by... yep, Fred Falke!

xolondon I am very angry at Coldplay for stealing the riff of a song I wrote at 6 years old.

xolondon Not thrilled w/Christophe Willem's male Britney voice, but bonzo for his hat and glasses

May 13, 2009

Cover Story: A tale of two covers

A look at the cover of the new Gossip CD, Music For Men (out June 22):

Beautiful. That's a surprise after Beth Ditto being the face of The Gossip for so long. Now Hannah gets her moment. Does it remind you a bit of Eg & Alice's CD cover below? That's the band that songwriter Eg White (Will Young, Adele, etc) had with Alice Temple in the early 90's. Absolutely lost classic, that album.

Meanwhile, Freemasons issued a cover for their monolithic track with La Bex...

Looks like a hair care ad, no? Like she's a Breck or Wella Balsam girl. I actually prefer the fan-made cover that appeared earlier this year in the PopJustice Forums:

Suitably lollipop-headed. I love a pretty alien.

May 12, 2009

Tori's Film Stills

The artwork for Tori Amos's new album is slowly starting to appear online. The images remind me of stills from an old movie. Very femme fatale...

My favorite photos are the first and last. As for the new music, first thoughts are that, as usual, it's a diluted mess with a set of strong tracks: Flavor, Curtain Call, Welcome To England, Ophelia, That Guy, Fire To Your Plain and Maybe California. Inevitably, it's also loaded with Tori tics, like the pronunciation of New York as New Yoke...

The proper album cover is here.

Patrick Wolf's latest press shot. This should have been the album cover photo, clearly. See what he chose instead.

May 11, 2009

I'm having fun, don't put me down.

La Roux didn't sweep me off my feet with recent Brit hit In For The Kill single, but I am properly obsessed with their new single Bulletproof. It has a spikey quality to it; it's a pop song, but it's also shouts "fuck you." This is the kind of tune people will hear in a clothing store or bar and fall in love with it on the spot because it has swagger. A great pop song makes you feel cool.

There's been dramarama on PopJustice Forums about singer Elly Jackson's look in this video. She's Molly Ringwald trying hard to be Tilda Swinton. I have no need for pop stars to be models, but that lipstick is demode. She doesn't need to gild the "avant" lily - she has enough natural attitude. And just give her a different look with makeup and she'd be a beautiful model. Quicksand and her album cover are evidence of that. Elly's not freaky - she just doesn't want to do the beauty routine. She can even channel Suzanne Vega when she tries...

This is also the first time I've really liked Elly's voice, which she used in a very limited fashion on the group's previous singles. In For The Kill was actually - apologies for the rhyme - shrill. How she sounds across the span of an album is a mystery that will be answered when La Roux is released on June 29.

Boy George released on good behavior

He looks better than he has in years. Well done, BG.

Have you heard his new single yet? Click here.

May 8, 2009

Lily Allen is smug.

Now Lily Allen has officially released a free record. A remix do. Is this in honor of Darren Hayes' birthday too? Probably not. It's legit though and was done by the suspiciously named Fritz Von Runte, who may or may not be Greg Kurstin.**

Download Lily Allen Remixed

Fuck You leaked earlier this week and I prefer it to the CD version. The mixes are very low-fi and "tonal"- others I like on first listen: Chinese and Not Fair

** Oh wait, Fritz is a real, live person with, one hopes, a fake name.

May 7, 2009

Darren Hayes is smug.

From Darren's myspace:

I've been recording a secret side project album with my long term co-writer and collaborator Robert Conley over the past 2 years. It was finished and mixed in December last year and just last week the album was mastered.

It's a band we call We Are Smug. Robert and I share lead vocal and songwriting duties on everything, and up until this second, we haven't spoken a word of it to anyone outside of our circle of friends.

But today, on my birthday, we've decided it's release day and if you visit
you can download it for free.

This is not the direction of my next album, nor is 'free' the new price for my music. This is just something I am doing because I can.
Haven't played it yet - have you?

Update: Not really my thing, but there are two songs you should check out: The Pressure and Never Be The Same. Hot Tub Blues is amusing, if a bit of a novelty...

May 6, 2009

Mr Hudson shoots Supernova

Kanye and Mr. Hudson recorded Supernova, Mr Hudson's first official single for Straight No Chaser. Still no exact release date, but the song should come out soon and I'll cover it here. In the meantime, have you seen There Will Be Tears or Picture Of You?

May 5, 2009

10 Musical Thoughts: 10 tunes you should own


I'm going back a bit, to when radio still mattered, in the late 80's and early 90's. These are all songs I consider to be classics that you may or may not know. Many will be available on iTunes or via a search on Google Blog.

1 The The Heartland video
The late 80's was an angry time in the UK and this song reflects that. Amidst the bitters is one line I love: "I've come to smell the seasons change, and watch the city, as the sun goes down again." 1986

2 Brian Setzer The Knife Feels Like Justice video
Between his rockabilly deal with Stray Cats and his endless swing albums came this gorgeous folk rock tune. His voice on the verses is phenomenal. 1985

3 Seal The Beginning
The first Seal track from his first album remains one of his best. Best adjective: swirling
. 1991

4 Peter Gabriel Here Comes The Flood (1990 ver.) video
Beautiful piano ballad, Gabriel's most vulnerable vocal. It's hard to remember what a massive star he was, but when Peter was good, he was a
God. 1990

5 The Replacements The Ledge
Chill inducing. I know pop kids may fear this, but don't. It's a ravaged beaut of a song - the tale of a boy who finally gets the attention he craves by killing himself. The final minute manages to be harrowing without being harsh. 1987

6 Marcella Detroit Detroit
One of my all-time favorite songs that no one knows, this is a love song to the city. I always thought Madonna should cover this on a retrospective album. 1994

7 The KLF Justified And Ancient video
Ancients of mu mu, ancients of mu mu, ice cream trucks and Tammmmmy Wynette.

8 The Divinyls I Touch Myself video
I touch myself, I honestly do, oh oh oh.

9 Siouxsie & The Banshees Kiss Them For Me video
Siouxsie's most opulent, romantic pop moment. I still play this song all the time. "Someone carving their devotion /In the heartshaped pool of fame." 1991

10 Sade Is It A Crime? live video
My love is wider than Victoria Lake, taller than Empire State. If anyone ever tells you Sade is too cool when she sings, this song proves them wrong. Major Singing Here.

Has it come to this, Sharl?

We've all heard of test marketing in pop music, but I've never seen something so blatant. Poor Sharleen Spiteri. Her record company is polling fans via mailing lists to decide what trashy covers album she should do....

The depressing part? How cynically trite the options are. Do we need another Dusty Springfield covers record? What about the "Celtic Song Book" album? Since when is Maria McKee's Show Me Heaven considered Celtic? At least there was no Carrickfuckingfergus. And can you hear Sharl warbling I've Had The Time Of My Life? How demode is that?!

It's a long, hard fall for the same artist who recorded Say What You Want and Summer Son. Bring back the woman who recorded an album lying on her back in the studio...

Click on the image above if you want to partipate in this travesty...

May 3, 2009

Mixtape: How to segue from Muppets to Lekakis...

That's my new "chenille" plant up there. I noted to a friend that it seemed phallic, to which she respond that they looked like Muppet peen. True.

And Paul Lekakis' (aging) peen. Or should I say scrotum? NSFW, clearly. Here is a 2004 interview with him, by the way.

The new 9+ minute mix of Freemasons and Sophie Ellis Bextor's Heartbreak Make Me A Dancer is truly apocalyptic. The bit at 6:20 ish makes me want to run around screaming.

KulPop is on a roll this week with scoops on the new a-Ha and new Lightning Seeds albums. He also has MP3s. I think I actually prefer the Seeds song.

Good gravy Marie. I am watching Any Dream Will Do on BBC America. Those guys are straight?! They're like the Show Choir guys from high school, the ones who found jazz hands to be a natural way of being.

NME Just did a
LaRoux vs Little Boots album battle. Who wins- read it to find out.

Seems like the Franz Ferdinand and U2 albums have fizzled, doesn't it? I do like the Fred Falke mix of U2's new single Magnificent, the original of which should be called Quite Decent.

Phil Oakey is having a renaissance isn't he? First the new duet with Pet Shop Boys (why is that relegated to the bonus disc?!) and next a duet with Little Boots on Symmetry. The indiepop reviewers are panning that song, so I expect it will be what we call poptastic. What we really need next is a new Human League album. Now is the perfect time. If you didn't hear anything from their 2001 album Secrets, I highly recommend Never Give Your Heart (hear it) and All I Ever Wanted (video).

Pixie Lott is crap. I can't bear to link to her. Good voice technically, but cliched "2009" singing style and test-marketed tunes. Pixie Lott is so demode**.

The Times just did a great piece on artists who reinvent themselves versus artists who remain the same year-in-year-out.

I found Blue Notes, the solo album by Helen Terry - backing singer on the best songs of Culture Club - and was sad to discover that on some tracks she kind of fell flat in the lower, calmer register. We see this on Idol shows all the time, where the singer can really wail, but isn't quite as capable of subtler emotions. It's also interesting that she did not include her best solo song, Laughter On My Mind, a duet with Boy George.

Best blog title I've discovered recently: Crying All The Way To The Chip Shop.

A thoughtful slam of Prince at FourFour (thanks PopMuse). It is now my sport to hate Prince.

Bjork is releasing a pointless boxset for her tepid Volta CD. Sorry, but does anyone really LOVE that record? Nonetheless, Box Of Boom has live MP3s for Who Is It and Bachelorette.

Simply Red inexplicably - or not - re-recorded Money's Too Tight To Mention. You can preview it on 7-Digital - it sounds lame. Not even a Haji mix can save it. In the process of looking for it on iTunes, I downloaded all sorts of stuff, from the extended Right Thing to the album-worthy b-side Lady Godiva's Room. All this reminds me, I've been meaning to mention the cover of their (superb) recent hits collection called 25 - is that Mick Hucknall or Axl Rose?

And what does **Fake Karl Lagerfeld (a satire blog) say about Twitter?

For all my friends who've been having bad times lately, I'm sending you loving vibes AND a yank on the scalp to keep your chins up...