Rachel Stevens - I Said Never Again (But Here We Are)

“I can’t let go/ I can take no more/ But I want you so.”

I told you never to play my new guitar.

So there I am, wandering listlessly through the pop landscape, unable to muster even so much as a moderate ooh la la for these long hot summers, when some blessed pop angel appears as if from nowhere to throw me down, inject me with a hit of pure adrenalin and then kiss me until my mind is pure static.

Blackout spots and terror nerves; My endorphins are maxed out on the edge of chaos, strung along the drum sequence that splices ‘Some Girls’ to the point of heartbeat and showers the whole damn lot with enough space dust to make your teeth itch. This is full volume stuff – pitched loud until you feel that burn of ice and restless flicker in your hips. Until you’re sweat-drenched and bass-weary and can barely pause for breath.

Yes, now it’s loud enough.

Because it’s not until the moment it all falls away that you realise just how taut that perfect structure is stretched; beats and bass throbbing with every pulse of blood in my hyperventilating veins. And swooping over it all is the ice queen itself. Out with personality! Get thee gone, empathetic meaning! Who needs flesh and blood when you’ve got the vocoder filter fixed and languidly giving no more than nearly enough?

Throw me in the midst of this pop madness; my head is full of your noise and my heart exhausted by your need, but all I have to do is play it again to fly.


Keri Noble - Bartender

“Bartender, another/ And make it a double/ I can’t go home/ I’m in some kind of trouble.”

This is for those long nights.

The empty ones that hurt in a way you can do nothing to ease; just lie and wait for it all to pass. And pass they do: while morning leaves you questioning if you ever truly felt that low. It’s a defence mechanism I never fail to marvel; how pain can be forgotten, how the heart can teach itself to forget.

Her pain is a little to polished for my liking – so measured, and even clichéd – but then the raw ache comes through pitched to breaking point, and I can see how that underlying calm is the perfect foil for the despair. I’ll forgive her the over-production because oh, that piano refrain is just laced with pure melancholy, fragile and pained.



So you wanted 'Believe in the Boogie', and all you got was '315'?


Here ya go.


Bratz - So Good

“Because the beat in our hearts/ Is the beat of the charts/ Like a spotlight breaking through.”

In no way can I take any credit for discovering this; it was in fact revealed to me by Eppy in a rambling and somewhat drunken email. Oh, that rambling and drunken emails should always be so fruitful!

It’s epic, plain and simple. A kind of epic that can only be attained by the actualisation of a set of plastic dolls. With guitars. And strings. And a slightly euro-pop M2M sweet female vocal.

Said epic-ness isn’t achieved by accident, oh no! This is as artfully constructed as Diane Warren in her glory days, Bon Jovi at the dizzy height of their powers. Opening chords; slow and hesitant, with heavy purpose and gentle lull. Then the bridge, oh, the bridge! Striding and purposeful, the suspense rises, the crescendo builds; reaching, rising until…

IT’S SO GOOD! Crashing chorus, wailing vocals! Energy and volume! Girl power and realising your dreams and believing in yourself with matching accessories and a live action movie!

Sigh. If the legions of guitar bands sprawled messily across the pop landscape could take a master-class of anthem composition, this would be the model answer. The second verse knows its part for sure: richer, more layered, serving only to link back to that bridge and strident chorus again. The guitars are the stuff of 80s rock classics alone!

Infectious, driving and wholly poptextastic.


Mark Owen - Believe In The Boogie

“There’s a friend of mine/ Who’s wasting all his money/ Think he’s had his time/ Think he’s lost his mind/ Still a friend of mine/ Could have had it all/ From the Albert Hall/ To the uni ball/ How the mighty fall.”

Jauntiness + Meta = ?

I’ve got to have respect for the man. When the great and mighty British boyband of the 90s crumbled into dust, Gary disappeared into obscurity, Robbie disappeared up his own behind, Jason disappeared altogether, and Howard? Not even a day-time TV soap walk-on for the man.

But wee lil’ Mark? He’s spent the last decade churning out mildly jaunty guitar pop songs that nobody buys, and by god he’ll just keep doing so! There he is: strange faux-indie fashion styling, real instruments and all, singing blindly in wind of utter public indifference. And his voice isn’t even that good!

This one wins my instant adoration because it acknowledges exactly how insignificant he is on the pop landscape, and actually revels in said irrelevance. Plus, it really is rather divinely swooping - all energetic ‘oh oh oh oh oh’s, ‘woo woo woo’s and climbing chord progressions. And then the chorus hits, with a jagged strum and fierce optimism, and I can’t help but be swept along in this man’s peculiar vision of music karma.

Mr Owen, I salute you! Long may you give us our ‘Clementine’s, our ‘4 Minute Warning’s, our ‘315’s!


Robyn - Be Mine

“And now you’re gone/ It’s like an echo in my head/ And I remember/ Every word you said.”


When is a riff not a riff? Why, when it’s a tightly strummed cello sequence!
And when is a lil’ blonde popstress not a lil’ blonde popstress? When she pushes the boundaries and releases the kind of experimental, expletive-laden pop record that her label is no doubt despairing over, that’s when!

You remember the chord progression from That Song, don’t you? The one which bubbled along in the back of your brain, infectious and irresistibly seductive, underpinning every other structure they built upon it?

This is so much better!*

Harsher, deeper; afforded more texture by the fact it’s a string arrangement, so when the violins fall down in their brief swoops, they blend from opposite angles to produce an incredibly rich backdrop. And the drum programme! Staccato, irregular, layered; matched to those strings with darting pace – tense and measured and oh so delicious. And over it all, the voice of lovelorn resignation.

Time to show the girl some love again.

*OK, so maybe it’s only equal with the Clarkson brilliance, maybe this is just fresher, or maybe I simply wanted to quote Elle Woods. Whatevs.