July (YES, I know it was years ago, I was on holiday, fuck you) was a month initially lipstick stained by the collosally overpromoted Kylie record, and combined with the uber-gay disco punch of the Scissor Sisters' third, it looked like it was going to be a fairly camp summer. But after the glitter settled, what we were treated to was 31 days of sun, rain and a delightfully eclectic scattering of genius ideas across the spectrum of genres that make up pop music.
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Bang Bang Bang
Mark Ronson & The Business Intl, feat. Q-Tip & MNDR
Retro is hardly retro anymore, but an edgy chord sequence taken from a Power Rangers episode and a cluttered Hip Hop beat makes this the best track that wasn't on Gorillaz' "Plastic Beach". Admittedly this combination of alternative hip hop and melody striken 80s pop isn't an alien one to 2010, but it's a formula that the previously soul-funked up Ronson has surprised us all by nailing. Now who the fuck are the Business Intl?
Katy on a Mission
Dubstep's pretty macho huh? That sledgehammer beat that advances at the pace of a hungover Rhinocerous (and boy is he pissed) and that gargantuan maggot-infested bassline that throbs like a migrane. Well Katy B has managed to perfect Popstep, and it's as sweet as a strawberry cough drop. She flirts and taunts with the panting synth backing her, and the beat tries less to crush and more to cruise. Katy and her pals "erupt into the room", "sink into the tune" and effortlessly command the dancefloor and simultaneously eclipse her peers. Finally... a pop sound we can feel proud of in 2010.
Get Outta My Way/Can't Beat the Feeling
There's no point in taking the time to address these tracks separately, they are both merely highlights on Kylie's glorious new record. After Fever Kylie lost a bit of pazazz. Taking the tempo down has never been a great idea with this pint sized diva. Ms Minogue "can't help feel the need to strut" if you recall, and you can't strut to a slow burner like Slow or All I See. Although the occasional glimpse of perfection could be seen, in the form of Wow mainly, Kylie didn't have an awful lot to showcase her joyous spirit and gleaming positivity. The record Aphrodite is another matter. Four to the floor the whole way, Get Outta My Way is the sound of Kylie striding defiantly onto the dancefloor after too long at the sidelines, with a bag of hooks too good not to empty, whilst Can't Beat the Feeling aptly expresses the joy of being back on top, a future disco that welcomes everyone back to the Kylie show.
Get Outta My Way - Kylie Minogue by suprem.angel
Can't Beat The Feeling - Kylie Minogue by suprem.angel
Any Which Way
One glance at the cover of Night Work, and you know you're in for a rocky ride. Those buttocks may be clenched tight, but Scissor Sisters are gonna fuck you (oh, excuse me... "funk" you that is) any which way they can. But whatever your apprehensions are, seriously, let them. It's a hell of a lot of fun. Any Which Way is camp even by Scissor Sisters standards, and as D-I-S-C-O as they can get away with. Each hook is a guilty pleasure, each clavichord flurry an embarrassing dance move, each snare the sound of a whip on leather. "In front of my parents, I don't give a damn baby, just take me..." Damn. Sex has not sounded this much fun in years. And these guys are gagging for it.
I Need Air
As with Katy B's hook laden softcore-step that I mentioned earlier, Magnetic Man doesn't see why dubstep shouldn't be a vessle for pop magic. But Mr Magnetic doesn't settle with the club speaker system, he wants to enter the very elements that surround you. Even the heavily processed vocal sounds nervous and edgy, as the stainless steel synth blips cut through the atmosphere like a knife, and the jittery beats dictate every move made by every sound. I Need Air manages to provide just as much punch as any thick dub bassline and compressed kick combination, with only half the effort. For a genre famous for being as dirty as the ground it stomps upon, who'd've thought subtely would be the best policy?
Sunny, stoned, smiley, daydreaming indiepop. And taken from an album of gleefully lazy pop songs, some sounding so similar it's as if Best Coast were so baked they forgot they'd already written that lick, but that's why it's such a great record. This track opens the show and is as good as any to lie on a beach with a joint and a bottle of Jack Daniels, making shapes out of the clouds. Bit more on the last "Popdar".
Final Kylie one, honest. After the limp All the Lovers, you could be forgiven for thinking that the title track of this album, named after the Greek Goddess of love, (sung by the gay-friendly Australian alternative) would follow in the underwhelmingly regal dancepop footsteps of that single. How wrong you would be however. Aphrodite is all swagger right from its first cocky tribal drum hit. When Kylie drawls "I was gone and now I'm back, yeah" you grin like an idiot and proceed to do as she says. This love goddess isn't a flowery, gentle figure smiling on sickly sweet newly weds, this one walks over your back in 7 inch hells, commanding you to love her above all else. To be fair, she provides a convincing case: "I'm fierce and I'm feeling mighty, I'm a golden girl, I'm an Aphrodite, all right!" Kylie's hooks haven't been this irresistable in 9 years, and she knows it.
Kylie Minogue - Aphrodite by alienhits
Hang With Me
As I wrote on my last Pop Watch, Hang With Me is a pop triumph. The remake of Body Talk Pt 1's ponderous and easily overlooked ballad finally reaches the light at the end of the tunnel which near enough beat the Robyn of Dancing on my Own into submission. Read a bit more about Robyn's latest bullseye on "Popdar #1".
Suicide Dream 2
How to Dress Well
It's utterly futile and indeed irrelevant to try and contextualise this kind of music, so all I can do is describe just how mindblowing it is. How to Dress Well's ethereal futuregoth ambience seeps through the speakers with a desperate sadness, loneliness but underlain with a glimpse of threat. Suicide Dream 2 is as scary as it is beautiful. The trickling keys and distant pads are hardly intrusive, but still the vocals are inaudible murmers... they could be delirious ramblings or fearful cries for help. Either way no one can hear. It's the most terrifying of dreams: the one where you are trapped with no escape. The title suggests this is a dream where you are in fact trapped inside yourself, and How to Dress Well express this helplessness with an aptitude that is all too accurate.