Perhaps we're a little late jumping on the Alexis Strum love train, but we can only advise you to go here and watch the video for 'Bad Haircut'. It's an awesome song, and has an awesome video to match. If there's any justice in the world, she's going to be huge, and who here wouldn't want to say they spotted her first?
THINGS WE LEARNT AT THE GIRLS ALOUD CONCERT
- The average crowd at a Girls Aloud gig consists of small girls and gay men, as expected, but also a surprising number of heterosexual people who did not have kids in tow, and still looked like they were having the time of their life.
- Despite knowing that you don't have cash to spare on merchandise, and reiterating this fact to your friends, as soon as you see the merchandising stall you will whip out your Visa card and buy yourself a poster, a tour programme, a keyring, a mug and attempt in vain to buy Cheryl Tweedy.
- Triple 8 have been working hard in all their time off, since they were performing a track that was apparently on the original version of their album that was knocking about when they were having Top 10 hits before Sparx and Hairy David buggered off.
- There's something quite wrong about seeing cute little Jamie from Triple 8 singing raunchy lyrics.
- We still would, though.
- Cookie are probably our second favourite girlband now, having ousted Sugababes. Sorry, but 'Do It Again' pisses all over 'Hole In The Head', which is the best Sugababes song post-Siobhan. (Not the best Sugababes song ever though, and if we were including songs from the One Touch era it would be a closer contest, but we're not, because they seem to want us to forget that there ever was a pretty, pale, talented redhead in the band who left because the other two were bullying her and then released an amazing solo album that approximately six people bought.)
- The people at Blink TV have no taste, because when they were doing a montage of what they clearly believed to be Really Attractive Men, they did individual shots of McFly and forgot to include Harry.
- Girls Aloud are amazing live.
- No, really, they are.
- There is absolutely no reason for them to have not been singing live in all their PAs to date, since they're clearly more than up to the job.
- It's okay to have one small section of the gig where you're clearly miming at least part of the time, if that also happens to be the section where you're performing the almighty 'No Good Advice'.
- 'No Good Advice' is made a million times better by restoring the legendary "your shit might show" line.
- It's made a million times better than that by having a cheeky three-second burst of 'My Sharona' in the middle of it.
- 'No Good Advice' wouldn't be the same without the tambourines. So it's a good job they remembered to include them. Hurrah!
- I've got a fist full of love that's coming your way.
- Contrary to what you might expect, a Girls Aloud cover of 'Teenage Dirtbag' is not cringe-worthy, but is in fact absolutely fucking amazing, and doesn't suffer at all from having the lyrics revamped slightly. In fact, "his girlfriend's a bitch/She's got an attitude" is better than the original lyric.
- All those times in the early stage of Girls Aloud when people used to claim Nicola was rubbish and pointless, and a few lone voices stood up for her and said she was brilliant and that this would be obvious if she was just allowed to sing occasionally - well, we were right, and the haterz were wrong, so screw you.
- Sarah is clearly the biggest show-off in the group.
- But she's also the best singer, so that's okay.
- Kimberley is the weakest singer, but has still improved massively over the past six months.
- If Girls Aloud can do pretty much their entire show live without a single bum note, we want to know what Britney's excuse is.
- I'm just a love machine.
- Despite being the best thing that Girls Aloud have ever recorded by a country mile anyway, 'Graffiti My Soul' improves by a gazillion percent when performed live.
- In fact, despite this sounding like a very "indie" thing to say, it's not until you hear them live that you realise just how amazing and intricate Girls Aloud's songs are.
- The girls are slick: when Kimberley was too engrossed in her dancing to remember to sing one of her lines in 'Love Machine', Nadine picked it up within about a second. Good girl!
- We so would, all of them, but in the following order: Cheryl, Kimberley, Nicola, Sarah, Nadine.
- Nicola looks stunning in a brown minidress and gold hotpants.
- It is actually possible to forget that 'I'll Stand By You' was ever a Pretenders song in the first place.
- Brian Higgins and Miranda Cooper own us.
- Louis Walsh is still a cunt, though.
- The fierce look on Kimberley's face in the split second before the lights went down at the end of 'Sound Of The Underground' is one of the most brilliant things we have ever seen.
- This show must be released commercially, or we'll cry.
- There should be another show scheduled where everyone who has ever said Girls Aloud were rubbish must attend, and at the end be forced to admit that they were wrong. Simon Cowell in particular should eat a Michelle McManus-sized portion of humble pie.
- I want to do it all over again.
AUSTRALIAN NEWS, BAD AND GOOD
We'd like to begin this post by offering our warmest get-well-soon wishes to Kylie Minogue who, as we're sure you've heard, revealed this morning that she has breast cancer. By all accounts, she has been diagnosed early so there is a good chance she can make a full recovery. We'll be thinking of her, along with her friends and family, during this difficult time and we wish her all the best in fighting it.
To move on to something slightly cheerier yet equally Oz-related, people who read our blog circa October 2003 will remember just how obsessed we are with Neighbours star Natalie Bassingthwaighte, partially because she has a fantastic surname, and partially because she plays evil Izzy Hoyland, one of the best soap villains in recent memory. Imagine, then, our unadultered glee when we made our daily visit to the Popjustice website and discovered that she's releasing a single. Naturally, we consider this to be the turning point that will rescue the world of pop for all involved, and we will be doing our utmost to find out everything about it and report back in due course. Watch this space (assuming we actually update when we promise to, which to be honest, is not something with which we have a blemish-free track record).
Welcome to a new, regular (we hope) feature on Panda Pops, where we talk you through one of the latest pop promos in our own inimitable style. To kick us off this week, we will be detailing the debut video from Hollywood starlet Lindsay Lohan, 'Over', which you can view here. A screengrab will hopefully accompany this if we can figure out how the hell to do it.
00:03 The Lohan walks down the street that is used for every suburban street scene in a music video ever. The property prices in this street must be astronomical, since so many well-paid musicians seem to live there. Also, it's in a different time zone to the rest of the world, since the leaves are falling despite the fact that Autumn finished four months ago. Unless Lindsay lives somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere, perhaps.
00:07 Drew Fuller! Looking positively edible with his trademark half-scowl, stylishly messy hair and just a little bit of stubble. This video just got a lot more exciting.
00:14 Oh dear. Despite that positive start, things take a drastic turn for the worse when The Lohan opens her mouth and starts singing, only to reveal that she cannot. The woman sounds like she's been gargling with gravel.
00:18 Lindsay stares forlornly through Drew Fuller's window. Drew stares wistfully back. Then a somewhat beefy man appears behind Drew, and Drew turns around. A bit of iffy blocking here makes it look like they're about to kiss, so we shall refer to this man from here onwards as Drew's butch new boyfriend. We don't seem to get many music videos where the theme is that of a gay separated from his fag hag, so this should be nice and different.
00:21 Drew pulls the curtains, presumably because he's going to have sex with his butch new boyfriend in the middle of the day, and doesn't want Lindsay The Fag Hag to watch. Good idea, Drew.
00:33 Lindsay gets home, and her parents are downstairs watching TV, not particularly caring about their poor fag-haggy daughter. Meanwhile, Lindsay continues to demonstrate that she cannot sing in the same key that her band are playing.
00:45 Cut between shots of Lindsay rocking out Ashlee Simpon-style in her garage (because The Lohan is so rock and roll), Lindsay flashes her norks at Drew Fuller in a scene vaguely reminiscent of American Beauty. Oh, Lindsay. The first rule of fag-haggery is to accept that you cannot come between your gay best friend and his butch new boyfriend.
01:02 Drew continues to stare sulkily back at Lindsay. Possibly he's missing the regular paycheque from Charmed ever since Chris got unceremoniously stabbed just before he was born (it made sense if you saw that episode. Well, sort of). We can't say we blame him since it's made him resort to appearing in music videos for quite crap songs again (he also appeared in the videos for The Calling's 'Wherever You Will Go' and - eurgh - Jennifer Love Hewitt's 'Barenaked', the latter of which I think we all saw more than enough of during I Still Know What You Did Last Summer).
01:06 Lindsay perves on Drew's (admittedly very nice) bottom as he lovingly touches up his hot rod, if you know what we mean. At least, we think it's Drew - the shot isn't very clear, and the next shot of Drew back at his bedroom window casts some doubt on that. Still, it's a music video, so we're not going to demand Oscar-worthy cinematography or continuity, and we're certainly not going to let it get in the way of a perfectly good double-entendre.
01:20 Sigh. Drew's wearing a nice hoody and a leather jacket. Couldn't they have just got rid of Lindsay altogether and let us stare at that for three minutes and forty-six seconds?
01:30 Lindsay and Drew mack in a caravan. Presumably this is a flashback, before Drew came to terms with his sexuality and dumped Lindsay for his butch new boyfriend. That's the only logical explanation. Lindsay, meanwhile, appears to be wearing the same top she was wearing yesterday whilst rocking out in the garage. Skank.
No wonder you turned your boyfriend gay, Lohan.
01:38 A pool party! Lindsay and Drew appear to have wandered onto the set of The O.C., and since there's a party, we're sure a punch-up is not too far away.
01:50 Drew looks cute in a beanie, but his hair is far too nice to hide. He rubs Lindsay's arm somewhat chastely as they sit on a diving board - presumably this is back in the present where she's his ex-girlfriend and current fag hag again. Phew.
01:53 A cute guy with a buzzcut starts to chat Drew up, we think. He's cute. That Lohan had better not throw a spanner in the works in that sort of drama-queeny, overprotective ex-girlfriend way we think she's all too capable of.
01:56 Oh no! Drew's butch new boyfriend arrives. Drew looks suitably horrified to have been caught chatting up someone else.
02:03 Drew gets up in his face all "I wasn't doing anything". Drew's butch new boyfriend just beckons him with a finger and walks off. Oh, so it's that kind of a relationship. Poor Drew.
02:07 Lohan looks guilty, as well she should. I bet she wanted that to happen.
02:13 Drew sadly follows his possibly-abusive butch boyfriend home. A bunch of poolside gays check out Drew's ass.
02:15 Lohan throws a tantrum. Oh, Lindsay, we told you. You'll always be second best to the boyfriend.
02:25 Lindsay drinks milk straight from the carton. We told you she was a skank.
02:31 Drew shoots her a suggestive look. Normally we'd assume that was a silent booty call, but it's far more likely he wants her to help him wash the car or something, since he's clearly gay in this video.
02:34 "My tears are turning into time" really is an appalling lyric. That's got nothing to do with the video, but it had to be said all the same.
02:38 Lindsay's guitarist steps on the echo pedal just as Drew floors his accelerator. Ooh! Synchronicity!
02:44 Drew's showing off his hot rod, wheeling Lindsay around in circles. Some people are in the back seat, but we can't see who they are very well, so we'll just assume they're not important to the plot.
02:47 Drew looks ecstatic, bless him. We bet his possibly-abusive boyfriend is going to turn up any second and ruin everything, mind.
02:55 Told you so.
02:57 Drew shoots him a look of fear. It's very important for music videos to tackle controversial and underrepresented subjects like that of domestic abuse in the gay community, so we'll give Lindsay the thumbs-up for that.
03:02 Drew's now-definitely-abusive boyfriend takes him roughly over the car bonnet. No, not like that, you pervs.
03:05 Lindsay looks sick, and in a brief flash back to the caravan, hurls a lightbulb at a wall. Presumably this was where Drew told her that he'd been visualising Orlando Bloom while they were boffing.
03:10 Drew's abusive boyfriend leaves him beaten in the dirt. He also appears to be a lot older. Poor Drew. All he wanted was a father figure to make up for the role model he'd been missing as a child, if we're going to take an extremely stereotypical view of this.
03:15 More shots of Drew and Lindsay macking in the caravan. Drew's presumably mid-visualisation.
03:20 Over at the racetrack, Lindsay picks Drew up and examines his boo-boo. He looks bereftly after the now-departed abusive (possibly ex-) boyfriend and Lindsay promises to take him out to Popstarz tonight to look for someone else.
03:23 Back in the caravan, Lindsay smashes some crockery, having not been told that any self-respecting female singer throws flowers in her video (cf. Dannii Minogue, Britney Spears).
03:27 Drew turns the light off and retreats to his bedroom, possibly to read some homoerotic short stories.
03:32 A final close-up of a very evocative Lindsay, who has at least proved in this video that she's a much better actress than she is a singer. Possibly a good idea for her to stick to the day job, then.
We're actually at a bit of a loss for words. We were all set to make an entry that completely ripped off Popjustice's "Poor Javine" catchphrase, and make thinly-veiled threats to the British public that they'd rue the day they sent Jordan off to Eurovision and made us the first country ever to get a negative score. But Javine only went and won the thing, didn't she?
It was actually a very encouraging experience (although we are, to be perfectly honest, still sweating and shaking with tension over the whole thing) to hear the studio audience being fully in favour of Javine, to the point where they booed Jordan - sorry, "Katie" - every time she scored higher (notably, she is more popular in Scotland and on the internet - the last one speaks for itself, really, but we'll be asking flum to explain on behalf of his nation later). We really aren't fans of booing here at Panda Pops, and generally consider it wholly unnecessary, but we're more than willing to commit a double standard where that vacuous attention-seeking talent-wasteland Jordan is concerned.
We did feel quite sorry for Gina G, getting the lowest score in every single round. We may even consider coining the phrase "Poor Gina!", if we can be bothered, and if we think we won't be sued for theft of intellectual copyright. As for Andy Scott-Lee and Tricolore, well, the other one proved in Pop Idol that he can never be relied on to give a consistent performance, and we really don't need the latter when we're having a hard enough job trying to get rid of Il Divo and G4 as it is.
Finally, it was extremely heartwarming to hear Javine, after a rousing reprise of 'Touch My Fire' saying "thank you everyone for voting, it really means so much to me." There wasn't a dry eye in our house, but then we are prone to overexcitement. So, for the first time in years, we're sending a decent singer off to Eurovision with a decent song. We're probably still not going to win, mind, but at least we've given ourselves the best possible chance. Bravo, everyone.
A CRIMINAL RECORD
Who says there is no justice in pop? Well, actually, they probably say it quite a lot here, and they've got a point, because despite the fact that acts like Mania, V, Girls Aloud, Rachel Stevens, Annie and Alcazar have released some stunning singles over the past year or so, the record-buying public at large seems to prefer to spend their cash on the latest slice of ruh-n-buh mediocrity by Nelly or Usher.
It saddens us that very few people in the UK - specifically people or institutions of influence, like national radio stations or music journalists - actually use their status to point out how formulaic a lot of the stuff that clogs up the charts really is, preferring to just think "oh well, at least they wrote it themselves and it's got a nice guitar solo". It's even worse when people commit the cardinal sin of releasing really terrible records and escape unpunished.
We were relieved, therefore, to hear this week that Dizzee Rascal had been arrested. "Finally," we thought, "the music police have tracked him down after that truly terrifying 'Happy Talk' sample and the risible rapping of Band Aid 20, have placed a restraining order that prevents him from going within 200 metres of a recording studio, and have asked him to retrospectively repay the Mercury Music Prize money so that it can be used to buy a couple of thousand kids a copy of What Will The Neighbours Say? so that they can realise pop isn't vacuous or uncool."
Imagine our disappointment, then, to find that he'd been arrested after police had found him in possession of pepper spray. Yup, pepper spray.
Remember what we said a few paragraphs up about people who tread a line of mediocrity? It seems appropriate that a serial offender like Dizzee Rascal should, in what we at Panda Pops are going to assume is an attempt at a cool US-gangland-style arrest scandal, do such a mediocre job of it. No drugs, no guns, just a canister of pepper spray. How very dull. This, we suspect, is what happens when you give Joss Stone a Best Urban Act award - no wonder the UK record-buying public would prefer to Buy American. At least they get arrested with style.
Did Joss Stone actually win "Best Urban Act" at the Brits, or is the entire world just playing an elaborate practical joke on us? She shouldn't have even been nominated for that category, let alone win the damn thing.
It's a shame Girls Aloud left empty-handed, but since the Best Pop Act award was voted for by the public, I'd've been extremely surprised if it was won by anyone other than McFly.
CAN'T GET THEM BACK
Well, 2005 hasn't got off to a brilliant start in the bands-staying-together stakes, has it? First Busted (sniff), and now the lovely Mis-Teeq have decided to go their separate ways.
We can't say it came as a huge surprise, to be honest. They didn't really reappear much over here since their record label went bust, and we felt certain that if they were really making inroads in the States, we'd probably have heard more about it.
We shan't cry about it, because that's not our way; we will simply remember the good times. For example:
"Mis-Teeq with the bump and flex!"
"It's the Mis-Teeq ladies - we're coming back strong!"
And never underestimate the value of a self-referential lyric:
"A one night stand just ain't enough..." (from 'Scandalous', not 'One Night Stand' - ha ha!)
Alesha, Sabrina, and (to a lesser extent, because you never did very much) Su Elise, Panda Pops salutes you. God speed in your future endeavours.
IN MEMORIAM: KENICKIE
We were listening to an old mixtape last night (yes, mixtape, how very vintage) and happened upon an old Kenickie song that we rather loved but had forgotten about.
Then we started to think, "poor Kenickie. So underappreciated in their time, so good for more than two albums if they hadn't split."
We ruminated further, "poor Kenickie. Split after apparent infighting and unhappiness in the band."
We continued, "poor Kenickie. Always at the arch, punkier end of pop but forever misunderstood, with people such as that twat Ian McCulloch listing 'Punka' as the worst new single of the week after he completely missed the point of the song."
And then we realised: Kenickie were the Busted of the 1990s.
So, flash forward to the future, what do we see? Presumably Charlie gets his own show on XFM and does some TV presenting, James and Matt form another band and refuse to answer any questions about Busted, before eventually disbanding after finding that their second band isn't working for them either. Possibly.