Posts from 2014

14
Dec 14

FIVE – “Keep On Movin'”

Popular30 comments • 2,957 views

#839, 6th November 1999

FiveMovin Between the smothering devotion of the Irish boyband model, and the slick looks and top-dollar sounds of the American one, a glut of likely British lads struggled for an angle. In general, the Take That vs East 17 rulebook still applied. Groups continued to split between street-smart loverboys (Another Level, Damage, Blue) and wholesome but cheeky (Let Loose, 911, A1). More often than not, bands rose and ebbed with hardly an idea to their name.

»
More

11
Dec 14

WHAM! POW! Polls Aren’t Just For Pop Anymore!

The Brown Wedge1 comment • 267 views

B-but Shako... you weren't eligible... n-no... HELP MEEEEEEE

B-but Shako… you weren’t eligible… n-no… HELP MEEEEEEE

As well as the Freaky Trigger pop poll, masterminded by Kat, I thought I’d try something else – a Freaky Trigger COMICS POLL. This will work in exactly the same way – you list up to 20 comics you’ve enjoyed most in 2014 and send them to me before the end of this year. And by “me” I mean freakytrigger@gmail.com (so Kat doesn’t get a load of comics ballots and I don’t get any pop ones).

That’s basically ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW, so get those votes in. But if you CRAVE details like our chief sponsor SHAKO* craves MEAT then there are more below the cut.

»
More

8
Dec 14

WESTLIFE – “Flying Without Wings”

Popular28 comments • 4,213 views

#838, 30th October 1999

westlife wings If the abundance of Westlife could be narrowed down to a mere one signature hit, “Flying Without Wings” is it. Written by British ballad king Wayne Hector, it’s the one original song of theirs to become a reality pop staple and be picked up by other singers. It’s audibly more effortful than either “Swear It Again” or “If I Let You Go”, and it pushes Shane and Mark – who, yet again, do most of the vocal work – a lot harder than before. Mark especially takes this as an opportunity to go the Full melismatic Monty, turning his lines into chest-thumping note-drenched cascades of passion. (Their raw gospel power slightly undermined by his pronouncing “morning” like Officer Crabtree off Allo Allo).

»
More

7
Dec 14

CHRISTINA AGUILERA – “Genie In A Bottle”

Popular58 comments • 5,050 views

#837, 16th October 1999

aguileragenie When surface-similar acts emerge at the same time, there’s an urge to paint them as rivals – not just personally but aesthetically. A pop moment becomes such when you have points to draw a line between. How much of this is marketing strategy, how much media shorthand, and how much the micropolitics of fandom? It’s hard to say. All we know for sure is that Christina Aguilera’s own strong-willed progression towards a singing career was swiftly and sharply reshaped to fit a story about an emerging generation of new teenpop stars. And in particular, she was compared to Britney Spears: the women’s shared Mouseketeer background making the pairing irresistible.

»
More

5
Dec 14

The Freaky Trigger Readers’ Poll 2014

FT2 comments • 524 views

alanis‘Hi everyone! I’m long-haired Canadian warbler Alanis Morisette, and I’m here to remind you that you “oughta know” that submissions for the Freaky Trigger Readers’ Poll 2014 are now OPEN! I thought I’d been uninvited to last year’s poll but it turns out there wasn’t one! How ironic*. Now all I really want – is to know your favourite songs of 2014!’

Thanks Alanis. The rules are very simple:

Send your top 20 tracks to poptimistspoll2010@gmail.com by 11.59pm GMT on 31st December 2014.

– As with previous years, we will be lenient on release dates. If you think it was released this year, it probably counts. If something on your list is egregiously out of place we’ll let you know and you can choose something else.

– The order of your top 20 is important! Your #1 will be allocated more points than #20.

– If you can’t think of 20 songs then 10 or 14 or 2 is just fine.

Happy voting!

*In the true spirit of Alanis, this term has been used incorrectly.

2
Dec 14

EIFFEL 65 – “Blue (Da Ba Dee)”

Popular60 comments • 4,987 views

#836, 25th September 1999

eiffel65 “Blue” is the crest of the late 90s Europop wave – extravagantly successful not just on the continent but worldwide. Including – most startling of all – the US, where it picked up a Grammy, made the Billboard Top 10, and sent the Eiffel 65 album double platinum. You could draw comparisons with another parochial 90s movement that was big business Stateside for a moment or two: “Blue (Da Ba Dee)” is Europop’s “Wonderwall”.

»
More

28
Nov 14

THE VENGABOYS – “We’re Going To Ibiza!”

Popular39 comments • 4,318 views

#835, 18th September 1999

vengabiza The Vengaboys’ revival of Typically Tropical beats “Barbados” in significant ways just by switching locations. At a stroke the song is no longer two white sessionmen pretending to be a black British guy longing to go back “home” (at a time when the far-right would have been keen for him to do just that). Instead it’s just but a bunch of European partygoers wanting to go party. This doesn’t make “Ibiza” distinctive, let alone good, but at least it redeems the very obvious issues with its original. In Tumblr terms, the song is no longer problematic. It’s just somewhat rubbish.

»
More

26
Nov 14

LOU BEGA – “Mambo No.5 (A Little Bit Of…)”

Popular38 comments • 4,550 views

#834, 4th September 1999

loubega In the 44 Popular years since I last brushed tuxedos with Perez Prado, his reputation among Western listeners has been on an odd, rambling journey. Knocked out of fashion with the rest of the bandleaders when musics that made more efficient use of the studio came along, he languished, his records drifting gently into charity shop and thrift store limbo. There they were embraced by a surprising new audience – the rejectionists and crate-diggers of post-industrial music. Steven Stapleton, of Nurse With Wound, was a vocal appreciator of Prado. Irwin Chusid, curator of outsider music and art, included tracks by him on his compilations of recovered exotica. From there, Prado’s Mambo recordings crossed back into the semi-mainstream, becoming mainstays of the “space age pop” compilations and easy listening club nights that sprung up in the mid-90s. And – inevitably maybe – we end up here: his music sampled, shot full of steroids and then gored by a parping German he-goat.

»
More

25
Nov 14

GERI HALLIWELL – “Mi Chico Latino”

Popular41 comments • 4,266 views

#833, 28th August 1999

gerichico When Geri Halliwell quit the Spice Girls in 1998, pop fans were more than usually curious as to what her next move might be. She had muscled her way to the front of the group, then discarded them, deliberately giving the casual observer the impression that she had been their most important member all along. The obvious comparison point was Robbie Williams, a mercurial presence in a colossally popular band, who – hindsight and Robbie himself sagely agreed – had found his true talents as an entertainer stifled while part of them. On paper, Geri Halliwell could have been the biggest female star Britain had ever produced.

And on paper, in fact, she was – until a couple of weeks ago, when Cheryl overtook her as the British woman with the most solo Number Ones. But Geri’s four come in a burst at a point when the chart was notoriously easily gamed. She has never stopped being famous, but public interest in actually hearing music by her waned very rapidly. And the public are, in this case, no fools. Geri Halliwell’s solo career died away because Geri Halliwell’s solo records are, on the whole, quite bad. It’s the way they’re bad that’s more interesting.

»
More

21
Nov 14

Going Back To My Routes: Hoenn

FT3 comments • 1,045 views

pkmnruby This is part of a series of critical essays on the Pokémon games. This one is about Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, the third “main games” in the series, and unavoidably contains LOTS of spoilers for the remakes of those games released this month.

A BREAKING POINT

Pokémon games are consciously built by developers Game Freak around very high-level themes – single words that are meant to capture the spirit of each game and the region it’s set in. With X and Y the theme was “beauty” – for Black and White it was “cool”. In discussing the imminent remakes of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, and their home region of Hoenn, a spokesman suggested the idea behind the games had always been “abundance”. And you can see their point. Hoenn is a region bursting with life and incident. It offers a lush range of new environments and new ideas, a rethinking of the series’ established use of rivals and villains, and a sudden expansion of the franchise’s gameplay in terms of breadth (a whole parallel career path in the form of Contests) and depth (the introduction of Natures, Abilities and Double Battles). Not everything comes off – in fact the crowding-in of ideas means few of them completely work – but the bright ambition of Ruby and Sapphire is delightful.

»
More