Thursday, February 07, 2008

This blog is dead. Go here for more pointless pop analysis.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

GOOD GOD! Has Darren Hayes been writing his own press releases?

*the particularly worrying bits have been highlighted

Darren Hayes could never be accused of doing anything by convention. In a music industry terrified by ever decreasing sales, where budgets are being slashed and the dumbing down of artistry is commonplace - Hayes has pulled out all the stops and recorded an epic and theatrical double album.He has defiantly said no to the seductive invitation of the majors and is instead gearing up to release his latest album on his very own independent label 'Powdered Sugar'. Darren Hayes is doing things his own way. And he wants everyone to know about it.His upcoming album 'This Delicate Thing We've Made' is an ambitious and cinematic opus. Featuring 25 bold and wildly extravagant pop songs that are already being compared in scope to the work of heroes Kate Bush and David Bowie. And perhaps most fascinatingly, was recorded with a strict commitment to a particular piece of technology as muse and inspiration – a vintage 1983 Fairlight CMI Synthesizer, a clunky synth relic that he scored off EBay. The same model that was at the heart of Kate Bush's pivotal recording 'The Hounds of Love'

It's been 5 years of changes for Australian born and London based Hayes. His independent streak has been ramping up for some years now – but reached the pinnacle last year when he simultaneously announced the parting of ways with Columbia records and his marriage to British boyfriend Richard Cullen in a Civil Partnership ceremony at their home in London.Out. Personally, professionally and creatively. And for the first time in 10 years, in control of his publishing and recording future.Most know the bullet points of Hayes' pop career. They begin with two words: Savage Garden. As the voice and co-songwriter of those two massive Billboard Number One singles 'Truly Madly Deeply' and 'I Knew I Loved You' he enjoyed global sales of over 25 million records. After just two multi platinum hit albums, his band Savage Garden parted ways and Darren decided to do his own thing. This included two solo albums, the first being 2002's poptastic 2 million selling UK and Australian top 5 album 'Spin'. His 2nd solo album, a deep, dark and broodingly electronic confessional 'The Tension and the Spark' featured collaborations with experimental programmers Robert Conley, the renowned Marius De Vries (Rufus Wainwright, Bjork) and mixes by Mark 'Spike' Stent (Madonna, Mirwais, Massive Attack). This record seemed to signal a turning point in Hayes' artistry. It brought forth stunning reviews from the likes of the UK's prestigious NME (describing Hayes as a 'genius').

The irony of releasing the best reviewed album of his career was that in the US it was in the hands of a record company who, in Hayes' words, "Just didn't get it". Rather than lose sleep over it, Hayes decided to focus on what he does best: performance.He spent 2 years touring the U.K, Australia and Asia with variations of a stage show created with long time U2 show designer Willie Williams (U2, Rolling Stones, We Will Rock You). In fact last summer he played to over 30 thousand Brits and triumphantly filmed two sold out and stunningly reviewed shows at Australia's prestigious Sydney Opera House.Building up an arsenal of songs over what Hayes now describes as his 'gap years' he entered London's Mayfair Studios in October 2006 with producer Justin Shave to record his double album 'This Delicate Thing We've Made'. Like his mentors Peter Gabriel and Annie Lennox, Hayes had been driven by his demons as much as his ambitions. The effect of those teenage years of burying the shameful secrets of both his violent upbringing and emerging homosexuality would fuel a sadness and a sense of longing that would continue to inform his songwriting.

Some of the songs on the record would not sound out of place in a musical about Jules Verne or H.G Wells' 'The Time Machine'. But they're just a metaphor says Hayes of his 'Victorian Science Fiction' dress code. "With this record I was fascinated with the idea of Time Travel as storytelling device to address regret and the possibility for change. I kept obsessing over the notion that if I could travel back in time to the source of my sadness as a child, I would not choose to bring back the violence or the tears. Instead I'd drag some joy back". In doing so Hayes has managed to craft an album of complex narratives and personal confessions that simultaneously document his arrival at peace within himself and the question that we could all ask ourselves. What would you change, if you could?"It's not a concept record, but there is definitely the idea that it begins with a loss of consciousness and a giving over to the notion that we are going to go deep into the psyche," he explains. Songs like 'Neverland' are as dark as any Tim Burton fairytale or Del Toro's 'Pan's Labyrinth'. In stark contrast 'Who Would Have Thought' is a gorgeous soaring and moody pop vehicle for tenor Hayes to exclaim "Who would have thought the tiny courageous? Who would have thought that love so belated could save me?" As if to say that all the pain and suffering was worth it in the end. And according to Hayes, it has been.
How did Dreamgirls get 8 Oscar nominations? This was an AWFUL film, people. To paraphrase Elanor: "the whole thing was designed to NOT PISS OFF DIANA ROSS". It was clunky, trite, with kitchen-sink character development, and unable to at any point inspire any emotional reaction. I infinitely preferred the treatment Dreamgirls received in CAMP:

[sorry about the abs scene -- this is obviously not related to my point]

AND, the, ahem, Supreme irony is this: with all the hoolpa in the film about the original, earthy, REAL version of "One Night Only" being corrupted into the poppy, empty, Beyonce version of the song (because she's beautiful), what becomes the official single release? The poppy, empty Beyonce version! Is this some kind of subversive point being made? Perhaps that nothing has changed all these years later? Or are the filmmakers somehow unaware of the actual point they were trying to make? This is a BAD FILM people!

Monday, January 29, 2007

A snippet of the Melbourne Showgirl Homecoming gig I went to... ahhh. And thank god, they seem to have FILMED IT PROPERLY this time, after the disasterous Showgirl Mk 1 recording.

HA HA: Vanstone Coy on Italian Job.

I Have It!!!!

FINALLY I've got my mitts on Season 2 of my beloved Nighty Night. Love the Cornwall makeover, and particularly, Don's midlife crisis with the blonde perm. Also love the receptionist at 'The Trees'. Anyway, half way through. More enjoyment to come...

I love you, Julia Davis, nee Morris.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

There's something so blunt about The Ten Tenors. It's like they're trying to out-gun Il Divo through sheer force of numbers alone. moreover their album, Here's to the Heroes, has such an empty ring to it: 'Here's to the heroes! Doesn't matter which heroes! Any heroes! Our market research people tell us you like masculine Aussie men singing about masculine heroes. Hurrah'. Just a thought.