Poptastic Confessions

Poptastic Confessions

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Let's Blow The Whole Thing Up by The Lovely Wars

Dear Poptastic Readers,

As you might remember, last year I interviewed Ani from The Pipettes. And while the group takes a break (or breaks up?), Ani is fronting a new band called The Lovely Wars.

The Lovely Wars are ... Daniel (Drums), Ceri (Keyboards), 
Ani (Lead Vocals), Alice (Lead Guitar) and Bill (Bass Guitar).

Well, for the last half of 2012, the Cardifff band toured Wales. Finally, they are releasing their debut song called "Let's Blow The Whole Thing Up" on January 21. And here is the artwork ...

The song reminds me of The Go-Go's. And funnily enough, their press release even mentions The Go-Go's. The song definitely has a band sound to it, and the band is tight! By that I mean the music is very well done.

It's not a million miles away from The Pipettes. In fact, you can almost imagine The Pipettes singing to it. Ani's vocals are quite playful and the lyrics are clever.

There is a video montage of cartoons and old movies. It's rather well done! However, no video of the band. At least not yet.

Like many artists these days, The Lovely Wars are releasing music on their own label. So I guess this is indie rock. And, as a nice gesture, the single will be offered up free. What a delight. For more information, please see The Lovely Wars Facebook Page.

However, I do hope if a time comes when you can legally buy the song, that you do to help support the artists.

Cheers then!

Monday, January 14, 2013

History of Duran Duran

Hello Poptastic Readers!

For Christmas 2012, my hubby gave me the autobiography of John Taylor from Duran Duran. I’ll admit it was a pretty good read. I started it on the 25th of December and I was done by the 30th. I couldn’t put it down.

Being a lifelong Duranie, I wanted more actual Duran stuff in the book. But it is an autobiography and John basically talks about the highlights of Duran Duran, mainly the early years. It was a great read. I highly recommend it!

And so now a history of Duran Duran.

Duran Duran was started in Birmingham England in the late 70s. It wouldn’t be until 1981 that their first record would be released. Before they band got a record deal, they had a few lineup changes. However, by the time the deal was signed, the group would be …

Duran Duran Version 1.0: John Taylor (Bass Guitar), Roger Taylor (Drums), Nick Rhodes (Synthesizers), Andy Taylor (Guitar) and Simon Le Bon (Vocals)

No, the Taylors were not related. Their self-titled debut album in 1981 would yield the singles “Planet Earth”, “Careless Memories” and “Girls On Film.” Two EPs would be issued … one in Japan called “Nite Romantics” … another in Australia called “Night Versions.”

In 1982, they released their second album, and masterpiece, “Rio.” It contained the singles “My Own Way”, “Hungry Like The Wolf”, “Save A Prayer” and “Rio.” An EP titled “Carnival” would help in promotions. However, it came with different covers and slightly different tracklistings. Duran Duran were getting major rotation on MTV in America, but it wouldn’t be until 1983 that “Hungry Like The Wolf” and “Rio” would hit the US charts.

Also in 1983, they would record a one-off single called “Is There Something I Should Know?” It would debut at #1 in the UK, a rarity for the times. In the US, the song would be added to a re-issue of their first album. Many US fans thought “Rio” was the first album and “Duran Duran” was the second album.

Duran Duran recorded their third album in 1983 called “Seven And The Ragged Tiger.” The first single was “Union Of The Snake.” Two more singles from the album followed in 1984: “New Moon On Monday” and “The Reflex.” The latter gave them their second UK #1 and their first US #1.

Duran Duran spent most of 1984 on tour. And as a result, they released a live album at the end of the year called “Arena.” There would be a new studio track to help promote the album, the single “The Wild Boys” with a crazy insane video would hit #2 on both sides of the Atlantic. A live version of "Save A Prayer" would also be a modest hit in the US, as it wasn't released in the US in 1983.

1985 saw the band take a break. John and Andy started a side group called Power Station. It was a bit more rock and heavier than Duran Duran. Tony Thompson from Chic would be on drums and Robert Palmer would be on vocals. They had three singles to promote their self-titled album: “Some Like It Hot”, “Get It On (Bang A Gong)” and “Communication.”

After the Power Station’s first single, Duran Duran were back promoting their new James Bond single “A View To A Kill.” That gave them their second US #1, and making it the first and only James Bond Theme Song to go to #1.

John and Andy had solo singles. Andy’s song was called “Take It Easy” and was from the movie “American Anthem.” John’s was called “I Do What I Do” and it was the movie theme to 9 ½ Weeks. Both singles would be in 1986.

In 1985, the other three members of Duran Duran formed another group called Arcadia. It would be sort of the opposite of Power Station as it would be more artsy pop. Arcadia’s 1985 album was called “So Red The Rose” which is almost an anagram. The album spawned the singles “Election Day”, “The Promise”, “Goodbye Is Forever” and “The Flame.” The last three would be released in 1986. Roger didn’t partake in the making of the music videos. In September of 1986, Arcadia released a last single called “Say The Word” for the movie “Playing For Keeps.”

Also during 1986, Duran Duran decided to reunite. However, Roger had enough and decided not to return. Andy was not showing up to the songwriting sessions. Instead, Andy was putting together his own band in L.A. that included Missing Persons drummer Terry Bozio. That is when Missing Persons guitarist Warren Cuccurullo called up Duran Duran and told them that Andy wasn’t returning and he would be a perfect replacement. And so Warren got the job. However, he wasn’t a full member of the band just yet. 

Duran Duran Version 2.0: Simon, John and Nick

Duran Duran came back as a trio with their single and album both titled “Notorious.” A bonafide hit! Two more singles from the album followed in 1987: “Skin Trade” and “Meet ‘El Presidente’”.  Both the later singles did poorly in the charts, but Duran Duran continued with a successful world tour called “Strange Behaviour.” I saw them twice and for the first time!

Andy got a solo deal and released the album “Thunder.” It had three singles: “I Might Lie”, “Don’t Let Me Die Young” and “Life Goes On.” All three singles and album flopped.

In the fall of 1988, Duran Duran was back with a new song called “I Don’t Want Your Love.” It was a pretty big hit in the US going to #4. The new album was called “Big Thing” and another single “All She Wants Is” did better in the UK and was a modest hit in the US. The third single “Do You Believe In Shame?” flopped.

By the end of 1989, the band decided to be 5-piece band again. Warren was made a full-time member, as was drummer Sterling Campbell. 

Duran Duran Version 3.0: Warren, John, Nick, Sterling and Simon

Duran Duran’s record label release a greatest hits compilation called “Decade.” The band put together something new to help promote the album. They created a new song called “Burning The Ground” by sampling all of their previous hits.

In August of 1990, the new lineup of Duran Duran would release their album “Liberty.” Two singles were released to support the album: “Violence Of Summer (Love’s Taking Over)” and “Serious.” Both singles and the album flopped. Sterling left the band.

1991 was quiet, as was most of 1992. However, over the Christmas break I was listening to the radio and song came on that I just knew it was Simon singing. At the end of the song, the Radio DJ said it was the new song from Duran Duran called “Ordinary World.” I drove straight to the record store, but they didn’t have it. Not until January of 1993. It ended up being a huge worldwide hit going Top 10 in the US and the UK.

Duran Duran 4.0: Nick, John, Simon and Warren

The album was simply titled Duran Duran, like their debut album. However, the cover of the album was a collage of the weddings of the band members. Because of that, most fans refer to this album as the “The Wedding Album.” Two more singles were released from the album: “Come Undone”, which was another massive hit and “Too Much Information”, which was a moderate hit.

The group spent most of the summer and the rest of the year on tour. I saw them again that year! At the end of 1993, Duran Duran performed on the popular MTV show “Unplugged.” The tour continued throughout 1994.

In the spring of 1995, Duran Duran released an album of cover versions. Most were pretty well done, but their remake of Public Enemy’s “911 Is A Joke” was dreadful. Two singles were released. A cover of Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” with Roger Taylor returning to drum on that song, as well as being in the video. And other single was a cover of “White Lines (Don’t Do It)” by Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel. The band did another tour in the summer of 1995. I saw them for the fourth time that summer!

At the end of 1995, Warren released a solo album called “Thanks 2 Frank.”  John started a side project with a band called Neurotic Outsiders. 

The Power Station reformed during the break. However, John dropped out before the album was completed. The group released one single called “She Can Rock It” for their second album “Living In Fear.”

Nick and Warren worked on a side project called TV Mania, but that never saw the light of day. However, it will be released in 2013! John released a solo album called “Feelings Are Good And Other Lies.”

Towards the end of 1996, the group started working on their next album. But in January of 1997, John Taylor quit the group. 

Duran Duran 5.0: Warren, Nick and Simon

Two months later, Duran Duran down to a trio: Simon, Nick and Warren released the first single “Out Of My Mind” which was featured in the movie “The Saint.” The album “Medazzaland” followed in the fall with the next single called “Electric Barbarella.” It was very much a homage to the early Duran Duran sound. It was a minor hit in the US. The album wasn't released in the UK. The band toured to promote the album.

At the end of 1998, another greatest hits CD was released simply called “Greatest.” A new remix package for “Girls On Film” was commissioned and the Tin Tin Out mixes ruled the clubs and dancefloors. "Electric Barbarella" was released in the UK to promote "Greatest."

In 1999, the band started work on their next album called “Pop Trash.” It came out in the spring of 2000 with the lead single being the dreamy “Someone Else Not Me.” A nice song, but it was not instantly catchy. A second promo for "Playing With Uranium" was issued. The album and single flopped bigger than the Liberty-era back in 1990.

That is when they decided to get back the original lineup. Warren stepped aside so that Andy could return. As well as John and Roger. The new lineup toured for awhile and wrote new music that would finally be released in 2004.

Duran Duran back to 1.0: Roger, Nick, Simon, Andy and John

Before Duran Duran would return, in 2002 Nick got together with Stephen Duffy, who was the lead singer of Duran Duran before Simon and before the group got a record label. They found some old live recordings of the group. So Nick and Stephen decided to re-record them as if they were recorded way back when. They titled the group "The Devils" and called the album "Dark Circles." It is pretty interesting. My favourite is the song "Barbarellas."

The new single from Duran Duran in 2004 was called “(Reach Up For The) Sunrise” and it was a feel-good track. The album was called Astronaut and it was very good. Unfortunately, the second single “What Happens Tomorrow” took all the wind out of the sails in the US, although it was a hit in the UK. The band continued successfully touring. A promo single for the brilliant song “Nice” was released in 2005, but it got no video and no airplay.

While working on the next album, Andy Taylor left the band again. Many, many fans wanted Warren to come back. I certainly did. However, he wasn’t asked. The group continued on as foursome.

Duran Duran 6.0: John, Roger, Nick and Simon

The band returned in the fall of 2007 with a track co-written with Justin Timberlake and an album produced by Timbaland. The single was called “Falling Down” and the album was called “Red Carpet Massacre.” The album did well, but the single was only a minor hit in the UK. A promo for "Skin Divers" never turned into a single.

Another break. The band finally returned in 2010 with an iTunes exclusive album called “All You Need Is Now.” The first single would be titled the same. The single was free download and not chart eligible. In Europe, a three-track EP called "From Mediterranea With Love" was released. The album did really well, and was finally released on CD in the spring of 2011 with extra tracks. Another successful tour because the album was so good. A second single came in 2011 with “Girl Panic!” with a wonderful video.

That brings us current with the group. John Taylor recently said a new album will be out in 2013. We can only hope for great things. One of the quotes from John’s book that I liked so much was something like “Duran Duran have never made the same album twice.” And it is true. As I have enjoyed listening to their back catalogue again. No two albums sound the same. And that it very nice.

Duranies rock!

P.S. A big thanks to the lovely Kelly Wright, Gimme A Wristband, and to wiki Duran Duran! 

Friday, January 11, 2013

"What About Us" by The Saturdays

Happy January!

Today, the new video (see below) from The Saturdays debuted! Hooray! The video is for the song "What About Us." And it is directly aimed at the American market. So if you live in America, head over to iTunes now and download the song.

And if you are into dance remixes, you are in luck! There is a wonderful remix package for this song! Remixers are 2nd Adventure, The Buzz Junkies, Guy Scheiman and Seamus Haji. There are even radio edits of the mixes. I always like that!

The Saturdays have a reality show debuting on E! on January 20. It will be called "Chasing The Saturdays", as will a new EP for America. But I think it will have songs already released in the UK.

In case you didn't know, The Saturdays are from the UK. They've had 13 hit singles and 4 albums. Read more about them here.

You can see The Saturdays on some upcoming US TV shows. Earlier this week, the group was interviewed on Chelsea Lately. Tonight, they will be on Fashion Police on E!

On Monday, January 14, The Saturdays will be on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. I guess I will have to watch. Because I haven't watched since Conan O'Brien was let go. 

On a related note, The Saturdays will also be on the Today Show on Wednesday, January 16. I used to watch the Today Show for 15 years. But last year when they so rudely fired the wonderful Ann Curry, I switched to Good Morning America and I haven't looked back. Ugh, I guess I can watch it for The Saturdays.

Remember, help support The Saturdays making it in the US by legally downloading the song. This is the fist girl group from the UK to come over since the Spice Girls!

Enjoy the video! So far, it is my favourite new song of 2013!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Tidbits about my Top 20 of 2012

Happy New Year!

Here are some interesting (or not-so-interesting) tidbits about my Top 20 songs of 2012.

See last year's Tidbits about 2011

While Sweden and the UK tied for the number of artists (5) in my countdown, Sweden leads as one group had two songs. The Swedish artists are: Annikafiore, Le Kid, Dream Beats, Mi Lajki, Happy Hoes and Eric Saade.

Six UK artists with one song each were on my chart: Bananarama, Gwenno, The Face, The Saturdays, Girls Aloud and Pet Shop Boys.

Denmark had three artists: Whigfield, Infernal and Alphabeat.

And Norway gets an entry with Tone Damli.

The US had one artist with the amazing Madonna. But she also had three songs in my countdown, the most of any artist this year.

Kylie Minogue is the only artist from Australia. But I believe her home base is in London. However, we'll count her as an Aussie.

First-timer Carly Rae Jespen is the only Canadian on my countdown, too. 

The majority of artists were female. Including all of the Top 10 songs being sung by women! The last time that happened on my countdown was 1998.


Bananarama has hit my #1 spot 7 times! Hooray!

1986 #1 with "Venus"
1987 #1 with "I Heard A Rumour"
1991 #1 with "Preacher Man"
2009 #1 with "Love Comes"
2012 #1 with "Now Or Never"

If you missed the countdown, start here at #1. At the bottom of every entry, you can click to the next one. Enjoy!~

P.S. The UK group The Face has already broken up! Dang!