AMAZEPOP - Issue 01
Interviews, features and general geekery from the world of pop music. Includes interviews with Ed Drewett and The Mend, the results of a major poll to find the best girlband singles of the last 15 years, a look at the careers of Justin Bieber and Britney Spears, and reviews including The Big Reunion, Bastille, Chasing The Saturdays and every big new single. Follow on Twitter @AMAZEPOP and catch the blog at www.amazepop.co.uk.
AMAZEPOP ISSUE 01 MARCH & APRIL 2013 www.amazepop.co.uk with: britney spears the mend girls aloud taylor swift justin bieber the big reunion top girlband hits the risk + more ED DREWETT THE WANTEDâ€™S TOP HITMAKER STEPS INTO THE LIGHT 1 AMAZEPOP Issue 01 Editor & Head Writer SHAUN KITCHENER Contributors CHARLIE CHALKLEY BETH DAVISON KIERAN FIELD DAVINA KESBY www.amazepop.co.uk @AMAZEPOP HOLLER. Welcome to AMAZEPOP. If you’re a pop music geek by nature, you may have noticed (I certainly have) that our magazine market is a little sparse. Of course, there is a very good array of publications aimed at the younger ‘tween’ demographic; but the rest of us are basically left only with a basic cluster of titles targetted at fans of more serious-faced genres. Y’know, like classical. Or indie. The basic reason for this could just be that there aren’t enough older pop fans in existance to make a dedicated ‘mag’ financially viable. It could just be that there are so many amazing blogs out there that nobody is really that bothered that the mag counter is stuck at 0. Whatever the case, AMAZEPOP is going out on a limb. This digital creation you are currently gorping at is designed with the simple aim of being quite good at pop geekery; from revisiting old favourites to analysing what’s happening On The Scene right now. This is basically a pilot attempt. Issue One. An exercise in Just Putting It Out There And Seeing If It Floats. Reader feedback is actively encouraged (look at me, right now, actively encouraging it) and it’d be awesome to know what you think is good and what you think is atrocious about this maiden effort. In this “ish”, we have been lucky enough to meet the very talented tunesmith Ed Drewett and boyband on the rise The Mend. We’ve also found excuses to chat about Britney Spears, Taylor Swift, The Big Reunion and teenage rascal Justin Bieber. We also have the results of a VERY EXCITING poll of modern girlband singles. Take it to the bridge, Shaun Kitchener (Editor & Head Writer) 2 THE LINE-UP MARCH & APRIL 2013 Q&A ED DREWETT Page 6 THE MEND Page 26 ESSAYS THE ENDLESS ALLURE OF BRITNEY SPEARS Page 12 JUSTIN BIEBER: TEENAGE DREAM? Page 30 BIG VOTE THING ULTIMATE GIRLBAND HITS Page 18 REGULARS FIRST VERSE Page 4 MODERN CLASSICS COLLECTION Page 32 MY “UNCOOL” ADDICTION: TAYLOR SWIFT Page 36 POP’S UNSUNG HEROES: LINDSAY B*WITCHED Page 48 RELATIVELY POINTLESS POP QUIZ Page 49 REVIEWS SINGLES Page 38 LIVE: GIRLS ALOUD Page 41 ALBUMS: BASTILLE & DIDO Page 42 TV: THE BIG REUNION, REVENGE & CHASING THE SATURDAYS Page 43 FILM: ARBITRAGE Page 47 3 FIRST VERSE ONE DIRECTION: A HANDY GUIDE TO VARIOUS QUIT RUMOURS According to The Papers, basically everyone is quitting One Direction at some point in the foreseeable future. Well, everyone except Louis Tomlinson. Louis Tomlinson will probably end up being a solo act operating under the name One Direction. Liam Payne: The self-styled Gary Barlow of the group was alleged to be choosing his girlfriend Danielle Peazer over life in the boyband. “I can’t stand being away from Danielle. If it’s between the band and her, I’ll choose her,” he was quoted as saying. Alas, he ‘took to Twitter’ to insist “I ain’t going nowhere” which is actually a double negative and could well have been a confirbut it certainly doesn’t look as if he’s off any time soon. Zayn Malik: When CheatingonPerriegate blew up, Zayn was reportedly giving serious thought to the option of walking out of the band. Alas, he did not walk out of the mation that he’s off on his merry band. way. Except it wasn’t. It was just written badly. Much like this very Harry Styles: As the most famous paragraph, in fact. member, Harry is naturally assumed to be the one most likely to Niall Horan: When Brian McFadpeel off and start a solo career. Ruden said he expected Nial to be mours that he is in “meetings” to the first to throw in the towel, he discuss individual projects are conapparently got death threats from stant, but usually false. Looks like the group’s ever-rational die-hard NME’s Villain Of The Year will be on fans. Whether or not Niall will be their radar for a while yet. the first to go remains to be seen, 10 AMAZING POPSTAR TWEETS: @GERIHALLIWELL 1. So it’s snowing again. I’ve just made fish finger sandwiches 2. I was just taking a shower and I thought to myself -what r we here for ? What’s life all about ? Hmm? 3. If in doubt just say knickers ? 4. I’m just getting waxed, my waxing lady said she is glad to be alone, she doesn’t need a man to be happy.... 5. My dog William just ate a blueberry 6. Is tweeting at a traffic light illegal? ( a red one) 7. The sun is shining, got a parking space , it’s a good day. X 8. Blame everything on spell check , everything, dance floor disasters, career choices , love life , f ing spell check sabotage 9. Morning everyone , pls show our newbies how this place works best, for me I just tweet a load of crap and we all connect xhug 10. Pls stop chatting to me to me I’m off to bed x 4 THE RISK DIDN’T THINK THE TULISA ALBUM WAS AWFUL Tulisa’s solo album may have been much less of a smash hit than all of us were secretly hoping (CONFESS), but her former X Factor mentees The Risk don’t think it was as bad as it was made out to be. Speaking to AMAZEPOP via the medium of e-mail, band member Charlie Healey maintained that the self-proclaimed ‘Female Boss’ is “a legend” and her album has had too much of a hard time. “Tulisa is a legend, it was like having a sister to chat to and get advice from when we were on the show,” he said. “We’ve learned pretty quick that this industry takes no prisoners and you can be flying high one minute and gone the next.” He continued: “I do feel like she’s been hard done by cos we love the album, in particular a track called ‘Visa’ she has on there with Wiley – such a tune. And knowing T she wont let any of the press remarks faze her and will come out stronger on the other side.” everyone! Charlie Healey defends former X Factor mentor “The thing about Little Mix, Misha, Amelia and Marcus is that they are all so different in their styles of music. We couldn’t be happier for them and hope to eventually join them in He also spoke in favour of his fel- the success they’re having. low X Factor 2011 stars Misha B, Amelia Lily, Marcus Collins and Lit- “Having been closest to Marcus and tle Mix, saying: “It’s incredible how wanting some tickets to Hairspray well everyone is doing, there was he’d have to be favourite.” so much talent on our year that you knew people were going to do Read The Risk’s full interview at well; just didn’t know if the indus- www.amazepop.co.uk try would have enough room for Little Mix were gutted with the chart position of their third single ‘DNA’. The amazing track, released against One Direction and Bruno Mars in November 2012, only peaked at, uh... No3. wall said: “We were kind of disappointed because it sold really well... We were really happy with the sales but a little bit disheartened just because we worked so hard on that song.” LITTLE MIX: WE WERE D-D-D- DISSATISFIED WITH CHART POSITION Speaking to Digital Spy, Jade Thirl- Oh, THE SHAME of a No3. 5 6 HIGHER EDUCATION Heâ€™s written for Olly Murs and The Wanted, collaborated with Professor Green and been recording his own album for about four years. Now, ED DREWETT is finally ready for launch as an artist in his own right. 7 As a songwriter he’s had Number One hits, earned multi-platinum certifications, broken the US and even been covered on Glee. But now Ed Drewett is finally stepping out from behind the notepad and properly launching his own artist career. AMAZEPOP’s Shaun Kitchener sat down with the 24-year-old mastermind to discuss label politics, the revival of live instruments and watching from a house in Bishop’s Stortford as a song he wrote went 3x Platinum in North America. Well, we should probably talk about the new single… how’s the reaction been to ‘Drunk Dial’ so far? Being honest, it’s been very positive. Then you get people who don’t get it. I think a lot of people from different countries haven’t heard that kind of 2-step beat, and they’re like “WHAT IS THIS SHIT?”. But, hey.. I’m just fucking enjoying it, to be honest. Whatever criticism, I’m like ‘cool, great, bring it’ because I’m going into it at a hundred miles an hour. I guess it must be better to get an impassioned response than like “meeeeh”… Yeah. Someone even said I was bald! I’m definitely not bald! But it’s been good. I know now to just fucking accept what anyone’s gonna say. It feels like this single release has been a long time coming. What made you think ‘Drunk Dial’ was The Song? This was the song for me two years ago when it was first written. But, being involved with major record labels, you don’t always get your way. And releasing anything was a ball-ache. I came out of the last label – I got dropped from Virgin, I got dropped from Polydor – I just thought, fuck it. The songwriting has, thankfully, been able to fund everything I’m doing now. I’m doing this on my own. I am. Literally paying every penny on my own. So that’s it. And now I can choose what singles. I guess on your own you don’t have pressure from labels to sell a certain amount… That would be fine if they actually put something out! I only unfortunately have negative experiences from record labels. Just changing teams all the time, going in and out… and all the tine, I’m just trying to get an album written and out, but it doesn’t work like that. So I spent two and a half years at Virgin, ten months at Polydor… I’m 8 it on my own’. Speaking of the songwriting, has it been weird to watch The Wanted become huge with songs you wrote? ‘All Time Low’ made them big in the UK, ‘Glad You Came’ in the US… ‘All Time Low’ was written for myself. I had that chorus melody for about ten months before I fully wrote it. Then after that was a success, me, Steve and Wayne were asked to go back in and write another song. We then wrote ‘Lightning’ and ‘Glad You Came’ came after. But that was rushed out, like ‘this is the one’! But I love seeing their success. I love being a part of it, writing those songs. I don’t get jealous at all, I’m just genuinely happy. Wicked. I’m happy enough writing for other people and seeing it do well. ‘Glad You Came’ exploded in America… that must have been weird. That was fucking odd. I can’t remember where it started… I think it went in at about 50-odd. Even for the American charts, that’s great because it takes so much longer to climb up. So we watched it and then I flew out to LA to do some songwriting with my best friend out there. And it was my birthday do you think that’s becoming at the time. April 1. We had a big more of a thing? party, and by the morning it had I think so. The thing is, sometimes gone to No1 in the radio charts. I you need the major record labels. was like, ‘I will have a beer’. I had You need their a beer for breakmoney! Like I said, “I’ve had let-down before... fast. It was crazy, I’m in a very lucky the least I can do is fall by but sometimes position to, from you feel quite demy own sword” the songwriting, tached from it; be able to fund this song that’s exploded in Amerthis myself. But, I mean, people ica and I’m sitting in my house in need major record labels to fund Bishop’s Stortford just refreshing it. It’s just now that I can go ‘I’ll do now kind of in quite a blasé place where I’m like ‘if this works, great; if it doesn’t work, fine’. I’ve had disappointment and let-down before. The least I can do is fall by own sword, do you know what I mean? If it goes wrong, I fucking tried. I’m not gonna lie, so far we’ve got a lot further than we did before! So yeah, I’m taking it as it comes. A lot of upcoming acts seem to be putting stuff out on their own… 9 my computer finding where it’s going up. News travels and you find out it’s doing fucking amazing. I think ‘All Time Low’ is their next single out there. It’ll be interesting. I’m not expecting it to do the same. I know how unpredictable the US charts are. Has all the writing helped you with your own recording career? I know you said financially it has, but otherwise…? I don’t know… it doesn’t really help my artist career as such, directly. What it does help, my songwriting career, when people want their artists to have good songs, so yeah. I’m now fortunate enough to be able to write with a lot of people who, before I had a hit, I wouldn’t have been able to write with. So it’s great. But I guess, for being an art- fun girls. What I loved as well was, ist, the one thing it does do is keep I think they got dropped didn’t me in the eye of the industry. Had they? And I love that they carried I not written ‘All Time Low’, when on. And it was something I didn’t I got dropped by Virgin, I probably have to do, carry on writing with would have been gone forever. It them, but I love that. I love when was only down to ‘All Time Low’ someone shows great determinathat people still gave a fuck who I tion. They stuck together through was. And perfect being dropped and timing, my God… “My songs don’t really fit were still giving I’m not religious, into any one genre. Just it a go. I was like but yeah… yeah… love those ‘good’.” girls. A shame Am I right in though. thinking you worked a bit with Parade? In terms of your album, I guess Yeah! I love the Parade girls. you’ve been working on it for a They’re not together anymore! while… Four years! I know, it’s very sad. I love the girls all individually; Is it ready? they’re just lovely, down to earth, In terms of the songs, it’s done. I know what songs are on my album. But, saying that, I’m still writing for it. I’m not stressing, but whenever I’ve got time I get with a mate and write a song. It’s pretty much songs from day one, to current day. There’s a lot of work in there. What’s the plan? Taking each step as it comes, or another single then the album…? It’s kind of both… I’m taking everything day by day. If ‘Drunk Dial’ doesn’t explode I’m gonna re- 10 lease something else. It’s simple as that. By the end of the year, if I’ve worked my balls off and nothing’s happened and it looks like it’s dying out, I’m gonna fuck off to America. Musically, how’s it looking? Is ‘Drunk Dial’ a good indication? ‘Drunk Dial’ is one of the more uptempo tunes. Although saying that, stripped back and played on guitar, it’s still a Real Song. I’d say the others are more epic, organic, Coldplay-esque, Sting-esque, Robbie-esqie, Elton-esque, esque esque esque… just proper big songs, you know? Lyrical, melodic… just making proper good songs that don’t really fit into any one genre. Just ‘good’. And finally, what do you think makes a good pop song in 2013? I would love to see us go back to the song more. It’s starting to happen with Sheeran, Adele… I say “real music”, I know I piss a lot of people off by saying that… music that you can tell has been taken a little time over. I think it has started to come back. That’s why I still think there’s room for me. It’s gonna be exciting, if nothing else. ‘Drunk Dial’ is out on March 10 and is reviewed on page 38. @ShaunKitchener 11 Slated as a talent show judge, called out for lip-synched performances, criticised for lack of ‘artistic involvement’, more personal life drama than most of her peers combined... And still one of the biggest pop icons on the planet. It’s the curious case of BRITNEY SPEARS 12 13 It was fourteen years ago this year that Britney Spears impacted the UK singles charts for the first time. Breakout hit ‘...Baby One More Time’ flogged a cool 463,722 copies in its opening week and 1.4 million by the end of the year. And it wasn’t just on our shores that it blew up - it hit the top spot in every single country that received it; raking in a fairly enormous 10 million sales worldwide and establishing her as an immediately successful teen queen in very little danger of becoming a one-hit-wonder. It obviously goes without saying that a lot has changed in the pop universe since 1999. Trailing ‘... Baby’ in the Chart Of The Year were Christina Aguilera’s ‘Genie In A Bottle’ (No12), Martine McCutcheon’s ‘Perfect Moment’ (No14) and Ann Lee’s ‘2 Times’ (No20) - three huge songs by acts who have had varying degrees of success since. Aguilera is still considered one of the world’s biggest artists, but nowadays more out of politeness than anything else (her last album Lotus unfairly entered and peaked at No28 in the UK with less than 10,000 sales); McCutcheon crops up in the public eye every now and again for the odd project, and Lee... well, I don’t actually know what’s become of her. What about Britney? Her harshest critics have argued that her sales have been sliding, that she’s no longer the bubbly personality she once was and that she’s nothing more than a product of esteemed songwriters and producers. Whilst working for a leading entertainment news site I even recently had to edit an article that referred to her as “former superstar Britney”. But when even your lowest-selling album has sold more than 2 million units worldwide, it seems ridiculous to pick holes. Yes, her song- writing involvement does seem to have dwindled, if you want to play that card (she didn’t trouble her own note-pad at all on 2011’s Femme Fatale) - but A. she’s proven herself as a co-writer in the past (she contributed to nine tunes on 2003’s In The Zone, for example), and B. she, like all good performers, knows where her strengths and weaknesses are. Unlike many other modern popstars, she won’t pinch a co-writing credit for something she had nothing to do with, as songwriter Heather Bright explained in 2011. “Britney’s one of the few artists I’ve worked with who didn’t try to take something that wasn’t hers,” she said. “In my experience, from a business standpoint, her entire team is nothing less than a bonafide class act... She treats her writers and producers with respect and dignity. An artist is nothing without a hit song… and a hit song is nothing without the right artist.” 14 concerned (you can blame the On Besides, whatever criticism you hurl Air/On Sale tactic for the underperat her, she remains one of the most formance of ‘Till The World Ends’, talked-about and sought-after arguably one of her best releases entertainers on the planet. Why? to date), but across the Atlantic and From a media viewpoint, you could on VEVO the album proved that the argue that her eternal prominence Spears machine has rarely been in in gossip rags has helped keep her finer form. ‘I Wanna Go’, for examat the forefront of the spotlight at ple, was a huge summer smash on all times. She’s been providing ce- Billboard in 2011 and currently has lebrity journalists with spades of almost 128 million views online. So ammunition ever since she first what if the LP itself sold sllightly stepped out with Justin Timberlake; less than 2008’s Circus? Aren’t allet alone when she bounced back bum sales falling in general? And from darkness in the late-00s. Even wouldn’t most artists give their at the turn of 2013 left arm to be able “Britney maintains a she was still rakto say “dangit, my sense of fascination ing in the column eighth album may around herself as a inches, thanks to have gone to No1, her long-rumoured but - curses! - it human being” split from fiance didn’t quite sell 3 Jason Trawick and similarly expect- million copies”? ed exit from The X Factor USA after just one season. I also think there’s a lot to be said about any kind of celebrity who That said, a successful pop career seems ‘untouchable’. In the age needs more than just a highly-pub- where everyone’s on Twitter and licised personal life to sustain itself, anyone can rise to fame by way of as Lindsay Lohan’s short-lived for- a reality TV show, stars like Britney, ay into music will clearly tell you. Beyonce and Jennifer Aniston are And, with or without the tenuous becoming rarer and rarer - those headlines, Britney is still a hugely who earn themselves legions of fans bankable singles act with a perpet- through their professional work ual queue of producers lining up to but maintain a sense of fascination create hits for her. Femme Fatale around themsleves as human bemay only have spawned one Top 10 ings. Even though we regularly read smash as far as the UK charts are about their personal lives in the IT’S BRITSTORY, BITCH ...Baby One More Time: “[She sounds] like the Backstreet Boys’ kid sister” (Entertainment Weekly) Oops!... I Did It Again: “To realise the evil genius is frightening... You know you love it” (NME) Britney: “...deftly explores the fallout and empowerment of growing up under a public microscope” (Billboard) In The Zone: “A supremely confident dance record that also illustrates Spears’s development as a songwriter” (Vibe) Blackout: “A seamlessly entertaining collection of bright, brash electropop” (Blender) Circus: “Britney back on track is substantially less interesting than Britney going off the rails” (The Guardian) Femme Fatale: “[A] masterful mixture of über-cool dubstep and sugary pop” (The Daily Telegraph) 15 press, so little of it actually comes from their actual mouths; and they rarely dignify any rumour or fabricated scandal with a response unless absolutely necessary. And even though Britney is both A. on Twitter and B. no stranger to reality TV (thanks to X Factor and Chaotic - remember Chaotic?!)), there’s still something of a necessary enigma about her; an enigma that just isn’t there with famous faces like, say, Kim Kardashian, Azealia Banks or even Miley Cyrus. It all adds up, doesn’t it? Britney always has been, and quite possibly always be, a genius at balancing all the ingredients required to be at the top of the pop food chain. As a ‘star’, someone who has a certain level of performance talent combined with oodles and oodles of that increasingly hard-to-define “X Factor”, she’s in more-or-less the best position possible. Across her decade and a half in the public eye we’ve seen her rise, fall and rise again; and now we know just enough to root for her without her being excessively exposed. But most importantly of all, she’s still got an eye for a killer pop hook. Critics may have absolutely slated her will.i.am collab ‘Scream And Shout’, but considering it gave her her first UK No1 in nine years, bad reviews are prob- 16 ably a small price to pay. I asked a number of Britney fans, some of whom have tens of thousands of followers on their dedicated Twitter accounts, what it is about their idol that’s kept her endeared to the world’s public for a decade and a half. “Her music abandons current trends in favour of something much fresher” @14michael15 told me: “I think the reason why Britney has been around for so long is because she makes amazing music and she’s a very down to Earth girl. Also she’s a brilliant entertainer - when you watch her on stage you can just see the sparkle in her eyes and can tell At the end of the day, I - like milshe really loves what she does. And lions of others - am fascinated she truly cares about her fans.” to hear what she is concocting and excited to hear what new Later this year, Spears will bring Spearsisms she will create. What out her eighth studio album. All will be the next “OWWWW”? The we know at the moment is that, next “hayzay”? The next “It’s Britby the looks of the producers that ney, bitch”? In terms of evaluating have come forward to say they’re how strong Britney’s star power is on board, it’ll be a mix of classic in 2013, that kind of anticipation Britpop (not the Oasis kind, obvs) speaks for itself. and Blackout-style hip-hop-in@ShaunKitchener spired electro. In short, there’s a good chance it will do what Britney’s music has always done, and abandon the current ‘hot right now’ trends in favour of something much fresher. Didn’t ‘Hold It Against Me’ cross dubstep with dance-pop before so many others followed suit? Yes, yes it did. And now I have a feeling she’s about to blaze a new trail. She may not write a word of the lyrics, but there’s more to modern pop artistry than putting words to music. And you don’t survive 14 years in the business without some form of hands-on knowledge of your craft. 17 ) G N I H T E T (BIG VO OF THE LAST 15 YEARS ULTIMATE GIRLBAND HITS 18 SEVERAL WEEKS AGO, AMAZEPOP SELECTED 50 OF THE BEST SINGLES RELEASED BY ALL-FEMALE GROUPS OVER THE LAST 15 YEARS. THE RULES FOR ELIGIBILITY WERE SIMPLE: 1. THAT THE SONGS HAD TO HAVE ENTERED THE UK TOP 100, AND 2. THAT THEY WERE FULLY RELEASED AS OFFICIAL SINGLES NO EARLIER THAN 1 JANUARY 1998 (WHICH IS WHY MANY CLASSIC SPICE GIRLS/ALL SAINTS/ ETERNAL SONGS ARE ABSENT). ADMTTEDLY WE DID MISS A FEW CORKERS, BUT IT’S still A BLINDER OF A SET. WHEN IT CAME TO PUTTING THE TRACKS INTO AN EXACT ORDER OF BRILLIANCE, THE READERS OF AMAZEPOP.CO.UK WERE TASKED WITH SELECTING THEIR FAVOURITES. 7,000 VOTES WERE CAST, AND THE RESULTS ARE AS FOLLOWS... 19 BIG VOTE THING ULTIMATE GIRLBAND HITS 50 ’gold digger‘ dolly rockers The Dolly Rockers could have been a pop force to be reckoned with if only ‘Gold Digger’ had taken off. Biting lyrics and an attitude-ridden performance made it an under-appreciated gem. went down a storm on the club circuit with hits including this classic. 46 ’one night stand‘ mis-teeq With Alesha Dixon’s legendary rapping on top form, ‘One Night Stand’ provided Mis-Teeq with their third Top 10 hit when it was 42 ’don’t worry‘ appleton unleashed way back in 2001. When All Saints parted ways in the early 00s, sisters Nicole and Natalie 45 ’cleopatra‘s theme‘ Appleton - reportedly upset that cleopatra they weren’t given more to sing The cute Higgins sisters were whilst in the quartet - launched comin’ atcha way back in 1998 their own career as a duo. ‘Don’t with this endearingly youthful Worry’ was their most memoradebut. Sadly the lyrics, focussed ble single, thanks in part to its use largely on being around forever, on a TV ad for a leading chocolate didn’t quite come true. brand. 49 ’say it again‘ preCious Before Jenny Frost joined Atomic Kitten, she was one fifth of shortlived Eurovision group Precious. ‘Say It Again’ is brilliantly 90s; complete with an earnestly cheesy chorus and bouncy bubblegum production. It was such a shame that edgy Xenomania churned out a string four-piece The 411 didn’t go the of fantastic tracks for Frankie and distance. With chilled-out pop/ur48 ’i quit‘ hepburn Britt of Mini Viva, but sadly this ban production, their biggest hit Use on the Buffy The Vampire was the only one that even en- ‘Dumb’ showed them at their suSlayer soundtrack helped instru- tered the Top 40, let alone the per-cool best. ment-playing pop-rockers Hep- Top 10. A superb track, though. burn storm the Top 10 in the late 40 ’louder‘ parade 90s. Sadly, after two more singles 43 ’finally found‘ and a quick line-up change, they Poor handling from their record lawere already gone. honeyz bel and a below-par roster of songs Long before The Big Reunion spelled doom for Parade when 47 ’boogie 2nite‘ booty opened our eyes to the extent of they launched in 2010, despite the behind-the-scenes melodra- being lovely and beyond talented luv ma, The Honeyz were a breath individuals. But ‘Louder’, their first The Big Brovaz weren’t exactly big of fresh air when their R’n’B bal- single, was an infectious debut or enduring enough to instill con- ladry caught the attention of that eased them into the Top 10. fidence in any post-split projects the record-buying public. ‘Finalinvolving any of its members, but ly Found’ is arguably their best. 39 ’black heart‘ stooshe Booty Luv - comprised of Cherise Roberts and Nadia Shepherd - 44 ’left my heart in tokyo‘ mini viva 41 ’dumb‘ the 411 20 ULTIMATE GIRLBAND HITS The best-selling girlband single of 2012 in the UK (outselling Little Mix, The Saturdays and Girls Aloud), ‘Black Heart’s slick execution and strong vocal performances enabled Stooshe to overcome their previous bad-girl schtick and endear themselves to record buyers. BIG VOTE THING 36 ’too lost in you‘ sugababes Lifted from the Love, Actually OST, ‘Too Lost In You’ was a great festive ballad when released in the mid-00s. In fact, it’s probably the ever-changing trio’s best down-tempo effort. 38 ’keep your head up‘ girls can’t catch 35 ’scandalous‘ mis-teeq ‘Scandalous’ is, without doubt, the Despite being launched hot on the track for which Mis-Teeq are best you show me yours!” 15 years latheels of The Saturdays by on-point known. It was even released in the er, ‘C’est La Vie’ is so ridiculous that pop label Fascination, Girls Can’t US following its success on home the only word for it is ‘classic’. Catch couldn’t quite break through turf, and still sounds radio-ready in to the masses and sadly peetered 2013. 31 ’about you now‘ out after a couple of pretty good sugababes singles. ‘Keep Your Head Up’ is 34 ’overload‘ sugababes probably the better of the two. Sugababes 3.0 (Mutya out, Amelle Commercially, the ‘Babes first in) got to work with Dr Luke in album was a disaster; but, criti- 2007, and with fantastic results. cally speaking, it was a storming ‘About You Now’ is worlds away success, and a million miles away from the b(r)and’s R’n’B beginfrom the likes of 2009’s woeful nings, but is easily one of their best ‘Get Sexy’. Should this track tech- singles. nically be credited to Mutya Keisha Siobhan now? 30 ’JAI HO! (YOU ARE MY 37 ’blame it on the weatherman‘ b*witched ‘C’est La Vie’ will always be the track for which the immensely likeable B*Witched are best known, but many seasoned pop fans will tell you that this, the fourth No1 single from their eponymous debut album, is their strongest track. For a quick laugh, though, watch an old performance of it on YouTube and check out the comically dated dance moves. 33 ’the tide is high‘ atomic kitten Likeable as it was, most of the Atomic Kitten back catalogue is made up of down-tempo almost-ballads; but ‘The Tide Is High (Get The Feeling)’ went straight to No1 when it was released as a rare upbeat offering. DESTINY)‘ A.R. RAHMAN, PUSSYCAT DOLLS, NICOLE SCHERZINGER The drama over Scherzy’s individual credit may have torn the Dolls apart, but this track from Slumdog Millionaire still packs a brilliant punch. 32 ’c‘est la vie‘ b*witched 29 ’ROUND ROUND‘ SUGABABES Sugababes 2.0 continued to ride Double denim! An absurdly bright their second wind with this irremusic video! “I’ll show you mine if sistable Xenomania co-write. Bri- 21 BIG VOTE THING ULTIMATE GIRLBAND HITS an Higgins has since said that he legendary lyrics. “I BOUGHT IT.” knew the track was a hit when it was just a drum beat with nothing else on top of it, and he certainly 25 ’DNA‘ LITTLE MIX wasn’t wrong. He rarely is. The initial reception to Little Mix’s second proper single when it premiered last November was warm, 28 ’WHEN I GROW UP‘ but not particularly enthusiastic. PUSSYCAT DOLLS Sure enough, its noir-ish tendanThe trailer single from the Dolls’ cies soon earned it the mass acsecond and final album was an claim it deserved. electric, energetic Darkchild creation that was described by The Times as “batty and brilliant”. Exactly, The Times. Exactly. all time, TLC’s earnest R’n’B ballad about a woman’s self-image was particularly affecting, and secured them a Billboard No1 in 1999. 22 ’DON’T CHA‘ PUSSYCAT DOLLS Nicole Scherzinger and her army of Dolls, including a then-faceless Kimberly Wyatt and Ashley Roberts, stormed onto the scene in 2005 with this impossibly confident R’n’B/hip-hop/pop crossover. 27 ’PUSH THE BUTTON‘ SUGABABES The highest-placed Sugababes single on this Top 50 (No27? REALLY?) is this perfectly-formed pop gem, 24 ’BOOTYLICIOUS‘ helmed by Dallas Austin. It was the girls’ last chart-topper before Mut- DESTINY’S CHILD ya left and Amelle was recruited. Kelly, Michelle and Beyonce (none of whom can handle this) sailed to No1 in the US and No2 in the UK 26 ’INDEPENDENT WOMEN when they released this now legPART 1‘ DESTINY’S CHILD endary anthem in 2001. This excellent R’n’B anthem was unleashed in 2000 to accompany 23 ’UNPRETTY‘ TLC the first Charlie’s Angels film, and features some of the girls’ most As one of the coolest girlbands of 21 ’ALL THE THINGS SHE SAID‘ TATU Controversial and odd as tATu may have been as a brand, they were still able to secure a mammoth hit with this single, simply because it’s absolutely freakin’ brilliant. 20 ’WHOLE AGAIN‘ ATOMIC KITTEN The fourth best-selling girlband single in UK chart history, ‘Whole Again’ was an unprecedented smash hit for the newly-revamped Kittens at the turn of the century. Simple, sweet and hugely likeable, As a massive Cheryl fanboy I could easily list EVERY Girls Aloud track ever but I’ll go with ‘Biology’! what the experts reckon A cluster of bona-fide pop geeks give their personal Top 5s JAMES BARR Capital FM DJ 01 ’STOP‘ SPICE GIRLS It’s maybe not the best Spice Girls song but if I can only go back 15 years then this is the oldest eligible track before Geri Halliwell left and it all went wrong… You can’t have a girl band top 50 and not include The Spice Girls! (‘Who Do You Think You Are’ is my actual favourite if you’re asking). 03 ’JUMP DOWN‘ B*WITCHED Not an obvious B*Witched choice, agreed… but it’s AWESOME. It features 90s record scratches, a key change, and they finally ditched the denim, getting all sexy in the video!!! WIN!!! 04 ’no scrubs‘ tlc Every girl band I’ve interviewed will, depending on their cool points, always say 22 02 ’BIOLOGY‘ GIRLS ALOUD ULTIMATE GIRLBAND HITS it gave their career a desperately-needed boost. BIG VOTE THING 19 ’PURE SHORES‘ ALL SAINTS All Saints’ most famous single ‘Never Ever’ is too old to be eligible for this poll, but ‘Pure Shores’ is arguably even better. Released in aid of Leonardo DiCaprio flick The Beach, its brilliant William Orbit production enabled it to flog nearly three-quarters of a million copies and become the 27th best-selling single of the decade. masterpiece that remains one of their most memorable hits. 18 ’LOVE MACHINE‘ GIRLS ALOUD It’s no secret that Girls Aloud hated this song when they were first offered it, but if you look up the original demo on YouTube it’s easy to see why. Luckily, the finished cut was a sassy, Arctic Monkey-baiting The Sats got off to a strong start with ‘If This Is Love’, but it was ‘Up’ that really marked their arrival. With great lead vocals from Una 17 ’SAY MY NAME‘ and Vanessa, its blippy electronic DESTINY’S CHILD instrumentation enabled them to Michelle Williams made her debut really set themselves apart from for Destiny’s Child in the video to Girls Aloud; who, at the time, were this acclaimed Darkchild-produced going down a more retro route track, which won the trio a couple with ‘The Promise’. of Grammy Awards in 2001. 14 ’EGO‘ THE SATURDAYS 16 ’HOLLER‘ SPICE GIRLS The girls’ second album WordshakYet another Darkchild creation, er is rarely considered one of their the Spice Girls’ second non-Geri finest moments, despite a couple single sent them in an unexpect- of corkers. Still, this is a fondly reedly R’n’B-flavoured direction. It’s membered single, thanks in part to never really counted among their the brilliant line “you need to have best tracks, but there really is a lot a sit-down with your ego”. to be said for it. 15 ’UP‘ THE SATURDAYS 13 ’NO GOOD ADVICE‘ GIRLS ALOUD A few months after the dust had one of two things… “We want to be the next Spice Girls” or “We want to be the next TLC”. These girls are #Fierce. Attitude, swag… and that’s just Lisa Left Eye Lopez! jessica a&r consultant, blogger, AUTHOR OF ’HOW TO MAKE IT IN POP‘ 01 ’no good advice‘ girls aloud The song that convinced me to love Girls Aloud, and I never looked back! Nicola’s bit is the best. cleopatra Amazing vocals and great energy, Cleopatra were pure pop fun and this song never gets old for me. “C-L-E-O-P-A-T-RAAAAAA!” - a classic middle eight. 05 ’wings‘ little mix This is such a powerful song for such little muffins, and they totally own it! LeighAnne, Jade, Jesy & Perrie are literally the cutest thing I’ve ever seen and I wouldn’t be surprised if this song smashes past veterans like the Spice Girls, All Saints or even Girls Aloud. 03 ’indepedent women‘ destiny’s child A proper pop song from Destiny’s Child, at the height of their career. I started every question with “Question!” for weeks, which really annoyed my mum. 02 ’cleopatra‘s theme‘ 04 ’ABOUT YOU NOW‘ 23 BIG VOTE THING ULTIMATE GIRLBAND HITS settled on ‘Sound Of The Underground’, Girls Aloud and Xenomania proved they were a safe bet for long term success with this critically hailed follow-up, which won the PopJustice Twenty Quid Music Prize in 2003. thought put into them. Apparently ‘Oooh’ was hastily assembled for GA’s first Greatest Hits collection at the last minute, after ‘Dog Without A Bone’ (later released as the ‘Sexy! No No No’ b-side) was shelved. for example, may not have existed were it not for Left-Eye, Chilli and T-Boz; and this is easily their most well-known hit. 12 ’HIGHER‘ THE SATURDAYS Not even a guest appearance from Flo Rida could spoil ‘Higher’, one of the band’s strongest singles to date. A long promotional campaign meant it barely scraped into the Top 10, but perhaps if it was released as the lead single from the Headlines EP it may have given them an elusive No1. 10 ’wings‘ little mix By 2012 The X Factor desperately needed an act to prove that coming first actually meant something. And so along came Little Mix with this spectacular chart-topper; a song that was basically like a 13-year-old Beyonce on a humongous sugar high. 07 ’biology‘ girls aloud The main chorus doesn’t arrive until two minutes in, for crying out loud! ‘Biology’ is a superbly-crafted pop song, spitting out conventional verse-chorus structure and just mashing different random motifs together. 09 ’survivor‘ destiny’s child After some unfortunate line-up changes, ‘Survivor’ was apparently written to “write [the band] out of all that negativity”. An era-definining empowerment anthem, it gave the girls their second consecutive UK No1. 06 ’call the shots‘ girls aloud Hailed as simply one of the best pop songs of the century, ‘Call The Shots’ gave Girls Aloud their fourth Twenty Quid Music Prize win. 11 ’SOMETHING KINDA OOOH‘ GIRLS ALOUD 08 ’no scrubs‘ tlc Like ‘Wannabe’, some of the best This Grammy Award-winning tune moments in pop happen either by set the benchmark for future ‘cool’ It was a matter of time before accident or without too much epic girl-groups. Mis-Teeq and StooShe, Xenomania wrapped their hands 05 ’all fired up‘ the saturdays SUGABABES Sugababes had come a long way from their original sound at this point, but they re-established themselves as a pop act of international standard with this Dr Luke track. along ballad with ‘Blame It on the Weatherman’. them at their most singularly perfect. Plus, it’s basically ten songs in one. LAURENCE GREEN JOURNALIST, NOTED CHERYL COLE ENTHUSIAST It’s tough to single out one Girls Aloud track in particular, but ‘Biology’ feels like 02 ’PURE SHORES‘ ALL SAINTS William Orbit’s production on this is almost Godly in its excellence. A blissed out anthem dripping with nostalgia. 05 ’BLAME IT ON THE WEATHERMAN‘ B*WITCHED B*Witched went from novelty pop on 01 ’BIOLOGY‘ GIRLS ALOUD ‘C’est La Vie’ to a proper anthemic, belt- 03 ’FREAK LIKE ME‘ SUGABABES In my opinion, they never bettered this. A bracing, electric slice of genre-mashing brilliance- and let’s not forget that chorus. 24 ULTIMATE GIRLBAND HITS around The Saturdays, and sure enough ‘All Fired Up’ gave them the best first-week sales of their career to date. BIG VOTE THING 04 ’sound of the underground‘ girls aloud The track that shot TV rivals One True Voice into oblivion, the slightly D&B-oriented nature of ‘SOTU’ made everyone sit up and take notice of the girlband off a cheesy, lacklustre reality show. 03 ’goodbye‘ spice girls Even without Geri, the Spice Girls still managed to bag themselves their third Christmas No1 with this sweeping ballad. The B-side, lest we forget, was a brilliant cover of ‘Christmas Wrapping’. 01 ’STOP‘ SPICE GIRLS their most popular tunes. Its dance routine is fondly remembered, its Melanie C ad-libs are still great fun to sing along to, and Victoria Beckham’s Apprentice boardroom-style outfit in the video is a thing to behold. But, as their last single before Geri walked out, it’s also notable as the closing book-end on the girls’ real golden era. 02 ’the promise‘ girls aloud Bolstered by Cheryl’s job on The X Factor, Girls Aloud scored only their second non-charity No1 with this universally popular track. Its 1960s-esque production made it a hit on Radios 1 and 2 alike. The oldest Spice Girls single eligible to be included in this poll, ‘Stop’ waltzed to victory thanks to an impressive show of support from an army of fans who are still backing their idols after all these years. The track, which is one of only two the girls ever released to not hit No1 in the UK (the other being 2007’s ‘Headlines’), it is still one of 04 ’ALL FIRED UP‘ THE SATURDAYS Xenomania come up trumps again - a futuristic, relentless bit of poppers o’clock dance floor action. The Extended Mix is incredible. force-to-be-reckoned-with as this? SUGABABES “Don’t let our last kiss be our last.” SHAUN KITCHENER AMAZEPOP EDITOR 01 ’CALL THE SHOTS‘ GIRLS ALOUD “So full of twilight, dreams that glitter.” 03 ’HIGHER‘ THE SATURDAYS “All that you can do is listen, so LISTEN!” 04 ’INDEPENDENT WOMEN‘ DESTINY’S CHILD Has there ever been a song more true to the whole idea of girl groups as a proper 04 ’PURE SHORES‘ ALL SAINTS “Take me to my beeee-aaaaach” 02 ’ABOUT YOU NOW‘ 05 ’wings‘ little mix “I don’t wanna hear your talking.. BOYD!” 25 ‘OUR FIRST ALBUM HAS TO BE LIKE A GREATEST HITS’ Kicked off The X Factor before acts with management were allowed to compete, THE MEND went on to reach the 2012 Britain’s Got Talent final by way of a public wildcard vote. They may not have won the show, but they did win an offer from a major record label - one they unexpectedly turned down. Shaun Kitchener chats to them about their TV exposure, going it alone, and touring with Little Mix. Just don’t call them a boyband... 26 We’re talking just before the video for your single ‘Where Were You’ is released and the whole campaign properly kicks off. How are you feeling right now? Dean: It’s exciting. It feels like we’re finally starting now. We’ve been waiting for a while. Craig: This is the bang at the end of the build-up, kind of thing. This is our debut single, it’s a big big step for us. You’ve been together for quite a while now, is it weird that this is technically “the beginning”? Kris: It’s good to see something, like, ready. Craig: Unleashed. How would you describe your “sound”? Craig: I think our sound is funky and soul. I’d say funky soul. Urban funky soul. Dean: That’s quite good. Or funky soul urban. Craig: Or soul-y urban funk. Kris: It’s quite old-school-sounding. It’s hard to explain. Dean: Classic! It’s classic! Kris: We just make music, like, whatever comes out. We don’t say ‘let’s make this genre’, do you know what I mean? Whatever comes out, comes out. Dean: It’s quite funny actually cos when we did the first audition for Britain’s Got Talent, we’d done all different types of music, but we never really found our sound. When we did the audition we were like, do you know what? We really like that. We all actually enjoyed that genre of music. And none of us were like, not that keen on it. So I think that’s what started it off. Kris: We did the Otis Redding cover, bringing an old-school track back with a new twist. That went down like a storm so we were like, that’s us. Jay: It’s quite different as well cos not that many people are doing it. You’ve got like Cee-Lo Green, Bruno Mars, people that are unbelievably talented that can do it. A group’s never done it before, so it’s good to be different. Good to be unique. Why did you pick ‘Where Were You’ as the first single? Does it have a particular “meaning” or significance? Craig: It’s got a good vibe to it. When you hear it, you can’t help but smile. Dean: The reason we picked that was because ‘Where Were You’ is about the [record] deal and stuff… it has a few hidden meanings, it’s not just about a girl. That’s why we picked it. There are a few meanings in it. Kris: And it’s got radio all over it. It’s dead catchy. People are like, ‘I can’t stop singing that song’. How’re things on the album front? Is it nearly finished or is that for further down the line? Kris: With the album it’s mad because we’ve not really sat down and said, let’s make an album. We’ve just been going in the studio – ‘oh that’s another good track’, ‘that’s another good track’. We’ve not even thought about a title. We’re just getting a bag full of tracks and then when we’re ready we’ll just pick an album from that. It’ll be the Greatest Hits. Jay: It has to be a Greatest Hits. Kris: There’s the title. I read somewhere that you got offered a big singles deal but you turned it down so that you could go independent – is that right? What’s the story there? Craig: Sony put an offer in when we came off Britain’s Got Talent; it was just like a standard industry deal that they throw out to anyone. We wanted someone that was backing us and believing in us. Our manager, Nigel Martin Smith, he’s been backing us since day one so we wanted someone behind us. We didn’t wanna just be sat in a queue. With half these people that come off the talent shows, you get put in a queue and it takes you ages to come out and you can’t be you. They’re like, ‘we want you to do this, we want you to do that’. Jay: We’re in control, aren’t we. Dean: It’s worked out brilliantly cos we’ve got a brilliant team behind us. Jay: The budget that people are on with record labels, because of the recession… people struggle to have a lot of people behind them. Nigel, being the person who he is, has worked out a strong team for us and it seems to be going really well. I think an independent way is the way nowadays. You’ve got people like Drake coming up through the music industry that have come up through an independent way, and record labels can see that you can work for your right to be in the industry. I guess on the one hand you don’t have anyone saying ‘You’ve got to sell X amount of copies’, but on the other hand it must be a lot harder work to get noticed – am I right? Kris: Yeah. We’ve got to prove ourselves. We’ve got to prove to the industry that we can do it, so that’s what we’re gonna do. Dean: It’s going well, innit? If you’d won Britain’s Got Talent, do you think you would have made the same decision? Kris: That would have been easier cos you get half a million! It’s coming up for a year now since 27 you were on the show. Why was it important for you to wait? Jay: We’ve been in and out of record labels, and we tried to escape that [talent show] route. But a lot of people have been going through The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent, so we did that because it’s a good platform. After that, we wanted to get off the bandwagon of Britain’s Got Talent because we didn’t want to be seen as that kind of act. We wanted to be seen as a band who write their own material, produce their own… we are more musicians. Kris: It’s not just a front. Jay: You can see us as an actual band. So like, waiting this long, coming out with our own material, writing with the people we wanna work with; we’ll be more respected. Dean: We don’t just wanna be a cheesy group or anything like that. We’ve put a lot of time into it. That is why we turned down a deal – at the end of the day it’s coming up for five years of our lives, we don’t want someone who’s not gonna care what we’re doing. Jay: In a way it’s good that a lot of people have forgotten about Britain’s Got Talent and who we are, cos when we come out we’re fresh, and we’ve still got the fans who followed us. thing about us. Probably the way we’re dressed, probably the people that we are, or something to do with the music… I don’t think we’re the same. I don’t feel the same at all. We could have felt like a boyband… maybe it’s Kris rapping, but there’s something about All-male groups are doing really us that’s not the same. well right now - is that encourag- Kris: I don’t think we could pull it ing? Or scary? off, to be honest! Dean: It’s scary. When we first Craig: No, we’re not cheesy. formed, JLS weren’t even around. Craig: I think we are totally differ- In terms of popstardom, you’ve ent to anything that’s out there got the artistic side down, your now, so there is a space for us. A lot fanbase is growing… the next of the groups now are dead prim thing, I guess, would be the gaze and proper. from the press. “JLS, One Direction, even Jay: They’re all goYou had a bit of ing the same way. The Wanted... they’re all that when you In a way, I think went in for The touching on the they’re all touchX Factor and the same thing” ing on the same tabloids found thing. JLS, One Direction, even The the link to Gary Barlow. How has Wanted… they’ve all touched the it been so far, and do you think same thing. They’re all quite simi- you’d be able to deal with it on a lar but just because the music gen- bigger scale? re that they’re doing is different… Dean: We’ve had a lot of knockthey’re still proper boyband-y, and backs since we started, we’ve had I don’t think we are. There’s some- a lot of bad press. We can deal with 28 it, we’re big lads – we take it on the chin. Kris: When we first started, Nigel, our manager, he did Take That – there was a big headline that said Take Brat about us. We just laugh it off. We’re at the stage where any press is good press, so we just laugh about it. Craig: It just makes us wanna push more and prove them wrong. Being on tour with Little Mix and seeing them deal with all the press attention, particularly Perrie over this Zayn business – has that been a learning curve? Dean: She’s been really good about that, hasn’t she? Craig: You would not even tell. Dean: She’s professional. Craig: They don’t really show that side of them, and you wouldn’t, would you? You’ve got a job to do. Kris: I did catch her getting a sneaky look in a newspaper the other day, while all that was going on. Dean: If you’re putting yourself in a job where people are gonna talk about you, that’s what they’re gonna do. It can’t all be good. How’s the tour been going generally? Jay: It’s something we wanna do in the future so it’s a perfect opportunity to see how it all runs, basically. The girls have been wicked with us. Yesterday we gave them a Valentine’s card each. It’s just been incredible to perform on the stage. Liverpool, Manchester was our home town, Blackpool, Hammersmith… it’s unbelievable. It’s something we wanna be doing. We wanna headline next year. Kris: We’re going down a storm as well. There’s a lot of little girls, as soon as they see four lads on a stage they’re screaming… but we’re the type of act where our music is for everyone. We’re getting the parents up! The parents are sitting there with the kids and by the end of our set the parents are up as well! Craig: They’re on the kids’ shoulders! Dean: The kind of lads we are, growing up and that, the stereotypical view... normally they look at us and they’re like, ‘they’re up to bad’… but for them to look at us and be like, ‘we’re really happy for you, you’re doing something good’, I think that’s why we’re going down so well. Jay; We get a lot of respect off men. Like, ‘yeah, you guys proper work hard’. And they can tell that we’re good friends as well. Kris: You can see our chemistry on stage. Even Little Mix have to say ‘we’re best friends’, but you can just tell with us. Dean: It’s lucky really, I couldn’t imagine if we didn’t get along! Craig: It has to be catchy. And different. Passionate. Dean: There has to be passion in it. I keep saying that, because that’s what the music industry’s lacking: passion in the music. Kris: It’s all sounding a bit the same. (Craig sings JLS’ ‘She Makes Me Wanna’) Yeah, it’s all songs like that. Try and be different. Dean: Be creative! Music is an art; it should be a great thing. But I think some people look at it the wrong way. Jay: This year, I think it needs to be more about the lyrics than the actual sound of the track. Craig: Like Drake. Jay: UK, I’m on about. Emeli Sande, Ed Sheeran, Angel… we need artists that can deliver with lyrics. In 2012, more people were following the melody and the catchy hook. I think it needs to be strong lyrics, strong choruses, strong hooks, all on point. We’ll have the fun-ness in the track but if you listen lyrically You’re not gonna be on a Big Re- people can all relate to it. union show in 10 years time being Craig: Definitely. all ‘I HATED SO-AND-SO’ then? Dean: Definitely. Jay: Been watching that! Unbeliev- Kris: Definitely. able. I wonder who’s in bands now who’s like that? The Mend release their debut single ‘Where Were You’ on March 24. It’s Just finally, what makes a good reviewed on page 39. pop song in 2013? @ShaunKitchener 29 Justin Bieber may still be celebrating his nineteenth birthday but the Pop Prince has had a pretty rocky start to 2013. Already he’s faced a drug scandal, allegations of cheating, controversy over a cupped boob…and it’s only March! Whilst his music goes from strength to strength, with his latest album Believe Acoustic breaking records in the States, his personal life seems to be on a bit of a downward spiral and it’s hard to believe there was once a time where a ‘scandal’ for Justin Bieber came from a harmless haircut. Back in the day, JB made a name for himself on YouTube as a smalltown kid who stood in front of a Bart Simpson poster and serenaded his viewers with Chris Brown’s ‘With You’. It really doesn’t get more innocent than that (obviously those were simpler times, when even a pre-Rihanna Breezy was considered a teen idol). His image stayed consistent even after he was discovered by manager Scooter Braun and, when debut single ‘One Time’ was released in 2009, he was still the same highpitched, floppy-haired teen from YouTube, just with Usher’s number in his phone. In those days his songs and music videos were pretty tame (I think the most dangerous substance in sight was a can of silly string) and were a hit with teenage girls everywhere. Bieber quickly became one of the biggest stars on the planet and a heart-throb to millions of adoring fans who began professing their love for him on Twitter every minute of every day. Obviously he had his haters but, until recently, his good, Christian image TEENAGE DREAM? In 2009 he was the bright-eyed, squeaky clean picture of innocence. Now, he’s a boob-groping, heartbreaking and allegedly pot-smoking teenage bad boy. Kieran Field looks at JUSTIN BIEBER’s turbulent 2013 and its effect on his unstoppable pop career. 30 for ‘groping’ a fan at a meet-andgreet (though said fan didn’t seem too bothered), making everyone question whether his morals might have changed in the past two years. But, commercially, it’s not all bad news for Justin - he may have tarnished his pristine image, but he’s got another number one album under his belt and has surpassed Lady Gaga to become the most followed user on Twitter. Musically, he has also matured and gained a lot more critical respect with the release of Believe last year. However, it seems it’s not just puberty that’s changed Justin Bieber since his ‘Baby’ days. He’s gone from fresh-faced tween idol to tattooed party-boy in only a few years. But we shouldn’t be too harsh on him - he’s young and he works hard. As long as he doesn’t go down the same road as that other former teen idol whose song made Justin famous, his career is likely to continue from strength to strength. @KieranJField was very much intact. all, he is nineteen and loaded - it’s only right that he should be partyBut, as with most young stars, ing like it’s 3012. things have changed lately and Biebs’ behavior has gone slight- What’s harder to justify are his ly off the rails. He’s had a barrage weed-smoking antics. Fans were of bad press, let down some of his left crushed when they realised ‘Beliebers’ and gained a new BFF/ that their teen idol wasn’t perfect alleged bad influence in the form and had been snapped lighting up of rapper Lil Twist. with his posse. The story created all kinds of controversy; tragicalMany have blamed his acting-out ly, a paparazzo who attempted to on his split from Selena Gomez. Al- capture Bieber with a joint died though the couple faced their fair pursuing the singer’s car (which share of controversy when they was being driven by none other dated (including death threats than Lil Twist). Justin never directand paternity allegations), Selena ly apologised for the incident but, seemed to keep her man ground- when a dark and disturbing #cuted. Family and friends have ex- 4bieber craze began circulating pressed concern over Justin’s new online, he took to Twitter to single lifestyle and gossip mag reassure his fans that he didn’t sources say that the singer’s moth- want to let any of them down er, Pattie Mallette, wants him back and that he loved them all. with his ex, claiming she is a “good influence” on her son. Sketchy claims then emerged that he had had an affair with But while the Jelena saga contin- Rihanna. They were eventually ues, Justin has been partying… denied but, in a 2011 interview hard. On New Year’s Eve he Insta- with Rolling Stone, he stated gram-ed a pic of a bottle of vodka that people shouldn’t have sex captioned “shh” (remember he’s unless they are in love - so to still underage in the US) and, more find out he may have indulged recently, was spotted clubbing in in a little S&M with RiRi herLondon with will.i.am, The Want- self behind Selena’s back was ed and some mystery women. All rather scandalous. Justin also that can be easily forgiven; after came under fire from the press 31 MODERN CLASSICS COLLECTION THE AMAZEPOP LESSONS TO BE LEARNED Gabriella Cilmi enjoyed some success as Her Wot Sung The Theme Tune for short-lived ITV drama Echo Beach, but it was monster hit ‘Sweet About Me’ that really allowed her to smash her way into the public eye. Even though it never peaked higher than No6 in the UK Singles Chart, its prominence on a number of TV ads and a seemingly endless amount of radio airplay kept it in the Top 10 for what felt like a lifetime, and it went on to become the 26th best-seller of the year. Lessons To Be Learned, helmed by the masterful and generally brilliant Xenomania, was brimming with funky, soulful pop that was precisely 100% amazing. If forced to pick out highlights: ‘Sanctuary’, a Maxine Brown-sampling ditty about perfect friendship; ‘Got No Place To Go’, a luscious toe-tapper; and ‘Save The Lies’, a Sugababes-esque electro-tinged soul-rock anthem Released: March 31 2008 Chart peak: No8 Label: Island Producers: Xenomania Singles: ‘Sweet About Me’, ‘Save The Lies’, ‘Sanctuary’, ‘Warm This Winter’ 2008 was a particularly fruitful year for the Quirkyish Soulful Female, not least thanks to the arrivals of Duffy and a certain Adele. But also near the very top of the tree was Australian siren Gabriella Cilmi. She had already that boasts Saint Etienne as a co-writer. What’s more, the obligatory Deluxe Edition bought with it the gloriously festive ‘Warm This Winter’: a cover of an obscure 1962 Connie Francis song and a major supermarket’s choice of Christmas advert soundtrack every December for the rest if the noughties. Gabbers’ second album may have been poorly received, but there’s little arguing LTBL’s greatness. @ShaunKitchener 32 P op is a fast-moving genre, boys and girls. A fast-moving genre indeed. Why else do you think time in the industry is measured not in days and weeks and years, but in JLS albums? With so many new amazing artists and songs rising through the ranks all the time, it’s no wonder that albums released as soon ago as, say, 2009 feel like “old clas- sics”. Well, that’s what this little ‘feature’ is here to celebrate. Albums that aren’t quite old enough to be considered ‘vintage’, but are perhaps too old to be classed as ‘recent’. Isn’t it funny how time flies? Yes, it’s hilarious. Look up the below masterpieces on iTunes and check out their full amazedom for yourself. In the fickle world of pop, they can probably do with the royalties. READY TO RUN Sinead Quinn People often say that, despite David Sneddon’s win, it was Lemar who was the real champion of Fame Academy’s first (and best) series. Not that ‘50/50’ isn’t an all-time great, but if it’s amazing pop tuneage we’re on about, the moral victory surely goes to Sinead Quinn, hands down. charged to No2 two months later, kept off the very top spot by tATu’s almighty tune ‘All The Things She Said’. Released: July 14 2003 Chart peak: No48 Label: Mercury Producers: Pete Glenister, Deni Lew, Glenn Skinner Singles: ‘I Can’t Break Down’, ‘What You Need Is...’ rock masterstroke as infectious as anything Avril Lavigne released at around the same time, and the mostly acoustic semi-ballad ‘Love Me All The Way’ is a beauThe debut album, Ready To Run, tifully written KT Tunstall-style followed later that year and trag- slice of alt-rock. There’s a likeable ically stalled outside the UK Top grrrl-next-door style atmosphere 40. Far too few people have heard consistent throughout; but in a it, but I. Love. It. genuine relatable way rather than an irritating saccharine way - and The ballads don’t so much tug at the album as a result is incredibly The guitar-wielding songstress the heartstrings as violently yank endearing. came second on the show back in them; in particular the brilliant December 2002 (the final was on title track and the subtle, gor- In case you’re wondering, the my 14th birthday and the result geous closer ‘Safe Hands’. ‘What 32-year-old now sings with her RUINED IT), and her original You Need Is...’, the record’s sec- new band Sinead & The Dawncomposition ‘I Can’t Break Down’ ond single, is an anthemic pop- breakers. @ShaunKitchener 33 MODERN CLASSICS COLLECTION THE AMAZEPOP ROOM ON THE 3RD FLOOR McFly the youngest band to have their debut album reach number one, and it’s not difficult to see why: the songs are bouncy, poppy and fun. About 90% of the tracks are about girls and how bad the boys are with dealing with them. From the chart-topping ‘Five Colours in A fusion of the guitar pop pio- Her Hair’ and ‘Obviously’, to the Released: July 5 2004 neered by Busted (with many of ridiculous-sounding ‘Broccoli’, Chart peak: No1 the tracks being co-written by ROT3F was the perfect debut alLabel: Universal Island James Bourne), along with Beat- bum from 4 excitable teenagers Producers: Craig Hardy, Hugh les-influenced choruses, ROT3F who were clearly destined for big Padgham, Tim ‘Spag’ Speight, is just a great pop album. I re- things. Jay Renolds member clearly listening to the Singles: ‘5 Colours In Her Hair’, track ‘Surfer Babe’ a LOT because It does help that it had good play‘Obviously’, ‘That Girl’, ‘Room one line was sung by Dougie who backability (definitely a real word) On The 3rd Floor’ was OBVIOUSLY my favourite when Wonderland turned out to member (see what I did there?). I be a very difficult second album. I was 13 when this album also bought a lot of wooden bead- What we wanted from McFly was came out, but cruelly had to ed necklaces and random bits of bouncy pop with guitars and a riwait until my 14th birthday string and wore them all at once, diculously catchy chorus, not a party, 2 weeks after the re- in a bid to be McFly’s Surfer Babe. melancholy project including a song about a depressed alcoholic. lease date, to get my hands McFly displaced the Beatles as @Kesby_ on a copy. Discovering that it had a hidden track called ‘Get Over You’ when I loaded the CD and accidentallpressed rewind on the opening track, I began my first big journey of musical discovery. 34 To suggest an album for the Modern Classics Collection, or if you want to write about one yourself, tweet us @AMAZEPOP Her best friend Lesley said, “Oh, she’s just being Miley”. Well, Lesley, we can deal with that. Breakout marked Cyrus’ first proper crack at the pop whip away from Disney’s Hannah Montana franchise and, although the chains binding her to the House of Mouse are still very much in tact, it’s a very well put-together collection of carefree pop-rock nuggets. Lead single ‘7 Things’ is a decent indicator of the general ‘vibe’ of the album, but the highlights are in the slightly more electric productions; like the Girls Aloud-ish sound of ‘Fly On The Wall’, the almost eerie ‘Bottom Of The Ocean’ or the excellent Rock Mafia remix of ‘See You Again’. But it’s bubblegum tween-friendly rock that dominates, and more often than not it comfortably hits the mark. ‘Full Circle’, for example, is wonderful; and nifty ballad ‘The Driveway’ is also perfect ode to teenage heartbreak. Cyrus nabs a co-writing credit on eight of the twelve tracks, and makes a very good first impression as a post-Montana popstrel. She may never revisit this particular sub-genre again, so make the most of it before she brings out her forthcoming “grown-up” album later this year. @ShaunKitchener BREAKOUT Miley Cyrus Released: September 1 2008 Chart peak: No10 Label: Hollywood Producers: Antonina Armato, Scott Cutler, John Fields, Tim James, Anne Preven, Matthew Wilder Singles: ‘See You Again’, ‘7 Things’, ‘Fly On The Wall’ 35 N O I T C I D D A ” L O MY “UNCO In each issue we’ll take a pop act traditionally frowned upon by #REALMUSIC snobs and explain why they’re basically brilliant. Here, proud Swiftie Beth Davison hails the world’s most adorable man-eater as one of her favourite musicians, role models and all-round popstars. TAYLOR SWIFT Country music. It’s easy to judge it, isn’t it? Easy to tar it with the same judgemental brush many tiny minds have used to smother pop: It’s twee, old fashioned and a horrible hybrid of the lovestruck and the broken hearted, they say. Heaven forbid then, that an artist should embody both of these genres, straddling the line of pop princess and country queen at the same time! Oh no, she should be mocked, misrepresented and merrily ignored. They say. termination of an 11 year old Taylor Swift, traipsing the streets of Nashville back in 2000, hundreds of miles from home and with three long years of rejection ahead of her. Labelled talented but just too young, this pre-pubescent blonde girl refused to give up. Consider next the gamble it was for her, at fourteen, to leave the comfort of her family home and move her entire life permanently to Tennessee simply to pursue The Dream. That’s a distance of 776 miles and would be like the rest of us relocating from London to Madrid But wait, bare with me, because with just a hunch that we might be Taylor Swift is actually a bit of phe- good enough to make it. nomenon. And you know what, she was good Every year we see the sobbing enough. By the age of 16 Swift faces of rejected X Factor contest- was releasing her debut album. ants; grown adults and bad losers. Unashamedly autobiographical, Compare this with the dogged de- she wrote the lead single ‘Tim 36 McGraw’ whilst in Freshman Year and, in true Swift style, it was about... a boy. The central criticism of Swift’s music is that she uses her boyfriends and breakups as the main substance of her writing, but why should this be a huge problem? With song titles as cringey as ‘Teardrops On My Guitar’ or ‘Cold As You’, it’s easy to laugh - but isn’t it also refreshing to have some heartfelt honesty in the pop world? No-one’s taking drugs or getting beaten up or cheating on anyone. She’s just documenting the trials of life and love in between the ages of ‘Fifteen’ and ‘22’ (both brilliant songs in their own right by the way). Proving to be quite the entrepreneur along with her musical success, Swift is the face of Cover Girl and has tried her hand at television acting in ER, voice acting in The Lorax and was one of the best things about the (God-awful) movie Valentine’s Day. Combine this with the fact that on her eighteenth birthday she registered to vote and publicly supported the Every Woman Counts campaign, which was aimed at encouraging the involvement of young women in the political process, and Taylor Swift might just be one of the best young role models America has to offer. all those emotions are red,” she said. “There’s nothing in between. There’s nothing beige about any of those feelings.” Nothing seems more appropriate then than an emotionally charged roller coaster of a record, straddling the line between pop and country with a sellout tour to boot. As news of her recent break up continues to flood the internet you have to admire Swift’s poise. She apparently had to be kept “separated” from ex boyfriend Harry Styles at the recent Brit Awards and yet still managed to look unflustered and stunning. Most of us only dream to make millions from our heartache, instead getting a bad-break-up haircut, eating a lot of ice-cream and refusing to shave our legs. Trust me, Taylor Swift is winning. On top of that, she is currently #22 in the Forbes rich list, and has been the recipient of seven Grammys, eleven American Music Awards and seven Country Music awards. You don’t have to like her music. Maybe guitar ballads and lovesick teenagers never will float your boat.But surely you have to respect her as a performer. Besides, ignoring her has become as pointless as mocking her because, having made $1 million per night on her 65-date US tour, she isn’t goIn a recent interview she explained ing anywhere. The thing is, I knew the reasoning behind her latest she was trouble when she walked album title Red. “All the different in – and I gave her the chance she emotions that are written about deserved. on this album are all pretty much @BethBecomesHer_ about the kind of tumultuous, crazy, insane, intense, semi-toxic rePicture: Taylor Swift at the lationships that I’ve experienced Brit Awards (ITV) in the last two years. In my mind, 37 90-100%: FUCKING AMAZING | 80-89%: IN THE VICINITY OF FUCKING AMAZING | 70-79%: FAIRLY AMAZING | 60-69%: SEMI-AMAZING | 50-59%: NOT PARTICULARLY AMAZING | 40-49%: UNAMAZING | 20-39%: DISTINCTLY UNAMAZING | >19%: :( THE REVIEWS BIT SINGLES MARCH 3 Arlissa - ‘Sticks & Stones’: BBC Sound of 2013 longlistee Arlissa makes an impressive ‘mainstream’ debut with this neat track, complete with tribal percussion and an infectious ‘ee-o-ee-o’ chant. 86% date. 80% other corker from a truly talented singer-songwriter. 81% Hurts - ‘Miracle’: The critically-lauded duo’s first cut from Album No2 is a bloody massive alt-pop song with plenty of cross-demographic appeal. 74% Nicole Scherzinger - ‘Boomerang’: Not the all-conquering phenomotune the nation was hoping for, but ‘Boomerang’ still packs a punch with a superb chorus and lyrics that go hand-in-hand with The Scherzinator’s career-saving stint on The X Factor UK. 76% Olly Murs - ‘Army Of Two’: As previous X Factor runners-up JLS gain The Script - ‘If You Could See Me Now’: The trio’s super-sincere ‘inspirational’ schtick worked wonders on their first two albums, but tracks like this from latest opus #3 are significantly harder to warm to. The heartfelt lyrics probably work Bridgit Mendler - ‘Ready Or Not’: better on paper than as an odd and Hollywood Records’ latest Disney slightly awkward rap. 43% princess lands somewhere between Demi Lovato and Stacie OrMARCH 10 rico with this pleasant, straight-forward pop tune. 62% Ed Drewett - ‘Drunk Dial’: He’s responsible for The Wanted’s best Ke$ha - ‘C’mon’: A standout track singles, but luckily Drewett has from oddly unsuccessful album also saved some of his brilliance for Warrior, ‘C’mon’ is arguably one of his own material. ‘Drunk Dial’ takes Ke$ha’s finest hi-NRG anthems to a few listens to get going, but is an- 38 THE BIG REUNION Atomic Kitten, Liberty X, B*Witched and 5ive among reformed pop giants for ITV2 show [Page 43] momentum on their unfortunate decline, Olly continues to go from strength to strength. It’s easy to be cynical about him as a popstar, but this is another frighteningly brilliant effort. 87% Paloma Faith - ‘Black & Blue’: Another glamorous ballad from the excellent Fall To Grace LP, this profunditiy-fuelled treat is another stroke of gold from brilliant co-writer Eg White. 79% GIRLS ALOUD: TEN TOUR Spectacular girlband head back on the road to mark ten years of consistent amazingness [Page 41] Robbie Williams: ‘Be A Boy’: A big, confident pop song from a big, confident pop star; ‘Be A Boy’ is another triumph from the newly Charlie Brown - ‘On My Way’: A back-on-form Robbie. 85% big, sweeping chorus and some radio-baiting “EH! EH!” bits give MARCH 17 Brown a fighting chance of living up to his own reach-for-the-stars Icona Pop feat. Charli XCX - ‘I Love lyrics. 66% It’: Bolstered in popularity thanks to HBO’s Girls, this phenomenal CHVCHES - ‘Recover’: Clap-a-long enormorave - first released in the verses are followed by big, clever US last year - is sheer perfection. choruses on this indie-friendly elecPlay it loud, jump around. 95% tropop anthem. But the middle-8, with its pulsating underwater-esOneRepublic - ‘If I Lose Myself’: que fallout/fall-back-in, is arguably Back with their first UK release in the best bit. 83% three years, Tedder and co return with more of that life-affirming The Mend - ‘Where Were You’: alt-rock balladry that makes them Even as the boyband market goes such a delight. ‘IILM’ is not quite as beyond over-saturation, former easy to love as some of their past BGT stars The Mend have still manmasterpieces, but it’s certainly not aged to find their own niche and without flashes of brilliance. 78% “musical identity”. Irrisistable brass hooks and a strong fusion of singP!nk feat. Nate Ruess - ‘Just Give ing and rapping make this a stormMe A Reason’: P!nk’s repertoire of ing debut. 88% resonant love songs expands with this duet with Him From Fun. AnMARCH 31 other awesome pop-punk concoc- tion from another awesome album. Angel - ‘The World’: Big percus83% sion mixed with classic, almost retro club synths give Angel’s fourth The Saturdays feat. Sean Paul - major label single some kudos, but ‘What About Us’ - Following the one suspects he is capable of much disappointing performance of sin- more than this relatively forgetful gle ‘30 Days’ and album On Your Ra- urban/pop crossover attempt. 52% dar it would have been nice to see The Sats pull something as exciting HAIM - ‘Falling’: So ‘cool’ that as ‘Higher’, ‘Up’ or ‘All Fired Up’ out it had its UK premiere on Zane the bag. As it is, ‘What About Us’ is Lowe’s radio show, ‘Falling’ has sufficient commercial radio fodder, the same traces of 90s R&B that but unlikely to be remembered as made Solange’s ‘Losing You’ so exone of their best. 69% ceptional. Another home run from a band who have fans of so many MARCH 24 genres excited. 91% Justin Bieber feat. Ludacris - ‘All Around The World’: First released as a pre-album buzz track nearly a year ago, ‘All Around The World’ is a decent dance-pop floorfiller that ultimately pales in comparison to its singer’s last few singles. 71% Taylor Swift - ‘22’: She’s 23 now so it’s basically moot, but ‘22’ is as infectious a bubble-gum pop tune as they come. Swifty’s on a bit of a roll, isn’t she? 82% 39 REVIEWS: SINGLES Tom Odell - ‘Hold Me’: One of those pop songs that probably appeals more to #REALMUSIC fans than seasoned pop geeks, ‘Hold Me’ is perhaps what would happen if Ed Sheeran collaborated with Fun.. If that duet sounds like your idea of heaven, you’ll love this. If it doesn’t, you won’t. But there’s no denying Odell’s musical talent. 75% APRIL 7 Lucy Rose - ‘Shiver’: It’s not exactly got Big Hit Single written all over it, but ‘Shiver’ is still a thoughtful indie-folk ditty with a properly moving video. 70% Nina Nesbitt - ‘Stay Out’: Looks like the next Pixie Lott/Rita Ora; is actually more a Lucy Spraggan/ Gabrielle Aplin hybrid who knows when to be clever with fast, witty lyrics and when to make a chorus out of a simple repetitive chant. She seems to be quite chummy with the One Direction boys, so expect big things to come. 85% Sky Ferreira - ‘Everything Is Embarrassing’: The intro is slightly reminiscent of Whitney’s ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ (a bit? Maybe?); but what follows is a dusky, percussive and beautifully resonant track that transcends the notion of what is ‘contemporary’ in successful persuit of Just Being Great. 94% APRIL 14 Amelia Lily - ‘Party Over’: Like the two before it, Amelia’s frantic third single needs a few listens to properly settle down, but is another comfortable ace. 89% Platnum - ‘Love You Tomorrow’: This Mancunian trio have been around for nearly 10 years, and previously flirted with big-time success on H “Two” O’s ‘What’s It Gonna Be?’. Sadly, this rather forgettable dance-pop effort is unlikely to put them back on the A-list. 40% ‘This Kiss’ are followed by standard club-bangerdom for Single #3. She Loveable Rogues - ‘What A Night’: pulls it off well, but better tracks The Scouting For Girls-meets-Ol- can be found on parent album Kiss. ly Murs cheeky chappy schtick will 72% grate on many, but there’s a certain reckless abandonment about this Demi Lovato - ‘Heart Attack’: particular trio (swearing! Boobs in Demi wisely persues the squigthe video!) that makes them a little gly electropop avenue that made more interesting than would other- the highlights from her last album wise be expected. 73% (‘Unbroken’, ‘Hold Up’) so brilliant, and this first cut from LP #4 is a APRIL 28 brilliantly structured and powerfully performed masterstroke that Misha B - ‘Here’s To Everything MUST give her her first real UK hit. (Ooh La La)’: Misha continues to 95% prove herself as a criminally under-rated artist with her third suc- Gabrielle Aplin - ‘Panic Cord’: cessive amazing single. What. A. Gaplin delivers another sweet, quiCorker. 90% et tune with this latest cut from her upcoming English Rain LP. Would TBC have sounded nice on an episode of Brothers & Sisters. 70% Calvin Harris feat. Ellie Goulding ‘I Need Your Love’: Not dissimilar Rihanna - ‘Pour It Up’: Following from Calvin’s Cheryl hit ‘Call My the gorgeous ‘Stay’, RiRi returns Name’, this latest banger ticks all her steely focus to brash, confithe necessary boxes, and Gould- dent hip-pop with this forgettable ing’s voice is a much better fit than conveyor-belt club guff. It’s not you might expect. 75% awful, but it’s going to stick out like a sore thumb on her otherwise Carly Rae Jepsen - ‘Tonight I’m bound-to-be-incredible Greatest Getting Over You’: The simple, Hits. 58% semi-novelty pop of ‘Call Me MayAll dates are subject to change. be’ and the Kylie-like disco-ness of APRIL 21 40 REVIEWS: LIVE A major plus-side of a Greatest Hits tour is that the set list is usually hit after hit after hit. Girls Aloud’s Ten: The Hits tour certainly delivers on that front, packing in all but five of their singles in what was, on the whole, an almost chronological order. As is universally accepted, the GA repertoire is 98% incredible. And, as is universally accepted, the ladies are more than capable of putting in a blinding good show to do them justice. From an entrance atop a giant Girls Aloud logo for opener ‘Sound Of The Underground’ to an emotional montage of old footage accompanying ‘I’ll Stand By You’ (and dozens of energetic dance routines in between), the show certainly delivers visually as well as musically. The ladies are in good vocal form throughout. The occasional bits that are mimed to a backing track are justified when the quality of the production is so high, but when it comes to the live bits, each member has their moment to shine. Nicola absolutely smashes ‘Beautiful Cause You Love Me’, Nadine’s powerhouse vocals take her wellknown verses like the ‘Untouchable’ epilogue to another plane, Kimberley shows the benefits of her newfound musical theatre experience with a significantly stronger set of pipes and the Harding Howl is back in its full, amazing glory. But the biggest kudos go to Cheryl Cole, who - despite the bad press she receives for her abilities as a singer - frequently tries her hand at extravagant riffs and very rarely falters. Of course, as far as this particular act are concerned, sticking to the well-known singles means that beloved album tracks and B-sides that have gone down as fan favourites have been completely shunned, apart from new tune ‘On The Metro’ and the use of ‘Models’ in a video clip during a costume change. It would perhaps have been nice to give fans something like ‘Graffiti My Soul’ or ‘Memory Of You’ in place of a cover of ‘Call Me Maybe’, but it seems a shame to pick holes. The thing that sticks out most is that this feels like a farewell show; one that celebrates the last ten years with a comprehensive collection of their best anthems (minus ‘The Loving Kind’, tsk tsk) and little indication that there’s more to come. Let’s all keep everything crossed that there is. 94% @ShaunKitchener 41 REVIEWS: ALBUMS BASTILLE BAD BLOOD Bubbling under for a fair while now, Bastille finally storm into the A-list of popular song with debut album Bad Blood and all-conquering single ‘Pompeii’. (here comes the c-word) credibility to appeal to the straight-faced popophobe. There are also some absolutely gorgeous quieter moments; The album is a total triumph - nameably the sensational ‘Oblivipacked with big pop melodies and on’ and the haunting ‘Overjoyed’. memorable hooks that leave little room for filler. Tracks like ‘Things Affecting and thoroughly origiWe Lost In The Fire’, ‘Bad Blood’ nal, Bad Blood is basically an early and ‘Weight Of Living, Pt II’ are epic contender for album of the year. creations with plenty of commer- Worth every word of its hype. 94% cial radio appeal and enough indie DIDO - GIRL WHO GOT AWAY It’s been yonks since the days of to a former lover, and her voice sits ‘Here With Me’, ‘Thank You’ and right at home on the blippy ‘Black‘White Flag’, but Dido still knows bird’. exactly what she’s doing. But it’s the classic-Dido-style balGirl Who Got Away is perhaps her lads that are the strongest tracks. most ambitious set to date, lit- Lead single ‘No Freedom’ is like a tered with more electronic influ- big hug, and Kendrick Lamar colences than any of her past three lab ‘Let Us Move On’ gets more creations. Despite the occasional likeable with every listen. Generallull, for the most part it’s a success ly a strong collection. 78% - ‘End Of Night’ is a brilliant tribute 42 REVIEWS: TV THE BIG REUNION When Steps reformed for an overly dramatic reality show, TV gold was born. So what could possibly be bad about getting not one but SIX more late 90s/early 00s pop groups back together and forcing them to thrash it out in front of cameras? Absolutely nothing, that’s what. The Big Reunion has been absolutely unmissable, as B*Witched, Atomic Kitten, 5ive, Honeyz, 911 and Liberty X recall their rise and fall from pop’s A-list and come face-to-face once more for a series of special gigs. For a start, the break-up stories are fascinating. Atomic Kitten, it turns out, parted ways because Natasha Hamilton was struggling hugely with postnatal depression. 5ive burned out because a couple of its members had reached their absolute breaking point. The Honeyz’ constant line-up drama just got too tiresome compared to their modest record sales. The star of the show is Abz from 5ive. He is possibly the main reason why the four-piece (!) boyband are shoe-horned into every single episode, and he is the one who often provides the most moments of televisual genius. Close behind him are the formidable Heavenli from The Honeyz, Liberty X’s Michelle Heaton and, thanks to a rather heated conversation in a pub, Spike from 911. Whether or not any of these acts have any realistic chances of a fullon comeback remains to be seen (most of them probably don’t) but, regardless, The Big Reunion has been captivating, nostalgic, brilliantly melodramatic and a perfect excuse to dig out some long-forgotten pop masterpieces from the days of double denim and floorlength leather coats. Bring on a second series. 93% @ShaunKitchener 43 REVIEWS: TV REVENGE To say Revenge has upped its mel- absurd. That, however, is precisely odrama for season two would be what its strength is. an understatement. Madeleine Stowe’s Victoria Grayson The first run, which introduced us to remains the perfect villain; deliverEmily Vancamp’s Emily Thorne as a ing lines padded out with words like troubled ice queen desperate to get “beseech” and “pray” in everyday vengeance for her father’s death, questions like she was in a Shakefilled a glossy, brilliantly nonsensical spearean tragedy, all the while dehole that would soon be left vacant livering icy stares and occasional by the departing Desperate House- slaps like only she can. wives. Now that that show has well and truly come to an end, Revenge Emily Thorne, meanwhile, is seeing has pushed itself so far away from her quest for revenge becoming feasible reality that it borders on the ever more complicated. For a start, she’s started to realise that it’s The Initiative who have been pulling the strings on the Graysons and who are ultimately responsible for her father’s wrongful imprisonment and death many years earlier. Meanwhile Amanda Clarke, the girl she traded identities with before starting her mission, is starting to grow tired of their strange set-up and just wants to settle down with Jack Porter (Emily-as-Amanda’s childhood sweetheart) and their newborn son. When the show really throws com- 44 mon sense to the wind and goes for full-on ridiculousness, it remains one of the most addictive shows on TV. Every cliche is ticked off - from Emily crawling through an air vent during an action sequence to the leading lady of The Initiative speaking sinisterly from the back seat of a limo with blacked-out windows, winding one down to look out at puppets Victoria and Conrad. subplots have started to seriously pollute proceedings; namely the arrival of some shady, so-obviously-bad-news-it-hurts brothers who worm their way into Jackâ€™s life under the guise of friendly businessmen, all the while just wanting their own revenge for some unfortunate business between their father and the departed Daddy Porter six years earlier. Daniel Grayson has also become even more of an arse as he Unfortunately however, season two tries to take control of the family has seen things slow down a tad on business, and Nolan Rossâ€™ weird remore than one occasion. Tiresome lationship with Padma is difficult to care about. But whilst some episodes become too bogged-down in lacklustre filler, Revenge is still more than capable of being one of the most addictive shows currently on air. The dialogue is brilliantly melodramatic, the main plot twists deliciously wild and the beloved Victoria Grayson Glare is never too far away. In the likely event it is renewed for a third season, it just needs to make itself more streamlined again. 78% @ShaunKitchener 45 REVIEWS: TV CHASING THE SATURDAYS When you properly think about it, the reality TV route seems a natural one for The Saturdays to take when it comes to assaulting the American market. The thing is, they need something like this to separate themselves from their competitors. Not only are a huge amount of British acts currently enjoying success in the US, but - much as I love them - The Sats aren’t exactly the biggest or most popular of British girlbands. Despite some world-class singles (‘Up’! ‘Higher’! ‘All Fired Up’!) they’ve also had more than one sales lull, and there constantly seems to be more attention on fellow all-girl troupes Girls Aloud or Little Mix. So, Chasing The Saturdays does a great job at increasing the girls’ likeability and giving them more of an identity. Mollie King in particular is especially adorable across the series, and Frankie Sandford’s honest attitude towards her mental health struggles is hugely commendable. The show also does wonders for Vanessa White; perhaps the group’s most prominent singer and yet, arguably, the least famous. The success of the show will obviously depend on how many people watch it. US ratings haven’t been particularly impressive, and so far ‘What About Us’ has only managed to get as high as No27 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart. Still, it’s all good fun - engineered and carefully orchestrated fun, yes, but the girls are endearing throughout and, as a PR exercise, it does them wonders. I just hope that, in terms of their US breakthrough attempt, it has a happy ending. 70% @ShaunKitchener 46 REVIEWS: FILM ARBITRAGE And I was looking forward to being given a stinker of a film for my first review for AMAZEPOP. You have to start off with a critical review, or people will assume you have no spine as a reviewer. That’s just how it goes. For the fact that I have to admit I loved it, I hate Arbitrage. A gripping drama, it follows Richard Gere as Robert Miller, a billionaire whose successful hedge fund turns out to have involved shady deals in the past just as he is looking to sell it. This, alongside the death of his mistress Julie, attracts the attention of Detective Bryer (Tim Roth). The drama comes knocking on the door of Miller’s family, bringing into the mix his wife Ellen and his daughter-cum-business partner Brooke; not to mention threatening the business’s sale and Miller’s retirement. I’m forced to admit that I’m unfamiliar with most of Gere’s work outside of Pretty Woman, but his performance as Miller in Arbitrage is powerful and impassioned. As both his business and personal lives spiral into chaos, he slowly transforms from the mogul he’s always been into an unstable and unpredictable tour-de-force. His performance is put front and centre, and the film benefits so much from it. Just as impressive but in a more subtle way is Sarandon as Ellen, Robert’s wife. Her performance is nuanced and pulled off with finesse (her Rocky Horror days seem a million miles away): you’re never 100% sure what she’s thinking and what she knows. She wonderfully contrasts Miller’s increasingly frantic flailing about as he tries to keep himself, and his improbable friend Jimmy - a black youth from Harlem played by great up-and comer Nate Parker - away from the law. It’s as much a top-notch personal drama as a grand-scale business one, and well worth watching (even if it sounds a little outside your usual popcorn flick). 89% @CharlieChalkley 47 s e o r e H g n u s n U Pop's LINDSAY B*WITCHED overpowered by her back in the day. Edele, despite trying not to remain lucid and articulate, clearly didn’t take too kindly to the remarks and inadvertedly proved poor Linds absolutely right. She sat there, overpowered by the lead singer once again, with a face that said “This is exactly what I meant.” Abz 5ive, Heavenli Honeyz, Kerry Katona and Michelle Heaton may be the obvious stars of ITV2’s amazefest The Big Reunion, but I’ve taken a particular shine to Lindsay Armaou, formerly The Quiet One from B*Witched. - she could have broken off and become the Cheryl Cole of the band (Cheryl Cole in the early X Factor sense, not the more up-to-date press backlash sense); ascending to National Sweetheart status and winning praise for being the almighty pop entity that she had/ Rarely given lines, not one of the has the potential to be. The tabKeavy sisters, and not blonde; loids would also have absolutely Lindsay was easily the underdog Perhaps if she had played her cards loved her relationship with Lee of the girlband when they were at differently - or rather, if the band 911. But as it is, we can just admire their peak in the late 1990s. Fast had been around a few years later her every Thursday on ITV2. forward more than a decade, and she seems to be one of the most genuinely nice people in the quartet. That, and she’s absolutely stunning. In a recent episode of the comeback series, the girls were seen meeting up as a four-piece for the first time since they were dropped by their label at the turn of the century, and Lindsay - God forbid - dared to tell Edele that she felt 48 RELATIVELY POINTLESS The prize? Absolutely nothing. The point? There isn’t really one. The fun value? Average at best. ALAS. Test your pop geekdom with the below questions, and keep an eye out for the answers over the page. Or on Google. 1. Dido has just released her fourth album, Girl Who Got Away. What was the name of her third? 2. Girls Aloud started their career with a string of Top 3 singles. What eventually went to Fergie? was their first release to break that chain? 6. Which two singers have replaced Christina Aguilera and Cee3. What’s the official line on why Lo Green on The Voice US for seaJenny Frost is not participating in son four? The Big Reunion? 7. What was the name of the show 4. Adele won an Oscar for ‘Skyfall’. Kelly Clarkson was a mentor on With which co-writer/producer did last year? POP QUIZ the UK? 12. How many times did Sharon Osbourne win The X Factor? 13. Who was the winner of The Voice UK last year? 14. Who is the youngest Saturday? 15. Before One Direction’s ‘One 8. Which two artists were noteably Way Or Another’, what was the offered ‘Since U Been Gone’ before last Comic Relief or Sport Relief ofit was eventually offered to Kelly ficial single to reach No1 in the UK Clarkson? singles chart? 9. What was the name of Victoria Beckham’s last solo single? Bonus point for naming both halves of the Double-A side. she share the accolade? 5. Who recently revealed that she turned down the chance to be The Girl in Black Eyed Peas; a job that 10. Who did Misha B support on their UK tour last year? 11. What was Rihanna’s first No1 in 49 WWW.AMAZEPOP.CO.UK @AMAZEPOP QUIZ ANSWERS 1. Safe Trip Home 2. ‘Wake Me Up’ 3. She’s just had twins 4. Paul Epworth 5. Nicole Scherzinger 6. Shakira and Usher 7. Duets 8. Pink and Hilary Duff 9. ‘Let Your Head Go’/’This Groove’ 10. Nicki Minaj 11. ‘Umbrella’ 12. Zero 13. Leanne Mitchell 14. Vanessa White 15. ‘Barry Islands In The Stream’ 50