Quality of the music fails to impress on X Factor 2010

Quite aside from the various hyped-scandals and tear-jerker insider stories, X Factor 2010 will probably be remembered as the least msuical of the talent shows. Meanwhile Danni Minogue and Cheryl Cole, one or both dressed as exotic flowers most weeks, prove again and again they know little about music.

First, the mentors. There are often comments along the lines of "the wrong song" and this year has been horrid on many occasions. And most of the time the song choice is made by the mentor or else approved by the mentor. Mary and Rebecca have been very poorly served, while One Direction can't really sing so it doesn't matter.

Both Matt and Cher can sing and both can handle a few styles. But Matt has been the best vocalist and musician on just about every minute of X Factor 2010 while the other contestants fade in to the background for various reasons.

So to the finalists and their semi-final performances. Here, surely, the mentors and other advisors should have made sure the song choices and capabilities were well matched. Well, in a word, no. Here's our rating for the top 5 of X Factor 2010:

Matt Cardle
Distinctive quality to his voice, and the best at holding a tune of all the finalists. Also the best by far at making a song his own. The only one we can imagine whose recordings we would ever buy.
5 stars


Cher Lloyd
Terrible copycat of the whole Lily Allen and N-Dubz style. Can’t really sing in the sense of holding a delicate melody but covers up with attitude. A marginal appeal but could be successful in the genre.
4 stars

Rebecca Ferguson
Good vocal control most of the time but frequently slips into screeching rather than singing. Often slides around notes rather than hitting them clean.
3 stars


Mary Byrne
An excellent karaoke style voice, very smooth, good range, yet lacks any special character or power.
2 stars

One Direction
Reasonable ensemble singing but no individual has a good voice. Pretty boys and not much else. For example Bonnie Tyler, on her own, outsang these five in their struggle to sing Total Eclipse of the Heart.
1 star

Music and Creativity are NOT sexualizing children

The latest diversion by the Daily Fail in England is of no interest. The way lazy and shallow journalist and commentators have pounced on the story is, however, very revealing.

In short, the would-be dictators at the Daily Fail have decided to attack and besmirch musicians and creatives like Lady GaGa, Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Madonna, Rihanna and anyone else they can think of for their modern witch hunt.

In an unforgivable way the newspaper and its columnists write in sweeping terms, like: "female singers seem to think that the only way to sell their albums is to flash their gussets". The Victorian terminology is no mistake as the Fail likes to pretend it honors "traditional values" while it exaggerates whatever its current hang-up may be.

Creating and playing music is a creative process, but the important part is it is undertaken by creative people. Creative people, all through history, provide glimpses into beauty, endeavor, passion, joy, despair, love and all manner of follies.

One very important function of art is the holding of a mirror to society, whenever and wherever that society may be. The Daily Fail, as usual, wants to shoot the messenger.

As you can see from the photo right, the Victorians never thought of clothing and deportment as anything other than "proper". LOL

Tokio Hotel cover all brands – sorry, bases

tokio-hotel-sanremo-music-festival-05 Long-hair metaller, hip-hop street kid, damn-that’s-glam leather and spec-the-geek all have a place as fans of Tokio Hotel.

Whether it’s really fashion or just marketing, there’s no doubt the winners of the Best Group Award at the 2009 MTV Music Awards have captured the ears of many.

With their spread of fashion styles we guess they’re out to catch the eyes of potential fans too.

Oh, and can you pick the identical twins?

Power Pop Return for Gabriella Cilmi - Woman On A Mission

Unexpected fact number one - Gabriella Cilmi was the most popular singer in the UK in 2009. Hold on, you say, what about Leona Lewis and Lady GaGa or even Girls Aloud? Sorry, but the Aussie songstress took top spot with Sweet About Me, the most played song on radio, tv, online and in concert in Britain in 2009.

The licence body PRS compile their list as part of collecting royalties for songwiters, and PRS is well known for it draconian actions, even wanting to fine a charity shop for playing a radio. So we can be sure that if PRS say Sweet About Me was top of their list it would have arrived there after rigorous checks.

There’s even more good news for fans of Gabriella as her new single On A Mission is a wonderful uplifting power pop track with the lyrics inspiring warm vibes: "I am a woman on a mission, whatever it takes I will do what I gotta do”.

The video for the single is a lot of fun too, perhaps somewhat inspired by the film Barbarella as the publicity shot of Gabriella Cilmi (photo, right) has certain echoes of Jane Fonda at her glamorous best.

Unexpected fact number two - Gabriella won the Grand Prix accolade at Sopot International Song Festival in Poland on August 22 2009 and she sang, you guessed it, Sweet About Me, which Gabriella also co-wrote.

On A Mission is due for commercial release in March with Gabriella’s second studio album expected to follow soon after.

Spotify figures suggest failure

The first 6-month figures for Spotify suggest what we’ve all known - the concept is likely to fail. With users streaming an astonishingly low average of just 370 tracks in the 6 months, the service is not meeting music-lover needs.

Looking at the figures in more detail, 370 tracks breaks down to:
  • average usage is just 2 tracks per day (yes, TWO only)
  • average usage is significant as Spotify claims no “honeymoon” drop-off
Also of note is that ONE THIRD of tracks available on Spotify have never been streamed.

As to the music choices, Lady GaGa dominated the Spotify charts along with Now That’s What I Call Music compilations and the Clubland CDs. Which suggests Spotify is the new, online version of Woolworths - a music service for people who don’t follow music for quality or depth.

No problem with people enjoying good pop music, but professional services like iTunes and Last.FM will continue to dominate for serious music lovers.

Fantasy dominates the box office and New Moon is best of all

Although final figures are still to be confirmed, New Moon has already set some box office records. The Twilight Saga novels of Stephenie Meyer's are adding significantly to the long-lasting popularity of fantasy in all its forms - movie, book and comic.

The Friday total of $72.7 million from 4,024 North American theaters for New Moon has broken the previous All-Time Friday and also the Single Day records of $67 million set by 2008's The Dark Knight.

Included in the Friday total is the $26.27M that New Moon took in 12:01am screenings from 3,514 theaters. That set a new Midnight Opening record, smashing both The Dark Knight's $18.4M set on July 18 2008 and also Harry Potter And The Half Blood Prince's $22.2M set on July 15 2009.

Assuming New Moon hits $140m for the weekend, it won't break the all-time Opening Weekend record set by The Dark Knight of $158.4M in 2008 or the second place of Spider-Man 3 at $151.M in 2007. But it does jump into the No. 3 spot previously held by Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest with $135.6M in 2006.

New Moon has also doubled the totals of Twilight from a year ago, which earned $36M on its first Friday and $69.7M for the opening weekend.

Leona Lewis live launch for her album - Amazing

As an ex-vocalist I'd like to mention that Leona Lewis has a remarkable voice, both in the studio and live.

When writing about her cover of Run I mentioned how she uses the full emotion and control that helps place her in the top 10 female vocalists of modern times. From passion early on she opens those wonderful vocal chords for a huge & powerful bridge that still sends shivers up my spine.

When music carries great emotion & passion that can be captured by the singer, that is a great achievement - whatever the genre of music.

With the new album Echo we have another great treat in store and that is already being revealed with a home-made, low-quality video of Brave that's on YouTube ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xT1UYvKpswQ ).

Even allowing for the poor quality, it is clear Leona has power and passion to burn. It is thrilling to see (photo shows Leona Lewis in her fantastic dress for the launch concert for Echo) and hear this young woman already reaching the heights few come near.

New Rammstein album Liebe Ist Für Alle Da

Any new work by Rammstein is most welcome. And a new album is great news. Okay, it’s awesome news. The Berlin metal meisters are due to release Liebe Ist Für Alle Da in Germany on October 16 and in USA on October 20.

Early previews have used phrases like “typically mammoth industrial riff” and an “H-bomb of a riff that rivals Sonne in terms of brilliance” along with comments on the wide variety of musical tones peppered throughout the songs.

Track listing:
01. Rammlied
02. Ich Tu Dir Weh
03. Waidmann's Heil
04. Haifisch
05. B******
06. Fruehling In Paris
07. Weiner Blut
08. Pussy
09. Liebe Ist Fur Alle Da
10. Mehr
11. Roter Sand

Pussy will be released as a single on September 18, a two-song digipack with Rammlied as the B-side. Pussy is “Rammstein at their tongue-in-cheek best” and the track echoes Amerika in style. The video for Pussy was recently shot with renowned Swedish director Jonas Åkerlund, who has previously worked with Metallica, Satyricon, Madonna and The Prodigy.

Source: http://clik4music.com/

Taylor Momsen is a model, an actress, and now a singer

Taylor Momsen is is a model, an actress, and now a singer. Some of the great attitude we have seen in Gossip Girl is appearing in her other work. Taylor's newest project is the band Pretty Reckless which has already been signed by Interscope Records.

Taylor Momsen (photo) also seems to enjoy the goth look, frequently wearing a combination of stylish and dark to provide a powerful image. And, no doubt, a great photo opportunity. Here's the Gossip Girl star in New York, preparing to transform into funky singer and work on her album.

When Taylor arrived at the CW Network Party, you could be excused for wondering which persona is on show. As it happens, we don't mind. Any Taylor is good Taylor.

Fantastic spectacle at the Britney Spears Circus Tour

Anyone who has witnessed a performance of Cirque du Soleil will know the power of great music when coupled with a stunning show. They might be surprised to know that Britney Spears achieves similar heights of skill and performance with her new Circus Tour.

Britney flies through the air (photo 1), very much in the care of professionals, yet does so with a true performer's ability and naturalness. Britney is nimble (photo 2), Britney is quick. Most of all, Britney is the star, back on centre stage and, by the looks, totally loving it.

The concert tour features many shows in large arenas, where the circle-in-the-round stage is used to thrilling effect. That approach is also a plus for the audience, as a much higher percentage have great seats, literally ringside.

There are four Acts to the show, with plenty of costume changes. They are Circus, followed by House of Fun (Anything Goes) and then some different sort of fun with Freakshow/Peepshow (photo 3). The final Act is Electro Circ and, of course, we can expect an Encore.

With the Pussycat Dolls as the opening act, there is plenty of dancing to watch, and that choreography carries over to Britney's Acts (photo 4).

The first part of the tour takes in Atlanta, Miami, Newark and Boston. As you can see from the photos, Britney is looking very fit.

Then the Tour heads north to Canada with shows in Toronto (two) and Montreal. New York, Washington, Pittsburgh and Houston round out to the end of March.

In April, beginning on the 3rd, Dallas is followed by Kansas City and Minneapolis. Then back to Canada for Edmonton and Vancouver. After Tacoma it's the turn of California, with a host of shows: Sacramento, San Jose, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, Anaheim and San Francisco.

The end of April shows will be in Phoenix, Las Vegas, Chicago and Columbus. Such a concert tour requires lots of stamina and rumours are that Britney and her crew really worked hard to get themselves and the routines into shape.

On the strength of the first show, everything is working really well.

Dollhouse pleases and offers great promise - as well as being a hit on iTunes

The first episode of Dollhouse, titled Ghost, proved to be a gripping new series from Joss Whedon, again returning to his science fiction roots.

Photo 01: Echo gets reprogrammed, ready for the next "mission".

Whedon's successful TV series like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the spin-off Angel, and also Firefly, has brought lots of attention to this new series.

The power of Apple in the whole range of media - music, film, tv - has been increasing year on year. From Toy Story (via Pixar) to digital downloads (iTunes) and mobile phones (iPod), the creators of the wonderful Apple Mac have dominated new channels. They also helped Dollhouse. The premier episode shot to No. 2 slot on iTunes sales, a huge boost.

Photo 02: Dollhouse is very up-to-date, with the soundtrack including Lady Gaga's Just Dance. Just as many other modern tv shows have gained large fan followings from being aware of the latest styles in music and fashion, it looks like Dollhouse will follow the trend

As well as the film of Buffy (he won an Emmy Award), Whedon also boasts co-writing credits on Toy Story (he won an Academy Award), Titan A.E. and also Alien: Resurrection. He has won many sci-fi awards as well.

Eliza Dushku had a great role in Buffy and Angel as Faith, and was the main star of Tru Calling. In all cases she is a strong and independent character, and has great appeal. She often played various personas in those roles, so Dollhouse may benefit a lot from her presence.

Photo 03: one basic premise of Dollhouse is: what if actions had no consequences

Dushku plays Echo, one of the Actives or Dolls. Sort of a cross between Alias and Dark Angel, the Dolls can become powerful contractors for various missions, good and bad, or even fantasies.

Photo 04: we learn some of the background to Echo through flashbacks, although at this stage we are not sure if any are real memories or just the programmed versions.

Although the Dolls have their personalities wiped clean so they can be imprinted with new personas, Echo starts to become self-aware. The acquired talents, muscle memory, skills and language from different assignments can be a benefit or a curse.

In the "wiped clean" state, the "Actives" seem to live in a rather fantastic, futuristic dormitory with plenty of implied nudity and total lack of personal embarrasment so far, all off-camera.

Photo 05: Echo in a passive, care-free "wiped" state

The early indications are that Echo may have a particular brain function, or even gene, which allows her to retain some memories from the missions, and also some understanding that the processes used may not be entirely benign.

Photo 06: We see some early signs of Echo's differences from the rest of the Actives when she goes wandering out-of-bounds and sees another Active being wiped. She realises there is more than just a "pleasant" experience going on

Looking after our "heroes" are the Handlers, with all sorts of clever technology and, so far, clever justifications for what they do. Given the recent progress in the science with gene therapy, it is perhaps not too big a leap to believe the genetic "memory" can be tweaked to enable special talents.

A sophisticated, cold-as-ice woman is the highest authority at the Dollhouse, answering only to its owners. Adelle DeWitt (played by Olivia Williams) is both ruthless and protective, but prefers to keep the Dollhouse a smooth running business. She is a visionary who firmly believes that all involved benefit from the service they provide.

Photo 07: the instruction is to "facilitate the exchange and nothing more" and we just know that is going to play out differently.

To help free the kidnapped daughter of a businessman, Echo becomes a hostage negotiator to keep the police out of the case.

In the background - so far - an FBI Agent has been chasing "Project Dollhouse" for 14 months with little result and so his career is in jeopardy. It seems his story will get involved with one of the missions before too long.

One large clue to the potential drama in the storylines comes from one geek, who explains that their imprinting is "not just the greatest hits but the whole person" and so there could be weaknesses as well as strengths.

Photo 08: "... so who does she think she is?"

The "clean" and the "dirty" parts of Echo's persona come into play when she tries to rescue the kidnapped girl. At first they appear to create a doomed mission, until her acquired memories also help provide a clue to the current problems.

Photo 09: "you can't find a ghost" is a great line from the script

Although fast-moving and deliberately obscure at times, the scripts will probably follow Whedon's pattern of keeping us in the dark a lot of the time, and letting our own thoughts flesh out the characters and the situations.

The baddies don't come out well, although in this case there are shades of grey of the baddies. And, perhaps, we are starting to see varying shades for the goodies also. Perhaps those same blurred edges will apply to the Actives, which could make for intriguing viewing.

Photo 10: "you can't fight a ghost" follows up the earlier line

So a successful mission - if you don't count the dead and dying - brings episode one to a close, with plenty of potential for fireworks between the characters, and spectacular stunts as the missions become more physical rather than psychological (we hope).

Photo 11: will the dreams be untroubled?

Valentines - the style of advertising - the attraction of style

Apple is a wonderful inspiration in so many ways, from computers to operating systems to iTunes and to iPods. And let's not forget Pixar and Toy Story and all the rest. A large part of their success is clarity of both design and message.

The Apple Macintosh has always been the Lotus to the Ford of Microsoft. The Mac is sleek, focussed, powerful and fast. It will get the same job done in half or even a third of the time. Part of the reason is it has a much better operating system - optimised for design, graphics, images and video.

So it is perhaps no surprise the advertising used by Apple is also sleek, impressive and clever. It is not trying to be all things to all people - and master of none. Apple's brand is about quality, purpose, clarity - and colour.

Apple's design of their computers revolutionised the industry, blew apart the entrnenched greys and off-blues of the mainstream, suggesting that computers were great tools but could also look great - like a Lotus.

So it's also no surprise the advertising by Apple for Valentines Day will be clever and colourful.

We love it.

Serena Williams becomes No. 1 in tennis - and number one in career earnings

Serena Williams had a fantastic run at the Australian Open tennis tournament, the winner in both singles and in doubles with her sister Venus. Which took Serena back to No. 1 in the official tour rankings.

Even more good news for Serena is she has become the leading woman, in any sport, in career earnings. As you can see from the chart, the Williams family dominate in career earnings.

Our second chart shows the extent of change in earnings for women sports stars over the years. Navratilova won 30 times more matches in her impressive career than Serena has so far.

Serena's earnings have been boosted by a combination of larger tournament winnings and the recent parity between women and men for prize money in tennis.

Wild Energy - The Girl That Rocks - New Girl Power from Eastern Europe

Just in case you missed the past 2 years, there are a host of talented singers now appearing from eastern Europe, not least out of talent shows like Junior Eurovision. Plus exposure and recommendation on blogs and, of course, MySpace, YouTube, imeem and bebo.

Once these singers achieve local success, they gather international fans and, when lucky, support from producers and singers in the USA and UK. If they happen to be photogenic and colourful (Ruslana, top right), so much the better.

Ruslana is, in fact, a huge phenomenon, with fantastic productions for her live shows that take the idea of 'circus' to Cirque du Soleil levels. As she sings "I am the dream you wanna see" there can be few who disagree. Even Missy Elliott enjoys the Wild Energy of Ruslana, joining in on her single The Girl That Rules.

Meanwhile, London has been host to Christabelle Borg from Malta, a young singer who has won nominations and awards at singing festivals, including Eurovision. She has been recording with top producers and we can expect lots of airplay on MTV and, without doubt, YouTube once the word starts to spread. One solid track is I Wanna Know with throbbing bass and sweet vocals over the top.

Alexandra Burke zooms to success!

Alexandra Burke has the record for the fastest-selling download across Europe on its first day of release. Hallelujah sold more than 105,000 which beat the previous fastest download of 82,000 in one day ... full story

Being a sex symbol is also about strength

Cristina Scabbia is a powerful frontwoman in gothic metal, but not a 6ft 2in scandinavian athlete :: speaking about her image and that power, she explains “I didn’t choose the thing of the sex symbol or the ‘hot woman’ and stuff. I always tried to give the message of, ‘be sexy however you are, even if you’re a supermodel or you’re a little ugly girl that still has to double up her inner beauty’.” full story

Gothic Lolita Surprise

One of the big attractions of music services like Last.FM and Pandora is the power of the genome approach :: the way songs can be classified and tagged to reflect tone and style ... full story

Behind every great woman - is another !!

We know a lot about Mariah Carey and Miley Cyrus, but maybe not a lot about someone who provides great musical inspiration behind the scenes. Antonina Armato is a songwriter and producer ... full story


hot feeds and hot news from hot blogs :: daily feeds and daily updates
there just doesn't seem to be an easier way to gather and preview feeds from different blogs

especially ones with a similar subject or theme

and preview is the important thing in our busy days

so am hoping someone will tell of a better way
or someone will develop existing software to do the job


Need An Easier Way To Do This

Can anyone suggest a way to preview a number of blogs - like in the sidebar - but with 4 or 5 snippets from each blog?
See more here