#ThrowbackThursday: Emma Bunton “Free Me”

This year marks the 10 year anniversary of the best and most consistent solo Spice Girl album to date: Emma Bunton‘s Free Me.

Emma Bunton Free Me

 

While it’s safe to say none of Ginger, Sporty, Scary, Baby or Posh’s albums will ever alter the course of music history like that of their collective endeavours, there is still something special about Emma’s second album that keeps me coming back.

Free Me arrived just a few sleeps before Valentine’s Day in 2004 but love wasn’t particularly in the air for solo Spice Girls records anymore.

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Chart Feed – 27.08.12

Success comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes, on local levels and global fronts. Some just seem to want a piece of it in every market.

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It has been a very good week for overachievers Bloc Party and Taylor Swift, as well as Birdy, Ricki-Lee, and Brandy. Also, find out where new releases from Owl City, Aiden Grimshaw and David Guetta land.

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Chart Feed – 20.08.12

Remember back when it was kinda uncool to be “launched from a reality TV show”?

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Well, it would seem that if you can escape that stigma with class and some bloody awesome creative ventures, you’re guaranteed to be embraced by the masses in the way Guy Sebastian and Jessica Mauboy were this week.

Elsewhere on this Chart Feed, it has also been a good week for the Spice Girls, Emeli Sande, Rita Ora and Flo Rida.

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Spice Girls mops up the London 2012 Olympics Closing Ceremony

I am actually really glad I have the day off work today because I would have been a mess behind my desk, still trembling with joy from watching the Spice Girls perform at the London 2012 Olympics Closing Ceremony.

SPICE GIRLS OLYMPICS GIF

Years from now we will be telling our children’s children about where we were the minute the legendary five showed up on stage in individually customised London black cabs and turned the par-tee.

Everyone’s favourite British girl band reuniting to perform at the Olympics Closing Ceremony was probably the worst kept secret ever, and by the time we got to the rehearsals stage, paparazzi snaps of all five on site pointing and fist-pumping pretty much sealed the deal.

The Spice Girls rocked up looking like proper pop music royalty, each of them in flawless form, bearing some modernised interpretation of their Spice branding: Victoria in a fitting little black dress with a metre-long train, Geri reviving Cool Britannica in a regal red short dress with gold chains and the Union Jack flag fashionable scrunched at her derry, framing her in a sexy ball grown silhouette, Emma in a girly pink number with exaggerated shoulders pads, Melanie C softening her sportiness with an ethereal all-white pants suit, and Mel B upgrading from animal prints to a heart-arresting, sequined nude catsuit.

SPICE GIRLS OLYMPICS

Our fabulous five blasted on stage with their debut single ‘Wannabe’ – which tore up the pop charts 16 years ago – and it’s apparent from the minute they stepped out of their black cabs that the same feisty girl power energy is still alive and well in all of them – some might argue that Victoria is, perhaps, better at containing it.

Just like a few other performers, the Spice Girls sang completely live with the aid of a backing vocal track, which was particularly obvious during the chorus in both ‘Wannabe’ and ‘Spice Up Your Life’.

It was evidently not the vocal performance of the night, but then again, since when did these anthemic hits called for extreme vocal prowess? These songs, just like so many of the Spice Girls‘ hits, were about conveying a feeling and infectious energy. So, did Ginger, Sporty, Scary, Baby and Posh successfully recapture the mood and euphoria we first felt listening to both records? Yes – and then some.

That’s easily the single best reason why this reunion performance is a winner.

VICTORIA BECKHAM LONDON OLYMPICS CLOSING CEREMONY

The minute each of them mounted a black cab and went on a race around the stadium – fuck, bitch – it was all over. The immensity of witnessing Victoria‘s eleganza, with her train and long brown mane flying in the air, was enough to slay a queen.

Even though the performance saw each of them arriving in their own taxi, bearing their own look, and often taking their own part of the stage – it still feels like a unit. The Spice Girls, to me, has always been a collection of five distinctly branded females that when combined brought this irrepressibly camp and feisty energy.

I think it’s brilliant that just for a few minutes on stage, these five women – who have all moved on with their own lives, family and solo projects – can come back and play a popstar character that brought millions of people all around the world so much joy. And on top of that, do it so damn well.

Long live the Spice Girls.

SPICE GIRLS OLYMPICS 2012

Footnotes:

Links will inevitably be taken down. So watch the girls take over the Olympic Closing Ceremony while you can, wherever you can.

X Factor Australia: Live Shows Week One

What do you expect when a bunch of mostly green performers with palm-sweating nerves of flopping on live television get thrown on a stage surrounded by cameras? Simple. You either hit your mark or miss your cue. Both of which actually happened, y’all. Welcome to X Factor Australia‘s first 2011 live show.

By means of introduction, this week it’s all about “Judges Choice” – where our four mentors pick songs they feel would best showcase their individual contestants’ strengths and artistic persuasion. Here’s the bone of contention that sees the judging panel flare up with debates over song choice and the “right fit”. Needless to say, this week’s power bottom two acts were a direct result of ill-fitting song choices.

Ronan Keating quickly asserted his confidence and prowess with all three of his groups excelling in their performances. Audio Vixen, Three Wishez and Young Men’s Society easily ran the competition last night with A-grade renditions of Coldplay‘s ‘Viva La Vida’, Lady Gaga/Beyoncé‘s ‘Telephone’ and Bruno Mars‘ ‘Lazy Song’ vs Jessie J‘s ‘Price Tag’ respectively. The Irish heart throb was spot on, demonstrating an intrinsic ability to match songs to his group’s strengths and image. He not only upgraded all three of his acts but he did so without making it seem contrived or blatantly gimmicky.

On the other hand, Nat Bassingthwaighte copped the most criticism for her choices after all three of her over 25 acts flopped with lukewarm performances. Faux Farnham warbler Andrew Wishart was all shades of beige, the shy tatted-up teddy Mitchell Callaway did a risky country re-write of Rihanna‘s ‘Only Girl In The World’, while my personal fave Cleo Howman failed to connect with ‘Jars of Heart’ after awkwardly missing her cue at the start. You could take out a mortgage to fund a stage spectacle for her but nothing could disguise the hollow sense of distance between Cleo and the material she was serving last night.

It was evident everyone got the memo to not hold back with the staging this year as we see aerialists tumble from above, troupes of dancers take over the stage, and even a piano ablaze in flames. This is just the kind of spectacle that makes for exciting viewing but as we soon discover, it all turns to ashes if the song and vocal performance itself doesn’t deliver moments.

Last night’s first live show attracted over 1.45 million viewers, a successful increase from last year’s equivalent episode which pulled 1.1 million. The impact on Twitter was immediate as ever. Audio Vixen led the pack as the show’s top Twitter trending topic after last night’s performance, ahead of other faves Three Wishez, Johnny Ruffo and Christina Parie.

While there are definite standouts and polished acts in the competition, I’m hesitant to rule out anyone after only one live show. Y’all should learn a lesson from revelations like Rebecca Ferguson from last year’s UK series. She was adequate but y’know, she didn’t exactly steal the show until two or three weeks in. Some of the performers you saw here last night might not be faves until a couple more rounds but who will Australia allow to blossom? And who will be dismissed?

Let’s check on the standout performances from our first live show, the deliciously shady comments, and finally – our first elimination:

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X Factor Australia: Audition Episodes Two and Three

YouTube sensations, second chances and the real contenders of our generation – this is what X Factor Australia has been serving for the last two nights.

After making an impact nationwide with family-friendly characters and heartstring-tugging stories, last night’s audition reel turned to exposing some of the finest and shadiest of the teen to early 20s category. I find the biggest challenge with assessing contestants now lie in discerning genuine star quality from the superficial fame whoring. Let’s face it – you wouldn’t audition for X Factor if you didn’t have the slightest desire to be famous or gain exposure for your music. Otherwise, you might as well just upload tracks on Soundcloud and play it for your own satisfaction.

But what I’m talking about here is finding a talent with genuine love for singing and music, not someone who just sees the music industry as an accessible entry level to becoming famous. I think the integrity of the show would be extremely compromised if the judges mistake confident fame-whoredom for the mystical “X factor”.

Having said that, not the slightest smear of bullshit’s gonna escape the audience. They will call you out if you’re faking your age, if you’re deluded, and especially, if the judges aren’t seeing through that. The last two nights have been a test of gut instinct for all of us.

Find out which contestants earn the Feed Limmy snap of approval and who’s getting served the bitch, please hand:

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Playlist: Best of British Girlbands

Celebrating British Girlbands – the two hour Frequency special Petro and I did on JOY 94.9 last Wednesday is now available for download.

It was a fun night reminiscing on everyone from the Spice Girls to Bananarama, All Saints to Girls Aloud and Sugababes. We talked about Girl Power, one hit wonder girlbands – like Cleopatra, Honeyz and Mel & Kim – and upcoming acts like Mini Viva and The Saturdays.

Check out my show podcasts: Diff’rent Strokes with Jade & Dave
Check out Petro’s show podcasts:  Sound Museum

Celebrating British Girlbands show playlist:

‘Love In The First Degree’ by Bananarama
‘Ladies Night’ by Atomic Kitten
‘Push The Button’ by Sugababes
‘Wannabe’ by Spice Girls
‘Spice Up Your Life’ by Spice Girls
‘Don’t You Worry’ by Madasun
‘Sound of The Underground’ by Girls Aloud
‘Call The Shots’ by Girls Aloud
‘Up’ by The Saturdays
‘Pure Shores’ by All Saints
‘Never Ever’ by All Saints
‘Scandalous’ by Mis-Teeq
‘Get Sexy’ by Sugababes
‘Round Round’ by Sugababes
‘Respectable’ by Mel & Kim
‘Finally Found’ by Honeyz
‘I Wish (Cahill Radio Edit)’ by Mini Viva
‘Cleopatra’s Theme’ by Cleopatra
‘Whole Again’ by Atomic Kitten
‘Lady Is A Vamp’ by Spice Girls