Say no to leopardskin

And you thought Betty Boo was the only popstar to dress up in leopardskin print? Think again. Two wrongs don't make a right, but think back to 1996, the year of Gina G. You might recall one of her rivals, Layla, a dark horse in the final of the Great British Song Contest. She pipped through the semis and into the final, making a bold leopard-printed statement and drawing attention to her rather ropey live performance of Gotta Find Love. Having said that, the song wasn't half bad. Like thousands of others, I couldn't bring myself to vote for anything dressed in fake animal print. It just brought back too many memories of gaudy Bet Gilroy. Layla sank without trace in Britain, making it quite difficult to track down any images to accompany a blog entry on her. How very thoughtless.

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In the search for good europop, if such a thing exists, I have gone east to Russia to discover the throwaway delights of Zhanna Friske. She rose to fame as a member of Russian pop group Blestyashchie. Upon watching their videos, I realised that Girls Aloud still have quite some considerable depths yet to plumb in terms of sleaze. Blestyashchie are Russia's longest running and most famous girl group, as well as their least-dressed. Their longevity has been the result of the policy that whenever one member leaves (as several of them have), they simply conscript someone new who doesn't mind writhing around wearing very little. Still, the music is trash and you can't argue with that. Just look at the evidence.

Blestyashchie - Agent 007:
You can tell the Cold War's over when you see a Russian girl group performing their sleazy ode to James Bond. If you thought Scooch's airsteward uniforms looked camp, try these for size. This video reveals the Blestyashchie girls' secret of slimness, as they bang away on exercise bikes. I'm still at a loss to account for the relevance to James Bond.

Blestyashchie - За четыре моря: Speaking no Russian myself, I've had to make a rather impromptu translation of this song. It appears to be a latino-flavoured song about the lot of Russian housewives. They're glamorous, but they're hard-working. Look at them, vacuuming away, ironing their smalls, looking after the dog. Household chores rarely looked this glamorous.

Blestyashchie - Восточные сказки: You might have heard this one before. The Blestyashchie girls rope in Arash for a Russian take on one of his album hits. It sounds like they're singing about facial hair... Moustache-ni, Moustache-ni...

Having taken pop to its sleaziest level as part of the group, Zhanna Friske then left the group behind to make a number of cheesy Europop records. La La La found her in fabulous form, trilling her way through a singalongable ditty. It's europop-by-numbers and all the better for it.

There's a summery feel to Zhanna's hit, Gde to leto. I've never seen someone accessorise so well with the colour of a swimming pool. She's practically camouflaged in her range of turquoise swimwear. I'm not sure about the bit with the flaming torches though. That silky dress of hers looks flammable and it could all so easily have ended in tears.

You can download Zhanna's songs here. Click the links below. Click Mp3 (next to the speaker icon). A new window appears, then click Скачать. A new window will appear. If your download doesn't begin automatically, click ссылку to start it.

La La La
Gde to leto

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Losing once is not enough for some

Continuing with the theme of songs which fell before the final hurdle, here is the cautionary tale of one plucky wannabe Eurovision contender who just didn't know when to quit. For some people, one humiliating loss on national television is just not enough. They have to go back for more.
Alberta entered the Great British Song Contest in 1998 with her upbeat, pop-reggae number, Don't It Make You Feel So Good. Tragically, it didn't make the British public feel so good, and was pipped into second place by 4,000 votes. Faced with such a result, what did poor Alberta do? Determined to prove that she was capable of being beaten into second place twice, she showed up in the following year's contest, once again finishing second by only 700 votes. Still, she soon had her revenge on the public by releasing the terminally dreadful and slightly disturbing YoYo Boy. And she was never heard of again.
Here endeth the lesson, unless you wish to relive Alberta's near-moment of glory with Don't It Make You Feel So Good.

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You stayed away too long

Good Eurovision entries are a bit like buses. You wait sixteen years for a good one to arrive and then suddenly two arrive at once. That was the case in 1997, when Joanne May showed up on Song For Europe (or the Great British Song Contest, whatever they decided to call it that year.) Of course, we all know that Katrina won that year and went on to win the contest. But Joanne had a great song too.
You Stayed Away Too Long was the forerunner of Jessica Garlick's Come Back. Not a lot is known about Joanne actually, other than that she originated from a small town near Bolton and finished third in the contest. British televoters dealt her the ultimate humiliation of being pipped even by the ridiculous Yodel in the Canyon of Love. No wonder she was never heard of again, I should imagine the poor girl never recovered.

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They wuz robbed (part I)

In these bleak months between Eurovision 2007 and the start of the national finals for 2008, there is precious little for Eurovision fans to cheer about. So I have decided to relive a few past semi-triumphs. These are songs wot should have won but were cruelly left for dead at the foot of the scoreboard.

The subject of my first post is Hello from Mars, the 2003 entry from Latvia. F.L.Y. were a fusion of Latvian talent from a number of different groups, formed especially for the contest. Plenty of promise on paper. And as host nation, the chances of a top ten finish looked convincing. What a tragedy that as the final votes were cast, poor Latvia were found languishing in 24th place with only five points, donated kindly by their Baltic neighbour, Estonia. The song was pretty good though, once you get over the complete lack of continuity in the lyrics and the frequent lapses off-key. In fact, come to think of it, there are three compelling reasons why this should have won.

Firstly, I would challenge anyone to get such fabulous whites using ordinary non-bio powder. Though Westlife may consider themselves to be patron saints of the white tuxedo, in any duel of laundrymanship, the brilliance of F.L.Y's whites would quite probably have blinded them.

Secondly, dancing in a two-man, one-girl trio is actually quite an arduous task - especially if that girl happens to be a rather weighty lesbian in high heels who has managed to steamroller her way between you and your boyfriend on the G-A-Y dance floor. But is there any other group on this planet which manage to pull it off as well as F.L.Y.? Every conceivable combination of cheesy three-way dance move is used to crowd-pleasing effect.

Thirdly, it is no secret that many of life's most pleasurable acts are performed while on the knees, and this is no exception. The fact that one third of F.L.Y. finishes up gasping on the floor only adds to the spectacle. Bravo, man!

Relive the pleasure of the peformance below. And if you like it enough to listen to it in tune, click Hello from Mars for it.

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Shake it, shake it, make it alright

If you tuned into 1994's far-from-classic Eurovision Song Contest in Dublin, you will remember them. They were like an all-female version of the Village People. Mekado performed what many regard as Germany's 'last decent entry' to the competition. Wir Geben 'Ne Party was a camp little disco number, with a dance routine involving lots of hand-clapping, thigh-slapping, head-twisting choreography. And where did it get out plucky German trio? Only third place! Surely one of the greatest Eurovision travesties of all time. Relive the good times here and imagine what might have been.

I propose three cheers for this fabulous teutonic trio! They say good things come in threes, so here are three things you never knew and possible never cared about Mekado

1. The name Mekado was taken from merging the first names of the girls in question. Melanie is the one with black hair who often appears to draw inspiration for her outfits from an S&M catalogue. Katie is the tall blonde who has always disturbed me purely by having an unnatural distance between her eyes. Dorkas is the brunette who appeared on stage at Eurovision in what appeared to be a sailor suit constructed purely from her grandmother's crochet kit.

2. Dorkas went on to continue being a successful star in Germany and is now more blonde than Katie (the one with the dodgy eyes, sorry - can't get past that)

3. The group went on to release a full album, titled We're Giving A Party (Should've sacked the translator, girls). It's now out of production, but you can pick it up on Ebay if you're a shrewd bidder. Here's a taster of what the album includes. Good Morning I Love You is a slow pop number which gets catchy after the third listen. There's even a slight whiff of a key change towards the end.

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Who puts the Fab into Fabrizio?

It's an exciting time in the fabulous land of trashy pop, because Fabrizio Faniello, or 'Fab', if I might be so bold, has released a double Greatest Hits pack, called Hits & Clips. That's right, you get a CD of his Fab's most fabulous hits plus a dvd of his video clips (minus that performance of I Do in Eurovision 2006!)

Fab's been a regular runner in the Maltese Eurovision pre-selections no less than seven times since 1998. Twice he's finished in first place, but occasionally he's fallen at the final furlong. His Greatest Hits pack is perfect for playing before you head out for a night on the town. Having done a bit of webtrawling, I've found a taster of what you can expect:

Love me or leave me
I'm in love (the whistle song)
Love on the radio

Three cheers for Fab and his camp, shirt-unbuttoned, air-punching dance pop. If you want to buy a physical copy, Amazon Germany is your best hope. In the spirit of celebration, I'm offering this free Fabrizio desktop wallpaper. Click the image on the left, wait until it downloads, then right click and set as desktop background.

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You might be missing some of the benefits that stereo can provide

Few popstars fit the mould of being both trashy and fabulous. But Geri Halliwell is clearly one of them. More so than ever now that she's a washed-up former popstar and single mother. If anyone is in a position to comment on Geri's spectacular fall from grace, it's me. After all, I was one of the very select few who actually bought the Passion CD. And actually, it's not bad. There are a few tracks which are perpetually skipped on my iPod but there are quite a few catchy ones.

Above: Few of us realised the failure of Passion would jeopardise Geri's ability to buy a decent pair of jeans

As it happens, one of the better tracks was never included on the UK release of the album. 100% Pure Love is a fabulous, funky little song. Here are four remixes of it, the best of which is probably the US version.

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Waiting for the follow-up

While we're waiting for Koldun to release a follow-up to his Eurovision, hit, I thought some of you Koldun fans out there might still be hunting around for the Russian-lyric version of Work Your Magic. Well, look no further, you can get the Russian lyrics version of the song here. For those who don't speak any Russian, all you need to do is click the Russian word Скачать, which is in the little grey box, then the blue link which follows, to start your download.

Right: I'm loving those red running shoes of his. Time to head to Lillywhites for a cheap pair.

While we're at it, let's check out something from Koldun's back catalogue. It's not as instantly catchy as Work Your Magic, but it's a nice, meandering pop-rock-ballad by numbers.

Прости за всё


Some blog readers have asked for Dima's song Get up, get down, get crazy. Well, having hunted about on the internet for it, I've found it. It's a bit tricky to get, here's what you need to do:

Open Windows Media Player
Select File; Open URL;
Paste this address in: http://www.s2006s.bir.ru/musica/Koldun-Get%20up%20get%20down.mp3 make sure you get it exactly right!
Then click Ok; Wait a bit.
The file will open and start playing.
Then all you need to do is to select File; Save;

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Caution: Watch at your own risk

Anyone who reads my blog on a regular basis will know that I like trashy cheese as much as the next man (probably a bit more actually). So it's not often that I discover an act which pushes even my boundaries of good taste. But I think I've found it finally, in the shape of Danish bubblegum popstars, Toy Box. Toy Box appear to have taken up the baton of dragging pop down to its lowest ebb from fellow countrymen Aqua. And they've done a pretty good job. The lead vocalists are Anila and Amir. They're pretty much as scary as the pair in Aqua, with less redeeming features. And the music? It's so cheesy, even I feel dirty when I listen to it. Let's check them out for a moment.

The Sailor-Song
All the nice boys like a sailor, and there are plenty of them here. All of them arm-in-arm singing a dirty old sea shanty aboout seamen and life on the ocean waves, while the ship carrying them fires its mighty funnels. It's hard to believe that the song itself could be any camper. But check the lyrics, 'If we all come together, we know what to do, we all come together just for you'. And if that wasn't enough hedonism for you, check out 'Sailing, sailing, jumping out the railing. Drinking, drinking, 'til the ship is sinking. Gambling, stealing, lots of sex-appealing'. Sounds like the average Channel crossing on SeaFrance to me. And who on earth put the words 'That's not a knife... THIS is a knife' into a pop record? 'Girls like me are pretty hard to find' she sings, dressed in a mere slip of a bikini. Not in my experience, darling, just try hanging around Soho on a Friday night.

Tarzan and Jane
Every cheesy group has their Doctor Jones moment. And here are Toy Box at it in the jungle. Their intentions are quite plain when the lyrics begin 'I am Jane and I like to ride an elephant'. Full use is made of the opportunity to dress up in sleazy loin cloths and dance suggestively. But nothing will prepare you for the sight of what Tarzan starts pumping away at when the video hits 02:20 (45 seconds from the end). Looks like he's using something he bought from Prowler to me.

Best Friend
I've saved the best for last. Best Friend is like a cheesy pop version of the film Fatal Attraction. The video appears to be based around the theme of a jealous girl who has some kind of a psychotic crush on her best friend. So much so, she appears with her leather clad girls' gang rehearsing karate moves learnt directly from the Karate Kid. Things turn more violent when she gets tooled up with a pair of scissors and cuts her best friend's girlfriend's hair to shreds. She takes out another one with a large incendiary device and two more with a crossbow. No wonder juvenile violence is on the rise.

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Return of the hair

These exciting photos reveal that Jonatan Cerrada has seen the error of his brief dalliance with a hair shaver and has returned his hair to its former glory days of his volumous spikiness, just in time for the release of his third album which will happen soon (well, sometime after July). We can all be relieved at this. Let's revel for a moment in this good news by staring gratuitously at some of the latest photos. If he keeps growing it at this rate, it will soon reach the heady heights of the overgrown-bush proportions achieved at Eurovision.

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