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Posted by Paul 13:07  

Posted by Paul 09:23  

sneaky peeky

This will be the new header logo for thezapping website at (not yet functional)

this will be the side margin (with room for advertising) with the top logo replacing this trial one...

Posted by Paul 09:49  

Posted by Paul 06:05  

11 in 2007 Update #3

The super heroes of pop are busy working on some exciting new tracks (with Electric Dolls) that I am very excited to hear...and of course, they'll be at the popshow on 20th Feb. Plus yay! I am one of their top myspace friends. Marv.
Gavin Mikhail has released his fab album Like Normal People Do in Japan and you can purchase from trolley bus records here (works out at about $19 with p&p). You can also check out one of the bonus tracks - Not Enough (acoustic) at his myspace site right now! A review of that track is coming tomorrow...
Well, my my my! You turn your back for a week and Jordan has left the group and now Digital is a five piece with a completely new look. Still totally worthy of being in my 11 in 07, welcome Charlie, Jon and Josh to thezapping and head on over to their site to check out reworked versions of Boys and Girls and San Frandisco. Plus I have it on good authority from the lovely Baz that a new track is heading to myspace... If it's up for tomorrow, i'll review it then!
. .
And bugger me with a banana, my lovely Bliss girls have gone and had a saucy new make over too! And most glam they look too. I'm loving the logo and the simplicity of the shot and oh boy they all have great legs! Not to sound too gay but Brittany's hair looks aces ;) They are still working on their new track Resist, which I hear sounds fantastic. Can't wait to hear it. Check out their myspace for more great pics...
Beyond have also had a sexy new makeover in what looks to be their most successful photoshoot to date. The girls look suitably sultry and sexy with major popstar pouting going on while the boys don't half scrub up well - Kevin has a great t shirt on and clearly hasn't over done his subtle wrist accessory, while Andy's hair looks v. pop idol and i'm envious of his green jacket - i tried on one similar today and i looked very mutton. So all in all a great shot! Thanks to Wayne for forwarding me a HQ image...
Best of the rest ~ I'm still dying to do a review of a couple of Simon Curtis tracks but haven't heard back yet! I heard from Stephan from Billiam this week and they have a great cover version coming out soon and an 80s inspired track that i know I am going to die for - that's all i can say about that now!

Posted by Paul 14:29  

Posted by Paul 08:19  

11 to watch in 2007 update #2

THE 11 IN 2007 UPDATE #2:

Switch 22 ~ the superheroes of pop (along with the excellent Jean) are performing at Revue Bar (formally too 2 much) Soho London UK!! on the 20th Feb.... I am so there and fully expect to get a free drink after ;) (Just kidding!)
Conor ~ has a gorgeous new song on his myspace site called Heart of Stone (check out my review of it here). Exciting news is in the offing and we hope to bring it to you soon :)

Digital ~ will be doing a regular blog for exciting new site, Lost In Limbo, which I hope to be a part of :) Plus an all new look is to be revealed soon...
Both Beyond and Billiam are finishing off photoshoots and new music at the present and i can't wait to see their new looks :)
Simon Curtis ~ I had two brilliant tracks from Simon that i really want to write about, but i need to check with him first that it's ok! Plus he is putting together all his stuff to start label shopping at the end of this month. Very exciting indeed :)

Posted by Paul 09:35  

Simon Curtis - Broken (thezapping record of the week)

. So, just one whole week late, we finally get to the first "release" of thezapping record company project, which is where we will "release" a single a week from one of our 11 in 07 people and you get to tell us just how good you think it is. And how could I start with anyone else but the lovely Simon. Now I agonised over what would be the first single from Mr. C – I know he would like something like Answer, but I am bowing to popular demand and my favourite song ~ Broken. Simply an epic pop song in four minutes, it has everything you could want out of life. A glorious chorus, stunning production values, top notch vocals and that insidious groove that lodges inside of your head almost instantly and refuses to leave. I can't say enough good things about this song so lets head on over to Will "hot man snogger" from Eye-Pod and see what he has to say…
"And Broken - Broken! I loved it after the first 5 seconds, this song has the potential to be the greatest pop song of the year, it is a perfect (and I can't emphasise the word enough) pop song – a catchy, instant, sit up and listen, well constructed, powerful song."
And you just know it's good when it gets the Veronica Mars seal of approval…
"I'm currently loving his Broken (Show Mix) (beware if you're going to listen to it--it's addictive!)--it definitely has that dark electro-pop sound going on, but it has a really catchy melody and strays away from the minimalism so popular in electro now (which can work well, but it's nice to mix it up every now and then)"

Posted by Paul 09:31  

11 to watch in 2007 Update #1

Most of our lovelies are busy shucking off the new year hangovers, but some of the guys have been quite industrious already so lets fill you in on what our favourite popstars to be have been up to...

Beyond ~ the funky five piece have a whole slew of gigs and appearances coming up including one in Chelmsford on Jan 28th and rather excitingly the re-launch of the Popshow party in London on Feb 20th. Check their myspace for full details...

Lockdown ~ the fab four have the most excellent opportunity of opening for one of thezapping's fave big lunged big haired pop icons - Bonnie Tyler! Catch them (and her) on stage at AXM in Manchester on Feb 2nd. I'm miffed that there's every chance i'll be in NYC but if not, I'm so there!

Billiam ~ Nothing solid to report, but I have it from a very reliable source that the band have recorded their first single and it's very Wham-esque. I can't wait to hear it and see the new look boys in action. As soon as anything solid to report, i'll let you know ;)

Gavin Mikhail ~ Gavin's fantastic album is being released in Japan later this month with two bonus tracks - a new version of what would be my pic for second single Catch Your Fall and a brand new track. Check out Gavin's myspace to hear Banner Years - a song from his debut album that details his struggles to overcome the hard times. Amazing song!

Justin Lanning ~ episode five of Justin's World is now available on his myspace site and it may well be his funniest yet. If you want to see Justin in his undies (does he have morningwood?) prance around the house in a scarily similar manner to the way I do and then later on attempt a British accent, then head on over there now :)
The rest ~ Simon's busy label shopping, Conor has some exciting stuff coming up soon but can't say what yet, Bliss are busy promoting their single Take Me Home Tonight, Pacific Avenue are preparing for the launch of debut album (tell me how it is Susan! Email me!) and Digital are going for a whole new look a week from today... it's just gonna get bigger and better as the year goes on folks...

Posted by Paul 09:24  

thezapping links page

Xo's Middle Eight

J'Ason and Moogaboo's Chartrigger

Pinkie's Pop Eats Pop / A Kind of Love In

Poster Girl


Digital Technique

(Dan) The Man's World


Adem's I'm Always Right

The Hotstuff Files

Alien Hits From Another Planet


Music 4 Loverz

Zeon Music

Dan's Project 76

Lucas Blogs

Club Contact

Copy, Right?

Don't Stop The Pop

Fetch Me Some Music


Indie Girl and Pop Boy

Jessica's Dirrrtypop

Jessica's Into The Groove

Modern Fabulosity


Pink Is The New Blog

Life Thru A Lens




Sounds of Sweden



The Eye Pod


Michel's Glamorous World

Posted by Paul 22:19  

Simon Curtis

In each new era, there are always plenty of good pop groups and acts out there. That's part of the problem really, because if you are after songs to rub up close against your dreams or fire your sense of previously unimaginable possibilities, or bewitch you into not feeling alone, or tinker unpredictably with your insides, or spark unreasonable joy, or allow you to feel understood and misunderstood in whatever proportions you require for any given day or year or lifetime, good really isn't good enough. But there are very few acts that are magical.
I often write about acts that I like. A lot. I think groups like Scissor Sisters and Bodies Without Organs tap into the new wave of pop without being cynical or ironic. The Killers and Magic Numbers bring pop elements into rock and provide us with some amazing and powerful tunes. Acts and singers such as Girls Aloud, Rachel Stevens and lately, Jamelia all have ridden the wave of making pop electro and thrashy and ultimately thrilling, while Paolo Nutini and the current influx of acoustic males have bought a gritty earthiness back to my ears. All these acts I love, some immensely, yet there is a list of a reserved few that make thezapping magical grade. Deborah Gibson and Kylie are givens. So are Robbie Williams, Take That and Will Young. And more recently Maroon 5 managed to win me over completely with an album that still gets played with alarming regularity to this day. And so, two paragraphs in, I have to say that from the first time I heard the show mix of Broken by Simon Curtis, I knew instinctively that he was going to be magic.
A magical pop act is a very personal thing. For me, you just get this growing sense of wonder that this person absolutely gets what pop is and is making music that you have imagined in your head exists in a perfect world of pop. And it's not just about catchy tunes (though they are important), it is also about lyrics that touch you, provoke you and inspire you, it's about beats you can dance to and it's about that all consuming desire to listen to it all again once it has started. Simon has that in droves. I first reviewed his album back in October of this year and am reprinting an amended version of that article
because two months on and many listens later, I had even more I wanted to say about it…

I'm not really sure how I first happened upon Simon Curtis, but I am certainly glad I did. Not only does he seem a thoroughly nice chap, but also his music has a certain edge and drive that you wouldn't expect from such an angelic faced individual. I really believe that his forthcoming album Alter Boy could provide the kick in the arse that pop music needs – certainly in England and hopefully in America.Mr. Curtis has managed to produce an album that is thematically cohesive, lyrically deft and utterly addictive – blending together a number of styles that produce a fresh, pop friendly, club motivated sound. Religion, war, betrayal, sex and friendship are themes that run through all the 18 songs on the album – but unlike recent bloated offerings from Janet Jackson and Christina Aguilera, the songs never outstay their welcome thanks to catchy choruses, political opinion and often deliciously malevolent lyrics…
The album opens with Simon declaring that this is his work as he is now – it represents his journey through his youth and documents every heartache, every stab in the back and even the betrayal of his country's values through the war in Iraq on the politically charged Left Right Left. Careful listening to lyrics is a definite requirement of this album, but on this song in particular in order to get the most rewarding listening experience you possibly can. Candy Store is a thinly veiled metaphor for the joy of sex and if you have a slightly dirty mind like me, then it's practically pornographic pop heaven! I just love the line where he says since he found the candy store, he's stopped having to jerk ;) And Vicious may be the greatest break-up song ever, far outranking Cry Me A River. The issues of hurt and betrayal and deception are evident as Simon describes a seemingly ideal girl who ended up not as she seemed. The chant "vicious bitch" over the dark thumping bass is about as macabre and justifiably vindictive a pop song I've heard in recent years. Just painfully exquisite…In an album full of classics, there are a few definite stand out highlights. Bones is a prince-esque club thumper that defies your ability to keep you toes untapped as it insinuates it's way into your brain. Broken (including album version and show mix) is just simply one of the best pure pop songs of the year and if there is any justice in the world, will be leaping up charts fairly shortly. These two songs in particular definitely deserve to be singles. Religion is addressed in more detail in Religion Reduced, Alter Boy and Halo – three tracks that examine the preconceptions and judgements that society makes of individuals. Heavy, but delicious stuff. And perfectly relatable for me – growing up in a Mormon community as I did, when you have a thing for the same sex isn't the easiest thing in the world to deal with… And sparse ballad Purgatory is one of the most haunting things Simon has produced. It reminds me of those gorgeous ballads Erasure produced at the height of their career, in it's simplicity and it's beauty. Simon's voice really shines and the words perfectly fit a chapter of my novel I am writing, so I may have to ask Simon for it on the soundtrack ;)
A strong point of this album is the clever way it currently (the final track listing on release may differ) all links together. Not quite a concept album, all the songs thematically flow into each other with an emphasis on clever (but not pretentious) lyrics, Simon's voice ranging from alto to falsetto and back without being jarring or grating, unconventionally dark lyrics that leave no feeling unexposed and no raw nerve untouched (something Abba did to amazing effect on songs like One Of Us and Winner Takes It All, etc.) and a modern, forward thinking pop sound that is textured and exciting – all the more impressive considering the few people who have worked on it. And yet songs work equally well for different mood isolated from the album and played on a mix cod with some of pops current stars (Sugababes, Girls Aloud, Phixx, Bodies Without Organs, etc)…a sure indicator that this album deserves to be huge…
Overall an outstanding debut album from a talent that I recommend you all keep an eye on…


Not long after I wrote the Alter Boy review, I came across 2 other songs of Simons that I hadn't heard before. One was called Flashback – a tune he wrote for Disney to mark their annual resort event of the same name. This is one of his most theatrical tunes – from the opening bars, it's almost impossible not to imagine him rising up on a smoke filled stage at the start of a concert while silhouetted dancers show off their choreographed moves. This is a song that is made to be performed on a huge scale, and was my first indication that Simon could write specifically as well as pouring out what was in his head and heart. The song provides enough Disney pomp and ceremony to work in a parade, yet retains Simon's trademark beats, lyrics and vocals as it details how you need to learn from the past to make your dreams happen. An incredibly catchy song, its proceeds also went to the The Leukaemia Society of America…
The second song I heard post Alter Boy review was Put Your Make Up On. Simon wrote this as his entry for the Popjustice theme tune competition. The backing track was the same for each contestant (a typically edgy-pop Xenomania effort) and the task at hand was to write a pop tune that would fit the music. The song Simon came up with is one of his most hit-ready to date and one that I find incredibly hard to get out of my head. Indeed I was playing it rather loudly on my stereo on holiday earlier this year, when I heard a knock on the door. Assuming it was someone asking me to turn it down, it was 3 lads wanting to know how I got my hands on an unreleased Scissor Sisters song! Naturally, I explained and a conversation ensued as to how they wished the Scissor Sisters had retained the edginess of their first album and put more songs like Put Your Make Up On on Ta-Dah. What is often genius about so called "throwaway pop" is how multi-layered and meaningful it actually can be if you take the time to listen properly. As a song, yes, PYMO is incredibly catchy, upbeat and I have no doubt at some point will have some amazing remixes. Lyrically, it's a commentary on the looks and image obsessed society we live in and the lengths people will go to in order to get where they want to be. Which fits well into the world of pop, and so is actually quite a clever entry for a Popjustice theme tune. Which all would have been brill on it's own – only Simon takes it up a notch and ends the song on a crucial highlight: a refrain that plays over the main chorus as he sings an internal monologue "as a kid I got a lot of shit for/liking my music but what is it for?/You should listen to this because it gives more/Yeah, but it sounds lousy on the dance floor!" I nearly hugged my computer speakers when I heard that – I can't imagine readers of Popjustice not relating to those lyrics about how you can be mocked for liking music you can dance to – and how music like that is perceived unworthy and throwaway. Clever, clever stuff (and be sure to catch the reference to xenomania and the sugababes red dress in the second verse!) This may well end up as one of THE pop songs of 2007…
While obviously thezapping has been very supportive of Simon and his career, Simon in turn has reciprocated and been most supportive of thezapping website. In November, he kindly agreed to answer some questions I had for him, which are printed below. At the time a digital release was being planned for the album, though this changed later on. Keep reading and you'll see what I mean…
1. Alter Boy seems to be a play on words - and the album a collection of thoughts on your journey through life. Was it difficult to put together a collection of songs that seem so personal?
It truly wasn't as difficult as one might think. I set out from the beginning with the idea of creating an album that not only made people want to dance, but also made them want to sit down with the insert and pour over the lyrics as well. That's the kind of album I always hoped to hear from pop artists like Britney, who always had great albums, but never got too personal. I wanted people who heard my album to be really affected by it, to hear something they've never heard before in a song, and I believe that by investing your real, inner self, and damn near your soul into every song on the album is the only way to achieve that. And yes, Alter Boy is a play on words. The album touches on many religious themes, as I grew up in the Bible Belt, so it reflects that aspect of it, as well as the personal growth I speak of in the music. Not to mention it is a bit tongue-in-cheek, and that's how I like it! haha
2. I love the song Broken and think it would be a great lead off single for the album. How would you visualise the video for it?
Haha, that's awesome. My producer will be rather pleased to hear that, since that is the song he participated most with in writing for the album. Before we had that song, the album was turning out to be very dark, very angry, (we hadn't yet recorded Bones, Answer, or PYMO) and he insisted that we include at least one traditional, Swedish-style pop song that people didn't need to dissect with a dictionary! haha
So he created the track, wrote the chorus, I wrote the verses and changed the chorus to suit my liking, and despite all my bitching and moaning about how I wanted "every song to be intelligent!!!" it turned out to be one of the most liked songs on the album.
As far as a video for it goes, sheesh, I haven't even given it that much thought as my mind has been so focused on just getting the damned album released! lol
But I would have to say that it would most certainly include a hefty amount of choreography (cause the world needs that so bad right now, truly). I tend to be quite a snob when it comes to my tastes regarding cinema, and I would regard my videos as small films. Not necessary with plots and all that, but rather just ensure that each video evokes something, and isn't just mindless club bullshit.

3. Your producer Jadion has a great fresh sound that you seem to work well with - how did you get together and how does your musical collaboration work?
Wow, we've known each other for so long now, it is ridiculous. I met him for the first time when I was competing in the Britney Spears Samsung Superstar tour in Tulsa (where I'm from). It was a wannabe "Idol-like" contest where participants had to sing a Britney song, and the national winner would get to record a demo with her management, and appear in her next video,etc. So after I sang, Jeff (Jadion) approached me with his card and told me he was trying to put together a boyband. Having always despised the notion of being in a boyband myself, I pocketed the card and thought nothing of it. About 3 months later, I was getting antsy to record again (I had wrapped up the year long recording process on my first, extremely shitty demo about 6 months prior) so I scrounged up the card and called.
I came into his studio to have a listen to his work, etc. and was literally astounded. The only producer I'd ever worked with up until that point made recordings that sounded like bad Karaoke tracks, and here was this guy in Tulsa, Oklahoma who's stuff sounded as though it had been flown in from Sweden. Needless to say, I asked him if he would work with me, and he said yes. We've been collaborating ever since.
As far as the process goes, it really is much quicker than some would think. Generally Jeff will create a track (with his keyboard and computer, all electronic) and I will go hide away for an hour and write the song to it. Sometimes I will write the song first and build the track around it, other times it is a blend of the two. We are both very involved in the song's creation. Within the past year, however, I have grown very possessive over my lyrics though. I have this terrible habit of acting like a spoiled little child, hell-bent on getting his way if Jeff tries to make a suggestion. lol Quite sad actually, but sometimes, just sometimes, I'll relent :P
He's an absolute genius as far as the actual producing, mixing or engineering is concerned. The sound quality is a testament to that, because we literally had no budget at all on this album, recorded it with cheap-ass equipment in an LA apartment, and it all sounds damn near professionally mastered. We both really push the song to what it becomes in the end.
4. I'm quite into fashion as well as music - and when I saw David Beckham all over the British press recently rocking a shirt and tie with sweater, I thought hey! He's stolen Simon Curtis' look!! Do you follow fashion or are you more comfortable throwing on whatever is comfortable in your wardrobe?
That is so funny that you would ask that, because I really am quite a fashion anomaly. I have a great respect for fashion and style, and can't wait to have money to spend on it, lol, but in the same respect, I am perfectly content to roll out of the house in full-blown hobo-style; pyjamas, sweats, etc. I am so night and day in regards to my personal style. I love the way clothes can become an alternative means of self-expression, and I think that's where fashion's appeal lies for so many people. Right now I am wearing the most heinous looking, baggy pyjama shorts, and a massively oversized white oxford shirt that I slept in, and I truly wouldn't think twice about going out looking like this. I get made fun of for it, but I don't care, I am comfortable, and that's all that counts.
5. How did the show go in Vegas in June? Are there any more planned - what can people expect from the Simon Curtis live experience?
The show went fantastic, I hope to have it posted on youtube here at some point soon. As of right now, there aren't any in the works unfortunately, but hopefully that will all change with the release of the album. As far as my stage show goes, it really is a work in progress. Of course my dream is to have the big arena show complete with a herd of dancers, massive sets, and eye-popping pyro, but that isn't quite on the cards just yet :P
6. I really think your sound would go down incredibly well in the British charts? Have you ever been here and would you like to visit if not?
Oy, would I love to visit. I have been trying my damndest to get some representation over there, but as I am currently living in LA, it has proven to be rather difficult. I would very much love to promote my music overseas. The UK and Japan are on the top of my list.
7. How tough is it to break into the music business in LA? Have you ever been tempted to go the American Idol route?
Absolutely mind-numbingly, unbelievably difficult! Here in LA the club scene is all about rock, so unless you're some trashy wannabe band you can't perform in the venues. As far as record labels go, they're only into what was selling last week, as opposed to what should and will be selling NEXT week (which is why they're all damn near bankrupt) So right now that pretty much means that if you're not hip-hop or rock you're screwed. People in the music industry really have no foresight, and/or taste, which is why the internet is playing such a crucial role in the advent of this new era of music and music industry; consumers themselves are now becoming the tastemakers, and while horrifying to the floundering suits at EMI, it is rather invigorating to artists like myself, who know they have something that could be big, but just couldn't get a chance before from the labels. Now we can make our own chances.
I actually did audition for the second season of American Idol. I had just turned 16 and they told me that I had a great voice, but looked too young to be on the show. I am so glad I didn't make it!
8. You got to tour with the A*Teens (another act that should have concentrated on the uk!) - what are your best memories of that? Do you still keep in touch with any of them (I think Maria should release Oxygen as a Christmas single)
That is so funny, I actually never toured with the A*Teens! I am just a rabid A*Teens fan and have one of my many pics with them on my myspace page. I keep in touch with Marie on myspace though, she is very supportive of my music, and I always joke about how I should be her opening act. Their music was just such a big part of my childhood, I will never deny that I love them! haha
9. What do you tend to do in your down time? Any fave books/tv shows/music?
Oh gosh I am such a nerd when it comes to my hobbies. I don't go out like most people my age, I really don't have any desire for the clubs, drinking, etc. I instead prefer a good round of Halo to a round of shots! haha
Oy vey, I am destroying any cool factor I could've possibly had before, but I don't give a shit, it's the truth. I love reading, and fantasy is my favourite genre. The dungeons and dragons nerd-type section of the bookstore is my favourite. I read the Hobbit in third grade, and it hasn't stopped since.
I love good tv and film. I am an actor as well, so I have learned a lot about those industries while living here in LA. As far as music goes, you can probably tell that I love pop music. Anything from Sweden is at the top of my list, but I really do enjoy most all kinds of music.
10. Thank you for answering all these questions. Last one! Where do you see yourself at this point in 2007?
Hopefully using the momentum built from this digital release to sign a distribution deal with one of the majors (can we say, Lily Allen?) lol
I hope to be at a point where music is my profession. Acting is going well, so I have the best hopes as far as film and tv are concerned, but my music is my passion, and I'd love to see the career I've always dreamed of and worked for come into fruition. Just have to keep my fingers crossed and work my ass off I guess :)

A couple of weeks later, Simon secured a management deal and is currently label shopping his album for a distribution deal. I got back in touch to ask about that, the troubles he was having with Put Your Make Up On and some other stuff I had pop into my head…

LINK: Simon's myspace site

11. Since I "spoke" to you last, there have been a few new developments in the world of Simon Curtis that impact on the release of Alter Boy. Are you able to elaborate on this any further?
Yes, I am thrilled to announce that I have finally procured proper management for once and for all! woohoo! haha.
I truly am very thrilled, as the man crazy enough to take me on is a somewhat legendary figure in the music industry. His name is Robert Fitzpatrick, and although he is rather low-key in comparison to such other industry greats as Clive Davis and such (as far as his public persona is concerned) the man’s list of accomplishments in the industry is unparalleled. He was The Beatles’ entertainment lawyer, the Bee Gees manager (along with Robert Stigwell), and single-handedly assembled/managed Cream (and after their parting of ways, Eric Clapton). The list goes on and on, but to be able to say that the Bee Gees manager even remotely finds my music appealing, much less wants to manage me, is really mind-boggling. He’s such a great guy, already is like family, and completely “gets” my vision of what I want to accomplish, and the kind of artist I want to be. That is paramount in a manager. I am still somewhat reeling that someone of that calibre, with a history such as his, still has the foresight to see where music could, should, and needs to go, just as he did back in the day.
Unfortunately though, for anyone waiting on the previously impending digital release of Alter Boy, this might be just a bit of unwelcome news, as those plans have now been scrapped. Right now the plan is to begin major label shopping here in the US come January with the primary intention of procuring a direct-distribution deal (where basically a label would buy the rights to distribute my completed album, pay for mastering, promo, etc. As opposed to a normal record deal where a label might sign an artist and oversee the makings of the album, etc). So while this may sting a bit for those of you waiting patiently, I promise that this is good news, and very well could lead to an infinitely bigger release on a much grander scale. We shall see…

LINK: Robert Fitzpatrick's myspace site
12. In one of your myspace updates, you mention that Put Your Make Up On is in limbo due to those pesky guys at Xenomania owning the credits to thepopjustice theme. Is that correct and where are you up to with that now?PYMO would make a great single...
Yeah, good ol’ Peter Robinson over there is quite difficult to get a hold of to say the least! I must’ve sent him 30-40 emails regarding that stupid song! As of right now, I have been told that the track that Xenomania created for the contest is not public domain, and therefore renders it off limits to me if say, I would ever like to release PYMO as is. BUT in the great game of legal jargon, loopholes, etc, we are knowledgeable enough to know that while they may own the rights to that particular musical arrangement/track, they do NOT have any legal standing over the song I wrote to it. Now, while I don’t want to burn any bridges over at Popjustice (cause I love that site, and hope they will eventually warm up to me as I progress in my career), I know that I MUST have that song on the album, it’s presence is not only necessary, but an integral part of the album’s appeal as well. Without it I am afraid the album would be rather dark, and much angrier than I intended it to be. That song in particular shows that I can write a song that is fun, effervescent, and a bit whimsical to a degree and not have to dumb it down in order to do so. So just in case the track does end up getting officially rendered off-limits when the time comes to release the album, Jeff went ahead and created his own version of the track that is 100% his original creation and sounds 99.9% identical to the Xenomania one. It is really incredible that he was able to do it, not only without any live guitar to help out, but without any knowledge whatsoever of what programs, sounds, etc, that Xenomania used in theirs. While I must admit I want to do everything I can to use the original, Jeff’s creation surely will suffice if any problems do arise.
13. Talking of singles, I have my own opinions on which tracks would make knockout releases from Alter Boy. Are there any in particular that you woulddefinitely push for a single release?
Hmm, that really is a tough one. Answer has my vote for the first single, but I would love to see Sugar Sugar White released, simply for its lyrical content and the much-needed dialogue it would open here in the U.S. That song in particular I really think could help launch things simply due to its highly controversial subject matter. Casual Encounter is another one that I think could make a fantastic single; the video, the remix potential, the controversial nature of its content all give it the trappings of a single in my opinion. I think Broken would be a stellar single, but I wouldn’t want it to be my first, as I think it would somewhat misrepresent me as an artist initially. I want the first single to be one of the provoking songs on the album. Like if Jive released Crazy instead of Baby One More Time as Britney’s first single, I don’t think her career would’ve exploded how it did. Crazy is an utterly fantastic Swedish-pop gem, but Baby One More Time was edgy, controversial, and crafted in a way as to allow a lot of subtext and sexual connotation, which, in conjunction with it’s glossy sound and completely commercial appeal, made it a global smash hit, and a launching pad for her entire career. I want to release a Baby One More Time first, not a Crazy.
14.In England we have a really popular radio show called Live Lounge where current chart acts cover songs by other acts in the charts e.g. Sugababes did Arctic Monkeys, Girls Aloud did Amy Winehouse, Take That did Kaiser Chiefs, Scissor Sisters did Franz Ferdinand? If you were on that show what song would you cover from British or us charts and why?
Eep, this is a tough one, as there are countless songs I’d love to cover. I don’t know about any songs that I’d like to cover from the American charts at the moment, and I’m not quite up to date with the British charts either, but I can most certainly fill you in on the covers I’d love to perform during the prerequisite “cover section” of my future, first world tour! lol J I have always been a fan of the female pop greats, and I think it’d be interesting to give some of my favourite Britney and Kylie songs a male perspective, especially in a big pop-concert setting.
First on my list would probably be Can’t Get You Out of My Head, simply for its arena-friendliness. That song is one of the great pop anthems that can instantly ignite the energy in a multi-thousand person audience. The “lalala” alone sends audiences into a frenzy. If I did another Kylie song, I’d like to do something more obscure, yet still high energy like Burning Up, from Fever. I have a really high voice when in falsetto and can hit all the little chirpy notes she hits in it, and I think a male singing it would be totally unexpected, very Prince-esque. I’d have to perform a Britney or two, simply to pay tribute to her, as she was for a very long time (and hope she can become once again) my favourite popstar of all time. Her performances were nothing short of electric, and her songs, perfection. I’d probably perform BOMT in its original form, as Britney herself hasn’t performed it in years and surely audiences would go mad hearing the first iconic “dun dun dunt” piano hits that open the song. Ahh that’d be so cool. Haha, could whip out (quite literally actually) the scandalous stage-performance material and do some dark, twisted, S&M version of Slave 4 U, but don’t know if that would ever come to fruition! Hahaha, I’d have em’ rolling in the aisles, no doubt. Rather unlike the reaction Madonna or Prince would illicit with a similar stunt!
I’d have to perform Bye Bye Bye, as it truly signifies the pinnacle of Swede-pop and would drive an audience nuts, and I’d love to also perform Darren Hayes’ Unlovable. That song is my favourite song of his, so emotionally charged, intimate, and scathing, and everyone always says I sound like him, so go figure. I’d love to do a little live medley tribute to my beloved A*Teens as well!
As far as cover records go, I think I’d like to reach a littler farther back than the 90’s and early 2000s. There are tons of great disco songs that I think would sound stellar with an updated, electronic pop sound; Bee Gees, etc. I’ve always wanted to do an update of Animotion’s Obsession with Britney; truly would be the dream duet right there. There are really tons of songs I’d love to put my spin on at some point, but alas, I love writing too much to ever do a cover album I think. One or two covers at most, and only if I feel I could bring something new and fresh to the song.

Simon was most generous in his candid answers and also with his time, so thanks VERY much for taking the time out to do this interview. And for the unseen photo he provided above. And looks forward to his twisted S&M version of Slave 4 U ;)
As soon as I had discovered Simon, I quickly followed the links through to Jadion then Fayden then Iced Entertainment and finally Bliss. I knew they were all interconnected (or at the very least had worked with each other) but I wasn't sure how! Thanks to the magic of Jadion, I finally have a clear-ish idea of how it all fits together. OK, here goes: Simon is a singer, who obviously also writes songs. Jadion is his producer and has worked really closely on Alter Boy with him. Fayden is a singer-actor-model who has worked with Simon and Jadion on some of his songs (simon wrote Hypnotic and you can hear him singing backing vocals on it too) and who also runs Iced Entertainment Media with Jadion. Simon is not part of IEM, although he has written a song for Bliss who are (and that song may well be genius. Trust me). Get the point? Good. Let's dance.
LINK: Jadion's myspace site (check out his aces remix of Buttons by PCD)
LINK: Jadion's official homepage
LINK: Fayden's myspace site (stream Hypnotic)
LINK: Fayden's official site (check out his version of The Dance)
LINK: Iced Entertainment media myspace site
LINK: Iced Entertainment media official homepage
LINK: Bliss' myspace site (check out the Jadion produced Take Me Home. Brillo!)
LINK: Bliss' official site
There is nothing more exciting than when other people share your enthusiasm for a new artist, and in preparation for this feature, I alerted several other bloggers and thezapping readers to the tracks on Simon's website and asked for their opinions. Some absolutely love him. Most really like his unique yet familiar take on pop. And a couple - well, they didn't like every track, but they tracks they did like they loved! And all agreed that Simon could be a driving force in bringing pop back to the charts. Here is what they had to say...
POPPOSTERGIRL (Veronica Mars):
I think probably an unmissable part of understanding and appreciating Simon Curtis’s music is the lyrics—the commentary they provide swings from personal to political, and they’re meant to be dark in subject, a darkness which the music enhances. What I really like about Alter Boy, though, are the soundscapes Simon and producer Jadion have created. Words are part of that, but in the sense of how they fit in and sound. The album overall is pop, but it’s got an electronic edge, and it doesn’t sound like anything in the Top 40. I’m tempted to start throwing the word “experimental” around. There are moments where that feels especially true—“Halo,” for example, chops Simon’s voice up to turn it into the beat itself. There’s also a sense of greatness, grandeur, or a desire for the epic (listen to that intro and then tell me that’s not what they’re trying for!). It’s a pop/electronica epic, though, so hooks are never in short supply. Over the course of at least sixteen tracks, the album never sounds the same. That’s not to say that it’s schizophrenic; even beyond thematic connections, the album does definitely have musical coherence, but no one song sounds like another.
Some highlights: the soldier chant-sampling “Left Right Left;” the perfect anger of “Sugar Sugar White,” which has a middle 8 that reminds me of Moulin Rouge’s “Hindi Sad Diamonds” (but given that very little of Moulin Rouge is original, they probably used a sample or cover that I just don’t know); the catchy chorus with its stretched-out words of “Alter Boy;” “Halo,” which originally closed out the album and provided the music for the intro and, to me, sums up what the album is about; and “Put Your Makeup On.” And, of course, the song no review of Alter Boy would be complete without reference to: “Broken.” It may not be dealing with social commentary, but it is easily the most addictive song on the album. That chorus—oh my gosh! And the middle 8! And the bridge! Really, the whole song is just captivating for reasons I haven’t yet worked out. Honestly, if you don’t want to spend the next week being forced to compulsively listen to it, avoid “Broken” at all costs. Deliciously dark and, as I said, addictive. For sheer enjoyment, the only rival to “Broken” comes in the form of parts of “Put Your Makeup On,” with Xenomania (as part of the PopJustice theme contest) providing the music backing and Simon singing a super-accessible pop song over the top. The key moment in this song, and one that Paul has mentioned before, has to be near the end, where we get a near perfect combination of music and lyrics, with Simon singing about getting harassed for his musical tastes, written in the form of a back-and-forth between him and his critics: “As a kid, I got a lot of shit for/liking my music, but what is it for?/You should listen to this because it gives more/Yeah, but it’d sound lousy on the dancefloor!” It’s not meant to be an in-depth defense of the merits of pop music, but it is meant to reflect the instinctive response that many people have—the desire for music that’s fun, not caught up in itself—and, in that respect, works perfectly by being itself what it most desires.
The introduction to the album asks, “If you could hear the sound, would you listen?” Given my current lack of faith in the public, I fear I may already know the answer to that question, but whenever Alter Boy is released, I can only hope the world responds with a resounding “YES!”
(thezapping note: PPG and I often have conversations over Broken and Put Your Make Up On and regularly say things like "can simon do no wrong?! ;) Read PPG's previous post on Simon here)
(thezapping note - Raj fell in love completely with Simon's music and kindly chose today to do his own post about Simon that you can read here. he felt that would get Simon more exposure. Here, then is just a sample of his brillo review!)
"At the tender age of twenty, Simon Curtis seems hellbent on bringing a different type of pop to the world which is aching to be heard. His edgy and thought-provoking lyrics have us questioning...Is he old enough to be singing about such saucy subjects? Well the answer is, 'We don't's great music and Simon promises us that the resurrection of pop will soon be upon us. Even if the resurrection doesn't sustain, we are overjoyed to bear witness to a new musical messiah in the making."
I've listened to the entirety of the Simon Curtis CD several times. I do like it - quite a bit in fact. I think Simon has a great voice and a great sound that's familiar enough but new enough to attract attention. I also think that his songs transcend typical pop songs. One of my favorite stories that I tell about pop music is that one time when I was in college, a good friend of mine was having boyfriend trouble, and she said to me, "A pop song should NOT know how I feel." - I think that she was specifically referring to Michael Bolton, and in that respect, I would have to agree. I mean, Michael Bolton able to express what I can't? Surely not! But as far as general pop songs go, my reply to her lament is "If it doesn't, what's the point?" That having been said, I think Simon has a great potential to speak about great issues under the guise of wonderful pop music.
Case in point - "Religion Reduced" which is one of the songs I really like on the album. I don't know what it's like in the UK, but here in America, the word Christian has become reduced to "right-wing homophobic intolerant asshole." And that's really unfortunate. And I think this is the message that gets across in the song - along with the "believe in your own spirituality!" line - which to me says "don't let the right-wingers be the ONLY representative of Christianity." Again, this might not be as big of a deal in the UK right now, but rest assured, in the U.S., it's one of the biggest dividing lines in our culture right now..As far as fun pop songs go, there's nothing that's going to beat "Put Your Make-Up On." It has a driving pop beat and Simon really sings well on this one. I think I especially appreciate the bridge of the song - and what good is a song without a good bridge?? - talking about he got shit for the music he listened to as a kid and how he should listen to such and such, only it wasn't worth a damn on the dance floor! *raises hand* Hmmm...well, that could be taken straight from the pages of my life.
All in all, I hope that when they release the CD, they cull some songs and make it a stronger, shorter album rather than a long, all over the place album. I mean, the songs are all good, but less is more sometimes. This is so true with so many artists - especially established ones. I'll take a tight 10 song album like Madonna's Music over a meandering 17 track CD that doesn't know when to call it quits. And yeah, some of the songs sound a little bit same-ish, but that's not all bad. I just think that a shorter, stronger album will help quite a bit. But what do I know? I'm certainly not a record producer. I'm a mere consumer.
NATHAN (Zapping reader)
First of all I totally agree that he has super infectious songs yet a differentiating image enough to be mega successful here and in the U.K. As for my personal preference, my favorite songs were: Put your makeup on, Broken, and Naivite.... I also liked: Return to Sender, Alter Boy, and The Kids In.... The rest of them will def stay on my ipod but prob. will get skipped about half the time I listen to this playlist. They were good though who knows maybe the rest will grow on me. I would also love to see him do more "fun" songs too about less serious stuff, but maybe thats not what he's all about. I can't wait to see what he has in store for performances (maybe cd:usa or trl) and/or music videos, but I'm sure you'll be right on top of that when it happens.
JEREMY (Zapping reader, actor, poet and all round nice dude)
simon curtis describes himself as a cross between darren hayes and daniel bedingfield, something which he is very justified to do. on the whole his sound rmeinded me of 90s pop music, however the track Answer, which of the ones I listened to was, for me, the standout track and immediately reminded me of Darren Hayes album Tension & The Spark both vocally and stylistically. This song is beautifully crafted and amazing to listen to as you can just chill to it, but would also be great on a night out. Another strong track is Bones with its great sampling and simplistic vocals. For me, the only let down was ut Your Make up On which felt was weak and unoriginal. On the whole however I think Simon's sound is top class. His infuences are very obvious however he manages to make his mark on a well trodden genre.
(thezapping note: After we got this review, we explained to Jeremy the background to PYMO and that the music wasn't Simon's composition)
DON'T STOP THE POP (Rob(o)pop)
(thezapping note - Rob was very generous in his time and effort he put into the review which was indeed very long! I'm going to print an edited version here, but it's fair to say Rob wasn't overly taken with Candy, Left Right Left and Sugar Sugar White, feeling they weren't the best tracks and didn't appeal to him at all. Vicious started to win him over and then he really liked (on a ten out of ten basis) Broken and Casual Encounter. Here are his reviews of those songs)
Vicious: Now this is more like it! Vicious is a sublime song but again its missing something that pop songs must contain. Perhaps a catchy melody wouldn’t go amiss? This bitchy tirade about some gossiping queen ultimately fails for being overproduced and at times the baseline misses the beats of Simons stunning vocal harmonies. Overall however Vicious is a strong track that recalls Goldfrapp, Darren Hayes, Kylie, Duke and Malou. Lyrics: 7/10 Music: 6/10
Broken: Oh its getting better. Theres even a outline of a poptastic of a catchy tune in Broken. In fact I love this song. Its Swedish by design and would be a song that Britney would kill to record as her comeback single. If you’re a fan of Robyns Be Mine you’ll adore Broken. In fact the 2005 Swedish no.1 sits well with Broken for it delivers a very similar sense of becoming single and having ones heart ripped out. Lyrics: 9/10 Music; 10/10
Casual Encounter: About sex again? Perhaps cruising? Who cares(although it’s getting a bit tiring and if you're making sex sound boring you know something isnt right). This is best track on the album. Thankfully the skippy baseline that marks out all of his work takes a much needed break and is swapped with some sparse ethereal electroblue finishes that bode well with his voice. Casual Encounter is the first sign of originality, sensuality and is the most interesting track hes done. Not only do we have stunning shards of innovative eastern strings and muttered words that chime along to the break-beat but your pulled into a spectrum of classical electronic spheres that crash and collide with the melancholic use of a naked violin section. Simply haunting and totally memorising. Lyrics: 10/10 Music: 10/10
Thanks to all the bloggers and readers who contributed and gave an objective overview of Simon's music :) Oh! And here is another link we found to someone who wrote about Simon long before i was an alter boy convert!

Posted by Paul 22:11  

11 to watch in 2007

Who are they? BEYOND
What do they sound like? Imagine Steps, buffed up with some Liberty X cool and dipped in some irresistible pop beats that sparkle brightly from start to finish…
Why I like them? well, we haven't had a decent boy-girl combo for ages (then typically two come along at once) and Beyond are suitably stylish, have no fear about telling you about their drunken nights out (and therefore will end up all over the pages of 3am in true popstar style) and even go to photoshoots when they are possibly dying from flu. That's star quality right there!
Key tracks – A little bit of ooh; just don't have the heart

. Who are they? BILLIAM
What do they sound like? Take That circa Everybody Changes period. Quality polished pop tunes with killer choruses and an injection of pure glee that makes the songs a lot of fun…
Why I like them? well for starters, Jazz is from Birmingham and I have to support the local boys. Plus they clearly have a love of all things pop if you read their bio, so they are doing this music because they love it, not just to get them famous. There's no irony. PS – check out their videos on myspace, girls (and gays presumably) already adore them... plus i'm pretty sure i saw them in the december issue of AXM...
Key tracks – Check It Out; Beautiful Ones

. Who are they? BLISS
What do they sound like? Now that Jadion and co have got their hands on them, they have amped up the funk factor and now the adorable Bliss girls sound like they are itching to step into the shoes of Sugababes and Girls Aloud, with saucy, sassy tunes.
Why I like them? Because they ARE saucy and sassy. They have just the right amount of flirtaciousness, coquettishness, sex appeal and girl next door smarts. Plus you just know they would whip the disco boys at G-A-Y into a frenzy! Plus we are a little in love with Iced Entertainment...
Key tracks – Take Me Home Tonight; something I can't mention yet ;)
. Who is he? CONOR
What does he sound like? If George Michael were having an affair with William Young and Stock, Aitken and Waterman delivered the baby, while Darren Hayes cut the umbilical chord, then Conor would be that baby. Only with a more charming Irish brogue…
Why I like him? All his songs have a deliciously, sunny 80s pop vibe to them, without sounding like he is mining that period. He looks like a jolly nice and fairly trendy chap in his photos. He can pull off popstar hair even with a visor on – trust me, not an easy thing to do! He's one of a number of male popstars embracing the frankly, ridiculously sexy shirt and tie gone casual look :)
Key tracks – Play With You; Club 55

Who is he? Simon Curtis
What does he sound like? A little bit like Darren Hayes mixed with a Britney beat, sprinkled with a whipped topping of the Scissor Sisters and yet nothing like you've heard before. Certainly a heady mix of disco, pop, satire and life lessons...
Why I like him? Um, because he may well be the best pop find of 2007. Because there is not one dud song I have heard from him yet, even demos he recorded when ill. Because his album is going to be a corker. And because he is a thoroughly nice fella...
Key tracks - Broken; Put Your Make Up On
Who are they? DIGITAL
What do they sound like? A great big lesbian orgy of music from Girls Aloud and Sugababes, only with penises. So, Phixx, but more exciting and up to date. It's all electro clash beats, swirling synths, too cool vocals and something that just makes you want to thrust your groin. In a good, non pervy way.
Why do I like them? Well, because for ages I have felt we need a male Girls Aloud. And they deliver that in spades. They make slightly ridiculous song titles like San Frandisco into something genius. Baz has a rather nifty looking make up stripe under his eye. And they covered Boys and Girls by Blur. Do I really need to go on?!
Key tracks – Boys and Girls; San Frandisco
What does he sound like? Can you imagine if Ronan Keating were good? Or Daniel Powter had a bit more of an edge? Or Elton John and Billy Joel were young again and not so weighed down with being famous? That would be Justin Lanning – pure piano-guitar pop at it's sing-a-long finest…
Why do I like him? Because music is his life. And it's a big part of my life. And while Justin gets to sing about it, I get to write about it. And Justin really embraces myspace culture by interacting with his fans, producing regular blogs giving his unique perspective on life, but isn't too serious that he can't do cheesy but aces photos like above and blog while drunk on his 21st birthday. Now that's our kinda boy!
Key tracks – Voices; Without You
. Who are they? LOCKDOWN
What do they sound like? The other boy-girl combo on our list, but both different enough to stand out and be unique. Basically, this funky foursome have dry humped pop into submission, deconstructed it and built it again as a pulsating mix of cover versions (Poison? Genius!), original dance tracks and tender ballads. It's almost a greatest hits package waiting to happen…
Why I like them? Well, not only did they very generously do a funky photoshop Christmas card (exhibiting web skills far beyond my own), but they are a talented bunch who have an active fan community and during their recent group makeover have got a pretty nifty style thing going on (I am so stealing Chris' look in this pic for my new years eve outfit if he'll tell me where he got that scarf!).
Key tracks – Poison; When You Look At Me
. Who is he? GAVIN MIKHAIL
What does he sound like? Like an American idol winner, if they were good and given great songs to sing. Its power pop piano with uplifting lyrics, catchy choruses, anthemic sing-a-longs and a too lovely voice that powers it all from start to finish. Shayne Ward should only have been so lucky to have tracks like this…
Why I like him? He's remarkably unpretentious. He loves family life as much as he loves singing, doesn't seem to realise how "popstar" his look actually is and has written tunes that can touch you so personally you would swear he was peaking into your diary, hidden underneath your socks so no one else can see it :)
Key tracks – Catch Your Fall; Brave
. Who are they? PACIFIC AVENUE
What do they sound like? If you could take the best elements from your favourite boybands – the heartbreaking ballads, the reality tv shows, the dance routines, the uptempo numbers, the adoring fans, then you begin to have some idea of just how special Pacific Avenue really are.
Why do I like them? What's not to like? A web based reality tv show that gives unique insight into their build up to fame and fortune; the pop star hair; the tunes that fulfil the promise, the active fan forum they participate in and their own photographer in the form of azzy who took the remarkable snap above. Love it!
Key Tracks – Autograph; Don't Look Back
. Who are they? SWITCH-22
What do they sound like? If you were lounging in the sun on a hot summers day and someone threw ice water on you, that's how bracing and exhilarating the tunes of Switch-22 are. Creative, inventive, thrusting, pounding, urgent, sexy and unforgettable.
Why do I like them? Because they are the self proclaimed super heroes of pop and quite rightly so. They sample 20th century fox in their tunes. They have stomachs you could grate cheese on. They are friends with Jean. When we're bored, we idly wonder what a threesome would be like with them and know they wouldn't mind us wondering one little bit. But mainly because they are super nice super hero guys ;)
Key tracks – Back To The Dancefloor; Sweet Dreaming

Posted by Paul 21:59  

Posted by Paul 00:05