Mix

Heart Beat Rock: Dance-Pop Divas of the 2000’s

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One of my biggest gripes with our current poptimism is the centering on the 10s hence little interest in the 2000s’ many great trends: the glitzy vibrant synths, the neon 80s meeting this decade’s warm late-night ‘coolness’, the slick sturdy grooves in a fast tempo, the punchy beats. Oh, and vocals that didn’t fall into the same 3 riffs over and over! I could go on.

From Xenomania to Richard X and funky-house to the Norwegian scene’s icy synths, this mix dives into the styles I miss the most from this decade’s dance-pop. I hope for it to bring you some good carefree fun and an escape in this fraught summer. I also hope that it can motivate poptimism’s many many 10s enthusiasts to dip a bit further into this underrated era.

This mix had many possibilities so I’m sure that I have a few goodies missing but well, look how long this got already. For more, you can check out my RYM list.

Track listing

caught in the middle + ace reject – SUGABABES / get over you – SOPHIE ELLIS-BEXTOR / nic o mnie nie wiecie + leniviec – RENI JUSIS / maybe – EMMA BUNTON / betcha neva – CHERIE / can’t speak french + it’s magic – GIRLS ALOUD / good boys – BLONDIE / wild – NAMIE AMURO / ride a white horse – GOLDFRAPP / look on the floor (hypnotic tango) – BANANARAMA / heart beat rock – KYLIE / romeo – BASEMENT JAXX / cry for you – SEPTEMBER / experimenting with rugs + left too late – FLORRIE / off and on + let me know – ROISIN MURPHY / funny how – RACHEL STEVENS / do you believe me now? + come and get it – DANNII MINOGUE / will you remember me tomorrow? – MARGARET BERGER / serious – GWEN STEFANI / girl like you – BERTINE ZETLITZ / say it right – NELLY FURTADO / love don’t live here – LADYHAWKE

Deep Cuts

Cathy Dennis’ “Toxic” demo

It might be a surprise for fans of Britney’s “Toxic” to know the song was written by former 90s pop star Cathy Dennis, the songwriter/co-producer of “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” (among others on Kylie’s Fever). Cathy offered “Toxic” to Kylie’s album Body Language first, but it was rejected.

In fact, Cathy’s Youtube-surfaced demo sounds near-identical to Britney’s version aside from the vocals, including the signature “Tere Mere Beech Mein” Bollywood sample.

Deep Cuts

Reni Jusis – “Niemy Krzyk” (Magnes, 2006)

Having major creative control meant Reni Jusis experimented whenever she wanted. This resulted in several exciting twists to her already distinctive take on electro-pop (the existential “Ostatni Raz” to name one), but no Reni song surprised me as much as “Niemy Krzyk”, her most dark-sided to date.

Sometimes on the bottom of my heart I feel that
My life is beyond me again
I cannot carry [on] anymore
I went too far again

Why is it that I live faster
If I don’t enjoy the things I have

I want to run away again
Where nobody will find me

With fragile trance melodies rippling along, the lyrics reveal inner fears behind the dance-DJ glamor she adopted on the Magnes album. The impressive soar in her vocal hammers in the effect.

Thanks to Jan for the English translation. Full text here. Listen to my Reni Jusis playlist here.

Deep Cuts

Dannii Minogue – “Everybody Changes Underwater”

On Deep Cuts I highlight notable album-only/non-single tracks, especially if they differ from someone’s usual style.

This lengthy suite should surprise you if you figured Dannii’s music boiled down to a more generic/’b-grade’ Kylie. With the downbeat aquatic synths, dramatic whispers and chilly title refrains, it’s closer to a lost Impossible Princess b-side.

More from Dannii Minogue: “Xanadu”, “Do You Believe Me Now?”

Mix

Beautiful Robots / Dancing Alone

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Image credit: Translucent Iridescent #04 by MachineEast

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A fun and melodic dancefloor mix with a focus on vocal trance and trance-inflected pop: high drama, expansive cool-down interludes, ecstatic choruses, and hypnotic synth backdrops.

Track listing

  1. GRACE – not over yet
  2. DANNII MINOGUE – all i wanna do
  3. RENI JUSIS – ocale cie
  4. DOSS – the way i feel
  5. OCEANLAB – lonely girl
  6. ANDAIN – beautiful things
  7. ATB ft. HEATHER NOVA – desperate religion
  8. RENI JUSIS – ostatni raz
  9. CYNDI LAUPER – raging storm
  10. OPUS III – hand in hand
  11. DANNII MINOGUE – who do you love now?
  12. RENI JUSIS – niemy krzyk
  13. KITTY – miss u
  14. GIRLS ALOUD – untouchable

 

Favorite new wave-inspired albums

Javiera Mena – Mena, 2010

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synth pop / dance-pop

More like this – Prissa’s Ni tú ni yo, Bertine Zetlitz’ “Girl Like You”; Annie’s “Greatest Hit” + Endless Summer EP; Sally Shapiro’s ”I’ll Be By Your Side

Thanks to a lack of English information, I knew little beyond the title of ‘Chilean queen of electro-pop’ the evening I first heard Javiera Mena, but I was right to trust the album’s shower of acclaim. “No Te Questa Nada” (a divine cross between sophisti-pop and Cocteau Twins) proved the perfect match for the fading sunlight outside my window that day, and the grandiose energy of the album’s second half kept me engrossed until the end.

Other highlights include the fierce climax of strings in “Hasta la Verdad”, the endlessly soaring choruses of “Luz de Piedra de Luna” and an A+ Miami-freestyle resurrection in “Aca Entera”. The latter is adorably kitsch but topped with affirming light and sincerity.

As “Aca Entera” demonstrates, there’s something genuine about Mena that sets it apart; like Nite Jewel and Twin Shadow, I get the impression Javiera’s approach comes more from respect for her synth-pop roots than any kind of mockery. Her strong ear for melodies and glittery synths make this a satisfying album.

♥︎ – “Hasta la Verdad”, “No Te Questa Nada”, “Luz de Piedra de Luna”, “Sufrir”, “Aca Entera”

hidden treasure · Unique samples in mainstream music

Bananarama – “Look On The Floor (Hypnotic Tango)”, 2005 (interpolation of My Mine – “Hypnotic Tango”)

Long story short I wound up listening to Bananarama’s 2000s album Drama awhile back out of curiosity. It’s a surprisingly good album seeing how this was long past their chart-topping prime in the 80s. The lyrics are nothing special, being the usual love+partying topics, but overall it makes for very pleasant poppy background music. Plus, a couple of songs sound like Goldfrapp (!!!) so you know I’m there.

Another surprise was that one of my favorites, “Look On The Floor”, interpolates the chorus from the cult Italo-disco single “Hypnotic Tango”. What I love is how they give it more of a mellow warmth as opposed to the more uptempo original. If you love Italo, it’s sure to sound familiar:

Look on the floor

And all is spinning around

Someone told me this was just a dance

Then take a chance and I’ll give you more

Do you really think we have a chance?