Strange Pleasures

Siobhan DonaghySiobhan Donaghy.

Do you know the name? I’ve no idea how I stumbled upon her 2007 release, Ghosts. A mention somewhere here, a glimpse of the cover art there; who the hell knows? But I heard “Don’t Give It Up” somewhere and I had to try out the album. Maybe it was at one of those ridiculous parties up on Sunset Plaza Drive where no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t find anyone I knew or cared to know or who seemed to be into the same music I am and wouldn’t tell me what music was playing at that moment.

Or wait, maybe I didn’t go to one of those parties.

Still, sometimes I come across and wind up loving something that’s sooo far afield from what I usually listen to that I can’t help but think that I was drugged into liking it. Or seduced. Or drunk at the time.

These are a few of the left field albums that I came across and… well… loved in 2007. Just don’t tell anyone.

Siobhan Donaghy - GhostsSiobhan Donaghy – Ghosts: She’s a Sugababe. Or was one. She left the all-girl Brit Pop outfit when she was seventeen, ostensibly because she wanted to pursue a career in fashion, but really because she was seventeen and she was in Japan and had no idea who the hell she really was and there was this weird, dark man on her doorstep who eventually was given the name “Depression,” and she moved on to different things. She puts it best: “I make leftfield pop music, and it’s a difficult genre to be in because it’s not straight pop, it’s not alternative, and it’s quite hard to market.” That’s about right. The single, “Don’t Give It Up” is a strange and gorgeous bird, a blend of eerie arrangements and pop sensibilities that somehow defy simple category. Check out the globetrotting video to get a sense of what I mean:

Britney Spears - BlackoutBritney Spears – Blackout:

I’m not certain what it was about this one that I kinda dug. I wish I could say it was the strength of the material that brought her onto this list. Or rather, I wish I could say it with conviction. But the truth is, even though I like the music (especially the New Wave-y “Heaven On Earth”) that would imply she had anything really to do with it. In truth, I think that, given her catastrophic personal life, which gets worse by the minute, we expected the music equivalent of the movie “Waterworld.” When that didn’t happen we were quick with the praise. And I say “We” because I kinda like the album, too.

Britney Spears: the latest

Yacht RockYacht Rock:

It’s probably old news by now, but Yacht Rock is the weird YouTube sensation that dropped into my awareness last year. It’s the brainchild of J.D. Ryznar and Hunter Stair, and while irreverent, is an affectionate homage to the soft rock hits of the Seventies and Eighties, a genre that tended to intermingle and blend. Michael McDonald, for example, has a starring role. But I’m actually not referring to the show itself, but just the idea and the iceberg of music that lurks beneath the tip that the appears in the show.

My friend Jackie promised to make me a Yacht Rock compilation early in the year, an offer I jumped on with glee. Wow. A Yacht Rock comp! I waited for weeks for the damned thing. Every time I asked her about it she’d say, “It’s coming, it’s coming. I just need to burn it and yadda yadda yadda…” She finally brought it in and I understood what took so long. I was expecting a single disc. She brought in 10 discs of material. Good God. 10cc, Walter Egan, Seals & Crofts, Elvin Bishop, Ambrosia, Air Supply, Todd Rundgren… the list goes on. This is the stuff that was on the radio when I turned it on. This was what I heard but never learned. Going through this collection was like a rediscovery of my youth. I keep going back to it.

Delta Goodrem – Delta:

I was in Australia for a couple weeks this year. One day, I’m wandering around a Newcastle shopping center and I finally drop into a Sanity store (which is, like, Australian for Wherehouse.) I’d seen Sanity stores in Sydney and Canberra as well, and I thought it was time I checked one out, to see what Aussies are digging these days. Mostly, it’s American punk and rap (the biggest selling album in Australia to date is Eminem,) but the number one disc for that particular week was Delta by Delta Goodrem. “Who the hell is Delta Goodrem?” I can hear you think. Ohh, you self-centered American, you. I don’t think there’s an American equivalent, really. I want to say Celine Dion, but I can’t stand Celine Dion, and anyway, she’s Canadian. But she’s a pop princess, to be sure, and she’s one of those interesting people who go through some seriously harrowing shit and come out the other side as if it’s no real big thing and keep on doing what they do best. And Delta? Well, she sings.

Delta Goodrem YouTube: “Believe Again”, “Out Of The Blue”

Kelly Clarkson - My DecemberKelly Clarkson – My December:

I’ve blogged about her before. I take that all back. Maybe she’s like Zelazny’s Amber. She’s the pattern after which all American Idol wannabes aspire. The very first. The primal paradigm. I dunno. I’m no fan of Ameridol, but lord help me, I love “One Minute.” Maybe it’s the power of Stephen Thomas Erlewine’s writing (he turned me on to Pink, after all,) or maybe I’m getting old and this is a mid-life crisis type thing. Whatever the case, I’m liking this more than I expected. I suppose it’s a delayed reaction to Breakaway, which was too weirdly good for me to like at the time. I don’t know. And in truth, the album, as a whole, isn’t as riveting by a long shot as the few tracks that I like, but it’s enough to make me go, “Huh?” and in my book, that’s kind of huge.

And if you get that Zelazny reference earlier then I worship the ground upon which you walk.

Kelly Clarkson: official site

About the author: will

2 comments to “Strange Pleasures”

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  1. bianca - January 11, 2008 at 2:42 am Reply

    hey, i liked your review on delta goodrem’s cd.
    im from australia,
    and if you or anyone wants to check out her official website & forum,
    you can at http://www.deltagoodrem.com

    :) xx

  2. Will - January 11, 2008 at 8:30 am Reply

    Thanks for the link, Bianca. I’d meant to drop one in there, but forgot!

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