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SONG OF THE SUMMER, ALREADY OVERPLAYEDÂ…If you’ve been out even once in the past couple weeks, you know the song. Don’t cha? ”Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me? Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was a freak like me?” In what is quickly becoming a contender for song of the summer — and just as fast, overplayed song of the summer — ”Don’t Cha” is the first single by a new manufactured girl group with the kicky name Pussycat Dolls. More Spice Girls than Destiny’s Child, this multi-ethnic mix of seven co-ed playthings was assembled less on the basis of vocal abilities than on general good looks and on how well the girls move; a choreographer put the Dolls together. As part of the gimmick, there’s even a Pussycat Doll Lounge in Vegas’ Caesar Palace.
”Don’t Cha” is all the rage on MTV and the Hot 100 Billboard chart, courtesy of a sexy video and lyrics and a rap from Busta Rhymes. But those lyrics, and two suitably named ”Hot Freak” remixes from Ralphi Rosario, the other half of tribal master-maker duo Rosabel, have made it an even bigger hit in gay clubland, for a reason that’s easy to see. The remix is a breathy booty-shaker to match the lyrics. ”I know I’m on your mindÂ…I’m fine/I ain’t lying/Look at me, shit/You ain’t blind,” the bridge teases. There’s a hitch though: the song was radio-edited ”Hollaback Girl” style, substituting ”shhh” for ”shit,” and replacing ”I know you should be fucking me” at the end of the first verse with ”I know you should be home with me.” Unfortunately, Rosario didn’t get the original edit on which to work his magic, so his club mixes are unnaturally PG-ed too. Although not even 12-year-olds can buy them: A&M Records has no plans to release the remixes. The music industry still hasn’t figured out there’s money to be made among danceheadsÂ…
PRIDE OFFER LIKE NO OTHERÂ…Of all the things you could do in New York this weekend for Pride, a visit to the old Twilo nightclub, rechristened Spirit, should be high on your list. And not just for any reason, or any night. Oh sure, you could go twice – Junior Vasquez and Tracy Young are co-spinning Sunday – but you should at least go Saturday, June 25. DJ Peter Rauhofer, formerly a resident at the old stalwart the Roxy, has been ”working” at Spirit, with his Work party, the last couple months. But his Pride edition could be the best one yet. How do we figure? Because of a man named Offer Nissim. The openly gay, 25-year-old Nissim is Israel’s most popular DJ in the vibrant but hardcore Tel Aviv gay club scene. Rauhofer is flying him over to spin the first several hours Saturday night, during which time the expressive singer and co-writer of his songs, Maya Simon-Tov, will also perform. Nissim and Maya are expected to perform at select spots across the U.S. in coming weeks, but they’ll most likely miss D.C., so Spirit might be your only shot to see them.
You can already hear them on the recently released First Time. Rauhofer took the unusual step of signing Nissim to an album contract on his Star 69 record label, usually just a venue for singles and compilations. And for good reason: First Time is one of the best dance artist albums to drop in a good while, featuring one good song after another. Even before the album Nissim was already a leading tribal house producer, and a clear favorite of Rauhofer as well as Abel. His tribal sound is a little different than both of those celebrated DJs’ though. Perhaps befitting his base in Israel, it’s generally more arid, more minimal, more stringy, and, not least, more emotional, as if burdened by the worldÂ…
SHAKE YOUR COCONUTSÂ…Remember Junior Senior, the daffy Danish duo of one skinny straight guy, Junior, and one chunky gay one, Senior? Rolling Stone reports that not only are they still together, but a sophomore album could see release later this year. Earlier this month Jesper “Junior” Mortensen and Jeppe ”Senior” Laursen were reported to be mixing in Los Angeles the follow-up to 2003’s D-D-D-Don’t Stop the Beat, which featured the irresistible ”Move Your Feet.” Classic soul and funk are said to be stronger influences this time than party rock and playful pop. But with these two, it’s always a party. ”We liked the stuff on the last album that had a groove to it,” songwriter Mortensen told Rolling Stone. “We wanted to make something that was more funky”Â…
ONE YEAR IN HER LIFEÂ…It’s taken more than a year, and now it’s been pushed back another couple months. But dance-pop singer and breast-cancer survivor Anastacia‘s self-titled album will finally see release in the U.S on Aug. 30, Billboard reports. Anastacia was the second most popular album in Europe last year, after Norah Jones‘ Feels Like Home, and it produced several major hits. Only one song, ”Left Outside Alone,” was released stateside, and it didn’t really go anywhere, perhaps the reason we didn’t hear anything more and even more the reason why she’s now switched labels from Epic to Daylight/Columbia. It’s still not clear what single the label will push the album with – either a re-release of ”Alone” or the second European single ”Sick and Tired.” Anastacia will make the rounds performing on the talk show circuit at the time of releaseÂ…
MADONNA’S COMEBACK… Apparently it’s not uncommon these days to be puzzled by the mere mention of Madonna’s name. In fact, her handlers sounded testy in an official statement on her website about the news. ”If you haven’t heard that Madonna is back in the studio recording, then you might be living under a rock.” Well, what they call “a rock” you might call the Billboard Hot 100. Madonna has failed to hit on the main album or singles charts for nearly five years. Madonna did fare well with last year’s Re-Invention Tour, of course (a DVD chronicle of that is expected later this year), and she continues to find favor in the dance community through remix work of her less-than-danceable American Life singles. Peter Rauhofer‘s ”Mother and Father” rework is slowly ascending the Billboard Club Play Chart. Tracy Young has remixed Life‘s sweet closing track ”Easy Ride.” That remix will appear on Young’s Dance Culture mixed set, expected this summer. Plus, Victor Calderone has reportedly remixed her 10-years-old ”Bedtime Story.” For what — and more importantly, why — we haven’t been able to determine.
But what about that next studio album? Her handlers said next to nothing. No title. No release date. It’s no wonder they’re testy: Madonna won’t let them release real news. ”Madonna is busy in the studio collaborating with new producers that she has never worked with before,” was all they were permitted to say. Reading between the lines, that suggests Mirwais has finally been fired, and that she’s opted not to rehire William Orbit. The vague statement also keeps alive the rumor that she’s working with Stuart Price, aka this year’s Grammy Award winning remixer Jacques Lu Cont. There’s still hope….
STRIKE WHILE “HOLLABACK” IS HOT… Also unclear is the next single to come from Gwen Stefani‘s double-platinum debut, Love.Angel.Music.Baby, now that ”Hollaback Girl” is falling from its four-week Hot 100 perch. Either ”Danger Zone” or the New Order-produced ”The Real Thing” would be super, although the deliriously giddy Andre 3000-production ”Bubble Pop Electric” seems more likely. But enough about that. Stefani is already a step ahead. Beyond continued additions to her Harajuku-inspired fashion line, which PitchforkMedia.com calls ”borderline-racist,” Stefani told MTV.com that she hopes to release her sophomore set before year’s end. The set will mostly be leftovers from last year’s recording sessions. Says Stefani: ”It’s going to be kind of like ‘part two.'” How do you say ”super cute” in Japanese?….
OOH LA GOLDFRAPP… With its singles ”Train” and ”Strict Machine” having become minor and major club sensations, respectively, in the last year, timing couldn’t be much better for Goldfrapp to drop its latest full-length album. Here’s hoping Supernature, due September 20, fares better in the U.S. than the British duo’s woefully underappreciated second album, 2003’s Black Cherry. A quick preview of first single, ”Ooh La La,” suggests Bjork-influenced vocalist Alison Goldfrapp and her musical partner Will Gregory are carrying on their tradition of appealing electronica eccentricity. ”It’s sulky, it’s sexy, it’s a little bit ooh la la!” the duo’s web site teases about the song. It’s also a little bit Rolling Stones with its naughty, seesawing electric bass lick. It’s also a little bit Kylie Minogue — specifically ”Slow.” Ooh la la, indeed….
SASHA & DIGWEED, APART… Sasha, the Welsh-born Alexandar Coe, is iconic in the electronic music scene. He was the lead-half of the original super-DJ duo, Sasha & Digweed. That partnership with fellow Brit John Digweed helped usher in the DJ-as-rockstar phenomenon, as well as one obvious by-product, the DJ mixed compilation. The two straight lads never threw attitude or ego around the way of Junior Vasquez or some of their other contemporaries. And they didn’t traffic in the common sound of overly dramatic, hyper-charged dance music. They still don’t. Both independently continue to spin adventurous, rock-influenced pop that challenges the genre’s conventions. Sasha demonstrated this last Saturday at Fur. Digweed is set to do the same at the same swanky D.C. nightspot on Saturday, June 18.
They prefer an austere sound, at a gentle, not-quite-rolling-boil pace. It’s beguiling much of the time, but also boring too often. Later this month Sasha releases FundacionNYC. And for that compilation and his live sets he’s now completely turned away from the digitally enhanced turntables that remain a staple of the DJ booth. Sasha has created his own, all-digital equipment sans turntables, allowing him to manipulate songs and sounds with dizzying ease at the touch of a button. It makes his sound a bit busier and more cacophonous in stretches, and that’s not necessarily a complaint.
Digweed, less prodigious and as such not as well known, isn’t creating any new bells and whistles these days. In fact, he’s looking to the past. He’s touring chiefly to promote his new Choice: A Collection of Classics. This two-disc set is a ”collection of favorites,” especially those tracks from before or just as Digweed was starting out as a DJ 20 years ago. But even more shocking is what it explicitly avoids: any mention of Sasha. His name is nowhere to be found in the liner notes. ”That is the history that has already been told. We’re here to tell a different story,” is the most the four-page, eight-column biography can bring itself to say about Digweed’s partnership in the ’90s. Sounds like someone feels a little overshadowed….