Poptastic Day: Sophie Ellis-Bextor, “Murder On The Dancefloor”

For someone who’s actually not a one-hit-wonder, Sophie Ellis-Bextor is probably my very favorite one-hit-wonder ever. She may have had other songs in the charts, but this is the only one I remember seeing a lot of, and it was HUGE. In fact, the wikipedia tells us that “Murder On The Dancefloor” was Europe’s most played single of 2002. No wonder because it is totally awesome – I don’t care if it’s not cool or whatever, I absolutely loved this track and still do. It’s catchy and so happy and makes you want to dance. What more could you possibly want from Pop?

Sophie Ellis Bextor – Murder On The Dancefloor

Poptastic Day: Britney Spears

Britney Spears

It’s quite a comeback. No matter what you think of her, her music or the never-ending drama that is her life. You gotta admit that it is impressive that only a year ago she was branded madder than a hatter, and now she’s back with what looks like another successful album and tour, aptly called Circus. It feels like she only just pulled herself together (i.e. hasn’t publically displayed any behavior that could be interpreted as mentally unsound in over three months), and she and her PR machine are already hard at work to reinvent her persona and reassure the public that the insanity was just a wacky phase. She’s ready to reclaim her pop princess throne. If she was anybody else, I’d think maybe she should take some more time off, but her last break lead to her very public breakdown. So maybe this is her natural state, which would explain why she’s so good at it. Though I’ve never bought her CDs, I do like hearing most of her singles. And I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for her; she doesn’t have the best voice, or the best moves, but she does Pop like no other.

Since the powers-that-be made it impossible to post the music video, here’s a live-ish performance from eight years ago of a Neptunes-produced favorite of mine, pre-GI Jane makeover, marriage(s) and other wackadoodle drama:

Poptastic Day: Free To Be … You And Me

If you were born or a youngster in 1970s America and your parents were at all open-minded, former-hippies, progressive, or anything remotely related to anything smacking of equality between races or genders, then there is a good chance you had a copy of Free To Be … You And Me. I certainly did. And I must have listened to it constantly, because I can still sing along to most of the songs.

A project lead by Marlo “That Girl” Thomas – with guest appearances from singers Diana Ross and Harry Belafonte, former football player Rosey Grier, comedian Tom Smothers, and talk show host Dick Cavett, among others – the sound is dated and bordering on goofy. However, in this year witnessing the first African-American president taking the oath of office, the principles the album teaches you are no less inspiring after so many decades. It’s hard to believe the world needed an album to teach children that parents are people, too, housework is just no fun, and boys can play with dolls. But, I actually think we did and still do.

If you’ve never heard of Free To Be … You And Me, then have a listen to this virtuoso performance from the star of Mash and Arnie Vinick from The West Wing, Alan Alda, and Thomas. Then buy yourself or your children or grandchildren a copy.

Alan Alda & Marlos Thomas – William’s Doll

Poptastic Day: Two Keith Partridges?

We’re back! All refreshed and ready to get back to our regularly scheduled nonsense. And what better way to celebrate than with a little Partridge Family?!

I know, I know – I’ve posted about the Partridge Family before and you just wish I’d just up about that damn (super-awesome 70s bubblegum) TV family already. But this isn’t really about the Partridge Family themselves exactly – more about the absurdity of record companies.

So everyone knows that the Partridge Family actors didn’t really play on those records – other than Shirley Jones and David Cassidy’s vocals, that is. They had nothing to do with the song-writing or even song selections – in reality, the songs were around before the band was, and some were recorded before David Cassidy even managed to convince the bosses he could actually sing.

Which explains why, on record, there’s one teenaged-sounding Keith Partridge and one middle-aged-sounding Keith Partridge:

The Partridge Family – I’m On The Road (Fake David Cassidy)
The Partridge Family – I Think I Love You (Real David Cassidy)

(Both from their cleverly-titled debut album, The Partridge Family Album.)

I guess the record people didn’t think those drastically different voices would sound silly back-to-back on record. And I guess they didn’t think it would look weird on screen for David Cassidy to lip-sync to the voice of someone who sounds twice his character’s age.

Of course, this kind of silly crap is exactly what makes The Partridge Family (and others like them) so wonderfully Poptastic. Well, that and the awesome lyrics.

Poptastic Day: Eartha Kitt, “Santa Baby”

“Santa Baby” is my all-time favorite Christmas song, and nobody can do it like Eartha Kitt did. Many have tried, but I’ve never heard a version that can even touch the original. The wonderful Ms. Kitt strikes the most perfect balance between sweet and girly and totally slutty – something young female pop artists are still trying to do today. Recorded in 1953, “Santa Baby” is both a pop and a Christmas classic.

   Eartha Kitt – Santa Baby

Poptastic Day: New Kids On The Block, “Funky Funky Christmas”

In honor of the return of 100bells, my favorite time of the year, here is the painfully funky, “Funky Funky Christmas” from the New Kids On The Block’s multi-platinum Merry Merry Christmas album. If you’ve never heard this song before, I should warn you that, ehm, there’s rapping. By the New Kids. Which is neither funky, nor good, or christmassy, but I do sort of enjoy Joey’s faux-British accent in the style of Slick Rick and Dana Dane (Oh my god, remember Dana Dane?! He was from Brooklyn, for pete’s sake.).

It probably won’t grace any respectable Christmas Mix, but how would you recognize a really good christmas song – like the one posted below – if there weren’t hideous little gems like these? My absolute favorite line is: Funky, dope jam top on your christmas list, do you dig this?. Oh and, what on earth does ‘we’re gonna kick the ballistics off our christmas wishes’ mean!?

   New Kids On The Block – Funky Funky Christmas

For a live performance of this song with awesome early nineties dance moves – check out the video. As a special bonus Arsenio Hall raps along in the end. Hooo boy, I still cannot believe I came across this highly significant moment in music!

Poptastic Day: Fun Lovin’ Criminals

Fun Lovin Criminals

There is no one particularly Poptastic thing about the Fun Lovin’ Criminals. Their being alone simply captures the essence of the concept. Produce good songs? Check. Don’t seem yourself too seriously? Check. Have a goofy take on a Pope of Greenwhich Village vibe? Check. Not afraid to look a bit silly now and then? Check.

They’re like a Poptastic Frankenstein, stitched together from some of the best and most Poptastic aspects of different decades since the 1970s.

The Fun Lovin’ Criminals are the Ambassadors of Poptastic Plenipotentiary.

   Fun Lovin’ Criminals – King Of New York (Cooley High Remix)