Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Helen's Happy Christmas

We've decided to go against the grain a little over here at Helen Of Troy... and not post anything resembling a round-up of the year or indeed ones to watch in 2009. When we say go against the grain, what we really mean to say is that we don't have the time - what with one of us jetting off to New York imminently and the other being slightly addicted to their new Wii console – and so we're closing down for the holidays in preparation for coming back even bigger and badder in the new year.

Thanks to everyone for reading and making this blog a joy to write. Thanks to everyone who's contributed pieces, and to the likes of Greg, Adem and Thom for their amazing kind words and fantastic promotion; we adore you all.

Merry Christmas everyone and a very Happy New Year too.

Lots of love Marie-Claire and Lyndsey. See you in 2009!


Thursday, 11 December 2008

Helen Of Troy Does Countertop Dancing Gets A Makeover

As some of you might know, tomorrow night’s Helen Of Troy Does Countertop Dancing will be our last event for a while. Fear not though dear friends, we’ll be back in the new year and it’s going to be a bigger and better affair; a bit like a Dr Who regeneration, but with more oestrogen!

Though the plans for the reincarnation are far from complete, we can reveal that it will tale place every couple of months and will feature bands, guest DJs and some very special surprises. So watch this space!

We’ve had an awesome time over the past eight months and would like to thank everyone who’s shimmied, vogued or fallen in love on our dancefloor. Also, thanks to those who have supported and helped us out, we know it hasn't been easy.

If you’re worried that a month without Helen... will leave you lacking in lovely lady music, be calm. Helen Of Troy Does Countertop Writings will still be on hand with a bi-weekly dose of music news and comment as well as updates on the future of your favourite feminist clubnight. So if you haven't bookmarked us already, make sure you do!

So it's goodbye from her, and it's goodbye from her...

for now...


Helen Of Troy Does Countertop Dancing
Friday 12th December at Charlies (Harter Street, off Princess Street)
10pm to 4am, £4, £3 w/flyer or NUS.
See you there!

Monday, 8 December 2008

Album Review: Britney Spears - Circus

The excessive airbrushing on the cover of Britney's latest offering, Circus, is sadly indicative of the album's content, which utilises all kinds of digital trickery to gloss over any of the Louisiana pop princesses interesting quirks. All but one or two of the sixteen tracks on the album see Britter's voice vocoded to fuck, which worked on Blackout, as we knew she was probably too wasted to complete a vocal, but now she's meant to be clean, we expected a little more. Lyrically, there are moments of real openness, but more often than not, they're completely cancelled out by a corny cliché or an unnecessary effect.

Though the quality of the album is patchy at best, there are some stone-cold pop classics on Circus, including opening track Womanizer, which has now hypnotised Helen Of Troy..., crushing any early reservations we might have
had. Equally fabulous is second track and second single Circus, which we think is as good, if not better, than anything in the Britney back catalogue. When she sings 'I'm like a ring-leader I call the shots', you very nearly believe her. Unfortunately, after the excellence of Circus, we're confronted by one of the blandest ballads we've ever heard, Out From Under, which, given a few lyrical tweaks, wouldn't have sounded out of place on Britney's début album from 10 years ago. Out From Under is followed by two so-so electro tracks, Kill The Lights and Shattered Glass, which though far from bad, are still nothing to get too excited about.

After the bit of bland comes If You Seek Amy, which, if listened to correctly, has the refrain 'All of the boys and all of the girls are dying to F-U-C-K-Me'. Helen Of Troy... loves a good pun, so this song is right up our street. We also love the maniacal laughter and unusual allusions to la Wino. Strangely brilliant.
Ms Spears slows the pace for the next song, the gorgeous Unusual You, which proves that Britney doesn't have to choose between high-energy pop classic or bland saccharine ballad. It's a real highlight, and sounds like the kind of material a 27-year-old Britney should be making.

From there on in, the album's either uncomfortably weird or just plain dull. Much has been made of the strangeness of Mmm Papi, which features some of the worst pop lyrics of the of the past 10 years 'Now see, I'm mommy and that makes you papi, and that makes us lovey'. WTF? Another unbelievably awful track is Phonography, which made Helen Of Troy... want to throw the CD out of the window. It really is that bad. The rest of the tracks on the album fall into one of two camps; faceless electro-pop or sickening ballads. Neither of which float Helen Of Troy...'s boat.

Circus pretty much sums up Britter's entire career: when she's good, she's very fucking good, but when she's bad, she's horrid.


Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Which Pop Princess Will Usurp The Queen?

Magic Madge, the Queen of pop, has spent the last few decades at the top of the popular music tree. But as the clocks wind on, the years fade by and leotard manufacturers become increasingly reticent to clothe Ms Ciccone, the question ascends. As Madonna becomes the Queen Mother of pop, who will become Queen?

If you'd asked that question to early noughties pop fans, they would have probably rattled off a list of potential candidates, including Britney, Christina and P!nk. But in the intervening years the madness, plagiarism, madness, fake tan, madness and generally being shit have all gotten in the way a little. These days it seems like Sarah Palin might be a better candidate!

The thing is that Madonna hasn't simply been musically significant (which she certainly has), but also culturally, sartorially and inspirationally. Like her or not, it's difficult to argue against the fact that she has pushed boundaries artistically, commercially (Pepsi wanted their money back!), and sexually (the D.H. Lawrence picture book). Are there any contemporary Fempops who can hold a candle to her?

Maybe there's Beyonce? Getting the obvious stuff out of the way; she's been phenomenally successful, both in Destiny's Child and as a solo artist. Her music has pretty wide appeal and few could argue with the brilliance of Bills, Bills, Bills and Crazy In Love. At the moment, though, she seems to be playing it extremely safe. The concept for I Am... Sacha Fierce is clever, but the songs are lacking in sass. Did the independent woman up and leave as soon as Jay-Z put a ring on her finger?

What about Gwen then? Stefani's first album was a hoot and the lead track, What You Waiting For? is indescribably brilliant. She also has a successful band career and lots of support from some pretty cool peers. Although the last album wasn't quite up to snuff, she has retained the bleeding edge of cool and is definitely a unique force in music (would anyone else have been absurd enough to try Wind It Up?). All this could be for nought, though, as she saddles up with the No Doubt boys once again.

And what of Britney? She may well have collected the fragile pieces of her mind up off the bathroom floor but her music is now verging on the criminally insane (if I was dating a girl who said the word Womanizer anywhere near as much, I'm sure I'd have put cyanide on her cheesy chips some time ago). Has Britney consistently produced the classic tracks that we need from a pop Queen? Baby One More Time or Toxic are pretty good I guess, but she's yet to blow us all away.

It could be anyone of these artists, or none. Maybe I'm looking in the wrong place and it'll be a Lily Allen, an M.I.A. or a Cheryl Cole. Or maybe it's just that the age of the superstar is over. With music available by the track in a hundred different formats, we don't all have to buy the same vinyl or watch the same TOTP any more. If and when the right time and artist comes along, I'm pretty sure Queen Madge will still be in the ring to put the newbie through her paces.

Jordan Stead

Currently listening to...

Alphabeat - Alphabeat

Natalie Imbruglia - White Lilies Island

Cibo Matto - Viva La Woman