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News Archives - October 2004

: Blame It On The Boogie

October 31 2004

If it feels like I've been a bit slow with regards to Pants updates recently, I don't blame you...

Not that I've ever guaranteed that there'll be fresh content all the time, I generally try to fit in a few updates each month to keep the lurkers happy. Some interesting stuff has happened this month for me though, which unfortunately has meant that all I have to offer is a crappy review of two crappy albums.

The majority of the review was actually ready to be published near the end of September (I had planned for the 29th, to be exact), but an entertaining combination of work-, personal- and medical-related mishaps & adventures meant that the update was effectively shelved for most of October. To my credit I did end up publishing it 'close enough' to the end of the month for it to pass as my only real October update, simply scroll down to read my ramblings...

While I'd like to say that the month of November will be more productive, I honestly don't know if October has seen the beginning of a continuing trend. My current plans for upcoming updates to the Pants Network include uploading more of my old artwork & projects to the Pixels section, some other resume/portfolio-type stuff (hint, hint... :), plus I'd really like to begin work on a long-overdue redesign & overhaul of the local chatterbox, forum.pantsnetwork.com. And I've still got those erotic newsletter archives to post up too, mustn't forget them...

It'll always be cool to submit questions for the Pants Q&A page as they are relatively easy updates for me to do, plus I'll always be loitering around the forum filling the board with cynicism & snarky comments. Basically, if there are no new updates here for a while in November, it means I'm either busy working on the site or simply just busy with other stuff.

Shoot off a stupid question, suggest something for the site or start some trouble on the forum if you get bored... Go for it. :)

: Dirty Underwear

October 31 2004

Creating an album that achieves massive popularity & sales figures worldwide is no mean feat, and the challenge is heightened if the artist isn't singing in English all the time...

A challenge was submitted a few months ago for me to review Shakira's 2001 album, Laundry Service. Having won two Latin GRAMMY® awards for her previous work, this is her first English-language album and also features a selection of songs sung in her native Spanish.

Like with any review I do, I needed another album to use as a comparison... While I'd love to use Britney in every album head-to-head, I figured that a fairer comparison would be another artist's "multi-language" album. Fitting the Pants pattern of only reviewing female pop artists who are generally perceived as talentless fluff, I've chosen the 2003 album 200KM/H In The Wrong Lane by Russian duo T.A.T.U. (standing for "Ta lyubit tu", translates to "She loves her").

There's a nice contrast between Shakira & TATU, not just with their music but the way they were marketed by their record labels (Sony & Interscope/Universal respectively). In her 'mainstream debut', Shakira was so close to being carefully positioned as a humble & fragile (albeit worldly) Columbian superstar, just like TATU were just inches away from being known simply as two innocent Russian schoolgirls.

But you have to remember that selling albums is big business, so the image makers needed to step it up a notch. Shakira's minders sought the exotic temptress look, while the TATU girls took the sure-fire approach and did what any fame-seeking artists should do...: "Hey, look! We're lesbians!". Seeing how well Shakira pulled off the saucy foreigner look, it was interesting that no one had dared the lesbian teenager approach before... It undoubtedly worked, with the girls creating a lot of controversy (hence publicity & more sales) over the stunt.

I mean, what do you think would sell more if image was the only element involved?
A mysterious & brooding bleached blonde, or teenage lesbian schoolgirls in their underwear?

Avoiding the temptation to continue posting lesbian pictures all day, I guess these album reviews should include a few words on the actual music. Quite a strange concept, but I'll give it a go:

  • As expected, both albums aren't exactly the best examples of consistent production values. The songs that were put on high-rotation on commercial radio were obviously the super-produced ones (--if I hear Underneath Your Clothes one more time, I'm gonna strangle someone...), yet quite often the remaining tracks felt under-produced, a bit unpolished perhaps. This was with both albums, slightly moreso with 200KM/H though...
  • Interestingly, where either album contains both the original and the English-translated version of a song, I always seem to prefer the non-English version better. For example, the original Spanish Te Aviso Te Anuncio sounds better than the translation (Objection Tango), and TATU's Ya Sholsa S Uma is more listenable than All The Things She Said...
  • If I had to pick album highlights, Shakira's slow (and dull, some may argue) ballad Fool is my favourite track of Laundry Service, strangely... I think the TATU girls get a well deserved thumbs-up for their cover of the Smiths' How Soon Is Now (for those perhaps unfamiliar to it, it's the theme song to TV's Charmed...). There's just something about their chirpy, almost angsty rendition that easily makes it the best song on the album.

And finally, what kind of review would this be without breaking out the Pants Network-exclusive Graphomatic™:

  • For this review I've chosen to break down & compare the lyrical content of these two bilingual albums; how much of an album is in English and how much is in Spanish, Russian, or just plain incomprehensible.
     
  • « Shakira's "Laundry Service"

     English :- 46%
       ¿Qué? :- 54%

    « TATU's "200KM/H In The Wrong Lane"

     English :- 59%
    русский :- 41%
     
    Although technically 9 of the 13 Shakira tracks (~69%) are in English, the Graphomatic™ proves that even though Shakira may be trying to sing English lyrics, it sure as hell isn't English that I can understand.

Ultimately both albums are pretty bad when it comes down to it, though I would tend to favour TATU's album for a couple of reasons. Considering the horrible amount of airplay Shakira receives (due in part to her #2 placement in the 2002 ARIA charts), plus her inability to clearly annunciate her English mean that TATU are the clear winners of this head-to-head album review. Besides, they're lesbians, remember...?

Unfortunately, as with anything that has a winner, there must also be a loser in all this. Easily the big loser in this fiasco is the entire music industry, followed closely by the 2 or 3 poor souls who actually read my website. Sorry guys...

I'm now taking suggestions for the next review. :)

There's more where that came from...: Return to the News Archives index.