Tuesday, July 20, 2010

SingFest 2010 Update

With 14 days to go to SingFest 2010, the organisers have introduced 2-day and 3-day passes, finally! For the 2-day pass, you can choose any of the 2 nights, and that will cost you $255 (including SISTIC fees). The 3-day pass is priced at $357 (including SISTIC fees). You will be issued a set of tickets, one for each night.

Furthermore, to encourage bulk purchase, there is now a Group Booking of 4 tickets package priced at $511 (including SISTIC fees), valid for same night purchases only. However, all the above packages are not valid for the 10% OCBC credit/debit card discount.

With so many options now, consumers are pretty spoilt for choice. So let me break it down for you, if you're thinking of catching just one night. All prices quoted include the $3 SISTIC fee.

Standard 1-night ticket price is $178.

A) If you're planning to go alone, use an OCBC credit/debit card to enjoy 10% discount. Ticket price will be $160.50.

B) If you can find 3 other folks to go on the same night with you, go for the Group of 4 Booking. Ticket price will be $127.75.

C) If you and a friend each want to catch a different night, then go for the 2-day pass, as you can split the tickets. Ticket price per person will be $127.50.

D) If you and 2 other friends each want to each a different night, the 3-day pass will be great. Ticket price is $119.00.

Scenarios C and D are quite unlikely I guess, but those will be the cheapest options, if you're planning to catch only one night's performance.

The lineup is complete at last and here it is:

Tue 3 Aug 2010
Katy Perry
Tokio Hotel
Wonder Girls
The Like

Wed 4 Aug 2010
Kanye West
Kool & The Gang
Lupe Fiasco
Diane Birch
Jully Black

Thur 5 Aug 2010
The Smashing Pumpkins
Thirty Seconds To Mars
The Vines
Ian Brown
Hail The Villain

For me, the most attractive night is the first night, with Katy Perry headlining and also Orianthi and Tokio Hotel in action. The other acts I'm keen are The Smashing Pumpkins and Diane Birch. Kanye was here not too long ago, 29th October 2008, so there isn't a great urge to watch him again, even though he's good.

This year's SingFest is being held on weekdays for the first time. The first act will take the stage at 6pm, and with five acts per night, it is going to be a tight fit. Assuming the turnover for each set is 30 min, there should be two acts who will perform for 45 min each, two acts for 60 min each, and the headliner with 90 min. Something like this?

6:00 - 6:45pm Act 1 (45 min)
6:45 - 7:15pm Turnover
7:15- 8:00pm Act 2 (45 min)
8:00 - 8:30pm Turnover
8:30 - 9:30pm Act 3 (60 min)
9:30 - 10:00pm Turnover
10:00 - 11:00pm Act 4 (60 min)
11:00 - 11:30pm Turnover
11:30 - 1:00am Act 5 (90 min)

That means if you're a Katy Perry fan, you'll have to wait till 11:30pm before she hits the stage. And by the time you reach home and shower, you will get to bed at around 2am or later. And if you're watching the other 2 nights as well, good luck to you! And I haven't mentioned if you're catching the Slash concert on 2nd August, Monday as well...that will be 4 late nights in a row! Woo hoo...

Nevertheless, you have already gone through the World Cup and survived, so this should be nothing right? Plus you're watching the artists live in concert, and not on some TV screen, so this will definitely be better. So hurry up, get your 1/2/3 day passes. SingFest awaits!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Kylie Returns As The Powerful Aphrodite

Kylie made a triumphant return to the music scene as her latest album Aphrodite stormed to the top of the UK charts. In fact, she makes history as she becomes the first solo artist in the UK to register #1 albums in four different decades - 80s, 90s, 00s and 10s.

The run started with her 1988 debut album Kylie and follow-up Enjoy Yourself in 1989, then her 1992 Greatest Hits album, 2001's Fever, and now Aphrodite, her 11th studio album.

While not many people can manage this feat, Kylie is unlikely to be the sole record holder for long as Madonna will also join the ranks if she releases a new #1 album this decade. In fact, Madonna has scored 11 UK #1 albums in the past 25 years, starting with 1984's Like A Virgin to her most recent Celebration compilation released in September last year. But well, Kylie will still be the first to achieve this feat. So well done, Kylie!

Kylie describes Aphrodite as a return and celebration of her dancefloor roots, and this is very true indeed. She roped in producer Stuart Price at the recommendation of Jake Shears (of the Scissor Sisters) and it was probably the best move she could have made. Stuart Price was the genius behind Madonna's Confessions On The Dance Floor album, which brought Madonna back to form after her disastrous American Life album, and the album was widely hailed as a modern classic dance record.

Stuart Price reproduces his magic touch on this album and the result is Kylie's most cohesive piece of work ever. It is non-stop dance, catchy pop music at its best. Its emphasis is on getting people onto the dance floor, having a good time and waving their hands up in the air.

The first single All The Lovers is a slow burner, kicking off the album with a seductive groove that draws you in deeper and deeper and sets you up nicely for the raucous party ahead. The second track, and also second single, Get Outta My Way is a great, straight out dance tune that is set to be a big hit on the airwaves and clubs.

Just when you think that things couldn't get any hotter, Kylie serves another knockout punch with Put Your Hands Up (If You Feel Love). It sounds like a continuation of Get Outta My Way, but even better. The chorus is just so infectious and you will put your hands up, no doubt about it.

Another highlight on the album is the title track. The opening of the song, with its marching band drum beats, sounds a little like Destiny Child's Lose My Breath. This is where Kylie asserts her authority as she sings "I'm fierce and I'm feeling mighty, don't you mess with me, you don't wanna fight with me". Clearly she's back with a vengeance and on top of her game.

My favourite track on the album has got to be Better Than Today. It's got a slightly different feel from the other tracks, a little laid back and more pop than dance. It could be because this song was conceived before the Aphrodite sessions. She had already performed it during her US tour last October. I think it will make a great fourth single. After the highs of the dance numbers, it will be nice to offer something different.

All in all, it's a great dance pop album. It's unmistakably Kylie, with a fresh spin for the new decade. Definitely more easy to enjoy than the previous X album. Hope Kylie can continue to keep it up, and perhaps even return to Singapore for another show! (Let's hope that tickets won't be too ex...not another $550 concert!)

If you're buying the album, the Experience Edition CD+DVD is the version you should get. It comes in a nice hardback book with 28 pages of gorgeous Kylie photos.

The DVD includes live footage from Kylie's 2009 tour of North America: White Diamond Theme, White Diamond, Confide In Me and I Believe In You. The ballad version of I Believe In You is a real treat, and it made me like the song even more. The DVD also houses the making of All The Lovers video shoot, behind the scenes of the Aphrodite photo shoot, and the Aphrodite photo gallery.

There is also a collectible sticker. On the reverse side, there is a special access code that allows you to complete the "experience" by going online for more goodies. Once you have logged in, you can view an exclusive 39 min 36 sec interview with Kylie and Stuart Price. It's a great piece, as they go about sharing the entire recording process and providing insights to the experience. The interview alone is worth forking out the additional moolah to get this Experience Edition.

And exclusively to Singapore only, every purchase of the album comes with a giant limited edition free poster. It's glossy and huge, and the colours are beautiful. The poster is available for a limited time only, so don't be late!

Monday, July 05, 2010

Corinne Bailey Rae - Live!

Coming to our shores this month is an exceptionally talented lady who is perhaps one of the most underrated singer-songwriters to emerge this decade. She is none other than Corinne Bailey Rae.

Corinne burst onto the scene in early 2006 with her self-titled debut album, which entered the UK charts at #1, and she became only the fourth female British act to have her first album debut at #1.

The first single Like A Star became a hit in both the UK and the US, but it was the second single Put Your Records On that brought her to the mainstream. It was a bigger hit in the UK (#2) than Stateside (#64), but it earned Corinne two Grammy nominations in 2007 - Record of the Year and Song of the Year. She also received a nod for Best New Artist, but she went home empty handed.

Just as everything seemed to be going for her, the most unfortunate thing happened. Her husband of seven years Jason Rae was found dead in March 2008, and Corinne went into seclusion to grief privately.

However, she resurfaced in January this year with a new album, The Sea. Coming on the heels of the tragedy, The Sea is a deeply personal and introspective album. Corinne said that the songs on the album were written both before and after Jason's death. To her, there was no better way to get over it than to immerse herself in something that she loved. I guess music is the best therapy after all.

I'm sure it will be a great concert - not one of the fancy, gimmick-filled ones, but a soulful, tender and mellow one. And it will be held at the Esplanade Theatre, so it's the perfect venue to showcase Corinne's music. Looking forward to it!

Corinne Bailey Rae - Live!
Date: 28 July 2010
Time: 8pm
Venue: Esplanade Theatre
Prices: $148, $128, $108, $88, $68 [$88 and $68 sold out]
(excluding $3 SISTIC fee)

Friday, July 02, 2010

Chris Brown's Tribute To MJ At The BET Awards 2010

The BET Awards took place last Sunday, two days after the 1-year anniversary of MJ's death, and naturally, the highlight of the show was Chris Brown's tribute to MJ.

While the performance itself was noteworthy, there has been quite a lot of discussion in the past few days about whether Chris was faking the tears, and whether he was using the occasion to his own advantage, to win back some sympathy after his incident with Rihanna last year.

Here's the full performance if you haven't seen it yet:

Well, to me, he seemed genuinely overwhelmed by emotion and broke down as a result. But it was more due to the message of the song, Man In The Mirror, ("take a look at yourself and make the change"), rather than an outpouring of grief for MJ's passing.

I don't think he intended to take advantage of the occasion for his own benefit, but it happened more as an act of repentance. I feel that he has learned his lesson and people should stop being so cynical about it. Just to be clear, I'm not a Chris Brown fan, but that's what I feel.

As for the performance itself, I must say it was quite good, even though he didn't execute it exactly 100% like MJ did. It was not a carbon copy of MJ's performance. Perhaps he didn't want to do it 100% like MJ, but wanted to inject some of his personal style to it, which is fine.

The opening segment of The Way You Make Me Feel with the silhouette behind the curtain/screen is a direct reference to MJ's 1988 performance at the Grammy Awards. Here's the clip:

That is one of my favourite MJ live performances ever. The movements were so sharp and he created such beautiful shapes with his body. And together with the music, everything was just perfect.

Chris Brown then went to do the Remember The Time dance segment, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. Mainly because I love the routine, and also due to the fact that MJ had never performed it live before. Well, he was supposed to, during the 1993 Soul Train Awards, but he apparently sprained his ankle and ended up performing (lip-synching) it on a golden wheelchair.

Here's the 1993 Soul Train Awards performance:

Actually MJ did rehearse it for the Dangerous Tour, but disappointingly, it didn't make the final setlist. Here's a rare look at him rehearsing. This proves that he sang live, and sounded darn good too!

Next, the lights dimmed and Chris Brown disappeared to do a costume change while six backup dancers took centrestage for Smooth Criminal. It was the best moment of the entire tribute as I was pleasantly surprised to see the different parts of the costume light up, giving the routine a fresh spin. The lights accentuated the distinct hand and leg movements, and you can see exactly how intricate and beautiful the choreography is. (The dancers were not totally in sync though)

But I think they probably got the idea of lighting up the costume after watching the This Is It DVD, where MJ's designer Zaldy explains in one of the bonus features of the DVD that the costume for Billie Jean was supposed to light up as MJ danced. I can't find a clip on YouTube but it's on the DVD.

As for Chris Brown's take on Billie Jean, I know I'm hard to please, but it's not perfect. For example, when MJ thrusted his hips up and down, only his hips moved while the upper body remained mostly still. Whereas Chris Brown moved his entire upper body up and down together with his hips, so it looked like he was trying to sit down on an invisible chair and stand up again. Not as sleek.

Watch the 1:23 mark of this clip to see what I mean, and compare it against Chris Brown's take.

Having said so much, I must emphasise that I enjoyed the performance as a whole overall. There were surprises, there were routines that I liked and there was the excitement factor. I wouldn't be too hard on Chris Brown because really, there's only one Michael Jackson. R.I.P. Michael!


SingFest 2010 Update

Here's a quick update on SingFest 2010 - the lineup for the second night (4th August) has been announced, according to the SISTIC website:

4th August
- Kanye West
- Diane Birch
- Jully Black and more

Ticket sales for 4th August have not started yet. Still no word on whether there will be multi-day passes available. Hope Midas can confirm soon so people can start buying tickets, rather than hold out in anticipation of a better deal.

I wonder who else will be added to the lineup?