We’ve been doing this blog for a long time, so we like to think we’ve gotten pretty good at tracking down information about obscure artists over the years. But every once in awhile, one of you eagle-eyed readers points us to something so far off the pop culture grid, no combination of Google search terms yields many results. That certainly seems to be the case with the South African novelty act Pocket Lips.
A reader named Shane sent us a link to Pocket Lips’ one and only hit—and yes, by accounts it was a hit in South Africa back in 1987, when it climbed all the way up to No. 6 on the local pop charts. Also by all accounts, the band was a studio project made up of producers/musicians Ian Osrin (actually a highly respected South African recording engineer and record producer with an extensive list of legit credits), Zack Haynes and Sam Wingate, plus a vocalist named Keith Berel who had previously fronted a popular Johannesburg band called Flash Harry. How all these apparently talented individuals came to record a song as ridiculous as “It’s Amazing (The Incredible Dance)” is a bit of a mystery—although I suppose the bigger mystery is how a song as ridiculous as “It’s Amazing (The Incredible Dance)” became a top 10 hit. Was pop radio under apartheid a whites-only affair? Maybe that might explain it.
At any rate, this ridiculous song from this ridiculous band (not be confused with a more recent U.K. act called Pocket Lips, who are also ridiculous, but for different reasons) has an equally ridiculous video, which we will now share with you because ridiculous is kind of our thing. Enjoy.
(Guest post by Kai Nobuko)
Harry Merry is a living underground legend from the Dutch harbor city of Rotterdam. Dressed up in a sailor’s tunic and styled with an iconic haircut, he is out there to flabbergast with his unique brand of entertainment. His favorite keyboard is subjected to his own wild arrangements, full of odd chord changes and a tone scale of its own. Add Harry Merry’s unique, heavily accented voice and your ears will witness a match made in weirdo heaven.
Harry Merry has released a couple of LPs and a free downloadable 7″ single, “Village Life in 1905.” Coming from his Well… Here’s Another Nice Mess You’ve Got Me Into album is one of his more popular songs that attempts to stay in your head. The promotional video clip for it has been around on the Internet for quite a while, but in case you missed it (or lost a few brain cells and erased it by accident): Here is Harry Merry’s music video for “Stevie Storm.”
For more Harry Merry, visit his website.
Why does the Internet genius called TomCattt have
three four “T”‘s in his name? Because he’s a fucking stud, that’s why. He’s in his fifties (I’m guessing) and still rocks a mullet. He’s karate-kicking a keyboard in half on his website. He dances with not one, but TWO hot chicks in his videos, because one day-hire dancer is not enough to slake his unquenchable thirst for dancing with hot chicks. He’s basically the Chuck Norris of midlife-crisis DIY pop musicians. He even looks plausible in a black cowboy hat.
Our thanks to reader and Weird List inductee Army of Gay Unicorns for sharing with us the glory that is TomCattt and this song, “Yes Love,” that will now slowly eat away my brain from the inside. At least I’ll die laughing.
P.S. The album that this song comes from is called Hiiyaaaaaaaaaaa!, which I assume is supposed to be said like you’re just about to karate-kick a keyboard in half. The alternative is that it’s the sound TomCattt makes when he climaxes, but I don’t really want to contemplate that possibility.
Watch Flaming Lips and Miley Cyrus do their “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” cover at the Billboard Music Awards
Much as we’re loathe to admit it, collaborating with Miley Cyrus was probably a pretty smart career move for Wayne Coyne and his ragtag band of psych-rockers, the Flaming Lips. On their own, the Lips have pretty much a zero percent chance of getting invited to perform on any nationally televised awards show these days—but with Miley in tow, they’re not only invited to the party, they’re given full permission to let their freak flags fly. Their appearance on last night’s Billboard Music Awards (video below) would have been the talk of the Interweb today, had the entire awards show not been upstaged by that stupid Michael Jackson hologram.
Wayne and Miley were decked out in warpaint, feathers and tinsel (including, in Coyne’s case, a tinsel codpiece) to perform their cover of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” which the Lips recently announced is but one track of a forthcoming Sgt. Pepper tribute album called With a Little Help From My Fwends. Shrewdly, they began taking pre-orders for the album last night, even though it’s not due out until October. I wonder how many hyperventilating Miley fans have already pre-ordered their copy, blissfully unaware that most of the record will be old dudes like Coyne and Moby doing weird Beatles songs they never heard of?
With a Little Help From My Fwends is due out Oct. 28th on Warner Bros. Records. A portion of the record’s profits will go towards the Bella Foundation, which helps elderly, low-income and terminally ill pet owners pay their vet bills. So every time we make fun of this project in the months ahead—and my guess is we’ll make fun of it A LOT—a portion of us will feel like assholes for doing so.
In other Lips news: Coyne recently fired the band’s longtime second drummer, Kliph Scurlock, prompting Scurlock to write a long letter to Pitchfork accusing Coyne of, among other things, “endless verbal (with threats of physical) abuse.” (You can read the entire letter here, if you’re so inclined.) While it’s hard to say how many of Scurlock’s accusations are true, it’s definitely true that Coyne chose to respond in the douchiest way possible, by giving a lengthy interview to Rolling Stone in which he repeatedly describes Scurlock—who was with the band for 12 years—as hateful, immature and uncreative. “Anybody that knows him knows what a hateful pathological liar he is,” he says, before adding, moments later, “But I don’t even want to speak about the hate, you know. I don’t have any hate for him.”
Well, we don’t have any hate for you either, Wayne. But I gotta be honest. Between the Rolling Stone interview and that moment at the Billboard Music Awards where you kissed Miley’s feet—we’re a little worried about you. Maybe take a little hiatus after this Beatles album, yeah? You seem like you could use some R&R.
We haven’t featured anywhere near enough German disco on this site. Let’s fix that right now with Dschinghis Khan’s immortal 1979 classic, “Dschinghis Khan.” This song represented West Germany in the Eurovision Song Contest and placed fourth, further proving that Eurovision is bunch of baloney. Right, Winny Puhh?
Buy this track on Amazon.com. The guests at your next disco party will thank you. And a tip of our gold lamé warrior crowns to reader bob for suggesting it!
Mister D. is the musical alter ego of Polish author Dorota Masłowska, who at the age of 31 already has several immensely successful novels and plays to her credit, including the international bestseller Snow White and Russian Red. We’re inclined to hate her for this—since we’re old, bitter and far less successful—but she seems to tackle everything she does with such fearlessness and self-deprecating humor that it’s impossible to stay mad at her.
Case in point: The below video for “Chleb” off Mister D.’s debut album, Społeczeństwo jest niemiłe (Society Is Mean). How can you not love the cute yet awkward girl with the scrawny love interest who constructs a fantasy world in which Scrawny Boy is a macho bodybuilder with a pet tiger and she herself is Polish supermodel Anja Rubik (played in the video by the actual Anja Rubik)? Stay with it, it gets crazier as it goes on.
Thanks to reader ghyarlae for recommending this one. When it comes to eye-popping music videos, Poland just keeps on killing it. (See also: Donatan.)
So here’s a fun fact: In Eagle Rock, the part of Los Angeles I live in, there is a Sizzler that smells like dogshit 100% of the time. To clarify: On the street just outside the Sizzler, it always smells like dogshit. Inside the Sizzler it could smell like jasmine and Jack Daniels for all I know. But I’ll never know because outside the Sizzler it smells like dogshit 24-7, so I never go anywhere near the place.
Now the dogshit-Sizzler might sound pretty grim, but here’s another, less fun fact: In poorer countries throughout the world, pretty much everything smells like human shit pretty much all the time. In India, for example, 620 million people do their business in the open every single goddamned day. No amount of jasmine and Jack Daniels can cover up that mess.
Fortunately, there’s now a handy PSA from…and I could not make this up if I tried…the guy behind the theme music to Life of Pi. His name is Shri and the name of his catchy PSA ditty is “Poo2Loo” or possibly “Poo Party” or something adorable and gross at the same time and it’s part of a campaign sponsored by motherfuckin’ UNICEF and it’s basically a cute way to try to educate the people of India about how shitting in the street is bad.
Now I’m gonna go out on a limb and say this video and the whole Poo2Loo campaign does nothing to address the underlying causing of street-shitting in India, which is lack of access to indoor plumbing. But hell, what do I know? Maybe all 620 million Indians with no flush toilets will watch this and start shitting into plastic bags instead.
You can learn more about the Poo2Loo campaign here. Now who’s hungry for some Sizzler?
P.S. Thanks to reader Wesley for dropping this deuce on us. Your shit will never stink to us, Wesley.
I threw up three times while writing this headline: Flaming Lips and Miley Cyrus are collaborating on a Beatles cover
Why, Wayne, why? Are you having a midlife crisis? Are you just trying fuck with us? What is the deal with all the shitty pop collaborations of late? It wasn’t bad enough you did a song with Ke$ha, now you have to team up with Miley fucking Cyrus?
Actually, the very notion of Miley/Flaming Lips collab is so perverse, it just might work. In a way, it already has; the Lips joined Miley onstage at the Tulsa, Oklahoma stop of her current “Bangerz” tour to perform “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots,” and much as we hate to admit, it didn’t actually suck (video proof below). But they’ve also been up to no good in the studio, and that’s where the story takes a really scary turn: They’re teaming up with one of the guys from MGMT to do a Beatles cover. And not just any Beatles cover: They’re doing “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.” I think I speak for all Beatles fans when I say this has all the makings of a sacrilege on par with Katy Perry’s recent butchering of “Yesterday.”
But hell, what do I know? The Lips minus Miley are actually the perfect band to give “Lucy” an appropriately trippy interpretation. So maybe they can tame The Tongue long enough to get a decent vocal take out of her.
Then again, this recent post to Wayne Coyne’s Instagram account, accompanied by the caption, “Miley in the studio vomiting diamonds while singing Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds!!”, does not fill us with hopeful anticipation:
On a brighter note: Here’s that video of adoring Miley Cyrus fans cheering Wayne and Miley’s rendition of “Yoshimi.” Some of them even pelted Wayne with their bras. I believe in midlife crisis terms, that’s known as “Unlocking the Tom Jones Achievement Badge.”
I was still a good two blocks away from The Satellite, where I would be attending the camp-pop explosion that is Leslie Hall and her band Leslie & The LYs, when I spotted my first pair of gold spandex booty shorts. It was the first clue that a.) this show was going to be a people-watching bonanza and b.) I had clearly under-dressed for the occasion.
I needn’t have worried about the second part, though. The whole message of Leslie Hall’s goofy, celebratory music is that we’re all fabulous, no matter what size our asses are or what we chose to clad them in when we left the house. Yes, there were shiny and sparkly Leslie fans in abundance inside The Satellite—but some of us were just shiny and sparkly on the inside.
The show began with a knowingly awkward, low-budget video about Leslie and her sidekicks time-traveling into the future on a quest to obtain the Golden Beats. (No, I’m not telling whether or not they succeeded—no spoilers! You’ll just have to go to the show and see for yourself.) Then Leslie emerged, resplendent in gold and macrame, and launched into “Blame the Booty,” the first of several songs about her “lower regions,” as she delicately put it.
Nothing else about Leslie Hall is the least bit delicate, which is what makes her so awesome. She’s a big, loud Midwestern gal, with a personality at least 10 times larger than her dress size. During and between songs, she worked the crowd with banter that would put any stand-up comedian to shame, over-sharing about everything from her flat ass (“If you bring a pillow to a three-hour movie, I feel you”) to her crafting addiction (“When you need to rent one of those storage units and you’re still in your twenties…”).
Her stage set was, as she put it, “Vegas-style production at Midwest prices.” It started out just looking like some stage flats draped in gold fabric. Then her backup singers rotated the whole thing sideways to reveal a bedazzled Leslie visage, which then split in two to reveal her whole band. The effect was pretty delightful considering the whole thing probably fits in one of those little U-Haul trailers.
Leslie & the LYs are touring in support of Songs in the Key of Gold, a dance remix collection of Leslie’s greatest hits. (Remember how fantastic it was when that used to be a thing? I still have the Billy Idol dance remix collection on cassette somewhere and I stand by that purchase 100%.) This was good news for us because it meant that Les was there to play the hits and play them for maximum danceosity. Although I suspect that’s pretty much what she does on all her tours.
The only real break in the action came when Leslie invited several fans up on stage for a little gem sweater fashion show. The girl who won—who did indeed have a pretty spectacular sweater—was so excited I thought she might start shrieking like a nine-year-old at a One Direction concert. But she managed to hold it together enough to dance along to “Craft Talk,” the best-known of Leslie Hall’s many musical paeans to the art of bedazzling.
There was a tribute to Leslie’s cat Shania, “#1 Cat in America,” which was also an excuse for her to have audience members pass up their cell phones to share their cat pictures. (I immediately regretted that I switched wallpapers awhile back and no longer had this to share.) That number also featured a set of giant cardboard cat legs that rose up behind the stage while someone pretending to be Shania squeaked into an offstage microphone: “Hi, Mom! I hid inside your luggage!”
In lieu of a conventional encore (“We don’t have any more songs,” Leslie said apologetically. “Besides, it’s Monday. Don’t you all have lives? Jobs?”), she and the LYs led the crowd in a little impromptu post-show dance party. “This is the dance started it all!” she declared over Britney Spears’ “Toxic,” busting out a move she called “scooping the driveway.”
At the very end of the show, her minions rotated the backdrop again to reveal a toll free phone number. “I do check my messages,” she assured the crowd, before heading backstage to soak her feet and have some pizza: “I need to float these feminine ankles in the old Epsom bath.”
The song that maybe best epitomizes the Leslie Hall mojo was her finale: “Shazam I’m Glamorous”: a call-and-response anthem in which Leslie entreats her fans to tell her she’s glamorous—and of course they do, fervently. And every time they do, her face scrunches up with delight and she squeals “Thank you!” with complete sincerity. The positive feedback loop between Leslie Hall and her fans is a beautiful thing to behold. I think we all left the show feeling a bit more glamorous—even those of us who were only sparkly on the inside.
I gotta be honest: I have no frame of reference for reviewing a Kyary Pamyu Pamyu concert. I had never been to a J-pop show before, unless you count Trippple Nippples, which I don’t. Where the Trippp Nippps are clearly trying to be a little edgier and more “arty,” KPP is gleefully, blissfully, unironically out to sweep her audience away under a raging torrent of cuteness. It was quite possibly the most ridiculous show I have ever been to, and definitely one of the happiest. If you walk out of a Kyary Pamyu Pamyu concert wearing a frowny face, you need to adjust your meds.
So is KPP fairly typical of a J-pop show? I have no idea. All I know is not since the ’90s heyday of candy raving have my eyeballs been bombarded with such a colorful display. Oh, and the music was pretty good, too. Even though it was all just a pre-recorded backing track, including most (all?) of the vocals. You don’t go to a KPP show because you want to hear an extended version of the piano solo on “Mottai Night Land.”
There was a set that looked like the bedroom of a giant toddler. There were Oompa-Loompa-like backup dancers. There was a dancing rabbit and a dancing bear. There was an inexplicably bizarre video interlude, to cover for one of Kyary’s many costume changes, that featured her playing poker with a bunch of scary-looking Americans and posing next to a motor scooter like a kawaii James Dean. There were not, sadly, any of the dancing fuzz-monsters from the “Invader Invader” video, but they did throw in that song’s dope-ass dubstep breakdown—and in case you’re wondering, yes, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is still totally adorable, even when dancing to dubstep. Her adorableness defies all logic and the basic laws of the space-time continuum. All the kitten videos on YouTube contain less cumulative adorableness than a single KPP dance move. I can’t explain it, but it is so.
The crowd was almost as much fun as the show, full of elaborately costumed J-pop fans of all ages, races and even styles—there were more than a few goth/steampunk dolls in attendance, sprinkled amidst the expected packs of girls in frilly pink princess dresses. I tried to snap a few pics but when you’re a middle-aged guy at a J-pop show, you have to be careful about who you point your camera at. Fortunately, others with more balls and better cameras were there, too.
My arms are still tired from doing the “Fashion Monster” dance, so I’m going to stop typing now and just leave you with a couple more photos. As you can see, we got there late and our seats weren’t the best. I did try to capture the energy of the crowd in that one shot, though. Yeah, people were really into it.