Nicaragua’s leading gay alien Madonna impersonator Donny Varper is back and bringing the crazy in a new video we can’t stop watching. “Material Boy” starts with Donny wandering the desert in harem girl drag and ends with him crucified on what appears to be the rhinestone-encrusted dollar sign from a D-list rapper’s chain. Also, there’s something on his crotch we can’t quite identify—although not being able to identify things in the crotchular area on Donny Varper is kind of a given. Basically, it’s what we were hoping the Madonna Grammy performance would be like, instead of whatever that vogue-ing matador bullshit was she laid on us instead. At least at the BRIT Awards, they got to watch her eat it.
The video can’t be embedded. Why, Donny, why?! Don’t fear the embed. But fine, you can watch the goddamn thing on YouTube.
Donny keeps promising to answer some of our questions…and oh yes, we have questions…in a video interview, if we can just get our shit together and send him some damn questions. It’ll happen eventually, we promise.
Polish dance music is an endless fount of weirdness, at least to those of us who aren’t Polish. One of these days we’ll devote an entire post to the accordions-on-ecstasy subgenre called disco polo, but in the meantime, we’d like to share with you another Polish dance-pop artist called MC Diva. We discovered her via an online article called “Short Guide to Four Decades of Disco” (warning: it’s not actually that short) on the very cool website Culture.pl, a guide to all things artsy in Poland. (Shout-out to Kasia from Culture.pl, who wrote to us and shared the article.) That article describes MC Diva’s sound as “power dance”:
No one made [power dance] more popular than MC Diva (Krystyna Stolarska). Her music brought together European hi-nrg from the label ZYX Records and American dance hits. She was a Polish star but she also had followers in the U.S. She performed with DJ Bobo, Fun Factory and E-Rotic. The Polish element in “Dziewczyna z St. Pauli (Girl from St.Pauli)” is the subversive violin.
I don’t know if I’d call the violin on this track (played by Stolarska herself) “subversive,” but it sure is fun. And the video, in which the Diva dances around with buff shirtless dudes, looking like the Polish Sandra Bernhard, is even more fun. (The song and video, by the way, appear to be from around 1994 or ’95, although we couldn’t pin down the exact release date.)
The World Cup is finally over, which means us Americans can stop pretending to care about soccer and the rest of the planet can get back to their lives. I must admit, I watched more of it than usual this year, but except for that one awesome match where Germany stomped Brazil into the turf, I watched most of it out of the corner of my eye while I was doing more interesting things, like scraping Cheeto dust off my couch cushions and trying to turn my vuvuzela into a beer bong. Jesus, world, could you maybe pick a more interesting sport to be obsessed over? Try golf or something. At least in that game, the ball goes into the hole once in awhile.
But yes, the World Cup is a big deal, the one sporting event that unites the whole planet and blah blah blah. So we here at Weird Band HQ would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge it in some way. Fortunately, gay Nicaraguan leprechaun Donny Varper is here to help. Donny wrote a song in honor of the World Cup called “GOL” and as with all transmissions from the Planet Varper, it’s amazing. Can you feel that Cup in your heart, Germany?
So see you in four years, World Cup. I’m sure there will be plenty more Cheeto dust in my couch cushions by then.
Apparently this Jeff Richards fellow was once in the cast of Saturday Night Live, but I gotta be honest: I have zero recollection of him on that show. Either he was seriously under-utilized or he got funnier, because there’s no forgetting him in this new video from his dance-pop comedy album, The Shingles 2009-2014.
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!
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 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.
Remember that scene in Up in the Air where George Clooney and Anna Kendrick and that other lady whose name I forget all crash a corporate conference party? And in the middle of the party, Young MC comes out and does “Bust a Move” and the crowd goes wild and starts bumpin’ name tags and sweatin’ through their white dress shirts? Looked pretty fun, right? Especially because George Clooney was there.
Now imagine that same scene, except this time…well, OK, this time George Clooney isn’t there, but this time, Young MC flies out over the crowd doing a Britney Spears cover. I just blew your mind, didn’t I?
This is what Amplifly Aerial Band does: Blow minds at corporate events. They’re a “high end corporate event band” from Utah that straps their singers and guitar players into harnesses and flies them around the room, Cirque du Soleil style. They also sometimes dress them up Daft Punk-style in motorcycle helmets with blinky raver lights on them. They call their performers…wait for it…”Flyborgs.” I could never think this shit up, could you?
I assume the only reason Amplifly Aerial Band is not already the biggest corporate event band on the planet is because they’re from Utah. Do they have corporations there? I always thought it was all just Mormons and ski resorts, but then again I don’t travel much.
Anyway, Amplifly Aerial Band crushed the competition in our latest Weird Band Poll, which can only mean that global domination is not far behind. Congrats, guys! If we ever decide to incorporate, we are totally booking you for our IPO party.
Here’s what I believe is known in the biz as a “sizzle reel” showing the Amplifly kids in action. Oh, yeah, did I mention they also play some dubstep? I bet if Skrillex flew around during his shows, he wouldn’t suck nearly so hard.
Anyone know if Michael Jackson visited Nicaragua sometime in the late ’80s? If he did—and sired an illegitimate child during his stay—that’s one of two possible explanations for the existence of the exotic creature known as Donny Varper. The other possible explanation? That he really is, as he claims, from another galaxy.
We first learned of Nicaragua’s weirdest progeny by way of a great little website called EarBleed.com, which is kinda like our site except that—as you might have surmised from the name EarBleed.com—most of the music they feature is fucking awful. I suppose Donny Varper’s stuff is kinda awful, too—it’s basically just shlocky dance-pop, with lots of stabby synths and cheesy breakdowns and Auto-Tuned vocals—but it’s catchy and filled with random references to UFOs and aliens and Aztec aliens who came to Earth in UFOs and…oh, hell, just watch and listen for yourself.
Brilliant, right? He’s like a Lady Gaga impersonator who dropped acid at a Blasted Mechanism concert and had a vision of Jesus and Quetzalcoatl swooping down in a flaming chariot and abducting him into an episode of Ancient Aliens.
We don’t know much more about Varper, except that he lists his gender as “electronic pop” (which kinda makes sense, actually) and he claims to be from another galaxy but now, according to his Facebook page, lives in Los Angeles. If that last part is true: Donny, hit us up! We’d love to be the first (as far as we can tell) American blog to interview you and help you spread your music of cosmic love to the English-speaking masses.
We’ll leave you with Varper’s catchiest and most batshit creation, a little song and video called “E.T.” that should really, if there is any hope left for humanity, become the next “Gangnam Style.” I look forward to your parody videos, YouTube Nation. Get on it.
This week’s weird band hails from Brazil, which has been quite the breeding ground for strange new genres of music over the years: tropicália, baile funk, forró, whatever the hell Os Mutantes does. Add to that list something called “tecno brega,” a Brazilian-style spin on “cheesy techno” that takes corny pop melodies—many of them familiar—gives them a glossy electro finish, and sets them to syncopated cumbia, reggaeton and baile funk beats. The combination of influences can get pretty out there, especially when rendered by the campy, day-glo trio called Banda UÓ.
Banda UÓ started in 2010 as a one-off joke to promote a party. Buddies Davi Savvig (the Daryl Hall of the group) and Mateus Carrilho (the John Oates of the group) got together with a singer friend of theirs named Flora Maria to make a quick video of them singing a tecno brega version of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream.” The video was a surprise YouTube hit and when Flora Maria was replaced by Candy Mel (the transsexual Shakira of the group), Banda UÓ was born.
Banda UÓ are probably best-known in Brazil for “Shake De Amor,” an electro-brega remake of Willow Smith’s “Whip My Hair” with a video that got them on Brazilian MTV (which is clearly way cooler than American MTV) despite the fact that it’s mostly just the three of them dancing like idiots. Actually, pretty much all of Banda UÓ’s videos are just the three of them dancing like idiots, but they do it so well, there’s not much point in upping the production values or the plotlines. “Shake De Amor” seems to have something to do with killing someone in the desert, but who cares? Look at the way Candy Mel swivels those hips!
For their debut album, 2012’s Motel, Banda UÓ worked with fellow funky Brazilians Bonde do Rolê, who helped them produce the set and start delving into original songwriting. The results were a bit more polished but no less weird—and the videos, thank Christ the Redeemer, were still mostly just an excuse to film Davi, Mateus and Candy busting out their unique wardrobes and dance moves (this time in a boxing gym, no less).
This year, they released their most seizure-inducing video yet. The track, “Gringo,” was produced by the über-trendy Diplo, but don’t hold that against it—it really is an amazing mix of tecno brega, baile funk and full-on glitchcore freakout.
So are Banda UÓ the weirdest band we’ve ever added to the Weird List? Not really. But they are definitely among the funnest.
- Banda UÓ Tumblr (full site coming soon, but apparently not yet fully functional)
- Banda UÓ on Facebook
- Banda UÓ’s SoundCloud
- Mateus Carrilho’s YouTube channel
- “Brazil’s Banda UO Proves Electrobrega is the New Black” (one of the few other English-language articles on them, from MTV Iggy)