International Video Challenge

Representing the UK: The Courteeners – That Kiss
The Courteeners are one of those bands whose name I know very well, but I couldn’t have told you where they were from, what they looked like or what they sound like (apart from indie). Until now, when I heard a song with a great chorus on this week’s epsode of 90210, and discovered that it was in fact The Courteeners! My research tells me they’re from Manchester, and this song actually got to no.36 recently in our charts, so it shows how little I pay attention to that these days. I have been very dspleased with British indie music in the past year, with the only good stuff being the few major acts such as Keane and the Killers who’ve gone more poppy on their new singles, but this song has a bit more melody and class about it than Scouting For Girls and their terrible chums. I could even imagine it being by one of the Swedish indie-bloke acts. It’s probably a one-off, but I’ll be looking into their back-catalogue nonetheless.

Representing Japan: BoA – Eat You Up
It’s always interesting for me to see how an act who is very well known in a non-English speaking country translates not just their music but their whole act for the English market. BoA, much like Utada Hikaru before her, has translated very well in terms of poptasticness, but there’s not much about this song that distinguishes it as Japanese, not American or European. It could easily be Britney or even Robyn, and that’s of course nothing to complain about, but I have a feeling it could rule out success for BoA. I really think that when acts are trying to make this kind of transition, they need to retain some of their original style and cultural distinction in order to stand out. Japan is a totally ace country, so she should be playing on that, not hiding it. Still, the song is fantastic, and I’ve been listening to it loads lately – a lot more than Womanizer actually!

Representing Poland: Blog 27 – F*ck U!
As a teenage girl duom Blog 27 were always balancing precariously between being utterly terrible and extremely excellent. Unfortunately, now that there is only one member (Tola) remaining, she seems to have fallen off the tightrope on the terrible side. Her styling has gone very emo, and while the music hasn’t actually turned much rockier, she has given up on tune altogether. Blog 27 have always been a weird act, and I know that their songs in the past have taken a while to grow on me, but I can’t imagine ever liking F*ck You or Cute (the previous single) as much as Hey Boy, Uh La La La or Turn You On To Music. It’s a shame. Now I have to hope that the t.A.T.u album is good, or else I’ll just be giving up on Eastern Europop altogether if this continues! The two stars are just for the crazy rap.

Representing the USA: Hilary Duff – Reach Out
When I first began watching this video, half of me thought it was a joke. The rapper seems like such a caricature with all his necklaces, and the people running about in their underwear is certainly not typical Hilary video material. Then there’s the bit where Hilary’s back is showing, and while I don’t want to sound like a tabloid magazine, she does look oddly unskinny, and her outfit is terrible. And then there’s the backing music… it’s Beware of the Dog! Well, Personal Jesus anyway, but it’s still been done already. There’s just something about the video that seems so amateur, especially when she’s trying to be sexy. The whole thing is just wrong wrong wrong! This is the last single to be released by Hilary on Hollywood Records, so I suppose they’ve just given up on her already and given her a 2p budget for this video. It is actually one of her better songs, but of course it’s nothing on good old Jammy’s version.

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