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"The Promise" is number 1!
Posted at 6:55 PM, 26 October 2008 - 1 Comments

Congratulations to Girls Aloud and Xenomania! "The Promise" is their first UK number 1 single since "I'll Stand By You", back in 2004. The song sold 77.110 units, which makes it the fastest selling single of the year.

This is this week's UK top 10 singles chart:

1 - 77110 Girls Aloud - The Promise
2 - 37986 Pink - So What
3 - 29369 Guru Josh - Infinity 2008
4 - 28913 Kings Of Leon - Sex On Fire
5 - 24785 Razorlight - Wire To Wire
6 - 22539 The Saturdays - Up
7 - 21617 Katy Perry - Hot N Cold
8 - 21032 Kanye West - Love Lockdown
9 - 20490 Sash! - Raindrops
10 - 17634 Geraldine McQueen The Winner's Song

"The Promise" was written by Brian Higgins, Miranda Cooper, Carla Marie Williams, Jason Resch and Kieran Jones.
Congratulations to everyone!

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New Xenomania pictures
Posted at 5:58 PM, - 1 Comments

Neil Tennant posted a couple of pictures of "Xenomania people" on Pet Shop Boys' official site. On the afternoon of November 22nd, the band were recording backing vocals and taking pictures:

That's Bob Stanley on the second picture, on the far left.

Jessie Malakouti has also been spending some time at Xenomania headquarters. Recently she posted a couple of pictures on her MySpace. That's Jason Resch (left) and Neil Tennant and Jessie, sharing headphones:

And here's Jessie with a happy-looking Brian Higgins, at Girls Aloud's birthday party, in Knightsbridge:

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The latest
Posted at 5:51 PM, - 0 Comments

--- Gabriella Cilmi has taken six ARIA Awards on the back of her debut album, Lessons To Be Learned, and the single "Sweet About Me". She received ARIA Awards in the categories of:

BEST FEMALE ARTIST (beating Kylie Minogue)
BREAKTHROUGH ARTIST – ALBUM (Lessons to be Learned)
BEST POP RELEASE (Lessons to be Learned)

--- Alesha's new album, titled The Alesha Show, features eight Xenomania songs.

--- Annie's Don't Stop will only be released early next year. From Annie's MySpace blog:
The album will not be out until beginning of next year.Well..I feel really bad about this,I know you..ve been waiting for this for long,and it was suppose to be out this month. Hm..what can I say,I..m a typical scandinavian perfectionist, and have had these other songs that I thought were just too good too not be on the album so I put my foot down and made my label put the record back to next year...I promise its going to be worth the wait! Its the prerogative of every woman to be late!'
So...I..m actually back in studio.Been working with Paul Epworth on a couple of songs,and I think it..s gonne be really good!!!!! So I..m working really really hard to make the best album there is.-)
--- Saint Etienne's London Conversations has also been delayed. It is now set for a January 2009 release.

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"Out Of Control" has leaked
Posted at 5:05 PM, - 0 Comments

Girls Aloud's new album, Out of Control, leaked today onto the Internet (in low quality).

Out of Control will be released on 3 November. The Irish release date comes the Friday before on 31 October 2008. In addition to the album, there will also be an extra limited edition live album, featuring a number of performances from various Girls Aloud's tours. Entitled Girls A Live, the bonus disc will be available to purchase only from Woolworths.

The album tracklist is as follows:
1. "The Promise" 4:03
2. "The Loving Kind" 3:54
3. "Rolling Back the Rivers in Time" 4:26
4. "Love Is the Key" 4:17
5. "Turn to Stone" 4:25
6. "Untouchable" 6:41
7. "Fix Me Up" 4:26
8. "Love Is Pain" 3:31
9. "Miss You Bow Wow" 4:11
10. "Revolution in the Head" 4:04
11. "Live in the Country" 4:27
12. "We Wanna Party" 3:54

Girls A Live tracklist:
1. "Something Kinda Ooooh" (Live at the Local in Birmingham, 2007)
2. "Waiting" (Live at Wembley, Chemistry Tour 2006) C
3. "Call the Shots" (Live at The O2, Tangled Up Tour 2008)
4. "Deadlines & Diets" (Live at the Hammersmith Apollo, What Will The Neighbours Say? Live 2005)
5. "Close to Love" (Live at The O2, Tangled Up Tour 2008)
6. "Love Machine" (Live at the Local in Birmingham, 2007)
7. "Biology" (Live at Wembley, Chemistry Tour 2006)
8. "Graffiti My Soul" (Live at the Hammersmith Apollo, What Will The Neighbours Say? Live 2005)

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"The Promise" is out today
Posted at 12:08 AM, 20 October 2008 - 0 Comments

Girls Aloud's new single is out today on CD and 7'' vinyl and is already available as a digital download. The CD-single features a brand new b-side entitled "She". A limited edition picture disc is available exclusively through Girls Aloud's official website, featuring a live performance of "Girl Overboard" as the b-side.

"The Promise" is already #3 on the iTunes songs chart.
UPDATE: #1 on iTunes now.


New videos: Gabriella Cilmi and Alesha
Posted at 12:01 AM, - 0 Comments

Gabriella Cilmi's new single is due for release on November 10. Watch the video for "Sanctuary":

On the same day, Alesha Dixon releases "The Boy Does Nothing". Here's the video:

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Listen to "The Boy Does Nothing"
Posted at 9:20 PM, 05 October 2008 - 0 Comments

Here's a radio rip of Alesha's new single, produced by Xenomania:


Pet Shop Boys team up with Girls Aloud
Posted at 11:17 PM, 04 October 2008 - 2 Comments

The Pet Shop Boys have co-written a song for Girls Aloud's new album, titled "The Loving Kind". Neil Tennant describes the song as «beautiful, but still dancey», and says that «there is talk of it being released as a single».

The Sun has had the «exclusive first listen» to Girls Aloud's album and claims that it is «yet more pop perfection», with «a mixture of ballads and the relentlessly upbeat, catchy hits we have come to expect».

According to The Sun, the album ends with a drum’n’ bass track called "Live In The Country", which is «about moving to the countryside — complete with farm animal sound effects». There are also «a couple of 80s-inspired tracks» and «an infectious dance track» with rapping by Nadine Coyle, titled "Revolution in the Head".

Out of Control is released on November 10th. This is the tracklist:

1. The Promise
2. The Loving Kind
3. Rolling Back the Rivers
4. Love is the Key
5. Turn 2 Stone
6. Untouchable
7. Fix Me Up
8. Love is Pain
9. Miss You Bow Wow
10. Revolution in the Head
11. Live in the Country
12. We Wanna Party (bonus track)

Meanwhile, at the Xenomania house, Johnny Marr is working on his guitar parts for a few Pet Shop Boys songs:

And today Chris Lowe from the Pet Shop Boys celebrates his birthday. Happy birthday!

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Upcoming releases
Posted at 10:59 PM, - 0 Comments

--- Girls Aloud will release the new single "The Promise" as a download on October 19th, and on CD and 7'' vinyl on October 20th. A limited edition picture disc will be available exclusively through Girls Aloud's official website, featuring a live performance of "Girl Overboard" as the b-side. The album Out of Control is set to be released on November 10.

--- London Conversations: The Best Of Saint Etienne (a.k.a. "the greatest greatest hits of 2008"), is out on October 13th.

--- Gabriella Cilmi's new single will be "Sanctuary". It will be out on November 10th. The formats and tracklist should be announced soon.

--- “The Boy Does Nothing” is the first single to be taken from Alesha Dixon's forthcoming album The Alesha Show, which comes out on November 17th. The single is released on November 10th.

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Brian Higgins interview on Music Week
Posted at 9:12 AM, 02 October 2008 - 5 Comments

Brian Higgins is interviewed by Music Week and reveals the "secrets" to Xenomania's success:

Develop long-lasting creative relationships…

«I have great belief in the development of long-lasting creative relationships. I have been with Miranda Cooper for 11 years now, Tim Powell for 12 and Nick Coler for seven. We have a very strong bond and we fight very hard for each other. I think this helps us in the creative process and the inevitable ups and downs of the business.»

…but keep relationships fresh

«I spend time each year looking to freshen our relationships by signing hungry, ambitious writers and musicians. That is crucial, but I only want to work with people who feel they can give everything to what Xenomania is trying to achieve; I don’t think you can do that if you only visit every three months.»

Don’t rest on your laurels

«We are a very restless group of people. We rarely celebrate success, we just enormously enjoy working together. Invariably, when a record has come out and becomes a hit, we are too engrossed in the record we are currently making to really register anything but relief that the hit has been achieved. I should also point out that it is great fun and a real test.»

Pan for gold

«Myself, Tim and Nick tend to develop small musical ideas that I think are the acorns of hit records. I will have a lot of conviction in a tiny idea and that idea will be developed by all of us to the point where the melodic and lyrical work can really start on it. This is where Miranda’s genuine brilliance really comes into its own. The whole thing is then revisited on as many occasions as needed until there is enough material to make a hit record.

It takes real conviction and mental strength to have hits year-in, year-out, so it is vital to only work with artists who are good enough to bring that level of commitment out of you. The better the artist, the harder you try and the more you will give of yourself. It’s a lesson we have painfully learned over the years.»

Don’t copy other producers

«Our sound is a mish-mash of lots of things. As a producer you can either say we are going to make a record just like X who is having a hit now or we can allow our natural influences to bubble up during the process, confident that at some stage the effort will pay off – this is the much more exciting way.

We want to find something that is our own sound or unique to the artist. I think there are often many influences going on in our records but it is the hybrid that creates the originality.»

Pop doesn’t have to be straightfoward

«[Girls Aloud’s] Call The Shots is a fairly conventional pop song, with verse, chorus, verse, etc, as is Sound Of The Underground. The more complex side has just evolved as we have tried to make better records, but it is not something we feel compelled to do. [Sugababes’] Round Round is very odd; there is a tempo change and few repetitive melodies but that was still an international hit. At the time we thought we can do this our way and still be successful. If you listen to The Police and Bowie you realise that in a lot of their greatest hits the verse melodies never repeated.»

Non-traditional structure has been done very successfully before, but you have to genuinely feel it.

«From a pop perspective, some of our music over the years is odd when compared against traditional genre pop and I accept that, but when we made our breakthrough as producers in 2002, pop music was largely on its arse and the last thing it needed was another formulaic pop song or producer.

Pop music needs sincerity and conviction. My own desire is to search for the middle ground where originality meets commerce: you cannot always achieve it, but we always set out to.»

Avoid the formula at all costs

«The only thing we have wilfully tried to achieve over the last six years is that none of the records ever repeat themselves. I accept that you cannot hide your identity from the records you make, but I reject completely the idea that you should roll out a formula sound for each artist you work with; that leads to shortened careers and burnout, or a collection of very dull records. I am determined to push for new, exciting ideas whenever possible.»

In the end, it’s all about melody

«I think that whatever scene is providing the best melodies, they are going to be enjoying the lion’s share of success. Over the last few years that has come through singer-songwriters and bands. Traditional pop had become a fat, bloated, lazy thing and was ready to be taken over.

Now, however, how many indie bands sound the same or are struggling to come up with great melodies and lyrics? The idea that you judge a record’s quality on whether the artists are playing guitar or not is rubbish. The indie scene will eat itself too as the best of the writers may well have already come on through. In the end, only the best songs will survive, not the person who wore the tightest trousers.

It is all about competing. We have to get out there and make people want what we do. We can only do that if our ideas are brilliant, competitive and recorded with sincerity. That is what the public can identify with. The public will buy sincerity.»

Declare independence

«To me, the idea is to try and create something original, or at least something with no current reference. That is it.

I have got to put a flag in the sand and say, “This is what we stand for.” That will get up the noses of some people and I guess they won’t phone me, but if the alternative is to follow a prescribed creative process then so be it – I know myself well enough to say that if I followed the generic process demanded by some, I would deliver a shit record. Great music, great production and great A&R is sometimes all about risk taking – that’s the side of the business we want to in exist in.

We have the desire to make something stand out from the crowd but be totally accessible at the same time. As a result of that, it is very difficult to prescribe how the record will be until it is actually finished. With [Girls Aloud’s] Love Machine, it ended up sounding like The Smiths bumping into The Sweet. I didn’t know it would turn out like that. We got the beat. Once that was right we set about it. The group was just singing against the beat and the bassline; it was a work in progress. For us, a song isn’t finished until it is finished. The way we work allows anything to get in there creatively right up until mastering.

So I guess we do work in fragments. It can be slightly uncomfortable for artists, but I am always confident that we can make that record work in a final delivery situation. We don’t do demos as it were, the final version of the song is made on the hoof. It’s part of the challenge and is exciting.

It is crucial to work with A&R people who complement and appreciate the way you work. Colin Barlow, Nick Gatfield and Darcus Beese are all very patient with me and are confident enough to see where our ideas will lead, without having to hear fully-formed masters. These are rare skills and I am lucky to work with those people.»

Stay true to your musical heritage

«[Sugababes’] Hole In The Head is quintessentially British and it was an international hit; Love Machine even more so, yet it was only a hit on these shores. The Girls Aloud records have, at times, been quite complex, but I think they needed their own unique sound in order to survive. The international success of [Gabriella Cilmi’s] Sweet About Me has been amazing and very deserved – Gaby is an outstanding artist and songwriter. It helps us feel that we are getting our sights in line with what we need to do to adapt our sound so that it will always have international appeal - we are consciously thinking about this now for the first time, but rather than fully change what we are, we know it’s time to adapt.»

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Johnny Marr is working with Pet Shop Boys/Xenomania
Posted at 9:03 AM, - 2 Comments

Johnny Marr (best known for being the founder member and guitarist in The Smiths) has been at Xenomania's house to play on a few songs for Pet Shop Boys' new album. Neil Tennant has posted a picture of Marr's "arrival":


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"Xenomania is a total cottage industry"
Posted at 8:57 AM, - 1 Comments

Paul Thompson from Franz Ferdinand speaks to Q magazine about Xenomania's work method and parting ways with them:

«Brian's working methods were quite enlightening. He has a team in the kitchen listening to Radio 1 all day, monitoring what's being played. And he has somebody watching fashion TV all day making notes on what kind of beats they're using. It's a total cottage industry and it's perfect if you're Girls Aloud - five girls who won a TV talent show - but not if you're us.

When we came out of Xenomania it made me reassess the proclamations I'd made about the fact that we're a pop group. I realised we don't operate in the way that most pop groups work. We don't have songs written for us in the way that modern pop groups do. I suddenly though, Fucking hell! We're not a pop group! What the fuck are we then?»

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