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Christmas Countdown: Girls Aloud - I Wanna Kiss You So
Posted at 3:08 PM, 24 December 2009 - 0 Comments

In the spirit of Phil Spector's classic Christmas album, Xenomania produced a bonus disc of Christmas songs for Girls Aloud's Chemistry album, which includes covers of seasonal classics, as well as a few originals.

"I Wanna Kiss You So (Christmas In A Nutshell)" is, hands down, the best of the bunch. It was produced by Brian Higgins and written by Miranda Cooper, Brian Higgins, Lisa Cowling, Nick Coler and Shawn Lee.

It's overloaded with Christmas references, but manages to convey quite beautifully the warm sense of feeling like a big kid on Christmas night. And it's packed with brilliant lyrics like "I make angels in the snow / I like that funny feeling when my bum gets cold" or the classic "Bish bash bong whoo!", that you'll be shouting in your head all Christmas.


I like going out on Christmas eve
If Santa needs a helper why should it be me?
And I like dancing the night away
And waking up to Jingle Bells on Christmas day

And Christmas morning when the church bells ring
My heart starts beating fast
Oh, I'll never stop being a big kid deep in my heart

I wanna kiss you so like no-one's done before
Under the mistletoe we'll fall in love for sure
It's only a kiss you know, so don't you ask for more
Under the mistletoe we'll fall in love for sure

I make angels in the snow
I like that funny feeling when my bum gets cold
And I like getting in a snowball fight
Then racing my toboggan through the starry night

And Christmas morning when the church bells ring
My heart starts beating fast
Oh, I'll never stop being a big kid deep in my heart

I wanna kiss you so like no-one's done before
Under the mistletoe we'll fall in love for sure
It's only a kiss you know, so don't you ask for more
Under the mistletoe we'll fall in love for sure

Christmas ain't fun if your heart don't feel young
I guess I'll always believe there's a big kid in me

Bish Bash bong Whoo!
We're just another Christmas crazy family baby
Bish Bash bong Whoo!
We'll be loving Christmas day when we're 80

[Written by Miranda Cooper, Brian Higgins, Lisa Cowling, Nick Coler and Shawn Lee]

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Best of 2009: lists (part 2)
Posted at 2:30 PM, - 0 Comments

The online music publications have been publishing the inevitable "best of the year" lists. This is the second round-up of the Xenomania songs/albums that appear on those lists. (See part 1 here)

Orange Music Store: Top 10 Dance Tracks of 2009

Mini Viva - Left My Heart In Tokyo
Penned by the creative wizz-kids behind Girls Aloud's back catalogue and performed by a pair of loopy-as-you-like young starlets, 'Left My Heart In Tokyo' was only ever destined for chart glory.

Stuck Records: The Best 50 Singles of 2009

5. Mini Viva - Left My Heart In Tokyo
It’s a shame that for its greatness, ‘I Wish’ has seen Xenomania revert back to familiar territory with a ‘Call The Shots’-style mid-tempo number. Back in late summer ‘…Tokyo’ showed much promise from the duo who were (and hopefully still are) being groomed as GA’s natural successors. A very tasteful yet delirious song with many surprises (including false endings, disco baselines and crowbarred middle-eigths), it proved to be something of a slow-burner in the charts against the odds. Their launch has been surprisingly low-key, let’s hope 2010 gives us the chance to know them a little better.

Totally Dublin - The Ten Best Pop Albums Of 2009

2. Pet Shop Boys - Yes

Over 25 years into their career Messrs Tennant and Lowe wrote a top ten hit for Girls Aloud, won a Brit for Outstanding Achievement and, with the help of Xenomania, concocted their best album in years. Their trademark plangent melodies and wry lyrics are here in abundance. Love etc,. takes the subject of vacuous celebrity culture and has something intelligent to say about it. All Over The World takes a snippet of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite and transforms it into a global-pop stomper. Pandemonium – which is ostensibly about Kate Moss and Pete Doherty – is typically witty, glamorous and brilliantly catchy. Legacy wraps a surreal lyric (“The Carphone Warehouse boy has been on the phone…”) around a sombre melody. The highlight is The Way It Used To Be – a dramatic pop belter to match anything in their back catalogue.

Fairfield County Weekly - 50 Nifty Records From '09

Pet Shop Boys - Yes

With the assistance of British hitmaking team Xenomania, the PSB concocted their best, frothiest, most hum-along-able album in more than two decades. Lead single "Love etc." is just as unforgettable as any of their previous singles. — D.T.

Drowned in Sound - Top 50 Albums of 2009

40. Annie Don't Stop

The Guardian - Critics' poll 2009

48. Annie – Don't Stop

Stuck Records: The Best 50 Singles of 2009

35. Pet Shop Boys - Did You See Me Coming?

This is a straightforward pop song and two people meeting, the attraction is obvious, or is the object of Neil’s attentions one step ahead and controlling the show? The stand out moment is as the middle eight ends and goes into the instrumental, it makes the song for me. Not the obvious choice for a second single from ‘Yes’, there are more singleworthy tracks on there, but this song breezes along quite nicely and it’s a positive song about the beginnings of a love affair. LA

30. Mini Viva - I Wish

In the January 2010 issue of Word magazine, Peter Robinson wonders whether (in order to make the charts reflect music consumption more accurately) a hypothetical 13-year old “hammering the same tune on repeat for eight hours on You Tube” should count towards that song making the chart. If this rule were in place in the last two months of 2009, Mini Viva’s single I Wish would probably be number one on the basis of my You Tube views alone, such is my tireless – and possibly mid-life-crisis-presaging – obsession with the song and its video. I find everything about it just utterly compelling; the double chorus, the lovely crystal clear synths, the sky-scraping melody. It is the last great single of the noughties and Mini Viva are the first great pop group of the “tens” (or whatever it will be called). I realise that Simon Cowell is a force for conservativism in pop, and that the last thing pop needs is undue regard for “tradition”, but this RATM4XMAS thing seems like anti-pop, pro-rock, pseudo-political, musical snobbery to me – and that’s just as conservative as Simon Cowell. Buy “I Wish” by Mini Viva instead! Honk your horn for bright as a button, primary coloured future-pop! Hrnk hrnk!! CG

6. Girls Aloud - The Loving Kind

Some of us (i.e. me) literally popgasmed at the news that Pet Shop Boys had collaborated with Xenomania on a song for Girls Aloud. If you are looking for a Pop Trinity they would be a good candidate. A midtempo affair in the same vein as ‘Call The Shots’, it had trademark Tennant melancholy, desperation (‘I’d do anything’) and hopelessness over someone’s suspected ability to be loved or loving. It’s what Neil once termed ‘tragi-disco’. Meanwhile, musically it makes one want to curl up in its warm synths against winter’s bitterness (an electro blanket?) and have a hot chocolate to hand. Although I pictured mist, station platforms and collars pulled up, the video reflected underlying anger with the girls smashing glass and various objects. But looking stunning while doing so. So fair enough. Girls Aloud’s last top ten single to date was a beautiful affair.

3. Girls Aloud - Untouchable

On the surface this is just a “fan favourite” from 2008’s ‘Out Of Control’ album which delightedly received a release towards the beginning of this year. But dig a little deeper and it’s much more significant. The original version runs at just short of seven minutes, make no mistake this is one epic pop song – although it was trimmed down to a much more radio friendly four minutes upon release. It also became Girls Aloud’s first official single (ignoring ‘Theme To St. Trinians’) to miss the top ten, which feels almost criminal considering some of the lame cover versions that have out-peaked it. Yet what makes it so good? Is it the immediately distinctive twangy hook? The build-up into a 90s-esque trance ballad? The beautiful “without any meaning we’re just skin and bone, like beautiful robots dancing alone” lyric which closes the track? Like the best Girls Aloud songs, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly which is that crucial factor which keeps the whole thing hanging together so it’s best to stop analysing and just enjoy the sheer rush of another Xenomania classic.

14. Pet Shop Boys - Love etc.

On their best single for donkey’s years the Pet Shop Boys take the subject of celebrity and treat it with some compassion – a nice touch for the most famous ironists in modern pop. Love etc started out as a Xenomania backing track which the production house had been holding back for another artist, but Tennant and Lowe kept asking after the bouncy tune they’d heard in the studio until finally the Xenomania resolve was broken. It is in some senses an atypical single for the Pet Shop Boys in that it doesn’t sound like any of their previous, and yet at the same time there’s something about it that is unmistakably “them”. Maybe it’s the namechecking of Gerhard Richter, I don’t know. What I do know is, after The Beatles, the Pet Shop Boys are the best pop group there has ever been, and Love etc. is a worthy addition to the “oeuvre”. CG

Amazon.com - The Best Songs of 2009

4. Pet Shop Boys - Love etc.

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Christmas Countdown: Girls Aloud - Not Tonight Santa
Posted at 7:39 PM, 23 December 2009 - 0 Comments

"Not Tonight Santa" is one of the four original songs on Girls Aloud's mini Christmas CD that was included on the special edition of Chemistry. It was produced by Brian Higgins and written by Miranda Cooper, Brian Higgins, Lisa Cowling, Nick Coler and Shawn Lee.

It's a song about someone who needs Cupid more than Santa Claus, with a great couplet like "You give me something I could never get from Santa Claus / I'll let you peep inside my stocking if you show me yours". To put it simple, it's a Christmas song about sex. It's naughty and nice, and Girls Aloud are a brilliant Trojan horse to pull it off.


No Santa this morning I guess my note got through
I told him, quit calling, 'cos all I want is you

Gotta get a minute gotta get you on your own
Your baby sister's sleeping and your daddy's on the phone
I'm sure you're hiding something hot you want to give to me
And not another pair of socks from underneath the tree

Ooh, ooh, you give me something I could never get from Santa Claus, baby
Ooh, ooh, I'll let you peep inside my stocking if you show me yours

No stocking this morning but that don't make me blue
There's one thing I'm wanting that I can only get from you

Gotta get a minute gotta get you on your own
Your baby sister's sleeping and your daddy's on the phone
I'm sure you're hiding something hot you want to give to me
And not another pair of socks from underneath the tree

Ooh, ooh, you give me something I could never get from Santa Claus, baby
Ooh, ooh, I'll let you peep inside my stocking if you show me yours

Now don't get crazy, Santa baby, you know I'll always leave a little treat for you
It might sound stupid, but I need cupid more than all the presents that I think I'm due

[Written by Miranda Cooper (Holly Bush), Brian Higgins (S. Claws), Lisa Cowling (Beth Lehem), Nick Coler (Festiv Gifts) and Shawn Lee (Yuell Logg)]

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Christmas Countdown: Gabriella Cilmi - Warm This Winter
Posted at 2:06 PM, 22 December 2009 - 0 Comments

"Warm This Winter" is a cover of a Connie Francis single released in December 1962 (originally titled "I'm Gonna Be Warm This Winter"). Gabriella Cilmi's version was produced by Xenomania and was featured in television advertisements for the Co-operative retail chain in the UK over the 2008 Christmas period.

"Warm This Winter" was released as a digital download and peaked at number 22 on the UK Singles Chart, outranking Cilmi's precedent physical singles "Sanctuary" and "Save the Lies". The song was added to the deluxe edition of her debut album Lessons To Be Learned. It has been receiving enough downloads this year to appear at #94 on the UK Singles Chart.

Gabriella Cilmi's version of the song alters the opening line from "We met at a ski lodge" to "We met in the winter", but other than that remains faithful to the original. The arrangements are a bit more lively and the vocals are more dominant and have more depth. Connie Francis' voice is more pure, but Cilmi's soulful delivery is certainly well-suited for a lost '60s Christmas song.


We met in the winter and we fell in love...

Right by a fire place we shared our first embrace
And then inside my heart I felt a fire start
It’s gonna snow outside, the weather will be cold
But I’m gonna be warm this winter

Each time your lips touch mine they taste like sparkling wine
I feel so warm and loved just cause i love you so
It's cosy in your arms if you’re so happy to hold
But I’m gonna be warm this winter

Ice skating on a frozen lake
Sleigh riding down a mountain slide
Roasting popcorn, dancing till the dawn
That was how a new love was born

It’s just like make believe each night is new years eve
Each day is Christmas day, you make me feel this way
It’s gonna snow outside, the weather will be cold
But I’m gonna be warm this winter

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"Sweet About Me" is the most played song of 2009
Posted at 9:40 PM, 21 December 2009 - 0 Comments

Gabriella Cilmi's "Sweet About Me" was the most played song in the UK this year, according to PRS for Music, the organisation that collects royalties for songwriters.

Girls Aloud's "The Promise" - named best British single at this year's Brit Awards - was number six, while "The Loving Kind" was number 84. See the full list here.

PRS for Music has launched its first ever annual chart of music makers, listing the 100 most played songs of 2009. The data is taken from number of plays and performances on-line, live, on TV and radio.

"Sweet About Me" was a number six hit in the UK last year, spending 37 consecutive weeks on the UK Singles Chart. The song was used in commercials for Sure and Dove Bodywash in Europe. It was produced by Brian Higgins/ Xenomania and written by Gabriella Cilmi, Miranda Cooper, Brian Higgins, Tim Larcombe and Xenomania.

Most-played songs in 2009 in the UK

1. Sweet About Me - Gabriella Cilmi
2. Viva La Vida - Coldplay
3. The Time is Now - Moloko
4. Mercy - Duffy
5. Shine - Take That
6. The Promise - Girls Aloud
7. No Air - Jordin Sparks
8. The Man who Can't be Moved - The Script
9. Greatest Day - Take That
10. Spotlight - Jennifer Hudson

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Alex Gardner's debut single is out in March 2010
Posted at 4:05 PM, - 0 Comments

Alex Gardner is now set to release his debut single "I'm Not Mad" in March 2010, with an album following in the summer.

The Scottish singer/songwriter has been chosen as one of the Red Pages Hot 100 for 2010. The annual Red Pages Hot 100 predicts the new faces in the world of music, fashion, film, TV, politics, sport, art, society and media for 2010. Fellow Xenomania band NiteVisions are also included in the list.

The single "I'm Not Mad" is featured in this week's Music Week playlist. They say: «The Xenomania influence is not hard to spot on Gardner's radio friendly debut as a synth led production provides the backdrop to Gardner's distinct voice.»

Alex Gardner was recruited by Xenomania and after 12 months of writing songs together, he signed a worldwide record deal with Universal/A&M Records. This year he completed a tour with fellow Scott Paolo Nutini and already has a series of live shows lined up for 2010 - see the dates here.

Watch an acoustic live performance of "I'm Not Mad":


Christmas Countdown: Girls Aloud - Christmas Round At Ours
Posted at 11:39 AM, - 0 Comments

Girls Aloud are a lot more Christmassy than most groups: they have the best Christmas No.1 of the decade, they released a mini Christmas album and they make people feel happy and warm inside, just like Christmas (err).

So they can get away with recording a Christmas song that sounds nothing like a Christmas song. Sonically, "Christmas Round At Ours" wouldn't sound out of place in one of Blur's early albums.

It's a a funny little song about kisses under the mistletoe and the boring side of a family Christmas. As Tom Ewing accurately puts it, it «captures the frustration of being just too old for a trad family christmas, too young to have hanging out with your mates as an escape route, and still wanting to enjoy the thing anyway».


Uncle Bernie's got me on his knee, chocolate fingers in his tea
He thinks he's super cool but he's a fool
And I've been sitting, waiting here for hours
Sydney won't get out the shower
Another lazy boring Christmas morning round at ours

Daddy, daddy told me
You'll never get from Santa what you're wanting to
If he know, he'd be cool
Oh, I'm not that bad, dad, yeah, yeah, yeah

It's boring at Christmas, I'm no kid anymore
And I'm too old for the panto and too young for the sauce
But when the bells start ringing,
I start grinning and lose my Christmas blues
I'll get my kiss under the mistletoe with you

Grandma's had the best of all the sweets, picking toffee out her teeth
She says she shoulda been a beauty queen
And mother sighs as everybody shouts, we don't want no soggy sprouts
Another lazy boring Christmas morning round at ours

Written by Miranda Cooper (Holly Bush), Brian Higgins (S. Claws), Lisa Cowling (Beth Lehem), Tim Larcombe (Henry Mistletoe) and Shawn Lee (Yuell Logg).

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Mini Viva, the perfect pop package
Posted at 10:43 PM, 20 December 2009 - 2 Comments


"I Wish" seems to have got lost in this week's UK singles chart, among all the chart battles, the X-Factor crew and the Christmas cash-ins. Having entered the charts at number 73, the result is not what we wished for and not what the song deserved.

"I Wish" may not be as colourful, quirky and busy as "Left My Heart In Tokyo", but its charm comes from showing a more vulnerable side, with an understated subtlety and a dreamy melodic twinkle. Both singles are brilliant, it's unfortunate that they didn't get the same response in terms of sales.

It was certainly great to have Mini Viva around in 2009, and we can't wait to hear more from Britt and Frankee in 2010. The press has nothing but good things to say about the girls. T5M believe that Mini Viva are «the perfect pop package», two girls «on a mission, resisting an overly polished look and sound in favour of one that gets their fun and quirky approach across». Mini Viva would agree with that. They told T5M: «We don’t want to stand there and look pretty. We’ve got more to offer. We’ve got attitude».

Mini Viva's debut album should be out around March 2010. «It's all finished now. We actually write 50% of our stuff, so it was great to get the chance to work over a whole album», they said in an interview with the BBC. They were encouraged to write their songs by Xenomania: «We're really grateful they pushed us to do it. Because we love it, and we've grown as writers. It's like a habit now.»

They add: «We learnt that you have to go through a lot of ideas and tracks before you strike gold. That's what happened with I Left My Heart In Tokyo, and that's what's good about Xenomania - they want us to push, and push, and push until we get a great song. They're not just saying "oh yeah, that'll do as an album track". They want us to really think about what we're writing.»

[Pictures taken by David Hart, at the G-A-Y night. See more pictures here.]


Jessie Malakouti: born to be a pop star
Posted at 3:21 PM, - 0 Comments

Jessie Malakouti is set to be launched in the new year. Her first official single, "Standing Up For The Lonely", will be released on January 18th, with her debut album following in the spring.

News of the World recently tipped her as Xenomania's «pop princess for 2010», while the latest issue of GayTimes describes her as «the (implausibly conceived) lovechild of Britney, Gwen and Lene from Aqua», adding that she «was born to be a pop star».

Jessie grew up in a place where people «did drugs, joined a gang or got out». While growing up, she listened to pop music like Annie Lennox, Madonna and Cyndi Lauper - women with «a real strong sense of identity». She says: «Music saved me. At 16, I drove to Hollywood and lived out of my car. It gave me stars in my eyes and I dreamed of a glamorous life.»

She was a member of Shut Up Stella for a couple of years, when she met Brian Higgins. Once the band finished, she flew to the UK to work as a writer on Girls Aloud's Out of Control. But she kept the songs for herself: «The songs felt like mine, emotionally, so, when Brian said we could keep the songs for me to record, I was more than happy!».

She spoke to RWD magazine about working with the team: «Xenomania don't try and change who you are, they just take your best qualities and enhance them». Jessie has incorporated her experiences into her music, which is all self-penned. «It's who I am, it's almost like it's tattooed on my heart», she says.


Jessie Malakouti official site
Jessie Malakouti MySpace
Jessie Malakouti YouTube
Jessie Malakouti Facebook
Jessie Malakouti Twitter
Jessie Malakouti Wikipedia

Listen: Jessie Malakouti - Standing Up For The Lonely (Radio Edit)
Video: Jessie Malakouti - Trash Me
Video: Jessie Malakouti - Outsider


Christmas Countdown: Girls Aloud - Count The Days
Posted at 12:59 AM, - 0 Comments

"Count The Days" is one of the four original songs on Girls Aloud's Chemistry Christmas CD (a bonus disc with Christmas songs that was included on the special edition of Chemistry).

It is up there with the best Girls Aloud ballads, with lovely melodies and delicate vocals from the girls. It sounds like a typical acoustic ballad, but the layers of sound and beautiful arrangements turn it into something a bit more special. And although it does have several Christmas references, "Count The Days" is simply a love song, about longing to be with someone.

It was produced by Brian Higgins and written by Miranda Cooper, Brian Higgins, Lisa Cowling, Tim Larcombe and Shawn Lee. The song credits of the Chemistry bonus CD were very amusing, with each Xenomania member adopting a festive pseudonym for themselves (Brian Higgins was "S. Claws", Miranda Cooper was "Holly Bush", etc.).


I would write a thousand letters just to talk to you
I would climb a hundred mountains just to be with you
I would make it snow in summer if it meant you'd stay
Turn back time when we're together, make it Christmas day

Look at the stars twinkling bright in the dark
Like the snow in the cold winter sun
Here by the fire, the sound of your voice warms my heart
But it don't feel like Christmas without you in my arms

All over town people running around, they've got stars in their eyes
Hurrying home to be close to the one that they love
Light on the tree, shining shadows on me as I wait by the fire
Presents and dreams, but for me you'd be enough

I'll be waiting by the phone, 'till my baby's coming home
I'll be praying every night you'll be back soon by my side
I'll be waiting by the phone 'till my baby's coming home
I'll be praying every night you'll be back soon by my side

Count the days, count the days, I've been so lonely
Come home baby, it ain't Christmas 'till you're here with me
Count the days, count the days 'till this wait is through
Come home baby, Christmas just ain't the same without you

When I think my world could fall apart
And I'm damn near broken in my heart, and my world is falling down
In my mind I will keep you safe from harm 'till you're lying in my arms
Until then I'll wait somehow

Written by Miranda Cooper (Holly Bush), Brian Higgins (S. Claws), Lisa Cowling (Beth Lehem), Tim Larcombe (Henry Mistletoe) and Shawn Lee (Yuell Logg).

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End of Decade: lists (part 2)
Posted at 8:59 PM, 19 December 2009 - 0 Comments

As the decade comes to an end, music publications and blogs are publishing their "best of the decade" lists. This is the second round up of the Xenomania songs/albums that appear on those lists. (See the first part here.)

MSN writers' 20 best albums of the decade

Girls Aloud - Chemistry (2005)

The decade of the X-Factor has produced exactly one good group from the talent show format. Something about Girls Aloud has always had them being warmly received even amongst those who would normally sneer. After two accomplished but safe records, Chemistry was Girls Aloud and Xenomania's difficult third album. Almost title track Biology is really odd, like four separate tracks welded together. It ought to sound like a car crash, but it works. Long Hot Summer was the straight pop hit whilst Swinging London Town and Racy Lacey did for this decade what Blur did for the 1990s.

The Guardian: Alexis Petridis's noughties mixtape

Girls Aloud - Biology (2005)

A perfect example of postmodern noughties pop, this daring, brilliant song, performed by a reality TV band, sampled the Animals and sounded like three choruses rolled into one.

Daily Mail - 50 best albums of the Noughties

20. Girls Aloud - Tangled Up (2007)

WITH the help of Xenomania, Britain's best girl group transcended their reality-TV roots to produce a pop masterpiece. It turned them into national treasures.

Key track: Call The Shots.

Spinner: Best British Songs of the 2000s

8. Girls Aloud – Sound of the Underground (2003)

These TV talent show graduates have rightfully proved themselves much more than a flash in the pan, thanks in no small part to this sassy debut. Not your average girl band fare, this Xenomania produced track had bags of street smart attitude and bizarrely a bit of drum n' bass too.

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Alex Gardner 2010 tour dates
Posted at 7:45 PM, - 0 Comments

Alex Gardner's official web site is now live at alexgardnermusic.com. Sign up for a free download of "There Goes My Heart".

You can also also keep up to date with news by following his official news Twitter and by becoming a fan on his Facebook page.

Channel 4's website has a recap of his Little Noise gig. Fast forward 11 minutes in for a quick interview and a clip from his performance of "I’m Not Mad".

Alex has a few live shows scheduled for the new year in London and Scotland.

These are the dates:

27th January - New To Q @ The Tabernacle, London SOLD OUT

10th February - Cherry Jam, London Buy Tickets
23rd February - Cherry Jam, London Buy Tickets

11th March - o2 ABC, Glasgow Buy Tickets
12th March - Caberet Voltaire, Edinburgh Buy Tickets
13th March - Dog House, Dundee Buy Tickets
14th March - Snafu, Aberdeen Buy Tickets
16th March - The Lexington, London Buy Tickets

(All London shows are 18+ and all Scotland shows are 16+)


"I Wish" is out now
Posted at 10:18 AM, 14 December 2009 - 0 Comments

The new Mini Viva single is out in stores today.
"I Wish" is a song produced by Xenomania and written by Miranda Cooper, Brian Higgins, Lisa Cowling, Morgan Mackintosh, Owen Parker and Tim Powell.

The single is the follow-up to Mini Viva's debut "Left My Heart In Tokyo" and comes backed with a remix by Cahill.


CD: HMV, Juno.co.uk
Download: iTunes UK, 7Digital

  • "I Wish" is an instant modern pop classic. NME
  • 'I Wish' is a misty-eyed disco-pop nugget, full of regret and longing, whose irresistible chorus has just the right hint of the Vengaboys to it. Britt and Frankee, meanwhile, display just as much lively vocal charm as they did first time out. 4/5 Digital Spy
  • Mini Viva's 'Left My Heart In Tokyo' is one of 2009's signature pop tunes and Mini Viva pull it out of the bag again with the wistfully romantic 'I Wish'.
    To these ears it's one of the best tunes to have come out of Westerham since 'Call The Shots' and it shares that song's uptempo/downcast discoballad qualities. 'I Wish' also comes equipped with one of the year's most delicate and glittery middle eights. Splendid stuff. Popjustice
  • Dreamy melodies, soaring instrumentation and electronic-bleeps a-plenty combine to provide a gorgeous backing for the vocals of the duo. The end result is a Girls Aloud-style song that is elevated to the next level by the vocal performances of both girls. When they harmonise they sound truly gorgeous. Entertainment Focus
  • Practice makes perfect: “I Wish” is a direct descendant of previous Xenomania sad-disco ballads “The Loving Kind” and “Call the Shots”, true, but it puts both of its predecessors to shame. Did either of those two songs have anything as lovely as the “oh no” bits here? 9/10 Keane Tzong
  • It looks and sounds like the very essence of great pop distilled into 4 minutes. Everything about it screams of youth, vitality and energy, but at the same time it’s wistful and melancholy. (...) bearing all of Xenomania’s trademarks; a gorgeous, achingly melodic record with two choruses, and a beautiful middle eight. It has the pop nous of the Pet Shop Boys, the sadness of late-period ABBA, and the air of being a proper Spice Girls type catch-all hit single. (...) In fact not only is I Wish probably the last great single of the 00s, but Mini Viva may well prove to be the first great pop group of the 10s. Totally Dublin
  • A glittering, synthy delight with beautiful lyrics, "oh oh oh oh oh"'s and a wistful sound. FABTASTIC! Music
  • It's that distinct brand of perfect, dreamy wonderfulness - this isn't cheap, disposable pop, but something crafted, something of real quality - a work ethic Xenomania have always strived to achieve. And applied to Mini Viva it delivers in full.
    With a strong, soulful vocal delivery over a cascade of trademark Xenomania synths, I Wish is at once heartbreakingly beautiful and amazingly upbeat. It's music for the sun breaking out from a bank of clouds and turning a dull grey day upside down. Rich, fulfilling, well-produced, fun - its pop music at its absolute best. L. Green "Feltano"
  • A slightly more glittery version of that Xenomania/Girls Aloud ballad template which, in the Cahill mix, channels its inner Vengaboys especially clearly — just listen to the “oh… no” hook and try not to think of “Boom Boom Boom Boom!”. But crucially, it longs that little bit more open-heartedly and accessably than “Call The Shots”, possibly because the two Mini Viva girls are more distinct to hear than any of Girls Aloud (except for Nadine). A slow-burner, but a fantastic one. 9/10 Edward Okulicz


St. Trinian's II soundtrack is out now
Posted at 10:02 AM, - 0 Comments

The soundtrack to the film St. Trinian's II: The Legend of Fritton's Gold is released today. It features eight songs produced by Xenomania: five by the Banned of St Trinian's and three by Girls Aloud member Sarah Harding.

Buy: iTunes UK, 7Digital, Play.com, HMV, Amazon.co.uk


1. Banned of St Trinian's - St Trinian's Theme
2. Sarah Harding - Too Bad
3. Banned of St Trinian's - Up And Away
4. The Saturdays - Lose Control
5. Banned of St Trinian's - We Got The Beat
6. Florence + The Machine - Kiss With A Fist
7. Sarah Harding - Make It Easy
8. Noisettes - Saturday Night
9. Banned of St Trinian's - I Can Get What I Want
10. Girls Can't Catch - Keep Your Head Up
11. Sarah Harding - Boys Keep Swinging
12. Dragonette - You're A Disaster
13. Banned of St Trinian's - Jump Off
14. Girls Aloud - I Predict A Riot (live)
15. Cast of St Trinian's - St Trinian's Theme

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Download Mini Viva's "I Wish"
Posted at 10:10 AM, 13 December 2009 - 0 Comments

The new Mini Viva single is now available to download. "I Wish" comes backed with remixes by Cahill and Paul Harris. The CD single will be out in shops tomorrow. These are the different formats and tracklists:

iTunes (single)
01. I Wish (Radio Edit) 3:53
02. I Wish (Cahill Edit) 3:29

iTunes (remix bundle)
01. I Wish (Cahill Club Mix) 6:27
02. I Wish (Cahill Dub) 6:27
03. I Wish (Paul Harris Vocal Mix) 6:47

01. I Wish (Radio Edit) 3:54
02. I Wish (Cahill Edit) 3:29
03. I Wish (Cahill Dub) 6:27
04. I Wish (Paul Harris Vocal Mix) 6:47

01. I Wish (Radio Edit)
02. I Wish (Cahill Edit)


Here come the new girls: Mini Viva
(The Guardian article, December 2009)

Posted at 10:55 AM, 11 December 2009 - 0 Comments

The Guardian has published an article about Mini Viva, featuring interviews with Britt & Frankee, as well as Xenomania headmaster Brian Higgins, their manager Simon Fuller and Colin Barlow, president of Geffen UK.

Read the article in the Guardian website.

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Listen: Sarah Harding - Too Bad (St. Trinian's 2 soundtrack)
Posted at 8:57 AM, - 2 Comments

"Too Bad" is one of the three songs recorded by Girls Aloud's Sarah Harding for the St. Trinian's 2 film. The song is produced by Xenomania and written by Miranda Cooper, Brian Higgins, Carla Marie Williams, Eliza Dodd-Noble, Florrie Arnold and Fred Falke.

Sarah has also recorded a cover of David Bowie's "Boys Keep Swinging" and a new song titled "Make It Easy". The St. Trinian's 2 soundtrack includes other Xenomania tracks recorded by the Banned of St Trinian's and will be released on Monday, 14th December. Pre-order: HMV, Play.com.

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Mini Viva's "I Wish" is out next week
Posted at 7:20 PM, 10 December 2009 - 0 Comments

The new Mini Viva single, "I Wish", will be released on December 13th (this Sunday). You can pre-order it on iTunes. The CD will be out on Monday - pre-order it here.

"I Wish" is being described as "a glittering, synthy delight with beautiful lyrics" and as a "misty-eyed disco-pop nugget, full of regret and longing". The song is also perceived as "a Girls Aloud-style song that is elevated to the next level by the vocal performances of both girls" and a "slightly more glittery version of that Xenomania/Girls Aloud ballad template".

Tonight, Britt and Frankee will be supporting N-Dubz at the Sheperd's Bush Empire and this Saturday, December 12th, they'll be performing at G-A-Y at Heaven.

They were recently on The Alan Titchmarsh Show, singing a cover of the Christmas classic "Winter Wonderland", as well as their new single:

Mini Viva finished their Clubland tour last week. Here's a video with the girls performing the Cahill edit of "I Wish":

Other performances:
Mini Viva - Winter Wonderland (live at The Alan Titchmarsh Show)
Mini Viva - I Wish (live at TMI)
Mini Viva - Left My Heart In Tokyo (live at Clubland 3 Manchester)


Jessie Malakouti: pop princess for 2010
Posted at 7:07 PM, - 0 Comments

Jessie Malakouti was recently tipped as hot new talent in the News of the World:
«THE brains behind GIRLS ALOUD are set to unleash American JESSIE MALAKOUTI as their pop princess for 2010.

And this lass is feisty, already rowing with BRITNEY SPEARS over similarities between Jessie's song Trash Me and Brit's recent single If U Seek Amy.

Jessie said: "Creatively, I am in a new place. Besides, you know when Britney starts copying your s***, it's time to move on!"»
Jessie's debut single in the UK, "Standing Up For The Lonely", will be released in January 2010.


Video: Pet Shop Boys - All over the world (new version)
Posted at 6:50 PM, - 0 Comments

This is the new version of "All over the world", produced by Marius de Vries and Pet Shop Boys and based on the original track, with orchestral and choir arrangements by Matt Robertson and Marius de Vries.

The song was originally produced by Brian Higgins/Xenomania, from Pet Shop Boys’ latest album, Yes. The new version is included in the "Pet Shop Boys Christmas" EP, to be released on December 14th.


Best of 2009: lists
Posted at 11:48 AM, - 0 Comments

The press has been publishing the inevitable "best of the year" lists. These are the Xenomania songs/albums that are starting to appear on those lists:

The Quietus - 40 Albums Of The Year

32. Pet Shop Boys - Yes
For anyone who regards their first (and arguably definitive) singles compilation Discography as a glittering high watermark in modern pop, who views Neil Tennant as maybe Morrissey's only serious rival to the mantle of England's greatest living pop eccentric, or who has ever found themselves lost in stupefying reverie to 'West End Girls', 'Suburbia', 'Being Boring' et al, Yes willbe greeted as a triumphant return to form, comfortably their best collection of songs since 1993's near-faultless Very.

musicOMH - Top 50 Best Albums Of 2009

35. Pet Shop Boys - Yes
There are hardcore 'fans' of Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe whose hands flew up in horror at confirmation that Girls Aloud's hit factory Xenomania would be producing this album.
But Brian Higgins and his crew have brought new sounds and methods to the Pets' arsenal, while Tennant's lyrics have rarely been more poignant.

WHAT WE SAID: "A super-concentrated hit of everything there is to enjoy about the Pet Shop Boys: danceable yet everyday pop, with irony behind the warmth and warmth behind the irony. One of their best." - Darren Harvey

Sasha Frere-Jones (The New Yorker): The Best Recordings of 2009

3. Pet Shop Boys - "Love etc."
Pet Shop Boys have so many written good pop songs over such a long period, and with so little diminution of quality, that their lack of American super-stardom can only be attributed to occult forces. I don’t think critical analysis can solve this one.

Planet Sound - Top 50 singles of 2009

5. Pet Shop Boys - "Love etc."

musicOMH - Top 50 Best Albums Of 2009

29. Annie - Don't Stop
Anne Lilia Berge Strand's route to market with Don't Stop was fraught with drama. At various points Girls Aloud, Alex Kapranos and Xenomania were all involved in its gestation... and then she parted company from Island before it was released. Fast forward a year and it finally sees the light of day. Just as well she didn't stop, for this is superior electropop in the Saint Etienne mould.

WHAT WE SAID: "Don't Stop is one of the best pop albums of 2009. Fingers crossed we don't have to wait four years until the next one." - Michael Cragg

Planet Sound - Top 50 albums of 2009

33. Annie - Don't Stop

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Fred Falke: it's all about the bassline
Posted at 8:31 PM, 09 December 2009 - 0 Comments

French DJ and producer Fred Falke was one of the most active remixers of 2009. He is also producing his own solo material and is working with Xenomania.

Falke began his career as a bass player before starting to produce records in the late '90s. His background as a bass player is what makes his remixes stand out. In a recent (and rare) interview, he explained that the bass line is the key: «I always start with the bass line. The bass line and the melody of the song are the two key elements. I always need to find a bass line that people can dance to».

Rather than just stretching out the original songs into an endless/tedious mantra, his remixes have added substance, with deep basslines, sunshine synths and plenty of room for dancefloor action. This year, Falke has remixed songs from artists like Annie, Gossip, Miami Horror, Robbie Williams, Ke$ha, U2 or Music Go Music.

He has also co-written recent Xenomania songs such as Alesha Dixon's "The Light", Jessie Malakouti's "Standing Up For The Lonely", Sarah Harding's "Too Bad" (from the upcoming St Trinian's film) and Mini Viva's "Left My Heart In Tokyo" (where he also plays the bass).

The Mini Viva single came out of writing sessions with Annie and Xenomania. Falke said in an interview: «I was really amazed, I stayed with them for two weeks working on tracks. Miranda Cooper and Brian are amazing songwriters, and everyone who works there with them is so talented. Everyone there is working, working non-stop, which is something I really like».

He adds: «When I see the amount of success they achieve, you can’t do that if you’re not working constantly. But at the same time, everyone at Xenomania loves music and loves making music. It’s not like a factory, it’s about making a lot of great tracks — sharing your ideas with everyone. It’s unique».


Video: Banned of St Trinian's - Up and Away
Posted at 12:56 PM, - 0 Comments

This is the official video for the Banned of St Trinian's song "Up and Away", available to download on iTunes. The soundtrack will be released on December 14th.

The Banned of St Trinian's are Daisy Tonge (Eco Warrior), Harriet Bamford (Geek), Jessica Agombar (Rude Girl) and Jess Bell (Emo). "Up and Away" was written by Miranda Cooper, Brian Higgins, Giselle Sommerville, Nick Coler and Jon Shave.


Download new Alex Gardner song for free
Posted at 4:11 PM, 07 December 2009 - 0 Comments

A demo of "There Goes My Heart" is now available to download for free once you sign up to Alex Gardner's mailing list. Click here to download.

You can also watch an acoustic performance of the song:


Pet Shop Boys' "Yes" is nominated for a Grammy
Posted at 9:01 PM, 03 December 2009 - 0 Comments

Pet Shop Boys' latest album, Yes, has received a Grammy nomination in the category of Best Electronic / Dance Album. Yes faces competition from Lady Gaga, David Guetta, LMFAO and The Crystal Method:
Best Electronic/Dance Album (category 13)
(For vocal or instrumental albums. Albums only.)

The Crystal Method - Divided By Night [Tiny E Records]
David Guetta - One Love [Astralwerks]
Lady Gaga - The Fame [Streamline/Interscope/Konlive/Cherrytree]
LMFAO - Party Rock [Party Rock/Will.i.am/Cherrytree/Interscope]
Pet Shop Boys - Yes [Astralwerks]
Yes is Pet Shop Boys' tenth studio album. It was recorded throughout 2008 and is produced by Brian Higgins and Xenomania. Xenomania also co-wrote three of the tracks: "Love etc", "The way it used to be" and "More than a dream". Guitarist Johnny Marr and string arranger Owen Pallett also appear on the album.

See also:
- Pet Shop Boys discuss "Yes" track-by-track
- Pet Shop Boys diary at Xenomania
- "Yes": what the critics say
- Making of the album "Yes"
- "Yes" - album credits

Pet Shop Boys have previously received four Grammy nominations:

1997: Best Dance Recording for "To step Aside" (Nominated)
2003: Best Recording Package for Release (Nominated)
2007: Best Dance Recording for "I'm with Stupid" (Nominated)
2007: Best Electronic/Dance Album for Fundamental (Nominated)

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