Fop.

I was faced with a choice, at a difficult age. Would I write a book, or should I take to the stage

Thursday, August 19

THE FOP MAJOR PROJECTS DEPARTMENT PRESENTS A SPECIAL EVENT: THE SARA-MARIE (AND SIRENS) SINGLE ALLSTAR REVIEWING SYMPOSIUM



We have got something VERY SPECIAL here. Recently, in furtherance of our Sara-Marie revival and to make ourselves feel better about spending over an hour of our lives reviewing each track on a CD single from 2001 (including alleged "remixes"), we asked everyone who has a berth on the penumbra of eminence that is the Fop Links to bang out their own review of everyone's favourite gritty urban parable of pop delight, Sara-Marie and Sirens "I'm So Excited (The Bum Dance)". We thought it would be a nice "electronic community" activity for everyone to take part in. Including, hilariously enough, the sites that aren't from Australia! What on earth will they make of it? Well, read on.

Our exciting line-up of esteemed electronic media celebutantes are:

* The lovely Claire and Alyson on behalf of CFB Goes Pop
* The lovely Crystal on behalf of The Gallagher Factor
* The lovely Jess on behalf of Ausculture
* The lovely Monsignor Popjustice on behalf of Popjustice
* The lovely Edward O on behalf of Enthusiastic but Mediocre
* The lovely Guy on behalf of Symposiasts and Petrol in the Car
* The lovely Lee on behalf of Glitter for Brains
* The lovely Michael Coppin-Kennedy on behalf of The Love Pavilion (in liquidation)
* The lovely Atom on behalf of Music for Torching
* The lovely Luke on behalf of Edit Me Out

Can you believe it? They have all done their own review, of "I'm So Excited (The Bum Dance)", simply because we bossed them into it!

(nb: Reviews from the last two on that list will have to be added via an edit, when they get their reviews in. We considered that to wait any longer before putting this up after banging on and ON about it for such a time, would simply cause the entire Fop enterprise to fall into the sticky and untenable realm of self-parody.)

So! Let's, as Sara-Marie herself might absently bellow, "go"!

(If you missed Fop's original painstaking commentary, please attend here to see where it "all began".)
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REVIEW BY THE GALLAGHER FACTOR What I was shocked about, upon listening to 'I'm So Excited (The Bum Dance)' is that you neglected to mention the VERY BEST BIT. When Sara-Marie branches of into a bit quite seperate from either the 'verses' or 'chorus' at the end.

It goes like this:

'Look what you do to me
You've got me burning up'


(repeated twice)

As this was not in the original, I can only refer to it's inclusion here as pure unadulterated genuis. The first bit appears to be lifted straight from Madonna's 'Lucky Star' and the last bit inspired directly by Madonna's 'Burning Up'. I don't know if this was done on purpose or by accident.

Sara-Marie's vocoded vocals sound perfectly melodious on this bit, and it is absolutely brilliant.

Other than that, I like 'Where's (Ben and) Blair?' Can I go as far as to claim she predicted the Life Mechanics movement? Just the way she asks 'Where' Blair is, it seems like she already knows where he is - on the road to success.


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ENTHUSIASTIC BUT MEDIOCRE


REVIEW BY ENTHUSIASTIC BUT MEDIOCRE The fact that this song could only reach Number 12 and spent only four weeks in the charts, despite Sara Marie's ridiculous popularity (so great that you couldn't walk through the Brisbane CBD without seeing a gaggle of pillocks with bunny ears), should give one an idea about how rubbish it is.

Plus she stole MY dance. I'd been doing the exact same dance for years before BB even started. Oh, and the song? Despite being a cover of one of the most crowd-pleasing 80s songs ever, it is very dull and plodding. Clearly The Sirens were administered with the same cocktail of sedatives regularly consumed by management gimps who wet-dreamed this concept up, and after one listen I was tempted to take a heftydose of something too. And she doesn't get any lines on her own single.

Let us review. Sara Marie's lasting contribution to the rich tapestry that is the Australian collective memory consists of a pilfered dance routine and a cover that she doesn't even appear on. I'm sure she is a very nice girl, but as a cultural artefact she is completely expendable, her memory a complete waste of neurons.
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REVIEW BY POPJUSTICE This is obviously quite brilliant (in a 'could be a comeback single for Lisa Scott Lee' kind of way) and wouldn't even count as a novelty song were it not for the artist concerned, so it's a shame they've bollocksed it up, to a certain extent, by playing it for laughs. We particularly approve of the reverb on 'shake that arse', and the impressive use of 'arse' rather than 'ass'. Of course, the best thing about this is that the bummy Oz Sirens might hopefully be able to - as they say - 'shut down' the tedious British urban girlgroup of the same name.
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CFB GOES POP


REVIEW BY CFB GOES POP (POP INVESTIGATION UNIT) The Pop, skilled and eager analysts of recent pop phenomena that they are, have produced a weighty two-part study, much to our initial alarm and subsequent delight. Part 1 is here and it takes the form of a critical investigation into the sociocultural circumstances that made it possible for Sara-Marie to win the Australian public's love in the extraordinary way she did. It is rich in ideas and it demands to be read. Part 2 is over here and focuses on the "I'm So Excited (The Bum Dance)" single itself, and provides not only a wider, thought-provoking reading of what went wrong in the making of Sara-Marie, but also something of an epitaph for the hopes of many Australians post Big Brother 2001. A triumph.
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REVIEW BY GLITTER FOR BRAINS
Initial reaction: Good. God.
Proper review: Being from the other side of the globe, high up in my glittering tower, I have little idea who this gravel-voiced popstrel Sara-Marie is. And I do hope that The Sirens isn't referring to her her voice. Can it? If so, that's just a little unkind.

Anyway, the song. Do you know on the original dancefloor wonder, The Pointer Sisters did sound excited, almost to the point of wetting their woollen twin-set disco-outfits as they reached the chorus. It was like they were recording the whole thing while sitting on a washer on spin-cycle. This one, frankly, sounds like the washing machine itself is having a crack at it. Every grain of feeling is vocoded out of Sara-Marie's voice, completely smoothed over with electronica Polyfilla. Dear Sara-Marie doesn't sound excited at all.

This makes it highly ironic.

Thus I have decided this is the best thing ever.

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SYMPOSIASTS

REVIEW BY SYMPOSIASTS "I'm So Excited (The Bum Dance)" takes me back. I remember that it seemed to come out just after the Sara-Marie hysteria had died down, and nagging voices started asking "what was all that about?". I remember thinking "who are those hack singers?", "that's a lot of vocoder" and "gee, is that Sara-Marie's pyjama range?". I think that sums the song up (well, the clip) really - she was wearing her own pyjama range, not her manky ill-fitting genuine pyjamas from the series. I love Sara-Marie, but the single (and the book and everything else) seemed kinda like a tipsy partygoer belting out their crowd-pleaser when everyone else had gone home to bed.

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REVIEW BY THE LOVE PAVILION (IN LIQUIDATION) I'm about to lose any respect I might have had but I think I like it. It sounds almost identical to 'Hey Now! (This Is What Dreams Are Made Of)', Hilary Duff's greatest hit-that-never-was, in the respect that it relies heavily on the vocoder and the drum machine, which, contrary to popular belief, is never a bad thing. Having a demented Aussie girl babble all over the intro to a dance track was an inspired idea - you can almost hear the peroxide in her desperate plea of 'Can anyone hear me?' and the demented giggle which punctuate the Almighty-esque production.

This is not a bad thing.
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REVIEW BY AUSCULTURE
Will and the CFB Goes Pop girls are a hard act to follow when it comes to reviewing Sara-Marie's foray into the pop world, and I must admit I'm rather concerned my Words will provide little insight and basically be of no importance whatsoever. Thankfully, most of my ausculture.com rants could be safely categorised the same way so Will knows exactly what he's getting into, bless.

Now we've got the self-deprecation out of the way, I shall begin.

Being a gal who thrives on structure, I thought I should inform you that I will begin this piece with some thoughts on the actual pop qualities of Sara-Marie and The Sirens rendition of "I'm So Excited" and then follow on with some comments about the Bum Dance Queen in general. Just so we all know where this is heading.

Having blissfully repressed the memory of Sara-Marie's musical adventure for the Last few years, I was jolted back into remembering the single once Will sent me the mp3 I purchased the single legally and honourably from my local corner store. The original recording of "I'm So Excited" has become an eighties classic, and is often found dominating the playlist during cheesy retro nights in city pubs where drunk, suit wearing thirty-somethings unwind on a Friday night after work. Clearly, Sara-Marie & The Sirens had given themselves quite a challenge when they decided to rejuvenate the song - after all, covering an obscure artist or track decently is a difficult task at best, covering the quintessential disco anthem is positively arduous.

So how did Sara-Marie & The Sirens do? The backing track is Standard dance fare ie: throbbing Casio keyboard noise no doubt intended to drive drug-fuelled punters into an Ibiza-esque ecstasy (so to speak). The song is filled to the brim with inane giggles from Sara-Marie, whilst The Sirens provide the typical bland lead vocals synonymous with club hits these days. I am forced to wonder why they chose to abandon the traditional and much celebrated melody of the tune in favour of a distractingly flaccid alternative. Were it not for the ever pulsating backing track, I may have fallen asleep to The Sirens reworking of The Pointer Sisters' classic.

Poor old Sara-Marie. Oh sure, she sounds like she's having a ball on the record, but I know deep down she must have realised how shamelessly the producers were milking her catchphrases in an attempt to make as much money out of her before their cash cow's fifteen minutes of fame ran out. Why, oh why did it have to be like this?

Sara-Marie was one of those delightfully nutty characters on reality TV shows that just don't care what anyone thinks of them. No, not even the public! The contestants on the first Australian Big Brother were the only remotely naive housemates in the programs four year history, which has seen a steady increase of fame hounds as each season has come and gone. While the first series housemates were aware that they were on a television show being filmed 24/7, they could not have been aware of the media frenzy that was to ensue as each participant of the show left the Big Brother compound and spent the next three months being paraded around and fussed over until they were of no more use to Southern Star Endemol, the producers of the show, and promptly shoved into the filing cabinet containing future "Where Are They Now?" television identity names.

Sara-Marie had endeared herself to the nation with her "This is me, and that's all I can be" attitude, her relaxed and confident approach to her voluptuous figure, and her playful and at times child-like personality. One of my personal favourite Sara-Marie moments occurred when she attempted to cook fish fingers whilst completely sloshed (physical humour to be sure, so I won't bother trying to recreate the imagery here), and then headed straight to the bedroom where she deliberately tried to irritate fellow remaining housemates Ben & Blair into action with her noisy eating and constant clanging of cutlery-upon-crockery.

Upon leaving the house (coming third in the series to the aforementioned Ben & Blair), Sara-Marie held her own against professional cock-knockers like Stan Zemanek, who attempted to embarrass Sara-Marie about her figure and tendency to dress in skimpy clothing when she appeared on a Big Brother themed episode of Beauty & The Beast. The girl was simply unflappable, and the Australian public responded by clutching her tightly and holding her to their hearts.

But somehow, somewhere along the way, things went awry and years later, we're left with a thinner, blander Sara-Marie doing Nicobate ads. Whatever happened to the curvy blonde strip club employee we adored? I suspect she began to fade away around the same time someone said "Sara-Marie, I've got a great idea, babes! Let's release a useless single with some dullards on lead vocals and see how much money we can make off your name!"

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EDIT ME OUT

REVIEW BY EDIT ME OUT I'm sure I have missed out completely by not witnessing the 'Bum Dance' that was on Australian Big Brother. Listening to Sara-Marie, I wonder what it would have been like to witness her on the television week after week. I ask myself, "If I was in the house, how long would I be able to stand listening to her before I slapped her?". Then I thank god that I only have her for these delightful 4+ minutes.
Listening, I cannot help but be taken in by her excitement. If you are not hooked by that first "I'm SO excited" then I'm afraid you might never be. Also listening to this I can't help but think of the older version of the song. The Pointer Sisters seemed so much more excited. Sara-Marie's version seems muted compared. Perhaps it is the vocoder. It does works with the disco beat with a nice effect. The notes that she holds out are very nice. Here, definitely aided by the vocoder. "I'm about to loose control but I like it" and "I know that I want you".
BUT the song is definitely saved by the Sara-Marie soundbites. The best one for me has to be that first "I'm so excited". I am curious to know what it is that Sara-Marie says in a fit at time [3:45] in the song. It actually scares me a little bit. I could live without the "Hercules, Hercules!" call because of repressed memories from an American Idol contestant who insisted on saying that everytime he was on stage.
In the end, I can't knock Sara-Marie. She finally got to make the record she was so excited about. And isn't that all that really matters in this world?

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We feel slightly vindicated in our faintly preposterous and surprisingly enduring love for this single, by the fact that only two sites (Enthusiastic But Mediocre and Ausculture) really came down hard on "ISE(TBD)". However, it should be noted that all participants mounted clear, high quality, humourous and original arguments in support of their propositions. Thank you to everyone involved in the first Fop Symposium, for providing excellent Sara-Marie and Sirens reviewing, and taking considerable trouble in the pursuit of same. Let's do it again soon! (We mean it!)

6 Comments:

At 3:18 pm, Blogger Crystal Gallagher-Starr said...

I'm in online journalism class now, trying not to laugh my head off at:

So! Let's, as Sara-Marie herself might absently bellow, "go"!And the picture of the Love Pavilion (IN LIQUIDATION).

That was BRILLIANT though. The whole thing. You MUST do it again.

 
At 3:27 pm, Blogger Fop said...

It all worked out quite well, didn't it! I think this "symposium reviewing" might become something of a Fop fixture.

 
At 3:56 pm, Blogger Jess said...

Oooh! I really enjoyed that too!

Not my own, mind. I came off as a bit of a humourless bint, but all the other reviews were delightful and funny - hurrah!

Will, you may have just created the United Nations of pop culture blog sites. Or something.

Can we have annual meetings? I'll bring the cucumber sandwiches!

 
At 6:21 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh look, wherever a pop culture phenomenon symposium is there to be analysed, there we will be, helping out and pitching in...especially if it's Girlfriend...

Credit to Tina T to for some of the more arduous research

Alyson

 
At 2:00 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have sent mine in now. I'm very sorry for it's lateness.
*snaps* to Fop for creating such an event. Sara-Marie needs to see this I think.

-Luke

 
At 2:34 pm, Blogger iPatrickBlake said...

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