TWO GREATEST POP STARS THE US DOESN'T KNOW
The long debate of who does rock better, England or the USA, has lingered long after the British Invasion showed the Brit bands seem to cull out memorable harmonies and anthemic riffs in a way that tends to allude American pop bands. What bands -- bands, not solo artists -- can really compare with the Beatles, Stones, Who, Zeppelin, Motorhead ultimately?
(The answer of national supremacy, though, might be Australia. After all, what song is truly better than 'You Shook Me All Night Long' by AC/DC?)
Pop follows the same lines, and it's something the FBO gets a refresher on every time it goes on a cultural symposium tour of Eastern Europe, where VH-1 plays 24 hours daily without commercials. Two huge pop stars -- Kylie Minogue of Australia, Robbie Williams of the UK -- are hourly represented on cafe stereo systems or video hit channels over here. Yet neither make a blip here. One wonders why.
Kylie, who beat breast cancer last year and is the famed ex-flame of Michael Hutchence, has long grown out of being the 'Australian Madonna.' No, she doesn't write her songs, but she's nicer, more attractive, a better singer and a better dancer. And can you imagine Madonna doing a duet with Nick Cave where she's taken to a river and beaten to death with a rock? (Video follows.)
Robbie -- quick, name three famous Robbies* -- is enigmatic to US audiences, and humor. He plays a self-obsessed showman, with a hint of chump-ness that leads the literal to say 'that guy's just a chump,' rather than realize he gets the joke too. He mocks himself constantly. In one video, in fake KISS make-up, he ends with a glance into his leather-studded speedo bottom and shakes his head in disgust.
Pop music is a no-go zone for some, but there are charms in having a hook sung by people you can be generally entertained by. Not sure that Britney or Miley or Madonna can compete with these guys.
Mobile/Semi-Permanent HQ -- Brooklyn, NY
* Robbies: We need three famous Robbies. The FBO starts the process: Robbie Krieger was the Doors guitarist. You may remember him in the 'Touch Me' video where Robbie's been touched by a fist; note at the 1:06 mark his huge black eye; apparently beaten up for allowing Ray Manzarek in the band.