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    Just this once / Let me tell you you’re the sweetest thing

    So Belinda Carlisle finally released that album of French pop songs she’s been threatening to unleash on the world for a while now. A friend of mine was raving about it. Despite (because of?) being a committed Go-go’s fan, I was cautious. We need a version of “La Vie en Rose” by Belinda? But I sprang for it, and it really is good. She clearly chose songs she’d come to be personally fond of, and she pours herself into them. Even if it’s just a curio, the album’s enough to make you forget some of the crap she’s shoveled out over the course of her solo career. (Requisite bitchy comment: Belinda’s brow lift makes her look like Marcia Cross.)

    I wish Tracey Thorn’s new album were less scattershot, but the single really is super-cool, even (I assume) if you don’t remember the Yazoo songs it’s produced to recall. And the video is the best I’ve seen in a few years. A friend e-mailed that I had to see it, and he was right: memorably interesting and actually pleasing to look at. The budget for every damned music video made by a pop diva in the last half-decade seems to have been spent on (1) making her up to look like Beyoncé, (2) dressing her up to look like Beyoncé, and (3) having her frolic in various outdoor settings (the desert! the beach! the rain forest! the savanna! the edge of the savanna at the exact moment that the process of desertification turns it into part of the Sahara!) like Beyoncé. Beyoncé is very good at what she does, and of course people imitate what sells. You can’t fault them for that. But it’s all gotten samey and dull. And cluttered.

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