Published Jan 12, 2009From now until January 13, I'll be featuring my favourite tracks of 2008, some of which have already appeared in Click Hear throughout the year, some of which haven't.
Originally posted on February 6, 2008:
Sam Sparro is my idea of the perfect 21st century (male) pop star. It feels funny saying that, considering everything about the guy reeks of '80s idolatry: paint-on tan, muscles, Wayfarers, Grace Jones tees, etc. Nevertheless, if this Los Angelan can crossover from his underground lair into the brightly lit mainstream he was born to rule, I'm thinking we could return to the golden age of the male solo artist when George Michael, Prince and MJ were everything to record-buyers and pop enthusiasts just looking to dance.
The ladies are still relevant: Kylie, Robyn, Madonna, even Britney. (Yes, I'm still rooting for her.) But who do we have nowadays as far as awesome male pop stars go? Other than Justin Timberlake there's hardly anyone. From what we have to choose from, they're either busy trying to build hip-hop careers (Chris Brown, Ne-Yo) or busy whining their hearts out - and turning our stomachs - with their guitar (John Mayer, erm, Daughtry). With the exception of JT (who is just as happy being labeled a R&B artist), there are virtually no pure pop stars with both the X and Y chromosomes. (Robbie Williams? How many times do we have to reject that guy here in North America?)
But I'm hoping Sam Sparro can change that. Born an Aussie, he sweats L.A. glitz, with the kind of sex appeal that has women and men wanting him and men wanting to be him. Check his MySpace and you'll see he's even got taste - call me a sucker for a dude who can write such a blinding pop song as this and list artists like Bauhaus, the DFA, Donna Summer, Black Box, Donny Hathaway, Alan Braxe and Steely Dan as the reason for it. He's quite simply the male Kylie Minogue, and I don't think there's anything wrong with saying that.
Now signed to Island in the UK, Sparro released a gem of single called "Black & Gold" on the Modus Vivendi label last year that reached too few ears, which sets up this obvious re-release (out March 31 with a Paul "Phones" Epworth remix) that's destined to be a smash. A gurgling synth, Soft Cell-brand whip-lashing beats and Sparro's rich, caressing vocal (somewhere between Cee-Lo and Seal) give a soulful turn and overall, a deep feeling that you're cruising in a Testarossa on the Sunset Strip at midnight. Oh, wait, it's the low-rent-but-still-somehow-charming video that evokes that feeling, but this is deliciously retro. His A&R person must be giggling with ecstatic anticipation over what's to come.
Sam Sparro - Black & Gold