In the old days, before corporate "synergy" gave us global brands like Cif and Snickers and the Wonderbra, products used to have different names in different markets. What we now know to be Starburst used to masquerade as called Opal Fruits; painful ladyhair remover Veet used to be known as Immac in certain parts of the world; For many years, Pepsi was called Honking Nob Juice in Scandinavia (Are you sure about that last one? - Ed)
Most of this confusion has now been cleared up, except in the case of the Milky Way. A fluffy nougatine confection in the UK, in the US it is to all intents and purposes a Mars Bar. It can cause literally seconds of confusion.
It now appears that Natasha Bedingfield has turned into the pop equivalent of a Milky Way. Her perfectly lovely NB album, released in the UK earlier this year, is completely different to the album of the same name she's about to release in the US.
The first single for US fans is a duet with that twat Sean Kingston which, to my surprise, isn't that bad. But the song has never been released in the UK, where it doesn't even feature as an album track.
Now, we find she's doing the same with her second single - a poppy little R&B number from Rodney Jerkins (Brandy, Destiny's Child, that Spice Girls album we prefer not to talk about). Again, its a completely new track just for the US.
Clearly, someone at Sony US has decided Natasha's first attempt at a second album wasn't good enough, and has forced her back into the studio to try again. The results are actually quite good - but it makes you wonder why she was allowed out with a substandard product by the UK arm of her company in the first place.
Next week from the tortured pop-confectionery metaphor department: Why Robbie Williams is at the end of his FUSE, how Britney has turned into a FLAKE, and Brandon Flowers shows us his CURLY WURLY. Geddit?!
It has now been a week since the the latest Kylie single premiered and, despite the fact that it's a perfectly serviceable slab of techno-pop, the song seems to have ruffled a few feathers.
Popjustice has a great summary, cherry-picking quotes from the web's Minogue-o-maniacs. For example: "Kylie just doesn't have the voice to make it really work" and "She's slapped us in the face again".
I have a feeling that people were expecting some kind of revelatory, heart-on-her-sleeve bombshell. After all, Kylie has had an incredibly harrowing three years - from being diagnosed with cancer, to having chemotherapy and reconstructive surgery. Not to mention splitting up with her long-term boyfriend and shelving dates on her celebrated comeback tour because she wasn't back to full health.
But then Kylie has always been strangely mute about her personal affairs. Anyone going to the Showgirl Homecoming concerts would have seen that her main priority was to dress up in feathers and bask in the fervent adulation of her fans. There were no tear-jerking moments where she revealed her innermost thoughts and passions - unless Kylie secretly wishes she were a robot from Doctor Who. Which is a possibility, I suppose.
Across nine albums, Kylie's lyrics have never strayed into her domestic affairs, either. She can't get things out of her head, she spins around, and she doesn't know why (in French), but we know precious little about her loves and losses, her personal battles for control, or even her on-set experiences with Jean Claude Van Damme.
Kylie's talent is to act as a cypher for the listener - a blank screen on which you can project your own experiences. That's why she'll never be Madonna, Janet or even Christina, all of whom use music as a spiritual and emotional enema.
Perhaps she's genuinely got nothing of interest to say, but I suspect she's too scared to relinquish control.
And, in the end, that's why her fans are upset. After supporting her through a particularly rough patch, they expected something in return - only to find Kylie had retreated further into her cocoon.
Not that anyone wants a full-on cancer album, you understand. But just a hint of the person behind the bottom would have been nice.
In the meantime, let us distract ourselves with the perennial Girls Aloud dilemma - who, exactly, is the hottest? You should base your answer on the above photo for the sake of timeliness and relevance.
Some of the better video clips of the last few days:
Regina Spektor - Better
Regina's Begin To Hope album is two year's old now but she's still plugging away at the singles. Which is a good thing, because there's barely a duff track on her record. This single, which features him out of the Strokes on guitar, has been polished up to make it more radio friendly (i.e. slightly more bland) but it still rocks our socks.
Modest Mouse - Little Calm
The third single from their patchy, nautically-themed album We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank, which features former Smiths guitarist Johnny "not Andrew" Marr. One of the most thoroughly depressing videos you will see all year.
The Killers feat Lou Reed - Tranquilizer
The first single from the band's outtakes and rarities album Sawdust, which comes out later this year. No proper video yet, sadly, but the song is packed full of meaty goodness like a rock sausage.
Alicia Keys - No-one
I still love this single and this storming live performance from Jay Leno's chat show is awe-inspiring. No-One stands a good chance of being my top R&B song of the year - beating Amerie and Rihanna into a cocked hat. Indeed they could be knocked into any type of hat, penis-related or otherwise.
Fergie - Clumsy
A bag of old pants. And that's just Fergie's face! (guffaw).
Why is it that you can't see Sesame Street on UK television any more? How will future generations cope with the real world if they haven't been taught how to count by a large yellow bird and a man who lives in a bin?
Also, Sesame Street introduces children to future life-skills such as sending back cold soup in a restaurant, sharing an apartment with a man shaped like a banana, and distracting vampires by encouraging them to count the number of flowers in a vase (works every time, that one).
Most importantly of all, Sesame Street features some of the funkiest goddamn music in the history of the planet. Witness below Stevie Wonder's appearance on the show from the mid-70s (episode 514, according to Youtube). You just wouldn't get this on Balamory.
Here are three videos from the internet in ascending order of amazing-ness.
NUMBER ONE: NEW FUTURAMA Good news, everyone! Having already won an Oscar (it was featured in Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth) the cast of Futurama reunite for their own movie. It's back, back, BACK! from the intergalactic space dumper orbiting Vorgon 5.
NUMBER TWO: REMI NICOLE Imagine a gene-splicing experiment where you combined one-third of Lily Allen, one-third of KT Tunstall, and one-third of Corrine Bailey Rae. Remi Nicole would be the result. NB: Not as repulsive as it sounds.
Girls Aloud's 17th (!!!) single, Call The Shots has leaked here and here and here, amongst other places.
If you can't bear to be torn away from this website, then (a) well done, and (b) here is what to expect:
1) It is a bit slower than most Girls Aloud songs but it is not one of their ropey ballads 2) Sultry would be a good word to describe the overall "tone" 3) Other good words would be "shamelessly" and "commercial" 4) One of the key lyrics is Ah-ow-ah-ow 5) Another one is Oooh-oooo-oooh-ooo 6) It doesn't sound like anything else the band have recorded 7) But it is still instantly recognisable as a Girls Aloud song
In other "it's something about Girls Aloud, so I will print it" news, here is what the band have to say about their forthcoming fourth album:
As we all know, Girls Aloud return to the world of pop with Tangled Up, their brand new album out 19th November. Everything else has been kept under wraps, locked away in a tiny safe at Fascination records… until now!
We can now announce that the album will see the girls team up with long-standing collaborators Xenomania and will feature the singles Sexy! No No No… and the catchy mid-tempo track Call The Shots.
The album will also feature future hits such as I Can't Speak French, which sounds like a contemporary take on the classic girl groups of yesteryear*. Meanwhile, the full-on Girls Aloud attitude come out in force on tracks like Blackjack and Fling with their raucous mode, synth, bass and sassy lyrics turned up to the maximum."
* I pray to God they mean the Supremes and not Bananarama.
Look here! It is the new video from Kylie Minogue in which we learn that if you dress like Alison Goldfrapp and do a song like one of Alison Goldfrapp's songs - but with Kylie Minogue's budget - you can have a song that isn't quite as good as a Goldfrapp song with a video that is considerably better than a Goldfrapp video.
PS We love the Damien Hirst-inspired, diamond-encrusted, skull-on-a-microphone. Sheer genius. PPS I have run out of hyphens. If you have any to spare, please send them to me in an email marked "I have some hyphens for you".
Why, it's Alison Goldfrapp, and she has hand-delivered this message about her new album. How thoughtful.
Just to let you know that we haven't forgotten about you...
News has reached these parts that after months of beavering away in studios from the West Country to the West Coast, and having returned from their recent stint in LA LA land, Alison and Will are in the UK putting the finishing touches to the album this week.
As yet untitled, it will be rearing its antlers early next year...
Keep logged on to the website www.goldfrapp.com for more news in the coming weeks, and perhaps a few tasters for you...
That is all for now. More news soon.
The Deer Xx
To bide the time until next year, then, here's the band performing Ooh La La in the States:
At first glimpse, Arcade Fire's video for their new single Neon Bible might seem to be a black and white glumfest. And it is - but with a cunning twist... By the wonders of modern technology, you can click on bits of the screen and influence what happens as you watch.
It doesn't stop Neon Bible being one of the most oppressive, creepy songs of the year (mrsdiscopop can't listen to it in the car because it "makes you think everyone is a serial killer") but it is a diverting way to spend three minutes of your life.
I can't post it here because of technical gremlins, so you must go to the band's Beonlineb website to immerse yourself in the gloom.
Have a miserable day, All my love, Mrdiscopop xxxx
It's been said before, but Britney's new single is actually very good - which makes it all the more sad that her record company has decided to exploit her illness to promote it.
I'm not just saying that... Here's what a representative from Jive Records told MTV earlier this week: "When you have someone at this level of celebrity, they become like cartoons or soap-opera characters, and we forget that they're human beings."
Okay, he also said "Jive does care about her and does support her," but what's the point in writing a blog if I don't get to take things wildly out of context for dramatic effect?
Anyway, here is La Spears' latest video - which appears to have been recorded off someone's iPhone (la-di-da). You will notice two things:
1) Britney Spears 2) A pole
At first glance, you might think she is doing a dirty stripper dance. But no, she just needed something to hold herself up.
The Sugababes have just performed this beautiful version of their number one single, About You Now, live on Radio One. Apparently it was inspired by a fan, Martina, who wrote this arrangement and posted it on Youtube. The video for that is at the bottom of the post...
Like The Feeling, The Hoosiers are a band that owe a sizeable debt to mid-70s MOR rock radio.
Unlike The Feeling, The Hoosiers are really rather good.
This important disctinction can be made for three reasons:
a) When you see the Hoosiers, you do not immediately think of the colour grey b) The lead singer looks like Ben Stiller, not Errol Flynn c) None of the members have ever shared the most intimate form of love between a man and a woman with Sophie Ellis Bextor, but they would if they could*
The band's first single, Worried About Ray, was nailed to the top 10 for about three months over the summer and their new single, Goodbye Mr A, is out next week. Both songs have exceedingly good videos - quirky and funny without being irritating - so here they both are. Both.
Remember those girls at school who were a little bit too scary to be cute? The sort of girl who'd fix you with a luminous, blue-eyed smile and suggest roasting marshmallows on the burning embers of your principal's car? That's what I imagine Nellie McKay is like.
The kooky curly New Yorker won loads of rave reviews for her debut album Get Away From Me (a rebuke to Norah Jones' Come Away With Me), whose cute jazz songs featured couplets like "Give me head or you'll be dead" and "Salute the flag or I'll call you a fag".
Then she got a bit too big for her boots, and flounced away from Sony because they (sensibly) remarked that her shrill, precocious second album, Pretty Little Head, would be a commercial disaster.
She released it on an independent label. It flopped.
But now she's back, with more of the tunes and wit, and less of the self-indulgent lunacy (A duet with Cyndi Lauper, you say? A thousand times no.)
Her third album, Obligatory Villages, came out in the US last week. There's no release date for the UK yet, but one of the stand-out tracks, Zombie, has made its way over to Pitchfork, and resulted in the following home-spun, night-of-the-living-dead Youtube promo. It will eat your brains.
And if that's not enough, here she is doing one of the stand-out tracks from her debut album on Jools Holland. It contains my all-time favourite lyric: "You had some time to spare. You were barking at a bear."
Your idea of letting the fans pay "whatever they want" for your new album is very admirable and I am sure that readers of the Guardian and the Independent will be very excited. But I notice that to get the second disc you actually have to pay £40 - which is a bit steep, isn't it?
PS I thought about writing this message in a special secret code, but then I realised that I am no longer 14.