Music News: Alphabeat Parties Like It’s 1988, Plus Boy George, Britney Spears, Beth Ditto, Fall Out Boy


GuestbloggerRobbie Daw presents a weekly pop music update here on Towleroad! Robbie runs his own site called Chart Rigger.

StockaitkenwatermanBetween 1984 and 1991, the British production team of Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman (pictured right)—better known as simply Stock/Aitken/Waterman, or SAW—cranked out over a hundred hits in Great Britain and throughout Europe, a dozen of which crossed over here in the States. (Think of them as the Max Martins or Timbalands of their day.)

SAW launched Kylie Minogue and Rick Astley’s pop careers, gave Banarama and Dead or Alive their biggest hits and even somehow made Samantha Fox listenable. And when one of their jams came on the radio or over the soundsystem, the handclaps, bassline and synth chords were instantly recognizeable.

Recently, Danish group Alphabeat employed one of SAW’s chief engineers and remixers from back in the day, Pete Hammond, to retool their single “Boyfriend” for its U.K. release. Warning: listening will cause those who were of a certain age in the ’80s—or who have a penchant for cheesy pop—to go into a bit of a nostalgic shock.


1. Alphabeat’s “Boyfriend” (Pete Hammond Mix): Keep in mind this is from 2008, not 1988.

2. Bananarama’s “I Can’t Help It” (1988, produced by Stock/Aitken/Waterman): Perhaps the inspiration for the “Boyfriend” mix.

3. Sinitta’s “Toy Boy” (1987, produced by Stock/Aitken/Waterman): Wait for the reveal of the actual “toy boy” at the end, whom you’ll recognize from Madonna’s “Open Your Heart” video.

4. Kylie Minogue’s “Better The Devil You Know” (1990, produced by Stock/Aitken/Waterman): Despite a more than passing resemblance to D-Mob featuring Cathy Dennis’ “C’mon And Get My Love,” this is widely considered to be SAW’s masterpiece.

Those curious to check out more SAW will be hard-pressed to track down the bulk of their output (iTunes has a very limited selection of the Brit trio’s tracks). The best bet is the import Stock Aitken Waterman Gold, which collects over 48 of the trio’s productions and remixes onto three discs.

For those in the U.S., Alphabeat’s music can be heard and downloaded from 7 Digital, though the Pete Hammond Mix of “Boyfriend” is currently only available on U.K. iTunes.

Rihannaroad.jpg Injuries and a court case result from an Oasis gig in Toronto.

road.jpg Am I in the minority for actually liking Rihanna’s VMAs performance? People are citing her singing as a downer, but at least she sang live. At any rate, Entertainment Weekly comes in defense of her outfit.

road.jpg Similarly, apparently a panel of experts are needed to assess Britney’s apperance.

road.jpg Boy George throws his hat into the political ring with the pro-Obama single “Yes We Can,” which also boasts a cartoon David Bowie and Amy Winehouse in the video.

road.jpg Can a naked Beth Ditto of The Gossip help NME win a Best Magazine Cover Ever award?

road.jpg The New Kids are back on The Block.

road.jpg Fall Out Boy’s next album to be released on Election Day.

Knowlewestboyroad.jpg TODAY’S NEW RELEASES:

Natalie Cole’s Still Unforgettable, featuring cover versions and standards.

Gym Class Heroes’ The Quilt, with guests Estelle, Daryl Hall and Busta Rhymes.

Kardinal Offishall’s Not 4 Sale, which contains his hit “Dangerous.”

Jessica Simpson’s foray into country music, Do You Know.

LL Cool J’s Exit 13, which also features guests 50 Cent, Method Man and KRS-One.

Knowle West Boy, the eighth album from U.K. rapper Tricky.

Metallica’s Death Magnetic, produced by Rick Rubin. It’s the band’s first studio album in five years.


  1. mcQ says

    I was of a “certain age in the 80s” and every time I heard an SAW production (they were easy to identify as they all sounded exactly the same, with exactly the same number of BPMs, same bassline (thunk-thunk-thunk) and same treacly vocals no matter which product was singing) I wanted to find the DJ responsible and damage his or her hands sufficiently to keep them from ever, EVER working a turntable again.

    To me, they were living proof that mediocrity always rises to the top.

    But that’s just me…growing up, I hated ABBA, too. Still do.

  2. ggreen says

    America missed the SAW/PWL sound the first time because we were having faux rappers like Vanillia Ice and no talents Will Smith played non-stop on the radio because American record companies had invested so heavily in them and they want the money back.

  3. Aaron says

    i respect rihanna for singing live, but the whole disturbia performance/look seemed like it was ripped straight from the doomsday/mad max post-apocalyptic textbook. also, the song just isn’t strong enough to support that kind of blowout performance; it would have been better in a more stripped down presentation. (Not to mention the spectacle of overthought and overdone award show performances is pretty tired, anyway). In sum, it was lame and unoriginal. Blah.

  4. Bading says

    I love The Boy and the Leigh Bowery/Klaus Nomi imagery certainly brings back memories of my salad days in ’80s NYC. Where are the Mudd Clubs, Club 57s, Pyramid Lounges and Paradise Garages of today?

  5. Cristian says

    Hey, Robbie, there’s another even bigger hidden trivia gem in that Sinitta video. Exactly in that same scene at 3:34″ where the Boy Toy is revealed. Who cares about that Felix Howard kid-model of Open-Your-Heart-video fame? He just distracts from the real cameo focus in that scene: check out the guy right behind him, outside the car. Yes, the one wearing the metrosexualish giant V-neck white T? (who knew even back then he already had that penchant for bad tasted T’s?). Can anybody recognize him? He was back in those days Sinitta’s actual real-life boyfriend. Here’s a hint: he’s currently known as one of American Idol’s judges, and his name’ s not Randy, nor Paula.
    Can you spot him?

  6. Joseph says

    I love SAW, though I’d say their ultimate triumph was their cover of “Use It Up and Wear It Out”–in my humble opinion, one of the absolute greatest dance recordings of all time. Too bad it’s so difficult to find today.

  7. Andre says

    Robbie,I am of a certain age and missed the SAW sound except for Rick Astley.Quite a few years later I was with some friends in a tiny club in London,when I first witnessed the power of Kylie and that sound.Picture a tiny place and a very tiny dance floor,Better The Devil comes on and EVERYONE stopped and ran to the floor.I was dragged along for the fun. That kind of pure happiness doesn’t happen too much anymore but it turned me into a life long Kylie fan.Thanks for the flashback…

  8. Kevin says

    OMG – it’s like Company B’s “Fascinated” with a “Never Gonna Give You Up” opening, with D-Mob all over it. I LOVE IT! I loved the Bimbo Jones remix of their song “Fascination,” too.

  9. Ruddigore says

    While I love the Pete Hammond production, the Alphabeat song doesn’t have the hook that made the original SAW songs so catchy. Too much Hazell Dean and not enough Sonia ( And, Robbie, as long as you are giving video what about the single gayest act / video to ever come out of the SAW / PWL factory – Big Fun’s Can’t Shake the Feeling – which is basically Jason Donovan times three with a Jimmy Sommerville falsetto (

  10. Joseph says

    Ooooh, don’t you diss Ms. Dean. Sonia is pretty much unlistenable, but Hazell Dean–“Searchin'”, “Who’s Leaving Who”, “Turn It Into Love”–rules.

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