Friday, July 30, 2004
- Nicola from Girls Aloud seriously needs to be kept away from hair dye. She seems to be getting less ginger every time we see her.
- Will Young gave himself over to the whims of the viewing audience. Alas, for many of his fans, it was only the opportunity to choose what song he performed and not any of the other things they might like to see him do.
- Like sing about a boy.
- There was a pointless pre-recorded Avril Lavigne interview, but we'll forgive them because we still think she's quite cute.
- Lost Prophets have clearly given up any attempt at pretending to be '4 real'.
- Unless you count the bassist wearing a Metallica t-shirt.
- Which we don't.
- The role of Natasha Bedingfield was being played by Susanne from Pop Idol 2.
- The Sugababes followed Pop Rule #341 by having a string section made up entirely of girls.
- The role of Matt from Busted was being played by an ugly teenage goth girl.
- Estelle has not let fame go to her head, nor has she let a qualified hairdresser, for that matter
- Javine really needs to do better than Don't Walk Away if she wants to continue having a pop career.
- The audience chose Your Game for Will Young to perform, and couldn't give a toss about his latest single Friday's Child judging by the percentages.
- This was quite fortunate as otherwise all his dancers would have had to sit around twiddling their thumbs at the back of the stage.
- We still don't like The Streets' single.
- Shapeshifters closed the show with Lola's Theme, almost as if the BBC expected, or at least hoped, that it would still be number one this week.
Thursday, July 29, 2004
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
It's basically going to be a Pop Idol-esque competition to be televised on ITV1, and we do hope that someone similar to McManus wins. To enter you need to dial a £1 a minute number and sing down the phone to the best of your abilities which is, of course, how all the great singers were auditioned. We suppose we should give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they feel that a great singer will still sound fantastic down a crackly connection and that this method makes it more accessible to the Westlife fans around the country, rather than having auditions in a few main cities. The fact that this means that they'll have lots of teenage girls phoning up a premium rate number which allows them to rake in a small fortune while they sit on their arses and do nothing is irrelevant, and besides, that's how they've always made their money, so it seems a little churlish to bring it up now.
Of course, the saddest thing about this state of affairs is knowing that Lulu is currently going without heating as she funnels all her money into trying to recreate her Take That related glory days. The poor, misguided old lady.
Tuesday, July 27, 2004
I'm afraid I have some bad news for you. Marillion are determined to continue to record and their fans are determined to continue to piss you off by putting them into the charts again and again until you get used to the fact that they are here and here to stay.
So it's nice to know that the band apparantly only exists to annoy us, which lends credence to our theory that the entire purpose of the world is to make our life a misery. We felt that that was going to be that and, while we were mildly amused that our throwaway snide comment had caused a reaction, we weren't going to bother about the e-mail as, let's be honest, as pieces of hate mail go it's hardly the worst the world has ever seen.
Clearly the writer thought much the same thing, as 15 hours later we recieved a second e-mail from the same fan, which begins as follows:-
Marillion, for your information, are roughly the same age as Morrissey, U2 and REM and are considerably younger than Elton John.
He opens, apropos of very little. U2 and Elton John are both as interesting as an Open University documentary on outdoor mining, while REM haven't really done anything earth-shatteringly fantastic since Stand. While the fact that Morrisey is releasing fantastic new music should surely teach Marillion the lesson that you don't have to be rubbish, just because you're in your forties. Of course, the fact that, unlike Marillion, Morissey was quite good in the past may explain why he's quite good in the present, but never mind. He continues:-
Your comments prove that you are a fool. You claim to have had talent in a previous life, but I find even that to be dubious. Marillion are going to continue to have hits because their fans value their musicianship and the effort they put in. Get used to it.
We're quite chuffed by being called a fool, and we do hope that we eventually get upgraded to the level of 'bloody idiot'. We would like to point out that calling a song which limped into the top 30 before boomeranging straight back out again a "hit", is a somewhat unusual use of the word. We are going to take his advice on board and try and "get used to it", though. We don't reckon it's going to be too hard to get used to the concept of a band continually selling to the same, ever-dwindling, group of fans, briefly appearing in the top 40 once every few months and only ever troubling our own ears if we actively search out the song for review purposes as radio play, for some strange reason, appeared to be very thin on the ground.
Younger readers, i.e. anyone who's yet to discover the joys of a comfy pair of slippers, Radio 2 and grouting, may well be wondering exactly who the hell Marillion are, so for their benefit and, quite frankly, to annoy our e-mail correspondent, here's a brief history of the band.
Marillion were Prog Rock, a style of music that has, thankfully, joined the likes of Topless Darts and Actually Caring About The Royal Family in the box marked embarassing things of our past that we don't like to talk about. Prog, for those who are unaware of the style, at best consists of taking a normal length tune and stretching it out to unbearable lengths, at worst it doesn't even bother to include the tune part. Marillion hit the height of their fame in the mid-eighties when they released Kayleigh, cursing thousands of prog-rock daughters with a hitherto unconsidered christian name. Eventually though even their vocalist, Fish, got too embarassed by their music and left the band. Remember, this is a man who considers calling himself Fish to be a non-embarasing thing to do (We realise that as we post under the name of 'Flum' we're very much pebble-dashing a greenhouse here, but never mind). After that Steve Hogarth took over and, with this new vocalist, they decided that the lower reaches of the charts were very much where they wanted to make their home. With the advent of the internet, they've done remarkably well in mobilising their fan base to actually get off their arses and support the band, even getting them to actually pay for their recordings. With this in mind we will soon be launching Marilli-Off, a campaign to raise enough money to persuade them to stop releasing albums. We hope you'll give generously.
Right, can we get back to talking about pop music now?
Monday, July 26, 2004
- 1 to 10 - The Pop Success Zone
The big news here is that The Streets have hit the number one spot with Dry Your Eyes. We've never really 'got' The Streets, to be honest. They've always smacked of novelty to our ears and we've always been slightly annoyed that people take them seriously and describe Mike Skinner as a poet and the voice of a generation, rather than the facing the reality of the situation which is that he's just a bit of a twat with a rhyming dictionary. This single doesn't really do a lot to change our mind. While, yes, musically it is rather lovely, lyrically it's about as deep and meaningful as a whimsical teacloth. "There's plenty more fish in the sea", he informs us. Well! Thank you for that insight, Mr Skinner, for your next trick do you plan on informing us that every cloud has a silver lining? Or that over hyped wide-boys really shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a drum machine?
This weeks top ten is mainly characterised by shuffling about. Other than a new entry at number 10 for Lou Reed with the rather fab Satellite of Love, which we're aware we really shouldn't like but we do anyway, everything else just moves down a place or two, with the exception of O-Zone, who somehow manage to move up a place with their slightly bizarre but undeniably catchy Dragostea Din Tei. We do wonder about the great British public sometimes.
- 11 to 20 - The Pop Failure Zone
Two new entries here, one for Styles and Breeze with You're Shining, which we've not heard but we're going to stick our neck out and assume it's a piece of rubbish, derivative dance music. The other is for Estelle with 1980, a song which we have heard on a few occasions, but promptly forget what it sounds like roughly 5 seconds after hearing it. We don't feel our memory is missing out on much though.
- 21 to 30 - The Pointless Zone
A disappointing new entry for Ash at number 22, but then, Starcrossed is a very disappointing tune from them, so this seems quite fair. Lower down, but more successful in relative terms is The Cure who arrive at number 25 with The End of the World, proving that there still exists a market for men in make-up, even if that market has somewhat shrunk since the glory days of Richie from 5ive.
- 31 to 40 - The Indie Success Zone
Whichever record company man felt that the public was clamouring to hear new material by half of Bros is no doubt spending today trying to explain exactly why he should keep his job in the wake of Matt Goss hitting number 31 with Fly, while Badly Drawn Boy props up the arse end of the chart with The Year of Rat single. We think it's a pleasant enough tune but it's not exactly one that deserves pride of place in the essential purchase section of the record shop.
Saturday, July 24, 2004
But lets not dismiss it out of hand immediatly, lets give it a cursory listen and then dismiss it with the weight of facts behind us to back up our opinion. It's actually a surprising change of direction for the Mischevious Minxes, a string-drenched ballad of epic proportions which surges out of the speakers with a tidalwave of heartfelt emotion which will cause even the strongest man to break down in tears and... Oh, OK, we're lying, but it will make you cry for the state of pop music. It's called Cheeky Flamenco and it's the expected musically simplistic up-tempo track with Gabrielle and Monica singing, in the loosest sense of the word, a couple of repetitive lyrics over some half-assed novelty spanish guitar playing. While we didn't exactly expect anything earth-shatteringly different from them, we didn't expect it to fit into the "more of the same" box quite as easily as it does. We're sure that their fans, and there must be some, will lap it up. They certainly seem to have hit upon a winning formula, even if that formula seems to be thinking of a noun and putting the word "Cheeky" in front of it. We're sure though, that the Cheeky record label will soon be sending them to the Cheeky job centre where they may find their experience on the Cheeky Checkout on Top of the Pops Saturday turns out to be more useful than they may have expected.
Wednesday, July 21, 2004
Getting it slightly more right, on the other hand, is Popjustice.Com who have announced the shortlist for their £20 Music Prize, although even this is somewhat flawed; most notably with the lack of nomination for Phixx and their really rather fab debut Hold On Me. While they were, admittedly, rather shonky as a band and could only follow up this bit of genius with nothing but disappointment and desperation. It was a modern-retro slice of electro pop majesty and doesn't deserve to be forgotten and swept under the carpet when stuff like Shaznay's single gets included. Fair enough, her tune is a pleasant enough track but one of the best pop songs of the last 12 months? It's not even the best pop song of the last 12 minutes. Also included are the dull 60's wannabe's McFly who, since we saw them doing an acoustic performance on Top of the Pops Saturday, we've decided are a cancer on the music industry and must be cut out as soon as possible. If a pop band performs unplugged then we should see them dancing and mouthing to silence, nothing else. Looking earnest isn't in the job description. Rachel Stevens has another number 2 to her name now, but this one is slightly more flattering as she has two entries in the shortlist, one for Sweet Dreams... and one for Some Girls, while the expected Girls Aloud, Busted and Sugababes triptych makes it's appearance. Token indie entry is Keane, who should be disqualified swiftly for having rubbish haircuts, and once again Jamelia shows up, leading us to wonder just why anyone cares about her lightly melodic and inoffensive music. If you fancy a flutter on this then we reckon McFly is the way to go, even though we do detest it with a passion we normally reserve for the truly evil in society - Nickelback fans.
Monday, July 19, 2004
- 1 to 10 - The Pop Success Zone
Rachel, alas, didn't make it to the top spot, being beaten by Shapeshifters and Lola's Theme, which is the usual sort of vaguely uplifting summary dance tune that seems to sell in great quantities at this time of year, presumably because the sun, or some other chemical stimulus, is burning away the parts of the brain which are responsible for making critical judgments about music. Usher is still hanging around the top 3 like a bad smell, while new entries for J-Kwon and Jamelia make up the rest of the top 5, but neither of them interest us enough to warrant any more comment, unlike the new Morrissey single, First of the Gang to Die at number 6 which has made us all glowy in a way that indie music really shouldn't do. But then, it is Morrissey, so we're allowed to get all over excited and unnecessary about it. After all, it features him singing about a gang member called Hector who he later refers to as a "Silly boy". What's not to love?
- 11 to 20 - The Pop Failure Zone
Not much going on here, other than Marillion somehow having a new entry with Don't Hurt Yourself, a song which sounds exactly like you would expect a Marillion single to sound like - i.e. The Past. It does worry us, though, that there are still enough Marillion fans out there to make this a hit. Surely they should all be dead by now?
- 21 to 30 - The Pointless Zone
A new entry here for Snow Patrol with the actually quite good Spitting Games which is their attempt at doing a pop song. Alas, their indie sensibilities come in and they don't actually bother with a chorus of any note, but the verses are ace so we salute this. Mind you, we saluted it when it was originally released and we do have to question whether the world was really crying out for another opportunity to buy it. The re-release comes with their cover of Crazy in Love which manages to survive their mauling and come out still sounding rather fab, but this is more down to the song's genius, rather than their interpretation. Zane Lowe does the rap, proving once again that the man really does hate music.
In amongst the other songs waiting here on their way out of the chart you can also find the brand new Counting Crows single which is the theme from Shrek 2 and, as such, is sung by a hideous ogre who's clumsy handling of his instrument leads to a nightmarish cacophony and is surely the music that is played in hell.
- 31 to 40 - The Indie Success Zone
Velvet Revolver, Mull Historical Society and Bloc Party have all wet themselves with indie excitement this week as they reach the heady heights of the lower reaches of the chart. We really like Mull Historical Society to be honest, but they do seem to think that constantly releasing the same song under different names is a really good idea. For Nelly Furtado however, reaching number 40 isn't something to be proud of and the Portuguese Pop Princess may well be rethinking her tactics with the failure of Forca, the Euro 2004 theme. Forca, by the way, is foreign for "Unlistenable load of guff by someone who should really know better".
Sunday, July 18, 2004
First up was Some Girl From Emmerdale, Or Was it Crossroads? who peformed Rachel Steven's Sweet Dreams, My LA Ex. And by 'performed', we mean absolutely murdered. She didn't even vaguely sound like the track's singer, i.e. Cathy Dennis, but did look suitably pretty in a black dress. Things can only get better we thought to ourselves, that was until Some Bloke Who We Have No Idea What He Was In came on stage and decided to dress up as Marti Pellow and do Love is All Around. Why? Out of all the fantastic music that exists in the world and all the popstars that you could dress up like and pretend to be, why on earth would you choose Marti Pellow? Even Marti Pellow wouldn't choose Marti Pellow. Wet Wet Wet were a band that were so godawful he had to turn to heroin to numb the pain of knowing that he was the lead singer in Wet Wet Wet, something we can totally relate to as we very nearly turned to heroin ourselves during Love is All Around's stranglehold at the top of the charts. Blokey doing him was almost as rubbish as Mr Pellow, which we guess makes his performance a success. He certainly had Mr Pellow's smug look down pat.
Penny Smith is allegedly a serious newscaster, but she does work for GMTV so her higher respectability level is only in relation to the shower of people that they insist on calling presenters. Even so, you'd think that she'd try and keep what little credibility she had left and not embarass herself on national television. Sorry, not embarass herself more on national television. As it was though, she decided to dress up as Debbie Harry and perform Denis. Badly. Lookswise she didn't exactly hit the spot either, her wig making her look more like Marilyn, and we're talking about the 80's popstar here, not Miss Monroe. Her dancing was even worse as the camera watched her as she jived arythmically behind the mic stand like... like... well, like Debbie Harry now, so at least she got part of it right.
Penultimate act was Tim Healy who, for reasons best known to himself, decided to dress up as Jack Nicholson from The Shining and perform Joe Cocker's You Are So Beautiful. The least said about this, the better, so we'll move swiftly on to the final act which was Kym Marsh's Boyfriend doing Justin Timberlake. Not in that sense of the word, although he did totally fuck over everything Justin has ever done. His performance basically consisted of him putting on a rubbish American accent, singing in falsetto and dancing quite badly. He'd apparantly asked Kym Marsh for advice on how to be a good popstar, though we reckon he'd probably have been better off asking his milkman and, judging by his performance, that was exactly what he did.
Winners? Well, officially Kym Marsh's Boyfriend won, but as The Audience, The Performers and Music Itself can all be said to have lost badly, it must be something of a pyrrhic victory. The only real winner was the host, Cat Deeley, who came out of it looking extremely attractive, talented and entertaining, simply by virtue of her not singing, so hooray for Cat! Hooray!
Thursday, July 15, 2004
This track is being released to raise money for Sports Relief, a charity which provides much needed trampolines for starving Africans, and appears to have been picked for this role entirely at random. The only connection that we can see to the charity is the fact that Rachel is quite fit. We're pretty sure that the video won't even feature Miss Stevens cavorting around in any sort of sports related manner, despite the fact that we made a great pitch to the record company about this. We basically went there and said "Rachel wears a netball uniform. For 3 minutes." before sitting down and waiting to be given a camera and a few million pounds to shoot it. After a few minutes of sitting there in shocked silence, presumably because they were overawed by the genius of the concept, they asked us if there was anything more to it than that. Racking our brains we managed to flesh out the concept a little bit more:- "In the rain." we added, proud of ourselves. It was at this point that Security was summoned and we were firmly ushered out of the building, proving once again that the music industry in Britain runs scared of true genius.
While the song isn't quite a Sweet Dreams, My LA Ex, we can certainly thank the Lord, or at least thank Richard X, that it's not a Funky Dory. Rachel's career didn't exactly go the way it was planned when that track struggled to reach the top 75. We do have to admire the sort of self-confidence, however, which leads to her publicist claiming the reason that radio stations wouldn't touch it with a bargepole was down to the previous single being too good, rather than just holding their hands up and saying "Yeah, it was a bit of a dull single, wasn't it? No wonder everyone kept play Sweet Dreams... instead." It's no exageration to suggest that Rachel needed the exposure that the association with Sports Relief has given her just as much as the slightly pointless charity has benefited from the exposure that having a pretty girl who's not averse to posing in her smalls has given them. Normally we'd be averse to such cynical manipulation, but when the end product is as fantastic as this we can't really complain. After all everybody wins, we get a good pop song, starving athletes get some food and Rachel gets another chance to play at being a pop star and look pretty on Top of the Pops. And, best of all, it's not a cover of the misogynistic song of the same name by Racey as we had originally feared. Hooray!
Wednesday, July 14, 2004
Well, it's very ace indeed, isn't it? We were quite worried about what their comeback was going to be like as we had noticed what looked like an attempt to blandify them and turn them into the next Atomic Kitten. This was most noticeable in the yawn-inducing cover to the re-released version of the Sound of the Underground album, and the fact that they released a not hugely good cover. Thankfully though, their management have realised that while the market for mediocre girl bands is somewhat saturated, the position of Most Exciting Pop Group... Ever! is still something worth fighting for and if Love Machine is as fab as this then Nicola and the Other Girls, as we think they should be renamed, will be easily be pushing ahead of the pack beating previous contenders such as the Spice Girls, B*Witched and allSTARS*.
Why is it so ace? Ummm, well you have heard it, haven't you? Nicola doesn't seem to have any solo lines as far as we can tell, so it immediatly loses a few points as a result, but other than that it's as close to perfection as a GA song can be. It also bucks the current trend for pop songs to be quite gender neutral, something which is certainly not the case with this, being very much a girls lyric, which is good because they are girls, but, on the other hand, they do have balls, which slightly confuses matters, but never mind. The only down side of having lyrics about acting like a lady and fluttering your mascara like a butterfly is that it does make it slightly embarassing if you're caught wearing headphones and singing along to it at the top of your voice. Ummm, so we expect anyway. We definitely don't know for certain, right? Right.
Wednesday, July 07, 2004
Anyway, normal service will be resumed shortly. In the meantime, here's a picture of Nicola dressed, rather fetchingly we're sure you'll agree, as a cheerleader. Hooray!