Talent in a Previous Life

Because It's Never Just About the Music

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

What Makes a Single Man 

Brian McFadden may soon be finding himself more solo than he ever expected to be since leaving Westlife, as we've had reports - i.e. we've read the papers - that he and his wife Kerry Katona, as she'll always be to us, are on the verge of splitting up.

Naturally this is tragic news, if only because the reason Bryan left Westlife and became Brian was so that he could spend time with his family doing such activities as watching his babies run as that, along with drinking English tea and watching football, is what's real to him. If he no longer has a family, then there's nothing to stop him returning to the Westlife fold or, worse, releasing more of the god-awful sub-Bryan Adams shite that he considers to be music. Fortunately, we don't need to worry as they're pulling out all the stops to save their marriage; Max Clifford is involved and they're consulting a transexual marriage advice counselor called Auntie Graham, so it's good to see that they're taking this seriously.

Of course, what's most tragic about this news is that it comes in a week that should have been such a high for them as Kerry won the much coveted award of Best Celebrity Mum at some ceremony organised by OK Magazine. As we're not entirely sure in what way someone who leaves their children behind and buggers off to the Australian jungle to spend two weeks wearing a bikini on a profile raising TV show is a good mother, we can only assume that the other mums in the running for the award regularly beat their children with iron rods. Mind you, the awards can't really be considered in any way accurate or relevant given that the award for "Best Celebrity Couple" went to Stewart and Michelle from Big Brother, a title which is wrong on at least two counts.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Thoughts of the Pops 

Despite the fact that not only are they one of the best bands around right now, but they also entered the charts at number 2, Girls Aloud were not deemed worthy of a performance on Top of the Pops tonight. If anyone can explain to us on exactly what planet this decision made any sense, let us know, as we're at a complete loss. Despite reeling from that news, we still had just enough concentration left to focus on the show. Here's what we learnt:-

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Have We Got News For You 

Reporting on musicians deaths is always an odd business. There's always a tendency to revere them as geniuses for little other reason than they've knocked out a couple of half decent tunes while being very careful not to mention the lack-lustre third album and that offensive thing they said in an interview a few years ago. It's with that in mind that we inform you of the death of Izora Rhodes Armstead one half of the Weather Girls, who passed away on September 16th.

Only an idiot would claim that the Weather Girls will have a lasting influence on the world of music, and even we're not quite that stupid, but their one hit, It's Raining Men, will no doubt live on for a long time yet in gay nightclubs and cheese nights all over the country. We were always somewhat dubious about the lyrical content of the song as, while the thought of each and every woman finding the perfect guy may sound quite positive, the fact they're dropping from out of the sky at cloud level means that they're going to be somewhat dead and the streets are going to be in one hell of a mess. Their later claim (ignoring the blatant innuendo), that they're going to go out and get themselves absolutely soaking wet, is slightly more believable; if only because, assuming you don't get knocked unconscious by 13 stone of bloke suddenly landing on your head, the amount of blood splashing around as people smash into pavements at a rate of knots is likely to leave you somewhat damp. See also the spittle falling from the sky as a result of millions of men screaming "OHMYFUCKINGGODI'MGOINGTODIEHOWTHEHELLDIDIGETUPHEREAAAAAAAAARGH".

So, farewell then, Miss Armstead. Should it rain today we will go out and get ourselves soaking wet in memoriam. If it doesn't, we'll just have a few pies and a cake instead.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

I'm Gonna Learn How To Sing - High 

Does anyone remember The Biz? The answer to that is probably no-one and, if you do you're unlikely to remember it fondly, as it was a piss-poor stage school thing which was solely responsible for bringing Paul Nicholls fame, although it did have a good bit at the end of the theme tune where someone went "The Biz" in a someone-has-just-discovered-the-world-of-vocal-effects kinda way. Anyway, while the general public may not remember it, the BBC clearly do, as the first episode of I Dream, The Biz for the 21st century and a 19 Management production, was launched this afternoon on CBBC1.

The programme itself started off with the slightly dodgy premise of an elderly man, Christopher Lloyd, sending out DVD's to a bunch of talented teenagers, one of whom appeared to be 27, encouraging them to come and visit him at Avalon Heights where he promised to fulfill all their dreams, including those that they never even knew they had. Rather than handing it into the police immediately, the kids decide instead that the best course of action is to break into an impromptu song and then get on a bus to the school despite the fact that no-one has heard of this place and their parents never seemed to get consulted. Fortunately, both for them and the plot of a children's programme, it turns out that Christopher Lloyd is not a paedophile, but is instead the headmaster of the greatest performing arts school in the country - though it's credentials must surely be brought into doubt given that S Club 8 are pupils there - and is not averse to suddenly performing piss-poor knock-offs of Smash Mouth songs. He greets them and their adventures, such as they are, begin.

This week's episode centred around the kids - oh and given this is a BBC production, all the talented kids are attractive and middle-class, though we reckon there'll be a token working class kid with a heart of gold turning up in later episodes - overhearing a conversation about tomato plants and assuming that they were about to be sent home from the school, leading us to surmise that, as opposed to the more standard word processor, a crowbar is the writer's tool of choice for this show. They also introduced a sub-plot involving the fame-obsessed girl (posh, blonde, self-obsessed, wears short skirts and is definitely in no way ripped off from Alicia Silverstone's character in Clueless) and the for-real girl (brunette, wears baggy trousers and army shirts, sarcastic and plays an instrument) not quite getting on. What a surprise!

Of course, while it may be badly acted, written and exist in a version of Britain which not only is constantly sunny, but also has never existed outside the fevered imaginings of Daily Telegraph readers, we're still going to be watching each episode, and why not? It's already proved to be more entertaining than The Biz.

Monday, September 20, 2004

A Pun About Ikea or Something Like That 

Last week we encouraged you all to rush out and buy Girls Aloud and Annie, while leaving Call On me languishing on the shelf. As always with our advice, you lot studiously ignored it and we've ended up with a chart this week that manages to redefine the very fundamentals of mathematics, such is the wrongness of the numbering. Fair enough, Nicola and her Backing Singers got the number two slot, which was probably as good as could be expected given the over-powering tidal wave of sewage that was Eric Prydz, but poor Annie was left languishing in the number 25 slot. Come on, people! Even Status Quo managed to do better than that, we don't want to live in a world like that, the world we do want to live in, however, is, in a quite clever bit of linkage, one in which the new Alcazar single, World We Live In, is hitting the top spot and, as it's out this week, you can help.

Now, given that, as with all fantastic songs it seems, radio play for this track has been somewhat thin on the ground, you might be wondering exactly why you should rush out and buy it, especially when we point out that it's based around Land of Confusion by Genesis but stop! Don't immediately dismiss it out of hand because of the Phil Collins connection, though it would be quite understandable. Remember that this is Alcazar and they could make even a Creed song sound listenable, probably by simply playing an entirely different song, and this is a slice of pop fabulousness that is unlikely to be bettered until hell freezes over, Jojo ceases to be an entirely wrong concept or we hear something else that we quite like and get all unnecessary over. If you do need a reason, then we'd like to point out the fact that they follow the "And these are the hands we're given" line with handclaps, which is clearly one of the 117 Acest Things in the World... Ever (and you thought we'd forgotten about that), so surely that is enough to send you rushing to your local HMV faster than the chubby, blonde one from McFly on his way to a pie shop.

Unfortunately though, despite it's clear genius and the fact that the number one slot is it's rightful home, we know for a fact that it's going to be heading for number 17 with a bullet. And by 'fact' we mean number that we thought of entirely at random and which is probably being a bit optimistic. Ah well.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

No More Blue? But How Are We Gonna Make Green? 

Stop the presses and at least try and pretend that you care as, in news that is apparently newsworthy to no-one except the Sunday Mail, Blue have announced that they're splitting up. No, we couldn't believe our luck, either. Of course, this being the 21st century, pop bands don't actually split up these days. Instead they take an extended break while trying out solo projects and then sort of forget to get back together again. Actually splitting up is not really an option, not when there's a greatest hits tour and CD to promote over the lucrative Christmas period.

The impetus seems to be Duncan's solo single - which is actually a duet - and is the title track for Andrew Lloyd Webber's new musical. It's exactly as bad as you would expect an Andrew Lloyd Webber track sung by a member of Blue to be. Of course, he's not the only one with plans for his time, now that he no longer has to sing pseudo street balladry, the other members will be filling up their days with exciting projects too. Simon is extremely busy managing Vs, in the same way that a lion is extremely busy landscaping the Serengeti, while Anthony has plans to have a nice cup of tea and maybe a read of the paper after lunch. Lee Ryan, on the other hand, probably has plans to dress up as a pirate and dance the fandango down a high street near you, something which is certainly more artistically interesting and valid than anything Blue came up with during their 3 short, but equally oh so long, years together.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Thoughts of the Pops 

We thought that Tim Kash leaving Top of the Pops would be the solution to all our problems. Alas, once again, bitter experience rears it's ugly head and we discover that it's not the case as we endured one of the worst editions we've seen in a long time. Here's what we learnt:-

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Talkin' Bout My Prerogative 

Despite being one of the biggest solo female artists in the world, Britney Spears isn't actually that good, is she? Fair enough, as a pop star she's excellent, and the showbiz pages would be a far less interesting place without her regular appearances, but musically she's a bit pointless. She's only really released a handful of songs that are worthy of being considered pop gems. Perhaps it's because she peaked too early by having the genius that was and, indeed, still is, ...Baby One More Time as her very first single - when you're at the top of Mount Fab there's nowhere else to go other than down. It wasn't until the release of Toxic this year that she finally managed to equal, if not better it and, at last, seemed to live up to our expectations of what she should be capable of.

Of course, our opinion is entirely irrelevant given that people have quite happily rushed out and bought her records in their millions, which is why Jive are going for the quick and easy Christmas cash in option and will shortly be releasing her Greatest Hits. As is now obligatory for these things, she's recorded a new track for it in a bid to encourage people to shell out good money on what they already own and it's a cover of Bobby Brown's My Prerogative. We've acquired an entirely legal and definitely not in any way dodgy copy of the song (although it's not, apparently, the final mix), so is it actually any good? Has she carried on surfing the wave of quality that she rode for Toxic, or has she, once again, crashed on the beach of mediocrity? Well. To keep things entirely fair and balanced, let's first of all list all the things that are excellent and brilliant about the track:-Right, now that's out of the way, lets get to the meat of the matter. This is just a Britney single, and that is all it is. It's not that t's essentially a bad song - it's not - it's just a complete non-event from start to finish. It's not going to make you switch the radio off in disgust when you hear it, but equally it's not going to hold your attention for much more than thirty seconds, which is probably why the official previews have been that long. There's some nice bassy bits going on through the song and the chorus works, but there's not a single spark of invention anywhere. It's not a cut above anything, it's just Britney by numbers and that's what's so depressing. Even Me Against The Music was better than this, and that featured Madonna for fucks sake.

We understand that the bonus tracks on greatest hits are, by their very definition, filler tracks and that doing a cover version is the laziest possible way of fulfilling your contractual obligations, but there could at least be some hint of even a vague grunt of effort being involved. This smacks of something knocked off by Britney in the last half hour of her working day. Yeah, it's alright, but for someone of her status shouldn't we be asking for more?

Monday, September 13, 2004

Single's Out 

It's a big week in the pop world as there's not one, but two utterly fantastic singles which you should really be rushing out to buy instead of sitting here reading this nonsense. First up is Girls Aloud and Love Machine which, as you should already know by now, is as brilliant as the sun reflecting off the snow at the North Pole. No doubt you've already downloaded this, but we urge you to actually buy a real copy, as not only does it come packaged in what is surely the cover of the year, but it also comes with the rather ace b-Side Androdgynous Girls. There's apparently a 7" picture disc lurking around as well, but we've not been able to track down a copy, and we're not too keen to ask the snobby staff at the local vinyl emporium for a single that isn't by some obscure act who only have the vague awareness of the concept of the Guinness Book of Hit Singles and are unlikely to be troubling the sub-editors of said volume.

Next up is the equally fantastic, and probably far more in need of your support, Annie and her latest hit, Chewing Gum. It features Annie talking to herself, little "uh oh" bits that put Beyonce to shame and a chorus that is as sticky as the titular substance. While Annie may consider chocolate to be the topmost sweetstuff, we reckon that this is even better than that and that Annie is, in fact Strawberry Flavour Bubbalicious. Yup, that good. Of course, given that radio play for this song seems to be pretty much non-existent, and also the fact that we're supporting it, this song'll probably miss the top ten by miles, which means that we may never get to see her dance routine with 4 Annie-a-likes on Top of the Pops. A tragedy comparable with... with... well, with Brian McFadden's solo single.

The real tragedy though, is that neither of these are going to get to number one because Eric Prydz has decided to release Call on Me this week. We absolutely hate this song, and we're not exactly fond of the original either, but seems to be entirely inescapable. Which is obviously down to the quality of the song and is in no way down to the slightly dodgy aerobics and skimpy leotards based video. We're not entirely convinced that the outfits they wear are regulation attire down at our local gym.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Love Magazine 

How fantastic is this?

(That question was rhetorical but, if you're unsure, the answer is 'Very')

The X Spot 

We've decided that, unless someone more talented, more attractive or, for that matter, more ginger, enters the contest, we're going to be backing Jax in the X Factor contest. This is partly because of her singing ability, but is mainly down to two things, the first being that she has a sticker phobia which, as irrational fears go, is pretty cool. The second is the fact that she has an X in her name which, lets face it, clearly means that her milkshake is going to be a hell of a lot better than yours.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Thoughts of the Pops 

We came down from the cloud of euphoria caused by that picture long enough to focus our attention on this week's Top of the Pops. Here's what we learnt:-

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Fuck. Ing. Hell. 

In stalker terms, this means we're now married.

Prize: Given 

Last night was a big orgy of celebration and awards down in that there London town. The GQ awards probably considered themselves to be the biggest, but as they saw fit to award prizes to Chris Moyles, Jonny Wilkinson and Jamie Fucking Cullum we can pretty safely ignore them. Next up was the Mercury Music Prize which, once again, we entirely failed to predict. This was won by Franz Ferdinand and, as we're rather fond of the band, we were going to do a nice positive piece saying how glad we were that they won and we weren't going to even think about using the fact that they're Glaswegian against them. However, as they've celebrated by chucking around the quote "What this signifies... is an end to this despicable era we've gone through of manufactured pop music,", all bets are off, so instead we'd like to call them a bunch of Art School ponces who are just as much a part of the pop system that they so despise as every other act on the conveyor belt that we call the charts. Winning a contest designed to boost sales of artists at a sluggish time of year is hardly an act of under the counter subversion so, until you learn to accept that, we suggest you bugger off and spend your prize money on Buckfast and heroin. New Scottish Gentry, my arse.

And so, finally, we come to the Popjustice £20 Music Prize for best pop single in the last 12 months. Despite some early false reports, and general expectations, it wasn't won by Girls Aloud, but instead was snatched from beneath Jamelia's nose by Rachel Stevens for her Goldfrapp ripping referencing number 2 Some Girls. Fair enough, we suppose. It's a good track, but we'd have rather seen Nicola and her Backing Band take the prize. Mind you, we'd rather have seen Phixx take it for Hold on Me but that wasn't even nominated, and surely they need the money far more than Rachel does. They can't even afford the champagne which would make it taste so much better, better.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Viva la Mega Kate 

We heard the shock news yesterday that Hussey have split up. No, us neither, but we're mentioning it not on the off chance that one of their fans or, indeed, someone that's actually heard of them visits this site, but so we can draw your attention to the website of the former Hussey and now solo 'star', Kate Sullivan.

Kate's website is quite easily the most unintentionally hilarious site we've seen in a long time. It's a masterpiece of optimism, a triumph of dreams over reality, of fantasy over facts and of a vaguely attractive girl doing her very best to look like a cheap prostitute. Highlights include her bio, featuring very few apostrophes and the claim that "Her sexy style and sassy attitude on stage has inevitably led to comparisons with Rachel Stevens and Beyonce.". We reckon that the comparison was something along the lines of "Kate is very much like a low-rent Rachel Stevens". Her diary page is depressingly empty, while her photo gallery is the very definition of 'Trying Too Hard'.

The cream of the site, however, is the fan mail page. This encourages you to send in your own message of support to Miss Sullivan, but does offer the caveat that "Unfortunately, due to the sheer volume of mail, we can’t print them all here, so make yours stand out from the crowd!". We think this claim is somewhat dubious if what they've published so far is genuinely the best out of what they've got. Our favourite is DenisM who writes "Let me take you around the world with me. I am a very shy international playboy, but I am sure you could bring me out of my shell. I also do a lot of diving. I bet you look good in a wetsuit. You can reply to me by phone 0************. Please do not reply to my email as it is my mums.".

We're going to keep an eye on Kate's career from now on and keep you updated on her progress. We desperately want her to succeed as we feel that she may be the most entertaining pop star the world has ever seen, even if it's not in the way she might be hoping for. So, as the website states "remember the name, Kate Sullivan. Because one thing is for sure, you'll never forget the performance.". No matter how much you might try.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

We Got Our Pop TV 

So, the evening of 'musical' 'entertainment' is over and we're sure you're dying to know what we thought. Even if you're not, we're going to tell you anyway. First up was X Factor which paraded the expected assortment of tone deaf freaks and some half decent singers for our amusement. We've yet to pick our favourite, mainly because we've not seen anyone we actually fancy yet, but the highlight was undoubtedly G4 - the classical singers who did Bohemian Rhapsody. They were ridiculously good, even if the whiff of novelty did waft from them like the smell of tuna fish from a kitty cat. We're not entirely sure if they're the same thing as Simon Cowell's opera band project, Il Divo, or whether they're simply the inspiration for it. Either way we're slightly more excited by the project than we originally were.

Next up was BBC 1's Test The Nation: The Popular Music Test. We managed to score 60 out of 70, or 86% which, according to the BBC's slightly dubious scoretable, makes us a musical genius. This now presumably means that our opinions are definitively facts now, and anything we say has extra weight as a result of this. With that in mind, we'd like to state that the programme itself was absolutely shite and was one of the more boring periods we've spent in front of our TV set, and we used to watch the live coverage of sleep deprivation game show Shattered so we know what we're talking about. As well as featuring a group of celebrities, many of whom we had never seen until tonight, it also featured members of the public grouped according to various professions which, for all the relevance that they had to the world of pop music, were presumably picked by a producer standing outside television centre who accosted the first 7 people he found and asked them what they did for a living. The show also broadcast one of the most upsetting moments we've ever seen on UK television. No, not Anne Robinson's cleavage, that was simply disturbing, but it was the sight of Lauren Laverne looking embarrassed as they played a short clip of Kenickie performing the girl-guitar-pop fabulous single In Your Car. Quite why she's ashamed of having been part of one of the best pop bands of all time is a mystery to us. Surely if she's looking for something to be ashamed of she'd be better off looking at the heavily tippexed portion of her CV where her co-hosting of Channel 4's Let's-Laugh-At-Foreigners TV show Loves Like a Dog used to be displayed.

Word Up 

Girls Aloud were on Top of the Pops: Saturday this morning and, with the sort of hard hitting questioning that the show is famous for, Nicola was asked what her favourite word was. It turns out to be "Shopping". Surely we can't be the only ones who were disappointed it wasn't "Botherd"?

We Want Our Pop TV 

It's Pop TV Heaven tonight! Well, it is if you consider heaven to be something slightly mediocre with a slight possibility of brilliance lurking in the very depths of the core ideas. First up is ITV1's X Factor which is the commercial stations latest idea to try and rake in as much money from premium phone-lines as possible and find talent that has hitherto remained undiscovered despite the multitude of talent contests that have filled the Radio Times in the last 5 years. On the face of the major difference between this and the Popstars/Idol contests is that the age limit has been dropped. In terms of the actual show, all this is likely to do is mean that we can laugh at rubbish old people in the audition sections, as well as rubbish young people. We don't expect a great deal from this show, but we'll still be watching it, mainly in the hope that we've got the premise all wrong and it turns out to be a remake of The Krypton Factor, but with pop stars doing the assault course and failing to finish a simple building blocks puzzle in the time allowed.

But it's not just ITV that are getting into the Pop Telly lark. No! The BBC have decided to get in on the act but, being the BBC they have to make it slightly more worthy which is why tonight they're scraping the bottom of the Test The Nation barrel and offering us The Popular Music Test. Essentially a bigger version of Mike Reid's Pop Quiz, only without Mike Reid getting in the way and making it inherently shit; instead we have Anne Robinson and Philip Schofield to take on that role. You'll be able to take the test on-line once the show starts by clicking here. We'll only be posting up our own score if it proves not to be embarrassing.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Thoughts of the Pops 

No more Tim Kash! Hooray! Instead the show opened with Fearne Cotton wearing a short skirt (oh, and some other bloke) which we consider to be a massive improvement. Here's what else we learnt:-

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

The Days of Early September 

We should be starting this month off on a high, after all, not only is September Nicola's month in the Girls Aloud calendar, but she also gets to be a solo cover girl, as the new issue of FHM has five different covers allowing you to pick your favourite Girls Aloud member. As a result of this we fully expect to have difficulties finding a copy of Miss Roberts' cover, although only because her edition will naturally be the most popular and it definitely will not be down to them printing hardly any of her version because they don't think it will sell as much. Right? Right.

The problem is, though, that we're not happy despite those glorious ginger gifts. Instead we're feeling quite down and depressed. The reason for our misery isn't that Jamie Cullum is still alive, although that isn't helping matters, but is down to this news item that was filtered through the Scissor Sisters board and eventually turned up over at Popjustice. The person reporting this had been to CD:UK to see the Sisters perform, on the same day that Girls Aloud were doing an appearance, and they state the following:- "The ginger one was always on her own, they just leave her. She kept walking around randomly going into the wrong rooms". Shocking, we know. We're not entirely sure how accurate this story is, especially given that the integrity and accuracy of the reporter must be questioned as they followed up that quote by saying "It was funny" instead of stating that this tale is surely one of the most tragic and depressing in human history. We feel a great need now to find her, hug her and tell her everything's going to be alright. To prepare for this we've been practicing on our red-haired mannequin that we definitely didn't steal from a skip outside a shop and we feel that we'll be able to cuddle her with just the right mix of tenderness, concern, reassurance and subtle bum feeling.