Talent in a Previous Life

Because It's Never Just About the Music

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Choir as Folk 

It's Hallowe'en! And that means that tonight evil will spread across the land like a cancer and all sorts of nastiness will take place in the name of all that is devilish and wrong. Naturally this is quite a big night for the ghosties and ghoulies of the world, which is why they took the chance to have a quick rehearsal last night before the main event. As a result of this, banshees wailed, eldritch sounds emanated from all corners and a group of small children were forced to dance to the tune of a creepy looking hob-goblin. Yes, it was the second X Factor live show, live from London, the centre of all evil.

Of course, it wasn't all bad, some good came out of it as pointless, weepy, dull Verity finally got the boot, despite the fact that Simon attempted to galvanise all the middle-aged housewives around the country to vote for her by giving her their theme song, Wind Beneath My Wings, to sing. To be fair she wasn't the worst this week. That honour had to go to 2 To Go who did Always, alas not the Erasure version, with some live piano action. Pete was good, but Emma very much let the side down by only walking alongside the tune and occasionally stumbling haphazardly onto the right path.

As well as picking rubbish songs, Simon also felt that the best way to look after his artist's interests was to book a choir and have them warble all over the contestant's songs, whether it was appropriate or not. This served mainly to make all three of them seem incredibly generic. Rowetta in particular suffered as a result, given that her main selling point is her personality. It was also interesting to note that Steve equates having soul with listening to soul. Sharon and Louis seemed a bit put out by the choir but, as Kate Thornton never seemed to tire of telling us, "The only rule is that there are no rules", which we're not entirely convinced by and we'd like to see put to the test. Perhaps Louis could put Westlife out to perform instead of 2 To Go and watch the votes rack up, or maybe Sharon could bring a gun with her and hold the audience hostage, threatening to go on a killing spree should either of her remaining acts end up in the bottom two. It's a thought.

Sharon brought her dog with her to sit in on the judging this week, presumably believing that looking like a sad old woman with no friends is the best way of looking like a good manager. This week, Cassie decided to ditch the 10 year old street urchin look and was looking a lot classier in a purple dress. She performed well, but is Without You really the best choice of song for a 17 year old girl? Tabby on the other hand performed My, Oh My, though once again a trick was missed as this was Slade, rather than the far superior Aqua song. We're still not quite sure what to make of his version, which featured a kids choir and a child acting as his guitar roadie, but we get the feeling that if he carries on down this route he'll be wearing spandex catsuits and sing falsetto before he knows it.

While 2 To Go may have let Louis down the most, his other two bands didn't do much more to keep the side up. Performance-wise, both G4 and Voices With Soul cut the mustard, but in terms of style we had G4 looking like they were a bunch of posh students patronisingly dressing down as Britpop refugees for their version of Oasis' Don't Look Back in Anger, while Voices With Soul seemed to think that the best place to look for clothes for their performance of You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman was the men's suit department at Marks and Spencers.

At least justice was done with regards to Verity, even if it was a week late. If this is going to be a recurring theme, then presumably we'll be waving goodbye to 2 To Go next week, which we really hope doesn't happen, as it'll leave Cassie as the only girl left who we actually fancy, and that would truly be the most evil thing of all.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Thoughts of the Pops 

It's Friday once again. If we were Robert Smith from out of The Cure we wouldn't have cared if Monday was blue, if Tuesday was grey and Wednesday too. On Thursday we wouldn't have cared about you, because today we would have been in love. Of course, we'd also have to deal with the humiliation of knowing that every haircut we'd ever had had been carried out by ourselves in the comfort of our own home using nail scissors and no mirror, so perhaps it's all for the best. As it stands, Friday means only one thing to us, and that's Top of the Pops. Here's what we learnt this week:-

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Annoys Next Door 

Popjustice.com believe that the best way to deal with the acne-ridden hell that is Noise Next Door is to deny them the oxygen of publicity. Here at TiaPL on the other hand we, much like Fleetwood Mac and people with a poor sense of direction, are going to go our own way as we believe that the best way to fight fire is with fire, though it was that attitude that led to us losing our job with the fire brigade in the now notorious "Petrol in the Water Tanks" incident.

Anyway, their debut single, the rather optimistically titled Lock Up Your Daughters, is out today and it is quite easily one of the most cynically targeted and pointless pieces of music marketing that we've seen in a long time. Not that Noise Next Door are just the same as any other instrument playing pop band out there, oh no, they have a gimmick! Two in fact, if you count "Being a less good Busted" as a gimmick, that is.

Their official gimmick is that they're triplets. Well whoop-de-doo. The person that thought of this idea presumably reasoned that this would mean they'd be one better than Bros, but it does kinda ignore the fact that most fans of boy bands like to pick their favourite out of the members, which is a bit hard when a) they all look the same. Oh, and b) are all as ugly as sin, which seems to be another flaw in the masterplan.

Despite the fact that it's never just about the music, we suppose we should at least give a cursory mention to the tune:- fucking shit. Actually that's a cursing mention of the tune, but you get the idea. Even McFly would turn their noses up at this, and quite possibly did, given that one of them was involved in writing the B-side to this track, the theme tune to Ministry of Mayhem which is ITV's latest attempt to return Saturday morning telly to the glory days of Motormouth.

Seriously kids. Just say no. This just goes to show that, despite what we may have led you to believe, having red hair isn't always a good thing.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

John Peel 


Nothing else needs to be said.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Music is the Victor  

We love the Scissor Sisters, we really do. Earlier this year we awarded them a place in the 117 Acest Things of All Time... Ever! on the basis of their floor-shakingly, roof-blowingly, absolutely fantastic gig they did at The Venue, a small place in Edinburgh (Yes, we were there first, etc, etc. Sometimes we're so hip it hurts). Last night we went off to see them at the Corn Exchange with a mixture excitement and trepidation, mainly because the Corn Exchange is a rubbish venue with all the acoustic quality and atmosphere of a submarine made out of bricks, but if anyone could overcome this and bring life, sparkle and glitter to the place, the Scissor Sisters could, couldn't they?

Damn right they could! It started off, as all gigs should, with the band striking poses in silhouette behind a white curtain which dropped to the sound of Laura. As one, the sell-out crowd pointed their fingers at Babydaddy, demanding to know why he wouldn't give Jake his love. While the only man who can make a porkpie hat/beard combo look good might not have been keen to offer Jake his affections, the audience was more than willing to give him ours, and quite possibly more besides. Dressed in a gold sequined jacket and silver sequined trousers - a look which takes a lot of balls to pull off, something which was quite obvious given the tightness of said kecks. We, however, only had eyes for Ana, who was looking radiant in blue and proved once again that she's the best dancer in pop and can shake her maracca's like nobody's business. She also wielded not one, but two tambourines with aplomb.

Obviously there are some differences now they've moved up to a bigger venue, first up they have a big fancy lighting set-up now, but the audience has also changed quite a bit. This time around it's not just the cool hipsters - and us. They're still there, but there's also virgin gig-goers, who will ultimately end up being disappointed when every other gig they go to fails to match up to the mightyness of this, and Virgin radio listeners, for some this is the first gig they've been to since the time when the Scissor Sisters would be illegal, but it says a lot about the band that they've managed to attract such a wide audience without watering down their sound or doing anything other than being one of the greatest pop bands the world has ever known.

It's hard to think of any way this gig could have been improved. It was a high-octane roller-coaster ride from start to finish, only without any dips, more like a chairlift all the way up to Everest, perhaps. Indeed, such was the intensity of the experience that a guy in front of us fainted. This was no doubt down to the sheer emotion he was experiencing. Or, to be fair, it might have had slightly more to do with the stifling heat, though we're still holding on to the possibility that he collapsed out of shame at suddenly realising he had exactly the same twatty hoxton hair cut as the four mates that he was with, one of whom was a girl. Still, whatever the reason, it seemed a very proper and correct thing to happen.

Unfortunately though, like all good things, lie ins and pieces of string, it had to come to an end. Having started the show so fantastically, you just knew they would have something equally fab to finish it off with, and they did! A costume change, Ana now in black, while Jake opted for a kilt and a performance of Music is the Victim with two stilt walking blokes dressed as scissors dancing around on the stage. What more could you want? Exactly, nothing. And, as a result of that, we're awarding the Scissor Sisters a second placement in our list of The 117 Acest Things of All Time... Ever!. Not even Nicola has managed that. Yet.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

When Irish Eyes Aren't Smiling 

So, X Factor finally got off to a proper start last night after what seems like years of heats and auditions. Has it succeeded in convincing the public that it's not just a quick knock-off of Pop Idol? Well, not really. On a purely superficial level, the set is a hell of a lot better, and Kate Thornton undoubtedly makes a prettier host than Ant and Dec, but ultimately it's quite clearly exactly the same show, except, and this is a big except, so we should probably put it in bold, except there's a twist, what could it be? Perhaps the act who gets thrown to sharks at the end, providing a bloody, though memorable finale to each episode? Maybe the highest rated act gets to slap the judge they like least? Umm, no, something far less uninspiring than that, but we'll get to that later, first the performances.

Voices With Soul were up first, and the seem to have shaken off a lot of their problems - the bellowing, the nerves, the fact they looked like a group of drunk girls on a hen night - and played the Diva card well with their rendition of Ain't No Mountain High Enough. Verity was up next, looking like an even more haggard version of Fern Britton. She did I Will Always Love You, during the chorus of which she hit various notes, occasionally stumbling on the right ones, seemingly more by luck than judgment. Roberta wore a dress that had apparently been customised from a shower curtain and did a performance that was the very definition of the word 'adequate'.

2 to Go did an excellent version of Don't Know Much, but were clearly styled by someone who was blind, ironically enough. Twinkly eyed Steve had a tinkly voice, as he'd been struck down with laryngitis that morning. Despite this, he didn't do too badly with his version of When a Man Loves a Woman. Cassie on the other hand might well have done a good version of her song, but we couldn't tell as we were too much in shock at the idea that someone thought that the best look for a 17 year old girl was that of a middle aged home-counties librarian.

The final three kicked off with G4 who's version of Everybody Hurts would have brought a tear to the eye of even the coldest hearted individual, then Rowetta did You Don't Have to Say You Love Me reasonably well but for us it lacked a certain "oomph" in the chorus. The last act up was Tabby who wore eyeliner, performed a guitar solo and had a dancing style that was heavily influenced by the Flappers of the 1920's.

Now, this is where it should, essentially, have ended. Public vote, Verity voted off for being entirely pointless and everyone would have been happy. Unfortunately, however, that was not the case. For this is where the twist comes in. For the public are only voting to decide the bottom two placings. These two then have a final sing-off, before the judges have to decide which of the two have to leave. When this was announced we had planned on having a bit of a moan about this and how it essentially means that the public can't be trusted to make the right decision. However, it transpires that they were quite right to do this as the public can't be trusted to make the right decision, voting, as they did, Roberta and Voices With Soul into the bottom two places. While Roberta being there is fair enough - she could be any other reasonably pretty girl singer for all the spark she has - there was no way on earth that VWS should have even been near the danger zone. The judges were quite aware of this and, while Sharon was duty bound to stick with the matt finish of Roberta, Louis and Simon both went with the gloss of VWS, leaving Roberta as the first to return to her normal life, except she can't, as she quit her job, so convinced was she that she was going to win the hearts and minds of the nation. Ah well, one thing that can be said for this genre of television is that it does often live up to it's name and provides the more McDonald's-worthy contestants with a severe reality check.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

What, No Mero? 

Danny Wilson don't warrant a mention either, while Sheena Easton is completely ignored. What are we talking about? Well, The List, Scotland's equivalent of Time Out, has just drawn up its shortlist of the 50 best Scottish bands of all time... ever! and it's inviting its readership to decide on the best. In the past we've never shyed away from going through other people's shortlists and telling you why they're entirely wrong, so, with only our incredibly poor memory and MC Strong's Great Rock/Indie Discographies to guide us, TiaPL proudly presents - in the same sort of sense that a small child proudly presents their potty during toilet training - our look at what is apparently the cream of the tartan tunesmiths. While the list is in alphabetical order, rather than any sort of merit based system, readers are advised that the quality of the bands does decrease as we get closer to the end of the alphabet.
And so, we come to the end of the list. If you wanh to vote for your favourite, you can do so by clicking here and far be it from us to suggest that you might like to make a mockery of the whole thing by voting for Mero, but that's exactly what we did. Hooray!

Friday, October 22, 2004

Thoughts of the Pops 

Well, it's Friday once again. If we were Craig David we'd currently be on the third day of making love to some lady we'd picked up in the subway, safe in the knowledge that we still had a full 24 hours of nookie to come before taking time out to chill. However, we're not a dull urban popstar who's debut album cover has the smuggest expression known to man, so instead we've frittered away today in a meaningless fashion, knowing that ultimately we're going to have to devote half an hour to watching Top of the Pops, but hoping that there's at least one performance of note this week. Here's what we learnt.:-

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

A Lot of Love in TiaPL 

We've been kinda putting off writing this post as, basically, we're a bit embarrassed about what we're about to reveal, but we feel that in this day and age what we're going to say is nothing to be ashamed about and we hope that you, our loyal readership and random people arriving here via google searches for "Girls Aloud tied up" and "Nicola Roberts topless", will stand by us and accept the position that we're taking, but we jut can't keep it a secret any more. So, here goes... We really like the new Darius single. There, it's out now and we feel a lot better without that weight on our shoulders and, besides, it leaves more room for the chips that we prefer to support there.

Fair enough, it's nothing earth shattering; it's not going to change the world and, as Darius is Scottish, it's unlikely to be looking for New England although given that the publicity courting relationship which Darius had with Natasha Henstridge, who starred in the video, has come to an end, he is looking for another girl, but it is a decent, fun, upbeat slice of ba-ba-ba based pop and it sounds fab on the radio. We're sure that in a few weeks time we'll have forgotten all about it and have moved onto something else, but right now it sounds ace and surely being right for the moment is a big part of what pop's all about?

In other Scottish pop based news it's come to our attention that Speedway have a fan who's actually upset that they've split up. Speedway, for those who are fortunate enough to have blanked them out of their mind, had a minor hit last year with their cover of the Stroke of Genius bootleg - mashing together Miss Aguilera's Genie in a Bottle with The Stroke's Last Night. The original lived up to it's name, the cover, however, was dog shit flattened into a disc and sprayed silver. Some people seemed to like it though, and it sold enough to get it into the top ten, just. Follow up single Can't Turn Back, was less successful and hovered just outside the top 11. Their final single, In and Out was released this summer to a disinterested public and they decided to split up, partly because everybody thought they were a bit crap, but mainly because singer Jill Jackson had the bright idea of trying to launch a solo career on the back of having a relationship with reality TV's favourite lesbian, Alex Parks, neither part of seems to be achieving much success; the former because "Speedway's Jill Jackson" isn't the sort of epithet which is likely to open any doors, even the automatic kind, and the latter because, prior to them being an item, Jill was happily saying in interviews that Alex Parks was rubbish because she was only known for doing covers. Apparently Speedway were different because they covered a bootleg, which presumably seemed like a good defence to her internally, even though ultimately covering a bootleg just means you're covering two songs at the same time.

Anyway, news of their split sent the sort of shockwaves through the music world that would barely trouble a feather, but it seems that they did have a fan in none other than Canadian 'rock' 'God' Bryan Adams who has persuaded them to reform to support him on his forthcoming tour. According to Jill, it was "too good an opportunity to miss", by which she presumably means it was an opportunity, and they leapt upon it like slavering dogs. They have a 45 minute slot to fill, which begs the question as to what they'll do to fill up the other 42 minutes after they've played Genie in a Bottle, but then, the same can be said for Bryan after he's played Summer of '69, so we're sure something will get worked out.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Better Bets Forgotten 

Odds are now out for the X Factor competition. To be quite honest, we don't really understand gambling - to us it's a mystery on a par with the Marie Celeste and the continuing pop career of Mariah Carey - and even when we do get our heads around it we're always so fearful of losing that we don't exactly risk breaking the bank. Indeed, even during our time in Las Vegas, a place where you're expected to leave with, at most, 50% of the money you arrived with, we spent most of our time on the penny slot machines and felt we were being a bit dangerous and high-roller-esque when we tried the 5 cent machines. Anyway, our analysis, and we use that word in it's loosest possible sense, reveals that the favourites to win the whole thing seem to be either Rowetta or, TiaPL's own favourite, G4 which means that either for once we've got our finger on the pulse of the pop scene or, as we suspect, people are simply betting on who they can remember from the series. Favourites to get booted on Saturday seems to be a straight battle between Verity and Voices With Soul, presumably because they just don't have the spark needed to excite a Saturday tea-time audience. Mind you, it could just be us reading the odds entirely wrongly and they're just being listed in reverse alphabetical order. Despite G4's apparent popularity, Louis is still the favourite to be the first manager given the chop. It's things like that which cause our failure to grasp gambling in any way, shape or form.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Picks of Nine 

X Factor finally got round to announcing who the final 9 acts in the show are last night and, over the next however many weeks they decide to stretch it out for, we will be bringing you our thoughts on the show every Sunday, or at least until we get bored and lose interest in it, and by 'thoughts' we mean a number of bitter jokes that are in no way related to any feelings of jealousy we might be having that these people actually have a talent which could well garner them fame, money and respect. To kick off, and quite possibly finish, this exciting new feature, lets have a look at the finalists who have been deemed to be the most talented people in the country. Or, to be slightly more accurate, the 9 most talented people left after everyone who was involved in Popstars, Pop Idol, Fame Academy, Opportunity Knocks, etc, has been evaporated from the quality pool.

First up is Sharon Osbourne's group of young people - apparently being over the age of 24 now means you're past it. These are undoubtedly the dullest and most pointless contestants in the show. There's Roberta, who we can remember little about and appears to have all the X-Factor of a 23 letter alphabet. Cassie we're unsure about as, on the one hand, she's very pretty, but on the other she sees Jamie Fucking Cullum and Katie Melua as good things, thus leading us to believe that she's the spawn of Satan, which probably reveals why she likes Jamie Fucking Cullum:- You've got to stick up for your dad, haven't you? Last, but not... well maybe he is, actually, is Tabby who's the 'indie' choice. You can tell he's indie because he has dyed red patches in his hair - just like The Noise Next Door - and has a tendency towards wearing tight fitting brown clothing. Indeed, Tabby is so indie and so much against the concept of selling out that the instant he was told at his audition that they would put him through but not his band, he immediately took the chance to stick two fingers up at the man and their commercialisation and plasticisation of music and, umm, promptly acquiesced quicker than a cheetah with diarrhea. He apparently has a lot of personality, but so far all this seems to consist of is his having an Irish accent, which isn't quite the same thing.

Next up we have Simon Cowell who's been lumbered with the OAP group, the only real difference between them and the young 'uns, though, is that there's less of a tendency towards mini-skirts and unnecessary hairstyles. Steve, a man who will soon be getting fed up of the epithet 'Twinkly eyed' being applied to him, is probably the star choice out of this group, certainly we'd put money on him being the housewife's choice, possessing as he does a spark of life, the aforementioned twinkly eyes, and a pretty decent voice. Rowetta doesn't so much possess a spark of life, as has the entire national grid in her knickers, but it's hard to see why she's involved in this show given that she was in the Happy Mondays and Black Grape, something which seems to be curiously unmentioned during the show. Finally we come to Verity who is the sort of dull, competent singer, who could no doubt carve out a decent career wearing a spangly dress and working as a singer on a cruise ship. She's not, however, by any stretch of the imagination a popstar. Not unless you consider Jane McDonald to be a popstar that is. We don't really understand why Simon's been so keen to put her through, to us she just seems like the sort of woman a sad, middle-aged man might see as a bit of a wank fantasy and... Ah! Suddenly it all makes sense.

Finally we come to Louis Walsh's groups category. We're somewhat wary of this as while on the one hand, he can claim credit for Girls Aloud, on the other, he has to take the blame for Westlife. Piles of shite are heavier than bubbles of joy, so the scales of quality aren't exactly weighed in the public's favour. His final three included Voices With Soul, who seem to mistake soulful harmonies with bellowing out the tune as loud as you can. We could warm to them, though, if they learn the meaning of the word restraint. 2 To Go also made the finalists, something which we're sure at least one of them never saw coming. Arf! We quite fancy the girl, so we'll wish them well. Finally, we have G4 who we still think are incredibly fab and so, in the absence of Jax, we're giving them the dubious honour of being our tip for the top. We're sure they're very proud, especially given that our support generally indicates that the act in question is going to be heading for the scraphead with a resounding crash. Sorry in advance. G4 are still the only genuinely unique and interesting act in the competition and while, fair enough, there is a certain whiff of novelty hanging over them like a cloud of hairspray hangs around Christina Aguilera, we'd still rather see them do well than the crowd of identikit popstrels which make up the bulk of the finalists.

That's it for now, join us next Sunday when we take a look at the first live show and ponder on whether whoever gets voted off first deserved it. Unless we've found something better to do, that is. Or we forget.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Ace Squad-ity? 

Blazin' Squad are back! and they still seem to have an aversion to the letter "G". Their new single is called We're Still Here and is basically sticking two fingers up to all those who have said - with a great deal of evidence backing them up, it has to be said - that the Squad were as rubbish as a Babes in the Wood DVD box set. Oh, and presumably it's also intended as a message to those who've tried and failed to move them on from the bus shelters and off-license doorways where they like to spend their Friday nights. It's also, whisper this, possibly quite good. We'd like to point out though, that we've only heard this once so far, and we had only just got out of bed, so this is only a temporary opinion and we reserve the right to change it at a later date to our usual dismissive attitude towards the lads who are always able to set you up with a cheap car stereo.

We think the reason why we initially like it is because it reminds us of Jay-Z's Hard Knock Life, in the sense that it's a complete rip-off of it, which isn't a great surprise given that the Squad aren't exactly averse to cheap knock-offs and, indeed, can often be found selling 'designer' sportswear at a stall in your local market. Rather than sampling an orphan-based musical, they instead get some scally little girls to sing a chorus which has a vibe of "Nobody likes us, we don't care", while throwing some street moves in their brand new tracksuits. Their mothers must be so proud. The lyrics, or what little we could make out of them - elocution classes were definitely amongst those that they skived off of - do seem somewhat laughable - we definitely noticed Kenzie using his cheap gold chain as an example of how much 'Bling' he's amassed due to being in the band - but even so, we reckon that that'll probably add to the charm of the song. We do need to hear it again, though, so if anyone knows where we can get hold of a copy of it, in a purely legal sense, of course, then, please, get in touch with us at our high-capacity, perfect for sending MP3's to, e-mail address, talentinapreviouslife@gmail.com. Thanks!

Friday, October 15, 2004

Thoughts of the Pops 

Ooh look! We've gone and given ourselves a facelift and decided that a look that screams out "scarily obsessive" is the way to go. It does, however, show off our design skills to the fullest. Unfortunately. Anyway, no matter how much we might try to look like lamb, the meat underneath will always remain mutton so, without any further ado, here's what we learnt from this weeks Top of the Pops:-

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Kate That 

You may have thought that we'd forgotten our pledge to keep you up to date with the career, for want of a better word, of Kate Sullivan, Britain's hottest pop babe, if you believe the title bar of her website, that is. But we haven't. It's just that previously every time we'd checked, her website remained resolutely un-updated. There can only be one explanation for this; clearly she's so heavily in demand there just simply aren't enough hours in the day to keep her devoted and eager fanbase up to date with her busy lifestyle. After all, if it's not that then it would have to be because she's not been up to anything at all except for slobbing round a manky flat, eating pot noodle and desperately willing the phone to ring with an offer - any offer - and that clearly can't be true for an artist of her caliber and talent.

Anyway, with that in mind, you can imagine our excitement when we logged on the other day to discover a "Stop Press!" message to announce some exciting new news from the Kate camp. So, what major event has happened to our blonde pop tart? Has she signed a multi-million pound record deal? No. Has she been in the studio laying down the killer track that will not only propel her into superstardom, but will also soundtrack the summer? No. Maybe she's been hand-picked to support Kylie on her forthcoming greatest hits tour? No, no and thrice no. So, what is her news then? Ummm, she's only had some new photos done, but at least it got her out of the house. While they're not the photos you might expect her to be doing at this desperate stage of her career, the stylist was clearly given the brief that her previous set - all tiny skirts and skimpy tops - just didn't have the haggard prostitute vibe that they were aiming for, something which has easily been rectified by her latest shots.

What's most interesting about these pics is the change in facial expression. In her original set while we couldn't say she carried herself with a certain dignity, mainly because it would be an abject lie, she did give off an air of youthful exuberance and excitement and seemed to be saying "Yeah! I'm gonna make it! I'm gonna live forever! I'm gonna learn how to fly high!", albeit in a purely figurative sense. We certainly wouldn't rush to take a plane ride with Miss Sullivan at the controls. At the very least you believed in her own self-belief at being a popstar. With these latest pics, however, the smile has changed, most notably in this pic. No longer is she blinded by the opportunities that lie ahead of her. Instead she has the jaded expression of someone who has just realised that appearing on a Children in Need regional opt-out may well be the peak of her career and the dull, lifeless eyes of someone who is coming to terms with the fact that her job description essentially involves her being cheap wank fodder for 14 year old boys. If you listen carefully you can almost hear her pleading with you. "Help me", she seems to cry.

Poor Kate. We can only hope that next time we return to Sullivan's world that we have better news to report. We at least hope that her management will get her a nice thick coat for the bitter months ahead. She'll catch her death if she goes out like that.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

The X Anger 

We were never convinced by the idea of Sharon Osbourne as an X-Factor judge. While she's undoubtedly a woman of certain talents - mainly involving exploiting her husband for her own personal gain - she never struck us as someone that understood or, indeed, cared for pop. If she had done, we might well have been spared the atrocity of Kelly Osbourne's 'music' 'career' as, as a good mother, she would surely have had a word with her daughter telling her not to be so bloody stupid and, should she have persisted in trying to get near a recording studio, would have sent her straight to her room and grounded her for the rest of her life. Clearly someone at ITV, however, felt she would be perfect for the show, so we decided to give her the benefit of the doubt. Not that there was a lot else we could do. We don't exactly hold a great deal of sway at the commercial network so they would give much credence to a phone call from us telling them that they'd got it all wrong. At least, not after the time we told them that they should buy up the concept of Survivor as it was bound to be a big hit.

And so we watched. We watched as Sharon proved herself to be a bit of a fool, but with her heart in the right place, as she bemoaned the failure of Louis and Simon to put through people that she thought were lovely but they, quite rightly, felt were untalented morons who should be treated with the contempt they deserved, no matter how much they wanted to be famous. We watched as she poured a glass of water over Simon in an entirely unplanned and naturalistic stunt which in no way screamed out "pre-planned" at the top of it's voice. We watched as she put on that really annoying simpering smile when some old woman sang badly. All these things we watched, and we forgave, but last night we watched and we lost what little respect we may have had for her, all thanks to the Beatles incident.

At the top of the show, Sharon told whoever was interviewing her that she wasn't looking for the same sort of stuff that fills the charts which, to a certain extent is fair enough, though you could probably argue that the top 40 these days is more varied and interesting than it's ever been. So what way, then, did she come up with to try and find the most exciting new sound imaginable? The sort of sound that radio has been crying out for and would make musicians would fall to their knees and declare the wife of Ozzy to be some sort of goddess? She got them to sing a Beatles song. This would be bad enough in itself, but she then compounded her stupidity by getting all the contestants on stage and giving them all a telling off because some of them weren't totally familiar with the song they were asked to perform. Not having an indepth knowledge of The Beatles back catalogue is not a bad thing. This idea that everyone working in music should be familiar with The Beatles is one of the biggest millstones around the neck of the industry and we can't understand why, in an artistic sphere that should be constantly looking towards the future, they always seem be stuck in the past.

We're not saying The Beatles are irrelevant to modern music. Of course they're not, they're a very influential band and helped shape the world of music as we know it today, but so what? So did Duran Duran and you're unlikely to hear anyone being considered unable to function in the pop world of today if they didn't know all the words to The Reflex. It's not like the four Liverpudlians came up the idea of pop music all by themselves, for all the influence they've passed on to the world of pop, they too were heavily influenced by various people and scenes. Initially it was the skiffle movement which they gave a heavy nod to, but we somehow doubt that Sharon's knowledge of the life, times and music of Lonnie Donnegan is up to par.

Face it. These days the Beatles are as relevant to the kids as Henry VII's hit, Greensleeves. Perhaps less so, as at least kids can associate Greensleeves with an ice cream van. They came up with a few decent tunes, a lot of rubbish which people are always keen to forget, and summed up a decade which ended 35 years ago. The last thing we need is more Beatle-wannabes clogging up the charts with an inability to realise that the world has moved on and that aping the band has already reached it's peak with Candyflip's cover of Strawberry Fields.

And, as if all that wasn't enough, she didn't let our favourite, Jax, past the first round. Cow.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Thoughts of the Pops 

Our TV seems to be on the blink. Tonight's Top of the Pops viewing was somewhat marred by lots of little red, green and blue dots flashing all over the screen. Initially we thought it might just have been a special effect they were using to liven up REM's performance but, given that it continued throughout the entire show, it's either something wrong at our end or they have a serious lack of imagination. Here's what else we learnt from this weeks show:-

Thursday, October 07, 2004

McFly Are Going To Be In Casualty 

No, that's not a threat - McFly could quite easily have us in a fight which, to be fair, isn't really saying much as we reckon that even JoJo could probably give us a run for our money - but a simple statement of fact, as the 4 boys who give flesh to the phrase "Right place, right time" will be appearing as themselves in a forthcoming episode of the BBC hospital drama, an appearance which may well be the most hilarious pop/soap crossover since Neil Tennant was spotted wandering around Ramsey Street looking for a recording studio.

The plot for their starring role involves one of their fans tumbling from their hotel window as she tries to meet the band, which is something we can entirely relate to as, if we knew we were going to be meeting McFly, we'd be hurling ourselves off of the nearest tall building as well.

We'll Stand By Them 

Popjustice.com has some information on the new Girls Aloud single which, as you no doubt already know, will be a cover of The Pretenders' 'classic' I'll Stand By You. We've found it quite hard to get excited by the prospect of this, not because we're against the idea of Girls Aloud doing covers per se - we'd love to seem them do a version of Fuzzbox's Pink Sunshine, we can even hear Nicola doing the "When I'm good I'm wicked at the same time" line. Mind you, our fertile imagination means we often hear Nicola saying things to us, some of which aren't mentionable on a family website. Hell, one of them isn't even mentionable on an adult website. But the thing about The Pretenders cover is that it seems very much a step backwards and part of a move to turn them from the electro-crazy glitter fueled ladies that we love into a more sedate, standard and dull girlband. A female Westlife, if you will, and if you've heard Bellefire you'll know exactly what a bad idea that is.

We're sure, however, that it'll sell well, raise the bands profile amongst record buyers of a certain disposition - i.e. those that don't actually like music much - which, in turn, will increase their album sales and lower the chances of them getting dropped due to the public finding it hard to know a good thing even when it dances in front of them in silver, so we can't really complain too much, especially as we've not actually heard the tune yet. This hasn't stopped us holding an opinion on tracks before though; we've been known to dismiss huge swathes of the Top 40 merely on the basis that they have a shit band name. Apparently though, the b-side is nothing short of genius, so we're not ready to give up on the girls yet.

In other Girls Aloud news, the Daily Record reports that our favourite five females are planning on getting matching tattoos, "on our bodies", as Kimberley helpfully points out, so that when they're older they have a reminder of their time together in the band. To illustrate this, the 'newspaper' used a picture of Kimberley and Cheryl kissing. Naturally. Now, call us old-fashioned, but surely all the CD's, DVD's, magazine articles and all the other miscellaneous ephemera that comes with being in a pop band would be an equally permanent, and somewhat less painful, reminder of their time together. We doubt that once the band splits up every photo, sound recording and written word regarding them will suddenly cease to exist - though such a system would have it's advantages - not unless they know something we don't. Perhaps they've found out that, in the future, an evil, book burning, culture hating and generally irksome totalitarian government plans on wiping them out of history. Maybe they've been talking to Busted, who's knowledge of the future - and support for an evil, book burning, culture hating political party - is well known.

Busted Reveal Themselves to be Tories... 

...and in other news, Gentle Ben takes reporters on a tour around his tree lined bathroom facilities.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Born Out of Time 

Today has been a very special and important day being, as it is, the 19th birthday of Miss Nicola Roberts - a lady who is held very dear in our heart, mind, and possibly other parts of our anatomy which don't bear thinking about. To celebrate this momentous occasion, not only have we been dismissively dealing with all situations by giving a quick flick of our wrist and a cry of "Botherd", but also we've decided to write a song in her honour. It's called Stand and Be Ginger and, while we're not quite so self-assured as to claim that it's got number one written all over it, we don't feel we're over-stating the case when we tell you that the whiff of number two is very much in evidence. As this is a text based medium, you may well be wondering what the tune is like which goes with the lyrics. If so, you might find that the words fit quite well with the Adam Ant classic, Stand and Deliver. This is because they're exactly the same.

Stand and Be Ginger

She's the ginger highway girl - you'd be so scared you'd back down
She earns her cash by looking flash and standing in the background
A red devil on your stereo and pale is her complexion
The way she looks, she qualifies as everyone's obsession

Stand and be ginger! Just ignore the hair dye
Just look in the mirror, oh, you don't need its lies

She's the ginger highway girl - her look is so in fashion
We love her boots, but it's her roots that we just cannot fathom
What's the point in colouring when you don't need such faking
It's kinda tough to tell you just what a mistake you're making

Stand and be ginger! Be proud of who you are
Just look in the mirror, you really are a star

And even though you're cool and all
Your redness must return

She's the ginger highway girl, we don't want your excuses
You slag her off and it's your loss 'til finally showbiz loses
She's the ginger highway girl, accept our invitation
"throw away your prejudice and join our ginger nation"

Stand and be ginger! You're fiery and that's right
Stand and be ginger! Let your hair be our light

And even though you're cool and all
Your redness must return, return

Da diddley qa qa da diddley qa qa
Da diddley qa qa da diddley qa qa

Stand and be ginger! Just ignore the hair dye.
(repeat until fade)

Ahem. Happy birthday, Nicola.

Monday, October 04, 2004

He Puts the 'E' in the Arse... 

So, Robbie Williams has a new single out, and all across the country people have been expressing their opinions of it - mainly "What the fuck?!". As we don't possess a single original idea of our own, we've decided to give you our own views on it. In the past we've not exactly been shy about sharing our views on the ex-Take That member, with our view normally being short, sweet and consisting mainly of four letter swearwords, so when we say that Radio is, without a doubt, the best thing he's ever released, you'd be forgiven for having the phrase "Damning with faint praise" appearing in pink neon letters in your mind, but you'd be wrong. Not only is this the best thing he's ever done, but it's also easily one of the best songs released this year.

We're not quite sure how he's managed to come up with something that's quite so fantastic. Given the sort of lowest common denominator trash he normally comes out with - Let Me Entertain You excepted - we really didn't have high hopes for his comeback single and, indeed, our natural dislike for anything Robbie related meant we were all set to slate it, possibly using such words as "bandwagon jumper", "desperate" and "twat". So it was something of a surprise to come away from our first listen with feelings of confusion about a song that we weren't entirely sure whether we liked or not, but knew damned well we wanted to hear again.

The main difference seems to be that he's realised that if you're going to write music with some bloke from the 80's, it's best to do it with someone who's actually quite good and exciting, rather than picking someone who's band was as dull as dull could be. This is why, now that Guy Chambers has been ditched, he's teamed up with Stephen 'Tin Tin' Duffy of Kiss Me fame and, assuming that this partnership isn't just a one-off, we could well find ourselves becoming a fan of Robbie 'Tit Tit' Williams.

It's not perfect, like all great things it's ultimately flawed, what's been most obvious over the last few days is that it's just too production heavy to work as a live song, but that simply makes it better as a pop song, as pop only truly exists at it's best inside the steel heart of a studio mixing desk. We're still slightly annoyed at ourselves for loving this, we have tried to force ourselves to hate it, but every time we try we just find ourselves loving it more. It just all seems to come together and work beautifully. Even the video, which should have us thinking "Fuck off, he's trying to dance like David Byrne", actually has us thinking "Fucking hell! He's trying to dance like David Byrne! How fantastic!". We feel quite dirty about it to be honest, and we're sure that normal service will be resumed shortly and we'll happily return to calling him Knobbie Williams in a childish, but still quite funny, way. Until then though, we deem this song to be 18th Acest Thing in the World... Ever, and Mr Williams? Sir, we salute you.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Thoughts of the Pops 

Hasn't it been a quiet week in Pop? Never mind, here's what we learnt from this week's Top of the Pops, anyway:-

Mobo's. Cop? 

The MOBO awards took place in that there London last night, and what a pointless ceremony they turned out to be. It's hard, anyway, to take any ceremony seriously that offers a prize for best ringtone, but the awards themselves seem entirely irrelelevant these days. When they started there was a genuine purpose to them, which was to highlight black music which wasn't getting the coverage, airplay, or respect it deserved outside of dedicated outlets. Nowadays of course, R&B and Hip-hop are mainstays of the charts, and there was little in the nominations that wouldn't have been equally at home at the Brits, or the Mercury or any other of the myriad ceremonies that take place at this time of year.

Indeed, it seems that it's not just the public that can't really see the point of the awards, few big names could be bothered turning up, with even host Pharell Williams pulling out at the last minute due to his belief that the whole thing was going to be a non-event, which is a fair enough opinion, but perhaps was one that he should have held before actually agreeing to do it.

Ultimately, however, the main point of interest of the night was down to the protests, which it seemed the organisers were unable to avoid. To stop Peter Tatchell and Outrage! turning up and making a fuss, they looked at the Reggae category and decided to pull Elephant Man and Vybz Kartel off - perhaps not the best choice of words - on the not unreasonable grounds that they're a pair of homophobic fuckwits. Unfortunately for the Mobo's, this meant that the Black Music Council decided to turn up and protest about their expulsion, somehow believing that speaking out against prejudice is, in itself, a form of prejudice. Somehow we feel that they might not have been quite so keen to bandy about phrases about free speech willy nilly had Skrewdriver been nominated for a Brit Award.

Oh, and they gave Jamie Cullum a prize. Gits.