Talent in a Previous Life

Because It's Never Just About the Music

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

A Fist Full of Love Coming Their Way 

The first thing that will strike you about Girls Aloud's new album, What Will the Neighbours Say, is how ace it is. The second thing that will strike you about it is how seriously fucking ace it is. The third and fourth things follow a similar pattern, with rapidly growing heights of hysteria, while the fifth thing will be a rolled up paper towel, as someone attempts to take your attention away from the stereo speaker which you've been staring at with awe for the last hour. Words can't really do this justice, which makes this article ultimately pointless, but that's never stopped us before.

This is not to say that the album is perfect. It's not. It achieves it's aceness in spite of, not because of, certain tracks, and it's whenever the girls slow it down that it becomes less than brilliant. It's not so much that these are bad tracks, if it was any other girl band we'd probably be raving about them, but for Girls Aloud it feels more like they've dropped down a couple of gears and are just lazily coasting along, rather than burning up the pop highway while flicking V's at the bands they overtake. Hear Me Out is the pick of the ballads, written with some input from Sarah, it's probably already been penciled in for a single release and is being touted around various movie companies as the perfect piece to soundtrack the big love scene where the couple kiss for the first time. Nadine's 100 Different Ways is absolutely pointless and is probably the album's lowest point. Also, and it pains us to say this, we're not totally sure about Nicola's contribution, I Say a Prayer. While it undeniably carries with it a certain charm - and we do like the fact that Nic took full advantage of it being her song and told everyone else to bugger off out of the studio and did all the lines for a change - we do, if we're honest, feel we'd be a bit less forgiving of it if it wasn't her track. I'll Stand By You you'll already know, but it is striking how much it sticks out like a sore thumb, sandwiched as it is between the amazing Love Machine and the less amazing - but it has grown on us a lot - Jump.

In the middle of the styles we have Deadlines and Diets, a lovely, laidback track about a "botherd" attitude towards a constant cycle of failed relationships. This will undoubtedly sound fantastic soundtracking a lazy summer evening spent with a brightly coloured and embarrassingly named cocktail in hand, but it doesn't quite reach it's potential on a cold November afternoon.

The rest of the album, however, makes up for the weaker elements throughout. The singles signposted an album of genre-jumping music which would excite and challenge and generally redefine the whole concept of what pop should sound like in the 21st century, and it does this admirably. Highlight is probably Grafitti My Soul, which is just b'b'b'b'b'brilliant, but seems destined to join Some Kind of Miracle from the first album as one of the most fantastic number ones which will never get released as a single. Here We Go is all we were hoping for, all Cuban sass mixed with No Good Advice, while Wake Me Up is so down and dirty you can practically taste the grease. The other two tracks, Big Brother and Thank Me Daddy, input from Cheryl and Kim respectively, do suffer slightly compared to the company they're keeping, but even an ingot of pure gold will look a bit dull in the presence of an exquisitely cut diamond. Thank Me Daddy is a lot better than the title would have you expect, but does seem a bit toothless. Big Brother, however, is easily the best of the girls' tracks, and seems to be about Cheryl quite enjoying being watched when she's doing the dirty. Either that or she's just really supportive of the introduction of CCTV into the nations high streets and will be campaigning vigorously for the introduction of ID cards.

In summary then, we are slightly disappointed with the album, but our expectations were so high we probably would have been no matter what it was like. The girls haven't released their equivalent of the Spiceworld album yet, but they are clearly on their way there and we don't have to worry about them tumbling down the mountain of pop perfection down to the valley of musical mediocrity yet. Don't let the early negativity in this review put you off, this is a fantastic album, but it's because of the genius of the majority that the slight poorness of the minority stands out. Even with those tracks, however, it's still one of the best albums of the year and we feel happy to state that it is quite easily the 21st Acest Thing of all Time... Ever!

Monday, November 29, 2004

Buy It 

As we're sure you're all aware, today marks the release of what is possibly the most important CD to come out this year. Featuring the cream of the UK's pop talent, it's undoubtedly this week's most essential purchase and all proceeds from it's sales will be going to a good cause. Face it, to not buy this record would make you a grinch of the highest order and would leave you unwelcome at the home of any right thinking person. We've done our bit and got our copy, can you live with your conscience if you fail to do the same...?

Girls Aloud - What Will The Neighbours Say recepit

Oh, and apparently some crappy charity single is out today as well, but we wouldn't worry about that.

More on the new Girls Aloud album later...

Sunday, November 28, 2004


And so Kate - who this week wore a cyan dress which looked much like that an older woman would wear, albeit with a much lower neckline than we'd like to see an elderly lady wear - was right when she said that it was going to be "all change" this week, if by "all change" she meant "reaching a new level of pointlessness", that is. The only useful change is that the judges no longer have to choose between the bottom two acts, it's simply left up to the public vote which is as it should have been in the first place. The acts now get to sing two songs in the main show giving them two chances to try and shine or, in the case of Steve, be an utter non-event and, for those who miss the first show, they all get a chance to sing one of their songs again during the results show, meaning that there's absolutely no point in watching the main programme. It smacked very much of them suddenly realising, five minutes before the show started, that without the "sing-off" between the bottom two acts, they had nothing else to fill the 45 minutes of airtime with and had to think of something quickly. Aren't television producers marvelous?

Last night Tabby should have easily been out on his ear. Not because he was the worst - although he was - but because he decided to perform Extreme's More Than Words, one of the most godawful examples of rock balladry ever, although Ozzy and Kelly's whine through Changes comes close. For this he had an acoustic guitar which he seemed to be randomly strumming throughout the song with no relation to the actual tune, but as Tabby is so rock and so for real we're sure he wouldn't be miming. Ahem. He also did Bon Jovi's Living on a Prayer and was as desperately bad as you'd expect.

Alas, though, the voting public didn't see it our way, but they did show some sense as they gave Rowetta the boot, having finally tired of her bellowy singing and her "Ey! I'm a bit mad and northern, me, but I've got no control of my emotions" personality. This week she did her usual vaguely tuneful shouting through River Deep Mountain High, but did manage to show a bit of restraint during her version of When You Tell me That You Love Me, imbuing it with a delicateness of touch which reminded you why she was in the contest in the first place. Still, we're not exactly sad to see her go.

As for the other acts, Jonathon from G4 was apparently struggling with a strained vocal chord, although it wasn't noticeable in the performance. While some acts on the show have made noticeable attempts to try and cash in on certain sectors of the public - going for the gay vote, the housewife vote, the teeny vote, etc - G4 took the brave step of trying to cash in on the hitherto untapped Scouse voting market, doing a version of You'll Never Walk Alone as their first song. For their second they did Queen's Somebody to Love which was absolutely fantastic and reminded us why we loved them so much when we first saw their audition.

Steve once again showed us that his sights are very much set on the lucrative mid-priced CD's for the middle aged housewife market, failing to arouse any sort of emotion, positive or negative, whatsoever during his renditions of If I Could Turn Back the Hands of Time and I Get The Sweetest Feeling. Judging by his facial expression during the latter, he was having some problems hearing the backing track, either that or he genuinely was caught in the headlights of a car speeding towards him.

It's the Semi-Final next week and then, on the 11th December, the excitement of the final. Can you wait? We know we can't, mainly because we're looking forward to not feeling obliged to watch it every week.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Slash! Aah-Aaaah! 

Wow! Last week's tale of dirty dealings with Harry McFly and Shaggy was so hot that this week we've had to go to the other extreme with this little erotic exposition that we like to call A Touch of Frost...

It's the 16th of July in the year 2000 and the nation is in turmoil. Everyone had had such high hopes for the new Millennium but now, in the cold - actually warm, but don't spoil the flow - light of summer, only disappointment reigned. Where were the monorails? What happened to all our food being available in pill form? The expected roll out of 3D holographic TV sets failed to materialise and in every wardrobe throughout the land a silversuit hangs, moth eaten and dejected, still awaiting it's moment in the spotlight. In a small shabby council flat, somewhere in Liverpool, it's about to get a lot more disappointing for one young lady...

"Mam! Mam!", shouts a girl's voice, "They're about to start doing the chart!"

"OK, Jenny, calm down, I'm coming", comes a voice from the kitchen, "I'm just pouring you a glass of orange juice"

"Thanks Mam!", said Jenny Frost, for it was she, who was sitting in the living room, cuddling a cushion and listening eagerly as Mark Goodier began the important job of telling the nation exactly what they'd bought that week. As her mum came through, sat down next to her and handed her a glass of orange flavoured Hooch, Jenny smiled, and clutched her hand. "We're gonna be number one this week, I can feel it!", she squealed.

Jenny's mum had already seen the midweeks and was less convinced. She knew that, despite Precious being selected to represent Britain in Eurovision, the public never really took to their brand of girl pop and that the number 6 position for Swear It Again in 1999 was likely to be the peak of their career. Being a mum, though, and therefore being duty, morally and, indeed, legally bound to offer support to her kids and not shatter any of their dreams no matter now futile they may be, she didn't tell her this, but instead squeezed her daughter's hand and said "We'll see hon, it's all down to Mark Goodier now, but no matter where it goes I'll be proud of you".

Jenny clapped her hands excitedly as the Hooch began to go to her head and Mark began to get closer to the top position. Unfortunately though, he was still miles away from it when he made the announcement Jenny was waiting for; "And it's a brand new entry for Precious at...", he paused, Jenny leaned closer to the speaker, desperate to hear the position, seemingly unable to work out that because he'd just played the song at number 28 she must be at number 27. Her mum grimaced, preparing for a flood of tears and the need to give a reassuring hug. The lodger swore under his breath unaware that a phone-call later on that evening would be life changing, but as he will play no further part in this tale, we too will remain ignorant of that event. Mark Goodier, having paused for just long enough to let those events unfold, unleashed his bombshell, "27, with It's Gonna Be My Way".

There was silence. The only sound that could be heard was that of a clock ticking, Mark having decided that 3 minutes of dead air was preferable to playing the Precious track. Suddenly, Jenny let out a cry, the information about her chart placing having finally managed to make it's way from her inner ear to her brain. "MAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAM!", she sobbed, "It's not fair!".

"There, there", said the mother, in a mothering kind of way, "It's OK"

"But I wanted to be a popstar!", she cried.

"And you were, maybe the next single will do better, what's it called? New Beginning?"

"Yeah, Mam, that's right, but it's rubbish!", she said as tears streaked her cheeks, "It's got number 50 written all over it. Look!". She brandished a promo copy of said single and it did indeed have the phrase "Number 50 with a Bullet" scrawled all over the cover in black marker pen. "It's no good Mam! I'm a failure", and this sent her off into fresh paroxysms of sobs.

"Well, it's not so bad, it's not like your life is over. I'm sure Uncle Bobby will still be able to get you a job at the local Asda, that'd be fun, wouldn't it? You'd get to work on the tills and they give you your own uniform and everything. You'd like that, wouldn't you?"

Judging by the anguished wails that came from Jenny's side of the sofa, however, it seemed very definite that she wouldn't.

While Jenny made a fist of pure emotion to disguise her head of shattered dreams, Mark Goodier was not allowing all this drama to distract him from the job at hand. Indeed, it seemed he was getting through the top 40 in record time, having counted down all the records between 26 and 11 in the time it took for Jenny and her mum to have that brief conversation. By the time Jenny had refocused her attention on the radio, Mark was cheerfully announcing, with little regard to her feelings, that Atomic Kitten had just achieved their third top ten hit with the mighty I Want Your Love, which just set her off again.

"Look Mam! They're successful, why couldn't I have joined them instead of being seduced by the bright lights of Eurovision? I could have been a star instead of that thick girl with the big boobs, what's she got that I haven't?"

"The only difference is that she's got bigger breasts", her mum mumbled under her breath.

"What was that?", asked Jenny, suspiciously.

"I mean...", she sighed, perhaps honesty was the best policy after all, "I just think that maybe you're not really cut out for the girl band life."

"Why not?!", shouted Jenny, "It's all I've ever dreamed off, I didn't skive off school to practice dance routines and learn how to give inane answers in interviews for nothing, you know!"

"Yes but, honey.. and I'm only saying this because I love you, it's just that your voice is a bit rubbish and you're not exactly the prettiest girl in the world. No amount of make-up is going to hide your blokish chin."

"But, Mam..." began Jenny.

"No buts, young lady. The sooner you accept you look like a half-way convincing transvestite the better, now come on, get your coat on and we'll go and ask Uncle Bobby about that job. Let's strike while the iron's hot."

"No mam!", said Jenny, defiant. "I will get my coat, but I'm not going to Uncle Bobby's. Not now, not ever. I'm going to go out and I'm gonna be a star and I'll show you. I'll have a massive career singing mid-tempo ballads and everyone will, if not love me, then at least vaguely torelate my presence, so there!" and with that, she grabbed her jacket and stormed out of the house, slamming the door behind her, and going to the only place where she knew she'd get help and support.

"Uncle Bobby, I've left home, can I sleep here?"

* * * * *

It was now December and Jenny was standing outside of the offices of Atomic Kitten's record company. Precious' last single had, as predicted, failed to make the top 40, and any promise of having a long term career with them had died at the same time, but Jenny wasn't about to give up hope, she had the blind optimism of only the truly stupid. She had an inability to comprehend what was going on in front of her nose and a complete refusal to accept the facts, but, more than that, she also had a plan. She'd heard rumours that Kerry was wanting out of the band due to pregnancy and she was going to take over. No-one said it was a good plan, but it was hers, and she was goint to see it through, which was why she now found herself shivering outside an anonymous office on an industrial estate in Liverpool, trying to work out what her next move should be.

Despite the fact it was winter, and therefore pretty chilly, Jenny was shivering a lot more than any other Liverpudlian resident. This was because, even though the wind was whistling and the snow was swirling, Jenny was dressed in a denim microskirt and a pink strappy croptop and was leaving little to the imagination. There was method in her madness though, and it wasn't just that she had a back-up plan of forming the world's first all Smurf girl band - which, to be fair, she did - but after the argument with her mother she'd taken a long hard look at herself in the mirror and was forced to admit that, yes, her features were a bit mannish and there was only so much she could do with creative use of hairspray. Realising that this would ultimately be a bit of a problem in joining a young, sexy, attractive girlband or, slightly more relevantly, Atomic Kitten, she decided that she needed to make sure that people would be unlikely to ever be looking at her face, hence the outfit.

Suddenly, her phone beeped, it was a text message from the Smash Hits Pop News service: "Kerry has left Atomic Kitten, replacement to be announced shortly". As the five pound that she was charged for each message was debited from her bank account, Jenny smiled, it was action stations. Sure enough, a pregnant blonde girl left the building with a glow that was either that of the traditional pregnant woman or was caused by the burning anger of being sacked from a girl band for the crime of having got yourself up the duff. No matter, though, this was Jenny's moment, and she barged through the doors and went up to the security guard.

"Hi", she said in a sultry voice, "I need to go to the meeting where they decide who the new Atomic Kitten will be." She ran a finger down his shirt. "I could make it worth your while." She purred.

"OK, it's up the stairs, second door on your left. Have fun", said the guard as he stepped aside to let her pass.

"Oh, ummm, OK", said Jenny, surprised, "Don't you want to have sex with me first?"

"No, not really", came the cheerful reply, "You look a bit too mannish for my liking and I'm worried about what equipment might be in your knickers. You just go right ahead. Good luck!". He doffed his cap as Jenny went up the stairs, muttering to herself, with only occasional words audible such as "supposedly erotic", "all bloody set-up so far" and "I may be a fictional recreation, but I still want to get my end away", which is, admittedly, clearly audible full sentences, rather than muttering, but what are you going to do?

At the door of the meeting room stood another security guard. He was taller, more muscled, more imposing and carried a dubiously shaped weapon in his hand which seemed to have been more likely to have been purchased from Ann Summers, rather than a more traditional truncheon emporium. Now this, thought Jenny, alongside most of the readership, had better lead to some action, as she whipped her top off and made similar pleadings to before about being allowed in and what she might do in return.

The guard looked her up and down, she was still blue from the cold. "You know what, I've always wanted to shag a Smurf. I'll do it if you promise to call me Gargamel."

Jenny shrugged, she didn't seem to have much choice. "Sure, Gargamel", she agreed and followed him to his office where he removed his uniform and pulled on a pair of bright red boots and a purple tunic.

"Shall we have some pseudo smurf sex then?", he asked.

She looked at her watch, "OK, but make it quick, I don't want them making their decision without me."

They had some pseudo smurf sex.

"Oh, Smurfette", said 'Gargamel'

"Oh, Gargamel", said 'Smurfette'

They finished up and Jenny quickly dressed and moved towards the office.

"Don't you want your knickers?", said the guard, noticing them discarded on a lampshade.

"No need", said Jenny, as she tugged her skirt down, before having a second thought and hiking it back up again. "How do I look?"

"Like a little slut", said the guard.

"Perfect!" smiled Jenny, "Now let me into that meeting."

"Certainly." The guard led her back to the room and opened the door. "Hey guys", he said to the threesome in the room, "Got a slapper here who'd like to try out for the band, is that OK?"

"Sure", said a male voice from within. "Send her in".

Jenny entered the room, sitting around an oval table where three people who quite usefully all introduced themselves, one at a time.

"Hi! I'm Liz McClarnon, I'm in the band", said one.

"Hi! I'm Natasha Hamilton, I'm in the band, as well", said another.

"And Hi! I'm Andy McCluskey from OMD, the Liverpool-based synthisizer band who had numerous international hits, including Maid of Orleans, which was Germany's biggest seller in 1982"

"Hi everyone!", Jenny smiled at them, "I'm Jenny Frost, I wanna join the band"

Andy looked her up and down. "Well, I dunno, I've heard your work in Precious and I wasn't that impressed, so I'm tempted to say no.". Jenny looked downcast. "On the other hand,", he continued, "you are wearing a very short skirt, so... you're in! On one condition..."

"What's that", said Jenny, nervously.

"That you'll be happy singing dull, mid-tempo ballads and only ever being tolerated, rather than being loved.", said Andy, solemnly.

"That's my dream!" gasped Jenny.

"Then you're on board, then.", said Andy, "Hooray! Welcome to the band. Now, how about we celebrate by me doing all of you right now, slowly, on this table?"

"Sure!", said the girls, enthusiastically.

Andy did all of them right then, slowly, on the table.

"Oooh", went Jenny.

"Aaah", went Natasha.

"Eee", went Liz

"Oh, Andy", sighed Jenny, "You can have my hole again"

"You know what", said Andy, mid-thrust, "That's just given me an idea..."

The End

Friday, November 26, 2004

Thoughts of the Pops 

It's Friday. If we were comedy New Zealand popstar Daniel Bedingfield we'd be all over excited because our girlfriend was coming back today from some place, possibly San Jose. Of course, it's a good thing we're not as not only would we be considered to be a talented, but annoying, arse, we'd also be having some thoughts regarding our new sister that could only be described as dubious. As it is, we're not, those thoughts are no longer dubious, merely unpleasant, and instead we watched Top of the Pops. Here's what we learnt:-

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Reject Rejects Tour 

For a show which we profess to dislike, we seem unable to actually stop ourselves writing about it every other day, which is why we bring you further X Factor based news, this time regarding the tour. It seems that Verity, of weepy housewife with an OK voice 'fame', is thinking about boycotting this. She's in a bit of a strop as she feels that she was unfairly treated on the show and is a bit miffed because Simon refused to give her a record contract on the not unreasonable basis that no-one would actually buy her records. Those of us with a vague grounding in reality would, if in a similar situation, no doubt go "Ah well, fair enough, I am a bit rubbish when you get down to it, but at least the tour'll be a bit of a laugh", but not Verity, who seems to genuinely believe she's some sort of star in waiting, and so is threatening to pull out, somehow believing that people would actually care.

Naturally, the show's producers are desperate to get her back on board, presumably realising that without her on the line-up they risk losing one ninth of the potential audience for the gig - that of her family and friends.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Simon Says... Botherd? 

Failing to realise that interest in X Factor is so low that even the winning act is likely to struggle to find it's way to the number one spot, a group of rejects from the audition stages have decided to have a stab at the novelty market by releasing a Christmas single.

Sweet Revenge, as they're oh, so amusingly calling themselves, are lead by Simon Cowl who achieved his five seconds of fame on the show by virtue of the fact that his local newspaper, presumably being unable to find any pet owner that had misplaced their dog, ran a story about how it would be Simon Cowl meeting Simon Cowell, do you see what they did? Their names are almost the same. Hilarious! He will be joined by twins Laura and Sarah Shirley, Juliet Sharp and Josh McGuire, none of whose names ring any bells with us, though we are reliably informed that Josh was the guy who turned up in full make-up and then got a bit miffed because he was told he'd make a good drag queen.

The song which they're performing for the entertainment of no-one other than their own immediate families, is a cover of Simon Says, with new lyrics mocking Simon for being a bit absurd and comes with it's own dance routine. This is presumably intended to show Simon what a fool he is for letting them go, but as a crappy novelty single by a bunch of no marks which'll be lucky to sell more than a dozen copies is unlikely to do anything than show him exactly how right he was, we're not sure they're firing their arrow in the right direction.

Sweet Revenge - Simon Says will be available in car boot sales up and down the country for 50p, or thrown in for free with a bulk purchase of buckets.

Monday, November 22, 2004

They'll Stand By Two 

Right next to it, in fact, as Girls Aloud have finally managed to get a second number one. It's just a shame that it's for the worst single they've released so far - and hopefully ever, as we dread to think what something worse than that would sound like, although their cover of Celebration on Children in Need would probably come close.

While the top 40 may have given them some treats, the Smash Hits Poll Winners Party failed to give them anything, mainly because it didn't seem like they were actually nominated for any prizes, which seemed a bit unlikely. Cheryl was representing for the Most Fanciable Female category, but it ended up going to Rachel Stevens, who also won Best Dressed Popstar and found herself nominated for Star of the Year, which is a bit like nominating a brick for Best Kettle at the Kitchenware and Related Appliances Pollwinners Party, but she was beaten by McFly, who seemed to take most of the prizes and performed twice. They were also quite, quite poor. Twice.

Busted managed to get a few gongs as well, including the highly desirable Best Ringtone prize, while Nat Bedingfield got best female and looked incredibly pretty. Sigh. The Darkness got best rock and did a 'hilarious' speech involving all sorts of innuendos for an erect penis, although they could probably have saved some time and just pointed to Justin to make exactly the same joke, while Usher got best R&B and something else, though to be honest we didn't really care. Cassie and Tabby from X Factor got to present an award to Kylie, presumably so that they could briefly get a taste of being on a big stage so that they won't feel too disappointed when the X Factor tour gets cancelled due to lack of interest.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Cassie Go 

Last night Sharon's golden boy and apparent clone, Tabby, found himself taking one of the places in the bottom two which, given that he's considered to be one of the favourites, no doubt came as a shock to the nation or, at the very least, the small - and constantly shrinking - percentage of the nation that still gives a rat's ass about the show. It certainly came as a shock to us as, based on the evening's performances, we'd happily expected Rowetta and Cassie to be in the bottom two, even going so far as to do a first draft of this introductory paragraph based on that very fact.

As it turned out, the version that we half wrote turned out to be half right, as Cassie did find herself in the bottom two, leaving Sharon to fill Louis' shoes and be in the position of deciding between two of her acts. Except for the fact that she didn't. Acting in the sort of professional and decorous manner that you'd expect from her, she promptly threw her toys out of the pram and refused to pick between them. As it was, it didn't matter as both Louis and Simon decided to say bye bye to the young girl who may, as Sharon never seemed to tire of telling us, have had a big voice, but ultimately she had no personality to speak of, unless you count looking a bit like Charlotte Church as a personality. And we don't.

Was it a fair decision? Well, yes. This week Cassie was given All By Myself to perform, a song which, as Simon correctly pointed out, is traditionally sung by recently separated middle-aged housewives in dodgy kareoke bars up and down the country, not by a 17 year old girl and while you can argue, not hugely successfully admittedly, but it didn't stop Sharon trying, that emotion is the same no matter what age you are, you can't really justify a teenager singing a song which starts with the line "When I was young...", unless said line is followed up by references to rag-dolls, lollipops or pet hamsters. Even ignoring the song choice, the performance left a lot to be desired. Presumably she was trying to do a sexily husky voice, but simply ended up sounding like a drag queen, and a not very good drag queen at that. She also seemed to be so satisfied at hitting the high note towards the end that she promptly forgot about the melody for the rest of the song and only managed to do something vaguely approximating the tune.

Not that her team mate and rival Tabby was anything earth shatteringly brilliant, he wasn't bad, but we fail to see why people are getting all excited about him. Yes, his version of Sweet Child of Mine was a flawless recreation of a late eighties rock classic, but this is 2004, we already have one Justin Hawkins and that, quite frankly, is already one too many. We'd also like to point out that flashing up pictures of his son towards the end of the song is one of the most cynical things we've ever seen and we'd like to think that his position in the bottom two was as a result of a backlash towards this.

As for the rest? Meh. When the show started the continuity announcer happily told us that the pressure was increasing for the acts and for the judges, but failed to mention that interest was rapidly waning for the viewer. Louis' final remaining act, G4, did My Way, starting off acapella, which was quite frankly horrendous, before the backing music came in and it started to sound quite good, though you are left with the feeling that this may have pulled out their trump card a bit early. As for Simon's acts, Steve, who's VT segment was based around an incredibly laboured Charlie's Angel schtick, did Let's Stay Together and seems to be turning more and more into a stubbly Will Young with each passing week, while Rowetta did her usual bellowing through Sometimes from West Side Story. We prefer the Pet Shop Boys version.

At the end, Kate Thornton, who was back to looking lovely in a deep reddy,browny dress, excitedly informed us that it's all change from next week, let's hope that this means it's actually going to start getting good.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Slash! Aah-Aaaah! 

You may have thought that we'd shot our bolt with last week's sexually charged tale of Antipodean antics, but this week we're turning the thermostat up a notch with this little number that we're calling When Harry Met Shaggy...

It was a cold evening in London town, and all right-thinking folk were inside huddled up next to their radiators, savouring the warmth that artificial heat brings. Harry, from out of McFly, however, was not a right thinking guy. His mind was troubled and so his wandering feet hadn't taken him to the sanctuary of home, but to a small seedy cafe in a dark side street where he sat toying with a cup of coffee as he tussled mentally with the problem that was disturbing him.

As his mind struggled to find a solution to the stickler that stressed him so, he lost awareness of his surroundings. He was suddenly jerked back to reality with a start when he realised there was a tall back stranger now sitting opposite, nodding and smiling at him with an odd look on his face. "Who are you stranger?", asked Harry.

"They call me Mr Boombastic, say me fantastic, touch me in me back they say I'm Ro... Ro... mantic" said the stranger, in a Jamaican accent.

"That's a bit of a mouthful", said Harry, with scant regard for the innuendo laden possibilities of what he'd just said. Our stranger, on the other hand, was more than aware of it and smirked before replying "Or Shaggy for short.". In a Jamaican accent.

"Not the Shaggy, real name Orville Burrell who was born on the 22nd October 1968 and has had more UK and US number ones than any other West Indian born artist?" asked Harry, incredulously.

"Jah, Dat be me", replied Shaggy in a quite frankly offensive Jamaican accent, even more so than the Australian accent which Gina G and Kylie were labouring under last week", "You look vexed brother", he continued, still in a Jamaican accent, "What be the problem?".

Harry sighed, wondering if he could confide in this tall, dark, manly, well-muscled and undeniably handsome stranger, but figured what the hell, if you can't spill out your secrets to a stranger you've met in a seedy cafe, who can you spill them out to? He took a deep breath and began to explain his perplexing predicament.

"It's this, I'm in a band called McFly and we play our own instruments and everything, because we're not manufactured at all, or riding on Busted's coat tails, or anything like that, oh no. Anyway, we're so for real that we never want to mime, preferring instead to sing live in quite annoying whiny voices, but we're appearing on Top of the Pops next week and they've insisted that we mime to make the recording - and the watching - of the show easier. I don't know what to do." he said, whinily, making the point quite clear.

"Babylon, dat not be a big problem", replied Shaggy, in a Jamaican accent, prompting a million angry e-mails to the Commission for Racial Equality, "You just be doing the miming. We all do it and no-one ever knows, to be sure."

"Really? But you've never done it, have you? You've never... faked it?", said Harry, feeling slightly suspicious, not only because he could never believe that Shaggy of all people would mime, but also because his accent seemed to be turning more and more Irish as the conversation went on.

"Of course I do, begorrah", said Shaggy in an accent that was no longer Jamaican, but was simply vaguely foreign sounding.

"I'd never be fooled", said Harry.

"I'll prove it", and with that he bounced over to the jukebox in the corner, which had escaped being mentioned until now, but then, as the entire interior of the cafe has failed to be described, this cannot specifically be considered to be an oversight. He put 20p into it and made a selection.

The other patrons in the cafe looked up with astonishment as Shaggy suddenly burst into a rendition of his number 5 hit, In the Summertime, a cover of the Mungo Jerry classic. To Harry's amazement they all thought they were being treated to a live performance of the song. Some customers even began looking around to try and discover where the live band might be hidden, one even trusting more to optimism than good sense by looking inside the salt cellar. "Raggamuffin!" yelled the Levi's advert soundtracking hitmaker as the song came to a close and the impromptu audience burst into a spontaneous round of applause. At the table next to them a young black haired girl who some would recognise as Ashlee Simpson was heard to mutter "I'll have what he's having", which is vaguely satirical, albeit hugely out of date.

Leading the applause was our protagonist, Harry, "Wow! That was amazing, I'd never have known you weren't actually singing".

"Jah man, I be bonza, you mongerel", said Shaggy, in an accent that could now only be described as confused.

Harry still didn't look satisfied though, "But what happens if someone comes up to you afterwards and accuses you of miming?" he asked in a way that, if this were fictional, rather than a true account of events that the writer witnessed,, could only be described as a contrived set-up.

"Easy!", said Shaggy with a smile on his face, "You just say 'It wasn't me'. It's up to you if you do it in a Jamaican accent or not, though.". He paused. "Babylon", he added, half-heartedly.

"But what if they cornered me at the counter?"

"It wasn't me."

"Or if rather than playing the drums, I'd been banging on a sofa instead?"

"It wasn't me."

"Or if I was singing in the shower, where electrical microphones would clearly be a health hazard?"

"It wasn't me.". Shaggy was clearly beginning to get a bit irritated by the young drummer's failure to grasp what is ultimately a quite simple concept. In a Jamaican accent.

"Even if I was caught on camera missing a cue?"

"Godammit yes! Just say 'it wasn't me', right? How many times do I have to say this? Jesus, or Jah, or whatever it is I'm supposed to say", exploded Shaggy.

"OK, OK, calm down", said Harry, quite perturbed by his new friend's anger, "I'll give it a shot, but I'm not sure I'd ever hire you as a defence lawyer.".

"Good", said Shaggy, "Now, now that we've got all that out of the way, would you like to go to the toilets and have some bum sex?"

Harry looked at his watch. He had time. "Sure, why not."

They went to the toilets to have some bum sex.

"Ooh!", went Harry.

"Aah!", weny Shaggy.

"Oh, Carolina!" went Harry, in a Jamaican accent.

The End

Friday, November 19, 2004

Thoughts of the Pops 

Because of the BBC's annual guilt-a-thon and opportunity for newsreaders to dress up as ladies, Children in Need, Top of the Pops found itself demoted to BBC2 this week. They decided to take advantage of their lower profile by putting out what is quite easily the dullest show we've sat through in a long time. Not only was egotistical fuckwit Chris Moyles co-hosting, but we had a line-up that included Lost Prophets aka the Busted it's OK to hate, Blue, Usher and Alicia Keys doing their godawful duet and Maroon 5 with their comedy Jamiroquai kareoke stylings. The highlight, as far as the producers were no doubt concerned, was that they had Eminem who performed Just Lose It on a boat. There was no reason for this as far as we can see, other than to distract attention from the fact that it was a performance with all the edge and excitement of a uniformly grey sphere, but still, it was on a boat and you don't see that everyday. Unless you're a sailor with an Eminem live DVD that is.

U2 were at number one. How depressing, yet strangely appropriate.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Girls Aloud in Heat 

The magazine that is, although as the article does cover their dating habits, the other interpretation is valid. We quickly skimmed over the part where Nicola happily mentioned that she's still very much in love with her boyfriend Carl and has been for three years - we don't want to read stuff like that - but if you do fancy your chances with one of the members, Sarah and Nadine seem to be your best bet. Be warned, though, if you do end up with Nadine and find that the relationship goes so well that marriage ends up on the cards, you might find yourself pushed to the background in your wedding photos and obviously she'll say your vows herself. She'd also probably be one of the few people to ever turn up at the Church in a wedding mini-dress.

There's not a great deal of revelations in the piece, although there two moments of Miss Roberts related brilliance which made us go "Awww, bless". One being where she revealed that she buys cosmetic products on the basis of whether the packaging matches her bathroom decor or not, and the other when she confused a sofa with a toilet, declaring that in her and Cheryl's flat, they have an en suite that goes all the way around the room.

While the interview may not be of earth-shattering brilliance - it is Heat, what do you expect? - it's probably worth getting hold of for the very lovely photo which accompanies it, featuring the girls in a locker room in pseudo-cheerleading style outfits, reminiscent of an old Spice Girls photoshoot. It also reveals that while our favourite flame-haired maiden still hasn't returned to actually being flame-haired, she has returned to the side ponytail look, albeit in a looser, more laid back version, which can only be a good thing.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Voices With Soul... Fries With That 

So, once again Mr Louis Walsh was put in the unenviable position of having to choose between two of his acts, with both G4 and Voices With Soul failing to get the public rushing towards their telephones. When Kate Thornton announced this, rather than face her asinine line of questioning, Voices With Soul simply walked off the set, presumably in disgust at their treatment as they've been in this position often enough to know how this part of the show works. Their disgust, however, was unwarranted as they fully deserved to be in the bottom two, as their rendition of Lady Marmalade was roughly on a par with a trio of drunk, middle-aged woman doing Kareoke on a hen night. G4 didn't fair much better with their original performance of Circle of Life; over singing it with little regard to the melody line. Fortunately they vastly improved in time for their second rendition so, ultimately, it was quite fair that Voices With Soul were given the boot.

Elsewhere there was little to get excited about, we weren't even too impressed with Kate's dress this week, mainly because it did little for her chest. In terms of the acts, which we suppose is what we should be concentrating on, rather than the presenter's cleavage, Simon got Rowetta to bellow her way through Donna Summer's version of MacArthur Park, a song which Sharon genuinely thought was about a cake, presumably never having heard of the concept of metaphor, while Steve did Help Me Through The Night which may or may not have been good. We got bored at this point and started checking the news on teletext. Sharon's artists weren't much better, with Tabby wearing one of Avril Lavigne's old outfits to do Aerosmith's I Don't Want to Miss a Thing, a terrible version of a terrible song. Cassie, on the other hand, didn't do too badly with Mariah Carey's Hero, though we were more taken with her stylish white jacket/black trousers combo, which leads us to believe that even if the music industry fails her, there'll always be work availiable for her as a Freemans catalogue model.

Find the Answer Within 

Jealous congratulations must go out to slight Franz Ferdinand fan, regular commenter on these very pages and all round ace girl, Bridgey, who today, alongside The Portland Lighthouse, received the ultimate honour of being a wrong answer for the phone-in competition on Popworld. This more than made up for the fact that when we woke up and turned on our telly we were greeted with the site of the eminently punchable Jamie Cullum being interviewed and attempting to be funny, which is not a good way to start the day.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Thoughts of the Pops 

It's Friday! If we were Rick Witter out of indie also-rans Shed 7, we might be a bit miffed as today our girlfriend would leave us and ruin our weekend. We'd also have the honour of being an example of rhyming slang, but at least we'd be safe in the knowledge that we did at least one good thing in our life - Disco Down. We're not Rick Witter, so instead we settled down to watch Top of the Pops. Here's what we learnt:-

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Whole. Again. 

Do you know that bit at the end of horror films, just after the evil monster has been destroyed and the hero of the piece is walking away, tired and bloody, but with the satisfaction of knowing that the creature will never again return to haunt the earth, where the camera cuts to a different angle and reveals that, in actual fact, the monster isn't quite dead after all and could well return if the circumstances - such as the prospect of making quite a bit of cash from a shoddily written sequel - are right? Well, that's exactly how we feel right now with the news that the hideous three-headed she-beast that is Atomic Kitten are about to return, despite the fact that they supposedly split up at the start of the year.

Now, to be fair to them, which we rarely are, they never actually said they were splitting up, they only said they were taking a break, but even so, we're sure that this comeback has nothing to do with the fact that interest in their solo careers was roughly equivalent to that for a revival of the black death. Of course, they haven't actually gone to the trouble of doing a new song for this exercise in finding out whether the public still care, instead releasing Cradle, a song from their debut album. It's for charity and is, surprise, surprise, a ballad. The moral question of whether it's right for the charity to accept money from such a source isn't one that we're going to attempt to answer, but we can certainly think of an easier and cheaper way to end a lot of suffering in this world. After all, it doesn't cost much to buy a gun and three bullets, does it?

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Slash! Ah-Aaaah 

During your time on the internet, some of you may well have stumbled upon the concept of Slash Fiction. Officially this is supposed to be erotic fiction involving popstars (and various other famous types), but in actuality it's the hormonal ramblings of over-excitable teenagers who have about as much grasp of sexual tension as they do of the fundamentals of grammar and punctuation. Realising that sex sells, we've decided to offer up our own contributions to this disturbing and quite frankly wrong form of fiction in our new feature which we've yet to think of an original title for. First up involves Kylie Minogue and Gina G in a tale we like to call Going Down Under...

It's 1996 and Gina G has just arrived at the Top of the Pops studio on a cold and rainy night in November, ready to entertain the nation with a performance of her number 6 smash, I Belong to You. Despite this, she was not in a good mood. Even though she was riding a wave of success after her Eurovision performance, she was living in fear of it crashing down on the beach and leaving her coughing up water and struggling like a beached whale. Not that she looked like a whale, she thought, remembering how the nation loved her in the white lacy dress she was famed for. She looked down ruefully at the dress she'd carefully chosen for tonight's performance. It was soaked, the rain sodden material clinging to her curves like a lovers embrace. If her lover was made out of silk and was a dress, that is, and even that would have been more than she was getting right now. "Why am I so lonely", she whispered to herself as a tear rolled down her cheek, unnoticable amongst the raindrops.

But this was no time for moping! She had a show to do and she didn't get where she was today by cracking up under the tragedy of isolation and the fear of never feeling loved again. That time would come later, when she needed to be relaunched as a depressed torch singer once she reached her sixties, but for now she was a popstar and popstars, like big boys and people who are lachrymose intolerant, don't cry. With a forced confidence she strode into the building with her head held high and her hair well drenched.

Waiting for at the reception was one of tonight's guest hosts, Paul Whitehouse from the Fast Show, who looked her up and down. "Blimey, love", said the ex-painter and decorator and man who, despite having worked with Harry Enfield for many years, has somehow resisted punching him, "You need to dry off. You look bloody knackered as well!". Gina just stormed past without even acknowledging him. How could she explain to him about her restless nights, unable to sleep for fear of having that dream again. The one where she finds herself appearing on a Saturday night TV talent show alongside Dollar and the bloke from Go West. No-one could understand the humiliation which such a nightmare caused. No-one. Yet no matter what she did, her subconscious mind would always return to it, waking her up with a start as Sonia's grinning - yet strangely 2D face - leered at her with evil, malicious eyes. No, Paul wouldn't understand, he couldn't, so she just sped to her dressing room where she'd be safe from the questions. As she breezed past him, Paul didn't know what to say, so he just said "Chris Waddle", as he always did, clutching for a catchphrase instead of thinking of something funny to say.

Safe inside her dressing room, Gina closed the door and looked around. It was a typical TotP performers room. A dressing table, on one side of the room, a table on the other with some various food-stuffs on and, in the far corner, hidden under a cloth, a selection of sex-toys, in case the artist gets bored while waiting to be called. Gina ignored all of that and dealt first with the task in hand and slowly, sensuously, sexily, and alliteratively took off her wet dress and hung it up to dry. Shivering slightly in her bra and panties, she took them off as well, and then bent down to turn on the three bar heater which had somehow escaped being mentioned earlier. Suddenly there was a knock at the door. She froze. Who could it be? She wasn't expecting anyone and her stage call wasn't for a good thirty minutes yet. There was only one way to deal with an unexpected interruption like this, and that was to deal with it as a professional, as an artist and, above all, as an Australian.

"Rack off mongerel! I'm in the nuddy here!" she shouted, in an Australian accent.

"It's alright!", came a feminine voice from the other side of the door in an Australian accent, "It's me, your bonza bud Kylie, come to say G'day!"

Kylie! Gina's heart skipped a beat, she was a massive fan and had all of her singles, except for Some Kind of Bliss, as that hadn't been released yet. She even had Keep on Pumping It, credited to Kylie and Keith Washington which only managed to stumble to number 49 in the charts. She ran to the door, forgetting about her nakedness and opened it wide to let the diminutive popstar and Michael Hutchence lover in.

"G'Day", said Kylie, in an Australian accent, who was also naked, "I see you got caught in that rainstorm as well, I got bored waiting for my stuff to dry so I thought I'd come and yabber with you"

"Come in, come in", said Gina, in an Australian accent, "But what are you doing at the Top of the Pops studio, your last hit was in October 95 when you duetted with Nick Cave and you won't have another until the aforementioned Some Kind of Bliss at the tail end of 1997?"

Kylie was silent for a moment as this plot hole was pointed out to her, but she recovered her composure quickly. "You're dripping wet, I see", she said in an Australian accent, "Do you fancy some lesbian sex?"

Gina looked at her watch. She had time. "Sure, why not?" She said in an Australian accent.

They had some lesbian sex.

"Ooh!", gasped Gina G.

"Aah!", gasped Kylie.

"Just a little bit!", gasped Gina G.

"A little bit more!", gasped Kylie.

All in an Australian accent.

They finished having some lesbian sex. As Kylie left the room with a knowing wink, Gina smiled to herself as she thought about how Kylie had known what she was looking for. It was a love that she just couldn't ignore and, as she dressed and went to the stage to perform, she mimed her words with a brand new conviction. "I belong to you", she mouthed towards Kylie - who had tickets to be in the audience for tonight's show, thus clearing that little plot-hole up - and that night, she did. She really did.

Phew! Hot stuff, huh? If you have any popstar couplings you'd like to see us slash, preferably those who are unlikely to sue, then feel free to mail us with your suggestions.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004


Here's the new Girls Aloud album sleeve...

Sorry, our mistake. This is the new sleeve...

Oh, OK. This really is the new sleeve...

We're not too impressed. On the plus side we like the way that Nicola is looking up at the title, but does anyone else think it looks like the money ran out half way through the design process?

Monday, November 08, 2004

Chart Attack Redux 

After a long period where the charts were as dull as a Westlife album sleeve, the top 40 got a bit exciting this week as all the big names - and Wet Wet Wet - decided to release their new singles and have a big old barney as they fought their way to the top spot. The first to pull themselves out of the mess of flailing limbs and stand victorious on the pile of hopeless losers was Eminem who has returned, as he always seems to do, with a 'controversial' - and seemingly meta, what with the amount of self-referencing that goes on in it - new single, Just Lose It. To be honest, we're hard pressed to really see in what way having a bit of a dig at Michael Jackson can be considered to be pushing back the boundaries of acceptable public comment, especially as it includes a cutting-edge dig at the Pepsi hair-on-fire incident; something that happened in 1984.

Destiny's Child are up next, claiming silver with Lose My Breath which is superior to the Eminem track in every possible sense, unless your definition of quality begins and ends with the phrase "Rehashing past glories". Britney hit the number 3 spot with her own rehash of past glories, although she decided it'd be more original, or at least quicker, to rehash someone else's past glories instead, which was the same opinion held by Christina Aguilera and Missy Elliot, whose utterly inessential cover of Car Wash can be found at number 4. Finally, we have Usher at number 5, a position he presumably celebrated by buying a t-shirt two sizes too small, which, due to the discomfort, he then removed about 2 minutes into his victory dance.

There's some other stuff in there, but nothing hugely exciting. Wet Wet Wet's comeback proved to be more interesting to the general public than Elton's, with positions of 14 and 20 respectively, while The Strokes where perhaps a little bit miffed that John Peel's death led to their NME cover feature being postponed, which might have something to do with the fact that they've limped into the charts at number 27. Still, no matter what, all these acts can sleep well, safe in the knowledge that they're not George Michael who could only muster a quite frankly pathetic 32 with Round Here. With any luck this lack of success may mean that a Wham! reunion could become more than just the crazy dream of a madman. And Pepsi and Shirley's accountants.

Sunday, November 07, 2004


Here at TiaPL you may have noticed that we're quite fond of Miss Nicola Roberts from popular female vocal group Girls Aloud. Indeed, some have gone so far as to call it a crush, which we take offence at. A crush is a childish, pathetic thing, normally the domain of hormone crazed teenagers. We're far too mature to have a crush. No, what we have is an obsession and we have the restraining orders to prove it.

Anyway, from the moment they burst onto the scene in a mess of futuristic electro-pop fabness that sounded like nothing you'd ever heard before (unless you'd heard Puretone's Addicted to Bass, of course) we always despaired at the lack of attention that Nicola would get. Initially we were convinced that there was a deliberate campaign to keep her out of the public eye. From the lack of solo lines to the limited amount of video time, it seemed that the management just didn't realise what a talent they had in this flame-haired goddess. We still remember cursing vehemently when they appeared on Popworld with Sarah, Nadine, Kimberly and Cheryl all in matching tops while Nicola was wearing what we believe is known in the trade as "Model's own". Why? Because they only bothered sending them four tops and poor Nic had to go without.

At first there was a litany of crimes like this, but recently things seemed to change. She began to get more focus, a chance to sing, proper appearances in the video, she even started appearing in the centre of photographs. It seemed the wheel had turned as they went back to Sound of the Underground and retroactively gave her the "And then it drops and catches like fire" line for live performances. It seemed that finally the rest of the world was catching up with what we'd believed all along, that Nicola truly was the bestest pop star in the world, even if she does seem to be turning more and more monochrome with each passing photoshoot.

The point of this post is, and we do have one, is that with the recent change in her coverage related fortunes, we were quite excited when we received an e-mail from the official GA mailing list encouraging us to vote for I'll Stand By You on a couple of music channels as it contained a number of stills from the video to help the punter realise that it's a quite lovely video and yes, they would like to see it, wouldn't they? Now for something like this, the aim is to pick out a still which simply glows with beauty and has the group looking their stunning best so that anyone who sees it is desperate to see the video in full, even if they have to pay 50p per minute to do so. So, lets have a look at the shot of the five foxy females that they felt would be most likely to make the average fan grab their mobile and make a premium rate phone-call.


2 Have Gone 

Last night 2 To Go lived up to their name and were booted off the show quite unceremoniously, failing to get even the support of their own manager in their face off with Voices With Soul, but then, they're probably better off without it as Louis seemed intent on turning them into a cabaret act - had they got any further, we'd have put good money on feathers beginning to get involved in Emma's costume - and his patronising comments towards Peter - "The poor guy is blind and he can play instruments - really didn't help matters either. Of course, what else didn't help was the fact that their performance wasn't about to set sparks flying and was more likely to encourage people to pick up their remote controls rather than their phones. It was also tempting fate somewhat to perform a song, I've Had the Time of My Life, which would synch up perfectly with a montage of your best moments once you've been kicked off of the show.

Voices With Soul weren't much better, to be fair. Their performance of Bridge Over Troubled Water was distinctly lacking in harmony, although judging by the apparent silkiness, their collection of haircare products certainly wasn't, but they were certainly in a different league to 2 To Go, even if that league is more Vauxhall Conference than First Division.

As for the rest of the show, picking highlights isn't exactly an easy task, though we did think that Kate Thornton was looking very lovely in her red dress. The acts themselves seemed to be performing at a very low level, with only Steve doing a good job with his rendition of Smile. Sharon's Cassie, did Say a Little Prayer with all the heartfelt emotion you'd expect of someone who doesn't have a great deal of life experience while Louis's final act, G4 fell off the tightwalk of talent into the safety pool of novelty with their version of Britney's ...Baby, One More Time. Rowetta bellowed out Somewhere Over The Rainbow with all the subtlety of an angry warthog and Tabby decided to open the show with Addicted to Love performing with all the skill and talent of the singer in a vaguely competent covers band and looking for all the world like he was just about to utter the dread phrase "And now we're going to do one of our own songs". Also, his squealed "I'm addicted!" just before he went into his guitar solo may well rank as one of the most cringeworthy moments on television this year.

The show does seem to be stumbling from strength to kitten-like punyness, turning, as all these kind of shows end up, into a slightly more profitable pub kareoke competition. We're still wanting G4 to win, as they're the only people there doing anything that even vaguely stands out, but even so, our enthusiasm is gradually being sapped by the utter banality of the show, and we don't know how much longer Kate looking pretty is going to hold our attention...