Talent in a Previous Life

Because It's Never Just About the Music

Saturday, February 26, 2005

V, See Come. V, See Go. 

This is getting ridiculous.

Without even allowing enough time for the dust to settle on Pop!'s glamorous corpse, V have seen the split bandwagon racing on by and have leapt onto it after being dropped by their record company. Of course, given that their album sold approximately 6 copies and that their last single, You Stood Up failed to dent the top ten, this news is about as surprising as the fact cats are quite fond of fish, but it's still another sign that traditional pop is being left out in the cold. V were quite happy to be a proper Boy Band; no instruments or half-hearted claims to write their own material for them. No, they were quite happy to dance around with gay abandon, make fools of themselves in their videos and flirt with homo-erotic imagery. They even got under a rain machine on Top of the Pops yet still failed to sell enough records. Now, of course, rather than standing under a rain machine they're more likely to be hanging around their popstar flat, making like one and weeping bitter tears, wondering just what went wrong. We're definitely blaming the public on this one.

So that's 3 bands who have said their goodbyes in the space of a week and the latest in a long list who've given up on the music industry in the two short months of this year. At this rate of splitting by the time summer comes around there will be no more bands in existence and record companies will be forced to make their money by constantly repackaging and re-issuing their back catalogue, something which they're probably quite looking forward to and are certainly well practiced at, but who will be next to find themselves spending their twilight years in a manky pub telling anyone that will listen that they used to be somebody? Let's have a look at the options shall we?

Friday, February 25, 2005

Thoughts of the Pops 

It's Friday! This intro bit was a lot easier to write when we were using song lyrics, you know. Here's what we learnt from this week's Top of the Pops:-

Sorry Seems to be the Most Appropriate Word 

While Busted still haven't got around to announcing what their present for everyone will be - latest news seems to indicate it's going to be in the highly imaginative form of a Greatest Hits album - Blue have been much kinder to their fans since their split and have just announced that their farewell gift will be in the form of, ummm, canceling their goodbye tour. This might not seem like much of a gift right now, but give it a few years and they'll all be very thankful that they don't have to deal with the shame of having been to see Blue play live.

They've cancelled not because it suddenly struck them that calling the tour "The Best of Blue" would leave them being at risk of prosecution for false advertising should they perform any song which isn't Curtain Falls, but because Lee Ryan has realised that he can't sing. Not, alas, in the form of a late-night soul-searching session which culminated in the reassessment of his talents, but in the form of nodules on the throat leading to a doctor advising him to keep his mouth shut for a couple of months. Quite why he's following this advice when it comes from a doctor, given that he's happily ignored it every time their PR person told him to do the same is unclear, but it does seem likely that the medical professional involved will be receiving the "Outstanding Contribution to Music Prize" at next year's Brit Awards. Blue have half-heartedly said that they'll look into rescheduling, but this is quite unlikely as they want to give off the impression that they're all going to be very busy without the band and not just staying in bed all day long, watching Countdown and generally wasting their lives away.

Any fans who are upset by this decision are advised to sort their fucking priorities out.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Going, Ummm, Pop! 

Blimey! We're not even two months into 2005 and already more bands are waving goodbye to their careers than even existed in 2004. First up are Blink 182, who have finally realised that they're pointless and the world of music would be much better without their - to use the correct American term - whiny assed vocals, but lets move away from the world of plastic kiddy pop to a group who are far more 'for real' than those supposed punks ever were. Ladies and Gentlemen, lets raise a glass and drink to Pop! who, after failing to make the charts even lukewarm, let alone set them on fire, have finally been dropped by their record company.

We were never, to be perfectly honest, huge fans of Pop!. Their songs were, lets be brutally honest here, a bit on the ropey side. Even Serious, which was undoubtedly their finest (released) moment, we found hard to actually take seriously (arf!), mainly because it sounded more like the theme tune to a glamorous cop show set in Las Vegas, a view which wasn't helped by the video, which looked exactly like the opening titles for a glamorous cop show set in Las Vegas, but even so their loss is important for what they represented, rather than what they actually were.

Pop! were a pop band in the traditional sense of the word. When Pete Waterman put them together he was basically trying to recapture the glory days - and the cash cow - of Steps, which probably explains why their songs sounded like tracks which weren't quite good enough to be Steps' B-sides. They weren't trying to be edgy or cool or redefine the notion of what a pop song should, all of which are, admittedly, admirable aims, but they just wanted to make fun, cheesy pop for the masses. Unfortunately it seems the masses could care less and would much rather lap up the latest uninspiring slop churned out by the indentikit R&B conveyer belt.

Of course, we can't really blame anyone for their failure. You can't force the public to buy what they don't want to buy, and as we didn't exactly rush down the shops to buy their CDs ourselves, we'd have to accept some of the blame ourselves and it certainly wasn't our fault, but it does seem a shame that there's no longer any space in the music industry, and in people's hearts, for music like this. Certainly there's no space for this on your average radio station, who seem to much prefer playing the same things over and over again, being as grey as possible and shying away from anything that might provide a splash of colour to the playlist. Of course, with the advent of the internet there's now a million different radio stations available on-line, catering to virtually every niche interest imaginable, so if the loss of Pop! has affected you more than Jennifer Ellison's announcement that she's quit the music industry - and quite frankly dropping a chip on the floor and having to throw it away has probably affected you more than that - then you could do worse than check out PWL Radio, a pop/dance station set up by Pete Waterman and dedicated to providing "a worldwide platform for some of the greatest pop and dance music from the 80's, 90's and 00's, 24 hours-a-day, with NO DJ's, together with first plays of upfront 'future hits' fresh from The Hit Factory itself", which we're sure you'll agree sounds rather ace. Unfortunately we do only have their word for it as we're buggered if we can get it to work on our antiquated, valve driven computer, but why not give it a shot. It can't be worse than Colin and Edith on Radio 1.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

10 Things We State About... 

The lovely Natasha Bedingfield has just headed out on her first tour. We're going to be seeing her a week on Sunday, so to celebrate here's ten entirely true facts about our favourite floaty skirt wearing popstrel:-
  1. Despite what some wags 'hilariously' claimed when she first hit the music scene, Natasha isn't her brother, Daniel, in a blonde wig. Although Daniel is, in fact, Natasha with a pair of socks stuffed down her jeans.
  2. Natasha has never slept in a bed in a field. She won't even go camping as she has a phobia of sleeping bags. "It's the zips", she says, "I worry they'll turn into chomping teeth during the night and bite me".
  3. After calling her debut single, Single, Natasha was desperate to call her first album, Album. She was dissuaded from this idea by record company execs who were worried that people might become confused and purchase Lolly's My First Album by mistake.
  4. If These Words are genuinely her own, from her heart flown, then Barry Manilow genuinely writes the songs that make the whole world sing.
  5. Natasha's album features a guest appearance by Bizarre from D12. This makes her marginally more street than D12 themselves.
  6. When drunk, Natasha likes nothing better than whipping her top off, putting Motorhead's Ace of Spades on the juke box and singing along.
  7. Natasha has no belly button, and uses a complicated mix of make-up and computer trickery to create the illusion of one, should she ever need to be pictured in a short top.
  8. At school Natasha was voted Girl Most Likely to Perform a Slightly Sexually Dubious Duet With Her Brother at an Awards Ceremony. How wrong they were, it was extremely dubious.
  9. Natasha has never read any Byron, Shelly or Keats. In fact, her only knowledge of poetry comes from the popular book 1001 Rude Limericks.
  10. We could only be arsed coming up with 9 facts about her, the rest are still unwritten.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Verbal Medicine 

Yes, the new Girls Aloud single, Wake Me Up is out today and we're sure you're already aware that it's all kinds of aceness so we're not going to bang on about that, although we would like to point out that while they've gone to the trouble of releasing it on the much underused 7" Picture Disc format, they haven't actually put much effort in to the rather vital task of actually getting it into any shops, if our failed attempts to locate a copy are anything to go by. Instead we'd like to draw your attention to the rather fab and, whisper it, actually rather better release by Verbalicious, Don't Play Nice.

Verbalicious, right, is 17 years old and still wears braces. On her teeth that is, not to keep her trousers up. This is not to say that she has a slapdash attitude towards keeping her pants hitched up, quite the opposite in fact, as evidenced by the single's sleeve where she can be seen sporting not one, not two, but three seperate belts, all dedicated to the task of keeping her jeans above ankle level. This lack of so-called urban street-cred about her image means that rather than lazily rapping over bass-heavy beats which excite about as much as the concept of Cheeky Girls porn film, she gets to sound like Betty Boo fronting a revived 21st Century Girls which, let's face it, is what we all, deep down, want our pop to sound like.

Don't Play Nice is essentially the sort of song that Rachel Stevens would be doing if she actually had an ounce of personality. As good as Some Girls was and, indeed, Negotiate With Love is, it still doesn't hold a candle to something that, despite it's slightly retro reference points, still manages to sound like the freshest thing on radio right now, so you should really go out and buy it. Besides, as Verbalicious happily admits in the chorus that her music has the power to raise the dead, you may find yourself being menaced by a brain dead, foul smelling zombie should you elect not to purchase a copy, or Brian McFadden as he's otherwise known. Having said that though, we did try attempting to revive our cat, who's been buried at the bottom of our garden for the last five years, by playing the song at loud volume. As an experiment it wasn't exactly an unqualified success, although it did succeed in waking up our current cat, who came over to see what all the fuss was about. "Miaow.", she commented, before wandering off to eat some grass. Which perhaps says more about the track than we ever could, and was probably a lot funnier as well.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Thoughts of the Pops 

It's Friday! Yadda yadda yadda. Here's what we learnt from this week's Top of the Pops:-

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

10 Things We State About... 

Atomic Kitten are back! Yes, they've returned from the dead to release a new single, much like a trio of zombies, only much less attractive. Of course, we say "New single", but it's actually a years old track from their debut album which is being released to aid some sort of charity. Whether you buy it or not is up to you, but bear in mind that any karma boost you get from helping out blind kiddies is likely to be cancelled out by the fact that you've just bought an Atomic Kitten single. Anyway, here's ten entirely true facts about the three feline females.
  1. Liz McLarnon hates cats, and initially only joined the band because she thought she'd get to carry out cruel experiments involving radioactive waste on unsuspecting moggies.
  2. Before joining the band Natasha Hamilton carved out a career as an actress. She's best known for the role of Sarah Connor in the films Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgement Day and Terminator 2 3-D: Battle Across Time.
  3. Original member Kerry Katona left after discovering that Andy McCluskey, the - for want of a better word - brains behind the band, was, in fact, the devil incarnate.
  4. Prior to becoming a member, Jenny Frost used to be a man.
  5. They produced their own range of teenage clothing, which was available exclusively through BHS. For fans who wished to dress like their idols but couldn't afford to buy the official clothing, fashion experts recommended that a similar look could be achieved by wearing a t-shirt with the slogan "Bully me" emblazoned on the front.
  6. Natasha was once chased up a tree by an angry bulldog. She ended up stuck and had to be rescued by fireman, despite attempts to tempt her down with a plate of raw fish.
  7. There are only 10 Atomic Kitten fans in the world. A complex arrangement of mirrors is used during live performances to stop the girls from catching on.
  8. At least 27 fans of Atomic Rooster, a group from the early seventies who had a number 4 hit with Devil's Answer, are known to have bought an Atomic Kitten album by mistake and been disappointed. The number of people who have knowingly bought an Atomic Kitten album and been disappointed is incalculable.
  9. Misery experts reckon that the only thing that has caused more pain and suffering than Atomic Kitten in the last 5 years is the recent tsunami.
  10. I Want Your Love was excellent, mind.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Slash! Aah-Aaaah! 

It's Valentines Day! Due to a disagreement with the Royal Mail over what sort of material is suitable for sending through the post, we haven't actually sent Nicola a Valentines card this year, so instead we've turned our attention towards romance of a difference kind with a little tale that we like to call Sacred Thrust...

It's June 2003, the sun is shining, the weather is sweet and people are so full of joy and happiness that many of them want to move their dancing feet. But things weren't quite so rosy in One True Voice's popstar flat where Anton, Daniel, Jamie, Keith and Matt were arguing, as they often did, over which one of them was actually which.

"I'm pretty sure I'm Anton", said Keith.

"No, no, no, you can't be Anton", said Anton, "That's Anton", he said, pointing at Jamie.

Jamie looked confused. "No, I'm not Anton, I'm Matt, and I can prove it, I've got my initial on the label of my boxer shorts"

"Are you sure that's not just the size?" asked Daniel, who was quietly confident that he was Matt.

"Oh, maybe", said Jamie sadly.

"Who are you?", asked Patrick MacGoohan of the bearded gentleman who had just walked into the room.

"The new number two", he replied tersely.

"Who is number one?", asked Patrick.

"You are number six", said Number two.

"I am not a number! I'm a free man!", shouted Patrick, before running out of the flat while Number Two chased after him clutching a beachball.

The One True Voice boys looked confused at that unexpected interruption, but quickly rallied themselves round and continued their argument. "So which poor sap is Keith then?" asked Keith. Everyone murmured and looked at their shoes, no-one wanting to take responsiblity for that.

Matt sighed, "Let's get this sorted out, then". He pulled out a copy of Smash Hits and flicked through it until he found a picture of the band. "Right, from left to right, You're Anton. You're Daniel.", he pointed appropriately, "I'm Matt, you're Jamie and you're Keith. Sorry".

Keith looked heartbroken. "No, it can't be true! I can't be Keith, I want to be Anton!"

Anton laid a sympathetic hand on his shoulder, "Sorry mate, it is. But it's not so bad. Here, look at yourself in this mirror"

"NO! No mirrors!", yelled Keith, smacking the mirror away. It fell out of Anton's hands and smashed against the floor, shattering into a million pieces, just like the shattered dreams of a failed popstar.

"Wow", said Matt, "Wouldn't it be ironic if the mirror, which has just shattered into a million pieces, just like the shattered dreams of a failed popstar, was a foreshadowing of our own future failure."

"No", said Jamie, "No it wouldn't. For a start it's not shattered into a million pieces just like the shattered dreams of a failed popstar, it's broken into, at most, 10 pieces, but most importantly our dreams aren't about to shatter like the aforesaid broken mirror. Pete Waterman's about to arrive at our pop star flat and tell us the midweek placing of our latest single Shakespeare's (Way With) Words"

"That's a good point, although those brackets are awkwardly placed, aren't they", said Matt, "How do you think it's going to do? I reckon it's got to be number one!", he squealed.

Daniel and Jamie agreed with Matt, it was definitely going to be a number one and would show those silly Girls Aloud girls exactly who was the real talent in the Popstars: The Rivals contest. Keith was still sulking about being Keith, so didn't voice an opinion, while Anton, rather stupidly, exclaimed that he thought it was going to go even higher than that. The boys were all excited at the thought and decided to stop arguing and wait for Pete to turn up and tell them the good news. Matt looked at his watch, then looked hungrily at Jamie. Just as he was about to suggest something that the pair of them could do to pass the time, a "Whoo-whoo!" noise started echoing outside the flat and the boys looked hopefully towards the door. Pete was about to arrive.

SLAM! The door smashed open and a couple of lackeys ran in, laying down train tracks as Pete's train came steaming into the flat. An oval of rail was quickly built up around the boys and Pete began circling them, perched upon the driver seat of his locomotive, as he told them the news they'd been waiting to hear.

"Right kids", he said, "I invented kids you know. And carpet. And the Right of Succession to the throne, that was all me. I did it when I had a spare afternoon free after inventing disco and before coming up with Steps. Anyway, your record's only going to hit number ten, I'm cutting my losses and getting out. You're a failed boyband, and I should know; I invented failed boybands. And fish. And gravity, that was a good one that, but it does mean I know for a fact when something's been dropped and you kids, you've been dropped. You're good kids, but you just can't cut it. See ya!".

His lackeys quickly laid down more track and his train steamed out of the front room, the rattling rhythm of the wheels going "I-invented-that I-invented-that I-invented-that I-invented-that".

There was a shocked silence in the room, broken only by distant "Whoo-whoo-ing". The boys all looked at each other, tears in their eyes. As one they all looked down towards the broken mirror. "Look!", said Matt, "Our dreams have been shattered into a million pieces, just like that mirror!".

"I know!", said Jamie and he began to sob. Matt began crying as well and the two of them moved forward, embraced and began weeping into each other's shoulders. The others looked at them, they were either jealous at their open display of emotion or embarrassed at such an unmasculine display of wearing your heart on your sleeve. Either way, with looks that bordered on disgust or respect, the other three members quickly slipped away, leaving the two of them to their unconstrained sobfest.

Eventually the tears subsided and Jamie and Matt broke their embrace. Holding each other's gaze for a short, but significant moment before wiping their eyes and blowing their noses in an embarrassed way.

"So", said Matt.

"It's not fair", said Jamie, "I didn't want to be in One True Voice anyway. I wanted to be in the other band"

"Phixx?" asked Matt.

"No, Girls Aloud"

"Really?". Matt raised an eyebrow quizzically, "I think you lack certain attributes that you would have needed to get picked."

"Yeah, it's all my mum's fault. I wanted to get a boob job when I was 16 but she wouldn't let me. She said I was too young".

"Did she really say that?"

"Well, no, she said it was because I was a boy and that I wasn't to be so bloody stupid, but she was just using that as an excuse. She ruined my dreams. I'd have been a great member of the band. I've got better legs than Kimberly for a start."

"That's a point", said Matt who started desperately casting around for a way to change the subject. Look", he pointed, "your t-shirt is soaked from where I was crying, maybe you should take it off".

Jamie looked at his shoulder, a damp patch had formed from Matt's tears. "You're right", he said and he quickly removed it, "You've got the same problem as well. Maybe you should take yours off too."

Matt had no arguments with this and swiftly removed his as well. He decided not to bring up the fact that Jamie was wearing a bra under his t-shirt and moved on to phase two of his plan of attack. "I think some of my tears might have spilled onto your jeans as well, maybe you should take them of as well, just to be on the safe side. I don't want you catching pneumonia!".

Jamie looked slightly unsure, but slowly pulled down his jeans. Matt was clearly very concerned for his own health and well-being as he tore off his own, possibly tear-sodden trousers, and threw them across the room. "And your boxers, they might have got wet as well", said Matt, breathing heavily, "Don't want to take any risks"

Before Jamie even had a chance to answer, Matt had already pulled down his own underwear and had stepped across to pull down Jamie's. As he removed them he looked at the label. "Hey!", he said slightly cross, "These are mine!".

"Ah", said Jamie, "That explains the confusion earlier, then". The two, now completely naked, looked each other up and down.

"So", said Matt, "Seeing as we're naked now, would you like to have my sacred thrust in you?"

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

Matt put his sacred thrust in Jamie.

"Ooh!", went Matt.

"Aah!", went Jamie.

"Blimey! Your brackets are quite awkwardly placed, aren't they?", went Matt.

The End

Friday, February 11, 2005

Thoughts of the Pops 

It's Friday! And our litany of weekly misfortune continued on Wednesday when a cash machine decided that rather than giving out all the money we asked it to, it was going to keep a tenner for itself. Having learnt that banks are bastards, we decided to add to our knowledge by watching this week's Top of the Pops. Here's what we learnt:-

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Brit Awards 2005 

Right, lets do this then.

Proceedings were opened by Chris Evans who told us to expect some winners and losers tonight, before suggesting that there might possibly be a fight. "Hopefully", he added, "Between two girls", lest we forget that Chris Evans is not only a lad, but also an outdated anachronism of nineties culture. Fortunately his pointless mumblings were kept to a minimum and we quickly moved instead to the Scissor Sisters who, after Jake and Ana burst from two golden eggs dressed in feathers, performed Take Your Mama Out alongside a massive dancing pink bird, a singing and dancing farmhouse, 5 silver dancing eggs and a selection of singing watermelons, all supplied by Jim Henson's Creature Workshop. We love the Scissor Sisters, we really do.

After such an opening, the only way the show could go was down, but they really didn't need to hasten it's demise by going straight for the award for the best song from the last 25 years. This, apparently, is Robbie Williams Angels. Now, you could argue that a song which is so loved by the general population, popular with young and old alike and a favourite for wedding discos all over the country clearly has something special about it, such is it's appeal and, as such, fully deserves to get this award. You could argue that, but you'd be entirely wrong as all it proves is that the Great British Public, when presented with a smorgasboard of all that is great and good, will happily plump for the dull, wet lettuce every time, lest they actually challenge their sensibilities once in a while. Angels is shit, always was shit and always will be shit. Despite the fact that the prize was for the song and not for the singer, Robbie didn't actually bother thanking Guy Chambers on stage, doing it later backstage which was hastily edited in before the first break.

Franz Ferdinand were up next, doing Take Me Out, a song which goes a bit rubbish after the introductory part. For this performance, the role of Alex Kapranos was played by highly respected journalist and former host of Wheel of Fortune, Nicky Campbell. We were impressed by their use of the curtain.

Best British Breakthrough was the next prize to be given out. This was presented by Jo Whiley who quite egotistically introduced herself as "A champion of new music". This, lest we forget, is a woman who is partly to blame for Dido being foisted upon us. This went to Keane who announced that they were "a bit shocked to be standing up here". As are we boys, as are we. They also added "People say that it's not very cool to just be ourselves, but it's part of who we are", before being rushed off stage before they had the utter the immortal lines "we just do what we do and if anyone else likes it, that's a bonus".

Brian May found himself on stage next to introduce the award for Best British Rock. Brian was at the very first Brit Awards, back in 1976, and, coincidentally, had exactly the same hair. This went to Franz Ferdinand. "Blimey!", said Alex, who is unlikely to be troubling the compilers of the Oxford Dictionary of quotations any time soon.

Daniel and Natasha Bedingfield took the stage to perform their duet. This was a version of Chaka Khan's Aint Nobody with a full orchestra and the drummers from S Club 7's Carnival tour. Had they been boyfriend and girlfriend this would have been a fantastic performance, full of passion, enjoyment and sexual energy. As they're brother and sister it just made us feel slightly dirty. And not in a good way.

The Scissor Sisters then won their first award of the night, this one being for Best International Breakthrough. This was presented by Simon Pegg who walked on stage and asked the audience "Are you having a good time?" and they happily cheered in response. "That's brilliant", said Simon, although it was unclear whether he was referring to the fact that they were having a good time or their pavlovian response to the question.

Mike Skinner dropped his bottle at the start of his performance of Dry Your Eyes. This, we believe, was an attempt to be rock and roll. It failed. During his time on stage he managed to prove that not only can he not rap, which we were already aware of, but he can't bloody sing either, such was his atonal attempt at the song's chorus. He can't sing, he can't rap... it must be that bloke from the old Kit Kat advert who's managing him, it's the only explanation that makes sense. After seeing Kelly Osbourne in the audience we were quite disappointed that the organisers didn't take advantage of her presence and team the two acts up for one of the unexpected collaborations that the Brits are so fond of. "You're fat... but my gosh don't you know it?" perhaps. We'd certainly pay good money to se Mike Skinner shut up, that's for sure.

Best Live Act was presented by Shirley Manson, who we love dearly and were glad to see that she's still looking foxy, despite being far too old for us. This prize went to Muse. As singer blokey wasn't their the other two had a chance to take the limelight for a change. What did they say to take advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity? "Hello mum".

As the Brits is designed to celebrate UK talent and show that we can come up with tunes just as good, if not better, than the Americans, it seemed only natural that the next act on stage should be, ummmm, Green Day, an American punk band doing a song called American Idiot about how Americans have a tendency not to question the information that is presented to them by the media. They had flames on the big screen behind them. This was the closest their performance actually got to being on fire.

Will Young found himself accepting the award for Best British Single from Minnie Driver for the really rather ace Your Game. As he walked up to the stage to receive his prize, the voiceover informed us that Keane were in the lead for the majority of the time and it was only a last minute surge of Will votes that pushed the trophy in his direction, so it was nice to see them accept his win with good grace and not imply that it was in any way a fix.

Jodie Kidd presented the award for Best Pop. We have absolutely no idea who she is, but she gave the prize to McFly, despite the fact that Girls Aloud were nominated and were quite clearly the deserving winners. McFly had put on suits for the evening, which we don't think was a success, unless they genuinely were going for the "school leavers on their way to their first job interview" look. Chris Evans happily told us before the award was announced that he wanted them to win as they were "his boys", and we're sure his patronage is something that the McFly boys are excited about, especially when you consider that the other cutting edge music acts that he's backed in the past include such groundbreaking groups as Stereophonics, Texas, Bon Jovi and Ocean Fucking Colour Scene.

Judging by her performance of Right to be Wrong, Joss Stone seemed to be under the impression that she was performing on Later... With Jools Holland, rather than at the glitz and glamour of the Brits. This may explain why she didn't bother getting dressed up for the occasion, preferring instead to convert a curtain from her dressing room into a make-shift skirt for the evening.

Best International Female was presented by someone who may or may not have been called Charlie Creed Miles, but as we have never heard of this person before in our lives we might have got it wrong. Whoever he was, he had the honour of giving Gwen Stefani and her entourage of Harajuku girls - dressed as sailors - her prize.

Natalie Imbruglia took time out from her busy schedule on the tills at Netto to remind us that she still exists and isn't as pretty as she used to be. She was presenting the prize for Best International Male which went to Eminem who, unsurprisingly, had better things to do with his time than turn up to collect his award.

Next up we were treated, in the dental sense of the word, to Robbie Williams bellowing his way through Angels with all the joy and passion of someone who's done it a million times before and just wants to get his money and get out of there. For the second verse he was joined by Joss Stone, again, who oversang everything as usual, but at least she'd put a decent pair of trousers on by this point.

Best British Male was presented by Naomi Harris who, once again, we must admit our ignorance of. We're beginning to reckon that they just plucked random people off the street and are wondering if anyone's going to notice. This went to The Streets, but Mike couldn't actually be arsed to collect it himself, so instead some random members of his band went up instead and implied that he was taking drugs in the toilets. This makes him even less rock and roll than he was after the bottle dropping incident.

After some awkward and embarrassing banter with his ex-wife Billie Piper, Chris introduced Keane. It's hard to what to say about Keane really, as we do quite like them, but they're not the sort of band anyone would ever get excited about. Even if you'd never even heard music before and nothing else to compare it with, you'd still listen to a Keane album and come up with the verdict that it's alright, but nothing special. Their performance of Everything's Changing can essentially be summed up as they came, they saw, they sauntered.

For reasons best known to someone else, Lisa Stansfield presented Joss Stone with her prize for Best British Female - or "Best Pop Totty" as Chris so hilariously described it, seemingly unaware that the year is now 2005 and TFI Friday isn't on the air. We wanted the Bedingfield to win this as, whether you judge it on musical ability or on looks, Natasha will always come out on top.

Next we had a performance that Chris described as "Awesome", but left us wondering "What exactly was the point?". It was Lemar and Jamelia doing Addicted to Love. It was good enough, we guess, but we can't really see why anyone had the idea that those two dueting was something the public were desperate to see. Indeed, it seems to us that the idea was thrown together at the last minute when they realised they still had some airtime to fill, certainly we're not convinced that Jamelia was given prior notice of it given she clearly hadn't had time to finish dressing and hadn't even had a chance to do her blouse up properly.

If Lisa Stansfield was an unexpected choice to hand out an award, the next guest found them heading even further down the path of randomness when Jazzy B from largely forgotten dance act Soul II Soul. He was there to give out the prize for Best Urban and no doubt believed he'd been given the wrong envelope when he opened it and discovered that the winner was, ummm, Joss Stone, for whom the wrong side of the tracks is simply a euphemism for having rubbish seats at the Derby.

Best International Group was presented by Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook from out of New Order. An incoherent and rambling Hooky muttered something about killing everyone before looking at the envelope and announcing "Fuck me, it's the Scissor Sisters", and it was, and quite right too. Ana Matronic dedicated it to everyone who said they wouldn't do it. "Nyaaaaaah!", she yelled, "We did it!"

Gwen Stefani was up next, romping her way through What You Waiting For with her Harajuku girls dressed up in ballerina-esque outfits and basically proving to the viewing public exactly why she deserved her prize for Best International Female. Those who were wondering were the concepts for her video's come from may well have found their answer thanks to a number of large mushrooms which were dotted around the set.

The Best British Group was next to be announced, with Chris announcing that this year it was dedicated to John Peel for all that he'd done in support of British music. A nice touch, but one which was spoilt somewhat when Kelly and Sharon Osbourne came down to present it. This was Franz Ferdinand's second and final award of the night. Alex announced that to get a Brit Award he would happily walk 500 miles and that he would equally happily walk 500 more, so for that we have to salute him.

The final international award of the night was presented by Souixsie Souix. As she came on stage Chris asked her "How much fun is it being in a rock and roll band?", expecting an answer of the "lots!" variety. Souixsie answered "Miserable", which threw Chris, seemingly unaware that Souixsie and the Banshees were a bunch of grumpy goths. The prize for Best International Album went, unsurprisingly, to the Scissor Sisters, who fully deserved their hattrick of awards, and hopefully really pissed off U2 in the process.

The final attempt to sell this show to an American network came when Pharell and Snoop Dogg came on stage to do a performance of Drop it Like it's Hot which started off a bit rubbish, but gathered momentum as the track progressed. You have to take your hat off to them and, indeed, Snoop did just that, chucking his own titfer into the crowd, whereupon a scrum more suited to a swedish owned furniture shop no doubt descended upon where it landed. Somehow we can't see the US Media types wanting the footage of Keane's performance after that shizzle.

The last proper award of the night was the Best British Album and was presented by Clive Owen - presumably because Jude Law wasn't available - although we did hope that with the randomness of some of the guests it might actually have been Clive Dunn instead. This went to Keane for Hopes and Fears, which is quite frankly a nonsense. Even the most rabid Keane fan in the world wouldn't claim it was the best album in the world. Hell, even our aforementioned musically deprived person who's only contact with the world of recorded tunage is the Keane album would suggest that any of the other shortlisted candidates had probably done something a bit better than this.

And so, finally, we come to the award for Outstanding Contribution to Music, although this year it came with the addition of And saving starving Africans as Bob Geldof was given it. Unless they genuinely want us to believe that writing one memorable track and one decent intro counts as an outstanding contribution to music. Midge Ure must be kicking himself. As, for that matter, must the rest of the Boomtown Rats who didn't even get a look in, who surely deserved to share the stage, unless the Brit organisers are actually honouring him for his godawful solo stuff. After accepting his prize from Jools Holland, Bob took to the stage and performed his memorable track, I Don't Like Mondays, before following it up with The Great Song of Indifference Rat Trap, which was quite nice of him as, once the intro was out of the way, it meant the audience could bugger off early and catch their tube home, safe in the knowledge that they wouldn't miss anything exciting.

That's it. Overall it wasn't a bad show this year. Fair enough a lot of people that should have won, didn't, and the final list of winners is so white that it might even cause Michael Howard to raise an eyebrow, but it was certainly better than the travesty that was last year's show, and besides, no matter what you think of the final outcome, neither Kasabian nor Jamie Cullum won any of the prizes they were up for, and ultimately that has to be a good thing for music.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

10 Things We State About... 

It's the Brit Awards tonight and, in a bid to remove any last vestige of excitement or interest that hadn't already been eradicated by the actual shortlist, ITV aren't actually bothering to transmit the awards until tomorrow night. We'll wait until after the broadcast to do a full review of proceedings, but until then here's ten entirely accurate and in no way made up facts about the awards. We plan on making this a weekly feature by the way, which, on past experience, basically means this will be the only time you'll ever see us do this.
  1. The first Brit Awards were held in a pub in America, where a drunken Britt Eckland held forth on who she reckoned were the best acts in the world. Awards were handed out for "Best rock act", "Widest Flare" and "Beshtest mate in the whole wide world".
  2. BRITS is not, as many people assume, a shortened form of British Phonographic Industry Awards, but is in fact an acronym, standing for "Brilliant Records, Including Terrible Songs", an ethos which the organisers still remain true to today.
  3. The honour of biggest winner is jointly held by Robbie Williams and Jeanette 'Wee Jimmy' Krankie. They both hold 14, although as 4 of his were during his time in Take That, Robbie just loses out overall.
  4. Annie Lennox owns photos of members of the BPI in compromising positions, hence her presence on the Best Female shortlist every other year.
  5. The Brits is famous for it's controversy. Who can forget the time where Jarvis Cocker wiggled his bum at Michael Jackson, when Chumbawamba threw water all over John Prescott or, most shockingly, they gave the Stereophonics a prize.
  6. Other winners which caused an upset on the night include Belle and Sebastian beating off Steps in 1999, Tom Jones being told he'd given an outstanding contribution to music despite the fact he'd just done a duet with the Stereo-fucking-phonics and the Aphex Twin's firm hold on the Best Pop Act award for the last 5 years.
  7. Awards which no longer exist include "Best Soundtrack", "Best video", "Most Fanciable Male", "Worst Haircut", "Best Skiffle" and "Artist most likely to suffer a drugs related breakdown in the next 12 months"
  8. Speaking of drugs, the street value of the toilet cubicles at the Brits is estimated at close to £1,000,000.
  9. While the winners are picked by a panel of music industry experts, the results are sent to the Queen for approval and she has been known to ask for changes to be made.
  10. Despite what the organisers would have you believe, no-one else in the world gives too hoots about the results of this ceremony.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

FH Femmes 

We may have fallen in love.

If you recall, a couple of weeks ago we mentioned the fact that "Busted with breasts" was going to be the big concept for new bands this year - although as it turned out, Busted had a right tit with them all along - well, with that in mind, allow us to introduce you to Bloke.


If you pop over to their website you can hear So Over You, which basically sounds like Josie and the Pussycats if Josie and the Pussycats were actually real, and as the Josie and the Pussycats movie is possibly the only thing in the world that we love more than Girls Aloud this is a very, very good thing indeed. Miss Difficult is in a similar vein with a good use of stuttering vocals in the chorus, while Bitch About is a more angsty, bass-heavy track and perhaps veers slightly too far into rock, rather than pop, territory for our tastes, but overall the vibe is very much of a smiley Avril Lavigne, or a more cartoony Donnas if you like.

Speaking of cartoons, the fact that they use one as one of their publicity shots is also a mark of quality. It's a fact that pop bands who use cartoons are always excellent, as the following montage easily proves:-

cartoon montage

Although the fact that none of the above artists has exactly troubled the top end of the charts should not be seen in any way as a weakening of our argument.

We're hoping to see big things from this band over the coming year. Face it, any band that has not one, not two, but three redheads in it deserves success, but it's not just about the girls' attractiveness, they also have the tunes to back up the looks. To be honest, the only thing that stops them being a perfect recreation of the band of our dreams is that they haven't done a cover of Everlasting Love. Yet.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Euro Stars 

After a Fame Academy loser failed to successfully fight our corner at Eurovision last year, the BBC have learnt from their mistakes and have this year shortlisted, ummm, a Pop Idol loser, a Popstars loser, an I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here loser, a Eurovision loser and a bunch of losers to fight against each other for the coveted chance to represent the UK in this year's contest.

First up is Andy Scott Lee, who seems to be treating Chumbawamba's Tubthumping as a personal anthem as no matter how many times he gets knocked down he just keeps getting back up again, much like a cockroach. Having already failed to win the public's hearts in both his own band, 3SL, and, more recently, Pop Idol, we're not quite sure why he feels he's going to fare any better in this contest, but we guess he needs something to do to fill up his time until this year's X Factor auditions.

Next we have Javine, the girl who very nearly was in Girls Aloud, but who instead ended up releasing two fantastic singles, a rubbish third and a pretty mediocre album and who is now teetering on the brink of failure, or, if you wish to believe the BBC's website, enjoyed "massive success as a solo artist in her own right." . We do really like Javine, mainly because Real Things and Surrender were very ace indeed so we'd like her to do well, but ultimately we can't really see the voting public bothering about her that much. Shame.

Third on the list is Jordan, although for this she's going under the ridiculous stage name of Katie Price, presumably under the mistaken belief that this will get her taken seriously. She's always been quite desperate to get a record deal, despite the fact that she seems to possess no real musical talent - not that this has stopped people in the past, look at Toploader - but if you're living with Peter Andre it's not really surprising that you suddenly start thinking "Yeah, I could do that. And better.". Unfortunately, we remember her tuneless warblings during her time in the jungle and she really, really can't.

Fourth up and staging her second comeback in as many years is Gina G. Fresh (arf!) from losing Reborn in the USA, Gina is back to try and gain the Eurovision crown, considering quite rightly that she was robbed back in 1996 when she only came 7th with Ooh Aah, Just a Little Bit, which is not only one of the best Eurovision entries, but also one of the best songs ever written. We're happily nailing our colours to her mast and if she isn't our entry then the whole contest can just fuck right off.

Finally we have Tricolore who are essentially a low rent il Divo. We feel the only reason they're in the running is that it's hoped that if they represent us their name might trick the French into actually voting for us for a change.

Making Your Mind Up will be broadcast on March 5th, live on BBC One, and will be hosted by Terry Wogan and, for reasons which haven't been made entirely clear, Natasha Kaplinsky. Vote Gina.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Thoughts of the Pops 

It's Friday! And once again our inherent laziness has found us writing the grand sum of bugger all for the site. We were going to do something yesterday but we managed to lock ourselves out of the house instead, which is quite frankly a rubbish excuse, but it does have the advantage of being true. So, as well as learning that it's always a good idea to make sure that we actually have our keys with us, here's what else we've learnt this week, thanks to the magic of Top of the Pops:-

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Stupid Mis-Teeq 

The fairy tale is over, the romance is dead, and a nation, already struggling to cope with the news of the Busted split, is forced one again to deal with its own mortality and the realisation that nothing, no matter how perfect, can last forever. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the news is true. Mis-Teeq have split up. No, wait, come back!

To be honest, other than Scandalous, we never really got into them - you could say that we failed to penetrate their Mis-Teeq, Arf! - but they always seemed to have a certain potential about them, as if on the verge of releasing some earth-shatteringly fantastic song that would have the whole world realising it's genius, but they never quite seemed to get there and now, alas, never will.

Reasons for the split are somewhat vague with the entirely uninformative "They want to pursue solo careers" line being trundled out by their spokesperson. We reckon thath that's probably partly true in the sense that one of them wanted to, and we'd be very surprised if it didn't involve Pharrell Williams, from out of The Neptunes, organising some sort of solo deal for Alesha, her ass, after all, being a spaceship that he wants to ride. She does, of course, have a boyfriend so we can't say for certain whether Pharrell managed to act upon his base desires and penetrate his Mis-Te... Oh, never mind.