Talent in a Previous Life

Because It's Never Just About the Music

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Mark: Our Words 

Fame’s a funny old business. No less an authority than North and South bemoaned the fact that “you pick us up to knock us down” in their 1997 ‘hit’, Tarantino’s New Star, although given the fact that they barely made the charts lukewarm, let alone set them on fire, they’re probably not the best people to be pontificating on the nature of success. Still, for the ex-Take That members who aren’t Robbie Williams, it’s probably something that they’ll give more consideration to than others, as for them Take That and Party is now nothing more than an ironic thought that crosses their mind as they pick up their weekly dole money. Howard now spends his time playing noisy jungle music in nightclubs, refusing to play any of his former band’s back catalogue, no matter how much you pester him. Uhh, apparently. Jason claims to be an actor, and is currently focused on researching the role of a man who spends all day sitting around the house in his pyjamas, watching daytime telly and eating toast, desperately hoping that the phone will ring with a job offer. Gary, of course, is devoting his time to learning the mysterious art of voodoo and spends a large part of his day sticking pins into a doll covered in strange markings and tattoos, but whither Mark Owen? He’s always been lurking in the background, releasing albums every now and then, winning Celebrity Big Brother, but all the while failing to actually make any real impact on the general public’s consensus. To find out what he’s been up to and, we admit, with the prospect for schadenfreude weighing heavy on our mind, last night we went to see him do a gig at the tiny, 400 capacity Venue in Edinburgh, and it wasn’t even a sell-out.

It was little surprise to find out that while Mark - who appears to be roughly 2 foot tall and would probably have notorious short-arse Avril Lavigne towering over him - may have moved on musically since his Take That days, his fanbase has stayed pretty consistent. Other than on stage, there was barely anyone in the room who was in possession of a Y chromosome and, on his arrival, the screaming hit such a high vocal register that every dog in a radius of 2 miles from the venue was found cowering in the corner, desperately wanting the pain to stop. After a quick “Good Evening” and a brief pause to allow the screams to subside, Mark launched into his first song of the night, although ‘launch’ is probably the wrong word to use as he started off with a couple of slow-tempo tracks which were, quite frankly, a bit pish and unlikely to excite anyone who’s ever heard any sort of music before in their life. Satisfied, as we were, with our prejudices and safe in the knowledge that he wasn’t much cop after all, it came as a major shock when he upped the tempo and was actually pretty damned excellent, giving good indie pop and getting even our cynical and jaded foot a-tapping. It’s nothing ground-breaking and it won’t change the world, hell it’s barely even giving the map a cursory glance in the hope of locating New England, but it is a damned sight better than you’d expect the solo material from a nineties boy band member to be.

Performance wise Mark kept it low-key, pretty much sticking to holding the mic-stand, closing his eyes and doing the old facial emoting that pop-stars are taught at ballad school. He didn’t even fly over the audience, suspended from wires which was, let’s face it, a disappointment. When he did step back to do a bit of dancing he succeeded mainly in proving that without the help of a professional choreographer, he has all the grace of an arrhythmic gorilla or, indeed, us, but it didn’t seem to matter that much as he was clearly enjoying himself, chatting away to the audience and generally looking like he was having fun just playing music to people who wanted to hear it, something which the true indie hierarchy frowns upon. (Arf!).

We came to bury Mark, but ultimately we have to praise him. Unfortunately he’s unlikely ever to escape the ‘ghetto’ of being an ex-Take That member and appeal to a wider audience, no matter what sort of music he makes. Still, he seems happy enough making music for himself, and if anyone else likes it, well that’s just a bonus, thus making him the indiest man in the world. If that’s the case, then when someone like Kelly Jones can start getting positive coverage in the NME, perhaps Mark’s hour is just around the corner.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

10 Things We State About... 

An early appearance for 10 Things... this week, as we have plans for a special feature tomorrow, but we may well decide that we can't be arsed after all, so don't get your hopes up. Anyway, as Billie Piper is back, even if rather than saving pop music, she's taking on the much easier job of saving the world in the new series of Doctor Who, we're proud to present ten entirely true and in no way made up facts about the pop princess who was daft enough to let Chris Evans have her wicked way with her. Why? Because we want to:-
  1. Billie's full name is Billie Paul Piper, proving, if anything, that her parents really wanted a son.
  2. When she turned up for her Doctor Who audition, it was originally thought that she was after a role as one of the plastic mannequins, before they came to life.
  3. Alongside Billie, other famous people from Swindon include Desmond Morris, Melinda Messenger and Supertramp, meaning that she is the only person from the town who has ever possessed an ounce of talent.
  4. Despite what some tabloid newspapers have claimed, she was never invited by Michael Jackson to spend time in the Neverland Ranch. Indeed, to combat these accusations, Jackson released a single about it, declaring that "Billie Piper is not my lover".
  5. Something Deep Inside, her September 2000 hit, definitely wasn't about sex. Oh no.
  6. And neither was Honey to the Bee, come to think of it. Definitely not.
  7. Billie's pop career came to an abrupt end after she was served with an anti-social behaviour order following complaints from her neighbours regarding her behaviour. The reasons given included playing her song so loud, dancing all night, using foul language which she excused as saying what was on her mind, and, when confronted about it, refusing to listen to her neighbours views, saying that she would carry on doing it "Because she wanted to".
  8. To avoid paying royalties to Dire Straits, when she covered Walk of Life she completely changed the tune, lyrics and beat, tricking their lawyers into believing it was an entirely different song
  9. She nearly saved a man from drowning by putting her own life at risk to fight against the current and pull him to safety, but just as she was about to dive in she heard a little voice say "Billie, don't be a hero", and she decided to go off on her way, whistling a jaunty tune to herself and forgetting all about the young gentleman's struggle against the rising water.
  10. Billie is actually bloody good in Doctor Who.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Eggs Factor 

It's Easter! And, as always happens at this time of year, the music industry is abuzz with excitement about who's going to get the coveted Easter number one slot. Except, of course, it's not. For some reason, despite the fact we get all over-excited and unnecessary when he's born, we don't really give much of a shit when they take Santa Claus, crucify him on a cross before he magically comes back to life thanks to the reviving power of hot-cross buns and sherry. Still, it's not to say that there have been no attempts to crack the potentially lucrative Easter market, here's a few of the most memorable:-

Friday, March 25, 2005

Thoughts of the Pops 

It's Friday! And yes, that means that for the first time in ages we're actually doing our Top of the Pops review on time! Of course, all this ultimately means is that you get to be disappointed with the piece slightly sooner than you might have been, but never mind. Here's what we learnt:-

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Teenage Licks 

It's time to return to one of our favourite obsessions here at TiaPL: Teenage girls thrashing about with guitars in the good name of Pop. This time it's the turn of The Faders to make us go all unnecessary, they're at the forefront of the Busted with Breasts revolution, mainly because they're the first to actually get their arses in gear and release a record, and their debut single, No Sleep Tonight is in all good records store as we speak, though judging by their midweek position, describing this whole "Busted with Breasts" thing as a revolution might be overstating the case a bit. The Busted With Breasts Polite Cough might be a little more appropriate.

No matter, just because the public have once again decided to ignore a fantastic record doesn't mean that we should, and what a tune it is. Some people have said that the track owes a debt to Lust For Life, but to be brutally honest it's more the case that Iggy Pop has already broken down the door, taken the DVD player and is making knee-cap related threats should they fail to meet their next payment. Ultimately though, this knocks Iggy's slightly plodding anthem into touch being, as it is, infused with a certain joie de vivre which Iggy couldn't hope to replicate, no matter how much virgin's blood he may care to down. As the chorus explodes into life only the truly grumpy and those without the ability to move their legs aren't dancing around the room in wild abandon, and if you're the latter then we apologise for our tasteless comment, but you can still wave your arms around in time to the tune. Unless they're gubbed as well, that is.

The video is a bit crap - they play a gig in an American school and a banner drops down with their name on. Whoopee! - but it does at least make a point of telling you what the names of the girls are. This means we can say quite definitively that the one we fancy is called Molly who, it will come as no surprise to learn, is a redhead, in the very literal sense. All Miki Berenyi hair and spiked wristbands, she is slightly full of herself, happily singing "Baby, I'm what's on your mind", but what she lacks in modesty, she more than makes up for in accuracy and as she tells the listener with a purr that they won't get no sleep tonight, a million men sigh and a million women clench their fist in a jealous manner. It's probably worth pointing out at this stage that Molly is Midge Ure's daughter, but she doesn't seem to have suffered any permanent damage as a result of this.

In conclusion then, buy it. You'd be a fool not to. If not for yourself, then do it for us. We want our guitar pop to represented by feisty, fun females for whom 'sassy' is a way of life and not just a rubbish name for a dog. If The Faders, and all the other exponents of the girl guitar pop scene, fail to make it, we'll be left with just the Noise Next Door and McFly to represent the notion of pop bands playing instruments, and if that's the case then we might as well just give up.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

10 Things We State About... 

Currently propping up the number one spot in the charts is Tony Christie with Amarillo and, while he might be old, at least he's not Elvis so we have to give him some credit. Some people may well be wondering just who the hell he is, in which case here, for your delectation, are 10 entirely true and in no way made-up facts about the wrinkly old crooner:-
  1. In 1990 Tony won the 100m gold medal for Britain at the Barcelona Olympic Games. His achievement was overshadowed, however, by the tight lycra shorts he wore, leading to the euphemism "lunchbox" entering the UK lexicon.
  2. Since writing this song, Tony has acquired a Route Master in-car tracking system and can now easily find his way to, amongst others, Amarillo, El Paso, Austin and Dallas. He's buggered if he knows how to get to San Jose, however.
  3. As well as being able to fly like an eagle, prowl like a lion, leap like a salmon and walk like a panther, Tony is also able to turn his head round 180o like an owl and wash his own arse like a cat.
  4. Tony is also a successful actor, appearing in such classic films as Lobster Man from Mars, The Bad News Bears Go to Japan and Not With My Wife, You Don't!, but is probably best known for dressing up in drag to star in Some Like it Hot alongside Matt Munroe.
  5. Tony owns the auction house Christie's. It's mainly used to sell of items which he bought new when a child but are now, due to his advanced years, officially antiques.
  6. Not only did Tony do what he did for Maria, he also did it all before love came to town.
  7. The popular cartoon series, Christie Tips and Alistair, was launched on the back of Tony's popularity. Each episode featured Christie getting into all manner of scrapes with his big, badly drawn dog, Alistair, with hilarious results. At the end of each episode, Tony would always turn to the camera and offer the watching an audience a tip on how to make it in the music industry. The series was scrapped after 5 episodes, only 2 of which made it to air.
  8. During the eighties, when no-one gave a shit about him, let alone his music, he recorded a concept album called Tony the Lonely, it consisted of 45 minutes of him weeping and cursing the name of every women he'd ever known. It concluded with the sound of him making a cup of tea, before listening to the radio, though experts believe that this was less an avant garde statement, and more the result of him forgetting to switch the tape recorder off.
  9. He's also the voice of the Frostie's tiger.
  10. Peter Kay isn't as funny as he used to be.

Thoughts of the Pops 

It's... blimey, Wednesday. And updates of any kinda have been somewhat lacking in the last week and a half but we do have a good excuse, having spent the time being laid low by what we believe to have been a dose of the flu, but what fully trained medical personnel may well refer to as a dose of the sniffles. Either way, we found it nigh on impossible to motivate ourselves to actually get out of bed and eat, let alone sit down and provide witty commentary on the pop scene, not that the inability to do the latter has stopped us in the past, of course. Anyway, in the midst of our disease induced misery, we managed to work up the strength to hit record on our video control and so here, somewhat belatedly, is what we learnt from this week's Top of the Pops:-

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Thoughts of the Pops 

It's, ummm, Sunday! And due to our inability to read the TV schedules, our tape of Friday's Top of the Pops turned out to contain some so-called celebrities warbling along in a vaguely competent fashion to some abysmal songs. Eventually we realised that this wasn't just a particularly poor episode of the show, but was in fact part of Comic Relief does Fame Academy, which had shunted Top of the Pops onto BBC2 for the night. No matter, thanks to the BBC's unimaginative attitude when it comes to filling the schedules in the early hours of the morning, we were able to catch the repeat. Here's what we learnt:-

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Split B Soup 

Hi! I'm Brian the Split Beaver, and when I'm not chewing down trees to make a dam I like to keep track of the comings and goings of various pop acts. As 2005 seems to be the year of the pop massacre with bands flopping more than my tail, I've been employed by Talent in a Previous Life to keep track of the comings and goings in the music world. Well, the goings at any rate. Here's the latest news.

First up, Vs haven't even been given the chance to release their piss-poor cover of If You Leave Me Now, finding themselves dropped just as the video started turning up on the music channels, which shows a remarkable lack of faith by the record company. Don't worry, though, they're still together, and are happily telling fans on their official website not to be disenheartened and that they're currently actively pursuing a new contract. My beaver brain tells me that their time would probably be better spent actively pursuing alternative employment.

Also joining them down the job centre, trying to convince the lad behind the counter that spending two hours a day singing and dancing does count as a genuine attempt to find work, are The 411, or so I've heard from the woodland grapevine. Do you get grapevines in woods? I'm just a beaver, I don't know about these things. Anyway, according to a few sources, their poor performance has left their record company unimpressed and they've been dropped. As with Vs, they're still together, presumably more out of hope than rationality, and are hoping to get a new deal. Their official website is somewhat reluctant to give any details, but given that the most recent news story posted there claims that their official website is at jamie-scott.com, it's safe to say that they're not exactly of the highest priority.

Liberty X may or may not have been dropped, depending on who you believe, but as they haven't exactly been very high profile in recent times, I was under the impression that they, much like Elvis before them, had already left the building. If that analogy holds up, we can look forward to a weekly re-release of all of their hits in 40 years time to commemorate their achievements, although unlike Elvis they won't clog up the charts for 18 weeks, mainly because it'll only take one week to re-release Just a Little. In the meantime Michelle will be desperately hoping that Andy Scott-Lee eventually makes some sort of success in the world of pop, thus allowing her to cling onto the limelight for just that little bit longer.

Finally, we come to Geri Halliwell who's still holding on to her contract as I type - and believe me, it's hard typing with these little paws - but given that her tour has now officially been cancelled due to no-one actually giving a damn and she's been sent back to the studio to redo her album due to the record company reckoning that it's a bit shit - not that that's stopped them putting her stuff out in the past - it can only be a matter of time before we say good-bye to Geri the popstar and hello to Miss Halliwell, the media whore. On the plus side though, her being without a deal might bring the Spice Girls reunion a step closer.

That's it from me, Brian the Split Beaver. I'll no doubt be back soon with more news of groups who's grip on success has become somewhat weakened, but until then I'm going to have a good old gnaw on this cedar tree, then catch some fish, or whatever it is beavers actually eat. Bye!

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

10 Things We State About... 

McFly release this year's Comic Relief single, All About You this week and, appropriately enough for the comedy inspired charity, it's laughably bad, but to show we're not without our charitable side, here's 10 entirely true and in no way made up facts about the boys:-
  1. Unable to decide upon a suitable style for their music, McFly went to Busted and asked if they could borrow their time machine, like one in a film they've seen, whereupon they went back 40 years and decided that what the world really needed was a rubbish sixties-esque boyband.
  2. Danny really needs a slap.
  3. The comedy video for All About You is the funniest thing ever recorded, and viewers are advised to have at least a quarter of an hour free after watching it to allow their uncontrollable fits of laughter to subside.
  4. He seriously does. Just one short sharp slap to wipe that smug grin off his face.
  5. A girl with five colours in her hair is the craziest thing that Tom has ever seen. Psychologists reckon that if he was to see a girl with six colours in her hair, he'd be so amazed his brain would likely explode.
  6. Come on! If we were to wake up one morning and realise that we were Danny from McFly we wouldn't look smug about it. No! We'd look ashamed, and quite right too.
  7. After their 'crazy' golf cart related antics in the Obviously, McFly have been banned from every course in the country, much to the chagrin of Dougie.
  8. If you don't agree just look at his face when Danny does the "Did ya? Did ya?" line in their crappy Walker's advert, then try telling us that that's not a cheek in sore need of a having a painful red handprint upon it.
  9. Harry's Dad owns all the swans in the country.
  10. It'd be for his own good, just one firmly delivered Thwack! with the back of the hand. He'd thank us for it in the long run. We'd do it ourselves, but we reckon it would hurt us more than it would hurt him, mainly down to the beatings inflicted by his over-zealous security guards who we feel would be unlikely to appreciate the wisdom of our inflicting a sound beating upon the little git.

Monday, March 07, 2005

These Words 

"If you're gonna be a singer then you better be a rock star", says Natasha Bedingfield on album track, If You're Gonna.., although it's clearly not a view she subscribes to too strongly, given that her next single is I Bruise Easily - a tender, heartfelt ballad which is about as far away from rock as Jordan is from talent. Mind you, it's not a huge surprise given that Natasha is a big old mass of contradictions, after all she did follow up her debut single, Single, a song about how great it is to be on your todd, with These Words, a song which essentially said, "You know what? Being in love is pretty fine and dandy after all." and, of course, the most glaring one of all: the fact she's a Bedingfield but she's actually bloody good. It was with all that in mind that we took a trip down the M8 to Glasgowland to see the Lady Bedingfield in full on live action.

First off all, let's get the support out of the way, it came from Tyler James who is Jamie Cullum without the piano and, as such, is pretty shit. Now, Natasha. She came on stage dressed in a white waistcoast and floaty green skirt and, to be quite honest, we'd have been more than happy if she just stood their for the gig, twirling occasionally and generally being pretty. Fortunately for the rest of the audience, who may not have been quite so keen to consider that to be value for money, she also decided to belt out a few songs to keep us entertained, which was nice of her. Opening with I'm a Bomb, the set pretty much consisted of the entire album shuffled around a bit with a cover of Maroon 5's This Love thrown in for good measure. It's something of a testament to Natasha's skills that she managed to make one of their dreary trudges along the musical path sound halfway palatable.

Although she happily danced around the stage like a love-crazed pixie, for the most part showmanship (showwomanship?) was kept to a minimum, letting the songs speak for themselves which, given the quality of the songs and the singing, was no bad thing. 'Stunts', for want of a better term, were pretty much limited to a bit of call and response half way through the set, quite literally getting off the stage during These Words and the handing of a rose to a guy in the audience during We're All Mad. We were particularly jealous of the recipient, as it surely meant he'd have been on a promise and could legally demand congress as a result of the gift.

The only real disappointment of the night was that there was no costume change for the encore, although our disappointment mainly stems from the fact that we were happily imagining her half naked in her dressing room. Natasha is a genuine star and you've got to love her for it. The gig ended on a mass accapella rendition of These Words betwixt the crowd and the band, Natasha's claims to love us may well not have been fully heartfelt, but for the audience it was a genuine expression of joyful emotion. We love her. Is that OK?

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Making Your Mind Up 

Well, that was a pleasant surprise.

Yes, Javine will be representing us at Eurovision, something which has probably surprised her even more than it has the rest of the country, given that we were all geared up for the humiliation of having Jordan represent us. Despite a show that, for reasons best known to themselves, featured Natalie Cassidy, the lumpy faced actress who plays Sonia on Eastenders, as a judge and showed that bloody Bucks Fizz clip twice, just in case there was anyone on earth who wasn't sick to death of it, the public still managed to make the right decision and pick the right artist to do the job. It's almost enough to make us start believing in democracy again. But we're jumping ahead of ourselves slightly. Let's have a look at all tonight's performances - in reverse order - and see just why it's right that Javine should be making sure her passport is in order.

After losing out at Eurovision back in 1996, Gina G was all set to rewrite the history books and storm it at this years event. Alas, the public weren't as keen to see her lay to rest her personal demons and saw fit to let her suffer the ignomy of being in last place. In terms of performance this was fantastic, featuring fake newspaper headlines, a Polaroid style backdrop and all sorts of back-referencing: even her dress harked back to the one she wore all those years ago. Unfortunately this back referencing extended to the song, Flashback, which held firmly to the belief that it was still the mid-nineties and it sure as hell wasn't going to move with the times. It even used a vocoder for fuck's sake.

Also harking back to the past was the second-last placed act, Tricolore, who's backing track for Brand New Day came straight from the mid-eighties, before people actually worked out how to use their synthesizers properly. They served mainly to remind people to go out and by their Mum an Il Divo CD for Mother's Day and also included, without apparent irony, the line "See the world through the eyes of a child". The cocks.

In third place was Andy Scott-Lee who felt that the best way to wow the voting public was to perform a track which would, in more normal circumstances, have been used as the second single from an Atomic Kitten album. The most exciting moment in his performance of Guardian Angel was when the floorlights changed colour towards the end of the song, which says it all really.

It gives us a lot of pleasure to type this, as in second place we find Katie Price, or Jordan as she might be better known to you. Before the contest she was on the radio encouraging people to vote for her as it would be "the breast thing they'll ever do", which pretty much gives you an idea of Jordan's wit, IQ, talent and skills, all in one sentence. Her singing tonight was genuinely painful, and a visibly pregnant woman gyrating around in a skintight pink PVC catsuit is not a good look for anyone. But, and while the previous sentences gave us pleasure, this one is going to cause us some pain: we think that Not Just Anyone might actually have been a good song. It was hard to tell due to Jordan's caterwauling all over it, but if it was performed by someone who actually possessed some sort of musical talent, this would probably have been the best choice to represent us. As it stood though, we were desperately hoping for this not to win.

And finally, we come to the winner, the lovely Miss Javine, who's track Touch My Fire was the undoubtedly the best of the night. It has a good up-beat Eastern vibe going on, lyrics which are probably about sex and Javine performed it in a dress which just about covered her essentials - and didn't at one point, unless we imagined the nipple flash which occurred during her final performance of the song which is, we admit, quite possible - so it's all good. Unfortunately though, we don't think that it'll win. While it is a great track, we think it's more of a grower and lacks the instant punch or catchiness that it'll need to stand out amongst 20 songs when performed on the night. It's a shame, as she deserves the success. Let's hope that real things (arf!) are about to start happening for the girl once universally described as "Poor Javine".

Friday, March 04, 2005

Thoughts of the Pops 

It's Friday! And despite our fears we've managed to make it through 7 days without anyone of note splitting up. Of course, given that last week saw the departure from the music scene of V and Pop! some might say that we've managed to make it through a full fortnight without anyone of note splitting up, but these people are wrong. Anyway, here's what we learnt from this week's Top of the Pops:-

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

10 Things We State About... 

The Stereophonics release their new single, Dakota, this week and everyone's getting all excited by it and saying how surprisingly fantastic it is. We disagree. Yes, compared to the rest of their turgid back catalogue, the track is something quite special, but compared to every other decent song ever released in the history of music it's still a crock of shit, but at least they've finally managed to pull themselves up over the wall of terribleness into the garden of mediocrity, even if knocking down the back door and entering the house of aceness still seems quite a way off. To celebrate, here's 10 entirely true and in no way made up facts about the Welsh whiners.
  1. Contrary to popular belief, The Stereophonics aren't the worst band in the world. They're the worst band in the universe.
  2. During their career there have only ever been two mildly interesting things about them. One is the fact that the singer has a girl's name.
  3. The other no longer applies since drummer Stuart Cable left and took his remarkably stupid hair with him.
  4. Kelly's lyrics are inspired by his thoughts, feelings and things that he's experienced during his day to day business. As a result of this we can surmise that Kelly's life consists of him doing dull things with dull people in a dull way.
  5. Angered by the music press saying that the band were a bit dull and crap, Kelly hit back in 2001 with Mr Writer, a song attacking music journalists for being lonely and bitter and expressing his desire to shoot them. Unfortunately Kelly didn't seem to realise that defending yourself against accusations of being a bit dull and crap by releasing a single which is the very definition of a bit dull and crap isn't really the best way to prove your detractors wrong.
  6. Forcing prisoners of war to listen to their second album, Performance and Cocktails, is banned by the Geneva convention.
  7. Stuart Cable left the band in 2003 to pursue a career in the carpet industry. "Rugs", he said at the time, "It's all about the rugs. And with my remarkably stupid hair I reckon I can pluck enough strands out of my barnet to carpet Buckingham Palace".
  8. Only one person in the world has ever uttered the phrase "The Stereophonics are my favourite band", but as he followed it up by saying their best track was Connected, it's clear that he meant to say Stereo MC's.
  9. Richard Jones, the bassist or, to give him his correct title, other one, has his own name tattooed on his neck. What a twat.
  10. Local Boy in the Photograph wasn't too bad, mind.