Talent in a Previous Life

Because It's Never Just About the Music

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

10 Things We State About... 

Teen Queen, pop princess and general minx Lindsay Lohan releases her new single, Over, this week, so to celebrate here are 10 entirely true and in no way made up facts about the most talented, attractive and easily bestest star of the teen-girl-pop-rock world: Hilary Duff:-
  1. Hilary has received Best Actress Oscar nominations for The Cinderella Story and The Lizzie McGuire Movie, and a Best Supporting Actress nod for her role in the hilarious anti-contraception comedy, Cheaper by the Dozen.
  2. Hilary once dated Aaron Carter, which just goes to show that nobody's perfect.
  3. Hilary suffers from intense paranoia. She once stopped in the middle of a live concert to ask the audience, "Can you hear them?". Warming to her theme, she continued "They talk about us, spreading lies". She then spread her hands in a gesture of frustration before adding resignedly, "That's no surprise". She then returned to the setlist as if the interruption simply hadn't happened. When quizzed about this later, she refused to give any sort of explanation for her bizarre behaviour, simply indicating her sister and stating "Our lips are sealed".
  4. Kids wearing clothes from her fashion range, Stuff by Duff, are 10 times less likely to be bullied than those wearing outfits approved by Mary-Kate and Ashley. Kids wearing clothes from the Lindsay Lohan range are likely to be arrested for soliciting.
  5. Homer Simpson is a big fan of hers, declaring on numerous occasions that he just can't get enough of that wonderful Duff.
  6. Wednesday is not normally her day for doing needlework. It's far more likely that she would have sewed yesterday.
  7. Thom Yorke from arch-miserablists Radiohead is intensely jealous of the "You always dress in yellow/when you want to dress in gold" lines from Why Not, wishing he'd come up with them himself. He does, however, concede that he'd have been unlikely to follow them up with the suggestion that you might like to do a "crazy dance".
  8. Hilary is an expert in the field of advanced calculus, something which she touches upon in The Math. During live performances of the track she has an overhead projector on stage on which she differentiates the expression 7x3+2x2+8x+3=y before finding the roots and solving for y=3, all in time to the track.
  9. Hilary has no sense of smell and, as such, doesn't understand the appeal of bacon.
  10. We'd really quite like it if someone could buy us a copy of her The Girl can Rock DVD. Cheers.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Hue and Sigh 

More acts left their dignity at the door on Saturday night as the latest episode of Hit Me Baby One More Time hit the television screens of the nation, even if the vast majority of the nation decided it didn't really give a shit and turned over to the other side, leaving them to get on with it in privacy. First to try and recapture her glory days was Sinitta, who was last seen helping making Steve Brookstein into the pop icon he is today. Despite the fact that, as a result of this, she should only be allowed on television when she agrees to make an apology to the nation, she's still been given a second shot at pop success. First up she did so Macho in a pair of ripped tights and a skirt that was last seen gracing Jennifer Ellison. Vocally this was a bit dodgy at first, no doubt because most of her concentration was focused on remembering the dance routine. Fortunately her cover was better, taking the lovely Natasha Bedingfield's Single and reinterpreting it in a Chicago Speakeasy style. Good though it was, her flirtacious style made it an even less convincing reading of the lyric than the Bedingfield original.

Sinitta Fact: Sinitta's dog, Max, is currently living with Simon Cowell!

Next up were Hue and Cry. Big in the late eighties, their career stalled in 1989 when singer Pat Kane gave up music to dedicate his life to looking for Linda, something which he's never stopped doing. Indeed, the only reason he agreed to appear on the show was so that he could eliminate the studio audience from his enquiries. They turned up, did a passable version of Labour of Love before deciding to cover Beyonce's Crazy in Love. Now, Crazy in Love is one of the greatest pop songs of the last five years, it's a lightning bolt of energy, fizzing over with sexuality and raw power and possessing a powerfully pumping heart of sheer sassy joy, so what do the brother's Kane do with it? They turn it into a bloody Hue and Cry song. Bastards!

Hue and Cry Fact: Greg Kane wrote the theme tune to Scottish Women!

The Real Thing - who may or may not have been, we're sure that even when they're looking in the mirror they'd have trouble recognising the original members - did You to Me are Everything, in which the lead singer makes a number of promises which he's clearly unable to keep in a bid to woo an uninterested second party, much like the election campaign (satire). They covered Justin Timberlake's Cry Me a River, which was nothing earth shattering, but we're sure they've made a few pennies from the recent Freeloader track so they're probably not that fussed.

The Real Thing Fact: They once appeared on Opportunity Knocks!

Hazel O'Connor, winner of this week's "Blimey! Haven't they changed?" award, did Will You which is still an ace slice of chilled, glacial balladry, but it could have done with losing the lone saxophone, a rule which applies to any song containing a lone saxophone. She covered Kylie's Can't Get You Out of my Head, a track which we think is massively overrated anyway, but Hazel managed to suck all the sexual allure out of the track, thus rendering it utterly pointless. We blame the bongos.

Hazel Fact: Hazel has written and recorded a new album in her cottage!.

Finally we had China Black who's hit, Searching can hardly be described as a classic, though they did do a decent stab at it, but fortunately they turned things around when it came to their cover, motown-ising The Darkness' I Believe in a Thing Called Love. They somehow managed to make it even cheesier than the original, ultimately sounding like it was being done by a wedding band, and sounding none the worse for it. This was clearly the highlight of the week and, indeed, possibly the series.

China Black Fact: It took just 20 minutes to write Searching!

So, who won? Well, clearly China Black, and the studio audience agreed with us on that point. Unfortunately a brain fuzz seems to have effected the voting public - we blame mobile phone radiation - as Hue and Cry were announced as this week's winners. If you voted for them, then we'd like you to go and stand in the corner, think about what you've done, and not come out until you're ready to apologise. It's for your own good.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

OMM, My God 

If you pick up a copy of today's Observer, as well as getting some top quality news journalism - even if their lead story this week is about as toothless as a sugar-eating gumhound after a trip to an extraction crazy dentist - you'll also find a copy of their monthly music magazine. In it there's an insightful piece by the always excellent Peter Robinson about the struggles of unsigned pop bands which mentions Bloke who, you will no doubt remember, we 'bigged up' back in February - yes, we were there first, we are so indie, etc, etc. Slightly depressingly, the gist of their inclusion in the article is that good though they are - and they are - they might well have missed their chance to hit the big time, particularly given the failure of The Faders to crack the top ten. We dearly hope that this won't be the case. We genuinely believe that Bloke have that special spark that elevates them above the competition, but if the blue touchpaper is kept out of their reach, they'll never get the chance to light up the sky with fireworks or, indeed, like a flame. Fame.

If you can't be bothered buying a copy of the paper, you can read the piece on-line here, although if you do actually get off your arse and go down the shops, the printed version includes a rather nice photo of the band as a reward for your efforts.

While we're on the subject of Bloke, we'd like to clear up a couple of errors in our original piece about the girls. Firstly, there's not three redheads in the band, there's only one, but that's nothing that can't be sorted out with the judicious use of Clairol products. Secondly, we no longer want them to cover Everlasting Love. We've had a bit of a think about this and would like to state for the record that Crash by The Primitives would be perfect for them, although we do still want someone to have a crack at Everlasting Love so as to wipe the memory of Jamie Cullum's 'version' from the record books. And shops, for that matter.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Thoughts of the Pops 

It's Friday! And as Jeremy Paxman is busy taking Enoch Powell Michael Howard to task over on BBC One tonight, Top of the Pops has been shunted over to BBC Two for the evening. Surely being on the more intellectual channel will provide us with more food for thought than an ordinary show? Hmmm, let's see what we learnt:-

Thursday, April 21, 2005

The Most Beautiful Girls in the World? 

Once again the FHM readership have stopped masturbating over pictures of bikini clad Hollyoaks actresses long enough to vote in their annual poll of the world's 100 sexiest women and, as with last year, there seems to have been a printing error as Nicola Roberts has been placed at number 77, rather than her rightful number one position. It's quite clearly an error as in her place is Kelly Brook, a woman who, to our knowledge has done the sum total of bugger all since being a bit rubbish on the Big Breakfast, followed by being a bit better, but still quite rubbish, in Smallville. Whilst we await the pulping of the entire print run to clear up this terrible mistake, lets have a look at the all the pop ladies who have found their way into this years poll.

2 - Cheryl Tweedy - Cheryl can now add the title of Sexiest Member of Girls Aloud to her currently held positions in the band of Most Violent, Least Racist and Geordiest, though Kimberley reckons that she's in with a shot at the last one next year.

6 - Britney Spears - Proving once again that forgetting to put your dress on and dancing around in your smalls always increases your chances of getting a high placing, even if it does also dramatically increase your chances of catching a cold.

8 - Sarah Harding - Sarah's no stranger to the world of FHM as she was one of their High Street Honeys, a feature which was spawned once the management realised that it'd be a lot cheaper to get ordinary girls to send in pictures of themselves in bikinis, rather than having to pay 'celebrities'. This was also how a confused Daniel Bedingfield achieved his first publicity.

9 - Beyoncé Knowles - Despite her own protestations, it turns out that in actual fact she's not too bootylicious for the FHM audience. Investigations are currently underway to discover whether they'll also be able, with time and training, to handle all the jelly that she's got.

10 - Charlotte Church - Formerly the voice of an angel, with her recently discovered fondness for the wilder side of life, she'll soon be lucky if she has the voice of a brickie.

13 - Rachel Stevens - Despite our fondness for her, we have to point out that Rachel has all the sex appeal of a rubber doll, but given that a rubber doll is the closest that most FHM readers come to doing it with an actual lady, we can unbderstand why she's scored highly in the poll.

14 - Lindsay Lohan - She was was a one time teenage drama queen. A hyped up everyday wannabe, but she'll have changed her destiny; now she's a somebody. And she's definitely not had a boob job either. Oh, no.

17 - Jennifer Ellison - Jennifer is currently annoyed at not being involved in the second series of Hell's Kitchen. As this series is using members of the public rather than celebrities, she felt she'd be perfect for the show.

20 - Christina Aguilera - Has achieved her position due to FHM readership appreciating the fact that she's a strong, sexually empowered woman, in control of her own destiny and body, and not because they think she looks like a bit of a goer.

21 - Louise Redknapp - Clearly a collection of votes from polls in the late nineties have been included by mistake.

22 - Jennifer Lopez - Has scored higher than her fellow big-bummed popstar, Michelle McManus.

30 - Jessica Simpson - Jessica isn't just a pretty face, she also... Actually, she is just a pretty face.

32 - Joss Stone - Having recently had a number of dreams where we've been terrorised by a Joss Stone who was the very personification of evil itself, we've gone off her a little bit. Still, nice eyes.

35 - Nadine Coyle - Having come only third in terms of attractiveness within Girls Aloud, Nadine is currently angrily ordering their wardrobe manager to shorten her skirts by another couple of inches, disregarding the fact that this would officially make them belts.

37 - Kylie Minogue - Plans are currently afoot to tear down the Sydney Opera House and replace it with a new venue shaped in the manner of Kylie's arse.

39 - Delta Goodrem - Plans are currently afoot to tear down Delta's home, preferably with the dull and pointless chanteuse still inside.

42 - Holly Valance - Holly Valance is currently appearing nightly in Kings Cross Station where she can be seen in the interactive, improvisational 'living theatre' piece Have You Got 10p for a Cup of Tea.

44 - Kimberley Walsh - The sexiest Yorkshirewoman since Lisa Riley first walked onto the Emmerdale set in a typhoon of lipstick and estrogen.

55 - Christina Milian - Even Christina Milian herself probably has problems remembering who Christina Milian is.

58 - Mariah Carey - She'd like to thank everyone for their support, though not her bra, as it's by not having that support that's helped her go so far.

62 - Billie Piper - No doubt down to her improved profile thanks to her starring role in the new TV series, Billie's Exciting Adventures in Time, featuring Christopher Eccleston as her foolish assistant.

66 - Jodi Albert - The Girl Thing revival starts here.

77 - Nicola Roberts - Assuming that this isn't, as we strongly suspect, a mistake, then we guess we should at least be glad that she's actually placed this year. Besides, a truly precious gem can't be appreciated by just anyone.

83 - Anastacia - Well, there's always some comedy attempt to vote someone entirely inappropriate into these sorts of charts, isn't there?

84 - Dannii Minogue - While you might expect her to be disappointed at doing a lot worse than her sister, Dannii is actually overjoyed at her position, mainly because it shows that at least a few people still give a shit about her.

86 - Dido - Oh, for fuck's sake.

89 - Jamelia - Not only is she the legs of Pretty Polly, but with her recent announcement, she'll soon be in the running for the role of stomach of Mothercare.

93 - Stacy Ferguson - Or Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas as she's better known. Despite her fondness for wearing short skirts, she does have the cold dead eyes of a killer, which we imagine would be somewhat offputting.

95 - Hilary Duff - A lesser website would make a joke here revolving around a pun on Come Clean. We, of course, will resist such temptations.

98 - Frankee - Umm, quite. We can only assume that rather than voting for the 'ex-girlfriend' of Eamon and singer of the Fuck You Right Back answer song, the public actually thought they were voting for the S Club Junior - and probably not actually legal - singer, Frankie. Given her age, this would be quite disturbing, were it not for the fact that the average FHM reader is 13 so she's perfectly within their age-range.

99 - Avril Lavigne - Avril once declared that "I won't wear skanky clothes that show my booty, my belly or my boobs.". Since then - regularly catalogued by the always excellent No Rock & Roll Fun - she's been pictured in a variety of outfits that do just that including, on one memorable occasion, a Hooters outfit. But she is cute, so we'll forgive her her hypocrisy.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

10 Things We State About... 

On Sunday everyone* got all excited because the Top 40 decided to include legal downloads for the very first time. Before the event all sorts of nonsense was being spoken about how this would be a major sea change and would help the charts represent the taste of the nation far better than one that simply covers physical sales. This was mainly based around the fact that The Stereophonics' Dakota was the biggest selling download over the last 3 months, which would be the same Stereophonics who got to number one in the proper chart last month with the same track. Still, what did this exciting new dawn in chart history bring us? Tony Christie at number one and Elvis Presley at number 3. Man the barricades, truly the revolution starts here. Anyway, to celebrate this brave new age in music, here are ten entirely true and in no way made up facts about the Top 40:-
  1. The first top 40 was compiled in 1952, although rather than using sales figures to calculate the chart, the organisers based it on counting how often their local milkman would whistle certain tunes. The first number one was "Annoying Tuneless Mess at 5.30 in the Sodding Morning"
  2. Many people believe that The Sex Pistols were kept off the number one spot in 1977 as it would have been embarrassing for the Queen's Silver Jubilee if God Save The Queen had been at the top spot. This is nonsense, it simply didn't sell enough records. The only time the Queen has interfered in the charts was in 1981 when she officially decreed that Joe Dolce Music Club's Shaddap You Face should be at number one ahead of Ultravox's Vienna as it would "really piss that Midge Ure off".
  3. Record sales are now so low that only 5 sales can get you a number one. 3 if you offer sexual favours to JK and Joel.
  4. As all the interest these days is focused on the top 10, compilers simply make up the rest of the chart by drawing names out of a hat.
  5. When Bruno Brookes hosted the Top 40 on Radio 1, he would personally phone up each record shop to collect the sales figures. If anyone suggested that he could just read it off a bit a paper he would declare, "It's my fucking integrity that's on the line if I get it wrong, pal", before sacking the person involved, ritually beheading them and then using their skull as a drinking vessel.
  6. To stop Rachel Stevens thinking she was something of a pop failure, her management team convinced her that the number '1' didn't actually exist and that being number 2 was the best thing to be. They've recently paid to pay a mathematical professor a lot of money to come up with a new integer system that didn't include the numbers 2 to 9 either.
  7. In the future the charts are likely to include ringtone sales as well as actual music. This event will coincide with the death of civilisation as we know it.
  8. Elvis Presley is the artist who has had the most weeks on the charts, followed by Sash! at number 2 and 60Ft Dolls at number 3. Elton John is 4th.
  9. In 1973, the chart for the 19th May was delayed by a day when the compilers, distracted by a bee that had found it's way into the office, lost count and had to start all over again.
  10. No one really gives a toss about the Top 40 any more.

*Not actually everyone.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Painful S&M News 

Every silver lining, as The Supernaturals once sang, has a cloud, and so it seems in the world of pop that each piece of good news must be followed up by something less than enjoyable. While on the one hand we're quite happy because Girls Aloud have quietly dropped their plans to release Wicked Game - the official reason being given is that the girls have time to do promotion for it and, of course, has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that everyone who heard about it immediately went "Blimey! What a rubbish idea!" - our celebrations are somewhat tempered by the rumours we've read about Sam and Mark leaving Top of the Pops Saturday to return to their music 'career'.

We actually quite like Sam and Mark as presenters, mainly because when they're playing silly buggers with various low-rent popstars they're not actually singing, but even without that particular bonus, they do work quite well together and act as a good foil for Fearne. It seems that while neither of them personally have enough personality to fill an egg cup - remember, they were both beaten on Pop Idol by Michelle McManus, a girl who's only noticeable personality trait was that she was quite fond of cake - as a duo they have just enough to co-host a Saturday morning telly show. This is not the same thing, however, as having enough personality to front a pop career, something which they amply proved with their first two releases.

Obviously, if Sam and Mark want to leave the show, there's not a lot we can do to stop them. Indeed, the choice might not even be up to them, but we feel that by not having the "Keeping Sam and Mark employed and well away from a recording studio" factor in their favour, the BBC would be seriously weakening the argument for keeping the license fee, but if they are desperate for new projects, they don't need to return to music, we can think of loads of different things they could try, here are just a few:-

Monday, April 18, 2005

Best China 

It's week three of Hit Me Baby One More Time and Vernon Kay's boundless enthusiasm is beginning to get somewhat grating. Just once we'd like him to come on stage after an act's performance and, rather than saying "Wow! That was quite literally the best thing I have ever seen in my entire life! Truly that was the best live performance of all time!" You'll have to excuse me, I actually came while watching that!", he'd come on and say "You know what, that was a bit ropey. You definitely did a better job in rehearsal. Still, never mind, you've got your cover to come, maybe you'll hit the right notes then". Certainly a bit of honesty wouldn't have gone amiss when it came to the Baccara performance, who's singing ability was roughly on a par with that of someone doing karaoke at 11PM. Were this actually Pop Idol, the only reason their performance would have been included would be so that we could have a cheap laugh during the audition stage. Apparently they can boogie, but judging by the lack of dancing ability that was displayed, they certainly weren't playing that certain song. For their cover they plumped for Enrique Iglesias' Hero and proved that their bad vocal performance for their first song wasn't a one-off, although it was still a more pleasurable experience than listening to Enrique's version. Baccara Fact: "Baccara are big in Khazakstan!"

Mica Paris is one of those artists that you don't actually remember unless someone specifically mentions her. She's got a good voice and had some not bad tunes, but lacked the necessary star quality required for people to actually care that much about her. Much like Beverly Knight today, in fact. Mica did My One Temptation before choosing Robbie Williams' Angels for her cover which is, lest we forget, the greatest song of the last 25 years, as long as any records not called Angels or that were released by someone who wasn't a member of Take That are excluded. She got in a gospel choir for this, which we believe is known as over-egging the pudding. Mica Fact: "Mica owns 500 DVDs!"

So, where do we go from here? Is it down to the lake we fear? Well, no, but it was to Nick Heyward, formally of Haircut 100, who did Fantastic Day which is a great slice of euphoro-pop but doesn't seem to have received the status or respect it deserves. His version tonight was, admittedly, a bit lack lustre, but we still backed him to win on the basis that we know he can do better. He chose Busted's Crashed the Wedding for his cover, giving it a slow first verse before launching into the chorus with a a blast of energy, even if he didn't do any Busted jumps. Nick Fact: "Nick used to have a fear of flying!"

The Pasadenas, for reasons best known to known to themselves, didn't do I'm Doing Fine Now, instead doing their debut single, Tribute. For their cover they did Will Young's Leave Right Now, but we didn't really pay much attention to it as we were still trying to work out what possessed them not to do I'm Doing Fine Now. Pasadenas Fact: "Mikey crashed the tour bus in 1989"

After last week's Belinda Carlisle related disappointment, we were somewhat disillusioned with the talents of ginger girls, but our faith has been reasserted thanks to T'Pau's Carol Decker who won over both the audience in the studio and at home to win a place in the final with her versions of China in your Hand and Jamelia's Superstar. She's still rocking the barmaid chic look - which is a good thing, by the way - and still sounded great. Her version of Superstar had added guitars and was rocked up a bit, sounding better than the Jamelia version. Though, to be fair, that's not in itself any great feat. Carol Fact: "Carol dreamt of being a journalist as a child!"

Next week Sinitta and Hue and Cry are on the show. Oh dear.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Thoughts of the Pops 

It's Friday! And the world of pop is still reeling from the shock news that Lee Ryan's throat has been sorted out and the Best of Blue tour will be going ahead after all. Truly there is no God. Still, never mind, let's try and gee up and deal with this tragedy as best we can, and what better way is there to forget some painful, heart-rending news than to watch Top of the Pops? Hmmm. Anyway, here's what we learnt:-

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

10 Things We State About... 

Ever since the days when she went into hospital for a knee operation and came out again with bigger boobs, the world has been interested in the medical condition of Miss Britney Spears, but since that storm in a C cup passed, there wasn't much to capture the public's imagination. That was until recently when speculation began to grow about whether she was a) pregnant, or b) had just put on a few pounds. Either way, the story was newsworthy, but it has finally been confirmed that, yes, Britney is up the duff. And by that we mean with baby, not involved in some sort of lesbiotic affair with our own favourite pop-rock princess, Hilary. Anyway, to celebrate the fact that Britney will soon be giving up her schoolgirl uniform for flowery maternity dresses, here are 10 entirely true and in no way made up facts about the girl who puts the Pro into Overprotected and the fear of god into Christina Aguilera:-
  1. Britney was still a virgin on the day she got married. Definitely.
  2. Britney first hit the public eye when she co-hosted ITV's Disney Club alongside Andrea Boardman.
  3. Her main aim in life is to persuade everyone to join CND, become a vegetarian, grow their hair long, wear beads and floaty skirts, and have a somewhat lax attitude towards personal hygiene. She was, after all, born to make you hippy.
  4. Her recent hit, Toxic, was inspired by her fondness for a team captain on the annoyingly smug quiz show Call My Bluff.
  5. She and her husband, Kevin, are looking forward to the baby being born, mainly so that her dog is no longer the only intelligent creature in their household.
  6. When she was in Las Vegas, not only did she suffer the embarrassment of ending up in her short lived first marriage, but she also had even more humiliation heaped upon her when it was discovered that she went to see Celine Dion's show.
  7. American educational establishments tend not to culminate in a song and dance routine at the end of the school day. Canadian ones, on the other hand, do.
  8. Other artists who have famously worn school uniform include Angus Young from AC/DC, Sonya Aurora Madden from Echobelly, Girls Aloud at G-A-Y and Michael Jackson in the privacy of his own home for a private audience.
  9. Crossroads would have swept the board at the Oscars, were it not for a clerical error which meant that it was excluded for being "a bit shit".
  10. She should never have worked with Madonna.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Spied: Girls 

Any fans of both excellent pop and bumming - a long shot, we do realise - may be interested to know that on Saturday, 30th April, Daphne and Celeste will be playing at the popular club for the London homosexualist, G-A-Y.

Yes, you did read that right, Daphne and Celeste are back! We can only hope that, despite being in their twenties, they'll still be pretending to be 16 years old, after all, that's exactly what they did when they were around for the first time. Actual new material is likely to be thin on the ground, but who cares when hits such as Ugly, Ooh, Stick You, Roll Call, Spy Girls and their celebration of multi-culturalism, We Love Your Sushi, are likely to get an airing. Oh, and they'll probably also do School's Out, but that was a bit ropey so you might want to go to the bar at that point. If you're neither London based, nor of the gay persuasion - although as it's just a turn of phrase we don't think you'll have to actually prove you're a card carrying homosexual to get in, not unless being gay turns out to be less about a person's sexuality and more akin to being member of the Dennis the Menace fanclub - then you'll be pleased to know that they'll apparently be doing some more dates around the country, though these are, as yet, still to be confirmed.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Thoughts of the Pops 

It's Monday! And we're reviewing a show based around a chart which is now over a week old, making us as up to date and as cutting edge as a Status Quo concert. Hooray for crap BBC scheduling. Here's what we learnt:-

Shakey Result 

After Tiffany's victory on last week's Hit Me Baby One More Time, we had high hopes for Belinda Carlisle being similarly fab, thus increasing the possibility of it being an all-ginger final. Unfortunately we hadn't given much thought to the possibility of Belinda being entirely rubbish while, she, on the other hand, had clearly not only given it some consideration, but had actually decided "Yes! That's the way to go" and gave a performance that was mediocre at best, her voice vaguely hovering around the melody line during her rendition of Heaven is a Place on Earth. Her cover wasn't much better, choosing to cover Coldplay's The Scientist in a more yawn inducing way than the original. We did learn, however, that she's half sheep, such was the bleating nature of her voice. Belinda Fact: Belinda left home at the age of 19.

So if not Belinda, who won? Umm, Shakin' Stevens. Shakey was, of course, world famous. Even Elvis these days is known as the American Shakey, but it doesn't change the fact that other than his Christmas records, he's as pointless as a shaved hedgehog. He mumbled his way through This Ole House, which we assume was his 'style', rather than because he'd forgotten the words, before turning to Pink's Trouble for his cover, a song so inessential that we doubt even she remembers recording it. His weak voice barely carried the tune, but somehow he still managed to mobilise his fanbase into voting for him, which is quite worrying really. Not the fact that he can influence people, but the fact he actually still has a fanbase. Presumably they didn't actually dial the numbers themselves, instead getting the staff at their nursing home to do it for them. At the end of his first performance, someone threw a pair of knickers on stage. They weren't incontinence pants, surprisingly enough. Shakey Fact: He once worked as a window cleaner.

We, along with anyone who actually has ears, felt that this result was something of a travesty as Haddaway was clearly robbed. Wearing two watches, presumably in the hope that this would double up his fifteen minutes of fame, he did a decent version of What is Love?, although in his haste to get ready for his performance he forgot to put his shirt on, but it was his cover that should have won him a place in the final being, as it was, a rocked up version of Britney Spears' Toxic which was nothing short of fantastic. Alas, it seems that while Shakey fans are free to walk the streets without suffering cat calls or having things thrown at them, Haddaway fans keep their head down, don't draw attention to themselves and certainly don't vote in TV talent shows. Shame. Haddaway Fact: Haddaway has a college degree in marketing.

Also on the show were Doctor and the Medics, who we believe are still touring, their live show presumably consisting of them performing Spirit in the Sky, a song which really should have been performed at the Pope's funeral, a dozen times before buggering off. For their cover they went for Robbie's Let Me Entertain You, which was fair enough as by dressing like idiots and having a bloke dressed as Death with a distinctly unscary looking wooden scythe, they were pretty entertaining, even if they're not exactly the best band in the world or, indeed, in the studio that evening. Doctor and the Medics Fact: The Doctor comes from Knotty Ash, home to Ken Dodd.

Finally, making up the numbers, we have Jaki Graham, a woman who we've never heard of, performing Set Me Free, a song which we've never heard before, nor do we have any particular desire to hear again. Apparently she achieved her fame by working with UB40 and David Grant of Fame Academy, uhhh, fame, which just goes to show that some people will sacrifice every last shred of their dignity to be famous. While dancing like a drunken Aunt at a wedding, she also found time to belt out Will Young's Your Game, which she did a decent enough job of, but then, Your Game is such a great tune that it would be hard for anyone to ruin it, though we're sure that Shakin' Stevens would no doubt give it his best shot. Jaki Graham Fact: Jaki is managed by her own daughter.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Thoughts of the Popes 

It's Friday! And the BBC have taken us completely by surprise by relaunching Top of the Pops with a completely new format. The first sign that things weren't going to be as they were used to be was when we turned on our telly not to see Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates grinning inanely at us, but instead BBC newsreader Huw Edwards was taking on hosting duties. We're not sure about this choice, certainly 'serious' seems to be the watchword for the new format, but we feel that Huw is unlikely to be able to match Fearne's girlish enthusiasm for the latest pop acts. Also, we can't help but feel that his black tie and jacket outfit would be more suited for fronting the coverage of the funeral of a major world figure, rather than fronting the BBC's flagship music show. While we're not expecting him to ape Reggie's street style - or Fearne's fallen-asleep-in-a-dressing-up-box vibe for that matter - he could at least have tried to look less like an accountant and more like someone who knows one end of the chart from the other.

To launch the new format, they followed up their al-fresco event in Gateshead by coming live from Rome with an audience that seemed to stretch for miles, all eager to hear the latest pop hits. We're not sure where the bulk of the members came from, possibly a goth convention, as black clothing was very much the dominant fashion statement. Also, the dressing up as a Priest/Nun fashion thing which was very much in evidence had entirely passed us by. However, showing the high esteem in which the show is held, it was gratifying to see a number of world leaders in the audience for the relaunch, though we feel that inviting disgraced Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe may well have been a mistake. Prince Charles was also in attendance, having moved his wedding to the Saturday, presumably realising that he could never compete with the media attention that the brand new Top of the Pops would garner.

Musically, the 'serious' style that Huw embodied was very much in evidence, with the charts being pretty much ignored in favour of choral singing with a simplistic organ backing. We're as fond of minimalist music as the next man, but we feel that cutting out the chart in this manner will be seen as a mistake, certainly the chanting nature of most of the vast majority of performers became very repetitive after a while and we were practically crying out for Rachel to come on to the stage and perform her latest single while wearing a racey little outfit, something which we feel the vast majority of those there would have appreciated. Indeed, it seemed that large sections of the audience were not impressed with the new show, many were openly weeping, upset at the blatant destruction of a national institution and the loss of Fearne Cotton's career. Also, many of the acts performed in a foreign language, which may well help international sales, but is likely to do little more than alienate the domestic audience.

It wasn't all about the music though, bizarrely the BBC seem keen to revive variety programming on a Friday night as a magic interlude appeared half way through the show. For some reason, possibly down to an inexperienced director, the conclusion of the trick was never shown, but it seemed to involve participants drinking some wine and eating some bread, which was then supposed to transform into actual blood and flesh. To be honest, this was all a bit quite Penn and Teller/Jim Rose Circus esque and seemed very inappropriate for this time of night.

While musically the show did seem to be very much stuck in the past, at least it has moved on in one respect. When tATu appeared on the show, the BBC declined to show their lesbian kiss, coyly cutting away to an audience shot instead, nowadays however, things have changed and they were quite happy to broadcast some boy on boy kissing, even if it did appear to be somewhat more chaste than that of the Russian ladies.

Overall we were quite disappointed with the new show. While we liked the touch of having a coffin on stage throughout the show to signify the death of the old format, we feel they shouldn't be too quick to bury it as they may find they need to dig it up slightly quicker than they may have hoped. We're not about to say that newer and more obscure bands shouldn't be allowed the limelight they received tonight, but it should be done in tandem with the music that people are buying and wanting to hear. Tonight's show was very one track and somber, lacking the party atmosphere that should be a part of the show. It was almost like someone had... What's that? ... Pope dead... Top of the Pops cancelled to show highlights of his funeral... Oh, uh, never mind.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

10 Things We State About... 

Garbage are back! And they've released a single which, in all honesty, is basically Garbage doing a Garbage song but as we're rather fond of Garbage we'll give it the thumbs up. In it they ask, Why Do You Love Me?, so to help them try and find an answer, here's 10 entirely true and in no way made up facts about the electro-goth-rock-popsters:-
  1. Somewhere in her attic, Shirley Manson has a portrait of herself looking somewhat old and haggard, thus explaining why she is still, despite heading rapidly towards her forties, looking remarkably foxy.
  2. It's still one of life's great disappointments that Shirley doesn't actually sing "I came to fuck you up" at any point during the chorus to Vow.
  3. Shirley is currently serving a life sentence for her part in the Sharon Tate murders in America in the late 60's.
  4. Nobody knows what the names of the blokes in the band actually are.
  5. Shirley's a staunch monarchist, stating on many occasions that no matter what political system you may prefer, she's only happy when it reigns.
  6. Their Bond theme, The World is Not Enough, was really good and was well worth them doing and certainly wasn't the worst thing they've ever released by a country mile.
  7. That was Stupid Girl.
  8. At the concert to celebrate the opening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999 - in spirit that is, they didn't bother finishing the actual building until this year - Donald Dewar performed lead vocals on Queer.
  9. Shirley owns neither a pair of trousers, nor a skirt that goes beyond the mid-thigh area.
  10. Beautifulgarbage was pretty ropy mind.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Wicked Whisper 

Each night before we go to bed (my darling), we whisper a little prayer to any Gods, Goddesses or Secret Service agents who may be listening. Said prayer runs as follows: "Dear Almighty Being(s), We understand that you've probably got your hands tied sorting out wars, natural disasters, famine, disease, the Noise Next Door and other such horrific events which plague the earth, but if you find a spare minute could you to see to it that Girls Aloud release another mediocre, by the numbers cover version, as we don't think that I'll Stand By You was quite bland enough to undo all the good work that their previous single releases had done. Thanks!". Well, it seems that our prayer has been answered as it's just been announced that the next Girls Aloud single will be none other than a cover of Chris Isaak's Wicked Game.

You might think that it's somewhat unfair to criticise the song before we've actually heard it, and that's a fair point, but ignorance has never stopped us before in the past and we feel pretty convinced that we're going to be proven right on this point. Wicked Game is the sort of song that people who don't actually like music claim as one of their favourite songs because they think it's a little bit left of centre, i.e. it's not Westlife, when all it is is a crappy, dull, maudlin ballad, which is not to say that it doesn't have it's place, but that place is soundtracking the moment in a film were a broken-hearted man sits on a bridge, looking down at a photo of the woman who has left him/been kidnapped/died/cursed to turn into a tomato should salt fall on her while weeping, just as a drizzle begins to fall all around him, not in the pop charts.

On the one hand, given that 6 tracks have already turned up on singles, we should probably congratulate them on not actually milking the album dry, although given the, ahem, underperformance of Wake Me Up they probably didn't really have much choice in the matter, on the other, we simply don't want to see the girls constantly falling back on doing covers, unless said cover, as we've said many times in the past, is of Fuzzbox's Pink Sunshine with Nicola getting the "When I'm good I'm wicked at the same time" line, which would have genius written all over it. This, however, has "Quick! Let's cash in on the forthcoming tour" written all over it, and will no doubt be tossed off with all the care and attention of aged hooker on her 5th client of the night. We can even picture what the video's going to be like; essentially I'll Stand By You with the lights turned down a bit. Possibly with a scene set in a car for the instrumental break.

Still, at least... No, it's no good, we can't think of anything positive that might come out of this, unless you think that swelling Mr Isaak's bank balance to be a good and noble aim. And we don't.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

We Think She's, Err, Won Now 

Having decided that the public has clearly had it's fill of pop talent shows where the contestants are destined to become forgotten has-beens within weeks of the contest ending, ITV1 has decided to break the creative mould and has come up with a new pop talent show where the contestants are already forgotten has-beens, thus cutting out the middle man. So it is with the clumsily titled new show, Hit Me Baby One More Time which is not to be considered in any way a cheap rip off of Pop Idol involving slightly more recognisable faces, although clearly the branding experts are a bit worried about people making that mistake, given that the name of the show is plastered across the set more thoroughly than a girl band is plastered with fake tan. In it various failed popstars are given a second chance to be a one-hit wonder by performing their classic - and in some cases only - hit and a cover of a modern song, hoping to win over the audience and get a chance to release a record once again. Given that most of the acts are from the eighties and nineties, for most of us this show is a bit of a nostalgia trip, for host Vernon Kay, however, a man who appears to believe it's still 1975, it's a chance to hear crazy futuristic music of the like he's never heard before. As we have about as many original ideas as the executives in charge of Saturday night telly programming, we'll be keeping you up to date each week on the goings on in the show, so here's this week's report.

First up was Gloria Gaynor who, seeing as this was going to be on the telly, decided to get dressed up as a sofa. She did I Will Survive with all the interest and enthusiasm of someone who has no doubt performed it every single sodding night of their lives since 1979 and now hates the song with far more passion than she's ever sung it with. Her choice of cover was far better, taking Christina Aguilera's Beautiful and turning it from a heartfelt ballad into a disco stomper which was surprisingly excellent. Also, thanks to a pointless VT before her cover about what she's been up to since her heyday, we learnt the fascinating fact that "Gloria loves Times Square and tries to go there ever week". All the acts had similarly interesting facts revealed about them, and as they're so inherently exciting, we'll be recording them here for posterity.

Howard Jones, who's biopic Howard the Duck was a disappointing flop in the nation's cinemas, did What is Love? with, yes!, a Keytar strapped to his body, which almost made up for the fact that his interpretive dance blokey wasn't on-stage. You could tell he was from the eighties as the person playing what was almost a guitar was wearing a leather kilt. For his cover he did Dido's White Flag with just piano and acoustic guitar, which succeeded mainly in making his version ever duller than the original, which is some feat. Howard Jones Fact: He has 10 O Levels and 2 A Levels.

Despite the fact that it was a hit for Kajagoogoo and not for him as a solo artist, Lihmal, now sporting marginally more sensible hair, opted to perform Too Shy as his hit. His performance, however, made him look more like the lead singer of an underrehearsed 80's tribute band on the pub circuit, rather than the bloke who sang it in the first place. Hush, hush, indeed. He chose to do Maroon 5's This Love for his cover, which is exactly the sort of song you'd expect someone who's not entirely in touch with the current music scene to pick, thinking that it would make him look like he was down with the kids. Lihmal Fact: Lihmal is an anagram of his surname Hamill.

Has anyone really been crying out for a Honeyz reunion? Certainly English teachers around the land would despair if they came back, given their slapdash approach to pluralisation. They did Finally Found in a slightly out of tune, but still utterly unmemorable way, before deciding that it would be a really good idea to cover Nickelback's How You Remind Me. This was crap, but then what do you expect if you do a cover of Nickelback's How You Remind Me. Honeyz Fact: They love pub quizzes, and their best subject is music. Not on tonight's evidence it's not.

Finally, we come to Tiffany, the proto-Nicola. I Think We're Alone Now is still a fantastic pop song, even if it's somewhat dubious having a woman in her thirties singing a song about being a teenager in love and dealing with disapproving parents. Showing that she still has a respect for modern pop music she chose to cover Girls Aloud's Love Machine, although that respect didn't extend to actually bothering to learn the words for the track, unless "mumblemumblemumble cause I like the way it mumbles" is the lyric. Still, she gave it a slightly more countrified edge and performed it with a great sense of sassyness and energy. It also makes history as being the most camera time a ginger girl has ever received while performing a GA track. Tiffany Fact: She trains at least 4 times a week.

And so, episode one was all over bar the shouting, although with Vernon Kay hosting you can be sure that shouting is never too far away. Once the votes were counted and verified it was revealed, via a rising platform, that Tiffany was this weeks winner. Hooray! Not only did that mean that she was in the final, but it also meant that she got a second chance to try and remember all the words for Love Machine, which she very nearly managed. She did apologise for cocking it up, however, so aww, bless.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Savin' Stevens 

Rachel Stevens has a new single out this week. We didn't think that this was worth mentioning as we assumed that everyone would realise it's genius and would be rushing out to buy it. Unfortunately though, despite the fact that this is an odd-numbered release and, as such, follows the established pattern by being little short of perfection, it also, judging by the midweeks, is continuing to follow the established pattern by not actually getting to it's deserved position at number one. This is not good and, while we do trust our readership to have had the good sense to have bought it already, to persuade the waverers, here are 10 reasons why you should buy it.
  1. If this doesn't become the international megahit it fully deserves to be, Rachel's management team will decide that exciting retro-futuristic electro pop isn't the way to go and crap covers of the More More More variety are what the public wants to hear. This can't be allowed to happen.
  2. The B-side, Queen, is a rather good slice of smoky, laid-back pop which wouldn't have faired too badly if it was released as a single in it's own right, although it isn't really in the same league as Negotiate with Love
  3. Negotiate with Love really is fucking ace. While many people criticise Rachel for being a personality vacuum (Arf! Though possibly one that might need to be explained) with all the vocal presence of a light breeze, this is actually her strength. It allows her to become a canvas, a cipher if you will, for the writers and producers to project their images onto her. A fully malleable pop princess for the 21st century.
  4. She was in S Club 7 for God's sake. Their struggle can't be allowed to be in vain. With Jo seemingly preferring to get pissed with Jodie Marsh, rather than actually releasing the killer pop tune that we all know she's got in her and the others just doing, well, something else, Rachel is the only one carrying on their legacy. She can't be allowed to fail.
  5. The video's on the single as well, which means you can watch half-a-dozen Rachels trashing a house which, let's face it, is pretty cool. Although it does mean that should she fail to make it to album number 3, she's unlikely to be able to find employment as a maid or in any other cleanliness related job.
  6. She was in the rubbish "Spiderplant Man" that was shown as part of Comic Relief, so she needs some sort of success to perk up her spirits and remind her that she does possess some sort of talent.
  7. If it doesn't get to number one, we won't really be able to use the following joke:-

    Q: Why doesn't Rachel Stevens ask for a discount on moisturising bodywash?
    A: Because she won't negotiate with Dove.

    Though some may say that that's a good reason not to buy the record.
  8. You get a free game with the CD! You get to 'be' Rachel and do exactly what she does, although it turns out that this involves walking round a house, picking up love hearts and avoiding clones of yourself, rather than stripping down to your scanties and posing for a men's magazine.
  9. There's also an interview with her answering questions from the fans, this includes the revelation that she'd quite like to do a duet with Mike Skinner. We feel that Mike is also quite keen to duet with Rachel, though probably not in the way that she has in mind.
  10. If you don't buy this single, we'll buy a kitten and drown it. Seriously. And it won't be our fault if it dies. Do you really want to make a cute little kitty-cat suffer a horrible, frightening and painful death? Thought not. Buy it or have that on your conscience.

Oh, and apparently Estelle's Go Gone isn't exactly entering the charts with a bullet either. Come on people, sort it out...

Friday, April 01, 2005

Thoughts of the Pops 

It's Friday! And isn't it nice to see that the Pope is clinging on to life just long enough to allow the Sunday papers to prepare their special tribute pull-out sections? Also, the fact he hasn't yet poped (arf!) his clogs means that Friday evening's telly schedules weren't disrupted and Top of the Pops stayed in it's rightful place. Here's what we learnt:-