Talent in a Previous Life

Because It's Never Just About the Music

Monday, October 31, 2005

Thoughts of the Pops 

It's Monday! And we've finally successfully managed the surprisingly complex task of remembering both which channel and what time Top of the Pops is on at, leading to our first recording of the show in a fortnight! Hooray! Let's see what we learnt then, shall we?

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Phil-Upped and Left 

Week 3 of X Factor and the chaff are beginning to get separated from the, well, slightly less chaffy. The lovely Kate Thornton took the chocolate vibe of her name a bit more seriously this week, wearing a lovely dress - albeit one that did little for her cleavage - that was the exact same colour as a Dairy Milk wrapper. As it's Hallowe'en on Monday, the judges clearly decided to have a little bit of fun and all dressed up in hilarious costumes: Simon dressed as a member of Il Divo, Sharon plumped for the Rubbish Supply Teacher look, while Louis happily dressed for a funeral, though not, alas, his own.

Before we got down to the slightly humiliating business of watching people prostitute themselves in a desperate attempt to gain our approval, a bit of back slapping had to be done, as not only did X Factor itself win some sort of prize at the National TV Awards but for reasons which we doubt we'll ever understand, Sharon herself won the award for Most Popular Expert, something which is wrong on at least two counts. After proving once again that democracy doesn't work, lets see if the public managed to do any better when it came to judging this week's performances:

After last week's morale shattering criticism from Simon, it seemed that Phillip just couldn't face turning up to perform last night, so instead sent TV's Mike McClean to perform in his place. Stung by last week's criticism, Louis let him pick his own song this week, in a give him enough rope to hang himself with kinda style, and Phillip searched far and wide for inspiration before he finally stumbling upon a late night screening of Back to the Future and thought, "Ah, Johnny B Goode, I can do that!", and so he did, with his hair in the sort of tousled style normally caused by an over affectionate mother. He did seem a lot more comfortable with this sorta song, even if the overriding impression was that of younger nephew doing a turn at a family gathering, and his dancing during the instrumental break really wasn't a good idea, serving mainly to make him look like he was being electrocuted by his microphone. Even we dance better than him and we dance like a scarecrow in a hurricane. Sharon suggested that he's "just stepped out of the closet", something which, if our google referral stats are anything to go by, is something which would be welcomed by many viewers, while Simon described him as being "like Shakin' Stevens performing at a wedding". Much to Phillip's embarassment, Louis then stepped in supportively by saying "He wants to be a young Shakin Stevens though". When asked if this was the case, Phillip responded "Uh, I'd rather be the King". Louis, again doing his best to keep up the self-esteem, confidence and hope of his young charge, responded happily to this claim with "Oh, you'll never be the King". With friends like Louis...

Brenda was up next, and we have to wonder whether, in the interview segment that preceded her performance, Sharon was wearing that hat for a bet. Brenda herself appeared to have raided All Saint's old wardrobe department, rocking a pinstriped waistcoat and trousers look for her version of Gladys Knight's Midnight Train to Georgia. It was good to see her do a sweet, sultry performance, rather than having her thrown into the same camp as Rowetta and Voices With Soul from last year's show and be forced to do bellowy soul cover after bellowy soul cover. Despite this clearly being a good direction for her to go in, she'll no doubt be doing the inevitable version of River Deep, Mountain High by next week's show.

We've worked out exactly why we hate Shayne, and it's not just because all the ladies love him and we're jealous - he has to deal with Sharon flirting with him and offering him something of hers which is "warm, feels nice and smells nice too", something which no man would be envious of - but because he sings like he's chewing on an oily rag. Using Kelly Jones from the Stereophonics as his style inspiration, which is a bit like using Kerry Katona as your inspiration for completing a masters in Advanced Mathematics, he gave us his interpretation of Summer of '69, treating it less as a rock song, more as something to aimlessly sing along to much in the manner of a vaguely tuneful goldfish. It was, as Simon later pointed out, as grit free as a rarely traveled highland road during a severe snowstorm. Can people please stop liking him! We'll give you a bit of cardboard if you do, it's got just as much personality as he has, and is also slightly more useful.

Fucking Chico told us in his intro segment that he "Was never like the other kids", presumably because they weren't all attention seeking irritants in dire need of a slap. This week he was given Livin' La Vida Loca to maul and, in all fairness, this was a good song choice for him, but it still didn't stop his performance being entirely shit. The full length performance that all the acts were able to do this week did him no favours either, as it was as grating an experience as putting your hand through a Parmesan shredder, though more painful. During the instrumental break he, in an entirely spontaneous and in no way painstakingly rehearsed and choreographed section, jumped off of the stage and danced with a small girl who just happened to be at the front of the audience and had stepped forward before he'd even got anywhere near her. We feel sure that, for agreeing to go ahead with this, we can report her parents to social services as the poor girl will now be scarred for life. Simon described it as being like the "Armenian entrant to Eurovision in 1973", which was incredibly insulting to the good people of Armenia, the majority of whom are not annoying twats. Louis gave him good props because "you looked like you were enjoying yourself up there". So what? We're sure if we were given three minutes of primetime on the ITV network to act like a dick with, we'd have a great time too, but it wouldn't suddenly make us talented. "God gave me a gift", Chico declared later. We can only hope he's still got the receipt.

Total Eclipse of the Heart, aside from being one of the greatest songs of all time (Fact! Look it up if you don't believe us), is a big, ballsy, fiery number, designed to be sung by throaty, hard smoking and drinking women who've seen a bit of life and give it all that, whatever 'that' might be. The Conway Sisters, on the other hand, do not strike us as being big, ballsy, hard smoking and drinking women. It's quite possible they occasionally have a quick drink of Bailey's before bedtime, but other than that they seem to be more Bonnie Langford than Bonnie Tyler. This was pretty much proven with their rendition which was so diluted it wouldn't even qualify as a homeopathic medicine. We're not quite sure why it was chosen for them either, as it's not exactly a song which can really be given a four part arrangement, and essentially reduced the band to a solo vocalist with 3 backing singers. Louis, who must have been drinking, declared them to be the new Nolans.

Chenai, still reeling from being in the bottom two last week, decided she was going to give it 200% this week, a promise which fell down both on mathematical grounds, and due to her choosing to do Mariah Carey's Hero rather than, you know, something good. It was a mature, for which read dull, performance and might as well have been in their for the express purpose of boosting Tetley's profits, such was the nationwide rush to the kettle during her appearance.

Andy gave us Unforgettable and, for the first half of the song, it wasn't, but did put him in good stead for a job working the lucrative cocktail bar circuit. Half way through, however, he stood up - for which he got applauded for, which we didn't quite understand. It's not like he's Stephen Hawking - and managed to get off his arse in more ways than one, giving the song a bit more oomph and reminding everyone just why he's the favourite to win the whole shebang.

For some reason Journey South have been in the papers in our neck of the woods quite a lot over the last week, campaigning for the Scottish vote, despite the fact that they come from the north of England and have no connection with Scotland whatsoever. Apparently they feel that their sort of music is the sort of music Scotland loves, which implies that we're a nation of taste free morons who only enjoy music which is free of joy, excitement and anything good. Though, given the success of Travis, Texas and Snow Patrol, they may well have a point. They did Angel of Harlem, which is apparently what Journey South are all about. What? Workmanlike pub band covers of U2 songs? That's something to be proud of. Robson this week upgraded his acoustic guitar for an electric one, while the non-guitar one - Jerome - believed that showmanship consists of throwing the mic stand around with wild abandon. The more he kept it away from his mouth, the happier we were. As they performed, they stared longingly into each other's eyes in the sort of disturbing way which was last witnessed when Daniel and Natasha Bedingfield got together to do a duet at the Brit Awards. Shudder.

Having watched the previous series of X Factor, Nicholas was quite chuffed that judges even knew his name, though the fact that he's still insisting on wearing that stupid rhinestone belt buckle with his name on, that shouldn't have come as a surprise given that they could just read it off his crotch. He did Let's Stay Together and, as the weeks go by, he's reminding us more and more of Carlton in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air during one of the episodes where Will takes it upon himself to try and make Carlton a bit cooler, i.e. every other episode. Sharon declared "Move over Craig David, cause here comes Nicholas", seemingly unaware that Craig David found himself moved over quite a while ago and is currently suffering the ignomy of knowing that his 'hilarious' Bo Selecta parody sells more records than he does nowadays.

And finally we come to Maria, and up until this week we hadn't really 'got' her, but by God was she on fire tonight. Indeed, Sharon's heavily surgeonified face began melting on to her blouse during her performance, that's how hot she was. On the basis of what we saw, she's not only won us over, but she's won the whole bloody competition, so we might as well shut up early and just go home and get on with our lives for the next 8 weeks as she was just incredible. Her version of Take Another Piece of My Heart was magnificent, amazing, stunning and pretty much any other superlative you care to mention. In short, we may just have fallen in love with her. Go Maria!

So, having sung for their supper, it's time for the contestants to find out who gets cake and who's left with just bread and water to keep them going. Despite Kate's vague attempts to build up the tension, it won't really have come as a surprise to anyone to discover that it was Phillip and Chico in the bottom two, which naturally we assumed would lead to a Chico exit. Unfortunately life didn't quite work out like that, but first the performances. Phillip's was pretty much the same as his initial rendition, though he did include a bit more cock framing this time, presumably hoping it would impress Simon, while - and the only downside to Chico being in the bottom two is that we have to see him perform twice - Chico gave us a bit more stomach flashing and didn't bother dancing with the small girl this time, despite her being primed and ready for it. He also, and due to the camera angle this was hard to tell, may well have mimed masterbation during the "once you get a taste of her line". We really hope this wasn't the case, even though it's already clear to all and sundry that he is a wanker.

With that slightly pointless bit of airtime filler out of the way, it was down to the judges and with Simon's groups being free from the chop this week, it came down to him to make the final decision. "I think the right two acts are at the bottom this week", he began, as if they weren't already demoralised enough, "I'll base my decision on who the public would want to see back". And who did Simon think the public wanted to see back? Fucking Chico! And fucking Simon too for that matter. Yes, Phillip wasn't exactly proving himself to be popular - our support for him was making us less a one man island, more someone desperately clinging on to a fragile rock being eroded swiftly with each passing wave - but he wasn't Chico, which surely should have counted for something. The clocks went back last night so we all lost an hour anyway, why couldn't Chico time have vanished as well? As Phillip watched over his best bits, his mentor Louis came on stage to offer him a few consoling words. "Trust me, you'll be the new Shakin' Stevens". This, we believe, is what's known as rubbing salt into the wound.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

10 Things We State About... 

Robbie Williams has a new album out this week, and will be the perfect Christmas gift for any relative you don't really like that much, or for anyone who's desperately interested to know, in minute detail, the stress and heartache caused by just being Robbie Williams. In other words, it's perfect if Robbie Williams is your uncle. To celebrate this event, here's ten entirely true and in no way made up facts about the smug faced singer from Stoke:-
  1. Any couple whose first dance is to Angels is two times more likely to get divorced, five times more likely to not understand the whole concept of love and absolutely guaranteed to have not a shred of musical taste between them.
  2. Radio was inspired by Robbie's time listening to the wireless during a holiday in Tunisia. He said: "I kept retuning the damned thing, but there wasn't a single song I recognised. I was dead pissed at that, let me tell you."
  3. When he's in his sixties, he won't regret any of his tattoo's. Not a single one.
  4. Whenever he appears on the television, a repair man in Gary Barlow's home town is instantly put on red alert.
  5. No-one will ever truly know how hard it is to be Robbie Williams, even though he insists on telling us in every single interview he does.
  6. Robbie hates having guests round and, when he does have visitors, rather than keep them amused himself, he tends to put on a DVD of Desperate Housewives before locking himself in his room, telling them "Let Bree entertain you".
  7. Even his own security guards are unable to stop themselves from giving his smug little face a slap at least twice a day.
  8. Robbie Williams once wore a dress on top of the pops, making him as crazy as a fox. Dr Liam Fox, that is.
  9. Releasing the Swing When You're Winning album wasn't the worst idea in modern pop. Buying it, however, was.
  10. He is definitely not gay.

Monday, October 24, 2005

4Tune Faded 

Week 2 of X Factor and already the lovely Kate Thornton doesn't seem to be trying as hard, choosing to dress down with a black trousers, chiffony green blouse combo - with top of the line descriptions like that, we really should be looking at a move into fashion journalism - but still looked alright in a your-youngish-aunt-on-a-family-night-out kinda way. But forget the loveliness or otherwise of the host! What about the acts?! Well, first of all, they all got to walk on stage and stand on an image of their own faces. We feel a trick was missed here, as they could have had a picture of Addictiv Ladies there, allowing each act to stand on their vanquished opponents. Or, preferably, a picture of Chico, though this may well have caused the show to overrun with each act spending a good five minutes jumping up and down, stamping and spitting on his face. Alas, that never happened. Here's what did:

Andy seemed more relaxed and confident this week in his rendition of You To Me Are Everything. Indeed, while on the one hand - and in his intro footage - he's still keen to cast himself as the humble binman done good, a clear arrogance and belief that he's going to win this competition is beginning to set in - Which, to be fair, he probably will. He's certainly bland enough - most notably when Kate asked him how he thought he'd done and he both humbly and meekly responded "I think I did tremendously well". Both Louis and Simon pointed out the poorness of the song choice, to which Sharon, with her usual grace and intelligence, rather than argue the point, just told them to shut up.

Blimey! We find it hard to remember exactly how Chenai's performance of Young Hearts Run Free went, distracted as we were by her boobs. She was also wearing enough lipgloss to reflect back the light of the very sun itself. We think it was pretty good, though her voice did occasionally get lost in the song. Sharon commented on her lack of confidence, which Chenai immediately decided to prove her right about by almost bursting into tears.

4Tune have been restyled and are now apparently all the same person, so it was no surprise that Simon was unable to name each of the members of the band when challenged to by Louis. They did I'll Be There and gave it good, albeit still slightly sheepy, boy band balladry, though as boy band balladry can generally be described as 'godawful' you may wish to look upon this as an example of damning with faint praise.

According to Sharon, Chico's "not that bad, the public just aren't getting him". Uh-huh, so it's our fault that we find the adult equivalent of a hyperactive five year old, only without the saving grace that he might one day grow out of it, irritating. He did Play That Funky Music and we would like to take back everything we said last week about him possibly having the potential to be quite good if he tried, as he really was fucking shite. Even if he was appearing at a karaoke night down at your local pub which had free entry you'd still be demanding your money back. He finished with another 'hilarious' rewrite of the song lyrics, declaring "Lay down and boogie and play that music cause it's Chico time". If we ever see anyone wearing a t-shirt bearing the slogan "It's Chico Time" - with or without an exclamation mark - we're getting ourselves a gun, shooting them dead and not a court in the land would convict us. Simon declared the performance to be "sort of entertaining", which it was, in much the same way squeezing a spot is.

Apparently last week Nicholas' thought as he walked out on stage was "Let's go out there and tear the place down", though given the lackluster nature of said performance, he'd have been lucky to have been able to cause minor rippage had the stage had been composed entirely of tissue paper. Things are different this week, though! Well, he's wearing a better jacket at least, even if he spoilt this by wearing a ridiculous belt with his name on the buckle. Performance wise he fluctuated between pretty damned good and uncontrollable terror, so we dread to think what Louis is doing to him to make him react so.

We've decided that we really quite fancy the Blonde One from The Conway Sisters. She's quite pretty in a Jennifer Ellison kinda way, even though we realise that that's a contradiction in terms. Now, far be it for us to suggest that there's some sort of dodgyness going on but, well, there's clearly some sort of dodgyness going on, as the 4 Irish girls decided to perform a song by their marginally less feminine countryfolk, Westlife (A cover, but of course it's a cover. It's a Westlife single!). Not in itself a dodgy measure, unless you quite reasonably believe the simple act of performing a Westlife song to be dodgy, but when you consider that said song was You Lift Me Up, a weak re-write of Wind Beneath My Wings which also coincidentally happens to be their new single, available in all good record shops - along with a paper bag to hide your shame - this week, questions really need to be asked. It goes without saying that their version was better than the original, thanks mainly to the lack of Westlife involvement.

Maria wore a somewhat short skirt this week, presumably in a failed attempt to draw attention away from her impressive bosom, and gave us Michael Jackson's The Way You Make Me Feel. Like Andy she strutted across the stage as if she already owned it, and definitely made more of an impression on us this week, which may well not be entirely unconnected to the fact she wore a somewhat short skirt in a failed attempted to draw attention away from her impressive bosom.

We like Phillip, we just wish they'd give him a decent song to do. We liked him even more this week when, after Sharon and Simon, quite rightly, criticised the choice of Wind Beneath My Wings for him to perform and Louis happily claimed that they'd both picked the song together and that he wanted to do it, he said he wasn't happy with the choice as "I'm not a ballad singer, I want to do a bit of rock and roll", showing far more confidence than he did last week. Go Phillip! Incidentally, can Wind Beneath My Wings be banned from being performed in these Pop Factor X Idol contests as it seems not a series goes by without someone giving it a mauling. In fact, can it just be banned full stop? Cheers. Anyway, we thought Phillip's performance was great, despite the song, though Simon claimed that it was flat. This may explain why we're not a multi-millionaire record producer.

Oh god, it's Journey South, and to compound the horror one of them, we think it was Jerome, was carrying an acoustic guitar. They felt it would be a really good idea to regale us with a version of Johnny Cash/The Eagles' Desperado. They were wrong. One of them has a kid, and given that they're both such personality vacuums, we can only assume that the coupling was achieved by boring the lady in question to sleep before doing the deed. "You just appeal to everyone", lied Simon, unless by everyone he meant "everyone who's both deaf and blind".

Brenda, who was wearing an unfortunate silver top, did Rescue Me and started off far too reedy, but as the song went on she did improve, but didn't really give it the killer performance the track needed and, indeed, that she gave last week. Though the fact the backing track was piss weak won't have helped matters. "Mummy doesn't want to come home", she declared when asked about how she felt about leaving behind her kids, which may well have raised a few eyebrows in her local social work department.

Apparently Shayne reckons he "could be doing this for a lifetime", and we hope that that's true, as we don't want to see his career ever progress beyond doing TV talent shows. He did the Y-Chromosoned Bedingfield's If You're Not The One in a screechy falsetto and, as with last week, the whole performance was a complete non-event from start to finish. Indeed, the only intrigue the man possesses is the fact that he spells his name in a slightly unusual fashion. Sharon, however, enjoyed the performance and asked him to do part of it acapella. This was horrendously painful, yet she still declared it to be brilliant, while Simon declared the whole performance as "outstanding". It is water they're given to drink, isn't it? As Kate interviewed him, the crowd began chanting for him to take his shirt off. Wisely he chose not to do this, reasoning that he should probably save it as it's likely to be the only interesting thing he does during the entire contest.

And so, the voting, and the viewing public are clearly twats on a Chico style level as fighting it out for the last remaining place were 4Tune and Chenai. There is no reason whatsoever to get rid of these two at this stage, certainly not while both Chico and Shayne are still in the competition, but no, the public has spoken, though sometimes the public should really keep it's big yap shut. Unsurprisingly, Chenai became a bit emotional at this point, but managed to hold it together for her second performance. She was a bit shaky to start with, but ended up doing a better job of it second time around and, if we're any judge, guaranteed herself a return trip next week, though if we were any judge she wouldn't have been in the bottom two in the first place. 4Tune similarly improved with their second shot at I'll Be There, sounding a lot less sheepy, so therefore a lot less baaa-d. Sorry.

As Chenai and 4Tune are Louis and Simon's act respectively, it was down to Sharon to make the final decision. And, as a professional, she decided instead to sod around for five minutes going "Oh, I can't decide, it's too hard", etc, etc while Kate is desperately trying to wrap up the show so that Parkinson can start. While she was doing this Louis kept shouting "Keep Chenai" in the background, much to Simon's annoyance, before adding "I kept your act last week", as if that in any way mattered. Eventually, after Kate threatened to just use the viewers vote to decide who should be the one to go - which is what should be happening anyway - she decided to send 4Tune home, much to Simon's disgust, demonstrated in his refusal to answer any of Kate's questions at the end of the show.

4Tune themselves have been in the papers today complaining that it was a fix, and that they fell victim to the judge's squabbles, which we don't think is entirely fair, particularly as they claim the only reason Louis voted against them was because they were Simon's act despite the fact that he's Chenai's mentor and so was duty bound to back her. Out of the two acts that were fighting for the slot, it was a fair decision, but ultimately any decision that ends up with Chico still in the competition can not in any way be considered to be just. Let's hope the public get tired of his novelty sooner rather than later, though given the length of time it took for them to get bored with the marginally less irritating Crazy Frog, we think we might be in for a long wait...

Friday, October 21, 2005

Addicted to Shove 

Yes, X Factor is back! And it's such an important television event that, umm, it's taken us until today to get round to watching our video of Saturday's show. Give that last year, it managed to discover Steve Brookstein, it's safe to say that ratings rather than talent are the main reasons behind it's return, but at least with that benchmark the only way, as both Yazz and a cellar-phobic lift attendant told us, is up. While it may or may not be better - that remains to be seen - it's certainly bigger, what with 12 acts striving for the chance to release one single before returning to reality with only the knowledge that they're a pub quiz answer to keep them going. Now, this may just be our incredibly short attention span at work, but we found it impossible to keep track of that many acts throughout the course of a ninety minute programme, though this may well be down to the blandness of many of the performances. Fortunately we made notes, and this, if we can read our own handwriting, is our thoughts before they were pushed out of our brain by other, more interesting things:-

According to Addictiv Ladies, they've apparently trained all their lives for this, which may explain why they're unable to spell 'addictive' properly, concentrating too much on the old singing and dancing and not enough on the basics of english. Unfortunately even that time seemed to be wasted, as while their hair may have had volume, their singing on Superstar was as flat as a child crushed by a noticeboard. "Amateurish", declared Louis, rightly, while Simon and Sharon attempted to defend them by complimenting their youthfulness, which is not something we were aware was a talent.

Shayne is a younger Steve Brookstein, only with the impressive talent of having less personality. He did Right Here Waiting in much the style of a man who wouldn't be arsed going down to the station to see his girlfriend arrive on the train. Despite this, all the judges loved him, with Simon reckoning that he'll be there until the end. Depressingly, he's probably right. Shayne also declared that people should vote for him cause he "really wants it". Unlike everyone else in the contest, who presumably can't be arsed.

"It's Chico time!", declared Sharon as she introduced the man, a time also known as Shit O'Clock. He's still a twat, but it struck us while he arsed his way through the embarrassment that is Da Ya Think I'm Sexy in the manner of an attention seeking gibbon that if he spent a bit more time on the singing and a lot less time concentrating on being an annoying git, he might actually be half decent. But, and we really cannot stress this enough, we still think he's an arsehole and would be glad to see the back of him.

Journey South seem less a band and more a Robson and Jerome ITV drama waiting to happen. For some reason they decided that, despite the fact they needed a song which would work with two solo male singers, the best choice was Something About the Way You Look Tonight, and that two brothers both apparently singing to the same lady would not seem in any way weird or disturbing.

In the big long list of popstar names, Phillip is going to be somewhere near the bottom. Still, despite this, and despite the fact he did an incredibly rubbish song - I'm So in Love With You by Lonestar, if our googling's up to scratch - he was rather good, even if he could really have done without the shoulder jerks going into the chorus.

During the auditions stage, Brenda was regularly described as being "full of personality", which to us seemed to mean that she'd laugh far too much at everything, funny or not, and was generally the sort of person you'd find quite irritating if you had to spend any long period of time with. But! Her version of Son of a Preacherman was little short of perfection and so she's currently our favourite, which probably means that she'll be out of the contest sooner rather than later.

If The Corrs had forced Jim to have a sex-change, The Conway Sisters would be the result. And given the fact that they scream rural Ireland, the chosen outfits of dresses/floaty tops and boots over jeans wasn't a great choice as it made them look like they'd just been called in from working the fields to do their performance and hadn't actually had a chance to get changed out of their wellies properly. Their verses for Abba's SOS were good, but the chorus lacked balls, and not for the obvious reasons. Louis stated that this was a poor choice of song for them, something which Simon - in the most surprising thing that happened on the show - agreed with. "I'm surprised you didn't pick Dancing Queen", asked Louis. "They'll be playing that at your wedding", responded Simon magnificently.

Nicholas, who did On the Wings of Love by Jeffrey Osbourne, not only appeared to be terrified by the whole affair but also committed the unforgivable sin of wearing a terrible jacket.

Destiny's Child's Emotion was the song of choice for Maria. It was pleasant, and we literally have nothing else to say about it.

4Tune - and you just knew they'd spell it like that, didn't you? - are a bit like V in the sense that they just want to be a good, old fashioned, traditional boy band - their choice of Backstreet Boys' I Want it That Way was testament to that, even if they seemed to do the hitherto unheard (unherd? No? Please yourselves) Sheep mix - but unlike V, who took all the great elements of a boyband, even if they ultimately failed to be what they dreamed of being, 4Tune have decided that taking all the really shit elements of nineties pop and throwing them together is a far better route to success. Oh dear.

Chenai's take on Closest Thing to Crazy was considerably more interesting than The Melua's, but then, had their been a cock-up at the production plant and every single copy of that single been blank, that would have been more interesting than the actually released version. Still good though, despite the poor choice of song.

Andy, who seems more like an Eastender's character than a real person, gave us The Greatest Love of All, despite the fact that earlier in the contest the definitive version of this was done by the scary old woman with no teeth. Everyone says he's brilliant, he just makes us think of the Lighthouse Family, and when we think of the Lighthouse Family all we can do is weep softly to ourselves and be glad that those days have gone now, never to return again. Don't let Andy bring them back.

And so, the results, and as always an announcement that could fit into fifteen minutes is needlessly stretched out to half an hour. Chico and Addictiv Ladies were the bottom two and, as with last year, they have to have a sing-off to fill up the time slot allow the judges to decide who has to go. Second time around Addictiv Ladies sounded even more disspirited than before, clearly having decided that they were for the boot, while Chico's was virtually identical, even down to the "Sharon you're so sexy" 'ad-lib' thrown in at the end. With little surprise Simon, who despite seemingly not understanding the rules and nearly sent his own act home, went for Chico, Sharon went for Addictiv Ladies, leaving Louis to cast the deciding vote.

Now, at this point our video cut off - proving you should never trust someone else to set the timer for you - so we turn to the The Bitch Factor to find out what happened. Louis went for the girls, despite the fact that this was a perfect opportunity to send Chico home. Simon, quite rightly, declared Louis to be a joke for this decision. Fair enough, Addictiv Ladies weren't brilliant, but given they were being given plaudits for simply being 17, surely they should have been given similar plaudits for not actually being Chico.

Oh well, he lives to fight another day, but with any luck he'll be up again tomorrow, alongside one of Louis' acts, and we can all rest safe in the knowledge that with the casting vote going to Simon, he'll make the right decision. He normally does. Our report on this show should actually appear on time this week - i.e. Sunday - unless we get distracted by something, but we promise that that won't - Ooh! A butterfly.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

10 Things We State About... 

Rachel Stevens' album, Come and Get It, is out this week and, despte it's undoubted brilliance, it seems almost inevitable that it will follow the path laid out by it's singles and blaze it's way towards complete public indifference. With that in mind, we proudly present ten entirely true and in no way made up reasons as to why the public have a tendency to ignore fantastic pop:-
  1. Convinced that potential partners will be impressed with the sort of music collection that screams out "I hate myself and want to die".
  2. Ears blocked with a lifetime's worth of wax.
  3. iPod already full to bursting with the world's largest collection of Oom-pah sing-a-longs.
  4. Radio locked to Virgin 1215, so unaware of any music which hasn't been Weller approved.
  5. Pathological hatred of fun, excitement and enjoyment.
  6. Once read a medical report indicating that experiencing anything higher than 10BPM could cause a dangerous reaction in both the heart and the feet.
  7. Jealousy of the fact that the dancers actually can.
  8. Too busy trying to impress the cute girl with interesting hair who works in the record shop by only buying obscure Fall EP's.
  9. Once listened to album by Korn, believes Pop to be a similar sort of thing.
  10. They're cunts.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

X Factor? 

You may remember Adam Rickitt, who was famed both for his role as Nicky Tilsley in Coronation Street and for his tireless - and occasionally tiresome - work as a pop star, a time of great struggle for him, given that he was so close to the poverty line that he was apparently unable to own a single item of above waist clothing. Well, despite the fact that the disease which shares his surname probably has more public popularity than he does these days, the Tory party have quite excitedly announced that he'll be standing as an MP at some point in the future. Perhaps. If he gets selected that is. Also, we may be misremembering things, but we're sure that, similar to the current furore over David Cameron, when he was doing his pop thing, lots of people were convinced that he was the sort of person who enjoyed nothing better than taking coke. Something like that anyway.

At least he's being consistent, though. He was unfashionable and unpopular during his previous career, so the Conservatives must seem like a natural home for him.

But why should we be so surprised at this move? After all, pop stars are experts in knowing what the audience wants to hear and give it to them. Indeed, with the plethora of TV talent shows which fill up the airwaves, many of them are far more successful than most politicians in persuading people to vote for them, even if a similar sense of disappointment and disillusionment washes over us shortly after they succeed. OK, maybe they're not used to the sort of hard-hitting questioning style practiced by James Naughtie or Jeremy Paxman, but given that most policy announcements these days seem to come from the GMTV sofa, they'll already be used to a far tougher grilling from Smash Hits journalists unconvinced that blue actually is their favourite colour after all.

In fact, when you think about it, filling the House of Commons with pop stars instead of politicians seems like one of the greatest ideas ever. So much so, in fact, that we got on the phone and asked a number of them what they would implement if they ever got elected. Here's what they said:-

Monday, October 17, 2005

Power Cut 


OK, so as numbers go it's not that bad. After all, it's better than, say, 23, which was Lisa Scott-Lee's last chart position, and it's certainly a lot more impressive than the not-even-in-the-top-forty position of Jenny Frost's debut solo 'effort', but it's still some way short of the top ten position which Lisa declared Electric would have to reach for her to continue in the music industry, though we're sure that mass public demand or, to be slightly more realistic, failure to have anything else better to do means that this won't be the last we see of Miss Scott-Lee.

Of course, assuming that she has more honour than she does record sales, she will stay true to her word and wave goodbye to the world of pop. If this does turn out to be the case, then we had the honour of being present at her last ever gig, which took place at 1AM in a Glasgow nightclub on Saturday night.

As well as being present, we were also right down the front, though getting and maintaining this position did necessitate being on the dancefloor an hour before her actual appearance and dancing in our usual, improvisational, off-step and interpretive style - i.e. badly - to numerous bad dance versions of indie style hits, including Green Day, Coldplay and, to our eternal shame, James Blunt. We doubt we'll ever feel clean again. Still, we were able to frug both enthusiastically and aryhthmically to Rachel Stevens and Kelly Clarkson so it wasn't all bad.

Finally the DJ decided that we'd heard enough low rent music to get us enthusiastic for the Scott-Lee appearance, though we were so fed up with the music choice at this point that we would probably have cheered the Crazy Frog. "Are you ready for Lisa?!" he asked. Despite the fact that the enthusiastic and drunken roar which greeted this question was a far more impressive response than you would expect for that sort of question, this still wasn't enough for him: "I said 'Are you ready for Lisa!!!'". Having now apparently convinced him that we actually were at a suitable level of readyness, he buggered off and Lisa made her entrance, accompanied by a pair of girl dancers.

Lisa herself was dressed in a black corset and trousers that were either 3-quarter length or too small. Her dancers wore jeans and black tops with sparkly bits, one of whom also had the label from her knickers on display, though despite our lack of knowledge on the subject, we reckon this was more likely to be a faux pas rather than a fashion statement. Also, any money that was saved from the somewhat cheap simplistic nature of the outfits certainly didn't find itself being used to purchase waterproof mascara for the dancers, as while Lisa's make-up was still immaculate by the end of the set, the poor girls, already having to earn their crust by doing the job in the first place, also suffered from the added humiliation of having the sort of smudged look not normally seen outside of a failed X Factor audition.

She opened with U Sure Do, before following it with Boy on the Dancefloor, Too Far Gone, Lately and finishing with Electric, and was frankly really, really good, despite the fact that she was labouring under the twin handicaps of a) being Lisa Scott-Lee and b) performing Lisa Scott-Lee songs. We're not quite sure why she shone so brightly. Perhaps it was because the MTV series - which they were filming for - has given her a new energy which helped her hit new heights. Maybe it was because the prospect of potentially having to give up the career she loves gave her a much needed kick up the arse and forced her to up her game. It could be that she was feeding off the warmth from the crowd - and we were all willing her to succeed - and was able, as a result of the support, to give it 110%. Or perhaps, and a tad more likely, it was because we'd consumed quite a few sugary vodka drinks prior to her appearance and our critical faculties weren't quite in full working order.

The Scott-Lee may not have touched us physically - though our friend did get her approval when she picked him out for a bit of call-and-response for the "whoa-woah" bits of Too Far Gone and surprised her by actually being able to sing, a move which also meant that he did more live singing than the LSL herself - she did touch us emotionally. A young (ish) girl just wanting to succeed, trying so hard to hold on to her dreams of success and stardom, but finding herself crushed by the industry juggernaut that see her only as another commodity to use up and throw away. But when even someone like Rachel Stevens finds that the public laps up her insipid covers but ignores the pop genius of her latest material, what chance does Lisa have?

Oh well, farewell then, Miss Scott-Lee. You could sing a bit, you could dance a bit, and you weren't exactly ugly looking, but alas it seems that just wasn't enough. Never mind though, they'll be casting for the next series of I'm a Celebrity... sooner than you think.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

That Will Young Video 

You know what, what with his topless games of volleyball, fondness for hanging out with dubiously moustachioed gentlemen and that whole Top Gun thing, we reckon that Will Young might just be a tad gay. We're not sure though.

We're also not sure what we think about his new single yet either. It wasn't quite what we were expecting, but then, what with Will previously confounding our expectations by going from being incredibly rubbish to incredibly good in the space of one album, the unexpected probably should have been what we were expecting.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

10 Things We State About... 

Tomorrow is John Peel Day, which seems to be less a celebration of the man's life and more a chance for Radio 1 to do some self promotion along the lines of "See! We used to have good DJ's, it hasn't all been Colin and Edith, Zane Lowe and Chris Fucking Moyles around here, you know". Never mind though, as we're happily jumping on the bandwagon ourselves as we present for your enjoyment ten entirely true and in no way made up facts about the bestest uncle you never had:-
  1. His trademark beard was actually fake, and he used to remove it at weekends to allow him to wander the streets unrecognised.
  2. The combined total number of chart weeks for every band who was ever played on his show is 7.
  3. If every record in his collection was melted down, there'd be enough plastic to form a lifesize replica of Japan.
  4. The music career of The Fall started off as an elaborate practical joke which got way out of hand.
  5. Everyone knows that Teenage Kicks by The Undertones was his favourite song, but few realise that it was superseded in 1997 when he first heard Vanilla's No Way No Way. He didn't think much of follow up, True to Us, however.
  6. John's wife, Sheila, was affectionately known as 'The Pig' due to the sound of her laugh, ability to sniff out truffles and cute, curly tail.
  7. Thanks to the vast amount of demo tapes which he felt duty bound to plough through, John has listened to more shit music than the rest of us put together.
  8. Home Truths is the most middle-class programme ever to be broadcast by Radio 4, and that includes Veg Talk, a half hour programme dedicated to, umm, talking about vegetables.
  9. To commemorate the man, Peel Acres is in the process of being converted into a theme park. Most of the attractions, however, will be relatively sedate, and the main danger and excitement will come from wondering whether the bloke in charge of the ride is going to run it at the right speed or not.
  10. He really was a star.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

She's Electric 

Hi! I'm Lisa Scott-Lee. You might remember me for such pop classics as Lately or Too Far Gone, or perhaps you remember me from the days where I managed 3SL to the dizzying heights of the top 20 before they were unceremoniously dropped. No, maybe, then, you even remember me from the audience of Pop Idol, where I could be seen each week cheering on my brother Andy having, as I did, nothing better to do on a Saturday night. Until he got booted out of the competition, that is. Still nothing? How about Steps? You must remember me from Steps. Those were good days, we sold records and people liked me and everything. How I wish those days could be back again.

Anyway, I'm back with a new single! It's called Electric and, despite the prejudices you may hold against the whole concept of a Lisa Scott-Lee single, it's actually really, really good! I know! I couldn't believe it either! Unfortunately, depsite me having pulled my finger out for once in my pop career, it's currently languishing in the lower reaches of the midweeks, so if you don't all rush out and buy it I'll have to fulfill my promise to give up on my pop career should this fail to make the top ten and try and find a new job, and you really don't want that. I'd be rubbish at making change! It really would be a... (wait for it!) Tragedy! Ha ha ha ha ha!

I have to laugh or I'd cry.

Happy thoughts, happy thoughts, happy thoughts. That's better! Now, in a bid not only to try and boost sales of my single, but also to keep my mind distracted from the painful thoughts of failure, I've agreed to give you a quick guide to electricity! Isn't that nice of me? It is, isn't it? Please like me. Please. I get so very lonely.

Lisa Scott-Lee's Guide to ElectricityAnd that's where Lisa's missive abruptly ended. To promote the single she's doing a series of PA's in clubs around the country but, if you miss them, don't worry! As she'll also be making regular public appearances in her local branch of Tesco's between 7AM and 4PM. Unless she switches shifts with Julie, that is.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Thoughts of the Pops 

It's Monday! And we won our pub quiz last night so we're well chuffed, but how will our good mood relate to what we learnt from this week's Top of the Pops? Let's find out shall we?:-

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Dirty Dozen 

The X Factor finalists have finally been announced and they are:Note that we managed to impart that information in a quick and easy fashion, without feeling the need to stretch it out to fill an hour long 'special' edition. But then, seeing the disappointed faces of people whose dreams have been crushed just isn't enough these days, to get that full on emotional kick we need to see the heartache and pain of their optimistic families as well. Oh, and laugh at the occasional dodgy interior design decison.

Anyway, as from next week we'll be bringing you our full coverage of the live shows, though we feel it's going to be somewhat hampered by the fact that - other than Chico's a twat - we can remember the sum total of bugger all about all the contestants who have made it this far, despite us having watched every episode of the sodding series. Oh well! We also should point out that our coverage will be nowhere near as good as that of The Bitch Factor who have been providing excellent blow by blow coverage since the start of the run, which will make our pieces somewhat irrelevant. Oh well! Again!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

10 Things We State About... 

Today is a very special day, being the birthday of our muse, inspiration and all round lovely person, Miss Nicola Roberts. She's 20 today, which we're quite glad about as it makes us feel a lot less guilty about hailing her as the epitome of feminine perfection. Anyway, to celebrate, we proudly present ten entirely true and in no way made up facts about the one, the only and the occasionally ginger goddess:-
  1. If stitched together, the frames containing Nicola's appearances in Girls Aloud videos would stretch from the tip of your little finger all the way to nearly your elbow.
  2. Despite the evidence on the albums, Nicola is not actually mute.
  3. She has smiled once, back in 1997. She decided then and there that she didn't much care for it.
  4. Nadine's plan to leave Nicola looking a bit ropey by making her the last to pick out her clothe backfired when Nicola had no choice but to pull on the one size too small hotpants.
  5. Her favourite food is Super Noodles, which is an interesting use of the word 'favourite'. And, for that matter, the word 'food'.
  6. In live performances, rather than give her a real one, Nicola is generally given a toy microphone to keep her amused instead. It blows bubbles.
  7. Nicola's self esteem sometimes drops so low that she feels she is beneath everything. On these days she refers to everything as 'boss'.
  8. Other underrated ginger popstars include: Rick Astley, Gina G, Edele from B*Witched and Chloe from Clea.
  9. It doesn't include Sonia.
  10. She really should go back to her natural hair colour.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Thoughts of the Pops 

It's Monday! And while the number 13 position might have been somewhat disappointing for Jo O'Meara, it's bringing joy to gr8person - whose skills in chart clairvoyance more than make up for their idiosyncratic use of numbers instead of letters - as their guess of 14 was the closest and so they win the signed copy of What Hurts the Most! Congratulations, etc! But fear not, to cheer up the rest of you, here's what we learnt from this week's Top of the Pops:-