Talent in a Previous Life

Because It's Never Just About the Music

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The 94th Actual Worst Record, Ever 

Some people believe that blurry vision can be caused by excessive masturbation. Puddle of Mudd are certainly a bunch of wankers.

Fred Durst has a lot to answer for. And, if our petition to the House of Lords gets accepted, he will soon be answering for them in a court of law, though we have asked that any legal proceedings are held off until the death penalty for people found guilty of being irritating twats with all the musical talent of a triangle player in the nursery band is brought onto the statute books. Anyway, one of the many, many charges which will be brought against him is the bringing to the attention of the general public, Puddle of Mudd, whose Blurry is clearly the 94th actual worst record ever released.

It's hard to know why the public rushed in such droves to by this. After all, they were signed by the immature Limp Bizkit frontman and much of their early publicity was centred around Fred going "They're dead good!" and given that Fred also considers the entire recorded works of Limp Bizkit to be "Dead good", despite the fact that it's the aural equivalent of sandpapering your own fingers off, this should really have given everyone a clue to the fact that they were probably a bit on the shit side. Even if this wasn't enough, the awfulness of their name should have been ringing alarm bells; the double D clearly indicating that tits were involved.

Unfortunately, even with their direness being signposted more clearly than the major city of your choice, the public took to this record with ridiculous haste. While it's number 8 position may not seem too impressive - and it's certainly far more than it deserved - it seemed to be a mainstay of radio playlists up and down the land. No matter when you tuned in it seemed you were destined to hear the lead singer bemoaning the fact that his girlfriend had left him, although given the complete lack of emotion and passion which he put into his performance it left you feeling more that he was just mildly pissed off because the snooker had overrun so Ready Steady Cook got cancelled. And he's not even that into Ready Steady Cook.

Overall it's a listening experience akin to sticking your ear next to a real puddle of mud. All brown and gloopy and unpleasant. And likely to cause your head to be run over by a reckless cyclist. Something which would still be far more enjoyable than this complete load of tripe.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Thoughts of the Pops 

It's Monday! And George Michael has been caught with some "Evil Drugs" (©All tabloids) in his car. This is still the single most exciting thing to happen involving George since the last time he got arrested for enjoying going to the toilet a bit too much, but given that it was only cannabis and that the worst he's got to worry about is being slapped on the wrist and getting told he's a naughty boy, this says more about his post Wham! career rather than the seriousness of the charge. That's what we learnt from the news, but here's what we learnt from this week's Top of the Pops:-

Saturday, February 25, 2006

The 95th Actual Worst Record, Ever 

Raining cats and dogs. Mainly dogs.

It's a phrase to strike fear into the hearts of all men, good and true. No, not "A Geri Halliwell single" - she has done a few good tracks in her solo career. Well, two - but "As featured in Bridget Jones' Diary", a film whose main appeal is to neurotic, self obsessed thirty-something single women who can't get a steady boyfriend to save their life, mainly because they're neurotic and self-obsessed, yet failing to realise that this is the problem despite all the self analysis they go through on an almost hourly basis. Geri's cover of The Weather Girls' It's Raining Men was chosen for this dubious honour and, in her defence, Geri probably was a good choice for the soundtrack as, frankly, there are few thirty something women more neurotic and self obsessed than Geri Halliwell herself, KT Tunstall excepted.

The original is quite good in a heard-it-a-million-times-in-crap-nightclubs-and-so-we're-now-pretty-bored-of-it kind of way, but Geri's cover adds nothing to it whatsoever, unless you count a grating vocal and a slightly unpleasant video featuring Geri in a leotard - see, Madonna! It didn't work then and it doesn't work now - as being a good thing, in which case you may wish to look up 'good' in the dictionary as we're not convinced you fully understand the meaning of the word. We've said before many, many times that the Spice Girls were like the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, in the sense that they both wore unflattering costumes and were at their strongest when they combined together into one impressive behemoth - Oh, and they both spent their weekends fighting badly animated dinosaurs - but by themselves they're just not strong enough to take on the vital task of creating classic pop. Geri herself just becomes too cheesy and end of the pier - see the Ride It video for proof - to be enjoyed and for this to happen to the most striking member of one of the greatest pop bands the world has ever seen is surely the most disappointing thing about her placement here.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

A Complete Waste of Everybody's Time 

Despite last year's awards teetering on the brink of relevancy - mainly by virtue of giving Scissor Sisters a couple of prizes, it has to be said - the Brits have always seemed somewhat shy of rewarding artists who people might actually care or get excited about. It's always been a ceremony which almost seems to pride itself on being middle of the road with a finger so far from the pulse it's attempting to get a reading from your armpit, but this year it really managed to excel itself in sheer pointlessness. All the danger signs where there, from the shortlist to the fact that Chris Evans, a man who's last brush with the zeitgeist came in the days when Ocean Colour Scene could sell records, was hosting the event, but even then we didn't expect the event to be as utterly soul destroying and depressing as it turned out to be. How bad was it? Let's take a look shall we...
After an introductory sequence following Chris as he arrives for the show, with a couple of security guards carrying cases containing some Brit Awards - who'd have thought that some cheap plastic covered in silver foil would have required such protection - the show begins and, after Chris bigs up the awards in a desperate attempt to convince an audience wondering what's on the other side that it's going to be worth staying tuned, the whole event kicks off, in the loosest possible interpretation of the phrase with Kaiser Chiefs doing I Predict a Riot, despite the fact that I Predict an Evening Filled with Canapes and Polite, yet Awkward Dancing From Various Middle Management Types would have been a bit more appropriate. The more we see of Ricky Kaiser Chief the more convinced we are that someone should take him in hand and introduce him to the concept of vitamin supplements. These day's he's looking less human, more zombie and it's becoming really off putting. We're beginning to think that he's sold his soul to the devil in exchange for the gift of Catchy Though Mildly Irritating Indie Pop mastery.
Pop Act
  • James Blunt
  • Katie Melua
  • Kelly Clarkson
  • Madonna
  • Westlife
First award of the night and it's for the Best Pop Act. It's presented by Harry Hill and, in a hilarious jape, when he reads out the name of the winner, instead of reading out the name of someone who could in any way be construed as a deserving winner, he tells the hushed and expectant audience that James Blunt is the best pop act in the world right now. Unfortunately the joke fell a bit flat as, rather than gales of laughter echoing around the arena, applause rang out and James went up to claim the bloody prize without even the grace to look embarrassed and ashamed. Regardless of what you think about James' music - although the fact that it's a painful abomination and anyone who likes it has all the musical taste of a mushroom isn't open for debate - there is no way on earth James could be categorised as a pop act. Even his biggest fan, in the unlikely event of them having developed beyond grunting into the rudiments of speech along with the ability to form a cogent argument, would not claim him as a pop artist. Even if you take the genre in its most literal sense, that of being popular, he still doesn't deserve to be included as while, yes, he has sold a lot of records, he's sold them to people who buy their music at supermarkets along with their bread and milk, which doesn't indicate popularity, more just cunning positioning near the checkout. We can only hope that he gets recalled to the army and is sent off to a war zone as soon as possible. Certainly any insurgents would have a good reason for wanting to kill him now.
British Urban Act
  • Craig David
  • Dizzee Rascal
  • Kano
  • Lemar
  • Ms Dynamite
Presenting the prize for British Urban Act was Jamelia, who some of you may remember for... well, some of you may remember her, that's all. Taking this particular gong was the incredibly edgy and street, umm, Lemar. This prize was voted for by the viewers of MTV Base, so it's probably safe to assume that the channel isn't quite getting the viewing cross section it's aiming towards, unless they really are targeting middle aged women who find that Lemar's 'soulful' voice is just perfect for getting through the school run.
For no apparent reason whatsoever, Prince, then turned up to perform a medley of 4 songs in a somewhat lackluster style, but given the lack of effort put into any other part of the show, he was clearly just giving the organisers what he thought they wanted. We were briefly drawn towards the percussionist girl as she was quite pretty and was wearing a nice dress, but our interest soon waned when she decided to end the set performing a drum solo, something which pours cold water on the ardour of even the most passionate suitor. Prince himself still looks identical to how he did 20 years ago which, coupled with the lack of invention, freshness and excitement in the rest of the show has begun to lead us to believe that we're watching a show from the past and not, as we've been led to believe, 2006.
International Breakthrough Act
  • Arcade Fire
  • Daniel Powter
  • Jack Johnson
  • John Legend
  • Pussycat Dolls
Presented by Beth Orton, who didn't exactly make the most of her moment in the spotlight, choosing to offer the audience nothing more than "The nominations are/And the winner is" observations from her prime spot on the podium, the International Breakthrough prize went to Jack Johnson, the sort of man who even a tunneling machine would find boring.
International Male Solo Artist
  • Beck
  • Bruce Springsteen
  • Jack Johnson
  • John Legend
  • Kanye West
Taking time out from trying to convince the American courts that he definitely knew nothing about all those bags of cocaine found at his house, even if his defence of "Why would I have phoned the police if I'd known about them" somewhat falls down when the prosecution responds, "Why, yes, phoning the police when they have a large haul of illegal narcotics in their position is rather stupid, isn't it. You'd have to be on drugs to do such a thing.", Boy George appeared to hand out the International Male prize. Kanye West won this one, the Brits briefly flirting with fashion, even if Kanye himself wasn't, taking to the stage wearing a jacket last seen adorning a majorette and a pair of shades apparently bought from a service station on the trip down to London.
Next up to try and entertain a crowd who, if the enthusiasm they've shown so far is any judge, would be entertained by a dog sleeping are Coldplay, appearing in silhouette while a digital counter counts down the moment until the song, Square One, kicks off. Of course, this being a Coldplay song, 'kicking off' is a relative term and here refers to the moment the drums kick in. Unfortunately the countdown doesn't continue for the whole song - though it does return at the end - as it's always nice to know exactly how long you have to endure a Coldplay song for.
British Rock Act
  • Franz Ferdinand
  • Hard-Fi
  • Kaiser Chiefs
  • Kasabian
  • Oasis
Tamsin Grieg appeared to present the Best British Rock Act. She was chosen, she reckons, because she people think she looks like Sharleen Spiteri. "I don't mind!", she called, despite the fact that she's just said she doesn't mind being likened to a hatchet faced harridian. This went to the Kaiser Chiefs, despite the fact that they are to rock what chalk is to cheese. They were joined for this by some random bloke brandishing a water bottle with some sort of orange springy thing attatched to the top, declaring "I've got my own award! It's better than yours!". This, we believe, is what the Brits consider to be controversy and appointment television.
British Breakthrough Act
  • Arctic Monkeys
  • James Blunt
  • Kaiser Chiefs
  • KT Tunstall
  • Magic Numbers
The IT Crowd's Chris O'Dowd, doing his best impression of Dylan Moran was the lucky person who got to announce the Arctic Monkeys as the winners of the Best British Breakthrough prize. Because the Arctic Monkeys are so anti-establishment and in it for the music, they didn't turn up to collect the prize themselves, preferring to, err, make some money for themselves by playing a gig in Portsmouth instead. Someone from We Are Scientists gave their acceptance speech for them. What wags!
Having already won one prize tonight, James Blunt takes to the stage to demonstrate to everyone watching, as if they weren't already aware of it, exactly why him winning an award of any sort of description is a travesty of untold proportions. The backdrop for his performance featured a number of women who, rather than listen to James caterwaul his way through You're Beautiful for the umpteenth time, had thrown themselves into a deep lake and were actively trying to drown themselves.
British Live Act
  • Coldplay
  • Kaiser Chiefs
  • Franz Ferdinand
  • KT Tunstall
  • Oasis
Thandie Newton, who is apparently an international movie star but who we've never heard of - which admittedly doesn't say much as if a film doesn't feature Lindsay Lohan we tend not to consider it worth watching - was the 'celebrity' handing out the Best Live Act prize. This went to the Kaiser Chiefs who bounded up the stage with all the enthusiasm of a puppy dog, or Chris Moyles on being told there's a free buffet.
Dressed in an unflattering 'rock chick' outfit which even Avril Lavigne would have turned down and starting off in the midst of a crowd of fans, all of whom seemed more keen on trying to undo her top than enjoying the performance, Kelly Clarkson was next on stage to half heartedly strut her stuff through Since You've Been Gone. She didn't exactly set the stage on fire, more vaguely warmed the toilet seat of disappointment.
British Male Solo Artist
  • Antony and the Johnsons
  • Ian Brown
  • James Blunt
  • Robbie Williams
  • Will Young
Wayne Coyne from the Flaming Lips was given the depressing job of presenting James Blunt with his second prize of the night, though rather than stabbing him to death with the pointy bit, Wayne kept his council on this matter and instead asked us to "Remember that George Bush is an idiot". Equally idiotic and supported by a large number of people for no apparent reason is James, who was collecting the prize for Best British Male, despite the fact that we know American girls more deserving of the title than he. "I've been accused so many times of singing like a girl", he said, in a voice which made you want to insert shards of glass under his fingernails, "that it's nice to be given best male. I'll try singing more like a male in the future". And we hope he does. The specific male we have in mind is Marcell Marceau.
British Single
  • Coldplay - Speed Of Sound
  • James Blunt - You're Beautiful
  • Shayne Ward - That's My Goal
  • Sugababes - Push The Button
  • Tony Christie ft Peter Kay - (Is This The Way To) Amarillo
Appropriately enough it was A-Ha's Morton Harkett, who seems intent on turning a once great pop band into a piss poor Coldplay, who was on hand to present this prize to Coldplay for Speed of Sound. Chris Martin, who's normally all humble and "Oh, we really don't deserve this" - and he's quite right to hold that view as well - when his band receives prizes, decided to display a more arrogant streak this time, declaring "We'd like to agree with you for giving us this award". Whether he was so keen to agree with public opinion when this single was originally released and the public overwhelmingly decided that the Crazy Frog, the world's most irritating concept - aside from Lee Ryan, was a more palatable option is unclear.
Next up to keep the corporate sponsors entertained until the next tray of cocktail sausages comes round was KT Tunstall, wearing the most horrible pair of black and white striped trousers we've ever seen, which served mainly to give her the look of an injured Zebra, which we doubt was what she was aiming towards. As she steadfastly avoided injecting any sort of passion or energy into her performance of Suddenly I See, some majorettes dressed in equally unflattering half white, half black tights came on to the stage. The mismatched hosiery look was previously tried by The 411 and it didn't work then, either. To finish things off, KT went to the back of the stage and indulged in a drum solo, bringing the drum solo total for the evening to two. Or two too many, as it's otherwise known.
International Group
  • Arcade Fire
  • Black Eyed Peas
  • Green Day
  • U2
  • White Stripes
Kelly Osbourne, who still seems to be carving out a remarkable career despite having no discernible talent other than being the daughter of a famous person, was giving the complicated task of announcing the Best International Group, though clearly there was some sort of mistake as she read out the winner of the Most Irritating Group of Faux Punks Who Are Clearly Far Too Old to Be Acting Like Snotty Teenagers instead, giving the prize to Green Day.
British Group
  • Coldplay
  • Franz Ferdinand
  • Gorillaz
  • Hard-Fi
  • Kaiser Chiefs
Claiming their third award of the night from Debbie Harry, the Kaiser Chiefs took to the stage to collect the prize for Best British Group and were joined by Vic Reeves, who used to be funny, for the occasion. "I'm the ambassador for Leeds", he claimed, "This is the only band in the world". A statement which even a cursory glance through the music magazine of your choice would quickly prove to be bollocks.
Kanye West, backed by an orchestra made up entirely of girls in nice dresses, was next to try and inject some life into the proceedings and, thankfully, he succeeded, although being more entertaining than what had previously been on the stage was a task as tricky as being drier than the Atlantic Ocean. Running through a medley of Diamonds are From Sierra Leone and Golddigga, Kanye was also joined by 76 trombones girls dressed in bikinis and painted gold, which is an interesting look if you can get away with it, but one perhaps not best suited for the somewhat chillier climes of Britain. Kanye ended his set being raised up on a hydraulic platform, an act which would have been more impressive had the platform raised him slightly higher than shin height.
British Female Solo Artist
  • Charlotte Church
  • Kate Bush
  • Katie Melua
  • KT Tunstall
  • Natasha Bedingfield
KT Tunstall received her Best British Female prize from Jo Whiley, who had been dragged through a hedge backwards prior to presenting this award. "They've got this one so right", said Jo, seemingly oblivious to the fact that not only was Charlotte Church on the shortlist, but Rachel Stevens didn't even get a nomination. KT herself gave a speech which centred heavily on a "Sisters are doing it for themselves" theme. "Ladies, disregard your limits!", she called as she left the stage, advice which should probably be ignored if you've just had a couple of pints and are considering whether to drive home or not.
Next up was Jack Johnson doing Better When We're Together. Frankly we got bored at this point and started doing the Sudoku on Teletext. By the time he'd finished the first verse we'd got two grids and 4 lines completed and were well on the way to solving the thing by the time he sauntered pointlessly towards the song's conclusion.
International Female Solo Artist
  • Bjork
  • Kelly Clarkson
  • Madonna
  • Mariah Carey
  • Missy Elliot
Well they had to give Madonna something to make sure she turned up, didn't they. (We imagine that had Kelly Clarkson's tried something similar she would have been greeted with a shrug of the shoulders and an "Oh well, then") Neil Tennant was on hand to present her with the Best International Female prize, quipping "Well, I wouldn't normally do this kind of thing". Arf! Madge herself gave a speech saying that it was ironic to be given this prize as she's been influenced by so many British bands - although we can't quite work out exactly why she thinks that's ironic - before going on to reel off various bands which have clearly been no influence on her whatsoever and were compiled by some flunky who spent ten minutes in HMV looking at the tracklisting for a "Best of British" compilation CD.
International Album
  • Arcade Fire - Funeral
  • Green Day - American Idiot
  • Kanye West - Late Registration
  • Madonna - Confessions On A Dancefloor
  • U2 - How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb
Because the real thing was presumably too expensive and busy spending her time at a party which was actually worth going along to, Chantelle Houghton look-a-like Paris Hilton was drafted in to present the prize for Best International Album, which went to Green Day for American Idiot, an album released over a year ago and, indeed, one which they were promoting at last year's Brit Awards. Do you ever get the feeling they're not even trying any more?
Equally lacking in a try hard attitude were Gorillaz, whose performance of Dirty Harry, who eschewed the exciting 3D projections they used at the Grammys, instead opting for the band to appear on distinctly flat and boring screens for the performance. A children's choir was included, but children's choirs are equally flat and boring - unless you're a parent of one of the kids - so there wasn't much to hold anyone's attention here. Even Damon's own mother would have found her mind turning towards the kettle and a nice cup of tea
MasterCard British Album
  • Coldplay - X & Y
  • Gorillaz - Demon Days
  • James Blunt - Back To Bedlam
  • Kaiser Chiefs - Employment
  • Kate Bush - Aerial
Madonna, after taking time out for a brief argument with Guy, came back on stage to announce the winner of the Best British Album prize. Much like the winner itself, there were no surprises here as Coldplay's X & Y took the honours. "You won't see us for a long time", said Chris Martin as he accepted the prize, leading to cheers from everyone with even a mild interest in good music and a dramatic increase in the suicide rates amongst EMI shareholders.
And so, finally, the whole sorry affair came to a dispiriting, yet entirely appropriate, end with Ray Winstone turning up to present Paul Weller with his Lifetime Achievement Award for services above and beyond the call of duty to dull, boring, chugga-chugga guitar music. Deciding that the audience hadn't quite been punished enough, not only did he give a monosyllabic speech, he was then called upon to give an equally monotone run through of some of his greatest hits, including Town Called Malice, From the Floorboards Up and Changing Man. As he performed - although performing is a bit strong given that Paul doesn't really do showmanship - the backdrop showed various images of Paul throughout his career, allowing you to see how the grumpy old man we see today had changed from being the grumpy young man of his youth. While the TV audience was fortunate that they could simply switch over their TV's at this point and not endure the spectacle of the Weller at full gurning throttle, the audience in the arena were forced to dance awkwardly as they waited for him to finish, at which point the doors would be unlocked and they would all finally be free to run off and pretend that this whole sorry even had never happened. Much like we're going to do now.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Thoughts of the Pops 

It's Tuesday! And yes, we have been a bit 'quiet' over the last week, haven't we. This is entirely because we were so annoyed by James Blunt's 'victory' at the Brit Awards that we were sulking and has absolutely nothing to do with a prolonged bout of laziness on our part. Ahem. Our now somewhat out of date report on the Brits will appear later this week, but given that the Brits themselves were entirely out of date and irrelevant this seems quite appropriate, and we'll get the 100 Actual Worst Records feature up and running again shortly as well, but before all of that, let's, as always, have a look at what we learnt from this week's Top of the Pops

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

10 Things We State About... 

It was Valentine's Day yesterday! And not one of you sent us a card. No-one loves us, you're all bastards, etc, etc. In honour of this important event in the greeting cards industry calendar, we had considered declaring this to be Love Week here on TiaPL and saying nothing but nice things about everyone we wrote about - hence the lack of updates to our 100 Actual Worst Songs countdown. Ahem. - but we remembered that the Brit Awards are happening tonight and we feel that we're going to need a lot of vitriol to get through the whole event. Instead, here are ten entirely true and in no way made up facts about Love Songs:-
  1. The best musical instrument with which to represent the raw, powerful, forceful, blood pounding and thrilling emotions associated with true love is a piss-weak acoustic guitar. This works particularly well when coupled with whiny, pathetic vocals.
  2. Any songs which refer to "Bump and grind" are generally as sexy as cementing your hand into a brick wall.
  3. Westlife have recorded 3,763 love songs in their career so far. Only fully trained experts can tell the difference between more than two of them.
  4. Robbie Williams' Angels is now the most popular song for the first dance at wedding receptions. The second is Sir Mix-A-Lot's I Like Big Butts And I Cannot Lie.
  5. All love duets written and performed by couples aren't in any way awkward or embarrassing when they inevitably split up 6 months after it hits the top ten.
  6. Buying your partner a 2CD Love song compilation is easily the best way to demonstrate to them that you have the imagination of a pebble, the emotional response of a Barbie doll, and the musical taste of Simon Bates. This may not quite be the message you want to put across.
  7. It's only in recent years that the heart has been considered to be the organ of love. In the seventies the lungs were considered to be the most romantic part of your insides, and prior to that it was the large intestine that fired up the lyricists muse.
  8. At gigs, love songs tend to inspire the crowd to hold their lighters aloft. This is because the audience, as one, becomes filled with the urge to set fire to the lead singer and make him stop.
  9. Singer/songwriters love nothing more than writing a song about the object of their affections and presenting it to them as a gift. This is because it's a hell of a lot cheaper than taking them out for a meal, buying them some flowers or, you know, doing something that their beloved might actually like.
  10. The best love song ever written is Helen Love's Does Your Heart Go Boom, with The Love Affair's Everlasting Love coming a close second.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Fan Mael 

We went to see Sparks play live on Sunday, a gig which we were so excited about that we could have powered the National Grid by the sheer power of enthusiasm alone. As it turned out we were right to be so excited as the gig itself was seven shades of brilliance. How can we be so accurate? Because we counted them, that's why, and here, for your reading pleasure, are those seven shades in full:-

Monday, February 13, 2006

Thoughts of the Pops 

It's Monday! And, in a desperate bid to get people interested in the festival of dullness which is the Winter Olympics, this week's Top of the Pops was a special edition celebrating the event. What this essentially amounted to was everyone involved getting a nice trip to Italy at the license payer's expense and some snow on the title sequence and captions. Oh, and Fearne wore a nice hat. Here's what else we learnt from this week's show:-

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

10 Things We State About... 

Because most pop artists have nothing better to do in the cold month of February, it's all go on the award ceremony front right now, with various stars putting on their best dresses in the hope of getting a cheap plastic trinket, along with the slight more desirable sales boost that winning a prize portends. Tonight it's the turn of the American Grammy Awards, so to celebrate here are ten entirely true and in no way made up facts about these prestigious awards:-
  1. The Grammys are so called because they reward musicians who your Grammy and Gramdad have heard of.
  2. Due to the millions upon millions who tune into the telecast of the ceremony, American electric companies love these awards. Mainly because the entire audience promptly falls asleep at the mention of the words "best traditional pop vocal album (recorded in the key of C minor)", leaving everything switched on, happily burning away power all night long.
  3. As will all award ceremonies, winners are decided via complex formula involving a panel of judges, sales figures and, the most important factor of all, who can actually be arsed turning up on the night.
  4. The most exciting thing to ever occur at a Grammy ceremony happened in 1976 when one of Chicago leapt up in joy as he successfully completed the New York Times crossword. 4 Down was "Asparagus".
  5. Age is no barrier to winning one of these awards. Indeed, the older the better. In fact, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, who pick the winners, prefer it if you're so old you're actually dead.
  6. Proving how in touch they are with the modern music scene, the award handed to winners is in the shape of a Gramophone player.
  7. There are 4,317 different prizes awarded at the ceremony, including "Best Zither Use", "Best Freeform Jazz Solo Lasting No Longer than 18 Minutes, 17 Seconds", "Best Female Vocal in Frequency Audible Only to Dogs", and "Best Band Called The Dave Matthews Band".
  8. All black artists nominated for a prize have to wear a special hat as members of the Academy have a tendency to assume they're waiters otherwise.
  9. Cheering is not permitted during the ceremony. A polite smattering of applause is the only form of appreciation allowed, lest the president of the academy be disturbed from his slumbers.
  10. Still, it gets them out the house, doesn't it?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The 96th Actual Worst Record, Ever 

The One With the Really Awful Song

The end of Friends was, you would have thought, a time for celebration. After all, had we not endured ten years of watching some smug New Yorkers living in apartments that they clearly wouldn't be able to afford on salaries - assuming any of them did actually have jobs - likely to be heavily penalised due to the fact that rather than doing any actual work, they much preferred to spend their days monopolising the only comfy seat in a horrible coffee shop. Ten years of watching them go on date after date every single week which, if our maths is correct, leads us to the conclusion that by the time the program was cancelled, each of them had dated every single person in New York City. Twice. Ten years of wondering why anyone even gave the slightest shit whether Ross and Rachel were on, off, on a break, on again, or shagging each other senseless while the monkey watched. Ten years of wondering why no-one ever wore the same outfit twice, and ten years waiting desperately for something, anything, to happen which could accurately be described as vaguely funny.

It seemed like the series would run forever, but eventually the writers realised that, without taking the show into Queer as Folk territory, they'd ran out of every possible permutation of cast members sleeping together and it was time for the show to finally be put out of its misery. For comedy lovers around the world, this was a time of great rejoicing, and it was hoped that the song that would get played over the final scenes would reflect this international happiness. Would it perhaps be Kool and the Gang's Celebration? Ken Dodd's Happiness? Hell, any upbeat, positive song that illustrated just how happy everyone was to see the back of six of the most irritating people you could ever have the misfortune to meet would have been fine.

Unfortunately the show's producers didn't see it that way, and decided that the best song to soundtrack another bloody will/won't Ross and Rachel meet storyline was Hoobastank's The Reason, a whiny slice of American AOR which sounds even worse once, like us, you've had the misfortune to endure seeing it performed live - At the 2004 MMVA's, not anything we actually paid for, we hasten to add. The singer strained so hard to be 'emotional' - in the same way that Friends is 'hilarious' - that we're convinced he must have suffered a nose bleed and needed a change of trousers afterwards.

Of course, given that the characters' taste in music was dubious at best - one episode involved them getting all excited about going to a - Jesus wept - Hootie and the Blowfish concert - perhaps it was an appropriate choice. Oh, and The Rembrandts can fuck right off as well.

Thoughts of the Pops 

It's Tuesday! And we were out seeing the Johnny Cash movie, Walk the Line, last night. It's good, but, as films about the music industry go, it's no Josie and the Pussycats, but when you get right down to it, though, what is? Anyway, here's what we learnt from Sunday's Top of the Pops:-

Monday, February 06, 2006

The 97th Actual Worst Record, Ever 

And you said "What about Breakfast at Tiffany's?" and we said "It's bloody awful".

Despite the fact we were slap bang in the middle of the Britpop revolution and any no marks with a guitar and a half way convincing cockney accent could get a record deal, there were actually a lot of good records released in 1996. Indeed, a quick skim down the list of number ones for that year reveals the Spice Girls getting what they really, really wanted with Wannabe, Gina G showing every Eurovision entrant how it should be done with Ooh Aah... Just a Little Bit and Jas Man from Babylon Zoo wearing a silver skirt to sell jeans with the still mighty Spaceman. Unfortunately where there is good, evil is often to be found lurking around the corner, and so it is when we come to the Oct 5th number one and, sitting there like a turd that just won't flush away, is Deep Blue Something and Breakfast at Tiffany's.

As catchy as chicken pox and twice as irritating, we were almost lucky and avoided having to endure this song soundtracking the Autumn months as the public, in a rare display of actually getting it right, showed only disinterest in the song on its original release, stalling as it did in the well deserved No.55 slot. Unfortunately things seemed to change and the whole concept of good and bad was turned on its head - something also in evidence when Robson and Jerome got to the top spot for the third time in their uncelebrated career later that year - and everyone suddenly decided to rush out and buy this tribute to the unpleasantness of American college radio bands Audrey Hepburn.

What Audrey herself made of having her acting talents celebrated in such an awkward, embarrassing way is unknown, what with her having had the good fortune to have died three years before the record was released. The rest of us weren't so lucky though, as their execrable track was all over the radio like a particularly unpleasant rash. Eventually, however, the public returned to its senses and gradually the song vanished from the airwaves, only to return every now and again for One Hit Wonder specials, whereupon the nightmare begins all over again...

Saturday, February 04, 2006

The 98th Actual Worst Record, Ever 

Who'da thought someone named Crispian might make awful records? Oh...

For a man not averse to spouting absolute nonsense - "I want to have great big burning swastikas on stage", "Tony Blair can stand there and tell me about health, and that his kid is not getting cancer, but basically they're just going to make an army of terminators and try and invade China with them", "Tattva, acintya bheda bheda tattva" - Crispian Mills, the lead singer of Kula Shaker, managed to out do himself on Mystical Machine Gun - which musically was their usual mix of vaguely eastern sounds mixed with indie sludge, i.e. crap - when he decided that the best chorus he could think of, the one couplet that would capture the hearts and minds of a nation already a bit iffy about the whole Kula Shaker thing thanks to the aforesaid swastika comments (and because Kula Shaker themselves were a bit iffy as a band), the one phrase that he wanted to hear millions upon millions of adoring fans - this is his mind, remember, not actual reality - shout back at him as they play Wembley Stadium for the umpteenth night in a row, the one sentence that would make all the journalists who wrote nasty things about him tear up their notebooks and crawl to him on hands and knees to apologise for making him cry while telling him that they now saw him for the lyrical genius he actually was and would never ever call him a posh Nazi wanker again, was: "You're a wizard in a blizzard, a mystical machine gun!".

What a twat.

Friday, February 03, 2006

The 99th Actual Worst Record, Ever 

If the kids are United, they will always be derided

As good ideas go, recording a football song must be up there with learning whether you can fly or not by jumping out of the top storey of a skyscraper, or seeing who's harder, you or a really pissed off grizzly bear by having a fight with one: there's a slim chance you might get some sort of success out of it, but you're more likely to end up looking a tad foolish. As TiaPL is Scotland-based, they're not something we really have to worry about too much, what with our nation being a bit rubbish at sports so not really finding itself on the world stage too often. When we do, however, at least we have the good grace to keep a sense of realism and get Del Amitri to record Just Go Out There And Do Your Best (And Try Not To Embarrass Yourselves) for us. England, however, see things differently. Despite the overwhelming evidence of what is now 40 years of hurt, they still genuinely believe they can win things and they want a song that reflects that.

1998 came around and England found themselves heading over to France for the World Cup full of big hopes, big dreams and big egos, so naturally they wanted a big song to go along with that. Unfortunately Baddiel & Skinner's Three Lions had already been used for Euro '96 and the FA didn't really want to get involved with those Fat Les oiks, so instead found themselves looking at the scrag end of the available talent. Fortunately the Spice Girls hadn't quite fallen apart by this stage so they were instantly brought on board to provide some artistic credibility and secure a few record sales. Had the deliberations stopped there then they might have ended up with a single which, if not actually good - it would still be a football song after all - might at least have been halfway listenable. Unfortunately the powers that be clearly felt that - shock, horror - a pop group, particularly one composed of - heavens to murgatroyd - girls, may not quite chime with the tastes of the average England fan. Given that the tastes of an average England fan seem to start and end with a dodgy kebab, the only thing that would appeal to them would be an unpleasant mess and, with that in mind, a 'supergroup' was promptly concocted.

The term 'Supergroup' brings to mind many things. It brings to mind a collision of diverse talents, all striving to outdo each other in pursuit of musical perfection. It brings to mind a chance for some of the best in the business to collaborate on something truly special. It also brings to mind The Power Station, but the less said about that, the better. One thing it certainly does not bring to mind at all is Echo and the Bunnymen, Ocean Colour Scene and Space all trying to prove to the others who the most mediocre talent in the recording studio was, but for the FA this seemed to be the perfect combination and England United was born. Or, rather, spawned.

As realism is an unknown force when it comes to England's songs, the track they decided to record wasn't (How Does it Feel To Get Knocked Out in the Early Stages of the Tournament) Probably on Penalties, but instead was an inspiring ditty called (How Does it Feel to Be) On Top of the World, and by 'inspiring' we mean 'depressingly dull'. The Spice Girls' good name was besmirched by their involvement in this record - and we wouldn't be surprised if it was this that caused Geri to begin thinking about leaving the band. It sounded much like you'd expect a record written by Ocean Colour Scene, Space, and Echo and the Bunnymen to sound like: a horrible sludgey mess containing all the redeeming features of a bucket of mud. Fair play to the Spice Girls though, they did their best to inject the whole thing with a bit of pep, but you could tell their hearts weren't really in it. But then, the same was true when Ian McCulloch, Tommy Scott and Steve Craddock were all forced to don sparkly tops and 3/4 length trousers to join the Girls for a synchronised dance routine on Top of the Pops, so perhaps it all balances out in the end.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The 100th Actual Worst Record, Ever 

Thunderbugs? Er, No

There are various right wings types who are against the idea of Britain getting too closely involved with Europe. Generally their arguments, while nominally based around legal and economic matters, serve only to barely hide a borderline racist and certainly xenophobic outlook on life, but if they really wanted to make a convincing argument as to why we should keep to ourselves and not mix with the rest of the continent, then this CD would probably give their case the boost they're looking for.

Part German, part British, part French, Thunderbugs were four girls who were the bestest pals ever - even if the odds of them having actually met each other before they entered the recording studio are somewhat slim - and, despite the world not being hugely fussed about this, they wanted it to know all about this. And so Friends Forever, the 100th actual worst record of all time, was released as their debut single.

Now, there's nothing inherently wrong with the sentiment, as expressed in the chorus, "We'll be friends forever!", not if you're either 12 years old or a cuddly anthropomorphic bear with a pink heart sewn onto your stomach, that is. When you're a fully grown adult, however, whose problems can't all be resolved by lending out part of your Polly Pocket collection it's just embarrassing, and when the sentiment is backed by the sort of simpering girl-rock which set the feminist movement back ten years and, worse than that, paved the way for Dido to start selling records, friendship to anyone involved with this recording seems like an experience akin to being slowly drowned in a floral scented bubble-bath.

Although Friends Forever reached the top 5, and recently a film was made based around their story - Thunderpants, which featured a boy attempting to reach impressive heights via the means of an unpleasant noise - success, thankfully, eluded the 'Bugs, as they were never known. Follow up single It's About Time You Were Mine only reached number 43 and the album, Delicious, failed to even chart. Well, it was hardly a surprise really when you look at their target audience. 12 year olds only get so much pocket money so they don't buy many albums, and cuddly anthropomorphic bears with pink hearts sewn onto their stomachs, aside from not actually existing, tend not to carry wallets or purses - their big cuddly paws aren't too good at coping with small, fiddly buttons - so their career was doomed from the outset. Oh, well. Wonder if they still keep in touch?

Worst Things Worst 

It's here! Yes, only one month after it was supposed to start - it turns out that drawing up a list like this is a lot harder than you might expect - we can finally begin counting down our list of the 100 Actual Worst Records, Ever. Over the next 100 days (Ish. We're sure you're as aware as we are of the unlikelyhood of us being able to consistently update the site for a week, let alone 3 months) we'll be looking at each one of the godawful songs that make up this list, in a method which we believe is known as "milking it for all it's worth".

As you may have noticed it's taken us a while to draw up this list, mainly because choosing which songs to leave out is harder than decided those to include. Indeed, there's probably a few surprises included in the artists that haven't made it into the list as well as those that have, but when even Ronan Keating and Jamiroquai find themselves lurking with intent outside the top 100, you can rest assured that everyone else in the list must be truely awful. To give an idea of just how strict we've been, not even Michael Bolton's Can I Touch You... There made the final cut.

Those rules again:-If you're looking for the antithesis of this project, why not head over to 1001 Greatest Pop Songs, where a crack team of pop experts are currently sorting out the wheat, rather than the chaff which we're finding ourselves wading through, but for now, here's our list of the 100 Actual Worst Records so far:-

100: Thunderbugs - Friends Forever
99: England United - (How Does it Feel To Be) On Top of the World
98: Kula Shaker - Mystical Machine Gun
97: Deep Blue Something - Breakfast at Tiffanys
96: Hoobastank - The Reason
95: Geri Halliwell - It's Raining Men
94: Puddle of Mudd - Blurry
93: Usher - Confessions: Part 2
92: Speedway - Genie in a Bottle
91: Phantom Planet - California
90: Various Artists - Perfect Day
89: Blue - Fly By
88: Heather Small - Proud
87: Rooster - You're So Right For Me
86: ...
85: ..
84: .