Talent in a Previous Life

Because It's Never Just About the Music

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Carol Nicola 

It's Christmas Eve! And tradition dictates that we must demonstrate the disturbing depths to which our Nicola Roberts obsession reaches by once again re-writing a classic Christmas song in her honour. As always, feel free to join in if you know the words and yes, there actually is more than one verse to the original.

Dancing through The Show
In a one strapped slinky dress
O'er the stage she goes
Ignored by all the press
Some people say she mings,
But she makes our spirits bright
we love to watch her laugh and sing
And occasionally talk shite

Oh, ginger belle, ginger belle
Ginger all the way
Except that time she dyed her hair
A thing we still rue to this day
Ginger belle, ginger belle
Ginger all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride...
No, we won't go down that way

A photoshoot arrived,
And Nic was looking fine
She toook her pick from wardrobe and
Was dressed up to the nines
Her hair had sheen, not lank
But misfortune seemed her lot
She pouted, preened and posed and such
but was still left out of shot

Oh, ginger belle, ginger belle
Ginger all the way
Unless as you get older
Your hair starts to turn grey
Ginger belle, ginger belle,
Ginger all the way
Oh, one day they'll realise
You're ace just like we say.


Anyway, that is it from us for this year. We'd like to thank everyone who's read, commented, e-mailed, suggested, or passed through the site while looking for porn and hope we've managed to be vaguely entertaining over the past twelve months. We'll back in January with our look at the year ahead, along with all the stuff you've come to expect from us - i.e. the same jokes shuffled around in a slightly different order in the hope you don't notice - but until then, from all of us, we hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. And we mean that sincerely, even if none of you have actually bothered to buy us any presents.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

All Some of the Things We Said 

It's Christmas, and our, like many people's at this time of year, thoughts are turning towards the year gone past. This is partly through nostalgia, partly out of a desire to confirm that we didn't just waste this year like we've done every other one up until now, but mainly because looking back at what we've written about in the last year takes a lot less effort than actually coming up with new content for the site.

So, join us as we take a backwards glance over the events of the last twelve months that we deemed important enough to cover, or at least those which we felt reasonably sure we could come up with a few cheap jokes about.

We kicked off the year with our traditional set of predictions for the year ahead, and as always every single one of them turned out to be true, turned in our only Slash piece of the year, looking at the sexual shenannigans of The Noise Next Door, a band who need no introduction as absolutely no-one knew who they were at the time, let alone now. The Brits nominations were announced and we were less than impressed. Mind you, we've now become so cynical and jaded that even the second coming of Jesus would be unlikely to elicit much more than a half hearted shrug from us, but we were entirely justified in our disdain for these, particularly as they somehow felt that James Blunt was worthy of five nominations. James Blunt is worthy of nothing more than your disdain. We got all excited by the Australian Idol finalist Lee Harding, and while we still maintain that Wasabi is all kinds of aceness, our interest failed to continue on to actually giving much of a shit about what he did next. We also took a look at popstar's heartbeats and pondered a potential Louise comeback which, much to the dismay of blandpop fans everywhere, never quite materialised.

February saw the launch of our 100 Actual Worst Records... Ever! feature and the initial burst of enthusiasm saw Thunderbugs, England United, Kula Shaker, Deep Blue Something, Hoobastank, Geri Halliwell and Puddle of Mudd all indoctrinated into the chart. If only we'd been able to maintain these enthusiasm levels then we might have been able to complete the list, instead of watching it peter into the ground like most of the ideas we have. We also went to see Sparks, an event which we enjoyed immensely, unlike The Brit Awards, an event which found us wishing we were dead or, failing that, that James Blunt was.

Not only do you need to beware the Ides of March, but the A-sides of March left a lot to be desired with Chico getting to the number one slot with It's Chico Time. We helped out by publishing the lyrics, just in case anyone wanted to sing along for some foolish reason. Kylie, who is now contractually required to be described as 'brave' every time she's written about, announced she was going to write a book, and we were swift to grab the exclusive rights to her sister's similar efforts. And we ended the month by getting a bit mardy, well there's a surprise, about the prospect of the 30th anniversery of punk.

April saw us jumping on the MySpace bandwagon before promptly doing very little with it whatsoever, but if you'd like to be our 'friend' then you can add us at http://www.myspace.com/talentinapreviouslife. We through the full weight of our support behind the Wigwam single, which promptly failed to make no impact on the chart whatsoever, pointed out that tickets to go and see Madonna were ever so slightly overpriced. The most exciting and revealing insight into the world of pop Girls Aloud: Off the Record was broadcast. Well, there was some nice footage of Nicola in it at any rate. We also had a look at what Kute the ace Girls aloud support band had been up to; in summary, not a lot.

FHM published their annual list of the most masterbated over females and Cheryl Tweedy was no doubt extremely proud to top the list of popstars, while we, as part of our 100 Worst Records feature, looked at the list of all pop stars who took part in the BBC's Perfect Day promo from many moons ago. We backed Daz Sampson to win Eurovision and, well, you can find out how he got on here, and not only did we contribute to that, but we also offered some useful advice on how we might actually win the bloody thing next year, or at least not come last. Again.

We once again got all unnecessary over the Girls Aloud live experience, which they'll undoubtedly top again next year, while we also took a look at Shakira's body language. Not a lot else happened this month, with us mainly doing our 10 Things... and Top of the Pops reviews, somethig which we found out was going to have to change as we found out the news that Top of the Pops was to be axed.

Getting us just as excited as the Girls Aloud tour was The Pipettes live experience, while we took a sneak peak at the antics at Cheryl and Ashley's wedding. We also took great pleasure in welcoming a new member of staff to the team, Laura, our Fashion Correspondent turned in the first of her pieces looking at the style tips of the celebrities. We plugged Frank whose single, guess what, stalled at the scrag end of the top 40. We really do know how to pick them, don't we. Top of the Pops limped to its demise, and we took a look at every single presenter the show has ever had. This was not, perhaps, a constructive use of our time. last show itself was something of a non-event, although given that it's coming back for Christmas, we're not sure how much of a last show it actually was.

As always August found ourselves distracted by the Fringe, so we didn't really do much, or, indeed, at all for the site. But we enjoyed ourselves, anyway.

We returned after our break, fresh, reinvigorated and full of new ideas, only one of which we actually bothered doing, launching Music Week with a guide to seven days in the life of Robbie Williams. It doesn't just involve being a smugly annoying cunt, you know. Girls Aloud's Something Kinda Ooooh recieved it's premiere and we got slightly over-excited by the whole prospect, and quite rightly so. We also got over-excited by a band called Dateless, who have done absolutely nothing whatsoever since then, and similarly lazy have been 5ive, who announced their reformation with great fanfare and have promptly done the sum total of bugger all since then.

October found us celebrating Nicola Roberts' birthday in style by looking back at her video appearences. X Factor launched for the third time, and if you look through all the pieces we wrote about it, we think you can pinpoint the exact moment where our interest waned and only a sheer bloody minded sense of duty forced us to carry on watching. Madonna adpoted a baby, while Girls Aloud released their greatest hits, so we gave a full and in-depth look at all the tracks contained therein.

We wrote a piece for Sweeping the Nation about a song we felt everyone should hear, before taking a look at the parallel universe which might have existed had Girls Aloud released Sacred Trust instead of One True Voice. We claimed we were going to cover Matt Willis' time in I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here, but promptly didn't do a thing about it. Our lack of support was, based on the performance of those that we do back, probably a major factor in his eventual success. Bono turned up to do a frankly disappointing Question and Answer session, which was entirely his fault and not the fault of the person who wrote the piece. Ahem.

And so, December. Or now, as it's otherwise known. We launched our advent calendar which, as predicted, ground to a halt before the month was out, Leona won X Factor, which was a relative success in the sense that it wasn't Ray, but ultimately disappointing in the whole 'finding-a-pop-star' sense and that, bar some present suggestions and our traditional Christmas Eve post tomorrow, is that. What a year it's been, etc, etc. But we tried. At least we tried.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Advent Calendar: Day 21 

Yes, we have pretty much given up on this now, but we did a good fortnight before running out of steam, so well done us!


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

No Time Like the Presents 

If you're anything like us, then not only will you harbour a deep seated grudge against the world, but you'll also, despite their being less than a week to go, still not have bothered your arse doing any Christmas shopping and the thought of actually getting started is getting less and less enticing with each passing second. Fear not, though! HMV and Virgin are open well into Christmas Eve and buying all your friends and relatives CD's really is the best way of letting them know that you care so little about them that you could only be bothered visiting one shop to buy all their presents. But what should you buy? Well, as advertisers all know, every single one of your family members is nothing more than a lazy, easily marketable to stereotype, so here's the official Talent in a Previous Life Present Guide to give you a few clues:-Or alternatively, if you want the people you now to have a happy christmas, you could get them the poptastic Girls Aloud best of, the rather lovely new Yusuf Islam album - yes you do, he used to be Cat Stevens and Ronan Keating's unable to go longer than a month without churning out another slipshod cover of Father and Son - the underappreciated Pet Shop Boys offering or The Pipettes' We Are The Pipettes, the single greatest album released this year. Cheers!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The XX Factor 

It's been ten long, long weeks, but finally we've reached the X Factor Final and what an exciting battle it promises to be, as Ray takes on Leona for the opportunity to be the next Steve Brookstein with all the fun, excitement and glamour that you'd imagine that to entail. Of course, we say Ray vs Leona, but as far as we're concerned it's Ray vs Not Ray, and as long as Not Ray wins, we'll be happy.

100,000 started out on this journey and now only two remain, although for us we started off with 23 billion brain cells and now are left with only two, which still makes us a bit brighter than our host for the evening, the ever, umm, reliable Miss Kate Thornton (DRESSWATCH: A black, sparkly, sequinned number, the sort of thing that Shirley Bassey might wear, were she a goth), and not only did she have to anchor the London show, she also had to do a number of throws to the live OB's as tonight, as she excitedly informed us, the final was coming from across the country. Apparently the country now stretches no further than Liverpool. We wonder what this means for our passport.

And so, with little preamble from our hostess, Ray kicks off what we shall call, in complete defiance of the trades description act, the evening's entertainment, but first we have a short film about Ray's final week as an X Factor contestant. A private jet was there to whisk him back to Liverpool, presumably because if any paying passengers had been forced to sit on the same plane as the perma-smugged social irritant there'd have been a revolt, and he returned to his family home, where a crowd of people who definitely weren't pressganged in from the local schools were there to greet him, but Ray is a grounded lad and was more keen to grab a precious few moments alone with his family, a fact we know because not only did he allow the production crew to film this through the kitchen window, he also made sure his mum and gran were miked up so we didn't miss a moment of their inane and pointless babble.

But life for a charismatic, amazing, potentially globe straddling megastar isn't easy, and neither, it seems, is life for Ray, as he had to leave his family behind to go and turn in a crappy public appearence at a shopping centre, where a crowd of surly looking teenagers where enthusiastically shouting his name. "That was the best thing ever to happen in my entire lifetime", was Ray's summing up of the experience, which is a good thing, as having teenagers shout at him is going to be a regular part of his life from now on. And throwing things at him. Probably spitting, too.

Kicking off his attempt to steal the victor's tiara from under Leona's nose, Ray once again gives us his horrendous version of My Way, imbuing it with all the sort of fake sincerity and bad overacting you'd expect from someone who used to act... sorry, stand in front of the cameras on Brookside. "You're teflon!", declared Simon, presumably as a compliment. His suit was certainly made of it, anyway. "Words can't describe how much I feel for everyone that's voted for me!" was Ray's contribution. We know a word that describes how we feel about all his voters: "Sick", even more so when we cut to the hall in Liverpool where, in the company of Jeff Brazier - the Essex version of Ray: unpleasant, unlikeable, uncharasimatic, slightly deformed in the face but still carving out a career in public life for entirely unfathomable reasongs - a load of scousers were doing their best to embarrass themselves on national TV, and largely succeeding. We don't know how much they were being paid to publicly out themselves on TV as Ray fans, but whatever it was, it wasn't enough.

Next up was Leona, who in the past week was amazed by getting to ride in a limo, which is a bit like being amazed by someone delivering your post, "Right to your door!". Limo's are ten-a-penny these days, surely, and meeting someone who's not been driven somewhere in a car whose main selling point is it's inability to do U-turns is the only thing about them that would genuinely count as amazing. Hell, we once got a limo because we couldn't get a taxi in time and we're not, beleive it or not, superstar celebrities. "It's like a fairytale", she said, because she is nothing more than a walking cliche.

She opened, once again, with her take on I Will Always Love You, and it struck us that if she would just stop concentrating so much on her singing and actually relaxed enough to allow a bit of emotion come through. She managed this on a couple of occasions here, but to be honest, it doesn't really matter whether she connects emotionally with the song or not, either way her career will stretch out before her as a serious of dull yet overwrought ballads, destined to be played as the first dance at particularly unimaginative couple's weddings. The judges were particularly rhapsodic about her performance, as were the crowd in East London where Mylene Klass, fresh from spending two weeks in a bikini in the jungle - or at least that's the impression we got from the newspapers - was presiding over the events. As Leona is the first girl to make it to the X Factor final, Mylene reckons that history is being made tonight and, indeed, all over the country historians were preparing to tear out the World War II pages from their history books to make space for this important event. David Starkey has already been commisioned to make a five part series for Channel 4 on the events leading up to this, and The Guardian is going to do a wallchart. Though the latter is entirely unrelated, they just like doing wallcharts.

But while we may be down to two finalists, many, many more than them went by the wayside in the auditions stage, and so we get a chance to see some of the highlights of those who didn't quite make the grade and seemed mainly to feature people crying, like some failed pitch for the Kleenex advertising contract. One person who, had he gotten into the final 12, would now doubt have ended up with a sponsorship deal from Kleenex was Shaun who, you may remember, was more tear duct than man and the few parts of him that weren't comprised entirely of bitter, salty water were composed of sheep. He was, in short, an annoying little shit but would, at least, have been more palatable than Ray. Anyway, for some reason, and not because they desperately needed to fill up airtime, he was invited back on to sing Right Here Waiting. No longer looking 12 - he now looks at least 14 - his performance was pretty unremarkable and it's safe to say that we didn't really miss much by his failure to make the final cut.

But now it's time for Ray to return and this time he's dressed in a tux, like an annoyingly precocious child going to a fancy dress party as James Bond. This time it was That's Life, which is appropriate as Ray has a willy shaped like a parsnip, except it wasn't just Ray doing it, oh no. The doors at the back of the stage opened to reveal none other than Westlife, and if ever there was a need for an assassin with five bullets, then this was it. Although we'd still reccommend that they were all used on Ray, just in case. It was an embarassingly awful performance, even if they were probably only chosen as they were the only men in the country uglier than Ray. He is also probably the only person in the world who would respond to the question "You're a fan of Westlife, aren't you?" with "Of course, They did a swing album!", which is normally the response to the question "You hate Westlife, don't you?"

So Leona was up next, and who would she have backing her? One of the country's more successful girl bands? It seems unlikely, how would Louis know Girls Aloud's number? And so, once again giving us a Da Vinci Code style clue into what will make up the bulk of her career, the backing track of A Million Love Songs pipes up and Leona, wearing a very lovely dress, is soon joined by Take That - presumably a Boy Bands Who've Carried on After Losing a Member conference was taking place next door to the studio - and it was all rather lovely, or it would have been if it wasn't for the fact that Gary looked like someone who was currently out on parole for Christmas.

A reprise of the more embarassing auditons follows, before arriving on stage are some of the more hopeless, laughable and talentless acts who tried to enter the contest, so out walk The MacDonald Brothers, Robert, 4 Sure... oh, hang on, sorry it's more about the bad auditionees. After being introduced by Edna, the woman who told Simon he was rude after he justifiably laughed at her hopeless daughter, various awful acts appeared to mangle Earth Song, including the twins who made it to bootcamp and some woman who managed to make the most of her time in the spotlight by forgetting to actually sing and staring blankly at the camera. The only place there was less dignity and self-respect in the world than that is a whole room full of misprinted dictionaries.

With the inevitablity of a dog returning to its own vomit, we return once again to Ray, who regails us with Fly Me To the Moon, showing that while the great pop artists paint from a multi-coloured paintbox, Ray's remains resolutely filled with nothing more than grey. As is his canvas, for that matter. "If I win I'll roll into a ball and die", he said, and if ever there was a more desperate bid to get votes then we've never heard it.

Leona finishes things off with All By Myself, and it's no surprise that she doesn't want to be all by herself. Without a personality to call her own it's probably a bit like being a ventirolquist's dummy, stuck in a box, waiting for someone to... well, you get the picture. Not that Simon agrees that her charisma free lifestyle is a bad thing: "If lack of personality means a shy girl who's not aware of her talent then give me lack of personality!", which would, perhaps, be fine if it wasn't for the fact that 'lack of personality' doesn't mean that. It means that a cardboard tube would have more stage presence than her and her shyness has nothing whatsoever to do with it. Being a good pop star is more than just being a good singer, it's about grabbing the imagination, sparkling and shining, or, to put it more bluntly, they need to be someone you actually give a shit about. Leona's an excellent singer, but she's not any more than that.

And so, that's it for the main show, but not before all the X Factor finalists take the stage to sing That's What Friends Are For, although for some reason, neither 4Sure, Kerry, The Unconventionals or Dionne get to sing a solo line and are left only for the eagle-eyed to spot as the camera pans across as everyone joins in on the chorus. "How special was that?!" asks Kate. Very special, Kate, Very special indeed.

So, Results time. Except they have to stretch that out to godawful lengths as well, so first of all Take That perform Patience for what seems like the millionth time, before we get to see Andi Peters overseeing the preperations - i.e. getting in the way - at the CD pressing plant which will seen be churning out millions of copies of the winner's CD, virtually all of which are destined to remain unlistened before turning up at your local charity shop in bundles of a dozen for 10p.

Then, it's the big moment, the chance for us to hear exactly what this years X Factor single, A Moment Like This will sound like, although if you missed the premiere, don't worry, you'll be hearing it a million or so times over the next month, even if you're unlikely to even be vaguely able to recall it once January's been and gone. It is, surprise, surprise, a dull ballad with a vague metaphor about how the X Factor is a bit like life and sounds exactly like you'd expect it to and, of course, has a gospel choir coming in half way through. Both Ray and Leona gave us their versions, Leona's was undoubtedly better, but they were still both nothing anyone would actually choose to listen to and served mainly to demonstrate exactly how out of touch the X Factor is with modern pop music. A moment like this? A moment like piss, more like. Arf, etc.

But still we don't get to find out who won, as we first have to go backstage with Ray and Leona to find out how they're feeling. Not only do we have to endure an entirely pointless set of interviews with their friends and family - guess what, they're all quite proud of Ray/Leona, who'd have guessed - though as it revealed that Ray's dad is also called Ray, it did at least demonstrate exactly where he gets his lack of imagination from, we also had to sit through their highlights packages, revealing that Ray's time on the show was mainly spent being a cunt, while Leona's was spent singing quite high and looking like she's about to burst into tears.

Finally, we get to the announcement. Finally! And with no sense of surprise or shock whatsoever, it's not Ray! Hooray! Confetti cannons fire and this year's winner nearly has a heart attack, which would have put something of a dampener on things. Eventually she calmed down and looked a bit chuffed, but was still unable to come up with much more to say than "I'm speechless", something she's more than demonstrated over the last two and a half months. Simon was proud, Leona sings again, all the X Factor finalists join in for the final chorus, with Ray doing his very best to get into shot and actively mauling her just as soon as is decently possible and it's all over for another year so we can all, and we really can't use this word enough, finally go home.

That's it for another year. Please don't make us do it again in 2007. We really don't think we can cope.


Monday, December 18, 2006

Advent Calendar: Day 18 

Yeah, yeah, we missed a couple of days, but we've been busy and haven't even had time to open the doors on our real advent calendar.

...full report on the final tomorrow.


Friday, December 15, 2006

Fashion, Don't You Know 

Despite the fact that they manage to get worse and worse with every release, finding new nadirs of pop that we never even knew existed, McFly remain unquestionably - and ununderstandably - popular with you, 'the kids'. You're all very, very wrong, but never let it be said that we at Talent in a Previous Life, don't listen to our readership, well, you can, but we won't be listening when you say it, as our Fashion Correspondent Laura went out to persuade the boys to give us a few tips to achieving their look:-

How To Dress Like Commoners By Sir Harry of McFly


Well hello all you crazy fashion following people! It's Harry here, from McFly. One is here today to talk to you all about the inadequate and quite frankly ridiculous styling that goes on behind the scenes here at McFly HQ. To demonstrate, I've chosen this particular photo from our last video, the vastly overrated Cosmic Woman or something preposterous like that. I'm the drummer you see, so I'm given minimal creative input to the band's 'musical' output, and so therefore do not need to know the names for any of the songs we record. Actually, if you listen carefully, you'll notice that the drum beat on every single McFly song is exactly the same! And now, chaps, you know why!

Onwards to the reason why we are all here. The Fashion. I'm not entirely sure what this video was about - I was substituted with a carboard cut out of myself as I had a very important dinner date with Prince Harry. He was giving one tips on where to get the best Nazi uniforms. I'm trying to convince the band that our Christmas single should have a big Nazi Germany theme in the hope that the public uproar that would follow the shoot would force us to disband so I could move to L.A. and look after my darling princess Lindsay Lohan. She is in rehab again so I hear :( I believe that she ended up there because she missed me so much, but her PR assured me otherwise. I think she thought I was one of those papparazzi fellows.

Anyway, the video. No one knows what's going on. Daniel is going through a very bizarre phase at the moment whereby he will lock himself in the bathroom/tour bus/my bedroom for hours on end and listen to the new Razorlight album on repeat. His obsession with them is quite worrying to be honest. One of the band announced that "hair straightners were so 2004", and Daniel promptly binned his with hilarious consequences - no one knew he was the proud owner of an afro. So yes, he is styling himself on the 'kooky' Jonny Borrell, pretentious cunt that he is. You will note the total absence of any scientific equipment on his persona - Daniel assured the director that if he was made to wear anything Jonny-boy didn't wear, he would put the Razorlight album on for everyone to hear. Ho ho ho!

Thomas. Thomas has always been the 'nerd' of the musical group, and will happily write all of our songs and then share the royalties with us all, for fear that Douglas will 'wedgie' him. (Note to self: find out from butler what this 'wedgie' is.) He turned up late to the video recording because he was busy valeting my automobile and grooming my racehorses. As a result, he had no time to change, and was forced to film in the clothes he was wearing - his girlfriend's skinny jeans, and his NASA Space Camp t-shirt that he won aged nine in a competition from 'Which Spaceship?' magazine. He had to write a poem, and his, entitled 'Star Girl' was given the prestigious 'Highly Commended' award, and was said to be 'an excellent effort for a six year old!'. One can only assume they got his age wrong. I wonder whatever became of that poem, I bet it embarasses him now!

Douglas is the try hard member of the group. When he is not sullenly swearing at fans and telling them to "**** the **** off of my ******* *** you ****** *****", he is trying to convince the others that he is a crazy kind of guy! This is why he always pulls strange faces in photos. Either that, or the poor chap has terrible constipation. Mind you, that would also explain his bizarre fixation with excrement...but that story is for another TiaPL slash/horror story! His jumpsuit may be a political statement about Guantanamo Bay, but on the other hand, he may just have been watching Ghost Busters again at the weekend. As for the vaccuum cleaner duct taped to his groin...I don't think anyone really knew what it was doing there, or even dared to question it. We all know what Douglas' bad temper is like! He put three fans in hospital after they asked for his autograph when he was out in Camden or some rock and roll part of the country. Those poor eight year old girls never saw those bricks coming...

My time has come fashion lovers! I must leave you as I have an awful number of letters to write to Miss. Lohan again. I finally got one back from her last week, although its content (a restraining order) was less than spiffing. She shall come to her senses eventually, I'm certain!


Harry x

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Advent Calendar: Day 14 


10 Things We State About... 

In just over a week's time it'll be Christmas, and already the airwaves are filled with the sort of music you'd never voluntarily listen to without having previously undergone some sort of overly enthusiastic lobotomy. Still, it is, as Half Man Half Biscuit once sang, cliched to be cynical at Christmas, so instead of bitching about hearing Wizzard's I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day for the umpteenth time, despite the fact that the overplaying of said song is a very good argument against the policy it's promoting, and instead let's celebrate this fact with ten entirely true and in no way made up facts about Christmas Songs:-
  1. Contrary to what many proponents of the genre believe, you can have too many sleighbells.
  2. Cliff Richard makes a small fortune at Christmas time, but as a good Christian, he doesn't profit from this himself, preferring instead to donate all his royalties to charity. The charity in question is The Fund For Keeping Cliff Richard in the Manner to Which He's Become Accustomed.
  3. In 1979 Paul McCartney was having such a wonderful Christmas time that he could only be arsed to spend five minutes tossing together the sort of mediocre saccharine nonsense that gives Christmas songs - and music in general - a bad name.
  4. Thom Yorke's favourite Christmas song is Fat Les' Naughty Christmas (Goblin in the Office). "I just adore anything that Keith Allen is involved in", said the wonky eyed singer, "I think that's why I love Lily Allen's music so much". He then ran off to save the whale. Sorry, honk like a whale.
  5. Noddy Holder is equally enthusiastic about other Christian festivals, and the start of Spring is often heralded by a manically haired brummy shouting "Fuck me! It's EASTEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!"
  6. The race for the Christmas number one used to be one of the most exciting contests during the chart year. Of course, with all the stress associated with Christmas time, the last thing we need is more things to worry about, so we should be thankful to the X Factor for taking any sort of thrill or interest out of the contest.
  7. Despite Feed the World now having been released three times, many parts of the world are still hungry, though most are now aware that it's Christmas time. And that Bono is a sanctimonious cunt.
  8. People will buy any old shit at Christmas time, a fact evidenced by the success of The Darkness' 'effort', although we imagine Justin puts in a bit more effort when he relieves himself than he did on this offering.
  9. Shakin' Stevens got his name due to his insistence on filming all his Christmas videos in the actual cold, despite the shivering this would cause.
  10. Fairytale of New York is still gorgeousness defined, however, though not as lovely as Low's Just Like Christmas.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Advent Calendar: Day 13 


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Advent Calendar: Day 12 


Monday, December 11, 2006

Ben Over 

Week 9 of X Factor, and you know what? We're don't think we'll bother running this feature next time around and this year's show is seriously drying up our critical faculties. Every week it's the same acts doing the same thing and we're seriously struggling to come up with new things to say about them. We could probably easily review the show without even bothering to watch it, just by saying "Ben: Good at what he does but hardly relevant in this day and age; Leona: technically good but utterly dull; Ray: Smug, smug, smug, smug cunty, cunty, git" and still cover all the main points, but we do have some professionalism, and so, with a heavy heart, and the thought of trying to come up with new ways of saying "they're a bit rubbish, aren't they" weighing even heavier upon our shoulders, we once again sat down to see what the semi-finalists had to offer us.

"This week there's no theme", Kate (Dresswatch: Kate this week elected to wear a man's suit with a woman's shirt. It was not a good look.) told us. Instad the acts would sing the two songs that they felt would be most likely to get them into the final and, despite the fact that a plea from them to never ever sing again should they do so would have been most likely to garner votes, they all of the judges acts insisted on actually singing for their supper. The fools! Well, we say all of the judges, but after the MacDonald Brothers finally left the contest last week, Louis is out of the contest and it's now between Simon and Sharon for the all important title of "Judge who got Luckiest at the Audition Stage". "I don't want to be in the middle of those two?!", said Louis, hilariously, on the subject, forgetting presumably that he always sits to the right of both of them so didn't need to worry about it.

First up was Ray and, as he was keen to say - and to prove that he was barely literate - he "was like 'Oh my God' I'm in the semi final!". We've had a similar, yet very differnt, thought every single week that he's progressed through the contest. His mum says that "He's the baby of the competition, but he's a man when he gets on stage". And he is, in much the same way Divine was. He strode on stage wearing a cheap, shiny, horrible grey suit and proceeded to do a cheap, shiny, horrible grey version of Smile, with all the dusty, decaying, crumbling, lifelessness you'd expect from someone who treats music like it's some sort of dead squid from the past, rather than the vibrant, exciting, thrilling and moving thing it so very clearly is. We felt sorry for his parents. If we were his parent then not only would we have made headlines at the time due to the biological unlikelyhood - not to mention the social unacceptedness - of our age at the time, but we would also now at the very least be trying to disown him, but more likely we'd be desperately attempting to invent a time machine so we could go back and give our past self a pack of condoms and detailed instructions on what to do with them.

For his second song he wanted to do something that would make the whole of Liverpool proud of him. If he came from our city, we'd want him just to bugger off and die, but Liverpudlians are an odd sort and are genuinely proud that Cilla Black comes from their city, so they probably were moved - and not in the bowel sense - by his performance of You'll Never Walk Alone. It could have been worse, at least it wasn't Ferry Cross the Mersey, but even the MacDonald Brothers managed to resist the temptation to do Flower of Scotland, no doubt realising it would be a bit crass, and it's not even like it's a good song, a clunking melody with a mawkish lyrical conceit. Whether you hold your head up high or not, it really doesn't matter, when you walk through a storm you get wet. Despite, or perhaps because of, the heavy handed simplicity of the song's message, Ray got a bit overwhelmed by it, wiping his eyes and immediatly turning away from the camera at the end of the song, almost so he'd be able, free from the prying gaze of the lens, to forcibly ram his thumb into his eyes to produce some tears in a cynical attempt to grab a few more votes, but far be it from us to suggest such a thing.

Leona, as with virtually all girls on these sorts of shows, was wearing far too much lipgloss. We mention this as it was probably the most interesting thing about her performance of Whitney Houston's I Have Nothing. The song itself is a predictable bore down the "I am woman, I will survive, Hear me roar, etc, etc" path and Leona's version of it was similarily predictably boring. As we've said about a million times before, she is a good singer, but they keep giving her such boring songs to sing. Close your eyes and it's fine, but open them and you might as well be watching wallpaper.

Second song and, following on from Ray's crocodile tears, Leona is also pulling out the emotion card, playing the overused "Death in the family" hand. It was her cousin that died, and obviously this song means a lot to her, and naturally is verypersonal, so she'll just have to sing it in front of millions of people and prostitute it so she can stay in a glorified talent contest. "It's not about winning", though, she said. Of course it's not, Leona, of course it's not. The very personal song she did was from The Wizard of Oz, and we're not entirely sure that Ding Dong the Witch is Dead was entirely appropriate. Oh, OK, we're joking, it was Somewhere Over the Rainbow and, as is traditional on these shows, the simplicity of the melody which gives the song it's emotional purity was messed around with so as to give her the chance to warble around and generally show off her vocal range, though remember she's only doing this for her cousin and not to win the contest. Of course, despite the fact that she was singing about something that was a genuinely sad thing for her, she still failed to demonstrate any sort of emotional connection with the material! Is this girl some sort of rock? Is her singing really so unconnected to her glands that she can't express any feelings while working her larynx? Does she, to put it bluntly, not give a fuck?

Oh well, never mind, Ben doesn't seem to give much of a fuck either. He's been wondering whether he's good enough to win it, and is generally giving off the impression that win or lose, he'll take it with good grace and just grin sheepishly in that way he does so well, although he does say that he wants to get into the final as it "means everything" to him. To this end, his first song of the night is Everything I Do (I Do it For You), presumably because as yet no-one has written a song called Vote for me! Please, Vote for Me, Godammit! I Don't Want to Go Back to Erecting Marquees.

He elected to sing his mum's favourite song for his second choice, but unfortunately for him his mum's still happily breathing, thus denying him that particular emotional hook to hang the song on. He must have been kicking himself for his family's good health. His mum's favourite song, apparently, is I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, from which we can deduce that a) she has no taste in music whatsoever, and b) Ben doesn't stand a hope in hell of making it through to the next round.

Results time and, after Gloria Estefan, along with three girl dancers wearing the eightiest dresses in the world, ran through a greatest hits medley - and by medley they mean playing a bit of one song, followed by a slightly awkward pause, followed by a bit of another song, another awkward pause, then a third song - for no apparent reason whatsoever, it was time to find out who our X Factor finalists were. First to make it through was Leona, who burst into tears demonstrating that she does have some emotions, leaving Ben and Ray to face the tension of the final announcement. As Kate paused to let the pressure build the crowd began shouting "Bray! Bray!", either because of mixed loyalties or as a damning criticism of the donkey like singing we'd heard tonight. Either way, Kate ignored them and stated that Ben was going to be saying his goodbyes. She tried to sweeten the pill by saying that was only 3% of the vote in it, but, given that if we assume her figure of 3,500,000 million votes cast is accurate, this means that over 100,000 people couldn't give a toss about him. We're not exactly talking Florida 2000 recount territory here. He took his failure with the expected good grace and buggered off, back to the obscurity from whence he came. Let's hope he still knows his way around a tent.

It's the final next week, Ray vs Leona, thank fuck for that. For it being the final, that is, not for it being


Advent Calendar: Day 11 


Sunday, December 10, 2006

Advent Calendar: Day 10 


Saturday, December 09, 2006

Advent Calendar: Day 9 


Friday, December 08, 2006

Advent Calendar: Day 8 

...and doesn't the '8' look rubbish in that font?


Thursday, December 07, 2006

10 Things We State About... 

Peter Andre and Jordan release an album of duets this week. It's for charity - raising money for blind children - so it's hard to be too churlish about it but... well, let's just say that deaf kids will probably appreciate it more. To celebrate this, here are ten entirely true and in no way made up facts about the pair of them. And Peter Andre:-
  1. Had Peter and Jordan been an item before his music career, his first big UK hit would have been called Blatantly Obvious Girl.
  2. When Jordan made her enthusiastic, if entirely unecessary, attempt to represent Britain at Eurovision, she performed whilst wearing a pink PVC catsuit and being 5 months pregnant and looked largely like someone who'd strapped a novelty jelly mould to her stomach. Still, she'd probably still have done better than Javine.
  3. Ironically, despite having a number one with Flava, Peter has no sense of taste. This may not come as a surprise.
  4. Jordan's real name is Katie Price, while Peter's is Ken. As in "Barbie and".
  5. Jordan is an Arab country in the Middle East. It is bordered by Syria to the north, Iraq to the north-east, Saudi Arabia to the east and south, and Israel to the west. It shares with Israel the coastlines of the Dead Sea, and the Gulf of Aqaba with Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. It is well known for its unaatractively oversized fake breasts.
  6. At the height of his celebrity, Peter was famed for his six-pack. Taking advantage of this, he soon put his name to a range of inflatables which allowed men around the country to achieve an equally realistic look. After his career took a nosedive, the company involved was able to re-market them for the lucrative lilo market.
  7. Famously, Jordan and Peter fell in love while on I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here. Peter later said that he realised she was the girl for him after she enthusiastically noshed down on something foul tasting and unpleasant in a bid to keep him happy and satisfied.
  8. Jordan has written three books. This is two more than she's actually read.
  9. While in the jungle, Peter managed to invent a new word, Insania, which combines Insanity and Mania. For performing such an impressive linguistic feat, dictionary compilers used a similar method to come up with a new word to describe Peter himself: 'Stunt'.
  10. Where has Bubbler Ranx got to?

Advent Calendar: Day 7 


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Advent Calendar: Day 6 


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Advent Calendar: Day 5 


MacDonalds to Go 

Week 8 - Eight! - of X Factor and things are hotting up! Well, getting slightly lukewarm at any rate. With Eton Road out we didn't think our not exactly enthusiastic support for Leona would get us through the Saturday evening, so for this week's episode we turned to drink. Yes, we're surprised it's taken us this long as well. On the plus side, it did make the viewing experience a lot more pleasurable than normal, but on the downside our notes, illegible enough at the best of times thanks to our completely awful handwriting, are now requiring something akin to the Rosetta stone to decipher. We apologise in advance for any inaccuracies, missed moments and claims that the MacDonald Brothers might have actually been in some way entertaining. Sorry.

Kate Thornton (Dresswatch: A fuscia one shoulder dress which, despite making her arms look a bit chunky, made her look quite fetching. Mind you, we found that she looked more and more fetching as the evening wore on. We blame the alcohol.) had a bit of exposition to do tonight, as this week marks the moment where the pointless 'rivalry' between the judges finally comes to an end and only the viewers' vote counts towards who gets the boot. She also had the less than envious task of trying to be enthusiastic about introducing this week's guest star, the frankly terrifying looking Barry Manilow. Clearly a choice which indicates that the X Factor bosses have given up any pretence at being a vaguely youthful TV show and have firmly accepted that most of their viewers are of the granny variety. Ray might as well start polishing his crown already, even if it means he won't have enough time to spend on his favourite activity: polishing his helmet.

Realising that even the most rabid Barry Manilow fan would have trouble stomaching the generally talent avoiding acts left in the contest covering two Barry Manilow songs - and realising that most of them would have been hard pushed to have even named any other Barry Manilow songs apart from Copacabana - we were spared that particular nightmare, and instead for the second song the acts were given free reign to perform any song they liked. Well, they said free reign. We imagine that if any of them had expressed a desire to perform anything by the incredibly unpleasant Anal Cunt, or had Ben decided he wanted to perform the full 25 minutes of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells, they might have found themselves encouraged to move in a different direction. Although, given what Ben, did decide to come up with, we can only wish though reins had been pulled a bit tighter.

But that's not til later, first up are The MacDonald Brothers and one of them attempted, despite the clear evidence to the contrary throughout this contest, to convince us that he can feel some sort of emotion. "I almost burst into tears", was his recollection of how he felt after Simon 'complimented' them - in a very damning with faint praise kinda way - last week. Really? We could have sworn they just stood their expressionlessly while mumbling how they were going to take what the judges said on board, just like they've done every single bloody week since this contest started. Still, Barry liked them, being "surprised at how wonderful they sounded", which, to be fair, we can relate to. We'd be gobsmacked if we ever heard them sounding wonderful. He also complimented them on the fact it was "in tune", which is hardly the sort of quote you can stick on your publicity material. For once they managed to avoid dressing in matching outfits like a pair of toddlers being taken out by their grandmother for their first song, Can't Smile Without You, and it was clearly at this point that the alcohol started kicking in as we found it almost pleasant. Almost we hasten to stress. Their harmonies were off, and the dark haired one seemed to find singing in tune almost as hard a task as he finds being even vaguely trendier than Barry Manilow, but had it been just Blondie on his own it would probably have been halfway listenable to. Simon, perhaps, inevitably - whether because he's not been drinking or not, we can't say - disagreed, describing it as their "Weakest performance so far", while Louis, somewhat half-heartedly and certainly lacking conviction, claimed it was "A good performance".

Ray, who no doubt sees Barry as some sort of God, was up next, declared himself to be "A little fighter", and we can only hope that he decides to try and prove this by stepping into the ring with anyone even remotely hard. Or even us. We reckon we could probably have him in a fight and we doubt we'd be able to beat JoJo at arm-wrestling, even if she used her left arm. He decided to do Mandy - well, it could have been worse, it could have been a swing version of Could it Be Magic - and, after Barry gave him some advice, declared he was going to think about who his Mandy was so he could sing it to her. Judging by the plastic look upon his face throughout, we can only assume, then, that he got confused and started thinking about Sindy instead. Can't we just slap an ASBO on him and be done with it? Or at least just slap him. Louis and Sharon were full of praise while Simon, his own mentor, told him he'd need to work a bit harder second time around, something he'll continue to hear once this contest is finally over. After all, those burgers won't cook themselves.

"My worst nightmare came true", confessed Ben, who with every passing week is looking more and more like Justin from The Darkness, "I was in the bottom two". Ben needs to start eating more cheese before he goes to bed and develop a better imagination. Dressed in an ill fitting suit and perched upon a stool, Ben took this horrible, painful experience, the sort of experience which even those suffering from poverty and famine wouldn't wish to endure, and used it as the inspiration for his Barry song, I Made it Through the Rain. Which was an apt choice, really, as being in the bottom two really is the sort of upsetting experience which is roughly akin to getting a bit damp. Either that or he was thinking about his days erecting marquees. "It spoke for itself", reckoned Sharon. Yup, dull, dull, dull, dull, dull.

We've finally figured out what our problem is with Leona. She's not so much an X Factor contestant, more someone playing a contestant in a film about a TV talent show. She's got the back story, the vocal talent, the looks, and the two dimensional characterisation and lack of emotional involvment which you'd expect from something like that. We wonder what Hugh Grant would have to say about her. Fair play to her, though, she definitely did something a bit different this week, going all Kelly Lorena on us with a camp, dancey, upbeat and hugely fun version of Could it Be Magic. Her dancing was better, if still slighly awkward, she looked fab, sang amazingly and did manage to tick all the boxes this week. If she is playing a part in a film, this will likely be leading up to the big twist where she gets voted off unexpectedly. We hope that's not the case.

So, with the first four songs out of the way, a plug for the DVD, and some rather unpleasant flirting betwixt Barry and Kate - "Don't ask me to give you one!" - as she tried to find out what Barry thought of the acts - Simon was the best singer, apparently - it was time for the second set of songs. And with the acts choosing exactly what they wanted to sing, this would surely be a chance for them to shine, to express themselves in a way they've not been able to do so far, to show us every single thing they've got. Did they succeed? Let's see, shall we..?

Back in matching outfits, the MacDonald Brothers are first to retake the stage and, given the entire spectrum of recorded music to choose from, what did they go for? Erm, Shang-a-lang by The Bay City Rollers and it was, frankly, brilliant. Yes, they might as well have just stood on stage holding a big sign saying "LooK! We're Scottish!" for all the relevance the song choice had - and they were even, Jesus wept, wearing tartan ties - but we love Shang-a-lang and even if it was performed by two braying donkeys using two bricks and a plank of wood as instrumentation we'd still have loved it. But even without our blindly uncritical acceptance of any Shang-a-lang cover, it would still have been an enjoyable performance, they were having fun, looked relaxed for the first time ever on the show, getting the crowd going and looking, despite doing a seventies cover, almost relevant. Not that such thoughts troubled Simon, however, "This is your final week", he predicted.

"It's got Ray Quinn stamped all over it", smugged Ray as he VTd his track. But what song could truely sum up Ray's personality? Is there a song called "Talentless Prick With No Self-Awareness Whatsover"? Whatever, Ray would have ignored that choice anyway, what with him being a talentless prick with no self-awareness whatsoever. Instead he gave us My Way - Simon: "When he told me what song he was going to sing I dropped the phone". And rushed round to strangle him with the flex, he failed to add - and it wasn't as awful as you would have expected. Mainly because no matter how sordid and unpleasant your imagination, how troubled a childhood you may have had, and how low your expectations of Ray may have been, you still wouldn't have come close to imagining just how dreadful this was. We're talking definitive proof that the devil has the worst tunes. Not that such thoughts bothered Simon: "You now deserve a place in the semi-final". Ray doesn't even deserve a seat on the bus.

So, to Ben. And after ending up in the bottom two last week, he needed to pull out something pretty special this week to get the public back on side, and what did he go for? A rendition of Queen's Somebody to Love, accompanied only by a choir and the audience's out of time clapping. We're not quite sure exactly what he was trying to do here, but whatever it was it didn't quite work, unless he genuinely was attempting to create something of an embarassing mess on stage. Which hardly strikes us as a vote winner. All the judges congratulated on his bravery, which allowed them to avoid pointing out the sheer awfulness of what they'd just seen.

Finally Leona, and guess what, she's finally pulled out the Without You card out of the bag - it really is the big climax to an X Factor film, isn't it? - and, as always, vocally it was excellent, but she still seems more like a girl in her bedroom pretending to be a star rather than an actual star. Louis reckons she's the new Mariah. We worry she'll end up as the new Jayne MacDonald.

So, results time, and without the sing off to fill up 6 minutes of air time, the show is even more packed with filler than usual. Barry sings for a bit, Kate asks him the same questions she did first time around, there's some pointless backstage banter before we finally get around to the business of booting out the brainless. Ray is the first to be told he's coming back next week, and looks exactly like a monkey as he celebrates. Leona is next, and does her usual shocked, amazed, "Oh, I can't beleive they like me, they really like me!" expression. Ben and the MacDonald Brothers face each other down, Ben is practically crying, while the MacDonalds look resigned to their fate. Kate attempts to ramp up the tension, but even she can't last and, with a hint of a smile playing around her lips, she gives the announcement we've all been waiting for for a long, long time - OK, eight weeks, but it seems like longer - the MacDonald Brothers are out! Ah, let's take a moment to savour that news, shall we?

Mmmm, feels good, doesn't it? Of course, it's slightly ironic that they're leaving in what was probably their best week, but we're not going to shed any tears. And certainly Simon won't, who could be seen grinning away quite happily as the news was announced. "But I won last year!", said Louis, who is now out of the contest and offering a look at what the English cricket team will be saying in a few weeks time. "I'm sure they'll have great future in the music industry", he added, but was noticeable in his reluctance to actually put his money where his mouth was with them as he did with Eton Road. They got to do perform for one final - hopefully in the literal sense - time and Kate, in an effort to leave us remembering them as having some sort of personality, attempts to get them to say something rude about Simon, now that they're out of the competition and don't need to be polite any more, but as they're both as dull as a kettle covered in grey matt paint, they just mumbled their usual pleasantries.

Semi-finals next week. We think we're going to need something a bit stronger.


Monday, December 04, 2006

Advent Calendar: Day 4 


Sunday, December 03, 2006

Advent Calendar: Day 3 


Saturday, December 02, 2006

Advent Calendar: Day 2 


Friday, December 01, 2006

Advent Calendar: Day 1 

Christmas is coming. Your favourite popstar is now a size eight so she thinks she's getting fat. Please put a penny in Pete Doherty's hat.

Quite. But misplaced melodies aside, it's now December and Christmas is now very much on it's way, so to help you count down to one of the year's biggest anti-climaxes, we very proudly present The Talent in a Previous Life Advent Calendar. Please, try to contain your excitement.

Every day from now until Christmas - and you may wish to take bets as to exactly how long this feature will last before disappointingly petering out like oh so many of our ideas before it - you'll be able to look behind each door and discover what festive related treat lies behind it. Will it be a fun fact? Will it be a very bad joke? Or will it just be a picture of a popstar with a santa hat poorly photoshopped on to their head? Only time will tell, but for now, click on the door below to discover today's surprise.