Thursday, March 30, 2006


alesha1) Yayyyy! Shouty pinhead Alesha Dixon, what was in Mis-Teeq, has put some groovy solo material on Myspace. Assuming this is the throwaway, non-single, material we have plenty to look forward to when she launches her comeback later this year.
Click it!

2) Arrrrgh! The man behind the cancelled / reinstated / cancelled sitcom Arrested Development says he's walking away from the show. But 20th Century Fox hint (again) that the show might come back. Stop the madness!!
Click it!

3) Ewwwww! Ryan Seacrest is smooching Teri Hatcher. Gross.
Click it!

4) Ooooooh! Get tickets for sell-out concerts at face value from other fans! Altruistic website Scarlet Mist beats the touts (and Ebay).
Click it!

5) Gotcha! Actor Joseph Gordon Levitt papparazzes the papparazzi, and puts a film about it on the web. You like? We like.
Click it!

6) Finally! You know how we were going on about how great old videogame soundtracks were yesterday? (yes, of course you do) Well, the super mario theme seems to have some rather odd devotees. Watch below as a teenager plays the song on two guitars at once. For no apparent reason.

Or, indeed, these people doing it a capella. For no apparent reason.

That is all.

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Jacko's secret sonic soundtrack

sonic 3Game music has become very lazy over the last couple of years. If you're not shooting prostitutes to the sounds of Since You've Been Gone, you have endure 'exclusive new material' (ie: hopeless songs not fit for a b-side) by never-heard-of-em hip-hop acts. With a few notable exceptions (Katamari, Final Fantasy, Resident Evil), everything reeks of marketing 'synergy' and awful jock-rock.

Back in the days of the Sega Megadrive and the Nintendo Entertainment System, however, games had composers - and they had to be creative. Despite a sonic pallette that consisted of bleeps, pings and sandpapery-synthesized drums, you will still be able to find people who can hum the theme tune to Tetris, Mario or Zelda.

So good were these 16-bit compositions, that they caught the imagination of Michael Jackson. And, it has been revealed, he was comissioned by Sega to write the music for Sonic the Hedgehog 3! Unfortunately, due to Jackson's "issues" with the law in 1994, those contributions were scrapped before the game was published.

However, an amateur documentary on Youtube claims that some of his original work has survived. Take a look:

Okay, so it's more of a news feature than a documentary. And it's full of speculation. And the voice-over has been done by a bored lab assistant.

But it's definitely worth watching, especially for the examples of Sonic 3 music turning up in Jackson's singles. Although I'm sure that most of these songs came out three years before the game - shurely some mistake?!

Insert your own joke about Jackson and fiddling with joysticks here.

  • Watch the video at Youtube.
  • Interview with Roger Hector who wrote the replacement soundtrack.

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  • Monday, March 27, 2006

    Video of the week: Imitation Of Life

    REMNot only is this REM's last truly great single, it's also my favourite REM video (and there are plenty to choose from).

    The film, set at a rather posh poolside barbeque, only lasts 20 seconds - looped backwards and forwards over and over for the duration of the song. It sounds like one of those awful Polish cartoons Channel 4 used to show late at night after Hill Street Blues - but it's actually an incredibly intricate and memorable piece of film. You'd see it in art galleries if art galleries actually had galleries of art instead of piles of bricks or plastercasts of syphilitic dogs, or whatever.

    That's not to say the clip can withstand the following 'decontruction' of its 'motives' I came across in the New York Press: It identifies the decrepitude of modern vision, infiltrates the tv habits that are sanctioned by swindles like Dogma 95 and the acceptance of rank video imagery and then pushes forward.

    No it doesn't, it's just a music video.

    A music video that must have been a bitch to pull off, mind you. How did they make sure all the cast were lip-syncing the right line, when they were all filmed at the same time? Thinking about it makes my brain hurt.

    And although this sort of visual trickery is usually the domain of Michel Gondry (think Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) the clip was actually directed by Garth Jennings, who was also responsible for the Supergrass video I featured a couple of weeks ago.

    The greatest thing since bread came sliced.

  • Buy REM's Greatest Hits on DVD
  • More on the video at Wikipedia
  • Unbelievably pretentious review in the NY Press

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  • I can't dance to that music you're playing

    people dressed as ipods for some reasonA friend of mine used to work in a petrol station where, as some sort of inhumane experiment, the managers insisted that the local radio station (the inappropriately-named Cool FM) be played at all times. This poor sod would frequently come home from an eight-hour shift of Whitney Houston, hopeless puns and petrol fumes with the most unbelievable migraine. As well as a bizarre appreciation for the early works of Billy Joel.

    When this sort of environmental terrorism is perpetrated by management, you can't really argue. But USAToday reports that more and more people are using their ipod at work. And not just with headphones. The bastards are using speakers to 'treat' their co-workers to the shuffled contents of their music library.

    Obviously, this wouldn't be a problem in my office, where my superlative taste in music is a well-established fact. But what if you worked with Sam Glazer? He told the paper: "I love music, and it's motivating to me, especially if it's a power song like Eye of the Tiger."

    Holy mother of fuck! How have his colleagues not yet murdered him with spiky poles? Nobody should be subjected to Eye of the Tiger. Not in the workplace. Not in Guantanamo. Not ever.

    Later in the article, a health and safety officer warns that using an ipod could stop workers "hearing warnings shouted by co-workers."

    Exactly. Such warnings may include "Sam, you cretin, if you don't turn off your ipod I will set fire to you right now", or "I am running towards you with a pair of scissors, you lame-music-liking son of a whore."

    To be fair, there have been studies suggesting that certain types of music stimulate creativity and motivation in the workplace. But, as anyone who's worked in hospital radio will tell you, it's an extremelly bad idea to let the people around you choose that music. So please, people, stick to headphones from now on.

    And what became of my friend in the garage? Well, after a particularly harrowing Beautiful South 'marathon' on the local radio station, he finally lost his nerve. Loading up one of his own CDs into the company soundsystem, he treated the forecourt to an all-evening loop of Snoop Doggy Dogg's For All My Niggaz & Bitches. Needless to say, he never darkened the automatic doors again.

  • USA Today

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  • A short break in service


    I'm still here. But last week I wasn't.
    Life's like that sometimes.
    Deal with it.


    Friday, March 17, 2006

    Birthday present

    Jack White is an odd egg (which, I suppose, makes him an egg white) but he does make great music.

    His latest side project is a mini-supergroup made up of bands from around Detroit - featuring Patrick Keeler and Jack Lawrence of the Green Hornes, Brendon Benson, and Jack White himself.

    As you can see none of the constituent groups could previously have been considered super unless they were called the White Stripes. But that's by the by, as their first single Steady As She Goes is a fantastic slab of poppy punk.

    White has always had a talent for melody but a seeming inability to finish writing a song. Luckily, the rest of the Raconteurs seem not to suffer from attention deficit order, and they've beautifully fleshed out this track without detracting from the raw power that makes the White Stripes so unique.

    Various blogs have (rightly) commented on the intro's similarity to Joe Jackson's Is She Really Going Out With Him but in a world where every other guitar band is content to plagiarise Coldplay, and nobody but Coldplay, you have to admire White's sass. But don't say that phrase out loud. People might get the wrong idea.

    By the way, it was my little sister who brought this song to my attention (noting that she'd 'already heard it twice' and was therefore 'much cooler' than me). Since I'll be missing her birthday next week, here's a cheeky download of the song especially for her. But don't expect it to be here for long - that White fellow is quite litigious, you know.

  • Steady As She Goes - get it here
  • Watch the video - on the Apple Quicktime website
  • The Raconteurs - fabulous retro website

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  • Thursday, March 16, 2006

    Purple product recall

    Lawks-a-lordy, the petite royal purple perv has gorn and done it again!

    Remember back in the day when he made decent pop records and shagged pop strumpets like Sheena Easton? Well, after a long spell feeding off scraps in the darkest recesses of the dumper, he's back on form! Prince's new album, 3121, is getting rave reviews, and he's hanging around with a suitably curvaceous foil, who goes by the unlikely name of Tamare (a kind of chipotle sauce, it says here).

    And he's doing other Princely things, too. Like forcing Warner Brothers to shelve a new record moments before it hits the... erm, shelves.

    In 1988, you may recall, Prince recalled his so-called 'funk bible', The Black Album, when he got religion (in much the same manner that you or I might 'get' syphilis). For a few years, bootlegs of the album circulated amongst fans who slowly came to realise that it had really been scrapped because it was, well, largely rubbish.

    This week he's at it again, according to the St Paul Pioneer Press;

    "Prince's old label, Warner Bros., had planned to release the compilation "Ultimate Prince," a double-CD set containing some of his biggest hits and most interesting remixes. But after the discs were pressed and shipped to distributors, radio and the press, the label pulled "Ultimate Prince" from the schedule.

    The decision happened last week, apparently too late to keep "Ultimate Prince" from appearing in the Sunday ad circulars for the big-box stores.

    Why the last-minute fuss? A publicist for the label said it was an "artist rights issue." In other words, Prince took advantage of his purple reign and demanded the nonrelease of the set."

    Obviously, fans are disappointed. The discs were supposed to include such ultra-rare tracks as the dance remix of "Let's Work" - vinyl copies of which exchange hands for hundreds of dollars. There is some hope, though, as CD WOW is claiming a revised release date of May 22nd.

    Either way, it's nice to have Prince back. As long as he sticks to singing songs about his penis and doesn't try to make any more films.

  • via housequake

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  • Wednesday, March 15, 2006

    My ipod sounds nice

    We all have a friend who says things like, "of course, ipods sound terrible because of the way they digitise the audio. If you have a serious sound system, like I do, you can really hear how thin and tinny they sound. I only listen to vinyl and eight-track cassettes."

    Now, you can prove them wrong using this article by an audio engineer, instead of punching them repeatedly in the teeth.

    WARNING: This may only be of interest to me and other people who, although they don't own an actual anorak, secretly think that an anorak might be a practical alternative to a jacket when it's raining.

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    Tuesday, March 14, 2006

    On an elephant like this

    This is why Kylie Minogue is the world's best popstar. She's got quite enough problems of her own to be getting on with, but she still found time to go and visit a group of Sri-Lankan schoolchildren who formed a theatre troupe in the aftermath of the tsunami.

    On an elephant.

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    Monday, March 13, 2006

    New look discopoppery!

    Do not adjust your set! If things look unfamiliar and strange, it's because I've just done a major revamp of the website. Hopefully, it's easier to read, and there are a couple of new bits and pieces to keep you entertained.

    Have a play with all the buttons and let me know if anything is broken... I've tested the new design in Internet Explorer and Firefox - if you have problems with other browsers drop me an email.

    Come back soon!


    Video of the week: Pumping On Your Stereo

    One of Britain's best rock groups, Supergrass are as cartoonish as they are exuberant. Their best songs sound like they've come from an episode of Fraggle Rock (you know, the one where all the muppets lived under a lighthouse and consulted a garbage heap for wisdom.) Added to which, drummer Danny could have been the character-study for Animal.

    So it can't have been a great leap of imagination to turn the band into real muppets for this video. The idea is really quite simple. Supergrass are seen giving a straight performance of the song, except their heads have been grafted onto 12-foot tall fuzzy creatures created by the Jim Henson workshop.

    Many video directors would have been content to let that be the end of it. See, for example, Weezer's lacklustre promo for Keep Fishin' - where Kermit et al run around, knocking things over and mugging for the camera as if they'd taken comedy lessons from Mr Blobby. Stadler & Waldorff would have had plenty to boo about after sitting through that one. Except, of course, because this is a pop promo, the grumpy old men turn out to be big fans of emo rock and give Weezer a ringing endorsement. Utter nonsense.

    Luckily, Supergrass were being filmed by genius directing duo Hammer&Tongs - most recently seen at the helm of the Hitchikers' Guide film. Making full use of the Henson puppeteers, their video is visually inventive, cheekily playful and totally in keeping with Supergrass's sound.

    Best of all, there's a complete lack of kitsch irony and clever-clever winks to the audience. Everything is played totally straight - as if Supergrass are secretly like this all the time.

    And who knows, perhaps they are?

    PS If you pay close attention, you can glimpse all the puppeteers when the pyrotechnics go off at the end.

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    What the..?

    I've not seen Neighbours for years and years and years - But I was off work today, so I caught the end of the latest episode while I waited for the Simpsons to start on Channel 4.

    Harold Bishop just strangled Paul Robinson to death!

    What is going on in the world?

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    Friday, March 10, 2006

    Do you think they'd look better this big?

    Imagine you're a student at Colombia University. It's Friday morning. Last night you imbibed an indeterminate number of bottles fizzy pop. Someone has written the word 'plank' on your forehead in magic marker.

    You feel like the mouldy insole of a two-year old tennis shoe, but you've been warned about the number of lectures you're missing. So you pull on last night's clothes, spray an entire can of Right Guard over your mucky body, and eat a couple of sticks of gum in lieu of the toothpaste you've forgotten to buy.

    It takes about 15 minutes to get to the lecture hall. You're the last in. Which means sitting at the front. Which means no chance of catching up on your sleep. You pull out a dog-eared notepad and get ready for the inevitable tedium.

    But - oh Holy crap - is that Natalie Portman coming into the classroom? Oh for the love of the baby jesus and all the tiny animals, it is Natalie fucking Portman. Fuck!

    Oh, wait a minute, though. She's giving a lecture? On terrorism? Based on her experience of what? The Clone Wars? Bet you wished you'd stayed in bed now...

    ...Brilliantly, this did actually happen. Portman, who speaks five languages and has a degree from Harvard, turned up at Colombia University earlier this week as a 'stand-in professor'. One student even managed to get a picture on his camera-phone and blogged the whole affair.

    The student lists the highlights of Portman's lecture as follows:
    • "My immediate reaction is that torture is wrong."
    • "I don't think it's right to take down the Twin Towers."
    • "Censorship is bad."

    Which, I suppose, is better than Lee Ryan would have managed (we've gotta think about the dolphins!). And some other students have suggested those comments were (gasp!) taken out of context.

    The blog also has tons of comments (unlike this one). The best of these comes from Ben Mills, who says, "Hey, that's the back of my head! I'm glad I wore a nice shirt today, though I regret not combing my hair.".

    Dear Ben, in later years you will come to realise that this particular shirt could only ever be considered 'nice' by a student, a student's mother, or an accountant. (I'm just being jealous here).

    Anyway, enough of this nonsense. If you really want to know more about this momentous occasion of a filmstar looking vaguely intelligent, go to:
  • Hello! Magazine (Oh, the irony)
  • Or The Blue and White Blog

    And then Natalie's fantastic gangsta-rap appearance on last week's Saturday Night Live.

    Natalie Portman has a film coming out this week.

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  • Apple at the Apollo?

    Dear reader,

    Channel 4's "Planet Sound" reports that Fiona Apple is playing a gig at London's Victoria Apollo on April 11th.

    Obviously, we want to go and see this magnificent display of tortured angst take over the home of "Saturday Night Fever" for the evening. Particularly if Fiona feels inspired to do an impromptu cover of Disco Inferno.

    But! The Apollo website has no info about the gig, nor does Fiona's website, nor do any of the obvious ticket outlets. Can anyone out there point us in the right direction?

    Much appreciated,

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    Thursday, March 9, 2006


    betty booI mentioned the Betty Boo / Alex James collaboration, Wigwam, a couple of days ago. Now I hear they'll be playing their first gig at Whitechapel Arts on 31st March.

    Unfortunately, they're only doing one song. And before you get to the good part you'll have to sit through something called a "soundscape of transmissions from space".

    For a while I hoped this would be some sort of fabulous tinfoil disco-opera from Mars, just like the video for Boo's "Where Are You Baby". Sadly, it appears to be a solo project using 'sounds from everyday objects' by the space-obsessed James. Yawn.

    This 'giving with one hand / taking away with the other' tactic seems to be quite typical for the Blur Bassist. Yesterday, he paid Damon Albarn the ultimate backhanded compliment:

    "I fucking like Gorillaz," he told contactmusic, "I mean, obviously Damon's a cunt, but they're great. If Gorillaz were an undeserved success, that would be one thing. But it's great. He's worked so f**king hard on it. I mean, he's a genius."


  • Get tickets for the Wigwam / weird space noises gig
  • Contact Music

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  • Wednesday, March 8, 2006

    Video of the week: Baggy Trousers

    A perennial problem for pop bands is finding something to do during the instrumental break. Madonna went for an embarrased shuffle during the middle section of "Hung Up", Belinda Carlisle used to turn her back to the audience and have a drink of water, Bono usually shoves a camera down his trousers and runs around shouting "woo woo woo, I am the bishop of york".

    But the real masters of the art are Madness, who invented the timeless technique of winching their saxophonist fifty foot into the air on a crane. Simple, yet effective.

  • Buy Madness' Greatest Hits on CD+DVD

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  • Tuesday, March 7, 2006

    Breaking the US?

    After years of neglect, the government has decided to help British bands break America, reports Billboard.

    The casual observer may think that, with James Blunt on top of the Billboard Hot 100 and the Gorillaz opening the Grammys, the industry isn't in need of a helping hand. But British acts are responsible for a mere 8% or records sold in the States. In 1986, that figure was 32%.

    In some respects, we only have ourselves to blame. Oasis, for example, have pissed off more than one US promoter with their petulance and seeming inability to finish a tour.

    On a more basic level, the eclecticism of the UK music scene doesn't sit well with America's ghettoised radio stations. Are Primal Scream rock or dance? Is Craig David pop or urban? America may be a cultural melting pot, but its music scene is strictly formatted and delineated. UK artists all too oftren fall between two stools and land back in London with nothing to show.

    So what can the government do? Well, here's what they've suggested:

  • New research on the U.S. music market broken down by region, available free to British music companies

    It seems the government haven't realised that British record labels are owned by the same multinational corporations as their US counterparts. Shouldn't they already have this information? And what secrets can this 'research' reveal? That country music sells well in Texas, perhaps? Or that San Francisco's gay clubs play a surprising amount of Disco? Let's hope those civil servants know their electroclash from their psychobilly, eh?

  • Creation of a new-music portal showcasing the latest British music specifically aimed at the U.S. market, jointly developed by the industry and U.K. Trade and Investment.

    A website to showcase music? But if only we'd thought of that before!

  • Training for commercial officers across the network of U.S. diplomatic posts to help them understand the needs of British music companies attempting to enter the market.

    I think this means getting the British Ambassador out on the streets to hand out flyers, but I'm not sure.

    The government might be better off helping UK acts get through America's increasingly draconian immigration system, as one of BMG's managing directors points out in the Billboard article.

    Or, with Chico 'Time' Slimani at number one, perhaps the best course of action would be to give up on the UK record industry for once and for all.


  • Monday, March 6, 2006

    Live action Simpsons!

    Someone clearly has too much time on their hands - but this is a small piece of genius, nonetheless.

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    Friday, March 3, 2006


    Sorry to anyone who was trying to access the site yesterday - our server went up in a puff of smoke. There are little web pixies running around trying to sort it out at the moment, which is why some of the pictures have gone missing. Hopefully normal service will be resumed shortly.

    Then, we're redesigning everything. Which could be a whole other disaster.

    Have a nice weekend!


    Famous for 4.3 seconds

    4.3 seconds is the average length of a shot on MTV. So, when Junior Senior offer you the chance to "star" in their new video, you don't need to worry about using up your 15 minutes of fame. In fact, you should think of it as a downpayment.

    Junior Senior, by the way, are the Danish group whose "D-D-D-Don't Stop the Beat" record was momentarily popular a couple of years ago. It was actually very good in a lighthearted, frothy pop way.

    They're coming back later this year with a new single, "Can I Get Get Get (To Get To Know You Better Baby)" and they want the video to feature you. Yes, you, monkeyboy.

    Here's what they want:

    You (and/or your friend, or whatever - keep your imagination open!) performing the song, we would like you to do it in some location where you live that is somehow remarkable and emblematic of your town or country (for instance in Paris: the Eiffel Tower, Montmartre etc, in New York: Central Park, in the subway etc - but if you live in a small-town in the middle of nowhere maybe outside the local grocery store is the best place, you get the idea). And as you might know, a little theme of our album is yo-yo's, so we would be happy if you would play the yo-yo at one point, but it's not a must.

    Got that? Now go over to their myspace site to download the single, and pretty soon you'll be famous. Famous, I tells ya.

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