Friday, April 28, 2006

Life is a cabaret, old chums

not liza minelliI may have mentioned previously that Goldfrapp are musical genii. I'm not ashamed of it, and I'll continue to say so as long as they continue to prove me right.

Yesterday on Radio 1 they did a cover of The Ordinary Boy's "Boys Will Be Boys" in the style of a inter-war Berlin Cabaret act. Camp doesn't even begin to describe it.

Needless to say, the song is absolutely wonderful (Marlene Dietrich would have been proud) and you should listen to it before you do anything else with your day.

So, stop picking your nose and go to Radio One's "listen again" pages. Or, if you're one of those terrible criminals who insists on infringing copyright and destroying the music industry, click here to download it.

But don't expect me to protect you when the RIAA comes round in the middle of the night to stick a baseball bat up your nightdress.

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Taking the wii

A lesson in how not to rebrand your product, courtesy of Nintendo.

Introducing... Wii.
As in "we."
While the code-name "Revolution" expressed our direction, Wii represents the answer.
Wii will break down the the wall that separates video game players from everybody else.
Wii will put people more in touch with their games... and each other. But you're probably asking: What does the name mean?
Not really. I'm asking "Is this a joke?" Apparently not - the press release continues;
Wii sounds like "we" which emphasises the console is for everyone.
Or you could say it sounds like "wee", which makes you think of piss.

Wii can easily be remembered by people around the world, no matter what language they speak. No confusion. No need to abbreviate. Just wii.

Wii has a distinctive "ii" spelling that symbolizes both the unique controllers and the image of people gathering round to play.
Translation: Our marketing team came up with this idea when they were on a massive sugar-rush. Look, they said, it's spelt all funny! And it's just like when we used to play on the slides, "Weeeeeeeeee!" This is the best name for a video games console ever in the history of the world!!!!!

And Wii, as a name and a console, brings something revolutionary to the world of video games that sets it apart from the crowd.
This paragraph has no meaning.

So that's Wii. But now Nintendo needs you.
Because, it's not really about you or me.
It's about Wii.
You, boy. Stop singgering.

And together, Wii will change everything
Oh. Dear.


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Jackson returns!

teeth ahoyNo, not that one. He's off in the Middle East protecting his face from the searing heat. I'm talking about Janet, who's gearing up for a omeback two years after the fantastic Damita Jo album was derailed by the Superbowl 'incident'.

Her official website has just been relaunched, with a great big James Bond style countdown clock. Presumably Jackson hasn't tied Mariah Carey to a train track and threatened to blow up the moon, but we won’t know for sure until Mayday.

janet's countdown

So, what's really going to happen at midday on May 1st? Some ideas:

1) Janet trashes a branch of McDonalds as an act of solidarity with the anti-globalisation movement
2) Janet hosts a party to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Treaty Of Versailles...
3) ...Or Una Stubbs 69th birthday
4) Janet photshops all of the pictures on her website so they suddenly reveal her left bosom.

Well, what we do know is that her new single is due next month, with an album to follow in the autumn. There's a rumour it'll be called 20 Years Old - a reference to the two decades that have passed since her breakthrough album, Control, was released. Despite the dreadful title (I prefer Janetarium myself) the album's producers have been making some encouraging sounds.

frightwig!"I think her record needs to sound like old Human League records," boyfriend / producer Jermaine Dupri told the World Entertainment News Network.

"It'll be 20 years since the release of Control," says long-time collaborator Jimmy Jam, "so there's definitely a little bit of a nod to that on the new album."

2006 will be a make-or-break year for the singer. If her new record underperforms like Damita Jo Jackson is headed for permanent dumperdom. It's understandable, therefore, that there's a lot of preparation going on. Tracks recorded with Beyoncé's songsmith Rich Harrison have been leaked, and Janet's efforts to get fit have been suspiciously over-photographed.

But over-exposure, both in terms of press and flesh, killed off Jackson's last project. Let's hope the rest of the promotional campaign focuses on the music and puts Janet back where she belongs - panting and grunting over a slick r'n'b drumbeat.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

How much would you give?

begging fro brangelina

  • via Yahoo

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  • Gig Review that I stole from a messageboard: Take That

    mark owen and gary barlowI really wanted tickets to see Take That, but they sold out before I could get through to ticketmaster. My sister has a spare ticket for one of the Glasgow dates, but I'm working that night. Grrrr.

    So, assuming that prices on Ebay will be exorbitant, I'm living vicariously through others.

    Here's what 'Stars In My Thighs' says on the Popjustice messageboard:

    I've never, ever enjoyed a show so much in my life. I can say that with the utmost sincerity.

    There was rain (with umbrellas!), fire, a Beatles medley, breakdancing, dirty ho-bag dancers, an array of costumes and suits that made them look as fit as fuck...

    The hologram of Robbie [There's a hologram? Of Robbie? How fucking genius is that? - mrdp] was a little grainy at first, but then it got clearer and you should have heard the screams! He was 'wearing' an army jacket and ripped jeans, and it was generally lovely.

    When I heard the opening of Never Forget I actually felt myself well up!
    I spent a ridiculous amount of money on merchandise as well, but hey, student loan came through today and what better way to waste it?!

    Keep an eye out for the pants with "it only takes a minute" on them... Genius.

    How encouraging! But just as I was about to scurry off to spend an obscene amount of money on a pair of tickets, someone called Maureen posted this response:

    [That] just reminds how truly, truly shit Take That were. Rubbish songs, cheapo production, horrendous dance routines. Ugh. It's nice that they're giving their fans another chance to catch this 'live experience', but fucking hell, what a load of old shit they were.

    Is it weird that both of those accounts ring true to me? I have extremely fond memories of Take That (on chat shows alone, they were forty times better than any of today's boybands), but they were really quite dreadful, weren't they? The music was cheap - they famously recorded their albums in a week - and the videos were shockingly bad. Would we remember them at all if Gary Barlow hadn't struck gold with Back For Good?

    Well, while I try make up my mind, here are some photos from the opening night in Newcastle.

    gary barlow
    group hug! group hug!

    all i do each night is pray we are take that. this is what we do.

    (click to enlarge)

    Once You've Tasted Love
    Today I've Lost You - (new track)
    Why Can't I Wake Up With You?
    It Only Takes A Minute
    Everything Changes
    A Million Love Songs
    Beatles medley
    How Deep Is Your Love?
    Love Ain't Here Anymore
    Relight My Fire (with Beverley Knight)
    Back For Good
    Could It Be Magic (with Robbie Williams)
    Never Forget

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    Sunday, April 23, 2006

    Popworld: What have you done?

    useless pop presenters, yesterday

    Who are these muppets on our pop show?! Yesterday's Popworld was pretty awful. Almost as awful as Top Of The Pops Saturday, but without the air of utter desperation. Accordingly, the internets are ablaze with furious reaction from the barely literate. Here's what they are saying.

    "One word to describe the all-new Popworld: painful."

    "It's like they've kept the same script Simon and Miquita would have used, but it's just not as good."
    Brig Bother, NotBBC

    "I was somewhat excited... due to Alex Zane being pretty and Dirty Pretty Things being on it. Turns out, interview complete shite and programme shite."

    "Popworld is pointless without Simon and Miquita, just like Star Test without the computer or Later without Jools Holland's sycophancies."
    Kubla Khan, popjustice

    "Both look pretty wooden and unsure of what to do. No real chemistry."
    innocent bystand, digital spy

    "I just miss Simon."
    georgie, low culture

    Oh dear.

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    Saturday, April 22, 2006

    Gig Review: The Cardigans

    Not many bands can, or should, get away with ignoring their most successful records in concert. But, last night, the Cardigans did exactly that. The set list for their gig at the Shepherd's Bush Empire was comprised almost entirely from their last two albums, neither of which have so much as tickled the UK Charts.

    For the legions of fans, however, it didn't really seem to matter. In fact, it was the album tracks that became sing-a-longs. And, to be fair, the earlier material would have sounded incongruous. The Cardigans are a much more mature band than the kitsch retro-poppers who scored hits with Lovefool and Carnival.

    Singer Nina Persson claims most of her songs are about 'love and how it messes you up', and bittersweet ballads like "For What It's Worth" and "You're The Storm" certainly suggest a turbulent love-life for the Swedish chanteuse.

    But the band also has some serious rock muscle. On Hanging Around and My Favourite Game, guitarist Peter Svensson let rip with some blistering solos - and the bands penchant for metal (their first two albums contain Black Sabbath covers) allows them to give their more saccharine songs a sinister edge.

    The only downside to the gig was the lack of keyboardist Lasse Johansson, who'd come down with a nasty bug. He was replaced by what appeared to be a roadie, and while I was impressed that they could draft in someone who could play all the songs, the harmonies were often unsubtle and off-key.

    All in all, though, a great gig from a band at the top of their (favourite) game. As Nina said at the end of the night, "Now thats real music".

    Drip Drop Teardrop
    You’re The Storm
    Little Black Cloud
    Don’t Blame Your Daughter
    For What Its Worth
    Live And Learn
    A Good Horse
    And Then You Kissed Me I
    And Then You Kissed Me II
    Hanging Around
    Holy Love
    I Need Some Fine Wine And You, You Need To Be Nicer
    Good Morning Joan

    Losing A Friend
    My Favourite Game


  • Photo from Marcink's blog

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  • Friday, April 21, 2006

    Tabloid watch

    take that in the good old daysWhat's happening in the world of celebrity gossip today? Let us find out:

  • Take That exclusive!!!! The Mirror's 3am Girls reveal that the band might be "back for good" (geddit?!), because they've been enjoying tour rehearsal so goddamn much.

    "You heard it hear first," the column proudly exclaims. And how did the girls get this fantastic scoop? Erm, they heard it on Radio 1.

  • The Sun is letting you download (bits of) Embrace's World Cup anthem in their podcast!!!!!! Don't bother, though. It's a dreary load of jizz. Think Coldplay B-side. Then, when you've stopped screaming in abject horror, have a quiet sit-down and a cup of tea.

  • Girls Aloud are having a massive scrap over who's boyfriend is bestest, says Digital Spy!!!! Apparently Nadine wants her current squeeze, Jesse Metcalfe out of Desperate Housewives, to be in their new video.

    But!!!! The other girls are against it. How do we know? Because "reports" say so. In the tabloid hierarchy of unsourced nonsense, reports are slightly more made up than quotes from 'friends', which themselves are a little less reliable than 'my mate sez'.

  • Even Daniel Powter hates Bad Day, and he wrote the blasted thing!!!!!!!!! But that hardly explains why he unleashed the song onto an unsuspecting general public. The humane thing to do would have been to bury it deep underground in a shielded concrete bunker, where the contents could never be broken out. Not even by a special laser gun from the future. What a twat.

    In other showbiz news, Tom Cruise had a baby, Pete Doherty got arrested, blah, blah, blah.

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  • Thursday, April 20, 2006

    Diversionary tactics

    mrdiscopop visits coloradoAs tomorrow is Friday, you'll no doubt be looking for some distractions to pass the hours 'til the weekend (that's why you're here, right?). May I recommend this website, where you can create your very own South Park lookey-likey.

    That's mine on the right. His name is Spanky.

    If that doesn't get you through the rest of the day, you can exercise your inner pyromaniac by playing this game. It's called Consumed by Flame and in it you take on the role of a fire trying to spread itself around an entire town. A bit like Jordan, except here you're actually hot.

    Consumed By Flame is just one of the many (free) games created as part of the Experimental Gameplay competition. The winner gets to work as a real game designer for a year (Doritos and Clearsil not included). You can play all the competition entries, and vote for your favourite on the official competition website.

    And if you're still looking for something to do, you could pop over to the Shepherd's Bush Empire and keep me a place in the queue for tonight's Cardigans concert. There's a Kit-Kat in it for you if you're lucky.

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    Wednesday, April 19, 2006

    Video of the week: Star Guitar

    Dance music videos. Oh, the awful pain they inflict on our tiny eyes.

    Do you remember the early days of acid house? Back then, Altern8 and Guru Josh used their videos to replicate the effect of staring directly into a strobe light for ten hours. Often, a silhouetted chanteuse would warble against a backdrop of self-perpetuating fractal computer graphics - ie a screensaver. The videos generally induced bigger headaches than the music.

    That style is still the dominant dance music video form, although Ministry of Sound have carved out a niche in making their videos look like tired 80s porn. (Someone really needs to tell them, and Madonna, that leotards are just not going to make a comeback.)

    Luckily, there are a few dance music acts that have major label contracts some money to spend on videos. Chemical Brothers, in particular, have made several stunning videos with big-name directors.

    Star Guitar is a prime example. Video directors often talk about marrying visuals to the music, but here the two are inseparable. Michel Gondry has constructed this video in the same way the Chemicals construct the song - using samples. The camera remains fixed, looking out a train window at the passing landscape. But every element of that landscape is a direct representation of a sampled instrument in the song. When a power station passes you in the video, a kick drum plays in the song. When a hand claps, you see a telegraph pole.

    Like many people, I didn't get this video first time round. You really do have to pay attention to see how intricately all the images are sewn together. Watch it several times and you'll keep on spotting new things. But it'll still inflict pain on your tiny eyes. Some things never change.

  • Buy the Chemical Brothers Greatest Hits on DVD

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  • Tuesday, April 18, 2006


    Popworld's Simon Amstell. He's a lovely boy.So, where have I been for the past week? Well... nowhere really. I've been hiding in a darkened room, mourning the loss of pop TV as we know it.

    My reasons are twofold: Simon and Miquita have left Popworld, and E4's terrible Girls Aloud documentary.

    Let's deal with these awful events in reverse order:

    1) If your very best footage is 'Cheryl and Ashley get followed by photographers sometimes', you don't really have enough material for a six-part series.

    "Cheryl's taking Ashley out for a meal," the voiceover deadpans as the camera shows us Cheryl and Ashley going out for a meal. Minutes later, we learn that "Cheryl and Ashley have finished their meal" and are "going home", as the couple walk out of a restaurant and get into a car and drive home. When we get to episode four of this fly-on-the-wall documentary, you can expect to see actual flies on a wall. For the full half hour.

    Actually, that's not a bad idea. They might have more personality than Nicola (you know, the ginger one? Looks a bit moody?.. oh, it doesn't matter).

    2) Popworld, right, was the best pop show ever made. And that includes Cheggers Plays Pop.

    Simon Amstell and Miquita Oliver were ruthlessly silly, and refused to fawn over their ridiculously pampered guests. "Has a fruit ever come right in your face?," they asked Steadman out of Five Star. To Pete Doherty, "Do you ever get the feeling you're in a car crash?". Of Britney, they inquired "Have you ever licked the top of a battery?"

    One time, Simon Amstell offered Gwen Stefani some cheese.

    Their irreverence and wit has only ever been equalled by the ebullient mid-80s peak period of Smash Hits, of which we've heard quite enough already. In TV terms, the only presenter who's come close is Jayne Middlemiss when she was on the O-Zone. Her interview technique was simply to flirt with a popstar to the point where she got either (a) an exclusive quote or (b) a shag.

    Enough rambling, though. In memory of a fine British telly institution, here is a video of Popworld's first interview with the Sugababes (v3), earlier this year.

    Popworld hasn't been axed, by the way. It continues next week with new presenters Alex Zane and Alexa Chung. They have some big boots to fill - but if the trail for the new show (which features the pair dancing to Junior Senior) is anything to go by, pop TV might be saved after all. Yay!!!

  • A nice interview with Miquita and Amstell is here.
  • A better interview with Miquita and Amstell is over there
  • Popworld have an awful website that's full of commercials for ringtones back over here again.

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  • Tuesday, April 11, 2006

    Sugababes live: What we learnt

    sugababes - standing behind curtains!

    1) The Sugababes have a lot of great songs. Even that one with Sting in it isn't too bad.

    2) In fact, even pensioners know the words to Push The Button.

    keisha pushes her button3) Keisha cannot sing without pressing a secret button directly above her head.

    4) If we could be styled in the, erm, style of the Sugababes, we'd have Heidi's bottom, Keisha's top, and we'd drown Amelle's stylist (puffball skirts? really?).

    5) The Sugababes next single will be Follow Me Home, and they are filming the video in Prague.

    6) Six-year-old girls have camera phones, which they bring to concerts. It wasn't like that in our day, etc.

    mutya's hotpants7) We miss Mutya's hotpants

    8) Radio One's Aled left before the encore. Perhaps he isn't aware of the convention.

    9) Amelle's voice isn't as deep as Mutyas, so she struggles with some of the old songs.

    10) But when she gets to sing something in her range, she can really belt it out.

    11) Their cover of the Artic Monkeys I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor is exceptionally good - and seemed to be the girls' favourite part of the concert. A new direction beckons? Sugababes rock!

    12) Erm...

    13) That's it.

    sugababes - all together now

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    Friday, April 7, 2006

    Soupy Twist

    If you only buy one thing this weekend, make it the "A Bit Of Fry And Laurie" DVD. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry, it will inspire you to try new things and taste the exotic fruit of infinite opportunity, unhindered by the constraints of time or money which so often clip our metaphorical wings in the relentless pursuit of progress.

    Or, you know, it might give you something to do for a couple of hours on Sunday when Songs of Praise is on.

    As a taster, here's a video of Hugh Laurie singing Mystery, the best comedy somg ever written by someone who wasn't in Monty Python.

  • Buy the DVD from Amazon

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  • Thought for the weekend

    What if the hokey cokey really is what it's all about?


    Thursday, April 6, 2006

    Hello, Tom Baker here...

    Baker. Tom BakerHas Dr Who sent you a text message yet? No, not that weird modern one who hangs around with Chris Evans's ex-wife. The real Dr Who.

    You see, if you live in the UK you can currently send an SMS to a landline and special BT computer wizadry will turn it into a voice-call from Tom Baker: the voice of Little Britain and erstwhile companion of K9.

    It's a totally spiffing wheeze, and must have increased BT's profits by literally pounds. But, as with all good things, it's coming to an end (April 30th is the last day, I think).

    Equally true, however, is that the internet will preserve every tiny blip on the universe's cutural radar for posterity. Accordingly, some bright young genius has set up a website called "Tom Baker says" to record tons of Tom's top texts.

    Yes, even the swears.

    Go to, for the full experience.

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    Wednesday, April 5, 2006

    Video of the week: Supa Dupa Fly

    I'm getting a bit bored of all these videos with fancy timeloop gimmicks, ingengious use of puppetry, and amazing MC Escher-inspired perspective tricks, aren't you?

    This week, Missy Elliot is squeezed into a massive rubber balloon, which is then inflated, and filmed through a fish-eye lens.

    It's a classic.

  • Buy Missy's sadly incomplete video collection on DVD

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  • Tuesday, April 4, 2006

    Plank spanking

    a young man spanking his plankLike a tortoise who's discovered roller skates, I've finally caught up with the live folk music scene. Last night, for example, I attended an open-mic night in London's gloomy Gunnersbury, a mere 40 years after Bob Dylan became a household name.

    I can't say it defied expectations. There was a sullen teenager singing about "back in the day" when he "walked the highway". In reality, his main activity 'back in the day' would have been crying because he wasn't allowed a Wagon Wheel.

    Another set featured two men playing a woefully inept series of blues covers to a wildly appreciative audience of their girlfriends.

    Oh, and there was a middle-aged couple who did a song about Mexican painter Frida Kahlo that went "you painted roads and things / and little children / throwing stones at / a baby goat" (I may have made that last bit up, but the chorus really did go "Oooh, she was good").

    Anyway, what really struck me was the atmosphere. All the acts were incredibly supportive of their 'rivals', and there was plenty of advice and praise going round. Some of the songsters were even worth listening to beyond the first couple of bars.

    In particular, featured artist Ellie Myles, who sounded a bit like Natalie Imbruglia wrestling Jerry Hall; and the wistful tunesmithery of the enigmatically-monikered 'Dogboy' (although I have to admit a little bias here - he's a mate, and under any other circumstance I'd have mercilessly ripped the piss out of his not-at-all-based-on-kinky-sex stage name).

    As is the way these days, they both have some songs up on myspace, and you should have a listen. Support live music, man. Etc.

  • Ellie Myles
  • Dogboy

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  • Ha ha splurt

    cappuccino, unspiitRight now, I'm wiping up a messy combination of snot and cappuccino off my desk.

    It's all George Saunders fault. He wrote an article, which The New Yorker published, which I read, which made me laugh so hard that coffee came out of my nose. It's all about nostalgia, and here is a sample:

    "I used to love music, back when it had melody and chords and lyrics. But now it has no melody and no chords, just thwack-thwacking, and they even seem to be cutting back on the thwack-thwacking, so now it's sometimes just thwa, and, as far as lyrics, do you consider these lyrics?

    Hump my hump,
    My stumpy lumpy hump!
    Hump my dump, you lumpy slumpy dump!
    I'll dump your hump, and then just hump your dump,
    You lumpy frumply clump."

    I’m sorry. To me? Those are not lyrics. In my day, lyrics were used to express real emotion, like the emotion of being totally stoned and trying to talk this totally stoned chick into sleeping with you in the name of love, which lasted forever, if only you held on to your dreams.

    When you've cleaned up that mess, you can read the whole thing by clicking here.

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