Thursday, August 31, 2006

A thing I wrote about Jamelia

jamelia is dressed in an american football costumeIs Jamelia Britain's only bona fide R&B star? That would certainly seem to be the case, but you'd never have predicted that turn of events in 2000. Back then, she'd had just one 'proper' hit with the underwhelming Destiny's Child rip-off, Money (featuring celebrity homophobe Beenie Man). Her next single, Call Me, was unremarkable in tune and chart performance, and Jamelia seemed destined for dumperdom.

Things didn't improve with her second album, either. The lead single, Bout, disappeared without trace, largely because it was a tuneless mess. So what happened next was something of a shock...

Superstar - a much poppier track than Jamelia had ever released - entered the charts at number eight. And then it began to climb, and climb, and climb. Seven weeks later it was number two. And justifiably so. The song is a superlative slice of pop, with one of those tricksy choruses that seems unremarkable until you realise you've been whistling it in your sleep.

jamelia in a black dress. classicJamelia's album was hastily repackaged to include a Chris Martin-penned ballad, and Jamelia was rebranded as a silky pop soulstress. It was a transformation equal to David Bowie killing off Ziggy Stardust. Or, perhaps more pertinently, when Robbie reversed his headfirst freefall into the dumper by releasing Angels.

But then - oh no! - Jamelia got pregnant. What is it with British soul singers and getting knocked up? Ms Dynamite, Monie Love, Neneh Cherry - they've all managed to stall a promising career by allowing a boy to put his man-gherkin in their private lady place. You wouldn't get that sort of behaviour from Beyoncé.

Praise be, then, that Jamelia is back from the maternity ward with a nanny (Leanne) and a truly excellent single. Something About You is a classy little love song reminiscent of Kelly Clarkson's Since U Been Gone. You can tell it’s a top priority for record company Parlophone because they've spent money on the video (Jamelia wears four separate outfits, which is a key indicator of cash being splashed around like papery water).

PS Wouldn't it be great to see Jamelia do a duet with Lemar? A big old Marvin Gaye / Tammi Tyrell love song would be ideal. Perhaps we could petition the Mobos people and get them to do something about that.

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Dream Ticket

What's your fantasty concert line-up? Mine would be this:
dream ticket

Or perhaps:

dream ticket 2

You can make your own at

Have a go for yourself, then send your efforts to (or add them in the comments box if you can work out how). I'll publish a the best ones on the site later this week.

[link via popjustice, who got it off of stereogum]

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Competition update!

It is now one week since I offered a free promo copy of Robbie Williams's ropey new single, Rudebox, to the first person who emailed me requesting it. In the intervening seven days, more than 600 people have visited this site, and I have received precisely no such requests.

With that in mind: May God bless you, each and every one.

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Friday, August 25, 2006

Video of the week: Nice Weather For Ducks

dancing ducksWarning! You will hate this song, but it will lodge itself in your mind like an unwanted house guest, or one of those creatures that sucks your brains out in that movie with the aliens. You will be singing it as you go to Greggs for a sausage roll this lunchtime. By the end of the weekend, you will have bought it on iTunes. At your wedding, you'll request it as the first dance. And when you die, you will have it as your epitaph. It is that catchy.

The song is Nice Weather For Ducks by UK dance act Lemon Jelly. It seems appropriate to choose it this week as the UK turns into one giant puddle.

Based around a sample from a nursery rhyme, the song is features an explosion of folk guitar, dance synths and funk trumpet. It literally sounds like nothing else on earth - as long as you discount the rest of Lemon Jelly's songs.

The video bravely attempts to recreate the psychedlic soundclash of the song, and makes a rather fine job of it. A mixture of live action and cartoons, it recalls the trippy animation of the Beatles' Yellow Submarine - but, thankfully, this is a full 85 minutes shorter.

It's the only music promo ever to be directed by Nigel Pay, whose day-job is creating adverts for the likes of Tesco and Fairy Liquid. Perhaps because he's been freed of the 30-second contraints of TV work, the video communicates the unabashed joy of the song perfectly.

Other noteworthy things about the clip:
  • Groundbreaking animation technique! A bit like the rotoscoping thing they've done to Keanu Reeves in his new film. The flying sequence is a bit patchy, though.
  • It has a social conscience! The song is sung by a tramp, thus demonstrating how we need to consider the plight of the homeless in a society where the divide between rich and poor has never been greater.
  • Retro! It's, like, totally based on the opening titles to kids' TV programme Rainbow. That tramp could even be Jeffrey.
  • Dancing ducks! Dancing ducks, for fuck's sake!

    Watch it below, then sing it randomly 'til the day you die. You have been warned.

  • Buy the DVD from Amazon
  • See more of Director Nigel Pay's work at the Tandem Films website

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  • Thursday, August 24, 2006

    MP3 Frenzy

    A new collection of music for your portable media player of choice.

    killersThe Killers - When You Were Young
    This song is so good. From the 80's riff, to the major chord resolution in the final chorus - the whole thing is pant-wettingly wonderful. If you download this, you still have to buy it when it comes out, okay?

    basment jaxxBasement Jaxx - Hush Boy
    The first single from the London dance act's new album, Crazy Itch Radio. Going back to their Jackson Sisters-sampling early days, this is the sound of a carnival in your earphones. It even rhymes fajita with margarita. Genius.

    peter bjorn and johnPeter, Bjorn and John - Young Folks
    This Swedish band have achieved the impossible - they've recorded a song where the chorus is whistled, and it's not even remotely irritating. It features Victoria Bergman, who walked out of The Concretes last year, and has some crazy-ass bongo slapping at the end. I like bongos, me.

    janetJanet Jackson featuring Khia - So Excited
    This is a great club stomper, replete with scratches and thumping orchestra hits. A massive improvement on Call On Me, praise the lord.

    By the way - German Janet fansite Janet World has posted the official promo photos for Janet's new album, 20 Years Old, and she's looking quite beautiful (ie she has kept her top on for once). The gallery is here

    beyonceBeyoncé - Ring The Alarm
    There are rumours Beyoncé's dad/manager wants the record company to delay the release of her sophomore album, B'day, after underwhelming critical response. Apparently, there's a Shakira duet he wants to put on there. How odd. In any case, the album will sell by the bucketload even if it's decidedly mediocre. This song, the second single, is Kelis-style shouty brilliance and is not mediocre at all.

    kelisKelis - Goodbyes
    Speaking of which, here's a Dr Dre-produced track from the singer's fourth album, Kelis Was Here. It's nothing like the deranged single Bossy (see the video here). This melancholic summery ballad is a surefire single. Maybe she'll survive her split from the Neptunes after all?

    andre 3000Outkast featuring Khujo Goodie - N2U
    One of my favourite tracks from the Atlanta duo's new album - which is the soundtrack to their film, Idlewild. A quick listen to the CD's interludes reveal the film will be a cocktail of corny jokes, bad acting and unbelievable misogyny. The music, however, is sublime.

    robbieRobbie Williams - Rudebox (Dirty Radio Edit)
    It's still awful, but I keep listening to it. What's that all about, then?

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    Wednesday, August 23, 2006

    Step to it

    I don't think much of the new OK Go single, Here It Goes Again, but the video is the best thing I've seen in months:

    I'm off to the gym right now to see if I can do this, too. Anybody else?

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    Madonna H&M photoshoot

    These pictures of Madonna giving it some chav are a bit old, but I hadn't come across them til this morning:

    white tracksuit
    White tracksuit

    black tracksuit
    Black tracksuit

    She doesn't look bad, but as someone pointed out on the popjustice messageboard: Why did they airbrush her face but not her roots?

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    My, haven't they grown?

    Can you guess who these charming young folk grew up to be? (Answers are just below the photo in white text - highlight it with your mouse to find out who's who.)
    yearbook photos
    Clockwise from top left: Eminem, Pamela Anderson, Billy Bob Thornton and little Johnny Depp. Their mothers must have been so proud.

    There are tons of these yearbook photos on celebrity blog Oh No They Didn't!. Hours of fun guaranteed.

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    Tuesday, August 22, 2006

    Drugs: They fuck you up

    is this man high on drugs? Yes, he isKeane's lead singer, Tom Chapman, has checked into the Priory to be treated for drug and alcohol abuse.

    Do you realise what this means? It means that all of the band's dreary piano ballads were written on a heady cocktail of cocaine, psychedelic LSD trips and Jack Daniels sniffed off the back of a labrador.

    Just how boring would they have been if he was sober?

    For the sake of the fans, Tom, I beg you to snort more drugs up your nosehole.


    Monday, August 21, 2006

    Robbie's new single: Super or shit?

    It's all very well being Robbie Williams and getting radio to "play" your "single", Rudebox, at the drop of a hat, but is the song any bloody good? Here is a scientific measurement:

    super robbie
  • Not as turgid as any of the tracks on his last 3 albums
  • Samples Boops (Here We Go) by Sly & Robbie
  • Contains the lyric "Take both pills - fuck The Matrix"

    shit robbie

  • Still not as good as the rap bit at the end of Kids
  • Not as good as Boops (Here We Go) by Sly & Robbie
  • Contains the lyric "Make your body shake like you're stood on a landmine"

    Oh, and also...

  • Robbie delivers every line in a manner that suggests he is so bored he would rather be pissing on his own face
  • The title is a sub-par schoolground euphemism for "twat"

    To my eternal joy, I have a promo CD of this masterpiece, which has arrived at Discopop Towers a mere four weeks after everybody else got their copy. Would you like it? Because I really don't.

    The first person to email with proper justification for wanting to own this musical atrocity gets it posted through their rudebox by the end of the week.

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  • Sunday, August 20, 2006

    Please call Maria in accounts

    The Killers' new album had better sell by the bucketload. Otherwise they're going to be paying back the cost of their new video until they're well past retirement age.

    It's called When You Were Young and, like all of the band's songs, it appears to be completely unremarkable until the third or fourth time you hear it - after which the melody will become indelibly imprinted on your brain, like a musical mind tattoo. In 2064, you'll be singing it in the old people's home while you wonder where you put that custard cream.
    And your teeth.

    You can get your own personal copy of the video by clicking here and doing some downloading. Exciting, yes?

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    Friday, August 18, 2006

    Video of the week: The Scientist

    we are coldplay and you are notI'm not the biggest Coldplay fan in the world. Yes, their heartfelt piano ballads are effectively written and uniquely anthemic, but they're just a bit whiny, aren't they?

    Nonetheless, every band of their stature has one song that transcends their limitations and The Scientist is most definitely that song for Coldplay.

    The song's lyrics are typical Chris Martin fare: I'm sorry for that thing I did. It won't be easy but I want to fix our relationship. Ooooooh. Oooooooh. Oooooooooh.
    It's right moving, so it is.

    The video, however, is a little shard of filmic genius that gives the record a huge emotional punch. "I had this idea that I wanted to do a story that's tragic but starts off happy and ends happy, and the video is about rewinding to that happy ending," director Jamie Thaves told MTV.

    In the beginning, Martin is lying down on a mattress before (rather creepily) righting himself and tracing his route back to a car crash, in which his girlfriend apparently dies. The video ends with the couple happily talking in their car, blissfully unaware of the tragedy that lies ahead.

    The overall effect is creepy and other-worldly, but also incredibly moving. Thaves, who came up with the story before he'd even heard the Coldplay track, has woven similarly powerful narratives into some of his other videos - notably Radiohead's Just, which I'll feature on here sometime in the future.

    Technically, the video must have been incredibly difficult to pull off. It was shot forwards - with Martin walking through fields and jumping over walls in London and Surrey - but in the final cut, the pictures are reversed in order to tell the story.

    This means that, during shooting, the music had to be played backwards. Martin therefore had to learn how to sing The Scientist in reverse. Apparently, it took him a month.

    On the DVD single, there's a "reversed" version of the video which proves how hard it must have been for Martin to learn the nonsense syllables for the video. I've put it up on youtube in case you want to have a look.

    In the meantime, here's the real thing!

  • Buy The Scientist on DVD at Amazon

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  • Hey bitches!

    Can it be that time already? Tyra Banks is donning her ridiculous shaggy dog hair-weave and preparing for the next series of America's Next Top Model. As luck would have it, you can already see the 13-strong starting line-up on A Socialite's Life.

    Now in its seventh season, ANTM purports to show how tough it is to enter the world of professional modelling. What the show really portrays is how hard it is to live and work with a group of very attractive self-obsessed gobshites.

    Every series throws up the same 'harsh realities' of modelling life. The most important of these is being judged. The girls are judged on their looks, their photographs, their dress sense and how they walk. That's right, models have it hard because people expect them to be able to perform the most basic of human motor functions after swallowing - although one contestant usually has problems with that, too.

    Other regular features of the show:
  • One model cries cries when a stylist cuts her hair.
  • One model isn't afraid to "tell it like it is", by which she means she is very, very rude to peope for no apparent reason.
  • One girl is led to believe she has a chance of becoming a 'plus-size' model, only to be thrown out of the competition after three weeks when everyone suddenly realises she is exceedingly fat.

    It is utterly compelling television, but it won't be shown over her til next year. Boooo!


  • Parish notice

    I now have a Myspace page, what you can infrequently frequent if you fancy. Among the amazing things you can do on myspace are:
      a) Listen to some music
      b) Look at some pictures
      c) Become "my friend"

    It truly is marvellous, I tells ya.


    Thursday, August 17, 2006

    Ring the alarm!

    Psycho alert! Although Beyoncé's new single isn't even in the shops yet, her new video has found its way onto youtube. And if you think she looked mad in the Deja Vu clip, wait til you see this...

    Her hair is all messy! Her head twitches uncontrollably! She thinks she's Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct! And what is with the dancing? She looks like she's churning milk.

    Don't worry, though, it's all just acting innit?

    Guards! Lock this musically gifted lunatic up!

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    Brand management

    One thing I shall miss when Big Brother ends tomorrow is the nightly appearance of Russell Brand on my tellybox. Luckily, he's gone and mounted (ooo-er) a massive tour of the UK with his comedy act. It starts at the Edinburgh Festival as soon as BB comes off the air, but it'll be in your town during the autumn...

    Exciting. It's nice to have a dandy comedian in your village hall, and that.

    Not know what I'm going on about? Here is some video evidence of his comedic "gift" which will, of course, make no sense to you unless you've seen at least thirty minutes of Big Brother this year...

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    Wednesday, August 16, 2006

    Don't brother mentioning it

    cretins!Just like last year, I've managed to avoid mentioning Big Brother on the blog right until the last week of the series... But, once again, I just can't help myself.

    For those of you unfamiliar with the format (where have you been?!), Channel 4 crams around sixteen thousand cretins into a house for the summer and pokes them with sticks until they cry. It is, therefore, the best television programme ever.

    This is the final week, and there are six people left in the house who haven't yet started twitching and barking like dogs (alright, five people and Pete). They are:

    Richard: The self-proclaimed "sexual terrorist" from Canada. Richard has never quite established what a sexual terrorist might be, other than something to say at a Big Brother audition. However, he does appear to be wearing a burkha on his right hand every eviction night so maybe that's got something to do with it.

    While, at first, he seemed quite sensible it has now become clear that Richard says everything in a needlessly cunty way.

    Pete: Pete is favourite to win because of his winning personality. Oh, and the fact he has tourette syndrome. Isn't it hilarious/endearing/exploitative how he says 'wankers' all the time?

    On last night's show, Pete said he'd had a vision where his friend came down from heaven and told him he was going to win Big Brother. Therefore if he doesn't win, Pete surmised, he'll have to stop believing in heaven. So there you have it, vote for Pete or the baby Jesus will die.

    moan, moan, moanNikki: A monstrous collection of hormones and snot, Nikki is the most spoiled human being ever born. She looks and sounds like a Tasmanian devil crossed with Vanessa Feltz, but with even more narcissism.

    Nikki's 'hilarious' tantrums are the product of being over-indulged at every stage of her life and when someone finally says "no" to her, she is likely to work herself into such a spin that she'll drill a hole into the earth's crust. Where, no doubt, she'll compain because it is too hot and they're not giving her bottled water.

    Glynn: The general concensus is that Glynn, 18, has gone on a 'personal journey' during his time in the house. This is because (1) he learned to cook an egg, (2) he felt a lady's bosom, and (3) he had a posh wank in the shower. Personally, I reckon Glynn is developmentally challenged.

    Jennie: I honestly can't remember who Jennie is or what she does.

    frightening!Aisleyne: Aisleyne entered the Big Brother house as a disagreeably confrontational "ghetto princess", threating to fuck people up and dash'em round the face with water.

    She has a distressingly poor taste in clothes. The garment she wears in the show's publicity photo (right) appears to have been created when a bridal veil factory exploded over her. Does she really want us to see her pants so clearly? And what are those unnatural spheroids where her breasts should be? It looks like they're trying to get away from each other.

    However, in contrast to Glynn, Aisleyne seems to have really changed during her time in the house. She's even told Big Brother her belligerent attitude of old (which she put down to having lived rough for several months in London) was unattractive and unnecessary.

    Telly website has started a campaign to get Aisleyne to win. Chief amongst their reasons is that she once sang Neneh Cherry's Buffalo Stance in the garden - and knew all the words.

    Based on that piece of evidence alone, Aisleyne has stolen my heart. What's more, she does a good pratfall:

    Unfortunately, however, Aisleyne can never win because the people who text in their votes to Big Brother aren't literate enough to spell her name right.

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    Tuesday, August 15, 2006

    MP3 Frenzy - Retro Edition


    I've just got back from a very short weekend visiting the senior discopops in Belfast. Despite the 'travel chaos' everyone keeps talking about, we had a relatively event-free trip. Although Heathrow bosses take note: a printed sheet of A4 stuck to the door of your airport would help direct people to the right check-in desk. Simple, really.

    Anyway, being back in my hometown made me somewhat nostalgic for the music I listened to while I was growing up. Back in the 80s, I was still very much a passionate priest of pop, but in the sort of city where not liking AC/DC immediately made you 'queer'. I wasn't queer, though, I fancied Doris out of Five Star.

    So, on getting back home today, I've been digging through my boxes of vinyl to find the cheesy pop hits that aoundtracked my teenage years. They're now on my iPod, but I thought I'd share some of the highlights with you. Enjoy!

    denise out of five star Five Star - The Slightest Touch (Shep Pettibone Touch Remix)
    I was a little bit obsessed with Five Star. In retrospect, they only managed about 14 months of pop brilliance before they went a bit shit, but that purple patch ended with their best single - The Slightest Touch. The song, the sixth(!) single from their Silk and Steel album, receieved the rare honour of being remixed by the king of 1980's 12" records, Shep Pettibone. He went on to write and produce Vogue for Madonna. Five Star went on to bankruptcy and exposing themselves in public toilets.

    brothers in rhythm Brothers In Rhythm - Such A Good Feeling
    This is the soundtrack to all our school-leavers dances. Well, this and Smells Like Teen Spirit. Isn't it funny how you can hear Nirvana in theme parks now, but this song is lost to history? Perhaps not.

    pebbles Pebbles - Girlfriend
    Pebbles was named after a Flinstones cartoon character, according to Wikipedia. Which makes her a kind of frontrunner to Snoop Dogg if you really think about it... This kind of slick R&B was massive in the US in the 1980s, but never really took off over here. As a result, I started listening to Casey Casem's American Top 40 on local radio every week just to keep up with the US music scene. Which led to discoveries like this:

    The C and C C&C Music Factory - Gonna Make You Sweat
    I wasn't really sure what to make of rap at first. I liked Walk This Way, and Whistle's Nothing Serious (Just Buggin'), but the hardcore stuff was a little hard to stomach. Thanks, then, to C&C Music Factory whose poppy little anthems made me think there might be something to this hip-hop music after all. Next stop: NWA.

    susanna hoffs Bangles - Manic Monday
    As everyone knows, it's written by Prince. And the melody in the verse is a direct facsimilie of the tune to 1999, fact fans. I love the idea of Prince writing a song about catching the train to work. Picture him in an office job, wearing an all-in-one peach babygrow while quietly humping the desk. It's a lovely image, is it not?

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    Friday, August 11, 2006

    I've bceome a Spektor collector

    regina spektorI've been meaning to write something about Regina Spektor for a while now. The pint sized New York singer-songwriter has muscled her way into the special place in my heart marked "kooky piano lady" (previous occupants: Kate Bush, Tori Amos, Fiona Apple).

    Born in Russia, but raised in the States, Spektor first came to my attention through the song Us last year. A wonderfully left-field ode to statues, the song got a few plays on Radio One, and soundtracked Sky One's breathtaking skateboard advert - although unfortunately not the version that's been uploaded to youtube.

    Her first UK album, Mary Ann Meets The Grave Diggers, was released in January. It's a compilation of the best bits from her early independent releases and her first major-label US album, Soviet Kitsch. In all honesty, it's a little too idiosyncratic for my tastes - but it does feature a lush, re-recorded version of Us which is worth the asking price alone.

    Much better is her new album, Begin To Hope, which mrsdiscopop picked up a couple of weeks ago. In it, Regina takes her finger off the button marked 'quirky' and delivers some beautifully heartfelt songs. The lyrics are more personal and observational than on Mary Ann - although she still manages to squeeze in a song about being the secret girlfriend of biblical strongman Samson. But of course.

    The first two-thirds of the album is so good, in fact, that I insist you buy it. I'm not joking: Amazon have it for £7.99, so you have no excuse.

    What's that? You need convincing? Well how about this video of her performing on the Conan O'Brien show.

    Good, isn't it? You've got to R'spekt 'Er.

    Oh dear.

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    Thursday, August 10, 2006

    Get your poppy pop songs here

    I've just redesigned and rejigged my other website, and you are very welcome to have a look.

    The Discopop Productions site is the shop-front for my other job as a composer. Over the last few years, I've supplied the likes of BBC News 24, ITV and Channel 4 with theme songs, incidental music and jingles.

    The all-singing, all-dancing website now streams audio and video of my past work, and has a handy new page full of MP3s for you to download.

    It also has a slightly embarassing collection of photos and songs from my days in a pop group.

    Normal service will be resumed on the blog tomorrow!

  • Discopop Productions

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  • Wednesday, August 9, 2006

    Make your own Stone Roses LP cover

    Jackson Pollock is considered one of the greatest artists of the 20th Century, because of his 'revolutionary' technique of dripping or pouring paint on a canvas. This is revoultionary only if you discount the fact that it's the first thing a child will do if you give them a pot of paint and leave them unsupervised.

    His style was so contrived that even a guitarist could replicate it (John Squire from the Stone Roses splashed paint everywhere for the cover of their first album).

    And now you can do it, too! And you don't even have to put on overalls - unless that's your "thing". Go over to and splash it about like a mucky pup.


    Tuesday, August 8, 2006

    Tittle Tattle Two

    How much of this is true? Who knows...

    apparently, Janet Jackson has boobs
  • Janet Jackson needs water...
    ...from a Fijian spring, cooled to a specific temperature, which her minions check with a thermometer before she drinks it. So say "shocked" producers on Johnny Vaughn's London radio show.

    Except, as No Rock & Roll Fun points out, Fiji Mineral Water is a common brand in the US, so stipulating Fiji water is really only like asking for an Evian or a Volvic.

    If you come from a place where you can buy the water at any supermarket, asking for it doesn't really qualify you for diva-dom.

  • Pink does a wee-wee
    On the ground! Was she never potty trained? Sheesh.

  • Madonna solves the Middle East crisis
    Through the medium of dance.

  • tortoise and hippo - together at last!A tortoise adopts a hippo
    But the really weird thing is that they're keeping a weblog. It's contravening the laws of nature, I tells ya.

  • Jamelia is back!
    British R&B's only credible female star, Jamelia, is gearing up for her new album with a single, Something About You. She's been paying attention to Nirvana's quiet verse/loud chorus template, and it's a corking little pop tune (reminding me slightly of Kelly Clarkson's Since U Been Gone). The link above points to my new favourite blog, Beatuty and the Beat, which has a slightly sploshy MP3 of the song.

  • The Best Will Ferrell sketches ever
    Helpfully compiled by, my favourite is their number 6. "I could've used a little more cowbell".

  • Is Britney stoned, or just dumb?>
    "Have you ever seen Back To The Future? Is that possible - time travel?"
    "Er, no"
    "Yes it is!"
    Oh dear.

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  • I am totally gay for Zach Braff

    Zach Braff. He is lovelyMy reasons are threefold:

    1) His new film is ace
    Called The Last Kiss, it's written by Paul Haggis - who won the Oscar for Crash. It's got Summer from the OC in it. And the soundtrack is amazing - with Snow Patrol, Joshua Radin and Fiona Apple contributing some of their best songs.

    The trailer, and some cast photos, are available on popsugar. If it's even half as good as Garden State (Braff's last film) I'll be over the moon.

    2) His blog is ace
    Sample one: "I found out today I have a ruptured disc, but I do not need surgery. I had pasta for dinner, I need to buy light bulbs."

    Sample two: "I think one of my Sims, Arnold, is gay. I will totally support him to be whomever he truly is, but it does come as a bit of a surprise. All he wants to do is hang out with a paramedic named, Randy. I bought him a chessboard. I bought him an easel. He couldn't give a shit. All he wants to do is hang out with Randy. When Randy comes over they tickle each other and play fight. Sometimes they watch TV and dance."


    3) He has done an interview with Kevin Smith, which is ace.
    Although it does plug myspace a little too much. You can watch it, coincidentally, on myspace.

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    Sunday, August 6, 2006

    Gary Numan would be proud

    Owen Wilson carNormally, films with more than one scriptwriter on the credits make me incredibly wary. Hollywood's concept of plotting is almost insultingly simple, so if a story needs constant rewrites, something has got to be wrong.

    Last night, however, I left the cosy confines of Discopop Towers to see Pixar's Cars - which was crafted by six (count'em!) wordsmiths - and it was thoroughly enjoyable.

    So much for my theory, then.

    Storytelling has long been Pixar's key strength. Their main characters - Woody in Toy Story, or Flik in A Bug's Life - always have a strong story arc. True, it's often the same arc (they each overcome a minor character flaw when they're plunged into a desparate situation) but why change a winning formula?

    Cars has the same idea - stubborn, egomaniacal racing car Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) becomes less stubborn and egomaniacal when he gets lost in a backwater town on Route 66.

    Director, and Pixar head honcho, John Lasseter has talked of this being a "pet project" for him - and that does come across in the opening act. It's a little too enamoured with the shiny, speedy cars, and comes close to losing its focus on the characters.

    another car, except it's really a truckOnce McQueen gets lost in the desert, however, the film finds its way. The supporting cast are kooky and loveable - if a little one-dimensional - and the animation is as stunning as ever. Several shots are practically photorealistic. I'd swear some of the racing sequences were filmed for real, if only the cars didn't have eyes and lips.

    My one grumble is the piss-poor Randy Newman song that pops up about halfway through.

    His gut-churningly mawkish track, something about how great small town life is when you really think about it, is like having warm treacle poured over you. It's so clichéd that several people in the cinema broke into a chorus of Team America's "Pearl Harbour Sucked" over the top of it (okay, so that was me and mrsdiscopop, but we're several people, aren't we?).

    That aside, Cars is a great film. More Monsters Inc rather than Finding Nemo, perhaps, but it knocks the socks of Pirates of the Caribbean and Superman Returns.

    Oh, and you don't even need to leave your home to see it. Some loon has put it up on the internets for everyone to see. Here you go:

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    Friday, August 4, 2006

    Jon Stewart on Mel Gibson

    Yes, I have been off work today and spending too much time on Youtube. What of it?

    Anyway, here's a little gem from Jon Stewart's Daily show, where he destroys the media's coverage of the Mel Gibson arrest:

    Right, I'm supposed to be writing music today - so this'll be the last post 'til Monday. Promise.

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    Not video of the week: Scissor Sisters

    It's the video for I Don't Feel Like Dancing and it's terrible!

    Who decided to spend so little money on it? Why did they give that money to a monkey with a camera and a copy of Avid? And who taught Jake Spears to dance like that? He looks like he's doing breast-stroke and trying to shake a rabid dog off his legs while a Ukrainian scientist administers electro-convulsive shock therapy to him via his elbows.

    It's still a great song, though...

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    Video of the week: Praise You

    dancin', really dancin'This week's video is a bona fide classic - a three-times MTV award-winner that reportedly only cost $800 to make (that's £422.90 in real money).

    I probably don't need to go into too much detail here. The video stars its director, Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich), as the leader of the Torrance Community Dance Group.

    The dancers put on an impromptu performance outside a the Mayan Theatre cinema in Los Angeles, to the strains of Fatboy Slim's Camille Yarbrough-sampling Praise You.

    Filmed without permission, in one take, the video is unlike anything you've ever seen on MTV. It's grainy, badly-shot, and the dancing would be below par at a special school's end-of-term talent contest. It will also make you laugh crisps out of your nose.

    The crowd queueing outside the cinema is somewhat bewildered but, at the same time, perfectly prepared to accept the lunacy unfolding in front of their very eyes. Apparently a Michael Jackson impersonator turned up during filming, walked in front of the camera, did a breakdance, then walked off. He was cut from the video - presumably because no-one could be sure it wasn't the real Michael Jackson.
    LA is nuts.

    Despite the video's clear genius, Fatboy (Norman Cook) had trouble convincing his record label to make it.

    "The only thing that swayed them was Spike doing it. They trusted that it would be genius, not complete rubbish," he told Jam Music in 2000. "But when I first saw it, I actually thought, 'Oh no, we've gone too far. This is actually rubbish, and not genius!'"

    "It goes to show it's a thin line between genius and bollocks."

    How true.

  • Buy Fatboy Slim's greatest hits on DVD at Amazon.
  • Learn the Praise You dance steps for yourself at this fansite.

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  • Thursday, August 3, 2006

    Only having a laugh

    Comedy god Armando Iannucci (Alan Partridge, The Day Today, The Thick Of It) has a new series starting tonight on BBC2. Called Time Trumpet, it's a parody of those "I love the 1980s" shows - except it's set in 2031 and refers to events that have yet to happen.

    I haven't seen any of it yet, but I have high hopes purely on the basis of the programme listing, which has made me done the laugh:

    "On tonight's show, a 60-year-old Ant and Dec recall the time that singer Charlotte Church vomited herself inside out"

    The programme's fake news reports have already attracted criticism from (surprise, surprise) the Daily Mail. It's apoplectic about the third episode, in which it reveals that Tony Blair was assassinated, and that terrorists flew an airliner into the Houses of Parliament.

    When the paper phoned up Labour MP Andrew Dinsmore for a comment, he said it was 'sick'.

    Fascinatingly, the Daily Mail's report has completely failed to stir up the passions of its readers - who are, after all, unused to the paper defending Tony Blair. The Mail's website, usually a hotbed of right-wing "send them home" diatribes, is full of commentators defending the programme:

    "Looks fantastic. Can't wait to watch it. Thanks for bringing it to my attention," says Monty in London

    "The day satire is censored will be the death of the democracy fought for on the Somme and on the beaches of Normandy," writes Silvester Stuart, sneaking in a crafty reference to the war (which, apparently, we won).

    But there are dissenting voices: "Why don't you to explain this sick humor to the families of 9/11?" demands Susie in the USA, brilliantly missing the point.

    The are clips of the show available on the Time Trumpet website, which suggest it will approach the levels of comedy genius achieved by Iannucci's The Day Today (which introduced Chris Morris and Steve Coogan to the world of TV). You should go and have a look, before making up your own mind.

    It's the only way to show the terrorists they haven't won!! Or something!!!!

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    I just want to eat your teddy bear

    This has got to be my favourite headline of the year:
    Dog goes berserk, destroys Elvis' teddy bear

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    Wednesday, August 2, 2006

    Gibson laugh-a-thon

    I'm guessing that, by now, you've read about Mel Gibson's spat with the police, some booze and the entire global Jewish community. You haven't? Well the main points are:

  • Actor drinks and poses for photos at a Malibu restaurant [link]
  • Actor gets stopped by police for speeding / arrested on suspicion of DUI [link]
  • Actor yells at policewoman "What are you looking at, sugar tits?" [link]
  • Actor apparently blames Jews for every war in the world, ever [link]
  • Actor enters rehab and issues recalcitrant press release in which he says Jews are alright, after all [link]

    Well, now the initial 'shock' has died down, we can start to laugh about the whole thing. It's a way of dealing with the pain, you know.

    First to stick their oar in are South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker - who placed this ad in Daily Variety:

    South Park ad
    (via popbytes)

    And, in case Gibson thought this might all disappear, fans can constantly remind him of the incident by purchasing a "What are you looking at, sugar tits?" t-shirt?


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  • Tuesday, August 1, 2006

    Picture competition!

    Hello! Can you guess which pop star is flexing their exquisitely toned biceps on their new album cover?

    Click on the pic to reveal the answer.


    Some people call me Morris

    Is the new outkast single to your musical taste? Let me explain with this handy chart:

    the outkast single big arrow diagram of truth

    In summary, then, it is "alright".

    To help you make your decision more accurately, there is an mp3 of the song - for evaluation purposes, of course - right here.

    Or you can watch the no-frills, low budget video below.

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