Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Average cover version

Fizzy pop godesses Girls Aloud and Sugababes have teamed up for this year's Comic Relief single. As is tradition, they are mauling a classic song in the name of charity. This time round the song is Aerosmith's Walk This Way and, although it could be worse, it is still pretty bad. In fact, wearing a red nose might be the best way to avoid the stink.

Nonetheless, it is Girls Aloud and I am contractually obliged to (a) mention it, and (b) like it.

Wanna listen? ...Erm, I'm afraid you can't. I've removed the audio after hundreds of search engines started linking directly to the MP3. It's a charity single, you cheap bastards.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Movie madness

A couple of times recently, I've read a book review and thought to myself "oh, I must get that". Only today did it dawn on me that, on each occasion, the articles have been about the same book.

It's not a scholarly tome - far from it. In fact it's the memoirs of Hollywood nutjob Joe Eszterhas - screenwriter of Basic Instinct, Showgirls and Sliver. These are not, it is safe to say, among my favourite films.

However, his caustic diatribes make for great review quotes if nothing else. Here are a few of my favourites:
  • "I'm jealous that Bill Goldman has won two Oscars and I've won none… But I bet Bill Goldman is jealous that I've bedded Sharon Stone."
  • "One man wrote War And Peace; 35 screenwriters wrote The Flintstones."
  • "Always go to a pitch meeting with a witness."
  • "I've never been nominated for an Oscar but Jon Bon Jovi asked me to fly to Budapest, Hungary, with him and introduce the band onstage in the Hungarian language." (this is possibly the best non-sequitur in history)

    But my absolute, absolute favourite bit of the book has only been paraphrased in reviews. It concerns Flashdance, a film where Eszterhas acted as script doctor.

    Apparently, he wrote a hugely complex, cinematic dance sequence into the film incorporating some of the latest street dancing techniques of the day (this was 1983, so it was probably that dance where people pretended to be a robot picking up a can of Fanta).

    Unfortunately, he says, actress Jennifer Beals wasn't a very good dancer. They brought in several qualified professionals to act as a body double for these new moves, but none of them could pull them off. The only person who could was a man. Luckily, he agreed to shave his legs and don a leotard so that the sequence could be filmed. But he refused to shave off his moustache.

    And so, if you slow down that iconic dance sequence at the end of the movie, you will see a moustachioed male dancer spinning around in a skimpy leotard.

    I'll give £20 to the first person who can prove this on youtube.


  • Thursday, January 25, 2007

    Big Ginger Video

    Here is the new video from the first ever former Sugababe, Siobhan Donkey.

    The song is called Don't Give It Up and I am seriously impressed.

    Kudos to Siobhan's record label (Parlophone) for allowing her to release such a haunting, soaringly beautiful ballad instead of forcing her to record a plastic cover version of, oh I don't know, Got To Be Certain or something.

    Also - nice frock.

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    Wednesday, January 24, 2007

    That Joss Stone single, then

    joss stone holds a roseThe rumoured leak of Joss Stone's new album may never have happened, but her new single Tell Me 'Bout It has premiered on BBC Radio 1. Consequently, an MP3 is going round the houses like a randy milkman on national pants-off day.

    First impressions:
  • The backing track is a bit like Groove is In the Heart played through a gramophone horn (ask your grandad)
  • Although Joss claims not to have been happy with her first two albums, this doesn't stray too far from her patented "I'm a bit like Aretha Franklin, me" sound.
  • Tell Me 'Bout It is short, like all good songs used to be before Genesis came along and ruined everything with their tedious plank spanking
  • The chorus seems a bit underwhelming at first, but it'll stick in your head like an arrow that was supposed to cut an apple in half but went into your head instead.
  • Record buyers who could not be bothered to buy Christina Aguilera's Back To Basics album will not be any more convinced by this effort
  • I think I'll put on that Amy Winehouse album now. She's quite good, really

    Hear it off of this blog over here

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  • Tuesday, January 23, 2007

    Oscar nominations: The best bit

    Salma Hayek announces that her bestest friend in the whole wide world, Penelope Cruz, is nominated for best actress with an admirable sense of calm and restraint.

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    Oscar trivia bonanza

    One of my tasks at work today is to compile a list of facts about potential Oscars nominees in the four main categories. It's for internal use only (for the 20 or so stories we'll write on the Oscar shortlist after its announced in - eeeek - forty minutes) but I thought you might like a look.

    Sorry it's so text heavy, but there's no way I have time to cut and upload pictures right now.

    ::Martin Scorsese has been nominated in this category five times, but never won.
    ::Scorsese was beaten by fellow-nominee Clint Eastwood in 2005, when Million Dollar Baby triumphed over The Aviator.
    ::Clint Eastwood has won best director twice, for Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby. On both occasions, the film also won best picture.
    ::The Queen director Stephen Frears was Oscar-nominated for Grifters in 1990.
    Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu has never before received an Oscar nod.
    ::Inarritu was named best director at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival for Babel, but the film lost on the Palme d’Or to Wind That Shakes The Barley

    ::Babel won the Golden Globe for best film, and features six different languages – including Spanish, Japanese and Arabic.
    ::Letters From Iwo Jima has won best film at the influential Los Angeles Critics and National Board of Review awards.
    ::Only seven foreign language films have ever been nominated for best film – the most recent being Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in 2000. None have ever gone on to win best picture.
    ::Dreamgirls has been tipped for a nomination because many felt last year’s Oscars ceremony was too serious.
    ::The last musical to take home the best picture award was Chicago in 2002.

    ::Forest Whitaker has been named best actor by the Broadcast Film Critics Association, the New York Film Critics Circle, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the National Board of Review and received a Golden Globe from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
    ::He is also nominated for the Baftas and the Screen Actors Guild awards.
    ::Whitaker has never received an Oscar nomination before, but he was shortlisted for worst supporting actor in 2002’s Razzies for his role in John Travolta’s sci-fi epic Battlefield Earth.
    ::Leonardo DiCaprio has been Oscar-nominated twice before, for What’s Eating Gilbert Grape in 1994 and The Aviator 2005. Like his mentor, Martin Scorsese, he has never won.
    ::Although he is just 32, DiCaprio would not be the youngest actor to take home a best actor trophy. That honour goes to Adrian Brody, who was 29 when he won for The Pianist in 2002.
    ::If DiCaprio gets nominated for both best actor and best supporting actor, it won’t be the first time. In 1944, Barry Fitzgerald was named in both categories for the same performance in Going My Way. As a result, the Academy changed their rules.
    Other stars to be nominated twice in the same year include Sigourney Weaver (for Gorillas in the Mist and Working Girl in 1988) and Jamie Foxx (for Ray and Collateral in 2004).
    ::Peter O’Toole received his first nomination in 1963 for Lawrence of Arabia. Despite six further nominations, his first Oscar was an honorary award in 2003.
    ::Will Smith previously received an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Mohammed Ali in 2002.

    ::With The Queen, Helen Mirren receives her first Oscar nomination as a leading lady. Her previous nominations, for Gosford Park and The Madness of King George, have both been for supporting roles.
    ::Mirren has already picked up at least eight awards for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II. She received the awards at the the Golden Globes, the Los Angeles Critics awards, the New York Critics awards, the British Independent Film Awards and by the National Board of Review, the Toronto Film Critics Association, the London Film Critics Circle and the Venice Film Festival.
    ::Penelope Cruz receives her first ever Oscar nomination for Volver.
    ::Cruz’s nomination for a foreign language film is not unusual. Catalina Sandino Moreno was nominated for Maria Full of Grace three years ago, while Salma Hayek was nominated for Frida in 2002.
    ::The last person to win an acting Oscar for a foreign language film was Roberto Benigni for Life Is Beautiful in 1997.
    ::Kate Winslet makes the shortlist for the fifth time in her career, but she has never won.
    ::Dame Judi Dench receives her second nomination in as many years for Notes on a Scandal. She was shortlisted for Mrs Henderson Presents in 2006.
    It is her sixth nomination – but she has only won once, for 1998’s Shakespeare in Love.
    ::Meryl Streep extends her lead as the actress with the most nominations ever. Her tally now extends to 14 nominations and two wins. Her closest competitor is Katharine Hepburn, on 12 nominations.

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    Monday, January 22, 2007

    Don't watch that, and don't watch this either

    Stellar song, earthbound video...

    Kelis feat Cee-Lo: Lil' Star

    I was talking about this single just the other week, and now you can watch it from the comfort of your keyboard. If you sit on your keyboard, that is.

    While the song is still magnificent, the video is a bit ropey. Those of you who aren't blessed with the power of facial recognition may not realise that the long, lingering shots of the night sky actually feature Kelis, only made out of twinkly stars. It's a nice effect, but it doesn't quite work - particularly on the internet.

    Also on the new video front is this:

    Robbie Williams: She's Madonna

    (Oooh, Robbie Williams is wearing a dresss, etc, etc.)

    Don't watch it, it'll only give him the attention he craves.

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    Friday, January 19, 2007

    The beauty of Hugh Laurie (and youtube)

    I'm a bit late to the party here, but here's Hugh Laurie's fabulous acceptance speech from the Golden Globes on Monday:

    This also gives me the opportunity to post (again) the funniest comedy song in the world... everTM from the first series of A Bit of Fry And Laurie:

    (Spanish subtitles - yay!)

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    Big Brother racism: a quick note

    It seems the whole world has gone a bit mental over the "alleged" racism in this year's Celebrity Big Brother. I don't have anything particularly sage to add to the whole debate, but here's an interesting quote from one of the housemates, former Miss Great Britain Danielle Lloyd, from an interview in the Independent last year:
    [I am not a politician but...] If I was, I'd get more people into work and stop people coming into the country. There's so many people who come into England because they know they can get benefits. People who already live here should get the jobs. But I don't really know much about politics.

    Don't they, you know, screen the housemates for this sort of thing?

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    Thursday, January 18, 2007

    Links aplenty

    :: Is this Britney Spears' new single? The title, Fed Up, doesn't stretch the boundaries of subtlety, but it's not a bad little pop ditty.

    Scary Simpsons

    :: This is how the Simpsons would look if they were drawn by a more talented less original artist than Matt Groening [via 4CR]

    :: Popjustice has the scoop on Norwegian popstrel Annie's latest assault on the charts. It is being masterminded by Girls Aloud, er, mastermind Brian Higgins. Fingers have been crossed in anticipation.

    :: Need to know what that amazing piece of music they played on ER was called? Head on over to ER headquarters to find out. (Hint: It was David Gray or Snow Patrol, and it won't be half as good when it's not accompanied by a sexy doctor cutting open your spleen).

    :: Atishoo! After years of anxiety and worry, scientists have finally carried out the vital research that proves your eyes cannot pop out when you sneeze.

    :: Radio 1's Chris Moyles has been running a campaign to get former teen pop star Billie Piper back into the top 75. The song he's chosen is her rip-off of All Saints Never Ever. Not a bad choice, but I wonder if he knows it's about a vibrator?

    :: I am very much enjoying the soulful sounds of London-based songstress Valentina. I asked her to be my friend on myspace a few days ago, but nothing has been forthcoming. How very rude. I am awfully nice, you know.

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    Wednesday, January 17, 2007

    Is this a question? If this is an answer

    At school, we were always told apocryphal stories about students who had written daring answers on their exam papers. "What did John the Baptist wear in the desert?" was supposedly answered with "A cloak of camel hair and a leather jock strap". And every year had a pupil who, after taking one too many Pro Plus, completed a Chemistry paper by writing down their name 500 times in a row before standing up, saluting the baby Jesus and collapsing in the middle of a shocked assembly hall.

    All bollocks, of course, but a great way to relieve pressure before the big day.

    Anyway, my sister just sent me one of those viral emails with pictures taken from "real" exam scripts. I'm sure they're every bit as fabricated as the stories above, but they made me laugh so hard that a bit of snot landed on my desk. So I thought I'd share.

    exam paper one
    Exam paper two


    Tuesday, January 16, 2007

    Diggin' on you

    joss stone

    Bare-footed soul pixie Joss Stone is on the comeback trail, with a new album and a daft new barnet.

    We should all be very thankful for this, because Joss nearly gave it all up after being pushed around by 'the man'.

    "It's no secret that I don't really like my first two albums," Joss says. "I told my manager: 'Let me make the album I want to or I'll quit and start a new life.'"

    Her manager agreed and, free to pursue her own musical goals, Joss has made an album of ambient whale noises accompanied by the sound of tennis balls being thrown into jam.

    Not really, of course. She has actually hired the ultra-talented R&B producer Raphael Saadiq (Mary J Blige, TLC, Kelis, The Bee-Gees (?)) and recorded a whole shedload of self-penned tracks - as well as a duet with former Fugee and current recluse Lauryn Hill.

    "The theme of the album is music," says Joss in a rare moment of insight.

    The album will be called Introducing Joss Stone when it arrives in March, but there are reports that it has leaked already. Mind you, I've downloaded about seven different "previews" so far and all of them are fake. If you've got a genuine copy of any of the tracks, it would be wonderful if you could hook me up.

    A copy of the album wouldn't be bad, either.

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    Monday, January 15, 2007

    Sophie Ellis Bextor has a single coming out, you know

    Six things about Sophie Ellis Bextor:

    1) In real life, Sophie is much prettier than you'd imagine.
    2) She once crushed her pet guinea pig to death. Sadly, this murder did not occur on the dancefloor, but in the guinea pig's cage.
    3) She can cut "it" live. By "it" I mean a good vocal performance, not a rug or a slab of cheese.
    4) Her mum is Sarah Greene from TV's Blue Peter. (can we check this? - ed)
    5) Her new single, Catch You, is written by Cathy Dennis of Too Many Walls "fame".
    6) She is married to Dan Gillespie Sells, the lead singer from The Feeling, who is a gay. (that's it, you're fired - ed)

    Here is the video, then:

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    Friday, January 12, 2007

    Kelis made a great album in 2006...

    kelis...and I didn't buy it.

    Why? Because lead single Bossy was a tuneless self-aggrandising crunk'n'b dirge. Imagine that, folks: a tuneless, self-aggrandising crunk'n'b song. It is almost too hard to fathom, but I swear on my life it is true.

    Scout's honour and everything.

    But the rest of the album is superb, and Kelis is on the verge of releasing one of its standout tracks in the UK. Called Lil Star, it's a duet with Cee-Lo out of Gnarls Barkley. It's a melodic, mellow masterpiece, and you can preview it on this link. (I was going to post the video but, in a stroke of genius, youtube has removed it - even though it was Kelis's record company who put it there).

    Once you've finished listening to that and going "aaaaah", head over to the recently resurrected Beauty N The Beat, which has just run an exclusive interview with Kelis. In it, the big-lunged, gold-toothed, Nas-marrying, milkshake-shaking diva shows exactly why she deserves more recognition from the R&B community. And that's basically because she's worked out exactly what her place is in the grand scheme of things:
    My job is to bring things you don't know you like yet. There's a difference between performers and artists. I'm not the greatest singer in the world. I already know that. But I know I'm an innovator. I always say the greatest artists in the world are not the most talented people, they're the ones compelled to bring you something different because they don't know what else to do. They're the painters who paint not because they can make money but because they cannot stop.
    That quote alone should make you think about checking out Kelis Was Here. The fact that it's only £6.99 at CD WOW gives you no excuses whatsoever.

    Here endeth the lecture.

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    Thursday, January 11, 2007

    Ugly Betty not so ugly after all

    america fererra
    I knew it.


    Lonely at the top

    preston and chantelleBy now, you will probably have heard the Preston out of Celebrity Big Brother The Ordinary Boys had a big showbiz strop and flounced out of a recording of TV quiz show Never Mind The Buzzcocks t'other night.

    He was incensed, incensed I tells ya, because host Simon Amstell poked fun at his wife, the beautiful and talented Chantelle Houghton (I won't be falling into the same trap, as you can see).

    And what was Amstell's heinous transgression of the social and moral code that holds modern society together? He read an extract from Chantelle's autobiography in - gasp! - a slightly sarcastic tone of voice.

    Here is said extract:
    I did a lingerie shoot for Marks and Spencer, who were launching a new line of undies for younger women, called Ceriso. It was all very pretty and girlie just my kind of stuff. I was thrilled when they let me keep some of it. I've always loved M&S, but it had always been too expensive for me. The photo shoot was for the Daily Mail,which made me feel very posh and upmarket. I'd never in my wildest dreams imagined I would be in the Daily Mail wearing M&S!

    simon amstellAmstell is clearly in the wrong here - that passage doesn't even need the addition of a sarcastic tone of voice to make it sound ridiculous.

    But Preston, media whore that he is, has now given an interview to Radio One defending his great big girly huff. You can hear it here, but allow me to summarise in a new feature I like to call "Preston says, Preston means".

    Preston says: "If that was any other situation I would have literally hit him and knocked him out."
    Preston means: "But I was on television so I couldn't. Also, my hand is a bit hurty."

    Preston says: "I got up and left because if I had to look at his snotty little public schoolboy failed-career face I would have hit him.
    Preston means: "I do not possess sufficient wit to challenge Amstell face-to-face, but from this safe distance I'd like to say he's a greasy four-eyed swot."

    Preston says: "He's very bitter because he went on Popworld, he thought he was going to have this Ant and Dec-like massive career and he's doing some little budget indie show in the middle of the night."
    Preston means: "Whereas my band is so unbelievably famous that I had to go on Celebrity Big Brother to shift some singles."

    Preston says: "No-one's got principles any more... People do things just for the press and I ain't even got anything coming out. Well, I've got a single, but when this goes on telly I ain't even got anything coming out."
    Preston means: "I have no principles. I have a single coming out. Where's that fifty quid you promised me?"

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    Wednesday, January 10, 2007

    Booker prize for spam

    spamFor some reason, my inbox has recently been aggressively targetted by spammers - all of whom think I enjoy some particularly niche sexual perversions (and I've never so much as touched a donkey, I swear).

    It's incredibly frustrating, not to mention disturbing, but these emails from the ether have one redeeming feature - poetry.

    Apparently, in an attempt to fool spam filters into thinking their emails are genuine, the spammers have started cutting and pasting random lines from classic literary works into their missives. It's not a new thing - the BBC wrote this article about it four years ago - but I'm hooked. Here's an email I received yesterday:

    You're not the same person you were in Hawaii... Some of this was residual fright, of course (every now and then I had to remind myself that part of Percy's problem was that he was only twenty-one, not much older than Wharton) but I think most of it was rage.
    I controlled my own urge to hit him only with the greatest effort.
    Dark suit, plastic briefcase, glassy stare.
    Most of the tribes went home after the weasels were wiped out.

    It's better than a Paul Aster novel, don't you think? So, imagine my delight when I discovered a pair of talented animators called The Brothers McLeod have started making mini-cartoons based on their own spam-mails. Here's an example:

    I say we organise a proper award ceremony for the best, most existential spam of them all. Post your entries in the comments box and we'll declare a winner next week.


    Tuesday, January 9, 2007

    Horny Ponies

    One of the greatest things about music is discovering a new band and falling absolutely head-over-heels in love with them.
    Here is one of those bands:

    New Young Pony Club

    Yes, they may look like a bunch of language students on their way to a Flashdance-themed S&M party, but they are in fact a super electro-pop combo going by the magnificent name of New Young Pony Club.

    Right now, the NME is undoubtedly calling them "new rave" in some sort of attempt to prove it is behind a major new musical movement. A more helpful description would be "they sound a bit like LCD Soundsystem genetically spliced with Miss Kittin and Deee-Lite". The sort of the music that, if you're listening to it on the bus, makes you do embarrassing, involuntary seat-dancing.

    I would love to pretend that I am the very first person to "discover" their "sound", but a quick glance around the web reveals that every other blogger in the universe has been writing about them since last summer. The band have also toured with Lily Allen and made waves in America, where their Ice Cream single was chosen as soundtrack for the Intel Duo advert with all the body-popping. So much for having my finger on the pulse, eh readers?

    Anyway, here is the video for Ice Cream. A new single, The Bomb, is out in March and their debut album follows in April.

    New Yong Pony Club on myspace
    My Old Kentucky Blog has downloads, and a more flattering picture of the band.

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    Monday, January 8, 2007

    MP3 Frenzy: January slump edition

    sad dogHello viewers!

    Here are some songs to help you cope with the New Year blues.


    They Might Be Giants - Older - To remind you to keep your new year's resolutions. Or ditch them and live for today. You decide

    Regina Spektor - That Time - To remind you that it's okay to reminisce about the good old times, too.

    Sugababes - New Year - To remind you this beautiful song exists, after it was cruelly excised from the 'Babes histroy on the otherwise-perfect Greatest Hits CD, Overloaded. (removed due to misuse)

    Planet Funk - Kiss The Sun - To remind you that summer's not that far away, after all.

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    Sunday, January 7, 2007

    Chart madness = brilliant

    So, the first UK singles chart under the new rules (which allow any song purchased online to be counted) has just been revealed and... well, not much has changed.

    Leona (boo!) is still number one and Take That (yay!) are still in the top three. The only major upset is the re-entry of Snow Patrol's Chasing Cars (awww!) at number nine. But even that's not much of a surprise, as it only left the top 40 nine weeks ago and is, quite frankly, a great, great song.

    At the lower end of the chart, Nelly Furtado's Maneater and Gnarls Baarkley's Crazy get back in at numbers 38 and 30 respectively and, outside the top 40, four tracks from the High School Musical album (bleurgh!) have sold enough to become considered for the charts.

    This is all quite brilliant, as it means WE ARE NOW IN CHARGE! No longer can the record companies (boo!) tell us what is and what isn't a single - it's completely up to us and our completely random taste in music.

    Obviously, they'll have a big hissy fit and change the rules again shortly - but in the meantime, let's support the Proclaimers (och aye!), who have the 92nd best selling single in the UK this week. If enough of us log onto iTunes and download a copy of 500 Miles next week it'll be number one, and the world will have changed for the better. Power to the people, stick it to "da" man, up yours delors, etc.


    Friday, January 5, 2007

    Mika is coming: Watch out!

    Beirut-born fey pop twiglet Mika has been named the next big thing in the BBC's prestigious Sound of 2007 poll.

    If you haven't heard of him yet, you had better get an opinion soon - because "the media" is getting it's big old granny knickers in a frightful twist over this flamboyant fop.

    Here is a sample of what they've been saying:
    "One-man Scissor Sisters" - Q Magazine
    "Mika might resemble a young Leo Sayer" - The Guardian
    "Unashamedly commercial" - The Times
    "Every so often an artist comes along with hit written all over them" - Colin Martin, Radio 2
    "One of the quirkier artists to emerge from England" - The New York Post
    "Better than a kick in the cunt" - Popjustice

    What they're all driving at, though, is that Mika will succeed because he sounds like people who are already famous. Robbie Williams, Scissor Sisters, Freddie Mercury, The Feeling - these are all names that have been bandied about. But is that really enough? Let's look at some more Mika facts:

  • He has a suspiciously small CD collection
  • He went to the uber-posh Westminster school and the Royal College of Music
  • His single, Grace Kelly, features the lyric "Why Don't You Like Me" over and over again
  • He says he is not a pop star but an "artist"
  • He refuses to discuss his 'ambiguous' sexuality

    Oh dear. Perhaps a video of Mika performing his single, Grace Kelly, will stave off that humongulous yawn you were summoning:

    Hmmm... perhaps not. But let's just have a look at another video, by vaudeville Canadian rocker Hawksley Workman, for comparison purposes.

    Do you think, readers, that Mika might have seen Hawksley at some point and thought to himself: "Oooh, I could do something like that - only gay"?

    I'm saying nothing.

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  • Thursday, January 4, 2007

    Gig review: Kylie's glittering homecoming

    What a strange thing it is to attend a Kylie Minogue concert. Middle aged men with beer bellies pump their fists in the air, victoriously singing I Should Be So Lucky. Bespectacled geeks dance like assistant ministers to Spinning Around. And the gays clasp their hands to their faces as if they've just witnessed Christ emerging from the tomb, alebit in a leopard-skin catsuit.

    But Kylie is quite deserving of this surreal devotion. The Showgirl Homecoming concert proves time and time again why she has become a national treasure. It kicks off in high spirits with Better The Devil You Know - sounding surprisingly suited to an Arena-sized gig - and the pace doesn’t let up for almost two-and-a-half hours, although that includes the interval Kylie has introduced following her treatment for breast cancer last year.

    An early highlight is a bhangra version of Confide In Me, with Kylie acting as a marionette controlled by her dancers. The intricate choreography, reminiscent of the slow, deliberate motions of Tai Chi, provides what is easily the best dance routine of the night. The song, too, asserts itself as one of Kylie's less-celebrated classics.

    But not every moment lives up to this promise. Several of the dancers seem under-rehearsed, and Kylie's voice is occasionally a little shrill. Nonetheless, the sheer spectacle of the evening more than excuses the odd sloppy detail. At one point, the mini minxstress floats above the stadium on a mirrored crescent moon (so much more respectable than a crucifix, dontchathink?) Later, she gains a pair of gargantuan technicolour wings. There's no clever subtext, as far as I can tell, it's just that Kylie wanted to be a very pretty butterfly.

    And that's partly what this concert is about - wish fulfilment for the self-proclaimed Showgirl Princess. "This is my dream," she proclaims during the finale, and it does seem that the costumes, the staging, the setlist (which features several album tracks from her not-so-popular mid-90s albums), the naked men and, presumably, the adulation are exactly as Kylie wants them.

    Given everything she's been through, it's hard to deny her this semi-indulgence. It's all done with great affection for the fans - whom she encourages to duet with her on a karaoke version of Especially For You, a song whose lyrics have taken on a whole new meaning in the past 18 months.

    And, more than the songs, more than the portraits, more than the iconography, it's Kylie's relationship with her fans that cements her position as a national treasure. At one point, she pulls three young girls out of the audience and lets them sing Can't Get You Out Of My Head. Our Kylie isn’t aloof or distant like Madonna - and the fans at Wembley last night were celebrating the singer's recovery as much as she was - because they'd all been through it, too.

    Better The Devil You Know
    In Your Eyes
    White Diamond
    On A Night Like This

    Shocked / What Do I Have To Do? / Spinning Around - Medley
    [This section also included elements of Keep On Pumpin’ It, I'm Over Dreaming (Over You), Ce Ce Peniston's Finally, Brothers In Rhythm's Such A Good Feeling, Step Back In Time, What Kind of Fool and Do You Dare?]

    Confide In Me
    Cowboy Style / Finer Feelings
    Too Far

    Red Blooded Woman / Where The Wild Roses Grow

    - Intermission -
    Somewhere Over The Rainbow
    Come Into My World
    I Believe In You

    Burning Up / Vogue
    The Loco-motion
    I Should Be So Lucky
    Hand On Your Heart

    Encore 1
    Can't Get You Out Of My Head
    Light Years / Turn It Into Love

    Encore 2
    Especially For You
    Love At First Sight

  • Setlist via the ace Kylie fan site Limbo

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  • Wednesday, January 3, 2007

    Mrdiscopop's Top 10 Albums of 2006

    Here it is, folks. An entirely "surprising" list of the best albums that have been troubling the Discopop Towers "ghettoblaster" over the last twelve months.

    1) Regina Spektor - Begin To Hope

    I haven't written nearly enough about how much I love Regina Spektor on these here pages. Every single track on this album, her major-label debut, is magic. As an added bonus, she is stark raving bonkers. One song is about her illicit relationship with biblical strongman Samson. Another discusses how Regina only ate tangerines for an entire month. What marvellous nonsense, eh? Think Tori Amos or Fiona Apple, but with tunes that stick in your head for months, instead of making you think "oh, she's a really accomplished musician, isn't she?".

    2) Nelly Furtado - Loose

    It's not consistent - there are far too many Timbaland songs that sound like a good beat in search of a melody - but seven or eight of the tracks on Loose are actually perfect. Quite how Nelly transformed from being a bark-eating, yoghurt-knitting world music aficionado with no fans into a globe-straddling pop strumpet is anyone's guess, but who cares? Just sling on your dancing trousers and turn this album all the way up to 10.

    3) Gnarls Barkley - St Elsewhere

    On first listen this comes across like cats fighting in a dustbin but, with perseverance, it reveals its magnificence like a saucy lady in the Moulin Rouge. Gnarls Barkley are labelled a hip-hop act, but they're far too eclectic and inventive to be filed alongside Nas or 50 fucking Cent. Songs like Who Cares and Transformer are frenetic, majestic and affecting all at the same time. And it's a concept album about mental illness. Yipes!

    4) Muse - Black Holes and Revelations

    While Gnarls Barkley are just singing about being barking mad, Muse are the real deal. On this album, they're constantly banging on about spaceships, conspiracy theories and a strawberry pony called Helen (I may have made that last one up). But Matt 'spoons' Bellamy sings about it all with such conviction that you kind of accept it. Plus, they've largely ditched the 12-minute axe solos and made tight little poperas that literally explode from your speakers. Warning: Do no listen to this album on a motorway or you will accidentally start going far too fast for your own safety. I know this to be true.

    5) Amy Winehouse - Back To Black

    Put this album on and you could be forgiven for thinking it was a lost classic from the heyday of Atlantic Records. Except, of course, that the lyrics feature such delightful couplets as "What kind of fuckery is this?" and "You don't mean dick to me". The lady with the potty-mouth is Amy Winehouse, and here she puts Christina Aguilera and Joss Stone in their places by concocting an album of soul standards that sounds fresh and real, rather than a faded facsimile of the real thing.

    6) Pet Shop Boys - Fundamental

    I have never liked a Pet Shop Boys album before, but this one is superb. Back together with producer Trevor Horn, the PSBs find their form after a very long fallow period. Lead single I'm With Stupid had great lyrics and a so-so melody, but the rest of the CD towers above it - with heart-rending ballads Luna Park and I Made My Excuses and Left the stand-outs. But shame on them for shunting the superior Richard X collaboration, Fugitive, onto a bonus disc.

    7) Red Hot Chili Peppers - Stadium Arcadium

    A caveat: This top ten placing is only for the tightened-up, 14 track version of the Chili's double album I put together after sifting through the 38-million songs they puked up halfway through the year. Each of those 14 songs is lifted above the ordinary by John Frusciante's breath-taking guitar playing. Nearly all of the tracks on the album (even the ones I don't like) feature some new sound, clever effect or moment of heart-breaking virtuosity. Damn him.

    8) The Raconteurs - Broken Boy Soldiers

    The White Stripes, but with discipline, Jack White's side-project proved to be a formidable lesson in classic blues rock. There aren't any major surprises or innovations here - just the sound of four musicians playing their tiny little hearts out. Could do with a haircut, though.

    9) Beyoncé - B'day

    In which Beyoncé spends the best part of an hour shouting at someone (Jay-Z?) for cheating on her. Whatever personal crisis inspired this album, and no-one's spilling any beans, it was worth it for the music. For the first time in her career, the thunder-thighed scream queen has turned in a CD you can listen to without your finger poised over the skip button. And it was all done and dusted in a week. Kate Bush, take note.

    10) Justin Timberlake - FutureSex/LoveSounds

    Like Nelly Furtado's Loose, this album is permanently smudged with Timbaland's mucky fingerprints but - unlike her album - there isn't a standout track that overshadows the rest. But there are several gems, from the filthy S&M anthem SexyBack to the tender, Coldplay-esque I Think She Knows (which should have been a full song, rather than a 2-minute interlude). The quality only drops towards the end when Timbaland absconds from production duties - presumably because he eventually needed a bit of a kip.

    And that's 2006 done and dusted... And the best thing about it all was that a big"wig" in charge of the record industry suddenly twigged that bloated 80-minute epic albums were all a bit rubbish and issued an edict that all CDs should fit onto one side of a D90 casette (note to youngsters: a cassette is an ipod with moving parts that can hold a laughable 90 minutes of music). Thus, and henceforth, all of the albums above - bar the Chilis - clock in at well under an hour. This is quite literally a-mazing and should be celebrated with a balloon.

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    Tuesday, January 2, 2007

    Sick and wrong (and funny)

    Happy New Year everyone!

    Today, I went to the New Year sales to buy some CDs, but the New Year sales were rubbish. Instead, I got a book of cartoons by an Icelandic artist called Hugleikur Dagsson. It is called "Should You Be Laughing At This?". Here is why:

    In truth, I do not know if I should be laughing at that - but I am laughing all the same. Clealy, I am sick in the head.

    Here's a link to Dagsson's myspace. Leave him some love or hate mail depending on your point of view.


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