Monday, March 31, 2008

Inoffensive rock tune

There is a band, let's call them Captain because that is in fact their name, who are making above average, New Radicals-style guitary pop music. Unfortunately, they have been cursed with the wrong type of haircut, so Radio One and the NME have roundly ignored them.

The poor band are so unloved that there isn't even someone updating their wikipedia page - which puts them one rung below DJ Luck and MC Neat on the celebrity pop ladder. That rung is broken and being kept in the back of a van with the intention of one day repairing the ladder, but we all know that's not going to happen.

Anyway, they've done a video called (irony alert!) "Keep An Open Mind". It is very good in a completely-ripped-off-from-Destiny's-Child's-Say-My-Name kind of way. On youtube (youtube) it has the following information about how popular Captain are:

Oh dear :(

Captain - Keep An Open Mind

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Click this, it's Friday evening

I'm really going to stop posting things today, but only after this collection of links...

:: George Clooney on plastic surgery
"I did get my balls done, though. I got them unwrinkled. It's the new thing in Hollywood -- ball ironing."

:: Tina Fey on Paris Hilton
She has "the hair of a fraggle", and left "nasty wads of Barbie hair on the floor" from her "cheap weave". Ouch!

:: Wombat rape
"A New Zealand man who claimed he was raped by a wombat and that the experience left him speaking with an Australian accent has been found guilty of wasting police time."
[Daily Telegraph]

:: Go Fug Yourself on Girls Aloud
"Cheryl Cole: By law, one of us has to look hootchie and also wear a misguided hat."
[Go Fug Yourself]

:: Peter Robinson on Nickelback's Rock Star
"Its most terrifying feature is in its first millisecond, in that Chad's vocals appear completely without warning."
[The Guardian]

:: Estelle's bitter hatred of Ribena in cartons
"Why does the pre-mixed stuff always taste watery? It's irritating! They should let you do it yourself - sell it with the water and let you do it yourself." (conflict of interests disclaimer: I wrote this in my "real job")
[BBC News Website]

:: A man tries to lose weight for his wedding using Wii Fit
"As I get to a certain point with things like push-ups or “plank” exercises, my arms will begin to involuntarily twitch."
[4 Colour Rebellion]

:: Newsreader corpses on air
Charlotte Green goes bonkers on Radio 4's high-falutin Today programme, recreating the incident eight years ago when she fell about laughing after reading out the name "Jack Twat".
[BBC News Website]

:: Actress forced to dye her hair by idiots
Judy Greer, who was in Charlie Kaufmann weirdfest Adaptation, was ordered to go ginger by film producers in case people confused her hairdo with co-star Jennifer Aniston's hairdo.

Please note that, depending on your level of testosterone, you will either find Greer endearinlgly cute or irritatingly ditzy in the following clip.

Judy Greer on David Letterman

Have a great weekend!

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Here is some good news: Flight Of The Conchords, the New Zealand comedic musical duo, who are not as bad as that description makes them sound, are releasing an album!

Featuring fifteen completely re-recorded songs from their HBO telvision series (literally the best thing on television all last year), it comes out on 22nd April.

You can pre-order on Amazon, and the tracklisting is as follows:
Foux du Fafa
Inner City Pressure
Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros
Think About It
Ladies of the World
The Prince of Parties
Leggy Blonde
A Kiss Is Not a Contract
The Most Beautiful Girl (in the Room)
Business Time
Au Revoir

Bad news: It's missing the sublime Jenny.
Good news: Jenny is all up on that youtube (youtube) thusly:

Flight Of The Conchords - Jenny (live)

PS Subpop records is giving away a free download of Ladies Of The World on their media pages. When will the governments realize it's got to be funky sexy ladies?

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B-52s visit the Funplex

Things we can learn from the new B-52s video:

:: Fred Schneider has traded his "car that seats about twenty" for, erm... a Segway.
:: Or is that a zimmer frame?
:: Kate Pierson is surprisingly good-looking for a 60-year-old
:: But she dances her age
:: The line "candelabra in a wonder bra" is inexplicably brilliant
:: More videos should have dancing policemen in them

B-52s - Funplex

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Catching Up With The Comments

It's been a relatively busy week in those comment boxes you find under the stories here on Discopop Directory. Lots of people had valid points and interesting links to share, so I thought I'd give them a more prominent position.

First up is Emma, who says: "I find it quite unusual that you never feature any music other than american or brit singers". She must have missed the recent articles on Lykke Li, CSS, Camille and Namie Amuro - but, hey, I'm always up for having my musical horizons expanded. If you've got a passion for pop from Panama, or anywhere in the world, feel free to send a tip to

Emma herself suggests checking out Angolan hipsters Buraka Som Sistema (Buraka Sound System). They're not really my cup of tea, but their new single features MIA and comes across like a Bargain Basement Jaxx. It is up on that youtube (youtube) should you want to check it out.

Elsewhere, Duane points out the uncanny similarity between The Last Shadow Puppets' single The Age Of The Understatement and Muse's Knights Of Cydonia. He's not wrong, either.

And at the bottom of my "tribute" to Voice Of The Beehive, Chris C writes in to boast about his interview with Melissa and Tracy Beehive. You can find it on his rather superb blog/podcast Revenge Of The 80s Radio

Ta for all the feedback. Keep it coming!

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Monkey makes music

I thought I'd posted something about this several weeks ago but it turns out I was wrong: There is a new song by Arctic Monkeys' frontman Alex Turner and some bloke from the Rascals called Miles Kane - and it is an absolute belter.

Together, Turner and Kane are The Last Shadow Puppets, and they sound a bit like the Walker Brothers crossed with Arthur Lee's Love. Only, you know, good.

NME readers will be aware that they have a whole album coming out and, if it's all as good as The Age Of The Understatement, The Kooks et al will be going home looking very foolish indeed.

The Last Shadow Puppets - The Age Of The Understatement

PS: Are the lyrics to this song brilliant or the sort of terrible nonsense that novelists imagine pop songs to be like? I can't decide...

And she was walking on the tables in the glass house
Endearingly bedraggled in the wind
Subtle in her method of seduction
The twenty little tragedies begin

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

REM in the live lounge - MP3s!!

Readers of the music press will have noticed that REM's latest album, Accelerate, is being hailed as the band's latest "return to form". If you examine the small print, however, the form they're referring to is that of early albums like Murmur and Fables Of The Reconstruction - both superb, but both lacking in the songcraft and emotional impact of Automatic For The People.

But then, the critics always cite the band's detached, pre-millennial masterpiece Up as a career lowpoint, so what do they know anyway?

Accelerate, it turns out, is just an above average latter-period REM album. A vast improvement on the dismal Around The Sun, but no better than, say, New Adventures In Hi-Fi or Reveal.

The band have just been in Radio One's Live Lounge. They were in unusually upbeat form, with Michael Stipe admitting to being grumpy for an entire decade because he couldn't find good vegetarian food in the US. He also revealed the Chris Martin came up with the title for their latest single...

The band then performed that song, Supernatural Superserious, and a cover of The Editor's stately Munich. You should listen to them both, because they are beautiful.

:: REM - Supernatural Superserious [MP3 link]
:: REM - Munich (live lounge cover) [MP3 link]

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Ride your music (fnar, fnar)

I haven't written about games on the blog for a while, principally because I haven't played anything that's set my world on fire. But, for the last week or two, I've been toying around with a little thing called Audiosurf and, while there are no flames in my garden, my keyboard is slightly singes.

Basically, it's a cross between a shoot-em-up (think Space Invaders) a puzzle game (Tetris) and a media player (iTunes). Seasoned gamers would draw parallels with Rez or Space Giraffe but, let's face it, they're just nerds with too much time on their fat sweaty hands.

You take control of a ship flying along an outer-space race course, which is littered with bricks (bloody asbo teens, etc). Points are scored by collecting similar-coloured bricks and chaining them together. The more bricks you have in a sequence, the more points you score.

It's not exactly a ground-breaking concept, I grant you, but Audiosurf has an ace up its sleeve: The racetrack is based on the song playing in the background, and you can use any track from your iTunes library to create a new course.

Really intense bits of music - guitar solos, for example - make the game speed up. Hundreds of bricks come flying at you, simulating the experience of being a Chinese policeman in Tibet. Slower songs - anything by Westlife - are more like a stroll in the countryside with the occasional speed bump.

When you finish a level, you get shown the scores of all the people in the world who have played the same piece of music. I am proud to say that I am currently the globe's best at Little Red Corvette.

I'm not so good on Ace of Spades.

Best of all, the game only costs $9.95 - or £5 in real money - and you can download it now from

Here's a video of some nutter playing The Rolling Stones' Paint It Black:

Audiosurf - Paint It Black

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Cheryl Cole and

I may be a die-hard Girls Aloud fan, but even I can't muster the enthusiasm to watch their latest ITV2 reality show "The Passions Of Girls Aloud" - in which each member of the band sets off to try their hand at something they've always really wanted to do, except Nadine who only ever wanted to be on holiday in Los Angeles and that wouldn't make a very good telly programme, would it?

However, last week's show saw Cheryl head out to Los Angeles, where she learnt to have be a street dancer (required elements: street, legs). While there, she hooked up with the Black Eyed Peas' musical motor,, who invited her to show off her moves in the video for his song Heartbreaker.

Then, in a carefully choreographed career move moment of spontaneous creativity, Mr let Cheryl re-record the song's vocal track.

The song's not out yet, but here is a clip of the Geordie lass showing the video to her bandmates. It seems like she did a pretty good job. and Cheryl Cole - Heartbreaker

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Monday, March 24, 2008

And the winner is...

Those chart positions "in full"...

2 DUFFY Mercy
3 LEONA LEWIS Better In Time / Footprints In The Sand
4 ONEREPUBLIC Stop and stare
8 UTAH SAINTS Something Good 08
9 GIRLS ALOUD Can't Speak French
10 H TWO O FT PLATNUM What's It Gonna Be

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Michael Stipe wants to talk to you

FACT: Until I was 14, I thought he was called Michael Stripe.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Stone me...

So far, all the buzz about Randy Jackson's star-studded new album has been about Paula Abdul's not-entirely-terrible comeback single, Dance Like There's No Tomorrow.

But hidden further into the CD is a little gem by Joss Stone. Yes, you heard me right, a genuinely good song by Joss "only the crumbliest, flakiest pop star" Stone.

It sounds surprisingly like a Neptunes production, which is not entirely inappropriate given reports that she's currently working with their rocking proteges, Clipse.

Punctuated by cheap synth brass and a kicking drum loop, the song features Joss half-singing, half-rapping a verse that attacks Kanye West's misogynistic lyrics on Gold Digger.

It's just a shame that, when Jackson and Stone got round to writing the chorus, they chickened out of turning in their own hook and pinched Burt Bacharach's Walk On By.

Here it is in all its funky glory on that youtube (youtube).

Joss Stone - Walk On By

And have you seen that flake advert? What a disaster...

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Estelle and Foals in the Live Lounge

Just a quickie - Estelle doing her American Boy song, acoustic-style, and the Foals doing Gwen Stefani's Hollaback Girl song, indie-style, on Rrrrrrrradio One's totally faborific Live Lounge.

:: Estelle - American Boy (acoustic) [mp3]
:: Foals - Hollaback Girl [mp3]

I thank you.

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The mind boggles

Here's rapper DMX in an interview with XXL magazine.

Are you following the presidential race?
Not at all.

You’re not? You know there’s a Black guy running, Barack Obama and then there’s Hillary Clinton.
His name is Barack?!

Barack Obama, yeah.

What the fuck is a Barack?! Barack Obama. Where he from, Africa?

Yeah, his dad is from Kenya.
Barack Obama?

What the fuck?! That ain’t no fuckin’ name, yo. That ain’t that nigga’s name. You can’t be serious. Barack Obama. Get the fuck outta here.

You’re telling me you haven’t heard about him before.
I ain’t really paying much attention.

I mean, it’s pretty big if a Black...Wow, Barack! The nigga’s name is Barack. Barack? Nigga named Barack Obama. What the fuck, man?! Is he serious? That ain’t his fuckin’ name. Ima tell this nigga when I see him, “Stop that bullshit. Stop that bullshit” [laughs] “That ain’t your fuckin’ name.” Your momma ain’t name you no damn Barack.


[Full article here]


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Surprising but entirely welcome chart news

Despite Madonna achieving perfect corporate synergy by releasing her new single the very same day it premiered on radio, she hasn't managed to go to number one "with a bullet" on the iTunes chart.

Instead, it is Estelle whose fulsome and tunesome American Boy single is sitting pretty at the top of the download listings. A richly deserved result, if a little unexpected.

I interviewed Estelle a couple of weeks ago, and she confessed that the bubbly vocals on the track were her attempt to sing like Su Pollard in Hi-Di-Hi. No word of a lie.

Not much else to report today*, so here is a picture of Estelle. I believe Tyra Banks might label it "fierce".

* Except that Sir Alan Sugar is a big cuddly bear in real life

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Great big pop showdown

Oasis aren't involved, so it won't make the papers, but this week sees three of the biggest-selling female pop artists in UK chart history facing off in a race for number one... Let's take a look at the contenders:

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Things to see and do

A collection of internetular diversions for a Friday afternoon...

:: The Photoshop Disasters blog wonders why Batman is staring so intently at that window frame.
[Photoshop Disasters]

:: A Walrus dances like Michael Jackson

:: Roisin Murphy says fuck and twat (plus some stuff about music).
[The Times]

:: A rather scary new piece of music software allows you to isolate a single note in the middle of a song and change it, raising the tantalising prospect of being able to turn an Aphex Twin album into something listenable.

:: Pulp's Common People turned into an Archie comic strip.
[Chris's Invincible Super-Blog]

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Super Extra Cardigans

While I was off on holiday last week, my previously-trailed interview with Sweden's best band, The Cardigans, was published on the BBC News website.

As is often the way, I had too much material to cram into a meagre 800 words - particularly because Nina and Magnus afforded me a very generous hour in their telephonic company - so I thought I'd put some of the "DVD Extras" from my chat with Nina up here.

Hope you enjoy.

How do you find living in New York compared to Sweden?
It’s really different. There’s hardly one similar thing about it. But when you have a life somewhere, everyday life tends to be quite similar.

Are you following the election? It seems kind of impossible to ignore...
We’ve been doing shows for the election – so we’re kind of engaged in it. I don't have a vote, though. I guess that’s why I’m compensating by doing other things. I wish I could – they need all the votes they can get.

I first saw The Cardigans on the NME Brats tour in 1996. Do you remember those early concerts?
I remember that tour was fucking crazy! It really took our virginity as a band. Everyone was really young and it was just crazy – we did so many stupid things on that tour. It doesn’t seem like 1996, it seems like 1982.

What's been the biggest change since then?
To me, it’s been kind of the same. My biggest change was about a year-and-a-half ago when we finished the last record and I moved here. And suddenly I was not working with the Cardigans. Actually being in the band is quite samey, because you make a record and then you tour, and you make a record and then you tour.

We did have one thing that was a big change - between Gran Turiso and Long Gone Before Daylight we were really not sure we were gonna continue and it was hard for us to come up for reasons to continue. But we didn’t want to throw things away...

So that was a big change in that we all got a little bit more concerned about the music. I certainly got more involved. It became a much more organic process. We stopped to think a lot more.

The music on Gran Turismo is quite clinical and precise, where Long Gone Before Daylight is relaxed and mellow. Does that reflect the way the band was functioning?
That totally reflects how we were feeling. Gran Turismo is quite a brilliant record just because we managed to capture this so well, but we were totally worked out and high strung. We were messes. We shouldn’t have done that record... but just because of that it was brilliant.

When I listen to it now, I’m like "wow". We were abusing ProTools. Nobody really knew how to use it because it was quite new back then. None of us could hardly send an email and suddenly we were making music on a computer. But it kind of became an instrument in itself. The album is so chopped up and patchy.

I heard My Favourite Game the other day and I thought "How could anybody let that pass through?" The way its edited, it’s terrible. But its so terrible that nobody could think it was just a mistake. It had to be on purpose.

Were you disappointed when the last two albums didn't sell as well as Gran Turismo?
It’s disappointing, but it’s not really very surprising. Things have changed so much and we have changed so much. We’re not up for playing the same kind of tricks we did when we were 22. So, we’re like, "okay, if we have to abandon our values, then fuck the million records".

It would be great if the Best Of could win back some fans who haven't heard the more recent material...
You know – yes, well sure. If they haven’t heard it, they should. But the market sucks these days. I don’t trust the market a bit. And with the market the way it is, it would never allow a band like us to become very successful. Of course it would be great, I always want to make more money and I always want people to hear it but if they didn’t hear it when we tried to put it out, don’t worry.

It seems like the people who do stumble across Long Gone Before Daylight really love it, though.
Yes, and in a way that makes me feel better somehow. That’s been so gratifying for the last few years. The way people have talked about our records has been different than in the past. Both the last two Cardigans records and the A Camp record I did - it's not as many people but you’ve made a bigger mark, for sure.

Did it ever annoy you that a lot of people who bought Lovefool thought it was a love song when really the lyrics are quite dark?
On the contrary, I find it quite interesting. I think that pop music totally needs to serve that purpose. Like, for me, there are songs I listen to at this stage in life that I first heard when I was 12 and only now to do I understand what they were about. And that’s the effect music has on some people and I think that’s equally important.

Not all music has to be an intellectual masterpiece. Pop music is brilliant.

What are you listening to at the moment?
When I make records [Nina is recording a second A Camp album] I can’t listen to music. It makes me really upset. I really like MIA and Alicia Keys and then I just listen to a lot of other stuff.

What upsets you about hearing music when you're writing?
It makes it really hard to write. There’s so much music that I really love and if I listen to that, then I feel like I can never write decent music again in my whole life.

On the other hand, I read a lot and watch a lot of movies just because you have a big need to feed your imagination.

Your main contribution to The Cardigans, apart from singing, is the lyrics. Were you ever tempted to write in Swedish?
No, never. I think it’d be fun for a project, but I can’t really see what project it would be. I realised that I have more fun when I get to travel out of Sweden and writing in English is my tool to get to do that.

A lot of your lyrics are quite cynical about relationships - have you suffered a lot of heartbreak?
To be honest I’ve been really lucky in that field. I’ve had some minor heartbreaks early in life but really I turned out to be the bad guy there.

I think it’s just a fun subject to keep digging into. Even if you’re happily married, there’s so much of that around you that it’s still a very strong inspiration.

Quite a few Swedish lyricists have similarly melancholy takes on relationships - I'm thinking of everything from Abba to Robyn. Would you say it's part of the national character to be gloomy?
Its very hard for me as a Swede to talk about that because I don’t feel like a melancholic person at all. Though I guess many people truly see that as a national feature so its possible.

I love the song And Then You Kissed Me from Long Gone Before Daylight... It seems to be about domestic violence. Is that right?
You’re reading it perfectly fine.

Is that a hard subject to tackle lyrically?
If you can feel it well, it’s not very tough to write about. This one is quite drastic because it’s about somebody who allows herself to be physically beaten up but its also an analogy for a thing that I’ve written about endlessly – how you put yourself through the weirdest things to get relationships right.

Do you find the creative process enjoyable?
Writing lyrics I find very difficult in periods. But the birth of songs is amazing. It’s really fun. That’s where you get all your energy to do this job. You have these new songs, they’re fantastic, let’s go and tour for eight years!

And are there any chances of a tour on the horizon?
It might be possible. If I get my new record out, there might be some touring. But I’m not sure yet.

The Cardigans Best Of album is out now, and entered the charts at number 32 last week. Buy it on Amazon, for it is amazing.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The many wigs of Roisin Murphy

In her latest video, dance diva Roisin Murphy dons an Elton-tastic nine (nine!) nutty hairdos. But which is best? Only you can decide...

    The Clown      |   The Hippie    |   Vera Duckworth

Air Hostess   |   Ellis-Bextor   | Rita Hayworth

Peeping Tom |   The Tornado   | Winona Ryder

Oh yes, and here is the video "in full".

Roisin Murphy - You Know Me Better

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

What a feeling!

I've just had this video by J-pop artist Namie Amuro brought to my attention. It's an odd thing, combining 80s pop, eurodance synths and some of the most lacklustre dancing since the last time the Sugababes were on the TV.

Namie Amuro - What A Feeling

In all honesty, it's pretty rubbish apart from the middle 8 ("false step, false, false, false step," chants Amuro, apropos of nothing) but it led me on one of those wonderful youtube voyages of discovery, which brings me to the following video:

Irene Cara - Flashdance (What A Feeling), Live 1983

Tracksuits! Kneepads! Irene Cara looking inexplicably angry!

Make sure you watch through til the end, otherwise you'll miss the magical "trying to do the moonwalk in stilettos" moment.

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What are the Kooks trying to tell us?

Here are some scenes from the new Kooks video, Always Where I Need To Be. But what the heck do they mean?

Hello! We are the Kooks. Doing musics is hard.

The song has only started, but I need a rest. Phew, readers, it is tough being a musician with carefully messed up hair.

Okay, we are back playing our song again. But we cannot look at each other because we are concentrating so very hard on being cool.

Look! I have stolen Liam Gallagher's jacket from 1996!
Am I a proper musician now?

We have seen and enjoyed episodes of The Monkees.

Hey guys, I am combing my hair! Only joking!!!!!!!!!!

This is Joe Strummer.
We are not even in the same league as Joe Strummer.

Well, that was educational, eh? Surprisingly, I do not absolutely hate this song, even if the band are trying way to hard to say "look, that stuff about us going to stage school deosn't mean we're not a proper band, okay?"

The Kooks - Always Where I Need To Be

Mind you, if we're talking indie rock, the new record by Manchester also-rans Elbow is a million times better. It's like the Strokes buggering Moby with a harmonica. IE - amazing.

Elbow - Grounds For Divorce

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Gnarls Barkley: Run video

Justin Timberlake is at something of a loose end, it seems. He keeps cropping up in other people's songs and videos like an over-enthusiastic dad crashing a teenage party and offering to mix up a batch of cheeky vimto.

His latest escapade is on the set of the Gnarls Barkley video, where he plays a hep and happenin' TV host from back in the day. Note the Beat It-inspired leather jacket.

Yes, that's right, Justin still wants to be Michael Jackson...

Gnarls Barkley - Run

The song itself is a pretty funky slab of gospel-soul-psychedelia - recalling the likes of Smiley Faces from GB's debut album. What's great is that this track would never have stood a chance of getting radio play without the head of steam built up by Crazy two years ago. It's good to see an established act that doesn't try to toe the commercial line and instead releases something daring and fresh. I wonder how Run will fare chart-wise?

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Thursday, March 6, 2008

I am not typing this...

I am most definitely not on the internet from my holiday, so it is a complete Holmesian mystery as to how this post is being written.

Anyway, just wanted to alert you to to things:

1) Madonna's rubbish new single, 4 Minutes To Save The World (with Justin Timberlake and Timbaland). What is going on here, then?

(I have no idea how long this will stay online)

2) Janet Jackson's rather spiffing new video, Rock With U. It's like Madonna's Ray Of Light in slow-motion. Note how the key lyric "Strobe lights make everything sexier", and how the video has to use a strobe set to flash every second so as not to induce epilepsy in MTV viewers.

Janet Jackson - Rock With U

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