Friday, May 30, 2008

Super Flickr Galaxy

Here's a cool little toy to waste your last hour at work on a Friday evening. It's called Tag Galaxy, and it creates "solar systems" of similar pictures using photo-sharing website Flickr.

Simply type in a keyword and it'll make a planet of pictures, with moons and comets created from related photos orbiting around it.

For example, here is Planet Radiohead (or Planet Telex if you're a Radioheadcase).

(what's the one with the crayons about?)

Have a play on Tag Galaxy.


Thursday, May 29, 2008

Killers + Duran Duran

Here's something I missed while I was in Cannes - Brandon Flowers duetting with Simon Le Bon on Duran Duran classic Planet Earth:

It's quite good, isn't it. Perhaps Brandon looks a little embarassed, and Le Bon is relishing the spotlight a tad too much (was it ever any different?) but wouldn't it be good to see the Killers go "a bit Duran" on their new album? Stuart Price is producing, so it's not entirely out of the question.

You can see the whole performance - with bonus tedious intro! - on youtube (youtube).

In the meantime, I'd love to get to see the Mark Ronson / Duran Duran collaborative gig in Paris next month. Anyone got a spare ticket?

[via Arjan Writes]

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Happy 40th birthday, Kylie

G'day Kylie,

We would like to wish you a very happy 40th birthday. Try not to panic, this does not mean the end of your life. Look at Madonna: She's a full ten years older than you but she's still able to flash her gusset at the entire world every five minutes. You might need to spend some more time on the pelvic floor exercises, but it's good to be flexible as you advance in years. Maybe try some berocca, too. And support pants.

In the meantime, enjoy all the things that being 40 has to offer. You will be able to afford and enjoy bottles of wine that cost more than £10. You no longer need to listen to new music because you already know plenty of music, and it's way better than The Pigeon Detectives. You can spend more time on the toilet and nobody will complain.

And if it all gets too much, remember that age ain't nothin' but the last three letters of sausage.

Best birthday wishes,
All at Discopop TowersTM

PS It's not all bad. You could be 20 again.

Kylie - Look My Way (TV appearance, 1988

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Oh Bollocks

Worst album covers of all time!!!!!1

Someone at the NME must be really pleased with themselves, as they have managed to pass off a years-old internet meme as their own original piece of work.

Yes, at least half a decade after someone emailed you the same content in an Excel file, you can gawp at "the worst album covers ever" courtesy of the NME website. And, to give it a fresh twist, you can rate the covers yourself - just like you did on Am I Hot Or Not in 2001.

The NME (which, let's not forget, bills itself as an "agenda-setting music bible") has even stooped so low as to steal the jpegs off the original worst album covers of all time website. The creators of this site also released a spin-off book in 2006, which you can buy here.

To avoid too many suggestions of copyright infringement, the lads at NME have cleverly picked out a few new additions to the list by scanning through the big pile of CDs in their office. Among their suggestions are Prince's Dirty Mind (iconic), Madonna's American Life (a pastiche of Che Guevara), and the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Stadium Arcadium (just some text on a CD cover).

Next week on the NME website: The changing faces of Michael Jackson, a picture gallery.

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NERD video

We first mentioned NERD's new single, Everyone Nose back in January but it's only just lumbering into view over the horizon now.

Given the shoddy production work Pharell and Hugo have turned in for Madonna and Ashlee Simpson lately, this is something of a return to form - a big, bouncy club anthem about women "doing" cocaine with (irony alert!) Lindsay Lohan in the video.

Here you go:

NERD - Everyone Nose

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Gig review: Girls Aloud, Birmingham NIA

The Tangled Up tour is Girls Aloud's fourth jaunt round the UK in as many years, and it's by far their most professional show to date.

It's got pyrotechnics, moving walkways, costume changes, wire tricks and five (five!) video screens. But a large part of the girls' success has been down to their scrappy charm, so could all this polish smooth out their charmingly rough edges?

The answer is yes. And no.

The fivesome rose to the challenge of the show with ease - hitting all their marks and cramming personality into the increasingly complex routines. But their backing band was trying too hard. All of the intricate detail of Xenomania's songs was scrubbed out in a squall of noise, including several unnecessary guitar solos. Worse still, the fussy arrangements frequently drowned out the melodies. Musically, it was an utter mess.

By now, however, Girls Aloud are old pros - and occasionally managed to rise above the bombast to get the show moving. Close To Love was an early highlight, the saucy dance routine clearly a tour favourite. A cover of Salt & Pepa's Push It was a riot, too, with Kimberly revealing herself as a surprisingly talented MC.

Walk This Way, conversely, was spolit by deliberate feedback, while Wake Me Up suddenly developed a funk guitar line completely at odds with its riff-tastic origins.

One thing that proved to be a constant throughout the evening was the group's boundless energy. Nadine was clearly revelling in being in front of a crowd, laying rest to the persistent rumours that she's abandoning her bandmates for LA. Sarah bounded around the stage like a dog released from the trap, and Cheryl has become a demon of dance, throwing herself about like a woman possessed by Mexican jumping beans. She looks frighteningly thin, though - her once magnificent bum a shadow of its former self.

A ballad section performed, as Nadine put it in her beautiful Irish brogue, "in the muddle of the crowd" was another highlight. Their version of Robyn's With Every Heartbeat was heartfelt, if oversung, and Whole Lotta History was magnificently rousing.

All in all, then, an uneven concert that will have pleased the band's less critical fans, but which would have been improved by giving the girls more freedoms, while reigning in those allowed to their band.

Sexy! No No No...
Girl Overboard
Sound of the Underground
Close to Love
Can't Speak French
Love Machine
Black Jacks
Whole Lotta History
With Every Heartbeat
I'll Stand By You
Push It
Wake Me Up
Walk This Way
Control of the Knife/Trick Me
Call The Shots

Something Kinda Ooooh

(Yes, that's right - no sign of No Good Advice. For shame)

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Secret Ting Tings video

While I was away, the Ting Tings went to number one. This is quite literally amazing.

But many people don't know that the cheapo video the band released to accompany That's Not My Name was not the only one they shot.

For the first attempt, they got in respected director Sophie Muller - whose previous vids include Coldplay's Trouble, Shakira's Hips Don't Lie and Blur's Song 2. Apparently they weren't happy with the results and went back to the drawing board.

But the Muller version has now surfaced on Youtube (youtube) and I prefer it to the officially sanctioned verison - what do you think?

Ting Tings - That's Not My Name (original video)

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Here I go again


Just returned from Cannes, which was utterly amazing. I saw Indy 4 (brilliant), partied with taTu (surreal) and walked past Harvey Weinstein without realising (doink).

The highlights were probably my interview with Dustin Hoffman - there's an excerpt on the BBC website - and chatting to Kelly Rowland on the BBC balcony.

Brilliantly, after two weeks of meeting and greeting some of the biggest stars in Hollywood, I was still so excited to see Benicio Del Toro on my flight home that I immediately phoned mrsdiscopop to tell her.

So, now that I'm back, let's get this whole blog thing going again...

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008


1) I am still in Cannes.
2) Madonna is also in Cannes.
3) I am not in Cannes with Madonna.
4) This single is great.

Bryn Christopher - The Quest

Do not believe people who say Bryn Christopher is the "male Amy Winehouse". He is, in fact, the British Cee-Lo Green.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Doing the Cannes cannes

Hey there!

I'm not going to be checking into the blog much over the next 10 days or so, as I'm off at the Cannes Film Festival (oooh, get me).

You can follow my progress over at the BBC news website: The main page is here and my "diary" is here.

I'll be back in the UK next week - and off to see Girls Aloud in concert. You can be sure there'll be a slavering review not long after.


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Monday, May 12, 2008

Full of Cadbury goodness

History Lesson:

Mash-ups were essentially the musical genre that finally fulfilled the promise of punk - anyone could make one if they had a computer, regardless of musical skill. All you needed was two songs in the same key (or not, who cares?) which you played at the same time. Hey presto, new song!

The good ones - Richard X's Freak Like Me, Freelance Hellraiser's Stroke of Genie-us, Danger Mouse's Grey Album, and the whole 2 Many DJs project - were proper artistic statements. The bad ones just ended up being a random Eminem a capella over a random instrumental. The scene's nadir came when someone put Lose Yourself over the theme to Grange Hill, marking the moment when innovation was replaced by cheap novelty.

But every now and then a mix pops up that makes you re-evaluate the ennui that set in. Here is one such mix:

Wouldn't It Be Nice To Have A Finger of Fudge?

It's from an album by Mark Vidler, aka Go Home Productions, whose day job is remixing hits for the likes of David Bowie and Alicia Keys. He's done a whole album of the stuff, called Spliced Krispies, which you can download free on his website.

Here's my other favourite, which splices the Rolling Stones with the Temptations to make a thoroughly modern-sounding protest song.

Rolling Confusion

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Fallen Madonna

So, did you see Madonna's performance at Radio One's Big Weekend? What a shocker - and I'm not just talking about those veiny forearms...

Perhaps it was the unseasonal UK heatwave but Madonna's voice (never the best, admittedly) was shot to pieces, particularly in the lower registers. There was also a lot of miming. And I mean a lot of miming. Not that it would have mattered if the dancing had been anything better than average. For the most part, it was of the stike-a-pose-walk-to-next-spotlight-strike-a-pose-sing-for-a-bit variety. Pedestrian, in other words.

The decision to rework Hung Up with a grungy guitar riff was great. But letting Madge sing the first virse a capella was less inspired, and only marginally less embarassing than her attempt to sing the Stones' Satisfaction. And if I were Rocco or Lourdes, the sight of my 50-year-old mum making noises of sexual ecstasy in front of 10,000 people would be enough to trigger some kind of traumatic stress disorder.

Things picked up towards the end. Give It 2 Me was energetic and playful, with Mrs Ritchie donning a pair of nerdsome spectacles for the sexy secretary look, and Music - mixed with Fedde Le Grand's Put Your Hands Up For Detroit - provided a rousing end to the festivities.

Based on the evening's evidence, Madonna needs to ditch the dreary Hard Candy tracks and pull off more of those show-stopping set pieces when she launches her tour in Cardiff this summer.

Madonna - Give It 2 Me (Live in Maidstone)

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Video: Gnarls Barkley - Going On

Shot in Jamaica, and featuring precisely no members of Gnarls Barkley, this is already one of my favourite videos this year.

The choice of camera angles and colouring reminds me of Mark Romanek's video for Janet's Got Til Its Gone, while the location and energy brings to mind Fernando Meirelles' Brazilian gangster flick City of God.

Yes, it really is that good.

Gnarls Barkley - Going On

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Mariah's Bye Bye video

Best bit: People who ask Mariah for her autograph have their faces blurred out. Because of the shame, presumably.

Worst bit: The godawful lyrics ("this is for my peoples who just lost they grandmothers")

Mariah Carey - Bye Bye

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Friday, May 9, 2008

Robyn goes to America

Having definitively conquered the UK last year, Swedish starlet Robyn is off in the States trying to convert them to her cult of kooky pop, too.

As is often the case, going to the US means reshooting videos on a larger scale - bigger budgets, more special effects and zappier editing for those short American attention spans.

So what move has Robyn made in her attempt to appeal to her new target market? Erm, she's walking around awkwardly in front of a cut-out picture of a sky scraper (they're American, see?)

In her next video, Robyn will be seen eating a cheeseburger and illegally invading the middle east.

Robyn - Handle Me (US Version, teaser)

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Burning up

There aren't many annual posts on Discopop Directory, but this is one of them... The ever-fabulous music swap extravaganza known as "Summer Burn" is back for 2008, and I encourage you to get involved.

In one sentence, this is what happens: You make two CDs, two strangers make two CDs, you and the strangers exchange each others CDs and discover great new music*

Sign up over at the Fun Junkie website, and they do all the hard work of collecting addresses and things. I've done it before, and you can rest assured that they don't use your personal details to buy nuclear processing plants in Turkmenistan.

That is all.

* or Belgian death metal

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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Css Suxxx?

Bonkers Brazilian Bopsters CSS have made their new single, Rat Is Dead (Rage), available for free on their website. (How clever! Someone should tell Chris Martin about this amazing idea, etc). It is literally quite good, and you should do the whole right-click-save-target-as thing now.

The success of the indiepop scenester's first album means they've been able to spend some proper money on coke and whores the follow-up. So what do you get for your dollar?

Well, sonically, the single is a retread of live favourite Patins. It bursts into life with a barrage of scratchy distorted guitar and that not-talking-but-not-singing thing that Lovefoxxx does so well.

The lyrics have something to do with a girl "smashing all the glasses on the mirror" and a dead rat - i.e. it's batshit crazy. But the gargantuan singalong chorus ("I know, I know, I know he will never hurt you again") is bound to go down well in the moshpit come festival time.

But the rough edges that gave CSS their quirky lo-fi charm have been smoothed out somewhat. Everything is a bit too in time, a bit too polished, a bit too whatever the opposite of ramshackle is (unramshackle? eweshackle? shackalackaboom?)

My guess is that CSS have ironed out their creases in an attempt to get mainstream radio play, so it'll be interesting to see how the single fares. As I write, it hasn't popped up on the Radio One playlist and XFM has only added it to their upfront list.

What do you think? Does it deserve to be heard more widely?

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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Buy this DVD box set

If you only make one merchandising purchase decision this week, then make it this merchandising purchase decision:

Absolutely Everything - DVD Box Set trailer

For the uninitiated, Absolutely is probably the only worthy successor to Monty Python in the pantheons of British (well, Scottish) sketch comedy. Beautifully surreal, laugh-out-loud funny - this shit is bananas.

The 8 disc DVD comes with extra features, containing features that are extra.

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Friday, May 2, 2008

Videos with cute dogs, part 14625487

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Web turns on Scarlett Johannson

Scarlett Johannson made an album of Tom Waits cover versions. Yes, you heard right, an entire album.

But hold your horses because the first single, Falling Down, is nowhere near as bad as you might think. In fact, it reminds me of some of Kevin Shields' sublime tracks on the Lost In Translation soundtrack. Maybe that's not such a surprise, given that Johannson sang backing vocals on stage with Shields' favourite band, The Jesus and Mary Chain, at last year's Coachella Festival.

But the denizens of the internet are not happy. Here's a sample of what they've written on the Johannson's Youtube page:

Lil Missae: " She criticized Paris Hilton's music and promised hers would be better. She lied."

Waterychan: "This has just given me yet another reason to hate her. She's a shit actress, and a shit singer. Fabulous."

Derekondemand: "Sounds like something froma german party?"

Mattrosencrance: "She should try being a stock broker instead of singing." [or an actress, perhaps, Matt?]

Oh dear...

Personally, after giving it a few listens (three), I'm really getting into it. What do you think?

Scarlet Johannson - Falling Down

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